Volume 46 Number 64
                    Produced: Sat Jan 15 22:22:11 EST 2005

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

If Rav Moshe were alive he would - When to disagree with a Gadol (2)
         [Batya Medad, David Eisen]
Late to shul v. work (3)
         [Martin Stern, Martin Stern, Avi Feldblum]
Not Paying Rent
         [Tzvi Stein]
PETA and kosher slaughter (was Grandiose Statements):
         [Bernard Raab]
When to disagree with a Gadol / out of town Rabbi's, etc
         [Carl Singer]
Who is the gadol hador
         [Dov Bloom]


From: Batya Medad <ybmedad@...>
Date: Fri, 14 Jan 2005 06:25:53 +0200
Subject: Re: If Rav Moshe were alive he would - When to disagree with a Gadol

It has been said a number of times on MJ that a psak isn't forever, and
it isn't for everyone.  Rav Moshe's smoking psak as expired, like last
year's milk.  I hope you don't mind the comparisan.  But it's not right
to belittle his Torah knowledge and influence by bringing out things
like that.  Today's public attitudes towards smoking are such that there
are rabbis who posken against it.  Fifty years ago, even if a rabbi
opposed smoking, he wouldn't give a psak that the public couldn't

Now to introduce a new topic from that previous sentence.  That's why
the Lebovitche Rebbe poskened that married women should use wigs to
cover their hair.  His goal was to find a way to make that mitzvah
acceptable to more and more women.  His tactics were good.  It's not
that wigs are halachikly superior, they're not, but at the time of that
psak and where it was made, it enthused women to cover their hair.

Yes, I cover my hair; no I'm not Chabad, and no I don't wear a wig for
halachik and family minhag (miraculously discovered) reasons. 


From: David Eisen <davide@...>
Date: Fri, 14 Jan 2005 16:01:59 +0200
Subject: RE: If Rav Moshe were alive he would - When to disagree with a Gadol

Russel Hendel said:

>I for one would like to see a thread discussing when we have the right
>to disagree with the halachic decisions of Gedolim.(In passing the
>prohibition of smoking did not come from me--as I pointed out last time
>Rabbi B Sharfman, author of the Blue Chumash Rashi set, prohibited
>it). But the defense of Rabbi Sharfman over Rav Moshe did come from me.
>The criteria I used here to disagree with Rav Moshe is spelled out in
>the laws of courts: Rambam explains (Courts Chapters 10) that although
>we follow the majority when there is controversy, it is not the majority
>of people: Rather it is the majority of reasons and arguments. In other
>words: It is not authority or Gadlus that determines halacha but
>reasoning In the smoking case Rav Moshe cited one law while I cited two
>and gave a reasonable distinction between them.

>I believe it is very important to discuss the criteria under which we
>can confidently say that a Gadol is wrong.

In response to Russel's request for a discussion on disagreeing with the
halachic decisions of Gedolim when "we can confidently say that a Gadol
is wrong," I believe we need to factor in the positions of two prominent

First of all, the Ramban al HaTorah on Devarim 17:11 D"H YAMIN O SMOL
explains that we are obligated to listen to the Bet Din HaGadol EVEN
when it is wrong in order to prevent normative anarchy ("v'taaseh
HaTorah kama Torot"); Ramban illustrates this with the submission
demonstrated by R. Yehoshua who acquiesced to come before Rabban Gamliel
with his weekday attire on the day that was Yom Kippur according to his
alternate calculation (TB Rosh Hashana 25a). While R. Yehoshua was
certain that that day was the hallowed day of Yom Hakippurim, he
nonetheless accepted upon himself Rabban Gamliel's ruling not
necessarily because he agreed with him, but to defy him would undermine
the central authority of the Sanhedrin.

Perhaps one can limit Ramban's interpretation to the context of the
pasuk under discussion, namely, the Bet Din HaGadol, which ostensibly
according to the Rambam in Hilkhot Mamrim is only authoritative when it
is sitting on Lishkat Hagazit in Yerushalayim and there is no similar
institution post-Hurban and pre-Geula (although, the example of R.
Yehoshua and Rabban Gamliel would perhaps indicate otherwise); however,
this is not possible in light of the Hinuch's expansion of the Mitzvot
of Listening to the Bet Din of Each Generation (Mitzva 495) and of the
Prohibition from Deviating from their Rulings (Mitzva 496), in which he
clearly rules that the normative status of the Bet Din Hagadol is not
limited to the time in which the Bet Din functioned in Yerushalayim,
rather, it is incumbent upon each and every Jew to adhere to the Gedolim
of each an every generation regardless of their stature in comparison to
previous generations (Yiftah b'doro kmo Shmuel b'doro). How are we to
relate to this Hinuch? Is it to be perceived as a minority position that
is not followed?

