Volume 45 Number 45
                    Produced: Tue Nov  2 22:57:33 EST 2004

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Avraham and Sarah
         [Brandon Raff]
Davening with others --  was -- clop for "U'lchaparat Pasha"
         [Martin Stern]
Desert Island
         [Reuben Rudman]
Kiddush (by/for women)
         [Edward Black]
Modern Orthodoxy
         [Shayna Kravetz]


From: Brandon Raff <Brandon@...>
Date: Sun, 31 Oct 2004 18:57:11 +0200
Subject: Avraham and Sarah

I have some questions on Avraham and Sarah.

After the Akeida, Avraham returns to Be'er Sheva. According to the
midrash the Satan informs Sarah that Avraham nearly sacrificed
Yitzchak. From the shock she dies. As she is living in Chevron at the
time, Avraham travels to Chevron to bury her.

Geographically: Be'er Sheva is in Southern Israel, in the Negev. Chevron
while further north of Be'er Sheva is still South of Yerushalayim. Har
HaMoriah is in Yerushalayim.

Why was Sarah living in Chevron and Avraham in Be'er Sheva? Going to and
on his return from the Akeida, Avraham would have passed through (or
around) Chevron in order to get from Yerushalayim to Be'er Sheva. Why
did Avraham not stop off to say hello to Sarah and inform her of the
Akeida? At the very least, why not tell her after the event? Why leave
it up to the Satan to inform her?

Any ideas?



From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Sun, 31 Oct 2004 20:56:35 +0000
Subject: Re: Davening with others --  was -- clop for "U'lchaparat Pasha"

on 31/10/04 1:01 pm, Carl Singer <casinger@...> wrote:

> Even so -- it seems that there are several distracters / complaints
> listed in recent postings:
> 1 - different nusach / minhagim of davening
> 2 - talking, coming late, etc.
> 3 - davening aloud and (possibly) out of synch with the group
> I'd be interested in how others perceive distracters and how individuals
> / congregations deal with these.

I am particularly glad that Carl has raised these points which i had
also been considering raising.

As regards his first one, I think every shul should decide on what its
minhagim are and stick to them. It might take a year or so to sort
everything out since it is likely that not every eventuality will be
thought of at the beginning. Once this has been done anyone acting as
shats should stick to the minhag whatever their private custom may
be. What people do privately is their own business so long as it is not
noticeable that they are deviating from the shul's minhag. This
basically also covers his third point: nobody should daven in such a way
as to disturb others.

As regards his second point, while it sometimes happens that someone is
delayed by circumstances beyond his control, this should be the
exception not the rule. It has certainly happened to me. It is the
persistent latecomer who has no extenuating circumstances who needs to
have explained to him that this is not the correct way to behave. I use
the masculine deliberately since women are not obligated to attend shul
and therefore cannot be reprimanded for coming late though it would be a
middat chassidut for them to be on time. Obviously this is only possible
for those not tied down by their domestic responsibilities. On the other
hand they can gain merit by encouraging their husbands to do so.

The gentleman who sits next to me has 7 children aged from a few months
to eight and is only very rarely late for any tefillah. In his position
it would be entirely understandable if he were late because of a problem
at home. On the other hand there is another gentleman with only grown up
children who is on time about as often as the first is late,
consistently for weekdays, shabbat or yom tov; shacharit, minchah or
ma'ariv. As I do security duty I have seen him ambling along 20 minutes
after we have started on a shabbat morning as if he were 20 minutes
early! He then insists on davenning from the beginning, without skipping
anything, in a loud voice, as if to make sure we all know how late he
came! I wonder if he also misses his train or plane, at least that would
a slight limmud zekhut.

As for talking, well I cannot do more than quote the Shulchan Arukh
"gadol avono min'so - his sin is greater than he can bear" That is quite
apart from disturbing other people.

I cannot understand how people can behave in such a manner which shows
an utter lack of respect for the shul and davenning. Perhaps some other
contributors can find a reason why such behaviour is not merely
tolerated but those who are punctual are viewed as at least slightly
eccentric or more likely meshugge frum.

Martin Stern


From: Reuben Rudman <rudman@...>
Date: Sun, 31 Oct 2004 18:54:25 +0300
Subject: Re: Desert Island

> Could they [stranded man and woman] get married without kosher aidim
> (witnesses)?

