Volume 46 Number 80
                    Produced: Thu Feb  3  6:10:11 EST 2005

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Conservative Judaism, Avoda Zara and Igrot Moshe (3)
         [Gil Student, Irwin Weiss, Bernard Raab]
Marrying a Conservative Jew (2)
         [Shmuel Himelstein, Carl Singer]
RYB Soloveitchik and mixed seating (3)
         [Gil Student, Akiva Miller, Aryeh Frimer]
Standing for Prayer for the soldiers and State of Israel
         [Yaakov Fogelman]


From: Gil Student <gil_student@...>
Date: Sun, 30 Jan 2005 20:47:05 -0500
Subject: Re: Conservative Judaism, Avoda Zara and Igrot Moshe

I do not know exactly in which teshuvah R. Moshe Feinstein refers to the
Conservative movement as avodah zarah, but I would be surprised to see
it.  The Gemara in Shabbos (116a) writes that it is worse to enter a
house of heresy than one of idolatry. If R. Feinstein considered the
Conservative movement to be heretical, which I believe he did, then any
reference to it as avodah zarah would be an *understatement* and, if
taken literally, might result in a more lenient policy.

Gil Student

From: Irwin Weiss <irwin@...>
Date: Sun, 30 Jan 2005 12:07:06 -0500
Subject: Conservative Judaism, Avoda Zara and Igrot Moshe

I have to agree with the sentiments of Carl Singer expressed on this
topic in Volume 46, #77.  In further support, I would note the
following: When I was a kid growing up in Silver Spring, MD, the Rabbi
of our Conservative Shul was clearly Orthodox at heart.  He had Orthodox
Smicha.  He was Shomer Mitzvot to a very precise degree. He was a
wonderful person.  The Chazzan was a brilliant man, a survivor from
Warsaw, and also Shomer Mitzvot.  But, this [employment in the
Conservative shul] was their parnasa (means of employment). At that
time, in Silver Spring, I thought "Orthodox" meant "Shomer Shabbat" and
"Keeps Kosher".  We lived near an Orthodox shul and when they were short
for a minyan, they didn't hesitate to call upon me, my brother and my
father (z"l) to help out, even though we were Conservative Jews, and we
didn't hesitate to run over there to assist.

Later I moved to Baltimore, where I experienced a revelation of sorts.
Many persons who "belong" to "Orthodox" shuls, drive on Shabbat and eat
Treif!  I couldn't understand or grasp this concept. Did not at the time
make sense to me. Still doesn't.  Soon after moving here I was chatting
with someone and after learning that she went to one of the Orthodox
shuls, somehow the conversation turned to other things. She recommended
to me a certain restaurant, telling me the crabcakes were superb.
Though I grew up in a Conservative household, I had ever eated or seen
a crabcake.  I wasn't really sure what it was.

So, rather than ostracize persons for their choice of synagogue
membership, it is one's behavior, thoughts, mitzvot, and derech eretz
that are more important, at least in my radical opinion.


From: Bernard Raab <beraab@...>
Date: Sun, 30 Jan 2005 22:51:35 -0500
Subject: Conservative Judaism, Avoda Zara and Igrot Moshe

This is an issue which begs to be understood from a historical
perspective. Fifty years ago Orthodox Judaism was in crisis; many were
predicting its imminent demise. Conservative and Reform were making
great gains among young families and returning veterans (from
WW2). Jewish education consisted mostly of after school "cheders" which
were focussed on Bar Mitzvah preparation and were on life
support. Orthodox rabbis viewed Conservative and Reform as the enemy
Amalek; almost every sermon contained an attack on one or both. This was
the atmosphere in which these strictures (re; Igrot Moshe) were

The contrast to today is stunning. Orthodoxy is thriving in its various
manifestations. Conservative is struggling with its identity, and Reform
is being transformed into some hybrid of Judaism with a growing group of
active non-Jewish spouses. Today. one almost never hears any criticism
of either from most Orthodox rabbis; they are generally irrelevant to
their concerns. Kids from Orthodox homes who stray from the fold do not
become Conservative or Reform Jews--they become irreligious Jews. Baalei
Teshuvah do not become C or R; that has no traction for them.

