Volume 45 Number 54
                    Produced: Wed Nov 10  5:00:45 EST 2004

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

Aliyot origins
         [Dov Teichman]
"Da'at Torah"
         [Shmuel Himelstein]
Electricity on Shabbat
         [Michael Mirsky]
Posting on Individual arriving late for Tefilah
         [Martin Stern]
Question on Parshat Vayera
         [Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz]
Tefilin and Mirrors
         [Steven Oppenheimer]


From: <DTnLA@...> (Dov Teichman)
Date: Sun, 07 Nov 2004 22:00:44 -0500
Subject: Re: Aliyot origins

The Minchas Elozor (Vol 2 Kuntress Shiurei Mincha Siman 66) writes that
the places to stop for aliyos as printed in chumashim have no source in
poskim at all. Often they are at an inappropriate place to stop. He
references a sefer "Meorei Or" that talks about this. See Darkei Chaim
VeSholom 222.

Dov Teichman


From: Shmuel Himelstein <himels@...>
Date: Mon, 8 Nov 2004 07:46:48 +0200
Subject: "Da'at Torah"

All the talk about "Da'at Torah" disturbs me greatly.  We now find
ourselves in an era when the pronouncements of Gedolim (or some
so-called "Gedolim") dare not be criticized, because their view is the
one, the only, the monolithic "Da'at Torah." As has been pointed out,
the Lithuanian "Yeshiva World" has now adopted for its leaders the same
attributes that the Chassidic movement has for its Rebbis, but which the
Lithuanians had castigated for scores of years. One Orthodox professor
has even likened the situation today to that governing, le'havdil alfei
alafim, that of the papacy and its relatively recent doctrine of "papal
infallability." Once one has the standing of being a Gadol, whatever
pronouncements he makes cannot, dare not, be questioned.

To me, the absurdity of the situation is best encapsulated in a photo in
a recent newspaper of a certain Gadol poring over military maps with a
military man, to decide whether the Knesset members under his control
should vote for or against the disengagement plan. I have no problem
with a Gadol who rules strictly along Halachic lines that disengagement
is forbidden, but why am I to assume that the Gadol with the maps has
"Da'at Torah" backing his decision? Why does Halachah specify that in
regard to Chilul Shabbat for a sick person, doctors are the ones to
determine whether it is needed or not? Why should a Gadol have greater
insights into the military needs of Israel than military experts, or
even than the Knesset members whose vote he dictates?

And what happens when two "Da'at Torahs" clash, as, for example, when
one Gadol says "Halachah requires" one to vote for a specific party and
another Gadol disagrees and says that one "must" vote for another party?
Which reminds me of an election poster I saw in Israel in 1977, which
proudly stated that "had the Chafetz Chaim been alive, he would have
ordered everyone to vote for Agudath Israel." (The Chafetz Chaim died in
1933.) Is this too supposed to be classified as "Da'at Torah" which must
be obeyed blindly?

And can anyone explain to me why it is that in regard to selling land on
Shemittah, all those Gedolim who belong to the Chareidi camp have ruled
that this sale is forbidden and all those in the Zionist camp have ruled
that it is permitted? Which is the authentic "Da'at Torah" here?

Finally, on a personal note, I was once discussing with a certain Gadol
(a real Gadol, by all standards) the fact that at the time I belonged to
the Mizrachi organization. He asked me which Gedolim Mizrachi had. I
named a few, but he negated all of them as not being true Gedolim. In
the end I asked him a basic question: "Can it be that if a Rav is
associated with Mizrachi he cannot, by definition, be a Gadol?" He deny
that that is the case. Or is it?

Shmuel Himelstein


From: Michael Mirsky <mirskym@...>
Date: Mon, 08 Nov 2004 00:15:50 -0500
Subject: Electricity on Shabbat

I missed the beginning of this thread; that's why I wrote a general
description of how the power system works.

 From the followup responses, it appears that the issue this thread is
discussing is whether electricity from the main system can be used on
Shabbat, even if you just leave a light on all day - with no switching
on or off, because it is thought a Jewish power worker has to work on
Shabbat for this.

