Volume 31 Number 11
                 Produced: Sat Jan 22 21:18:51 US/Eastern 2000

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

High schools and a mother's broken heart
         [Louise Miller]
Mayim Achronim (3)
         [Anthony S Fiorino, Joseph Geretz, Gershon Dubin]
Mi Sheberach for the Ill
         [Carl M. Sherer]
Praying with Sinners
         [Tszvi Klugerman]


From: Louise Miller <daniel@...>
Date: Fri, 21 Jan 2000 09:58:19 -0800
Subject: High schools and a mother's broken heart

Dear Friends,

There are no coincidences.

In the space of one week, I received an e-mail and read an article
written by two mothers with similar problems to one I will be facing in
a few years.

Both women have sons in 8th grade, good boys from religiously observant
families, and neither woman can get her son into high school for next
year.  One woman has a son with a slight learning disability.  (The
entire text of her story can be found in this past week's Jewish Press,
in Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis' column.

The other woman, "R", is an Internet buddy of mine, who has an
academically gifted son who suffers from ADD, hypotonia, and can't
manage to sit in a chair properly.  He also has fine motor and behavior
delays, as well as poor social skills.

"R" has been to several high schools in the NY/NJ area, and has been
turned away again and again, as was the woman who wrote to the Jewish
press.  "R" was finally told to send her son to public school, or to
dorm him away from home.  It seems that since he is gifted rather than
academically delayed, there is no place for him in his local high
school, and "R" is frantically calling high schools around NJ and NY
trying to get him in somewhere before admissions close.

These are kids who have been in yeshiva elementary schools their entire

My older son has similar challenges as "R"'s son, and since we live in
what some people perjoritively call "out-of-town," I expect that it will
be even harder for us when the time comes.

I'm not certain what I'm asking from all of you.  I just know that I
hurt for both of the mothers, and for my son as well.  In a time when so
many Jewish kids get no religious education whatsoever, two children
from yeshiva elementary schools are being treated like they don't
belong.  How dare these boys lower the averages and sully the images of
the fine schools that have turned them away!

Louise Miller
La Jolla (San Diego,) CA 


From: Anthony S Fiorino <fiorino_anthony@...>
Date: Wed, 19 Jan 2000 09:32:47 -0500
Subject: Mayim Achronim

Akiva Miller correctly observed:

>There seem to be two main driving forces behind Mayim Acharonim. I'm not
>sure which came first or which is more important, but they are (1) the
>health danger of allowing Sodom Salt to remain on the fingers, and (2)
>the importance of being clean when saying the Birkas Hamazon.
>All the rules and details of Mayim Acharonim seem to flow from one or
>the other or both of these principles . . .

He also asked:

>All the rules and details of Mayim Acharonim seem to flow from one or
>the other or both of these principles, except one -- avoiding any
>interruption between the washing and the benching.
> . . . .
>And if the main reason is to have clean hands, how does talking dirty

The issue of talking is a daat issue - talking is clearly established in
halacha as an act that distracts one's attention from the matter at hand
(in this case keeping one's hands from coming into contact with tumah
before praying). Talking doesn't dirty one's hands - its what happens
WHILE one is talking that dirties one's hands, or at least creates doubt
about that status of one's hands. Thus, keeping silent between mayim
achronim and bentshing has nothing to do with the sakanah arising from
Sodom salt.

>I do not understand why such an interruption is a problem. If the main
>reason for Mayim Acharonim is the Sodom Salt, then ideally, we should
>wash our hands after each time we use the salt, lest something
>unhealthy occur during the meal.

This is a critical point which I believe is a proof that the real
driving force between mayim achronim has nothing to do with sodomite
salt, and everything to do with the need to wash hands prior to tefilah.
If the salt is so dangerous, why would there be such a major sakanah
only after we eat? And once one has finished the meal without going
blind, why is there suddenly an obligation to wash one's hands before
blessing?  It just doesn't hang together logically.  Indeed, I would
expect that such a major sakanah would have simply resulted in the
outright banning of sodom salt by chazal.

>There is a mitzvah to wash hands for Shemoneh Esray also, but
>there is nothing wrong (as far as I know) with talking after that

It is not so clear to me that one is permitted to be mafseik after
washing prior to shemoneh esrei.  I would think exactly the opposite,
for the reason cited above - talking makes the washing a halachically
pointless act (since there is now a safeik about the status of one's

>Why should Birkas Hamazon be stricter than Shemoneh Esray?

