Volume 48 Number 02
                    Produced: Mon May 23  6:22:28 EDT 2005

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Gender Roles?
         [Martin Stern]
The Great Divide
         [Chana Luntz]
Kaddish and women (2)
         [Martin Stern, Avi Feldblum]
Minyan and the Great Divide (2)
         [Martin Stern, Avi Feldblum]
New Book on Gaba'ut
         [Shmuel Himelstein]
         [Martin Stern]
Tahara Customs
         [David Mescheloff]


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Fri, 20 May 2005 11:45:08 +0100
Subject: Gender Roles?

on 20/5/05 10:41 am,  Leah S. Gordon <leah@...> wrote:
> I take offense at the above comments by Mr. Teichman.  First of all, he
> was originally posting about saying kaddish, which he acknowledges is
> permitted for women and men alike.  In the context of halakhic decisions
> like this, why would his anti-feminist bias be a reason not to allow
> pious women to do a permitted act?

It is incorrect to assert that it is permitted for women to say kaddish;
this is a matter of dispute. In a synagogue following the original
Ashkenazi custom of only one person saying each kaddish for which they
go to stand next to the shats, it would be completely
unacceptable. Similarly, in any shul which does not accept its
permissibility, it would be inappropriate for a woman to do so and, if
she insists on her 'rights', would amount, at the very least, to
mechezeh keyuhara (appearance of arrogance) and certainly more an
example of assertiveness than piety. There are plenty of other ways for
children, whether sons or daughters, of honouring their parents and
causing friction in shul is certainly not one of them as is stated quite
clearly in the Kitsur Shulchan Arukh.

Martin Stern


From: Chana Luntz <chana@...>
Date: Tue, 17 May 2005 22:57:31 +0100
Subject: The Great Divide

Dr Klafter wrote:
>How about the days/weeks immediately following pesach?  Would you eat 
>in the same home of unobservant Jews who presumably did not sell their 
>chametz for pesach?  Chametz she-avar alav ha-pesach is forbidden 
>de-rabbanan?  There is no dispensation from this halakha that I am 
>aware of for the sake of not hurting someone's feelings.

OK, I'll bite.  There is a principle (enumerated in Brochas 19b) that
kovod habrios [respect for people/ other Jews] is docheh [pushes away]
rabbinical prohibitions (but not Torah prohibitions).  Obviously what is
considered to be involved in kovod habrios is the subject of some
discussion - but it is fair to say that avoiding embarrassing or
degrading [bzayon] another person fits squarely within this category
(see the opening remarks of the Encyclopaedia Talmudit on kovod
habrios).  There is again some discussion about whether it needs to be
something that everybody will find degrading, or just the individual in
question, but it is not that hard to see how refusing to eat on
somebody's house when they claim it is strictly kosher might fall within
this category.

> Are you willing to transgress this halakha for the sake of avoiding
>embarrassing a friend or relative?

If one held that not eating in someone's house was sufficient
embarrassment to be over on kovod habrios then presumably yes, you would
(and should) be willing to transgress this halacha for the sake of
embarrassing a friend or relative because of the principle that kovod
habrios is docheh d'rabbanans.

But in this case it should presumably be stronger than that.  Because
after all a) the friend or relative *might* have sold their chametz; and
b) even if you knew they didn't, the item of chametz put before you
might well have been bought after pesach, and not in fact be from any
chametz not sold.  So, at most, I would have thought, you are only going
to be over on a safek d'rabbanan, which would seem to make the case

Earlier Dr Klafter wrote:

>"Ed echad ne'eman be-issurim" (the rule in halakha that we may presume 
>that when a Jew claims that food is kosher he or she is being truthful) 
>does not apply to Jews who violate the Sabbath publicly.

Again true - but there is another principle which is that every Jew is
presumed to have a chezkas kashrus, ie is presumed to be kosher unless
and until demonstrated otherwise.  It is my understanding that, when
counting in a minyan, it is this principle that is most commonly relied
upon, and not so much the idea that a modern day non frum Jew is a tinok
shenishba [the equivalent of a person kidnapped at an early age, who
does not know enough to know they are doing wrong].  This is not always
true - if you are dealing with a shul out in the "sticks" where the
members drive up to the shul gates on shabbas, get out of their cars and
walk into shul, then the only principle on which to rely to count them
for the minyan is that of tinok shenishba (as articulated by the Chazon
Ish, amongst others).

