Volume 13 Number 92
                       Produced: Tue Jul  5 23:00:23 1994

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Blessing over a Tallit Katan
         [Jeffrey Woolf]
         [Eli Turkel]
Le-hitatef vs al-mitsvat tsistsit
         [Aryeh A. Frimer]
Retraction (Mikvah...)
         [Jonathan Katz]
Talis: On the Head (Atifa) or not
         [Sam Juni]
Tarot card readings and fortune telling
         [Motty Hasofer]
the Amidah prayer
         [Shoshana Benjamin ]
Tuition Assistance at Yeshivos
         [Gershon Schlussel]
Tzitzit (2)
         [Anthony Fiorino, Anthony Fiorino]
Wearing tallit over the head
         [David Charlap]


From: Jeffrey Woolf <F12043@...>
Date: Sun, 3 Jul 1994 03:00:13 -0400
Subject: Blessing over a Tallit Katan

The issue of the blessing over a Tallit Katan is more complicated than a
matter of passive or active formulation. As a review of the sources
shows, the act of enwrapping oneself in the tallit is essential to the
fulfillment of the commandment. Hence the blessing l'hitatef (to
enwrap). Until the High Middle Ages (or perhaps the twelfth century)
there was no obligation to wear a Tallit Katan (as evidenced by the fact
that Maimonides only cites the practice as a pious custom (end Hilkhot
Tzitzit). The first mention of a BLESSING on a Tallit Katan (which
Rambam would oppose as he felt blessings are not to be recited over
customary practices) is in the 13th Century Ashkenazic Code, Or Zarua.
The blessing is clearly Post-Talmudic (if not Post-Geonic) and indicates
the Ashkenazic consensus that one MUST wear a Tallit Katan and that a
blessing is in order. Obviously, the immediate background is the change
in clothing styles which led people to STOP wearing four-cornered
garments (a development reflected in the emphatic statements in Sefer
Hassidim that people should wear such cloaks). In any event, Poskim have
always been very uncomfortable with this blessing and total reliance on
this practice for fulfillment of the commandment to wear a Tallit.
First, enwrapment is not usually possible in a Tallit Katan and second
the blessing is not Talmudic. Hence, there is a uniform feeling that if
possible one should NOT say the blessing on tzitzit but rather have it
covered by the blessing over the Tallit Gadol. (No less problematic,BTW,
is the Ashkenazic custom to absolve unmarried males from wearing a
Tallit Gadol-But that's another issue.

                               Jeffrey R. Woolf
                               Dept of Talmud
                               Bar Ilan University


From: <turkel@...> (Eli Turkel)
Date: Wed, 29 Jun 94 16:54:41 +0300
Subject: Gedolim

      I wish to thank Rabbi Adlerstein for his kind comments before
disagreeing with me. I don't wish to rehash our disagreements over going
to Gedolim for a psak on political matters. I just wish to refer to one
comment that he made:

>> All that would happen is that Rav Shach (or which ever gedolim seemed
to >> rank at the top) would be consulted.

   I usually try and avoid the names of specific rabbis but since Rabbi
Adlerstein mention Rav Shach I wish to respond. I take Rav Shach as the
leader of the Lithuanian community. I will mention some statistics about
Israel as there is more information available there.

  I wish to consider who would be voted "gadol hador" of this
generation, including rabbis that have passed away within the last 10
  About half the population of Israel is of Sefardi extraction and so I
assume that about half the religious population are Sefardi. The
overwhelming precentage of these people would vote for Rav Ovadiah Yosef
as "the" gadol hador. Of the remaining half Ashkenazi Jews I would guess
(based on election results) that more than half are "modern orthodox (or
any other title you like)" and would vote for Rav Shipra, Rav Yisraeli
or Rav Soloveitchik as the gadol hador. Thus, less than one quarter of
the religious population of Israel is ashkenaz-charedi. Of this
population the largest section is the chassidic groups (based on the
strenths of Agudah=chasidic and degel haTorah=Lithuanian within the
charedi political party). Being generous, then 15% is chassidic and 10%
is Lithuanian). My assumption is that every chasid would vote for his
rebbe as "the" gadol hador. The remaining 10% would vote for Rav Shach
or the Steipler Rav. Similarly, between 1 and 2 out of 17 knesset
members of religious parties considers Rav Shach as his primary mentor.
    The figures in America would change as Sefardi Jewry is a small
percentage of religious jewry in the US. However, I suspect that a
larger percentage is modern orthodox.
    My gut feeling is that if such a poll were ever held then Rav
Ovadiah Yosef shlita and the Lubavitcher Rebbe ztl would be the
overwhelming favorites. I would not be surprised if the Satmar Rebbe
came in third followed by Rav Soloveitchik, Rav Shach and Rav Moshe

    Before, everyone flames me I fully agree that Gedolei haDor are not
chosen by popular vote. On the other hand I don't know of any other
procedure. As I point out above there is certainly no consensus of even
who the top 5 would be.

