Thursday, November 29, 2007

The Magic Flute, The Brooklyn Bridge & Instant Persuasion

So what's new by me, you ask?

Ah, I shall be glad to tell you!

The first and most exciting development is that I got to see "The Magic Flute" recently. Lightman and I went together to The Met (I had been to The New York City Opera before, but The Met is just amazing.) "The Magic Flute" was spectacular. It's utterly gorgeous! The lighting, scenery, set and costumes were all dazzling. Imagine this fantastic crystal palace upon the stage, a crystal palace I would die to live in and only wish could be mine. Imagine the fact that it revolves accompanied by heavenly music and utterly beautiful lighting! Picture an evil queen with a personality that makes me quite happy (especially since I persist in my interpretation of the opera, in which case she isn't really evil at all.) I am so the Queen of the Night. Ha!

Secondly, I had the pleasure of being uptown over the weekend (as you all know, seeing as I spent a wonderful Shabbat there!) I was also rather productive, which was exciting. Got to meet Tzarich Iyun and walked the Brooklyn Bridge with him (which was lots of fun! The best part was when we asked two tourists to take a picture of us. So they stopped and took the picture, but then they whipped out their own digital camera and started snapping pictures of us. They took down our email addresses and said they'd email them to us. Isn't that so incredibly nice?!) Then I discovered where the nearest Blockbuster to the Wilf Campus is (good for me to know, since I plan upon renting movies from there.)

There was the fantastic Medical Ethics event, "The Halakhic Hero"- I cannot bring myself to misspell halakhic- (which meant I was uptown again; I live there, I tell you,) at which I saw Yonah, Aaron and Chani, a wonderful Bone Marrow drive (so now I am part of the registry) and the expected Chinese food for all. There are these frighteningly addictive dry crispy noodles that they serve. Shudder.

Hitman scared me in the library (his new plan is to scare me in every single building; he's managed the SkyCaf, so Belfer, and the Library...we'll see what happens next. He's still got to find me in Morg. While I was in Morg, by the way, I was amused to see that the guys have a "Thanksgiving Dinner" at 3:00 whereas we on the Beren Campus have a "Thanksgiving Luncheon" at 4:00. Odd, anyone?) Then Hitman showed me these superbly interesting advertisements- and I ripped one and ruined history- but it's okay, Starlight probably didn't rip any.

Last night I attended an Honors Program event entitled "Instant Persuasion" and learned how to persuade people. Here are the six steps involved in such an activity:

1. Scarcity: People are persuaded by knowing that something is in "limited supply" or "one time only." If something is scarce, then people want it before there's none left.

2. Social Proof: She gave an example of a restaurant that isn't good at attracting customers and therefore employs a seating policy. Even though the restaurant is empty, they make people line up outside so it seems like it's a really cool place to be. So people see the line and come along and wait. People want to do what everyone else is doing- if you can effectively show someone like me is doing it, I'll want to do it, too.

3. Consistency/ Commitment: Apparently research shows that when somebody changes their mind, we consider them to be less intelligent (the reason that labeling Kerry a flip-flopper was so deleterious to his campaign.) We have an inborn need to be consistent. She gave an example where people hypothetically committed themselves to volunteer 3 hours of their time to the American Cancer Society and then a week later were actually called by the society- they volunteered. Because they had already committed in some shape or form, even in hypotheticals, wanted to follow through.

4. Reciprocity: Gave example of Hare Krishnites in airports. They give these little flowers to people. People can't say no, so they take the flower but then feel obligated to stand there for at least a few seconds- to reciprocate. Same idea if someone invites you to meal; you have to invite them back.

5. Authority: Two kinds. Expert authority (like an expert witness) and Referant authority (people refer to you, value your opinion even if you are not a leader.)

6. Liking: You're far more likely to do a favor for someone you like or are friends with than someone who just comes to you when they need you.

After this was over, I actually got to hang out with SJ and M.R. for a while! Can you imagine?! We came up with some hilarious Honors Program slogans, all of them quite evil, and I emailed them to our director. It shall be a party. My favorite at the moment is "Lonely Women of Faith: The Honors Program." That one doesn't even make sense but cracks me up. There are far better ones, though. We've got "They Made Us An Offer We Couldn't Refuse," "You Can't Hurt My Ego: I'm In The Honor's Program!" and "We're Only In It For the Food" and many more.

Today I engaged in this highly productive activity while attending the class that is a complete waste of time:

I happened to rock my Russian class today and had the whole class applaud me twice! Twice, I tell you. Then I was informed that for speech class I ought to give a speech on Russian adverbs and how passionately I feel about them (I was very passionate in class today. You see, Russian adverbs rock my socks. Their goddamned endings never change. They always stay the same. They're loyal to you, loyal!) Obviously the persuasive speech rubbed off on me. Although the lady wouldn't give me the microphone. Humph. It was great; I asked her for the microphone and she eyed me warily as though I were a savage beast and said "No!" Lady and I are probably not the best of friends.

My Other Russian Teacher, if you could please call me and leave voicemails in relatively easy/ understandable Russian, that would be a great way for me to practice (at the very least comprehending. Aside from which, your Russian is freaking perfect and maybe that will help me.) Thanks!

Let's see, I was also called a Shmata & a Sucker this week. I present to you...The Shmata! (Triumphant applause.) Actually, at the moment it is Shmata No More.

Most of today was spent running all around Manhattan for reasons I cannot divulge at the moment. (Don't I sound so mysterious? Huzzah!)

I liked the last episode of "House" and know that I would definitely have pulled a Wilson if it were me (Wilson is obviously a Shmata, too. Hurrah for us members of the Shmata club.)

Oh, and it's quite randomly funny that Dustfinger is in Monsey this Shabbat while I am nowhere near her and so we shall miss seeing each other. Oh, Dustfinger...

But the best and most exciting part of this week is the fact that I get to sleep in a shul this Shabbos! Isn't that cool? When was the last time you slept in a shul? Hurrah for me; I am the shul-sleeper! Huzzah!

And now I shall head uptown again. I live there, don't you know?

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

You're Sexy: Now Own It!

I find it frustrating that so many people I know are uncomfortable with their own sexuality. This to the point where they cannot say the word; they must supplement with milder terms such as "beauty" or at the very worst "desirable."

This idea was brought home to me once again as I sat in English class this morning. We were learning John Donne, a melancholic religious poet who enjoys using charged euphemisms for sexual ideas throughout his work. One of the girls was clearly uncomfortable with this and said to the teacher in an accusatory voice, "Well, it's clear he has no shame." The teacher was perplexed by this. "Do you mean he ought to?" he asked, surprised. The student found the very mention of sexuality to be somehow problematic, even though this was one of Donne's less melodramatic poems; in fact, one of his sweeter ones, "A Valediction Forbidding Mourning."

Why is this idea so prevalent? Why this instinctive shrinking when sexuality is mentioned; why is it forbidden for the Jewish girl to admit that she too may be beautiful, that sexuality and eroticism are a part of life, and that both of these aspects to life, when sanctified within the bond of marriage, are utterly wondrous? I have had discussions with many people, some of whom have ashamedly admitted to their thoughts about those of the opposite sex or worse, in their eyes, the fact that they fantasize about their future partners. It is worrisome that they feel so guilty and ashamed of thinking in this manner. What would be the better approach? To claim that human beings are not highly sexual creatures, to somehow never think about the physical part of a relationship until the very moment that one finds oneself married? That is unnatural!

It all stems from this obsession with the idea of tzniut. I find it strange that tzniut must now extend to one's entire personality and demeanor. If there are halakhot of tzniut, then yes, one must keep to them. But since when does God mandate that one overthrow one's entire personality, one's entire way of acting, all that makes you you, in favor of this quiet, demure, meek, assumed character? If one happens to be of a milder temperament, that is one thing. But to return from seminary having been taught that one actually has to change one's personality in order to be accepted by God- what is this? Do you honestly think that God requires you to present a false front in order to keep his mitzvot? Do you truly believe that God desires you to quench your natural fire or curiosity in favor of this retiring Fanny Price?

Where did you get this from? Have you looked at our women in Tanakh? I honestly think that these women haven't read Tanakh! Every single one of our Patriarchs were married to absolutely gorgeous women. Tell me, if physicality doesn't matter, if one's physical attributes and beauty is irrelevant, then what need had they to be married to the most striking women of their generation, women desired by kings? Or go back to the very beginning, to our own Eve! Eve persuades Adam to eat of the forbidden fruit, according to the midrash, having told him what it truly was! And how did she do this? Through her own power, her own ability, her own beauty and sadness and playacting.

Do you see the women in Tanakh? All of them are strong, charismatic personalities! Consider Tamar, who dons a harlot's disguise in order to entice Judah, then brazenly presents him with the tokens that he gave her when he thinks that he will burn her. Consider Jael, who sleeps with Sisra in order to kill him and thereby save the Jewish people. Consider the wiles and wisdom of women of Tanakh, whether it be the Wise Woman of Tekoah or the peerless Queen of Sheba! Consider Tzipporah, performing milah upon her son while her husband is being swallowed alive by a threatening snake. Consider Delilah, following Eve's footsteps in ruling her husband. Consider On's wife, who saved him by letting down her long tresses and combing them before the tent!

Who were all these women? Strong women! Strong women with strong personalities and most importantly, women who not only admitted for their sexuality but used it as a weapon. Eve, Tamar, Jael, On's wife and so many others- this is the way in which they achieved their ends! Consider the wives of the Jews in Egypt, who donned beautiful garments and used cosmetics in order to beautify themselves for their husbands, then seducing them in order to ensure the continuation of the Jewish nation. Consider Esther, or outside of the canon, Judith! All of these women were sexual beings who used what was theirs in order to achieve their ends. And certainly there are women in Tanakh who use their beauty for evil ends- consider Zelicha, Potiphar's wife- but there are also those who accomplish so much good because of it! Like everything else that God has given us, this too must be channeled in the appropriate way in order to accomplish good.

