Avodah Mailing List

Volume 31: Number 106

Thu, 30 May 2013

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Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Message: 1
From: Micha Berger <mi...@aishdas.org>
Date: Thu, 30 May 2013 14:21:28 -0400
Re: [Avodah] Two Income Families and the halacha

On Wed, Apr 17, 2013 at 10:42:39AM -0400, I wrote:
: I understood the usage of DDD in the context of qinyanim to be an example
: of simtuta. (Thus avoiding the question of "why not just use A rather than
: B?") Simtuta says that any convention that creates a mutual understanding
: that one party lost ownership and the other party gained ownership is
: a qinyan. Dina demalkhusa is one way to create such conventions.

I was corrected a bit on this by RED, and modified the claim down.

On Tue, Apr 23, 2013 at 05:40:25PM -0400, I wrote:
: What if I modified my theory, defining simtuta as a rule that any maaseh
: by a person which solimnifies a mutual understanding that ownership was
: transferred is a valid qinyan?
: Then we could test if the qinyan usage of dina demalkhusa is a form of
: simtuta by checking if a law that transfers ownership without action is
: considered a valid qinyan.

R Avraham Dov Kahanah-Shapira, Shu"t Devar Avraham cheileq 1 se'if 1 anaf
1.3 <http://hebrewbooks.org/pdfpager.aspx?req=14443&;st=&pgnum=8>, quotes
the current Y-mi Yomi Qidushin 1:5 which talks about the evolution of the
form of qinyan from handing the other a shoe in the days of Boaz to the
forms we know now. Based on this RADKS argues in that anaf that the forms
of qinyan are defined by convention, even when the qinyan is deOraisa!

Tir'u baTov!

Micha Berger             When a king dies, his power ends,
mi...@aishdas.org        but when a prophet dies, his influence is just
http://www.aishdas.org   beginning.
Fax: (270) 514-1507                    - Soren Kierkegaard

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Message: 2
From: Ben Waxman <ben1...@zahav.net.il>
Date: Thu, 30 May 2013 20:23:45 +0300
Re: [Avodah] nonJewish housekeepr

One of the chakirot that Rav Henkin does in his bug book is when a sfek 
sfeka can be used, in this case to enable eating food that is may be 
infested. When/if I get the material a bit better (the book is 
exercising Yoreh Deah muscles that had become very flabby), I may 
summarize it.


On 5/30/2013 11:16 AM, Eli Turkel wrote:
> BTW it seems that ROY is much more willing to use sfek-sfeka to be 
> mekil then many other poskim (though I dont understand why others do 
> not tend to use it very much)

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Message: 3
From: "Chana Luntz" <Ch...@kolsassoon.org.uk>
Date: Thu, 30 May 2013 23:20:07 +0100
Re: [Avodah] nonJewish housekeeper

I wrote:

>> Really?  You think that Chazal only made their gezera for the case 
>> where the inviting non Jew was sufficiently impoverished that he cooked
his own food?

>Since their gezera was on the cook and not the host, it would surely seem

Or alternatively there was no practical way of making a gezera on the host
that would enable it to fall away with sufficient effort (and awareness) in
cases where that was necessary, and which thus served as a sufficient heker
but not an absolute prohibition on social interaction, and the situation of
an unintended Jewish slave was sufficiently rare that it was not a
disincentive to an otherwise brilliant gezera which, albeit focused on the
cook, was really (as Chazal made clear in explaining the reason for the
gezera) about the host.

>> In Chazal's day, wealthy non Jews invariably had (non Jewish) slaves 
>> who would actually have done the cooking.  Is bishul akum irrelevant 
>> in such a case because the slave sure as anything was never going to
marry the Jew?

>Most non-Jews were not wealthy, and while in Rome, at least at one point,
slaves were common and cheap enough that most people could probably afford
>one, I don't think this was so in EY in Chazal's day, or in Bavel.

