Volume 14 Number 1
                       Produced: Thu Jul  7 20:58:56 1994

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Blessing over a Tallit Katan
         [Warren Burstein]
Chilul Hashem
         [David Curwin]
Hilchos Tzitzis
         [Yaakov Menken]
Hillul Hashem
         [Barak Moore]
Le-hitatef vs al-mitsvat tsistsit
         [Warren Burstein]
Tuition Assistance and Taxes
         [David Griboff]
         [Warren Burstein]


From: <warren@...> (Warren Burstein)
Date: Thu, 7 Jul 1994 08:34:20 GMT
Subject: Re: Blessing over a Tallit Katan

Jeffrey R. Woolf writes that the bracha for a Tallit Katan is later
than the Talmud, and problematic.  Still, we can assume that whoever
framed this bracha was of the opinion that it should be said
(otherwise why frame it?), why didn't he frame it with a verb, to
parallel the bracha for a Tallit Gadol?

 |warren@         an Anglo-Saxon."
/ nysernet.org                       Stuart Schoffman


From: <6524dcurw@...> (David Curwin)
Date: Wed, 6 Jul 1994 20:38:42 -0400
Subject: Chilul Hashem

Regarding the discussion about Haredim and Chilul Hashem: I recently
read a quote from Alan Dershowitz's Chutzpa. He says that he once was on
a plane with Rav Soloveitchik and they were discussing the recent
indictment of a Jew. He says: "Rabbi Soloveitchik bemoaned the lack of
ethical treatment by many Jewish religious leaders. He focused his
criticism most directly at some Hasidic rabbis, who, he said, were in a
unique position to instill high ethical values in their followers but
had neglected to do so. (page 307)"

That is really the critical point. Orthodox people of all types -
whether politicians in Israel or businessmen in the US - have a far
greater responsiblity to make sure none of their behaviour reflects even
a hint of dishonesty or impropreity. And, as the Rav said, this burden
falls on the religous leaders as well. It seems to me that the greater
emphasis placed on "da'at tora" in any branch of Orthodoxy, there should
be a proportionally greater responsibility on behalf of the Rabbis who
guide that group.

Remember the Rambam as well (Hilchot Talmud Tora 3:10): Who ever decides
to study Tora, and not do work, and supports himself only from charity -
he desecrates God's name, disgraces the Tora, and extinguishes the light
of the faith; he also brings bad upon himself, and relinquishes his life
in the world to come - for it is forbidden to profit from words of Tora
in this world.


From: Yaakov Menken <ny000548@...>
Date: Wed, 6 Jul 1994 11:59:46 -0400
Subject: Hilchos Tzitzis

There has been a noticeable surge of discussion of Hilchos Tzitzis here
recently, and I'm pleased if the Halacha-Yomi list plays some part.  V13
#92 gave me a good opportunity to review, and respond to two threads:

Daniel Weber <dweber@...> asked about placing the Tallis
over the head.  David Charlap <david@...> is correct that
it does help one to focus upon the prayers.  See Orach Chayim 8:2 "and
it is proper to cover one's head with the Tallis" and Mishna Brura
(henceforth MB) 4, "because this covering subdues a man's heart and
brings him to fear of Heaven."

I think there are some errors in Jeffry Woolf's <F12043@...>
comments that need to be corrected - or at the very least, I need to ask
for some sources.

>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). 

     What sources?  Although the Rambam may emphasize "enwrapment," the
minimum size requirements are far less (see the Shulchan Aruch 16,
"Shiur Tallis" - the size [requirement] for a Tallis [in order to be
obligated in Tzitzis]).  Also see the Shulchan Aruch 8:3, which
specifies that one _can_ fulfill the mitzvah with a four-cornered
garment too small to wrap around one's self, and MB 6: "V'Ituf Lo
Remizah B'Oraisoh" - and enwrapping is not mentioned in the Torah.  The
minimum size - the head and most of the body of a child - comes from
Menachos 41a.

>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. 

     I think the underlying assumption here is mistaken.  There remains
no obligation to wear a Tallis small or _large_, as the Shulchan Aruch
specifies in 24:1, "If a man does not wear a four-cornered garment, he
has no obligation in Tzitzis."  Only when one _wears_ a four-cornered
garment, and _also_ does not place Tzitzis on that garment, is he
m'vatel asei - failing to perform a positive commandment (Shulchan Aruch
     The wearing of a Tallis Koton remains a pious custom, just as the
Rambam said - "in order that a person always see it and remember the
commandments" (Shulchan Aruch 8:11).  To continue the Shulchan Aruch in
24:1, "and it is good and proper for every man to be careful to wear a
Tallis Koton the entire day, in order to remember the Commandment[s] at
every moment."
     Because any four-cornered garment - as long as it is large enough
to be a covering - is required by the Torah to have tzitzis (see above,
Shulchan Aruch 16), Rabbinic ordinance (_Talmudic_) requires a blessing
before wearing one.  It may be a pious custom to _wear_ the Tallis
Koton, but no one (certainly not the Rambam) would argue that _if_ one
wears one, a blessing is required.

