Volume 45 Number 70
                    Produced: Mon Nov 15 22:58:33 EST 2004

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

Halacha and Change
         [Allen Gerstl]
Ibn Ezra palindrome
         [Dov Bloom]
Is Saint veneration a Jewish custom? (3)
         [Gilad J. Gevaryahu, Shayna Kravetz, Avi Feldblum]
Lateness to Shul
Saying Tachanun Bein ha-Shmashot
         [Samuel P Groner]
Women Getting Called up For Aliyos
         [William Friedman]


From: Allen Gerstl <acgerstl@...>
Date: Mon, 15 Nov 2004 15:44:51 -0500
Subject: RE: Halacha and Change

<Artkamlet@...> (Art Kamlet)
>How do we combine the idea that "G-d has one clear-cut way in which He
>wants the world to function" with Rabbi Yehoshua's reply to the bat kol,
>the heavenly voice that declared the law is as R Eleazer stated, that
>"lo bashamayim hee" [It (the law) is not in heaven (any more; it is in
>the hands of the Sanhederin)]
>If the heavenly voice, as well as trees, walls, and rivers all point to
>G-d's "one clear-cut way" yet the law is no longer in heaven, and
>heaven's will shall be superseded by the Sanhederin, then isn't the law
>what the rabbis say it is, regardless of the "one clear-cut way?"

About two years ago I had occassion here to discuss this issue in the
context of attempting to understand (one of ) the philosophical bases of
those who undertook chumrot (stringent extra-halahic behaviour).  I
proposed that one characteristic of the latter is what I termed a
Platonic view of there being an Absolute Halacha and that would lead to
more chumra behaviour i.e. attempting to fulfill all major opinions in
an attempt at perfect fulfillment of the Halacha.

I mentioned there were contrary views of different Rishonim and that the
various view were set out in published lecture notes for a lecture by
Moshe Halberthal given at Harvard in 1994. (He portrays his distinctions
with a broad brush and there may well be compromise positions between
those mentioned by him.) He mentioned that the school of the Ramban and
especially the Ritvah IIUC proposed that there could be a range of
acceptable answers (even on an absolute basis) to a Halachic problem.
(Such would not be the view of the Raabad (author of Sefer Ha-Kaballah)
and the Geonim.)

So, according to the Talmidei Ha-Ramban the Rabbis in choosing from
within a range of the valid options constituted through the power given
to them by the Torah, the normative Halahca.

According to the Raavad and the Geonim before him, the Rabbis attempted
to reconstruct an original but now unknown Halacha by using their
methodology and one particular answer within the range of possible
answers might be the correct answer.

According to the Rambam there is also an absolute Halacha but such is
based on logical deduction from general principles of each halacha as
given to us and there is only one logical solution to any particular
problem although people being falible may err in their conclusions.

In practice we follow the pesak because Jewish Law is a legal system and
we may rely in day to day practice upon poskim (decisors) because that
is also part of Torah law.

However on an absolute basis as to what is the perfect Halacha there is
a machloket rishonim (dispute among the early medieval authorities) as
to whether there is such a perfect absolute Halachic answer to a



From: Dov Bloom <dovb@...>
Date: Mon, 15 Nov 2004 01:42:27 +0200
Subject: Ibn Ezra palindrome

I enjoyed the Ibn Ezra Magic Square/Palindrome quote recently by Jay F
Shachter after being refered to by other posters. Does Jay or anyone
else have the source where the Ibn Ezra says this?

I am familiar with another Ibn Ezra palindrome: Avi El Chai Shmecha,
Lama Melech Mashiach Lo Yavo?  (Yavo spelled without a vav)


From: <Gevaryahu@...> (Gilad J. Gevaryahu)
Date: Mon, 15 Nov 2004 13:28:51 EST
Subject: Is Saint veneration a Jewish custom?

Avi Feldblum (MJv45n64) writes:
<<The only potential item to be shocked about is the opinion that a
Cohen may go to the grave of a Tzaddik, because "kivrei tzadikim einam
metam'im" - the graves of Tzaddikim are not Tameh. The halachic validity
of this statement is subject to dispute, and I would be interested in
seeing the sources to support it.>>

Since this is in reaction to my posting on the issue, I would like to
point out that I specifically was careful to limit the scope of the
statement <Many Chasidim hold that kivrei tzadikim einam metam'im>. I
agree with Avi that not all hold by this rule. Rabbi Ovadia Yosef wrote
extensively against this rule (Yabia Omer, Vol. IV, Yoreh De'ah Siman
35; Yechaveh Da'at, Vol. IV, Siman 58, s.v. Teshuva Bamidrash, and s.v.
ve'lichorah yesh).