I think it is unreasonable to assume that the non-Jews in relation to whom
Chazal made the gezera were of a completely different socio-economic class
from the Jews they were dealing with and who Chazal were concerned they
might marry.  We know that slaves (maidservants) were sufficiently common in
the times of the Mishna and the Gemora for the Mishna to state (Kesubos
59b): and this is the work that a woman does for her husband, grind, bake,
launder, cook, nurse her child, make his bed and work with wool.   If she
brought into the marriage one maidservant, she doesn't grind and she doesn't
bake and she doesn't launder.  Two, she doesn't cook and she doesn't nurse
her child, three she doesn't make his bed or work with wool, four, she sits
in her chair and does nothing. Rabbi Eliezer says, even a hundred
maidservants, he may still force her to work with wool ...

>In any case, how sure are you that in a household with a slave, the slave
would do the cooking?  I don't know, but it occurs to me that it may not
have >been so.  Perhaps for some cultural reason even in the typical slave
owning household (at least ones that only had one or two slaves) the cooking
was >the domain of the wife.

From the Mishna above (well, you do need two slaves to exempt the wife from
the cooking, one slave just exempts from grinding, baking and laundering,
which are clearly considered heavier duty than cooking).  

>Thus I conclude that in the case where slaves do the cooking, Chazal only
forbade it because of lo plug.

Which in the time of the Mishna seems pretty clearly to include the middle
class in Chazal's society (the very rich had four or more - if this was a
completely unrealistic expectation, like Rabbi Eliezer's 100 maidservants,
it would hardly be codified in the Mishna like this).  Thus you are saying
that Chazal made their gezera fundamentally against the very poor non-Jews,
ones of a socio-economic class very different to many, many of the Jews of
the Mishna.

>>> Whatever danger of intermarriage exists in such a dinner, it would be 
>>> no different were the entire kitchen run by cohanim meyuchasim.

>> Agreed.  If the wealthy non Jew happened to have a Jewish slave 
>> (which, while we might have all these obligations to try and redeem 
>> them, unquestionably happened), who did the cooking, the gezera might 
>> technically not apply.

>Only technically?!  Surely it doesn't apply at all.  After all, what is the
fix for bishul akum?  To have a Jew participate in the cooking. 

No, I would say technically.  Because I believe in the time of Chazal, the
number of cases where a non Jew had a Jewish slave who did the cooking as a
matter of course in their household was so vanishingly small that
consideration of such a rare scenario did not prevent Chazal from otherwise
making a most effective form of gezera.  If this had been a common scenario,
then the gezera would not have worked to prevent intermarriage, and I don't
believe Chazal would have made it in this form.  Thus, I believe Chazal were
willing to overlook the tiny number of cases where there was a Jewish slave
as part of the non Jew's cooking staff, even though in the rare cases where
it did occur it would undermine the gezera - on a technicality.

>The machlokes is only about the definition of "the cooking" for this
purpose, but everyone agrees that all a Jew needs to do is stir the pot, or
add a >pinch of salt, and it's OK.  So how can there even be a hava amina
that it should be assur in a case where Jews did the entire cooking from
start to >finish?   This must surely be not just kosher but kosher
limehadrin (at least with reference to this particular gezera)!

If you just look at the technical definition of the gezera, and completely
ignore its intent, you might assume this, yes.  If you look at the intent,
which is to create a heker to draw a line vis a vis intermarriage, but not
to completely prevent any social interaction where it might be necessary,
then the gezera is highly effective by only requiring the stirring of the
pot or a pinch of salt.  It does not make the situation any better if it is
cooked from beginning to end, it is not any more kosher limehadrin.  Ie if
you are looking for something that is achievable with effort, but not too
much effort, so as to allow for social interaction, with a careful heker,
then it is hard to think of something better targeted to that effect.  Yes
it does mean it targets the cook, not the host, but if that would rarely
cause problems, it is not unreasonable to utilise this mechanism.

>>> Chazal distinguished between pas akum and pas palter, and were 
>>> restaurants common in those days they might similarly have 
>>> distinguished between cooking in private homes and in restaurants.

