The Tishrei 5779 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.
- The Feast of the Leviathan and the Sukkah of the Leviathan’s Skin by R. Tzvi Schwartz – What does it mean that the righteous will eat in a sukkah made of leviathin’s skin? A survey of interpretations.
- Fertility Treatments for Someone Mentally Ill by R. Dr. Mordechai Halperin – Should a charity refrain from providing fertility treatments if one of the would-be parents is significantly mentally ill? If the couple themselves are asking (as opposed to their parents) and the man has not fulfilled the mitzvah to have children, then give them standard medical care but not extra treatments like artificial insemination.
- Kiddush and Challah For a Diabetic by R. Dr. Mordechai Halperin – A diabetic woman who lives alone for whom even a little wine or bread would be dangerous should not say Kiddush or eat Challah if it poses danger. She should pray (which includes Kiddush) and/or hear Kiddush in synagogue and/or say an abbreviated Kiddush on another drink.
- Egg Donation to a Kohen’s Wife by R. Dr. Mordechai Halperin – The child is not a challal (defiled kohen). If the halakhic mother is Jewish then the sperm donor’s status determines whether the child is a kohen.
- Returning a Damaged Item – An expensive garment sheds. The store claims everyone knows it. The buyer wants to return it and let people on the Internet know about the issue. If the issue is common knowledge, the buyer cannot demand a return. The buyer can notify the public that the item sheds but only in a place where just people considering the purchase will see it and without exaggerating the situation. If the buyer wants to publicize that she was wronged, she may not.
- Damage to a Cellphone – A schoolgirl left her cellphone in the back of the classroom and her classmate damaged it. If both 1) it is unusual to put the phone there and 2) the other girl acted normally in the classroom then the damager is exempt from paying. Otherwise she must pay for the damage.
- Returning a Lost Item in School – A boy lost his soccer ball in school. Another boy found it on the roof. The owner wants it back but the finder wants to keep it. If the original owner admits he gave up on getting back the ball (ye’ush), the school acquired the ball and must return it to the original owner — unless the school has an explicit policy not to return most items. If the original owner can prove that he did not give up (e.g. he kept asking people if they saw the ball), then it belongs to him. If the original owner is a minor, it belongs to him no matter what.
- Writing a Negative Restaurant Review – You have to follow all 7 conditions of lashon ha-ra, which includes informing only people who might eat at that restaurant and benefit from a negative review. Do not post it to your Facebook feed. Post it to the restaurant’s feed or website (or a restaurant review website – GS).
- A Roommate Who Damaged the Property – Does he pay the owner for the damage or do all the roommates pay? If the renting agreement specifies, that determines who pays. The roommates are shomerim on the property and must protect it from harm. If they were negligent, then they all have to pay for the damage.
- Finding Coins Near Tzedakah Boxes by R. Ariel Bareli – If you can figure out from which box the coins fell, return them to that box (e.g. the closest one). If they are all the same distance, distribute the money equally to the boxes.
- Paying a Babysitter by R. Ariel Bareli – A mother was in an accident and is staying home. She paid the babysitter for the month in advance but no longer needs her services this month. Can she ask for her money back? She does not have to pay because the accident is unexpected (ones) but cannot ask for her money back if she paid in advance — but she can ask the babysitter to reach a fair compromise.
- Fictional Underpricing of a House by R. Ariel Bareli – You may not report a lower sales price to reduce the tax burden.
- Bidding to Rent An Apartment by R. Uriel Peretz – Can you offer a landlord higher rent to entice him to rent to you rather than the family currently there? If the apartment is unusual in some way (e.g. large for the neighborhood) so that the other family will be unable to find a similar situation, then no.
- Grape Infestations by R. Moshe Katz – This year, grapes in Israel have insect infestations. Each grape should be individually washed under strong water or small clusters should be soaked in soapy water for around 3 minutes. Additionally, check that each grape is whole (unpunctured) without soft spots or black dots.
- Separating Terumos and Ma’asros on Erev Shabbos During Twilight by R. Shai Levi – If you really need the fruit and you forgot to separate terumos and ma’asros, you may separate them during twilight (bein ha-shmashos) but only if you the community has not yet accepted Shabbos.
- Laws of Terumos and Ma’asros For Trio Planters by R. Yoel Friedemann – A new hydroponic planter allows individuals to keep plants fresh at home. The company’s kosher authority says that product owners do not have to take terumos and ma’asros because it is taken at the factory. R. Friedemann says they should separate terumos and ma’asros (without a blessing) because what is taken at the factory doesn’t work since the plants are still in the water/ground and the plants grow more in the home. R. Moshe Kohen, the head of the kosher authority, writes in disagreement that the plants are not considered still in the ground and that the plants do not grow in the home but merely stay fresh (as determined after testing). R. Yoel Friedemann responsa together with an agronomist that the plants are still connected to some earth and that they do, in fact, grow in the home which they are willing to prove.
- The Obligation to Separate Terumos and Ma’asros in Jerusalem and the Temple by R. Netanel Oyerbach – Some interpret the Rambam as saying that terumos and ma’asros become biblically required when the majority of Jews move to Israel. Others interpret him as saying that the land requires a new sanctification. Some say that terumos and ma’asros are biblically required in Jerusalem today and some say rabbinically.
