Volume 48 Number 08
                    Produced: Wed May 25  4:59:41 EDT 2005

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

The Great Divide, Haredim, Religious Zionism
         [Nachum Klafter]
Honoring One's Parents, Rejecting Their Food
         [Nachum Klafter]
Minyan and the Great Divide
         [Bernard Raab]
Non-frum Jews and  Minyan
         [Frank Silbermann]
Non-frum to be Counted for a minyan
         [Joseph Ginzberg]


From: Nachum Klafter <doctorklafter@...>
Date: Mon, 23 May 2005 10:33:42 -0400
Subject: The Great Divide, Haredim, Religious Zionism

Stuart Pilichowski <cshmuel@...>:
> >>There are many shades of non-observancy. I'd rather eat in the home
> >>of the non-observant who claims they keep a strictly kosher
> >>home/kitchen than risk embarrassing them by refraining from eating
> >>off their plates no matter how diplomatic I might be in explaining
> >>my hesitation.

I responded:

> >"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.
> >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?

To which Stuart Pilichowski <cshmuel@...> responded: 

> I'm under the impression that Jews violating Shabbat publicly refers
> only to Jews that violate Shabbat out of spite. I take it for granted
> that Jews today that shop or go to the movies on Shabbat don't do it
> because they don't believe that Hashem is the Creator. (They do it out
> of convenience and for fun. No religious philosophy involved.)

Yes, it's true that many Jews today are in the halakhic category of
"tinnukim she-nishbu" and that their non-observance does not render them
"rashayim," which has implications for many areas of halakha.  However,
for testimony their non-observance still renders their testimony

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

Stuart Pilichowski <cshmuel@...> responded:

> I'll turn the question around: Have YOU asked this shylah to a Rov? I
> haven't, but would expect a practicing Rov to explain HOW to eat in
> the house of one who didn't sell their chometz.

Yes, I have received this pesak from a well known posek.

Stuart Pilichowski <cshmuel@...> wrote:
>> >I won't daven in a shul that doesn't offer the tefillah for the Medinah
>> >for the IDF.

I responded
> >Do you mean to say that if you had Haredi relatives who were making a
> >bar-mitzvah across the Jerusalem Forest in the Har Nof synagogue of the
> >Bostonner Hassidim, you not attend because their synagogue does not
> >recite a tefilla for the medina?  What happened to your prerogative of
> >avoiding hurt feelings.  Does this apply only to unobservant Jews? Or
> >only to non-Haredim?

To which Stuart Pilichowski <cshmuel@...> responded:
> Yes. Life is tough if you follow your beliefs.

Fine, but why is your belief in saying the Tefila for the medina more
valid that my belief that I must follow the very defensible pesak
halakha that I have received that the food of non-observant Jews is

Stuart Pilichowski <cshmuel@...> wrote:
> I think the Harediim have tough skin and would understand my absence.

First of all, I disagree.  Haredim are no less human than religious
Zionists or than non-observant Jews.  Secondly, if it were a your
siblings or cousins making a bar mitzvah for their son, it would be
quite plausible ineed to imagine that they would be very hurt that you
refuse to participate in the family's Simcha.

Second, my point in challenging the basis for your criteria for
acceptable synagogues is as follows: You object to observant Jews who
will not eat in the home of non-observant Jews even though there are
very legitimate grounds in halakha to assume that it is forbidden to do
so because of the presumption that their food will not be prepared
properly.  Yet, at the same time you have chosen to adopt a
le-kha-techilah policy to snub Haredi relatives because over the issue
of the tefilot for the medina and the IDF.  As you know, there are
numerous synagogues in Israel and throughout the world who do not say
these tefilot.  There is absolutely no problem with the validity of
these minyanim as far as fulfilling the mitzvoth of tefila be-tzibor or
keriyat ha-torah.  It is quite inconsistent on the one hand to criticize
Jews who, because of attempting to follow halakha carefully, may hurt
peoples feelings in the process of avoiding potential biblical and
rabbinic transgressions, and on the other hand to endorse of policy of
snubbing relatives making a bar mitzvah where there is absolutely no
halakhic problem in attending this minyan.  It seems like your chiluk is
based upon an assumption that it's improper to hurt the feelings of
non-observant Jews, but it's ok to hurt the feelings of Haredim.

I respect your right to only attend minyanim whose hashkafa is to your
liking.  Rather, I am responding to your criticism of Jews who are
following conventional pesak halakha regarding the food of non-observant
Jews, as well as your assumption that I did not receive a pesak
regarding this.  Go ahead and survey a bunch of poskim and see what they


From: Nachum Klafter <doctorklafter@...>
Date: Mon, 23 May 2005 14:18:29 -0400
Subject: Honoring One's Parents, Rejecting Their Food

David Charlap <shamino@...> wrote:
> I'm quite disturbed to read this.
> You are willing to deliebrately transgress several Torah laws (like
> resppecting one's parents, loving one's neighbor, and avoiding baseless
> hatred) in order to keep what you yourself say is a rabbinic
> prohibition.
> The laws that govern behavior between people (bein adam l'chaveiro) are
> just as important as those that govern behavior with respect to God
> (bein adam l'makom).  It greatly saddens me when people deliberately
> choose to violate one in favor of the other.

