Volume 39 Number 50
                 Produced: Thu May 29  4:43:54 US/Eastern 2003

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Another rabbi charged with fraud
         [Rachel Swirsky]
Anticipation of Covering Hair
         [Leah S. Gordon]
Covering of Hair
         [Yisrael Medad]
Orthodox-Conservative-Reform (2)
         [Edward Ehrlich, Alana Suskin]
Paralysis in Halacha
         [Eli Turkel]
Prof. Sperber
         [Ira Bauman]
Shechitah In The United Kingdom
         [Shimon Lebowitz]


From: Rachel Swirsky <swirskyr@...>
Date: Thu, 22 May 2003 12:08:54 -0400
Subject: Another rabbi charged with fraud

        From: Irwin Weiss <irwin@...>
        Do we somehow think that Orthodox Rabbanim should be held to a
        higher standard, since they do tend to be more m'dakdek as to
        observance of Mitzvot than colleagues in the other divisions of

Yes but that does not make it right.

For starters, it is not only in the frum world where this is the case.
No matter where you go around the world or which culture you are talking
to, the clergy and the communal leaders are held to a higher standard.
When we hear of a child molester on the 6 o'clock news it is terrible
and something should be done immediately.  If that child molester is a
priest or a bishop, the crime becomes that much more severe.  Besides
the fact that this was someone who the child was led to believe could be
trusted, this was a man who supposedly had dedicated his life to Gods
work.  This was his full time job.  If I do not do my gardener's job
that is one thing... if my gardener does not do my gardener's job that
is another case entirely.

This is true of the way people think of the clergy even if it is not the
actual truth and this can be seen many, many times throughout history.
Even the words 'priest' or 'rabbi' conjure an image of divine presence
and peace.  I remember learning about ancient civilizations where the
priests were neither moral nor peaceful, but that is still the image
they tried to put forth.  In ancient Egypt a priest would shave off all
of his hair to symbolize his disattachment from this world and his
complete devotion to the world of the Gods.  He would live secluded, in
the temples so that he should not come into contact with the outside
world.  He would also call in prostitutes and skim treasure off of
offerings to the Gods for his own household.

Finally, we get to the part that bothers me day in and day out.  This is
an issue that I take very seriously.  Should people who are visibly frum
be held to a higher standard then regular people.  I say absolutely!  I
live in very orthodox neighbourhood.  Everywhere you look, everyone you
see, including my husband and me, are wearing 'the uniform.'  We dress in
the black suits and the long skirts and people can recognize most of us
on first sight as being orthodox Jews.  And yes, even frum Jews can be
rude.  Because we are so recognizable, when someone is slighted by a
orthodox Jew they remember it as being by an orthodox Jew.

Torah without derech erets, without out compassion and sensitivity and
courtesy, can not be torah!  I am very concerned about the appearance
and state of the frum community here in Toronto.  I am troubled by a lot
of what I see going on around me in the frum world.

Now the frum communities need to be God's ambassadors to the world.  We
are recognizable!  What kind of image to we portray?  People see us in
our wigs and our snoods - in our hats and our shtreimles, and what do
they think?  What does the Shomer Shabbos woman in jeans think when she
is pushed out of the way by the woman in a long skirt in the corner
plaza.  Better question, what do those women's children learn when they
see the whole exchange?

The "frum" child learns that it is okay to act with no derech erets.  He
will grow up to be the same as his parents.  The "frei" child learns
that the "frummies" are rude.  He will grow up and not want anything to
do with frumkeit.  I have seen it happen!  People living near many of
the shuls in this city are disgusted at the goings on of their street!
Once frum children are growing up to be disgusted with frum Jews.  I am
a frum Jew and seeing what they see I am not so sure I can blame them!

And what does the non-Jewish world think when they read about it in the
newspaper?  'Well, what can you expect, they are Jews.'  Antisemitism is
as old as the Jews.  For whatever reason God and history have chosen to
cast us as the scapegoats. The victims to the rest of humanity.  Yes to
a certain extent this has made us insular.  But while looking inward we
do need to remember that we also have an outward appearance.  When you
wear the uniform, you are representing all of k'lal yisroel.  You must
live your life according to the very highest standards!!!  How much more
so from those who profess to have devoted their lives to nurturing and
teaching the ways of God.

We are supposed to be 'Ohr La'goyim,' a light unto the nations showing
them the light and beauty of God and Torah and mitzvos.  When stories
like this are in the newspaper, what do we show the rest of the
world. What are we telling the rest of humanity about God and Torah?


