Volume 26 Number 50
                      Produced: Tue May 13 19:54:23 1997

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Kael Maleh Rachamim at end of Shiv'ah
         [Yisrael Medad]
Live and Recorded Music vis-a-vis Sefirah
         [Shlomo Katz]
R. Haym Soloveitchik's Tradition article
         [Arnold Lustiger]
Seder Pesach night
         [Saul Mashbaum]
         [Sheva and Tzadik Vanderhoof]


From: <isrmedia@...> (Yisrael Medad)
Date: Fri,  9 May 97 02:57:39 PDT
Subject: Kael Maleh Rachamim at end of Shiv'ah

My mother, o"h, Lily Winkelman, passed away the Wednesday after Pesach.
She was buried at Shiloh, in the Samarian Hills, where I live and the
family sat "shiv'ah" with us.  On the seventh day, which was Rosh
Chodesh, we went down the hill to the kever.  My father remembered that
on Rosh Chodesh one does not say the Kael Maleh Rachamim but Rav Navon,
who happened to come to make up the minyan and is Sefaradi, insisted
nevertheless that it be said.

What occured to me in relation to this was that after sitting for a week
and going over the Gesher HeChayim and P'nei Baruch, one conclusion is
that the rituals for bereavement are probably the most lenient, and of
"custom" and should be that way.

Even if he might have been off, the feeling was better appreciated that
we did say it.

Yisrael Medad
E-mail: isrmedia


From: Shlomo Katz <skatz@...>
Date: Tue, 13 May 1997 10:39:49 -0400
Subject: Live and Recorded Music vis-a-vis Sefirah

In Vol. 26 # 47, Elie Rosenfeld asked about poskim that make a
distinction between live and recorded music vis-a-vis sefirah.  See
Shvut Yaakov (I think that's the name) by Rav Breisch, who was a posek
in Switzerland.

Along the same lines of a gezeirah applying only according to the
conditions that existed at the time of the gezeirah, see Mikraei Kodesh
of Rav Zvi Pesach Frandk (Pesach Vol.in the chapter dealing with
counting the Omer while traveling), where Rav Z.P.'s grandson says that
in Sweden they break the 17th Tammuz fast at 9:30 when its still light
because at the time when the Bet Hamikdash was destroyed, no Jews lived
in places where night came later than 9:30.

Similarly, the prohibition of "Stam Yeinam" does not apply to beer and
hard liquor even though those are the social drinks of choice nowadays.


From: <alustig@...> (Arnold Lustiger)
Date: Tue, 13 May 1997 11:59:33 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: R. Haym Soloveitchik's Tradition article

I had submitted a posting two years ago (when this article first appeared)
which summarized what I felt were the most compelling portions. Since I
believe that the issues that Dr. Soloveitchik raises are so critical to an
understanding of the sociological realities of Orthodoxy today, I thought I
would repost it for those who have not read the article, with some
concluding thoughts.

The publication of any article by any Soloveitchik is a major
event. This is particularly true of a lengthy article which just came
out in Tradition called:" Rupture and Reconstruction: The Transformation
of Contemporary Orthodoxy". The article is a sociological analysis of
Orthodoxy in the postwar world. The bulk of the article contrasts the
transfer of religious information in the previous generations, when it
was done "mimetically" (i.e. through imitation) versus today, when the
information is transmitted through the written word. Using this basic
thesis, he explains the ascendance of Yeshivot, Da'as Torah, Artscroll,
the shift towards more stringent observance, and a host of other
sociological realities in the Orthodox world. The article is quite
objective, and gives no value judgements. I would therefore heartily
recommend it to anyone on mail.jewish.

The final section of the article just blew me away. In it he first
contrasts Yamim Noraim in the largely nonobservant synagogue in which he
grew up versus Yamim Noraim at a "famous yeshiva" in Bnai Brak.
Although prayer in the latter was "long, intense and uplifting,
certainly far more powerful than anything that [he] had previously
experienced", yet "something was missing". He then describes how in his
synagogue in Boston the congregants were largely irreligious, most
originally from Eastern Europe. "What had been instilled in these people
in their earliest childhood was that every person was judged on Yom
Kippur, and as the sun was setting, the final decision was being
rendered...these people cried...not from religiousity but from self
interest, an instinctive fear for their lives...what was absent among
those thronged students in Bnei Brak was that primal fear of Divine
judgement, simple and direct".

