Volume 40 Number 02
                 Produced: Fri Jul  4 15:13:43 US/Eastern 2003

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Birchat Kohanim and shomea keoneh
         [Saul Mashbaum]
Ruth and Conversion
         [Batya Medad]
Simcha Guidelines (3)
         [Gil Student, Sharon Shapiro, Shimon Lebowitz]
Straddling Plag
         [Joel Rich]
Syrian Erub
         [Carl Singer]
Teaching Torah
         [Batya Medad]
Two Duchening questions (3)
         [Barak Greenfield, MD, I Kasdan, Yehonatan Chipman]


From: Saul Mashbaum <smash52@...>
Date: Mon, 30 Jun 2003 23:13:04 +0300
Subject: Birchat Kohanim and shomea keoneh

David Shabtai <dys6@...> wrote about birchat kohanim in the
name of Rav Chaim Soloveitchik.

It is the Beit HaLevi, father of Rav Chaim Soloveitchik, who wrote what
David cited.

Interestingly, the Netziv, Rav Tzvi Yehuda Berlin, rejects the Beit
HaLevi's reasoning, citing the mitzva of mikra bikurim, which requires
"kol ram", (being said aloud), but for which, according to many
authorities, "shomeah k'oveh" is valid.

The Rov, who as is well known is a direct descendent of both the Beit
HaLevi and the Netziv, is quoted by Rav Herschel Schachter in Nefesh
HaRav p. 302 as resolving this difficulty.

The chidush about the minhag for the congregation to say aloud the ten
sons of Haman is not that of Rav Chaim Soloveitchik, but of the
Rogechover Rov, Rav Yosef Rosen (who was Rav Chaim's chavruta in Volozin
at one point. That really must have been quite a remarkable chavruta).

Saul Mashbaum


From: Batya Medad <ybmedad@...>
Date: Mon, 30 Jun 2003 20:34:10 +0200
Subject: Re: Ruth and Conversion

      In Chap 4, (verse 10 I think) Boaz announces that he married "Ruth
      the Moabite".  Since it is a biblical (I think) prohibition to
      refer to the origins of a convert, she must not have been a
      convert.  The

It's m'doraita, possibly in Ki Tetze, that there is a definite issur on
Moabite converts.  I checked this with my TaNaCh teacher and neighbor,
Rabbi Nissan Ben Avraham.  This Moabite issur also touches on King
David's legitimacy.  That's why Boaz answered the way he did.  Ruth's
behavior with Boaz should be compared to Tamar's with Yehuda, and I (not
from my teachers) consider Batsheva with David to be a further link in
the chain.

Halachik conversion as we know it and practice it today is not like in
Biblical times.  When I questioned Nissan last Shabbat about this recent
conversion thread in MJ he said that there are two ways of looking at
things that are equally mistaken.  One is to think that in Biblical
times it was just like today, and the other is to do things today, just
like in the Bible.  Just remember that if today's conversion is based on
Ruth's pledge to Naomi, then Biblical conversion had to have been
different.  There are things that evolve, even in strict halacha.

I once learned that if the Shofarot of the Beit Hamikdash were
rediscovered we wouldn't be allowed to use them, because each generation
must have its own.

Chodesh tov,



From: Gil Student <gil_student@...>
Date: Mon, 30 Jun 2003 12:05:01 -0400
Subject: Re: Simcha Guidelines

Sharon Shapiro wrote:
>I recently ran across an article entitled "Simcha Guidelines,"
>which I believe was originally published in the September
>2002 issue of the Jewish Observer.  The guidelines were
>meant for those residing in the New York/New Jersey
>metro area, although they were meant to pave the way for
>jewish communities across the country.  I was just curious
>to know if there have been any noticeable changes in the
>grand scale of simchas since these guidelines have been
>published.  Any opinions?

I haven't seen any changes in Brooklyn.  People still have vorts and
weddings seem to be the same.  I've heard of weddings that follow the
guidelines but very few.

Gil Student

From: Sharon Shapiro <shamshap@...>
Date: Tue, 1 Jul 2003 06:04:15 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: Re: Simcha Guidelines

Below is a revised link to the Simcha Guidelines for those of you who
were unable to open the original URL I included (thanks to Edward Ehrlich
for the useful tip about TinyURL):


Sharon Shapiro

From: Shimon Lebowitz <shimonl@...>
Date: Tue, 1 Jul 2003 17:25:07 +0200
Subject: Re: Simcha Guidelines

> of the problems was that a clause was added to the end saying something
> along the lines of "all this is true except in cases where there needs to be
> an exception".  Rules can not exist if they are not going to apply to
> everyone equally. 

