Volume 24 Number 23
                       Produced: Fri May 31 19:11:30 1996

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

How many blessings can intervene before you eat or drink something?
         [Jay F Shachter]
my cousin Sid
         [Jay F Shachter]


From: <jay@...> (Jay F Shachter)
Date: Mon, 27 May 1996 20:23:43 -0500 (CDT)
Subject: How many blessings can intervene before you eat or drink something?

A few weeks ago I returned to one of my favorite puzzles, which is to
figure out the maximum number of benedictions which may intervene
between reciting a benediction over food and consuming said food.

If you approach this problem the conventional way, you start out with
Qiddush on a festival eve which falls on Friday night.  Since Qiddush
is also Havdala, you get the benedictions over wine, and then the
sanctity of the day, the overlapping flames, the separation between
holy and secular, and the seasonal benediction.  That's five.  If you
make the festival Sukkot, then you say the benediction over dwelling
in the Sukka before you drink the wine, and that's six benedictions

This is all easy stuff, and so far it is no challenge.  Let's make the
wine out of grapes which are a fourth-year crop, or Truma.  In either
case there is an additional commandment involved in consuming the wine,
so there is another benediction (e.g., in the latter case, "...asher
qiddshanu biqdushato shel Aharon vtsivvanu le'ekhol truma" (would you
say "lishtot truma" if you were drinking wine?  -- interesting
question).  Now we're up to seven.

Time for some creativity.  You have no wine.  You're saying Qiddush over
bread.  The bread is not only Truma, but it is also Qodshim (it's still
Sukkot, so maybe it's matza bread, or maybe it's a thanksgiving
offering).  Now not only do you say "...asher qiddshanu biqdushato shel
Aharon vtsivvanu le'ekhol truma" but you also say "...asher qiddshanu
biqdushato shel Aharon vtsivvanu `al 'akhilat qodshim".  We're up to
eight benedictions.  This eighth one hinges on whether you can say
Havdala on bread, but you can.

I don't see a way past eight benedictions in this direction, so a few
weeks ago I considered a different approach.  You start out with the
seven benedictions of the ceremony over the consummation of a marriage.
You do the trick with the wine being Truma, so that brings you up to
eight, easy.  The question is, can you use this approach to get past
eight?  You don't get married over bread, so forget the bread.  I feel
it would be cheating to marry these two people on the intermediate days
of Sukkot.  I know you can get married even on the first day of Sukkot,
in the sense that the marriage is legal if done on that day, but it is
the Jewish practice not to get married even on the intermediate days of
a festival unless you have a darn good reason.  I don't want to give
these people a darn good reason; I feel it would be forcing things.  And
you don't get married over qiddush wine or havdala wine or
Exodus-story-telling wine.

Let's take the focus off the wine, and think about the marriage.  The
idea that intrigued me was to make the bridegroom the High Priest.  Now,
the High Priest is an interesting fellow, in that, as far as I know, he
is the only person in the world who actually has a commandment to marry.
Jewish men don't have a commandment to marry.  They have a commandment
to procreate, and there are other commandments which prohibit sexual
contact except with your wife (I know I'm simplifying terribly.  Leave
me alone.), but if, through ignorance of the law, you innocently
impregnate a total stranger, twice, once for a boy and once for a girl,
you have fulfilled your obligation to procreate and you have no further
obligation to marry.  If your only brother dies childless, you have an
obligation to take one of his wives, but even here there is no
obligation to marry anyone.  You just have to take one of his wives.

Since the High Priest has a commandment to marry, does he recite a
benediction on this commandment when he does?  If he does, and if the
wine is Truma (it probably would be, it's cheaper) then we might have
nine benedictions and not eight.  What would be the wording of a
benediction over a commandment that only the High Priest performs?  Does
he still say, "...asher qiddshanu biqdushato shel Aharon...", or does he
say, "...asher qiddshani biqdushato shel Aharon..."?

(Incidentally, it was not the reading of Parashat Qdoshim a few weeks
ago that set me to thinking about this.  Actually, it was the discussion
about the conjoined twins.  See if you can follow my train of thought.)

