Volume 18 Number 67
                       Produced: Thu Mar  2  2:14:51 1995

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

         [Finley Shapiro]
Innovations in T'fila and Sin of the Egel
         [Eliyahu Teitz]
Male Chauvinism
         [Zvi Weiss]
Male Chauvinism in Halakha
         [Aleeza Esther Berger]
         [Alan Mizrahi]
Negiya and Names
         [Steve Bailey]
Women as Morot Horo'a
         [Michael J Broyde]
Women Dancing, again
         [Avi Feldblum]
Women Dancing, again.
         [Zvi Weiss]


From: Finley Shapiro <Finley_Shapiro@...>
Date: 22 Feb 1995 05:14:31 U
Subject: Innovation

> Binyomin Segal writes:
>> Since Torah comes from Sinai the assumption is that innovation (even
>> within the bounds of the written texts) is suspect.

>Binyomin writes this and various other similar statements as if this
>is a clear and well established historical fact. It is far from clear to me
>that this approach to innovation is fundamental to the halakhic process,
>and has indeed been the normative approach over the last two thousand
>years. I would suspect that it may be true for the last hundred, maybe
>for the last two hundred, but has it been true over the long run? I
>invite some of our more halakhic historically oriented readers to reply
>to this issue.

I don't think I qualify as a halakhic historically oriented reader, but
it seems to me that since the emergence of major non-orthodox movements
within Judaism, many of the Jews interested in innovation have linked up
with these movements.  Logically, this reduced the amount of interest in
innovation among those who remained orthodox.

I would also expect that additional antipathy to innovation within
orthodoxy has also come as a reaction to innovation outside orthodoxy.
Many readers may find this hard to swallow, but I expect that there
would have been much more innovation in orthodoxy earlier this century
if it had not been for the non-orthodox movements.  By now, those
innovations, had they been made, would seem quite normative to many in
Orthodox communities.

The recent discussions on the list about kashrut standards in Israel
seem to be a good example of this.  The State Rabbinate, because they
serve such a broad range of the populace, must be more innovative in
their kashrut work than organizations which only try to serve a a
smaller, more traditionally oriented segment of the population.

Finley Shapiro


From: <EDTeitz@...> (Eliyahu Teitz)
Date: Thu, 23 Feb 1995 09:41:53 -0500
Subject: Re: Innovations in T'fila and Sin of the Egel

ari shapiro writes comparing innovations in t'fila to the sin of the
egel. i feel there is little room for comparison.  the egel was an issur
d'oraita, even if it was merely finding a new way to serve hashem (
which is literally avoda zara - foreign service ).  once t'fila became
an accepted means of avoda to hashem, changes to it are no longer avoda
zara.  had the tora mandated hebrew for t'fila, then yes, chaging to
english would be problematic.  but the tora does not specify a language,
so the comparison to egel is weak at best.

there might be a different issue raised, though, when dealing with
chaging the language of t'fila.  in the beginning of masechet gittin
much discussion is made over the specific formula to be used by a
shaliach in delivering a get, the issue being m'shaneh mi-matbeya
sheh'tav'u chachamim - changing the coin minted by the sages ( the coin
alluding to the specific wording of the phrase uttered by the agent ).
i heard once that r. y.d. soloveitchik, a'h, used this logic to argue
against the changing of the nussach ha-t'fila into english.

eliyahu teitz 


From: Zvi Weiss <weissz@...>
Date: Sun, 26 Feb 1995 21:19:34 -0500
Subject: Male Chauvinism

  AS it is the MAN who institutes kiddushin, the b'racha naturally
reflects this in its formulation of the woman as the "object" of the
Kiddushin.  I find it EXTREMELY distasteful to label this as an example
of "chauvinism".  Outside of the fact that these are B'rachot instituted
by CHAZAL, the correspondence of the B'racha to Kiddushin appears TO
ME to imply that the man being "m'kadesh" is somehow also

 BTW, Please check the Mishna B'rura/Orach Chaim as I believe that there
is a machloket as to whether the woman's obligation in havdala is
identical to the obligation by kiddush.

