Volume 46 Number 98
                    Produced: Tue Feb 15 21:45:42 EST 2005

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Are there two classes of Jews?
         [Carl Singer]
Le'elah u'le'ela (or, le'ela le'ela) in the Kadish
         [Gilad J. Gevaryahu]
l'elo U'le'elo (2)
         [Ira L. Jacobson, Martin Stern]
Metzitza b'peh (4)
         [Arie, Leah Perl, Meir Shinnar, Mike Gerver]
Metzitza halachic summary piece
         [A. Adereth]
Mixed Pew Seating
         [Judith Weil]


From: Carl Singer <casinger@...>
Date: Mon, 14 Feb 2005 07:08:22 -0500
Subject: Are there two classes of Jews?

I was troubled by one comment in an otherwise most helpful explanation
of the current situation regarding metzitza.

> In light of the above, a Rosh Yeshiva poskinned for me personally that I
> may not perform metzitza be-peh under any circumstances, and when among
> Jews who do not know the difference I should omit metzitza entirely.
> When among observant Jews who will protest if metzitza is omitted, he
> poskinned that I should perform metzitza through a sterile glass tube or
> syringe in a manner which will prevent any saliva-blood contact.  (This
> pesak has little relevance because I so infrequently perform brissin.)

Many years ago the board of the Torah Academy in Philadelphia purchased
a table at the Jewish Federation's annual dinner.  The dinner was kosher
and as a board member I was among those folks attended.  As we entered
the banquet room the masgiach approached the Dean of the school, a very
choshiv Yid and basically said "don't drink the water" -- that he would
provide us with different meals.  So apparently there was
kosher-enough-for-them and kosher-enough-for-us.  Although I was on the
"us" side of this, I thought it was a terrible distinction.

Carl A. Singer


From: <Gevaryahu@...> (Gilad J. Gevaryahu)
Date: Sun, 13 Feb 2005 10:14:08 EST
Subject: Le'elah u'le'ela (or, le'ela le'ela) in the Kadish

Yossi Ginzberg (MJv46n94) wonders why <<the words "l'elo U'le'elo"
(U-less for Ashkenaz) are added to the mourners kaddish during the Rosh
Hashana-Yom Kippur days.>> and proceeds to say:

<<It just came to my attention that the words of the daily Islamic
creed, and the critical words of the conversion process to Islam, are
"L'illalu u'l'Allah" (per Yossi Klein Halevi).

Is it too farfetched to think that the fear of being overheard and
misunderstood led to the removal of the L'elo U'le'elo from the daily
recital, and that only because of the elevated holiness of the High
holiday period we re-insert it?>>

Both the Italiano and the Yemen minhagim (and others) is to say "le'elah
u'le'ela" all year round (In all Kadishim, not only in mourners' Kadish)
, and since the Yemenite community lives amongst the Muslims, the above
explanation does not hold water. Furthermore, among Ashkenazim who lived
in the Christian communities of Europe, where there were no Muslims,
"le'elah u'le'ela" should (by Mr. Ginzberg logic) been said also all
year round - but it is not.

Le'elah u'le'ela (or, le'ela le'ela) is the Targum's rendering of
"ma'alah ma'alah" (Devarim 28:43) and for the Ashkenazim and others the
elevation is multiplied in line with the added significance and
spirituality of the Days of Awe. There are other explanations as well.

Gilad J. Gevaryahu


From: Ira L. Jacobson <laser@...>
Date: Sun, 13 Feb 2005 16:25:52 +0200
Subject: Re: l'elo U'le'elo

This is a fascinating idea.  I could hypothesize something a bit less
credible perhaps: that we incorporated it to make some sort of
impression on our Arab neighbors.

It should be borne in mind that Baladi-rite Teimanim say le'eilo le'eilo
all year round, Lubavitchers say it only at ne`ila, and Sefardim never
say it.  And as the Birnbaum siddurim (nusah Ashkenaz and nusah Sefard)
remind us, and as some posqim hold, we should say the pair of words
without vav hahibbur, in view of the Hebrew expression ma`ala ma`ala
(and not ma`ala uma`ala).

