Volume 39 Number 12
                 Produced: Wed Apr 30  5:34:51 US/Eastern 2003

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Banning Books
         [Sam Saal]
Becoming a Gadol
         [Gil Student]
Candle Lighting when away from Home (4)
         [Zev Sero, Zev Sero, Richard Fiedler, Zev Sero]
Hand Clapping
         [Gil Student]
Link to Download "Making of a Godol"
         [Stokar Family]
Pants or Skirts?
         [Bernard Raab]
Pesah Shiurim
         [Yehonatan and Randy Chipman]
Rabbi Solomon Schechter (2)
         [Ben Katz, Farkas, David S]
Repurchase of Chometz - Notification
         [Raphi Cohen]


From: Sam Saal <ssaal@...>
Date: Tue, 29 Apr 2003 12:12:26 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: Banning Books

Well, it is out there.

The banning of "Making of a Godol: A Study in the Lives of Great Torah
Personalities" made the NY Times:

April 26, 2003
Rabbis Who Were Sages, Not Saints

While the article's analysis and discussion are generally fair, the very
fact that the overall impression left is that (some) in the Orthodox
community are willing to ban books.

This, above and beyond issue of sanitizing the lives of our G'dolim,
is a Chilul HaShem.

While this discussion seems to have tapered off in mail.jewish, I'm
interested in understanding whether those who wanted to ban the book
were aware that such a ban would "get out." If so, is this somewhat of
a Hashgafic "cost benefit" analysis or, more Machiavellian, a brilliant
way of turning the tide away from the sanitized biographies about which
we in this forum have been worrying.

Sam Saal          <ssaal@...>


From: Gil Student <gil_student@...>
Date: Mon, 28 Apr 2003 13:29:56 -0400
Subject: RE: Becoming a Gadol

I wrote in MJ vol. 38 #42 (Jan 21 '03):
>I heard from R' Hershel Schachter more than once that R' Soloveitchik
>encouraged those in the YU kollel to learn the Chazon Ish's chiddushim
>because he [the CI] did not have any particular talent in learning but
>because of his sheer persistence and unbelievable effort became a gadol
>ba-Torah anyway.  This was supposed to inspire students to try to reach
>those heights as well.

While reviewing Megillah recently I realized that this fascinating point
is explicit in the gemara 6!  The statement that "I tried hard but did
not succeed" is not to believed regarding "le-chidudei", arriving at
sharp and clever conclusions, but remembering material is a matter of
"siyata min shmaya" (Divine assistance) and even those who try hard may
not succeed.  Arriving at chiddushim is a matter of toil and training
(the latter is my added peirush).  If one is trained properly and tries
hard enough then anyone can be mechadesh in Torah.

Gil Student


From: Zev Sero <slipstick1@...>
Date: Mon, 28 Apr 2003 10:38:07 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: Candle Lighting when away from Home

For the past 8 years or so, I have spent an average of 8 or so shabbatot
per year in hotels, in the USA and elsewhere.  I light a single
tea-light in my room, and I have never had a problem, even in a
non-smoking room.  I have never asked permission, and I imagine that if
asked officially, the hotel will have to say no, even if they don't
really think there's a problem, so it's best not to ask.

I also tape my door open, in a manner that is not visible from the
corridor but is obvious to the maids, and have never had a problem or
complaint.  Ditto for taping the bathroom light switch on (if you don't,
the maid will switch it off, leaving you with a dark bathroom on what
can be a long shabbat afternoon).

Zev Sero

From: Zev Sero <slipstick1@...>
Date: Mon, 28 Apr 2003 10:42:58 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: Re: Candle Lighting when away from Home

Richard Fiedler <richardfiedler@...> wrote:

> For those who might think that the prohibitions against real candles
> are arbitrary I feel compelled to relate a real and embarrassing
> actual event that happened to my wife and myself a few years ago at
> a hotel in London.  Friday night my wife lit tea candles and a few
> hours later we awoke with fire alarms, a fire in progress and shortly
> hotel staff banging on the door. We benched gomel next morning at
> the Marble Arch Synagogue.
> Battery operated lights should be required by all of us.

Why do you suppose that this risk is higher in hotels than in private
homes?  Or do you suggest that the lighting of real candles should be
abolished, and we should all use battery-operated lights every week?

