Volume 31 Number 53
                 Produced: Sun Feb 13 16:08:22 US/Eastern 2000

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Bar Mitzvah before becoming a bar mitzvah
         [Ezra Tepper]
Children's Encyclopedia Question
         [Carl M. Sherer]
Cholov Yisroel
         [Carl Singer]
Conference on Feminism and Orthodoxy
         [Rose Landowne]
Feeling Invisible (3)
         [Anonymous, Ellen Krischer, Janice Gelb]
Left Handed Mezuzah Kissers
         [Carl M. Sherer]
Little things - habits and customary derech
         [Yisrael Medad]
Secular College - challenges
         [Freda B Birnbaum]
Siddur and Tallis Bag
         [Carl M. Sherer]
Video Cameras on Shabbos
         [Robert Rubinoff]


From: Ezra Tepper <intepper@...>
Date: Fri, 11 Feb 2000 14:39:39 +0200
Subject: Bar Mitzvah before becoming a bar mitzvah

One of the son's of Rabbi Ovadia Joseph gave an interesting halachic
decision this afternoon on a "call the rabbi" broacast in Jerusalem.

He said that there is no particular day for celebrating a bar mitzvah.
And even a month (or a year) before his 13th birthday, the boy can
accept the commandments, be called up to, bless over, and chant the
Torah reading (not just the haftorah) before the congregation. He would
also regularly put on tallis and tefilin and observe all the other laws.
There is no problem with any of this. The boy, though, as the rabbi said
could not be counted in a minyan or, as I imagine, could not marry until
he reached 13.

Has anybody heard of this or attended such an early bar mitzvah. Note
that despite the rabbi being a Sefardi, he said that there no difference
between Ashkenizim and Sefardim in this matter.

Ezra L. Tepper


From: Carl M. Sherer <cmsherer@...>
Date: Thu, 10 Feb 2000 23:13:12 +0200
Subject: Children's Encyclopedia Question

I wrote:
> Ellen Krischer writes:
> > > ...the excellent secular children's encyclopedias cannot be used by
> > > Beis Yaakov schools without close supervision.
> > > Jonathan Rabson
> > 
> > 	I'm quite curious about what topics in a secular children's
> > encyclopedia would require that the encyclopedia have "close supervision."

> Given that the original question related to girls between the ages of 6
> and 11, I can think of more topics that would require "close
> supervision" than those that would not. Please explain your question.

Avi added:

> [In an encyclopedia aimed at an adult audience, I might fully understand
> the original question. I think Ellen's question is that in an
> encyclopedia aimed at children, even if secular in orientation, what
> there would require close supervision. Mod.]

I understood that what was under discussion was a children's
encyclopedia. I found the reason behind Jonathan Rabson's question to be
obvious. Children's encyclopedias published by secular publishers do not
necessarily present every topic to the children in a way that is
acceptable to the fruhm world. Therefore, the Beis Yaakov in London
feels the need to closely supervise their use, and Jonathan was seeking
an encyclopedia with which Beis Yaakov would not feel obligated to
exercise such close supervision.

I didn't understand Ellen's question because she seemed to be assuming
that any children's encyclopedia is capable of unsupervised use by our
children. If that is what she thinks, I think she is mistaken. Among the
topics that a secular children's encyclopedia would treat differently
than what we would want our children to hear, I would include anything
having to do with sex and sexual orientation, anything having to do with
evolution, and anything having to do with how the world was created. And
that's just off the top of my head....

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: Carl Singer <CARLSINGER@...>
Date: Thu, 10 Feb 2000 08:25:02 EST
Subject: Re: Cholov Yisroel

<< Date: Mon, 7 Feb 2000 21:53:54 EST
 If it is true that Reb Moshe recanted his decision on Cholov
 Yisroel/Stam it would seem he did a very poor job of publicizing
 that. Tammuz of 5717 is 1957, and Reb Moshe had over 25 years to make a
 clear statement to that effect; more than just hearsay through Rabbonim
 who don't want to be identified. The more logical conclusion would seem
 to be that the psak that Reb Moshe gave in his tshuvos allowing Cholov
 Stam is the more authentic one.

 Dov Teichman >>

I find the above troubling in the generic sense.  It's as if (lehavdil)
a great scientist discovered a magic elixer that cures some illness but
through carelessness or whatever, we are no longer certain of the
formula.  In an information age where we can post and retrieve the
greatest of minutia, how come we can't seem to accurately maintain the
most precious (and apparently fragile) words (verbatim), insights and
learnings from our Gedolim.