>> Maybe, but I think it unlikely.  When you are taken out to dinner at a 
>> restaurant, who do you thank afterwards, the cooks and kitchen staff, 
>> or the person who sits at the table with you and pays?  If anything I 
>> think Chazal would have gone down (or maybe did go down) the Machne 
>> Ephraim's route in reverse - ie yad hapoel k'yad ha'adon.

>But the poel works for the restaurateur, not for the person who's paying
the bill. And you're not much more likely to marry the restaurateur's
daughter >than you are the cook's.  And if you say ein hachi nami, it's the
person paying the bill who matters, then you've turned the entire law of
bishul akum >upside down.  Because if that's the rule then the same would
apply even in the glattest-kosher Jewish restaurant, where not only the
kitchen staff but >the owner and the entire staff were cohanim meyuchasim!
And on the other hand, if the Jew is the one who picks up the bill then one
could eat anywhere >and not worry about bishul akum!  This surely can't be

That is true, and yet ironically bishul askum "works" in modern day
restaurants to do exactly what it would seem Chazal wanted it to do - ie
make social interaction (and not with the cook or the restaurateur!) more
difficult, but not impossible.  When faced with work do's and the like - one
either needs to push them to eat in a kosher restaurant (which limits the
choice and brings all the difficulties out into the open) or get in special
kosher food just for you (making it all very noticeable with all that
plastic) or one's choice of food is very severely limited by bishul akum
over and above the kashrus concerns.  You are suggesting that Chazal, if
they had known about restaurants, would have moved to alleviate those last
problems, and distinguished between cooking in private homes and in
restaurants so as to make these type of social interactions easier, even
though, in our society, eating is restaurants is what people do to socially
interact (indeed, that is a most common form of first date, the first step
towards marriage).  My instincts are the reverse, that Chazal would be very
happy about the difficulties created in this way, and far less happy about
an elderly, isolated, incapacitated, gentleman or lady struggling to be fed
properly because of bishul akum concerns (in circumstances where, in their
society, there would always have been an eved kn'ani/shifcha c'nanis to look
after them, who were exempt from bishul akum).  

Zev Sero               A citizen may not be required to offer a 'good and



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Message: 4
From: cantorwolb...@cox.net
Date: Thu, 30 May 2013 20:23:05 -0400
[Avodah] Shelach Gems

I am indebted to Yitz Weiss for his wealth of Torah he continually disseminates in 
his Toras Aish.  In addition, he is a mensch, par excellence!

I came across a remarkable explanation by the Sfas Emes regarding how the
10 spies -- prominent, eminent and learned men -- could lose their faith in God
by bringing back an evil report, causing the congregation to lose all morale and
and to grumble against Moses.
The Sfas Emes writes: 'Their sin was not a loss of faith in God; their sin was a 
lack of faith in THEMSELVES.'
"THERE we saw the Nephilim, the sons of the giants from among the Nephilim;
we were like grasshoppers IN OUR OWN eyes, and so we were in their eyes." (B'midbar 13:33).

And so the above led me to an outstanding insight that I gained after reading a
commentary written by Chief Rabbi of the United Kingdom, Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks.
His commentary (though different from mine) gave me the idea from which I drew my own
chiddush. The maftir for shelach, of course, deals with tzitzis, one of the foremost mitzvoth 
in the Torah. And yet, one is only halachically required to wear tzitzis if one wears a four 
cornered-garment, which means one can technically avoid wearing tzitzis by never wearing
a four-cornered garment.  So the Spies in our Sidra metaphorically avoided wearing that
four-cornered garment. Interestingly, we have the arba kanfos, the tzitzis worn under the shirt
and then the tallis which contains the same tzitzis, but is wrapped around us. I see the outer tallis
as the side of religion we show to the world (and which also covers and hides our innermost
personality). That's the external tallis which comes in all kinds of fancy designs and colors. But 
the arba kanfos, the inner tallis, is our personal and private side of religion. This inner tallis is
what the 10 Spies lacked.  Joshua and Caleb possessed the inner tallis (faith in themselves,
and of course, faith in the Almighty), but unfortunately, the 10 Spies somehow lost their tzitzis
somewhere along the way.

