Volume 39 Number 51
                 Produced: Thu May 29  4:56:01 US/Eastern 2003

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Agudat Harabanim & RIETS
         [Eitan Fiorino]
Candles and Safety
         [Carl Singer]
Candles While Travelling
         [Gil Student]
Forgetting Sefirah (3)
         [Mike Gerver, Yisrael and Batya Medad, <zsero@...>]
Halakha and Vaccines
         [Bill Bernstein]
RaMBaM's Igeret to his son
         [Eric W Mack]
Standing during L'Cha Dodi
         [Yisrael Medad]


From: Eitan Fiorino <tony.fiorino@...>
Date: Mon, 26 May 2003 10:10:45 -0400
Subject: Agudat Harabanim & RIETS

From: Shaya Potter <spotter@...>

> I believe (don't remember where I read this) that Yeshiva Rav Yitchak
> Elchana (RIETS aka YU) was originally an Agudat Harabanim yeshiva as
> was Torah V'Das.  The Agudat Harabanim was not particularly happy w/
> the hanhala of RIETs decision to create an undergraduate men's 
> college (yeshiva college) and put most of their efforts into Torah
> V'das after that point, but still were involved with yeshiva affairs
> at least up to picking a new president after Rabbi/Dr. Revel died.

These are the key points as laid out in Aaron Rakeffet-Rothkoff's
biography of Bernard Revel:

It is clear that the members of the Agudat Harabanim (founded in 1902 as
an organization of Eastern European rabbis in the US and Canada) were
heavily involved with RIETS (the only Eastern European-like yeshiva in
the country at the time).  The leadership of the Agudat Harabanim were
among the directors of RIETS.  They strongly supported the appointment
of Bernard Revel as president of RIETS as it began its integration of
the elementary school Yeshiva Etz Chaim and set out to build a secular
high school program.  Revel was sought after as a gadol in Torah who
also possessed general and scientific knowledge (he had received the
first PhD issued by Dropsie College).  The Talmudical Academy of RIETS
was granted the right to issue diplomas in 1919. In 1923, RIETS
announced its plans to create a college, as many graduates of TA were
continuing on to college and had only secular options available, and the
Agudat Harabanim supported the capital-raising campaign.  The Agudat
Harabanim jointly granted smicha with RIETS until 1936 and maintained a
rabbinic advisory board to the yeshiva until the early 1940's.

It appears that the "falling out" with the Agudat Harabanim can be
linked to 2 issues: first, the teaching of secular studies, in
particular, the teaching within the yeshiva walls of materials thought
to be anti-traditional or even apikorsut, for instance the works of the
Wissenschaft des Judentums school (in many cases the infractions appear
to have been rumored and not actual or did not take place within the
walls of RIETS but rather in other schools); and second, the formation
of what became a competing rabbinic organization for English-speaking,
American-born alumni of the yeshiva. Many of these issues came to the
forefront in the late 1920's and through the 1930's.  Torah v'daas was
organized as an elementary yeshiva in Williamsburg in 1917; an advanced
yeshiva opened in 1926.  As an institution , it was more closely
resembled the traditional Eastern European yeshiva and for that reason
proved more amenable to the Agudat Harabanim.

I highly recommend the Revel biography - it should be required reading
for frum Jews in America.  It gives one a sense for the absolutely
desperate straights in which Orthodoxy found itself at the turn of the
century, and the almost superhuman efforts of one man to create a series
of institutions that would help reverse the tide of assimilation and
become the breeding ground for a new and vibrant Orthodoxy.  For those
successes YU and RIETS are owed an enormous, ongoing and continual
hakarat hatov from all segments of Orthodoxy, which unfortunately few
seem willing or able to extend. I say this as one who is not always the
staunchest supporter of YU.

-Eitan Fiorino


From: <CARLSINGER@...> (Carl Singer)
Date: Mon, 26 May 2003 16:01:27 EDT
Subject: Re: Candles and Safety

      I think our community would benefit more from having general
      safety information (regarding shabbos and chanuka candles, hot
      water urns, traffic and bike safety, underage drinking, etc.)
      repeatedly reinforced than focusing on using tea lights (which
      melt down to hot liquid and can cause serious burns) rather than
      regular candles.

I'll try to find out if it's still available, but several years ago my
wife participated in an effort with the burn unit a Columbia
Presbyterian Hospital in NYC that produced a Yiddish Language booklet
dealing with fire-related issues for the frum community.  The need is,
as mentioned above, great.

