Volume 35 Number 19
                 Produced: Fri Jul 20  5:31:35 US/Eastern 2001

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Artificial Insemination
         [Hillel E. Markowitz]
Ashkenazi vs. Sephaardi practices
         [Edward Ehrlich]
         [Leona Kroll]
Psak and Yoatsoth
         [Allen Gerstl]
Regional Accents in Tanach
         [Yeshaya Halevi]
Verses in Ezekiel that Rashi did not understand
         [Ben Z. Katz]
A Visit to a Mosque


From: Hillel E. Markowitz <Sabba.Hillel@...>
Date: Wed, 18 Jul 2001 22:24:12 -0400
Subject: Re: Artificial Insemination

> From: Janet Rosenbaum <jerosenb@...>
> The sole determinant of paternity is the origin of the gametes, so
> the sperm donor would be the father of the child, irrespective of who
> raises it.  Hence, any two of a sperm donor's children would face the
> same prohibitions as apply to two children with the same father being
> raised together in a nuclear family.

I remember seeing a discussion in Rabbi Bleich's "Modern Halachic
Problems" on whether artificial insemination establishes paternity or
only intercourse.  Similarly, there is a question of in vitro
fertilization and the implantation of the fertilized egg in a host
mother.  Is the mother the egg donor or the woman who carries the baby
to term.  These questions also apply to adoption and are the reason some
people say that parents should adopt a nonJewish infant (with a valid
conversion) unless they know the family of the infant being adopted.

Another point is that all adopted children must know that they are
adopted for halachic reasons.  This is unlike what I have heard about
some nonJews who would not tell the children that they had been adopted.

Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz
<sabbahem@...>, Sabba.Hillel@verizon.net


From: Edward Ehrlich <eehrlich@...>
Date: Wed, 18 Jul 2001 23:56:28 +0300
Subject: Ashkenazi vs. Sephaardi practices

Howard M. Berlin <berlin@...> wrote:

> My question is this. Is there a book or reference that details/explains
> the many of the differences in the minhagim between Sephardim and
> Ashkenazim?

Rabbi Adin Even-Yisael's (Steinzatz) two volume book "Hasiddur
v'ha-tefilah" gives information not only on the Ashkenazi and Sephardi
rites, but also Sephard, Yeminite and Italian.  I don't know if the book
has been translated into English.

Ed Ehrlich <eehrlich@...>
Jerusalem, Israel


From: Leona Kroll <leona_kroll@...>
Date: Wed, 18 Jul 2001 00:10:18 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: OU-D

"Why have we adopted a policy which seems more stringent than halachah
requires? There are a number of reasons:'

I can think of one more- i remember reading once about a family whose
son became dangerously ill,due to a milk allergy, after eating something
labeled pareve (not by OU) which actually had trace milk
products/derivatives. The kashruth agency had determined it to be butel,
and the family did not recognize the chemical name as having any
connection to milk. Add to this that US law does require products with
such low amounts of a milk product to be labeled as dairy (ever noticed
the OU-D on 'Non-Dairy Creamers'?).  So, an added benefit to the OU's
stringency in labeling is that both Jews and non-Jews can be confident
that anything labeled OU-pareve is okay for people with milk allergies
(i've pointed this out over the years to dozens of non-Jewish friends
and co-workers who either had dairy allergies or were non-lacto
vegetarians and they were happy for the info. Similarly, i have a lacto
vegetarian friend who had stopped eating hard cheese because of the
rennet issue but now eats kosher cheese.) Perhaps this counts as
fulfilling the mitzvah of not placing a stumbling block before the


From: Allen Gerstl <acgerstl@...>
Date: Wed, 18 Jul 2001 13:39:26 -0400
Subject: Re: Psak and Yoatsoth

>From: Saul Davis <sdavis@...>
>I would like to know what the difference between a Rabbi and a >Yoetseth 
>(or Yoets) is.

>From: Avi Feldblum <mljewish@...>
>I think there are two critical issues here to understand and I think a
>discussion to clarify them would be of value to the list. One is to
>understand what is a "Rabbi" and the other is to understand what >is "p'sak 
>halacha". I think that many of the functions of a "Rabbi" >are not related 
>actual "p'sak halacha" and within these functions are >activities that 
>there is a problem for a woman to perform. The are >actions/replies related 
>to questions of halacha that may be posed to a >person (Rabbi, Yoetz, lay) 
>in which responding with the halacha is not >an act of "p'sak" and 
>therefore anyone can do. Anyhow, I'll open this >up to broader discussion 
>by the group.

