Volume 16 Number 29
                       Produced: Tue Nov  1 23:57:14 1994

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Arba Imahot - Four? Mothers
         [Ellen Krischer]
Kol Isha, Opera, and Selective Quotations
         [Yaakov Menken]
Modern Orthodox
         [Jonathan Shmuel Weglein]
Opera (2)
         [David A Rier, Joshua Lee]
         [Zvi Weiss]
Sex education and the Hassam Sofer
         [Sam Lightstone]
Shalom Bayis v Wife-beating
         [Janice Gelb]
Women in the workplace in the shtetl
         [Heather Luntz]


From: Ellen Krischer <elk@...>
Date: 31 Oct 1994 12:02 EST
Subject: Arba Imahot - Four? Mothers

Does anyone know the origin of the commonly accepted view that
there are 3 Fathers: Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and 4 Mothers: Sarah,
Rebecca, Rachel and Leah?

I am especially curious about this in light of another question - why
aren't Bilha and Zilpa counted as "mothers" considering that their sons
(unlike Hagar's Yishmael and Rebecca's Esau) are considered part of the
covenant community and become tribes along with Rachel's and Leah's sons?

Any pointers would be appreciated.

Ellen Krischer


From: Yaakov Menken <ny000548@...>
Date: Tue, 01 Nov 94 16:28:01 -0500
Subject: Kol Isha, Opera, and Selective Quotations

If a tongue-in-cheek remark will be permitted by our moderator, it seems 
that the political season is getting to us over here on mail-jewish -
am I wrong, or has there been a real increase recently in the number of
posts that selectively (mis)quoted sources in order to prove a point?

Most recently, there was a contributor (I'm sorry that I deleted the 
digest before looking up the Halacha) who claimed that it should be no
surprise that Rav Hirsch zt"l enjoyed opera, as the Halacha about a 
woman's singing voice is a great deal more lenient than modern practice.
In particular, he pointed to the Mishna Brura to Shulchan Aruch 75:3 (MB 
17), where the Mishna Brura says that the prohibition to hear a woman 
singing is only during the reading of the Shema.

There may be lenient opinions - Rav Hirsch zt"l did not need to rely 
upon the Mishna Brura - but the MB happens not to be one of them.  It
shocks me that someone would quote half a Mishna Brura when so many
readers here are capable of pulling one off the shelf and checking for 
themselves, and all the more so when the Halacha HaYomis for Monday 26 
Cheshvan happens to cover 75:3.  As a result, Stephen Phillips' 
translation of the Shulchan Aruch and Mishna Brura in question has just
emerged.  This is a good time to plug participation in the Halacha 
Yomis (or Yomit...) - see below!

  75:3. (16) One should be careful not to hear the voice of (17)
  a woman singing when he is reading the Shema. {Rema: And even
  his own wife. But her (18) speaking voice is not considered 
  "nakedness" (Beis Yosef in the name of the Ohel Mo'ed and the 
  Hago'os Maimoni.} 

  MB 17:  A woman singing - Even if she is unmarried, but if he is
  not reading the Shema [or any other prayers] it is permitted
  provided he does not intend to derive enjoyment from [her singing],
  in order that he should not be led to have lewd thoughts.  But
  the singing of a married woman (and also that of any other woman
  who is forbidden to him) is always forbidden for him to listen 
  to, and an unmarried woman who is in a state of Niddah [ie. 
  has menstruated and has not been to the Mikveh (ritual bath) to 
  cleanse herself] is considered as one who is forbidden to him 
  for these purposes; and nowadays [because women do not go to 
  Mikveh until they are married], all young girls are assumed to 
  be in a state of Niddah once they reach the age of maturity.
  The singing of an unmarried non-Jewish woman is also considered
  as "nakedness" and it is forbidden to listen to it...

Now let's look at what this means, in practical terms:

#1: According to the Shulchan Aruch, what is prohibited is not only to 
listen, but even to _hear_ a woman sing during the Shema.  The language
used is "Yesh Lizaher MiShmias Kol Zemer Isha" - "one must be cautious"
not only not to "liten ozen" or "l'ha'azin", to listen, but "from 
_hearing_ the singing voice of a woman".

The Mishna Brura says that the above is permitted at other times, 
provided that he does _not_ intend to derive enjoyment from her singing.
Going to a concert in order to listen to a woman sing?  Absolutely 
forbidden.  And that's without getting to the good parts.

