Volume 46 Number 18
                    Produced: Sat Dec 11 19:51:36 EST 2004

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

Chinuch and Tochecha (2)
         [Martin Stern, Avi Feldblum]
Coming late to shul
Correctness of old sifrei Torah (2)
         [Martin Stern, Gershon Dubin]
Cost of Simcha's (2)
         [<FriedmanJ@...>, Avi Feldblum]
The law of the land -- as related to monetary issues
         [Ari Trachtenberg]
Men in the Women's Section
         [Carl Singer]
Mourning Minimalist Marriages
         [Jay Bailey]


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Tue, 07 Dec 2004 11:04:16 +0000
Subject: Re: Chinuch and Tochecha

on 7/12/04 8:06 am, Binyomin Segal <bsegal@...> wrote:

> It is my contention that the right to correct another person's actions
> stem only from the responsibility to do so. If I do not have the
> responsibility to correct your actions, I do not have the right to do
> so. There are two basic sources for this responsibility: chinuch
> (education) and tochecha (rebuke).
> Our discussion has focused on community members correcting others in
> their community. This clearly falls under the rubric of tochecha. But
> the mitzva of tochecha is severely limited. There is a broad consensus
> that the mitzva can and should only be fulfilled when the rebuker is
> CERTAIN s/he will cause no damage in the rebuking. That is almost never
> the case. It is certainly not the case when the motivation for rebuke is
> personal - you are bothering ME when you don't come to shul on time.
> Absent the responsibility, it is not permitted to rebuke a person.

However, to draw everyone's attention to a problematic situation like
lateness in shul through a relatively anonymous medium like mail-jewish,
as opposed to rebuking a specific individual, is not only permissible
but mandatory. Hopefully, as a result of following the discussion, some
may come to improve their behaviour without the embarrassment of being
given personal tokhachah (rebuke).

Martin Stern

From: Avi Feldblum <feldblum@...>
Date: Sun, 12 Dec 2004
Subject: Re: Chinuch and Tochecha

I think that I tend to agree with some of what Eitan wrote in a earlier
issue that went out today. I think it is very important for people
involved in this discussion to carefully examine what is really the
purpose of their discussions. To what extent is one reacting to a
situation that is bothering them - the simple fact that people come late
to tefilah is clearly disturbing to a number of people on the list, and
I get the feeling it is more than just an aspect of Kol Yisrael Areivim
- the obligation to help improve all Jews. If it truely is motivated
ONLY by Kol Yisrael, then the primary approach should be to best
understand how to affect the way those people act. It is very clear to
me that statements on mail-jewish to the effect that "Everyone must come
exactly on time to davening" and "Their is no justification for being
late" etc, even if the "fine print" of what you say is not that
strident, will lead those who do not show up every day on time to view
the authors of those staements as "extremists" and I doubt you will have
any significant impact on them.



From: Anonymous
Date: Tue, 7 Dec 2004 19:20:20
Subject: Re: Coming late to shul

Robert Tolchin wrote on mail-jewish on November 27th:

> Let's apply this to the issue of people who come late to shul. You're
> focusing on what they do wrong. Why don't you stop and think that
> they're doing the right thing in the first place by coming? If someone
> comes 20 minutes late to make a minyan and enables someone to say
> kaddish, the bottom line is he has done a mitzvah, and has helped to
> restore the sparks and improve the world. Go brood about that. Instead
> of posting whining comments on the internet about how someone came
> late to shul, tell the world about the holy man who helped his
> community by being the tenth man in a minyan.

I can add to this with my own story.

A few years ago, I was in northern Thailand for Shavuos. The only shul
was a Chabad which also provided kosher meals for anybody passing
through the area. At night, we had over 20 people for the minyan, which
included a Jewish American who worked in the area. The Rabbi approached
this young man and asked him if he would be returning for Shacharit. He
could not, he said, because he was required to be at work the next
morning, and would never be able to get to davening in time.

Instead of reprimanding him for working on Yontif, the Rabbi informed
him that even if he couldn't make it in time for minyan, he would still
be welcome for lunch whenever he got out of work.

