Volume 29 Number 90
                 Produced: Tue Oct 26  6:41:09 US/Eastern 1999

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Alternatives to marriage
         [Gitelle Rapoport]
Chumra or Ikar hadin
         [Carl Singer]
Chumra or Ikar hadin/ Previous Generations
         [Moshe Feldman]
Leap of Faith
         [Binyomin Segal]
Titles for Aliyot
         [Yisrael Medad]
Valid and Invalid Marriage
         [Idelle Rudman]


From: Gitelle Rapoport <giteller@...>
Date: Wed, 22 Sep 1999 15:55:33 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: Alternatives to marriage

"Yasher koach" to Isaac Zlochower and Paul Shaviv for pointing out that
this discussion is intimately connected to the agunah problem. As for a
ketubah providing any "protection" to the woman today, I have been told
that most batei din routinely ask the wife in a get proceeding to waive
the amount of her ketubah (whatever that amount is, which is itself a
sticky question), supposedly because it is assumed that she will receive
some type of alimony from her ex-husband anyway (which may or may not be
true). Could someone please clarify whether that is indeed the case; and
if so, at least as far as protecting women post-divorce is concerned,
doesn't that make the ketubah an essentially meaningless document?

Gitelle Rapoport


From: Carl Singer <CARLSINGER@...>
Date: Wed, 22 Sep 1999 22:29:22 EDT
Subject: Chumra or Ikar hadin

I'm not prepared to discuss issues such as textualism on a scholarly
level; I do want, however to provide some related observations.

1) The fall of the shtut rav (City / community Rabbi) and of community 
 It used to be people went to their shule Rabbi with shaylehs -- and
accepted the answers (period.)  Today, many young balabatim when they
have a shyleh go directly to their Rosh Yeshiva (or phone) for
resolution or site multiple sources as they "self-paskin."  Rather than
relaying on their shule's Rabbi (who if "stumped" can, in turn, go to
his Rosh Yeshiva or Posek.) This direct access, skirts local standards
and undermines local authority.  I believe on previous occasions, I've
told my tales of Roshei Yeshiva who referred shaylahs to the local
(shule) Rav to enforce the "community standard" issue.

2) I would refute the notion that Rabbaim paskened "easier" in the 50's
because that's all that the people would accept.  I believe my parent's
generation had a much stronger tie to their Rabbi' and didn't go
"shopping around" for other opinions.

3) Just like the issue of "is the chicken kosher" is partly subjective
and depends on the means of the owner; so too it takes greater knowledge
to be lenient.

4) It seems that the more senior (age and / or position) Rabbaim tend to
be less concerned (or not at all concerned) about how their rulings will
refect upon themselves; only on the Halacha.  There tends to be a
grading scheme in place today.  Rabbi X permits such and such; Rabbi Y
told me it was treif.  You can't trust Rabbi Z, he eats permits Cholov
Stam ....

5) There seems to be much more pressure nowadays to conform, especially
among young BT's, etc.  -- I'm not a socialogist, just an observer of
the frum clones.

Chuneh Avrum Singer


From: Moshe Feldman <MFeldman@...>
Date: Wed, 22 Sep 1999 13:40:28 -0400
Subject: RE: Chumra or Ikar hadin/ Previous Generations

David I. Cohen <BDCOHEN613@...> wrote:

>[Moshe Feldman wrote:]
 >>Instead of labeling this a move to the right, I would label this as part
> >>of the ascendancy of textualism over the mimetic tradition.  (See
> >>Dr. Hayim Soloveitchik's article in Tradition regarding this issue.)
> Is this a positive development? That certainly was not the tenor of
> Rav Chayim's article. 

Let me clarify: I do not, in the main, consider textualism to be a
positive development.  My point was primarily to distinguish textualism
from a "move to the right."  The latter implies a deliberate attempt to
engage in chumrot.  The former, by contrast, does not necessarily have
any agenda (though it may result in greater stringency).

With regard to the particular example of tzniut, I believe that the
mimetic "tradition" is subject to a lot of outside-world influence.
Certainly, it's clear that 18th century tzniut was very modest by
comparison to our own day.  I don't really believe that beach-going and
mixed dancing can really be considered part of a mimetic tradition as
these practices arose among Orthodox Jews (AFAIK) in the 20th century.