Based on the burial of Yoseph [ha-tzadik] (Sota 9b in the Mishnah and
13b), by Moshe [who was a Cohen] and on Elisha [who was a Cohen Gadol
per the midrash] healing the dead son of the Shunamit (II Melachim 4),
and Eliyahu with dead son of ha-Tzarfatia a midrash developed (Per the

"Although I said to them [the Cohanim]: you should not defile yourself
to the dead, to a "met mitzvah" you should defile, and also to [dead]
tzadikim, because the tzadikim are considered alive even after death. A
story is told about Rabbi Akiba who was captured and put into a prison,
and R. Yehushua haGarsi was serving him... Eliyahu o.b.m. came, knock on
the door. [Yehoshua] said to him: Who are you? and he replied I am
Eliyahu. [Yehoshua] said to him: What do you want? [Eliyahu] answered
him: I came to inform you that Rabbi Akiba your master has died....
Eliyahu got stronger and took care of the body of Rabbi Akiba. Rabbi
Yehoshua said to him: Aren't you a Cohen? [Eliyahu] said to him: my son,
Ein tum'ah leTzadikim ve-lo le-chachmim [the is no defilement from the
dead body of tzadikim and chachamim]." (Midrash Agadah {Buber} Vayikra,
Perek 21 s.v. Davar Acher: Emor el; [my free translation GJG]

Some quoted this "Tzadikim einam metam'im" such as Ramban (Bamidbar
16:1; Chidushei HaRamban Yevamot 61a), Ran (Derashot ha-Ran. Eighth
derasha), Sefer Hachinuch Mitzvah 263, and Hid"a (P'nei David beg of
Beshalach) and many/most chasidim today. Hid"a holds it to be
halacha. On the other hand many never accepted this development. For
example Tosafot Bava Metziah 114b and Yevamot 64a on the ground that
R. Akiba was a "met mitzva" and Kitzur Shulchan Aruch (Siman 128:13).

Kitzur Shulchan Aruch is noteworthy here as he specifically recommends
going to prostrate on grave of Tzadikim (veneration of saints!), but on
the same time comes strongly against Cohanim doing so (Siman 202:14).

In Summary: Some took this midrash literally, and extracted halacha from
it, while other saw this midrash as a story/legend/folklore, but not as
a source of halacha.

Gilad J. Gevaryahu

[Thanks. Avi]

From: Shayna Kravetz <skravetz@...>
Date: Mon, 15 Nov 2004 13:25:09 -0500
Subject: Re: Is Saint veneration a Jewish custom?

 <Gevaryahu@...> (Gilad J. Gevaryahu) wrote in part:
> >Many Chasidim hold that kivrei tzadikim einam metam'im, that is, even a
> >Cohen is allowed to go to a grave site of a Tzadik (including their
> >Rebbi) since such grave sites do not defile a Cohen. Procedures for
> >walking thru a cemetery inside a box to the grave site of the Rebbi was
> >developed, in order to avoid the defilement of Cohanim to graves of
> >common Jews.

and then I asked:
> Is anyone else as shocked as I am by this degradation of the "common
> Jews"?  Surely in death we are all equal.

to which Avi Feldblum responded:
> I don't understand Shayna's concern. There is no degredation of the
> "common Jew". The Torah teaches us that the grave of a Jew is Tameh and
> therefore a Cohen may not go there. This is simply the reality of
> Halacha. The only potential item to be shocked about is the opinion that
> a Cohen may go to the grave of a Tzaddik, because "kivrei tzadikim einam
> metam'im" - the graves of Tzaddikim are not Tameh.  SNIP

I think that we are really addressing two sides of the same coin (cohen?
<g>).  You see the elevation of the Tzaddik, I see the implied
diminution of the common Jew, but the real issue is the question of
inequality in death.  While there are certainly miraculous instances
reported in the Midrash of bodies that did not decay, that is not quite
our question.  The issue is whether the bodies of tzaddikim are entitled
to be considered as not metameh after death.  There is the halachah
le-ma'aseh issue which can be resolved by consulting, for examples,
tshuvot (if any) on the question of whether a cohen can visit Kever
Rakhel or Kever Yosef.

But I think there is also a values or midot issue to be considered here,
which is where I think I differ from Avi, perhaps.  As long as *all*
Jews' bodies are seen as metamei in death, there is no class distinction
-- an important principle that we see in, for example, the strictures on
what a coffin or shrouds can be made of.  In this case, Avi's opinion
above -- that this is "simply the reality of Halacha " -- applies.
However, once some Jews are seen as outside that rule, we have created
classes among the dead which is, to me, repugnant and inconsistent with
Jewish values.

I hope that this clarifies what startled me in the original post.

Kol tuv from
Shayna in Toronto

From: Avi Feldblum <feldblum@...>
Date: Mon, 15 Nov 2004 21:53:47 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Re: Is Saint veneration a Jewish custom?