The next morning, we only had 9 people show up. We waited and waited
 ... until this young American decided to take the Rabbi up on his offer
for Shavuos lunch. Without him, we would not have had a minyan, and I
was very thankful that the Rabbi had made him feel so welcome the night


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Tue, 07 Dec 2004 10:52:45 +0000
Subject: Re: Correctness of old sifrei Torah

on 7/12/04 8:06 am, Ben Katz <bkatz@...> wrote:

> Sifray Torah were never meant to be checked
> by computers that are so exacting and have no "judgement".

The main point about computer checking is that the computer does not
suffer from the human tendency to read what it expects to see rather
than what is actually written. It is therefore a useful aid in detecting
missing or repeated letters and words, or incorrect ones such as an
aleph in place of an ayin. This sort of thing requires no "judgement"
and merely draws the attention of the magiah (proof reader) to the
mistake. It never was unknown for Sifrei Torah to be used for years
before such errors were noticed for the first time, often by a bar
mitsvah boy when he first looked at it.

Martin Stern

From: Gershon Dubin <gershon.dubin@...>
Date: Tue, 7 Dec 2004 16:44:48 GMT
Subject: Correctness of old sifrei Torah

From: Ben Katz <bkatz@...>
<<Do the standards change with the improvement of the checking technology?

         They shouldn't, just like one does not need to worry about
microscopic bugs in food.  Sifray Torah were never meant to be checked
by computers that are so exacting and have no "judgement".>>

We don't need the computer's judgement.  The computer detects such
things as missing letters or words, not improper formation of letters,
and the sofer ultimately pronounces whether the sefer is kosher or not.

All the computer does is show him where to look, where he might have
ovelooked something.  As a baal keria (Torah reader) for over 40 years,
I can tell you that the tendency is to see what you should see, not
what's actually there.  The computer is too "stupid" for that.

Another use for the computer (I've seen this done and it's awesome) is
remembering the "signature" of a mezuza or a parsha of tefilin. If that
parsha is pasul in a way that cannot be fixed, the computer remembers
that fact.

I was shown a mezuza that was apparently 100% kosher. Scanning under the
computer came up with "missing word" which it had in fact had before an
unscrupulous person squeezed the word in, rendering the mezuza not
kosher and that fact, undetectable.  Except, of course, by computer.

This memory of the "signature" is also used as a significant anti-theft
protocol for sifrei Torah.



From: <FriedmanJ@...>
Date: Tue, 7 Dec 2004 09:32:09 EST
Subject: Re: Cost of Simcha's

<FriedmanJ@...> wrote:

> Everyone helped with my daughter's wedding, we had 250 guests in New
> Jersey, for an all day affair that was a milchig buffet with all the
> trimmings for less than $27,000...

It's interesting. If I had done what I wanted to do, it wouldn't have
cost more than three grand, no picutres, no flowers, no food, no gowns,
no guests, no hall, no nothing but the papers and the rabbis. But the
Holocaust survivors grandmothers had other ideas and sort of ordered
what to do. So I think I really did the best I could, considering I have
three daughters. Considering that I was told and sworn to that there was
no way I could make the smallest wedding for less than $50,000, I am
pretty proud of myself. The grandmothers and all the people who wanted
me to give my kids a "proper" start were satisfied, not to mention I
helped a few people make a parnassa to pay some of those outrageous
costs of being Jewish. Everyone I hired has kids in yeshiva, is trying
to make a living.  I did give stuff to a gemach.

Why do i have to feel guilty for making a nice simcha?

From: Avi Feldblum <feldblum@...>
Date: Tue, 7 Dec 2004 09:32:09 EST
Subject: Re: Cost of Simcha's

I can fully relate to Jeanette's comments above. When Carolynn and I
married, we were the ones making the Simcha and paying for the simcha,
so we did not have to deal with too much outside interference. We were
able to keep the cost fairly moderate (I think it was around
$40/person). When my son got married a few years ago, there was now the
requirements from all the different sides, and the cost per person was
significantly higher. It can be very difficult in those circumstances to
able to get your more moderate cost views (if that is the side you are
on) to be accepted.

In terms of NY / NJ catering, most of the major caterers are charging in
excess of $50/person just for the food itself, and that is what they
consider a "bare bones" price. A "nice" affair is more like
$85/person. When you add in all the other expenses, you can easily run
$100 - $150 or higher per person. That is not to say that one cannot
still make an affair that will be memorable and enjoyable for $50 - $75
per person, but you will have to me more pro-active in working details
and not just leave it to the caterer/hall etc.



