Volume 46 Number 54
                    Produced: Sun Jan  9 14:02:32 EST 2005

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Cost of simchas
         [Nadine Bonner]
Kula or Humra? [Lenient or Strict?]
         [Aliza Berger]
Rabbinical Authority (2)
         [David Eisen, Mark Steiner]


From: Nadine Bonner <nfbonner@...>
Date: Tue, 4 Jan 2005 21:44:40 -0500
Subject: Cost of simchas

Having made two weddings in the last four years, I can honestly state
that whatever cost-cutting you do, it all comes down to the number of
guests you invite. For both my daughters' weddings, I typeset the
invitations myself, we wore borrowed gowns, and generally kept costs to
a minimum. In both cases, the caterers' charges were very reasonable for
a heimish, filling but not fancy meal (my non-frum friends are
speechless with envy when I tell them what I paid per person).

But in the case of my older daughter, her chassen's parents informed me
at the start that they would not be paying a penny towards the
wedding. While that was a blow, I felt it gave me the right to call the
shots and limit the guest list. I made a beautiful wedding in New York
for less than $9000, including the FLOPS, transporting our family from
the midwest and staying two nights in a Brooklyn family hotel. But we
had fewer than 150 guests.

My second daughter's wedding was a different story. Her in-laws are
friends and neighbors. They paid for the FLOPS and for additional hot
dishes at the shmorg. In addition, my mahuten is the gabbai of our shul,
and I understood that he had social obligations. Again, the caterer was
reasonable, but we paid for 350 meals, which more than doubled the price
of the wedding. And there are still people who are not speaking to us
because they weren't invited.

I don't expect to be invited to every wedding in our community, but I
have learned that there are people who do. I think the best "cure" for
expensive simchas if for people to only invite those who are close to
them and leave the rest for the sheva brachas. But I don't think there
is much chance of that happeneing.

My mahutanim, my husband and I were together at a wedding the week
before our children's wedding. A wealthy member of the shul started
complaining to my mahuten that he and his brother had not received their
invitations. The reason for this was simple--we hadn't invited them. But
my mahuten was so embarrassed he ended up claiming the invitations were
lost in the mail and inviting them and their wives. I was furious that
he had been put on the spot, and explained that if this happened again,
he should say that I had limited the number of invitations he was
allowed and that he was sorry he could not invite any more guests. In
the end, I ordered places for these four people, and they didn't show

This expenses was somewhat compensated by members of my family, who I
heard later asked for seconds and were served.

We did have over 20 guests respond that they were coming to the chuppah
but not the meal. I thought this was very considerate and appreciated
the time they took to share our simcha.


From: Aliza Berger <alizadov@...>
Date: Wed, 05 Jan 2005 16:14:51 +0200
Subject: Kula or Humra? [Lenient or Strict?]

Rabbi Eliezer Melamed, in last week's "B'Sheva [a weekly religious
newspaper]," asked: "Can one bless 'gomel' in the presence of fewer than
10 men?" [gomel = blessing said after one survives a dangerous
experience].  Briefly, there is a difference of opinion: some decisors
say yes and some say no. Rabbi Melamed concludes by quoting an opinion
that one should not bless 'gomel' in a10 men because "safek brachot
lehakel" [when there is a doubt about a blessing, we are lenient].

By common sense, one would think that leniency would lead to a more
inclusive decision, i.e., that the blessing can be said in the presence
of fewer than 10 men. Can someone explain how the rule "safek brachot
lehakel" works, if not according to common sense?  (This is beside the
point, but was also in the article: According to the opinion that you
can say gomel in the presence of fewer than 10 men, it can be said in
the presence of only women. A minimum number of people necessary for the
blessing is not discussed.)