In the Code of Laws Shulchan Arukh Choshen Mishpat,Laws of Witnesses,
Chapter 36 near the end, in particular in the commentary Nesivos, we
find a long discussion of the role that witnesses play in marriage and
divorce proceedings.  We are told that, among other means of
classification of witnesses, there are "eidei birrur" and "eidei kiyum."
The former play the role of what we commonly called a 'witness' - that
is they confirm that a particular act (ma'a'seh) took place at a
particular time and place with participants who are identified. This act
has taken place and stands even if the witnesses were not there.  Their
role is one of confirmation, not participation. The witnesses do not
play a role in the act, they just confirm the details of what occurred.
However, the latter case, of "eidei kiyum,"  is one in which the
witnesses themselves form an integral part of the procedure. Their role
is one of participation as well as confirmation. Without proper
witnesses it is as if the ma'a'seh never occurred.  This is the case
with weddings and divorces.  As the Nesivos explains, if there are no
witnesses there is no marriage because there is no official marriage
ceremony.  This would appear to be the case here.  This is not to say
that in such an extreme circumstance there might not be other
conditional arrangements that could be made, but one would have to be a
Talmid Chacham to know how to act in such a situation. 


From: .cp. <chips@...>
Date: Fri, 29 Oct 2004 7:35:11 -0700
Subject: Re: Honey

> FWIW, I learned that the honey mentioned in the Torah was almost always
> date honey, not bee's honey.
> Israel Caspi

Yes, the honey mentioned in the Torah is almost always date honey. But
the story of Yehonoson is in Novi and it is clearly bee honey. And I
agree with your "heresy", but since the Novi explicitly mentions
Yehonoson eating honey from the comb, honey is kosher. But why? I can
only conclude that it is a 'divrei Sofrim' issue.


From: Edward Black <edwardblack@...>
Date: Sun, 31 Oct 2004 17:46:09 -0000
Subject: Kiddush (by/for women)

In MJ Volume 45 Number 42 Mona Farkas Berdugo wrote as follows:

> For those who hold that every adult male should say his own kiddush
> because of "mitzvah bo yoter mibishlucho" why does the same logic not
> apply for women? As I understand it women have the exact same obligation
> as men when it comes to kiddush on Shabbat (the Shulchan Aruch even says
> that a man is yotsei if he hears kiddush from a woman) so why should she
> have to settle for hearing it from a shaliach if she is capable of saying
> it herself?

This is a topic which has long fascinated me.  The Mechaber writes in
the Shulchan Aruch (271:2) that women are obligated to recite Kiddush
even though Kiddush is a time-bound Mitzvah because the two commandments
of Shabbat "Remember" and "Observe" are equated to each other therefore
Whoever is obligated by "Observe" is obligated by "Remember" and women
since they are obligated by "Observe" to refrain from work on Shabbat
are also obligated by "Remember" to say Kiddush on Friday evening.
Indeed the Mechaber concludes that women may recite Kiddush for men
since they have the same level of Torah obligation. The Mishna Berura
(271:2#4) adds that the Taz, Magen Avraham, Gra and other acharonim
agree with this but that for reasons of dignity it is initially
preferable for a woman not to make kiddush on behalf of men who are not
members of her family.

The halacha as set out by the Mishna Berura above is very far from the
common practice which Mona cites.  The Mishna Berura and all the others
cited clearly agree that a woman can recite kiddush for her family and a
fortiori for herself.  Yet we commonly encounter the situation where
women who are well able to make kiddush for themselves do not do so but
in the absence of their husbands will ask another man to "make kiddush
for them."  And indeed there is a further and even more mystifying
practice: married women who will ask their husband to make Kiddusha
Rabba (Shabbat morning Kiddush) "for them" when the man has already made
Kiddush once and the woman's level of obligation therefore is higher
than the man's.

Edward Black


From: Shayna Kravetz <skravetz@...>
Date: Fri, 29 Oct 2004 07:11:58 -0500
Subject: Re: Modern Orthodoxy

I am completely perplexed by the post from Russell Jay Hendel
<rjhendel@...> on this topic.  My apologies in advance for this long
reply.  RJH writes:

>First: It would appear very dangerous to identify modern orthodoxy with
>observance---ALL orthodoxys must advocate observance....one could argue
>that modern orthodoxy differs from non-modern orthodoxy in certain
>observances (like tolerating mechizahs....but I hardly think this a
>definition of a movement).

Are you suggesting that non-modern orthodox shuls don't have mechitzahs?
Surely not.  The mechitzahs may vary in height and opacity and, of
course, there are many yeshivish or charedi shuls which use balconies,
galleries, and separate rooms for women.  But I don't see mechitzah as
being particularly a Modern Orthodox marker.  Of course, vis-a-vis
non-Orthodox streams of Judaism, having a mechitzah is a clear marker of
adherence to the Orthodox camp.

>I am also wary of defining modern orthodoxy by the embracement of
>secular values. For example is a person modern orthodox because they
>learned computer languages and practice programming?

