mail-jewish Vol.65 #47 Digest

Skip to first unread message


Jun 29, 2022, 7:57:03 AM6/29/22
Mail.Jewish Mailing List
Volume 65 Number 47
Produced: Wed, 29 Jun 22 07:57:00 -0400

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

Abortion (4)
[Martin Stern Leah Gordon Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz]
Captain Staying With The Ship (was Minhagim)
[Joel Rich]
Minhagim (3)
[Prof. L. Levine Yisrael Medad Chaim Casper]
The 7 Noahide Commandments.
[Immanuel Burton]
With benefit of hindsight (was Abortion)
[Martin Stern]


From: Martin Stern <>
Date: Tue, Jun 28,2022 at 09:17 AM
Subject: Abortion

Orrin Tilevitz wrote (MJ 65#46):

> Martin Stern writes (MJ 65#44) that, halachically, abortion is not murder. It
> is not clear to me whether he is referring only to the first 40 days or
> throughout pregnancy. AFIK, halachically abortion is NEVER murder for a Jew.
> The problem, as Rabbi Feivel Wagner Z"L, my rabbi in Queens NY, once explained
> to me, is that it IS murder for a ben noach, at least at some point during the
> pregnancy. The reason, he explained, National Council of Young Israel used to
> file briefs opposing legalized abortion was that as Jews, we are permitted to
> live with goyim only if they follow the Noahide commandments.

I apologise for not being clearer. In the first 40 days, it is of no consequence
since that which is aborted is considered maya be'alma [mere water] - this
probably applies equally to non-Jews.

From then until hukar ubra [the foetus is sensed by the mother] is a bit of a
grey area but, certainly after this, causing the [Jewish] mother to miscarry is
a civil offence for which the person responsible is liable to pay damages

On the other hand, for non-Jews, the Noachide laws are based on Gen. 9:4-8. The
prohibition of killing a foetus is derived by the derush [exegesis] (San.57b) of
"shofekh dam ha'adam ba'adam damo yeshafekh" (v. 6) that "ha'adam ba'adam" means
"a person within a person" i.e. a foetus. Any infringement of the Noachide laws
by a Ben Noach is always punished as a capital offence, in this case, murder.

Martin Stern


From: Leah Gordon <>
Date: Tue, Jun 28,2022 at 06:17 PM
Subject: Abortion

It was said as a throwaway line in a recent MJ digest that a Jewish woman who
requires an abortion should go ahead and get an illegal abortion and "suffer the
consequences if necessary".

This is abominable. I rarely say this, but I'm surprised it was allowed past
the moderators.

Is the suggestion that one of your Jewish sisters should die, bleeding out, in
an alley, because she follows the halakha? And "suffer the consequences"? And,
who is the author of this comment to say what is reasonable for some other Jew
to suffer?

Leah S. R. Gordon

[I agree with Leah that what she claims was posted is abominable. However, the
offensive comment was included in a submission from Zev Sero (MJ 65#45) where he

> 4. In the extremely hypothetical event that a state were to ban abortion even
> to save the mother's life, and that ban were to be upheld in the courts, I
> think halacha would still prefer such a law over the alternative of allowing
> abortion in all cases, as we had until last week in all states. In the rare
> case that someone actually needed such an abortion the halacha would simply
> advise her to have it illegally, and if necessary bear the consequences.
> ...
> And morally the calculus is very simple: Such a law would unjustly kill a
> very few people, but would save thousands. That is far better than the
> reverse.

I think the context implies something quite different from Leah's horror
situation. When moderating it, I understood "and if necessary bear the
consequences" to mean "and if necessary bear the LEGAL consequences". Perhaps it
would have been clearer if he had added the word LEGAL, and I must apologise for
not having inserted it and perhaps also "i.e. prosecution for having performed
an illegal act". In any case the life threatening 'backstreet' abortions to
which Leah is referring are halachically forbidden, so it never occurred to me
that any member of MJ would advocate them. Just because something is illegal
doesn’t necessarily mean it is dangerous though the converse may be true. - MOD]


From: Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz <>
Date: Tue, Jun 28,2022 at 11:17 PM
Subject: Abortion

R. E. Sternglantz wrote (MJ 65#45):

> I don't have the time to educate this list on the issues and I wasn't going to
> comment at all but this is a healthcare emergency. Let me just say that if
> you, or people you care about, are engaged in assisted reproduction and live
> in a state that already has or is likely to soon outlaw abortion, you should
> contact your provider immediately for guidance. Similarly women of
> childbearing age in these states should recognize that their ability to get
> healthcare for miscarriage and ectopic pregnancy is now at risk.

I should point out that states that limit abortions usually give an exception
for the health of the mother. An ectopic pregnancy would normally not be
considered a viable pregnancy. It is usually discovered well before the limit
for a legal abortion. Similarly, a miscarriage is the death of the child while
in the womb by natural causes. This would not involve an abortion which is
causing the death of the child while in the womb by the physician.

Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz


From: Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz <>
Date: Tue, Jun 28,2022 at 11:17 PM
Subject: Abortion

Joseph Kaplan wrote (MJ 65#46):

> ...
> But it did more. It said that if, in overturning Roe, abortions that halacha
> requires are also banned, then religious people who have been advised by their
> clergy to have an abortion should be allowed to do so based on the first
> amendment right to freedom of religion.
> My interpretation of this position is that, as long as our community is
> protected, we really don't care much about non-religious Americans. Not a
> position that should make Orthodox Jews proud.

Since this was a statement by the Agudah they had to give the position involving
halacha and Bnei Yisrael. They could not give a position involving those who
would not regard their position and beliefs. It is not that we do not care about
them, but we cannot tell them what to do. The Agudah was telling us what to
expect and how we can react. The statement was addressed to the Jewish
population as they are the ones represented by the Agudah

Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz


From: Joel Rich <>
Date: Tue, Jun 28,2022 at 05:17 PM
Subject: Captain Staying With The Ship (was Minhagim)

R' David Tzohar wrote (MJ 65#46):

> I have always wondered how certain gedolim Including R'JB Soloveitchic,
> allowed their spouses to uncover their hair. This along with his refusal to
> make aliya remains IMHO a great conundrum. Tiyuvta leR'Soloveitchic tiyuvta.

I know it's not a perfect analogy but if the explanation for Rabbis staying in
galut is the captain of the ship being the last one off (I"ve heard this in the
name of RYBS), then shouldn't the captain exert maximum effort to get everyone
into the lifeboats?

Joel Rich


From: Prof. L. Levine <>
Date: Tue, Jun 28,2022 at 08:17 AM
Subject: Minhagim

Deborah Wenger wrote (MJ 65#46):

> As an incidental comment, Martin Stern said (MJ 65#45):
>> having the fathers escort the chatan, and the mothers the kallah, might be
>> preferable where one, or both, sets of parents are divorced and, possibly,
>> not on the best of terms.
> As someone who was in that very situation, I must respectfully disagree. In a
> case of divorced parents, this could be a slap in the face to the opposite-sex
> parent. When my son got married, my ex "decided" that the fathers should walk
> the chatan down and the mothers should walk the kallah down. He obviously was
> doing this just to hurt me, as this was not a minhag on either side.
> But NOTHING was going to keep me from walking my only child down the aisle,
> so I put my foot down and did get the zechut of accompanying my son down the
> aisle.
> A walk down the aisle takes just a few seconds; divorced parents should be
> able to put their differences aside for that short time to give honor to their
> children who are being married - it's THEIR day.

I am divorced from my first wife. Rabbi Avigdor Miller told me in no uncertain
terms that I was not allowed to walk my children down with my first wife.

The solution was that my first wife walked each child down halfway, and then I
walked up to the child and walked him/her down the rest of the way.

Yitzchok Levine


From: Yisrael Medad <>
Date: Tue, Jun 28,2022 at 09:17 AM
Subject: Minhagim

In response to Deborah Wenger (MJ 65#46):

I fully agree with her as to the resolution of her particular situation and
yet, with all empathy, I simply want to deal with the logic of her reasoning
in that she writes that it is the day of the children yet indicates walking
down with her child is a "zechut" for her, giving honor to him and that she
put her foot down.

Were the children asked for their opinion and agreement? If so, all fine. If
not, IMHO, all involved should have deliberated the situation and arrived at
a joint decision.

Yisrael Medad

Deborah Wenger <>


From: Chaim Casper <>
Date: Tue, Jun 28,2022 at 10:17 AM
Subject: Minhagim

David Tzohar wrote (MJ 65#46):

> I have always wondered how certain gedolim Including R'JB Soloveitchic,
> allowed their spouses to uncover their hair. This along with his refusal to
> make aliya remains IMHO a great conundrum. Tiyuvta leR'Soloveitchic tiyuvta.

I asked the same question to Rabbi Shlomo Riskin, shlit"a. He responded to me
that he asked Rabbi Yosef Dov HaLevi Soloveitchik, zt"l, (aka "the Rav") the
same question. Rabbi Riskin reported to me that the Rav answered, "You don't
divorce your wife if she won't cover her head in public". And for the record,
his wife, Tonya (nee Lewit) Soleveitchik did cover her head in shul.

I would ask the reader to remember that Rebbetzin Tonya grew up in Berlin in the
early 1900s. Berlin was a liberal Jewish hot spot at that time. After all, she
learned gemara there (which is why she met the Rav) and which would be a hidush
(novel idea) to Isaac Bashevis Singer and Barbara Streisand's "Yentl".

