Volume 48 Number 10
                    Produced: Wed May 25  5:22:16 EDT 2005

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Bloodshed, Courts, and Minyan
Chezkat Kashrut
         [Shmuel Himelstein]
Embarrassment and Rabbinical Prohibitions
         [Nachum Klafter]
Gender Roles?
         [W. Baker]
The Great Divide
         [Lipman Phillip Minden]
Interaction with the non-Frum
         [Binyomin Segal]
Kosher Kitchen and Counting for a Minyan
         [Batya Medad]


From: c.halevi <c.halevi@...>
Date: Mon, 23 May 2005 19:31:35 -0500
Subject: Bloodshed, Courts, and Minyan

Shalom, All:

I am very saddened by the discussions centering around not counting Jews
for a minyan because they may or may not be Orthodox. Please allow me to
share some thoughts.

Firstly, we are taught that to embarrass somebody in public is akin to
shedding blood. I think that when someone realizes they aren't counted
for a minyan, it is a textbook case of metaphorically shedding their

Secondly, picture yourself as publicly being told - implicitly or
explicitly - you aren't good enough for someone else's standards of
being a Jew. Now visualize yourself being approached later by someone
who loves all Jews and encourages you to put on t'filin or eat kosher
food. Would you, who had been humiliated by Jews, welcome this or would
you, understandably, refuse, maybe even (God forbid) curse the
well-intentioned Jew? Would you open your wallet to Jewish causes?
Speak out for Israel? Speak against anti-Semitism? Or would you turn
your back on all things Jewish?

Lastly, remember this. Right before we say Kol Nidre on Yom Kippur, the
hazan says "By the authority of the heavenly court and by the authority
of the earthly court, with the consent of God and the consent of this
congregation, we declare it lawful to pray with sinners."

Rabbi Meir of Rothenberg inserted this legalism some 700 years ago,
based on the G'mara that says "A public fast where Jewish sinners don't
participate is not a fast."  Why must we wait until Yom Kippur to try to
inspire non-Orthodox Jews to be more Jewish?  Shouldn't this be
everybody's priority every day?

It takes only three Jewish men to make a beit din (ecclesiastic court).
Instead of metaphorically shedding Jewish blood, shouldn't we convene a
beit din on the spot and permit all Jews to be counted in our minyan?

Kol Tuv,
Charles Chi (Yeshaya) Halevi


From: Shmuel Himelstein <himels@...>
Date: Tue, 24 May 2005 12:54:34 +0200
Subject: Chezkat Kashrut

For a few years I lived in Los Angeles and got to know the Gaon, R'
Simcha Wasserman, Zatzal. R' Simcha was involved in what was not yet
known as "kiruv" at that time, and had to his credit many Jewish homes
which he had made kosher.

I was told that if anyone from a home which he had helped to kasher
would invite him to eat in it, he would do so - and would not have them
run the gauntlet of answering questions regarding what products they

Shmuel Himelstein


From: Nachum Klafter <doctorklafter@...>
Date: Mon, 23 May 2005 15:18:40 -0400
Subject: Embarrassment and Rabbinical Prohibitions

> From: Chana Luntz <chana@...>
> 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.

> 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.

It does not appear to me that sugya in Berakhot 19b supports Chana's
conclusions, though in a private correspondence she was able to adduce a
startling teshuva by the Nodeh Be-Yehuda where humiliation of a family's
reputation allowed the Nodeh Be-Yehuda to prevent someone from notifying
a husband about the extramarital sexual relationship affair that his
wife was engaged in.  Normally, doing so would be a mitzvah because the
halakha because of the prohibition to remain married to an adulteress.

