Abstracts

RESPONSA

J. David Bleich, "Survey of Recent Halakhic Periodical Literature", Tradition 22/2 (1986), 67-88. - The author discusses in detail the halakhic considerations in respect to the implantation of a mechanical, artificial human heart, including the question of whether or not the removal of the diseased heart of the recipient constitutes an act of homicide, and whether or not the recipient of the mechanical heart is deemed a terefah. (S.M.P.)

Robert Brody, Halachic responsa of R. Natronai Bar Hilai Gaon (Heb.), Jerusalem, l981, Pp. 442 (Hebrew University Dissertation); see KS 58/3 no. 3596.

Divre Yoel (R. Joel Teitelbaum, the Sotmarer Rebbe), ed. E.J.D. Ashkenazi, Brooklyn, New York: Deutch, 1982, 2 vols.. - Includes the Sotmarer's debate with R. Moshe Feinstein on AID. (L.J.)

M. Elon, ed., Mafteah hashe'elot vehateshuvot shel hokhme sefarad utsefon afrika: Hamafteah hahistori I, Jerusalem: Magnes Press for Hamakhon leheker hamishpat ha'ivri, l981, Pp. xxxiii, 282; see KS 58/1 no. 266.

M. Elon, ed., Mafteah hashe'elot vehateshuvot shel hokhme sefarad utsefon afrika: mafteah hamekorot I, Jerusalem: Magnes Press for Hamakhon leheker hamishpat ha'ivri, l981, Pp. xxxiii, 328; see KS 58/1 no. 267.

Rabbi Moshe Feinstein, Iggerot Moshe, Orah Hayyim , Part 4; Yoreh De'ah, Part 3, Bene Berak: Yeshivat Ohel Moshe, 1981, Pp.556, Price £10.50. - This is the sixth volume of Responsa by the veteran posek for the Orthodox world. Among the interesting Responsa are two which advocate censorship(!) of a work published from manuscript, allegedly by Judah the Saint of Regensburg, on the grounds that it denies the Mosaic authorship of parts of the Pentateuch. All the Responsa deal with religious law, among these: what are the religious grounds for outlawing drug-taking?; dialogue with Christians; the use of hypnotism for medicinal purposes, are teachers in a Yeshivah allowed to go on strike in protest at a delay in the payment of their salary?; may Sunday be a free day in a Yeshivah, being a Christian day of worship? There are a number of Responsa on conversion procedures and on charity distribution. (L.J.)

Shevet ha-Kehati by S.K. Gross (Jerusalem, 1987). - No.263: It might appear from a statement in the Talmud that a man under 40 years of age is not allowed to render decisions in Jewish law, but the author (himself under 40) defends the right to do so; No.332: a discussion on when people are entitled to object to passive smoking; Nos. 348-353 all deal with aspects of the law against withholding the wages of a workman for even one day; No.359: Does the prohibition of treating a widow harshly apply even if she has now remarried?; No.364: though the Talmud frowns on scholars studying on their own this does not apply nowadays, when so many books have been published, since the authors of the books are "our studying companions"; No.379: Does "Thou shalt not covet" mean that one must not even say: 'I would like to have a wife like X's' or does it only apply when one says: 'I would like to have X's wife'?; No.383: on jumping queues. (L.J.)

Peter J. Haas, "Toward a Semiotic Study of Jewish Moral Discourse: The Case of Responsa", Semeia 34 (1985), 59-83; see OTA 9/3 (1986), no.902.

Peter J. Haas, "Responsa Reconsidered", JRJ 30/3 (1983), 37-42. - The author argues that there is indeed a place for the writing of responsa in Reform Judaism since it would be beneficial if one could show that the Jewish tradition, even in its classic sources, was more open to diversity than modern traditionalism would care to admit. (S.M.P.)

Helkat Yoav, ed. A. Mandelbaum, Bene Berak: Mar-Haim, 1985, 2 vols. - A fine new edition of the classic work by Joab Weingarten of Kintsk, including the famous list of 103 severe Halakhic problems it used to be the ambition of every Talmudist to solve. (L.J.)

R.J.H. Henkin, Bene Vanim, Jerusalem: Weiss, 1980. - Among questions discussed are: giving in to terrorists; whether a husband may be present when his wife is giving birth; artificial insemination; contraception. (L.J.)

Judah Herzl Henkin, She'elot uteshuvot Bene Vanim, Jerusalem, Weiss Mekor Barukh, 1981, Pp. 226. - These Responsa and other essays of the District Rabbi of Bet Shean deal with the contemporary situation in the State of Israel, discussing, for instance, the vexed question of how much separation between the sexes in the synagogue; the presence of the husband while his wife is in labour; artificial methods of contraception; artificial insemination; naming adopted children and their status in law; libelling others in order to prevent them doing harm; the rescue by force of hostages from terrorists and hijackers. The volume includes a tribute to the author's famous grandfather, Rabbi Elijah Henkin of New York. (L.J.)

