Volume 18 Number 82
                       Produced: Sun Mar 12 10:15:39 1995

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

First Aliya in the Absence of a Kohen
         [Arthur Roth]
Kattan Making Siyum
         [Carl Sherer]
Levi in place of a Kohen
         [Sheldon Korn]
Mazal Tov to MJ'er Getting Married
         [Adina B. Sherer]
Women's roles vs. Kohen and Levi
         [Aleeza Esther Berger]


From: <rotha@...> (Arthur Roth)
Date: Mon, 27 Feb 1995 12:47:11 -0600
Subject: First Aliya in the Absence of a Kohen

    It was interesting to read the variety of responses to Jerrold
Landau's query about (i) the source and (ii) the reasoning for the
"minhag" not to call up a levi first in the absence of a kohen.
    I will first quote the relevant item from the Shulchan Aruch, add
some remarks of my own, and then try to see how the various responses on
MJ fit in with this.
    SHULCHAN ARUCH 135:6, translation mine, errors my responsibility:
Mechaber: "If there is no kohen present, a yisrael is called instead,
and a levi may not go up after him."  Rema: "But he [the levi] may go up
first, and the words 'bimkom kohen' should be used explicitly when he is
called up to avoid the potential misconception that he is a kohen."
  1. These words most likely indicate that the Rema is disagreeing with
the Mechaber, who specifies that a yisrael be called first.  However,
the possibility must at least be considered that the Mechaber is using
"yisrael" as a generic term for a non-kohen.  If so, then the Rema may
simply be elaborating upon the words of the Mechaber, and they do not
necessarily disagree at all.
  2. The words of the Rema do not indicate a preference for either the
levi or the yisrael.  The Mishna Brura explains that the levi is not
inherently LESS important than a yisrael and says that we should call
whichever of them is more important based on individual characteristics
(rather than "class" membership).
  3. The halacha would thus seem to be clear for Ashkenazim (either is
OK, with no preference either way) and less clear for Sefardim (most
likely that calling the levi is prohibited, with some possibility that
the halacha is the same as for Ashkenazim).
  4. If there is a minhag among Ashkenazim to specifically NOT call a
levi first, it would seem that such a minhag would have had to develop
AFTER the time of the Shulchan Aruch.  For Sefardim, this practice is
most likely the halacha (not just minhag), with the possibility that
this is not the case and that the above statement for Ashkenazim applies
also to them.
  5. None of the above addresses the REASON the levi loses his
preference over a yisrael in the absence of a kohen.  The usual
explanation (UE), which I've heard from several sources but is not found
in the Shulchan Aruch, is the one that several responders gave on MJ,
namely that the kedusha of a levi exists only by virtue of the services
he provides to a kohen and hence disappears when there is no kohen for
whom these services can be provided.  (This is a bit difficult in the
sense that these services are needed today only during washing before
duchaning, and most Torah readings occur on days when we don't duchan,
even in Israel where duchaning is done much more frequently.  So the
absence of a kohen TODAY should not logically matter, as a kohen may
very well be present NEXT YOM TOV, for example, when the kedusha of the
levi is given a chance to manifest itself.  Of course, this difficulty
does not apply on actual duchaning days.  For now, I will just accept
the UE at face value and continue.)

