Volume 42 Number 24
                 Produced: Wed Feb 25  7:19:09 US/Eastern 2004

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Administrivia - www.mail-jewish.org web access
         [Avi Feldblum]
Divorce and Tallit
         [Yehonatan Chipman]
Influences of Galut (2)
         [David Ziants, Warren Burstein]
Shules / Catering Halls
         [Carl Singer]
Weddings in Shuls (4)
         [Eli Turkel, Michael Engel, Perry Zamek, Shmuel Himelstein]


From: Avi Feldblum <mljewish@...>
Date: Wed, 25 Feb 2004 06:30:28 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Administrivia - www.mail-jewish.org web access

Good morning, All,

The mail-jewish web site (www.mail-jewish.org) is currently not
accessable. I tried changing resigtrars, and it did not go smoothly. I
hope to resolve the problem shortly.

Avi Feldblum
mail-jewish Moderator


From: Yehonatan Chipman <yonarand@...>
Date: Mon, 23 Feb 2004 17:07:08 +0200
Subject: Divorce and Tallit

     I had always assumed that a man continues to wear a tallit after he
is divorced. Yesterday, in shul, a friend of mine informed me that his
divorce had just been finalized in the Beit Din, and added: "Look, I'm
not wearing a tallit." When I pointed out that I didn't think this was
correct practice, another man standing nearby said, "I'm divorced too,
and I don't wear a tallit because that is what my rebbe told me to do."
I'm curious to know whether other people have heard anything on this
issue one way or another.

    Several. reasons that come to my mind in support of one continuing
to wear a tallit after divorce:

     1. Quite simply, as a general rule, once one has begun to observe a
particular minhag or mitzvah, even if one is not technically obligated
to do so -- such as wearing a tallit, which strictly speaking is an
obligation incumbent upon the garment and not upon the person -- one
should continue to do so. "Ma'alin bakodesh velo moridin bakodesh" "One
ascends in holiness and does not descend in one's level of holiness."

    2. The whole custom of bachelors not wearing tallitot (or
"talleisim," as they're mistakenly called abroad), is itself rather
problematic, and probably based on Eastern European custom, in which the
tallit, being somewhat expensive, was the customary wedding gift of
father-in-law to his son-in-law. This obviously doesn't apply to the
case of one unmarried by dint of divorce.

    3. Moreover, that distinction is not observed among German Jews or

    4. I would add that, in our day, when many people don't wear a
tallit katan under their clothes, the minhag of not wearing a tallit
before marriage causes some people to not fulfill the mitzvah of tzitzit
at all. ("I won't wear a tallit because people with think that I am
married"). I would call this a kind of "stumbling block before the
blind," and if I could have my way, I would like to see the minhag

   5. I have also heard that, on the idea that "our days are threescore
and ten," a unmarried man should in any event begin wearing a tallit
from age 35, which is, so to speak, a kind of half-way station in life.
I have seen this custom in practice among some.

    6. I have personally witnessed two of the greatest Torah leaders of
our generation -- Rav Soloveitchik and Rav Zvi Yehudah Kook--wearing
tallitot during the period when they were widowers. Although admittedly,
one could argue that there is a difference between a widower and a
divorcee: for example, that the former is unmarried by dint of an "act
of Heaven," while the latter chose the unmarried state of his own
volition. But I've never heard that argument put forward.

   7. The one place in the Talmud that (possibly) connects wearing a
tallit to being married is at Kiddushin 29b, where Rav Hisda praises Rav
Hona bede-Rav Hamnuna, whom he heard was "a great man." When the latter
came before him, he saw that he didn't cover his head (lo paris sudra),
which some see as meaning that he didn't wear his tallit around his
head. When asked why he didn't cover his face with a "sudra," he
answered, "dela nasivna", "that I have not married." Upon hearing this,
Rav Hisda sent him away and told him not to come back till he was
married. Note: the phrase used, "dela nasivna," means "that I have not
married,' i.e., the verbal form, meaning "I have never married" and
not the adjectival form indicating that he was not presently in the
married state.

   8. Beyond all this, from what I have observed and from asking others,
it seems clear that the dominant minhag in "the world" (whatever that
means) is for divorced men to continue to wear the tallit.

   9. It might be argued that the halakhah clearly prefers the married
state, and sees an unmarried man as lacking in a certain completeness,
as symbolized by his not wearing a tallit. There may even be some
Kabbalistic connection between the tallit, which symbolizes "makifin"
and Shekhinah, and the feminine. But this would be at least somewhat
mitigated in the case in hand, in which the new divorcee already had
children and had thus performed piryah ve-rivyah, which is among the
main ends of marriage.

