Volume 49 Number 86
                    Produced: Tue Sep  6  7:34:37 EDT 2005

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

         [Avi Feldblum]
Davening Attire (2)
         [Lawrence Feldman, Joel Rich]
Good Intentions -- was separation of church & state
         [Ira L. Jacobson]
         [Martin Stern]
May one enter a church, ashram or Buddhist shrine?
         [Carl A. Singer]
Saul Lieberman and Rabbi Soloveitchik
         [Josh L]
Seat Belts
         [Irwin Weiss]
Seat belts and koved Av v'Aym
         [Carl A. Singer]
Separation of Church & State
         [Tobias Robison]
Separation of Church & State - Perspective
         [Tobias Robison]
Soft Matzah (2)
         [Nathan Lamm, Perry Zamek]


From: Avi Feldblum <mljewish@...>
Date: Tue, 6 Sep 2005 07:13:21 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Administrivia

Hello all,

We have just moved from Allentown to Elkins Park. I had hoped to get
this message out before the weekend, i.e. before the move, but did
not. We do not yet have internet connectivity at our new place, and it
has been Labor Day weekend here in the US. I expect somewhat sporadic
delivery of mail-jewish this week, and hopefully by the end of the week
we should be back to normal operation.

Thanks in advance, and my apologies for the short holiday from



From: Lawrence Feldman <lpf1836@...>
Date: Tue, 30 Aug 2005 04:38:46 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: Re: Davening Attire

From: <Smwise3@...> (S Wise)
> It's difficult to separate halachah from custom.  Some people may
> think shorts, sandals and a muscle T-shirt are appropriate attire, but
> is that how one should stand before Hashem?

With all due respect to those who believe that more formal attire is
required for davening, the way some of the proponents of this view are
begging the question, it reminds me of the old joke about the 'biblical
proof' than a man should always wear a hat outside the home: "It says
'Veyetze Yaacov' - 'And Yaacov went out.' Now can you imagine for one
second heiliger Yaacov Avinu going around outside without a hat?!"

IMHO, what constitutes 'everyday attire' as opposed to "shlumpy dress"
is clearly a subjective issue.

Lawrence Feldman
Ramat Modi'in, Israel

From: Joel Rich <JRich@...>
Date: Tue, 30 Aug 2005 08:25:09 -0400
Subject: RE: Davening Attire

>  I would hope people would dress in a respectful fashion.  Somehow,
> sockless and sandals doesn't scream out respectful, nor do T-shirts with
> an off-color Bart Simpson expression in a word balloon.  But once you
> leave it subjective, that's what you;re bound to get.  As I wrote in
> response to a private message on this topic, I would prefer to follow the
> example of the gedolim and listen to their guidance.  That is my personal
> preference.  But I do think the reasons people present for dressing
> jacketless, sleeveless, sockless and whatever does not come from a
> conviction that this is a proper way to dress, it's comes out of
> convenience.
> S. Wise

"But once you leave it subjective" - OK but if the halacha leaves it as
subjective, that's good enough for me to say there's subjectivity

I hesitate to point it out but are you sure there's no convenience
involved in wearing only white shirts and having a "davening jacket"
which may or may not match anything else one is wearing?

Joel Rich


From: Ira L. Jacobson <iraeljay@...>
Date: Tue, 30 Aug 2005 11:53:05 +0300
Subject: Re: Good Intentions -- was separation of church & state

Janice Gelb <j_gelb@...> stated on Fri, 26 Aug 2005
      The more we encourage schools to throw in a token Chanukah song in
      a "holiday" program that's really for Christmas, or (don't get me
      started on this) build giant menorahs and sponsor civic or TV
      programs to compete with Christmas programs, the more we encourage
      the belief that the two holidays are related.

The more you let Xmas be celebrated in public and intentionally exclude
any Jewish holiday, the more frustrated your children are, and the more
convinced they are that we cannot compete.  And the non-Jewish community
remains ignorant of our beliefs and way of living.  And it is a fact
that some Jews often know more about the other religion that they do of
our own.  Just do a survey among Jews on what the Jewish attitude is to
abortion, and you'll find more Jews who know about the Catholic stand
than about the Jewish stand.

Why not be proud Jews and have our celebrations be as public and grand
scale as our non-Jewish neighbors?

