Volume 47 Number 53
                    Produced: Fri Apr  8  6:36:37 EDT 2005

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Corrections in Megillah Readings
         [Stuart Feldhamer]
Developing Halacha
         [Bernard Raab]
The Great Divide is finally upon the National Religious
         [Shmuel Himelstein]
Shemirat Shabbat Kehilchita
         [Jacob Sasson]
Women's Megila Reading (2)
         [Simon Wanderer, Avi Feldblum]


From: Stuart Feldhamer <Stuart.Feldhamer@...>
Date: Wed, 6 Apr 2005 10:51:16 -0400
Subject: Corrections in Megillah Readings

To all those who discussed the issue of calling out corrections during
the megillah reading, I just want to add that before you make a
correction, make absolutely sure that a mistake has really been made.
Reading the megillah is the hardest piece of laining out there IMO, as
it is both lengthy and without breaks for aliyot. An incorrect
correction can easily throw off a baal korei's concentration and lead to
legitimate mistakes for the remainder of the reading. I think that's the
reason why in some shuls, people are hesitant to make corrections.



From: Bernard Raab <beraab@...>
Date: Tue, 05 Apr 2005 20:24:49 -0400
Subject: RE: Developing Halacha

>From:  David I. Cohen
>Bernard Raab wrote:
>>"How did this change come about? Simply put, public pressure, or public
>>necessity if you prefer: Jews were wiling recipients of organ
>>transplants, but were halachically ineligible to be donors, based on the
>>accepted definition of death. In Israel, the Rabbinate was able to
>>enforce this definition. The situation was critical, as the world
>>governing body for organ assignments threatened to cut off the supply of
>>organs to Israel. In this case I would modify my statement to say that
>>public pressure by the community leads the way, and the halacha follows"
>I take strong issue with this conclusion, akin to the oft quoted canard
>(usually in the agunah context) that where there is a will, there is a
>halachic way. This casts aspersions on the gedolim who follow the
>halachic method of determining legal issues, and consider their rulings
>to be agenda driven. Without proof, I believe apologies are in order.
>In the specific case of the definition of death, while it is true that
>the reason the halachic question arose was because of the issue of the
>permissability of organ donation, it is also true, and far more
>relevant, that the traditional halachic definition of death, cessation
>of respiration and heart activity, was initially stated at a time when
>there was no such concept as brain death. It is only within the past
>decades that technology has enabled the continuation of respiration
>etc. without brain activity. Therefore, at the time of the gemara, there
>could be no such definition of death as what we refer to as "brain
>death" (nor did they have any means by which to measure brain
>activity). Thus, the modern posek is dealing with a new situation, just
>as poskim have been doing throughout the millenia (for example,
>electricity). But that is a far cry from saying that the psak is driven
>by an agenda to allow to allow organ donation.

If, in your response, you replace the word "agenda" (which I never used
and which implies a political "agenda") with the words "severe
necessity", you might conclude that we agree. Why would any posek have
even addressed this issue, which is frought with halachic headaches, if
not for the community pressure? In fact many poskim even today still
resist this change; only the most courageous have grappled with the

In fact, I wonder why anyone would take exception to my thesis. The
advent of new technology alone is insufficient to trigger a halachic
response unless and until it starts to impact our lives. At the risk of
inciting more conflict (hopefully only intellectual conflict, which we
should welcome in M-J), I will suggest one such necessity "coming down
the pike":

More and more, motion detectors, electronic influence switches,
surveillance cameras, etc. are becoming ubiquitious in our
society. Within the next few years, if not today in some locations, it
will be impossible to leave your house without triggering such switches,
either accidentally or deliberately. Up to now, it has been possible to
pasken "avoid all such contact", at least deliberate contact. If my
prediction is correct, this may be untenable halacha pretty soon. Not
long ago electronic front door actuators were installed in my apartment
building. Fortunately we have doormen whose job it is to open doors, so
shabbat and yomtov problems are generally avoidable. But suppose our
landlord decides to convert all the door keys in our building to
electronic influence keys. Will we be forced to move? The
electronic-hotel-key problem is already unavoidable in many
circumstances. See what I mean? Technology does not in itself drive
halacha. But public pressure and/or severe necessity resulting from
technology certainly do.

b'shalom--Bernie R.


