Volume 49 Number 82
                    Produced: Mon Aug 29  6:07:32 EDT 2005

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Davening Attire
         [Joel Rich]
Entering a Church (Some rabbis did!)
         [Gilad J. Gevaryahu]
         [Annice Grinberg]
Jackets for Tefillah
Jewish Education
         [Ilana Rosansky]
Mordechai and Esther (2)
         [Gilad J. Gevaryahu, Asher Grossman]
Separation of Church and State
         [David Ziants]
Soft Matzah, was Mnhag v. Secular Law
         [Allen Gerstl]
telling a lie


From: <joelirich@...> (Joel Rich)
Date: Sun, 28 Aug 2005 18:34:29 +0000
Subject: Davening Attire

> I will never forget the first time I went to the kosel 20 years ago on
> a very hot day.  I wasn't wearing a jacket, and a young frum American
> from Chicago stopped me to remind me the holiness of the place. He
> lent me his hat and jacket and waited until I finished davening.  The
> kosel, a shul, an open place-- Hashem is wherever we seek him.  That
> incident was a great inspiration.
> S. Wise 

Very moving story and if this speaks to you, that's fine since you
should do what works for you.  Our discussion is around what halacha
requires of us, you're speaking about what you perceive the reasons to
be and what you percieve the implications to be.

BTW do you think someone who was halachically appropriately dressed
according to his tradition who approached the kotel to pray for the
first time in a state of awe and was interrupted by someone to tell him
his dress wasn't appropriate would have found the incident a great

Joel Rich 


From: <Gevaryahu@...> (Gilad J. Gevaryahu)
Date: Sun, 28 Aug 2005 09:38:17 EDT
Subject: Entering a Church (Some rabbis did!)

Dr. Josh Backon (MJv49n79) brings many citations showing that it is
strictly prohibited to enter a church. I would like to post again what I
have posted on MailJewish (41:88) and pose the following
question. Didn't the Chief Rabbi of Israel know what Josh Backon stated?
I assume he knew it very well. So, why did he decide to do otherwise? Is
it an issue of "eivah"?

 From: <Gevaryahu@...> (Gilad J. Gevaryahu)
 Date: Fri, 16 Jan 2004 12:55:43 EST
 Subject: Entering a Church

Gad J. Frumkin, the only Jewish Supreme Court justice in Mandatory
Palestine, tells of the event he attended in the early 1920s in
Jerusalem (No year was stated):

"On the day of the liberation of Jerusalem from the Ottoman yoke, on
December 9, in the morning there was a prayer (1) in the St. George's
church ... among the participants was the Rabbi Yaakov Meir (2) who came
in his official dress with his many medals which he received from the
Turkish Sultan, and the Greek and British Kings" Gad Frumkin, Darach
Shofet biRushalayim, Tel-Aviv, 1955, p. 294. [my free translation - GJG]

(1) I assume some kind of ceremony rather than a prayer service (GJG)
(2) Chief Rabbi of Israel, Rabbi Jakob [his way of spelling!] Meir
(1856-1935), an activist for the development of Jerusalem, and a major
figure in the renewal of the Hebrew language.

Gilad J. Gevaryahu


From: Annice Grinberg <annicey@...>
Date: Sun, 28 Aug 2005 15:14:39 +0200
Subject: Re: Horns

In a similar vein, when we moved into our first home in Columbus, Ohio
in 1963, our new next-door neighbor, a devout Methodist, told me that we
were the first Jews she had ever met (she was from a small town in the
Midwest), and that she was very surprised that we did not have horns, as
she had learned in Sunday school that all Jews were so equipped.



From: <chips@...>
Date: Sun, 28 Aug 2005 11:11:32 -0700
Subject: Re: Jackets for Tefillah

> I see folks davening in shorts and sandals with more kavannah than
> those dressed in suits, ties, gartles, hats, and 613 dips into the
> mikveh before going to shul.

While that may very well be true, it is beside the point. The SA rule is
that the arms must be covered. How that came to mean 'jacket required' I
don't know , but there is definitely a dress code required.



From: Ilana Rosansky <ilana@...>
Date: Sun, 28 Aug 2005 22:32:53 +0300
Subject: Re: Jewish Education

> I submit the following quote from Neil Kaunfer in Norman Drachler's "A
> Bibliography of Jewish Education in the United States. Wayne State
> University Press, 1996" "Jewish education is an unrewarding profession
> financially and in terms of status.  It is also part time work.  The
> result of all this is that only the very dedicated or the very
> incompetent would choose to enter the field (P 269)."