Again, if your parents offer you food which is truly prohibited
me-derabanan (and all the more so me-de-oraitah), it is forbidden to eat
it.  Kibud Av-Ve-Eim is not a dispensation to transgress biblical or
rabbinic prohibitions.  Kibud av ve-eim does not require (or entitle) us
to transgress halakha.  Ve-ahavta le-re'acha kamocha is fulfilled by
performing acts of kindness for fellow Jews and by deliberately
cultivating love for the Children of Israel, but it does not allow us to
transgress laws in order to avoid bad feelings.  Avoiding food which is
rabbinically forbidden is NOT an act of sin'at chinam (baseless hatred).
It is an act of faithfulness to the the teachings of our Sages.

In the case of a person who has decided to take on a chumrah (for
example, to only eat pat-yisrael, or to observe the laws of kemach
yashan in chutz la-aretz, or to insist on a "bedatz hechsher" as opposed
to a "rabbanut hechsher," etc. etc.), then such a person would be
certainly directed by a responsible posek to be more lenient than his
usual practice as it would be very inappropriate to be extra stringent
in the laws of kashrut at the expense of one's parents' feelings.  I am
aware of many cases where ba'alei teshuva have unnecessarily created
family strife because they did not know the difference between "chumra"
and "halakha."  Parents who flew all the way to Israel to spend time
with their children who were studying in yeshivot have been quite
alarmed to learn that restaurants which signs indicating that they are
"under the supervision of the Chief Rabbi of Jerusalem" were not kosher
enough for their children.  This is somewhat inevitable, however, as
ba'alei teshuva in their first years of observance cannot possibly
absorb all the nuances of halakha, minhag, chumrah, politics, etc.,
which must be negotiated by an observant Jew.

However, it is simply not true according the halakha that one is allowed
to consume food which is "only" rabbinically forbidden in order to avoid
hurting one's parents' feelings.

My wife and I are chozrei be-teshuva.  There is an art to knowing how to
say "no" without offending people (or at least to minimize the
offensiveness).  Usually, all that's necessary is to convey the sincere
desire to maintain a close relationship despite the fact that you can't
eat certain foods they have prepared.  While someone is still in the
process of becoming observant and has not yet begun trying to observe
all areas of the halakha, then I agree that putting off those laws which
might create family friction is a good policy. However, if someone
wishes to be fully observant of halakha even if one's parents are not
understanding and will absolutely be angry and turned off from Judaism,
there is still no basis according to the halakha to eat rabbinically
forbidden food.

-nachum klafter


From: Bernard Raab <beraab@...>
Date: Mon, 23 May 2005 11:40:34 -0400
Subject: Re: Minyan and the Great Divide

>From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
>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.

A "brazen Shabbat desecrator" or "publicised atheist" shows up for
minyan on Tuesday morning. Without him, we have nine. What to do? It
seems at least possible that he has decided to do t'shuva. Why else
would he be there? Do we now presume to question him as to his motives
and intentions, or do we judge him "l'kav zchus", and start our

I just yesterday read an article describing the vast Jewish philanthropy
of Michael Steinhardt, which includes major funding of the Birthright
Israel program, in which thousands of young people have been taken on
trips to Israel, and other Jewish education projects. He is clearly
motivated by his Jewish identity, and yet openly claims to be an
atheist.  If he showed up for a minyan in my shul (and I were the
gabbai), I would not undertake to question him on what he means by
"atheist", before counting him for our minyan. (In fact, I already
question the nature and extent of belief of a few members of ouir
minyan!) And which of us could not stand a bit of self-scrutiny from
time to time. But when did this become a criterion for being a Jew?



From: Frank Silbermann <fs@...>
Date: Mon, 23 May 2005 10:29:41 -0500 (CDT)
Subject:  Re: Non-frum Jews and  Minyan

I was taught that the source for the requirement of ten men in a minyan
came from the story of the twelve spies sent by Moses.  Two of them gave
an encouraging report, and ten gave a negative report.  Those ten
evil-doers were referred to as a congregation.  Why base the definition
of a minyan on such a shameful epsiode?

It was explained to me that people may ask, "Perhaps we need more than
ten for a minyan, because we are not as worthy as our ancestors for whom
ten sufficed."  But we are taught that for a minyan even ten evildoers

The requirement that one must be frum to count in a minyan certainly
hasn't been treated as accepted halacha in any shul that I've been in.
It certainly would have made the argument over sexually egalitarian
minyans in most Conservative synogogues a moot point.

Frank Silbermann	New Orleans, Louisiana		<fs@...>


From: Joseph Ginzberg <jgbiz120@...>
Date: Mon, 23 May 2005 11:59:08 -0400
Subject: Non-frum to be Counted for a minyan

>>I was recently at the airport for a flight to Israel and a fellow
>>tried organizing a minyan. I noticed after about a half an hour he was
>>only going after people with kippot. I said to him that most of the
>>people here even if they're not wearing kippot are Jewish and would
>>probably love to be asked to participate in a minyan. He looked at me
>>like I was from another planet.  "Only frum Jews can be counted
>>towards a minyan," he said.

So you met an ignoramus. What does that prove, anyway?  Is the ignorance
of a single person even worth talking about?  FWIW, he may have simply
misunderstood the reasoning after seeing other people making a minyan by
asking the obviously observant, who are certainly more likely to help

I had the unhappy job of travelling (a few years ago) on chol hamoed
Pesach from N.Y. to Israel to sit shiva for my father A"H, and very few
"frum" people travel then.  Despite much effort and a mostly full plane,
I was unable to convince a minyan to help me say kaddish on the very
first day that i was saying it.

Yossi Ginzberg


End of Volume 48 Issue 8