Volume 17 Number 67
                       Produced: Mon Jan  2 22:15:12 1995

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Bat Mitzvah
         [Naomy Graetz]
Cameras on Shabbat
         [Philip Ledereic]
Disagreeing with Tannaim, Amoraim and Rishonim
         [Eli Turkel]
Human Rights of Children and Jewish Law
         [Michael J Broyde]
Later Authorities and Earlier Authorities
         [Cheryl Hall]
Tou Bishbat
         [Joseph Mosseri]
Tuning Fork
         [David Neustadter]
Tuning forks on Shabbat
         [Bob Kosovsky]


From: Naomy Graetz <graetz@...>
Date: Mon, 2 Jan 1995 18:40:22 +0200 (IST)
Subject: Re: Bat Mitzvah

Actually in 1922 "on a visit to Rome, [Mordecai] Kaplan [founder of 
Reconstructionist movement] saw a thirteen-year-old girl invited to 
'enter the minyan.'  He referred to this event in his diary as a 'Bas 
Mitzvah.' He described the ceremony in which the girl's father was called 
to the Torah for an aliyah and she went up with him, also reciting the 
blessing for special moments, sheheheyanyu.  The Rabbi then spoke to the 
girl about the significance of the occasion." (see Kaplan's unpublished 
diaries.)  Source of this is Rebecca T. Alpert "A Feminist Takes Stock of 
Reconstructionism" in Reconstructionism Journal, July-August 1989.  This 
event (which I assume took place in a Orthodox synagogue in Rome) was 
what inspired him to have his daughter Judith have a bat mitzvah.  She 
however read from the Torah and pronounced the blessings on her 13th 
Naomi Graetz


From: Philip Ledereic <ledereic@...>
Date: Mon, 2 Jan 95 20:25:28 EST
Subject: Cameras on Shabbat

The question I want to pose to MJ is as follows - On shabbat, is one
allowed to pass a video camera that is working - EG, a security camera
that is in the lobby of one's building that is on 24H a day, because as
one passes the camera, one's image is placed on a TV monitor.  On the
other hand, the person does not wish to have his image placed on the
screen.  Another part of the question is if one is walking down the
street, and say, Radio Shack has it's TV video on, and your picture is
imaged on the TV set as you walk by, should you cross the street.  I
heard a part of a drasha by Rabbi Miller of PGH PA, quoting Rav Henkin
of Baltimore, saying that it is mostly Assur (not permitted), except in
rare need.  He also quoted another gadol saying it was completely Mutar
(permissible).  Any thoughts?

Even further, those electric lights that have motion sensors that people
place by their doorways, that go on as you pass them - what should one
do on Shabbat?



From: <turkel@...> (Eli Turkel)
Date: Mon, 2 Jan 95 08:43:02 +0200
Subject: Disagreeing with Tannaim, Amoraim and Rishonim

   Elad Rosin writes
>> It is the misconception that we in this day and age are on a comparable 
>> level with  our Great Sages, the Geonim, Rishonim, and Acharonim and that
>> we are therefore entitled to our opinions on Halacha, Hashkafa, and
>> Torah interpretation just as they are.

    It is well known that Amoraim in the Gemara do not disagree with a
Tannaic statement unless they have some Tannaitic backing of their own.
The Gemara goes to extreme lengths reinterpreting a Misna or Beraita so
that it won't conflict with a statement of an Amora. For some early
Amoraim e.g. Rav, Rav Chiya, the Gemara gives the status of Tanna (but
only rarely is this answer used). Similarly Rishonim do not disagree
with anything written in the Gemara though it is debated whether
Rishonim can disagree with gaonim (most do). The question is why is this
all true?

possible answers:

1. The Mishna and Gemara were accepted by all the great scholars of that
   generation and have the status of "psak of the sanhedrin".