Sincerely, Aliza
Aliza Berger-Cooper, PhD
English Editing: editing-proofreading.com
Statistics Consulting: statistics-help.com


From: David Eisen <davide@...>
Date: Wed, 5 Jan 2005 15:08:05 +0200
Subject: RE: Rabbinical Authority

Mark Steiner wrote:
>The question of rabbinical authority is very tricky, since we don't have
>an elected or even appointed "hierarchy" as in the Catholic church
>(personally, I'm glad we don't).  One of the sources of authority, of
>course, is the rebbe/talmid relationship, or the authority of a rabbi
>who has been appointed by a kehillah.  The question arises whether a rav
>who is not my rebbe, nor has he been appointed by my kehillah, has any
>status of authority with respect to me.  The answer happens to be yes,
>according to Tos. Pes.  31b, d"h moreh halakha--namely, that the gadol
>hador has the status of everyone's rebbe.  Thus, every power that your
>own rebbe (or rabbi) has over you, the gadol hador has also.

I respectfully beg to differ with Prof. Mark Steiner's interpretation of
the above Tosafot (which actually appears in Berakhot 31b; see
http://www.e-daf.com/daf.asp?ID=60), though Prof. Steiner is certainly
in excellent company as HaRav Herschel Schachter, Shlit"a, utilized this
source as his principle proof text for reaching the same conclusion
(i.e., the Gedolei HaDor command an authoritative status that is
superior to one's personal Rav even if such Gedolim are not one's
personal halachic decisors) in a shiur delivered two years ago in Bet
Shemesh. R.  Schachter's formulation was more restrictive than
Prof. Steiner's as he asserted that this authority does not individually
vest with each and every Gadol BaTorah per se; rather, only if virtually
all of the Gedolim reach a consensus on a particular matter will this
collective decision have normative binding power on all adherents of
Halacha even with respect to an individual whose personal Rav rendered a
decision that runs contrary to such A shared pronouncement. [At first
glance, the possibility of all Gedolei Yisrael reaching a consensus on
ANY issue seems highly inconceivable - certainly during the
pre-Messianic era - nonetheless R. Schachter illustrated his point with
the following example that admittedly seemed quite plausible (bear in
mind that this example was made 1 week before the Israeli elections in
February 2003): if all of the Gedolim would unequivocally rule that the
Torah prohibits voting for the Shinui party, this decision would be
binding on every Jew (who is entitled to vote in Israel, though I assume
one would be hard-pressed to find any Rav in Israel that would have
endorsed Shinui). That said, it is not inconceivable that similar
statements could be made about the Internet, the topic at hand.]
However, I, like Prof. Steiner, will not address the question of WHO is
a Gadol HaDor (or as Prof. Steiner asked, "Who is THE Gadol HaDor?"),
but rather wish to question the premise presented in his post.

With respect to the Tosafot on Berakhot 31b, D"H Moreh Halacha, it is
worthwhile to quote the entire source, especially since it is only 13
RAV: And even though he (Shmuel) still did not study in his presence,
nonetheless, he (Eli HaKohen) was the Gadol HaDor (see Rambam's
Introduction to Mishneh Torah) and he (Shmuel) came to study before him
[Translation: DE]."

I humbly wish to aver that one should not arrive at R. Schachter's and
Prof. Steiner's far-reaching conclusions based on this Tosafot (though I
believe that these positions are supported by Sepher HaHinuch, yet this
is for a different discussion). The Gemara discusses an incident that
took place when Shmuel was brought to the Mishkan in Shiloh. Shmuel
instructed Eli that a Kohen is not required to perform the act of
shehita as this service may be executed by a Zar (non-Kohen). Eli
responded that Shmuel's words were indeed correct, but all the same he
was guilty of rendering a decision in the presence of his teacher (at
the age of 2!), which is punishable by death. It is on this point that
Tosafot explains that despite the fact that Shmuel was not a student of
Eli, he was nonetheless obligated to treat him as his Rav since he was
the Gadol HaDor. That said, I believe that the last three words of this
Tosafot ("uba lilmod lifanav" - "and he came to study before him") are
extremely important. IMHO, Shmuel was not necessarily obligated to
listen to Eli - like any other Jew of that generation - since Eli was
the Gadol HaDor; rather Shmuel already had a personal connection with
Eli even though he did not yet learn one iota of Torah from him since he
was already "enrolled in the Bet Midrash of Eli HaKohen" ("uba lilmod

