Volume 18 Number 89
                       Produced: Sat Mar 18 23:01:44 1995

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Ketuba for (Known or Suspected) Nonvirgins
         [Arthur Roth]
Kibud Av/Em in Kidush/Zimun
         ["Hershler, Ariel"]
Male Chauvanism in Halakha
         [Steve Albert]
Voluntary vs. Obligatory
         [Zvi Weiss]
Woman reading megilla vs haftarah
         [Aryeh Frimer]
         [Ari Shapiro]
Women Reading the Megilla
         [Ari Shapiro]


From: <rotha@...> (Arthur Roth)
Date: Mon, 27 Feb 1995 10:59:09 -0600
Subject: Ketuba for (Known or Suspected) Nonvirgins

I have been meaning for awhile to comment on the following old posting from
Eli Turkel (MJ 17:48):
>      It was brought up that some poskim say that one should not
> write the phrase "l'hada betulta" in the ketuba of girls who lead
> "questional" lives, e.g. Israeli army service and other girls without 
> proper supervision etc.  It is not clear whether these girls would get 
> the 200 maneh of a virgin or the 100 maneh of a non-virgin.  In most 
> cases a ketuba is a form and not handwritten.  Thus one would need
> to either cross out the appropriate phrase or else use the ketuba meant
> for a previously married woman.  The practicing rabbis, in America,
> that I have spoken to, usually avoid asking couples if they are living 
> together so that they can use the "standard" ketuba.  I was informed that 
> Rav Moshe Feinstein did not agree with these opinions.

Eli's statement does not make it clear WHAT it is that R. Moshe did not
agree with.  The following clarification is based partly on a private
exchange of E-mails with Eli and partly based on my own
knowledge/observations.  I thank Eli for his additional insights into
this matter.

  1. Without Eli's sentence about the practicing rabbis in America, it
would have been clear that this whole discussion was about cases of
where a woman's lifestyle is suspect, causing some poskim to make some
inferences even when her nonvirginity is NOT an established fact.  Eli
confirmed (in the following statement to me) that R. Moshe indeed
disagrees in this case:

> Furthermore Rav Moshe, Rav Ovadiah Yosef and others claim that actions
> that in the past would lead to the assumption that a woman is not a
> betula can no longer be used for such purposes due to the changed
> morals of modern society.  As such I take it for granted that
> activities as attending a mixed dormitory or the Israeli army can not
> be used a fortiori as evidence that a woman is not a virgin.

  2. Though this was new information for me, I would not have suspected
otherwise, as R. Moshe allows (and in certain circumstances mandates) a
ketuba for a betula even when the woman's nonvirginity is a KNOWN
admitted fact.  The following two psakim (information partly mine and
partly Eli's) of R. Moshe are relevant here:
  (a) [psak aimed at a ba'alat teshuva] A man may agree (but cannot be
forced) to write a ketuba for a betula (thereby promising a larger sum
of money) for a prospective wife who has had relationships, PROVIDED
that he is aware of all such relationships (including, obviously, any
relationship with himself).
  (b) [separate psak aimed at couples living together beforehand] And he
MUST write her a ketuba for a betula if he was the ONLY man with whom
she ever had a relationship.

Relating all this back to Eli's original posting, it would seem that
R. Moshe feels that the practicing rabbis in America are "avoiding" the
wrong question altogether.  That is, the question about whether the
couple is living together would be irrelevant to the ketuba.  The
relevant questions would be, "Would she be a virgin if relationships
between the prospective couple are excluded?" and "If not, is her
prospective husband aware of all OTHER relationships she has been
involved in, and is he willing to 'ignore' them for this purpose?"

The reason for (a) above is that a person is allowed to voluntarily
"overpay" for something he is acquiring provided that he is aware of its
true "value" and is not simply being fooled.  To avoid embarrassing the
woman, the nontruth about her actual state of virginity becomes
acceptable once a financial loss to one of the parties is no longer part
of the issue.  The reason for (b) is that he cannot reduce the extent of
his responsibility by claiming that he is receiving a "damaged item"
when he himself is the sole cause of the "damage"!  In this case, the
claim in the ketuba about the woman's virginity was indeed true at the
time he actually "acquired" her.

On a social level, like many of us, I have very negative feelings about
the concept of a wife as a piece of property, but we have to accept the
fact that this is the halachic principle upon which the whole idea of a
ketuba is based.  Please understand that I am simply stating R. Moshe's
psakim based on this principle without interjecting any personal opinion
whatever, so that the Leah Gordons and Aleeza Bergers of this list (with
whom, by the way, I agree most, though not by any means all, of the
time) need not write to accuse me of male chauvinism!  In the matter at
hand, we can at least be thankful that R. Moshe applied this
"disagreeable" principle in a way that was aimed at being understanding
towards women and finding ways to improve their financial status as well
as save them embarrassment.