While I can hardly claim expertise, I would like put in my two cents worth.


Many larger congregations expect their Rabbis do much more then serve as
Poskim (Halachic decision makers) they expect their Rabbis to be
religious leaders who fulfill many of the functions that clergy and
other officials in non-Jewish relgious institutions fulfill. The Rabbi
is expected to be not only a Posek but an administrator, counsellor,
preacher, etc.

The roles of Rabbis in many congregations have changed; even in many
shuls that are "Yeshivish". They are now expected to be leaders,
darshanim (preachers), counsellors, administrators (not so often in the
Yeshivish shuls), teachers, etc. ; while they are not that often called
upon to be poskim (in more Centrist or Yeshivish shuls. ( As an aside: I
recall years ago suggesting to a board member of a local shul when the
shul was seeking a new Rabbi that this would be an opportune time to
recruit a posek to fill the void left by the departure from our city of
others who were the local poskim. I was told that the shul instead,
wanted someone dynamic to attract new members and I was, in effect told
that my suggestion was not relevant to the shul's needs.  The board,
probably correctly from their members standpoints, wanted someone to be
an all-round person to perform all of the functions that I noted. These
functions were more important to the Board than whether the future Rabbi
was a good Posek. My point is that Rabbis are expected to do more than
be Poskim.

The changes in American Jewish religious institutions, the rise of
Reform and Conservative groups that have erected large synagogoues that
require appropriate staffing and the influence of Reform, Conservative
and non-Jewish institutional models on Orthodox synagogue requirements
have been significant. Several essays describing these phenomenon may be
found, if I recall correctly, in: Gurock, J.S., editor, AMERICAN JEWISH
Routledge, 1998.

So leaving aside for the moment the issue of the Rabbi as a Posek, the
issue that I see raised is whether the Halacha allows women to be
communal leaders and if so whether a woman's functioning as a religious
synagogue head, a so-called Rabbi, but not as a Posek, is specifically
permissible.  As I recall there are issues of Tzeniut (modesty) involved
and behind it all is the simple fact that the common practice has not to
have women as leaders.


The qualifications of a Dayan (a judge in monetary matters) and a Posek
deciding upon matters of Issur Ve-Heter (matters that are forbidden or
are permitted- i.e. matters between Gd and Man, so-called ritual
matters) appea to be the same. Such a person is defined in SA:CM 25:1,2,
as a someone who is a Chacham Gadol Ha-Yodeah Le-hachriah" i.e. a
Halachic scholar who is very wise and knows how to make decisions in
Halacha. Such a person is further defined as a scholar who is "Gamir"
(knowledgable) and "Savir" (insightful) and has been given "Reshut"
(official permission - from whoever can grant such permission- in the
time of the Mishna from the Nasi in Israel or from the Reish Galuta in
Bavel, in later times from the community or its representatives).

Today, most communities do not have an official Rav or official Dayanim
for the entire community. Therefore the third element required for a
someone to be a Posek would be lacking. However, there is another
principle, that substitues for that of "Reshut", the principle of "Kiblu
Alyhu" (lit. "they have accepted someone as a decisor) that is, people
having a dispute may accept as Dayanim persons who are Gamir and Savir
and that acceptance is a sufficient appointment of someone to make him a
Dayan for the purpose of deciding a PARTICULAR dispute in Dinei Mamanot
(monetary disputes). Just as we have dayanim who function in matters
that are Bein Adam Ve-Chavero (between people), a Rav may decide issues
in matters of Issur Ve-Heter (decisions as to what is forebidden and
what is permitted) in matters Bein Adam le-Makom (between a person and
Gd). For someone to function as a Posek there are the same requirements
as those of a Dayan- Gemira (learning), Sevira (understanding) and
Kabbala (acceptance of the Rav as a Posek- at least in the particular
matter for which enquiry has been made).

As I recall there is a hekeish (comparison) made betweeen a Dayan and an
Eid (witness) and just as a woman may not ordinarily be a witness she
may not be a Dayan.

I leave further discussion to the other members of the list.

[pasted from second posting [Mod.]

