Volume 20 Number 69
                       Produced: Wed Jul 26 21:52:34 1995

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Direction to Face when Praying
         [Lon Eisenberg]
         [Elisheva Rovner]
Mixed vs Separate Seating at Weddings
         [Jerrold Landau]
Right and Wrong
         [Turkel Eli]
Separation at weddings
         [Erwin Katz]
Situational halacha, co-ed schools, and limud torah
         [Kenneth Posy]
Wedding Issues
         [Janice Gelb]


From: Lon Eisenberg <eisenbrg@...>
Date: Wed, 26 Jul 1995 10:26:52 +0000
Subject: Direction to Face when Praying

Although this has been discussed in the past, I have something new to
add (based on a tour I took of the Western Wall):

As I've claimed that from most parts of North America, one should face
(east) northeast when praying, due to the great circle route to Israel,
I will claim that that is also the direction to face when praying at the
Kotel (at least in the area where most of us pray there)!  The Kodesh
haKodeshim [Holy of Holies] is quite a bit north of the area where we
normally pray.  Unfortunately, the houses in the Arab Quarter are build
up against the Kotel opposite that point (I was opposite it a number of
meters under ground).  So, if you want to face the Kodesh haKodeshim
when praying (in the normal area) at the Kotel, you should face

Lon Eisenberg   Motorola Israel, Ltd.  Phone:+972 3 5659578 Fax:+972 3 5658205


From: Elisheva Rovner <ST923469@...>
Date: Tue, 25 Jul 1995 21:57:58 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Gelatin

I have been somewhat following the discussion of Gelatin and the
following question comes to mind (sorry if this has been asked already I
haveen't read all of the postings) if one considers gelatin made from
animal bones parve, what are the implications regarding rennet, an
animal derivative used in cheeses?  Also what is the implication for
those who consider any gelatin regardless of the animal source to be

Elisheva Rovner


From: <landau@...> (Jerrold Landau)
Date: Tue, 25 Jul 95 12:25:16 EDT
Subject: Mixed vs Separate Seating at Weddings

Over the past several years, I have been at many weddings of observant
people.  Some of these weddings have had mixed seating, and others
separate.  I have noted that, almost invariably, at the mixed seating
weddings, most of the participants remain seated at their tables for the
bentching and sheva berachot, whereas at the separate seating weddings,
most of the tables are half empty at that time.  People are usually
milling around in the anteroom (where the sweet table is usually found),
trying to locate their husbands or wives, etc. during this time.  At a
recent separate seating wedding that I attended, my father (who is not
observant, but has a great respect for tradition), expressed his shock
to me that so few people were remaining for bentching and sheva brachot
(I quote this in order to make note of the impression that this may
cause on non-observant people).  I am making no halachic comment here,
as I realize that there is a legitimate difference of opinion on this
subject -- just a personal observation.  We must always be on the
lookout to insure that non-frum participants do not get the wrong ideas
and impressions when they attend a 'frum event'.

Jerrold Landau


From: Turkel Eli <turkel@...>
Date: Tue, 25 Jul 1995 13:35:37 -0400
Subject: Right and Wrong