Marcus Mordecai Horovitz, Matteh Levi, Jerusalem: Jewish Academy Publications, 1978. - These Responsa by the Rabbi of Frankfurt-on-Main, re-issued by his grandson Rabbi Baruch Horovitz, contains many interesting Responsa on topical questions, together with facsimiles of the documents on the famous case of the get of Cleves. (L.J.)

J.N. Kornitzer (Rabbi of pre-war Cracow), Sheelot uteshuvot Rabbenu Yosef Nehemiah, Bene Berek: Yeshivat Ohel Yosef, 1986. - Among the topics considered are: the force of communal enactments; procedures to permit a husband to re-marry when his wife has become incurably insane; when a court can set aside the rulings of another court; the Rabbinate as a profession; and the laws governing Rabbinic contracts of service. (L.J.)

Shraga ha-Meir, by F. Schneebalg, 6 vols. (Bene Berak, 1977-1990). - The author is a London Rabbi belonging to the Hasidic movement. I, 34: in addition to the seven Noahide laws, is a Noahide obliged to honour his parents?; II, 79: if one of the witnesses in a case was found to be an interested party he is disqualified but is the whole of the testimony to be ruled out of court?; IV, 7: may the recipient of Responsa from famous Rabbis have them printed without obtaining permission from the authors?; VI, 150: is a judge obliged to state the reason for his decision? In an astonishing responsum (III, 105) the author rules that a young baal teshuvah who smashed his father and sister's television set in order to prevent them from committing the "sin" of watching television is not obliged to pay for the damage. (L.J.)

Betsel ha-Hokhmah, by B. Stern, 6 Parts in Three Vols., new ed. (Jerusalem, l990). - Most of these Responsa deal with questions to which modern life gives rise. I, 3: compensation to the victim of an assault who brought further disability on himself through disobeying the doctor's orders; II, 58: should the doctor tell a patient that his illness is terminal?; II, 73: should a man who had two wives be buried next to the first or the second?; II, 79, a Jew who lives in the Diaspora has a court case with an Israeli - should he attend the court when it sits on the second day of the Festival (kept in the Diaspora but not in Israel)? There are many other Responsa in this collection of similar questions of Israeli-Diaspora relations: III, 23: circumstantial evidence can be relied on for the purpose of interpreting the intention of a testator where his will is ambiguous; IV, 37: when can the Jewish court grant permission for a Jew to bring his case before the civil courts?; IV, 84: can the wishes of an author be disregarded for the benefit of the community when he leaves in his will that his writings should not be published?; V, 81: if a man has an irremovable tatoo of a naked woman on his left arm on the place of the tefillin, what is he to do?; V, 114: if a declared bankrupt later acquires wealth, is he legally obliged to pay his creditors in full?; VI, 113: if a man vowed never to sell a certain object, may he give it away as a gift? At the end of volume three there is an Index to all six parts which makes the book a useful compendium of practical Jewish law. (L.J.)

S. Spitzer, "The Decisions of Maharam Halevi of Vienna" (Heb.), Sinai 84 (5739), 37-46. - The article brings to light and analyses two responsa of this 14th century Ashkenazic scholar. Matters dealt with in the responsa are, inter alia, a father's right to marry off his daughter, and the taking of a pledge in order to secure payment of the debt at a particular date. (Y.S.K.)

Moshe Sternbuch, Teshuvot va-Hanhagot, Jerusalem: Netivot haTorah vehaHesed, 1986. - Among many other topics, the author discusses: owning shares in a firm that operates on the sabbath; fair and unfair business competition; whether the expression Mazal uverakhah, used in the diamond trade, has binding force as a contract; and conversion procedures. (L.J.)

Rabbi Joel Teitelbaum, Divre Yoel, Brooklyn, New York: Jerusalem Book Store Publishing House, 1982, 2 Volumes, Pp.795, Price £40.00. - Rabbi Teitelbaum, who died a year or two ago, was famed as a Hasidic Rebbe but achieved a reputation as an outstanding Halakhist when he was Rabbi of Sotmar in pre-war Hungary. This collection of Responsa covers both periods of the Rabbi's activity. Of especial interest are the series of Responsa in which Rabbi Teitelbaum debates the question of artificial insemination (AID) with Rabbi Moshe Feinstein, who has argued that in Jewish law it is the act of intercourse that constitutes adultery not the injection of semen. The debate has consequences over above this particular question since, on the basis of Leviticus (18:20) Rabbi Teitelbaum holds that it is the injection of semen that affects the status of the child (though, he agrees, the act of intercourse constitutes adultery even where there is no seminal emission). This leads to a wider discussion of how far present-day authorities are justified in applying Scriptural exegesis of their own in determining the law. The publishers have done no service to the late Rabbi by adding the vehement Responsa, written many years ago, in which he expresses in very intemperate terms his views on Rabbi Kook, "the notorious Chief Rabbi". (L.J.)