 Also, if a balcony is not used, it seems to me that the only
alternatives are for the Mechitza to be in the back or on the side.
What sort of objection is there to a MEchitza that is "in the back or
way off to the side?



From: Aleeza Esther Berger <aeb21@...>
Date: Tue, 21 Feb 1995 11:32:08 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Male Chauvinism in Halakha

What I wrote:
>> The wedding blessing: "asher asar lanu et ha-arusot v'hitir lanu et
> > ha-nesuot lanu" - [who forbade us women who are betrothed, and permitted
> > us women who are married to us] Why not a parallel blessing that has the
> > woman as a subject rather than the object?
What Avi Feldblum answered:
> I understood and agree with Leah's list and your earlier item. I am a
> bit puzzled by this last one. Where is your source that we may introduce
> new blessings into the wedding ceremony, especially with Shem v'Malchut
> (G-d's Name)?

I meant, why was a parallel blessing not instituted by those who
composed the first one.

aliza berger


From: Alan Mizrahi <amizrahi@...>
Date: Tue, 07 Feb 1995 11:35:17 EST
Subject: Motivation

Larry Israel writes in mj 18:31,

> ...Dancing with the
> Torah on Simhas Torah is certainly optional. We should check the
> would-be dancers to see if they spend enough time learning; if they
> go to shul morning, afternoon, and evening; if they give enough tzedaqa;
> if they daven with enought kavana; and the like. If they pass all these
> tests, then they should be allowed to dance with the Torah. If they don't
> we should tell them that they are just trying to make some political
> point by doing so, and they should be told to improve themselves in the
> required areas before they take on optional "showy" mitzvos.

Why is dancing with the Torah optional?  Isn't there a mitzvah of
vesamachta bechagecha (rejoice on your festival)?  Dancing with the
Torah is certainly fulfilling that mitzvah.

Even if there were no requirement to dance with the Torah, there is
still no reason to deny someone that opportunity.  If someone doesn't
go to shul or learn regularly, then he maybe does not feel spiritually
close to God, and dancing with the Torah may improve that condition,
and bring him to do other mitzvot.  Dancing with the Torah is not
necessarily a "showy" mitzvah.  If someone sincerely enjoys dancing
with the Torah because of their love of Torah, which is possible even
for someone who doesn't pass Larry's test, he should be able to.
Besides, I don't think it is up to any of us to decide which mitzvot
one must follow in order to be able to dance with the Torah.  Do you
want to put video cameras in everyone's house to see if they wash
mayim achronim (washing before benching) or keep logs at the mikveh?
I don't think it is any person's business what mitzvot someone else
does.  If someone wants to dance with the Torah, they should be able
to.  And anyway, are you going to make the people you don't think are
good enough stand to the side while you dance, so that they can be

Alan Mizrahi


From: <RSRH@...> (Steve Bailey)
Date: Mon, 27 Feb 1995 00:47:07 -0500
Subject: Negiya and Names

Harry Weiss asked two good questions about the women-sensitive shul
practices we described. How can the chazzan hand the sefer Torah to a
woman to carry through the women's section, isn't there a fear of negiya
(man-woman touching) as it is transfered?

Second, we add the mother's name to the father's when a man is called to
the Torah, as an honor to the mother. Why is it an honor, he asks, it's
only identification? Also, do we add the father's name when we say a
mishbeyrach for an ill person?

To answer the negiya question, I'll refer you to Rabbi J. S. Cohen's
published discussion (Timely Jewish Questions... pg.26ff) of the
halachik permissability of shaking a woman's hand when being
introduced. In concluding that a man who wishes to extend a greeting to
a woman violates no law (pg.30), he discusses the Rambam (Hilchot Sotah
3:15) who brings the conclusion that in the sotah ritual involving a
korban, "the kohane places his hand under hers and lifts it up". The
Jer. Tal.  discusses the negiah issue, but the bottom line is that,
according to the Rambam, one infers that the kohane is not suspected of
illicit thoughts during a temple ritual involving a brief touch. This is
the basis for the Shach (Y.D. 195:20) permitting a doctor to examine a
nidda, since he is engaged in his medical work.
 By extension the possible brief touch of the chazzan's hand to the
woman's hand as they exchange the Torah does not evoke suspicion of
illicit thoughts, given the context and brevity of the action. [Rabbi
Cohen does not discuss this application, I am describing our LOR's

 Regarding the second issue, the call to the Torah, unlike a bracha for
the ill, is considered an honor and thus is related to "kibud eym", (a
biblical imperative about which we should be strict).