    10. Finally, I spoke with the person that my interlocutor identified
as his rebbe, and was told that he had not paskened that he SHOULD cease
to wear a tallit, but only that, if he wished to make it known in his
circles that he was mo longer married, to ease finding a new wife, he
was PERMITTED to cease wearing a tallit. He compared this to the
permission (not accepted by all) for divorced women to cease covering
their hair.

    I started by asking a question, and see that I have written a whole
mini-essay on the subject. I am interested in hearing reactions, either
confirming or disagreeing, to any of the above.

    Yehonatan Chipman, Jerusalem


From: David Ziants <dziants@...>
Date: Tue, 24 Feb 2004 02:00:54 +0200
Subject: Re: Influences of Galut

From: <Yisyis@...> (Ira Bauman)
> .......
> who would not attend a wedding in a synagogue.  The reason is that
> Christians have theirs in a church.  ....

In England it is (or was) the law of the land that a wedding had to
either take place in a registry office, in the town hall or in a house
of worship. Part of the roof of the "new" Machzikei Hadat shul in NW
London (maybe its 20 years old now, but I remember when it was new)
opens up for chupot under the sky but this is an exception - possibly
the only of its kind in England. Those who would feel uncomfortable in
having the chuppa in a shul had to go to Brent Town Hall, which was the
only other option available (as far as I remember). Maybe some shuls
were able to accommodate a chupa in the shul grounds, but I think this
was rare, and of course the weather had to be right.

I understand there is Christian influence, because Britain is a
Christian country. The British (Orthodox) United Synagogue, when there
was a choice of halachic opinions to accept as its established minhag
(custom), tended to choose the opinion that fitted better with British
society and that was comfortable with its membership at the time.  Thus
getting married in a shul was (or is) the Orthodox norm in the UK,
although I think this might be changing now.

From: Gershon Dubin <gershon.dubin@...>
> The origin of this practice is in reaction not to Christianity, but to
> Reform Judaism adopting the Christian practice.  Same reason for
> insisting on having the bima in the center of the shul instead of up
> front; the Reformers copied that practice as well from the Christians.

Another norm of the United Synagogue in the UK, is to have the chazan at
the bima in the centre of the shul rather at the front. I don't know
what, if any, ashkenazi communities in (continent) Europe did this, but
they do have a halachic precedence that this is the correct sephardi
practice, and they copied it from the (Spanish and Portuguese) Sephardim
who were in England earlier. I don't think they copied it from the
reform, but they felt it was a necessity to compete with them.

It is well known that the (UK) United Synagogue wanted to "Anglicize"
the services, to make it more attractive to the people, but without
compromising halacha (although ignorance among the lay leaders did
sometimes lead to a bit of unintentional compromise).  The chazan at the
middle of the shul, singing opera chazanut accompanied by shul choirs
and very long shabbat morning services, and top hats for the wardens (=
gabaim), became very unattractive for the younger generation. Many were
not interested anyway in preserving the few Jewish practices that were
still kept in their family, and many married Non-Jews. The educational
environment was just not strong enough.

Others (such as myself), were becoming stronger in Jewish observance,
were involved in a religious Zionist youth movement, and made aliya. A
number of independent Modern Orthodox communities in the chareidi areas
of London started up to give the tefillot the way their members
wanted. To compete with this, some of the United Synagogue communities
are now trying to rid themselves of some of their archaism, in order to
attract a frumer membership.

What I write is how I view the situation from Israel, as an outsider
that visits England every now and again.

David Ziants
Ma'aleh Adumim, Israel

From: Warren Burstein <warren@...>
Date: Mon, 23 Feb 2004 17:21:26 +0200
Subject: RE: Influences of Galut

>From: Gershon Dubin <gershon.dubin@...>
> The origin of this practice is in reaction not to Christianity, but to
> Reform Judaism adopting the Christian practice.
> So we should not dismiss a practice which originated with the much
> beleaguered Orthodox community in Germany some 200 years ago; it is not
> something these friends of your father's came up with on their own.

To follow this custom oneself, if such is one's tradition, is one thing.
To not attend someone *else*'s simcha, who for all you know doesn't have
this tradition, or even if you know where their grandparents came from,
has an acceptable reason for doing otherwise, is something else.