B'virkat HaTorah and Shabbat Shalom,
David Eisen   


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Thu, 13 Jan 2005 21:29:32 +0000
Subject: Late to shul v. work

on 4/1/05 11:32 am, Nathan Lamm <nelamm18@...> wrote:
> I'm not sure if the simple point about sleep has been raised. Basically,
> people arrive at work on time because they've already been up for a
> while, perhaps even to shul. However, shacharit is often the first thing
> one goes to in the morning. Particularly if a minyan is at, say, 6:15 or
> so, it's not always a simple matter to arise and get to shul. Even if
> one goes to an 8:30 minyan on Shabbat, for example, waking up may not be
> such a simple matter.

The people who are regularly late for shacharit are often also late for
minchah and ma'ariv. 

Martin Stern

From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Thu, 13 Jan 2005 20:26:30 +0000
Subject: Re: Late to shul v. work

on 2/1/05 4:07 pm, Tzvi Stein <Tzvi.Stein@...> wrote:

> I don't think it's an apt comparison to compare if people are on time at
> work vs. shul and to say if they're on time for work but not shul, that
> means they place less importance to shul vs. work.  A person is not on
> time for work because they consider work important or because they
> respect work.  They are on time to avoid losing their parnassa, nothing
> more, nothing less.

Does Tzvi think that our parnassah is determined solely by our employer?
Is he unaware that everything we have is by courtesy of the Almighty? We
are told that our parnassah is decided by Him on Rosh Hashanah and we
will receive no more and no less so there is no point in acting
dishonestly to obtain more, we will only lose it in some way. We have to
do what is necessary but the results are in His hands. Tzvi's comment
seems to imply that people who come late to shul do not accept these
basic Torah values.

Martin Stern

From: Avi Feldblum <feldblum@...>
Date: Thu, 13 Jan 2005
Subject: Re: Late to shul v. work

I'm not sure I would interpret things exactly as Martin appears to be
above. While HaShem decrees what our parnassah will be, and he does
mention that acting dishonestly to try and increase it will not work,
the issue raised by Tzvi is whether a reasonable effort on our part is
needed to make that come true. If I take it to the extreme, why not
simply not go to work and depend on what HaShem has decreed? For the
great majority of us, I think it is clear that we need to do our part as
well. If the workplace expectation is that you are in by a certain time,
and if you are not, that will be cause for firing or will prevent your
getting oppertunities, then I do not think that is in any way a
violation of faith in HaShem to act in manner that will perserve your
current job security.



From: Tzvi Stein <Tzvi.Stein@...>
Date: Thu, 13 Jan 2005 23:33:52 -0500
Subject: Re: Not Paying Rent

> We have two shuls in my town and I go to the smaller one.  We have a
> school on our property that doesn't pay its rent even though it pays
> it's Rabbi's very well (for teachers) and has two full time secretaries
> (while our shul can only afford a part 1 part time one) They cry to us
> that it is ossur to demand they pay their bills because if we evicted
> them we would be closing a Torah institution.

They're just taking advantage of you.  Go ahead and evict them.  You
won't be closing a Torah institution.  Since they obviously have the
money, they'll just make paying the rent a priority.  You'll see that
they come up with the money very quickly. Right now, you've given them
no reason to.


From: Bernard Raab <beraab@...>
Date: Wed, 12 Jan 2005 15:33:55 -0500
Subject: PETA and kosher slaughter (was Grandiose Statements):

From: Mischa Gelman <mgelman@...>
>> On that note ... how about the ad that ran in Jewish newspapers last
>> week (at least in Boston's Jewish Advocate), apparently as a result
>> of the recent PETA kosher slaughtering video, with the headline to
>> the effect "only the rabbis and certification agencies can define
>> kosher slaughter"?

> I thought PETA's criticism was that the practices did not meet the
>guidelines for kosher slaughter. It certainly didn't appear that they
>were trying to change or redefine the halakha. I personally don't agree
>with PETA's agenda but the recent hoopla was more of a question of
>whether the certification agencies were doing their job, not whether
>they should be doing that job.

Those outside the US probably are wondering what this is all about. I
will explain, and then explain how the OU fumbled the ball badly.

PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) was alerted to
certain practices in a large kosher slaughterhouse in the midwest which
it thought to be unecessarily cruel to the animals (cattle) being
slaughtered. In a previous era it might have launched a drive to have
kosher slaughter declared illegal, but that approach is apparently
viewed as counterproductive and unlikely to succeed today. Understand
that their ultimate agenda is to stop all slaughter of animals for
either food or fur. Instead, it wrote a letter to the OU, which is the
certifying agency, complaining about the horrific details they were
alerted to, and declaring that these practices were in violation of the
laws of kashrut, as they understood them.

