Page 33 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 27

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(i. e., the family lines) of the adopted infant. Jewish laws regard­
ing illegitimacy are very liberal. A child of an unmarried mother
is not necessarily illegitimate. Only a child of a relationship that
cannot be legitimized is deemed illegitimate. Thus the relation­
ship of a married woman with a man not her husband or of a
man and woman of too close blood relationship, may produce a
child who is considered a mamzer forbidden to marry into a Jew­
ish family. Therefore, the respondents consider the problem of
adoption as relating chiefly to the child of a Jewish mother. Who
was her consort? Was he a blood kin? Is the Jewish mother a
married woman? If the child is of unknown or untraceable origin,
it is considered a sh’tuki (one about whom there is silence) or an
assufi (one picked up on the street). Such children of dubious
origin should not be adopted. But a child of an unmarried Jewish
mother who has not consorted with too close a kin, is not illegit­
imate and may be adopted. If it is a child of a Gentile mother,
there is no problem except that it must be converted to Judaism.
There is a comprehensive discussion of this question by Moses
Feinstein in Yore Deah 161:2 and by Isaac Weiss in Minhat
Yitzhak II, 115. In general, if the child’s status is known and
there is no ground for considering it illegitimate (in the liberal
Jewish sense), there is no objection to adopting it.
One of the great economic changes, as mentioned earlier, is the
proliferation of business corporations and the widespread stock
ownership by Jewish people in these corporations. This modern
economic situation creates a number of special problems for Jew­
ish stockholders. Suppose the corporation is a baking firm: What
happens to its leavened bread over the Passover? A Jew may not
use any leaven he has kept over the Passover. Are the leavened
flour and bread owned by the corporation of which he is a
stockholder to be considered the property of the Jewish stock­
holder? Also, since the corporation’s factory continues work on
the Sabbath, is the Jewish stockholder profiting from work he has
ordered done on the Sabbath?
This question regarding the religious responsibilities of stock­
holders is receiving increasing attention in the responsa literature.
One of the earliest discussions in Jewish law of the status that
must be given to a corporation was by the late Samuel Weingurt
of Montreux. It is published in the memorial volume Yad Shaul
(Tel Aviv, 1953) and concerns a brewery corporation many of
whose stockholders were Jews, but whose directors were Gentile.
The essence of Samuel Weingurt’s discussion is that the stock­
holder has absolutely no control over the work of the brewery, does
not really own the corporation’s property, nor is liable for its debts.
This responsum was subjected to a full analysis by Isaac Weiss of
Manchester, whose responsum appears in the collection published