May we be blessed so that the outer tallis never hides the arba kanfos underneath!

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Message: 5
From: Lisa Liel <l...@starways.net>
Date: Thu, 30 May 2013 10:28:19 -0500
Re: [Avodah] Why did Moshe only daven for Yehoshua?

On 5/30/2013 4:43 AM, Marty Bluke wrote:
> Rashi comments that Moshe changed his name and davened that Hashem 
> should save Yehoshua from the ??? ???????.
> This is very difficult for a number of reasons:
> 1. We see clearly from Rashi that Moshe knew that the Meraglim would 
> sin, that is why he davened that Yehoshua would not be caught up in 
> it. If so, why did he send them at all? After all Rashi comments ??? 
> ?? that Hashem gave Moshe the choice as to whether to send meraglim or 
> not. If he knew they would sin why didn't he just cancel the mission?2.

I understood that Moshe saw the risk.  Not the certainty that they would 

> Why daven only for Yehoshua? Yehoshua was probably the greatest of the 
> meraglim, why would Moshe worry that he would sin?

That's 20/20 hindsight.  At the time, Yehoshua was the least of the 
meraglim.  He was young (v'Yehoshua bin Nun naar...), and he had no 
experience being a leader, like the others did.  Moshe was afraid that 
he'd be influenced by the others if things went awry.

> At the time that they were picked all of the Meraglim were tzadikim, 
> why didn't Moshe daven for all of them?

Because they were tzadikim.  And gedolim.  And nesi'ei ha-eidah.  And 
hevei dan et kol ha-adam l'khaf zekhut.

> 3. How can Moshe daven that Yehoshua shouldn't sin? What exactly was 
> Moshe asking for, that hashem should take away Yehoshuas free choice?

Aderaba.  He davened davka that Yehoshua's free choice should not be 
overwhelmed by the other meraglim.  In a sense, this was like the 
President of the US sending 11 cabinet members and his valet.  L'havdil, 
of course, because Yehoshua wasn't *just* a valet, but still, imagine 
the kind of pressure Yehoshua would have been under to conform.  Moshe 
davened that he'd have the strength to resist it.  Again, not that he 
was sure the meraglim would sin, but he wanted to make sure Yehoshua 
would be free to make his own decisions and not feel forced to go along 
with his elders.

At least that's how it seems to me.  Some of the above (possibly all of 
it) is stuff I've heard in various divrei Torah over time, but I can't 
give any direct source for it.


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Message: 6
From: saul newman <newman...@gmail.com>
Date: Thu, 30 May 2013 09:09:11 -0700
[Avodah] Why did Moshe only daven for Yehoshua?

in re  question two---

if the protege  sins  it's a much bigger  chillul hashem.

moshe worried  about his anivus---- he will be  too anav to  speak up  [
and  knowing  moshe  dies  before  entry in land , yehoshua would  rather
 push off election to lead/  prolong the life of his rebbe ]

since yehoshua  expected to  tout the party line, he would be more subject
to ridicule and maybe  too  embarassed to speak up

other question---why send  yehoshua altogether , when he would be expected
to be biased ---unless it was jsut  emant to be  a planning  mission of how
 to get in....
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Message: 7
From: Eli Turkel <elitur...@gmail.com>
Date: Thu, 30 May 2013 18:48:02 +0300
[Avodah] bishulei akum

In our discussion I bring a short summary of the halachot of Bishulei Akum

1) Reason for prohibition
a) Rabbenu Tam (and others) - leads to marriage
b) Hagahos Asheri brings Rashbam - danger of nonkosher food
Rashi in AZ brings both reasons in 2 places

heterim -
a) needs to be food fit for a king
b) allowed if it can be eaten raw
c) a Jew participates in the cooking
SA - Jew puts the food on the flame
Ramah - Jew lights the fire

If the goy cooked it until the level of Ben Drusai and completed by a Jew
SA - prohibited except for hesfed merubah
Ramah - allowed

goy is a worker (shifchah)
SA - brings 2 opinions even bidieved
Ramah - allows it
Schach - Rama talking about a real slave doesnt apply to an employee