Every single character trait, personality trait or ability we have can be channeled toward a positive or negative goal. But one cannot deny one's very nature! One cannot simply pretend that one isn't a human being, that one's wants and desires do not exist, cannot completely block off or destroy an entire part of their makeup. And why would you want to? Why should girls be taught that their innate sexuality is somehow ugly or distorted; why would we introduce Christianity into Judaism? Sexuality does not mean acting in a manner which is promiscuous or forward; it is simply an attribute of a woman and one that she ought to have. A woman is a woman and she does not belong dressed in a burlap sack!

So why this fear? Why this discomfort with the idea that you as a woman are meant to be a beautiful, physically attractive person who has the power of your own sexuality? Why the desire to alienate this completely, to pretend this does not exist, to somehow see this as something flawed or wrong or off limits? If it's yours, then own it. You don't have to be dressed in a provocative manner or act uncharacteristically in order to own your sexuality. You simply have to accept that it exists, that you have this innate quality and it is yours. You have to be comfortable in your own skin and part of that comfort lies in accepting all parts of you, including your own sexuality.

If you're not comfortable in your own skin, it suggests that you are somehow under the impression that something that has to do with you is wrong, dirty, shameful or otherwise problematic- and why would you want to think that about yourself?! That's a harmful and terrible way to think about yourself! How can you be you if you want to utterly cut out a part of yourself, a part of yourself which was given to you as a tool, which the strong women of Tanakh have used as a tool countless times in order to advance the Jewish nation?

You're sexy, you're beautiful, you're Jewish: now own it!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

YU Medical Ethics: The Halachik Hero- How Far Must One Go To Save Another's Life?

These notes are unofficial and unedited. Any and all mistakes are mine.

(Incidentally, I named this event. Although I know how to spell halakhic correctly. The reference is obviously to Halakhic Man.)

Yehuda Leeder and Rivka Wieder: On behalf of the YU Student Medical Ethics Society, like to welcome all of you to tonight’s lecture. Exciting to see the familiar faces that have joined us for past events- please be sure to sign up on our email list- the Student MedEthics society is a student run society with goal of promoting. Make Yeshiva University a globe center for- educational resource for laymen, Rabbis, patients, doctors and others in other professions.

Been given esteemed pleasure and honor to introduce Dr. Reichman. Dr. Reichman received smikha from RIETS, prizes, Associate Professor of Emergency Medicine, Assosciate professor of Philosophy and History of Medicine ….Tonight Dr. Reichman will focus on the halakhic perspective of living organ donation

Second speaker Mr. Jay Feinberg- executive director and founder of Gift of Life Donor Foundation- member of worldwide registry Bone Marrow Donors Worldwide- facilitates Bone Marrow transplants around the world- publically recognized for – Charles Brothman prize and National Organ …award, Hadassash award, Honory Doctorate from YU alongside Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton. Thanks…please join me in welcoming Dr. Reichman. Kindly turn off your cell phones now.

Dr. Reichman: I guess I should turn off my cell phone also- good evening, thank you for the intro- wonderful to be here at another extraordinary event- tell story of a student of course not at YU who approached his professor at end of semester and says “Professor, I want you to know that if I am ever told I have one hour left to live, want to spend it in your classroom.” Why? “Because hour in your classroom seems like an eternity”- hour hopefully won’t seem like that to you- discuss opportunity to possibly save life- extraordinary opportunity to be a so-called halakhic hero.

Wanted to recall 2 years ago when inaugurated- November 30, 2005- at that time we spoke about stem cell research- update you for those of you who have not seen reports over last week- New York Times on November 23, 2007 that said to our many reasons for thankfulness we can now add the pioneering brilliance of Shinya Yamanaka and James Thomsons- scientists who may this week have joined a short list that includes Gregor Mendel and Marie Curie. The breakthrough is stunning- four genes introduced into normal skin cells, enticing them to act like embryonic stem cells, which can be transformed into the 220 cell types of the human body. Somehow a piece of skin after a few weeks of lab work, can become the cell of a beating heart. Discussed this at first event- interesting that 2 weeks after our discussion many developments in frontier of stem cell research, this is just one of them which obviates the need for stem cell harvesting- renders discussion of almost 2 years ago almost moot. Field of medical halakha everchanging, abreast of current developments and advances in science as they are occurring- society for Jewish Medical Ethics, think it was appropriate that we began with stem cells- stem cells can ___- infinitely- think society has shown over past 2 years, can have tremendous development and advance of human willpower and human mind- so commend all those who are involve din tonight’s events and past two years events- hope that our discussions will all be moot but hope we will have many discussion together for many years to come.

Like to begin our discussion this evening which will focus mostly on living human organ donation- living human being to donate something to another living human being that will facilitate their survival. Begin with this real case, case study of Renada Daniel-Patterson, teenager girl whose parents became estranged from one another and whose father landed himself in prison. She developed kidney disease and needed to go on dialysis, in effect artificial kidney, needed to go to hospital 3 times a week and artificial kidney- in absence of that would die- better to receive donation of kidney rather than artificial kidney. Father agreed to donate his kidney to his daughter. She was a teenager at the time- one of the requirements at the time is that she needs to take immunosuppressants- we discussed this in one of the conferences- if you do not take these medications to suppress immune system to prevent body from rejecting kidney and in effect this young girl neglected to take her medicines that would allow her to keep the kidney. So lo and behold she rejected that kidney. Her father, upon hearing this news, made following offer- allow me to donate 2nd kidney to my daughter and I will go on dialysis rather than have my daughter go on my dialysis.

Two questions:

1. Is it halakhically appropriate to serve as a donor of a kidney?
2. Is it halakhically appropriate to be a donor of a second kidney?

Now we turn to case 2

LB suffers from leukemia and a bone marrow donation is recommended by hiss doctors- the gift of life holds a bone marrow drive at a local university. MJ reads the sign at the elevator and wonders whether he should join the drive- might be painful, doesn’t know anyone with leukemia- should he join the drive?

2 cases we’ll discuss

To begin with medical aspects, list of different types of organs that can be donated:

1. Blood
2. Bone Marrow
3. Kidney
4. Liver
5. Lung

Blood is an organ, largest organ in body. Blood can be donated- Bone marrow can be donated from one human being to another. Other organs that can be donated- impact halakhically also is that blood regenerates in the body. When you donate bone marrow, bone marrow also regenerates in yoru body. A kidney however does not regenerate. Liver can also be donated from a living person to another- lung can also be donated- obviously only a section of the lung.

These are the organs that can be donated from one human being to another- now like to begin the halakhic anaylsis:

Why should we donate from one person to another person? What is the halakhic basis?

Leviticis 19: pasuk tes-zayn

Lo Saamod al dam Reacha
Do not stand idly by as the blood of your brother is being shed

IT is the analysis of this pasuk, parameters of this obligation that we involve ourselves in to discuss-

Gemara explains the origin of our obligation to save life- Gemara Sanhedrin Daf Ayin-Gimmel 73

“How do you know,” the Gemara asks, “that if someone is drowning in the river or attacked by wild animals or attacked by band of marauders that you have an obligation to step in and save that person? You know that from this famous phrase- do not stand idly by as the blood of your brother is being shed.” So Gemara continues “Is this th eorigin? We have another source in the Torah! How do you know that you have eto restore somebody’s health, somebody’s body? It says that you have to return a lost object to someone.” What is most prized lost object to any individual? Their health, their life- you have an opportunity to save that life, have to seize that obligation. So Gemara continues “But if only had obligation to save a life from idea of returning lost objects, obligation would be pretty limited” because halakha is that if someone loses an object, laptop or palm pilot- you have obligation to restore it physically or put up a sign, send a mass email- but your obligation is pretty limited. You do not for example have to spend any money out of your own pocket to return that.

Now there was an interesting case a few years ago where person was passing through JFK and lost pair of tefilling- sent out mass email, no name on tefillin- within 24 hours this person received their tefillin back. Obviously wouldn’t have happened without advances over last decade- that perhaps an obligation. But that’s pretty much it! But to actually expend financial effort and to spend money to save life of another human being- that’s why the Gemara concludes there’s a twofold obligation to save life of human being 1. bodily/ physical and 2. financial

But there’s a dimension that the Gemara doesn’t address- question of how much risk someone has to take in order to save another person’s life- but what if that rescue is involved with a certain amount of risk. How much risk do we have to take to our own bodies to save life of antoher person?

Bais Yosef says in Choshen Mishpat siman Taf-Chaf-Vav- if there is a questionable risk to your life, you are obligated to perform that rescue- so even if you would be involved in a serious bodily risk the Bais Yosef says that you are obligated to incur risk in order to save somebody else’s life.

They learn it out from passage in Talmud Yerushalmi

Ben Issi was in captivity in city of Safsufa. How to rescue him? This rescue involve sentering foreign city, serious risk. How much risk do we incur? Rabbi Yonasan says “Wrap him in his shrouds”- basically saying it is too risky- we just have to allow him to die. R’ Shimon ben Lakish says “I would rather die than let him die!” And indeed the postscript to the Gemara is that R’ Shimon ben Lakish went into city, deal/ negotiated with foreign enemy and saved Ben Issi.

This passage only found in Jerusalem Talmud, not Babylonian Talmud.

Now Beis Yosef wrote the Shulkhan Aruch- he reads as follows;

You see somebody drowning in the ocean, robbers attacking him, either you yourself physically or you can hire somebody else to perform the rescue- and neglected to perform the rescue- you have violated the obligation of “do not stand idly by on your brother’s blood.” What’s missing here? The obligation to incur risk! Many mefarshim say that they do not include this phrase because not included by Rambam or Rif so in essence says we don’t pasken, we don’t hold you have to put yourself at extraordinary risk in order to save someone else’s life.

