Volume 40 Number 65
                 Produced: Thu Sep 18 20:35:57 US/Eastern 2003

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

The Blessing Of "Who Has Not Made Me A Gentile".
         [Immanuel Burton]
Standards of Modesty
         [Yehuda Landy]
Women's Role Under Chuppah (5)
         [Sharga Rubin, Ari Trachtenberg, Perry Zamek, Yael Levine Katz,
Chana Luntz]


From: Immanuel Burton <IBURTON@...>
Date: Sun, 17 Sep 303 10:28:01 +0100
Subject: RE: The Blessing Of "Who Has Not Made Me A Gentile".

In MJv40n61, Gilad Gevaryahu responded to my posting in 

> Immanuel Burton (MJv40n59) suggests that in Birkot haShacher of the
> morning prayers the nosah should be "shelo asani nochri" rather than
> the common one "shelo asani goy."

I made no such suggestion.  I was merely highlighting that there are two
variations of this blessing, and that as (a) I do not understand the
usage of the word "goy" in this context, and (b) I personally use the
word "nochri" (for which there are valid sources), I was questioning the
usage of the word "goy".  If I inadvertantly implied that I was the
making the above suggestion, then maybe I didn't word my original
posting carefully enough.

> Although "goy" could mean nations, in some Biblical texts it means
> also non-Jewish nations (Lev 26:33; Jer. 10:2) that is Gentiles.

The verse in Leviticus 26:33 states: And I will scatter you amongst the
nations, and I will draw out the sword after you, etc.

The verse in Jeremiah 10:2 states: Thus says the Lord: Learn not the
ways of the nations, etc.

In my original posting I had written:

> The word "goy" means "nation", and in fact this its meaning throughout
> Scripture.

The two sources quoted here merely reinforce my reporting that the word
"goy" means a nation (Jewish or otherwise), and NOT an individual
non-Jew.  My original posting was quite clear about this, and these two
references highlight that.  This is precisely the point that I was

The Oxford English Dictionary defines a gentile as either a person who
isn't Jewish, or who doesn't belong to one's own religius community,
especially those who are non-Mormon.  As an adjective, it means of or
pertaining to a tribe or nation.  So the Amalekites can be described as
either gentiles or as a gentile nation.  The word gentile is therefore
an individual noun, whereas the word nation is a collective noun.

> The derogatory current meaning is clear, but does Immanuel has any
> evidence that the derogatory meaning was there from the beginning?

No, I don't, but as I was reporting an opinion that I had heard, I was
looking for such evidence.  Besides, this was only one of the four
reasons I had suggested why "nochri" makes more sense than "goy".

> And lastly, does Immanuel suggests also to change "shelo asani
> ke-Goyey ha-Aratzot" in Aleynu?

I am not familiar with this text in Aleinu.  However, I am familiar with
"sh'lo ossonu ke'goyey ho'arotzos", with the first person plural suffix
of -nu as opposed to a first person singular suffix of -ni.

As one can tell from the object suffix -ni, the word "asani" in the
morning blessing means "made me [in the singular]".  It is strange for
"me", a single person, to describe myself as not having been made a
"goy", which is a collective noun meaning an entire nation.  Of course I
am not a nation; I am an individual person.  By contrast, as one can
tell from the suffix -nu in the Aleinu prayer, the word means "made us
[in the plural]".  In that case, it is not odd to say that Hashem didn't
make us, the Jewish nation, like the other nations of the world.  So the
question in my posting referred only to the morning blessing and not to

Furthermore, the word "goy" in Aleinu is also qualified by the word
"ho'arotzos", thereby quite clearly indicating that it is referring to
nations other than the Jews.  The word "goy" in the morning blessing is
not qualified in this way.  Moreover, the word "goy" is indeed sometimes
used to refer to the Jewish nation, e.g. in the Tachnun prayer.

Since submitting my original posting, it has been brought to my
attention that the text given for the morning blessing in the Shulchan
Aruch (Orach Chaim 46:4) is "sh'lo osani oved kochavim" (who has not
made me an astrolator).