From: Leah S. Gordon <leah@...>
Date: Sat, 24 May 2003 19:03:24 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: Anticipation of Covering Hair

As a married woman, I would like to comment on the alleged happy
anticipation/participation re covering hair--

While it is sometimes fun to wear a cute hat or whatever, I think I can
safely say that covering one's hair is generally inconvenient and
sometimes uncomfortable/hot/sweaty/annoying.  For instance, in the very
cold or windy weather, it makes it hard to wear normal
coats/hoods/etc. or walk without a hand on the head.

I think we should be very careful not to sentimentalize these sorts of
things.  Perhaps it is necessary to cover the hair, but it is certainly
not great fun.

--Leah Gordon


From: Yisrael Medad <ybmedad@...>
Date: Fri, 23 May 2003 15:29:27 +0200
Subject: Covering of Hair

Wrote Shoshana Ziskind <shosh@...>
      [1] although my husband whenever I refer to the mitzvah of
      covering hair always asks me where in Rambam's count of the 613 is
      this mitzvah, I think in general this is referred to as a mitzvah
      that woman get to do right?

Rav Mordechai Eliyahu puts out a weekly transcript of his satellite
broadcasts called Kol Tzofayich.  In last week's bulletin, 219, Parshat
Behar, he responds to a query about tying a knot in a scarf (tze'if) on
Shabbat and says that a woman who puts on her head a scarf or kerchief
is permitted to make one knot as it is for the purpose of a Mitzva,
because covering the head is a Mitzvah for the woman.  He quotes the
Magen Avraham (Taz, 317:1) as permitting two knots, but not tightly

Yisrael Medad


From: Edward Ehrlich <eehrlich@...>
Date: Fri, 23 May 2003 17:55:45 +0300
Subject: Orthodox-Conservative-Reform

Shmuel Himelstein wrote:

>When Alana Suskin states that Orthodoxy and Conservatism have more in
>common than Conservatism and Reform do, this may or may not be true,
>however all of this "in common" talk is totally negated by a basic
>undermining of the Conservative position halachically, and that is in
>regard to conversion. Granted that the Conservative movement requires
>the entire ritual (and here I lay aside the fundamental question of
>what "acceptance of Mitzvot" means in regard to Conservative
>conversions), there is a far more basic problem in this regard: in the
>interest of "Jewish unity," there are many Conservative clergymen who
>will accept the conversion of any person by any Jewish clergyman. In
>other words, this would include people converted by Reform clergymen,
>where such things as Milah and Tevilah never took place. Thus, by their
>actions, these clergymen - while possibly insisting on all the rituals
>of conversion in regard to the conversions they perform - will then
>inject into the Jewish fold people who are clearly not halachically
>Jewish.  That is a far cry from Orthodoxy and Conservatism having much
>in common.

I brought up this very question with a Conservative rabbi some time ago.
He said that any decision about a conversion by a reform rabbi would be
decided on a case by case basis.  I don't know if "many Conservative"
rabbis would accept a conversion made by any "Jewish clergyman".  Such
an acceptance would violate official Conservative policy in any case.

The words "Orthodoxy" and "Conservatism" have no Halakhic significance.
The real question is whether a conversion performed by a Conservative
rabbi which did consist of mikva, circumcision for men and the
acceptance of mitzvoth is valid or not.  I don't see how the possible
acceptance of some rabbis in the Conservative movement of non-Halakhic
converts is relevant anymore than a conversion performed by an Orthodox
rabbi would be invalid because there are rabbis in the Orthodox movement
who steal or cheat or occasionally eat a cheeseburger.

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

From: Alana Suskin <alanamscat@...>
Date: Fri, 23 May 2003 10:25:29 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: Orthodox-Conservative-Reform

Shmuel Himelstein writes:
"Granted that the Conservative movement requires the entire ritual there
is a far more basic problem in this regard: in the interest of "Jewish
unity," there are many Conservative clergymen who will accept the
conversion of any person by any Jewish clergyman.  In other words,this
would include people converted by Reform clergymen, where such things as
Milah and Tevilah never took place."

I have to disagree. I don't know of any Conservative rabbis who will
accept any conversion by any Jewish clergy. In fact, it is contrary to
the policies of the Rabbinical Assembly to do so: it is required by the
RAbbinical Assembly that Milah (for men) and tvilah take place *and we
may not accept ANY conversion that does not have these features* Period.

