Volume 35 Number 38
                 Produced: Tue Aug  7  5:27:56 US/Eastern 2001

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

The 3 Weeks
         [Israel Caspi]
Jews split the rabbinate and they blame the non-Jews
         [Shalom Carmy]
Rabbinic Authority
         [Allen Gerstl]
Repetition in prayer (2)
         [Zev Sero, Joseph Kaplan]
"Scientific" Differences between Men/Women
         [Leah S. Gordon]
Should we classify Jews by Observance
         [Saul Davis]
Women and Ordination (2)
         [Leona Kroll, Avi Feldblum]
Request: Glacier National Park in Montana


From: Israel Caspi <icaspi@...>
Date: Thu, 02 Aug 2001 22:27:49 +0800
Subject: The 3 Weeks

I was told that during the 3 weeks, shaving is permitted on erev Shabbat
"lichvod Shabbat" -- and that the source for this is Magen Avraham's
comment (11) on the Shulchan Aruch O.H. 451:3.

I looked it up and it seems pretty clear to me that the M'chaber is
ruling that shaving during the week of Tisha B'Av is unequivocally
forbidden; the Ramo says that the custom of Ashkenazim is to extend the
issur back to 17 Tammuz.  The Magen Avraham is raising the question of
cutting one's nails -- which is not covered in the Shulchan Aruch -- and
rules that during the 3 weeks it is permitted to do so on erev Shabbat
"lichvod Shabbat" and for purposes of going to the mikveh.

Am I reading this wrong?  Does anyone know how this could be interpreted
as permission to shave for Shabbat?  Or where the source for shaving
lichvod Shabbat can be found?  And does the dsame apply to s'firat

--I. Caspi


From: Shalom Carmy <carmy@...>
Date: Thu, 2 Aug 2001 23:00:58 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Jews split the rabbinate and they blame the non-Jews

> (2) Many, even small places, have 2 Rabbis - Ashqenazi and
> Sefardim. This is an old racist system going back to Turkish times which
> the British adopted (the imperialistic "divide and rule"). This weakens
> the Chief Rabbi even as a figure-head. Who is the moreh deathra? Rabbi 1
> or Rabbi 2? There is very little reason for any town to have 2 Chief
> Rabbis and a Jew of one edah (Ashqenazi and Sefardim) can approach a
> Rabbi of another with his shealoth and get the right answer for his eda.

As far as I recall: Under the Ottoman empire the Rabbinate was not
split.  The "national" rabbi (Hakham Bashi=Rishon l'Zion) was Sefaradi
because most of the Jews were. After the Balfour Declaration it was
clear that the balance of political power had shifted to the (Ashkenazi)
Zionists. Rather than remove the Hakham Bashi and install R. Kook, who
was the natural candidate for Chief Rabbi, the Jewish community chose
the divided position, and local positions were also divided in this way.

Until R. Ovadiah's revolution began to have its impact and the Sefaradi
community (coincidentally) produced a significant number of major
figures who could hold their own with the Ashkenazim, a unified
rabbinate would have ensured that non-Ashkenazim would have been even
more underrepresented in the rabbinate than they were in other
prestigious positions.

Of course, these historical factors do not justify the perpetuation of
this system.


From: Anonymous
Date: Thu, 2 Aug 2001 07:58:49 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: Meditation

Does anyone know of any possible Halachic issues surrounding meditation
practices?  Although some meditation has origins in Buddhism, the
religious connection is not necessary for effective meditating.

Thanks, m-j'ers.

[If I remember correctly, I think it is Aryeh Kaplan that has two book,
Medidation and Kabala, and Medidation in the Bible (I think), that
discusses Jewish origins and applications of Medidation. Mod.]


From: Allen Gerstl <acgerstl@...>
Date: Tue, 31 Jul 2001 17:37:21 -0400
Subject: Re: Rabbinic Authority

>From: <CARLSINGER@...> (Carl Singer)
I wrote:
>>While the Vilna Gaon was the officially appointed Rav of the Vilna 
>> >>community; a Rabbi today is not the official Rav of an entire 
>> >>community. ...

Carl Singer wrote:
>...-I don't have reference handy,but as I recall -- The Vilna Gaon >was NOT 
>the Rav of Vilna -- despite his stature, he needed to ask >permission of 
>the community Bet Din to hold services in his home -- >which was, I 
>believe, denied -- and he abided by this decision.