From: Ari Trachtenberg <trachten@...>
Date: Tue, 07 Dec 2004 10:23:44 -0500
Subject: Re: The law of the land -- as related to monetary issues

> From: Carl Singer <casinger@...>
> My question -- is there an halachic issue with NOT getting city permits
> -- dino d'malchuso dino

We recently had this issue when trying to rebuild our existing (though
apparently improperly permitted) deck.  Our city hall is, by all
measures, unreasonably difficult to deal with, and most contractors in
our area prefer to avoid dealing with it (i.e. build with permits).

I asked our local competent halachic authority (who heads a modern
orthodox shul) and was told that, technically, dina d'malchuta dina [the
law of your kingdom is the law] applies unless there is some
inappropriate prejudice involved (e.g.  anti-semitism), which in this
case there was clearly not.

Beyond the further practical problems with unpermitted work (no safety
check, the city can force the structure to be torn down at great
monetary cost, you can have trouble when selling the house etc.), I
personally think that there is also an issue of theft.  Since pulling a
permit also involves a permit fee, avoiding a permit is tantamount to
stealing from the city, and, thus, similar to illegally avoiding taxes -
an issue that many halachic authories have strongly condemned (this can
lead to grave chillul hashem [desecration of G-d's name] issues).

The upshot for us is that we're still waiting to get our deck rebuilt,
after almost 1.5 years of trying, but it now looks like the permitting
will eventually go through ...



From: Carl Singer <casinger@...>
Date: Tue, 07 Dec 2004 07:18:46 -0500
Subject: Men in the Women's Section

> The real problem is that the ezrat nashim is almost never used by women
> during the week so some men feel entitled to take it over. This will
> only be solved if women come during the week to daven there. Perhaps
> those who do not have dependent children, i.e. single girls or those
> whose children have grown up should arrange a rota to come to shul on
> weekday mornings and evenings so that it is in regular use.

Perhaps the discussion should be retitled "Women in the Women's Section"

I disagree that women must establish their presence in the women's
section (on weekdays) by coming (more) often.  They have no halachic
obligation to to daven with that minyan.  If they choose to do so -- say
for a yahrzeit -- that's fine.

Do we expect a man who shows up at the morning minyan only once or twice
a year for a yahrzeit to "establish" himself so that he may daven in the
men's section.

On the broader issue of men davening in the ezrat nashim -- why are they
separating themselves from the rest of the minyan -- answers such as
gastric distress are a bit far fetched unless all these men have a
chronic condition.  Is it permissible for men to daven in the women's
section (e.g. separate themselves) when there is room in the men's
section?  (i.e. no logistic issues.)  With the exception I previously
noted of someone wearing tephillin on chol when the rest of the
congregation isn't doing so (and similar constructs) -- I see little
basis for this.

Bottom line when a woman shows up to daven -- for any reason and with
any frequency -- are men chiyuv to vacate the women's section.  If not
-- why not?

Carl Singer


From: Jay Bailey <JayB@...>
Date: Tue, 7 Dec 2004 10:44:24 +0200
Subject: Mourning Minimalist Marriages

I can't read any more of this without responding. Regarding the charming

"There is a fellow here who spent WW2 in Matthausen and after the war
ended up in a DP camp.  There he met a woman and they decided to marry.
He told me what the chasuna was like... <snip> somehow doubt the absence
of a caterer or Viennese table has seriously impinged their marriage. "

Let's get real. We're not living, b"h, during the Holocaust. Back then,
people had few cares other than their own survival and that of their
families. I'm sure they were thrilled to have some cold porridge to eat
once a week, or an entire loaf of stale bread without beetles crawling
through it. The euphoria of a cup of fresh water is something we
probably can't relate to today. But that was then.

All I'm trying to say is that as much as nobody wants to waste money
needlessly, let's not go overboard in advising 'pious' stinginess. A
wedding is, after all, (ideally) a once in a lifetime event for the
couple, and one of a few, usually for the parents. It's the prime
opportunity for celebration we have in our lives. If there's any time to
do things beyond the minimum, this is it.  It might be worth a small
loan, or pushing off other expenses. The true challenge, in my opinion
is working up the creativity to make the event "unique". MY biggest
problem with weddings is that 90% simply follow a dull, predictable
formula, from the minute you arrive until the end. Solve that problem
and nobody remembers how big the flower arrangements were.

Jay Bailey


End of Volume 46 Issue 18