One of the best stories I heard about this idea related to a previous
Gerrer Rebbe. As I heard the story (I am not a Hassid myself) he set
very strict guideleines for weddings, and was approached by a quite
well-to-do hassid for a dispensation.

The Rebbe said "you saw my rules, follow them". When the hassid said
"but, I am rich, for me it is not a problem, I can afford it.....", the
Rebbe's response was: "Oh! You are rich... So go buy yourself a
different Rebbe!"

If the details of this are incorrect, I apologize, but that is the way I
heard the story.



From: <Joelirich@...> (Joel Rich)
Date: Mon, 30 Jun 2003 08:35:42 EDT
Subject: Re: Straddling Plag

      From: <chips@...>
      If one wants to daven ma'ariv after plag but before sunset,
      does one have to:
        finish or start
      mincha before plag?

      Does it make a difference if a person is davening with a
      minyan - do the silent amidah's have to finish or start
      mincha before plag?

As usual, consult your LOR.  In general one should avoid davening mincha
and maariv in the same time zone(ie don't daven both after plag but
before shkia).  There are many who are makpid on this even on erev
shabbat in the summer.  They are sometimes forced to daven without a
minyan so as to not violate the general rule set out above. Others allow
it although I'd be interested if anyone feels lchatchilla a community
should do this without offering an alternative.

Joel Rich


From: Carl Singer <csngr@...>
Date: Mon, 30 Jun 2003 08:24:43 -0400
Subject: Syrian Erub

There are two Rabbis who apparently identify themselves as Chief Rabbi
of the Syrian community -- a son (of Rabbi Kassin) and a son-in-law --
or perhaps it's grandson / grand-son-in-law.  While studying this Eruv
w/ Rabbi Wasserman (his Shabbos afternoon Shiur at Young Israel of
Passaic-Clifton) we saw letters from each -- one is pro and one is

Carl Singer


From: Batya Medad <ybmedad@...>
Date: Mon, 30 Jun 2003 20:17:01 +0200
Subject: Re: Teaching Torah

      If children are to be captivated at all by Torah, and if they are
      to love Torah and think and dream about Torah as only a child can,
      they must be taught the Midrashim as Jews have traditionally been
      taught them for hundreds of years. Thus, Og was indeed a giant

If you want to "captivate" a child's mind, please respect his/her
intelligence.  Otherwise the Bible will join "The Three Bears," Hans
Cristian Anderson and other fairy tales.  In Israel the Barkai teaching
method is gaining support.  Children are first taught pshat and find it
fascinating, and this fascination lasts a life-time.  Medrashim and
meforshim are added gradually and later to help explain what is unclear.
Of course, here in Israel the texts are taught in their original Hebrew
to students fluent in the language.



From: Barak Greenfield, MD <DocBJG@...>
Date: Tue, 1 Jul 2003 11:24:11 -0400
Subject: RE: Two Duchening questions

>     In fact it is prohibited to recite techinos on Shabbos so, to avoid
> those not aware of the prohibition doing so, some kehillos do not duchen
> when yomtov falls on Shabbos.


> The German custom is that the cohanim duchen in slippers, rather than in
> stocking feet.  Therefore, they are afraid that on shabbat a cohen might
> forget about the prohibition on carrying, and bring his duchening
> slippers to shul, so they don't duchen on shabbat; the precedent is
> `gezera deRabba', which abolished several mitzvot on shabbat (shofar,
> lulav, megila) so as not to lead to carrying.

I assume there must be some sources for these statements, however, the
Mishneh Berura, Baer Hetev, and Shaar Hatziyun (on Orach Chaim 128:44)
have an entirely different take on the reason. Apparently, cohanim took
upon themselves an unnecessary stringency to not duchen betumas keri
(following a seminal emission, before going to the mikveh). To avoid the
possibility that they would simply not have relations with their wives
on Friday night, rather than go to the mikveh shabbos morning (which was
either inconvenient, unhelpful [being on the same day as the duchenen],
or thought to be prohibited), the custom arose to not do nesias kapayim
at all on shabbos.


