Avodah Mailing List

Volume 31: Number 35

Fri, 01 Mar 2013

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Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Message: 1
From: Micha Berger <mi...@aishdas.org>
Date: Thu, 28 Feb 2013 06:06:04 -0500
Re: [Avodah] partnership minyanim

On Wed, Feb 27, 2013 at 09:21:03PM -0500, Micha Berger wrote:
: I wonder, though, if the comparison is valid. Perhaps rather than there
: being no kavod hatzibur issue in giving a qatan the amud for Pesuqei
: deZimra, the conclusion was reached that chinukh was a higher priority
: than kavod. And then, a situation like nidon didan where the is no
: chinukh element, there would be no parallel matir.

I see RMJB makes this point in his latest installment

    That is also true for those who continue to raise the fact that
    in some communities young boys lead Kabbalat Shabbat and Pesukei
    De-Zimrah. First that fact alone does not mean that women can
    lead even if the practice is halakhically fine. One needs to
    do some work to make that connection and no one that I have seen
    has. Second, many of the commenters have it completely backwards. By
    all accounts that is a relatively recent (no more than a decade or
    two) innovation. What halakhic sources allow it? I have indicated
    that I was always uncomfortable with the practice precisely because
    it seemed to diminish the importance of significant parts of the
    service. New practices are almost always subject to challenges like
    this that must be met. Again, such is the way of Torah. As such the
    defenders of this practice have the burden of proof. If you change
    things you need to find support for the innovation.

    In my review of the literature I found only Rav Uziel's hesitant
    defense. Again, he bases the practice on the mitzvah of chinukh
    (which as I have shown is weak here), and which cannot be used to
    justify women leading that service.

Also, I had a chance to talk to R' Jack Love, my rebbe-chaver who is the
Chair of the Dept of Halakha at YCT. He said his recurring theme talking
to talmidim out in the field is that "halakhah has to be evolutionary, not
revolutionary." You need to have this back and forth, rather than charge
ahead with changes even ones you are convinced are correct ideologically,
or appropriate heterim because they are the only way to get most of the
people into the shul and davening, learning about Shabbos, etc... (He
said the latter is the more common motivation.)

I didn't think to ask him what he would have said to Rn Sarah Schenirer
(who was certainly revolutionary, not waiting for evolution) until after
I got out of his car. Sorry.


Micha Berger             "'When Adar enters, we increase our joy'
mi...@aishdas.org         'Joy is nothing but Torah.'
http://www.aishdas.org    'And whoever does more, he is praiseworthy.'"
Fax: (270) 514-1507                     - Rav Dovid Lifshitz zt"l

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Message: 2
From: Michael Feldstein <michaelgfeldst...@gmail.com>
Date: Thu, 28 Feb 2013 06:07:24 -0500
[Avodah] R. Dovid Feinstein

: Contrary to popular belief, organ transplant is not only allowed al pi
: din, but it is meritorious...

According to RMT. It is unclear RMF actually did change his mind from
what was published earlier in IM. I don't think his sons remember his
final position the way his son-in-law does.

about his father's position on brain death.


It's the other anti-brain stem death folks that have created confusion
about RMF's position, by trying to suggest that RMF really didn't
believe what his son and son-in-law have said he believed
on the issue of brain stem death.

Michael Feldstein
Stamford, CT
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Message: 3
From: Micha Berger <mi...@aishdas.org>
Date: Thu, 28 Feb 2013 11:03:53 -0500
Re: [Avodah] R. Dovid Feinstein

On Thu, Feb 28, 2013 at 06:07:24AM -0500, Michael Feldstein wrote:
: See
: http://www.hods.org/English/h-issues/YouTube_video%20pag
: es/RabbiDovidFeinstein.asp

Or read the transcript. (Just mentioning the option to get more people
to check it out.)

: It's the other anti-brain stem death folks that have created confusion
: about RMF's position, by trying to suggest that RMF really didn't
: believe what his son and son-in-law have said he believed
: on the issue of brain stem death.

Well, there would be confusion either way if RMF wrote on thing but
changed his mind at a point in his life when he was done writing teshuvos.

