Volume 17 Number 52
                       Produced: Tue Dec 27  7:08:30 1994

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Bar Mitzvah in  Conservative Shul
         [Gail Nalven]
Bar/Bat Mitzva
         [Zishe Waxman]
Bas Mitzvahs
         [David Steinberg]
Bat Mitzvah
         [Elad Rosin]
Conservative Rabbis
         [Eliyahu Teitz]
Kashrut and Microphone Use on Shabbat
         [Naomy Graetz]
         [Fivel Smiles]
Query on Obssessive-Compulsive Disorder
         [Constance Stillinger]


From: <Golda2@...> (Gail Nalven)
Date: Mon, 26 Dec 1994 00:13:55 -0500
Subject: Bar Mitzvah in  Conservative Shul

This is in response to a posting by Jim Phillips regarding going to a
bar-mitzvah in a Conservative shul.  I do not understand why you think
that the rabbi's version of kashrut is not "frum" enough for you.  Just
because his synagogue uses a microphone, does that mean he automatically
invalidates him from being Shomer Shabbos?  Perhaps he arranges for the
mike to be turned on before Shabbat, as we do in my synagogue, and
therefore the action is taken before Shabbat.  Perhaps, he must bow to
pressures of his congregation in order to keep the mike on.  After all,
he has a job to keep.

If this rabbi is truly a friend, and you know that a friend would not
want to offend you, I would assume that you should not worry about what
you eat in his shul or home.  I bet this Rabbi is more Shomer Shabbat
than you give him credit for!



From: <waxman@...> (Zishe Waxman)
Date: Mon, 26 Dec 1994 09:26:38 EDT
Subject: Bar/Bat Mitzva

In a recent post, Irwin Keller asked why a Bar mitzva is celebrated, but
a Bat Mitzva is "played down." Perhaps a "vort" that I suggested at my
older son's Bar Mitzva might be helpful.

Many societies have public rights of passage for the young men of that
society. These ceremonies usually revolve around a theme that is of
central importance in the life of that society. For the American
Indians, for example, a young man would mark his "passage" by
demonstrating his ability to hunt since hunting is of obvious importance
to the Indians, and being a hunter is a central defining characteristic
for an Indian male. We find this same principle in other societies as

In Jewish society, Torah learning is as central as hunting is for Indian
society. The ideal Jewish male is one who is a Torah scholar and is
capable of teaching Torah to the community. Consequently, The Jewish
boy's "right off passage" is to publicly demonstrate that he too can
"hunt the bear", i.e. publicly teach Torah. This is what happens when a
Bar Mitzva boy gets an aliya. He is symbolically teaching Torah to the
community. He takes his place in the shalshelet ha kabala", the public
chain of the transmission of the tradition, a most vital element of
Jewish survival. [end of vort].

If the above be true, this type of public ceremony and celebration is
appropriate for boys because of the public nature of their coming of
age. The Jewish girl is also part of the "shalselet ha Kabala, but,
traditionally in a totally differently way.  "Kol kvudah bat melech
p'nima" (the "honor" of the princess is private), as the akeret habayit
(foundation of the home) her role is private. Her teaching is the one on
one development of has been to teach her children one on one and to
provide the foundation for the Jewish home. No less a vvital element of
Jewish survival than that of her male counterpart. However, since her
role is private, and that, in fact, "privacy and tziut" ("modesty") are
its fundamental parameters, it might be argued that the appropriate
celebration and ceremony be more private as well.

Zishe Waxman


From: David Steinberg <dave@...>
Date: Mon, 26 Dec 1994 13:56:54 +0000
Subject: Bas Mitzvahs

Irwin Keller posted a question last week regarding Bas Mitzvah 
celebrations.  Rav Moshe addresses this issue in at least 4 places:
Ig'M A'Ch (1) #104  (2) #30  #97 (4) #36.  I'll attempt to summarize -  
al mistakes are obviously my own.