Sad, isn't it? I know Neil and he worked tirelessly in Jewish Education
for many years. But he is not wrong. It is frustrating and unrewarding.
It is no one's priority and until it truly is, the situation will only
continue to get worse.

e-mail: <ilana@...> or ilana.rosansky@post.harvard.edu


From: <Gevaryahu@...> (Gilad J. Gevaryahu)
Date: Sun, 28 Aug 2005 09:22:58 EDT
Subject: Mordechai and Esther

Abe Brot (MJv49n77) wrote the following:

> This changes totally our understanding of the Megilla. Instead of
> Esther, an unmarried orphan raised by her uncle, being forced into the
> king's harrem, we have a married women being forced to submit to the
> king.

I would like to call the attention to a classic error that is labeling
the relationship between Esther and Mordechai as if he was her uncle.
According to Esther 2:7, and 2:15 he was her [first] cousin. Our own
MailJewish member Rabbi Dr. Ari Z. Zivotofsky wrote an article about
this very subject (in Hebrew) URL:

This error does not change the very serious questions raised by Abe Brot
about the Talmud attitude toward Esther. I once commented in a different
forum that it appears that the rabbis who lost the battle about the
canonization of Esther "kivuni leDorot" issue, waged a smearing campaign
against her behavior. If indeed this is what was done, then "Leshon
haRa" is a serious issue.

Gilad J. Gevaryahu

From: Asher Grossman <asherg@...>
Date: Mon, 29 Aug 2005 03:28:48 -0400
Subject: Mordechai and Esther

Abe Brot raised several questions in mj 49/77 re Chazal's descriptions
of the relationship between Mordechai and Esther.  I'll attempt to solve
some of this, s it's clear that these questions originate from a true
bafflement, and not Chalila from an attempt to bash.

>leading to the question whether Esther should have refused the king,
>even under penalty of death.
>Is there any halachic justification (even under penalty of death) for a
>married woman to alternate between her husband and another man?

There is a long discussion of this topic, in various places in the
Gemara. The first is in Masechet Yoma, 82/1, where the gemara states
that in regards to an engaged girl '"he" must die and not
transgress'. Rashi points out that this is only in regard to a man (who
is being forced to cohabit with an engaged girl), however the girl
herself has no obligation to give her life up as she is "Karka Olam"
i.e. she is passive and the act is done to her - not by her. Thus it is
clear that especially under penalty of death, Esther should not have

In Masechet Sanhedrin 74/2, the Gemara askes point blank how Esther was
allowed to submit to Achashverosh, as this was a case of "Parhesya" -
with all Jews being aware of this. The answer, again, is that since she
was a passive participant - it is still allowed. The Gemara offers a
second line of reasoning, that since there was no intent to coerce her
to transgress (as Achashverosh had no idea she was Jewish), but only a
case of him fulfilling his own pleasures, there was no obligation to die
rather than transgress.

Therefore, the entire relationship between Esther and Achashverosh is to
be seen as an extended assault, which she was not obligated to oppose at
risk to her life. It does seem strange that such a situation can stretch
out for years, but since there was no way for the Queen to escape the
Royal Palace and its life, she was in fact a prisoner in a gilded cage.

At this point we must look at her relationship with Mordechai. A woman
who was forcibly defiled can return to her husband - unless he is a
Kohein. Since Mordechai was from the tribe of Binyamin - there was no
Halachic problem with her returning to him. The only problem, which
Tosfot there (Megillah 13/2) asks, is how could she return that same
night to Mordechai as she might have become pregnant, and there would be
no way to tell whose child it was. Tosfot suggests that she may have
used contraceptive methods when with Achashverosh to prevent such a

When did a problem arise? When Esther was about to go to Achashverosh of
her own free will, knowing full well what this will entail, she has, at
this point, stopped being a passive recipient and has become an
instigator. At this point she has in fact committed an act of adultery -
at least to the effect that she is no longer permitted to return to her
husband. Tosfot asks why Mordechai didn't divorce her first, at which
point she would be free to do as she wished, and would be able to return
and re-marry him. The answer to that is that a divorce requires many
people to participate, and would undermine the extreme secrecy needed
for the plans to succeed.

>Are we to take Tana meshum Rabbi Meir's words literally?
>Since none of the Rabbis of the Talmud were present in Shushan during
>this period, and apparently have no other written sources for this
>matter, how are they permitted to write, what sound like lashon hara,
>about Esther?

I've been taught that we cannot always take a Medrash at face value and
interpret it literally, as you find Medrashim that contradict each
other.  However, we must always regard them as truth. There are many
more sayings and descriptions that Chazal quote and tell, even though we
don't see how they could have known it. What written record is there of
what transpired between Moshe Rabbeinu and HaShem during the 120 days
Moshe Rabbeinu spent in the heavens? All of the inner "stories" (for
lack of a better word) show knowledge that goes beyond the written word
- THAT is exactly what Torah SheBeal Peh is - an ORAL record of things!
Of course they were permitted to tell, and later write, these things, as
they serve a purpose.

