Taking "Cleanliness is Next to Godliness" A Bit Too Far:

From Van Wyhe v. Reisch:

Sisney states that while Torah study is foremost and cannot be exchanged for the Hebrew study, his religion considers learning Hebrew to be a "mikvah," or "good deed."

Compare "mikvah" and "mitzvah". Thanks to Religion Clause for the pointer.

Bill Poser (mail) (www):
That confusion is a hillel ha shem. :)
9.13.2009 2:10am
Comp Sci Phd:
and even if it was mitzva, it still be wrong. mitzva is commandment, not good deed.
9.13.2009 4:03am
Comp Sci Phd:
just as a followup to my point as I was a bit unclear.

while mitzva is colloquial used as "good deed", that should have no bearing on the courts decision. i.e. plenty of "good deeds" cannot be done while in prison.

something being a "mitzva" should only matter if its actually a commandment that the person can do in the prison itself. (i.e. its considered a mitzva to settle in Israel, but as that's not something that can be done in Prison, it shouldn't matter. Vice Versa, a mitzva such as putting on Tefillin (Phylacteries), is something that can be done within the confines of the prison)
9.13.2009 4:11am
Matza is a mitzva.
9.13.2009 4:21am
Shelby (mail):
I can think of a number of people for whom a mikvah would be a mitzvah.
9.13.2009 4:43am
This could actually be an important piece of evidence that the court overlooked. Sisney was claiming that he was not given enough time to study Hebrew and "mikvah" is apparently a citation to his statement. If the court correctly quoted him, then I think it proves his case. He does need much more time study Hebrew. Petition for rehearing!
9.13.2009 5:30am
So having a couple of drinks in the dump I ended up in at 2:00am last night a bar mitzvah?
9.13.2009 8:15am
Student (mail):
Comp Sci Phd,

A number of legal authorities actually DO consider it a "mitzva" (in the sense of commandment; better "hiyuv," or obligation) to study Hebrew; see the following Responsa: Havvot Yair 124, Iggerot Moshe 3:35.
9.13.2009 9:29am
Soronel Haetir (mail):
Cleanliness is next to impossible.
9.13.2009 9:31am
ChrisTS (mail):
In some cases, one person's mikvah would be a mitzvah for many others. (Think subway.)
9.13.2009 11:49am
Jaime non-Lawyer:
In my dictionary, cleanliness is next to cleavage.
9.13.2009 12:34pm
Talk about total immersion!
9.13.2009 1:26pm
NowMDJD (mail):
Y wins the thread. Poser gets honorable mention.
9.13.2009 3:19pm
Comp Sci Phd:
ari (yes, we have many mutual friends), i'm not arguing if it's a mitzva or not. I was discussing on the "good deed" transliteration of "mikva" (aka mitzva).
9.13.2009 4:57pm
Perhaps the quote was unintentionally recalling former US DC Appeals Court, and White House counsel, Abner Mikva.
9.13.2009 5:25pm
Ken Mitchell (mail):
That's OK; the court's definition of a sukkah is wrong, too. One of the key elements of a sukkah is that you be able to see stars through the roof, which is obviously impossible to achieve while in prison.
9.13.2009 5:36pm
Bill Poser (mail) (www):

One of the key elements of a sukkah is that you be able to see stars through the roof, which is obviously impossible to achieve while in prison.

Not if you set up the sukkah out of doors, say in the exercise yard.
9.13.2009 6:07pm
Milhouse (www):

One of the key elements of a sukkah is that you be able to see stars through the roof,

That is not at all a key element. So long as the roof lets the rain through it's fine. But as Bill says, what's the problem? Prisons have outdoor areas, there's no reason not to put up a sukah.
9.13.2009 6:15pm
Can't find a good name:
The decision states that a succah "is large enough to accommodate only one person at a time." That makes it sound like a succah should not be large enough to fit more than one person in at a time, which I have never heard of. (Granted, in a prison, it may or may not be advisable to have a larger succah, but I don't think I've ever seen a one-person-only succah in the outside world.)
9.13.2009 6:24pm
Asher Steinberg (mail):
I was just about to say that I, too, have never seen a one-person succah. Nor have I ever even been alone in a succah or with fewer than ten people in a succah. What is the court talking about?
9.13.2009 9:05pm
"One of the key elements of a sukkah is that you be able to see stars through the roof"

Not a key element at all. The codes do require that the roof a succah not be obstructed by anything hangign over them. But in setting the amount of foliage or bamboo to serve as a roof, the codes require that the foliage must make the area very shady. Some authorities also add a maximum thickness, set at the amount of covering that would keep all rain out of the succah. While an ideal of being able to see stars is mentioned, the succah is not invalidated without this feature. Compliance with this inessential feature of the succah often leads to building succahs that are invalid on account of violating the first rule, that the covering must provide enough shade to shade over a majority of the area, measured by how much shade the covering would provide in the absence of walls.


The kind of mobile succahs out there that are would be the type to be donated to prisons are likely to be very small indeed.
9.13.2009 9:54pm

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