Volume 43 Number 77
                    Produced: Sun Aug  1 16:22:52 EDT 2004

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

         [Janice Gelb]
Mixed Weddings
         [Stuart Cohnen]
More shtreimels (and some Spodeks)!
         [Joseph Ginzberg]
nonJewish wedding in the 3 weeks
         [Ira L. Jacobson]
Polish Rabbinical Positions (2)
         [Y. Lovinger, Eitan Fiorino]
Tcheles vs White in Tzitzis Today
         [Joseph Ginzberg]
Varieties of kamats
         [Ira L. Jacobson]


From: Janice Gelb <j_gelb@...>
Date: Thu, 29 Jul 2004 09:41:37 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: Re: Dress

-Carl Singer <casinger@...> wrote:
> [snip]
> I'll let the sociologists posit about the social pressures for
> conformity, etc.  But, today's frum "uniforms" seem to respond very
> heavily to such pressures.
> While taking an afternoon walk yesterday, I spied a gentleman wearing
> black suit pants, a long sleeve white shirt and a tie playing baseball.
> Is this practical wear when it's 80 degrees outside and your playing
> ball?  That's his business.  If I choose to wear a T-shirt and shorts,
> that's my business.  And if someone attempts to draw deep conclusions
> about either of us based on what we're wearing they are fools.

I completely agree that way too much attention is paid to "clothing
clues" (type of yarmulke, sleeve length, angle of hat, etc.). However, I
disagree that people are fools for making some conclusions about people
based on the clothing they choose to wear. People would indeed be
foolish to try to judge your level of frumkeit in areas like kashrut or
Shabbat based on whether you wear a T-shirt and shorts. But I don't
think it's that foolish to draw some conclusions about the community
with which you likely daven or in which you live. Or about the degree to
which you allow others to dictate your actions!

-- Janice


From: Stuart Cohnen <cohnen@...>
Date: Thu, 29 Jul 2004 17:08:40 -0400
Subject: Mixed Weddings

I would like to solicit opinions from this group on two issues facing me.

1. My cousin's daughter is getting married, but the groom is not jewish.
Should I not attend? Should I skip the "ceremony" and show up for the
reception? Obvisouly, I am not in favor of this wedding, but my parents
who can not attend (due to health issues) are pressuring me to do so.

2. I will be making a wedding for my daughter IY"H soon.  Another cousin
of mine (the brother of the one above, coincidently) is divorced and is
living with a non  jew. Do I invite him and not her, do I invite them
both or do I invite neither?

I am not particularly close with either of these brothers.
How have you handled this situation?



From: Joseph Ginzberg <jgbiz120@...>
Date: Thu, 29 Jul 2004 13:01:11 -0400
Subject: More shtreimels (and some Spodeks)!

>There is one point that seems to have eluded almost every contributor to
>this particular discussion, that the streimel (or some similar form of
>headgear like the spoddek) were worn by Jews generally in Eastern Europe
>(if they could afford them!) in the 18th century and were not restricted
>to chassidim. The same applies to the rest of the so-called chassidic

>The Mitnagdim stopped dressing in this manner because of decrees of the
>Czarist government in the early 19th century banning 'Jewish' dress and
>compelling Jews to dress in either the 'Russian' or the 'German'
>style. This decree was enforced fairly rigorously in the Russian
>provinces (Baltic States, Byelarus etc.) but not in Congress Poland
>where the Russians had enough trouble with Polish unrest and were a bit
>easier on the, by then, mainly Chassidic Jews there who treated it as a
>case of yehareg ve'al ya'avor. This is why Litvaks and, for that matter,
>Russian Chassidim (i.e.  Chabad) do not wear streimlakh etc.

>A strong proof of this thesis is that the Mitnagdim who went to live in
>Erets Yisrael at the end of 18th and beginning of the 19th century
>before the Czarist decrees, and founded the community of Peirushim, did
>wear what is now considered to be chassidic attire and still do so in
>the Old Yishuv community of Jerusalem.

I think that this post illustrates a view commonly held that mixes together 
some disparate facts.

As noted in another post and beyond conjecture is the fact that there ae
two kinds of Eastern European fur hats in the Jewish world. The
shtreimel, topic of all these postings, is specifically made of tails
and then shaped.  Newer versions are so strictly shaped that the tails
are not immediately apparent, but asking any wearer or close inspection
will reveal this.  They are also for this reason very expensive.