>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.

     Again, I have to ask for sources, because this line of reasoning is
not pursued by the Shulchan Aruch - who presumably knew the earlier
opinions as well as we do.  The Mishna Brura (24:1 MB 4) quotes the
Chayei Adam as writing "it is not good that the multitudes pray without
a large tallis when travelling, because in most cases the Tallis Koton
is not made according to the law in all its details, in order that it
should be appropriate to bless upon it, and also he sleeps in it at
night."  Neither of these reasons challenge the Kashrus of _all_
Tallisos Ketanos, as Prof. Woolf appears to be doing.

Eli Turkel <turkel@...> rejects the disclaimers used in books
and in e-mail that "this is only for information and is not to be relied
on for a real psak."  I appreciate his reminder - I don't recall having
said this about the Halacha Yomis list, because, just as said, I _know_
there are readers who are relying upon it.  It's a great chutzpah for me
to imagine myself capable, as editor, of putting out the correct Halacha
in the final draft; I rely upon the various other writers and
knowledgeable readers to flame away - and on the "merit of the group" to
save us from errors.  However, all of that having been said, it is clear
that errors _will_ get through - and yes, in all cases of doubt an LOR
should be consulted.

We're still deciding about the Mishna Yomis.  Artscroll is apparently
contemplating a new effort to complete their Yad Avraham commentary.

Yaakov Menken


From: <SZN2758@...> (Barak Moore)
Date: Thu, 7 Jul 1994 03:34:34 -0400
Subject: Hillul Hashem

I, like Arnold Lustiger, and (I hope) all religious Jews, am sickened
and revolted by the recent articles exposing "frum" corruption. I also
tend to agree that these incidents are indicative of systemic problems.

The m-j forum seems to be a haven of decency and ideals, where people
are not judged by their conformity to chauvinistic affectations such as
the texture of a yarmulke, the trajectory of a hat or the number of
buttons on a bekishe.  People are so careful with these things because
they seal one's status as an "insider" or an "outsider". Is it any
wonder that are we afflicted with so many scoundrels? "Patriotism (i.e.
chauvinism) is the last refuge for scoundrels."

If Dennis Prager is correct and there are only two races of people--the
decent and the indecent, then there are only two types of Jews--those
committed to classical halacha and ethics, and those who are not.


From: <warren@...> (Warren Burstein)
Date: Thu, 7 Jul 1994 08:46:01 GMT
Subject: Re: Le-hitatef vs al-mitsvat tsistsit

Aryeh Frimer writes:

>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.

I assume that the first word on the fourth line should read "al mitzvat".

Given that, my question is transformed into - why is the bracha on a
Tallit Gadol related to the person, while the bracha on a Tallit Katan
is related to the object?

And we read in another article, which has expired on my system so I
can't tell who wrote it, that the Rav zt"l said lehitatef on a Tallit
Katan as well.  How does that fit in with things?  Was the Rav
explaining the custom of others?

Or am I completely confused, in which case perhaps further
explanations might help.

 |warren@         an Anglo-Saxon."
/ nysernet.org                       Stuart Schoffman


From: David Griboff <TKISG02%<EZMAIL@...>
Date: Thu 07 Jul 1994 10:56 ET
Subject: Tuition Assistance and Taxes

In MJ 13:99 Michael Lipkin responded to the question about tuition
assistance versus tzedaka amounts to other institutions:

>I recently got a psak on what is essentially this question.  I asked
>(for now B"H theoretically) if one had to make the choice between using
>money set aside for charity (maaser) to help pay yeshiva tuition or
>asking the yeshiva for financial assistance what should one do?  The
>answer I received was to use the maaser first.  Basically, because
>charity starts at home, i.e.  tzedaka priorities begin locally and move

>From a halachic standpoint, this makes sense.  One overriding factor,
however, may be the tax implications of these 'donations'.  My
understanding of the tax laws is that if you give a 'donation' to a
non-profit institution (such as a school), it is tax-deductible as a
charitable contribution.  However, payments to the same school, for the
purpose of sending a child there for education, are not tax-deductible.
(I know some schools allow for part of it to be considered as such, but
not the whole amount...)

There may be people out there who are trying to use some sort of loophole
to avoid paying some taxes by paying their 'tzedaka' (.charity.) to some
other school (which allows some other child to attend), and expect that
they will get the same help in return from their child's school (and its

Obviously, from a halachic (and government) standpoint, this should not be
proper, but it may be one reason why this situation has become an issue...

David Griboff


From: <warren@...> (Warren Burstein)
Date: Thu, 7 Jul 1994 08:20:44 GMT
Subject: Re: Tzitzit

Eitan Fiorino writes:

> Perhaps this difference in the maaseh explains the difference between
> "al mitzvat" and "l'hitatef." 

While it is reasonable that a different action should lead to
different berachot, I don't understand why one should contain the
infinitive of the verb describing the action and the latter should
have no verb at all.

 |warren@         bein hashmashot, in which state are the survivors
/ nysernet.org    buried?


End of Volume 14 Issue 1