After I sent my posting I thought that this might be old ground that we
were going over. I searched the MJ search engine and I found that what I
wrote had been partially dealt with previously. I have selected part of
a previous posting that gave some useful references:

 From: Yitz Kurtz <hmrcelec@...>
 Date: Thu, 17 Feb 1994 13:01:24 -0500
 Subject: Women Rabbis

In a recent posting Ari Ferziger asked for sources and issues relating
to Women Rabbis. The real issue is: What is a Rabbi? Halakhically, this
is not a simple question and I will not deal with it here. Instead, I
will deal with two common notions of what a Rabbi is: 1) Rabbi as
someone qualified to paskin (decide) in halakhic matters 2) Rabbi as
religious director of a congregation

Rabbi as Posek
Tosafot, Niddah 50a discusses whether women can be dayyanim (judges). 
Tosafot cites Devorah the Prophetess, who according to the Book of Judges 
was a judge, as an apparent proof that women can be judges. This contradicts 
the mishnah in Niddah 49b that states that all kosher dayyanim are kosher 
witnesses and we know that women are not kosher witnesses so they must be 
unfit to be dayyanim (there are similar Tosafots in Yevamot 45 and Bava Kama 
15 (see the reference in the margins)).   ... [The writer of that posting 
then gives his opinion as to how the differing opinions may be reconsiled 
to, in his opinion, favour women as  dayanim.]

Rabbi as Religious Director of a Congregation
Another important issue is the Rambam's opinion, in Hilkhot Melakhim, ...on, 
in Hilkhot Melakhim, that just as it is prohibited to appoint females as 
monarchs, it is prohibited to appoint women to any position of SRARA 
(authority) over the tzibbur (community). I don't have the reference here 
but R'Moshe Feinstein has a tshuva responding to someone who wanted to know 
if it is forbidden to appoint a woman mashgiach (kashrut supervisor) because 
of SRARA. R' Moshe answers that there is no problem because: 1) It is 
unclear whether the halakha is like the Rambam that the prohibition against 
appointing queens applies to all positions of srara and 2) Being a mashgiach 
is not a position of srara... [So I assume that the point was that it was 
unclear whether we paskend in accordance with the Rambam on the issue of 


From: Yeshaya Halevi <chihal@...>
Date: Wed, 18 Jul 2001 13:05:15 -0700
Subject: RE: Regional Accents in Tanach

Shalom, All:

	There has been much discussion on regional accents, and which
are right or wrong.  I submit that the Tanach proves there have always
been regional accents, and therefore this is a non-issue.

	I refer, of course, to the famous incident recorded in Shoftim
("Judges") Chapter 12.  The tribe of Ephraim had an accent that caused
them to say "Seebolet" instead of pronouncing that word "Sheebolet," as
did the people of Gilead.

	Although their accent marked many Ephraimites for death that
day, due to war, nowhere is it suggested that only one accent was
correct for all of Israel.

	I suspect one can find other instances of accent variations in
the Tanach.  Considering all the linguistic dynamics present in our
history -- separations by geography, influences by different Canaanite
nations still living in the land, contact (peace and war) with
Lebanon/Phoenicia etc., I'd be shocked if everyone in every tribe spoke

	So let's stop worrying about accents and concentrate more on
**doing** what we say when we do say things to God. After all, God knows
all languages, dialects and accents.

Yeshaya Halevi (<chihal@...>)


From: Ben Z. Katz <bkatz@...>
Subject: Verses in Ezekiel that Rashi did not understand

>>Really! I would like to know which Pesukim in Ezekiel Rashi didnt

Rashi himself modestly says he doesn't understand something in verse
42:3.  Interestingly enough, a pious printer added a mysterious
parethetical comment written as rashai tayvot after that, but which can be
read as straight Hebrew to the effect that "even though I wrote this
commentary with Divine assistance".  The reason we know a printer added it
is that this comment isn't in the manuscripts.  Also, there are otrher
parenthetical notes added by the printer on other verses (e.g., on 40:48).

Ben Z. Katz, M.D.
Children's Memorial Hospital, Division of Infectious Diseases
2300 Children's Plaza, Box # 20, Chicago, IL 60614
Ph 773-880-4187, Fax 773-880-8226

From: <FriedmanJ@...>
Date: Wed, 18 Jul 2001 09:51:05 EDT
Subject: Re: A Visit to a Mosque

just for the record:

When muslims fall korim, there is always a mat on the ground, and they
carry it with them.


End of Volume 35 Issue 19