Dr. Soloveitchik then continues to explain that while today a curious
child may be told that diseases come from viruses, in yesteryear he
might have been told that they are the "workings of the soul or "G-d's
wrath". "These causal notions imbibed from the home are reinforced by
the street and refined by the school." "G-d's palpable presence and
direct, natural involvement in daily life - and I emphasize both
'direct' and 'daily'... was a fact of life in the East European shtetl."

His most subjective statement, and his most powerful, lies in the

"...while there are always those whose spirituality is one apart from
that of their time, nevertheless I think it safe to say that the
perception of G-d as a daily, natural force is no longer present to a
significant degree in any sector of modern Jewry, even the most
religious. ...individual Divine Providence, though passionately believed
as a theological principle...is no longer experienced as a simple
reality. With the shrinkage of G-d's palpable hand in human affairs has
come a marked loss of His immediate presence, with its primal fear and
nurturing comfort. With this distancing, the religious world has been
irrevocably separated from the spirituality of its fathers...

"It is this rupture...that underlies much of the transformation of
contemporary Orthodoxy. Zealous to continue traditional Judaism
unimpaired, religious Jews seek to ground their new emerging
spirituality less on a now unattainable intimacy with Him, than on an
intimacy with His Will, avidly eliciting Its intricate demands and
saturating their daily lives with Its exactions. Having lost the touch
of His presence, they seek now solace in the pressure of His yoke."


I recently discussed the article with my father, a Holocaust survivor
from Poland.  He found the thesis most compelling, and gave me two
examples of how our generation has lost touch with the sense of G-d's

Parnassa, the quest for a livelihood, used to evoke religiously powerful
emotions as one fervently prayed for sustenance for both himself and his
family. To get a sense of what these feelings were like, one need only
peruse a "Kol Bo" machzor on Yom Kippur and read the Yiddish and Hebrew
supplications throughout davening, but especiall within Kedusha and
Avinu Malkenu, all addressed to issues of parnassa. In contrast, the
sense that Parnassa continually comes from G-d seems to be nonexistent
today, especially among those with professional degrees and within the
context of an extended runup in the bull market.

The second example he used was the experience of sending a loved one to
a hospital to treat an illness. Even in the case of a terminal illness,
one's first thoughts in our society are of the highly technological
medical options to treat the illness. Only later does the necessity to
recite Tehillim enters ones consciousness, almost as an afterthought.
In Eastern Europe, the Tehillim and the Bracha from the Chassidishe
Rebbe were paramount.

Dr. Soloveitchik's father, the Rav zt'l, would continualy lament the
lack of a consiousness among contemporary Jews that one stood "lifnei
Hashem" (before G-d) on Yom Kippur. In his 1973 Teshuva drasha, the Rav
said that One must feel the emotional pull of the Ribono Shel Olam: or,
as William James put it, "the presence of the Unseen". The Rav said that
based on his own personal experience, the encounter with G-d is
eminently possible. One must not only believe in Hashem: man must feel
His hand supporting his head during times of emotional turmoil.
Potential ba'alei teshuva seek the emotional experience of hearing the
whisper of Hashem. The experience involves the very real perception of
contact, communication and dialogue.  The Rav indicated that without
this feeling of the very real presence of Hashem seven years earlier,
when he lost his mother, brother and especially his wife in the same
year, he would not have been able to maintain his emotional equilibrium.

Yet, there is one critical point upon which the Rav and his son
apparently disagree. While Dr. Haym Soloveitchik apparently looks upon
the reliance on texts as a poor substitute for the "lifnei Hashem"
experience, the Rav viewed learning as the primary means for regaining
the experience itself.  The Rav said that his own perception of G-d's
proximity was particularly strong during the study of Torah; while
poring over the opinions of Abaye and Rava, the Rav sensed the presence
of Hashem with him in the room. In the 1976 Teshuva drasha, the Rav
expressed the hope that perhaps through the discussion of the Halakhic
status and significance of Erev Yom Kippur, the audience could begin to
appreciate the intense emotional feeling that surrounded the day itself.
Instead of a gulf, there is a definite nexus from Halakhic legalism to
emotional experience.

