Volume 21 Number 39
                       Produced: Wed Aug 30 21:52:47 1995

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Correct term: Yasher Koach  OR  Yeyasher Kochacha
         [Barry Siegel]
Protocol Regarding Certain Recalcitrant Husbands of Agunot
         [Eliyahu Teitz]
Response to Kenneth Posy
         [Stan Tenen]


From: Barry Siegel <sieg@...>
Date: Tue, 29 Aug 95 10:42:30 EDT
Subject: Correct term: Yasher Koach  OR  Yeyasher Kochacha

I was very recently surprised to find out that the words "Yasher Koach"
are not correct.  Yasher Koach is what one male says to the other after
doing a Mitzva (like getting an Aliya, Leading the Davening etc..)

You always hear this being said, even by very knowledgeable folks but
this apparently is not correct Hebrew.  The correct words are "Yeyasher
Kochacha" which loosely means "More strength to you".  I just recently
asked 3 local Rav's and I was astonished when they all told me this same

The source for saying "Yeyasher Kochacha" comes from the Talmud Shabbat
74: side 1 which is discussing when Moshe Rabeinu broke the Luchot
(Tablets).  Reish Lakesh says there that it was said of Moshe Rabeinu
"Yeyasher Kochacha on the Luchos which you broke" ie.  Moshe made the
correct difficult decision.  In other words "more strength to you" on
your decision.

Yeyasher comes from the root word Yashar which is used often in the
Chumash to mean the correct, straight way.  Kochacha comes from the work
Koach which means strength.  so.. "Yeyasher Kochacha" conceptually means
"More strength to you to continue on the straight [Mitzva] path"

I was also told that it is correct and a Mitzva of Chesed (kindness) to
say this to your fellow man when appropriate. It is sort of a "brocha"
you are giving.

I guess that over time the words "Yeyasher Kochacha" have been
incorrectly rendered as "Yasher Koach".

It brings to mind the correct term "Seuda Shlishit" versus what we
commonly say "Shala Shudos" which I believe is not correct Hebrew or

Any thought or comments?

Barry Siegel  HR 2B-028 (908)615-2928 windmill!sieg OR <sieg@...>


From: <EDTeitz@...> (Eliyahu Teitz)
Date: Mon, 28 Aug 1995 15:23:11 -0400
Subject: Protocol Regarding Certain Recalcitrant Husbands of Agunot

I must write concerning the protocol that was posted here:

Ther are significant halachic problems with this 'decree'. 

Intro: Their right to decree.  This group cites a right to punish
outside of the norms of halacha based on a ruling in Shulchan Aruch (
Choshen Mishpat 2).  A careful reading of the source will show that they
have no right to decide anything based on this source.

The SA writes: Any Beit Din, even not s'muchim ( specifically empowered
to decide capital cases ) even residing outside of Israel ( normally
capital cases can only be tried in Israel ), if they see that the
populace is open in sin [ and there is a dire need - Rema ], can decree
death, monetary punishments, or any other punishment... provided that
the court be appointed by the chosen elders of the city ( or the general
population ), or that it be the gadol hador who is deciding.

The final statement, about the gadol hador, is a disputed one.  Bach
writes that a gadol hador may decide matter such as these whether he was
appointed by the general populace or not.  Others disagree and allow a
gadol to decide only if appointed by the people.  Both these opinions
see the words 'gadol hador' to mean another authorized body to decide,
aside from the beit din being refered to.

In any reading, though, a beit din is only empowered to decide if it has
been accepted by the general population, or by a group of chosen elders.
No beit din has a right to impose itself on others, as this group is

Further, Yam Shel Shlomo ( cited by Shach, note # 4 ) states that even
when a beit din, or an individual has a right, they can only punish
according to what is logical ( she-ha'svara notenet ), not to go around
and make decrees beyond reason.  While I agree that I too would want to
severely harm any person who marries off his daughter as a minor, logic
dictates that this should not be done, as it would doom the daughter to

So this group really has no basis for their 'judgement'.  But I shall
still go point by point and show weaknesses in their logic.

Points 1 & 2. This is where they start, with a statement that they
sentence to death anyone who makes his wife an aguna.  While I commend
them on their desire to free agunot, we can not go around declaring
death sentences for no reason.

Point 3. They decided that not giving a get, and making an aguna, is the
same as kidnapping.  I'd like to see something to back this point up.