Carl Singer


From: Rose Landowne <ROSELANDOW@...>
Date: Thu, 10 Feb 2000 20:58:47 EST
Subject: Conference on Feminism and Orthodoxy

The Third International Conference on Feminism and Orthodoxy, will be
held in NY, Feb 20-21.  I'm co-chairing the conference, and think that
it may interest some of MJ's readers.  There's a website with the
following link:
 - Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance which lists the schedule, all the
speakers, as well as registration information.  Thanks,
 Rose Landowne


From: Anonymous
Date: Thu, 10 Feb 2000 08:28:10 EST
Subject: Re: Feeling Invisible

<< Similarly, praying behind the Mechitza offers preservation of modesty,
 rather than relegation to invisibility.  >>

Yes it does -- but when designed by what my wife terms "male engineers"
in may also mean an inability to hear the davening, the layning or the
Rabbi's drosh.  There are practical issues also.


From: Ellen Krischer <krischer@...>
Date: Thu, 10 Feb 2000 08:59:36 -0500
Subject: RE: Feeling Invisible

> Is that how you imagine Orthodox women feel behind the Mechitza
> (partition)?  That they 'steel' themselves to feel invisible? Perhaps
> they welcome the modesty which their 'invisibility' behind the Mechitza
> affords them.
> Joseph Geretz

Nice try, Joseph.  But with all due respect, I don't "imagine" that some
Orthodox women sometimes feel invisible behind a Mechitza.  I *know for
a fact* that some do.

Ellen Krischer

From: Janice Gelb <j_gelb@...>
Date: Thu, 10 Feb 2000 09:49:16 -0800 (PST)
Subject: Re: Feeling Invisible

Joseph Geretz <jgeretz@...> wrote:
> Janice Gelb wrote:
> > If you read my entire message again, I think you will
> > see that I didn't say the woman absolutely didn't feel
> > invisible.  I said she had probably steeled herself to
> > feeling invisible if she was still going to an O[rthodox]
> > minyan.
> Is that how you imagine Orthodox women feel behind the Mechitza
> (partition)?  That they 'steel' themselves to feel invisible? Perhaps
> they welcome the modesty which their 'invisibility' behind the Mechitza
> affords them.

Let me clarify once again: the original poster was concerned that in a
situation where there were 9 men and therefore no minyan, a woman who
came regularly to morning minyan might feel "invisible."

My original response allowed for two possibilities: One, that she didn't
feel invisible and was perfectly content in not being counted. Two, that
perhaps she did feel invisible but if she did (a) she was already
resigned to it if she was attending an orthodox minyan, and (b) there
were plenty of other situations involved in minyan activities that would
also induce the same response other than not being counted for the

-- Janice


From: Carl M. Sherer <cmsherer@...>
Date: Thu, 10 Feb 2000 23:13:12 +0200
Subject: Left Handed Mezuzah Kissers

Freda Birnbaum writes:

> I've never heard of the right-hand business, but as a left-handed
> person, I wonder why it's okay for lefties to reverse the usuall
> hand-tefillin arrangement and not the mezuzah-kissing habit. Also, as
> you go into the room, it seems easier to reach the mezuzah with your
> left hand -- sort of like shirt pockets being on the left side so the
> right hand can reach the pen?  

According to "Right or Left," a pamphlet by Rabbi Dovid Wolpin published
by the Chicago Community Kollel three years ago, "Actions based on a
Kabbalistic rationale such as to increase the attribute of Chesed which
is symbolized by the right side (e.g.  washing the right hand first, or
placing the right hand over the eyes for the first verse of Shema), a
left handed person does with the same side as a right handed one." (He
cites Shailos U'Teshuvos Beer Moshe 2:1 and Kuntres Ish Itair 19 for the
specific halacha relating to Shema). The Kuntres Ish Itair was written
by R. Chaim Kanievsky shlita in his commentary to Mesechta Tefillin
Halacha 13.

Based on the above, I think that if you are going to kiss the mezuzah (I
have heard arguments that it is not a mitzva to do so), you should do so
with your right hand even if you are left-handed.

I did a longer post about right handed v. left handed in Vol. 29 #30.
The first paragraph of this response came from there.