In any case, I believe that while the mimetic tradition is important, it
is important to consider why the Mishna Brurah and others attacked
it--in the 20th century many non-halakhic practices were masquerading as
mimetic tradition.  Sometimes even the staunchest defenders of the
mimetic tradition, such as the Arukh HaShulchan, will "go back to the

Also, one might distinguish between the tzniut of the 50's and 60's and
that of today with regard to the mimetic/textual divide.  Until the mid
60's, general American culture was much more tzanu'a than it is today.
TV and movies were not full of sexual innuendos, etc.  In such a society
it made sense for the Jewish people to continue doing what they had done
for thousands of years in many cultures--dressing like the "natives."
By the late 60's it was clear that the sexual revolution was in full
swing and that American society could never serve as a model for tzniut.
At the point, mimetics was thrown out the window and textualism became
the rule.  Once the textual method entered into use, it not only stemmed
the tide of the sexual revolution but also reinvestigated practices
common in the 50's and 60's.  My point: this was not a move to the right
but a natural outgrowth of textualism, the advent of which was a
necessity in the realm of tzniut.

> Saying that the Gedolim in the 50's and 60's took less stringent opinions
> because Orthodoxy was not strong at the time is just theoretical
> apologetics. 

Obviously it's very difficult to prove this issue (and of course, each
Gadol was different).  Nevertheless, al regel achat here are some

1.  As I was born in 1966, I do not have first-hand experience of the
50's and 60's.  The following comes from my father, Dr. Louis H. Feldman
(b. 1926 in Hartford CT and a member of the YU faculty since 1955):
Rabbi Hurwitz, one of the great halachic authorities of the early part
of the century (died around 1938) (as an aside, Rav Hershel Schachter
told me that R. Hurwitz was considered by Rav Soloveitchik to have had
greater powers of halakhic reasoning that did R. Moshe Feinstein), had a
very defeatist attitude.  Orthodoxy was losing and was feared to be "on
the way out."  R. Hurwitz was the author of one of the few tshuvot
justifying the practice of women not covering their hair (see R. Michael
Broyde's article on this topic).

2.  Post WWII was a great turning point--the immigrants (as opposed to
the majority of immigrants from 1881-1926) refused to compromise.  In
addition, there was a change from a six day to a five day work week.
Until that point, many Sabbath-observing individuals had forgo most
jobs, or take jobs from which they would be fired on Friday because they
would not show up on Shabbat.  R. Elazar M. Teitz of Elizabeth told me
that when his father, R.  Pinchas Teitz came to Elizabeth, there were
even talmidei chachamim who would work on Shabbat--those people refused
to drink their own wine!  If you had a congregation of largely
mechalelei Shabbat, would you insist on all the minutiae of hilchot
borer [laws prohibiting selecting on Shabbat]?

3.  By comparison to modern Orthodox shuls of today: I grew up in the
Young Israel of Forest Hills, a modern Orthodox shul the majority of
whose members are shomer Shabbat.  Since the early 80's, the rabbi has
been R. Feivel Wagner, who is relatively "yeshivish" (having learned in
the Mir Yeshivah) and is considered on the right wing of Young Israel
rabbis.  R. Wagner has increased the level of dikduk b'mitzvot
[compliance with the letter of the law] among some of his congregants
though the majority clearly remain mod-O.  To my knowledge, he has never
preached from the pulpit the requirement for women to cover their hair
or not wear mini-skirts (way above 2 inches from the knee), both of
which he sees every Shabbat.  Presumably, he believes that preaching
from the pulpit would not help and might alienate some people.  Though
the comparison to my claim re the 50's and 60's is not exactly on point
(since there the performance of certain mitzvot in a lenient fashion was
legitimized by rabbinic authorities), there is a strong analogy from a
psychological perspective.

I would also like to clarify my position with regard to what Meir
Shinnar wrote: I would distinguish between behavior condoned by the
gedolim and behavior engaged in by the gedolim themselves.  If gedolim
went to the beach or the opera, it means that they thought it
permissible.  I was disagreeing primarily with Deborah Wenger's
examples, which were practices of the hamon 'am [the common people]
*allowed* by gedolim.

I agree with Meir Shinnar, and I think it is important to use e-mail to
disseminate knowledge of these gedolim's practices before the
information disappears.

