Volume 47 Number 03
                    Produced: Sat Feb 19 22:38:01 EST 2005

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Are there two classes of Jews?
         [W. Baker]
Inherited Library of Sforim
         [Stuart Feldhamer]
Is the Great Divide upon us?
         [Shmuel Himelstein]
         [Andrew Marks]
Superstition and mazalot
         [Shalom Krischer]
Testing a mohel for herpes
         [Carl Singer]
         [Jack Gross]
When to disagree with a Gadol - REDUX
         [David Eisen]
Women in Synagogue (2)
         [Mike Gerver, Nachum Klafter]


From: W. Baker <wbaker@...>
Date: Fri, 18 Feb 2005 11:26:07 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Re: Are there two classes of Jews?

> From: Carl Singer <casinger@...>
> As Nachum has discerned in his response my concerns have little, perhaps
> nothing, to do with the halacha but with the social implications of
> multiple classes of Jews.  We've long heard distasteful comments re:
> goyim.  These reflect an attitude and mindset.  This same mindset
> towards non-observant, less-observant, not-yet-observant, ba'al tshuva,
> modern, hassidish, litvish, yeshivish .... etc.  serves only to further
> split the remnant of Israel.
> I believe that ANYTHING we do to foster internal class distinction can
> have negative consequences.

Somehow, this whole discussion saddens me.  One of my favorite prayers,
and one I find I am most fervent in reciting is a part of the Birchat Ha
Hodesh.  It is the line "Chaverim Kol Yisrael", which in our shul, at
least, is a phrase that is repeated in the singing of this prayer.  I
hope for the day when that prayer will be moot, as it is a statement of
actuality, with love and respect for our sibling Jews.

Wendy Baker


From: Stuart Feldhamer <Stuart.Feldhamer@...>
Date: Fri, 18 Feb 2005 11:14:32 -0500
Subject: RE: Inherited Library of Sforim

> From: <joelirich@...> (Joel Rich)
> A friend of mine inherited a library of sforim(siddurim,chumashim etc.)
> that duplicates his own.  Does anyone know of any organizations that
> accept these or do they go to shaimos?

Shaimos??? At the very least, I'm sure that someone would take them off
your hands for their own personal library. There are also a lot of shuls
that would want at least some of the seforim.



From: Shmuel Himelstein <himels@...>
Date: Fri, 18 Feb 2005 13:55:17 +0200
Subject: Is the Great Divide upon us?

In the latest issue of the weekly BeSheva, a strongly National-Religious
freebie paper given out in Shuls in Israel, there is an interview with
Rabbi Shear Yashuv Hakohen, chief rabbi of Haifa. According to the
article, Rabbi Hakohen said: "If the Israeli government raises a hand to
uproot Jewish settlements from Eretz Yisrael, it will destroy with its
own hands the very justification for and goals of the existence of the

Rabbi Hakohen quotes Rabbi Yosef Ber Solveichik, in his "Al Hateshuvah,"
that he would not be willing to give unquestioning support to the State,
as to do so would be idolatry.

Rabbi Hakohen adds that "This means that we might not be able to
continue with the prayers and blessings of Yom Ha-Atzma'ut. If the state
declares itself as a state of all its citizens, I will respect that
government as if it had been any other government, but not 'the
beginning of the flowering of our redemption.'" (my translation
throughout - SH)

It would thus seem to be that the National Religious camp may be on the
brink of a great divide, between those who still see the State as
something different, the "beginning of our redemption," and those who
see it as no more than any other state. And ironically, the latter view
puts those who hold of it in the same category as Agudath Israel.

Shmuel Himelstein


From: Andrew Marks <machmir@...>
Date: Fri, 18 Feb 2005 09:36:10 -0500
Subject: Re: Succah

That would depend on the width of the crossbars, but they'll probably be
fine.  Still, ask your local posek for the halacha l'maaseh.


From: Shalom Krischer <PGMSRK@...>
Date: Fri, 18 Feb 2005 13:17:37 EST
Subject: Superstition and mazalot

On Tue, 15 Feb 2005, Freda B Birnbaum asks:
> If the torah forbids superstition and mazalot (such as saying that
> such-and-such a day or month is "good" for something), then why do we
> say that the month of Adar has the mazal of fish and that it is
> "lucky" for going to bes-din and making weddings? Specific citations,
> if known, are preferred.

