Volume 18 Number 73
                       Produced: Sun Mar  5  1:25:27 1995

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

A Convert's Privacy
         [Mosheh Wolfish]
Gomel (Blessing of Appreciation)
         [Lon Eisenberg]
Jewish Calendar and Adar
         [Joseph Greenberg]
Preserving the privacy of converts
         [Stephen Phillips]
Secular courts
         [Eliyahu Teitz]
Secular Courts
         [Eliyahu Teitz]
Secular Courts.
         [Immanuel O'Levy]
Secular Israeli courts
         [Ezra Frazer]


From: Mosheh Wolfish <MWolfish@...>
Date: Thu, 02 Mar 1995 16:22:18 -0500
Subject: A Convert's Privacy

I am not a posek nor talmid chacham, so I can only offer what I have
understood from things that I have learned, observed and analyzed.  I
have been a gabbai in a shul that had a number of converts and when I
attempted to call them up as ben Avraham Avenu (thinking that a great
honor), was specifically told by the rabbi to drop the Avenu.  During
the more than ten years since, I have never heard a convert called up to
the Torah as anything other than ben Avraham.  I have recently signed on
a k'thubah with a convert who, in front of me, was specifically
instructed by the current Strepkover Rav (rebbe) (of Me'ah Sh'arim,
Jerusalem) to sign just ben Avraham.  The groom was also a convert who
also was referred to in the k'thubah as ben Avraham.  This was all done
with the seeming concurrence of Rav N'san'el Kostolitz, a talmid chacham
and posek in Baltimore.  (He is the rabbinic supervision of Empire

The talmud, in dealing with the laws of gittin (divorces) assumes (and
relies upon) that anything done by a beth din (Jewish court) has a
"voice" and people would hear and know about it.  (This is the reason
that Mordechai did not divorce his wife Ester even though she was
cohabitting with Ahashverosh.  He was afraid that Ahashverosh would find
out that Ester was someone else's wife and would kill him or her.
-Talmud) A conversion is kosher only if done by a beth din.  One would
therefore assume that the knowledge would be public because it has a
"voice".  In the only conversion that I participated in, the head of the
beth din, Rabbi Mendel Feldman of Baltimore (also a talmid chacham and
posek), did not instruct us to keep the matter private.

My own resolution of the need to honor the convert's privacy with the
publicity of the matter, has been to be discrete.  I prefer not talking
about others, save for where there is a need or it is complimentary to
the subject.  A particular instance of need may be within the realm of
shiduchim.  I'm sure there are others.  I don't recall ever hearing that
one may not disclose the fact that someone is a convert without
permission, even though I had been told by a convert that she did not
appreciate it when others disclosed her being a convert.  I do not
believe that a convert can rightfully demand the silence of others.
However, discretion and consideration of another's feelings is just
common sense.

I would be grateful if you would let me know what other opinions and
responses you get.  There is always more Torah to learn.

Thank you.
Mosheh Wolfish


From: Lon Eisenberg <eisenbrg@...>
Date: Mon, 27 Feb 1995 09:31:42 +0000
Subject: Gomel (Blessing of Appreciation)

Chaya London <CGREENBE@...> wrote:
>When I do have children (G-d willing) why should my husband get an
>aliyah for benching gomel?  I would much prefer to be in a women's
>minyan - I will be the one who survived, not him.

Although I've heard of the custom of the man saying gomel for his wife
who gave birth, IMHO, it is incorrect.  It makes sense to me (and Rabbi
Kaminetsky of Highland Pk., NJ stated) that only the person who went
through the experience (in general, not just for childbrith) can say

It seems to me that the accepted practice is for the woman to stand up
(on her side of the mehizah), usually at the end of the time for reading
the Torah, and saying "hagomel".  For this reason, I don't understand
the need for Chaya to be in a women's minyan (I do not mean to imply
that a women's minyan is necessarily wrong).