The other type of hat is commonly called a "spodik" or variant thereof,
and is simply a taller round fur hat, nowadays worn mostly by Polish
chasidim such as Gerers, alexanders, etcetera.  This style can be seen
in old drawings, one of which is the famous picture of Jacob Frank
(sr"y).  These are far less expensive.

The Spodik was certainly not restricted to chassidim, or even to
Jews. The famous paintings of Chelmenitzky and Petlura (both vicious
anti-semites and responsible for the deaths of thousands of Jews) both
show them wearing such hats!

The shtreimel, on the other hand, is an excusively Jewish form, as far
as I can see.  It certainly seems reasonable to me that some groups
retained the former hanging-tail "badge of shame" required of Jews, and
that this group included all chassidim and some others, such as the
Perushim (followers of the Vilna Gaon who later moved en masse to

Others adopted the Spodik, and that group again included mostly
chassidim but also some others, for example Rav Kook and Rav Hutner,
certainly no chassidim.

Putting "yehareg V'al Yaavor" into this as a reason for some Jews but
not other Jews to adopt it is a stretch.

The idea of adding Chabad into this is totally incorrect, as the first 6
Chabad Rabbis did in fact wear the hat and only the last Rebbe decided
not to.  It was in fact a "cause celebre" in non-Chabad circles at the
time the last Rebbe took over and declined to put the shtreimel on.

Generalizing this into Russian Chassidim is also incorrect, as at least
the huge Twersky family of Rebbes representing many branches of Russian
Rebbes based on the Chernobel dynasty, all wear the shteimel.

>Therefore, it is simply nonsense to talk about Chassidim adopting a
>form of dress. Any objections raised by the Mitnagdim were not to the
>dress style as such but, rather, to the excessive emphasis placed on it
>by what they saw as a deviationist movement which exhibited laxity in
>many much more important matters.

This is simply incorrect.  The chassidim did in fact adopt specific
dress styles, as even a casual observer to Willaimsburg or Jerusalems
Meah Shearim can see.  Go into a hat store and see the listings, by
chassidus!  While it is true that the objections to chassidus were
against the innovations and not against the clothing, this certainly
proves nothing about the other.  The inter-chassidic dispute literature
does talk extensively about these things.  

Yossi Ginzberg


From: Ira L. Jacobson <laser@...>
Date: Thu, 29 Jul 2004 20:24:10 +0300
Subject: Re: nonJewish wedding in the 3 weeks

Leah S. Gordon <leah@...> stated the following on Tue, 27
Jul 2004 14:41:07 -0700

      I am interested in thoughts/sources about the
      permissibility/parameters of attending a nonJewish wedding (two
      nonJews marrying each other) during the "3 weeks" i.e. the time of
      mourning preceding 9 Av.

Leah raises several questions, unrelated but interesting.

First, the permissibility of attending a non-Jewish wedding at any time.
An answer to that would take into account the type of wedding and
whether we are permitted to attend from the standpoint of what sort of
worship is taking place and what function does the edifice serve.

Second, regarding the timing, we might get a hint from the halakha
regarding Jewish weddings.  While Ashkenazim refrain from getting
married during the entire three weeks, Sefardim refrain only from Rosh
Hodesh.  And we know that an Ashkenazi is permitted to attend a Sefardi
wedding during the days from 17 B'Tammuz until 29 B'Tammuz, and even to
dance there.  (I once mentioned to a rav that although this is
permissible, Ashkenazim may not eat rice at that wedding.  He smiled.)

For halakhic rulings, as always, CYLOR.