My reply:
Another respondent in an offline communication similarly corrected me.
I thank both that respondent and Carl Singer for correcting my mistake.

>Granted the form of government within the religious community (polity)
>may have changed -- but if a community or the micro-community -- a
>synagogue -- is to function as a community, not as a co-located bunch,
>then it needs some form of governance and leadership -- If one davens >in 
>shule XYZ then one must (at minimum) adhere to the standards and >choices 
>made by the Rav of that Shule.  If one lives in a community >but distains 
>the halachik authority of it's Rabbi(s) then one is >contributing to a lack 
>of community.

I accept as an ideal belonging to a shul where my Posek is the Rav of
that shul. However, this is not convenient for me; does this mean that I
should not join a shul in which I (respect but) do not share some of the
haskafot of a Rav who is "Yeshivish". There is far, far more that unites
orthodox Jews than divides us; Elu ve-elu divrei Elokim Chaim (these and
those are the words of the living G-d).

However, while much of Halacha, even in matters that were once
controversial, is fixed as the "sugyah de-alma" (consensus of opinion
among Poskim) and by "haminhag ve-hamaase" (the custom and the common
practice) there are of course still difficult issues of Pesak.  I believe
that in making close-call, difficult decisions that any decision-maker
may understandably be affected by his own values.

TuM - "Centrist" hashkafot are not now currently too popular in many
circles.  About two years ago while he was visiting my city, I briefly
discussed with Rav Herschel Schacter whether I could be a member of a
shul but use someone else than its Rav as my personal Posek.  He told
me, IF I correctly understood him, that the RAMA rules(he did not give
the citation) that one is not required to accept as his personal Posek
the Rabbi of the shul in which one davens.

This may not be the ideal situation, but it is sometimes the most
pragmatic.  Such may even have the benefit of allowing someone to
understand differing views while unapologetically maintaining one's own
legitimately orthodox haskafot (without touting their superiority).



From: Zev Sero <Zev@...>
Date: Tue, 31 Jul 2001 15:36:28 -0400
Subject: RE: Repetition in prayer

[A quick note: Following a back and forth on this in email submissions,
I requested of the participants to summarize their positions for a
submission to the list. The next two submissions are Zev's and Joseph's
reworked submissions. Thanks to both of them for this. Mod.]

> I would recommend that you each think about and submit a single
> position posting and I would be happy to post that

My attitude is that people who sing this tune generally are not 
listening to what they're singing; they've heard it sung that way
all their lives, and the Xological implication doesn't even occur to
them.  It was probably only obvious to me because I first heard it 
as an adult, when I came to the USA 7 years ago.  By ostentatiously
counting on my fingers, I'm in fact giving a subtle hint of my
feelings about it, rather than actually confronting anyone or
embarassing anyone.  My hope is that people will notice what I'm
doing and think about it, and get the hint and change their behaviour
without the need for the issue to ever be brought up officially.

I don't know that it's worth making an official issue of, and I think
that's probably the Rabbis attitude as well.  There are many changes
that I'm sure he'd like to make in the shul, which if I were in his
position I'd make a higher priority than this.  I am sure that the Rabbi
did not initiate the singing of the song, I'm pretty sure that nobody
has ever asked him his opinion of it, and if it slowly sinks out of use
I'd be astounded if he were displeased.

Zev Sero

From: Joseph Kaplan <penkap@...>
Date: Fri, 3 Aug 2001 16:20:00 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Repetition in prayer

In several off-list emails, some questions were raised about my post
criticizing one method suggested to deal with the "ushemo, ushemo,
ushemo" issue: ostentatiously counting on your fingers hoping to make
those singing feel uncomfortable.  Let me clarify my comments.

1.  I am not dealing with substance.  Although I grew up with that tune
and heard it sung in dozens of shuls and loads of yeshivot with nary a
protest, I am not knowledgeable enough to know whether there are,
indeed, halachic problems with it.  So I leave that issue to the experts
among us.

2.  My concern is primarily one of manners and the way we deal with
fellow Jews.  As I wrote earlier, I believe people should, as a general
rule, keep away from ostentatious behavior, and all the more so in a
shul or davening context.  Similarly, I don't think it is our job to
make people "feel uncomfortable" in shul.  As I see it, such behavior
smacks of an attitude of "I'm better and smarter than all of you people
who sing the ushemo song and therefore clearly do not know the halacha
as well as I do."  Whether or not this is the intent of the
finger-counter, it is a message that some will surely get.