So I still don't understand why women don't say gomel after crossing the

Lon Eisenberg   Motorola Israel, Ltd.  Phone:+972 3 5658438 Fax:+972 3 5658205


From: Joseph Greenberg <postmaster@...>
Date: Mon, 27 Feb 1995 11:14:36 - 500
Subject: Jewish Calendar and Adar

On the issue of the Jewish Calendar and Adar, I have been heavily 
involved in testing and researching the Jewish Calendar aspects of a 
program called Almanac, shareware (available on all the major online 
services - no I don't get a cut, I paid for registration), written by 
a non_jewish fellow named Len Gray. Besides being (in my biased 
opinion) a great calendar program, Len has put in a Jewish Calendar 
mode, that required extensive research as to observance of birthdays, 
yahrzeits, etc.
  Besides being "somech l'davar" (interested party) (I observe yahrzeit
for my father on Adar 29, and my birthday and my oldest son's birthday
are in Adar) I have spent _hours_ researching the issue of Adar/Adar
I/Adar II and Cheshvan/Kislev 30, in both primary and secondary
sources. These include Rambam, Shulchan Oruch, achronim, and books
published by various contemporary authors (Weiss, Artscroll, Lamn,
Speir). As with many other aspects of halacha, there are as many
opinions as sources.  Speir offers the most comprehensive "halacha
l'ma'aseh" (practical) guide, although I don't see where he gets 30
Shevat as the yahrzeit date of someone who dies on 30 Adar II (although
it makes sense to me). There appears to be ample support for observing
yahrzeit in Adar I or Adar II or both. And there are different issues
relating to birthdays and yahrzeits. One comment by one of the
contemporary authors (Rabbi Abner Weiss) stands out... "one should be
consistent in one's custom." This, combined with the typical response
here on MJ ("consult your local orthodox Rabbi") should be what guides
most of the readers here. Just be aware that there is a certain amount
of "flexibility" in this matter.
  Joe Greenberg -  <postmaster@...>
 Human Synergistics, Int'l 
 39819 Plymouth Road   800/622-7584
 Plymouth, MI 48170    313/459-1030


From: <stephenp@...> (Stephen Phillips)
Date: Thu, 2 Mar 95 12:57 GMT
Subject: Preserving the privacy of converts

>From: Freda B. Birnbaum <FBBIRNBAUM@...>
>On the other hand, male converts are supposed to be called up to the
>Torah as "ploni ben Avraham Avinu".

On the Shabbos during my week of Sheva B'rochos I was called up for
Maphtir at Yeshivas Chofetz Chaim in London. I told the Gabbai that my
name was "Yisroel Ben Avrohom Ovinu" and thus was I called up.
Afterwards, the Rosh Yeshivah, Rav Ordman, told me that it is not
necessary to publicise that one is a convert and that it is sufficient
to be called up as "Yisroel Ben Avrohom". Ever since, this is how I am
called up.

Stephen Phillips


From: <EDTeitz@...> (Eliyahu Teitz)
Date: Wed, 1 Mar 1995 13:38:18 -0500
Subject: Re: Secular courts

Gilad J. Gevaryahu writes:

> Sometimes the issue of gentile court comes up as it relates to the
> Israeli judicial system, where you have Jewish [and non Jewish] judges
> who adjudicate not according to the halacha. Everything which relates
> to the status of the [secular] courts with Jewish judges, who
> adjudicate not according to the halacha, is in the area of Siman 8 in
> Shulchan Aruch Choshen Mishpat, which have nothing to do with the
> prohibition of going to a gentile court. The subject of the
> prohibition of going to a gentile court is discussed in Siman 26 of
> the Shulchan Aruch. There, the emphasis is on the danger to the Jewish
> autonomy by going to a gentile court...which does not exist in the
> State of Israel.

The prohibition against going to a non-Jewish court is not one of danger
to Jewish autonomy.  The problem is giving credence to a legal system
that is different than our own, even if the outcome would be the same as

The prohibition against going to Jews who do not judge according to
halacha is similar.  There is one major difference though.  Whereas Jews
may accept the judgement of other Jews who are not valid judges ( if for
example the judges arerelated to one of the parties ), and may also
accept the judgement even if it does not follow the rules of halacha,
they may *not* do this with non-Jewish judges.  ( see Ramban on Shmot
21,1, and Rama Choshen Mishpat 8,1 ).

> Note that in Talmudic time there was the court of the exilarch,       
> which under the above definition will be probably labeled a gentile  
> court, since he ruled not only by halacha.

Again, Jews not ruling by halacha are not rendered a gentile court, rather
they are a Jewish court not deciding according to halacha.  The distinction
made above ( of acceptance of non-halachic decisions ) would apply to the
exilarch's court as well.

> Therefore, Jews are allowed in certain instances to use a gentile 
> court, and have done so throughout history.