Zev Sero

From: Richard Fiedler <richardfiedler@...>
Date: Mon, 28 Apr 2003 21:04:48 +0300
Subject: Re: Candle Lighting when away from Home

There is a great difference between one's home with large silver trays 
upon which one regularly lights Shabbat candles and the situation when 
one might be traveling with a lack of equipment and perhaps a bit jet 

I for one, do not think we are any longer empowered to make gezarot but 
when there is evidently a valid alternative to real candle lighting 
when traveling perhaps the community would wise to encourage it.

From: Zev Sero <slipstick1@...>
Date: Mon, 28 Apr 2003 11:23:09 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: Re: Candle Lighting when away from Home

Whence this assumption that everyone lights at home on `large silver
trays'?  At home I rest my tea-light in its glass holder on a can of
food (this also helps with any basis-ledavar-haasur issues that may
arise).  At a hotel, I put it in the ash-tray if I have a smoking room,
or on some other suitable surface if I don't - I often find the tray
which holds the glasses and ice-bucket to be suitable, but if it's
plastic then there are alternatives available.

There isn't a whole lot of equipment needed.  Perhaps you haven't seen
the glass tea-light holders that are widely available in Jewish shops.

Nor is everyone (or even most people) spending shabbat in a hotel
suffering from jet-lag!  And shouldn't it be just as much of an issue on
ones return home?

Zev Sero


From: Gil Student <gil_student@...>
Date: Mon, 28 Apr 2003 13:37:14 -0400
Subject: Re: Hand Clapping

For poskim who are lenient, see Minchas Elazar 1:29; Aruch HaShulchan OC
339:5-9; Iggeros Moshe OC 2:100. But there is still a VERY strong basis
to prohibit it. See Yechaveh Da'as 2:58.

Gil Student


From: Stokar Family <shtuker@...>
Date: Sat, 19 Apr 2003 02:31:51 +0200
Subject: Link to Download "Making of a Godol"

58MB PDF file. (first volume only)


From: Bernard Raab <beraab@...>
Date: Mon, 28 Apr 2003 14:51:08 -0400
Subject: Pants or Skirts?

Joseph Mosseri writes a series of good questions which I am certain others 
more qualified (and less lazy) than I will answer properly.
My question is a related one: Who decided that pants is (only) a male 
garment? I never saw an illustration of the ancient or biblical world in 
which anyone was wearing pants! I suspect that men started tying up the 
bottoms of their long garments to permit sitting astride a horse while 
wearing body armor sometime in the middle ages. But long robes remained a 
dress choice for men well into the later centuries while some women are 
shown in billowing "pantaloons" in this same period. In more modern times I 
remember how terribly avant garde it was for a woman to wear a pants suit in 
the 1950's (60's?) when it was introduced by some couture houses. Today, 
however, when pants are as ubiquitous as dresses (or more so) for women, why 
should they still be judged to be less "sni-usdik" per se?


From: Yehonatan and Randy Chipman <yonarand@...>
Date: Tue, 29 Apr 2003 09:31:36 +0300
Subject: Re:  Pesah Shiurim

In MJ v39n07,  Saul Newman <Saul.Z.Newman@...> asked about the
quantities required fur the various mitzvot of Passover-- matzah,
marror, wine, etc.

     Habad has a shiur of either 11 or 13 grams for a kazayit of matzah,
as against the 28 grams usual in the Yeshivish world.  That's less than
half of one machine matzah.
     A friend of mine, Prof. Mordecai Kislev, a historical botanist at
Bar-Ilan Univeriuty, has written an article (in Hebrew) about the
"kezayit" (olive-size) measurement,  in which he states that a kezayit
is much smaller than generally assumed.  He debunks both the assumption
that an olive is fully half the size of an egg (usually given as 54
grams),  and that in ancient times the olives were much larger than
today.  Contemporary olives are 5 to 10 grams.  He examined olive pits
found at Massadah, which he finds to be approximately the same size as
today's pits, adding that there is no reason to suggest that the ratio
of volume/weight of pit to flesh was any different then.
     He then interprets a Talmudic passage that says that "the beginning
of a human being is the size of a 'kezayit.'"  Two possible
interpretations:  the size of a fetus at age 40 days, or the quantity of
semen ejaculated by the male in one act of intercourse.  Both these,
again, are in the general range of 10 grams or ccs.
     Yehonatan Chipman