What you many be thinking of is the fact that there are Conservative
rabbis who will accept conversions of Reform rabbis that DO have milah
and tvilah, which I think is questionable, but you are correct that some
Conservative rabbis accept them for klal yisrael. (I think that that has
become more of a problem since patrilineal descent amongst the Reform,
since we don't accept patrilineal descent, but the Reform could within
their own rules accept patrilineally descended people as rabbinical
school candidates - which would have the end result of their ordaining
people who are not Jewish, but I digress)Nevertheless, for a
Conservative rabbi to even consider accepting a Reform rabbi's
conversion, the person MUST undergo milah and tvilah. It's simply not
true that a Conservative rabbi can accept anyone who has converted
without these things.

Alana Suskin


From: Eli Turkel <turkel@...>
Date: Sun, 25 May 2003 14:30:43 GMT
Subject: Paralysis in Halacha

Gil Student writes

"Prof. Sperber suggests that the beginning of the end of creativity in
halachah was the Chasam Sofer, who argued that anything new is

Gil's examples are also correct nevertheless I agree with the basic
premise in Sperber's article.  The general tendency today is to prevent
disagreements with previous piskei halacha independent of reasons. When
R. SZ Auerbach first came out with his psak about electricity there were
suggestions to put him in cherem because he dared to disagree with
CI. Others sharply criticized RM Feinstein for his chiddushin.

Thus, while some poskim rise above the crowd the tendency in most
yeshivot to is stress that one cannot disagree with CI, etc even with
good proofs.  There are rabbis who are trying to "end" the era of
achronim and claim that the MB is the final psak with some minor
deviations for the poskim of the past 100 years but that in the near
future disagreeing with achronim will be like us disagreeing with
rishonim (they will need some imagination for the name of the new era).

Remember that in the Shulchan Arukh (Mechaber+Ramah) was not accepted
overnight even in sefardi lands and certainly not in ashkenazi
communties. It took several generations for it to be fairly accepted
mainly due to the supercommentaries on the SA.

So Sperber's comments on the Chatam Sofer may be more sloganeering than
facts but the basic presentation is correct

Prof. Eli Turkel,  <turkel@...> on 05/25/2003
Department of Mathematics, Tel Aviv University


From: <Yisyis@...> (Ira Bauman)
Date: Fri, 23 May 2003 11:34:34 EDT
Subject: Re: Prof. Sperber

      Prof. Sperber suggests that the beginning of the end of creativity
      in halachah was the Chasam Sofer, who argued that anything new is
      forbidden. I know that Prof. Sperber understands the context of
      Chasam Sofer's aphorism, so I am truly puzzled by his application
      of it to this context

Several years ago, I heard Prof. Sperber lecture in Teaneck.  He tried
to place the opinions of gedolim regarding the immutability of minhagim,
based on the needs of the time.  Therefore, Rav Kook, confronted with
groups of Jews emigrating from many different ethnic backgrounds,
downplayed many regional minhagim in order to create a sense of
community in Eretz Yisrael.  On the other hand, the Chasam Sofer was
confronted with Reform Judaism and its deluge of "creativity".  His
response was to declare even minhagim on par with Sinaitic Law.

With this in mind, we may be better able to understand the Chasam
Sofer's comment about Chodosh.  The point that I understood from
Prof. Sperber at the time, and I may be mistaken, was that the response
of the Chasam Sofer was only a reaction to a situation that arose and
not a feeling that all creativity should be stifled. Also, it in no way
limited his personal creativity when it comes to Psak Din.

         Ira Bauman


From: Shimon Lebowitz <shimonl@...>
Date: Fri, 23 May 2003 17:45:56 +0200
Subject: Re: Shechitah In The United Kingdom

> (in fact the prohibition of ever min ha'chai - a limb from a living 
> animal - still applies to an animal during pirkus until the animal has 
> died).  

As far as I have learnt, what you say is true for a non-Jew, for whom
"shechita" is no different than any other way of killing the animal.

But for Jews, the "shechita" itself is "matir" the animal (renders it
fit for consumption), and removes it from the prohibition of "ever min
hachai", even during pirkus.

I once also heard that this was a point of contention between Yosef (who
considered himself a Jew, and would eat meat after shechita, during
pirkus) and his brothers (who considered themselves still to be Bnei
Noach, and insisted on waiting till after pirkus). This was given as the
meaning of their claim to Ya`akov that Yosef would eat "ever min

Shimon Lebowitz                           mailto:<shimonl@...>
Jerusalem, Israel            PGP: http://www.poboxes.com/shimonpgp


End of Volume 39 Issue 50