But in most other cases, you do not know whether or not the person
violates the Sabbath publicly - and unless you are planning with another
eid to testify in beis din, there is a strong query as to the
appropriateness of your investigating the same.  So, when a Jew shows up
to minyan (or happens to be passing through an airport) the more usual
halachic justification for counting them in the minyan is based upon
their chezkas kashrus.

So, while the person who was looking to gather the minyan at the airport
may be technically correct that "only frum Jews can make up a minyan" -
where I think he was going wrong is by assuming, based on headgear
(which is, after all, only a minhag), that many of the people passing
through that airport were not in fact "frum Jews" (as defined in halacha
as necessary to count for a minyan), whereas the appropriate halachic
assumption would seem to be to assume that they were *all* frum Jews (ie
not violators of the Sabbath publicly) unless and until it was
demonstrated to the contrary.

Note BTW, that many hold that a chezkas kashrus is not assumed with
regard to eg food being sold, ie where there is a monetary gain to be
made, but it is not clear to me on what basis the automatic overturning
of the chezaka is being done when it comes to private matters - and why
if a Jew states that his own food, which he is gifting you, is strictly
kosher, the chezkas kashrus should not apply - unless and until you have
evidence that he or she is deceitful in such matters, or is a public
violator of Shabbat (and then assuming you do not rely on the tinok
shenishba shitos that may make that global prohibition inapplicable in
the case of most of today's shabbas violators).

> Did you receive a halakhic ruling from a halakhic authority that this
>is an acceptable method to avoiding interpersonal conflicts, or is this
>your own private policy?

I agree that this is the sort of thing one should discuss with one's
Rav, but it seems to me that it is certainly not impossible that a Rav
might well hold as has been stated.

Chana Luntz


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Fri, 20 May 2005 11:50:22 +0100
Subject: Kaddish and women

on 20/5/05 10:41 am, Shmuel Himelstein <himels@...> wrote:
> In an article entitled "Women and Kaddish," Rabbi Yehuda Henkin quotes
> his grandfather, HaGaon R' Yosef Eliyahu Henkin, who "permitted women to
> say Kaddish Yatom in Shul from the women's section simultaneously with
> men saying Kaddish."
> Rav Henkin, the grandfather, pointed out that in olden times the person
> to say Kaddish would come to prayer-reader's desk, and to have a woman
> there would not be proper, but now that all stand at their own place to
> say Kaddish, that problem no longer is relevant.

I presume that Rav Yosef Eliyahu Henkin has not been quoted
correctly. There still exist shuls which uphold the original Ashkenazi
custom and the problem is therefore still relevant in them.

Martin Stern

From: Avi Feldblum <feldblum@...>
Date: Mon, 22 May 2005
Subject: Kaddish and women

> I presume that Rav Yosef Eliyahu Henkin has not been quoted
>correctly. There still exist shuls which uphold the original Ashkenazi
>custom and the problem is therefore still relevant in them.

While Martin is correct that there are still some shuls where
R. Henkin's psak would not be applicable, the great majority of shuls
today do meet the criteria R' Henkin has set out. I believe that those
that are looking for more acceptance of R' Henkin's psak would be happy
if more of the shuls where it does apply would accept it.

Avi Feldblum


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Fri, 20 May 2005 11:59:32 +0100
Subject: Re: Minyan and the Great Divide

on 20/5/05 10:41 am, Perry Zamek <perryza@...> wrote:
> My only thought, in the context of the original story, is that, as far
> as I know, we do not go around asking potential members of any minyan
> whether they fall into the "forbidden" categories. (Can you imagine
> going up to someone and asking whether they are a mechallel shabbos - a
> Shabbat desecrator?!)
> Don't all Jews have a chazakah (presumption) of being acceptable, until
> we know for certain that they are not?

Some Jews unfortunately are well known to be brazen Shabbat desecrators
so one does not need to ask them. Others have publicised themselves to
be atheists. How can one include the latter since they do not
acknowledge the G-d to whom we are praying? Such people have voluntarily
forfeited their chazakah.

