Volume 23 Number 92
                       Produced: Thu May  9  0:13:47 1996

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Agunah - Minchas Yitzhak Teshuvah
         [Paul Shaviv]
Agunah and the Role of Beit Din
         [Michael J Broyde]
Etchem/Otanu and Related Cases
         [Steve Oren]
Leaders Raised during times of Crisis
         [Israel Pickholtz]
One Mikvah Post-Menopause
         [Shlom Grafstein]
Rabbi for Wellington, New Zealand
         [Philip Heilbrunn]


From: <shaviv@...> (Paul Shaviv)
Date: Tue, 7 May 1996 08:07:06 -0400
Subject: Agunah - Minchas Yitzhak Teshuvah

I haven't had a chance to check the original teshuvah of the Minchas
Yitzhak (the late Dayyan Weiss zl), but it is inconceivable that he
would have ruled that a get issued after a civil divorce is me'usah, for
the following reason: Before he was the Av Bet Din of the Edah Haredit
in Jerusalem, he was the communal Rav of Manchester, England, for many
years. Under (then) English divorce law, it was impossible to obtain a
get *before* a civil divorce was issued (because it was considered
collusion between the parties at a time when divorce proceedings
allotted blame, and you 'sued' for divorce).  Therefore had he ruled
that a civil divorce rendered a get meusah, no gittin could have been
granted, which was absolutely not the case.  What is, however, clear,
although there are currently moves to remedy this in a halachically
acceptable way, is that a civil court cannot *order* the granting of a
get as part of a civil settlement.  That, unfortunately, leaves the poor
wife helpless.

For what it is worth, may I add my voice to those who are left
open-mouthed in shock and disgust at some of the attitudes voiced
recently on this topic, whose attitude towards agunot and women in
particular seems to me to be a hillul hashem of the first order; and
express thanks and admiration to those who have courteously and quietly
been putting the case for remedying an appalling *chesaron* in the
ability of halacha to function in contemporary society.

Paul Shaviv, Montreal


From: Michael J Broyde <relmb@...>
Date: Wed, 8 May 1996 10:35:57 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Agunah and the Role of Beit Din

There have now been a number of posts on the agunah issue and the role
of beit din, and I write to try to clear up some of the technical

(1) There is a clear difference between the question of whether a woman
or a man is properly asking for a divorce, and whether beit din can
order that a divorce be compelled.  (In the case of a get which is
compelled, force may be used to induce the husdband's particpation.).
Even a cursory review of the classical halachic sources supports the
assertion that there are cases where halacha will not compell a get, but
which it feels that the husband ought to write a get.  One such example
are those cases where the "harchakot derabbenu Tam" will be imposed (See
EH 154) and another case are those situations where the husband will be
compelled to pay mezonot/support when according to the technical halacha
no support need be paid.  As noted in Pitchai Teshuva EH 154:4&7, this
is done specifically to encourage the husband to write a get.

Thus, there is a clear distinction between the question "may a get be
compelled in any particular case" and the question of "Is it proper to
withhold a get in any particular case."  I beleive that, in answer to
the second question, once the marraige is over, and neither side wishes
to remain in the marriage, a get should be given, and this is clearly
supported by the sources cited above, as well as by Iggrot Moshe EH
3:44, and a host of other sources that clearly rule that once a marriage
is over, a get should be written (THIS DOES NOT MEAN THAT THAT GET CAN
BE COMPELLED.  In most cases it cannot).

	(2) The Gemera dealing with grounds for divorce in the end of
gitten is not really the relavent sugya, and is being miss-cited.  Prior
to the takana derabbenu gershom which prohibited polygamy and unilateral
divorce (which now applies to nearly all Jews, except for sefardim
living in oriental contries), that gemera determined when a husband
could divorce his wife.  Cherem derabbenu gershom restricted that right,
and not all divorces are either for cause or through mutual consent.
Paragraph (1) above modifies this slightly by saying that there are
cases where halacha steps into a marriage where there is not cause for a
compelled divorce, but it is clear that the marriage is over, and says
Mutual consent can be given because of social pressure or other forms of
very low level coercion.

