Volume 39 Number 58
                 Produced: Sun Jun  1  8:03:36 US/Eastern 2003

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Forgetting to count Sefira
         [Shmuel Himelstein]
Hair Covering (Women)
         [Ephie Tabory]
Halakha and Vaccines (2)
         [Carl Singer, Rise Goldstein]
Mitzvah for Mikey
         [Carl Singer]
Mitzvot of the Tzibur
         [Joel Rich]
Modern Orthodoxy Definition (Chumras)
         [Carl Singer]
Rosenblum article -- question re Choosing Jewish Leaders
         [I Kasdan]
Sefirat HaOmer
         [Mark Steiner]
Segulas and Superstitions
         [Ben Katz]
A Serious but Halachic Approach to the Orthodoxy Problem
         [Josh Backon]
Standing for L'cha Dodi
         [Yisrael Medad]


From: Shmuel Himelstein <himels@...>
Date: Fri, 30 May 2003 14:54:31 +0200
Subject: Forgetting to count Sefira

Piskei Teshuvot (more about this set below), in Volume 5, p. 283, brings
an interesting responsum in Shibbolei HaLeket (if I deciphered the
abbreviation correctly) Part 3, Section 96, who rules that "If a Rav
forgot to count [sefira] one day, and it is customary for him to count
aloud for the community,and if he stops counting aloud [for the
comunity] it will be considered disgraceful and a denigration of the
honor of the Torah, he can continue counting aloud with a blessing."

Piskei Teshuvot is a work in progress. The author, following the
sequence of the Mishnah Brurah, brings numerous responsa of modern-day
concern. The author is R' Simcha Benzion Rabinowitz, who - I understand
- lives in Ramat Shlomo, Jerusalem. So far, I am aware of four volumes
which have been published. In other words, two more volumes will
complete the set. I would highly recommend the set to anyone who deals
with contemporary halachah. The general tone is Charedi.

Shmuel Himelstein


From: Ephie Tabory <tabore@...>
Date: Thu, 29 May 2003 14:21:19 +0200
Subject: Re: Hair Covering (Women)

A student of mine is writing a dissertation in sociology on hair
covering, Anyone willing to contribute information, suggest references,
personal stories,provide artifacts (advertisements etc, please, do not
send your old hats or sheitels!) can write to me
off-line. Thanks. ephraim tabory


From: <CARLSINGER@...> (Carl Singer)
Date: Fri, 30 May 2003 07:31:15 EDT
Subject: Re: Halakha and Vaccines

           Just the opposite.  Since you are putting yourself your
      family and your community in danger if you don't vaccinate it
      should be assure not to vaccinate.

Agreeing that this is not a medical forum -- here are some issues to be
aware of (dangle ye participles while ye may.)

In some states a child with a letter from Clergy stating that it is
against their religious beliefs to vaccinate must be admitted to PUBLIC
school.  I am not sure re: private school.

Nor am I sure who at school (teacher, principal, school board) is
recipient or decision maker) i.e., is letter valid, and what do we do
next to accomodate (private tutor, fully integrate into classes, etc.)

When my wife was English Studies Principal of a well known yeshiva (in
New York State) -- she had to deal with such an issue -- that is two
parents (let's leave the kids out of it) who refused to have their
children vaccinated and had a letter from a Rabbi.  Legal council was
required as well as a p'sak halacha.  Life gets very complicated,
especially -- as noted above -- when there is danger to the community
(other students)

The family eventually moved to another community so this matter was not
fully resolved.

Carl Singer

From: Rise Goldstein <rbgoldstein@...>
Date: Fri, 30 May 2003 06:46:35 -0700
Subject: Re: Halakha and Vaccines

Ben Katz wrote, in connection with parents who don't vaccinate their

>          Just the opposite.  Since you are putting yourself your family
> and your community in danger if you don't vaccinate it should be assur
> not to vaccinate.

I would add one qualification to this assertion, speaking again as a
doctorally trained epidemiologist (albeit not an infectious disease

It is *not* necessarily the case that one who does not vaccinate puts
his or her family, or community, at risk.  Not every member of a family,
or community, has to be vaccinated in order for epidemics to be
prevented.  In epidemiology there is a concept called "herd immunity,"
which basically means that if a large majority (generally, 75-80%,
though there could be diseases where the needed vaccination prevalence
would be higher) is vaccinated against Disease X, then epidemics of that
disease will not occur.  Therefore, even if some individuals don't
vaccinate themselves or their children, there could still easily be more
than adequate protection against transmission of the disease(s) in
question for the respective families or communities.