    Yisrael Herczeg objects to my use of the word "wrong" to describe
halachic opinions that do not match heavenly truth. Part of the
difficulty is that there is no word in English that is truly
     I do not wish to review the who;e debate about "elu v-elu divre
elokim chaim" but let me just mention that there are some articles in
Tradition over the last few uears on the topic. Also I understand that
the recently released Higayon book has some in depth articles on the
    According to both sides of the debate, man is the ultimate decider
of practical halakhah in accordance with the principal of "lo bashamayim
hi" (the Torah is not in heaven). In seems to me that this not a just a
necessary (bi-dievad) principle but a desirable principle. G-d did not
want to give the Torah in a status that everything was crystal clear and
just man loused in up. Rather the Torah was given in a manner that
allowed man's interpretation, Even when there was one heavenly truth G-d
did not always reveal this in an unambiguous way. It was left to man to
develop the world both on a physical and a spiritual level.
    It is well known that even though the 13 methods of deriving
halachot (13 middot) are from Sinai nevertheless this applies only to
the principles.  The details were left up to the rabbis, e.g. when is it
appropriate to say that one halakhah is more stringent than another and
so apply laws from one to the other (kal ve-chomer). The one seeming
exception is gezerah shava (similar words in different passages) which
is allowed only when accompanied by a tradition. However, even in this
case the commentaries explain that the tradition was only a generalized
one i.e. that a gezerah shavah existed in this halakhah or connected
certain words. The details of the gezerah shava were not in the Sinaitic
tradition. Hence, arguments occurred in chazal even about the
application of gezerah shava.
    Chazal teach us that several hundred halachot were lost very early
in Jewish history and were reconstructed using the 13 principles. This
implies that from almost the very beginning we have not been in
possession of the entire "heavenly" truth. As rabbis have pointed out
since these laws were reconstructed on human intelligence and not on
prophecy we have no guarantee that even these early reconstructions were
entirely correct.
     Since doubt was built into Torah a consequence is that one receives
a reward for learning Torah even if his conclusion does not coincide
with Heavenly halakhah since G-d desired this debate. "lo bashamayim hi"
guarantees that mistakes will be made since man is not perfect. I think
it is clear that one performs the mitzva of learning Torah even when
learning the protions of the Talmud that the talmud itself labels as
mistaken.  Similarly, it seems to me, that if one learns the position of
an acharon that is a minority of one and rejected by all other rabbis
nevertheless one is "learning Torah" while analyzing this rejected
position. Rav Soloveitchik pointed out on numerous occasions that one
performs the mitzva of learning Torah on the biblical level even while
learning rabbinical decrees.

     In light of this I agree that the "wrong" side of a halakhic debate
is different than being wrong on a mathematical theorem. A wrong proof
is simply false. A wrong halakhic opinion means that it is not in
accordance with either heavenly truth and/or practical halakhah. It
still has value.

    A more difficult question is the meaning of right and wrong in
interpreting non biblical sources. As an example, in trying to
understand a statement in the Mishneh Torah of Maimonides the yeshiva
world rejects any methods used by university scholars, e.g. historical,
psychological etc.  sources. There is a story told about the Brisker Rav
that he had an explanation of a difficult passage in Rambam. Someone
pointed out to him that Maimonides himself had a different explanation
in one of his letters.  After a moment's thought the Brisker Rav is
reported to have said that he liked his own explanation
better. Similarly, in another story about the Brisker Rav he refused to
read a letter supposedly written by a Roman visitor to the Temple
claiming that such a letter would have no value in discovering what
really happened in the Temple (the letter was later found to be a
forgery). In both these case he explicitly refuses to use historical
evidence to arrive at any conclusions.

     In response to other comments I wish to clarify my position about
Chazon Ish. It is clear that he was one of the greatest gedolim in
recent generations and I do not want to give any impressions about
doubting his integrity which beyond any approach. I apologize for any
misunderstandings.  Chazon Ish does state that at times he relies on the
"5th volume of Shulchan Arukh" (i.e. his gut feelings based on years of
learning) to make statements that are not explicitly found. My personal
feeling is that he makes categorical statements in letters that he knows
others would disagree with. This is based on his judgement that this is
best for our generation.  As this post is long enough I will leave that
for another occassion.

Eli Turkel


From: ERWIN_KATZ_at_~<7BK-ILN-CHICAGO@...> (Erwin Katz)
Date: Wed, 26 Jul 95 06:20:11 CST
Subject: Separation at weddings

With all the recent discussions about separate seating at weddings has
anyone experienced, as I did, the ruling that in a non-separate seating
wedding there should be a mechitza for the separate dancing?