The OCR wars have been over for many years now. The Conservative Jews
that I know are mostly deeply identified Jews, separated from the
Orthodox mainly by their limited Jewish education and early training (I
am talking about the laypeople, with some exceptions, of course).
Nevertheless, I have been impressed by how seriously many of them regard
their synagogue connection. I cannot imagine that anyone would suggest
today that the non-orthodox practise Avodah Zara. I would have to
believe they would view that as profoundly insulting, and self-defeating
for us.

b'shalom--Bernie R.


From: Shmuel Himelstein <himels@...>
Date: Sun, 30 Jan 2005 08:44:23 +0200
Subject: Marrying a Conservative Jew

One of the forum members, when discussing Conservative synagogues and
Conservative Jews, adds: " Would I want my children to marry theirs,
definitely not." I believe that that sentiment is totally unwarranted
and out of place. If the party involved is clearly Jewish and is now a
Shomer Mitzvot, why should there be any bias? Andf for that matter, if
someone is from a Reform background and meets the same criteria, why any
such stricture?

Shmuel Himelstein

From: Carl Singer <casinger@...>
Date: Sun, 30 Jan 2005 06:57:51 -0500
Subject: Re: Marrying a Conservative Jew

Shmuel Himelstein wrote:
[See above]

I disagree -- my sentiment is MY own and is purely a social statement,
not halachic.  I have a (male) neighbor who is Catholic, his
mother-in-law is Jewish.  Despite the fact that they go to a parochial
school his children may be halachically Jewish.  They are no less or nor
more so than the children of your favorite Rosh Yeshiva.  Similarly, I
don't know that being Shomre Mitzvot is a prerequisite for an
halachically "kosher" marriage.

As a parent I have every right to my sentiments and I believe that I've
learned from experience that commonality in background, education and
environment is an important indicator of compatibility.  I can't really
speak for my children, I inevitably embarrass them whenever I do, but I
would prefer that they marry someone within their own bandwidth.  Yes,
there are some people who have grown up in Conservative homes who are
now Shomer Mitzvot -- and there are some people who grew up in so-called
orthodox homes who now eat hazzer -- (only debaters cling to the
exceptions) that's not where I was going.  I would not want my children
to, for example, marry a child who grew up in a Chassidish enclave and
thinks secular learning is treif -- nor someone who's looking for a
kollel bocher -- nor a child who grew up in an intolerant milieu that
focuses on whether we use a plastic covering over our Shabbos tablecloth
-- nor a child who grew up bereft of religious education comparable to
my children's or strong role models....  Hence the stricture.

Carl A. Singer, Ph.D.
Passaic, NJ  07055-5328
See my web site:  www.ProcessMakesPerfect.net      


From: Gil Student <gil_student@...>
Date: Tue, 1 Feb 2005 16:52:59 -0500
Subject: RE: RYB Soloveitchik and mixed seating

Dr. Meir Shinnar wrote:
>To be more precise, one may not enter a synagogue with mixed seating to
>hear shofar.

*Even* to hear shofar. Kal vachomer to daven on a regular Shabbos. FWIW,
this pesak had already been given in Hungary by a group of 70 rabbis and
is also recorded in the responsa of Maharam Shick.

>He gave a private heter, under certain circumstances, to have a minyan
>with separate seating but no mechitza - even though he was strongly
>opposed to it.

I believe he held that this was only assur miderabbanan, while mixed
seating was assur mideoraisa.

Gil Student 

From: Akiva Miller <kennethgmiller@...>
Date: Wed, 2 Feb 2005 03:46:37 GMT
Subject: Re: RYB Soloveitchik and mixed seating

Prof. Aryeh A. Frimer wrote <<< That's not quite what the Rav said
either.  You can read the complete statement in Baruch Litvin's Book
"Sanctity of the Synagogue". The Rav was referrring to Mixed-Pews which
he felt were biblically forbidden and which rendered all berakhot
levatala and voided the fulfilment of mitsvot.  He was more lenient when
it came to separate seating Conservative synagogues - but I don't
believe these exist anymore - where you could be yotsei be-she'at
ha-dehak. >>>

That is different than how I remember it, so I looked it up in my copy
of that book.