Famous responsum of the Radbaz- Chelek hey Siman Reish Yud Ches- this is something that is used even today:

The tragic, horrific circumstances reminiscent – soldier stands in front of two Jews and says to one Jew “Allow me to amputate your finger and if you don’t, I will kill Jew next to you.” What is this Jew’s possibility? Three possibilities!

1. Obligation to incur this risk in order to save his fellow Jew
2. Maybe risk too high- maybe lose his life from this obligation- maybe prohibited from performing this rescue
3. Neither obligated nor forbidden from embarking on this rescue but permitted to do so if he so chooses

Radbaz choose option 3- permissibility. Says person who has wherewithal to perform this kind of rescue is a tremendous tzaddik. But is he obligated to do so? Radbaz says no. Radbaz says Torah is deracheha darchei noam- ways of pleasantness- no system of law that would obligate someone to incur that risk.

He lays out parameters in a number of lengthy responsa- he says limited risk- say 10-20% though difficult to quantify- even lower, 2-5%- risk that is over 50% you might lose your own life, you are clearly forbidden from embarking on such a rescue. Person who embarks on such a rescue is a chassid shoteh- a pious fool, who embarks upon such a risk. Between two polar extremes, 20% to 50% that is within realm of not obligatory but permitted to do so and choice is of the rescuer- individual can decide for himself.

So how does this apply to our contemporary circumstance? We set up basic parameters per halakha- bodily/ financial obligation. There is a risk that is involved- how does that risk now apply to every form of living donation?

We’ll ascend ladder of donation in incremental form and see where chips fall for each donation-

We’ll start with blood donation. How risky is it to be a blood donor? Now in order ot assess that risk- we’re living in an age of scientific study- there is data that is accumulated to be able to determine with statistic stuff-

This is from November 19,2007- apologize that I couldn’t get fresher data for you (laughter)

They studied 2,575, 264 donations- of all these the complications are people who get needle infections or who faint while giving blood. What will save you from fainting? The famous Stella Dora cookies. In old days it was always Stella Dora cookies you got to prevent you from fainting.

So according to this interpretation, are we obligated to serve as a blood donor? The answer might be indeed yes!

What’s an example? Surgeon operating on someone who has AB- blood; surgeon nicks guy. So say only one other person in town who has AB- blood so people run over and say “Chaim, someone dying on operating table- come and help!’ and he says “You know what, we need blood.” So question is – can we bring him and tie him down and force him to bring blood? In America, no. But there are poskim who say we could indeed force him! Not only does he have an obligation of “lo saamod al dam reacha” but we have to enforce that obligation! Risk to him is so little with advantage so high, could maybe tie him down and bring him.

What about bone marrow donation? That’s a step above- we always have to see the risk at the time that the discussion is occurring- because risk changes with advancements of science. So number of years ago, bone marrow donation always required harvesting marrow from bones of body in multiple sites and always involved general anesthesia- more risky procedure at the time- more risk for infection because more sites involved. But how is it now in latter years? Number of developments.

1. For conventional marrow harvest, you don’t need to harvest from as many locations as you did in the past

2. New development over the past few years that does not even require harvesting the marrow from the individual- relates to discussion on stem cell research of two years ago- in discussion two years ago, many different kinds of stem cells, cardiac stem cells, brain stem cells, blood stem cells. It had been thought that blood stem cells were restricted to blood system. So what you can do now in many circumstances- I’m sure you’ll hear about this also from Mr. Feinberg- now don’t need to harvest marrow but just harvest cells from peripheral blood- in your blood stream are blood stem cells that can regenerate bone marrow in other patient.

So not just a regular blood draw, because actually need to take certain medicines to stimulate blood to do certain things- blood also needs to go through machines. Research from last year here that was assessing the risks of G-CSF administration (fancy term for drug that stimulates blood to make stem cells), leukopheresis and standard marrow harvest: ethical and safety considerations for normal pediatric hematopoietic cell donors.”

So skip to conclusions- short term administration of G-CSF and leukopheresis appear to be safe and effective.

Not so risky.

So where does this fall on parameters of R’ David ben Zimra? Is one permitted to be a donor of bone marrow? Absolutely yes. But let’s say you sign up for drive and are found to be a match, are you obligated to be a match? Once you sign up you’re on there for perpetuity- are you obligated to serve as a donor?

So Rabbi Bleich in his halakha seferBnetivot HaHalacha” he argues that you might indeed be obligated. So one could indeed make a compelling argument that one might be obligated.

If you have opportunity to be a bone marrow donor, not an opportunity you want to forego lightly- if such an opportunity presents itself, I urge you to seize it with all vigor- won’t have ability to save a lie so easily before.

Here you have front page of “Gift of Life” and have tremendous luxury of having gift of life founder here tonight.

What about kidney donation? In 1960s when kidney donation first came out, this was the statement of the Tzitz Eliezer, one of the giant poskim of 21st century, just passed away this year- he wrote:

“Removing a kidney, one of these internal organs, even though the donor is healthy at the time- is a risky procedure- and therefore one should not be a donor and a physician should not participate in this process.”

So if we were to look at this and guess halakha is in 2007 not allowed to be a kidney donor, that would be a misapplication of halakha. Because he is applying statistics of risk at his time- back in 1960s. Wasn’t clear how risky procedure would be going forward.

But he qualified his statement and said:

“But if physicians get together and 5/10/20 years from now decide that it’s not a risky procedure, it would indeed be permitted to do.”

And here you have November 2007 from Nephrology, Dialysis and Transplantation and American Journal of Transplantation- so you have huge studies about the risks of kidney donation to the donor. Two dimensional risk in kidney donation:

1. Risk in procedure itself
2. Risk of living rest of your life with one kidney

Both of those have to be assessed in order to do it.

Now kidney donation can be done with laproscopic surgery and not full surgery- minimizes the list- and these studies prove, following these patients for decades, not just donors but another population- population of military personnel- young soldiers who lose a kidney on the battlefield- see whether they have a greater likelihood of diabetes, kidney failure, etc- very slight increase but not so significant.

So to serve as a kidney donor not so risky- clearly risk, not minimizing but-

Here is a Teshuva of Rabbi Eliezer Yehudah Waldenberg – says clearly muttar to serve as kidney donor. No one would asser it today. So muttar to serve as kidney donor? Yes. Are you obligated to do? Already a question- harder to make

Isn’t a week where you won’t find in Jewish Press a handful of these ads requesting people to serve as kidney donors? also in newspapers, Doctor Stuart Greenstein, surgeon in Montefiore performed kidney transplant. In shul close to my house, someone put up an index card, if anyone wants to be a kidney donor please call- within a week eight people had called, one ended up donating to another rperson in shul- held gala Kiddush for this.

Entire sefer devoted to following question- Kliyos Yoatzos. Member of Knesset who needed a kidney donation and needed a living donation. So there are five sons- one son goes, gets tested and finds out he is a suitable donor for his father. His other four brothers said “What gives you the right to be a kidney donor to our father? We want to be the kidney donor to our father!” One of the other four was a bechor. So they fought tooth and nail about this-this entire sefer was published as a teshuva to this question- how they would halakhically decide who the donor would be- will share with you the conclusion of this analsysi.

On the one hand the bechor has rights, but on other hand the first son who began the process is maskil – so said these two have a greater obligation so held a lottery between bechor and first one who tested. So bechor won the lottery- won opportunity to save his father’s life. Know it was successful because you see recipient on front pages embroiled in things in Knesset so doing fine.

Liver Donation- may remember tragic fatality in Mount Sinai, closed down because thought it was too risky for donor. In September 2006 “Live Donor Liver Transplantation in Adults”- they decided it is getting safer and getting better because 11 deaths from this in the world- time will tell, maybe one day liver donation will be accepted.

So in answering questions of our case study:

1. Is he permitted to donate his first kidney to his daughter? Yes
2. Is he permitted to donate second kidney? Might indeed fall into category of Radbaz that would be too risky- dialysis has attendant risks- would probably be assar and in any case, no transplant surgeon accepted his kidney

Now again, are you allowed to participate in bone marrow drive? Yes
Are you obligated? Technically you might be! Such an easy mitzvah to fulfill- everyone should run to fulfill this.

Now Aruch HaShulchan has this Yerushalmi we talked about- obligated to incur risk to save a human life and says we don’t pasken this way. but don’t be so quick because a) who knows that you might not need a transplant in the future? and b) saving but one life is tantamount to saving an entire world

And thus concludes my remarks this evening and have tremendous pleasure and honor to hand over microphone to Mr. Jay Feinberg whose efforts and achievements are world-renowned- pleasure and honor to share podium with him.

Mr. Jay Feinberg: Thank you Dr. Reichman and all of you- I guess tonight I’m wearing two hats. 1. Hat of leukemia survivor and bone marrow transplant recipient and 2. Director of bone marrow registry- one of three that ____.

Number of heroes in this room tonight- quite a few bone marrow donors here. Can our bone marrow donors please stand up- please rise and show yourselves- (clapping)

And I know they don’t like standing and they don’t like being called heroes. My bone marrow donor when I met her a year after my transplant- my bone marrow donor can’t stand being called donor. Also have Shana Lichtenstal tonight- also here tonight because of the kindness of a stranger. Thank everyone for inviting me here tonight and want to tell you story of what happened to me when I was just a year out of college and started working in Lower Manhattan as Foreign Exchange Analyst in Federal Reserve Bank and about a year out was accepted to law school- was about to embark upon fantastic future, nothing could stop me, life was amazing and then diagnosis of leukemia sort of hit me like a truck- I was living in New Jersey, was taken to emergency room and was told by emergency room technician that I would need bone marrow transplant.