But in any case, I do not see RDF agreeing with his brother-in-law about
RMF's position. Exact words "If .. and you say 'oh, that's brain
death, is that, I DON'T AGREE WITH THAT" (empasis added) From that page:
    My father's position was very simply that the stopping of breathing
    is -- the point of -- that's death. It doesn't matter if the heart
    is functioning or it doesn't function. As long as he stops breathing
    he's considered dead. That's the way he explained the Gemara in Yoma,
    that's the way he said they always did in Europe when the Chevra
    Kadisha would test if a person is dead or not. He always used to
    test his breathing and nothing else.

    I'll repeat again the same thing: If the breathing has stopped,
    then he's considered dead. And that's it, nothing else.
    Interviewer: In your opinion, what's the reason that Rav Moshe's
    opinion on brain death is so shrouded in -- into mystery, or is it
    many different sides on how to understand Rav Moshe?

    Rabbi Dovid Feinstein: There's only one way. I don't think anybody
    argues that point. It's very simple. Cessation of breathing. I don't
    think anybody ever said differently.

    Interviewer: Right but when Rabbi Mordechai Tendler wrote up the
    Health Care Proxy for the RCA, when Rabbi Moshe Tendler wrote up
    the Health Care Proxy, many people came out that were saying not
    necessarily he is, that he has a real understanding of Rav Moshe. Many
    people were saying, were voicing that opinion.

    Rabbi Dovid Feinstein: It never changed. It depends how you want
    to word it. If I tell you cessation of breathing, and you say, oh,
    that's brain death, is that, I don't agree with that; I don't know
    anything about brain death. Quote me correctly. That's all, nothing
    else. And that's the whole argument against Rabbi Tendler.

RDF's formulation would have RMF say that a person r"l with no brain
stem function who is breathing through artificial means is NOT dead. RMT
would say he is -- that RMF's position is that death is with the end of
AUTONOMOUS breathing.

Tir'u baTov!

Micha Berger             "I think, therefore I am." - Renne Descartes
mi...@aishdas.org        "I am thought about, therefore I am -
http://www.aishdas.org   my existence depends upon the thought of a
Fax: (270) 514-1507      Supreme Being Who thinks me." - R' SR Hirsch

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Message: 4
From: Micha Berger <mi...@aishdas.org>
Date: Thu, 28 Feb 2013 16:51:22 -0500
Re: [Avodah] How do Chabad deal with the Amen of Krias Shema

On Fri, Feb 22, 2013 at 09:03:14PM +0000, Kenneth Miller wrote:
: Can someone clue me in on exactly what the problem is here? I
: understand that some (I think it was the MB citing the Gra) say that
: the bracha before Shema is a Birkas Hamitzvah, but I have never heard
: an explanation of WHY that might be so...

It's a RYBS-ism as well. My father taught me to say the close of Birkhas
Ahavah together with the chazan to avoid the "amein".

The Machzor Vitri is the oldest source for not saying "amein".

To see why the Ramban considers Ahavah a birkhas hamitzvah, it's best to
see the Ramban inside -- Berakhos 11b "mei'eimasai". He is actually
speaking about "Keil Melekh Ne'eman", not "amain". Taking the translation
from <http://beureihatefila.com/files/Kail_Melech_Ne_Eman-1.pdf> (and
I highly recommend <http://beureihatefila.com> in general, even if this
particular translation is suboptimal):

