Volume 28 Number 09
                      Produced: Sun Nov  1  8:51:00 1998

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Birkat Kohanim
         [Yisrael Medad]
Gabbai's woes
         [Schwartz Baruch]
Kashrut of Vitamins (2)
         [Josh Backon, Yitz Weiss]
Kavanah during Davening
         [Moshe Nugiel]
Kavonoh (concentration) during prayer
         [Bernard F. Kozlovsky]
Vitamins (Kasruth and Shabbath Use)
         [Russell Hendel]
Yesher Koach
         [h zabari]


From: <isrmedia@...> (Yisrael Medad)
Date: Thu, 29 Oct 1998 19:31:37 +0200
Subject: Birkat Kohanim

I thank Ezriel Krumbein (28:05)
He writes:
>The sefer Tifilah Kihilchasah by Rav Yitchak Yakov Fuchs 
>says that the akirat haraglayim must be in the direction of
>the Duchan [with washed hands] not the sink. 

The Mishnah Brurah at Siman 128, Sub-Paragraph 8, # 27 notes that the
Kohen first does an akirah (removing one's feet so as to move) before
the Retzeh prayer but that the principle akirah is in the direction of
the Duchan, in the Hebrew: "ra'ui lalot laduchan v'lachen ya'akru
ragleihem [first movement] litol yedeihem kodem retzeh uv'retzeh ya'akru
[second movement] leilech lamakom hamuchan l'duchnam".

I finally got to see our Rav (who is on a hunger strike in Jerusalem as
I noted) and although he said he would like to review sources, the
"cut-of" is not whether one washed before the Shatz began reciting V'al
Kulam, but whether the Kohen was moving towards the duchan in the Shul
hall by the end of the Techazenah blessing.

Yisrael Medad


From: Schwartz Baruch <Schwrtz@...>
Subject: Gabbai's woes

Being the gabbai of a large shul is always a challenge. Of course the
work is hard and time-consuming, and few congregants ever even think of
showing or expressing appreciation, or at least acknowledgment, or the
amount of labor and aggravation that goes into a single shabbat. But
that's not the big challenge in my experience. Rather it's the unending
stream of critical, often abusive comments to which one is subjected by
those who find it necessary to take issue with something -- or
everything. Often these are spontaneous reactions based on superficial
knowledge of the facts and first impressions only. Many times it is
simply impossible to share with the critic the considerations that have
led to a certain policy or decision, since they are confidential and
could lead to some other worshipper being embarrassed. Congregants
occasionally make remarks so scathing as to be painful, and there are
times when when I am at a complete loss how to respond (if at all). Here
are three recent examples of instances in which doing my job
unfortunately involved saying "no" to someone, thereby incurring the
other person's anger or causing him some pain, and ruining my own
shabbat too.

1. A congregant notified me that his reserved seat in the shul is
regularly grabbed by the same person every Friday night, leaving him to
hunt for unoccupied seats or stand in the aisle, even though he arrives
withing a reasonable time after the start of davening. Early one Friday
evening, as the regular seat snatcher repeated his weekly error, I
walked over and asked him to move up a row or to the left, where there
are unoccupied seats, in order not to take the permanent seat of a
person who was sensitive to this.  Later in the davening the "snatcher"
gave me a dressing down, accusing me of acting the part of a policeman
and finally announcing that he "can't daven in a shul

2. A youngster asked to say kabbalat shabbat on a Friday night (this is
occasionally allowed, though it is not the regular practice). Actually,
he asked on Friday, to be allowed to perform that very night, so time
was short.  Since he had never done so before and no one could vouch for
his ability, I could simply have told him to wait until we got around to
checking him out and helping him practice, but there was a time factor
involved (a family simcha that week). I invited him over to "try out",
but unfortunately his reading was quite full of errors that could not be
corrected by nightfall the same day, and I had to let him down. He, and
his father, were understanding, to their credit, but I know I
disappointed him.