But the Torah does not "forbid" superstition per se.  In fact, the
Talmud has all sorts of incantations and mazalot 'science'.  Rather, we
believe that the jew TRANCENDS the mazalot, and, as such, they have not
effect on US, but they do on everyone else.

Sorry, I am going from memory here, no exact sources.  But, in tractate
Megilla (around daf 7?) what to do if you get "afraid", etc; don't walk
between two palm trees, etc; "pairs", etc.  And, the aggadic story of
the jew aboout whom the king's astrologer said would die, when he
didn't, they found a dead snake near him; turns out he was a jew and
gave charity that day.  And, in the megilla story, Zeresh (wife of
Haman), after Haman was disgraced, asked if Mordechai was a Jew.  etc,
etc, etc.



From: Carl Singer <casinger@...>
Date: Fri, 18 Feb 2005 06:37:20 -0500
Subject: Testing a mohel for herpes

> Why can't we, the "consumers", demand that no mohel be allowed near our
> babies unless he has tested negative for HIV and herpes?

I'll let the medical experts jump in on this -- but I think there might
be an issue of transmitting from one infected child to another --
i.e. baby transmits to mohel who in turn transmits to another baby.
Thus unless we're going have all children (boys) tested in time for
their bris this doesn't insure much of anything.

Carl Singer


From: Jack Gross <jbgross@...>
Date: Fri, 18 Feb 2005 12:29:00 -0500
Subject: thekotel.org

Who runs thekotel.org? Why do they see fit to leave three TV cameras
running live well into Shabbat?  (General view of the Kotel plaza,
closer in, and Wilson's Arch area)

I am sitting here in New York, Friday around noon (so it's ~19:00 in
J-m) with http://thekotel.org/cameras.asp on my screen: Beautiful view
of the Kotel plaza, a clear black night sky above, still maybe a hundred
people milling around, although the bulk have gone home.  I am sure many
would be mortified to know that they are being telecast live.

I wrote to them a few weeks ago, but it does not seem to have had the
desired effect.  (Sigh)


From: David Eisen <davide@...>
Date: Fri, 18 Feb 2005 15:15:24 +0200
Subject: RE: When to disagree with a Gadol - REDUX

Binyomin Segal wrote in his concluding remarks on the discussion of
disagreeing with Gedolim as follows:

> You may argue with a gadol in the same way you argue with your
> chevrusa. So while you are allowed to argue with the gadol, to argue
> _confidently_ would, I think, be arrogant (especially when the gadol is
> not available to respond).

> To sum up, I would have to say that a person always has the right to
> argue with gedolim. But I would suggest that humility and
> self-knowledge should inform that choice.

There has not been any discussion on this topic for a few weeks now, but
I had thought that I had commented to Binyomin's above post (due to a
technical oversight, it was never sent) and would just like to bring the
following proof-text to support Binyomin's assertion that one indeed has
the right to argue with Gedolim, but it needs to be performed with a
genuine sense of humility. R. Hayyim Volozhiner writes the following
innovative interpretation in Ruah Hayyim, his commentary to Pirqei Avot,
on Mishna 1:4 with respect to the peculiar usage of the phrase "v'hevi
'mitabek' b'afar ragleihem" (one should sit amid the dust of their [the
Sages'] feet), expounding on the linguistic connection between wrestling
(he'avkut) and clinging (mitabek):