Rabbi Issar Yehudah Unterman, Shevet Yehudah, First and Second Series, Jerusalem, Mosad Harav Kook, 1983, pp. 503 .- In these responsa and legal essays, the former Chief Rabbi of Israel applies in a novel way the methods he had learned in his youth in Lithuanian Yeshivot to the solution of contemporary problems. Most of the luminaries in these Yeshivot were theoreticians, only indirectly concerned with practical Halakhah. A prominent halakhic guide like Rabbi Unterman could not afford the luxury of pure theory, though this analysis of legal concepts falls in no way short of that of his teachers and, in fact, gains much from the need for definite application in concrete situations. Among the topics discussed are: the principles of pikuah nefesh (life saving); the reliability of the testimony of doctors for the purpose of the religious law (e.g. whether it is necessary to eat on Yom Kippur); marriage and divorce laws and questions of status; heart transplants; conversion procedures; and the differences of function between the clerks to the Court in Talmudic times in our own day. (L.J.)

Rabbi Eliezer Waldinberg, She'elot uteshuvot Tsits Eliezer, Vol. 15, Jerusalem; Itah Publishing House, 1983, Pp. 200. - Rabbi Waldinberg's output is astonishing. This is the 15th volume of his Responsa, many of them dealing with medical questions, on which he is a world authority. In response to an appeal by a doctor, Waldinberg here comes out strongly against cigarette smoking because the evidence shows it can be damaging to health and argues further that non-smokers are entitled in Jewish law to stop others smoking in the same room. There is a lengthy essay on the status and authority of Bate din in the State of Israel and elsewhere in the Jewish world. (L.J.)

Israel Weltz (formerly Rabbi of Budapest), Divre Yisrael, Bene Berak: Yatsiv, 1980, 3 vols. - Discusses among other topics: the prohibition of pig-breeding; the use of the Christian date in correspondence; whether it is permitted to circumcise the child of a Jewish father and non-Jewish mother; whether the Megillat Esther is valid if written by a woman. (L.J.)

Moshe Dov Wolner (formerly Rabbi of Ashkalon), Zohar, Tel-Aviv: Edit. Hemdat Tsevi, 1983-1985, 4 vols. - Topics discussed include: whether women may be excessively strict in religious matters where the tradition is for them to be lenient; whether a mohel may circumcise a Muslim child; whether a drug pusher or one who brings about another's death through hypnosis is treated as a murderer in Jewish law; Jewish laws regarding the age of retirement. (L.J.)

Shevet ha-Levi by S. Wosner, 2nd. ed. (vols.1-5, New York, 1981-4; vol.6, Bene Berak, 1986). - Among the questions discussed are the following: I, 35: the benediction on seeing a monarch applies to a Queen not only to a King; I, 43: a kohen whose car ran over a pedestrian is not thereby disbarred from reciting the priestly blessing; II, 56: streamers and the like manufactured for use on Christmas may still be used to decorate a sukkah; II, 58: since 'the law of the land is law' a tax-inspector who reports to the authorities that a man has evaded his taxes is not an 'informer'; II, 127: a man left a large sum to be distributed among the descendants of a Hasidic Zaddik who died over a hundred years ago - which of the descendants are entitled to receive a share?; III, 175-176: AID is strictly forbidden, with a discussion of the status of the child; IV, 124: it is not an infringement of the fifth commandment when a young man marries the young woman of his choice despite parental opposition; IV, 128: is the Rabbinic office an hereditary one?; IV, 178: when does misrepresentation result in the dissolution of a marriage without a get?; IV, 211: the purchaser of an antique book discovered that it contained the signature of a famous sage thus increasing its value - can the seller revoke the sale?; V, 195: if the daughter of a Levite has a son from a non-Jew, does the son have Levite status?; V, 208: which of the parents is responsible for the care and education of the children when there is a divorce?; VI, 239: the protection of copyright against reproductions by photo-copying; VI, 241: compensation for the killing of a prowling dog which looked wild but had not actually attacked anyone; VI, 242: when and when not to switch off a life-sustaining machine. (L.J.)

Havye ha-Levi by Y. Wosner (nephew of the above) (Montreal, 1986) - No.101: When a couple adopt an infant should he be told that he is not their natural child?; No.105: When A summons B to attend the Bet Din is B entitled to refuse unless A pays all the costs?; No.112: A car taken out on a trial run by a would-be purchaser breaks down en route and has to be repaired - who is required to pay for the repairs? (L.J.)

D. Zafrani, "The Sefer Hahokhmah of R. Barukh of Mainz" (Heb.), Sinai 84 (5739), 245-265. - In this article, various responsa of R. Barukh of Mainz contained in his Sefer Hahokhmah are presented. These responsa deal, inter alia, with the right of a widow to her ketuba and those provisions under it which must be satisfied out of the estate; the general modes of acquisition in Jewish law, and conditions under which a litigant may be required to swear on an oath. (Y.S.K.)

 

 

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