Volume 17 Number 96
                       Produced: Tue Jan 17 10:17:58 1995

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Conservative/Reform Marriages
         [Gedaliah Friedenberg]
Halachic adulthood & obligations
         [Moishe Halibard]
         [Mike Grynberg]
Menstruation, Privacy, and Bat Mitzvah
         [Leah S. Gordon]
Mikvah, UnMarried Women & Temple Mount
         [Israel Medad]
Milah from Sinai
         [Danny Skaist]
Moshe as stenographer
         [Alan Zaitchik]
         [Aryeh Blaut]
Spiritual Education of Children
         [Jonathan Rogawski]
Sweetening Bitter Waters
         [Leah S. Gordon]
Thirteen Year Old Judge
         [Michael J Broyde]
Wedding in beit midrash.
         [Gilad J. Gevaryahu]


From: Gedaliah Friedenberg <gedaliah@...>
Date: Mon, 16 Jan 1995 11:01:29 -0500
Subject: Conservative/Reform Marriages
Newsgroups: israel.mail-jewish

In 17n93 Chaim Leib Hirshel writes:

>Since a C/R marriage which is not performed according to halacha does
>not, according to Rav Moshe, require a get, is the "divorcee" of such
>a marriage permitted to marry a Cohen? 

Since some (many?) Jewish women who marry in a reform or conservative
ceremony are marrying non-Jews or sofuk [questionable] converts, there
is another problem.  A Kohen cannot marry a woman who has had
intercourse with a non-Jew.  Therefore, if a woman's first "husband"
was not Jewish or was possibly a reform or conservative convert, then she
may be prohibited from marrying a Kohen on the grounds that she had
intercourse with a non-Jew.

I have a better question: What about a conservative Jewish couple that
marry.  She is a divorcee, and he is a Kohen.  Then they become
Ba'alei Teshuva.  Since their "marriage" is forbidden, what do they

Gedaliah Friedenberg


From: <halibard@...> (Moishe Halibard)
Date: Tue, 17 Jan 1995 11:36:23 +0200 (WET)
Subject: Halachic adulthood & obligations

Yakov Menken's story about Hattarat Nedarim in Gateshead Yeshiva, while
interesting , is unfortunately untrue.  I had the honour, during three
years in Gateshead Yeshiva to sit immediately in front of the Rosh
Yseshiva , Reb Avrohom Gurwicz, for davenning. He personally always
formed his bet din for Hattarat Nedarim using the Mashgiach, Menahel and
one of the other Rammim. However,one of my friends, who only started
growing a beard at about 20, and at that time had an exceptionally
boyish appearance, one erev Rosh Hashana leaned over to Reb Avrohom and
asked if his lack of beard ( or stubble) invalidated him from being a
dayan (on my bet din, I think!).  I clearly recall Reb Avrohom's suprise
at the very suggestion.  This however sheds no light on the question as
to whether a 13 year old who had not yet reached puberty would indeed be
passul for a bet din of Hattarat Nedarim.  Moishe Halibard


From: <spike@...> (Mike Grynberg)
Date: Tue, 17 Jan 95 09:43:05 +0200
Subject: Mei-Marah

i have heard that the tree contributed a certain chemical (i really don't
know what, i suppose i could guess if i knew what made the water bitter
in the first place) which made the pollutant, (what gave the water it's
acrid taste) precipitate. once this is done it would be quite simple to
filter out the precipitate and you would be left with the water minus


From: Leah S. Gordon <lsgordon@...>
Date: Mon, 16 Jan 1995 11:52:31 -0800
Subject: Menstruation, Privacy, and Bat Mitzvah

Ms. Birnbaum asks for input on how young women would feel about a
"Ritual Pool Party" as described by an earlier post.  I tend to agree
with her that the average young adolescent woman today would be
mortified by a public recognition of menses, at an age when puberty in
general is an embarassment (until a teenager realizes that in fact
everyone else had the same process).

It may be, though, that we are putting the cart before the horse: would
young women be as ashamed of their own bodies and development if puberty
were celebrated instead of hidden?  On the other hand, I think that an
age-based celebration is far less cruel to those who develop slightly
before or after the rest of their friends.