However, there are some key differences here.  In the case by the Nodeh
be-Yehuda, he did not give anyone permission to violate a Torah or
rabbinical transgression.  Rather, he simply said that it was not
necessary for a third party to inform the husband.  Had the husband
approached the Nodeh-Be-Yehuda himself, presumably he would have been
forced to divorce his wife despite the humiliation that would result for
their children.  There is a well known principle in halakha that there
is more latitude to instruct someone to desist from performing positive
mitzvah that to instruct someone to violate a prohibition.  (In the
lexicon of the yeshiva, the rabbonim have more to be lenient with a
"shev ve-al ta'aseh" than a "kum ve-aseh.")  In addition, not all
authorities agree with this ruling by the Nodeh Be-Yehuda, as
demonstrated by the well known controversy about 7 years ago involving a
rabbi who breached his female congregant's confidentiality to inform her
husband that she was having an affair.

The cases cited by Rashi for "kevod ha-beriyot" on Berachot 19b amount
to permission to transgress rabbinical prohibitions on the Sabbath where
a person would otherwise remain soiled with excrement, or be forced to
walk naked through a semi-public domain.  This is the same logic behind
the rule that rabbinical laws on the Sabbath are pushed aside in the
case of significant physical pain.  However, the fact that unobservant
Jews may be offended by adherence to the halakha by an observant Jew is
not analogous to this case.  What makes one person offended and not
another is highly subjective and impossible to predict even when someone
knows a relative very well.  The same person can be offended on one day
but not offended on another day.  The limitless range of human emotional
responses are determined by countless and often unconscious factors.
Contrast this with the degrading of one's body with public nakedness or

More central to this discussion, however, is that there are many
rabbinical prohibitions which were enacted to prevent socializing
between Jews and non-Jews, and even between observant Jews and
unobservant Jews.  "Stam Yeinam" is an example, as is the prohibition of
including a non-observant Jew in an eiruv chatzerot, which was encacted
to discourage Jews from allowing non-observant Jews to live in their
immediate apartment complex.  The strong likelihood of insulting the
non-observant Jew who is banished from such a neighborhood, or whose
wine is rejected, was certainly evident to the Sages, who have
nevertheless decreed that we must follow these potentially provocative
and insulting legislations.

Nevertheless, Chana has definitely demonstrated in proving that the
principle of kevod ha-beriyot has wider scope as a basis for lenient
rulings at least according to some authorities than I was aware.  Her
erudition and range of sources makes correspondence with her a real
treat.  In this particular case, she did not persuade me that in this
case kevod ha beriyos applies

-Nachum Klafter


From: W. Baker <wbaker@...>
Date: Mon, 23 May 2005 11:50:29 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Re: Gender Roles?

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

In the year I was sayig kaddish for my mother, I was taking a class at
my shul with a Rabbi (not the shul Rabbi) teaching.  He told me that he
would see that there was a minyan for Maariv after class every week for
me to say Kaddish.  The first week, which was very early in my Kaddish
year, When the minyan met I was the only mourner.  I recited the kaddish
slone, ather badly and the Rabbi remained quiet except for the
responses, letting everyone understand that a solo woman was OK and
should be responded to.  In later weeks, having established this
precedent, he did pop in to help me with the "hard parts" until I became
more fluent.  No words said, but much said by action.  This is one of my
favorite memories from a difficult year and I will always be grateful to
that particular Rabbi.

Wendy Baker


From: Lipman Phillip Minden <phminden@...>
Date: Tue, 24 May 2005 12:44:43 +0200
Subject: The Great Divide

> Stephen Colman wrote
> [...] a product (Heinz Baked Beanz) being offered for lunch. This  
> product was/is without any Hechsher and definitely not acceptable by the  
> London kashrus authorities. However, that family - out of ignorance -  
> used it - still calling themselves 'kosher'.

I'm not familiar with this particular product, but all the more allow me
to ask: Was it indeed not kosher? If you say it wasn't, what exactly
were the issues? Bishul hagoi [cooking by a non-Jew], which some would
accept if automated, and others prefer not to? Substances that were
botel berov, besheish or beshishim [legally nullified in a majority, in
a ratio of one to six, or to 60], but it's nicer without? Substances
that aren't ouchel [food] or dovor hamaamid [essential for a change in
the product's physical condition]? The machines weren't kashered by
fire, but only sufficiently cleaned after being used for non-kosher
products? Or maybe, after consulting with the marketing department, the
company decided it wasn't worth paying for the hechsher?

