Volume 31 Number 94
                 Produced: Mon Apr  3  5:52:20 US/Eastern 2000

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

         [Zev Sero]
Invisibility and Funeral Customs
         [Stephen Colman]
Lecha Dodi
         [Yael Levine Katz]
Number of frum Jews (2)
         [Susan M. Chambre, Nadine Bonner]
Rabbeinu Gershom's decree on mail / reading e- mail
         [Tszvi Klugerman]
Rav Hirsch's Neo-Orthodoxy
         [Ken G. Miller]
Women and exclusion
         [Deborah Wenger <dwenger]


From: Zev Sero <Zev@...>
Date: Wed, 29 Mar 2000 22:26:59 -0500
Subject: Aliyot

Shoshana wrote:

>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 [ZS: I assume you meant shishi] 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".

The Anglo-Sefardi minhag (which is based on minhag Amsterdam) is that
the ranking of desirable aliyot (for a Yisrael) is: 3,7,6,4,5.
According to the parnassim's manual at

   After these two first portions, the third is generally considered
   (in our Congregation - other customs obtain elsewhere) the most
   honorific, as being the first Parashah available to an ordinary
   Israelite. The seventh portion, called Mashlim (i.e. completing),
   is the next most prized, since it used to carry (and still carries
   in many congregations) the privilege of reading the Kaddeesh Le'ela,
   which is said immediately after the seventh Parashah, to mark the
   completion of the Mitsvah of reading the Law. But in our Kahal,
   this Kaddeesh is always said by the Hazan.  The sixth portion called
   Samuch (i. e. near to the seventh ranks after the seventh. Thereafter
   come the fourth and fifth, in that order. A Bar Mitsvah is usually
   given the fifth portion.

However, the manual also says:

   8. Our order of preference as between the seven Aliyot, as given
   above, is just our local custom in London; elsewhere the order of
   preference may be different. For this reason it may sometimes be
   advisable, in offering a Mitsvah to a visiting Rabbi, to explain
   to him (through the Shamash) that the Mitsvah we propose to offer
   him is considered the most honorific of all, here in London: but
   that if he would prefer some other we would gladly meet his wishes.

It seems that the gabbaim in Shoshana's shul follow the same common-
sense approach.

Zev Sero                              Harmless Historical Nut


From: Stephen Colman <stephen.colman@...>
Date: Thu, 30 Mar 2000 12:27:48 +0100
Subject: Invisibility and Funeral Customs

It seems from the various postings on the subject of burial customs,
that here in England, things are a bit different than in Israel or the
States.  Over here, one tends to be a member of a shul which is part of
one of three main communities (Adass/Federation/United/and I believe
also Sefardim) - or independent but linked to one of those three (eg
GGBH) - each of which has their own Chevra Kadisha and burial
grounds. Added to the Shul membership fee is a bill for Chevra Kadisha,
which you pay annually and covers you and your family until
120. Whichever community a person belongs to will determine which Chevra
will 'do the honours', which Beis Olom one will reside in, and which set
of rules will apply.  Certain of these 'rules' are engraved in stone
(marble ?) and others are negotiable.

Whatever the situation, the Chevra must be sympathetic to the bereaved.
Many years ago, with one of those three at least, the Chevra were not
running a 'chessed shel emes' organisation - but a business, and they
were totally indifferent to the bereaved family's feeling. I am going
back at least 20 years. Boruch Hashem the situation has changed AND

When a rule which is a 'toughie' is enforced, it can be done with love
and care - or imposed with a iron rod. I was involved about a month ago
with a lady whose mother had just died. I had brought them both into
hospital and was there at the time of death and for about 5 hours
afterwards, helping with the arrangements. (I am not a member of any
Chevra - just 'happened' to be there)The daughter (who herself is a
grandmother) very much wanted to go to the grounds for the levaya, but
they were members of a Chevra whose rules prohibited this. She pleaded
with me to intervene with the Rav - especially as she was an only child
and had no living blood relatives apart from her own children. In the
end, she spoke to the Rav - and I must admit, knowing what the outcome
would be, I expected an outburst from her with the full works. However,
after she had discussed the issue, she came back to me cool calm and
collected, and was totally in agreement with the Rav. He had explained
with warmth and sympathy, that the Chevra wouldn't allow her attendance
at the levaya as this was not considered to be in the best interests of
the Meis, and the bottom line was that she wanted only the best for her
mother !! (I am not discussing here the reasons for that rule - I am not
qualified to do so).