None of these arguments, however, addresses another point: It seems
peculiar to debate using physical signs to recognize or celebrate a
woman's coming of age Jewishly in this day and age.  There was certainly
a time when female puberty indicated that a woman was marriagable and
therefore had entered a completely new Jewish category of life.  Today,
however, women are no longer Jews solely through being daughters and
then wives.  It makes far more sense to focus on the real changes
brought on by religious maturity in a modern world--learning, fulfilling
mitzvoth, etc.

Leah S. Gordon


From: Israel Medad <imedad@...>
Date: Tue, 17 Jan 1995 14:58:08 +0200 (IST)
Subject: Mikvah, UnMarried Women & Temple Mount

In my discussions with the late former Chief Rabbi Shlomo Goren on 
the subject of entry into those portions of the Temple Mount which
are actually outisde the sanctified *Har Habayit*, we touched on
the problem of unmarried girls going up because of *tumaat haguf*
(impurity of body).  When I asked if going to the Mikvah would not
solve the problem, he replied that the Ashkenazi custom was that no
unmarried woman should go to the Mikvah.  As for the S'faradim, he
indicated that their custom was different.

Yisrael Medad


From: DANNY%<ILNCRD@...> (Danny Skaist)
Date: Tue, 17 Jan 95 11:19 IST
Subject: Milah from Sinai

>Art Kamlet
>I can understand Gen. 17 as the source of the covenant, but why not
>Leviticus as the source of the commandment?

Because Gen 17:14 cites Kareth as the punishment for one who refuses to
be circumsized, indicating that this is from Sinai and the source of the
mitzva and not a "pre-Sinaic" law formalized at Sinai.



From: Alan Zaitchik <ZAITCHIK@...>
Date: Mon, 16 Jan 1995 15:35:51 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Moshe as stenographer

Some recent postings present Moshe Rabeinu (Moses) as a totally passive
and transparent medium through which Hashem communicated the Torah. I
don't presume to understand what it would be like for a human to
experience God "panim el panim" (face to face), but I want to make a
comment on the underlying reasoning for this picture of an angelic
Moshe, viz. that it allegedly helps allay any doubts one might raise
concerning our correctly or incorrectly understanding what God wants of
us.  I don't see how this is so, for even if every one of the Torah's
letters were laid out by Hashem just as we have them, and even if every
nuance of every meaning of every letter and word was faithfully absorbed
by Moshe with no distortion, nonetheless Moshe still had to explain it
all to Yehoshua (Joshua) and he to the next link in the chain of
tradition, and so on. So in the end you have to rely on the validity of
humans interpreting what they have received from tradition. Perhaps you
hold like the Ramban on the verse "not to turn left or right from what
they [the Sanhedrin] decide", viz. that there is a Divine promise that
they will decide correctly (sorry I do not have my books handy)... or
perhaps you rely on the famous story in Bava Metsiah whose upshot seems
most plausibly interpreted to be that once the Torah was given to
humans, then how Chazal interpret it, using human reason and following
correct institutional procedures, is ipso facto correct. Either way you
CANNOT get back to Moshe's revelation directly.

So if you have to assume that Joshua's understanding of Moshe is binding
on us, even though Joshua was not an "angel", you might as well say the
same for Moses, as far as I can see.

/a zaitchik


From: <AryehBlaut@...> (Aryeh Blaut)
Date: Tue, 17 Jan 1995 00:43:00 -0500
Subject: Re: Rings

After reading those responses (especially those directed towards my comment)
I have the following to say:

I never stated my (or any view) on the matter.  I simply stated that based on
what I read in a posting about gifts from the Hatan (groom) to the Kalah
(bride) and visa versa the topic of men and rings could take place.

I obviously hit upon a raw nerve because this seems to have been a long
heated topic.

To respond to some of the comments I remember reading since then:

I see a difference between a government signent ring and a wedding ring.

It is not only in Chabbad circles that the men do not have wedding
rings, I would say in a majority (in my experience) orthodox circles
(chasidish, yeshiva-ish, etc.).

That's all for now.