3.  Rabbis have (or should have) the final say on halachic issues as
they apply to the rabbi's shul, and the "ushemo" question falls into
this category.  Therefore, this activity could be seen as a slap at the
authority of the rabbi.  This is not to say, of course, that mediocracy
triumphs or that rabbis are above criticism.  What it does mean is that
there are proper and sensitive ways of doing things which we should try
to adopt.  For example, someone who takes this issue very seriously
could (i) speak privately to the people involved, (ii) discuss privately
with the rabbi the halachic issues involved, (iii) write a letter or
article to the shul bulletin discussing the issue and proposed
solutions, (iv) give a shiur, or (v) bring it up at a shul meeting, (vi)
run for president or gabbai or try to become a member of the shul ritual
committee so as to be involved with who davens for the amud and what
tunes they use.  I am sure this list is not exclusive and there are
other menschlichkeit ways of dealing with this situation.

4.  In short, I believe that there are mature and adult ways to deal
with this issue, but ostentatiously counting on fingers to make people
uncomfortable is not one of them.

Joseph C. Kaplan


From: Leah S. Gordon <lsgordon@...>
Date: Thu, 02 Aug 2001 09:55:30 -0700
Subject: "Scientific" Differences between Men/Women

>[description of pop culture "science" book about mail/female
>differences called _Brain Sex_]
>If, indeed, the book is valid (and I see no reason why it should not be

This is the big question.  From my reading, the scientists have yet to
successfully deconvolve how much "difference" is from socialization and
how much (if any) is innate.

Arguably our current generation has some % difference (and thus who
cares about the origins, maybe).  On the other hand, we must be careful
not to generalize to any other place or generation about any differences
the scientists find.  When we can avoid more of the uneven
education/treatment/etc. of girls vs. boys, then the differences will
obviously lessen.  (Even the most hard-core "nature" debaters concede
that there is a large body of socialized difference in addition to any
innate differences.)

--Leah Gordon


From: Saul Davis <sdavis@...>
Date: Wed, 1 Aug 2001 21:59:49 +0300
Subject: Should we classify Jews by Observance

Thanks to Russell Hendel for objecting to the classifications of Jews by

Note that we will all be fully classified one day by the 'dayan emeth'
(=the Ultimate Judge) and those of classification X who did good things
(not just in public) will receive just rewards and those of
classification Y who did bad things (even in private) will be
punished. The names we might give today to X or Y will be totally

I refer you to inter alia: Ramb"am's 11th principle ("Gomel lish hessed
...  ") and the introduction to Yom Qippur vidduy ("ataa yodea razey

Saul Davis
Beer-Sheva, Israel


From: Leona Kroll <leona_kroll@...>
Date: Wed, 1 Aug 2001 02:27:22 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: Women and Ordination

As far as I know, the only real reason- which is to say the only
lasting, impossible to change reason- that women cannot become rabbis is
that in the Chumash, when Moshe appoints elders, etc, he appoints men,
and he does so through smichut- literally, the laying on of hands, and
something intangible is transmitted- the semikah which rabbis receive
today stems from this ordination, and hence the term semikah. So, today
as then, only men receive semikah.  We don't know why, can we just admit
that there are some things we don't know? Its preferable to me than
scrambling for an answer based on mysoginistic assumptions about my
cognitive abilities.

From: Avi Feldblum <mljewish@...>
Date: Tue, 7 Aug 2001 05:02:40 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Re: Women and Ordination

My main question to the position that Leona posits is I would like to see
the sources that she bases that position on. While it may be applicable to
the original halacha of "semikha" that no longer exists today, I am less
convinced, in the absence of clear and compelling sources, that it must be
applicable to some of the situations today, especially those of
non-horoah/psak (not deciding/defining new halacha) based halachic
advisor type positions (i.e. yoetzet) and even many of the activities that
an average shul Rabbi does today, which has no relation to Psak.

Avi Feldblum


From: <JAlexan186@...>
Date: Thu, 2 Aug 2001 10:56:20 EDT
Subject: Request: Glacier National Park in Montana

We are looking for information on orhodox shuls, kashrut symbols, and or
kosher restaurants and or in the vicinity of Glacier National Park in


End of Volume 35 Issue 38