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July 29, 1966 - Image 2

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1966-07-29

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Purely Commentary lAVariety of Fascinating Jewish Facts

By Philip SlOmOvitZ


love affair with King Solomon but
David Dubinsky. who has just
she may also have had a bit of
The late Dr. Norbert Wiener, arthritis. The pains of love are retired as head of the Inter-
Widespread discussion of birth control, the controversy it has
national Ladies Garment Workers
aroused in Catholic circles, the queries regarding the Jewish position pioneer in the development of the often hard to differentiate from
Union, began his labor career in
in this vital issue, inspired Dr. Immanuel Jakobovits, rabbi of the Fifth computer and the man who coined the body's aches.
Poland by striking against his
Avenue Synagogue in New York, to write this letter to the New York the name for the science dealing
* * *
father's bakery. We know children
with computers—cybernetics—was
The sages of the Talmud were • who strike against their mothers'
Anent your informative article on the contraceptive pill and
aware that the earth is round. In cooking and refuse to eat their
its brief modern history, it may interest your readers that oral pher Moses Maimonides, author of Midrash Rabba, we find the say- oatmeal.
contraceptives effective, in various forms, for both males and "The Guide to the Perplexed."
ing, "The world is shaped like a
* *
Some people think computers ball which is thrown from hand
females are frequently mentioned in the Talmud 2,000 years ago
army of 17 com-
and in all subsequent codes of Jewish law ("Three Men Who may be the guides to the per- to hand."
Brown in Kansas
plexed of the future.
And every Jewish home is a to liberate the slaves were Jews.
Made a Revolution" April 10, by Lawrence' Lader).
Described as a "potion of roots" (perhaps akin to the hormone
They had gone to Kansas to peddle.
In his will, Columbus left a cash arise) proving that they played
in Mexican yam), this agent was taken to produce permanent or
and open stores. After fighting 4-.
find some customers. they
temporary sterility as well as, in different dosages, to promote
fighting in the army easy.
fertility. Its use to prevent conception was ruled religiously less could have been better off if in-
According to the Talmud, as-
objectionable than other contraceptives which were sanctioned stead Columbus left him one of
the countries he discovered. paragus is good for the heart and
only for grave medical reasons.
* * *
Menachem Mendel, who has a
the eye. Parsley must be good for
This ancient reference to oral contraceptives is not so in-
When Georgia was first opened something too, we suspect.
talent for always failing in his
credible if it is remembered that the Talmud is also the only for settlement, it was advertised
* * *
various business enterprises, is
literary work of antiquity to mention artificial insemination (albeit as being in the same latitude as
The man to whom we owe the really the story of Sholem Alei-
through an accidental impregnation) and a Caesarian section on Eietz, Israel. The colony made greatest debt for the compilation chem himself, who started out as
a living mother, followed by a subsequent pregnancy and natural slow progress at first because Ben- of early American Jewish history a stockbroker and lost everything
was not a Jew but an Irishman
Gurion was not there.
he had. But so much money has
* * *
Because he may be the next Chief Rabbi of the British Empire,
Judge Charles P. Daly. Like they been made out of the works of
Dr. Jakobovits' views assume special significance. They may have some
The climate of Eilath is said to say in the New York advertise. Sholem Aleichem — especially on
bearing on future debates on the question of birth control among be good for arthritis. The Queen ment, "you don't have to be Jew- the English stage, that, if he were
Orthodox Jews in England.
of Sheba who visited Eilath is ish to like Levy's Jewish rye alive today, he could become a
But it is the issue involving contraceptives, the birth control said to have come because of a bread."
* * *
* * *
proposals, the traditional Jewish attitudes, that are of special interest.
We don't know whether there
Thus, in reply to Dr. Jakobovits' letter, the New York Times in
The idea of rule by consensus
a subsequent issue, published this reply written by Dr. Robert Gordis,
were any Lady Birds in Jewish is not really new. There
is an old
nomenclature, but there were plen- Yiddish saying. "If
professor of Bible at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America,
zwei sagen
ty of Zipporahs, which means Bird. shikkur, darf sich der dritter
dealing with the talmudic rules on birth control:
The wife of Moses was Zipporah. shlofen."
. In his letter referring' to oral contraceptives in Jewish re-
* * *
* * *
ligious law (May 1), Rabbi Immanuel Jakobovits declares that
Population explosions are bad
"other (i.e., non-chemical) contraceptives . . . were sanctioned
Speaking about Coca Cola in
BONN (JTA)—President Hab b but what would we have done Israel we see someone has sug-
only for grave medical reasons."
without them. Benjamin Franklin gested that in Israel it
In this statement, Rabbi Jakobovits is setting forth the op- Bourguiba of Tunisia told a pre
ss was the last of seventeen children She-Ha-Cola, after the be
position of many, if not of most, Orthodox rabbis toward birth
She-hakol which is made when
- control. It should be pointed out, however, that here, as in other favored a solution of the Ara b- one of fifteen children.
partaking of liquids.
instances, this standpoint is by no means identical with that of Israel conflict based "on t he
traditional Judaism as embodied in its great classic sources. Thus, United Nations decision on the

