Volume 32 Number 67
                 Produced: Thu Jun 29  5:05:58 US/Eastern 2000

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Bar Mitzvahs
         [Hadassa Goldsmith]
Circumcising non Jewish children
         [Ron Sher]
Halakhically Legitimate Heterim --- Why Not?
         [Joel Rich]
Kosher vs. M'hadrin (2)
         [Yitzchak Scott-Thoennes, Ari Kahn]
Pre-Chuppah Wedding Pictures
         [D & J Weil]
         [Menashe Elyashiv]
Weekday Weddings
         [Stuart Wise]


From: Hadassa Goldsmith <hbgold@...>
Date: Mon, 19 Jun 2000 21:48:38 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Bar Mitzvahs

> "Also - on a partly related topic -- In Edison several years ago, we
> pushed partly by example, and partly in discussion with others for
> smaller Bar Mitzvahs.  A very touch subject, especially in more affluent
> communities.  I'm wondering if other communities have found creative
> approaches."

In regard to Carl Singer's comments above:

When our son had his bar mitzvah last year, instead of a dinner we
decided to give tzedaka to various institutions and organizations in
honor of the occasion. We invited the whole community to a kiddush in
shul (and our families for Shabbos), and on the invitation we indicated
that in lieu of a formal dinner we were giving tzedaka to various
places. Many people commented that this was a wonderful idea.

I think that many people today have very busy schedules and don't
necessarily look forward to attending dinners. In addition, there are so
many organizations and institutions in financial crises that giving
tzedaka to them is certainly a very worthwhile way to spend the money
that HaShem has placed in our hands to hopefully spend wisely.

I hope that some of you will consider copying this idea.

Hadassa Goldsmith


From: Ron Sher <mohel2@...>
Date: Thu, 15 Jun 2000 01:01:22 +0200
Subject: Circumcising non Jewish children

When being called upon to do a brit for a non-Jew, there are sides to do
it and sides not to do it.

According to the gemara in AVODA ZARA we can circumcise a non-Jew for
Geirut but not for medical reasons. (MOORNA - a kind of worm disease on
the Orla) The Shach explains that for plain medical reasons and for free
we don't circumcise non-Jews but if we take money then even if it is for
medical reasons we may perform the circumcision.

According to the Rambam, (this is how the commentators explain him)
normally you are not allowed to perform a circumcision for a non-Jew,
but if they want it because of the Mitzvah to be circumcised you may
perform the circumcision, even though he remains a complete
non-Jew. Therefor in the case which Michael Horowitz presented to us in
vol 32 #31 Digest, if the parents wanted to do the circumcision for
religious reasons then we could say that even according to the Rambam it
would be permitted.

Josh Backon writes: The Rema in Shulchan Aruch Yoreh Deah 263:5 forbids
circumcising non-Jews.

That's true but if we look what he writes in Siman 268 & the Shach in
both those places we see according to the Shach the the Rema is basing
himself on what he writes in the laws of Avoda Zara: That on principle
you are not allowed to heal a non-Jew. [It is based on the Sugya of "LO
MA`ALIM VELO MORIDIM" - that we don't throw a non-Jew into a pit to die
(LO MORIDIM) and also if he is in a pit we don't pull him up to save him
(LO MA`ALIM)] but continues the Rema, today we heal non-Jews if the
prevention from doing so could cause strife. From a healing point of you
this is definitely correct. For if a non-Jew would come to hospital for
medical treatment and the jewish Dr on duty refused to help because he
is a non-Jew. This kind of incident would very likely get out to the
media and as a result all over the world its highly likely that there
will be many non-Jewish Dr`s who would refuse to treat any jewish
patients who come there way.

Therefor what the Rema says in Shulchan Aruch Yoreh Deah 263:5 is based
on this above principle and therefor it would be permitted to circumcise
any non-Jew who wishes to be circumcised for who knows what
repercussions could be caused from refusing to perform the circumcision.

The Shach says this explicitly that one may circumcise a non-Jew if it
might cause strife.

The Tosaoft tell us that in order to gain practice one may circumcise
non-Jews. With an experienced Mohel its questionable if this would be a
reason to permit it. On the one hand he is experienced mohel already but
on the other hand one is always learning no matter how experienced you

To sum up most opinions permit circumcising goyim although there those
who say we should abstain from it with out relating to the issues
brought up above.