From: Ben Katz <bkatz@...>
Date: Mon, 28 Apr 2003 14:13:11 -0500
Subject: Re: Rabbi Solomon Schechter

>From: Ben Z. Katz <bkatz@...>
>There was a nice article recently in the AJS Review chronicling the
>separation of Orthodoxy from Conservative Judaism.  As in all processes, it

Correction: The article I referred to was NOT in the AJS Review and it
wasn't that recent It was published as a David W. Belin Lecture in
American Jewish affairs.  The author is Jeffrey S. Gurock and the title
is: From fluidity to rigidity: The religious worlds of Conservative and
Orthodox Jews in 20th Century America.  2000.  Jean and Samuel Frankel
Center for Judaic Studies, U. of Mich.

From: Farkas, David S <DavidF@...>
Date: Mon, 28 Apr 2003 16:09:05 -0400
Subject: Rabbi Solomon Schechter

    Recent posters have written about Rabbi Shechter's positions, and
how he would have been perceived as Orthodox today, as indeed most early
JTS graduates would be seen. Concerning Rabbi Shechter, it may be said
that he was an extraordinary talmid chocham, as all of his many works
demonstrate. In fact, in one of the last monographs he ever published,
he writes that he was presently studying the Nefesh Hachayim, and that
he was struck by the profundity and depth contained in that work. He
also felt the need for, and was working on at the time of his depth, a
compilation of Rabbinic and Midrashic passages concerning tzeddakah. It
says much that the very same need was felt and addressed at around the
same time by none other than the Chafetz Chaim.

    However, all this being true, it must be said that many ( most?)
traditional Rabbis of the time were opposed to the innovations used by
JTS.  Although its founding fathers were Orthodox and wanted simply to
produce a modern Rabbinate, many foresaw that the changes would
eventually lead to a split with Orthodoxy. I am sure that the founders
would have scoffed at fears of a slippery slope as being just so much
nonsense, or dismissed concerns as just "knee jerk reactions" to
anything modern. Eventually though, JTS would part radically with
traditional Judaism.

    This of course has much to do with the (well overly discussed) topic
of feminists and gemara in these pages. Even if we were to give girls
the benefit of the doubt, that most wish to learn gemara for sincere
reasons, and not for empowerment reasons, ( a benefit I am not prepared
to grant) it still strikes many as the first step towards Conservatism.

    Along the same lines, we cannot view Rabbis of yesterday with the
fashions of today. If, 100 years ago, Rabbi Shechter was considered a
radical, then that is how he must be viewed today. The same is true for
Rabbis Shaul Lieberman, David Weiss Halivni, or any other great scholar
that defies easy labeling. This is also true for ordinary pulpit rabbis
of 200 years ago who would outshine any gadol bitorah of today - if they
weren't considered "gedolim" ( however we define this political
football) in their own time, we would not reevaluate them, for psak
halahca purposes, today.

David Farkas
Cleveland, Ohio


From: Raphi Cohen <raphi@...>
Date: Tue, 29 Apr 2003 08:16:50 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: Repurchase of Chometz - Notification


Carl Singer writes:
> I was wondering how other communities / congregations deal with
> determining that their shaliach (usually the Rabbi) has, indeed,
> repurchased the chometz which they sold prior to Yom Tov?

If I correctly understand the process, there is no need for such

As of my limited knowledge, the Rav does not physically sell the
Chametz. He transfers ownership to the goy sometime on Erev Chag, but
this ownership must be exercized by the goy, who must come during the
Chag with a lot of money to physically pick up the chamtez.  If he
doesn't do so by the end of the Chag (and he never does), his option is
not valid anymore and the ownership of the chametz is Jewish again. It
is proper for Jewish consumption because its formal owner during Pessach
was not Jewish.

Thus no need to repurchase. Of course, others may have different
minhaghim or a better understanding of the process.

BTW, a point which needs to be reminded every year, is that Israelis
spending Pessach in chu"l AND Jews from chu"l spending the Chag in
Israel should sell their chametz in the country where their chametz is
stored.  This, in order to make sure that the return to Jewish ownership
does not happen one day too early (in Israel) or one day too late (in

Raphi Cohen


End of Volume 39 Issue 12