Volume 31 Number 88
                 Produced: Wed Mar 29  5:29:49 US/Eastern 2000

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Artscroll siddur
         [Alan Davidson]
Bircat Habayit
         [Shalom Kohn]
Charity, tzedaka & the IRS
         [Kenneth H. Ryesky, Esq.]
Davening in the Ezrat Nashim
         [Shimon Lebowitz]
Elementary school curriculum
Invisibility and Funeral Customs (3)
         [Shoshana L. Boublil, Sam Gamoran, Janet Friedman]


From: Alan Davidson <perzvi@...>
Date: Thu, 2 Mar 2000 13:26:09 -0500
Subject: Artscroll siddur

-Although in their defense, chochma, bina, v'daas as the ending of atah
chonein isn't universal among Nusach Sefard, neither is the addition at
the end of V'aal HaTzaddikim, or Av Harachoman Shema Koleinu  versus
Shema Koleinu Av Harchoman -- how about mentioning the minhag (not just
Chabad) of basing Tachanun on Psalm 25 versus 6?  -- an attempt to have a
universal Nusach Sefard siddur is always going to fall short -- within
Nusach Ashkenaz (with the exception of Nusach HaGra) there is much less


From: Shalom Kohn <skohn@...>
Date: Mon, 27 Mar 2000 10:09:10 -0600
Subject: RE: Bircat Habayit

Assuming it is correct that Rudyard Kipling wrote the Birchat Habayit,
why does it follow that Jews should take it down from their walls?

> From: Menucha Chwat <menu@...>
> Rav Shlomo Aviner said during his radio call-in responsa show, that
> Bircat Habayit was written by Rudyard Kipling(!) and has no jewish
> basis.  He advised that Jews take it down from their walls.


From: Kenneth H. Ryesky, Esq. <khresq@...>
Date: Mon, 27 Mar 2000 12:12:29 -0500
Subject: Charity, tzedaka & the IRS

This former IRS attorney has the following to say about the thread on
tzedaka and the IRS (31:79, 31:80 & 31:81):

First of all, people who are so inclined will always find ways to cheat
on their taxes.  Taxation and the authorities who collect taxes have
been despised for as long as the authorities have levied taxes.  The
problem of resistance to paying one's rightful share of taxes is
implicit in Rambam's commentaries [see Mishneh Torah: Shekalim 1:9].

For raffle tickets, the IRS takes the position that they are not
deductible as charity because they were purchased with the intent to win
a prize, much the same as a lottery ticket.  In practice, however, where
the contribution to the raffle is voluntary (i.e., no purchase required
to enter), then the IRS might develop temporary blindness is the
taxpayer is otherwise acting in good faith.  As for the journal dinners,
the cost of the ticket is deductible only to the extent that it exceeds
the fair market value of the dead chicken (or other goods or services
received in return for the dinner ticket).

With the recent restructuring of the IRS, we can expect to see a closer
look given to not-for-profit organizations in general.  In particular,
increased scrutiny can certainly be expected to transactions involving
the donation of used cars to charitable causes such as the yeshiva.
[One business which I have long contemplated entering is purchasing
cars, paintings, jewelry or other items tangible personal property for
the "fair market value" as entered on Estate or Gift Tax returns, and
then selling them for the "fair market value" as entered as a Schedule A
Itemized Deduction on Income Tax returns <grin>].

Which leads me to digress ever so slightly to the topic of another
unrelated Internet discussion group in which I participate --
Accountability of charitable organizations.  The United Way/Aramony
affair is regarded by many as the bursting of the dam which held back
strict scrutiny of charitable organizations, whether by the taxation
authorities or by the donors or others.  Now, the charitable
organizations will need to take pains to keep kosher kitchens in the
handling of their affairs.  In former years, slight overstepping of the
letter of the law was socially accepted because the charitable
organizations did perform needed services to the community.  But as the
transgressions became more pronounced, and as the organizations were
found to be less and less efficient with the funds entrusted to them by
the charitably-inclined public, the cry for charitable accountability
grew increasingly louder and louder.  And the decline of the public
respect for religious organizations has not helped matters any.