Yes, under certain circumstances Jews are allowed to use the gentile courts.
The question is what are those circumstances.  In Shulchan Aruch ( CM 26 )
the ruling is brought down that the plaintiff must first approach Beit Din to
summons the defendant.  If this fails then the plaintiff may go to the
gentile courts provided he receives permission from the Beit Din.  

For one to decide on his own that the person he is taking to court will
probably not want to go to Beit Din and therefore he the plaintiff will just
"save time" and go straight to the gentile courts is not permitted. In fact,
there is a lone opinion that the Beit Din must actually decide the case based
on the plaintiff's claims and then the Beit Din goes and testifies in gentile
court that the defendant owes the plaintiff the amount deemed his by the Beit

Eliyahu Teitz

From: <EDTeitz@...> (Eliyahu Teitz)
Date: Wed, 1 Mar 1995 13:36:29 -0500
Subject: re: Secular Courts

Jay F Shachter asks:

> My question is a derivative one.  How do we act in the situation 
> wherein a Jew enlists the Gentile court against another Jew, fails to 
> obtain the desired result, and then comes to the Jewish court as a 
> second resort? Do we accept the case, if it has merit, or do we 
> reject it out of hand? The Tur seems to leave the question 
> unresolved; the Beit Yosef on the Tur seems to favor rejection, but 
> the Beit Yosef is not entirely clear to me.

The Rama in Shulchan Aruch ( 26,1 ) brings two opinons on this issue.  The
first position is that we do not entertain his case in Beit Din at all.  The
second opinion limits the first opnion to cases where the plaintiff has caused
the defendant a loss of money.  The S"ma writes about this limitation that it
is not necessary to cause a loss of money.  Rather it means that the
defendant paid what the court had ordered him to pay ( even if this amount is
less than he would have had to pay had the parties initally gone to Beit Din).

Rama says that he feels the first opinion is correct, that we do not
entertain the case under any circumstances.  The Netivot gives two possible
explanations for this ruling.
     1.  there is a rule that Jews may accept the legal decision of 
          judges who are not permitted to rule ( if they are related to the
          parties for example ).  The non-Jewish court would be seen as 
          having been accepted by the parties and therefore their 
          decision is final.
     2.  the Rama feels that this is a penalty imposed on the plaintiff
          for taking the case to secular court.
The Netivot feels that the second possibility is the correct analysis of the
situation at hand.

Eliyahu Teitz

From: <imo@...> (Immanuel O'Levy)
Date: Mon, 27 Feb 95 11:23:42 GMT
Subject: Secular Courts.

There has been discussion recently about bringing fellow Jews before a
secular court and the punishment of excommunication associated with

In Sefer Maddah, Hilchot Talmud Torah, chapter 6, paragraph 14, the
Rambam lists 24 things which are punishable by excommunication.  The
ninth item on the list is: "Testifying against a fellow Jew in a secular
court and extracting from him money to which one is not entilted".  (The
Rambam adds that the excommunication lasts until the money has been paid
back.)  Does this imply that if one is entilted to money from someone
then one has a choice of bringing that person before a Beit Din or a
secular court?  Secondly, why does no-one ever seem to mention the
second part of the Rambam's statement, namely extracting money to which
one is not entitled?

 Immanuel M. O'Levy,                               JANET: <imo@...>
 Dept. of Medical Physics,                        BITNET: <imo@...>
 University College London,                     INTERNET: <imo@...>
 11-20 Capper St, London WC1E 6JA, Great Britain.         Tel: +44 171-380-9704


From: Ezra Frazer <frazerez@...>
Date: Mon, 27 Feb 1995 18:40:42 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Secular Israeli courts

	Rav Ovadya Yosef (I can't find the teshuvah in Yehave Daat right
now, but I know that it's footnote 2 in the teshuvah) rules that modern
day Israeli courts are worse than non_Jewish courts.  His reasoning is
that any court which goes by secular law has the status of a non-Jewish
court.  Thus, attending Israeli court violates both the prohibition of
going to a non-Jewish court and the prohibition of lifnei iver (leading
the secular judge astray by making him think that what he's doing is ok,
whereas it is forbidden for him as a Jew to be a secular judge).  Rav
Yosef uses rather harsh language with regard to anyone who justifies
going to Israeli court on the grounds that the judges are Jewish



End of Volume 18 Issue 73