Perfect example, since lately this seems to be a common area of secular
education that is seen as a permissible subject for teaching and
eventual employment among non-MO Orthodox Jews.  Presumably, it is being
permitted since it is essentially without content, hence poses no moral
issues in its study (unlike pesky topics such as history, literature,
biology, etc.).  In employment, the usual issues in business (honesty,
fair wages, etc.) presumably arise, but these can't be avoided unless
one chooses not to work at all.  Obviously, computer programming is not
exclusive to MO Jews.  The interesting question is, how many yeshivish
computer programmers out there wouldn't let their children or spouses
near the machine, or even have one in the house?

>How is that different than the Tanaiim and Emoraiim (Talmudic scholars)
>who were woodcutters and shoemakers. My point is that in every
>generation there will non-teaching jobs and these jobs will be
>secular. How then can we define a modern orthodoxy movement based on
>its secular jobs when every generation has them.  Indeed the patriarch
>Jacob defined Zevulun as a sea-merchant--does that make Zevulun

My understanding is that the distinction lies in whether secular
activities are unfortunately unavoidable necessities which must be
tolerated but should be minimized -- which seems to be the attitude of
non-MO Orthodox Jews. For MO Jews, the secular world can be *embraced*,
not merely tolerated; secular parnassah is not merely necessary but
respectable, and can be a source of values and experiences as well as
money.  The merging of Torah with Derech Eretz exemplified by the
earliest Talmudic scholars can indeed be seen as an honourable precedent
for the choices made by MO Jews in pursuit of this ideal.

>We might try and define modern orthodoxy by entertainment....modern
>orthodox people enjoy secular movies, theater, music etc But anyone
>involved in the secular world because of their job must be exposed to
>one extent or another to these things. If a person practices juggling or
>jogging in his spare time should they be classified as modern-orthodox?

This is similar to the point above.  The possibility of absorbing
positive knowledge and values from secular culture is not simply ignored
but positively denied by non-MO Orthodox Jews.  Hence, the truly
appalling state of secular studies in many non-MO schools; it is
embarrassing and pathetic to read a letter written by a native English
speaker educated at such a school.  Students from these schools are
deprived not only of their own secular culture -- a phrase that would be
viewed as an oxymoron by non-MO Orthodox Jews -- but are often
unemployable in many secular positions because of their inability to
express themselves in coherent English. (I could rant at length about
this, but let us continue.)

>Finally we have the favorite definition---by modesty laws. While there
>are certainly groups whose women have long skirts and whom avoid secular
>entertainment with exposure to immodest scenes...but does this justify
>defining a movement? <SNIP>

Oddly enough, I have never heard tzniut used as a defining
characteristic for MO.  Perhaps it's just that I'm 'out of the loop'
but, while clothing differences can be helpful in assessing where
someone is on the Jewish spectrum, it is by no means definitive,
especially among women.  There are plenty of MO women who would visually
fit in quite nicely in a charedi shul.

How you interact with the secular world, what your views are of rabbinic
authority and the possibility of halachic change (with one of the
litmus-test issues in our generation being the role of women), what your
view is of the role of your rabbi in your personal life, what your view
is of the significance of Medinat Yisrael, these are what mark the MO
Jew in my opinion.  

>There is an underlying theme in the above....it would be more
>productive in terms of discussion if we regarded various attributes as
>responses to real-world situations vs. classifying them as
>movements. The 4 items I have reviewed above: a) Observance of Jewish
>law b) secular jobs c) Secular entertainment d)avoidance of
>immodesty---these items are things we all do independent of where we
>belong. It would therefore be more productive to discuss those
>circumstances when eg. over or under involvment in secular
>entertainment is good or bad. <SNIP>

If I understand you correctly, you are saying that we should not attempt
to see an overall theme or philosophy in these individual decisions.
But, to my mind, that is precisely the reverse of what should happen.
Whatever ideology one may purport to pursue, it is in the daily
decisions that one either creates a coherent Jewish personality or not.
One great achievement of Judaism is that it makes it possible to hallow
our daily lives.

Every time one doesn't go out with secular co-workers to a non-kosher
restaurant, every time one takes a work of secular fiction off the shelf
to read, every time one does or does not consult a rabbi about a
particular question, one is bringing to bear a philosophy of what being
a Jew is about.  The accretion of these small acts, hundreds of
thousands of them over a lifetime, amount to a declaration of where one
stands in Judaism.  These are not "things we all do independent of where
we belong", as RJH puts it; these are important expressions of what we
believe about living Jewishly.  We may fail to live up to our ideology
and make bad decisions, but that doesn't mean that we are abandoning
what we believe. So, when RJH asks above, "Does this justify defining a
movement?", I would reply, "Absolutely."

Kol tuv from
Shayna in Toronto


End of Volume 45 Issue 45