Volume 12 Number 71
                       Produced: Thu Apr 21  9:18:44 1994

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Chumrot (3)
         [Mitch Berger, Brocha Epstein, Aharon Fischman]
Early Shabbat Minyanim (3)
         [Reuben Gellman , Isaac Balbin, Uri Meth]


From: <mberger@...> (Mitch Berger)
Date: Tue, 19 Apr 1994 09:14:56 -0400
Subject: Chumrot

I'd like to make a distinction, partly because I have a perverse need to
be pendantic (I'm working on it), and partly because it may make the
discussion more productive.

I would classify two types of chumros: those that involve the acceptance
of a more stringent p'saq [halachic ruling], and those that are just an
accepted practice - perhaps on the level of minhag [custom].

In the former category, I'd put the bugs on vegetables issue. There was
a decision about the issur of eating bugs, and how to avoid it. The
discussion is purely on the plane of p'saq - can one rely on the
cleanliness of vegetables or not?

Then, we have glatt, or my personal favorite, the upsherin [having the
first haircut at age three, with a big party]. For the Hungarian
community, these two are time-honored minhagim, and should be treated as
such. But for the rest of us, these are chumros of the second class.
Accepting such a chumrah is not an indication that you are accepting a
more stringent ruling, rather, that you want to live 'lifnim mishuras
hadin - [well] within the lines of the law'.

The line isn't so clear. Where do you put 'chalav stam' [non-inspected
milk]?  R. Mosheh zt"l writes that such milk is kosher, but a 'ben
Torah' [product of the Torah] wouldn't rely on it.

How I would react to someone who rejects an invitation to my home on the
grounds that I don't keep some chumrah would probably depend on which
type of chumrah we are talking about.

| Micha Berger       | (201) 916-0287 | On Torah, on worship, and |    |  |   |
| <mberger@...> |<- new address  |   on supporting kindness  |    |  |   |

From: <brocha@...> (Brocha Epstein)
Date: Mon, 18 Apr 1994 17:33:35 -0400
Subject: Chumrot

IMHO, the recent discussion of chumrot, for the most part, miss the mark.
I think that the real problem revolves around the ATTITUDE towards the
purpose of the different chumrot, as well as problems which relate to
bein adam la'chaveiroh [between man and man] issues.  Most anyone can 
understand that when one has a relationship with anyone or thing 
that is very important to them, they seek to act in such a way that 
will not jeopordize that relationship -- often acting in ways 
which might otherwise seem extreme.  Although others viewing the 
actions may or may not deem the actions to be warranted, any intelligent 
person will at least understand and at most be impressed by the
love/trust/etc. exhibited.  If we can understand this on a personal level,
then al achas kama ve'kama [how much more so] should we understand/applaud
this in the relationship that one has with G*d?!  In truth, we should be
in awe of someone so concerned with their relationship with G*d and they
should serve as a model of inspiration for us all.  In truth, this is the
attitude that most everyone has towards someone (if not many people) 
who they know/have seen/have heard of (most often on a human, thus 
non-confrontational level).

The question is, if chumrot are really laudatory actions/deeds, then why the
bad press?  The following are some musings which, I hope, will shed some
light on the issue.  Before I begin, may I say that none of this is meant
in any way to offend anyone.  Additionally, this discussion is not (by a
long shot) complete or authoritative but meant solely as the means to begin
discussing -- what are IMHO -- the real issues.

First, many/most of us are to some degree uncomfortable with our level/
relationship with G*d.  We thus may be predisposed to relating suspiciously 
to those who keep anything different than we do and seek to judge them for
it.  Thus, instead of viewing the 'chumra keeper' as
someone who wishes to better their relationship with Him, we view those
people as either misplacing their 'worship' or as motivated by an unholy

Second, the original feeling which motivated the chumra is lost.  Thus, 
the casual observer often loses respect for the action and oftentimes, 
the 'chumra keeper.'  

Third, people (unfortunately) evaluate others on the basis of whether or
not they keep the chumra. (This one goes in both directions).

Fourth, people forget that the chumra is indeed a chumra, relegating it
to Halacha Pesuka [accepted (?) Law] and judge the 'chumrah observer' as
negligent.  This is indeed a problem which, IMHO, needs to be addressed 
through education.  I can say that for me this has been a big help.
>From a young age, I remember my parents answering my queries with -- 
"The Halachah permits this, but..." or "Their Rabbi says it is OK, therefore
it is OK for them..." or "They don't know..."  The depth of the answer 
varied with age and intellectual ability, but the understanding was
always there.