    There already was a custom in the cities to recite between the prayer
    Ahavas Olam and Kriyat Shma, the words: Kail Melech Ne'eman. In
    my youth it troubled me, because it is we ll known that the prayer
    Ahavas Olam is the Bracha for the Mitzvah of Kriyat Shma, based on
    the rule that all Mitzvot require the recital of a Bracha before the
    performance of the Mitzvah. The same rule applies in connection with
    reciting Hallel; reading Megilat Esther; reading the Torah; and
    of course in connection with reciting Kriyat Shma. It is based on
    that rule that we learned that if one studied Torah after reciting
    Kriyat Shma that it was not necessary for him to recite the Bracha
    that precedes learning Torah since he had already fulfilled the
    obligation to recite a Bracha before studying Torah by reciting the
    Bracha of Ahava Rabbah, which is the equivalent to the Bracha for
    studying Torah. The reason that our Sages instituted the practice
    to recite two blessings before reciting Kriyat Shma was because the
    earliest time in the day that one can recite Kriyat Shma is tied
    to sunrise and sunset.
    But there is a major difference between the Brachot that precede
    Kriyat Shma. The Brachot of Yotzair Ohr and Maariv Aravim are
    blessings of Praise as we learned (Megillah 24b) that one who never
    saw the celestial bodies in his life because he was blind cannot
    Porais Shma. The Bracha of Ahavas Olam is the Bracha that precedes
    the performance of the Mitzvah of Kriyat Shma. This is also seen by
    what we learned that the Chief Kohain would call out: make one Bracha
    etc... and it is based on this Bracha that they authored the Bracha
    of Emes V'Yatziv to be a Bracha that is connected to the blessing
    of Ahavas Olam. Since the Bracha of Ahavas Olam is a Bracha that
    precedes the performance of a Mitzvah, it is obvious that it is like
    any other Bracha that precedes the performance of a Mitzvah or before
    eating a fruit that if one recited Amen after reciting the Bracha but
    before pe rforming the Mitzvah that he certainly is in error. This was
    openly detailed in the Jerusalem Talmud as follows: He who is Porais
    Al Shma, or is the one to go down to the Ark or one who blesses the
    people or the one who reads from the Torah or the Haftorah or one who
    recites any Bracha that precedes the performance of a Mitzvah from
    the Torah should not respond with Amen after reciting the Bracha. I
    do not have to explain this matte r that was clearly understood by
    the early commentators, that it appears to me that reci ting Kail
    Melech Ne'eman after the Bracha of Ahava Rabbah is an interruption
    and causes one to have to repeat the Bracha.

Notice he points to two indicators:

1- The kohein gadol's call makes a distinction between the berakhos before
   shema, indicating that one was distinct from Shema, in a way that the
   other (Ahavah) was not.

2- Emes veYatziv/vaEmunah does not begin with Barukh. Therefore, you cannot
   cap off Ahavah with an "amein" to your own berakhah as the end of a
   2-berakhah series before Shema. Clearly the series is seen as continuing.

   Why isn't it the end, and thereby forcing the word barukh on birkhas
   Geulah? Birkhos haMitzvah never seem to get self-answered. And it
   appears to be included in a list of examples of birkhos hamitzvah
   given by the Y-mi when it gives this kelal.

This doesn't refer to answering the Chazan's berakhah with an "amein",
just that one shouldn't say "amein" to one's own. This is only about
RAM's specific question about birkhas hamitzvah

: 1) Is it a Birkas Hamitzva when one davens Maariv after Plag Hamincha...
: 2) Is it a Birkas Hamitzva when one davens Shacharis during the fourth
: hour for whatever reason? Does *anyone* object to answering Amen to the
: Chazan under such circumstances?

: 3) Is it a hefsek - according to *anyone* - to say "E- Melech Neeman"
: if one is saying Shma without a minyan for whatever reason?

As we saw, the Ramban and for that matter (nearly?) all Sepharadi
rishonim and what they do lemaaseh, hold not to say Keil Melekh Neeman
for this reason.

But I could make a chiluq. EMN is actually in order to fulfill a derabbanan
about saying shema -- that there be 248 words. Thus, the berakhah is still
oveir laasiyasan (including the derabbanan). "Amein" is for the berakhah,
not for Shema itself, and therefore spaces "be'havah" form asiyasan. I made
up that chiluq myself, though.

: 4) Do we have any other examples where the Matbea Shetib'u Chachamim
: of a Birkas Hamitzvah does not begin with "Asher Kid'shanu"?

One of the Birkhos haTorah ("laasoq bedivrei Torah") has it but "asher
bakhar banu" does not. And it's the one oveir laasiyasan AND the only
one said on leining.

Birkhas Eirusin.

And FWIW, before Birkhas Kohanim they don't say "asher qideshanu
bemitzvosav" but "biqdushaso shel Aharon". But I'm really not sure what
it's worth since only a subset of the people were given this mitzvah,
not everyone who Hashem was meqadesh through His mitzvos.

Tangentially, the AhS (OC 25:12-13) argues that the berakhah Ashk say
on the tefillah shel rosh is a birkhas shevach despite having "asher
qidishanu bemitzvosav vetzivanu". He finds the whole idea of making
a berakhah misafeiq untenable -- safeiq berakhos lehaqeil. And saying
"barukh sheim" lekhat-chilah is equally implausible to him.

