Volume 45 Number 99
                    Produced: Sun Nov 28 22:06:38 EST 2004

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

Administrivia - mj-tech list
         [Avi Feldblum]
Coming late to shul (not judging others)
         [Saul Stokar]
Dovening, bored and late
         [Batya Medad]
Expecting Perfection (was lateness to shul)
         [Binyomin Segal]
Lateness to Shul (2)
         [Martin Stern, Carl Singer]
Solutions to make Davening more Meaningful (2)
         [Shmuel Carit, Dr. Rick Blum]


From: Avi Feldblum <mljewish@...>
Date: Sun, 28 Nov 2004 21:48:13 -0500
Subject: Administrivia - mj-tech list

Hello All,

At this point I have heard from about 70 list members, and the response
have been about 5:1 for the creation of the mj-tech list and the
directing of some number of postings to that list. As I stated in an
earlier Administrivia, that list will be maintained by Stan and Levanah
Tenen, and if people wish to be added to that list, they need to contact
Levanah. The address for Levanah and Stan is: <meru1@...> and if you
want to be on that list, please contact Levanah directly. In general, I
will not be posting material to mail-jewish that has appeared on
mj-tech. There may be times where I post an abbreviated version of a
posting that Stan sends in, and then the entire posting may appear on

Avi Feldblum


From: Saul Stokar <dp22414@...>
Date: Sun, 28 Nov 2004 09:15:38 +0200
Subject: Coming late to shul (not judging others)

Kudos to Robert Tolchin for his post (Vo. 45 no. 98) on the impropriety
of judging the actions of others without fully understanding the
background of these actions. About fifteen years ago, I had 4-1/2 weeks
of reserve duty in the IDF beginning before Yom Kippur. Three other
reserve soldiers and myself lived at a tiny outpost/roadblock just south
of the hotels at the Dead Sea on the road to Eilat near S'dom. Right
after Yom Kippur, I began to wonder what I was going to do for a Succah.
(The "Rabbinical Corps" of the IDF provided me with the four species but
they had no solution for the succa.) I ended up improvising a
minimally-kasher (hopefully) succa, built out of scraps of metal and
plastic that I scrounged from the roadside, and bits of the scrubs that
thrive in the area. At one point duing the Chag, an Israeli (apparently
secular) stopped his car and our roadblock, looked at my "construction"
and began berating me. He said, with supreme confidence, that he knows
what this is - this is a sun shelter that we improvised for ourselves to
shelter ourselves from the oppresive sunshine - and that this was an
insult to Medinat Yirael - this is no longer 1947 (the pre-state days of
the Palmach, where everything was improvised) - we have our own country,
we don't have to improvise such things out of junk... I tried
interrupting him a few times "You don't understand, this is not what you
think ..." but he swiftly cut me off each time, convinced that he knew
what he was pontificating about. Finally, I said to him curtly - "You're
wrong - this is a Succah". He rolled down his window, peered at it
intently for a moment, scowled "Impossible!", and zoomed off without
another word.

Saul Stokar


From: Batya Medad <ybmedad@...>
Date: Sun, 28 Nov 2004 06:37:24 +0200
Subject: Re: Dovening, bored and late

bored as evolved from late

Yes, dovening can be boring and even painful for the dyslexic,
dysgraphic etc.  Then we can go back to the "can I doven in English"
question.  How much "mumbo jumbo" can one recite without losing one's
mind?  For proper "kavana," concentration/attention/feeling I still
(after almost 35 years in Israel) keep an English translation handy,
always for High Holidays and Torah Readings.  The other dovening has
slowly evolved into all Hebrew, and I like to check out what I'm saying,
to make sure it's clear, and sometimes I just rush through.  Some
prayers are easy, like ordinary talking, and some are incomprehensible
to this day.

I'm sure that if I had to doven and had been dovening three times a day,
or I would have reached a major crisis or I would understand, or
probably both.  An advantage, or maybe disadvantage, of being a woman is
that there's less "guilt" when taking breaks from regular dovening.
Now, well into middle-age I've taken on more and with my stronger
Hebrew, I really enjoy it more.