I have also had an opportunity to study the commentary in the Avodas
Yisroel siddur (also known as the Baer Siddur), in which it says
[translation], "On page 43b of tractate Menochos (and backed up by the
Rif and Rosh in chapter 9 of Brochos) the text for this blessing is
"sh'osani Yisroel", i.e. who has made me a Jew.  However, the Tosefta in
Brochos reports that Rabbi Yehudah had the text of "sh'lo osani goy",
and that is the text of Rav Amram, the Rambam, the Avudarham and others.
However, the Baal Va'Yetar Yitzchok erased the word "goy" and used in
its place the word "nochri".  This is an appropriate correction, for
even though the Sages were accustomed to use the word "goy" to refer to
a non- Jewish person, nevertheless the word "goy" throughout Scripture
means a nation, and it is not appropriate to use it to refer to an
individual person, as explained by the Ibn Ezra in his commentary on
Exodus 21:8.  The word "nochri" is the correct word with the precise
meaning of a foreign man who is not of Jewish descent, and our
obligation is to arrange our prayers in an unambiguous manner."

The word goy has more than one meaning, and so, by definition, is

A reference in the Schonfeld Siddur gives Ezekiel 44:7 as a source for
the word "nochri", as the verse there says, "Be'haviachem bnei naichor",
which the Targum renders as foreigners.  A nochri is therefore one of
the bnei naichor, and refers to an individual.

I did once try to have a discussion on this topic (i.e. goy versus
nochri in the blessing in question) with some colleagues at work, but it
quite quickly degenerated into their exhibiting what I refer to as Holy
Artscroll Syndrome, i.e. "if it's not in the holy Artscroll it must be
wrong".  But let's not go there.

Finally, I would like to make it clear that I am NOT suggesting that the
usage of the word "goy" in this blessing is wrong beyond a shadow of a
doubt and must be removed from all siddurim, or that we must all say
"nochri" instead.  I am merely presenting reasons why I find the usage
of the word "goy" in this context difficult for me to understand, and
why the word "nochri" makes more sense to me.

I also did not take it upon myself to start saying "nochri" or to
innovate this practice, but this is the nusach that my father uses,
which presumably he learnt when he was a child.

Immanuel Burton.


From: <nzion@...> (Yehuda Landy)
Date: Tue, 16 Sep 2003 14:16:50 +0200
Subject: Re: Standards of Modesty

> From: Bernard Raab <beraab@...>
> I heard a story on this subject at a lecture on development of halacha
> in modern times. The speaker described a summertime visit to New York by
> a prominent Gadol/Rosh Yeshiva which apparently included a trip on the
> A-train to Washington Heights. Shortly thereafter he published an edict
> in which he "assered" the use of the A-train in New York, owing to the
> immodest dress he encountered on his trip. This elicited a responsa from
> R. Moshe Feinstein, zt"l, who said that New Yorkers are accustomed to
> this environment and are certainly allowed to use the subways in the
> summertime as well as year round.

	I would be a little more careful about drawing conclusions from
this story. The issue here was whether or not it is permissible to ride
a train where one will almost inevtiably be exposed to indecently
dressed women. Rav Moshe if I recall correctly has a tshuvah where he
explains why it would be permissible. I dont think he is in any way
linient about what sections of a woman may be exposed. This is a case
where a person must travel for work etc and has no other way to get
there. I highly doubt that he would permit riding the train unecessarily
or if there were other options available. I don't have an Igros Moshe
handy, but I'm not sure that your quote "who said that New Yorkers are
accustomed to this environment" is accurate.

	Have a k'sivah v'chasimah tovah.
	Yehuda Landy


From: <BaalHaIkvei@...> (Sharga Rubin)
Date: Wed, 17 Sep 2003 10:17:02 -0400
Subject: Re: Women's Role Under Chuppah

> From: Yisrael Medad <ybmedad@...>

> I have taken note of a new suggestion for equalizing the chatan and
> kallah in the wedding ceremony. The bride replies after her
> consecration by saying "Hareni mekudeshet lecha b'taba'at zo k'dat
> Moshe v'Yisrael" (Behold, I am consecrated to you with this ring
> according to the law of Moses and Israel).  It is presumed that there
> is no Halachic ramification by the statement and so, it means nothing
> except to provide a feminist feeling fulfillment.

Reb Moshe Feinstein has a tshuva about double ring ceremonies.  After
going through the technical sugya, he comes out that it is no problem of
ki seekach (that a man must aquire the woman and not the other way
around) but it will lead to a falsification of Torah; as in time people
will think that this is the proper halachic way to marry and thus is
assur medi'oraisa.

I assume that the same would be true in this case.