     More to the point, if a future Israeli government would ever seek
rabbinical advice for a political decision they would go to the chief
rabbinate of Israel. I am not sure that would make some groups any
happier than not consulting any rabbis.



From: <frimer@...> (Aryeh A. Frimer)
Date: Tue, 5 Jul 1994 11:29:18 -0400
Subject: Le-hitatef vs al-mitsvat tsistsit

Rav Schechter in his recent book Nefesh Harav on Rav Soloveitchik
zatsal's customs. insights, thoughts etc. mentions on page 104 that
le-hitatef refers to the Gavra (person related) element, while
le-hitatef refers to the Heftsa (object) related element. Others have
heard a similar analysis regarding Lehaniach vs. al Mitsvat tefillen.


From: Jonathan Katz <frisch1@...>
Date: Fri, 01 Jul 94 18:05:55 EDT
Subject: Retraction (Mikvah...)

I previously wrote: 
>> As far as I am aware, there only needs to be some rainwater (even a drop
>> in an entire pool) for it to be a valid mikvah. Of course, there still
>> remain other practical problems with swimming pools as mikvahs...
I hereby retract what I wrote. I confused the halacha when I wrote this.
Basically, I was thinking of the g'marah which states that if you have a 
large body of water (i.e. a swimming pool) adjacent to a large enough
collection (40 se'ah) of standing rainwater or flowing water (i.e. a 
valid mikvah in its own right) then all that is needed ot make the mikvah
(swimming pool) a kosher mikvah is to allow the water in the pool to 
touch the kosher mikvah wate, even a little bit. This is where I got
confused. I thought that the important point was that when a pool touches
a little bit of rainwater (or freeflowing water) then it becomes a mikvah;
instead, the halacha is that it must touch a little bit of an already 
valid mikvah.
Regardless, I apologize for any confusion I may have caused.

Jonathan Katz
410 Memorial Drive
Room 251B
Cambridge, MA 02139


From: Sam Juni <JUNI@...>
Date: Tue, 5 Jul 1994 20:32:05 -0400
Subject: Talis: On the Head (Atifa) or not

Regarding recent inquiries re the status of wearing the talis on the head:

    R. Hershel Schachter's latest sefer "Nefesh Ha'Rav" (re R.
 Soloveitchik) features a small section on this topic (pp. 104 - 105).
 His main points are that one needs to wear the talis over the head for
 "Dovor Sh'Bikduhsa", and he sees this as implicit in a Responsum of the
 Gaonim.  Amidah also requires "Atifa" (Talis over the head) because of
 a phrase in T'Hillim (Psalms 102:1).  Krias Shma is specifically exempt
 because the Possuk permits reading of Shma "in any manner" (i.e.,
 sitting or standing), which is taken to imply that one need not make
 any efforts re covering the head. As R. Schachter presents it, Atifa
 indicates a "special preparedness."  Thus, for Shma there is a para-
 doxical notion of removing the Talis from the head to demonstrate the
 principle that one need not make any special preparations to say

     Dr. Sam Juni                  Fax (212) 995-3474
     New York University           Tel (212) 998-5548
     400 East
     New York, N.Y.  10003


From: Motty Hasofer <mottyh@...>
Date: Sat, 2 Jul 1994 07:44:27 -0400
Subject: Tarot card readings and fortune telling

I am looking for sources and informed opinion regarding the extent, if
any, that one can accept and utilise the services and advice of Tarot
Card readers, astrologers etc.

I have heard that one can request their opinion about ones present life
in order to "get oneself together", but not try to anticipate the

Is there a difference between Astrology and Tarot cards etc.?

Motty Hasofer


From: Shoshana Benjamin  <shu@...>
Date: Sun, 3 Jul 1994 07:57:05 +0300 (IDT)
Subject: the Amidah prayer

I was wondering whether anyone could shed light on the relationship
between resurrection and salvation in the Amidah prayer, given that
resurrection is mentioned before salvation -- mechaiyai metim, rav
lehoshiya ({you} resurrect the dead, are powerful to save).

The order, the opposite of what one might expect, appears again in the
sequence meimit umecheyei umatzmiach yeshua (brings death and restores
life, and causes deliverance to spring forth. The last item unfolds as a
separate bracha later on -- et tzemach David avdeicha mehaira tatzmiach
(speedily cause the offspring of David your servant to flourish ... for
we hope for Your salvation every day).