Now this was all relatively new and I had no idea what was involved except that I would need a donor. What I didn’t know was that 70% of patients who need donors can’t find one in their families. Only 30% can find in their family. ¼ chance to match a sibling. I have two brothers but neither matched me, though coincidentally matched each other. search of registry- couldn’t’ find a match. Didn’t know at time, is that tissue is inherited, ethnic background- same holds true if you’re Jewish- Ashkenazi, Sephardic- best chance lies within those populations. We have bio____ people who work for us and have done studies- so really all ethnic and racial groups need to be well represented in international donor pool. So when they told me I wouldn’t find a match because I was a Jewish- less than 5% chance- disease runs its course for three years and then goes into Blast Crisis- accelerated phase of diseases- we can give you drugs to make you comfortable. Hit me like a truck. One good thing I had that most of you can relate to was a Jewish mother who wouldn’t take no for an answer. And very supportive family who decided to put Jews into registry- so we started with a few drives in West Orange, New Jersey where I’m from. And then soon I had requests from all over the world to hold bone marrow drives.

This was being run out of my parents’ living room and then had some office space donated and before we knew it we were running this gigantic campaign- people might have been motivated from face on flyer- this is a flyer of our very first drive at YU- Chaim Mosdin who is now on our Board. During years it took us we tested 60,000 people and to this day over 1500 patients have had transplants from drives that took place for me and subsequent drives. Amazing process how people here give unreservedly of themselves to save life of someone they may never meet.

After four years of searching, best I had was donor with major mismatch- mismatch on two antigens- so we prepared to go with the mismatch. You know, at a time of crisis like this, you really learn who your friends are. People like Sharon over here- amazing the people who come forward to help save your life- they become your friends; they’re the ones who really come out for you and I was just really, really fortunate. One of those people lived in Chicago and decided to mismatch wasn’t good enough- we’ll run one more drive. He was insistent though family said we’re getting ready to work with mismatch. So ran it in Milwaukee with one extra passenger in card, young lady who wasn’t planning on going- her sister was going to go but her sister was sick so she went to run it. She was the very last person tested at the drive and she turned out to be my match.

so thankfully one year later I had the opportunity to meet my donor- she’s from Chicago- met her at the gate back when they used to let people go to the gates at O’Hare- she actually used to live here in New York and used to teach at SAR in Riverdale. Has now moved back to Chicago- has husband, family and baby- amazing she did this for a complete stranger.

So I got a phonecall- this is a little over four and a half years after being diagnosed with leukemia- got phonecall from admissions director at law school who said he had been holding my position for that time. Are you going to come back- we’re glad to have you? Really wasn’t much of a decision. Had met all these people who were willing to donate, give back- how could we let this end? So we decided to transform this grassroots effort into organization that now helps people around the world- the Gift of Life, organization that you’ll shortly have opportunity to donate to at drive.

About one in a thousand actually donate their bone marrow/ blood stem cells every year. About 1/100 get called for confirmatory typing. You’re a potential match- would you like to proceed? And of those, 1/10 end up donating their blood marrow/ blood stem cells. It’s quite remarkable because international average is 1/ 2500. So why in Gift of Life are numbers so astronomical? Two reasons. 1. We focus on what used to be underrepresented group- Jewish community and based on our data that we’ve accumulated, gone through from time that I was diagnosed, which was less than 5% chance of finding a match for a Jewish patient to 70% chance. So our target- do we need a 1,000,000 people in registry? We know that with 300,000 donors we’ll find matches for about 85%. Also today have benefit of stem cells found in blood in umbilical cord. Dr. Reichman told us about blood stem cells collected from peripheral blood. So for those patients, that 15% we can’t find exact match, can use umbilical cord stem cells because don’t need to be a perfect match for that.

Last thing I wanted to talk about was one of our newest donor initiatives in donor recruitment- in 2004 we made a strategic decision to focus our recruitment – in students. Students through Hillel, AEPi, Birthright trips, Richard Joel, your President here made this possible- over breakfast, he called up Abraham Infeld and said “My esteemed predecessor, I have a request for you” – he made it possible. Since he started that recruitment- 181 transplants possible.

So why focus on college students? Less likely to be deferred due to medical problems, transplant centers tend to prefer younger donors and from Jewish community’s perspective, we don’t just come on college campus to run a drive. Avi and his team here did that- we didn’t have to do anything- we just gave the resources, campus recruitment guide and some videos – but it’s you guys who took the initiative to make it happen. You took a leadership role to make this drive a success. And that’s what we want to teach- want to teach Jewish values- want to teach tikkun olam.

Ran a drive a couple weeks ago at Syracuse Hillel- marketing idea of “You Got Swabbed.” So t-shirts all over the place. GW- George Washington – so they said “We like Got Milk- can we have Got Marrow?” And they got permission and they did it and it was in the media. So you’re making this possible- you’re taking those skills on to your future careers and endeavors.

That’s really what I wanted to cover- the description of bone marrow and blood stem cell donation that Dr. Reichman covered was pretty effectively. In early years gold standard indeed bone marrow was harvested from pelvic region using needle aspirations- changed now only 20% donate marrow, 80% donate peripheral stem cells. If you’ve ever seen anyone donating platelets in stem cells- very similar to that- needles in each arm, running blood through centrifuge, running through and spitting back into other arm. By day five you feel like you have a little case of the flu, goes away after the donation is done- it’s a little discomfort but you have the opportunity to save a life.

So that’s really what I wanted to cover. I would love it if we could possibly call on some of our Gift of Life heroes to get up- I see Rachel is smiling- call up to podium and share a few words on what it was like to become a donor and save a life.

Don’t mean to take over but I think nothing greater than hearing from the heroes themselves so thank you and I’ll be available for questions afterwards.

Rachel: Hi everyone. My name is Rachel Hirsch. I was a bone marrow donor in 2002. Jay’s going to be in big trouble of this- just letting you know now. I was called by a friend who said that she was working at a place where having a bone marrow drive-need volunteers- so your type of thing, Sunday morning- who else wants to wake up Sunday morning? Drive was for Dr. Spector- I wasn’t her donor but she found a match. About six months later I got a phonecall from someone who said you’ll get a phone call tomorrow for someone who is a possible match- can you do a blood test? So I was elated- found out that woman had acute blast leukemia, very common thing- literally easiest thing I ever did. Donated, went back to work the next day- that was it. Really had no second thoughts about it- Gift of Life was amazing, had coordinator named Elizabeth Shai. The nurse was actually a counselor of mine from camp, Shifra, so she was there with me the whole time- I moved to Israel during that period of time- a year later I was called and asked if I wanted to meet the person I had donated my bone marrow to. So they flew me to New York- and on a stage in front of a whole bunch of people I got to meet the woman whom they actually also flew in from Israel (laughter)- she lives in Petach Tikva- originally from Romania. My mother’s very into genealogy- trying to find a connection to us but hasn’t succeeded in that thus far-

Cute story- first thing she said to me after we got off the stage “Before I had cancer, I had straight hair. Now I have curls. I didn’t know where I’d gotten the curls from” and she touches my hair- “-now I know!”

Biggest tzedaka you can do is not knowing who your recipient is and if that’s the end of it.

If anyone has any questions for Dr. Reichman/ Mr. Feinberg, they can ask:

QUESTION: This question is for Dr. Reichman. All those halakhic qualifications that you were giving before- do any of them change if the recipient is a non-Jewish person or is halakha the same across the board?

Dr. Reichman: Excellent question. Not so easily answered. In halakhic analysis, “reacha” usually understood as “reacha b’mitzvos” – your fellow Jew. But having said that, there are clearly supra- halakjhic issues, potential Kiddush Hashem, eivah- recommend read article by Dr. Bleich who addresses this specifically- he shows that it still will facilitate donation to Jewish people also. So in short answer specifically in respect to bone marrow donation, still falls under parameters to save a life. Parameters may change for kidney/ liver donation.

Any other questions?

Thank you all very much. I’ll be around for a few minutes.

Who knows how many more people will be standing up when Jay Feinberg asks for the halakhic heroes? May there be many more of us who merit to be halakhic heroes!

The Observer: Issue 3

There's a new issue of The Observer out! I'm highly entertained for a number of reasons. Anyway, it's great! Here are some pieces to check out:

This is a fascinating piece about the way in which people choose to devote their time. If you engage in extracuricular activities, do you choose those activities which are on-campus (such as the YU Medical Ethics Society, ha) or those that are off-campus (such as NCSY?) Why do you do this? What's your motivation?

Then there's another fun piece about public school students on campus. Their perspectives are a breath of fresh air, I love them and who could not adore people who refer to themselves as the "Mechinah babes?" Aside from which, my friend The Vindictive Little Pixie falls into that category.

There is a beautiful editorial about the mandatory attendance policy. Oh, how I agree! I am currently enrolled in a class which is so intensely and utterly stupid and only wastes my time. There's no question that I could do perfectly well if I never attended that class, and I wouldn't, except that the attendance policy forces me to do so. Be it on their heads when I can't do the thousand other things that would be far more beneficial to people at this school because I'm stuck there...

This opinions piece about "Real Freshman" entertains me because I've written about it before. Amusing to see one's sentiments in print. I'm proud to have been a real freshman...though sadly I am not a Mechinah Babe.

Perel's "Battle of the Bands" piece is so well-written that it has to be mentioned. It's also hilarious. Brown's observations are incorporated in some places, which makes everything that much better.

I am sad The Observer did not actually use the headline "Guys are Dumb" off of President Joel's Town Meeting session (which, incidentally, was nothing short of admirable. I love watching him play the crowd. I have a Gush friend who agrees and is entertained by people who look up at him, enthralled, and take it all seriously. I admire the art, you see, as does he. Not to say that President Joel doesn't care. Far from it. Only that he knows how to play the game and he does it so well.)

All right, read and comment away!

being safe

A friend said the following to me tonight:
    "I tried to become what I once hated. I enjoyed it periodically. I assimilated under false pretenses, effectively, successfully, but not comfortably. I wasn't comfortable with myself; I wasn't proud. I was an imposter. But the people around me weren't astute enough to pick up on it so my correction had to come from within. I corrected it."
The most telling line was when he was trying to explain the things he had done in order to be someone he was not. "I can't really explain why I did it. It felt right and it felt SAFE."