the fundamental passage on the subject, repeated no less than partition of Palestine coupled with
six times in Talmudic literature, reads as follows: "Three types
Boris Smolar's
of women use a resorbent (ie., to prevent conception) : a child he also said that "any solution
must be acceptable to both sides
wife (i.e., between 11 and 12 years of age), lest she become
The Tunisian leader, who e n- "
pregnant and die; a pregnant woman, lest her embryo be injured
Arab rulers last year b y
and become an abortion; and the nursing •mother, lest she wean
repeated public calls to them t 0
her child too soon and it die."
negotiate a settlement with Israe 1,
The post-Talmudic commentators differ as to whether these
is in Bonn on an official visit. H
three types of women may practice family limitation and others made his statement
in reply to e
(Copyright, 1966, JTA, Inc.)
a -
may not, or whether these categories of women must do so and question from a newsman
abo t it
others may. Both interpretations are grammatically sound. • On
COMMUNAL ISSUES: The issue of including a question on re-
ways to achieve peace in the Mi d-
either view, the existence of .a strong sanction for family limitation dle East.
ligion in the forthcoming U.S. Census Bureau population studies is
is clear.
more and more to the fore in discussions within major Jewish
Basing itself on two passages in the Bible: "Be fruitful and
organizations . . .Actually, there are two specific issues under con-
was achieved in the "hearts and sideration
multiply" (Genesis, i, 28) and "It is not good for man to dwell
on which leading Jewish organizations will have to take a
souls" of people and could not
alone"(Genesis, ii, 18), Jewish tradition regards marriage as
stand . .. One is whether the Census Bureau should include a ques-
possessing two goals, companionship as well as the perpetuation
tion of religion in the 1970 decennial census, answers to which are
justice. "I understand the posi-
of the human race. According to the Talmud, the commandment
mandatory . . . The other is the narrower issue as to the attitude
tion of the Jews, who have suf-
"Be fruitful and multipy" is fulfilled by bringing two children into
fered greatly, but their prob- toward including a question on religion in one of its regular sample
the world. Since •companionship, which includes sexual relations,
conducted in the years between the decennial censuses, an-
cannot be solved at the ex- studies
is a -legitimate end of marriage in itself, Jewish law permits a
swers to which are voluntary . .. A joint study group of these issues
wide latitude in the patterns of sexual relations between husband
has been formed by the Council of Jewish Federations and Welfare
and wife. It urges weak, old and sterile persons to marry even
"Even if the Jews lived in Pales- Funds and the National Community Relations Advisory Council,
when there is no possibility of children. Nor does it regard me- tine 2,000 years, this does not coordinating body of national Jewish groups and
local Jewish com-
chanical or chemical means of contraception as more objectionable mean that any solution of current munity councils on church-state and civil rights issues . . . The joint
per se than abstinence from sexual relations. There is no warrant problems can be one-sided."
CJFWF-NCRAC group is making efforts to enlist the help of a dis-
for assuming that the Talmud drew any distinction with regard
The Tunisian president was tinguished academic authority in constitutional law to examine what
to the degree of permissibility between chemical and other modes asked whether a reconciliation legal obstacles, if any, exist that would preclude government from
of contraception.
was Possible between him and asking a question on religion in a voluntary-response census sampling.
In the Middle Ages, the survival of the Jewish community President Nasser of Egypt. He . . . There is no urgency on a decision being made by Jewish organiza-
was threatened by many natural and human perils. As a result, replied that he had no intention tions now as plans both for the 1970 Census and for a sampling study
the imperious demands of group survival took precedence over of becoming Nasser's "satellite." will not become fin-al until next year . . . However, The American
individual desires or family welfare. The letter as well as the He said the Tunisians were a free Jewish Committee has already taken up this question at a meeting
spirit of Talmudic law on the subject was ignored.
people and intended to remain of its commission dealing with domestic affairs . . . After an intense
It cannot be emphasized too strongly, however, that this is so in spite of Nasser.
discussion, marked by a sharp division of opinion, the commission
by no means the standpoint of traditional Judaism in its greatest
He also asserted that the real voted 7 to 4 in favor 'of a motion that the American Jewish Com-