I don't think I am any closer than before to understanding / agreement. There
appears to me to be in your arguement, an assumption that there cannot be
"class distinctions" in death, and to even suggest so is repungnant. I
would like to understand where that is coming from. It appears clear that
there are "class distinctions" in life. If we keep to the specific point
we are talking about, I am not permitted to come within 4 amot of a jewish
grave. If you are not a male Cohen, then there is no such prohibition. So
there clearly are "class distinctions" in life. As to the question of
whether there are any "class distinctions" in death, to me that is a
halachic question, and the answer is to be found in the halachic responsa.
Gilad, in a posting in this issue, answers my question as to the source of
those who say that there is such a distinction. So it appears that the
issue of whether there are two "classes" of jews in death with respect to
whether their bodies have a law of tumah - is a matter of dispute in
halacha. However, I would not say that one side of the arguement is



From: Anonymous
Date: Mon, 15 Nov 2004 22:23:43
Subject: Lateness to Shul

> This might be a valid approach to marginal members on shabbat or yom tov
> but the problem is acute on weekdays when only the more committed ones
> come. The latter might already be on a level of Jewish awareness to be
> capable of accepting rebuke if it is given in the correct manner. We all
> should want to 'grow' in our Jewish commitment and this is one aspect in
> which the opportunity can be found.

I am posting this anonymously to minimize loshon hora issues.  If you
don't know who I am you can't figure out who I am talking about.

We all don't want to grow.  In my shul we are starting a new minynan
early in the morning which heavily relies on several rabbi's from a
local school.  While the Baal haBatim show up on time the Rabbi's are
habitually late. Typically we get our 10th (one of the Rabbis) 2-3
minutes before Barechu.

I have to ask myself, why I am killing myself to get up early and daven
when Rabbi's don't. One Rabbi gives me the excuse he is busy learning
before davening and thats why he comes late and won't try and come on
time.  It ruins my davening because I have to keep sweating it if I am
going to have a minyan at all until the 10th arrives.

The last question I keep asking myself is when Rabbi's care so little
about halacha to intentionally come to shul late, why should I.
Expecially when I just lost my job because I keep Shabbos.  If davening
isn't important to them why should Shabbat be important to me?


From: Samuel P Groner <spg28@...>
Date: Mon, 15 Nov 2004 18:48:40 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Saying Tachanun Bein ha-Shmashot

In many, many shuls I've encountered, if mincha shemone esrei runs until
a few minutes after sunset, tachanun will be omitted, and the chazan
will go straight into kaddish after his repitition of shemone esrei.  I
had always assumed that this "halakha" was codified by the Mishnah
Berurah, Arukh HaShulhan, etc.  However, having looked into this
recently, it seems that poskim are almost unanimous that tachanun SHOULD
be said bein hashmashot if mincha goes a bit long (see, e.g., Mishna
Berurah on 131:17; Taz 131:8; Be'er Heteiv 131:3; Arukh HaShulhan
131:11; Shulchan Aruch HaRav 131:4; Rav Ovadiah Yosef, Yi'haveh Da'at
6:7, and the many, many sources Rav Ovadiah cites supporting the notion
that tachanun should be said in mincha when it runs into bein
hashmashot).  The only sources I could find that go the other way are
one reading of the Magen Avraham's vague language (see Eliyahu Rabah
131:8; but compare Chaye Odom 33:3, who says that the Magen Avraham as
well means that tachanun can be recited bein hashmashot), and the Kaf
Ha'hayyim and Ben Ish Hai cited and rejected by Rav Ovadiah Yosef.

Does anyone know if there are other poskim on which shuls that are
omitting tachanun a few minutes after sunset are relying, and if so,

Sammy Groner


From: <lchayim@...>
Date: Mon, 15 Nov 2004 15:45:31 -0500
Subject: Thanksgiving

What is the prevailing custom concerning celebrating the holiday of

[I would suggest reading Michael Broyde's areticle on Thanksgiving that
was published a number of years ago in the Journal of Halacha and
Contemporary Society. I think this is a link to the same or a very
similar article: http://www.tfdixie.com/special/thanksg.htm


From: William Friedman <williamf@...>
Date: Mon, 15 Nov 2004 13:33:02 -0500
Subject: Women Getting Called up For Aliyos


R' Mendel Shapiro. "Qeriat ha-Torah by Women: A Halakhic Analysis." Edah
Journal 1:2 (Sivan 5761).
http://www.edah.org/backend/JournalArticle/1_2_shapiro.pdf and responses in
that same issue here:

R' David Golinkin.  "Aliyot for Women." Teshuvot Va'ad haHalakha 3.
English summary: http://www.responsafortoday.com/engsums/3_2.htm
Hebrew Original: http://www.responsafortoday.com/vol3/2.pdf



End of Volume 45 Issue 70