As a result, women who covered their heads full time in public were the
exception not the rule. Most religious Jewish women covered their heads only in
shul or other exclusively "religious" venues. I believe this is what the Arukh
HaShulhan (75:7) was referring to when he ruled

"... According to the law, it appears that it is permissible to us (Jewish men)
to pray and make blessings in front of these women with uncovered heads since
nowadays, the majority of women walk in public (with uncovered heads) ..."

I would add that, for an exhaustive study in English on the subject, one read
Rabbi Michael Broyde's article in Tradition Fall 2009 (42:3, pp. 95-179)
entitled "Special Supplement -- Hair Covering and Jewish Law: Biblical and
Objective (Dat Moshe) or Rabbinic and Subjective (Dat Yehudit)?

My apologies but at the time I write this post, it appears the Tradition
Archives website is down. But a look at

archives should enable one to find the article when the website is back up.

As to why the Rav never made aliyah despite his more Zionistic outlook than many
of his peers, I believe I read that he felt his place was teaching American Jews
and future American rabbis. Remember: During the Rav's lifetime, there were more
Jews in the US than there were in Israel. He felt a need to be where he could
exert more influence on the Jewish people.

B'virkat Torah,
Chaim Casper
North Miami Beach, FL
Neve Mikhael, Israel


From: Immanuel Burton <>
Date: Tue, Jun 28,2022 at 08:17 PM
Subject: The 7 Noahide Commandments.

In a posting about abortion, Zev Sero wrote (MJ 65#45):

> The laws that Bnei Noach are required to make, to enforce the 6
> negative mitzvos they have, are not required to match the halacha
> exactly, and are allowed to be more stringent.

This got me thinking. According to the Rambam (Mishnah Torah, Hilchot Malachim
uMilchamot 9:14), one of the seven Noahide Commandments is to establish laws and
courts to administer and render judgment concerning the other six Commandments.

In countries where there is separation of church and state, such as the USA or
France, does this mean that the setting up of courts is not being done with the
intention of observing the Noahide Commandments? And that any of laws that they
enact that happen to coincide with the Noahide Commandments, e.g. laws against
stealing and murdering, are also not being implemented as a Noahide Commandment?
Does this count as a lack of intention to abide by the Noahide Commandments? And
if it does, does it even matter?

Immanuel Burton.


From: Martin Stern <>
Date: Tue, Jun 28,2022 at 04:17 AM
Subject: With benefit of hindsight (was Abortion)

Susan Kane wrote (MJ 65#46):

> ...
> Rather than recognizing their obligations, Agudat Yisrael has chosen to put
> their strategic political alliance with conservative Christians and the
> Republican Party ahead of Jewish women's lives. Given that they once appealed
> to Hitler by explaining that real Jews like them also hated communists (1933),
> I should not be surprised. But I can still be bitterly disappointed and angry
> with them.
> ...
> Secular democracy IS what protects and has always protected Jewish life in
> America. As in Europe long ago, Agudat Yisrael has made a grave error on this
> issue and I for one will not forgive nor forget it.

In 1933, nobody thought that the Nazis would develop antisemitism into a
genocidal program. At worst, people expected that the state would urn a blind
eye to thugs who beat up Jews from time to time but this was seen as more a
venting of ill feeling than a systematic state program. They saw the purging of
Jews from the civil service and the universities as opportunistic, to create
jobs for party loyalists who replaced them. Many conservative people, even Jews,
welcomed some aspects of their program as a reassertion of German national pride
after the trauma of the Versailles treaty, and an ending of the 'decadence' of
life in the Weimar republic.

Nobody thought Hitler's program as described in his Mein Kampf was meant to be
implemented in practice. It was thought to be merely propaganda to attract
support by scapegoating the Jews for the social and economic woes of the time.

It was only after Kristallnacht, that it became clear that Jews had no future in
Germany but that did not mean anyone, even then, foresaw the industrial mass
murder in the extermination camps.

So blaming the Agudah for trying to find a modus vivendi with the Nazis is
unfair. Many others did much the same. The German Zionists saw a possible common
ground in that the Nazis initially wanted to expel the Jews who might
then become interested in emigrating to Palestine and made the Ha'avarah
agreement with them.

Almost everyone expected that, once in power, the Nazis would 'calm down',
having to deal with the realities of actually running a country, and life would
continue much as it always had, with perhaps somewhat greater restrictions, but
it would not be unbearable.

With the benefit of hindsight, we can see that they were mistaken but, at
the time, the way things developed was unimaginable.

Martin Stern


Send submissions/responses for Mail-Jewish to:

If you are reading this in a paper version and would like to subscribe
electronically, please visit
and request an invitation.

Information about the Mail-Jewish mailing list, its policies,
ground rules, and submission process, can be found on the
Mail-Jewish Home Page:

Prior issues (through Volume 63) are available for on-line viewing at:
while Volume 64 and subsequent issues are available at

End of mail-jewish Digest
Reply all
Reply to author
0 new messages