"One may explain that with respect to the 48 ways in which the Torah is
acquired as set forth in Chapter 6, one of these ways is through "making
his teachers smarter" by posing them with sharp questions and thereby
delving deeper into the study. Learning is called a "war" as connoted in
the phrase "milkhamta shel Torah," and, therefore, the students should
be called "warriors." And at times the truth will rest with the student
in the same manner that kindling wood can ignite firewood. And
therefore, the Mishna states that "your home should be a meeting place
for sages and you should sit amid the dust of their feet; the word
"mitabek" is derived from the language of "vayeavek ish imo" (Bereshit
32:25) meaning wrestling or struggling in battle, for this is a
milkhemet mitzva (an obligatory war), and so, too, we struggle with the
words of our holy rabbis who are with us in this world and whose souls
are in the heavens, and with the famous writers whose books are with
us. Behold, it is through the books, which are in our homes, that our
homes are transformed into meeting places for the sages; *however,*
although we have been given a license to grapple with and fight their
words in order to answer their difficulties (kushiyot) as we have been
instructed not to favor any person, *rather our allegiance rests only
with our love of truth*, we nonetheless must be extremely wary of
speaking arrogantly and with great pomp for even if one has found reason
to dispute, one must always assume that his interlocutor is a Gadol,
whether it be his own teacher or the author of the book upon which he is
critiquing and he should be cognizant of the fact that there are times
that he may misunderstand his words or intentions. *Therefore,* one's
words in these situations must be addressed with tremendous humility in
the spirit of "although I am not worthy, nonetheless this is Torah,
etc." Therefore, the Mishna specifics writes "mitabek," implying as
aforesaid the right to struggle with one's rabbis, provided that such
debate is conducted "amid the dust of their feet;" i.e., with a sense of
modesty and submission and to deliberate with them while figuratively
putting oneself at ground-level and beside their feet.

Shabbat Shalom and b'virkat HaTorah,

David Eisen


From: <MJGerver@...> (Mike Gerver)
Date: Fri, 18 Feb 2005 08:50:39 EST
Subject: Women in Synagogue

Nathan Lamm writes, in v47n01,

      According to Professor Jonathan Sarna in his new book on American
      Judaism, the very practice of women attending synagogue at all (on
      a regular basis, I suppose) is an American innovation based on
      "prevalent Protestant custom in the US." Many shuls in Eastern
      Europe had no women's section at all.

The shames at Young Israel of Brookline, Massachusetts, Rev. Meyer
Loketch, who grew up in a chassidic family in Warsaw between the wars,
once told me that many shuls, especially small shtieblach such as the
Amshenover shul where he davened, had no women's section, and most women
did not go to shul on Shabbat, at least not regularly. But, he told me,
all women made a point of going to shul on Hoshana Rabba, and he thought
it was odd that hardly any women go to shul on Hoshana Rabba nowadays.

He did say that the big Ashkenazic shul (the "Nozyk" shul) and the big
reform shul (the Tlomackie Street shul) had balconies for women. (He
said that the Tlomackie Street shul differed from Orthodox shuls not in
the davening or the seating, but in the fact that the people who went
there weren't necessarily shomer shabbat.) Another big (Orthodox) shul,
the Aharon Sedina shul, used mostly during the week, had a small women's
section in a separate room, with a small window cut in the wall so they
could hear the davening.

Mike Gerver
Raanana, Israel

From: Nachum Klafter <doctorklafter@...>
Date: Fri, 18 Feb 2005 09:46:26 -0800 (PST)
Subject: Women in Synagogue

While I do not want to challenge Jonathan Sarna's credential's as an
historian of American Judaism, I will nevertheless assert that his
conclusion that women attending synagogue is an American innovation
based on Protestant custom is totally without merit.

First of all, anyone who has toured Europe and has seen the great
synagogues in many cities which survived the Nazis which still remain
will note that there are azarot nashim ("women's sections") in these
synagogues.  Our codes of Jewish law, and she'elot u-teshuvot, for many
centuries now have described and commented on the practices of women in
synagogues of the Jewish communities throughout Europe, Eretz Yisrael,
North Africa, and the Arabian penninsula.  All of this took place long
before any influence would have been possible between Jews and American
Protestants.  (Women in the synagogue are also mentioned in the Talmud
and the Midrash, though the passages I am aware of would not be
conclusive evidence as to whether this was a widespread practice.)

What is true about America, I believe, is that as Jewish observance and
learning were greatly diminished among the first and second generations
of Jews in America, the synagogue supplanted the home as the center of
Jewish life and the distinctions between men and women in the synagogue
prayer service were thus felt more acutely than in the more traditional
communities of the Old World.  Women attending synagoge, however, was
NOT an American invention.

-nachum klafter


End of Volume 47 Issue 3