The Tammuz 5778 issue of this journal published by Torah VeHa’aretz Institute, in conjunction with Puah, The Zomet Institute, Machon Keter, Mishpetei Eretz Institute, Mishpat La-Am, Koshrot, The Temple Institute, Halichot Am Israel Organization, Torah and State Center, and Chotam. The journal is in Hebrew but recently started a section of English summaries of key articles. I will list here the Hebrew articles and indicate with an asterisk which articles have English summaries. Many of the articles are available online. Past issues are also available online.
- Ya’ankha Hashem Be-Yom Tzarah by R. Tzvi Schwartz – An analysis of Psalm 20 and its relation to war, with an amazing story from the Yom Kippur War.
- An Incorrectly Labeled Product on a Store Shelf by R. Ariel Bareli (Mishpat La-Am) – You can take advantage of a lower price but if it is clearly a mistake and significantly lower than normal, you must follow the laws of Ona’ah which allow the seller to revoke the sale.
- Sale of a Line of Juices by R. Ariel Bareli (Mishpat La-Am) – If someone sold his line of juices (with a non-compete clause) and the buyer retires the line, the originator can start a new line of juices.
- Paying for Damage – On the Renter or the Landlord? by R. Ariel Bareli (Mishpat La-Am) – If a rented apartment is damaged by an unknown third party, the landlord has to pay to fix the apartment.
- State’s Witness in Jewish Law by Mishpetei Eretz – A criminal who turns state’s witness is inherently invalid for testimony. However, the government can accept the testimony extra-legally in order to maintain society.
- Damaged Rav Kav (Israel transit card) by Mishpetei Eretz – A driver can not waive your transit fee. If the machine is broken, you can ride for free. If your card is broken, even if the driver allows you to ride for free you should pay later.
- Took Construction Rights Without Paying by Mishpetei Eretz – Complicated question about an overly aggressive contractor working in a jointly owned building. The answer is that the rabbi needs to hear both sides and that details make all the difference. But gives general principles.
- Kosherizing Cloth by R. Yitzchak Dvir (Koshrot) – You can kosherize a tablecloth from forbidden food that spilled on it or for Pesach by washing it well, even in cold water. There is room to be strict and wash it with water at least as hot as water was spilled on it.
- The Shade of Tekheiles by R. Avraham Kahana (Temple Institute) – Is there a specific shade of blue that is Tekheiles? No, it can vary within a range.
- Olives Designated for Oil From Which Terumos and Ma’asros Are Taken by R. Ehud Achitov (Torah VeHa’aretz) – Terumos and Ma’asros were removed too soon. They should have been removed after the oil is made. You have to treat the olives that were removed as Terumos and Ma’asros. Also, Terumos and Ma’asros have to be taken from the oil, without a blessing.
- Kosher Status of Pollen by R. Ehud Achitov (Torah VeHa’aretz) – Can pure pollen (ambrosia) from a beehive be used in food production? Royal jelly is bee secretion and only permitted for sick people. Pollen is collected by bees but not produced by them, so it is permitted with kosher certification.
- The Short Formula for Removing Terumos and Ma’asros by R. Ehud Achitov (Torah VeHa’aretz) – Only for use in extreme situations. Memorize the regular text.
The Land and Its Commandments (Torah VeHa’aretz)
- Ma’aser Ani Not Given to the Poor by R. Ya’akov Ariel – Unlike other Ma’asros which can be redeemed on a single coin, Ma’aser Ani is supposed to be given to poor people. That is a huge amount of produce that most farmers in Israel will not give away. Rav Ariel suggests exchanging the large portion of Ma’aser Ani, which the poor will never get, for a much smaller amount of money that farmers will be willing to actually give to the poor. Since the poor get a benefit, this can be done on their behalf by a third party.
- ”Healthy Wine”: A New Challenge* by Dr. Mordechai Shomron – There is a new trend for “natural” vineyards in which grass is allowed to grow, or planting cover crops, in between the vines. This causes a problem of kilayim, a forbidden mixture of plants.
- Leaving Weeds In a Vineyard* by R. Yehuda HaLevy Amichai – This is a real problem. You have to get rid of the weeds and grass.
- Guidelines of the Chief Rabbinate and the Edah Charedis to Vinegrowers – Guidelines released by these two agencies earlier this year requiring removal of weeds and other crops while the grapes grow. The Chief Rabbinate adds that these guidelines are temporary while they try to find a technical and halakhic solution.
- Insects in Flour* by R. Yoel Freidemann – In a previous issue, they discussed bugs that enter flour during transport and storage. Here they discuss bugs in flour before that, from the grain itself. Conclusion is that modern grain processing leaves even more room for leniency than Medieval methods, which the Terumas Ha-Deshen permitted.
- The Possibility of Insects Hatching From Eggs Left in Flour* by R. David Eigner – Discusses modern factory techniques of creating flour and what the factories do to kill the insects and eggs. These include refrigeration, vacuum packing and replacing oxygen with nitrogen or carbon dioxide. Nothing is foolproof but they do a better job than ancient methods.
- Making Dough That is Less Than the Quantity for Taking Challah by R. Netanel Oyerbach – You can’t intentionally break up a large batch into multiple small batches in order to avoid the mitzvah.
Kashrut and Halacha (Koshrot)
- The Development of the Food Industry and Its Implications for Kashrus Observers* by R. Tzvi Ben Reuven – Overview of the massive changes in food technology that explain why we cannot just look at the ingredients, like people once did.
- Are the Tribe of Levi and Anyone For Whom Torah Is His Occupation Exempted From Army Enlistment? by R. Yigal Kamenetsky (Torah and State Center) – Survey of the literature surrounding the Rambam’s view, including the challenges posed and the answers offered. Concludes that only two explanations remain viable, those of the Brisker Rav and Rav Kook.
- Civil Law in the Rambam’s Teachings by R. Ratzon Arusi (Halichot Am Israel) – Focuses on the Rambam’s approach to exceptions within the laws of shomrim as a guide to an all-encompassing civil law.
- Financial Obligations Fo A Dog Bite Today by R. Ariel Bareli (Mishpat La’Am) – Even though religious courts today cannot fine people because of the lack of traditional ordination, they still have to protect the public by fining when necessary.
Finances and Halacha
- A Torah Perspective on the Struggle of the Disabled by R. Azriel Ariel (Chotam) – Excellent discussion of the competing concerns within a discussion of government stipends to the disabled. The best charity is by individuals but the government has much more ability. Family and friends have the first obligation. No poor person has a right to charity. There should not be a disincentive to work. There should not be an undue burden on the poor to receive charity. And more
- Someone Who Agreed to Carry an Object to Someone Else But Refused to Accept Responsibity by R. Yaakov Hildesheim (Machon Keter) – If he immediately said he will not accept responsibility, you can’t force him to pay. But if he took the object and later said he doesn’t accept responsibility, he is still responsible.
Medicine and Halacha
- Hysterectomy and Alternatives by R. Gavriel Goldman and R. Menachem Burstein (Puah) – Halakhic issues with hysterectomies, such as when it is allowed and the implications for nidah.
- A Stain on a Transparent Garment by R. Meir Silman (Puah) – Is it considered a colored garment? Machlokes whether only a white garment forbids or only a colored garment permits.
Temple and Halacha
- The Wood of the Arrangement and the Burning of the Res Heifer by R. Azariah Ariel (Temple Institute) – Discussion of details – from where does the wood come, must it be pure, when and where is it arranged?
- Communications by R. Dror Fixler and R. Yehuda Halevi Amichai – Debate over the permissibility of opening magnetic door locks on Shabbos.