Sharga Rubin

From: Ari Trachtenberg <trachten@...>
Date: Wed, 17 Sep 2003 10:38:21 -0400
Subject: Re: Women's Role Under Chuppah

>From: <MDSternM7@...> (Martin D. Stern)
 >...However any such pandering to feminism might be the
 >thin end of the wedge and lead to other practices which are definitely
 >anti-halachic. Judaism sees the two sexes as having equally important,
 >but essentially different, roles in G-d's pur pose which complement each
 >other. Any attempt to blur the distinction could be extremely dangerous.

Where exactly does our tradition say that the two sexes are equally
important?  Seems to me that this is, ironically, just as "pandering to
feminism" ...  or maybe the truth is that it is pandering to the 50% of
the population that makes men's lives more meaningful, enjoyable, and
comfortable ... is that really so bad?

Ari Trachtenberg,                                      Boston University
http://people.bu.edu/trachten                    mailto:<trachten@...>

From: Perry Zamek <jmarksmn@...>
Date: Wed, 17 Sep 2003 12:54:46 +0200
Subject: Women's Role Under Chuppah

Esther Posen  wrote:
>The Orthodox Jewish religion does not equalize the chatan and kallah in
>the wedding ceremony.  It may not be "with the times", but it's
>timeless, and tinkering may make the ignorant feminist bride feel
>better, but if she has any sense of Jewish law, she would know that she
>is being patronized and the change to the ceremony assumes she is too
>stupid to realize that her husband has just added her to his posessions.
>Facts are facts, feminist feeling non-withstanding.

There was a discussion in Mail.Jewish of the term "kinyan" (acquisition)
and the applicability of this concept to kiddushin in 1999.

Peter Borregard wrote, at that time:


Certainly he is not acquiring the woman as chattel but the mishna's use
of the term kinyan is (yibum aside) not purely stylistic either. First
we learn that the passive lashon 'nikneit' means her consent is
necessary.  This consent plus the kinyan means she can no longer accept
another man as her husband.

Then, Rashi on the mishna's "konah et atzmah" tells us that this means
"l'hiyot bireshutah l'hinase l'acher". That is, what she has once again
acquired by divorce or her husband's death is the reshut, the power, to
say 'I will marry this one and not that one', which she obviously no
longer has while she is married. Since that is what "she acquires
herself" means, therefore, what her husband is acquiring by his kinyan
includes this reshut.

<end quote>

I think it is very clear that chattel acquisition is not what is
happening under the Chuppah.

The question we were discussing in the present thread was whether the
bride's statement is halachically acceptable or not, and if so, how
desirable is such a change to the "traditional" format of the wedding
procedure, and in what format it should/can be made.

Perry Zamek

From: Yael Levine Katz <ylkpk@...>
Date: Wed, 17 Sep 2003 14:13:25 +0200
Subject: Women's Role Under Chuppah

I would like to point to the pertinent article by Rabbi Dov Linzer, "Ani
Li'Dodi vi'Dodi Li: Towards a More Balanced Wedding Ceremony", published
in the recent JOFA journal, Summer 2003-Iyar 5763, Volume IV, Issue 2,
pp.  4-7.


From: Chana Luntz <chana@...>
Subject: Women's Role Under Chuppah

> Perry Zamek <jmarksmn@...> Writes:
>In Yisrael's case, and assuming that the bride makes the statement after
>receiving the ring, there are two possibilities:
>1) Negative: The bride may not consider herself "mekudeshet" (betrothed,
>for want of a simpler term) until she has completed her statement, and
>this may be at variance with the Halachic definition of the completion
>of kiddushin, which is her acceptance of the ring in the presence of
>witnesses. Or, in other words, her "gemirat ha-daat" (intent) to accept
>kiddushin does not take place until after the point at which the
>witnesses assume that it exists.
>2) Positive: the statement is simply a verbal acknowledgement of her
>acceptance of the ring, in place of the [traditional] silent acceptance,
>and this would not constitute evidence of a "delay" in her intent.

Interesting the English non Jewish papers here have been suggesting in
recent weeks that the English authorities (whoever they are) who
organise civil weddings are thinking of requiring a positive statement
from women as part of the marriage ceremony.  I am not sure exactly how
they are proposing that it be done, but they have specifically cited
Orthodox Jewish weddings as being a problem in this regard.

If Perry is right in 1) could that mean that having an English civil
marriage invalidates having a halachic marriage (and vice versa)?

Chana Luntz


End of Volume 40 Issue 65