Are there explanations or interpretations of this order of things in the
			Shoshana Benjamin 


From: Gershon Schlussel <76220.3107@...>
Date: 01 Jul 94 02:26:39 EDT
Subject: Tuition Assistance at Yeshivos

I think that most yeshivos (elem. & high schools) set tuition charges
somewhere between $4,000 and $8,000 per child. It is no wonder that a
large percentage of the parent body of most yeshivos cannot afford to pay
full tuition charges. It is for this reason that many parents apply for
tuition assistance from their children's yeshivos.

The yeshiva evaluates each case and attempts to determine the level of
assistance that is warranted. "Reasonable" expenses for housing, food,
medical, etc. are taken under consideration. Excessive expenses for
non-essentials are not considered valid.

If a parent is giving large amounts of money for charity elsewhere, (that
is, large enough to cover the amount of assistance that the yeshiva is
being asked to absorb), should the parent's "charity expense" be
considered a valid  cost in evaluating the amount of assistance to be
granted to the parent? For example, if a parent gives $10,000 charity for
other causes and he then requests $5,000 of tuition assistance from the
yeshiva, should 5,000 of the $10,000 be considered an invalid cost in the
parent's financial picture?

If it is a valid cost, the yeshiva will be agreeing to absorb $5,000 that
will have to be covered by someone else's charitable donations. Is it
right for the parent to effectively be saying that he would like a $5,000
grant so that he can give that $5,000 to other charitable causes?

If it is not a valid cost, the yeshiva will be effectively limiting the
control that a parent has over his charitable donations. Should the
yeshiva be allowed to intrude upon the parent's Mitzvah of Tzedaka?

Is anyone aware of any Halachik rulings in this matter? 

	-Gershon Schlussel


From: Anthony Fiorino <fiorino@...>
Date: Tue, 28 Jun 1994 10:20:49 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Tzitzit

> From: <jem@...> (Yehoshua)
> <warren@...> (Warren Burstein) wrote:
> >why the bracha for a tallit katan is the passive "al
> >mitzvat tzizit" and the brach for a tallit gadol is the active
> >"l'hitatef batzitzit".  Isn't the same mitzvah being done in both
> >cases?
> Baruch she'kivanta! The Gaon in fact holds that the blessing for
> both the tallit gadol and the tallit katan is "l'hitatef batzitzit."

I missed this question the first time around, but for those of us not
noheig like the Gra, I think that the different methods in putting on
the garments explains the differences in the brachot.  One should
actually wrap oneself -- be miatef, by draping it over one's head and
flinging the corners over one shoulder -- with the talit gadol, whereas
I don't believe the practice is to actually wrap oneself in a talit
katan (although, I recall that the mishnah brura instructs that one
should wrap oneself even in a talit katan).  Perhaps this difference in
the maaseh explains the difference between "al mitzvat" and "l'hitatef."

If so, does this mean that making "l'hitatef" on a talit katan, or on a
talit gadol when one doesn't wrap oneself in it, is a problem?

Eitan Fiorino

From: Anthony Fiorino <fiorino@...>
Date: Wed, 29 Jun 1994 10:08:30 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Tzitzit

To follow up on my last posting, I decided to look up some of the issues
regarding tzitzit.  I had questioned the maaseh mitzvah of tzitzit -- is
it simply to wear a garment with tzitzit, or rather is it to be m'atef
with such a garment -- to wrap oneself in it.  The Rambam in Hilchot
Tzitzit (3:8) states "sof hamitzvah hu sheyitatef" -- the conclusion (?)
of the mitzvah is to wrap.  However the Mishnah Brura, commenting on the
Rema (Orach Chaim 8:6) who brings down the bracha "al mitzvat tzitzit" for
the talit katan, states that *either* blessing is valid for either type of
talit b'diavod [after the fact], and that one may say "l'hitatef
batzitzit" on a talit katan l'chatchila [initially] if one is in fact
wrapping oneself in it (which, according to the mechaber, is the proper
way of donning a talit katan -- see Orach Chaim 8:3). 

Eitan Fiorino


From: <david@...> (David Charlap)
Date: Fri, 1 Jul 94 14:17:01 -0400
Subject: Wearing tallit over the head

Daniel N Weber <dweber@...> writes:
>... I have become much more aware of those who place the tallit over
>their head, especially during the amidah.  What is the basis for this?

There is probably a more spiritual reason, but a simple explanation is
that by covering your head with a tallit, you block your peripheral
vision.  This makes it easier to focus on the prayers and ignore what
other people in the room may be doing.


End of Volume 13 Issue 92