From: I Kasdan <Ikasdan@...>
Date: Tue, 01 Jul 2003 03:07:41 -0400
Subject: Re: Two Duchening questions

[A few members of the list sent in this Q&A from the Daf Yomi list
below. Mod.]

Immanuel Burton asked -- 1) Why do the Levites was the Kohanim's hands
before duchening? 

Rabbi Mordechai Kornfeld's Daf Yomi Kollel was the recent recipient of
the same question and answered as follows:

brought to you by Kollel Iyun Hadaf of Yerushalayim
             Rosh Kollel: Rabbi Mordecai Kornfeld

Zevachim 019b: The Levi washing hands of the Kohen

Shmuel K. asked:

The Gemarah explains how the Cohanim washed their hands, by placing
their right hand over their right foot, and then having another Cohen
open the faucet.  In the beis Hamekdash , the Leviem did not wash the
hands of the Cohanim, rather they washed each others hands.  Why
nowadays do Leviem wash the hands of the Cohanim ?

The Kollel replies:

Today's practice is recorded in the Beis Yosef (OC 128), and is based on
the Zohar in Parshas Naso.

(The washing of the hands for Birkas Kohanim, by the way, is not related
to the Din of Richutz Yadayim v'Raglayim in Shemos 30:21. Rather, it is
a special Din of Netilas Yadayim for Birkas Kohanim, as learned from the
verse "Se'u Yedechem Kodesh..." (Tehilim 134:2).)

D. Zupnik"

From: Yehonatan Chipman <yonarand@...>
Date: Tue, 01 Jul 2003 12:43:38 +0300
Subject: Re:  Two Duchening questions

In MJ v39n95, Immanuel Burton asks two questions about duchening:

(1) Why do the Levites was the Kohanim's hands before duchening?  I
always thought this was because in the Beis Hamikdosh the Levites wash
the Kohanim's hands before they go on duty, but upon reading more
carefully the section in the Torah describing how the Kohanim have to
wash their hands and feet before going on duty, I realised that the
Kohanim actually wash themselves.

     True, but this custom is actually based on Kabbalah.  See Be'er
Hagolah on O.H. 128.6, who quotes the Zohar, Parshat Naso, as the
source; and also Sha'arei Teshuvah #4, who refers to Safra de-Tzeniuta,
which is a section of the Zohar.

     Incidentally, some people neglect this custom terribly.  In a
certain shul in the holy city of Jerusalem, many otherwise observant
Levi'im simply don't bother to go out to wash the kohanim's hands on
weekdays; so much so, taht even thoiugh there were many half a dizen
leviim, a certain bekhor had to take this responsibility upon himself.
One of the Leviim, when asked, told me about how the late rosh yeshiva
of Netiv Meir yeshiav high school, Rav Aryeh Binah (Ha-Levi), did not
consider it beneath himself to wash the hands of a lowly 9th grader
kohen, as is only proper. But the person telling the story continued not
to wash the kohen's hands!

(2) In places outside Israel, why do a lot of places omit duchening when

Yom Tov falls on Shabbos, even though the Mishnah Berurah says that one
should duchen.

    I've heard (orally) that this is due to the fact that some kohanim
are makpid to go to mikveh on mornings when there is duchaning, at least
if they've had relations with their wives, and that on the other hand
some prohibit tevilah on Shabbat morning, because of probems of
squeezing th towels and other things.  In such a situation, the
reasoning supposedly goes, it would immodest to have duchaning, because
it would then be obvious which kohanim had just slept with their wives.
    Of course, today it's become minhag, and most kohanim couldn't tell
you this whole line of reasoning, which is based on a combination of
humrot, and today many if not most may not even be makpid about mikveh
for duchaning in the first place.
    As you say, Mishnah Beruarh mentions that some kohanim are strict
about tevilah on Yom Tov eve (he uses the somewhat uncomplimentary word,
"nahagu silsul be-atzman," which implies a kind of exaggerated
fastidiousness), even though everyone goes to mikveh then anyway.  See
his gloss on that same chapter, #165.
     That is why, in all events, not duchaning on Yom Kippur that falls
on Shabbat is defintely a minhag taut (erroneous custom), as sexual
relations are of course prohibited on Yom Kippur so the whole situation
couldn't come up.

    Yehonatan Chipman


End of Volume 40 Issue 2