IRA L. JACOBSON         

From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Sun, 13 Feb 2005 15:30:10 +0000
Subject: l'elo U'le'elo

To the best of my knowledge, the extra word "U'le'ela" is added to every
kaddish, not just the mourners' one and, in order to keep the same
number of words, the phrase "min kol birkhata" is changed to "mikol

> It just came to my attention that the words of the daily Islamic creed,
> and the critical words of the conversion process to Islam, are "L'illalu
> u'l'Allah" (per Yossi Klein Halevi).
> Is it too farfetched to think that the fear of being overheard and
> misunderstood led to the removal of the L'elo U'le'elo from the daily
> recital, and that only because of the elevated holiness of the High
> holiday period we re-insert it?

This strikes me as extremely farfetched. I cannot see why this part of
the Islamic creed which only means "There is no god but G-d", should be
in any way problematic since we agree with it. It is only the second
part which Yossi does not quote acknowledging the prophetic status of
Mohammed that we cannot accept.

Martin Stern


From: <aliw@...> (Arie)
Date: Sun, 13 Feb 2005 22:46:27 +0200
Subject: Re: Metzitza b'peh

Ira Jacobson wrote:

> I think if the population consists of tens of millions of britot mila,
> a sample of four or eight is laughable.  The conclusion to be drawn
> from this study is that *those four* mohalim should take up another
> profession.  That is a totally justifiable conclusion.  Perhaps
> regular testing of all mohalim would be a justifiable 
> recommendation.

Why are we relating to samples and studies ? (and defending them 
or laughing them away). If Halacha does not require metzitza 
bapeh, then even the smallest possibility of transmitting viral 
herpes (or worse), should suffice to do away with the minhag. 


From: Leah Perl <leahperl@...>
Date: Mon, 14 Feb 2005 10:31:15 -0500
Subject: Metzitza b'peh

As the mother of three sons (who entered the covenent of Avraham),
reading about this issue has been horrifying.  Pikuach Nefesh is docheh
everything (except the big 3).  There is no way to excuse something that
is causing infants to die.  It seems to me that there is a clear
precedent for dealing with the inyan of bris and G-d forbid death that
follows, from the times of the gemara.  The halacha there dealt with the
case of boys within a particular family dying following bris --
presumably because of lack of blood clotting factor or full blown
hemophilia.  The halacha is clear, that if a chazaka is shown, then
subsequent boys are NOT given milah.  While the current issue of herpes
deals with deaths across families, there is a chazaka of sorts -- if
they were all given brissim by particular mohelim -- the conclusion
seems straightforward.  There is no mitzva to die for bris (we are not
speaking here of times when it is being forbidden and there is an issue
of yehareg ve'al yaavor).  Let's remember: "VeChai Bahem!"
Unfortunately, we cannot presume that serious diseases do not exist even
within "our" circles.  They can exist everywhere.

Leah Perl

From: Meir Shinnar <Meir.Shinnar@...>
Date: Mon, 14 Feb 2005 08:36:06 -0500
Subject: Metzitza b'peh

WRT to the recent discussion about metzizah, I am puzzled how any one
can defend it, given the evidence.  The fact that some (and this seems
to include much of the rabbinic leadership of today) is more concerned
about the hillul hashem in suggesting that an ancient halachic process
has dangers than about the danger to life posed by it is highly
problematic, and in and of itself creates a far greater hillul hashem.

 However, there is a statement of chazal that is relevant to this (and
 many other recent issues - eg, the ban on rav slifkin's books):

in vayikra rabba 1:15

kol talmid chacham she'eyn bo da'at nevela tova hemenu

any scholar who does not possess sense (da'at) - a dead animal is better
than him.

This statement is used as a praise of moshe rabbenu -as he is someone
who had da'at.

We see hazal had an acute understanding that one could have impeccable
scholarship at the highest level (otherwise, why is it praiseworthy even
of moshe) and lack da'at - and are aware of the tremendous problems that
that poses (hazal's language would be banned by most moderators....)

While the precise definition of da'at may be a matter of controversy, I
think it is clearly applicable here (as in the other recent issues).

Meir Shinnar

From: <MJGerver@...> (Mike Gerver)
Date: Sun, 13 Feb 2005 19:20:13 EST
Subject: Metzitza b'peh

Ira Jacobson, in v46n95, quotes me saying

      The sample may be small, but if it was properly selected, it is
      large enough to eliminate, with a high degree of confidence, the
      hypothesis that herpes infections are hardly ever caused by the

and then remarks

      A sample of four mohalim!  After reconsidering my statement, I can
      only say, "You must be joking!"