I'm not sure I have nine benedictions, though, even if the High Priest
does say a special benediction when he fulfills his commandment.  The
question is, What exactly is the High Priest's obligation?  Is his
commandment to consecrate a marriage, or is his commandment to
consummate a marriage?  Those are two different things in Jewish law.
When you consecrate a marriage, you start out with only two
benedictions, but when you consummate a marriage you start out with

There is unfortunately some evidence that the High Priest's obligation
applies to the consecration and not to the consummation of a marriage.
The High Priest is commanded to marry a virgin, and our tradition
understands that to imply the inverse as well, that he may not marry a
woman who is not a virgin.  Suppose an ordinary priest consecrates a
marriage with a woman who is not a virgin, and then becomes the High
Priest.  The halakha is that this man who is now a High Priest may
proceed to consummate his marriage with this woman who is not a virgin.
Since there is no requirement in the Torah to consummate a marriage that
you have consecrated, it seems that the only way it could be possible
for the High Priest to consummate this marriage would be that his
obligation not to marry a non-virgin applies only to the consecration
aspect of marriage.  I welcome a refutation of this argument, though,
because I want to find a way to bring the benediction count up to nine.

			Jay F. ("Yaakov") Shachter
			6424 N Whipple St
			Chicago IL  60645-4111


From: <jay@...> (Jay F Shachter)
Date: Mon, 13 May 1996 06:02:28 -0500 (CDT)
Subject: my cousin Sid

A recent poster to mail-jewish discussed the case of a Jewish woman
petitioning a secular court for a divorce, and suggested that the
prohibition against doing so might be weaker in the diaspora, "where
you have to involve the secular courts", than in Israel.  This is both
incorrect and misleading, and to support my point, I am going to tell
you about my cousin Sid and his wife Esther.  I will use their real
names, because throughout all their actions they did not sin, nor did
they reproach God.

Esther Webster grew up in Chicago, the daughter of wealthy but pious
nursing-home owners.  When she came of marriageable age, she had to
decide, like all Jewish girls from Chicago, whether she would go to New
York to find a husband, or whether she would stay in Chicago and allow
the New York boys to come to her.

(The ubiquity of this phenomenon is what led Margaret Mead to conclude
mistakenly that Orthodox Jews are an exogamous society.  More recent
anthropologists, who have made more careful observations, have pointed
out the prevalence of marriages in which both partners are from New
York, as well as the fact that Chicago Jews never marry, e.g., Los
Angeles Jewesses.  The current consensus of the anthropological
community is that Mead was mistaken, and that the actual rule can be
stated as follows: In every Jewish marriage, at least one of the two
partners must be from New York.  Indeed, this rule is so codified in
the fourth chapter of Qiddushin, but the scientific community has
always considered such sources to be extrinsic, and unreliable.)

In New York Esther Webster met my cousin Sid Borenstein, and they
decided to get married.  Esther had in fact been living in New York
for a while, and had many friends there, and Sid had lived in New York
all his life, but Esther's parents were paying for the wedding, and
Esther's parents lived in Chicago, and that's where the wedding was
going to be.  Sid and Esther had made lives for their respective
selves in New York, and their help was not needed in arranging their
wedding, so they remained in New York until just a few days before the
wedding.  If memory serves (it's been a while), their wedding was on a
Sunday, and they flew in to Chicago on Friday.  They could have flown
in on Sunday (it would have meant another hour of fasting, though),
but there was some minimal business that they had to do in Chicago
before the wedding.  For example, they assumed that they would have to
get their marriage license in Illinois, since they were getting
married in Illinois.

Friday afternoon they went to the place where you get marriage
licenses, so they could get married the upcoming Sunday.  The clerk
asked Esther for her address, and she gave a New York address.  Then the
clerk asked Sid for his address, and he gave a New York address.  Then
the clerk asked Sid and Esther where they were going to live after
they got married.  They gave a New York address.  Sid and Esther are
honest people, by nature no less than by training, and they do not
lie.  At this point the clerk said that since they were clearly New
York residents, and not Illinois residents, they would have to get
their marriage license in New York, and not in Illinois.  I have no
idea whether this is the law, even though I live in Illinois now
(at the time, I lived in New York), but this is unquestionably what
the clerk said to them.