It is true that the overall demand on the system changes over the day as
people wake up, turn on appliances etc.  Let me postulate a situation of
a major Jewish city, with its own power system and generators, isolated
from all other power systems.  Furthermore, let's assume that everyone
(halevei!) keeps Shabbat.  So everyone turns on what they need to keep
on for Shabbat before Shabbat so there is a constant baseload demand for
devices which stay on constantly (say lights).  There will also be
varying demand from devices like refrigerators and air conditioners
turning on and off based on themostat setting set before Shabbat.

In this case, there will be still be an overall pattern of increase and
decrease in demand.  On a hot summer day, in the cooler morning, less
air conditioners will turn on, and as the day heats up, more and more
will turn on.  And more or less fuel will be burned as the demand
changes. But its all as a result of setting on all the loads set up
before Shabbat - so no problem that I can see about the fuel use on

So, in this situation, the system runs automatically, without human
intervention unless, as I described, the demand drops above or below the
threshold where one of the generators is either needed to be turned on
to meet higher demand, or turned off as demand drops.  Or is some fault
or problem happens on the system.

If the issue is power workers doing work on Shabbat, they would have to
stay on the job to monitor the system.  Doing so does involve some
problematic actions such as using computers to bring up screens to show
system status.  But they need to be there and need to do all these
things in order to keep the system running for hospitals which use the
power grid, or water and sewage treatment. So one could argue the
pikuach nefesh angle.

The only issue I can see is the actions they have to take (ie the
turning on or off generators) because non Shabbat observers are turning
on more appliances.  But, the key is that for the most part, they are
not doing it for the Shabbat observers. (For the most part, because it
is possible that increase in air conditioner demand can be substantial
over a day).

If the city had only one generator which automatically raises its power
level up and down to a maximum rating, then that problem drops away.
And perhaps that's why some places (such as Telz Stone, I understand),
operate their single generator isolated from the Chevrat Hachashmal on
Shabbat.  (I assume no hospital relies on it).



From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Mon, 08 Nov 2004 08:40:02 +0000
Subject: Re: Posting on Individual arriving late for Tefilah

on 8/11/04 2:30 am, Eitan Fiorino <Fiorino@...> wrote:
> I was fairly disturbed by the harsh nature of this posting.  Not that I
> am advocating arriving late for tefila or praying in a manner that
> disturbs others - but I wouldn't presume to judge the habitual latecomer
> since for the most part shabbat services take too long and someone with
> a lesser tolerance for that can compensate by arriving late.  But really
> I find this attack on this anonymous but real individual to have
> transgressed the bounds of discourse of mail-jewish and perhaps to have
> crossed the halachic bounds of motzi shem ra and lashon hara (which
> would certainly put it beyond the bounds of acceptability of
> mail-jewish).

As the poster to whom Eitan takes exception, I would like to make it
clear that I was not writing about coming late on shabbat specifically
but coming late as I wrote "consistently for weekdays, shabbat or yom
tov; shacharit, minchah or ma'ariv."

To most people, his identity is unknowable, whereas to our own members
his lateness is well known and so, as public knowledge, it cannot be
considered lashon hara. Since it is true, it is certainly not motzi shem
ra.  I am sure there are many such people in most shuls of any size in
the world who show a similar pattern of attendance. As it happens,
shabbat services in our shul take between two and two and a half hours
which is hardly excessively long.

 What I find objectionable is not this particular person's behaviour but
the way such lateness is almost invariably accepted as the norm and
those who object to the implied disrespect for davenning are lambasted
as meshugge frum. We pray to the Almighty that He should not keep us
waiting for mashiach. Perhaps we should consider how we, so to speak,
keep Him waiting by our lateness in coming to shul - middah keneged

Martin Stern


From: Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz <hsabbam@...>
Date: Sun, 7 Nov 2004 17:52:24 -0500
Subject: RE: Question on Parshat Vayera

>From: <Harry459@...> (Harry Schick)
>In Vayera at the Akida, Hashen tells Avraham, "now I know you fear
>Elokim"-which implies that prior to this, Avraham did not have fear of
>Elokim. How then is it possible that when Avimelech asks Avraham why he
>told him that Sarah was his sister and didn't trust them to say she was
>his wife, he says that there was no fear of Elokim in this place. If he
>himself didn't have it, how could he be sure to recognize its lack in

This has appeared in a number of mephorshim and internet sites such as
Yeshiva Har Etzion.