    In view of all this, let me summarize the various responses on MJ
and ask some questions.
 1. HARRY WEISS simply states (without reasons) that a levi or yisrael
may be called.  Harry, since this is the Rema's view, can I assume your
shul is Ashkenazic?
 2. YEHUDAH EDELSTEIN echoes Harry's statement and adds that the kohen
is sometimes asked to waive his honor (and yet remains in shul).  Rav
Hershel Schachter published a paper about 7-10 years ago that discussed
(among other things) a number of sources on whether (and if so, when) a
kohen may forego his aliya.  Rav Schachter concluded that the kohen may
not waive his honor on Shabbat/Yom Tov, but that he may do so on
weekdays.  However, Rav Schachter emphasized that even on weekdays, this
must be a GENUINE willingness on the part of the kohen that is not
forced upon him via any pressure or guilt feelings, and certainly cannot
be done by simply having the gabbai recite a perfunctory "bim'chilat
hakohen."  So ... Yehudah, can I assume that your shul (like Harry's) is
Ashkenazic, and is it true that the kohen is asked to waive his honor
only on weekdays?
 3. EITAN FIORINO says that the Rav maintained that "the rights of a
levi over a yisrael are disrupted in the absence of a kohen," and gives
the UE for this.  Eitan's statement taken alone seems in agreement with
the Rema, i.e., the fact that the levi loses his preference over a
yisrael should not imply that he now has LESS recognition than an
ordinary yisrael, making it optional to call either one.  However,
ELHANAN ADLER "confirms" Eitan's assertion by recalling the Rav's
displeasure when he himself was called up as a levi bimkom kohen.  It
seems that Elhanan's "confirmation" goes beyond Eitan's original
statement.  Then YITZ ETSHALOM gives a source from a Rashi in Gittin
(which I have not looked up) for the Rav's position that a levi should
NOT be called in such a situation.  But since Rashi predates the
Shulchan Aruch by many hundreds of years, the Rema's psak must have
taken this Rashi into account.  So how can the Rav then justify using it
as a basis for overruling the Rema in favor of the (most likely)
position of the Mechaber, even for Ashkenazim?  Finally, Eitan, can we
infer from Elhanan's and Yitz's postings that your statement about the
Rav's position was meant to imply something stronger than what you
actually said?
 4. SHELDON KORN gives the UE and says that calling a levi bimkom kohen
is "frowned upon by the halacha even though there are some synagogues
who will call a levi first."  Sheldon, are all the synagogues you refer
to Ashkenazic?  Also, do you have a source for the "frowned upon" part
of your assertion?  As I've said, the Rema doesn't seem to frown on this
at all, while the Mechaber most likely forbids rather than merely
 5. SEFARDIM --- Can anybody recall an instance where a levi was called
up first (in the absence of a kohen) in a SEFARDIC shul?  (If nobody can
ever recall such an instance, this would confirm the interpretation of
the Mechaber which I've regarded as "most likely" throughout this

Thanks very much.                  --- Arthur Roth


From: <adina@...> (Carl Sherer)
Date: Mon, 6 Mar 95 7:34:48 IST
Subject: Kattan Making Siyum

Due to an upcoming Yahrtzeit in the family the following questions have

My pre-Bar Mitzva son is on the verge of making his first siyum (on a
seder of Mishnayos).  I was wondering whether the halachic status of a
Kattan making a siyum is any different from that of an adult.  For

1. Should the Kattan say the Kaddish at the end of the siyum? 

   I believe the answer to this should be yes because I know that
   several years ago Rav Meir Stern (the Rosh Yeshiva of Passaic) was
   present at a siyum which I made and he insisted that I say the
   Kaddish and not seek out a yasom.  I would assume that the same would
   apply to a Kattan (both my parents are bli ayin hara alive and well).
   Anyone think otherwise?

2. Is the status of the seudas mitzva of a Kattan making a siyum any
   different from that of an adult? For example, would it be considered
   any less of a seudas mitzva for purposes of the Yahrtzeit?

3. Leaving aside the Yahrtzeit question for a minute (he won't finish 
   quite on time anyway), would participation in my son's seudas mitzva
   be sufficient to absolve me (a bchor) from fasting on Erev Pesach?

4. I assume that the status of a siyum on Mishnayos is no different
   from that of a Mesechta of Gemara, but that assumption is based on
   the fact that the Mishnayos print the Hadran in the back - anyone 
   have a source for that?

5. The sources that I am aware of for the custom of making a siyum are
   the Gemara in Shabbos (118b), the Mishna Brura in Hilchos Erev Pesach
   (OH 470), the Rama in Hilchos Tisha B'Av (OH 551) and the Yam Shel
   Sholomo in Bava Kamma (in Perek Merubeh and at the end of the Perek).
   Does anyone have any other sources?

-- Carl Sherer
	Adina and Carl Sherer
		You can reach us both at: <adina@...>


From: Sheldon Korn <rav@...>
Date: Sun, 5 Mar 1995 20:26:11 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Re: Levi in place of a Kohen

Harry Weiss responds to my blurb on the subject that dealt with calling
a Levi in place of a Kohen which seemed to receive an abundance of
attention.  I have no disagreements with Harry's clarification of the
issue.  The question really is: why does the Halacha say different
things in regard to this issue.  If the Halacha would be clear that a
Levi could be called first then there would never be an issue for a
Gabbai to call a Levi first.
 A variety of traditions have eminated from the issue.  Some permit a
Levi to be called first.  All prohibit a levi to be called after a
Yisroel.  The question is: should a Levi be called first if there is a
Yisroel who because of Torah learning should be honoured and be given
preference and recognition?