The AhS explains it as a shevach that we have an opportunity to be bound
to HQBH as represented by the qesher on tefillin, and it is this qesher
that motivates us to repeat the shavatim's proclomation BSKMLV!

There is much more support to his chiddush, ayin sham.

But in any case, it shows a space between "asher qidishanu bemitzvosav"
and birkhas hamitzvah, if in the other direction.

Tir'u baTov!

Micha Berger             Worrying is like a rocking chair:
mi...@aishdas.org        it gives you something to do for a while,
http://www.aishdas.org   but in the end it gets you nowhere.
Fax: (270) 514-1507

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Message: 5
From: "Kenneth Miller" <kennethgmil...@juno.com>
Date: Thu, 28 Feb 2013 13:48:35 GMT
Re: [Avodah] How do Chabad deal with the Amen of Krias Shema

I thank R"n Chana Luntz for her lengthy cite from the Yalkut Yosef. To me, the main point was:

> ...And even though there is to say that the Brachot of Yotzer
> v'ahavat olam and v'emet v'yatziv are not brachot of kriyat
> shema, since behold we do not bless "asher kidishanu
> b'mitzvotav vitzivanu l'kroa kriat shema and like the Tur
> writes siman 59) in the name of the Rosh.  In any event the
> opinion of the Rambam and the Ramban and the Rema and the
> Aruchot HaChaim, that their din is like the din of brachot of
> kriyat shema.  And so writes the talmidim of Rabbanu Yonah
> perek shlishi sheachlu (Brachot 45b) and the Rashash in his
> teshuva (siman 438).  And thus one who is exempt from kriyat
> shema is exempt from the brachot of kriyat shema. 

If I'm understanding this correctly, his point is that while these brachot
are not ACTUALLY in the category of Birchot Hamitzvah, they are
sufficiently similar to it that the same rules apply. I would find that
much easier to accept if the Shma and its Brachot followed the same zmanim,
which they do not. I was therefore very relieved to find this point being
addressed as well:

> Note by the way that while Rav Ovadiah holds that if in fact
> men have the custom to say birchas kriyas shema during fourth
> hour after netz then they do have on whom to rely, but after
> the fourth hour it is also assur for the men to say the
> brachos of kriyas shema.

I was very surprised to hear that the permission to say these brachot
during the fourth hour is not universal. Mechaber 58:6 writes: "Even though
its zman lasts to the end of the third hour, if the third hour passed and
he did not say Shma, he says it with the brachot during the entire fourth
hour, which is one third of the day, though he does not get s'char like one
who said it on time."

This seems to be supported by Kaf Hahaim 58:23: "No one argues on this, suggesting that after the third hour it should not be said with the brachot."

I found much writing about saying the brachot during the 5th and 6th hours,
but who has a problem with the 4th? (This, to me, is a critical point is
showing whether the brachot are more related to Shema, or more similar to

Akiva Miller
Woman is 57 But Looks 27
2013&#39;s No. 1 Facelift. Mom is Wrinkle Free Thanks to Doctor&#39;s Secret!

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Message: 6
From: Eli Turkel <elitur...@gmail.com>
Date: Thu, 28 Feb 2013 13:53:55 +0200
[Avodah] chashmanim and chassidim (formerly esther and the

<<Interestingly, the Chassidim are described very differently in the
next verse:

    [42] Then they were joined by a group of Hasideans, mighty warriors
    of Israel, all of them devoted to the law.  >>

However, later on when the Syrian-Greek king offered to give the Jews
internal autonomy they withdrew from the fight stating that they were only
fighting for religious freedom and not polotical freedom. However, Jonathan
continued the fight realizing that this was all a ruse which in fact it was

Eli Turkel
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Message: 7
From: Eli Turkel <elitur...@gmail.com>
Date: Thu, 28 Feb 2013 13:44:08 +0200
[Avodah] esther and the king

In spite of what has been claimed here I find it very difficult to believe
that kings made it a habit of taking married women into their harem.
In fact we read of the feast that achashverosh made to get the people on
his side.
Many of the Persian kings were faced with revolts or were themselves
usurpers. Xerxes himself
fought against the Eygptians, Babylonians and Greeks among others. Hence,
it would not make much sense to act against your own loyal citizens (as
disinct from a conquered enemy).
In fact Xerxes was not the oldest son of Darius and so he was not the
natural successor.