From: Joel Rich <Joelirich@...>
Date: Mon Jun 19 08:23:45 2000
Subject: Re: Halakhically Legitimate Heterim --- Why Not?

> In short, let's keep in mind the mitzvah of "kadesh atzmecha bemutar
> lach" (sanctifying oneself by avoiding some things that are actually
> permissible). Or, in the words of R' Shneur Zalman of Liadi, "The first
> principle in serving Hashem is: what's not allowed is not allowed, and
> what is allowed is not necessary."
> Kol tuv y'all,
> Alex

For the sake of intellectual honesty, both threads can be found in
mainstream Jewish Philosophy. Classic example from this week's
parsha(outside Eretz Yisrael) - Is taking a nazarite vow positive(tora
mentions the word kadosh)or negative (he brings a sin offering when
done).  The mesora I received was that this is dependent on the time,
place and most importantly the individual intent.  Given the times we
live in I say kol hakavod to one who is machmir for himself(and not for
others) on the issues raised in this post (eg kashrut) if he feels he
needs it AND can do it without uhara and gaava(pride?)

I'd also suggest that for every chumra or "bal nefesh" attribute one
takes on between man and HKBH they take on at least one between man and

Kol Tuv,
Joel Rich


From: Yitzchak Scott-Thoennes <sthoenna@...>
Date: Thu, 15 Jun 2000 19:03:17 -0700
Subject: Re: Kosher vs. M'hadrin

Danny Skaist <danny@...> wrote:
> <<RABBI: The hechsher is based on the famous heter of the Achiezer [Rabbi
> Chaim Ozer Grodzinski]. >>
> Is there anbody on this list who is willing (after 120 years) to look
> Rav Chaim Ozer Grodzinski in the eye and tell him that they were too
> observant to accept his heter ??

Absolutely, if my Rav says not to accept it.  And IMO, Rav Chaim Ozer
Grodzinski would agree that I was in the right.

From: Ari Kahn <kahnar@...>
Date: Thu, 15 Jun 2000 23:37:35 +0300
Subject: Re: Kosher vs. M'hadrin

> Is there anbody on this list who is willing (after 120 years) to look
> Rav Chaim Ozer Grodzinski in the eye and tell him that they were too
> observant to accept his heter ??

Actually I would hope that there are many people on this list who would
tell Rav Chaim Ozer that they would not accept his heter.  Why not? I am
sure that Rav Chaim Ozer would appreciate that his heter was not
accepted by the major Poskim of the subsequent generation, and he would
therefore applaud anyone who rejected his position.  There are a number
of issues which need to be addressed.

1. How many of you have read the position of The Ahiezer (volume 3
section 33 subsection 5) it seems to me that he sees it as a heter - a
leniency. He writes: "regarding the essential ruling I agree with - to
be lenient (lihakel) in this matter" I am unsure if this is a
lichatchila position or a leniency, it sounds like the latter, if that
is the case, would Rav Chaim Ozer himself advocates its across the board
acceptance? I wonder if Rav Chaim Ozer himself would have eaten Gelatin?

2. The process of deciding halacha consists of conflicting positions
which need to be evaluated intrinsically, not mechanically. According to
the position put forth by Danny Skaist, all poskim need to do is consult
the lenient opinion in all and any question, for who are we to question
the leniency of any previous or contemporary posek. Or to use his
argument, who wants to look any Tanna Ammora or Rishon in the eye and
inform them that you are too observant to rely on his opinion. Perhaps I
can be accused of taking his position to its illogical conclusion, but I
fail to see any other way to understand what Danny wrote.

3. Ultimately what is the difference between Orthodox and Conservative
psak? Both claim to follow Halacha. See Responsa and Halakhic writings
of Isaac Klien (Ktav 1975) who penned one of the few published
collections of Conservative responsa. In case after case (including
gelatin) he brings both opinions and inevitably sides with the lenient
opinion. Perhaps Rabbi Dweck would applaud this clear thinking as
well. The Gemara (Eruvin 6,13) long ago told us that though both the
schools of Hillel and Shammi are valid, the law is accordance with
Hillel - nonetheless, one is permitted to follow Shammi across the
board in leniency and stringency. Likewise to follow Hillel consistently
is valid, but to choose the lenient opinions of both in the words of the
Talmud is wicked, while the person who seeks all the stringencies is a
fool. I am not advocating blind adherence to any and all chumrot. But
this is not simply an issue of chumra it is a point of law where most
contemporary poskim feel an item is not kosher, Most Poskim disagreed
with Rav haim Ozer, am I allowed to embrace his opinion simply for
convenience? Absolutely not! However, if a posek today was convinced in
the merit of his arguments he could surely follow Rav Chaim Ozer. But
why would anyone be embarrassed to look Rav Chaim Ozer in the eye after
120 years and tell him sincerely with all due respect I did not follow
your heter. My guess is that Rav Chaim Ozer would embrace such a person
for properly following Halacha.