Rav Moshe concludes that a Bas Mitzvah celebration is not a Seudas 
Mitzvah - a meal of religious observation - in the way that a Bar Mitzvah 

Rav Moshe indicates that the practice of making a Bas Mitzvah celbration 
does not originate within Orthodoxy but has come from Conservative and Reform

Rav Moshe says that the fact that a girl becomes an adult vis-a-vis 
mitzvahs is not reason enough since there are no external manifestations 
of her attaining this status.  He contrasts it to a bar mitzvah boy who 
puts on Tefillin and who may be now counted for a Minyan of for Mizuman.

He says that the girl's saying a D'var Torah is also not reason enough as 
she has no specific chiyuv of learning torah.

Rav Moshe says that any ceremony, including the dvar torah, should not be 
performed in the Sanctuary.  

He says its ok to make a kiddush, and that a celebration is ok if there 
is a social hall where such celebrations are held

Hope this is a helpful start.

Dave Steinberg


From: <3QJ5ROSINE@...> (Elad Rosin)
Date: Sun, 25 Dec 1994 01:15:40 -0600 (CST)
Subject: Bat Mitzvah

This is in response to the post by Irwin Keller about Bat Mitzvah's.

In answer to your first question of why Bat Mitzvah's are played down
or shunned, the reason is that the celebration of a bat mitzvah is of no
significance and has no basis in HALACHA.  It has also been discouraged by
many Gedolim.
 Irwin seems to misunderstand somewhat, what it is that the seuda or
"Bar Mitzvah Party" is for, and therefore goes on to erroneously assume
that the same reasoning applies to a "Bat Mitzvah".  The seuda or party
by a Bar Mitzvah is not intended to celebrate the bar mitzvah boy's
getting an Aliyah nor is it a mere "coming of age" party.  It is a
Seudas Mitzvah (loosely translated as a festive meal in honor of a
Mitzvah) celebrating the entrance of this persons entrance into the
category of those who are commanded in Hashem's Mitzvos.  Inevitably
most readers will ask "But isn't a girl also responsible to fulfill
Mitzvos when she reaches the age of 12?".  This is 100% true.  In fact
this exact question was asked to Rav Moshe Feinstien.  Rav Moshe answers
the question in Igros Moshe (Orach Chaim, siman 97).  He writes that the
reason we make a Seudas Mitzvah in celebration of a bar but not a bat
mitzvah is that by a boy there is a recognizable difference in his
status as a full fledged adult member of the jewish nation.  This is
demonstrated by his ability to participate in a minyan and other things
which he was before not able to do (Rav Moshe did not mention it but I
assume it would also include his ability to laiyn and other such
things).  On the other hand a girl's new status is not recognizable and
something which is only KNOWN but not RECOGNIZABLE is not celebrated
with a Seudas Mitzvah or other type of celebration.
	This all goes as far as the necessity to have a "Bat Mitzvah".
As to the issue of is one allowed or encouraged to do so, Rav Moshe has
another teshuva on the subject in Igros Moshe, Orach Chaim, siman 104.
In the teshuva Rav Moshe quite emphatically states that not only is a
"Bat Mitzvah" not encouraged but that it is "Hevel Bealma" (hevel is
sometimes translated as futility) and should be discouraged even more so
due to the fact that it is mostly an imitation of the reform and
conservative movements inventions.  Rav Moshe also paskens that even
though one should not be allowed to have a Bat Mitzvah take place in a
shul even if it is at night since it is a d'var reshus (optional), one
may have it a their house, although he says people should refrain from
this too.
	As to Irwin's assumptions that the reason is based in economics
or chauvinism, both seem to be flawed.  If, for one, the reason was
based in economics there should be a minhag to celebrate a Bat Mitzvah
amongst the rich of whom there certainly were in almost all of the
previous generations.  Two, to assume that a Bat Mitzvah should be
celebrated in a similar fashion as a Bar Mitzvah and the only reason
barring it is chauvinism, is to incriminate thousands of our great Sages
and Leaders and imply that they would turn from doing what is right
because of misplaced feelings of supremacy, something that I would
assume any reader of MJ would be very hesitant of doing.

Elad Rosin

P.S. As usual any and all responses or criticisms are encouraged through
either a post or a personal reply.