And it made me wonder how much people give up in order to stay safe. And that by extension made me sad.

And as he was explaining it occurred to me that people don't often really love other people. They don't know other people well enough to do so. They love their ideal of a person, the mask that that person projects. Isn't that tragic, to fall in love with a mask? A mask the person might don in order to stay safe?

I guess I'm not safe.

And that makes for some interesting times, in the least pleasant sense of the word. I fall very hard.

I still think it's worth it.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Shabbat in the Heights

I spent Shabbat by these completely amazing people. They are amazing for so many reasons, but I'd like to share with you the one that most impresses me.

They home is open to all; they have an open door. They have a limit because they live in an apartment and therefore, themselves included, they can only host twenty-three people. Only! Can you imagine? The father is a Rosh Yeshiva at YU. Every Shabbat, he invites over boys who need meals. The wife never knows how many people will show up on Shabbos. She and her daughters cook and hope that there will be enough food (there always is.) And if they are worried, they laugh and go make "emergency salads" in order to feed everyone.

They also have a magic table and when people show up (if there are more than expected), they simply "make the table bigger."

Have you ever heard the like?

I had a magical Shabbat. Why was it magical? Because of the conversation. Non-stop Parsha and Torah discussion all Shabbat long and all of it incredibly mentally stimulating. It was sheer pleasure for me to be here. Aside from which, their house reminds me of my house because of the rows upon rows of bookcases filled with sefarim. It's really a treasure chest of books! For one thing, I happened across a book that my friend told me to read, Emotional Intelligence, and now I'm in the middle of it. But there are also so many fascinating sefarim...

What's absolutely beautiful is the sheer wit in the Torah conversation. Quick thinking scholars make for fantastic company! Friday night we were discussing avodah zarah (quite apropos given the topic I am studying in class.) Rabbi happened to mention that he had once gone to the Israel Museum and entered into a room full of idols and had left because he did not wish to look upon them; the sight of them physically hurt him. But he joked and said he had told his wife that "You better get me out of here quick; otherwise I have a chiyuv to smash all these idols!" Questioned I, having just learned this section, "But don't we learn that if something is old and unpracticed anymore, we can consider it as having been batil?" Answered Rabbi that indeed this was the teshuva from Rabbi Moshe Feinstein (the one I had just learned.) However, Rabbi added, the idols in this particular room were theoretically from the dig of King Ahab's palace, which meant they were owned by a Jew! "Aha!" exclaimed one of the guys at the table, "and a Jew cannot be mevatel on his own avodah zarah." Says a quiet fellow who had been listening intently up till now, "They're batel b'shishim." This is our cue for uproarious laughter (it was such a clever comment, because he meant that the rest of the museum is filled with idols.) Answers Rabbi, "They can't be batel b'shishim because it's not a taaroves!" But then he smiled and said "Ah, he's learning Yoreh Deah; everything is batel b'shishim right now."

It was such a fast-paced discussion and the connections made were so quick...utter pleasure for me.

Anyway, here are some thoughts I had over Shabbat that I figured I might share with you (Daddy, I think you'll like them)

1. Have you ever noticed the beautiful symmetry when it comes to Jacob? When Jacob exits Israel, he dreams of angels climbing up and down ladders. When Jacob returns to the land of Israel, he actually has to wrestle an angel! Now think what that means! Isn't that interesting? When Jacob was exiting, he was escorted by angels to protect him! And yet when he was returning, he was met by an angel who was set against him, who struggled with him, who fought with him! What does that suggest? I have to think about it further but I think it's an interesting idea.

2. Have you ever looked at the wording of the following pesukim? I noticed this in shul this Shabbat. Actually, it wasn't shul in the characteristic sense of the term; it was the Beit Midrash Minyan at YU! Which was in and of itself an absolutely fascinating experience! You walk inside and it really is a Beit Midrash, with piles upon piles of books and sefarim on each table. It's the way that the books are stacked that is utterly hilarious; they've got them piled so that they are bookends (so horizontally) and then they have others in the middle, positioned vertically. Then there was a Starbucks card and Dunkin Donuts card lying on the desk behind which I sat and it all felt so lived in and real and wondrous. Anyway, here are the thoughts I came up with during the Torah reading:
    כה וַיְהִי בַיּוֹם הַשְּׁלִישִׁי בִּהְיוֹתָם כֹּאֲבִים, וַיִּקְחוּ שְׁנֵי-בְנֵי-יַעֲקֹב שִׁמְעוֹן וְלֵוִי אֲחֵי דִינָה אִישׁ חַרְבּוֹ, וַיָּבֹאוּ עַל-הָעִיר, בֶּטַח; וַיַּהַרְגוּ, כָּל-זָכָר.
    25 And it came to pass on the third day, when they were in pain, that two of the sons of Jacob, Simeon and Levi, Dinah's brethren, took each man his sword, and came upon the city unawares, and slew all the males.

    כו וְאֶת-חֲמוֹר וְאֶת-שְׁכֶם בְּנוֹ, הָרְגוּ לְפִי-חָרֶב; וַיִּקְחוּ אֶת-דִּינָה מִבֵּית שְׁכֶם, וַיֵּצֵאוּ.
    26 And they slew Hamor and Shechem his son with the edge of the sword, and took Dinah out of Shechem's house, and went forth.

    כז בְּנֵי יַעֲקֹב, בָּאוּ עַל-הַחֲלָלִים, וַיָּבֹזּוּ, הָעִיר--אֲשֶׁר טִמְּאוּ, אֲחוֹתָם.
    27 The sons of Jacob came upon the slain, and spoiled the city, because they had defiled their sister.

    כח אֶת-צֹאנָם וְאֶת-בְּקָרָם, וְאֶת-חֲמֹרֵיהֶם, וְאֵת אֲשֶׁר-בָּעִיר וְאֶת-אֲשֶׁר בַּשָּׂדֶה, לָקָחוּ.
    28 They took their flocks and their herds and their asses, and that which was in the city and that which was in the field;

    כט וְאֶת-כָּל-חֵילָם וְאֶת-כָּל-טַפָּם וְאֶת-נְשֵׁיהֶם, שָׁבוּ וַיָּבֹזּוּ; וְאֵת, כָּל-אֲשֶׁר בַּבָּיִת.
    29 and all their wealth, and all their little ones and their wives, took they captive and spoiled, even all that was in the house.
Do you know what is so interesting from the way this is worded? I was always under the impression that it was only Shimon and Levi who went and killed the men and sacked the city. But from the way these verses are worded, it seems like all the brothers were involved! How did it work? Well, Shimon and Levi, who are here characterized as achei Dinah, the brothers of Dinah (therefore the ones who care about her and her well-being) came to the city, killed all the males, took their sister and went forth. They were only there to avenge their sister; they killed their sister and left (the very verse says vayatzeu.) What happened then? Well then the sons of Jacob (and not the brothers of Dinah) "came upon the slain" and continued what Shimon and Levi had started; they sacked the city, took their flocks, herds and asses, all their wealth, their little ones and their wives.

What I find fascinating is that the ones that Jacob reprimanded were the people who had simply done the minimum- slain the males and taken their sister Dinah out of captivity, that is, Shimon and Levi! They're the only ones that Jacob speaks to! As for the rest of them, the other brothers who sacked the city and who seem to have engaged in all this gratuitous looting and plundering; this doesn't bother Jacob. Isn't that peculiar? Perhaps not if viewed from a political perspective; since what Shimon and Levi did was more dangerous (they murdered Shechem and Chamor after all.) But you would think of all the people to reprimand, it should be the brothers who stepped in afterwards and continued the looting for no good reason!

3. There's a very interesting pattern going on here. Sarai is taken by Pharoah/ Avimelech (but neither of them are able to touch her.) Rivkah is taken by Avimelech. Dinah is taken by Shechem. Of all these scenarios (which as you see, are the same and repeat themselves) it is only Dinah who is defiled, as it were. Interesting that it is the young maiden who is taken by the prince as opposed to the more beautiful women taken by kings...

We were also discussing over Shabbat that Jacob was at fault for hiding Dinah away and not allowing Esau to marry her. Very odd, this Rashi! If Jacob was at fault, why wasn't he punished, not Dinah? And while we're at it, isn't Leah at fault since she was theoretically supposed to marry Esau and connived her way into marrying Jacob? So why punish them by having Dinah suffer (even if, as one could suggest, it hurts the parents more when their children are hurt?) It really strikes me as quite peculiar.

4. This last requires a whole post of its own, but I want to compare the obvious similarities between the Tamar/ Amnon case and the Dinah/ Shechem case (not to mention the killing out by brothers, whether it be Avshalom or Shimon & Levi.)

So those are my thoughts this Shabbat. Yes.

Something interesting Rabbi suggested- Dinah went out to talk to the young girls in order to be m'karev them (just as Abraham and Sarah had been and theoretically their descendants as well.) So question became, what was the matter? So A) Shechem is a bad neighborhood, nest of vipers, as Rabbi said "this isn't exactly an NCSY convention." And B) She ought to have been chaperoned, perhaps have had a brother with her- as Rabbi also said, "NCSY Shabbatons are coed!" (That's when we all cracked up.) But I think this theoretical understanding of her motives is quite interesting.

And did you know Midreshet Yom Rishon took place every Sunday? I thought it only took place on those Sundays where there are flyers up announcing its presence but no, it happens every Sunday in Schottenstein uptown (how cool is that?)