From: Binyomin Segal <bsegal@...>
Date: Fri, 26 Nov 2004 14:31:53 -0600
Subject: Expecting Perfection (was lateness to shul)

One detail of the lateness to shul conversation has troubled me.

Over the years we on MJ have talked about the unfortunate way in which
our leaders' biographies are cleaned of all impropriety, to the point
that they seem to have been born fully perfect. It is then a bit ironic
that while we know our leaders must not have been perfect, we expect
every rabbi to be perfect in their halachic observance.

Consider anonymous' posting from 15 Nov:
> 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?

I think it is clear that these rabbis are behaving incorrectly. And
indeed, the "excuse" given by the rabbi is little more than
rationalization - especially given the fact that the minyan is literally
counting on them.

But I think Martin Stern is being a bit strict:
> If these rabbis won't accept this rebuke they hardly deserve their
> title. What sort of example are they setting to others?

Certainly we all understand that rabbis are first and foremost role
models. And we should be choosing rabbis (especially those that will
teach our children) that are effective and appropriate role models. But
until I can find the perfect people to select (they are in somewhat
short supply) shouldn't I use those that are honestly trying and
honestly imperfect?

I recall my Rosh Yeshiva once rebuking me for coming late to davening,
"You should come on time." I responded right away, "Yes, I should." My
rebbe, who happened to be standing there, was amused, as he saw this
left my Rosh Yeshiva with nothing more to say. I admitted my fault. But
they both knew that that was not an indication that I would be coming to
davening on time the next morning.

To be fair, perhaps Martin meant this. Martin might simply be saying
that a teacher who is doing his best will not mind being reminded of his
faults. But I find it unlikely that these rabbis need reminding. I think
it quite probable that they are very well aware of their faults, and
manage to do some good while they are attempting to be perfect.

A principal once offered me a job teaching elementary students. I was
very nervous about teaching students so young who have few "filters" and
accept what the rebbe says as Revelation. When I refused the job, and
shared with him my concern, his response was, "So who should I hire,
people who aren't worried?"

My point (in case it has somehow been lost in all my ramblings) is that
as a rebbe I am VERY well aware of the fact that I am imperfect in my
behavior. Further, there are certain imperfections in my character that
I am not even actively working on right now. Does this mean that I
should not be a rebbe? Should I refuse to teach Torah (even though I
have some evidence that I am good at it) because I do not (for example)
make it to davening on time every morning?

And by extension, if a rebbe can be imperfect, know his imperfections,
and still be a good rebbe. Isn't it entirely possible that many of the
people that come late to shul each morning are fully aware of their
imperfections - and manage to do some good each day anyway? Given how
small a percentage of the _Orthodox_ community actually makes it to
minyan, wouldn't it be better for all around to focus on the positive,
this person comes to davening every day. And let the person himself
choose (with whatever spiritual guidance he might have) when he should
focus on correcting that issue.

It seems to smack of hubris to suggest that - barring a personal
relationship (like parent or rebbe) that gives me the responsibility - I
have the right to tell someone else what specific flaw they should be
fixing, when presumably I have my own flaws to fix. "Let he who is
without sin..." so to speak.



From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Sun, 28 Nov 2004 06:55:26 +0000
Subject: Re: Lateness to Shul

on 28/11/04 12:05 am, Avi Feldblum at <feldblum@...> wrote:

> This Gemara has been quoted several times. It would be useful to me to
> understand exactly what the Gemara is saying. When it says HKBH comes to
> shul and does not find a minyan there, at what point in what we refer to
> our Tefillah should we assume this event occurs? To answer this
> question, I would think we need a clear understanding of what tefillah
> exactly was said in shul during the tanaitic times. I would tend to
> doubt that it is talking about what we call Berachot, and it would
> clearly be true for Shemonah Esreh. But where between those two would
> you place the event.  Without looking through the Gemarah right now, I
> would tend to place it at Borchu, which is when the first real davar
> sh'bekudusha [part of tefillah that requires 10 people] occurs. Comments
> / sources on this welcome.