Even if it is permitted to be mafseik prior to shemoneh esrei, the
argument that one is being stricter by being silent after mayim achronim
is a faulty one.  The question is, what is driving the chiuv for
washing?  One would not question keeping silent between washing netilat
yadayim and hamotzi on the grounds that one is being "stricter" about
hamotzi than about shemoneh esrei.

>MB 179:2, at the end, says that there is a machlokes
>whether one may eat after Mayim Acharonim, but that all agree talking is
>forbidden. I was surprised by that, since I would think that eating
>would be a bigger interruption than mere talking.

Not really . . . the food will not transmit tumah to one's hands.

>But he explains in Beur Halacha 179:7 that if one ate, he can repair that
>interruption by washing again and then benching immediately afterward. But >if
he merely talked, his hands are still clean, so washing won't accomplish
>anything, and he is left with an unfixable interuption between the Mayim
>Acharonim and the Birkas Hamazon.

At the risk of sounding critical, it is also clear to me that the MB is
simultaneously holding both positions.  Here he clearly holds b'shita
that we wash mayim achronim because of sodom salt (if you eat again, you
need to wash again because you've exposed yourself to sodom salt, and if
you talk, you don't need to wash because you've not re-introduced the
sakanah). Thus, the MB should also hold that one can talk after mayim
achronim, because talking does not cause one's hands to become
re-exposed to sodom salt.  But he throws in this hefseik issue which, as
we have clearly shown, is a daat issue related to avoiding tumah between
washing and praying.  Thus the MB is left with a novel construct - an
unfixable hefseik - that is not only illogical, but does not fall out
from EITHER reason for washing!

IMHO, the halachah is best served by holding b'shita one way or the
other with mayim achronim - either because of salt or because of tumah -
and then observing the halachah in a manner consistent with the reason.

-Eitan Fiorino

From: Joseph Geretz <jgeretz@...>
Date: Wed, 19 Jan 2000 18:55:27 -0500
Subject: Mayim Achronim

Kenneth G. Miller wrote:
> And if the main reason is to have clean hands,
> [for Benshing (Grace)] how does talking dirty them?

Talking would not dirty them, but it would cause a distraction period
during which his hands might get dirty, since he's not paying attention
to them.  This is parallel to the no-talking zone between washing and
making Hamotzi (blessing on bread). There too, talking would not dirty
the hands.  Nonetheless it is forbidden to engage in distracting
activities between washing and Hamotzi, and similarly, between Mayim
Acharonim and Benshing, according to the reasoning cited (to have clean
hands for Benshing).

Kol Tuv,

Joseph Geretz
Focal Point Solutions, Inc.

From: Gershon Dubin <gershon.dubin@...>
Date: Wed, 19 Jan 2000 22:13:28 -0500
Subject: Mayim Achronim

From: Kenneth G Miller <kennethgmiller@...>
<<principle which states "Samuch L'Netilah Bracha", "washing and blessing
are consecutive". This principle is applied to show that the Mayim
Acharonim washing should be followed immediately by the Birkas Hamazon
blessing. However, I have vague memories that this concept really refers
to another case, and was never really intended to apply to Mayim
Acharonim. Can anyone support or refute this? Where does the concept of
"Samuch L'Netila Bracha" originate?>>

	Brochos 42a.  Rashi says explicitly there that it means mayim
acharonim.  Rabbi Akiva Eiger brings a Midrash and Yerushalmi that it
means mayim rishonim (washing before meals) , and then asks from a
Tosfos in Sota which, it appears, refers to Birchas Kohanim (washing
hands before the priestly blessing).  He leaves off with a tzarich iyun
(it needs further research.)



From: Carl M. Sherer <cmsherer@...>
Date: Wed, 19 Jan 2000 15:07:13 +0200
Subject: Mi Sheberach for the Ill

Someone recently wrote:

> This entire dicussion of Mishabeirach seems rather typical to me of
> today's tendency in the Jewish world of building mountains out of
> molehills.  

I agree. It's amazing how much hostility can be generated by an extra
2-3 minutes spent in shul so that people can feel like they are doing
something helpful for someone who is seriously ill. Talk about making a
mountain out of a molehill!

> What makes a prayer rattled off by a (sometimes) not very
> thoughtful or learned gabbi any more effacious than one's personal
> sincere (and yes, brief) prayer for friend or loved one?