Rabbi Michael Broyde


From: Steve Oren <soren@...>
Date: Sat, 4 May 1996 22:00:18 -0500 (CDT)
Subject: Etchem/Otanu and Related Cases

The etchem/otanu issue mentioned in digest #79 (and I gather in previous
bulletins) is only one of the cases in which a traditional text has a
version of something in TaNaK which differs from the MT [=Masoretic
text].  Note by the way that the Mekhila de Rebbe Yishmael
(Horowitz-Rabin edition p. 73 Bo 18) also cites the verse in the otanu
form. One of the other examples is B Niddah32b/33a where the text learns
out from a text in Leviticus 10:5 that does not agree with the MT. Over
there, Rashi omits the relevant sentence (since there is no such verse
and it is not absolutely needed for the arguement. Tosafot, on the other
hand {Uhrbach says this Tosafist is Rabbi Eleazar Of Touque) is aware of
Rashi's position and notes that the Gemara's text omits a vav which MT
has but says our text does in fact differ from that of the Gemara. He
cites the Tosafot in B Shabbat 55b although that discussion is not about
Torah but about Shmuel. Tosafot HaRosh (The Rosh's editing of Tosafot
materials available to him) gives the same explanation.

Shmuel Strashun of Vilna (19c) says that if this were true all of our
Sifrei Torah would be pasul since a sefer torah follows the gemara when
the gemara happens to explicitly mention a hasar/maleh issue. He,
however, follows Rashi in excluding the relevant sentence and tries to
argue, in any case, that the Gemara is not actually talking about a
letter. His arguement seems forced. But without it, since Tosafot are
unaware of a problem with their Sifrei Torah, we have to ask what
Tosafot held about the limits of a kosher sefer torah.

In general, there are rishonim who do not assume an unchanging Biblical
text. Rashi himself in his comment to Job 32:3 and the Arukh
(s.v. Kaved) hold that the "sofrim" changed Biblical texts including
those in the Humamash for reasons of respect. Chavel has reprinted the
first edition of Rashi on Humash which explicitly says this on Genesis

A very substantive problem in comparing the MT with Talmudic quotations
is that one must first decide which Talmudic text to use. Remember that
since those who print or write such texts are familiar with the MT,
there will be a constant effort to "correct" the Talmudic text based on
the MT. And there has never been a critical edition of Talmudic
literature showing all the varient texts. For instance, M. Sanhedrin 10.5
quotes Deut 13:16 in its MT form of HaIr HaHe but the TB (111b) has HaIr
HaZot. The next Mishnah quotes v.17 in its MT form of Et HaIr but the
Naples edition of the Mishnah (the earliest edition --ca 1498--and the
Cambridge Ms have Kol HaIr.

A parade ground example of these problems is found in M Makkot 1.7. The
text quotes Deut17:6 "At the mouth of 2 (shnayim)witnesses or 3
witnesses the one to be executed shall be executed." This is the MT
form. However, the Munich Ms--the only complete manuscript of the Bavli
that we have--agrees with some Samaritan, Greek, and Syriac texts in
saying "At the mouth of 2 witnesses or at the mouth of 3 witnesses, the
one to be executed shall be executed". Now, it happens that the texts of
Rosh and Rif have the same text but omit the ending. So: "at the mouth
of 2 (shnayim) witnesses or at the mouth of 3 witnesses". The Gra (who
does not have access to the Munich Ms but of course knows Rif and Rosh)
therefore assumes they are quoting 19:15 "At the mouth of 2 (shnai)
witnesses or at the mouth of 3 witnesses" and therefore corrects Rif and
Rosh from shnayim to shnai. While Ms.M weakens this case, since that
scribe quoted the end of the verse, Gra's change is also possible since
the Samaritan text of Deut 17:6 (which he also did not know)reads Shnai.

Additional examples, clarifications, and comments would be welcome

Steve Oren <soren@...>


From: Israel Pickholtz <rotem@...>
Date: Wed, 8 May 1996 13:59:44 +0300
Subject: Leaders Raised during times of Crisis

 Asher Breatross writes:

>The second point has to do with Jewish survival and the commemoration
>today, in Toronto, of the second Yarzheit of a very great person, Harav
>Hagaon Avraham Aaron Price ZTL.  At the commemoration today the keynote
>speaker was Rabbi Dr. Berl Rosenzweig of New York, who was Talmid of
>Rav Price.  He started off his speech by telling us that Hashem always
>provides Jewish leaders to keep us going so that if leadership appears
>to be ending, as in the time of Rabbi Akiva, there was a replacement
>available.  So in Rabbi Akiva's time it was Rebbi.  In our time we had
>replacements after the great tragedy in Europe.
>In the course of talking about Rav Price, Rabbi Rosenzweig talked about
>how he was acquainted with the Gedolim of our generation, such as the
>Rav, Rav Hutner and the Lubavitcher Rebbe, since they were all in
>Berlin at the same time and were part of the circle of Rav Chaim
>Heller.  What really hit me, when I thought about this several hours
>later, was the very example of the theme of leadership that Rabbi
>Rosenzweig was talking about.  All these great people were in Berlin in
>the early 1930's just as Hitler, Yimach Shmo, was coming to power.  So
>at the very time that plans for our destruction were being prepared,
>the seeds of our rebirth after the Shoah were also being cultivated.