From: Shmuel Himelstein <himels@...>
Date: Thu, 07 Apr 2005 11:40:31 +0200
Subject: The Great Divide is finally upon the National Religious

According to today's (April 7) Jerusalem Post, Rabbi Shmuel Tal, head of
the Torat Haim Yeshiva in Neve Dekalim in Gush Katif, has called on his
students and followers not to recite Hallel on Yom
Ha'atzma'ut. According to a student of his, Rabbi Tal said that due to
the State's change in attitude toward settlers, there is no longer the
need to recite Hallel in its honor.

On the other hand, the chief rabbi of Gush Katif, Rabbi Yigal
Kaminetzky, has ruled that it should still be said and the day should
still be celebrated.

Shmuel Himelstein


From: Jacob Sasson <jacobsasson@...>
Date: Thu, 07 Apr 2005 00:59:09 -0400
Subject: Shemirat Shabbat Kehilchita

A while back someone posted a piece documenting a trend in the later
editions of shemirat Shabbat kehilchita (Rav Neuwirth) lechumrah on may
issues that were pasened lekula in the first and second editions.  I
thought it pertained to shoveling snow on shabbat.  Anyone have an
sources for such a contention?

Jacob Sasson


From: Simon Wanderer <simon.wanderer@...>
Date: Wed, 6 Apr 2005 15:58:43 +0100
Subject: Women's Megila Reading

A brief response / clarification following the reaction to my original

-From the tone of some of the messages it would seem that people thought
 I was referring to a woman reader. Actually, the 'Women's' in the title
 of my post referred to the intended audience and did not consider the
 reader's gender.

-Leah S. Gordon wrote <<Don't the services he's heard of, use gabbais at
the bimah?>> No, in fact I doubt there was a Bimah at all as they took
place in private homes.

-she also suggests <<that the women at a women's reading are in one of
two categories that make them *more* likely than parallel men to make
corrections: 1. fellow readers (women's readings often divide up the
reading by perek, so that more people can participate)--fellow readers
are usually familiar with the text and requirements, and often are up at
the bimah.  2. very interested/educated women congregants (who will be
likely to be aware and invested in a kosher reading)>> I assume she
refers to a '[womens tefilah group]' oriented reading. I see no reason
to stereotype those women who wish to participate in religious services
that are less 'male-centric' as more 'interested/educated'. In any case,
the types of reading I had in mind are typically provided for women who
cannot make it to Shul due to childcare commitments, or who would prefer
a reading without the attendant prayer service, thus they would likely
represent a random selection of the community.

-In conclusion Ms Gordon expresses the hope that I am <<not making a
blanket assumption that women would be either more ignorant than men or
more hesitant to do a correct halakhic reading.  I also think this would
be erroneous.>>

I fail to see why my posting, based on pragmatic concerns and evidently
based on facts on the ground that may well be different from those
experienced by some, has elicited responses of this nature. I have not
suggested that women are less intelligent than men. I do not suggest
that women should be restricted in their educational opportunities. I am
well aware that many women are amply able to follow and correct a Megila
reading. However, the fact remains that [on average] men do have greater
opportunity to participate in - consequently gaining experience of -
synagogue services. Men also have better access to Jewish education. I
am not saying this should be the case, or is ideal, but for the moment,
that's the way the world is. This is why I maintain the *on average*
women will correct the reader less than their male counterparts. I do
not claim to have carried out any sort of study into this, but I think
my reasoning is sound. The [limited] anecdotal evidence I presented
supports my assertion. 

I do not mean to target Ms Gordon's response specifically; it happens to
be first on the page as work my way down.