Now, you must recall that this was Friday afternoon, and the wedding
was all set for Sunday.  They couldn't go back to New York to get a
marriage license in time for their wedding.  So they decided that they
would get married in Chicago, according to the law of Moses and
Israel, even if not according to the law of Illinois, and that the
first thing they would do when they got back to New York would be to
get a marriage license.

(An interesting twist to this story is that fornication is against the
law in Illinois.  Not many people know this.  It is illegal in
Illinois to have sexual intercourse with a person to whom you are not
married.  I do not know how long Sid and Esther were in Chicago after
they got married -- I saw them again a few nights later at a Sheva
Brakhot celebration in New York -- but I know that they spent their
wedding night in Chicago.  One wonders about Dina D'Malkhuta Dina.

(I don't know whether Sid and Esther copulated on their wedding night,
but if you want to ask them I can give you their telephone number.

(How do I know about the Illinois fornication statute?  Well, there
was a case in the papers a little over a year ago, about a religious
Christian who had been successfully sued here for discrimination, for
refusing to rent an apartment to an unmarried couple.  You're probably
wondering what kind of damages there were that he could be sued for,
but the guy looking for the apartment was employed -- his pilegesh, at
the time, was not -- so the court made the landlord pay the guy for
the extra day the guy had to take off work to find an apartment.
Then, so it shouldn't be too small an amount, the court also made the
landlord pay the couple a huge amount of money for their
"embarrassment".  I picked up the paper at the time the case was being
appealed.  The lawyer doing the appeal pointed out that Illinois had a
fornication statute -- it was news to me -- so that by requiring this
landlord to rent to the unmarried couple, the lower court was
requiring him to aid and abet the commission of a crime.  But, as you
know, the American legal system has all sorts of rules that are
designed to make it impossible to prevail in the courts unless you
hire a lawyer.  Some of these rules deal with improprieties committed
by lower courts.  There are all sorts of improper things that can
happen, but unless you are on top of what's going on -- unless you
object to the improper evidence, and make offers of proof in response
to improper rulings, et cetera -- the appellate court will refuse to
redress the impropriety.  So I doubt that the landlord won his
appeal.  I understand that there are soi-disant God-fearing Jews who
are part of this American legal system.  Then again, there were also
God-fearing Egyptians.  They were the ones who brought their horses
into their stables before the plague of hail.)

The story gets better.  It turns out that after Sid and Esther got
back to New York, which as I mentioned was sometime during their first
week of marriage, they totally forgot about getting their marriage
license.  What can I say, it just slipped their mind completely.  Sid
told me that they didn't get their marriage license until half a year
later, when Esther was already a few months pregnant.  Then they
remembered that they weren't legally married.  I was delighted by the
story, and I told them to keep it that way, but they were
fuddy-duddies, and they went and got married by a justice of the peace
or something.  The point is that it is categorically not true, as
stated by the poster to whom I am responding, that in the diaspora a
woman who wants a divorce has to involve the secular courts.  Secular
law is secular law, and Jewish law is Jewish law, and we live our
lives according to Jewish law.

But there are implications of secular law that affect our lives,
because we also live subject to the police power of the state.  In
the United States, if your husband doesn't pay his taxes, then the
Internal Revenue Service, may their name and memory be erased, will
take away your inheritance.  If you divorce your husband in the
secular courts, then the IRS won't take away your inheritance.  You
cannot effect this change in legal status through action in the Jewish
court system.  The secular state will not recognize it.

This is unquestionably what the original poster meant when he said
that in the diaspora you have to go to the secular courts.  But his
statement was terribly misleading, and it must be clarified.  A person
unfamiliar with Jewish law might mistakenly think that it is
permissible to ask a secular court to decide questions of division of
property, or custody, or alimony, or child support, and of course it
is absolutely forbidden to do so.  These are all matters which can be
adjudicated in a Jewish court.  I hope that the original poster will
post a followup message, confirming that he agrees with the normative
Jewish position: anyone who sues his spouse for divorce in the secular
courts and asks for any relief whatsoever other than a dissolution of
the secular marriage -- in fact, any Jew who brings a cause of action
against another Jew in the secular courts, without first bringing the
case to a Jewish court (ex parte, if necessary) -- loses all future
standing in the Jewish court system.

			Jay F. ("Yaakov") Shachter
			6424 N Whipple St
			Chicago IL  60645-4111


End of Volume 24 Issue 23