Point 4. Smichat parshiot - proximity of texts.  Because these texts
appear in the same perek in Chumash, this group has decreed that the
punishment for not divorcing is death.  I don't follow their logic.
Likewise, to extend this to a case of kiddushey k'tana, is beyond me
totally.  They quote Ramban who says the word am'mar means authority,
power.  Do not put yourself as a master over a woman taken into
captivity and converted to Judaism if you end up not wanting her;
rather, let her go free.  The same word am'mar is used when discussing
kidnapping, which happens to be a capital offense.  From this they
extend marrying off a minor daughter to be liable for the death

Point 5. Upholding R. S.Z Auerbach's ruling.  Thanks very much.  We
really didn't need this 'sanhedrin's' approval for us to accept it.  But
more to the point.  They claim a right to annul the marriages based on
'hafka'at kidushin' - the right to annul marriages.  R. S.Z. Auerbach
never made any mention of that power.  Rather, he said that the father
has no believability, not that we have a right to undo his actions.
This kangaroo court is trying to lend itself some measure of credibility
by resting on the shoulders of a respected Rav, and extending his
comments where he never intended that they be taken.

Point 6: mosair - informant.  While one might want to call a husband who
refuses his wife a get all kinds of nasty names, and maybe even a rodef
(more on that later ) - one can not call such a person an informant.  As
such, the cases brought by this organization to bolster their claims of
a right to decree death are worthless, as they both deal with cases of
informants, who were actually attempting to physically wipe out the
Jewish community in their area, or at least threatening to do so.  I
also recall learning that the Ri MiGash did a similar thing, publicly
stoned an informant on Yom Kippur immediately prior to Ne'ila, to
maximize publicity within the community, but that he did not base his
ability to do this on a status of beit din or sanhedrin, but rather on
that of 'gadol ha-dor', the recognized leader of his generation.

Point 7: 'bar k'tala' - halachically dead.  While in certain situations,
a person with a death sentence on him, on his way out to execution,
might be considered as halachically dead, I have not seen this extended
to his marital status, such that his wife is considered a widow even
before execution.  All the more so in this case, where the so called
sanhedrin readily admits to lacking the ability to kill anyone, a person
with a death sentence should not be considered halachically dead.

Point 8: Castration.  Nowhere do we find this as a form of punishment in
the Torah.  The addition of this point which is totally out of context
with the rest of the 'protocol', to me shows that the whole thing is a
pretext to scare the person mentioned in point #8 into giving his wife a
get.  This will backfire on those who issued this protocol, since it can
be concluded if the aforementioned person does give his wife a get it is
only because of the threats here, and not of his own free will.

Finally, the lead signatory of this group has some other, well known
fanciful ideas about gittin.  There is a concept in halacha of acquiring
something for another person while not in that person's presence (zochin
l'adam she'lo b'fanav ).  This concept has been extended to gittin for
women who are involved in a relationship with a man other than their
husband ( they are living together ), while the woman is still
halachically married to her first husband.  The logic is that the woman
would really not want to be transgressing the prohibition of
extramarital affairs, and therefore she only benefits from having this
divorce accepted on her behalf.

The first signatory of this 'sanhedrin' feels that the same can be done
for husbands who refuse to give their wives gittin.  The Torah mandates
that the husband must initiate the divorce proceedings.  This can not be
done by another person, on his behalf, unless the husband has so
directed the other to act as his agent.  The Torah does not mandate that
a woman has to willingly accept her divorce ( that requirement was added
at a later date ).  To allow for the rule of zochin in the case of a
husband who refuses to give his wife a get is to go against the
requirement of the Torah.

Furthermore, the rule of zochin only applies if the one who has had
something acquired for him accepts it.  If he rejects it, then it is not
his.  If a man refuses to give his wife a get, his words are screaming
that he does not accept that the get be done on his behalf.  To then go
and arrange such a get, is to arrange an invalid document, and to give
sanction to this woman to commit adultery.  ( If the woman refuses to
accept the get, and the arrangement is done, it might be equally
problematic.  For that reason, when I do gittin of this nature I do not
ask the woman if she wants her get, but rather that a get is available
for her to pick up whenever she is available.  More often than not, the
woman will say I don't have time, rather than I don't want the get, and
I have room to accept on her behalf without her making claims that she
does not the get ).