NOTE: I'm not trying to encourage wholesale refusal to vaccinate, but
only noting that well-founded refusals in limited numbers of cases do
not automatically put families or communities in danger.

Shabbat shalom, hodesh tov, and hag sameah--

Rise Goldstein (<rbgoldstein@...>)
Los Angeles, CA


From: <CARLSINGER@...> (Carl Singer)
Date: Fri, 30 May 2003 07:37:19 EDT
Subject: Mitzvah for Mikey

I wanted to call your attention to the following website -- it's a unique
use of technology for a davar Kodesh    

Mitzvah for Mikey is a (worldwide) campaign to do mitzvahs on behalf of
a remarkable, but very ill, young man.

Carl Singer


From: <Joelirich@...> (Joel Rich)
Date: Fri, 30 May 2003 08:22:17 EDT
Subject: Re: Mitzvot of the Tzibur

      I know this may sound pedantic, but all Mitzvot are performed by
      individual Jews

May be a question of terminology but certain mitvot are on the
tzibbur(eg karban tamid or according to R' Soloveitchik the tfiilaat
hatzibbur -repetition of shmoneh esrai)

Joel Rich


From: <CARLSINGER@...> (Carl Singer)
Date: Fri, 30 May 2003 06:59:23 EDT
Subject: Re: Modern Orthodoxy Definition (Chumras)

> >This is a bit closer to home -- in a pluralistic Orthodox community*--
> >now that we have categorized chumras and given them a life of their own
> >-- how does the community institutionally and individually deal with the
> >various mainstream orthodox institutions and individuals within it. ...
> Easier said than done of course, but one should attempt to be an
> exemplar of the benefits of adhering proudly to his shitah [school of
> thought] and as to how such enhances Torah, Avodah [worship] and middot
> tovot [good character traits].  Confrontation is rarely of value.
> Eliyahu

A problem is that beyond being exemplary (serving as a model) some folks
become advocates or missionaries -- my way is the right way, or my way
is the ONLY way.  This common phenomena cleaves communities and does not
enhance ....

Carl Singer


From: I Kasdan <Ikasdan@...>
Date: Fri, 30 May 2003 09:07:35 -0400
Subject: Re: Rosenblum article -- question re Choosing Jewish Leaders

See More Clique Than Court by Jonathan Rosenblum  Jerusalem Post  May
30, 2003 at http://www.jewishmediaresources.org/article/587/ 

in which Mr. Rosenblum criticizes the process by which Israeli Supreme
court justices are chosen essentially by the sitting judges themselves.
For example, he writes:

"Precisely because the Court is so political does it become imperative
that the elected branches have a much larger say than at present in the
selection of justices. Otherwise we shall all be subject to a Court of
Platonic Guardians that believes itself entrusted to determine the basic
values of the entire society."

and -- 

"The current judicial selection process has resulted in a Court that
resembles, in Professor Ruth Gavison's words, "a closed sect - a sect
that is too uniform and which effectively perpetuates itself."

Leaving aside the obvious (l'havdil) difference in the type of
individuals involved and the Halachic/Torah principles that they would
apply, and focusing on the *process* alone, are not the Moetzes, the
leadership of the RCA and local Batei Din or Vaadim, chosen in the same
way that Mr. Rosenblum decries about the Israeli system -- i.e., from
within and without public input? Indeed, (and I do not have the source
in front of me this moment), does not the Rambam explain that shoftim
are chosen in the similar self-perpetuating fashion (i.e., by
Sanhedrin)? But see the Abarbenal in Parshas Shoftim wherein (I believe
 -- again I do not have the source in frront of me for the moment -- ) he
says that Moshe choosing the juduciary in the Midbar was a "horaas
shaah" not for future generations where the *people* have the
responsibility of appointing judges.

I raise this in the context of preparing a shiur on how Jewish leaders
are chosen -- see, e.g., Brachos 55 -- "ain maamidin parnes al hatzibur
ela im kein nimlachin batzibur" [-- we do not appoint a "parnas" =
according to many, judges and/or leaders -- without public consultation]
-- to what extent is this still true today with respect, again e.g., to
the Moetzes, the RCA, a local Vaad etc.?