I close with another interesting fact from Eli that is related to the issue at
hand only in an indirect way. 
> In a shiur I attended tonight the rabbi stressed that any statements
> a woman makes affects only herself and not her children.  Thus even if a
> woman admitted that she was previously married and never divorced it
> would not turn the children of the second marriage into mamzerim.

I would assume that this applies only when the woman's admission is the
only source of this information, but that we would have to be more
strict when independent verification is available from elsewhere.  Eli
(or anyone else), is this assumption correct?

Arthur Roth


From: "Hershler, Ariel" <ahershler@...>
Date: Tue, 14 Mar 95 13:30:58 
Subject: Kibud Av/Em in Kidush/Zimun

After my Bar Mitzva I was taught to say "Birshut Avi Mori, Imi Morati"
(= "with permission [from] my father and teacher [and] my mother and
teacher" (the word "teacher" is being used here as a second description
of the parent)) before mentioning anybody else (i.e. kohen, rav, etc.)
in the zimun (= invitation to Grace after meals when at least 3 adults
of the same gender ate together), whenever they would be present,
whether in our own house or when being guests, and whether my parents
participated in the meal or not.

Later, being married and having my parents as guests at our table, I
also learned to mention them in the kidush, when we say "saveri"
("attention").  In the case of kidush it is probably even clearer that
it really is meant in honor of the parents, since at this point in the
kidush we usually mention any guest of honor. Living in Efrat, Israel, I
can say I heard Rav Riskin make kidush many times at semachot (special
occasions like birth of a child, bar or bat mitzva, etc.) and include
the baby, bar/bat mitzva, parents, etc.  explicitly after the "saveri".



From: <SAlbert@...> (Steve Albert)
Date: Tue, 7 Mar 1995 18:54:42 -0500
Subject: Re: Male Chauvanism in Halakha

Aleeza Berger (18:#55) writes:
>Her (Leah Gordon's) kiddush argument (that the one who hasn't 
>heard it in shul has a greater obligation) applies to havdalah too.

     I'm sympathetic to the desire of women to do halachically
permissible things, especially because the specific avoidance of these
things pushes many women away from observance.  That said, I have a
minor clarication to suggest about the above comment.
     The halachic argument involved is that idea that the man has
already fulfilled his obligation; the woman, equally obligated, hasn't;
and so the woman is more obligated than the man and should make kiddush
on his behalf, not vice versa.

(1)  Hearing kiddush in shul does NOT fulfill one's obligation.  First, one
must have intention to be yotzei (fulfill one's obligation) by hearing
someone else say kiddush, just as one must have such an intention whenever
being yotzei by someone else's action on one's behalf.  Second, kiddush must
be b'makom seudah, where one eats, and people don't generally eat in shul.
(I believe the Friday night kiddush in shul was instituted for the benefit
of those visitors who would be eating in shul.)
(2)  Men do, however, fulfill their d'oraysa obligation of kiddush in the
Shabbos Maariv Amidah ("Atah kiddashta etc."), leaving them with only a
rabbinic obligation.  Hence, it would seem that it would be preferable for
women to make kiddush (if they didn't themselves daven Maariv), rather than
(3)  I believe that the concept of arevus (that all Jews are linked together)
is applied, to allow someone who has already fulfilled his/her own obligation
to act on behalf of someone else who has not yet fulfilled their obligation.
 In particular, this means that the husband can make kiddush just a well as
the wife.
    By the way, this is not a new question raised by "feminists"; I believe
the Aruch Hashulchan raises it as well!

Steve Albert


From: Zvi Weiss <weissz@...>
Date: Wed, 22 Feb 1995 16:21:32 -0500
Subject: Voluntary vs. Obligatory

Ms. Berger asked that I provide a source where we "inquire" into one's moti-
vation for a voluntary act... (even though such an act is permissible).  Two
examples come to mind:
1. The Mishna states that a Chatan is exempt from Kriat Shma the first night
  of his marriage. (Why we do not follow this halacha now-days is another
  matter).  The Mishna states that a well-known Tanna read Kriat Shma ANYWAY
  because of his "deveikut" to G-d.  However, the Mishna (and Gemara) point
  out there that "Lo Kol HaRotze Yitol Et Hashem" -- not anyone who wishes
  may avail himself of this option as it appears to connote arrogance; only
  people "known" to be pious can assume such an oct of devotion.
2. By 9th of Av, the gemara states that Talmidei Chachamim are "Bateil" that
  day and do no work.  When the proviso is added that anyone can consider him-
  self a "Talmid Chacham" for this matter (and be "Bateil"), the gemara points
  out that his act of "piety" is not overt -- "There are other people in the
  marketplace who have nothing to do".  The implication from that Gemara is
  that without this "coverup", it would NOT necessarily for a person to
  consider himself a "Talmid Chacham" and take off from work.