Steve Bailey
Los Angeles


From: Michael J Broyde <relmb@...>
Date: Sun, 26 Feb 1995 20:30:16 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Women as Morot Horo'a

Zvi Weiss <weissz@...> states that he "
> did NOT mean to imply that there was an
> absolute prohibition on women as "Morot Horo'a".  Rather, I simply
> pointed out the distinctions between Rabbi in terms of "academic" usage
> and "authority" usage.

I am unaware of any source that prohibits a woman from being a moreh 
horah.  The ecyclopedia talmudit, states without any countervailing 
opinions that "A wise woman who knows how to give horah is permited to do 
so."  It cites many sources to support this proposition (volume 8: top of 
page 494 (at note 109).  To the bset of my knowledge, no one argues with 
Michael Broyde


From: Avi Feldblum <feldblum@...>
Date: Tue, 21 Feb 1995 09:09:09 -0500
Subject: Women Dancing, again

Zvi Weiss writes:
> I further stated that the dancing around the Torah can be
> characterized as a celebration of that unique Mitzva and NOT simply as
> a "celebration of love of Torah" and it was in THAT context that I
> stated that for women to dance with the Torah would be celebrating a
> vountary OPTIONAL matter (as women are NOT obligated in this mitzva)
> and it is for THAT reason that I stated that one COULD question the
> motives of women doing this.

I continue to find this line of arguement very weak. I do not see that
you show in any way that the dancing with the Torah is strictly tied to
the mitzvah of Talmud Torah. Especially in this day and age, when both
the Lubavitcher Rebbe and Rav Soloveichek see women learning all aspects
of Torah as being part of the positive biblical commandment of Ahavas
Hashem and Yiras Hashem (Love and Awe of Hashem), I see the celebration
of the Torah that we have on Simchat Torah as a celebration of this
Ahavas V'Yiras Hashem. In particular, as this celebration is tied to the
public reading of the Torah, which is the learning of Torah
Sebeketav- the written Torah, and most authorities are of the opinion
that learning the written Torah is obligatory on men and women, the
voluntary / obligatory status of men and women are equal in this

Avi Feldblum

From: Zvi Weiss <weissz@...>
Date: Tue, 21 Feb 1995 09:06:42 -0500
Subject: Re: Women Dancing, again.

  My basis for asserting that the "dancing" was in terms of the obligation of
Limud Torah -- as opposed toTorah Shebichtav is partly rooted in the fact that
the gemara noted that only the "greatest" people danced at the Simchat Beit
Ha'Shoeva.  I believe that indicates that -- at least initially -- such dancing
was NOT simply an expression of "Ahavat HAtorah".  In addition, the fact that
in some places only Talmidei Chachamim (as noted by another poster) danced with
the Torah seemed to add further support to this idea.  Add to that the story
of the response that the "ignorant man" gave as to why HE was dancing with the
Torah (where he did not simply respond that he, too, loved the Torah) -- and
I believe that you can see a reasonable basis for describing the dancing with
the Torah in terms of Talmud Torah.  (BTW, the fact that the NetZiv notes that
the entire derech of Pilpul was given ONLY to Moshe and he was a "Tov Ayin" and
gave it to B'nei Yisrael may also be relevant here.  Pilpul (as used by the
Netziv) refers to Torah Sheb'al Peh....)
However, you raise a diffeent point which I believe should be explored.  That 
is, regardless of the origins of why we dance at Simchat Torah, can WE now
reframe this in terms of Ahavat Hatorah?  This owuld place the issue of
women dancing in a much different perspective and, I believe -- add further
legitimacy to their wishes in this area.
I would also note that the Rav ZT"L was also opposed to changes in the accepted
minhagim and that regardless of his support for women learning, there is no
indication that he would accept women dancing with the Torah....



End of Volume 18 Issue 67