Aryeh Blaut


From: Jonathan Rogawski <jonr@...>
Date: Mon, 16 Jan 95 10:59:04 PST
Subject: Spiritual Education of Children

I would be very interested to hear comments by mj-ers on the general
topic "the spiritual education of children" (I don't recall this being
specifically discussed, at least recently).  I'm thinking of young
children 0 - 6 years old, but all comments would be welcome. In
particular, I have the following questions:

1. How can we respond intelligently to metaphysical comments by a 4-5
year old such as "Hashem is `clear', that's why we can't see him" or
questions such as "Why did Hashem create dinosaurs", or more difficult,
regarding a baby sister with an earache "Hashem could fix it in a
second...why doesn't he?"

2. In many pre-kindergarten classes, children are taught Parashat
B'reshit - creation of the world, planets, trees, etc.  A friend told me
of an opinion of a Rav who says that this is a mistake. With children,
one should begin with Lech L'cha and Vayera, since B'reshit raises
philosophical questions that cannot be adequately discussed, whereas
Lech L'cha/Vayera raises issues of how to behave, hospitality, Derech
Eretz, and this is something young children can understand and

3. What are some good approaches to the Parashat HaShavua (weekly Torah
Portion) with a 4 or 5 year old, beyond the telling of the story (when
the Parasha actually has story)? Which issues can we profitably raise
with a young children?  Recommended books to read with children?

4. What are the Torah principles for education at this age?  What are
the main goals?

Any comments? Perhaps some of the educators on line would be willing to


From: Leah S. Gordon <lsgordon@...>
Date: Mon, 16 Jan 1995 11:27:51 -0800
Subject: Sweetening Bitter Waters

Ms. Schmidt and Mr. Hoffman posted a query about scientific (and non-)
responses to "sweetening bitter waters with a [bitter] tree."  Although
I have little knowledge in this exact area, I am an Environmental
Engineering/Fluid Mechanics Ph.D. student at Caltech, so I'll take a

Water is treated with various chemicals all the time, which could come
from plant sources.  If the water was really bitter, that may have
indicated a large concentration of base (as opposed to acid).  Any
addition of cations might have bound the OH- and purified the water.
(This includes adding some acid, which could have come from a plant,
which itself would be hazardous because of the acid, fulfilling the
midrash about the double miracle.)  I don't know the details of what
sorts of free cations exist in what trees, but maybe someone else can
fill in that information?

Another possibility is that there was some bitter contaminant in
the water, and the microorganisms on the "tree" did some bioremediation.
On a longer time scale, a plant could have photosynthesized and
made available more oxygen to aerate and purify the water....

Leah S. Gordon


From: Michael J Broyde <relmb@...>
Date: Mon, 16 Jan 1995 11:40:21 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Thirteen Year Old Judge

One of the writers when discussing the case of a 13 year old being 
a judge implies that a 13 year old who lacks simanim cannot be a 
judge, this is rejected by most authorities, who rules that even a 
13 year old with no simanim can sit as a dayan; see CM 7:3.
Michael Broyde


From: <Gevaryahu@...> (Gilad J. Gevaryahu)
Date: Mon, 16 Jan 1995 11:08:11 -0500
Subject: Wedding in beit midrash.

Micha Berger (MJ17#93) suggests:

To me it would seem that the issue of "bekhoseihem lo seiliechu" (don't
follow their laws) would have alot to do with WHY one is interested in
creating the new practice.

In the case of having a wedding in the shul, the original intent was to
create an image of a synagogue that paralleled the Protestant concept of
church. Thus, all religious ceremony would be moved to the synagogue...

Another ceremony taken place in shuls is brit mila (circumcisiom). Are
the rabbis opposing wedding in shuls because of "bechukoteihem lo
teleichu" suggest to stop brit mila in shuls too? (Note that the
gentiles have a child ceremony called christening which take place in
the churches too. This Christian practice follows the Jewish practice
where the covenant between the child and his religion if affirmed and
the child name is given. These two functions of the ceremony are clearly
taken from Judaism. I therefore thought that this is a good paralel to
the wedding issue.)

This issue, of brit mila in shuls, is discussed extensively in halachic
literature as it related to the tiltul (carrying) of the baby boy on
shabbat from the home to the shul. Did Chatam Sofer prohibited it in

Gilad J. Gevaryahu


End of Volume 17 Issue 96