Machloket if it applies to a chiloni Jew (mumar lechallel shabbat)
Sefer hashrut tends to allow it as long as the chiloni is not anti-dati
ROY allows using food cans made in a non-religious kibbutz,
i.e. they should be kashered (does he mean toveled?) but there is no
problem of bishulei goyim

sefardim eating in a place under an Ashkenazi hasgacha
ROY allows it based on 2 machloket
a) according to Rama lighting the oven is enough
b)  the workers are similar to slaves
Though SA is le-chumra in both cases even the SA would admit when there are
2 reason for kulah
then it is permitted
Ohr LeZion disagrees and says if SA is machmir in both cases they cant be
combined for a kulah

I am not aware of poskim who says it makes a difference whether one has any
contact with the cook. eg ROY in his heter does not mention this nor does
he mention this in his heter of canned food from a non-religious kibbutz
(under hechsher) where he again combines 2 chumrot into a kulah

Eli Turkel
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Message: 8
From: Eli Turkel <elitur...@gmail.com>
Date: Thu, 30 May 2013 19:13:58 +0300
[Avodah] abortion is murder

instead of our guessing I bring opinions from The encylopedia of medeical
halacha by Dr. Steinberg

1) no prohibition
Tosafot Nidah 44b Ehu
Many take tosafot literally that abortion is allowed
others explain that Tosafot argues that even a goy can do an abortion but
we dont pasken that way
Rav Uziel claim tosafot only discussed a case of sakanah
Others dont take Tosafot literally

Ran (chulin 58a) says the prohibition is rabbinic followed by many achronim
Another large group of Achronim say the prohibition of abortion is from the

a) damage to the mother (maharit & others)
b) destroying seed (Chavot Yair and others)
c) prevents fetus from keeping mitzvot (Rav Herschler)
d) chillul Hashem since the church doesnt allow it (Rav Zvig)
e) theft - RSZA
f) murder - moshav zekenim of Baale Tosafot, RMF, Rav Zolti, ROY etc.
based on if it is prohibited to a goy it cant be allowed to a Jew - Hence
there is no punishment by bet din
However many rishonim explicitly deny this - Ramban, Yad Ramah, Radvaz, Sma
and of course all those above who brought other reasons

Interstingly Sridei Eish says the prohibition is only rabbinic but we dont
know exactly why

Eli Turkel
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Message: 9
From: "Elazar M. Teitz" <r...@juno.com>
Date: Thu, 30 May 2013 18:32:14 GMT
Re: [Avodah] 50

     R.Micha Berger quoted the Yerushalmi as understanding that R. Yehuda
     and the Rabbanan disagree as follows about yoveil: according to the
     Rabbanan, seven shmitta cycles are followed by a year of yoveil, which
     belongs to no shmitta cycle, and then again come seven shmitta cycles
     followed by a yoveil, etc. R. Yehuda, on the other hand, holds that
     the first yoveil was also the first year of a shmitta cycle, and
     therefore the last year of the seventh cycle was only the 48th year of
     yoveil.  Hence, the second yoveil was the second year of the first
     shmitta cycle, the third yoveil was the third year of the first
     shmitta cycle, etc.  Although there has been much correspondence as to
     this interpretation, it seems to be the obvious explanation of the
     Yerushalmi, and (e.g.) the Ohr Sameiach inShmittin v'Yovlos Ch. 10
     takes it for granted that such is the correct interpretation of the

     R.Micha indicates that the Bavli need not disagree with the
     Yerushalmi.  That same Ohr Sameiach, however, shows that this is not
     so, but rather that while the shmitta cycle is not interrupted by the
     yoveil year, that year is _always_ the first year of the next shmitta
     cycle; i.e.,  the yoveil cycle is only 49 years, not 50.  