1.  Some people talk about what appears to be a conflict between a human
"sense of morality" and obeying Hashem.  All the previous tests could
have been interpreted as following Hashem only as long as it was
"moral".  Here, where it seemed to involve human sacrifice and
contradicted "morality" we actually see that Avraham obeyed because
Hashem said to do it.

2.  The phrase "fear of Elokim" applies to all society.  Note that Yosef
uses the phrase when pretending to be an Egyptian.  It means following
the sheva mitzvos properly.  Similarly we see it used by Avimelech.

3. Avraham did have "fear of Elokim" all along, the "now I know" is
meant to show that he proved that he had had it all along.

Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz - <sabbahillel@...>


From: Steven Oppenheimer <oppy49@...>
Date: Sun, 7 Nov 2004 20:54:18 -0500
Subject: Tefilin and Mirrors

Dr. Mark Goldenberg writes:

>More and more, I am noticing people using mirrors to check the position
>of their Tefillin Shel Rosh.  This morning, the person next to me kept
>looking in his mirror every five minutes throughout davening.  Is that
>proper and what should be done?  I can't ever recall seeing my Rabbeim
>or Roshei Yeshiva looking in the mirror to check their tefillin.

I would like to make two observations.  Regarding the propriety of
looking into a mirror to ascertain that one's tefilah shel rosh is in
the proper position, the founder of the Zanz Chasidic dynasty, Rabbi
Chaim Halberstam, zt"l writes in his Responsa Divrei Chaim,
(O. Ch. chelek 2, siman 6) that it is highly inappropriate (divrei
booroot) to use a mirror to determine the position of the tefilin on
one's head.  The Divrei Chaim writes that even if they are not
positioned exactly in the center, the positioning is kosher.  Many have
been disturbed by the implication of the Divrei Chaim that the exact
positioning is not a necessity since the Shulchan Aruch points out in
O. Ch. 27:10 that the positioning is important.  Rabbi Eliezer Yehuda
Waldenburg, in his Responsa Tzitz Eliezer, 12:6, explains that Rabbi
Halberstam was not lenient regarding the positioning of the Tefilin, but
was against the use of mirrors to determine the correct position.  He
felt this bordered on transgressing the commandment of Lo Yilbash, one
should not imitate the ways of women (who stand before a mirror to
beautify themselves).

One might point out that today men do use mirrors in helping them get
dressed.  The Satmar Rav, in a responsum (quoted by Rabbi Waldenburg)
writes that generations of Jews, among them gedolei yisroel, never used
mirrors to position their tefilin.  And if they felt that the use of a
mirror was an important aid in the proper placement of the tefilin,
there would be mirrors set up in the shuls and batei midrash for that
purpose.  And yet, insists the Satmar Rav, we never heard or saw such a
custom.  The Satmar Rav also was of the opinion that the use of a mirror
is inappropriate.

While it is important to position the tefilin properly, Rabbi Waldenburg
maintains that it is sufficient to do the positioning by feeling the
proper location, as is the prevalent custom.  One should absolutely not
resort to using the aid of a mirror.

As for my second observation, Dr. Goldenberg remarks that the person
next to him "kept looking in his mirror every five minutes throughout
davening."  This is certainly not a normal thing to do.  One must
consider that this person may be suffering from OCD, and as such,
deserves our sympathy and understanding.  Rather than being critical,
sensitivity and discretion may be the more desirable path to pursue.

I believe Dr. Goldenberg is correct when he points out that, "I can't
ever recall seeing my Rabbeim or Roshei Yeshiva looking in the mirror to
check their tefillin."  Perhaps people will emulate his actions and, if
given the opportunity, he may point out that there is no necessity in
using a mirror when placing the tefilin.

I am heartened by the prevalence of more and more people who desire to
fulfill the halachot as completely as possible.  These discussions will
help all of us achieve that goal.

Kol tuv,
Steven Oppenheimer, DDS


End of Volume 45 Issue 54