Basically, had a fantastic Shabbat. Hurrah for thoughtful and interesting people! And huzzah my beloved daughter of God.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Rabbi Auman Avodah Zara Test 2

These notes are unofficial and unedited. Any flaws and misquotations are mine; anything you find meaningful is from Rabbi Kenneth Auman. If you fail because you studied off these notes, that is completely your own fault. These are meant to aid you, not guarantee As.

pages 22-23- This is a xerox of the Tur (you know because you see the Beis Yosef and the Bach on the sides.) The Tur quotes the Rashba- bottom of page 22-

A geir toshav that takes 7 mitzvot upon himself (geir toshav refers to a person who is permitted to live in Israel as opposed to a non-Jew who doesn't keep the seven Noachide laws) lo se'chaneim- the Gemara learns 3 things from this. 1) You can't sell them a house

[I don't think we learned the other two.]

Yayin Nesach:

A) Yayin Deoraisa- Assur per Deoraisa is non-Jew pouring wine libations (like they used to for Dionysus and Bacchus.) Non-Jew comes and touches wine makes it non-Kosher. Rambam says this doesn't apply by Yishmaelim/ Muslims. Now, if Yishmaelim were considered true ovdei avodah zara then it ought to be considered yayin nesach but the Rambam explains it is not yayin nesach. Hence we see that Yishmaelim don't have status of ovdei avodah zarah (at least per the Rambam.)

There are two things that we ought to consider in this context: Shsiya/ Drinking vs Ha’naah/ Benefit (can you give this wine as a gift, sell it, etc?)

From here you see that Yishmaelim don’t have a status of Avodah Zara.

[Elsewhere: Rambam says it is assur for non-Jews to make their own religion- they can’t be m’chadesh das..]

Memorize this: Rabbi Chushiel leads to Rabbi Chananel leads to R’ Yitzchak Elfasi (Rif) leads to R’ Yosef Even Migesh (R’ Migesh) leads to R’ Maimon leads to R’ Moshe ben Maimon (Rambam)

R’ Chushiel- one of the principles in the full story of Ibn Daud.

There are 3 RIBIDs.

1. Ibn Daud (wrote a book called the Sefer HaKabalah)
2. R' Avraham Av B"D (Narbona)
3. R' Avraham Ben David (Posquierres) - He's the famous one who writes the Ba'al Hasagos on the Shulchan Aruch

Ibn Daud wrote a book called Sefer Hakabalah-history of Torah- a history book. (Torah means Kabbalah according to the Neviim. Rishonim use kabbalah to mean mesorah.)

Ibn Daud was pondering a very strange phenomenon- yeshivos of Sura and Pupedisa which eventually moved to Baghdad. All of a sudden somewhere around the year 1000, yeshivos beginning in other communities- Alexandria, learning in Germany- all around year 1000. Very mysterious- so Ribid either knew this particular story or made it up. It's a story of 4 great Rabbanim on a ship- they had gotten to Italy and were kidnapped. Pirates knew that the Jews would pay a good ransom for these people. He names the first three Rabbanim and says about the fourth, "I don't know who he was." The explanation as to how he got to these places is quite odd- whether or not it is true is highly questionable (for one thing, having all these people alive at the same time, let alone alive together on a ship, is questionable.)

R' Hai Gaon died in 1038, Rashi was born in 1040- that's the story of R' Chushiel.

3 Talmidim of the Maharm from Rutenberg:

1. Rashi
2. The Mordechai
3. Hagahos Maimoniyos

Rashi lived in Germany and moved to Spain/ worried about getting arrested.

Entering Places of Idolatry

Mishna at the bottom of page 9- from Avodah Zarah 11

City that has avodah zara- to be outside the city is fine. On the other hand, if there's avodah zara outside the city, you can be inside the city.

Are you allowed to go on the road to such a city?

1. If it's a road that only goes there, NO
2. If it's a road that goes elsewhere as well, that's fine

Reason behind the first approach is that it seems like a maras ayin issue.

RASHI on page 9- This has nothing to do with going into the city- it only has to do with doing business. eople in city here are good- people outside of city serve a different god.

page 10 - Tanu Rabbanan- can't enter city with ___. Can't go into city with avodah zarah/ can't go from it to another city (R' Meir)

Chachamim say that it depends on the road- whether the road only goes to the Avodah Zara city or others as well

1. A person got a splinter in his foot/ leg and wants to bend down and remove the splinter but is passing by an idol of some kind. So it looks like bowing, therefore you should not do it. But if it won't appear as though you are bowing, then you can do it.

2. A person dropped his money (and money is sitting in front of an idol)- he can't bow down to pick it up

3. Fountain in front of idol (can't bow down in order to drink water.)

Also can't drink from the mouth of the fountain- it'll look as though you are kissing avodah zarah.

R' Yaakov Emden letter- read/ discuss.

He had an ulterior motive in writing this piece- "God forbid that I should write anything that's flattery"- he had obviously read the Gospels (because of anti- Sabation capaign)- found Christian parallels between the two (so that is probably why- just a guess)

The Gemara says that is permitted for Talmidei Chachamim to read texts of Avodah Zara to determine whether or not something truly is avodah zara.

He's describing his view of what Christianity ought to be. Idea that for gentiles this is a good thing- it distances them from idolatry.

There are Jewish groups that have dialogue with non-Jewish groups (Catholic church interested in it: please read "Confrontation" by the Rav. He says no discussions about matters of theology.)

page 11- Before this, somebody (one of the Tannaim0 was taken to jail/ caught by the Romans for something. R' Akiva said "Maybe it happened once that you got ha'naah from a goy in some way that wasn't proper- that's why this happened to you." Says the Tanna, "Exactly! You reminded me- once I was in the shuk and Yaakov Ish Kfar Sarna said "It says in your Torah you're not allowed to use money earned by a prostitute to bring a korban. Will you be allowed to use money from a zonah to build an outhouse for the kohen gadol?" I didn't answer him. So e said (quotes a pasuk of Micha) "You can use it to build a bathroom because it "came from a dirty activity and can be used for a dirty matter" and I liked what he said- taken by this minus, this heresy- and I was over on "Harchik m'aliyah drachecha (zo minus) v'al takreiv el pesach beita (so harishus)." Stay away from minus (heresy) and governments, so don't even go near a house of ill repute. How far away? R' Chisda says four amos away.

Have to physically distance yourself from these things because they are risky- you'll be drawn into beautiful situation (perhaps into thinking that things/ interpretations are beautiful) so that's a problem. So stay away from these things.

TOSFOS used to go to a place called Bi Avidan- but they went there to argue with tem, not for any other reason. But not problem of minus. People who didn't go with them didn't go out of fear (fear of being killed)- not like Rashi's comment that this was a place of Avodas Kochavim.

Place of actual Avodah Zara- ca't go there at all (according to Tosfos.)

page 19- The RUSH. first quotes Gemara, then page 20 starts quoting the Yerushalmi.

(Why do we learn Bavli more than the Yerushalmi? A) Yerushalmi concluded first, year 300 whereas Bavli finished in year 500. B) Bavli underwent editing- 100 year period of editing until it became a real book. Yerushalmi is choppier, harder to read and learn.)

Yerushalmi says that if you are a guest, you can't go to a city where Avodah Zara is taking place. If you live there, then you can. A traveling caravan (shayara) can go because everyone knows that traveling caravans go from city to city. The idea is that someone who lives in that city who comes home to that city; obviously he's not doing Avodah Zarah. But someone who is a guest going to that city; perhaps he is going for that express purpose! So a guest cannot go.

Now you have a city with a festive celebration in honor of Avodah Zara. What now?

RASHI is quoting someone: If Jews live in the city where Avodah Zara is taking place, Jews are allowed to go to that city (because people won't think you're doing Avodah Zarah but rather that you've gone to visit your friend.) But it doesn't appear to be that way according to the Yerushalmi. The Yerushalmi says that a guest can't go out but a ben ha-ir can go because people will know ben ir is going home to his house to sleep whereas if a guest is going, why is he going during the time of this big Avodah Zara celebration? Maybe he's going to join them! dso that's a problem.

V'harav Rabeinu Yonah author of Sha'arei Teshuva (he was related to Ramban and opposed to Rambam)

[Tangential discussion on maras ayin here. 1. Haseir mimcha akshus peh- have to act in proper way and 2. Lifnei iver- idea of yarmulka hashgacha]

page 26- This is the Tur. He says:"It is forbidden to say that you are an idol-worshipper in order for other people not to kil you."

(But what about the Holocaust? this statement of the Tur needs further discussion.)

For pikuech nefesh you can run into a church- but you can't say you're a member of their faith. Clearly Rashi is of the opinion that it's assur to go into a place of Avodah Zara except to save your life.

[Popular misconceptions: Davening is what makes a room holy= Room set aside for that is kedushas beis kneses. An aron doesn't give a room kedusha and covering up an aron doesn't mean you can do whatever you want in there.]

page 1- Diyukna- can't look at this even during the week (writing can't look at it during Shabbat) How do we learn from the words "Al tifnu el ha'elilim?" How do you know you can't look at statues because it says don't look at things you made up yourself-

Look at Rashi: People make pictures/ graven images/ images of people and write under them "This isa house/ the sun/ David son of Goliath." Not allowed to read that on Shabbos because not allowed to read business documents on Shabat (this is not our topic at all) but pay attention to the next line:

Diyukna can't look at during the week- Gemara is very unclear- what kind of images can't you look at during the week? Must have something to do with Avodah Zara- learned out from "Al tifnu el ha'elilim."

page 13- Gemara discussing paving stones used to pave the streets where these stones had been used to serve idols. Who is the binan shel kedoshim? He is Rabbi Menachem and Rabbi Simai- why does he have such a name? Because he didn't even look at the images on coins. (So this is puzzling. What's the matter with that?)

Tosfos: (It's Hey-Gimmel in big letters starting from "V'im tomar? Mah chasidus..?" What is the righteousness of he who didn't look at coins? You're not allowed to look at any pictures (quotes the Gemara on page 1.) So what's such high praise that this man doesn't look at these images? Tosfos says the issur is to go out of your way to look at an image but to look at ones around you (and by extension coins) is fine.

back to page 1

Tosfos: "U'diyaknu atzma af b'khol assur" What kind of images are you talking about? When you made them to be Avodah Zara (so now questions- does he mean pictures of Avodah Zara or where the image is the Avodah Zara? Unclear.) This man was very pious that he didn't look at coins- why are we calling him pious? Because he's allowed to look at coins!