In truth, many are motivated to keeping chumrot for different reasons.
Sometimes the motivation is 'pure'.  Most often the reasons are more
complex -- it is a 'good thing' to do and I hope to eventually act
out of care for my relationship with G*d (me'toch she'lo lishmah, bah lishmah),
others will feel more comfortable if I do it (a bein adam la'chaveiroh 
motivation), etc.

On the one hand, it is important that the 'chumrah observers' respect
the 'chumrah keepers' for trying to attain a higher level in Avodat HaShem
(service of G*d).  By the same token, it is also imperative for the 'chumrah
keepers' to respect the 'chumrah observers' -- for after all, we are talking
about a chumrah here.

In any case, neither the 'observer' nor the 'keeper' should judge the other.
The last I remember, that was G*d's job.  In the event that, impure
motivations (at best) are the motivating factors, let us learn to be more
tolerant and accepting of other people.

To my mind, the real problem is that many of us are lacking in ahavat
chinam -- and as such allow ourselves to judge others.  This last point
explains the divisions which result on both sides -- the watcher and the

Perhaps, if we all learn the lesson which cost the lives of the students
of Rabbi Akiva, we will merit the unity of the Jewish people and a final
complete redemption.

Brocha Epstein

From: <afischma@...> (Aharon Fischman)
Date: 19 Apr 94 14:29:20 GMT
Subject: Chumrot

	Ester Posen writes in Vol-12 #64 that in her family there are
many different minhagim (customs) with regards to what one eats or does
not eat on pesach. she goes on to say that "NOT ONE PERSON REFUSED TO
	What is important about that statment is that it is rare when it
happens. If a person has felt it important enough to take a Chumra
(stringency) on onself in order to better fulfill a mitzvah, Then all
the best of luck to him or her. There are "Shivim Panim LeTorah",
seventy faces to Torah, noone's observance will be a carbon copy of
another's, the same way people look differntly and act differently. It
is however when the attitude of Shivim Panim is dropped, meaning that
one says 'I am the only one following all Torah and Mitzvot correctly,
s/he may think that they are following Torah and Mitzvot, but since it
is not how I or my peer group do it, they are completly wrong, and
therfore we can have no respect for what they do, nor for them as
people'. This attitude is wrong, and thankfully for Mrs. Posen, this
negative attitude does not exist in her family. This is also not a knock
against one 'derech' (way of life) since the 'Modern' Chevere is as
guilty as the 'Black Hat' Chevre is.
	'Derech Eretz Kadmah LaTorah', Proper behavior comes before
Torah. We would all be better if we followed this axiom

Aharon Fischman


From: Reuben Gellman  <rsg@...>
Date: Tue, 19 Apr 1994 10:59:00 -0400
Subject: Early Shabbat Minyanim

In v12n65 Joe Weisblatt asked 2 questions about early minyanim for
shabbat. I'll try to respond to his second question, which was why some
shuls have a "drifting", rather than fixed, time for the early minyan.
The answer lies in the halachik definition of evening. In b'rachot
(26a-b) there's an argument between R. Yehudah and others about the end
of time for mincha.  According to R"Y, mincha time ends at "p'lag
haminchah" (defined below); the others hold until sunset. This implies
that for R"Y night begins after p'lag haminchah; for the others it
begins at dark (which I won'tdefine).  The shulchan aruch (siman RL"G
(233)) allows either view, BUT NOT BOTH. That is, one can follow the
view of R"Y or the others, but not both at the same time. Thus, if one
says mincha after p'lag, one is implicitly rejecting the view of R"Y;
one cannot therefore say ma'ariv before dark. This is what we typically
do on weekdays: mincha before sunset, ma'ariv some time after that. If
one wishes to follow the view of R"Y, one MUST say mincha before p'lag;
then one can say ma'ariv any time after p'lag. This is what early
minyanim are supposed to do. The problem with having a fixed time early
minyan is that it doesn't necessarily "straddle" the p'lag time limit.
One might thus end up contradicting oneself: davening mincha after p'lag
(a no-no for R"Y), but ma'ariv before dark (a no-no to the others).
There might be exceptions for "sh'at had'chak", where there are no

What is p'lag hamincha? The word "p'lag" is aramaic for half. So it is
"half" of mincha k'tana (2.5 hrs before sunset): 1.25 hrs before sunset.
We use halachik time (sha'ot z'maniyot), where each hour is 1/12 of
daytime. So, in Calgary (to choose a useful example), a mid-summer
"sha'ah z'manit" is 1/12 of 18 hours, i.e., 90 minutes. P'lag hamincha
would then be 1.25 * 90 = 112.5 minutes before sunset. So, if sunset is
at 9:50 (in late June), you can start ma'ariv just before 8:00 pm.