Bila Hamoves Lonetzach...

Stephen Colman


From: Yael Levine Katz <ylkpk@...>
Date: Wed, 29 Mar 2000 15:37:57 +0200
Subject: Lecha Dodi

The various changes in the tune of Lecha Dodi have been discussed in the
following two articles in Hebrew: "Aaron Ahrend, "Hahlafat ha-Niggun
be-Piyyut Lecha Dodi", Sinai, 111, 5753, pp. 93-95; Yossi Klein,
"Hillufei Millim ve-Niggunim be-"Lecha Dodi'", Daf Shevu'i [(Bar Ilan
University Weekly Parashat Ha-Shav'ua Sheet (Hebrew)], Parashat Terumah,
5760, #326, also available for downloading at the following URL,

Yael Levine Katz


From: Susan M. Chambre <Smchambre@...>
Date: Wed, 29 Mar 2000 10:09:20 EST
Subject: Number of frum Jews

This posting is misleading. The National Jewish Population Survey, which
was last done in 1990, is based on a telephone survey not the lists of
YI or OU synagogues. The possibility of bias using this method might be
considered as the 2000 survey is planned.

Susan M. Chambre
Professor of Sociology - Baruch College
17 Lexington Ave. - New York, N.Y. 10010

> From: Shlomo Yaffe <syaffe@...>
>  It seems based on demographics and populations of predominantly Frum
>  neighborhoods that NY/NJ alone has 450,000 -550,00 frum Jews which would
>  give us 600,000 -700,000 frum Jews in the USA alone Remeber that the
>  hundreds of thousands of Chasidic and yeshivish Jews in the us don't get
>  counted by the Federation's population surveys, or if yes, are
>  undercounted and listed as unaffiliated!  This is bevcause Orthodox
>  affiliation #'s are culled from O-u/Young Israel type situations, not
>  Shteibalach and Yeshivos.

From: Nadine Bonner <nfbonner@...>
Date: 29 Mar 2000 11:39:11 -0800
Subject: Number of frum Jews

I wonder how Shlomo Yaffee came up with his assessment of how
federations conduct demographic surveys. Our federation conducted a
survey three years ago, and I can't imagine that New York does it much
differently. We hired a nationally known demographer who came up with
lists of names and phone numbers taken from the local telephone books
based on a list of Jewish-sounding names.

The calls were random, and we didn't even know if the people were
Jewish, let alone whether they were Orthodox.

A sample was taken, weighted according to neighborhoods that were more
heavily Jewish.

There are, indeed, flaws in the process. For example, denomination is
self-defining. If I belong to an Orthodox synagogue for whatever reason,
I can say I am Orthodox, no matter what my actual practice is. Which
accounts for statistics citing percentages of Orthodox Jews who drive on
Shabbat or eat at non-kosher restaurants.

In addition, people aren't always home when the surveyors call. There
are a certain amount of call backs on each name, but it isn't infinite.

There was a serious problem with the last national survey because many
of the calls were made on Shabbat. Although Orthodox Jews don't answer
the telephone, more non-Orthodox Jews are at home, so it is a prime time
for most surveyors to call. They are trying to correct this in the next
survey. In fact, to my knowledge, the survey has been postponed for this

No survey is flawless. I think each one is a learning experience that
leads to an improved model. But I would like evidence that a federation
called Young Israel/Modern Orthodox organizations for names to conduct a
survey.I find it quite hard to believe.

Nadine Bonner


From: Tszvi Klugerman <Klugerman@...>
Date: Wed, 29 Mar 2000 17:13:34 EST
Subject: Rabbeinu Gershom's decree on mail / reading e- mail

In  mail-jewish Vol. 31 #85 Digest
Immanuel Burton <iburton@...> wrote:

<<The prohibition against reading someone else's letters applies only to
sealed mail.Thus, it would be permitted to read a postcard.>>