> It is just as
> credible to say that maybe the Gedolim of that era were not as afraid of
> being vilified for taking more lenient halachic positions on issues. And
> lest one think that it's fantasy, just look at what happens to any Rav
> today who takes any lenient positions,--- the vituperative rejections
> and rhetoric issue forth instead of respect differing positions within
> the halachic framework. 

This is circular and does not prove your point.  Perhaps the reason than
a rav today is vilified for approving leniencies is that there is a
consensus that the Orthodox of today are more observant and willing
accept ikar hadin [following the letter of the law, no more, no less].

Moreover, generally the "viturperative rejections" are issued with
respect to halakhic lightweights (Rabbi Rackman comes to mind--he has
differed with the *entire* halakhic world on the issue of akirat
kiddushin [uprooting marriages without a Get]), not respected
authorities, such as Rav Lichtenstein, who ten years ago proposed
joining with the Conservative with regard to a bet din for conversion;
he was disagreed with, but by and large respectfully.

Kol tuv,


From: Binyomin Segal <bsegal@...>
Date: Wed, 22 Sep 1999 14:30:34 -0500 (CDT)
Subject: Leap of Faith

 Isaac A Zlochower said something - really as a tangent, which struck a
cord with me. perhaps this is a good time to get feedback.

  * If it takes a leap of faith to bind ourselves to a marriage
  * partner, so does it take to accept the idea of a caring G-D or the basic
  * accuracy of the transmitted torah.  We live by faith as well as reason.

I have a hard time using both the term and concept "leap of faith" in
discussions of Jewish thought. Keirkegard may have been a brilliant man,
but I do not think he understood what Jewish thought suggests about the

As I understand the Akeidah, it is not about blind faith, but rather
about TRUST. Trust is not irrational. Trust is something that is
earned. It is rational to trust a long time friend. I see that God
provided all my needs, etc. if this seems difficult I can defer
understanding because I know (from past experience) that God is on my

This distinction between blind faith and earned trust is - I believe -
crucial. In my understanding God and Judaism NEVER demand faith, rather
the demand is for trust. "I am the God who took you out of Egypt"
therefore trust me.

{Similarly, I would worry about a marriage that is based on faith.
Marriage should be based on trust. But that is not really the thrust of
my point}

Comments anyone?



From: Yisrael Medad <isrmedia@...>
Date: Wed, 22 Sep 1999 22:06:05 +0200
Subject: Titles for Aliyot

Re: Aviva Fee writing -
>I ask one gabai and he said that people must be called up with titles.
>Is there indeed such a halacha or inyan to be called up with a title?

I can relate from my experience in connection with the question that the
great-grandson of Shimshon Rafael Hirsch, Dr. Yeshayhu Bar-Or, lives
here in Shiloh.  His father, Yaakov Breuer, the grandson of SRH, when he
visits, is always called up as "Hechaver" as a mark of respect.  Whether
or not titles are obligatory I couldn't say.

Yisrael Medad


From: Idelle Rudman <rudmani@...>
Date: Wed, 22 Sep 1999 10:25:01 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Valid and Invalid Marriage

The positions of Rav Henkin, ZTZ"L and Rav Feinstein, ZTZ"l were
diametrically oppossed. The former looked upon any cohabitation where
publicly acknowledged, as kiddushin.  Therefore a get was required.  Rav
Feinstein took the position, stated in the most simple fashion, that
where there was no kiddushin according to halakha, and the possibility
of obtaining a get was impossible, then the question of kiddushin was
nullified by the informality and lack of validity according to halakha.
This view has become dominant in light of today's circumstances.

Interestingly, a major posek, whose name shall remain anonymous, decries
the issue of having valid kiddushin where the couple are not observant,
and have no intention of living a life of observing halakha.  Therefore,
if the marriage should fail, there would be no real problem in a
remarriage according to the p'sak of R. Feinstein.  Because of the
controversial nature of this suggestion, he and others who think the
same, and there have been many over the years, have not gone public.

Idelle Rudman, MLS, MA, Librarian		    tel: 212-213-2230 x119 
Touro College, Women's Division                     fax: 212-689-3515
Graduate School of Jewish Studies	            <rudmani@...>
160 Lexington Avenue, New York, NY  10016


End of Volume 29 Issue 90