2. General veneration of previous generations, if they are like angels
   we are like donkeys etc. That implies that legally the later Amoraim
   could have disagreed with Tannaim but voluntarily chose not to. Thus,
   Rav was no different than other Amoraim except that occasionally he
   chose to differ with Tannaim.

3. An extension of (2) is that the later generations took a "vow" not to
   disagree with the Mishna or Gemara and so the voluntary decision
   became legally binding.

   This problem becomes more severe with acharonim disagreeing with
rishonim.  Now there is no equivalent to the Mishna or gemara of some
act that closed the era. In fact it is well accepted that the era of
acharonim began earlier in Eastern Europe (e.g. Maharil) than in Spain
(1492). Rav Schecter in his book Nefesh haRav makes a statement that I
don't understand. He quotes Rav Moshe Soloveitchik as saying that Rav
Yosef Karo is a rishon but the Ramah is an Acharon. Since the Ramah
disagrees with Rav Karo I don't understand what this means. In fact a
number of acharonim do disagree with rishonim. Among the more famous are
the Shaagas Aryeh and the Vilna gaon.  Then it is said that the Gra
objected to the Shaagas Aryeh arguing with rishonim. Rav Moshe Feinstein
disagrees in a number of places with a Meiri or a Tosaphot haRosh. Thus
the opinion of Rav Feinstein (and others) is the importance of rishonim
is not so much that they lived earlier but rather that their works have
been studied and accepted over the generations.  Hence, if we find a
"new" work of rishonim it does not carry as much weight.  Thus our
respect for rishonim (and other earlier generations) is not based on
their being smarter than us but rather that their works have undergone
the scrutiny of the later generations. We rely on Rambam, Ramban etc.
rather than rishon X because gedolim from previous generations have
concluded that these were "world-class" rishonim while rishon X was
merely a local rabbi who was contemporary with them.

     Thus, when the Shulchan Arukh first appeared it was very
controversial and many rabbis did not accept it as binding. In the
Sephardi community the decision of Rav Karo is almost always accepted as
final. In the Ashkenazi community there are various places where the
commentators disagree with the Ramah and then different communities
follow their own customs (some accept the Magen Avraham others the Taz
etc.). In recent times we tend to accept the Mishnah Brura. However, the
Chazon Ish, Rav Feinstein and others have disagreed. In addition
established customs have not been invaildated by the Mishna Brura,
e.g. many people stand for kiddush even though the Mishna Brura prefers

    In my article in Tradition I quote numerous places where Rashi,
Ramban, Even Ezra etc.  disagree with chazal on interpretations of Torah
verses.  I have previously quoted the Tosaphot Yom Tov who explicitly
states that we can disagree with rishonim on interpretations of the
Torah, aggada and other material as long as it doesn't affect
Halacha. i.e. he holds that we are most definitely entitled to our
opinions on Halacha, Hashkafa, and Torah interpretation. The difficult
part is that there are obviously bounds to the extent that one can do
this and these limits are not clear.

   I have seen some rabbis that seem to hold that any posek from earlier
generations has more authority than from todays authorities. In a shiur
I attend the rav quoted a halachah from Oz Nidberu (a contemporary posek
in Bnei Brak) that had no source only his personal feeling. The rav
"proved" this psak by quoting a similar psak from the Maharsham (lived
about 100 years ago). Somehow if a contemporary says something without
proof it is debatable but the same statement made a 100 years ago is
fine.  Obviously in another generation the words of Oz Nidberu will be
used as proof for the poskim of that generation. Others distinguish
between "early achronim" (before 1648) and "late achronim".