As we all certainly know, the yeshivot and gemach and orphanages rarely
clean up their mailing lists.  I have gotten duplicate and triplicate
appeals from various Jewish organizations, and now that Pesach is
approaching, I expect more when I go to my mailbox later today.  The
fact that my wife has retained her maiden name and is a professional in
her own right does not simplify the problem of duplicate solicitations.
If you really wish to do a charitable organization dirty, send it a
check for $5 in the mail, and it will spend many times that amount
soliciting you during the next few years.  The problem with that
approach is that many charitable organizations have augmented their
income by selling names of their contributors to other organizations,
and you might lay additional expense upon an organization whose work you
would wish to support if that organization purchases a list with your
name on it.  With the high cost of postage and printing and
administration, you really do not do an organization any good by making
a small contribution to it.  Better you concentrate your tzedaka dollars
on a select few organizations to which you can give amounts which will
not fall below the organizations' administrative costs.

In what I consider to be acts of mercy, I make copies of my name and
address, and mail it to charitable organizations which duplicate solicit
me and my family, along with a not to remove my name from their list.
If they provide a postage-paid return envelope, I will not use it the
first time, but I will use it if I must make the demand to remove my
name a second time.

I would be interested in hearing from others on this new can of worms I
have just opened.

Kenneth H. Ryesky, Esq.
P.O. Box 926, East Northport, NY  11731
631/266-5854 (vox); 631/266-3198 (fax)
E-mail:  <khresq@...>


From: Shimon Lebowitz <shimonl@...>
Date: Mon, 27 Mar 2000 17:30:28 +0200
Subject: Davening in the Ezrat Nashim

Steve White <StevenJ81@...> asked:

> Similarly: Do you daven in the ezrat hanashim (women's section) during the
> week because there aren't usually women there?  My personal view on this
> (not as a matter of halacha, just as a matter of courtesy) is that you
> shouldn't do it, so as not to cause embarrassment or "tzuris" in case a
> woman walks in.  But even if you do sit there, do you cheerfully abandon
> the space when a woman walks in, or do you act resentful?  Do you act as
> if the woman has no business being there?

This particular one bothers me. In my shul, there *used* to be a
mechitza all week, but men would use the ezrat nashim as 'overflow'. I
remember many times seeing a particular young woman who would arrive for
shacharit, and wait on the porch outside, till someone would ask the men
to leave the ezrat nashim so that she could daven there. (often it was

Unfortunately, sometime in the last year or two, a new 'minhag meguneh'
(IMHO) was started, in that after shabbat, the mechitza is collapsed
against the back wall, and the shul has *no* womens area at all.

another aspect of the men using the womens' section, that upsets me, is
that the very fact that there are men using it has caused my wife to
look for a different shul to go to for shabbat mincha. in spite of my
assurances that all she needs to do is step inside, and the men will all
leave (flee?), she told me that she just *cannot* do that. (I cannot
chase them out myself, since it is during my daf shiur).

i am not sure that i agree with the statement that 'taking over' the
ezrat nashim is "not as a matter of halacha". it seems to me that there
should be some sort of 'group kinyan' (like "mamon kohanim" or "mamon
aniyim") that has made the use of that area a prerogative of
*women*. (just my gut feeling, i have no real knowledge to draw on).

all of this doesnt change the fact that i am sure that if *I* had been
in the unfortunate position that the original poster was in, i would
also have come home and told my wife that there were 'only 9 people in
shul this morning' too! so... i can put my foot in it as well as the
next guy. ;-) (but then again, i am not in the habit of checking the
population of the ezrat nashim).


Shimon Lebowitz         mailto:<shimonl@...>
Jerusalem, Israel       http://www.poboxes.com/shimonl/pubkey.htm


From: Anonymous
Date: Mon, 27 Mar 2000 10:55:37 -0800
Subject: Elementary school curriculum

As the mother of an elementary school aged boy, I was rather astounded
by the level of work expected of him in kindergarten, and now first
grade in his secular studies.  He is doing math and reading far beyond
what was expected of me at the same age.

I wish I could say the same of his Hebrew and religious subjects.  I
would like some info from list members as to what my boys should be
learning in elementary school in their Judaica part of the day.  I am
afraid that his school is behind schools in other larger communities,
and that if we ever leave here my kids will be so far behind they will
never catch up.