Moreover, I do not believe that one can learn from this Tosafot that the
halachic decisions of Gedolei HaDor supersede the rulings of one's
personal Rav; rather this Tosafot is teaching us that one must
demonstrate respect and reverence in the presence of the Gadol HaDor,
even if one is not a student of this Gadol. This is further demonstrated
by the responsum of the Terumat HaDeshen (Siman 138) quoted by R. Akiva
Eiger in the Gilayon HaShas on this Tosafot. The question raised in this
responsum deals with a person who is sitting at the Pesah Seder in the
presence of a Gadol HaDor and whether or not this person is permitted
recline in his presence even though this Gadol is not his personal Rav
(in which case one may not recline out of deference); based on our
Tosafot, the Terumat HaDeshen rules that even though this person was not
a student of the Gadol, he should nonetheless treat him with the same
degree of respect that he would treat his personal Rav.

The common denominator between this teshuva and the Gemara in Berakhot
is that they both deal with showing respect in the presence of a Gadol
who is not one's personal Rav - and not that one must treat the rulings
of the Gadol HaDor in the same manner or with greater adherence that one
treats those of his personal Rav; IMHO the latter conclusion is not the
correct interpretation of this Tosafot. I should add that I raised these
points to R. Schachter, and he responded that they are serious arguments
that require further analysis (tzarich iyun in his words). I apologize
for the length of this post (I tried to keep it as short as I could) and
I look forward to responses to my analysis.

B'virkat HaTorah,
David Eisen

From: Mark Steiner <marksa@...>
Date: Wed, 5 Jan 2005 23:40:17 +0200
Subject: RE: Rabbinical Authority

Thanks very much to David Eisen for his points (naturally I'm gratified
I was "mechaven" to R. Shachter's view).  I thought of some of them
myself before posting my own opinion, and rejected them for the
following reason:

First, let's quote again the passage from tosafot in David's translation:

even though he (Shmuel) still did not study in his presence,
nonetheless, he (Eli HaKohen) was the Gadol HaDor (see Rambam's
Introduction to Mishneh Torah) - and he (Shmuel) came to study
before him [Translation: DE]."

It seems clear to me that this means that the Gadol Hador is everybody's
rebbe; and the reason that the Tosafot adds that Shmuel came to study
before him is simply to explain what he was doing there (after all, he
rendered a halachic decision in his presence).  The correct pshat is:
Eli was Shmuel's rebbe by dint of the former's being the gadol hador,
and Eli had "registered" in his yeshiva, that's why he was present.
However, just registering in the yeshiva, without actually learning
there would not have made Eli his rebbe, had he NOT been the gadol

I also think that the Tosafot here means much more than that everyone
should revere the gadol hador, since the prohibition to render a
decision in the presence of the gadol hador (which I think is what
Tos. is saying in the disputed passage) goes well beyond simple
reverence--but it means that the gadol hador is one's halachic superior
whether or not you learned anything from him.

On the other hand, I don't find a source for saying that a talmid must
necessarily accept every ruling of his rebbe if he thinks his rebbe is
mistaken.  My only point was that whatever status a rebbe has, the gadol
hador also has.

What is interesting is that the yeshiva world in Israel has more or less
accepted R. Eliashiv shlita as the gadol hador--he represents a
combination of "manhig" (leader) and "posek" which we have not seen for
many years.  For example, R. Shach z"l was not a posek, and R.
Shlomo-Zalman z"l was not a "manhig".  This puts a double burden on Rav
Eliashiv, and I don't envy him.

By the way, the expression gadol hador in the Talmud does not always
mean the greatest Torah scholar in the generation--Cf. Pes. 49b (this
time it really is Peshim), and Rashi d"h gedolei hador: anshei ma`seh
vezaddikim.  The Talmud there says if you can't find a father-in-law
who's a talmid hakham, marry the daughter of the gedolei hador.


End of Volume 46 Issue 54