In general, I would suggest checking sources that discuss "Yohara"
("arrogance") in halacha as well as sources that discuss when it is or
is not appropriate for an individual to assume "Chumrot" upon



From: Aryeh Frimer <F66235@...>
Date: Tue, 14 Mar 95 11:14 O
Subject: Re: Woman reading megilla vs haftarah

         Michael Broydes comments (MJ 18:87) regarding the prohibition
of women reading the Haftarah refers to doing so with the haftarah
benedictions. Clearly, there is no prohibition to read from the Navi
(prophets) without the Haftara Brachot.


From: <m-as4153@...> (Ari Shapiro)
Date: Sun, 12 Mar 95 21:21:48 EST
Subject: Women 

<My wife covered her hair.  She felt that to be important, both in her
<relationship with God and in the message it sent in her home.  I agreed
<and backed her up all the way.  But what happens when the very thought
<completely turns a women off to yiddishkeit?  Do we give her the old
<cliche': Sorry, but dems the rules?  And what gender decided that one.

<Usually when I mention the "hair covering" one, the "right" responds by
<saying: Sure, and next if Shabbos turns someone off maybe they should
<forgo that as well.  Nice but irrelevant point.  One is a gender based
<mitzvah, one is not; one is Rabbinical (with the exception of the
<Trumas HaDeshen who's says haircovering is Biblical) and Shabbat is

First of all a married woman covering her hair is d'oraysa according to
most poskim.  The Mishna B'rura in Simna 75 sif katan 10 says "V'yesh
bazeh issur torah" (when discussing a woman going out with uncovered
hair).  All the acharonim (Chasam Sofer, R' Chaim Ozer, Mishna B'rura,
Aruch Hashulchan, Igros Moshe) hold that a married woman has a torah
obligation to cover her hair. HOWEVER THIS IS NOT REALLY THE POINT.  Why
stop there, after all most biblical mitzvos are not spelled out in the
chumash, the details are learned out by the Chachamim(Rabbis).  Men said
that women are not obligated in Mitzvas Asey She Hazman g'rama(time
bound mitzvos) men said that women are not obligated to learn torah.
Men have interpreted the laws of shabbos.  Where do you want to stop?
Why not say the torah is sexist after all I am sure the halachos of
nidda turn off many women?  Where do you draw the line? The fact is that
it is a mitzvah d'oraysa to listen to the Chachamim and to fulfil
mitzvos d'rabbanan. The gemara asks how we can say v'tzivanu(and you
commanded us) on a mitzvah d'rabanon and the gemara answers because the
torah commanded us to listen the chachamim.  When a person comes to
convert the gemara in Bechoros 30b says that we do not accept him (or
her) even if he accepts the whole torah except for dikduk echad midivray
sofrim which rashi explains as a chumra drabanon.  We see the importance
of mitzvos d'rabbanon.  It is ludicrous to categorize the mitzvos as
drabbanon and gender based therefore we don't have to observe them, this
goes against everything Judaism stands for.

Ari Shapiro


From: <m-as4153@...> (Ari Shapiro)
Date: Fri, 10 Mar 95 00:06:58 EST
Subject: Women Reading the Megilla

<As we approach Purim, I began to wonder why there is still a good
<deal of opposition to women's megilla groups.

The Behag holds that women cannot read the megilla for men. Many explanations
are given to explain this.  Among them are:
1) Men are obligated in k'ria (reading the megilla) women are only obligated
in sh'mia (hearing) therefore a women cannot read for men.
2) The Marcheshes explains that the Gemara has one explanation that we don't
say Hallel on Purim because kriasa zuhi hilula (the[megilla] reading is the
Hallel).  Therefore since the mitzva of megilla has in it the mitzva of Hallel
and women are not obligated in hallel they can't read for men.
3) The Turai Even says that the mitzvah for men to read the megilla is
midivray kabballah (form a Pasuk in Tanach) while the mitzvah for women is
only rabbinic based on that they also were involved in the miracle.  We know
that there is a famous principle that divrei kabballah k'divrei torah therefore
the man has a higher levle of obligatioon then the women so she cannot read
for him.

Ari Shapiro


End of Volume 18 Issue 89