Otherwise, we are adopting the attitude of the non-religious Jewish
community councils, whose agenda is certainly not ours.

A friend of mine told me a story in the 60s about a medium-sized town in
Pennsylvania, where a Jewish delegation went to the city council with
the request that they eliminate public Xmas celebrations.  The answer
they got was on the order of, "You're lucky we let you people even live
in our town."

We have indeed made great advances since then, but some Jews would like
to wipe them out.

IRA L. JACOBSON         


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Tue, 30 Aug 2005 12:53:30 +0100
Subject: Horns

on 30/8/05 10:59 am, <aliw@...> (Arie) wrote:
> the horns concept, so i understand, comes from michaelangelo's
> moses, which shows moshe rabeinu with rays of light (which look
> like horns) coming from his forehead, a misinterpretation of  the
> word "keren" as in "karan or panav" (moshe's face was shining),
> since keren can be both a horn and a ray of light, and used as a
> verb in the quote above means to shine.

AFAIK Michaelangelo's source was the Vulgate (Latin) mistranslation.

Martin Stern


From: Carl A. Singer <casinger@...>
Date: Tue, 30 Aug 2005 06:24:15 -0400
Subject: May one enter a church, ashram or Buddhist shrine?

> May one enter a church, ashram or Buddhist shrine?
> IMHO, yes - as long as they don't participate. My reason? One who
> observes a murder or theft is not a killer or thief. Everybody knows
> they aren't the perp, just an observer.

I find this "logic" extremely hard to swallow -- we've jumped from a
discussion of place to one of action.

By extension of the above logic, a cohen may enter a cemetery as long as
he's not participating in the burial.  Clearly not the halacha.

The issue is not equivalent to may one walk into a trief restaurant (say
to use the telephone) -- with concerns about being seen entering ? --
With an argument that one is not eating there.

The issue is the status of the place, itself, and if one may enter.

Carl Singer


From: <Shuanoach@...> (Josh L)
Date: Mon, 29 Aug 2005 22:56:26 EDT
Subject: Saul Lieberman and Rabbi Soloveitchik

I was recently looking in Saul Lieberman's Sifrei Zuta and noticed that
on pp. 144-145 he cites an explanation from his "friend," "Ha-Gaon Rav
Yosef Dov Soloveitchik". He doesn't cite a seifer, but rather (it seems)
an explanation he heard from him. Does anyone have any information on
the relationship between these two talmidei chakhamim? (I know of the
familial ties - Lieberman married the daughter of R. Meir Bar Ilan, the
younger son of the Netziv, the Netziv being R. Chaim Soloveitchik's
grandfather in law.) Any info would be appreciated, esp. if it can be
found in printed sources.  

josh l.


From: Irwin Weiss <irwin@...>
Date: Tue, 30 Aug 2005 06:57:05 -0400
Subject: RE: Seat Belts

I cannot compete with the scholarship of Dr. Weintraub and Dr. Katz on
this topic.

I realize this is anectodal, but I will not ever forget the case I had
where the driver (belted) was uninjured in a head on collision (airbag);
the front right passenger was trivially injured (belted); and the rear
seat passenger (unbelted), who was sitting right in the middle of the
back seat, was throw through the front windshield, out onto the street.
He did not survive.

Irwin E. Weiss, Esq.


From: Carl A. Singer <casinger@...>
Date: Tue, 30 Aug 2005 06:35:00 -0400
Subject: Seat belts and koved Av v'Aym

> New cars have the nice feature of beeping incessantly if a front-seat
> passenger isn't buckled.  However, this issue is more difficult than it
> seems...there are some real halachic issues when your father or
> grandmother refuse to buckle the seat and have no alternate forms of
> transportation.

And if your (aged?) parent / grandparent refused to take their medicine
or go to the doctor would you simply acquiesce?  Koved doesn't mean

Carl A. Singer


From: Tobias Robison <tobyr21@...>
Date: Mon, 29 Aug 2005 17:48:38 -0400
Subject: Separation of Church & State

Carl Singer wrote:
> When people, with good intentions, try to be ecumenical or "fair and
> balanced" I appreciate the effort.  My High School choir sang the 150th
> psalm in Hebrew.  (It turned out that the choir director, a non-Jew, was
> a paid member of the choir of a local reform congregation.)