IRA L. JACOBSON         


From: <Shuanoach@...> (Y. Lovinger)
Date: Thu, 29 Jul 2004 20:16:28 -0400
Subject: Re: Polish Rabbinical Positions

Some sources on the buying and selling of rabbinical office can be found
in Marc Shapiro's biography of the Sridei Eish, "Between the Yeshiva
World and Modern Orthodoxy", pp.33-35 and the footnotes there. Of course
this problem was not limited to Poland. For instance, The responsum of
the Minchat Eleazar, the Munkaczer Rav, was written by one living in
Hungary, and R. S. J. Rappoport was a rabbi in Prague, if I recall
correctly. (Though M. Shapiro refers to his intent to publish an article
on the topic, I am not aware that since the publication of his book, one
has appeared.)

y. lovinger

From: Eitan Fiorino <Fiorino@...>
Date: Fri, 30 Jul 2004 01:29:28 -0400
Subject: RE: Polish Rabbinical Positions

> From: Joseph Ginzberg <jgbiz120@...>
> >As the Polish kingdom declined and became corrupt, rabbinical positions
> >in many cities came to be sold off to the highest bidder, and these
> >individuals preferred to show off their acumen in Torah dialectics
> >rather than "waste" their time on devotional prayer; their power -
> >backed by the local landowner from whom they had bought their position
> Can you supply a source for this?

Marc Shapiro (who sometimes lurks here), in his biography of the Seridei
Aish, describes in detail in chapter 2 the situation in Lithuania, with
the existence ofo both the crown rabbi (kazyonny ravvin) and the
spiritual rabbi - the crown rabbis were appointed by the government, may
have had little Jewish education and been non-observant and had a
bureaucratic role, whereas communities appointed their own rabbis as
spiritual leaders.  This institution clearly existed in Russia as well
according to references cited there.  In many instances the Rabbinic
positions could be bought - "Yet despite all the criticism, and a number
of cherems promulgated forbidding the sale of rabbinic offices - one
rabbi went so far as to blame the massacres of 1648 on this sin - it
nevertheless remained a common practice and is often referred to in
rabbinic literature."  He has an extensive discussion with many
citations there.  



From: Joseph Ginzberg <jgbiz120@...>
Date: Thu, 29 Jul 2004 12:24:16 -0400
Subject: Tcheles vs White in Tzitzis Today

>While the tekhelet is the most likely origin of the stripes on the
>tallit, Yossi Ginzburg, in mentioning this, says "without violating the
>Rabbinical enactment of Tzitzis now being allowed to be only white."
>I'm not so sure this is true- I believe that Tzitzis may be any color,
>white being preferable (when there's no tekhelet, of course). The gemara
>condemns those who wear fake tekhelet, but it means those who sell it as
>real, or those who wear it to save money. Using the wrong dye by mistake
>is not a problem, and nor would another color, I believe.

As I understood the Pri Megadim, there was a later Rabbinical enactment
forbidding the use of color in the tzitzis after the loss of the
tcheles, presumably to preclude an artificial color taking the place of
tcheles over time.  Obviously, accidental use of color would not be

As an aside, I was offered tcheles back in the 60's by a descendant of
the Radziner Rebbe.  I asked Rabbi Levi Krupenia z"l (Rosh Yeshiva of
Yeshiva Kamenitz) the following: Even if this tcheles is of doubtful
origin, isn't it a "safek d'oryso" (a doubt of a torah ruling) and
therefore the halacha would be l'chumra, requiring its' use?

Thus, even if the tcheles isn't authentic, isn't it worth wearing it
because of the small chance that it might be, since white is certaily
not tcheles?  His terse response was "s'iz gor nit kein safek" or "
there is not even any doubt that it might be real tcheles".

I would think that his reply was specific to that tcheles, and not
necessarily to that advocated today by many Rabbis and scholars.

Yossi Ginzberg


From: Ira L. Jacobson <laser@...>
Date: Thu, 29 Jul 2004 21:15:54 +0300
Subject: Re: Varieties of kamats

Martin Stern <md.stern@...> stated the following on Mon, 26 Jul
2004 17:41:51 +0100

      This may be a relatively recent phenomenon. It would appear from
      the rhymes in many Ashkenazi piyyutim that the kamats gadol was
      pronounced as a long 'a', not dissimilar to the patach, in the
      mediaeval period and, therefore differed from the kamats
      katan. The best known example is in Tsur mishelo where even the
      Shem is made to rhyme with 'emunai' but there are numerous others.

Since the Sefardim also sing Tzur Mishelo Akhalnu, perhaps this rhyme
originated with them and not with Ashkenazim?

Has anyone definitive information regarding the origin of the song?

IRA L. JACOBSON         


End of Volume 43 Issue 77