BTW tis there anything in the megilla to indicate that Esther was the main
queen rather than a (senior) concubine?

BTW for a description of the housing for the harem of Achasverosh see


Eli Turkel
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Message: 8
From: noam stadlan <noamstad...@gmail.com>
Date: Thu, 28 Feb 2013 14:57:22 -0600
Re: [Avodah] Lecture by Rav Moshe Tendler about Brain Stem

Rav Micha has listed the position of many gedolim on brainstem death.
However, it is important to know and think about exactly what they held.
Many held that life is present as long as circulation is present.  In the
era of modern technology this means that a body without any functioning
cells is still considered alive as long as some machine is pumping blood in
the vessels.  So when you think about it a bit, this position makes little
sense.  It is a vestige from a time when every function in the body stopped
with the cessation of circulation. When machines can provide circulation to
anything with tubing, it is necessary to identitify exactly why the person
without circulation is dead.  This means identifying the function or tissue
which is crucial to the continued life of the person.

Currently there are only three major positions that have identified this
function: R. Tendler's brainstem death, R. Steinberg/Chief Rabinate
brain-respiratory death, and R. Bleich's vital motion.  The first two,
while conceptually different, identify a person as dead when they fulfill
neurological criteria for death(Harvard criteria).  R. Bleich defines life
as the presence of vital function, but has failed to define exactly what
that is or how exactly to find or measure it.  (for a more robust but not
comprehensive critique of his position see my paper here:
http://www.yctorah.org/images/stories/about_us/%235%20-%20stadlan.pdf ).
R. Bleich is also dependent on Rashi to transform the gemara in Yoma from a
respiration based concept to a circulation based concept. In the recent
Tradition, R. Daniel Reifman has shown how it is very difficult to argue
that circulation is what Rashi had in mind.  In addition, R. Bleich depends
on the Chatam Sofer, whom R. Reifman also shows did not intend to establish
circulation as a criteria for death independent of respiration.

It is important to also note that there is little to no support for R.
Bleich from other contemporary gedolim.  contrary to the contention of R.
David Shabtai(Defining the Moment), there is little reason to think that
they would automatically move from a circulation based definition of life
to R. Bleich's nebulous 'vital motion'.  Furthermore, even R. Bleich
himself(Tradition 16:4) agrees that R. Moshe defined life as the presence
of respiration, consonant with the Chief Rabbinate and R. Steinberg.  R.
Moshe certainly does not agree with R. Bleich.  SImilarly, RSZA does not
agree with R. Bleich and it is in fact difficult to find any gedolim who
specifically agree with R. Bleich's concept of vital motion.  While they
may agree with his opposition to 'brain death', that does not imply that
they agree with his specific definition of death.

In summary, defining death via neurological criteria(either from a
physiological decapitation source or brain-respiratory source) is presently
the most logical approach.  It fits best with other halachically accepted
determinations of life and death(conjoined twins, etc.). It also is most
consonant with the intent and understanding of the sources in the Gemara,
Rishonim, and many acharonim.

Noam Stadlan
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Message: 9
From: Eli Turkel <elitur...@gmail.com>
Date: Thu, 28 Feb 2013 13:49:45 +0200
[Avodah] brain stem death

<<According to RMT. It is unclear RMF actually did change his mind from
what was published earlier in IM. I don't think his sons remember his
final position the way his son-in-law does.

And as for other posqim, RSZA (e.g.) was very against. The Tzitz
Eliezer was also against -- and he no less an expert on medical ethics,
being the poseiq for Shaarei Tzedeq Medical Center, and a far more
broadly cited poseiq than RMT. R' Aharon Soloveitchik, R' Shemuel Wozner,
and RYSE also all rejected brain death.>>

I thought that RMF;s son signed a letter strongly agreeing with Rav Tendler.
As does Rav Rappaport.

I have heard a lecture from Dr. Steinberg that he performed surgery on a
to determine the effect of the brain stem and that as a result RSZA changed
his mind and in fact stated that he regreted strongly stating his previous
position instead of using IMHO as now his previous position was a lie.