Why can you look at coins?

page 1- Because it's not Avodah Zara- not made to be Avodah Zara

page 13- Because it is only assur if you go out of your way to look at Avodah Zara

So these two Tosfos (on page 1 and page 13) disagree with each other. The two different approaches are that the Avodah Zara is Avodah Zara vs not Avodah Zara or common vs uncommon.

[Tangent: Are you allowed to look at religious art in museums? Coins/ stamps that may have crosses or other things on them/ can you look at these?)

page 14-Very important principle in hilkhos avodah zara- "Oved kochavim m'vatel avodas kochavim shelo v'shel chaveiro."

If a non-Jew has avodah zara, he can make it NOT Avodah Zara- he can deconsecrate it. Halakha will then no longer view it as Avodah Zara (exactly how you mevatel things is not so clear yet)

Look at Rashi on the left-hand side:"Yisrael aino mevatel avodas kochavim shel oved kochavim d'oved kochavim posel eloko"

Jews can't be mevatel the Avodah Zara of a gentile and certainly can't be mevatel his own Avodah Zara.

page 15- The mishna here explains how to mevatel the Avodah Zara- if gentile cut off top of the Avodah Zara's ear, top of the nose or just pascha (squashed it in/ hammered it in) [so for example a metal statue that just caves in, even though nothing fel off..] this is all batul. On the other hand, if the guy spat in front of his Avodah Zara (sign of derision or disrespect) or urinated in front of it- threw some waste material at it (tzoah)- in these cases it's not batil.

Rashi: Why no? Because he was temporarily angry, but that doesn't mean he won't worship it later on.

page 16- A deserted place of idol worship- ifit's in a time of peace (and the place has simply been abandoned) then it's a form of bittul but in a time of war where they've simply run away (but have every intention of coming back in peacetime and using this temple once more) it is not bittul. [certain kinds of benches-puto ut when king passes by/ put idols on them- this isn't relevant to us]

R' Auman clarifies: Bittul Avodah Zara doesn't mean people had ideological change of heart- it just means that this particular Avodah Zara they're not interested in anymore.

page 12- Amar Rabah bar bar Chana- There's a story of R' Elazar Ha'Kaper b'Rivi who was walking on the road and found a beautiful ring (but it was inscribed with an image of Avodah Zara.) A young non-Jew passed by and R' Elazar said nothing and then an older person came along and R' Elazar asked him to be mevatel this Avodah Zarah. The older person didn't want to do it! So R' Elazar smacked him and then the older gentile was mevatel it. We learn 3 things fro this.

1. Oved kochavim can mevatel his Avodah Zarah and that of his friend

2. Only one who knows about Avodah Zara may be mevatel it- older person as opposed to younger child

3. Oved Avodah Zara can be mevatel an Avodah Zara against his will (here, only because he was slapped)

Rabbi Chanina strongly disapproved of this whole story/ "cursed"

Didn't R' Elazar know the following mishna- if you find an aveida/ save it from a lion (or any other kind of ferocious animal- or river or soldier- any of these thigns) or you find something in the middle of the street you can take it for yourself (even if you know to whom it belongs)- that's because of yeiush (where owner gives up hope of getting it back)

Yeiush is sometimes situational and automatic- situation makes it yeiush, not the person's actually having given up hope.

So if yeiush, isn't it automatically batul (despite the fact that the ring has some kind of image/ inscription on it?)

So what does the gentile think? If an oved Avodah Zara finds this ring, he'll worship it (so in fact this man is giving up hope of finding it himself doesn't mean others won't worship it) or he assumes that a Jew will sell it to a gentile (he doesn't know that a Jew is forbidden to do that), therefore it's not batul.

page 37- This is Igros Moshe from Yoreh Deah, siman Samach-Tes.

The question is whether it's muttar to sell stamps of countries that have on hte stamps the whoof and warp (shesi v'erev) = the CROSS on it. (Whoof & warp refres to loom, horizontal and vertical, hence the cross.)

R' Moshe responds: This man's a stamp dealer- is he allowed to sell and buy the stamps with crosses? He says there is no issur because it's no different than the images on the coins- cross on stamp is not there to worship; it has the connotation of Avodah Zara but it's not there to be worshipped (so quoting the Tosfos, saying this isn't specifically for the purpose of avodah zara.) Second heter which was _____.

Clearly it doesn't mean that once you get used to looking at Avodah Zara all the time, that means it's okay! It being a davar ragil doesn't help!

Since the coin is made to be used all the time (as opposed to an idol which is made for a specific purpose) if coins are muttar, stamps are muttar!

So he says that stamps are muttar but now goes further and says he's not even sure that looking at a cross constitutes an issur. However there is a halakha to be marchik from anything bad so not right to look at it if it's associated with avodah zara.

Suggests stamps are made to be disrespected- they are dirtied in the post office because they cancel/ stamp the stamp- so they are mevazeh the image and then people throw the envelope into the garbage- something gentiles themselves don't venerate- no need for Jew to be concerned (idea by Aphrodite in Gemara- statue of her outside of public bathhouse. Since everyone walks around her naked, obviously no respect for her)

So two ideas that Tosfos mentioned:

1. Cross is not really Avodah Zara

2. Stamp is made to be disrespected/ m'vazeh

37a and b - Question asked by Rabbi Yehudah Parnes (person who was part of YU and now is part of Landers)- person who is a public school teacher; is he allowed to teach Greek and Roman mythology? Read the teshuva on your own. The question was asked to Rabbi Moshe Feinstein.

37b written in 1964- Possibly in Pittsburgh- wanted to put up a statue of Kennedy (was assasinated the year before) so asks if that is okay so R' Moshe discusses whether it is permissable to be on the committee deciding whether to do that


All right, now let's talk about mentioning idolatrous names!

page 5- V'shem elokim acheirim lo tazkiru- don't mention the names of other gods. Not just don't say the names of idols in terms of prayer but even just to say "meet me by the statue of Zeus" is problematic. lo yishma al picha- shouldn't mention names of avodah zara.

[random sidepoint: Rashi modeled codes after the Rif]

page 6- Hanoded b'shmo- "Wait for me under the statue of Zeus"- can't say that because you are getting benefit since the avodah zara is "helping" you. Han'aa is not okay. But it is probably assur even if you are not getting benefit from it

back to page 5- Asa Ulla- Ulla came from Israel to Bavel- someone questioned him, "Where did you sleep last night?" He said he slept in Kolbno. Reva asked "How can you say that?! That is the name of an avodah zara!" So quotes R' Yochanan (who represents Torah from Israel) saying that "Any avodah zara mentioned in the Torah we can mention (like asheira, Ba'al, etc)." So then the question becomes, "Where is Kolbno written in the Torah?" So gives him a pasuk. So you mean to say an avodah zara not mentioned in the Torah you can't mention?

So R' Masha brings up idea- hilkhot of tumah and tahara of zav and zava. Zav is any secretion other than a seminal emission. A woman is zavah if flow of blood other than menstrual blood. Zav and zavah sort of parallel to each other in a number of ways (but not exactly.) So the question here is: This zav has one secretion from body (but so much that it's like 3). Amount of time it takes to walk from Migdion to Shiloh or amount of time it would take to go into mikvah twice, immerse yourself and dry yourself. So Migdion is name of an Avodah Zarah- how could they mention Migdion in the example they give by zav and zavah if it's not mentioned in Tanakh (and we said only avodah zara mentioned in Tanakh can be mentioned by us?)

So Ravina answered that Gad is mentioned (Gad is a god set by the table) so you can really mention Migdion.

[sidepoint: R' Yechiel Yaakov Weinberg is the Sridei Aish]

still on page 5- amar R' Nachman

[quick sidepoint: Shulchan Aruch says stay away from derech avodah zara- 4 amos. Possibly means path. Nowadays probably means the entrance to a place of avodah zara.]

R' Nachman says that you shouldn't mock anything except for avodah zarah. Mocking avodah zara is muttar but that doesn't mean it's always wise (just like not everything that's true ought to be said.)

page 2- This is peirush mishnayos to the Rambam- the Gemara at end of 5th perek of Gittin has a whole bunch of things we do for darchei Shalom. Some things are not completely antithetical to us- sometimes compromise is valuable. They had issues during Gemara times- people who were suspected of doing work during Shmitahyear- you can lend people things that can be used for either assur or muttar behavior- at end makes a comment which is brought down in this Rambam: "U'machazikin yidei ovdei kochavim b'shvias b'dibur bilvad"

If non-Jew working on a field during Shmitah you can say "Have a nice day- good day with your work." You can't help him do the work (since Shmitah year) but you can say nice things to him. If you see him plowing the land you can say "May God be with you."

page 28- This is the Ramah in Yoreh Deah- look at hey. Hey in Kuf Mem Zayin - Muttar l'hitlotzetz b'ellilim

Look here how quoted "Elokecha y'hiyeh b'ezricha oh yatzliach ma'asecha"

Here it is saying your god should be with you! That is very different from the way the Rambam stated it. "Elokim yihiyeh l'cha" - there he just generically said God, not your god!

page 25- The Tur (Bach and Bais Yosef on the sides.) The Bach is quoting the Hagahos Shulchan Aruch by which he means the Rama. Who was the Bach? R' Yoel Sirkes lives in 1600s, father-in-law of the Taz. You can use different leshonos to bless a non-Jew. You can say Shalom Aleichem and Alecha Elokim (Shalom Aleichem denotes God's name.) So there are two theoretical problems:

1. Non Jew working on Shmitah year though a Jew couldn't (can still bless him to do well)- you can still bless him to do well! But it's one thing to say Elokim and another thing to say Elokecha- giving honor to an idol, almost! It's almost as though admitting/ granting that that god (which is perhaps an idol) has the power to bless this man! You can't resolve this by saying that he means God (as in Hashem.) Maybe means everyone's God by saying "your God."