This whole issue is founded in Gitin 59a where there is a dispute
whether the sequence of being called up-- Kohen Levi Yisroel-- is from
the Torah or Miderabbanan.  The Bavli says its D'oraita and the
Jerushalmi chalks it up to a dispute.  In order to avoid defining who is
greater in learning we lean towards the Kohen (mipnei darchei Shalom) to
preserve peace.  In fact so important is the issue of a Kohen going
first that a Kohen is not allowed to relinquish his honour through
coersion.  (yet its done all the time and a Yisroel is called first when
a Kohen is present)

There are those who say we disregard the fundamentals and call a Levi
first only on Mondays and Thursdays but not on Shabbat.  This is the
reason that during the week a Levi might be called first and hardly ever
on Shabbos. Since the Torah verse mentioned in the Talmud specifies Levi
in context of a Kohen and then the Yisroel.

The status of Levi is only given substance when there is a Kohen.  For
this reason it is brought that "nitprada Hahavilla"--the package of
Kohen Levi Yisrael is broken. (if the Kohen is missing).  Even Rashi
says that a Levi is sanctified in context of a Kohen.  Therefore if
there is no Kohen there is no Levi of status and in accordance with this
thinking we call a Yisroel. But the Rosh (Rabbeinu Asher) had the view
that we call Kohen first and when the Kohen is missing we call "mi
shegadol mechavero" one who is greater in Torah.  If that happens to be
a Levi great, but if the Yisroel is greater, the Levi should not be
called first in accordance with this ruling.  Yes the Ramah, Rabbi Moshe
Isserles rules that a Levi can go first.  I believe the assumption could
be drawn that he would lean towards the Rosh.  The Levi goes first if he
has the same status in Torah learning as the Yisroel.  All agree,
nevertheless, that a Levi never goes after a Yisroel.  He either goes
after a Kohen or first or Acharon. Now in practical terms a lot is left
up to the Gabbayim.  I hope they are sensitive to the issues at hand.
 Incidentally, Maimonides rules that when there is no Kohen its as
though a Levi doesn't exist.  Therefore when you call up a Levi you are
really calling up a Yisroel who presumably has Torah knowledge and on
that premise merits being called up first.  The discussion can be found
in the Tur, Beit Yosef and Shulchan Aruch Siman 135:6 as well as in the
Aruch Hashulchan.

Sheldon Korn > 


From: <adina@...> (Adina B. Sherer)
Date: Mon, 6 Mar 95 7:53:11 IST
Subject: Mazal Tov to MJ'er Getting Married

Jonathan Goldstein from Australia who used to read/write things for this
list is now working here in Israel and is going to get married in 2 weeks.
I thought of writing this in now because included in his wedding invitation
( a lovely/fun/purim-appropriate job) is an invitation for women only to a
special reading of Megillat Esther with the Kallah, with "Maariv to be
followed by festivities and dancing".  The invitation also has a separate 
enclosure inviting people to Jonathan's Shabbat Chatan in one corner, and
Jedidah's Shabbat Callah  in the other - beautifully arranged.  I was
very impressed, and I think that more people could use these ideas.

	Adina and Carl Sherer
		You can reach us both at: <adina@...>


From: Aleeza Esther Berger <aeb21@...>
Date: Fri, 10 Mar 1995 11:49:07 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Women's roles vs. Kohen and Levi

A private poster asked me how it is that I think women and men don't have 
separate roles, while kohen and levi do. After all, if the Torah is 
encouraging the separate, special,elitist role of kohen and levi, then 
different roles for men and women must be justified as well.

In my opinion, the answer is already stated in the formulation of the 
question:  The Torah clearly specifies a special role for the kohen 
and levi, but no specifications for women vs. men.  All the added-on
"justifications" for a different role for women are done in societal 
context, not from the Torah "core" specifications.  Yes, the kohen getting 
special privileges is undemocratic. (That is a separate question that can 
be dealt with separately on the list, or wherever.)   But why increase the 
un-democracy beyond what we are 
"stuck" with? The Torah could have stated "men and women have different 
roles", the same way it says "the kohen has a special role".  It doesn't, 

John Stuart Mill, writing one of the first feminist essays (certainly the 
first by a man), about 1850, got stuck on the question: If women and men 
are equal, everyone is equal (democracy) why is royalty special? (He 
lived in England.)  His answer was that well, everyone is used to the 
royalty, and there are so few of them, it's just a special case and has 
no bearing on the men/women question.  Obviously his answer could be 
applied to the women vs. kohen/levi question as well. But using the 
Torah as a guide, as I have explained, we have an even better answer.

Aliza Berger


End of Volume 18 Issue 82