     This clearly follows from the g'mara's discussion in Arachin 24b.	The
     din is that if one is makdish his s'dei achuza, his ancestral field,
     during the era of yoveil, it is not redeemed at market value, but by a
     fixed amount: 50 s'la'im per beis kor, prorated for the number of
     years until the yoveil.  According to the opinion that one can be
     makdish in the yoveil year itself, it means that there are 50 years to
     prorate, and the amount per beis kor per year is one sela; but
     according to R. Yehuda, it is a sela and a pundion (the pundion is a
     coin equal to 1/48 of a sela, and is the closest approximation to the
     1/49 it should be for 49 years).  According to the opinion that one
     cannot be makdish in the yoveil year, then according to the Rabbanan,
     since there are only 49 years from the time hekdesh is possible until
     the arrival of yoveil, _they_ would require a sela and a pundion per
     year, while acording to R. Yehuda, it would be a sela and 2 pundionos,
     or 50/48.	Thus, the 
 Bavli clearly assumes that according to R. Yehuda, a full yoveil cycle is
 not 50 years, but rather 49 years.  Hence, yoveil will always be in the
 first year of the first shmitta cycle.



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Message: 10
From: "Chana Luntz" <Ch...@kolsassoon.org.uk>
Date: Thu, 30 May 2013 16:53:01 +0100
Re: [Avodah] electricity on Shabbos - R. Asher Weiss

RET writes:

> I read the teshuva of R. Weiss onLED devices and found it strange.

I also had some serious problems with it, but not necessarily the same
ones RET had

> 1) He complains that various sefardi poskim who allowed electricity on
> yomtov didnt know what electricity was. Instead he explains that the
> movement of electrons releases energy and heat and the heat creates the
> light.

> To the best of my knowledge there is no heat in LED devices. Instead
> electricity is the movement of electrons (horizontally in the wire NOT down
> the length)
> which induces an electromagnetic wave. In wirless devices there is only the
> EM wave and
> no movement of electrons.

I understood the section on Sephardi poskim as being a diversion from the
main discussion (ie LEDs). Ie once he had dealt with LEDs, he turned
to disagree with these various piskei halacha, which were all said in
the context of incandescent light bulbs, and it was incandescent light
bulb physics which he was discussing vis a vis the Sephardi poskim.

But in terms of the physics of LED devices - my understanding is that
there is indeed movement of electrons, from the doped parts with loosely
attached elections (n-type) to the doped parts with atoms whose orbits
have "holes" (p-type). When a spare electron from the n-type material
falls into a "hole" from the p-type material there is a drop in energy
in the atom, which releases a photon to compensate - it is those photons
we see in an LED. An LED is usually used in a wired device (whether
battery powered or mains powered) as it needs the negative and positive
side of the battery to cause the current (ie movement of the electrons)
to flow across the junction in the transistor.

The difference between incandescent bulbs and LED bulbs is that, in
incandescent bulbs, as the electrons move through the wire that becomes
the lit part, they encounter resistance (bump into the atoms in that
part of the wire), causing heat and ultimately light. With LEDs, there
is just the light emission, there is no particular heat production.
Ie you can't use the Rambam and the heating of an iron bar until it is
red hot prohibition (where again it is the heat that linked to light)
to assur LEDs.

A wireless device is something different, it receives and/or transmits
information via radio waves, just as radios and televisions do. However,
I don't think he was particularly dealing with that in the LED teshuva,
and in the other teshuvos (such as the electronic tagging, which certainly
uses wireless transmission), I assume that wasn't so much the issue.
Rather, I assumed that the problem was that wireless devices today use
integrated circuits (ie circuits on chips) but that doesn't mean that
there aren't circuits in use, layers and layers of them, in many ways
just the way there were in the Chazon Ish's day. The difference though
is that in the Chazon Ish's day, one could *see* the components of the
circuit - now the entire circuit (many many of them) are themselves too
small for the human eye to detect. It becomes a lot harder to say that
you are *building* something when the thing you are building (ie opening
and closing) is too small for you to see, and one of maybe millions
of circuits that are opening and closing constantly within that chip.
Makeh b'patish does work better in the sense that it does seem more
results based - regardless of how many microscopic circuits become live
or dead in the course of the blink of an eye at microscopic levels, the
only question then becomes is there a meaningful alteration of the kli.