I don't think anyone argued that it was MORE efficacious. But given 
that making Mi Sheberach's is a long standing minhag b'yisroel 
(custom in Israel) I don't see why it occasions such complaints and 
hostility from some members of this list as if it is some sort of evil 
plot made up by people who maintain lists of hundreds of names 
just to keep you in shul for another two minutes every Shabbos.

> The custom of lengthy and communal Mishebeirach for the ill is a very
> new one 

It is? VERY NEW? Like just since the internet? I think you're way 
off base with that. See the Prisha OH 288:14, the Shaarei Tshuva 
(the Nosei Keilim - commentary - on the Shulchan Aruch, not 
Rabbeinu Yona of Geronda's) 288:13, Orchos Chaim 119, Aruch 
HaShulchan 288:2, Mishna Brura 288:28, Taamei HaMinhagim 353-
355. Most of those were around LONG before the internet....

and may even bring about a serious "sh'elah" of "tirchah
> d'tzibbur" ie.  testing the patience of the congregants by making what
> is often an already lengthy service even longer.  

So here we go "a serious shaila of tircha d'tzibbur." (Imposing on the
congregation). I think I've heard that line thrown out for everything
that someone doesn't like in shul from taking over 45 seconds for tfilla
b'lachash (silent Shmoneh Esrei) down to choirs.  Well, let's look at
some of the other things that take longer in shul on Shabbos that are
not halachically required. How about a chazan taking a long time singing
davening? How about shuls where every oleh makes a Mi Sheberach for his
entire family (without getting into the issue of whether he pays for it
or not)? How about shuls where the Rabbi gives a twenty minute drasha
every Shabbos?  Why aren't those things tircha d'tzibbur but the two
minutes spent davening for sick people are?

I think (although I cannot prove it - yet) that the answer is that
tircha d'tzibbur refers to an unexpected delay. If I choose to daven in
a shul where the Rabbi speaks for half an hour every Shabbos, I can't
complain it's tircha d'tzibbur. If I choose to daven in a shul with a
Chazan who makes an aria out of kdusha, I can't complain it's tircha
d'tzibbur. If I choose to daven in a shul where they give ten minutes
for tfilla b'lachash I can't complain it's tircha d'tzibur.  And if I
choose to daven in a shul where they spend 2-3 minutes making Mi
Sheberachs for cholim, I cannot complain that's tircha d'tzibbur
either. IOW - if you don't like the Mi Sheberachs, find another minyan.

One exception to that BTW. The Rama in OH 281 says specifically that
chazanim should not drag out davening on Shabbos because it ruins
people's oneg Shabbos by making the meal late. Indeed, the Mishna Brura
in 281:4 comes down quite hard on chazanim who repeat words and corrupt
their pronounciation whether or not it's Shabbos. Hmm. I guess we'll
have to wait for Motzei Shabbos for that concert :-)

As for me, I have made my choices. I daven in a minyan where there is no
Rabbi's sermon, no chazanim who schlep, 10-12 minutes for tfilla
b'lachash during the week, 5-8 on Shabbos. But we can make all the Mi
Sheberachs we want (BTW - I understand that there is one shul in
Mattersdorf that charges a Shekel per name). And we are finished by 8:15
on Shabbos morning in the winter, 6:45 in the summer. When I go
elsewhere for Shabbos and I find other people's davening habits
annoying, I pull out a sefer and try to ignore them rather than impose
my views on them. To me, that's basic.

Carl M. Sherer
mailto:<cmsherer@...>  or  mailto:sherer@actcom.co.il
Please daven and learn for a Refuah Shleima for my son, Baruch Yosef ben
Adina Batya among the sick of Israel.  Thank you very much.


From: Tszvi Klugerman <Klugerman@...>
Date: Wed, 19 Jan 2000 16:36:58 EST
Subject: Praying with Sinners

While catching up on some e-mail due to the snow we had recently,I
noticed that the thread of discussion seemed to leave out a point that
sticks with me since I first learned Masechet Berachot years ago.

I seem to to remember according to the Talmud, one of the essential
arguments of praying with a minyan and not praying at home, or even when
forced to pray at home without a minyan, to coordinate one's prayers
with the local minyan's prayers, was to mask one's own faults within the
tibbur, the greater community.

It would seem from this that we are assumed to all be sinners to some
extent or another and that if we were to present ourselves alone, before
the Holy One, we would be found wanting were it not for the other's in
our midst. Hence we need sinners in order to make our prayers more

(Memory being what it is, I believe the source is around page 32 but I
am not sure)



End of Volume 31 Issue 11