Eli Turkel
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Message: 10
From: Allan Engel <allan.en...@gmail.com>
Date: Thu, 28 Feb 2013 16:10:11 +0000
Re: [Avodah] R. Dovid Feinstein

Not sure that's correct, later in the transcript (emphasis mine):

"My father ZT?L's position of what constitutes death is when a person
cannot breathe *on his own*. It doesn?t matter if his heart is working or
is not working."

On 28 February 2013 16:03, Micha Berger <mi...@aishdas.org> wrote:
> RDF's formulation would have RMF say that a person r"l with no brain
> stem function who is breathing through artificial means is NOT dead. RMT
> would say he is -- that RMF's position is that death is with the end of
> AUTONOMOUS breathing.
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Message: 11
From: Zev Sero <z...@sero.name>
Date: Fri, 01 Mar 2013 05:36:21 -0500
Re: [Avodah] esther and the king

On 28/02/2013 6:44 AM, Eli Turkel wrote:
> BTW tis there anything in the megilla to indicate that Esther was the main queen rather than a (senior) concubine?

Yes.  Vayamlicheha tachat Vashti.

Zev Sero               A citizen may not be required to offer a 'good and
z...@sero.name          substantial reason' why he should be permitted to
                        exercise his rights. The right's existence is all
                        the reason he needs.
                            - Judge Benson E. Legg, Woollard v. Sheridan

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Message: 12
From: Zev Sero <z...@sero.name>
Date: Thu, 28 Feb 2013 18:43:18 -0500
Re: [Avodah] carrying an ID card on shabbat

[Copying in pieces of Areivim discussion for context.

RET reported yesterday:
> Holland requires carrying an ID card even on shabbat
> http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4350022,00.html

To which I replied:
> Sew it into your clothing?

> I think that's what Refuseniks did in the USSR.

-ad kan ha cut-n-paste. -micha]

I don't believe that would change anything; it adds nothing to the
clothing so the fact that it's sewn on doesn't stop it from being
a burden. Just as one can't just pin a key to ones clothing and
call it a button, but must either make it genuinely decorative (and
gender-appropriate) or an integral part of a garment, one would have
to do the same with the ID card. (And even with decorative keys or key
belts, although the widespread minhag is to be lenient, if you look in
SA you see that it's not so poshut.) Nor do I think one can compare
the card to a scrap of fabric, such as a yellow disk that Jews must
wear to identify themselves, which is permitted because it's batel to
the garment; here the card is an entity of its own, and not even made
of the same material as the garment.

A key belt might work, but then there's another problem: we have a
whole chapter of mishna dealing with actual garments that may not
be worn because the wearer might remove them in the street; the most
common example of this is the list of expensive and fancy jewellery
that women may not wear outside on Shabbos, because it's normal and to
be expected that their friends will want to examine it more closely, and
they will take it off to show them. It seems to me that an ID card falls
*precisely* into this category -- the only reason one carries it in the
first place is to show it to a policeman when asked. On a weekday one
would take it out and hand it to the policeman; can one guarantee that
on Shabbos one will make the policeman look at it while one is wearing it?

Maybe the very fact that it's on the belt, which is a very unusual way of
carrying it, will remind one of that. And in point of fact there would
be nothing wrong with removing the belt and handing it to the policeman to
look at. The problem is not the taking off, but what one does afterwards
when it is returned; will one remember to put the belt back on, without
walking four amos? One may well argue that one is certain to remember,
because a card on a belt is so unusual that the very sight of it reminds
one that it's Shabbos.

I just want to point out that heterim that were given in the past, in
other countries and times, were usually given because of sh'as had'chak.
There was no alternative, the authorities were hostile and the penalties
significant. Such heterim become much weaker when the most one is risking
is a 60 Euro fine, and despite this ruling the chances are good that one
could argue oneself out of even that. Some policemen understand and not
issue a ticket, some supervisors will dismiss the ticket, and some judges
will find differently than this one did. I would think it appropriate for
the Jewish community of the Netherlands to announce that it will pay the
fines of any Jew who is issued such a ticket and can't get it dismissed.
Besides anything else, this alone would impress the authorities with the
legitimacy of the issue; but even if it doesn't, upholding shmiras shabbos
is IMHO a proper expense of the kehillah, and the burden shouldn't fall
on the few individuals with the bad luck to be caught.

Zev Sero


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