From: Kenneth Posy <kpposy@...>
Date: Mon, 24 Jul 1995 14:01:29 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Situational halacha, co-ed schools, and limud torah

Mr. Shapiro writes:
"The same applies here, co-ed schools are a halachik issue and have
to be addressed on halachik grounds, not with statements like in my
opinion the pros outweigh the cons.  In the halachik system
arguments like that have absolutely no weight whatsoever."
     I beg to differ. While it is true that every issue has to be
weighed solely on halachick grounds, and that there is no situation
which is "outside the scope of halacha", the halacha itself takes case
specific factors into account, including social conditions. In fact,
this is the argument that followers of Rav Y.B. Soloveichik ZTL, who
oppose co-education, use to discount the example of the Maimonodies
school: the Rov's ruling was specifically for that time and place. (I am
in no position to express an opinion on the validity of that argument,
I'm merely restating it.)
     As far as I know, there is no explicit takanas chachamim or mitzva
d'oraisa that forbids co-education. Thus, the issue is not a question of
"That's the rule, no questions asked" Rather, the poskim who forbade it
did so as an interpretation of operating principles applied to social
conditions. Of course discussion of the issue must be based on whether
the halacha permits or forbids, but that is, at least in part, a
function of the particular scenerio.
     I would be interested on hearing a response to my own critism of
the co-ed dayschools. Although I did not attend on, I attended hesder
yeshivos in Israel, which claim to receive the most serious and
religiously intense of the dayschool grads. While I have often been
impressed by the sincerity of those students, my observation has been,
that almost uniformly, their skills in learning gemara were far inferior
to those who came from non-coed schools. Their bkiyus (breadth of
knowlege) was almost non-exsistent, and their iyun(deapth) was at best
poorly developed. These students often learned intensively, and went on
to be the best of the group: no one can deny there intensity or
motivation. But they were miles behind even some of the weakest
graduates of non coed schools, most of which also claim that they send
only their least serious students to hesder. These bochrim themselves
blame the lack of opportunity for serious learning in their high
     As a history student, I know well the difference between causation
as corrolation. I am not claiming that the co-education causes lack of
gemara preperation (although that argument could be made). Many co-ed
schools have seperate lemudai kodesh anyway. My own opinion is that
co-education is merely a symptom, not a disease, and that schools that
are willing to be lenient on this particular aspect of halacha are
similarly lenient on the intensity of limud torah. The same goes for
parents who send kids to such schools. However, as I said, that is only
a guess, as I have no firsthand knowlege, and I would be interested in
hearing other's more authoratative explanations of this phenomenon.
     It could be, of course, that my premise is wrong: the real top
graduates of the co-ed dayschools don't attend Gush or Sha'alvim; they
go to Mir and Lakewood :)

Betzalel Posy


From: <janiceg@...> (Janice Gelb)
Date: Tue, 25 Jul 1995 16:54:47 -0700
Subject: Wedding Issues

Some thoughts on some of the issues regarding weddings that 
have been discussed:

Rabbi Adlerstein argues that despite the tradition of mixed seating at
weddings we should in our day be extra-careful and encourage separate
seating due to the level of depravity ("the moral sewer") to which we
have sunk. While this could conceivably be an argument for being
extra-careful about tznius or the like today in general, I find it hard
to believe that in the setting of a frum wedding, mixed seating
encourages or reinforces some sort of moral licentiousness.

Nachum Hurvitz writes:
> It is my understanding that this is a minhag. However it is somewhat
> ridiculous to cause excessive tircha d'tziburah (hardship on the masses)
> becasue of this.  When I go to a wedding in N.Y. which is 4 hours by car
> from Baltimore, I am usually sitting around till 9:30-10:30 till the
> chosson/kallah show up. Since I have to get to work the next day, I say
> mazel tov, jump into the car and get home at 3:00 AM.

There are certainly ways to time the picture-taking so that it involves
neither excessive tircha d'tziburah *or* the chatan and kallah having to
see each other before the chupah. One can take most of the pictures of
the respective families and so on that don't involve the chatan and
kallah being together before the chupah. After the chupah and yichud,
the chatan and kallah join the tziburah. Towards the end of dinner, they
go off while everyone else is eating dessert and take the group

-- Janice
Janice Gelb                  | The only connection Sun has with this      
<janiceg@...>   | message is the return address. 


End of Volume 20 Issue 69