Avi is certainly correct as regards birkhot hashachar which were never
meant to be said in shul, as is clear from the references in the Gemara
and even their codification at the beginning of the Shulchan Arukh,
Orach Chaim. They were said in shul for the benefit of those who did not
know them well enough to recite them, something not particularly
relevant now that we have printed siddurim.

As regards pesukei dezimra, apart from a reference to reciting Ashrei
three times a day, of which the first is in this section, there is very
little mentioned in the Gemara. It is possible that this section was
added by the Geonim as an alternative for the ordinary man to the one
hour preparation before starting to daven that the Gemara mentions as
the custom of the chassidim harishonim. These earlier parts can, in
emergency situations, be abbreviated if someone is delayed.

Therefore it seems correct that the reference to HKBH's anger at not
finding a minyan would apply to 'coming' at barekhu which is, in any
case, essentially a call to prayer and the basic commencement of public

Martin Stern

From: Carl Singer <casinger@...>
Date: Sat, 27 Nov 2004 20:03:36 -0500
Subject: Lateness to Shul

> I don't think there is another religion in the world that demands the
> recitation of so much material, and, if we are to be honest with
> ourselves, the length and routine-ness of the Shabbat and Y"T service is
> the cause of most of the ills we attribute to it: late arrivals,
> inattentiveness, casual conversations and a general attitude of
> irreverance.

Why is it that when one invites non-Jews or not-yet-frum Jews to, say, a
bar mitzvah, they show up at the time listed in the invitation -- it's
almost comic when the only people who are there on time are guests and
those who "don't know any better."

Carl Singer


From: Shmuel Carit <cshmuel@...>
Date: Sat, 27 Nov 2004 16:00:11 +0000
Subject: Solutions to make Davening more Meaningful

I'd advise anyone that gets bored with the davening or begins to have
shplikas to ask (demand?) that the Rabbi begin using his pulpit to talk
about the tefillot instead of the parsha.

Any Rabbi will see this as a challenge that will bring much payback in
many ways. His own knowledge will increase, people will once again enjoy
coming to shul for the right reasons, many will learn what they were
never taught about something they do all the time without much or enough

You shouldn't tire of saying the same things over and over again every
day.  They should be fresh every time you begin your meeting with the

There are tons of books in all languages on the parsha. Harldly enough
on tefilla. For the Rabbi to take 10-15 minutes every shabbat morning on
one section or one tefillah can be exhilirating for the
congregation.... Perhaps people will begin to use kiddush time after
davening to discuss the Rabbi's thoughts on shemoneh esray! (I can
dream, can't I?)

Stuart Pilichowski
Mevaseret Zion

From: Dr. Rick Blum <dr-rick@...>
Date: Sat, 27 Nov 2004 22:35:19 -0800 (PST)
Subject: Re: Solutions to make Davening more Meaningful

> Can anyone really take concentrate on all those words that they are
> saying day in day out?"

This challenge faces all of us, and not only with tefilos, but with all
the mitzvos.  I find that my own experience echos that of Jews for
thousands of years (see Kiddushin 40b). When I only practice, my
practice runs out of steam.  As long as I keep learning, my
understanding keeps deepening with the kavanah of performing what I have
learned.  For example, recently I was learning in the Gutnick Chumash
and the subject of davening came up.  My kavanah had been centering on
acknowledging HaShem as the source of all blessings, so that I was not
asking Him to follow my advice, but recognizing that whatever the future
holds is part of the overall gift.  Now I learned an additional way of
seeing the role of davening as the Lubavitcher Rebbe taught that the
very act of davening purifies the individual so that he may become a
more fitting condui t for Heaven's blessings.  So, we are performing the
repetitive forumulas that HaShem has provided for us to participate in
His wish to bentsh us.

This made a difference for me, and it is just the latest example of this
experience.  Torah means mitzvos because Torah makes the mitzvos
continually meaningful.

Rick Blum


End of Volume 45 Issue 99