From: Carl Singer <casinger@...>
Date: Tue, 24 Feb 2004 07:49:22 -0500
Subject: Shules / Catering Halls

>From: Batya Medad <ybmedad@...>
> Maybe I'm too much the CPA's daughter, but I find that a poor example.
> In many communities in Chu"L the synagogue is also a kosher catering
> hall.  Why deprive the synagogue of the business of a wedding?  Even if
> the only place for the chupah is the beit keneset, itself.  It's like
> cutting off your nose to spite your face.

I believe this is chicken and egg situation.  

Having lived through building committees at two and one-half different
shules -- When contemplating building a shule the question of do we
provide a kitchen / catering hall frequently comes up.   Parameters that
seem to enter into the discussion are needs (we got lots of little
children in the community, soon will be Bar Mitzvahs and Weddings)
alternatives (there is no Kosher catering hall, the VFW is too smoky and
the hotels are very expensive) financials (can we afford it, will it
bring in revenue) and logistics (other uses for this hall, room to build
same, etc.)

I now live in a community, Passaic, that is growing in leaps and bounds
-- at a recent wedding, table conversation turned to "maybe we should
build a catering hall in town."   (We had traveled about 1/2 hour to a
"frum" catering hall.)  It then dawned on me why we should NOT have
separate seating at such affairs -- our wives weren't present to talk us
out of this narrishkite.  Fortunately the music started up again and we
couldn't  hear ourselves think, thus the subject was dropped.

Carl Singer


From: Eli Turkel <turkel@...>
Date: Tue, 24 Feb 2004 13:08:15 +0200
Subject: Weddings in Shuls

> Rav Dovid Lifshitz, zt"l mentioned in shiur once that the practice
> of not holding weddings in a synagogue is based on the mitzvah of
> 'uvechukoteyhem lo telechu' (and in their ways you shall not follow,
> [Vayikra, 18:3]).

This is actually a Chatam Sofer. R. Moshe Feinstein felt it no longer
applied today. Though Rav Soloveitchik was not happy about shul weddings
though for other reasons.

I understand that many sefardim prefer to have the wedding in a shul.

Eli Turkel,  <turkel@...> on 2/24/2004
Department of Mathematics, Tel Aviv University

From: Michael Engel <mengel1@...>
Date: Mon, 23 Feb 2004 23:23:25 -0500
Subject: Weddings in Shuls

Ira Bauman writes:

> My father-in-law A'H told me of friends, fellow holocaust survivors, who
> would not attend a wedding in a synagogue.  The reason is that
> Christians have theirs in a church.  They were so afraid of
> Christianizing influences that they avoided the mitzvah of hachnassas
> kallah.  I somehow doubt that many would fall prey to Christianity if
> they attended the chasunah.  No doubt, we should avoid deleterious
> influences, but thought and sound reasoning should prevail.

The Chasam Sofer prohibited making weddings in synagogues because it had
become the practice of the reformers to do so in their drive to
"christianize" Jewish ritual. In his day, many Jews were "falling prey"
to the reform movement. You may or may not agree with it, but the Chasam
Sofer's psak was a deliberatedly reasoned reaction to what he perceived
as an imminent threat to traditional Judaism. Many who come from the
areas of Europe where the Chasam Sofer's influence prevailed still
follow this practice.

In any event, I think it's a stretch to say that one is avoiding the
mitzvah of hachnasas kallah because he or she doesn't attend a
particular wedding. Our children's mesader kedushin (wedding officiant)
would not perform a wedding in a shul. We simply found another venue.

Michael Engel

From: Perry Zamek <perryza@...>
Date: Tue, 24 Feb 2004 13:02:12 +0200
Subject: Re: Weddings in Shuls

Batya Medad  wrote:
>In many communities in Chu"L the synagogue is also a kosher catering
>hall.  Why deprive the synagogue of the business of a wedding?  Even if
>the only place for the chupah is the beit keneset, itself.

I think the concern was the use of the synagogue "sanctuary" itself. I'm
sure that holding the chuppah in the hall, or in the courtyard (which I
think was the case in medieval Europe/Ashkenaz - are there not woodcuts
depicting this?) would not be objectionable.

Perry Zamek

From: Shmuel Himelstein <himels@...>
Date: Tue, 24 Feb 2004 13:13:53 +0200
Subject: Weddings in Shuls

Although I have no sources available, I understand that Edot HaMizrach have
no problem with weddings in Shuls.

Can anyone of these Edot clarify whether this is indeed the case?

Shmuel Himelstein


End of Volume 42 Issue 24