3. A congregant with yarhzeit, quite familiar with the procedure in our
shul by which the gabbaim recite hazkarat neshamot at mincha on shabbat
for people with yahrzeit coming up, just as the gabbaim recite mi
sheberach for the sick when requested, attempted to squeeze his way past
the gabbaim and recite the prayer himself. It created an uncomfortable
moment and controversy afterward, on the procedural question of whether
individuals who are not satisfied with the prevailing custom in the shul
can deviate from it "by force" (too strong a word probably).

The common denominator in all three of the above (which are not alike, I
admit) is that it was necessary for me to assert myself in order to
uphold the honor of the congregation and the service, but the result was
I had to get into a confrontation with a friend and neighbor and/or
cause the person, and ultimately myself, some pain.

My appeal to worshippers wherever you are: Please have some more faith
in your elected/appointed synagogue officials. Often they make
last-minute judgment-calls, and even more often they act in accordance
with policy that was determined by their own higher ups. Very very
often, they cannot share with you or anyone the reasons for their
decisions without embarrassing someone. Try to find room in your hearts
to trust them, and make your comments and criticisms, in polite form,
after davening, in private.

Baruch Schwartz


From: <BACKON@...> (Josh Backon)
Subject: Re: Kashrut of Vitamins

We recently discussed the kashrut of medications at the medical halacha
SHIUR at the hospital. The ACHIEZER (Chelek Gimmel 31) allows (for a
choleh she'ein bo sakana) any medication that is derived from a
forbidden substance provided the substance has been chemically modified
or is *nifsal* (inedible). The Tzitz Eliezer (Chelek Vav 16; Chelek
Zayin 32:8) permits a choleh sh'ein bo sakana to take *any* medication
derived from an issur if the doctor so prescribed and that's why he also
permits the taking of a gelatin capsule (Chelek Yud 25:2).

Cadiologists now recommend the ingestion of B-complex (especially B-6
and folic acid) to prevent rise in homocysteine levels that are strongly
implicated in coronary artery disease.

Josh Backon

From: <YitzW@...> (Yitz Weiss)
Date: Fri, 30 Oct 1998 10:21:20 EST
Subject: Re: Kashrut of Vitamins

As a business owner with access to the oldest (and largest) vitamin
manufacturer in the US I'm constantly asked about vitamins and kashrut.
Naturally, one should consult their LOR, however I know that Rav Shimor
Eider says if vitamins are bitter to the taste (i.e. they don't taste
good) then no hechsher is necessary. The vitamins I take are all
natural, have no hechsher, and taste like dirt (tastes bad, heals
good!). I have been using them for several years and have found them
exceptional. To echo Jack Reiner I'll not advertise, but interested
parties can email me directly at <YitzW@...>

Yitz Weiss


From: Moshe Nugiel <friars@...>
Date: Fri, 30 Oct 1998 15:15:57 +0200
Subject: Kavanah during Davening


'Kavanah' = keeping one's awareness fixed upon what one is doing
'Davening' = daily prayers

	I would estimate, that in order for me to have proper Kavanah
during my morning davening, I would need about 2 hours to complete the
service.  Since I can devote only 30 - 45 minutes to my morning prayers,
I seem to be left with the following two choices: 1) Say all the stuff
that one is halachically mandated to say, but do it more quickly than I
feel is proper, i.e., say most of it without Kavanah.  2) Omit certain
portions of the accepted daily service, and say a significantly shorter
service, but with kavanah.

	A friend of mine with whom I discussed the problem says that
option 2), the one which I favor, would not fall within the bounds of
Orthodox Judaism.  However, I feel that I have a support from the
Shulchan Oruch, Orach Chiam 1:4 which states that it is better to say
less "Tachanunim" with Kavanah than more without Kavanah.  Although
'tachanunim' is usually translated as supplications, I believe that it
could also refer to davening in general. In any event, the Shulchan
Oruch recognizes the principle that less with kavanah is better, the
principle upon which option 2) is based.

	Any ideas?