From: Michael J Broyde <relmb@...>
Date: Mon, 2 Jan 1995 13:17:06 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Human Rights of Children and Jewish Law

I am looking for articles dealing (in a broad way) with "human rights of 
children" and Jewish law.  I would appreciate anyone's helping me to find 
articles (or is aware of any work in progress.  Any language is fine.
Michael Broyde


From: <CHERYLHALL@...> (Cheryl Hall)
Date: Mon, 02 Jan 1995 01:31:19 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Re: Later Authorities and Earlier Authorities

I have been reading the discussions back and forth on this topic for
some time. I have a very limited background, but a cliche that seems to
apply has not even been referenced. I am wondering why.  It seems there
is a reluctance of the gedolim of a later generation to depart from the
rule of a previous generation.  Rabbi Broyde commented this is a custom.
The cliche I have in mind is "withstanding the test of time". This makes
logical sense to me, that the later authorities would be reluctant to
overturn a ruling which has "withstood the test of time". This "test of
time" selects the rulings which become foundational. These are
maintained and upheld by K'lal Yisrael and are studied and codified and
thereby move into succeeding generations.

I know this is very simplistic, but isn't there a flavor of this to be
found in this discussion?

Cheryl Hall
Long Beach CA USA


From: <JMOSSERI@...> (Joseph Mosseri)
Date: Mon, 02 Jan 1995 21:52:25 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Tou Bishbat

I've been on mail jewish for over a year and a half now and I've yet to
even see this subject mentioned.  Tou Bishbat or Rosh Hashanah LaIlanot
falls out this year on Sunday night January 15th. (That's only two weeks
away).  Does anyone know why this holiday is called by its date and not
by its name?  Usually we only call certain fast days by dates.  What
customs are related to this holiday in different parts of the world?
Why do most people now-a-days look upon at as a holiday where they were
"forced" in day school to eat old carob?  I know that in Israel the
current practice is to plant trees, but what did people do prior to

Personally, I consider Tou Bishbat to be one of the best Jewish holidays
and in my family it is celebrated with much pomp. The entire family
gathers together and we try to get every kind of fruit and nut available
in the world market to our festive table. Looking at the bountiful table
one can not help but to exclaim "HOW MANY ARE THE THINGS YOU HAVE MADE,

Does anyone else out there have more information about this wonderful

Joseph Mosseri


From: David Neustadter <david@...>
Date: Mon, 2 Jan 1995 14:56:39 +0200
Subject: Tuning Fork

In response to the question of using a tuning fork on Shabbat:

While it is true that a tuning fork can't be fixed if it were to break,
and can't be used to "play" a tune, you seem to have overlooked the fact
that a "tuning" fork has a rather accepted purpose; "tuning", and
therefore it would be muktza on Shabbat because its primary function is



From: Bob Kosovsky <kos@...>
Date: Mon, 02 Jan 1995 12:23:23 EST
Subject: Tuning forks on Shabbat

In Mail-Jewish 17:66, in response to Andrew Greene (MJ 17:63),
Akiva Miller <Keeves@...> says:

>The Shemiras Shabbos K'Hilchasa (28:34) mentions tuning forks by name
>("Mazleg Chazanim" -cantor's fork) as being forbidden. He quotes several
>sources, including the Mishna Brura 338:4.

When I last visited the Fifth Avenue Synagogue here in New York City
(ca. 1989) Cantor Joseph Malovany still used a tuning fork on Shabbat.
It would be interesting to see what is his source.

In my shul, K'hal Adath Jeshurun (i.e. "Breuer's") the choir conductor
uses a watch that quietly emits a steady tone -- F above middle C.
Until a few months ago the watch was a particular model made by Omega.
Recently it was lost.  The choir conductor discovered that Omega no
longer makes that particular model and he became worried.  But he found
a particular watchmaker who, upon being asked whether he knows about
watches that emit tones, said:

"Oh!  You want a chazan's watch!"

Sure enough, he now uses a different watch - but it still emits that F above
middle C.  If you want specifics, I can try to get the name/address/phone
number of this watchmaker.

Bob Kosovsky
Student, PhD Program in Music			Librarian
Graduate Center					Music Division
City University of New York			The New York Public Library
<kos@...>			kosovsky@nyplgate.nypl.org


End of Volume 17 Issue 67