Volume 48 Number 34
                    Produced: Fri Jun  3  6:03:47 EDT 2005

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Accepting Psak without reviewing sources
         [Janice Gelb]
         [Leah S. Gordon]
Psak without Sources (4)
         [Mark Steiner, Eitan Fiorino, Stuart Cohnen, Eliyahu Gerstl]
victim-blaming / women's locations
         [Leah S. Gordon]
Woman's Role in Jewish Life
         [Yisrael & Batya Medad]
Women playing Instrument in Band
Women's focus should be on the home (was "kol k'vuda...")
         [Abbi Adest]
Women's Issues
         [Nathan Lamm]


From: Janice Gelb <j_gelb@...>
Date: Wed, 1 Jun 2005 10:45:42 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: Re: Accepting Psak without reviewing sources

<Yisyis@...> (Ira Bauman) wrote:
>       Even more than the narrow point of this particular issue is the
>       fact that my friend had accepted the rabbi's statement without any
>       authority to back it up, and without checking on it himself. How
>       many communities and generations of men have accepted such
>       statements and practices without ever examining whether they are
>       based on halacha and source-related rabbinic opinion?
> This was a psak regarding women and the Torah on Simchat torah.
> However, would you have everyone challenge their rav's psak on all
> decisions.  If the rav decides that the spoon is fleishig, would you
> only accept the psak if your own research concurs?  In a niddah question
> to your own rav or yoetzet, would you challenge him or her to cite their
> sources, look it up and check that there are no dissenting views
> mentioned?  When you choose someone to be your posek you must abide by
> those decisions.  To do otherwise would wreak havoc on the halachic
> process.

While if I chose a rav to be my posek, I would probably not challenge
him for the basis of every decision. OTOH, I would like to think that he
*could* provide sources if he were questioned, and that he wouldn't have
a problem with being asked.

More specifically in the situation mentioned, though, I think that
asking a rav to make a decision on a specific opinion-type question
being brought to him is a quite different situation from a rav saying in
a teaching situation that such-and-such is the halacha without providing
some basis.

-- Janice


From: Leah S. Gordon <leah@...>
Date: Wed, 01 Jun 2005 09:41:15 -0700
Subject: "Modesty"-causes?

Mr. Teichman writes, in part:
>the interpretation that Chazal have used for expressing the idea that
>women's (primary) domain is the domestic one. Why is that verse so often
>quoted?  Not because of "sexist social mores", but because promiscuity
>has only gotten worse over time, and encouraging more modesty is part of
>that battle.

On the contrary.  If not for sexist social mores, then an issue of
promiscuity would presumably be dealt with by instructions to both
genders to behave themselves.  It defies any logical explanation that
promiscuity would be blamed on women taking jobs/activities/education
outside of their homes.

Only a misogynist would solve a problem with "promiscuity" by insisting
that women get themselves back out of view, so as not to be an issue for
the default people going about their business of civilization, i.e. the

--Leah S. R. Gordon


From: Mark Steiner <marksa@...>
Date: Thu, 2 Jun 2005 19:16:48 +0300
Subject: RE: Psak without Sources

	I heard another story from a talmid about a psak that R.
Soloveitchik z"l issued allowing his (i.e., the talmid's) mother to do
something on shabbat that many might regard as forbidden.  She then
found out that the Rav, in a shiur, explicitly forbade doing what he had
allowed her to do.  She then contacted the Rav and confronted him with
the contradiction, and he flew into a rage at her lack of trust in his

Mark Steiner

From: Eitan Fiorino <Fiorino@...>
Date: Thu, 2 Jun 2005 09:31:03 -0400
Subject: RE: Psak without Sources

> From: Eli Turkel <eliturkel@...>
> There are several stories with R. Soloveitchik where someone 
> asked for a psak. After receiving the psak they asked for the 
> reasons and RYBS absolutely refused. He said if you want a 
> shiur that is a separate issue. You asked for a psak and you got it.

Add to this the story told of R. Soloveitchik that when asked for a
source to justify his position on some issue (I don't know if this was
in shiur or in response to a psak), his answer was "My source? A clear
and logical mind."