-Anonymous wrote <<Maybe the solution for the writer's specific problem
is to have women (and his wife, who heard the mistake but did not
correct it) learn to be more assertive?>>

Maybe it is. However, that is somewhat beyond my scope (maybe all the
other women, but change my wife?...). I would be only too happy for
women to learn to be more assertive, but my posting reflected what I
perceive to be the current situation.

-he/she continues <<And to relate to the seifa, if mistakes actually go
unnoticed, is the entire reading really invalidated? Who determines
that, inasmuch as it was unnoticed? Does anyone have a direct line to
the Good L-rd who told him or her how displeased He is with persons who
have appeared before Him on Judgement Day who did not realize that they
heard a kria that was actually invalid?>>

This is a legitimate topic for Halachic discussion. I have no access to
sources at present, but it seems self evident that there must be some
degree of accuracy required when reading the Megila, this creates the
possibility of an invalid reading. Where one draws the line I do not
claim to know.

As regards the question of how to view errors retrospectively, again
this is a very complex topic at the heart of Halachic philosophy well
beyond the scope of this discussion. I would simply point out that if
one were offered a choice between an old, unchecked Sefer Torah of
unclear provenance on the one hand, and a recently checked Sefer Torah
written by a well regarded scribe, one would be foolish to choose to
read from the former. If however, there is no choice, one would make do
with the Sefer Torah available. I think the analogy is clear.

-Wendy Baker wrote <<At the women's Megilla reading I attended there
were gabbaiot chacking (sic) the accuracy of the reading.  Please don't
generalize for one instance.  this will vary as it may well in other

Quite. I have not said that nobody should attend women's readings, but
for those who have a choice, the point I raised should be a valid
consideration where relevant. Clearly, each case should be decided on
its merits; appointing competent correctors is clearly laudable, and may
well solve the problem I observe.

-Moshe Koppel wrote <<While there is some dispute regarding whether one
should correct a substantive mistake in megillah reading, I never heard
of "invalidating" a reading. (See, for example, Aruch HaShulchan
690:20.) Strange.>>

I am not in a position to check sources. However, as I said above, I
fail to see how there cannot be *some* standard of accuracy required
(perhaps this should be the topic of a new thread). Further, as my
comments to anonymous indicate, we should clearly make reasonable prior
efforts to minimise the risk of errors.

-Janice Gelb wrote <<First of all, since when is there a reading without

I quite agree there should be a corrector, however, as I mentioned, I
heard about three women's readings this year and none of these had one.

-One final comment may be relevant:- I would suggest that the residents
 of certain unnamed countries, who form a preponderance of the members
 of this list may generally be more assertive [and hence more willing to
 correct] than the English, to whom my anecdotal evidence pertains; like
 tea and crumpets, this may be a peculiarly English phenomenon.

As Adar draws to a close I would suggest that people relax a
little. This was a small (but relevant) passing comment that has
far-from-earth-shattering consequences and probably does not merit
having any more cyberspace devoted to it. I cannot help but feel that
had this discussion not contained the word 'women' it would have
attracted far less interest.


From: Avi Feldblum <mljewish@...>
Date: Fri, 8 Apr 2005
Subject: Women's Megila Reading

Just a few notes to Simon's post above. Thank you for clarifying what
you were trying to say in your original posting. Frankly, I interpreted
what you wrote exactly the same as all the other people who responded to
you. Re-reading what you wrote carefully, I see that it is consistant
with what you write above, but even so, I would have difficulty reading
it the way you meant it to imply, rather than what it seems to say to
me. For one thing, and this may be the difference between the English
society and American / Israeli, I have never come across a 'second'
reading in a shul that was 'women only'. In all such cases, even if the
majority of the second reading is women, it is still a mixed
reading. The only 'women only' readings I am familiar with is 'womens
tefilah group' readings. I am also unaware of any postings on the
Halachic aspects what you are calling 'Women's Megila readings' that you
start your post off with, while there have been quite a few postings
discussing the halachic aspects of 'womens tefilah group' readings.

Avi Feldblum


End of Volume 47 Issue 53