> 2) RSZA argues that one cant create new categories of molid and brings
> proofs. Rav Weiss brings a Rashi from Bitzah that IMHO is not the strongest
> prrof. In case he doesnt deal with the proofs of RSZA but instead states
> that is approach is correct and obvious (obviously not to RSZA)

It is noteworthy that he ignores the criticisms of RSZA not only on molid
but on the Chazon Ish and boneh. But to be fair, while makeh b'patish is
his chiddish, he brings molid in the name of the Beit Yitzchak, so it is
probably more appropriate to level that criticism to the Beit Yitzchak
rather than RAW, and just ask why RAW doesn't respond to any of RZSA's
criticisms of the existing halachic literature he dealt with in his day.

> In general he doesnt react to the claim of RSZA that one cant create new
> categories today.
> Even accepting RAW argument about makeh bepatisch being anything important
> and creation I would suspect that RSZA would counter that only chazal had the
> ability to include things in makeh bepatisch. As RAW admits his approach
> has not been cited by any gadol that has dealt with the issue.

This is where I agree with RET, as, I am pretty sure, would ROY (the
inability to make new gezeros being one of his themes). This to me was
one of the most striking aspect of the set of teshuvos, taking a derech
that to my mind seemed to go against that of some of the most prominent
poskim of the modern era, Ashkenazi and Sephardi, in a breathtaking way.
A breathtaking way that gives a level of open ended power to modern
poskim to assur, that it seemed to me, ROY and RZSA and numerous others
would caution against.

> The teshuva was written in response to a manuscript on LED devices. I was
> surprised by the vehemence of RAW's objection.

I am not - because of the increasing uses for LEDs to replace incandescent
light bulbs. If you allow LEDs, bang goes the one thing that everybody
agreed was actually an issur d'orisa in this new technology. We have
already heard rumours of people who keep "half shabbas", ie who can't
manage to stop themselves texting on shabbas. A d'orisa LED ban firmly
stops this, being wishy washy on LEDs and microchips risks opening the
gates to this. Do you believe that shabbas would be shabbas if we all
kept our phones on?

> The manuscript was based on the opinions of CI and RSZA.

But, to my mind, ignored the wider implication - as set out above.
Unless you are comfortable with a shabbas with the phone on and texts
coming in and out all the time, you have to be very careful writing
something that could easily be taken by somebody looking for a heter as
allowing this.

> RAW's answer is that he has a new viewpoint that prohibits electricity
> even where CI allows it and essentially how dare this rabbi to allow such
> things.

It is the roeh es hanolad issue. RAW is worried about the uses to which
this allowance by this rabbi might be put. I can definitely see that.
But I also worry about the uses to which the libi omer li approach can
be put. That too seems to me to have huge dangers, ones that ROY and
RSZA were very cognisant of.

> 3) In the second teshuva RAW claims that according to CI if one introduces
> an elctric circuit into a wire which is NOT attached to any electrical
> appliance it is boneh since one changes the wire from dead to alive.
> IMHO this is also a major chiddush. That is is only the flow of electrons
> that constitutes make bepatisch (again physically there is no flow of
> electrons)

I don't think you are right here. My understanding is that all
semi-conductors and transistors utilise a flow of electrons across the
junction of the device. That is why all our wireless devices, such as
phones, laptops etc need and have batteries, that need recharging ever
so often.

Then RJR writes:

> I suspect R' Eli and Chana find R' Weiss approach strange or difficult
> because they are looking for a consistent algorithm that can be applied
> a priori to determine the halachic status of an act or device (as I
> think many of us would like to view halacha and in fact how it operates
> in many/most cases) I think R' Weiss understands that there is a "libi
> omer li"/obviously element to halacha that is especially important in
> cases of first impression. Much like R' YBS stated in C-C-C [Community,
> Covenant and Commitment (?) -micha]:

 "In all fields of human intellectual endeavor there is always
 an intuitive approach which determines the course and method of
 the analysis. Not even in exact sciences (particularly in their
 interpretive phase) is it possible to divorce the human element from
 the formal aspect. Hence this investigation was also undertaken in
 a similar subjective mood. From the very outset I was prejudiced in
 favor of the project of the Rabbinical Counsel of America and I could
 not imagine any halakhic authority rendering a decision against it. My
 inquiry consisted only in translating a vague intuitive feeling into
 fixed terms of halakhic thinking" (Soloveitchik, 2005, pp 24-25).