From: Stuart Cohnen <cohnen@...>
Date: Thu, 02 Jun 2005 15:21:42 -0400
Subject: Psak without Sources

I remember when I was in High School, Rav Simon Schwab ZT"L telling us a
story how he, as a young man had gone to the Chofetz Chaim with a
question. The Chofetz Chaim sent him out of the room, only to call him
back several minutes later to deliver the psak. The Chofetz Chaim
explained that if you were in the room and saw which seforim I
consulted, you would argue "but it says here....". This way, you got a
psak that you can't argue with.

Stuart Cohnen

From: Eliyahu Gerstl <acgerstl@...>
Date: Thu, 02 Jun 2005 08:05:27 -0400
Subject: Psak without Sources

Eli Turkel <eliturkel@...>
>>[Ari Trachtenberg <trachten@...> had written (v. 48 # 30)]
>>I'm afraid I disagree ... though you rav gives you guidance, I feel (as
>>I have said before on mail-jewish) that you are ultimately responsible
>>for your actions...and this does mean (courteously) requesting sources
>>and verifying opinions.

>There are several stories with R. Soloveitchik where someone asked for a
>psak. After receiving the psak they asked for the reasons and RYBS
>absolutely refused. He said if you want a shiur that is a separate
>issue. You asked for a psak and you got it. ...

I agree to a qualified extent with BOTH Ari and Eli, as I shall explain.

Ari stated: " ...you are ultimately responsible for your actions".  I
think that such statement must be limited to cases of "Gufei Torah" and
"Devar Mishnah" (see below).  I think that Pesak within the category of
"Shikul Ha-Daat" is different and as to the latter we may rely upon a
posek (i.e.  someone who is "gamir" (learned) and "savir" (wise) and who
has been appointed as a posek by a community or who an individual has
accepted to give a particular ruling.

Here are a few sources.

Several sources  discuss liability of a posek or dayan who has made an 

Error is defined as being a decision that contradicts the established
din whether established in the Mishnah or the Talmud or possibly in the
Shulchan Aruch. The established (published?)din is referred to as "devar
mishnah".  There is a second category referred to as "shikul ha-daat" (a
reasoned decision made after weighing the matter). Errors as to the
latter occur when there is an established practice of ruling ("sugyah
de-almah) in such type of case but the posek or dayan through error (and
not deliberately) rules contrary to the established customary ruling
("taah be-shikul ha-daat").  See the Rambam, MT, Sefer Shoftim, Hilchot
Sanhedrin, c. 6 and Shulchan Aruch:CM25.  (See also MT, Sefer Korbanot,
Hilchot Sheggagot,c. 12 and following and especially c. 14:

In the case of a Sanhedrin- no less- that decided to remove one of the
"Gufei Torah" (an explicit law: such as the entire legal category as to
the prohibition of carrying in a Reshut Ha-Rabbim on Shabbat the
Halachah is that the individuals who followed the ruling are themselves
liable for what they did if (e.g.) they carried in a Reshut Ha-Rabbim. A
Sanhedrin that so rules is "patur" as far as the bringing of a korban as
its ruling can not be considered as a "sheggagah" - an inadvertent error
as defined by the Halachah.

In his introduction to Igrot Moshe IIRC, Rav Moshe Feinstein indicates
that we customarily follow the Rishonim in their understandingof the
Halacha from the Talmud and that he does not consider himself bound to
follow other achronim. He also considers that if he finds on rare
occassion that a particular Rishon is not correct in his opinion that he
may disagree.



From: Leah S. Gordon <leah@...>
Date: Wed, 01 Jun 2005 06:18:23 -0700
Subject: victim-blaming / women's locations

I have little to say in response to Mr. Teichman's continued comments,
which I hope are not representative of the community at large with
regard to gender attitudes.  However, I must reply to the following:

> [...]  The Yalkut also says that women ought not frequent the
> marketplace lest a tragedy like what happened to Dina occur.

Surely no one in the modern era would *ever* suggest that a woman's
presence in a public area is to blame for a sexual assault.  To suggest
this is tantamount to victim-blaming.  No woman asks for or deserves a
rape.  I think that it was Golda Meir who, when a curfew for women was
suggested as a way to avoid rapes, replied that clearly it was the men
who needed a curfew!