Huh? What's wrong with my statement? Let's assume, to make the analysis
simpler, that if the infection is caused by the mohel, then the mohel
will almost always test positive for herpes, and if the infection is not
caused by the mohel, then the mohel will almost always test negative for
herpes. I think the first assumption is valid, and the second assumption
should be valid except in the rare case that both the mohel and the
mother (or another care giver) have herpes.

Now let's consider the hypothesis that no more than 10% of herpes
infections are caused by the mohel. Even this high an infection rate by
mohelim would be a huge number, more than enough, I would think, to
justify not using oral metzitzah. If this hypothesis were true, then the
probability of a mohel testing positive for herpes when the baby is
infected would be no more than 10%. The probability that four mohelim in
a row would test positive, assuming that the cases were chosen randomly
from among cases of infected infants who had a brit milah, would be 1 in
ten thousand. So, if we test four mohelim and all of them test positive
for herpes, we can eliminate this hypothesis with a very high degree of

It's true that the absolute rate of herpes infection by mohelim might be
very low, if these four babies represented, say, only one in a million
babies who have brit milah. If the rate were very low absolutely, then
it might even be justified to allow oral metzitzah. But if we feel the
problem of herpes infection of infants is serious enough to do anything
about it at all, then certainly one of the first things we should do,
based on this data, is to stop performing oral metzitzah, since it is
clear that at least a significant number of cases, if not almost all of
them, are caused by the mohel.

Mike Gerver
Raanana, Israel


From: A. Adereth <adereth2003@...>
Date: Tue, 15 Feb 2005 12:50:19 -0800 (PST)
Subject: Metzitza halachic summary piece

> From: Eitan Fiorino <Fiorino@...>

"I am relieved to see that a posek of the stature of Rav Moshe
Soloveitchik is reported to have forbidden oral metzitza on the basis of
what must have been at that time mainly a theoretical concern over
infection risk.  -Eitan"


"Similarly, Rav Hershel Schachter (Nefesh Harav 243) writes that Rav
Yosef Dov Soloveitchik reports that his father Rav Moshe Soloveitchik
would not permit a Mohel to perform Metzitza Bepeh. "

This is the quote from Nefesh HaRav (p. 243), courtesy of Hirhurim blog

"Our teacher's view was that nowadays there is no need for metzitzah at
all, like the Tiferes Yisrael's view in the Mishnah [sic!] (see the
Sedei Hemed for a long treatment of this). He told us how he a mohel
once wated to perform metzitzah be-feh and our teacher asked him not
to. When the mohel refused, our teacher told him that if his father,
R. Moshe Soloveitchik, were there, he would definitely not have allowed
him to perform metzitzah be-feh. However, I am more tolerant and since
you are refusing, I will let you."

I think it is unclear from this story, as recounted, whether R. Moshe
Soloveitchik would simply have objected to someone overruling his p'sak
- any p'sak - or whether he agreed in principle that metzitzah befeh is
unnecessary and would not have allowed that specific p'sak to be

Perhaps someone can clarify with R. Schachter.  



From: Judith Weil <weildj@...>
Date: Sun, 13 Feb 2005 19:21:56 +0200
Subject: Re: Mixed Pew Seating

> I seem to recall hearing from a student of Rav JB Soloveitchik that the
> Rav's reasoning for banning mixed seating is because of Chukat Hagoyim,
> i.e.  not using seating arrangements in shul that are used in the
> church.

In the above context I'd like to mention that I was in Germany last
summer (the whats whys and wherefores are a story in themselves) and
while there visited the shul in Worms. Our guide, who was not Jewish,
said that even when Worm's Jewish community was nearing Reform it
retained separate seating, although without a mechitza, because non-Jews
also sat separately in church.

She must have been in about her mid forties and said that she remembers
that when she was a child the worshipers sat men and women separately.

In Frankfurt I davened at the "Westend Synagoge", (that's the way
Synagogue is spelled in German) which is the main Orthodox shul
there. The shul was formerly Reform or Conservative, and had an organ,
which has been removed.  In spite of the shul's non-Orthodox status when
it was first built, there is a women's gallery.



End of Volume 46 Issue 98