In Part 2, Chapter 13, "Message to a Rabbinic Convention", Rav
Soloveitchik wrote, "With full cognizance of the implications of such a
Halachic decision, I would still advise every orthodox Jew to forego
tefillah be-tzibbur [group prayer] even on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur,
rathr than enter a synagogue with mixed pews..."

In Part 2, Chapter 14, "On Seating and Sanctification", he wrote of a
man who lived in an area "where the only existing synagogue had men and
women sitting together... The young man practically implored me that I
grant him permission to enter the edifice, at least for a half hour,
that he might hear the shofar blasts. I hesitated not for a moment, but
directed him to remain at home. It would be better not to hear the
shofar than to enter a synagogue whose sanctity has been profaned."

I searched the two articles, and could not find anything to indicate
that such synagogues <<< rendered all berakhot levatala and voided the
fulfilment of mitsvot. >>>

I believe that Rav Soloveitchik would concede that if a person would
enter such a synagogue, and would hear that shofar, then he *would*
thereby fulfill the mitzvah of hearing it (presuming that all other
requirements are met, of course). But despite that, Rav Soloveitchik's
view is that one should not do so.

I believe we see edivience for this where he wrote <<< With full
cognizance of the implications of such a Halachic decision >>>. I
understand this as meaning that there is indeed something to be lost by
following this course of action. Namely, one does have the opportunity
to go to that synagogue and do this mitzva, but there is more to be
gained by not going.

Akiva Miller

From: Aryeh Frimer <frimea@...>
Date: Wed, 2 Feb 2005 11:56:03 +0200
Subject: Re: RYB Soloveitchik and mixed seating

Reb Akiva,

    In Chapter 14 page 115, the Rov writes: "any prayers offered there are
worthless in the eyes of the Jewish Law."  I understood this to mean
berakhot le-vatala. But you are correct in noting that it was my
extrapolation.   I still believe this to be an accurate presentation of the
Rov's view.

    You missed a third article in that volume, Chapter 17 where the Rov
clearly states that separate seating is a biblical violation of "Let Him see
no unseemly thing in thee" (Deut 23:15) - and is a "basic tenet in our
faith", while Mehitzah is a Rabbinic injunction.

Dr. Aryeh A. Frimer
Chemistry Dept., Bar-Ilan University
Ramat Gan 52900, ISRAEL
E-mail: <FrimeA@...>


From: Yaakov Fogelman <top@...>
Date: Sun, 30 Jan 2005 10:39:39 +0200
Subject: Standing for Prayer for the soldiers and State of Israel

Like Dov Teichman (Vol. 46, #77), I also wondered about the necessity to
stand for the prayers for the soldiers and State of Israel (I am often
tired on Shabbat morning!). I am sure that there is no halachic
rerquirement of any kind (tho we do stand up for David's blessing of God
before the community, which includes the gift of the land). But we all
tend to stress that which others oppose; since most haredim and their
gedolim oppose any inclusion of The State of Israel and Tzahal in their
prayers, and ignore Yom Haatzmaut, religious Zionists bend over
backwards (or stand up) to stress their importance. Rav Saul Berman
noted a similar pattern in Rav Moshe Feinstein's opposition to Bat
Mitzva, which had been introduced into American Jewish culture by the
Conservative Movement, which he was actively opposing (see Jon Baker's
posting in the same mailing); Israeli gedolim, e.g. Rav Yosef and Rav
Gershuni, had no similar opposition, tho haredim, e.g. the world of Rav
Elyashev & Co., try to downplay bat mitzvah, as all new things, our
customs (see Rav Daniel Sperber's article in Tradition, that newness IS
our true tradition).

Yaakov Fogelman (anyone who would like a copy of my article on this issue, 
or to subscribe to my free parasha studies, should simply send me their 
request by e-mail).


End of Volume 46 Issue 80