From: D & J Weil <weildj@...>
Date: Mon, 19 Jun 2000 08:23:24 +0300
Subject: Re: Pre-Chuppah Wedding Pictures

I refer to:
>    what he regards as the Gentile practice of the bride and
>groom not seeing each other before a wedding, 

There have been a number of recent posts implying that the custom of
bride and groom not seeing each other on the day of the wedding/for some
days before the wedding/for a week (and even two weeks) beforehand - is
of non-Jewish origin.

I didn't write anything when I thought it was an isolated posting or
two, but going by the number of postings, this seems to be a widespread

The reason I have always heard for the custom is very Jewish.

By the night before the wedding, the groom knows his intended has been
to the mikve. Because this knowledge may make him feel freer to touch
her etc., it is considered better they shouldn't meet.

Because she could go to the mikve up to several days beforehand, this is
the basis for some people keeping several days.

As far as I know, the basis for a week or two weeks is different,
although related. It is that the excitement of seeing her beloved could
bring on the bride's menstruation.

Best wishes,



From: Menashe Elyashiv <elyashm@...>
Date: Mon, 19 Jun 2000 19:49:07 +0300 (IDT)
Subject: Semahot

As living in the only country in the world (?) that Sunday is true weekday
and workday, all semahot are held on weekdays i.e. weeknights. The
Rabbanut does not allow weddings on Moseay Shabbat or Hag. Outside of
Yerushalim, where the situation may be better, this means Semahot dragging
on after 11 o'clock. I usually send my wife and I stay home to take care
of the children, as my day starts around 4 or 4:30 a.m. It is rare that
she stays for Berhat Hamazon, because the last bus is at 11, and the hosts
are busy saying good bye to most of the guests who are leaving early(!).
Even the summer weddings that the huppa is called for "before sunset" in
many cases are delayed to after dark because not every one who was suppose
to be there are on time.
BTW, I was at a wedding (rare for me), the huppa started close to sunset
and ended well after sunset, and then they prayed......Minha! For lack of
choise I prayed Arvit with their Minha.


From: Stuart Wise <swise@...>
Date: Mon, 19 Jun 2000 11:03:04 -0700
Subject: Re: Weekday Weddings

> We (my wife and I) are now frequently go to the schmorg (usally arriving
> late) and the chupah but forgo the seudah -- for some weddings.  It lets
> us get home by 10 or 11PM, bright eyed and bushytailed for work the next
> day.

My wife and I do the same, especially since baby sitters have to be home
early.  But more common, as of late, is that my wife will stay for the
seudah and I will go home to relieve the babysitter,or if it is someone
we know well, we will ask permission to bring our two girls for the
chuppah and then either my wife will stay for the rest of the simchah
and the girls and I will go home.

To me, the chuppah is more meaningful, and no matter how many times I
witness the chuppah I am always moved by it and remember our own.  My
wife warns me that if I continue to not attend a whole simchah, people
will return the favor in kind when we make a wedding, G-d willing.

My response is that making the chasan and kallah happy is a big mitzvah,
but the ones who do that best are the close relatives and friends of the
couple, not who their parents want to be there.  When I was attending
the full wedding, I found myself shuffling around in the circle around a
chasan I didn't even know, and it was clear to me who was making him
happy.  Even had I pushed myself to the center of things, he still
wouldn't know who I am, and unless I acted really silly that would catch
his attention, I can't imagine it would matter if I were there or not.

Which leads to the question of oversized weddings.  There is a man in my
shul who often takes out his date book and announces he has 9 simchas
this week.  Unless they were all close relatives, I doubt I would
subject myself to that.  How many invitations are sent as "obligations"
and how many of the recipients feel equally obligated to attend, when if
people thought about it, maybe a number of the people they invite would
not be as offended they the simchah-makers may think, and just not


End of Volume 32 Issue 67