> Surely Kovod Habrios does not mean compromising your accepted standards  
> so as not to embarrass somebody

I'm not so sure about this. If you say "accepted standards", you're
probably not talking about haloche or din, but about a chumre which is
overruled by koved haberyes. In other words, you might even _have_ to
eat there.

> - but rather the way you communicate your standards to the other person  
> in a way that does not upset them. This word, 'communication' is, in my  
> humble opinion, the key to many problems/arguements within our wider  
> kehilla

I agree.

Lipman Phillip Minden


From: Binyomin Segal <bsegal@...>
Date: Mon, 23 May 2005 09:43:47 -0500
Subject: Interaction with the non-Frum

The discussion about counting non-frum for a minyan has gone in
interesting directions. Specifically the question of chametz shaavar
alav hapesach (chamatz that was owned by Jews on Pesach) has some
interesting implications. Before I begin my ponderings here though, I
should make it clear that I DO NOT KNOW THE ANSWER. I am really and
sincerely simply raising some points.

First off, it seems clear that the general practice - correct or
incorrect - is for certain rabbinic laws to take precedence over the
Torah law to prevent hurting feelings. For example, orthodox jews would
generally refuse to eat chicken cooked with milk - even if would hurt
someone's feelings. I don't argue here that it is the correct thing to
do, just that it is what is generally done. PERHAPS, there is some limit
to our concern of other people's feelings that it does not force us to
ingest things that are prohibited. And if that is true it MIGHT apply to
the chametz that is at issue as well.

Additionally, it seems clear that there certain times when the rabbis
had the authority to ignore a person's feelings. For example, when a
court imposed an earned punishment - even a rabbinic one - the court AND
ITS APPOINTED AGENTS were exempt from concerns about the person feeling
bad that they are being punished. (That did not absolve them of all
concern, hence even in capital punishment certain details are determined
by our concern for the convicted.)

This MAY HAVE application to our case of chametz. Chametz was prohibited
after Pesach as a knas (a penalty). For the knas to be effective at all,
there needs to be some exemption for the concerns of hurting
feelings. The Jew next door has a liquor store or a bakery, and he did
not sell his chametz - the rabbis required as a knas that you boycott
his store. How is that possible - unless you are allowed, perhaps as an
agent of beis din - to hurt his feelings. If the initial legislation
essentially required you to hurt a person's feelings, it seems unlikely
that hurting a person's feelings would be reason to ignore the

On the other hand, it is possible that this knas - as a penalty for a
crime - really only applies to those that "knowingly" violate the
law. In which case if a uneducated Jew didn't sell his chametz the knas
might not apply. This is an interesting approach, but is clearly not the
"normative" practice - as evidenced by the various lists published by
various rabbinic groups that indicate from which stores you may/may not
buy chametz after pesach.

just some thoughts -


From: Batya Medad <ybmedad@...>
Date: Tue, 24 May 2005 12:35:25 +0200
Subject: Kosher Kitchen and Counting for a Minyan

A friend told me about his sibling, from a religious family, but who
stopped observing most, but kept a kosher home "so the family could eat
there."  After a number of years the sibling announced that the kitchen
was traif.  My friend was upset and asked him why.  "Because none of you
ever agreed to eat from it."  This upset my friend greatly, and he feels
responsible.  If the family had supported and encouraged the sibling in
kashrut, maybe there would have been some "tshuva."  Instead the family
just got further from yahadut.

There are many true stories of people who got closer to Torah life
through being counted in a minyon.  The idea that their presence was
important for other Jews and then getting more involved....  And think
about it.  Is it better to say "You're not enough of a Jew to be counted
as part of a minyan.  I'd rather doven alone."  than to include all
available male Jews in the minyan?



End of Volume 48 Issue 10