This is a favorite point made my Rabbi Yisrael Hess, formerly Rav of
Bar-Ilan University, in his talks and tapes.  He takes it from the
midrash that says during the time of Yaakov's greatest troubles with his
children (vaYeshev), H-Shem was sewing the garment for the Mashiah.
That is, when the Satan/Yezer Hara is celebrating victory and is
therefore distracted from his battle against kedusha, H-Shem "takes the
opprotunity" to advance His real agenda.

We can only wonder what particular seeds are being sown in the 
troubled days we see today.

Israel Pickholtz


From: <RABIGRAF@...> (Shlom Grafstein)
Date: Wed, 08 May 1996 00:41:39 -0300
Subject: One Mikvah Post-Menopause

One cannot overstress the significance of doing a mitzvah with the right
intention.  I believe that a woman who has had her period stop years
before and needs one immersion should go to a mikveh.  I was referring
to a previous question of a daughter wanting the purity of immersion of
her mother.  If the mother was hestitant to go and there is honour
involved and the mother had already "immersed" by way of swimming, then,
why "push a mother into the water".  The mitzvah of honouring a parent
is so great, that if the mitzvah of mikveh was done inadvertently, then
Mazel Tov, the bubbah is tohor and leave it be.
 I had asked Rav Dovid Feinstein about the question of a brachah for a
woman who inadvertently did go swimming in a natural lake.  Rav Dovid
said that she should say the brachah when she goes to a mikveh because
this is the tikkun chachomim.  Yes, we should encourage mikveh, but
there is a reality of someone who did swim and therefore even someone
from a non- observant cannot be considered the offspring of
niddah-coitus.  See the Hebrew introduction of Rabbi Shimon Eider's book
on Hilchot Niddah vol. I.  I hope that you understand that I am in
agreement with you.  In Halifax, our synagogue clergy do not perform a
wedding ceremony unless the bride does go to our mikvah.  We provide
educational material such as a video (from Montreal) Sanctity of the
Jewish Marriage.
 Sincerely yours,
Shlom Grafstein
(902) 423-7307 (home)
p.s. I started to look seriously for new position.  I am
leaving Halifax July.  Thank you.


From: <philiph@...> (Philip Heilbrunn)
Date: Wed, 8 May 1996 16:13:53 +1000 (EST)
Subject: Rabbi for Wellington, New Zealand

Rabbi - Wellington New Zealand

The Wellington Hebrew Congregation is seeking a Rabbi

We are seeking a dynamic Rabbi able to reach out to a diverse membership
ranging from strictly observant Orthodox to those whose connection to
their Jewish roots is only occasional, from the youth to the elderly and
to families.  This position presents a unique opportunity and challenge
for a Rabbi who wishes to make his mark and make a real and constructive
difference to the quality of Jewish life for an entire community.

The Rabbi should have a deep feeling for imparting traditional Jewish
teachings and commitment enhancing Jewish consciousness.

The Rabbi is the spokes person and religious representative of the
Jewish community to the broader New Zealand Society and would be
expected to present himself at that level.

Skills as a Baal Tephillah, Baal Koreh, speaker and communicator as well
as the ability to conduct an inspiring dignified synagogue service are

The ability to do Shechitah would be an advantage, but is not essential.

Wellington is the Capital City of New Zealand and centre of government
and commerce. It is beautifully situated. The Jewish community consists
of some 300 families and has a proud history going back over 150
years. The focus of Jewish life is centered around and attractive
complex housing the Synagogue, a Community hall, the Moriah Jewish
Kindergarten and the Moriah Jewish Day School, a Kosher products Co-op
and a Mikvah. All facilities are available for a totally Kosher

Wellington Hebrew Congregation
80 Webb Street
New Zealand

FAX NO. 64 4 384 5081
President's home phone/fax  64  4 479 2950

Thank you

(Rabbi) Philip Heilbrunn
On Behalf of the Wellington Hebrew Congregation


End of Volume 23 Issue 92