Carl Singer


From: Gil Student <gil_student@...>
Date: Sat, 24 May 2003 22:49:59 -0400
Subject: Re: Candles While Travelling

I looked into this a bit more and it is not as simple as I thought.

R' Chaim Ozer Grodzenski (as related orally) and R' Yitzchak Shmelkas
(Beis Yitzchak YD 120) hold that incandescent lightbulbs are fire and
therefore one can use them for Shabbos and havdalah candles.  R' Tzvi
Pesach Frank has two responsa on the issue.  In the first (Orach Chaim
I:143) he only addresses the issue of whether one can fulfill the
mitzvah of lighting Shabbos candles by turning on a switch and concludes
that one can.  In OC II:114:2 he writes that incandescent lightbulbs are
not fire but glowing metal.  Putting the two responsa together one can
only conclude that he would allow using any kind of light for Shabbos
candles, even flourescent light.

All of the above authorities would allow using electric lights for
Shabbos candles.  Some more who permit: Machazeh Avraham OC 41; Shu"t
Devar Halachah 39; Melamed Le-Ho'il OC 47.  Cf. Yabia Omer II:17.

However, some poskim agree with R' Tzvi Pesach Frank on one point but
not on the other.  They agree that incandescent lightbulbs are not
considered fire but, because of that, do not allow their use for Shabbos
candles.  See Shu"t Levushei Mordechai III OC 59; Shu"t Be'er Moshe
vol. 6 electricity 58; Shu"t Shraga Ha-Meir vol. 5 no. 11.

A further question is whether one may say a berachah when lighting
electric Shabbos candles.  The poskim who permit using electric candles
generally do not mention that one may not recite a blessing, implying
that one may.  However, R' Tzi Pesach Frank (in his second responsum on
the subject) quotes the Rogatchover as saying that one may not.  R'
Shlomo Zalman Auerbach is quoted in Shemiras Shabbos Ke-Hilchasah
(ch. 43 n. 22) as saying (with a little interpretation on my part) that
one may not because the electricity is coming from an outside source and
it is as if there is not enough oil in the candle.  If one is using a
battery-operated lantern then one may recite a blessing.  R' Dovid
Ribiat in his 39 Melachos (vol. 1 p. 155 and the associated notes)
quotes R' Moshe Feinstein and R' Ya'akov Kamenetsky as also saying that
one may not recite a berachah.  R' Yosef Dov Soloveitchik is quoted in
Nefesh Ha-Rav (pp. 155-156) as saying that his father told his
hospitalized mother to recite a berachah on electric Shabbos candles.

Conclusion: Ask your rabbi.  Mine said that I may light electric Shabbos
candles (with incandescent lightbulbs only) and recite a berachah on
them.  Conveniently, this was our practice in yeshiva.

Gil Student


From: <MJGerver@...> (Mike Gerver)
Date: Fri, 23 May 2003 06:58:05 EDT
Subject: Forgetting Sefirah

Daniel Alexander asks, in v39n42,

> But what if you forget to count at night, remember during the day and
> count without berakhah, and then the evening of that day, forget again
> until the following day when you again count without berakhah? Have you
> broken the chain?
> My assumption would be that you have not: that you can continue to count
>  with berakhah, since you have counted the Omer continuously on the
>  correct day. Or is it that there is a safek about whether counting
>  during the day is counting and that two safeks next to each other is too
>  much (sounds wrong).

I'm not a posek, but I'm sure your assumption must be correct. The
alternative doesn't make sense. You may have forgotten to count at night
twice, but this does not mean there is an additional safek introduced by
the second time you forgot, because the safek is exactly the same-- Does
it fulfill the mitzvah if you count during the day? Is each day's
counting a separate mitzvah (which would mean it is OK to keep saying
the bracha even if you skipped one day completely)?  Whatever the
answers to these questions are, the effect on whether you can make the
bracha is the same whether you forgot to count one night or two
nights. The reason you can continue to make the bracha the next night is
because it is OK to make the bracha if the answer to EITHER of these
questions is "yes."