So, this person who heads this 'sanhedrin' has a history of
controversial rulings concerning gittin, and therefore this is but
another of those rulings, which should not be accepted under any

Eliyahu Teitz


From: Stan Tenen <meru1@...>
Date: Wed, 30 Aug 1995 06:33:59 -0700
Subject: Response to Kenneth Posy


Thanks for the questions.  But I am surprised that you ask only more or
less procedural questions, and nothing of substance.  I wonder at that
because I understand that in Judaism it is very important to make one's
own conscious choices.  (How else to choose to observe halacha and

First, please be accurate.  I have enough trouble with folks who think I
am speaking through my hat already.  - I'm not a Dr., just Stan.  I have
but an elderly B.S. in Physics and that, as they say, combined with a
token, will get me a ride on the subway.  (Also, while I have noticed
that some persons on this forum spell even their own names
inconsistently, I would prefer that my name be spelled the same way each
time.  I mention this not because I am trying to be snotty - you can
call me whatever you please <smile> - but because I have noticed that
often the same persons who hold me and my work to a very high standard
of accuracy do not always take the same care themselves. This can be
disconcerting. The work I am doing is a serious study.  It is
sufficiently difficult even when presented with great attention to
accuracy.  Thanks for understanding.)

Let me be clear and unambiguous.  ALL of the great cultures of the past
and present made/make use of the same "technology" more or less.  Today,
both the "good guys" and the "bad guys" have nuclear weapons, computers
and advanced medical techniques.  That does not mean that what Iraq does
with this is the same as what we do with it.  When it comes to the
"technology of consciousness" (religion, spirituality, etc.) NOTHING
exceeds Torah.  Period.  No question.  But this does not mean that what
is in our Torah was not also made use of by others.  They just no longer
know it originated in Torah.  (If, as we believe, Torah was created 2000
years before the world, then how could it be otherwise?)  The Egyptians,
like the Sumerians before them and like the Babylonians, Persians and
Greeks after them, made use of exactly the same arithmetic and geometry
as Torah does.  How could it be otherwise?  However, there is a BIG
DIFFERENCE in what other cultures have done with "technology."  Except
for Torah (and pure mathematics), as I stated, I know of no tradition
that does not to some extent misuse this universal "technology" by
mixing it with or confusing it into some form of idolatry.

So, the models of the world and of consciousness known in the ancient
world ALL made use of the same arithmetic and geometry (and, as our
Torah says, brocading, embroidering and weaving and working in gold and
silver and brass), and, of course, calendar making, as we did and do.  I
am saying that our Torah necessarily makes use of the archetypal 12
around 1 (or 3) pattern because this geometry is intrinsic to how HaShem
made the world.  To the extent that others learned of this, they copied
it.  Some even discovered some of the self-organizing principles of life
presented to us in Torah before we formally received Torah.  This should
not be surprising.  Terach knew these principles.  He got them from Ur.
They were likely the basis of some of his idols that Abraham destroyed.
(Remember, that "things" can be idolatrous, while principles-in-the-
abstract cannot.)

As to the appropriateness of public discussion of these issues:

1. Only some authorities subscribe to the restrictions.

2. Some authorities hold that in and near the time of Moshiach even
little children will come to understand (at least some) of these
teachings.  (see Rabbi Schochet's writings on this)

3. The prohibition is against the public teaching of the techniques of
the meditation involved.  There is no ban on discussion, study, or
information.  However, Mishneh Ain Dorshin in Hagiga makes it clear that
"mystakel" (rational speculation without personal experience) is not
acceptable.  (So, learn, but don't speculate.)

4. If we do not teach our own learning, others will misappropriate it
and teach it incorrectly.  (This is very common, especially today.  Have
you seen what the fundamentalist Christians have been doing with their
versions of the codes in Torah?  They are not finding the names of our
rabbis, I can tell you that. <smile>)

5. These issues bear on Jewish survival.  The light in Torah is a far
better teacher of the value of Judaism in the world that are our
exhortations.  When the nations of the world can see for themselves that
our sages have preserved a truly irreplaceable teaching necessary for
human survival, they will, of their own accord, come to respect and
defend Jews, Judaism and Israel.  This, in my opinion, in the long run,
is far better than the force of arms and clever diplomacy.

You may not have seen my postings, mostly last year, on the research
work we (Meru Foundation, a 501(c)(3) educational non-profit) have been
doing on the alphabet and B'Reshit.  If you or anyone else would like a
packet of information on our work, please email us your surface mail
address and we will sent it.



End of Volume 21 Issue 39