In a similar sense, Reb Shmuel Kamenetsky Shlit'a, the Rosh Yeshiva in
Philadelphia, would say that one could gauge how well a bochur learned
at night seder by how well he davened Ma'ariv afterward...

Arnie Lustiger


From: Saul Mashbaum <mshalom@...>
Date: Tue, 13 May 1997 14:44:16 GMT-2
Subject: Seder Pesach night

As many MJ-er's know, Dr. Israel Rivkin and Josh Rapps publish a weekly
email digest of shiurim the Rov, Rav Yosef Dov Halevi Soloveichik, gave
in the '70's in Moriah synagogue in New York.  The one they mailed out
for Pesach this year starts (with minor editing by me):

> The Rov noted that the Rambam (Hilchos Chametz Umatzah 8:1) refers to
>"Seder Assiyas Mitzvos Aylu" (the order of performing these Mitzvos)
>when referring to the order in which one fulfills the Mitzvos of the
>night of Pesach. The term "Seder" clearly applies to the topics
>discussed in the previous chapters in Hilchos Chametz Umatzah, where
>the Rambam mentions the obligation to eat Matzah, Marror, to relate the
>story of Yetzias Mitzrayim, Charoses, the 4 cups.
>The Gemara does not mention the term Seder connection with the
>obligations of the night.
>The Rambam also uses the term Seder in connection with the Mitzvos that
>were performed on Yom Kippur. Now there is no doubt that if the Kohen
>Gadol performs any part of the Yom Kippur service out of the specified
>order he disqualifies the entire process. The Rov raised the question
>as to whether the term Seder, when used in connection with Pesach, also
>stipulates a specific obligatory order to follow.

The Rov went on to give a halachic shiur in which he analyzes several
questions about the status of one who performed the mitzvot of the night
of Pesach out of order. In most cases the order in which the mitzvot
were performed does make a difference.

Thus we see that according to the Rov, the term Seder, not found in the
Gemara in this context but used by the Rambam, has important halachic

Saul Mashbaum


From: Sheva and Tzadik Vanderhoof <stvhoof@...>
Date: Tue, 13 May 1997 22:52:34 +0300
Subject: Yibum

I would like to know if anyone out there has any knowledge of the
practice, if any, of the mitzvah of yibum in our times.  I seem to
remember hearing that at least some communities continue to practice it.

I also would like to know, from someone familiar with the topic, what
the reason is for its being generally discontinued.  The Shulchan Oruch
cites both opinions of the Gemara, namely (a) that yibum is preferred
over chalitzah and (b) that chalitzah is preferred over yibum and seems
to side with (a).  Also, even according to (b), it would not be
*required* to do chalitzah, only preferred.  However, I get the
impression that, among most communities, it is thought of as totally
*forbidden* to do yibum, which does not seem to fit in with either
opinion of the Shulchan Oruch.  What *is* the current halachic
status...if both parties wanted to do yibum, would it be actually

Lastly, I would like to hear explained what the reasoning is of the
opinion in the Gemara (Abba Shaul) that chalitzah is preferred.  I've
heard several people tell me that Abba Shaul holds that if someone
performed yibum without 100% intention for the mitzvah he would be
violating the (incest) prohibition against cohabiting with one's
sister-in-law.  This had always bothered me...is it possible that the
Torah would expect human beings to have relations without any intention
of pleasure or any other intention except for the mitzvah?  And if only
exceptional people are capable of this, why would the Torah command it?
Aren't all the Torah's commandments supposed to be within reach of any
Jew?  This seems to me to be an important "hashkafa" point which goes
beyond the subject of yibum.  That's the main reason why I'm interested
in a convincing explanation.

However, someone apparently more knowledgable in this told me that the
above is an erroneous (although common) understanding of Abba Shaul's
opinion and that, since the Torah allowed the cohabition in the case of
yibum, there is no way that it could be considered an incest violation,
no matter what the man's intention.  In addition, according to this last
person, as long as his intention was at least partly for the mitzvah,
even the intention would be acceptable.  However, he was not able to
satisfactorily explain to me why, then, it would be forbidden to perform
yibum in our times.

Anyone able to offer any further illumination on this subject?


End of Volume 26 Issue 50