>I think that it should be obvious that the Jewish outlook of a woman's
>role in Jewish life is one where her main focus is a domestic one and
>it's all tied in with the concept of Tsniyus (modesty). Its not a rule
>that says she must stay home 24/7. Its an emphasis and an outlook on
>life. And it's clearly Chazal's idea of what the _proper_ focus of a
>Jewish woman ought to be.

Repeating that something is "Jewish" does not make it so.  And, even if
a viewpoint is legitimately Jewish, it does not make it the only Jewish
choice.  If you are able to convince a wife/sister/daughter to go along
with your way of life, and to have a "main focus [that] is a domestic
one," good for you.  Please do not try to impose it on the rest of us.

--Leah S. R. Gordon


From: Yisrael & Batya Medad <ybmedad@...>
Date: Wed, 01 Jun 2005 18:46:06 +0200
Subject: Re: Woman's Role in Jewish Life

> I think that it should be obvious that the Jewish outlook of a woman's
> role in Jewish life is one where her main focus is a domestic one and
> it's all tied in with the concept of Tsniyus (modesty). Its not a rule
> that says she must stay home 24/7. Its an emphasis and an outlook on
> life. And it's clearly Chazal's idea of what the _proper_ focus of a
> jewish woman ought to be.
> Dov Teichman

If this is the case, then I don't understand how the chareidim can
support sending their wives out to work.  Either the women are home,
supported in every which way or if a woman is expected to "bring in the
bacon," (yes it's a poor choice of phrase,) she shouldn't be restricted.

Please, think about it.


From: <RAZLEENERS@...>
Date: Thu, 2 Jun 2005 14:10:41 EDT
Subject: Women playing Instrument in Band

> The organist of the original band (Hatav) that continues to service the
> frum (incl. yeshivish) Chicago community is female. They/she have been
> playing at weddings, etc. in Chicago and around he Midwest for over 20
> years.
>At the installation of Richard Joel as president of Yeshiva University a
>couple of years back, a female student played the flute. A chutzpanyak a
>few rows behind me made a no-so-silent comment about "Kol Isha," but I
>doubt he is as knowledgeable or religious as the dozens of Roshei
>Yeshiva who sat in front, none of them moving from their places.

Although obviously not controlling, there is a Tshuvas Harambam that
maintains that a woman playing a musical instrument is in the category
of kol isha.


From: Abbi Adest <abbi.adest@...>
Date: Wed, 1 Jun 2005 17:29:38 +0200
Subject: Women's focus should be on the home (was "kol k'vuda...")

Mr. Teichman-

If Chazal's, ie: traditional Judaism's, idea was that a woman's focus
should be on the home, how do you account for g'dolei hador allowing,
and in fact encouraging, women to work outside the home to support their
kollelnik husbands?

Abbi Adest


From: Nathan Lamm <nelamm18@...>
Date: Wed, 1 Jun 2005 07:10:08 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: Women's Issues

Leona Kroll writes, as part of an excellent post, "As far as shul
attendence, the Beis HaMikdash was built with a women's section."

This is a common misconception. The first Beit HaMikdash did not have an
Ezrat Nashim at all- in fact, it seems to have had no wall around the
main building. The second Bayit had (but not from the beginning) an area
called "Ezrat Nashim," but there was nothing in common with "Women's
Sections" in our modern day shuls. This was an area where both men and
women were allowed, as opposed to the inner Ezrat Yisrael, into which
generally only men went (women were allowed in as required, however).

Eventually, a balcony (perhaps temporary) was set up in the Ezrat Nashim
for events (most notably the Simchat Beit HaShoeva) in which everyone
congregated there; women were above, men below at these times. The name
of the Azarah may in fact have come from that "Tikkun," as it was

This also indicates another misconception: That the Beit HaMikdash was
something akin to our Batei Knesset, where people went to daven. This
was not the case. Outside of chagim and korban bringing, people did not
"go" to the Mikdash. Very little tefillah as we know it went on there-
the kohanim said Shema during the day, but that was pretty much it.

Nachum Lamm


End of Volume 48 Issue 34