From: <EDTeitz@...> (Eliyahu Teitz)
Date: Mon, 26 Dec 1994 09:34:31 -0500
Subject: Re: Conservative Rabbis

while r. moshe does indeed theoretically render invalid all testimony by
a conservative affiliating rabbi, in reality this is not done.  i have
been involved in many gittin of couples married by conservative rabbis.
there have been some cases where we had to resort to creative means to
get women and men out of iggun ( being bound to a spouse against their
will, by the refusal of the spouse to give or receive a get ).  only
when the rabbi in question is a public mechalel shabbat will we consider
his testimony invalid.  merely being conservative does not negate his

i realize, of course, that this is a situation of taking a chumra (
stringent opinion ), and it causes hardship in many cases, but i have
yet to have dealings with any bais din ( religious court ) that would
use r. moshe's opinion in such cases as the sole reason to permit a
woman to remarry without a get.

eliyahu teitz


From: Naomy Graetz <graetz@...>
Date: Mon, 26 Dec 1994 16:41:48 +0200 (IST)
Subject: Kashrut and Microphone Use on Shabbat

A friend of mine, Reb Mordecai Yosef Meiri ha-Levi, heard me talking 
about the issue of kashrut and microphone use on Shabbat. He remarked 
that R. Shaul Israeli, chief rabbi of Bet Din in Tel Aviv, had written a 
teshuva permitting a microphone for the reading of the Torah and the 
rabbis sermon. This appeared a few years ago in Barkai, a halachic 
journal in Israel. Of course, this pesak caused some other rabbis to 
object. But, at least according to this rabbi, the proper use of a 
microphone would not automatically cause someone's kashrut supervision 
to be suspect. In general, it seems to me, that it is scurulous to revile 
another Jews' kashrut, except on a particular basis. This reminds me of 
the joke, "why will there be both Shor ha-Bor and Livyasan served in olam 
ha-ba?" Answer: those who don't accept hashem's kashrut will ask for the 
Naomi Graetz


From: <FSmiles@...> (Fivel Smiles)
Date: Mon, 26 Dec 1994 12:40:29 -0500
Subject: Moshe

Someone asked me: Who did Moshe learn Torah from since he grew up in the
Palace apart from the people? How did he have access to the Tradition?
How did he learn enough to reach the madreigah (level ) of nevuah
(prophecy ) ?  I presume there are Midrashim about this, I just haven't
heard them.
 Fivel Smiles


From: Constance Stillinger <cas@...>
Date: Mon, 26 Dec 1994 21:33:46 -0800 (PST)
Subject: Re: Query on Obssessive-Compulsive Disorder

Mark Steiner <MARKSA@...> wrote:
> ...  Even orthodox Jews would classify *some*
> forms of religious behavior as OCD-- for example, a woman staying in the
> mikvah for hours, a man washing his hands for a half hour before meals,
> checking the position of his tefillin every fifteen seconds, etc.
> ...
>      So I ask the following question, aroused in my mind by a recent
> article in the Israel Journal of Psychiatry (written by two
> psychiatrists, one frum, who work with the chareidi community in
> Jerusalem): is there any religious behavior which is is *inherently*
> OCD?  How would one define it?

Behaviors, whether overt or mental, are generally classified by
psychologists as pathological or disordered only if they cause harm or
distress to the actor or harm to other people.  That's when you pull
out your DSM (*Diagnostic and Statistical Manual*) and try to classify
it further in order to decide on a course of treatment.

For this reason, the punctiliousness of even the most extreme frumkeit
wouldn't generally be diagnosable as a disorder in itself.  However,
many psychological disorders seem to represent adaptive mechanisms
gone haywire, eg the inability of the actor to be able to turn off the
behavior in question when it's not appropriate.  Thus it is very
interesting to contemplate whether "obsessive-compulsive disorder" has
mechanisms in common with the extraordinary attention to detail and
constant awareness of consequences necessary to succeed as a frum Jew,
or in one of the other life situations or professions requiring
similar sustained attention and exactitude.

(I'm a PhD in research social psychology; I will defer to my
colleagues in the clinical areas.)

Dr. Constance A. (Chana) Stillinger        <cas@...>
Research Coordinator, Education Program for Gifted Youth
Stanford University      http://kanpai.stanford.edu/epgy/pamph/pamph.html


End of Volume 17 Issue 52