#2: The previous writer failed to include anything but the first part of
the Mishna Brura - skipping the part that presents his prohibition to
_hear_ the singing voice of a married woman, or _any_ woman who is
forbidden to the man in question, at _any_ time (not merely during the
Shema).  Today, because unmarried women do not go to Mikvah, all women
past the age of 12 are considered prohibited to him, and it is forbidden
even to hear them sing, at any time.

Would the Mishna Brura permit going to an Opera?  Well, first of all the
female singers would have to be children or married to you.  Your mother
could sing, provided that you tried not to derive pleasure from
listening to her (did you ever go to some event in order _not_ to enjoy
it?), and your grandmothers would probably be permitted supporting
roles.  The Rabbis question whether your sisters would be allowed to

Of course, all of the above would prohibit any _other_ man to be there,
so you would probably have to leave in order not to give the impression
that it was permissible for them to be there.  After meeting all of the
above requirements, you would _then_ have to be careful not to say the
Shema in the middle.;-)

[Similar quatation of rest of Mishna Brura from: Moishe Kimelman
<kimel@...>. Mod.]

To join us at the Halacha HaYomis (or HaYomit, as not all of our writers
use Ashkenazic pronunciation), or to retrieve the particular issue above
(don't believe _me_ - check the Mishna Brura _yourself_!):

mail <listproc@...>
Subject: <none>
subscribe Halacha-Yomi Sam Schwartz                   {or}
get halacha-yomi sha-75.01

If you wish, both of these can be done in one message, as above.
We're starting the laws of prayer quite shortly - see you there!

Yaakov Menken                                 <menken@...>
(914) 356-3040  FAX: 356-6722                 <ny000548@...>
Project Genesis, the Jewish Renewal Network   <genesis@...>
P.O. Box 1230, Spring Valley, NY 10977


From: Jonathan Shmuel Weglein <jsw31@...>
Date: Mon, 31 Oct 1994 20:53:31 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Re: Modern Orthodox

I found Aryeh Blount's comments highly offensive and insensitive.  Even 
though I did not post the original question regarding Modern Orthodoxy, 
it is an issue that interests me as well.  The person who originally 
posed the question in no way even implied that those who consider 
themselves orthodox are "old-fashioned".  He simply wanted to know what 
the term "modern orthodox" entails.  Thus I am mystified by the need for 
Blount to  condemn this person.  


From: David A Rier <dar6@...>
Date: Mon, 31 Oct 1994 14:25:52 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Opera

Regarding the discussion of opera: Back when I was an undergrad, and had
enough pocket money even to worry about buying opera tickets, one of my
friends (a YU semicha student) asked Rav Shachter of YU, on my behalf
(and at my request), whether it was permitted for a male to go to an
opera.  His answer was, it is something that a ben Torah should avoid.
For what it's worth.

David Rier

From: Joshua Lee <jlee@...>
Date: Mon, 31 Oct 1994 15:49:12 +0000
Subject: Opera

Speaking of opera, and whether it is OK for an observant Jew to be in it,
Jan Pierce was an Orthodox-Jewish opera singer. Were they any objections
to this at the time? I recall he was both a famous opera singer, and a
cantor.  So it couldn't have put him in *too* bad a position in the
community, nu? 

Internet: <jlee@...>                      | Free internet/Usenet BBS
ArfaNet: <Joshua.Lee@...> | My personal machine is on 
FidoNet: Joshua Lee at 1:271/250.9              | FidoNet, so sue me. ;-)


From: Zvi Weiss <weissz@...>
Date: Tue, 25 Oct 1994 17:30:03 -0400
Subject: Roles....

A hearty "Chazak Baruch" to Binyomin Segal on his perceptive comments.  Byu
admitting that we ARE different AND that Hashem made men and women different
DELIBERATELY, we can focus on an intelligent discussion of this matter.

Perhaps, Binyomin will be good enough to elaborate on this theme not only
in terms of how each person should regard his/her own potential but also how
the rest of us should respond to each person's attempts at reaching Shleimut.



From: <light@...> (Sam Lightstone)
Date: Tue, 1 Nov 94 10:26:23 EST
Subject: Sex education and the Hassam Sofer

I posted to MJ a couple of weeks ago regarding sex education in the famous
Yeshiva of the Hassam Sofer in Pressburg.  I received several requests for
the source.  So without further adue, here are excerpts from a reference
book entitled "The Hatam Sofer" written by Rabbi Moses J.  Burak, of the
Beth Jacob Synagogue of Toronto.  Copyright 1967.  For those of you who
aren't familiar with the Toronto Shuls, suffice it to say that Beth Jacob
is an Orthodox shul, and Rabbi Burak is a frum guy.