Tet-Saf stands for Ta'us Sofer (scribal error/ printing error) in the old editions of the Rambam. Old editions of Rambam say elokecha. But in this case there's an added complication- the peirush was written by the Rambam in Arabic (wanted to reach the masses.) So in this case you would probably have to go back to the Arabic to check for a scribal error. According to him the correct version is elokim- so it should say elokim (so says the Bach) and says that newer ones have it that way.

My son-in-law pointed this out (the Taz)- he commented this way when studying halakha.

Shuva ra'iti that the Ba'al HaLevush wrote (the Levush was written by R' Mordechai Yafa so the Levush Mordechai said he meant it sarcastically- "May God be with you!" is meant sarcastically.) The Bach says "May God forgive him for saying this- he made up his own peirush!" So the Ba'al Levush gets bashed! So Bach says yes, if you look at this phrase in the Ramah it's in context of mocking but if you look at the source by the Rambam you'll see that he meant it nicely.

page 28- The Shach in gimmel is saying "Elokecha" is assur and it's not like what the Levush (who he calls Ateres Zahav) says (where it's mocking)

Interesting postscript on the right side under Hagahos Ha'Taz (comment the Taz added later on)- To say your god should do good things for you is a violation of "V'shem elokim acheirim lo hizkiru."

page 13- Gemara describing avodah zara known as Markoles (which they worshipped by throwing rocks at it) look at comment of Tosfos that says "Avinu beis koles" - how can you mention this name- it's not written in the Torah! And Rabbeinu Tam says the real name is kilus (l'kaleis means to praise) but they called it koles like an object of scorn (Chazal changed the name to something scornful.)

Chiluf kilus- opposite of koles (derogatory term) The Gemara wouldn't be allowed to mention it if it's the name of an avodah zarah not mentioned in the Torah. So here they can mention it, albeit in derogatory fashion.

page 37a- Teshuva of R' Moshe on mythology- must read/ you will be responsible for this.

Question of whether same avodah zarah which is no longer worshipped- whether assur to study about it. But if teach it in a way to show how ridiculous it is, that would be okay. But also can't say anything bad about current religions that they have.

All right, let's now discuss presenting oneself as being the member of another religion.

page 38- Mishna says "Ain ma'amidim"- The Gemara says that you're nto allowed to have your animals board with gentiles. Why? Because we suspect them of bestiality. Nor should a woman be alone with them (suspect them of sexual relations with women, or perhaps of rape.) And men shouldn't be alone with them (they'll kill the men.)

The Gemara here comments (daf chaf-hey) on that Mishna which is on page 39- how come when it comes to a woman they're afraid of sexual things but not worried they'll murder her? Says Rabbi, they'r etalking about an isha chashuva so they're worried about killing her (and therefore wouldn't.) Otherwise, idea that woman has built-in defense (they'd rather rape her than kill her.)

If problem is with- if she is with other women, not that worried for her. (Side point: Lesbianism is prohibited because of ma'asei eretz mitzrayim- that's what it's considered)

If problem is with shefichas damim then oay. If it's that she has a built-in defense that won't work if she's left alone with other (gentile) women. But if it is that she's left alone with other gentile women, it must be that she is an isha chashuva- that's why we don't think they'd kill her.

So to recap- Isha Chashuva with non-Jewish women:

1. If it's isha chashuva (as the reason) then she can be alone with other non-Jewish women

2. Kli zonah aleha- won't work for women (so the excuse is not that they'd rather rape her than kill her)

Tanu Rabanan- A Jew is walking along the road and along comes a non-Jew. What should he do? Try to get him to be on your right. Rashi says that is because your right hand is stronger than your left. Arrange the way you walk so that you have the strategic advantage. Also you might have the chance to stop him if he's reaching for his sword (you can get to it first.)

But if it's a staff you want him on your left so you can grab it away from him.

Also, you shouldn't bend down in front of him lest he kicks you on the head. If he asks where you're going you should answer "rechov lo es haderech"- tell him much further than you're actually going so he thinks he has time to kill you and then you stop off earlier and he hasn't killed you, huzzah! This is similar to what Jacob did to Esau- he said he was coming to Se'ir but instead got off at Sukkos.

Story with robbers- talmidim ended off at a place shorter than where they said they'd be going. The robber said they were fortunate to use that strategy and asked who their teacher was (was Rabbi Akiva)

So now we have the Rush on page 40.

A woman can hide/ disguise herself and say she's not Jewish (per the Yerushalmi) but a man won't be able to do it (because he has a circumcision.)

We cannot learn from this Gemara that it would be muttar to pass oneself off as a gentile because that's denying God. If they want to kill him because he doesn't follow their religion, he can't pretend to accept their god. So what does Yerushalmi say? Yerushalmi asking question our Bavli asked. (They both comment on the mishnayos, so good.)

Yerushalmi asks same question- how come by women not worried about them being killed? Yerushalmi gives different answer-

1. Pick the thing that's more likely (more likely raped than murdered) because she could always get away by claiming she's not Jewish (Yerushalmi not saying this is muttar but something the woman could get away with)- ovdas kochavim- could still rape her physically, possible to do

page 41- Gemara in Bava Kama- Can't wear shatnez even if not touching his skin- say that in order to get through customs/ don't pay taxes so wearing 10 layers of clothing (this is smuggling.) Because you're not wearing these clothes for the reason people normally wear clothes- only l'havriach es ha'mas (to escape the tax.) So the point is that you can't have shatnez on you (lo ya'aleh alecha) even if not derech levush. Implication is that because it is shatnez you can't do it, regardless of whether it touches the skin.

Dealing with a tax collector who has no limit in this situation. Normally, the king didn't want to be bothered with collecting taxes. So what he did as king is he would sell/ give someone the right to collect taxes for 10 million dollars. So they would give the king 10 million dollars and would pocket the rest/ whatever was left, because he has to make a living off of this too!

1. Moches she'ain lo kitzvah- When there's a tax without a limit, then you're allowed to evade taxes (but normally you can't)

2. He's not authorized by the king to collect taxes but is instead a mafioso who has commandeered a bridge or place- said something like "I own this bridge, better pay me if you want to cross this bridge." Here too you can try to avoid the tax.

That's why there's no issue of cheating here- because normally one is not permitted to cheat the government. But in this case the tax collector is either illegal or unauthorized so it's all right.

page 42- just continuation of cheating (skip)

The Rush- can't be peshat that he dresses up as a goy and therefore evades taxes because Rabbi Akiva would never permit that- the Rush has extended the idea. He says you can't say that you're not Jewish and you can't even dress in a fashion that suggests you're not Jewish.

He offers two ideas- first is avoiding being taxed on what you bring in, which is why you're wearing 10 layers rather than bringing them in as luggage- the other is that perhaps you need to dress like a non-Jew but that is absolutely not permitted; R' Akiva wouldn't allow it.

page 44- Nemukei Yosef was a talmid of the Ran. And the Ran comments on the Rif (this is a page from the Rif.)

During time where they deliberately make a rule that Jews have to wear the same clothing, then forbidden to change so much as a shoelace- then you must give your life rather than wearing that. During a time of shemad (discrimination/ persecution) where the intention is to get the Jews to be over al das (go against their religion) then you can't change. The difference has to do with the purpose/ intention behind the laws.

Intention where they specifically want you to break your religion versus just wanting something fulfilled. But when Jews are simply killed because they aren't non-Jews (and the intention isn't to make you go against your religion) then one is allowed to dress up as a gentile to save your skin.

But there are two stories that are problematic with this point of view:

1. You can't use wood of an asheira to heal yourself even if you're dying

2. Story in Gemara where a person was so lovesick that he was dying- the doctor said even to speak to the woman in question might help her, but they said no because then he would get ha'naa from her

But you would be permitted to play a trick on this lovesick man and have his own wife stand behind the fence and speak to him (so he would think it was that woman)

So the thing going on here is ha'naah- but you are not getting ha'naah out of wearing the gentile clothing.

page 45- Now quotes story: A talmid is allowed to say he is the slave of fire and therefore he doesn't have to give taxes (the religion at the time was Zoroastrianism which worshipped light and fire.) So you're allowed to do this to get out of paying this unfair tax. But what about saying you're a servant of fire? Well, you're the servant of God (God is Aish Achla) so you are not really saying you are an oved avodah zara.

Otherwise idea that they simply served the worshippers of fire (so once again people would assume they were non-Jewish so that's okay.) Midrash Rabbah where two studnets changed their headgear and a Roman official saw them and said "Are you servants of Torah and if so why did you change your headgear?" So they said "Yes, we are and we're willing to die for Torah." But if they hadn't been recognized as Jews, it would have been fine for them to have changed their headgear.

page 46- This is from Mesechtas Nedarim. There's a Ran on the right side of the Tosfos. And where it says Rashi on top- Rashi on Nedarim is suspect (some see him as not actually being Rashi.) Tosfos is on the right in little print. Standard meforash in Nedarim is the Ran.

The Ran says that even a talmid chacham can say that they are a servant of the fire (his intention is for heaven) or servant of the worshippers of fire.

postscript to this: Many Jews survived the Holocaust by dressing up/ pretending to be goyim. It might not be assur- why? Because when goyim persecuting Jews for religious reasons (like in Middle Ages) then by saying you're a Catholic you are being modeh to the religion. But the Nazis didn't particularly care about religions- only about race so under those circumstances avodah zara is not an issue at all. Adraba- if you converted to Catholicism, it didn't help you! If you had Jewish blood, you were still taken. So it's a statement of race versus religion. Could be they instinctively understood that. Persecution of Holocaust is a different kind of religious persecution.

[And I am pretty sure this is all we need to know for the test, because the next section is where we start discussing bechukoseihem.]