and most creative periods. There is ample warrant in our sources reason for the difference between mittee should not oppose a question on religion in a Census Bur a•-
■ ,..
for the recognition that in view of complex moral, hygienic and himself and Nasser was not the study, provided it was included in an off-year sampling and it
economic factors, family planning is a basic necessity in modern "so-called" Palestine question but clear that the question was purely voluntary . . .
rather Nasser's desire to increase
This has not ended the discussion. In a letter to the London his hegemony to include all of the
PRINCIPAL ARGUMENTS: In the division of opinions which is
Jewish Chronicle, Dr. Meir Gertner stated, commenting on the Arab states.
"Talmudic Pill' ":
now developing among leaders of Jewish organizations with regard
He explained that this was why
In your issue of May 13 Dr. Immanuel Jakobovits is reported Tunisia had left the Arab League to the question of whether to support or oppose the inclusion of a
to have described the "agent" producing "sterility" that is men- and that it would not return to question on religion in the U.S. Census, the following picture emerges
. . . Those who favor the inclusion of such a question cite the im-
tioned in the Talmud as "potion of roots."
the league as long as membership
This rendering of the Hebrew term used by the rabbi pre- made it impossible to maintain an portance of religious groupings as a cultural and sociological element
in our society . . . They also argue that the government has a right
supposes the reading ikkarim (ikkar, root) in the relevant Tal- independent policy.
to do research and conduct inquiry into the make-up of the population.
mudic source (Tosephta Yebbamoth viii). But although many
. . . They stress the usefulness of such information to government
ancient and modern authorities (including Ben Yehudah) appear
to support this reading (and rendering), it would seem that the 40 Christian Theologians on all levels, such as in forecasting population trends and conducting
welfare and anti-discrimination programs . . . They also point out
Hebrew word for "the pill" should (with Jacob Levy in his Deplore Anti-Semitism
that such information is needed by religious groups to function ef-
Talmudic Dictionary) be read akkarim (akar, sterile; akkar,
(Direct JTA Teletype Wire
fectively in the interest of public welfare . . In their opinion, the
steriliser), meaning "sterilisers."
to The Jewish News)
Of course, these sterilisers may have consisted of "roots";
GENEVA — The continued exist- graphic community in this country is perhaps in greater need of demo-
data — including data on religious affiliation — than any
and in most contexts, where mixtures and medical preparations ence of anti-Semitism as "an issue
are concerned (Horayoth 11b; Shabbath 109b), ikkarim is un- among Christians" was deplored other community in the United States Government involvement
doubtedly the right reading. But in our particular context, akkar here Monday by more than 400 in obtaining data on religious affiliation, they claim, can only be of
help to the vast system of Jewish institutions covering the full com-
has been confused with ikkar, the former being the precise Hebrew Christian theologians attending a plex
term for "steriliser," as the Arabic equivalent also indicates.
conference sponsored by the World grams of welfare, health, vocational, educational and cultural pro-
. Not to speak of the fact that it could establish the basic
There is much merit to these discussions. They are informative Council of Churches.
"portrait" of American Jewry — in such cases as age, sex, family
exchanges that throw light on the progressivism of talmudic scholars,
In a report submitted for con- structure, marital status, place of birth, occupation, education,
on the fact that there may be nothing new under the sun.
sideration by the world council, come, home ownership, etc. . . . On the other hand, the opponents
These debates may not influence public opinion. But they are the conference delegates urged
argue that traditionally, religion is a private affair and that govern-
illuminating and as evaluative material on a vital subject confronting
churches "to insist that no discri-
involvement in this area goes counter to the American
our generation they serve a great purpose 'and are of noteworthy value. mination should be made among ment
. They assert that the First Amendment forbids the federal tradition.
men for religious, racial or ethnic ment to make laws "respecting the establishment of religion
2—Friday, July 29, 7966
or pro-
hibiting the free exercise thereof." .. .

Birth Control: Contraceptives and the Talmud

(Copyright, 1966, JTA, Inc.)


Bourguiba Wants
ME Peace With
Both Sides Happy





0.amb 001m• exwoO01=111.011•10.01•0411

'Between You
. . and Me



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