-- Carl M. Sherer (right-handed father of bli ayin hara 3 left-handed 
children, 2 right-handed children and one undecided child, but my 
wife is also right-handed)


From: Yisrael Medad <isrmedia@...>
Date: Thu, 10 Feb 2000 21:40:31 +0200
Subject: Little things - habits and customary derech

Freda Birnbaum, <fbb6@...> wrote:
>Question: Why is it okay to put a
>tallis bag on the place people sit on and not a siddur?

It isn't the tallit bag that is the problem but what is within.  In a
similar case, Rav Goran z"l paskened that a paratrooper could jump with
his t'fillin as long as they were placed away.  In other words, the
sacred article had to be "properly" packed.  Today, the Bet-El T'fillin
factory produces a special t'fillin container, which is a refined
thermos case with a padding.  The inside of the screw-off top has a


From: Freda B Birnbaum <fbb6@...>
Date: Fri, 11 Feb 2000 10:11:23 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Secular College - challenges

Leah S. Gordon notes:

> When I attended MIT, it was a matter of course for me to e.g.  skip
> class on chag and get notes afterward, or reschedule exams.  Many of
> my Ortho Hillel friends, who had never been in this kind of situation,
> were unwilling to miss class (and would go but not take notes--which I
> found inappropriate and not in the spirit of chag).  Some even made
> personal "exceptions" to take exams instead of asking the professor
> for a different test date--which, by the way, I never had a problem
> arranging. (There were stories of one or two mean professors who would
> be bad about it, but I never experienced this.)

I grew up going to public school and became observant after college.  It
has always amazed me how people could deal with missing all those
classes, especially at the very beginning of the school year.  For those
of us who are just average or even above average, but not brilliant,
this seems like a VERY difficult trial.  I'm not in such a hurry to
condemn those folks who felt a need to go to class and refrain from
taking notes.

I really don't know how anybody manages to miss all those classes and
still do well.  My hat is off to you, as it were.

Freda Birnbaum, <fbb6@...>
"Call on God, but row away from the rocks"


From: Carl M. Sherer <cmsherer@...>
Date: Thu, 10 Feb 2000 23:13:12 +0200
Subject: Siddur and Tallis Bag

Freda Birnbaum writes:

> As a long-time "BT" ("baal teshuva"; I'm not sure that's the best term,
> but that's another discussion), although I was raised with no "Orthodox"
> input at all, I note that I had hung around in frum circles for quite
> some time before I became aware of the thing about siddurim, when a
> friend brought it to my attention.  Question: Why is it okay to put a
> tallis bag on the place people sit on and not a siddur?

Because the tallis bag has no kedusha (holiness) while the siddur does.

The prohibition against sitting on a bench with a siddur on it derives
from the prohibition against sitting on a bench with a Torah scroll on
it. The latter prohibition is brought in Gemara Menachos somewhere
around Daf 25 (sorry, I do not recall the exact daf), and the Rishonim
there extend the prohibition to sitting on a bench or chair that has any
kind of sefer on it.

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: Robert Rubinoff <rubinoff@...>
Date: Thu, 10 Feb 2000 16:28:41 -0500
Subject: Re: Video Cameras on Shabbos

> Rabbi Adler raised the question of using a video camera on
> Shabbos. Walking by a video camera which is on causes changes in
> electronic impulse, much as speaking into a microphone does, and is
> therefore prohibited. So while placing the camera on a tripod before
> Shabbos avoids handling muktzeh, is still assur.

It's not really the same as speaking into a microphone.  If you are
silent in front of a microphone, nothing happens...no signal is
generated in the wires.

A video camera, in contrast, is constantly measuring the light level at
each spot in the image and recording that value magnetically on the
tape.  It's sometimes true that if you don't move, the light level you
are "responsible" for doesn't change (it's not really true, because the
light source may change, and other objects/people that cast shadows or
reflect light on you may move), but there is still a signal being
produced in response to your presence in front of the lens.  I don't
know whether this means that even standing still in front of a video
camera would be a problem, but it's not a simple issue.

I have to wonder whether a situation where you're being filmed by a
video camera but you don't in any way desire to be, and aren't directly
doing anything to cause it (e.g. if you walk past a storefront that has
a video camera in the window pointed out towards the street) is a
problem.  (Obviously, this wouldn't apply in the case of filming a bar
mitzvah boy, because many of the people being filmed *do* want
specifically to be on the video.)



End of Volume 31 Issue 53