A more interesting question is whether you can still count with a bracha
if you forget one night, and forget during the following day, but
remember after sunset before the stars come out, when it would normally
be too early to count for the following day. In this case, I think, you
cannot continue making the bracha. The reason is that the double safek
of not knowing whether counting during the day fulfils the mitzvah, and
not knowing whether it was that day or the next day when you did count,
means that you can assume that for one reason or the other you did not
count on that day at all. Then there is only the single safek of whether
you have to count every day to keep saying the bracha, and that single
safek is not enough to allow you to keep saying the bracha.

I was once almost in that situation, but not quite-- I remembered to
count late in the day, and it was definitely before the stars came out,
but I wasn't sure if it was after sunset or not. I concluded that I
could continue to say the bracha when I counted the next day's sefirah
later that night. I'll leave it as an exercise for the reader to show

Mike Gerver
Raanana, Israel

From: Yisrael and Batya Medad <ybmedad@...>
Date: Fri, 23 May 2003 14:08:58 +0200
Subject: Forgetting Sefirah

A spin-off on Daniel Alexander's query on: Forgetting Sefirah, I once
heard a shi'ur by Rav Nechemiah Taylor that, if I recall correctly,
raised the possibility that even if one forgot to count the days, one
still had the obligation, as separate from the days, on the evenings
when the week's become 'whole', to count, *with* a blessing, the week.

Yisrael Medad

From: <zsero@...>
Date: Fri, 23 May 2003 13:08:16 -0400
Subject: Re: Forgetting Sefirah

Daniel Alexander <jane21267@...> wrote:

> what if you forget to count at night, remember during the day and
> count without berakhah, and then the evening of that day, forget
> again until the following day when you again count without a
> berakhah? Have you broken the chain?  My assumption would be
> that you have not: that you can continue to count with berakhah
> since you have counted the Omer continuously on the correct day.

Your assumption is correct.

There are two separate disputes here.  One is whether counting at night
is required, or only recommended.  According to the opinion that
counting can only be done at night, if you forgot to do so, there is no
point in counting by day.  The mitzvah is gone.  The other opinion says
that not only should you count by day, you should do so with a berakhah.
Since we don't know whom to follow, we count without a berakhah.

Then there's the dispute over whether counting is one long mitzvah, in
which case once you've broken the chain there's no point in continuing,
or each night is a separate mitzvah, in which case there's no chain to
break.  Once again, since we're in doubt, we continue counting (like the
second opinion), but without a berakhah.

When you forgot to count at night, but did count by day, there are four
possible states of the halacha, three of which say you should continue
to count, and only one which says you should give up.  The only scenario
in which you should stop counting is if the halacha follows both the
opinion that there's a chain to be broken, and the opinion that counting
can only be done at night, so that by forgetting to do so you've broken
this chain.  So we go with the more likely decision, that you should
continue to count, with a berakhah, either because your count during the
day was good, or because each night is a separate mitzvah, and does not
depend on whether you've been counting since the first day.

And it makes no difference how many times this happens.  Even if you
forgot to count every night (including the first!), but each day you
remembered, and counted by day, then if on the 49th night you finally
remember to count at night, you can and should say a berakhah.

Zev Sero


From: Bill Bernstein <bbernst@...>
Date: Sat, 24 May 2003 21:39:37 -0500
Subject: Halakha and Vaccines

It came to my attention on another list that there are Jews who do not
vaccinate their children.  My understanding was that this is pretty much
mandatory.  I would no more think of not vaccinating my kids than I
would of letting them go without bathing regularly.

Has anybody heard of any opinions that would support not vaccinating

Bill Bernstein
Nashville TN


From: Eric W Mack <ewm44118@...>
Date: Sun, 25 May 2003 22:52:48 -0400
Subject: RaMBaM's Igeret to his son

Is RaMBaM's Igeret (letter) to his son available on-line in either
Hebrew or English?  Is it available in English in any published medium?

Eric Mack
Cleveland Heights, Ohio


From: Yisrael Medad <ybmedad@...>
Date: Mon, 26 May 2003 06:57:01 +0200
Subject: Standing during L'Cha Dodi

Ira L. Jacobson <laser@...> wrote:

      It has been held that the author of Lekha Dodi, Shelomo Alqabetz,
      directed that it be recited standing and not seated.  Does this
      book mention such a equipment?

my neighbor has returned the Kimmelman book (praise be!)  and it seems
that the book is solely a textual analysis based on scriptual,
rabbinical and most importantly, Kabbalistic interpretations and


End of Volume 39 Issue 51