So my question - just what should elementary school aged boys be
learning?  Can anyone point me towards detailed curriculum lists?  My
kids are still very little, but I don't want to take the risk that they
will not be qualified for high school when the time comes.

Thanks in advance for any information.


From: Shoshana L. Boublil <toramada@...>
Date: Wed, 1 Mar 2000 08:48:58 +0200
Subject: Re:  Invisibility and Funeral Customs

> From: Carl SInger <CARLSINGER@...>

> Today it's rare that I go to a shule where any lapse from the minhag
> of the shule perpaps by a relative or visitor davening for the Amud,
> even one clearly within halacha doesn't draw rebuke (noisey or silent)
> and ill feelings.  That's not to say that a shule shouldn't have a
> well-defined minhag, but to say that "My way or the highway" is not an
> hospitable approach.

Recently, my husband had his Shabbat Bar Mitzva Parsha, and the shul
wished to honor him with an Aliya.  He asked for "Samoch" (IIRC,
Shishi), which is considered by Sephardim to be the most coveted Aliyah
(for a Yisrael).

As soon as he stood up for Chamishi the shul people started whispering
about this "dishonor" (Ashkenazi shul!).  So the Gabbai was forced to
bang the bima and announce that "The Rabbi specifically requested this
Aliyah".  Afterwards, members of the shul came fwd and said: "Well now
we know that not only Shilishi is a Chashuv'a Aliyah".

Another difference in Minhagim, related to sitting Shiv'a is eating and
drinking at the home of Aveilim.  I recall that we were always told to
say a polite "no" when offered to drink or eat something at Aveilim.
Among Sephardim, they consider the B'racha said on eating and drinking
something to be L'Iluy Nishmat etc. and therefore you _must_ at least
drink or eat something so that you can say a bracha.  Not to do so is
considered an insult in many sephardi families.

Shoshana L. Boublil

From: Sam Gamoran <gamoran@...>
Date: Thu, 2 Mar 2000 16:14:14 +0200
Subject: Re: Invisibility and Funeral Customs

> What I don't understand in the scenario presented above, is why a family
> would choose a Chevra Kadisha (burial society) whose customs are not to
> their liking. Having chosen that Chevra Kadisha, the customs of the
> Chevra should be respected, since these customs are based on the ideal
> of providing maximum benefit and honor to the deceased. Let's assume the
> Chevra Kadisha knows what they are doing, since they participate in
> these activities frequently and have a well established chain of
> traditions in these matter.  Shouldn't each individual, man or woman,
> put aside their own personal wishes, even feelings of invisibility, in
> deference to the customs of the Chevra Kadisha?

Unfortunately, there isn't always a choice of Chevra Kadisha.  I've only
been actively involved in arranging one funeral so I'm not an expert,
but the first rule is that the deceased, if an Israeli citizen, is
entitled by law to free burial in his home town cemetery.  When my
father-in-law passed away, the hospital funeral director arranged for
the body to be transported to the Chevra Kadisha of Netanya.  We weren't
offered any choice in the matter - and I was neither knowledgeable enough
nor in the frame of mind to ask.

 From the funerals that I have attended it seems that the Chevrot
Kadisha from larger cities such as Tel Aviv or Holon seem more flexible
in their ways in terms of accomodating family wishes.  It may be the
large number of secular families (who largely want a traditional burial
without the rigidity of some of the customs) or the large number of
eidot they have to encompass.

I would prefer to view the Chevra Kadisha's customs as *one way* of
providing respect to the deceased but certainly not the only one...

I fervently pray that this discussion remains theoretical ad 120.


From: Janet Friedman <FriedmanJ@...>
Date: Mon, 27 Mar 2000 10:29:54 EST
Subject: Re: Invisibility and Funeral Customs

Thank you, Frieda. I was finally able to be mekabed a met when I was
allowed to pick up a shovel and help with the kevurah.

At my father's funeral I was told I couldn't make a hespaid in Jerusalem
because I am a woman. I was told I could not make a speech about my
father at the seuda after the unveiling because it was in Jerusalem.

I was finally able to do so a year later in the Munkacter rebbe's house
z"l in Petach Tikvah because he understood.

His older sister was able to give a hespaid for her father, the
Partzever rebbe, in Poland in front of the whole olam.


End of Volume 31 Issue 88