In my last year of high school (1958), the choir director decided to be
ecumenical for the Christmas program and have the entire choir sing the
Shma. All of the Rabbis in the area asked him not to. He abided by their
wishes, but could not understand why there was a problem.

Tobias D. Robison
Princeton, NJ, USA


From: Tobias Robison <tobyr21@...>
Date: Mon, 29 Aug 2005 15:51:20 -0400
Subject: Separation of Church & State - Perspective

Nathan Lamm wrote that:
> Overturning Supreme Court decisions of the last thirty years regarding
> a mythical "wall" would do nothing to impact the religious freedom of
> Jews.

Strictly speaking the above statement must be correct, because most of
our religious freedom comes from within us, and we can at worst be
oppressed by the dictates of other religions. The relative freedom we
enjoy today in the U.S. is a peculiar mixture of constitutional law, the
decisions Nathan Lamm mentions, and the secularization of our society
that makes Christian religious constraints less important to many. But
state-enforced religion can cast a heavy hand, and I would like to
remind you all of one specific, relevant example.

Until the 1970's, most U.S. states and municipalities had "Blue laws"
that prevented most kinds of work from being done on Sundays. Many
religious Jews need to work on Sunday, and Blue laws have impacted them
in the past. Even where (as in NYC) there were specific exemptions in
Blue Laws for people who observed a different Sabbath day, it could be
very difficult to convince a predominantly Catholic Judiciary not to
ignore those exemptions. My father spent some frustrating time defending
Jews arrested for working on Sundays in the 1950's.

The Blue Laws could be particularly frustrating bcause they were
selectively enforced. In NYC, even as late as the 1960's, these were
illegal on Sunday, but I think nobody was ever arrested for doing them:

- operating printing presses
- operating elevators! (Can you imagine a Sunday in Manhattan without
- selling anything in a pharmacy other than drugs.

I believe that overturning the peculiar legal "wall" that, in the U.S.,
gives minorities rights to practice their religions, could indeed impact
the religious freedoms of Jews.

Tobias D. Robison
Princeton, NJ, USA


From: Nathan Lamm <nelamm18@...>
Date: Tue, 30 Aug 2005 05:46:27 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: Soft Matzah

Asher Grossman mentions as proof for soft matzah that koreich is most
easily done with it.

A better proof is the Beit Hamikdash: Matzot were folded to fit into the
hand of a kohein. You can't fold hard matzot. In fact, the Lechem
HaPanim (on the Shulchan) were matzot (in the sense that they were not
chametz) and were, in fact, thick loaves. A lower fire and leaving them
in longer than eighteen minutes will allow that. Ashkenazim just are
machmir for fear they will become chametz.

The soft matzot are still common in Israel- I've tried some, although
not on Pesach- and there's even a Sephardi-run bakery in Brooklyn that
sells them over the internet before Pesach. According to some opinions,
even Ashkenazim may eat them. They've even begun making them by machine,
to an extent.

From: Perry Zamek <perryza@...>
Date: Tue, 30 Aug 2005 14:42:07 +0200
Subject: Re: Soft Matzah

Asher Grossman wrote about soft matzot, and referred to a "booklet" that
criticizes the manufacture of machine matzot.

As far as I know, the introduction of machine made matzot (in the late
19th century?) led to a major polemic over the kashrut of such matzot. I
suspect (without being an expert on that polemic) that part of the issue
had to do with the fact that machine matzot could be produced more
cheaply than hand matzot, thereby affecting the livelihood and/or profit
of those involved in the matza trade. [Even now, hand shemurah matzot
are significantly more expensive than regular machine matzot (and even
machine shemurah).]

The advent of machine shemurah matzot probably re-ignited the polemic,
again on the background of cost/livelihood; however, the arguments
published could not, of course, merely be based on the issue of cost
(profit?), and so focused on an attack on the kashrut of machine matzot.

This, I think, is the background to such booklets published today.

I suspect (albeit without seeing the text) that the argument of the
booklet is something like this: "This [the manufacture of crisp, hand
matzot] is the way matzot have been made from time immemorial, and
Heaven forbid that we should introduce any innovation in what was,
clearly, the best and 'most kosher' way of making matzot."

As Asher and others have written, it is likely that soft hand-made
matzot are the earliest form, and crisp matzot may be a later
innovation; if so, any argument based on attacking innovation is
probably specious.

Perry Zamek


End of Volume 49 Issue 86