Historically, the only method of sealing letters in the time of Rabbeinu
Gershom, Maor Hagolah, c.1000, was by wax which was very expensive. If
most people could afford wax then the issue of people reading other's
letters would not have required a decree by the Ecclesiastical court of
Rabbeinu Gershom. The reality, I think, was that most people sent their
letters with people making a trip to the town of delivery and these
trips could be monotonous. To break the boredom people would read
letters.  The result is that Rabbeinu Gershom's decree was uniquely
geared to the letters that were intended to be private but were not
sealed.  A post card is not sent with any intent of confidentiality and
therefore does not fall under the rubric of the decree. E-mail's are
probably sent with the intent to be private although the possibility
exists for others to read. Look at the disclimers on many corporate
signatures stating to the effect that "this e-mail is for the intended
reader only"

<<Incidentally, I have tried to find a written source for
RabbenuGershom's prohibition against reading someone else's letters, but
havenot been able to find one.  Can anyone point me in the right

One of the major sources of the decrees of Rabbeinu Gershom are the
responsa of the Maharik, (Rabbi Judah COlon ?) who is also a major
source of Rashi's responsa.  You could also look at the Encyclopedoia
Talmudit under "Cherem D'Rabbeinu Gershom"

tszvi klugerman


From: Ken G. Miller <kgmiller@...>
Date: Tue, 28 Mar 2000 15:07:21 -0500
Subject: re: Rav Hirsch's Neo-Orthodoxy

In MJ 31:79, Steve Bailey writes <<< Hirsch notes in his Nineteen
Letters that the same G-d who created the universe also created the
Torah. He is equally the Creator of both the material universe and the
ethical universe. So that the study of science, music, art and
literature -- reflecting human knowledge of the world -- is studying
that which is no less part of G-d's creation as the Torah. >>>

To me, there is an extremely wide gap between science and nature on the
one hand (which were created directly by G-d) and art and literature on
the other hand (which are human creations).

To study the way a flower grows, or the radiation which comes from the
stars -- these are direct studies of Hashem's actions in the world, and
I cannot imagine anything wrong with these things from R. Hirsch's

But to study, for example, Shakespeare's style of plot development and
characterization, or Rembrandt's use of color and shading -- In what way
can these be considered <<< no less part of G-d's creation as the Torah
>>> ???

I'll agree that these studies can have practical uses. Study of plot
development might help us understand the stories of the Tanach or Gemara
better, and studies of various colors might teach us something about
techeles and other halachically significant colors, but these are
practical, *secondary* benefits. They do not have the *intrinsic* value
which the study of nature has.

Is there anything in Rav Hirsch's writings where he specifically
discusses the value of art and literature? I don't doubt that *specific*
works can be worthwhile in their own right. I am asking about the value
art and literature in *general*. I am asking whether R. Hirsch truly
suggests that a course in Art Appreciation is desirable.

The poster quoted R. Hirsch as writing <<< We maintain that familiarity
with all those elements which lie at the root of present day
civilization, and a study of all subjects required for such an
acquaintance, is of the highest necessity for the youth of our day as it
was in fact at all times, and should be looked upon as a religious duty.

I guess my real question is whether (and where!) R. Hirsch itemized
exactly which subjects he considered to <<< lie at the root of present
day civilization >>>, and <<< required for such an acquaintance >>>.

Akiva Miller


From: Deborah Wenger <dwenger <dwenger@...>>
Date: Thu, 30 Mar 00 08:45:42 -0500
Subject: Women and exclusion

Alexis Rosoff's comments in v.31#91 about the roles - intellectual and
otherwise - of women in both Orthodox and non-Orthodox environments
reminded me of an exchange I had several years ago with a female
acquaintance of mine who is a Reform rabbi. Her level of intellectual
accomplishment seemed to fall short of that of male Reform rabbis I have
met. On the other hand, her specialty seemed to be what has come to be
known as "pastoral care" - counseling, bikur cholim, nichum aveilim,
etc.  - she is one of the kindest, most compassionate women I have ever
met.  (OTOH, I have had the personal experience of asking an Orthodox
rabbi for advice and assistance about a personal problem that had
religious ramifications, only to be told "Sorry, I'm not good at that
sort of thing.")

What struck me as particularly humorous about my exchange with that
Reform rabbi was that she told me that, in her opinion, the Reform
rabbinate was leaning more toward such "people skills" rather than
scholarly pursuits, and the "fear" was developing in the Reform
hierarchy that the rabbinate would become known (as teaching and social
work before it) as a "female" profession! How far we have come...
Perhaps this had something to do with why the recent Reform rabbinical
conference had a turnaround and started to stress the importance of
learning, mitzvot, etc.? :-)


End of Volume 31 Issue 94