Incidentally, the shulchan aruch says that one should PERMANENTLY follow
one view or the other. From observation I would say that this is not the
accepted practice. Many people daven mincha late on weekdays and ma'ariv
early on erev shabbat.

Hope this helps.
Reuven Gellman (<rsg@...>)

From: Isaac Balbin <isaac@...>
Date: Tue, 19 Apr 1994 19:32:11 -0400
Subject: Re: Early Shabbat Minyanim

  | From: <jjw@...> (Joe Weisblatt)
  | Now that the season is upon us, I have several questions regarding
  | starting Shabbat early:

Well, it isn't upon *us* (in Australia) but I will address the issue
anyway :-)

  | First, assuming one davens in a place where both early and 'on-time'
  | minyanim are held on Friday night, must one establish a 'minhag' for
  | the season, or can one choose to attend one or the other on any
  | particular Shabbat?  Specifically, is it problematic to use the
  | on-time minyan as a 'fallback' in case you're running late on
  | Friday, even though you generally accept Shabbat earlier?

My understanding is that one can use adopt either position and fall
back on the other in a time of need. The problem is when one davens
Mincha and Ma'ariv in the same halachic time zone---that is, one
davens Mincha during a time when Ma'ariv is due.

  | Second, what is the source for shules having an early minyan
  | which 'drifts' over the season, rather than being at a fixed
  | time all Summer?  

Indeed, this is Lechatchillo (in the first instance) the *preferred*
thing to do precisely because of the problem I mentioned above.
Namely, one should pray Mincha before Plag Hamincho [halachic ma'ariv
time] according to a consistent view of the times. By altering the time
from week to week one can *ensure* that early Mincha is davened before
the Ma'ariv is due. B'dieved (as a second measure in time of need) one
can pray them both in the same time. Those shuls who set a time which 
doesn't vary and such that that time is often of the B'dieved 
variety are actually doing the second best thing.

I must admit that I do not understand why people *don't* have varying times.
I do not accept the B'dieved argument (in general) in a medium to big
Jewish City which easily has a minyan and which has varying times
through winter anyway! 

From: <umeth@...> (Uri Meth)
Date: Tue, 19 Apr 1994 09:35:19 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Re: Early Shabbat Minyanim

In v12n65 Joe Weisblatt asks:

>Second, what is the source for shules having an early minyan
>which 'drifts' over the season, rather than being at a fixed
>time all Summer?  I've heard this attributed to davening after
>a particular halachic zman or just maintaining the 'feeling' of
>having Shabbat change starting time by a few minutes as the
>season changes.

In reference to the halachic zman, it could be refering to "Plag
Hamincha".  This time is 1&1/4 hours before sunset using what is called
"Sha'ah Zmanios".  A Sha'ah Zmaniah is the time of an hour if you take
the amount of time from sunrise to sunset and divide by 12.  Shabbos is
not permitted to be brought in before the time of Plag Hamincha.
Therefore, if a cummunity wants to bring in shabbos at the earliest
possbile time, they would daven mincha before Plag Hamincha and then
start Kabalas Shabbos and Maariv right after Plag Hamincha.

NOTE:  This is just a curious observation on those who bring in shabbos
early during the summer months.  I was taught (I forget where it is
brought down and I don't have my mishna brurah with me) that if one
wishes to bring in shabbos early, that he is required to daven mincha
before plag hamincha.  Only then is one permitted to bring shabbos in
early.  However, the Minhag Haolam (the custom of the world) is to daven
mincha even after plag hamincha and still bring in shabbos early.  Any

Uri Meth                (215) 674-0200 (voice)
SEMCOR, Inc.            (215) 443-0474 (fax)
65 West Street Road     <umeth@...>
Suite C-100, Warminster, PA 18974


End of Volume 12 Issue 71