Martin Stern

From: Avi Feldblum <feldblum@...>
Date: Mon, 22 May 2005
Subject: Re: Minyan and the Great Divide

I think we are all willing to grant that there are some Jews for whom a 
chazakah (presumption) of being acceptable is not applicable. The issue
is that the case under discussion is that the person placed in that
catagory all people who were not wearing a Kipah. The assumption being
made is that if you were not wearing a Kipah, you were not valid for
being counted in a Minyan. I think I agree with the posters who challage
that assumption.

Avi Feldblum


From: Shmuel Himelstein <himels@...>
Date: Fri, 20 May 2005 14:57:51 +0200
Subject: New Book on Gaba'ut

I just received a new Sefer in Hebrew entitled "Sefer Hagabbai" by Rav
David Avraham Spektor, the Rav of my son's Shul in Beit Shemesh, Beit
Kneset Ohel Yonah Menachem. Among others, it carries endorsements from
Rav Eliyahu Bakshi-Doron, Rav Dov Lior, and Rav Avigdor Nebenzahl.

The Sefer is about 300 pages long and contains chapters such as:

The duties of the Gabbai
When the Gabbai must asked a She'elah
Children and infants  in Shul
Announcements in Shul
The Torah reading (and errors in the Torah)
Choosing a Chazan
Dividing up Kibudim
Yom Haatzmaut  and Yom Yerushalayim

As I got this as a gift, I don't know the price.
For further information, eMail <mahevron@...>

This Sefer is put out by
Machon Rabbanei Yishuvim, Kiryat Arba
PO Box 1613
Kiryat Arba 90100
The fax number is +972-(0)2-996-4722
The phone number is +972-(0)2-996-3253.



From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Fri, 20 May 2005 12:09:40 +0100
Subject: Re: Quinoa

on 20/5/05 10:54 am, Perry Zamek <perryza@...> wrote:
> As I recall, someone already posted that a qualified Orthodox rabbi
> paskened, on the basis of data ("botanical categories") provided by the
> Vulcani Institute, that quinoa is acceptable. Thus, it should not be a
> "matter of dispute".
> The only reason that I can see for people suggesting now that "perhaps"
> quinoa should be considered kitniyot, is that they feel uncomfortable
> with permissive rulings in general, and are seeking a chumrah. A form of
> reverse psak-shopping?

This problem depends on the definition of kitniot and the scope of the
minhag. Just because one qualified Orthodox rabbi paskened, according to
his criteria, that quinoa does not come under the prohibition does not
mean that the question is entirely settled. Accusing those who have an
open mind on quinoa of 'seeking a chumrah' is entirely unfair.

Martin Stern


From: David Mescheloff <david_mescheloff@...>
Date: Fri, 20 May 2005 04:21:50 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: Tahara Customs

About 35 years ago, I had the privilege of co-founding together with
friends from AFTA (the Association for Torah Advancement), and serving
as co-chairman, of the new, volunteer Chevra Kadisha in Chicago, the
Jewish Sacred Society (JSS).  Besides serving as a volunteer member and
performing taharos, I was assigned the task of "writing the book".
Under the supervision, and with the approbation of Rabbis Tzvi Hirsh
Maisles ("the Veitzener") ztz"l, Rabbi Aaron Soloveichik ztz"l (Rosh
Yeshiva, then, of the Hebrew Theological College), and Rabbi Chaim
Regensberg ztz"l (Av Beit Din of the Chicago Rabbinical Council), I
wrote a 32-page booklet, "Regulations and Procedures for the Jewish
Sacred Society".  Haskomos of the above three gedolim appeared in the
booklet; for personal reasons I did not publish my name as author,
although I believe one of the above kindly mentioned me in his haskomoh.
I brought each of the above every question of detail that arose, and
each carefully examined the entire text.  At that time, new chevra
kaddishas were being established in cities and towns across the US, and
I was told that the booklet was helpful to many of those new groups.
G-d granted me the privilege of coming on aliya in 1973, and I left that
world behind, never to return.

There is no mention in the booklet of pouring water "back-handedly", nor
was there such mention in any of the sources on which the booklet was
based, nor was that the practice in the Jewish Sacred Society of
Chicago.  The custom of not pouring drink "back-handedly" thus has a
different source.

May we all be privileged to live long, happy, fruitful, loving and
meaningful Torah lives - and be blessed with happy work!

Rabbi Dr. David Mescheloff
Moshav Hemed 
50295 Israel


End of Volume 48 Issue 2