> IMHO "it's obvious" that there are perceived pros and cons to this
> subjectivity.

Well I don't have a problem with this subjectivity where it involves
"My inquiry consisted only in translating a vague intuitive feeling
into fixed terms of halakhic thinking". The problem it seems to me is
where one is unable to then come up with the "fixed terms of halakhic
thinking" and therefore all one puts in the teshuva is the intuitive
feeling (or one is less than rigorous with the halachic analysis).
RYBS didn't advocate that. If he had been unable to come up with the
fixed terms of halakhic thinking, or even more strongly, if the fixed
arguments of halakhic thinking end up militating against his original
intuition, I would expect that he would have been modeh al haemes, and
backed down. But if the ultimate product does not produce fixed terms
of halakhic thinking that are robust enough to stand up to the halakhic
criticism of somebody less gripped by this particular intuition, then
that is a different story.

In particular, I would note that RAW does not appear to give the Sephardi
poskim he cites the same leeway that he gives himself vis a vis the libi
omer li approach.

As RET notes above, RAW analyses in the first electricity teshuva the
teshuvos of a significant number of Sephardi poskim who allowed the use
of electricity on yom tov. His objection is that they didn't understand
the physics - and from what I have read, that is almost certainly true.
But based on libi omer li, what does that matter? These poskim had a
very logical libi omer li position. After all, when one cooks on a gas
flame or fire on Yom Tov, if the food needs it, we are permitted to turn
up and down the flame. Once you have electric cookers, if you don't
take the position they take, you are faced with a situation where you
needed to have set it correctly for the food in question before yom tov,
making actual cooking on yom tov much more difficult (and pushing one
towards treating yom tov much more like shabbas, with all the cooking
done before). Even more so with lighting. In the old days on yom tov,
all you needed to do was to light your two yom tov candles and your
yortzeit light, and then as and when you needed more light you would
step up the lighting, there was no need to determine which lighting you
were going to need before yom tov started. Now with electric lights we
are forced, unless you say like the Sephardi poskim, to treat yom tov
just like shabbas and determine what lights you need before it starts.
Indeed this past Shavuos I forgot to reset the time clock before yom tov
so that I could learn later into the evening than I normally would on
shabbas, and the lights therefore went out at 11.30pm (except for the hall
light we leave on all night). And while I tried to huddle up in the hall
for a bit, it was very difficult to learn there, and I ended up giving up
and going to bed. In the old days, I would have had a stash of candles by
the yortzeit candle of different shapes and sizes, and could just have
lit what I needed for learning. If the Sephardi poskim had been right,
I could have just turned on an electric light and kept on learning.

So electricity has made yom tov a lot more like shabbas, and fundamentally
undermined the special heterim of yom tov regarding ochel nefesh
and lighting that was intended by the Torah to give a very different
feeling to yom tov than to shabbas. The position of the Sephardi poskim
allowing electricity, especially lighting, on yom tov, but not shabbas,
gets us much more back to the original feel of yom tov, and can very
much be said to be part of a libi omer li position. While electricity
feels like something that ought to be assur on shabbas, it similarly
felt to all of these Sephardi gedolim that it ought to be mutar on yom
tov - and if their best grasp of the physics was wrong, so it was wrong,
just as the CI's grasp of the physics would seem to have been wrong (as
per RSZA). Logical next step, therefore, if you hold by a libi omer li
approach is to find an explanation that allows electricity on yom tov
that does deal with the physics. But RAW doesn't take that approach.
Rather he says that their physics understanding is objectively wrong,
and therefore their halacha is wrong, without even stopping to consider
the libi omer li aspect that is so obviously driving the Sephardi poskim.

> KT Joel Rich



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