This approach was a non-to-subtle rebuke, meant to deliver the following
message: 'You say that kosher slaughter is the most humane form known to
man; well, if so then these practices must be unkosher'. Instead of
understanding this message and responding respectfully in kind to PETA,
the rabbis apparently took umbrage at the fact that some secular
organization dared to make a declaration on the kashrut of a process for
which they are responsible. Hence the so-called "Grandiose Statement".
The unfortunate public airing of these issues resulted from the fact
that the OU did not initially respond directly to PETA, but interpreted
this letter as an attack on their authority, or worse, on kosher
slaughter in general, and forwarded this letter to their
attorneys. Since no legal action was threatened, the attorneys
apparently did what attorneys are trained to do in such circumstances:
they ignored it.

The end result was that PETA publicly revealed their
surreptitiously-taken videos of the objectionable practices, which of
course will be viewed as an attack on kosher slaughter, which might have
been avoided had the OU responded with some sensitivity to the original
complaint. Instead, they compounded their error by:

1. arguing that kosher slaughter is in fact the most humane and that
animals are rendered immediately insensible following the act of
shechita, BUT

2. the practices that PETA objected to would be discontinued, AND

3. any animals which are observed to move after shechita (one of the
complaints), although completely kosher, would not be sold as kosher!
In effect then, the OU ended up allowing PETA to define some parameters
of kosher slaughter (or more precisely, how the animals are to be
treated after slaughter), a most ominous development, despite the
"Grandiose Statement".

Oh yes, one more thing: The attorneys were finally heard from. They took
an ad in the Jewish media excoriating PETA for attacking kosher
slaughter in ways eerily similar to those of the Third Reich. Intended I
suppose to inflame the readership and to intimidate PETA, but hardly in
consonance with the posture of the eventual agreement.

Could this whole affair have been handled worse? Hard to see how.

b'shalom--Bernie R.


From: Carl Singer <casinger@...>
Date: Fri, 14 Jan 2005 07:31:27 -0500
Subject: When to disagree with a Gadol / out of town Rabbi's, etc

It seems to me Issue #61 includes the confluence of many related themes:
Gadol HaDor, Community Rav vs. Rosh Yeshiva, etc.

The first thing that comes to mind is that due to universal
communications we live in an era of choices -- good, bad and in between.

One can "asseh lecha Rav" -- establish a relationship with someone who
will be their "mentor" -- for want of a better descriptor.  This, in
part, answers the "who paskens for me" question.  Must / should this Rav
be a member of one's community -- and what is a community today?

It seems everyone pays lip service to the above but --

One can deal with halachic issues on an issue-by-issue basis.  This is,
to me, conceptually orthogonal to the above.  For example, re: smoking -
one can "study" what previous (and current) Rabbi's have (allegedly)
said / written on the subject and make decision on that basis.  Seforim
and the internet provide an abundance of information and mis-information
(remarkably, some editors inject their bias into what others may
perceive as untouched source documents.)


For the scientists on the list, I wanted to introduce a chidush (I
haven't seen it anywhere, but then again, I haven't been looking.)  In
an article that I published in 2001 I mentioned the 2 x 2 communications
matrix -- time / place: same time / same place, same time / different
place, different time / same place, different time / different place.
These spatial and temporal aspects were explored regarding project
teams.  Time thus had only a limited duration of interest.

Consider time, now, to span into history -- communicating with history.
I see this as significant hurdle for some halachic ventures.  Not only
the accuracy of what (we think) was said / written -- but also the
context (social and scientific.)  And, of course, communicating with
history usually involves only a one-way conversation.


Re: smoking -- and I'm not a smoker -- I think we've overlooked one
aspect and that is parental responsibility.  We're debating whether a
Gadol HaDor should ban smoking (reasons against include: might be
stumbling block, embarrassing those who already smoke, ...)  And we've
asked the individual smoker why he or she shouldn't stop knowing that it
is bad one's health.

Here's one to chew on -- as a parent responsible for my child's Torah
learning -- and overall well being -- what are my responsibilities --
not only in instructing my children re: smoking, but in selecting
schools / yeshivot that I sent my children to.  May I send my child to a
yeshiva where students smoke (openly or clandestinely), where Rabbaim

Carl A. Singer, Ph.D.


From: Dov Bloom <dovb@...>
Date: Wed, 12 Jan 2005 23:43:15 +0200
Subject: Re: Who is the gadol hador

I was giving a shiur recently that was partly devoted to some tshuvot of
the Tzitz Eliezer, R. Eliezer Waldenberg. It mystifies me that this
preeminent posek in Eretz Yisrael over the last 30 years isn't
considered the "posek hador", while others like R Eliyashiv gained that

If you peruse the breadth and depth of their written works, and the
issues the respond to, it does seem clear who the more significant posek
is.  So who decides who the Posek Hador is?


End of Volume 46 Issue 64