From: Mark Steiner <marksa@...>
Date: Fri, 30 May 2003 15:08:16 +0200
Subject: Re: Sefirat HaOmer

A few years ago, a man approached me at the evening prayer, and asked me
to say the blessing for sefirat ha-omer for him.  I did so, of course,
and he answered "amen" and counted the omer.  The next evening he did
the same thing, and then asked me, "Do you know why I'm asking you?"  Of
course, I thought to myself: probably he forgot to count one night* and
is in doubt whether he can say the blessing for himself.  Nevertheless,
I asked him: why?  He answered me, because I went around the world and
crossed the International Date Line and I'm in doubt what night I should
count.  I thought to myself, how great Chazal were, when they said
(Avot): give every man the benefit of the doubt!

Mark Steiner

*If a person is in doubt whether he is allowed to make a berakha, it
needs a certain argument to allow him to hear it from another, it seems.
There is a group of rishonim (e.g. R. Tam) who hold that by hearing it
from another, it is exactly as though one said it himself, in which case
you don't gain anything by hearing it from another.  Perhaps, however,
because there is a dispute about this matter (Rashi holds differently),
and because there is ALSO a doubt whether if a person missed one night
of sefira he is allowed to say the berakha, the entire issue is a
sfek-sfeka (double doubt) allowing him to listen to the blessing from
another.  Just a little pilpul, something to think about, not to be
relied upon without asking a Rav.


From: Ben Katz <bkatz@...>
Date: Thu, 29 May 2003 13:53:52 -0500
Subject: Re: Segulas and Superstitions

>From: Andy Goldfinger <Andy.Goldfinger@...>
> ...
>Now -- it is certainly true that we must treat genuine segulas properly,
>and this means both that we should treat them seriously and not blow
>them out of proportion.
> ...
>But here is what bothers me.  I suspect that some local superstitions
>have somehow crept in among the Torah She B'Al Peh. And -- it is ossur
>(forbidden) for us to follow superstitions.  How are we to distinguish
>one from the other?

         The answer is called common sense.  Whatever is superstitious
(as are all the items listed above) is asur according to the Rambam.
The Rambam doesn't quote many things in the Talmud he didn't believe in
(astrology for example).  As to how to define superstitious - how about
anything without a direct cause-effect relationship?  In the example
cited above, washing dishes will probably make your wife happy in a
direct manner (saving her a chore) and lead to shalom bayit; folding
your tallit is not likely to do so in any direct manner.  (Tefillah is
different because we are either asking God to intervene or at least
focusing our attention on what is important in life so that we can
optimize our own situations.)


From: <BACKON@...> (Josh Backon)
Date: Fri,  30 May 2003 16:24 +0200
Subject: Re: A Serious but Halachic Approach to the Orthodoxy Problem

What the Chazon Ish (Yoreh Deah 2 s"k 16) wrote was that the din of
Mumarim and Apikorsim with regard to "moridim velo ma'alin" doesn't
apply today. [PEYRUSH RASHI: if you see someone who violates every
rule in the book, you can't throw him down a shaft and take away the
ladder]. Since the Chazon Ish gives the reason as being "ein ha'hashgacha
geluya", this somehow got conflated to "everyone who is today not religious
is a "Tinok Shenishba" which, of course, is nonsense as it goes against
the definition given by the Rema (someone who has absolutely no idea
or knowledge about Judaism).



From: Yisrael Medad <ybmedad@...>
Date: Fri, 30 May 2003 14:32:44 +0200
Subject: Standing for L'cha Dodi

Further to the issue raised by Ira Jacobson, the custom to stand, I may
presume, comes from the behavior of the AriZal.  According to the
collection Minhagei Eretz-Yisrael by Rav Yaakov Gellis (with whom I was
privileged to work when I was employed by the Torah Cultural Department
of the Jerusalem Municipality during 1971), p. 100-101, the AriZal would
receive the Shabbat in the field, obviously standing, and then once
more, a second time, at home, when he would circle his dining table (see
Sha'ar HaKavvanot [Salonica] 97b) also standing.  He further quotes the
Shemen Sasson that the Jerusalem custom was to encircle the bimah.

I sit.

Yisrael Medad


End of Volume 39 Issue 58