Moshe Nugiel


From: Bernard F. Kozlovsky <bfk@...>
Date: Fri, 30 Oct 1998 7:37:55 -0500
Subject: Kavonoh (concentration) during prayer

	I recently experienced an episode during a Maariv (evening
prayer) minyan that leads me to wonder whether there is a point when one
may be inappropriately disturbing another's Kavonoh by his actions.
	First I wish to say that I am in awe of those who have such
Kavonoh that an observer can see the emotional meaning of each word of
the T'fillah (prayer) in their facial expressions and movement. My
recent decision to daven (pray) more often in such a minyan is due to my
attempts at improving my ability to pray with more intention and
	The concern I have is that there seem to be occasions when one's
Kavonoh may be at such an extreme as to disturb others. For example, I
recently was sitting next to someone who clearly was concentrating on
his T'fillah. At one point, during a 10 second span he banged his fist
with significant force into the empty space of wooden bench between
us. To say the least, this startled me and destroyed any concentration I
had at the time. Should I assume that he was not aware of his actions?
If not, should he have been aware that his dramatic action was
disturbing to others? Essentially, my question is whether this is an
appropriate expression of Kavonoh, despite the fact that it is
potentially disturbing to others.
	I would appreciate comments and opinions either privately or on


From: Russell Hendel <rhendel@...>
Subject: RE: Vitamins (Kasruth and Shabbath Use)

A related issue (to Kashruth of Vitamins) is whether you can consume
them on shabbath: The source of the question is the prohibtion against
taking medicine (for light diseases) on shabbath--so if vitamins are
classified as MEDICINE they are prohibited; if they are classified as
NUTRITION they are permitted.

I was told that Rav Moshe paskens that if you ROUTINELY take them then
they are nutrition and hence can be eaten on Shabboth. If you just start
to take them for a disease then they are prohibited.

With regard to eating I was told by a Rabbi that since the vitamins are
not food & don't have taste it is permissable to consume them
(Explanation: Biblical prohibitions of Kashruth require taste. When I
protested that >>But you can by Kosher ones<< I was told that >>it is
wrong to charge extra money when ordinary vitamins are perfectly good.<<

Some food for thought
Russell Jay Hendel; PHd ASA RHendel @ mcs drexel edu


From: h zabari <zbozoz@...>
Date: Fri, 30 Oct 1998 10:02:08 -0800 (PST)
Subject: Re: Yesher Koach

From: Zvi Weiss <weissz@...>

> The full sephardic "drill" is that the well-wisher states "Chazak
>Baruch Tihyeh" and the other fellow responds "Chazak Ve'ematz".

There are other communities other than Sepharadic that practice this
custom. In the Yemenite community (where handshaking is not customary
after an Aliya) the custom is for some of the community  to announce
Hazak once the reader has reached the end of reading his portion (it
is not customary in the Yemenite community to not read your own Aliya)
and prior to the young boy who is translating the Parasha begins the
last line.  As well, once the reader returns to his seat some of those
closer to the individual may say to him Hazak U'baruch to this he
answers Baruch Tihiye and not Hazak Ve'ematz. Rarely is Hazak U'Baruch
Tihiyeh said and not necessarily because it is shortened into Hazak

The custom of writing Hazak at the end of books of the Torah as well
as at the end of Poetry can be evidenced in Medieval manuscripts from
Spain all the way to Yemen and beyond. Hazak signifies an endpoint in
these writings. Why this was always written at the end of these works
merits further research. The usage of Hazak may have been used to
signify an endpoint in the reading and baruch may have had other
connotations? Perhaps, the original custom was that Hazak was said to
the reader upon completion of his reading so he would know where to
stop and after the final Beracha was recited he would answer Baruch
Tihiye? Or perhaps the entire Kehila would state Hazak U'Baruch Tihiye
entirely upon his completion? (less likely - then why would the
manuscripts only say Hazak?) 

It should be noted that the original custom as the Mishnah states in
Masechet Megillah was for one indevidual to read the entire Torah
portion with one Beracha prior and one post. Or perhaps with no
Berachot originally? Hazak may have been a comment people made
regarding his power to stand and recite the entire Portion? Also note
that a translation was said so that the time he was required to stand
was even lengthier? If no Beracha was said originally perhaps the
reader could answer immediately (after prompted with a Hazak) Baruch

Shabbat Shalom,


End of Volume 28 Issue 9