- Neta Reva’i Today and Within the Boundaries of the Returnees From Egypt by R. Shai Levi – The level of obligation of Neta Reva’i today depends on whether it is compared to Orlah (biblical) or Ma’aser Sheini (rabbinic).
- Orlah in Avocado Trees Cultivated for Rootstock Propagation From the Seed, and Not for Consumption by R. Avraham Sochovolsky – Does orlah apply when you don’t intend to eat the fruit? Is the seed part of the fruit? Because of debates, we should be strict.
- Assisting the Neutering of Animals by R. Yehuda Halevy Amichai – A veterinarian-in-training cannot assist in the neutering of animals even though the senior veterinarian is intentionally committing the act and can do so without the assistance.
- Raising Locusts for Human Consumption: A Halakhic Challenge In a Changing World by Agron. Shimon Biton – Insect consumption might solve the world’s hunger problem. For Jews, locusts (or locust powder) might be the solution.
- Kashrus of Unfertilized and Fertilized Eggs: A Widespread Halakhic Issue by Prof. Zohar Amar and Dr. Yaron Seri – In some places in the world, particularly the Far East, it is common to eat eggs that have been fertilized but have not yet hatched. These eggs are not kosher.
- Utensils for Both Regular Kosher Meat and Glatt Kosher Meat by R. Yitzchak Devir – Survey of views whether Sephardim who are strict about glatt can eat from utensils used for non-glatt meat — either yes, after 24 hours, or no. Harsh response by R. Shai Levi accusing the author of misrepresenting sources and encouraging people not to eat in other people’s homes. R. Devir responds puzzled by the harsh response because he isn’t talking about hosts and guests. I don’t understand the harsh response either but for a different reason. In my house, we regularly wait 24 hours without using the oven or specific pots/pans/etc. to accommodate friends and relatives who are more strict. Why is this so hard?
- Kosher Use of Induction Burners by R. Yitzchak Devir – Induction burners do not get as hot as normal convection burners. Therefore, they may not burn anything that drips on them as much as convection burners. After discussion, this article concludes that induction burners can be used for dairy and meat (separately) if wiped clean after spills and drips.
- ”Ghost Homes” in Israel by R. Tal Cohen – A halakhic analysis of the economic problem of Diaspora Jews buying homes in Israel that they leave empty most of the year. Based on Rashi (Menachos 44a s.v. mishum), argues that it is halakhically desirable to rent out empty homes in Israel. However, there is value in buying it regardless, and particularly from a gentile. And if it’s an apartment rather than a house, the land itself is inhabited even if one apartment is empty.
- The Money Indicates – The Price of a Transaction as a Cause for Interpreting the Agreement by R. Hillel Gefen – Under certain circumstances, when there is a question of what is included in a sale, the amount paid can serve as proof (i.e. no one would pay that much without the additional element).
- A Practical Guide to Connect a Contractor and Customer by R. Elazar Goldstein – The obligations and rights of a contractor and remedies of a customer.
- Suing an Insurance Company by R. Ariel Bareli – An insurance company refuses to pay the full damage to a car. The car owner can sue the insurance company in court for the full amount plus any other damages, emotional distress, legal expenses and a penalty but not interest.
- The Transition from Synthetic ETFs to ETFs and its Halakhic Implications by R. Shlomo Ishon – Israel ended synthetic ETFs because in the case of bankruptcy, investors are merely creditors without any actual stocks as collateral. This poses a challenge to “kosher investment funds,” which avoid investments in companies that lend with interest or work on Shabbos. Synthetic ETFs were a solution because they only mimic the behavior of stocks without actually investing in them. The law allows for three options for kosher funds: 1) a synthetic transaction with a parallel fund that owns the underlying stocks, 2) a synthetic transaction with a bank, 3) investments in sovereign or consumer instruments. #1 is halakhically problematic.
- Preserving Fertility in Cancer Patients by R. Gavriel Goldman and R. Menachem Borstein – Discussion of the various options, from minimally invasive treatment to freezing eggs and sperm, and more. Emphasizes the psychological importance of thinking about fertility — hope.
- Rabbi Eliezer and the Red Heifer by R. Azariah Ariel – The Mishnah of Parah begins with a statement of R. Eliezer and the midrash associates him with the laws of Parah Adumah. Why? R. Eliezer was devoted to tradition, as seen in many examples of his behavior. By maximizing reception of law, he minimized the human ability to understand and innovate Torah. Similarly, the Parah Adumah exemplifies the limitations of human understanding.
- Public Notice of Insect Contaminations in Jams and Preserves – A timeline of tests for whole insects in jams and preserves with surprising results.
- R. Meir Mazuz on the numerology of Psalm 20. Binyamin Henschke argues that yeshiva students do not qualify as “toraso umnaso,” who are exempt from prayer and from army service.
Machon Ha-Torah Ve-Ha-Aretz
Torah and State Center
Mishpetei Eretz Institute
The Temple Institute