This first quotation regards sex education and the use of models.
According to this book, Rabbi Sofer was careful to ensure that only the
"senior" students attended lectures on this subject.  However, the
definition of "senior" is not clearly stated in the text:

  "Today we make much of audio visual aids to study.  We think of this as a
  new idea brought in probably by the Columbia School of Education.  How
  interesting then it is to find Rabbi Moses Sofer using this method in some
  of the most delicate areas of study.  In our laws we have a group known as
  the Laws of Family Purity, dealing basically with sex laws, the menses, and
  a wide variety of tests in the field.  How does one teach this subject and
  the variety of tests required by the law?  Rabbi Moses Sofer solved this
  problem by making a pair of sexual organs and using them for a
  demonstration.  Here was a modern man.  He was no prude.  ...Rabbi Moses
  Sofer found the specifications for this set of sexual organs in one of the
  classics of our responsa literature, in a volume written by a rabbi who was
  a medical man at the same time."

Here's a quotation on the Hassam Sofer's evaluation of his own demise:

  "...His condition was so grave because he could not pass water.  Now, Rabbi
  Moses Sofer asked himself, why should this organ, the penis, have been
  afflicted rather than some other part of the body?  As he lay on his bed of
  pain, he explained to his old friend and colleague, Rabbi Daniel Prossnitz,
  that heaven was telling him that these pains were coming to him because he
  had not told his people enough about continence.  While he was wont to
  speak on this subject on the night of Kol Nidre, that was not enough; he
  should have stressed it more.".

As I said in my previous note, if sex education was not enough for the
Hassam Sofer, surely the efforts of most religious institutions today
are very lacking indeed.


Sam Lightstone


From: <Janice.Gelb@...> (Janice Gelb)
Date: Mon, 31 Oct 1994 09:48:16 +0800
Subject: Shalom Bayis v Wife-beating

I have heroically been trying to refrain from commenting in 
this thread but the following rather startling sentence from 
Jeremy Lebrett in Vol. 16 #21 caught my eye:

> I have been following the debate about wife-beating with academic rather
> than practical interest, being married to someone who cheerfully and
> voluntarily fulfills her role of Jewish wife and mother.  

I don't know if Jeremy realized how this could be read, but this seems
to imply that the reason wife-beating is happening is because the wives
in question do *not* cheerfully or voluntarily fulfill their roles. I'd
just like to point out that this type of attitude may be behind some of
the problems women are having in fighting court cases in the beit din
and getting advised by more "old line" rabbis. I would submit that
there is never any excuse to hit one's spouse no matter how s/he is
behaving (unless perhaps s/he hit you first).

Janice Gelb                  | The only connection Sun has with this      
<janiceg@...>   | message is the return address. 


From: Heather Luntz <luntz@...>
Date: Tue, 1 Nov 1994 14:37:48 -40975532 (EST)
Subject: Women in the workplace in the shtetl

Somebody raised the question about the extent to which women were in the
home back in Europe. Well certainly in my family, all three of my
great-grandmothers who grew up in Europe worked. (My other
great-grandmother moved to Scotland as a girl so she doesn't count). My
one great-grandmother and her two sisters ran the shops in the shtetl
(five miles out from Ponaveyz, Lith), another great-grandmother also had
her own shop (Shaveli, Lith) and my third great-grandmother helped *her*
grandmother in her milchig business (Vilkomir, Lith), before the former
went to South Africa. Admittedly children did not seem to be around to
be taken care of very long (my great-grandfather seems to have left home
to go learn in Vilkomir proper around 5 or so, and my grandfather seems
to have started cheder in Ponaveys even earlier than that). Even girls
may not have been around that long. A woman on my tree (who seems to
have been my grandmother's great-great aunt) was first married at 10.

And then there was my grandmother's great-aunt. She seems to have
personally run most of the tzedaka organisations in the town in which
she lived, and a tremendous amount of money went through her hands.
There were 20,000 people at her funeral (in 1925), and the shops of the
town, including the goyishe shops, all closed.

Seems a bit difficult to achieve all that without having quite a lot of
interaction with the outside world.




End of Volume 16 Issue 29