Remember, we are dealing here with Halacha. There is no mention of
emotions here, since emotions are irrelevant to the facts and events
which were recorded for posterity. Chazal tell us that during the time
of the first Beit Hamikdash there were three hundred prophets, who spoke
various messages. Only a handful was recorded for posterity as they were
deemed to have impact on future generations. The rest were relevant only
for the moment. Along the same lines, we are not told what happened
during most of the 38 years that the Jews wandered in the desert.
Although many things must have happened, they were not relevant to our
life as Jews. Thus emotions are not recorded anywhere - except where
they serve to point a lesson.

We can only imagine the emotional turmoil that Mordechai and Esther went
through, and the anguish that they must have felt. However, Mordechai
was a prophet, a sage, and a tzaddik, and he realized that they must
follow through with the events. As Rashi says on the Megillah, that
Mordechai kept a vigil by the palace since he understood that if this
Tzaddeket was being subjected to the horror of the king's bedroom, there
must be a reason for it - one that goes beyond a personal level.

The moral we learn here is that great people must sometimes look beyond
their own lives and feelings, and act for the good of the nation. This,
of course, within the boundaries of Halacha.

I hope this helps solve some of the questions.  Feedback will be

Asher Grossman


From: David Ziants <dziants@...>
Date: Mon, 29 Aug 2005 10:28:52 +0200
Subject: RE: Separation of Church and State

>From: Akiva Miller <kennethgmiller@...>
>Art Werschulz wrote <<< You can only imagine how the Jewish kids felt
>under such circumstances. In fact, the incidents from my childhood
>*still* make me wince with pain. >>>
>I too painfully remember singing those carols in school.

As people are sharing their childhood memories, I also feel like giving
my piece.  In my non-Jewish primary school in the UK, 60s the daily
school assembly was compulsory for everyone. (Jews were exempt though
from the yearly carols.)  The only pupils who somehow seemed to get out
of it were the Rabbi's children (at that time there wasn't a good Jewish
primary school in the area).

The head mistress, Mrs. Wilson, announced something of the order: "The
Jewish children should sing everything, except for the name 'J'.".

When their hymns are based on their philosophy and religion, just
leaving out 'J' seems to me a bit ridiculous. I hardly remember any of
what was sang, but do remember "Englands pastures" being "our
Jerusalem". If Mrs. Wilson is still alive, I would like her to know what
I think.

The general understanding proliferated at that time and place, is that
the only difference between our religion and their religion is that
"they believe in J and we don't". Jews who understand their tradition,
obviously realise that there is a lot more between them and us. I think
there was a general policy to underplay the differences in public, and
my feeling is that this is the same today in England. In my opinion,
proud Jews should make it clear that even their translation of "mizmor
ledavid, h' ro'i lo ehsar" is off limits to us.

My first few years of secondary schooling was also at a non-Jewish
school (before I went to a Jewish school). Here they didn't expect the
Jewish kids to attend the assembly, but went to a separate "Jewish
assembly", and read a book privately.

Even then, I am so pleased that b"h I can bring my kids up in Israel.

David Ziants
Ma'aleh Adumim, Israel


From: Allen Gerstl <acgerstl@...>
Date: Mon, 29 Aug 2005 04:05:36 -0400
Subject: Soft Matzah, was Mnhag v. Secular Law

Asher Grossman <asherg@...>
>... Approx. 150-200 years ago, a worry arose that people were
>not skilled anymore in the process of baking these Matzos, and therefore
>were liable to allow them to become Chometz. A new type of Matzah was
>created, which had a long shelf-life, so that the whole amount could be
>prepared beforehand. The method was to cut drastically on the water
>content, thus providing us with the familiar "cracker" style Matzah of

Very interesting. Are any citations to sources, such as teshuvot to the 
above deliberate change, available?



From: <chips@...>
Date: Sun, 28 Aug 2005 11:25:05 -0700
Subject: Re: telling a lie

> What about Jacob lying to his father Isaac that he was Esau?  Yes, I
> know that Rashi explains this by interpolating words into the verse -
> the verse reads "I am Esau your firstborn", and Rashi interpolates, "I
> am [whoever I am] - Esau [is] your firstborn".  Strictly speaking,
> what Jacob said was true, but since it misled Isaac isn't it a lie?

I think that this is the basis for the RAMBAM's dictum that when one
needs to tell a lie that as much truth as possible needs to be used.



End of Volume 49 Issue 82