Volume 49 Number 94
                    Produced: Wed Nov  9  6:19:08 EST 2005

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Good Intentions -- was separation of church & state
         [Janice Gelb]
Mode of Dress and Tefilah (2)
         [I. Balbin, Tzvi Stein]
Mode of Dress and Tefilla
         [Michael Mirsky]
"Obligation" to Pray with a Minyan
         [Russell J Hendel]
Q re story of early 20th century rabbi declaring matzoh treyf over
         [Carl Singer]
Shomer Shabbat Ketubah Witnesses
         [Yehonatan Chipman]
Shul Ritual Objects Needed
         [Ira L. Jacobson]


From: Janice Gelb <j_gelb@...>
Date: Tue, 8 Nov 2005 09:16:51 -0800 (PST)
Subject: Re: Good Intentions -- was separation of church & state

W. Baker <wbaker@...> wrote
> > Janice Gelb  wrote
> > Chanukah is a minor, non-Biblical holiday and ordinarily would be 
> > celebrated at home as an inspirational holiday mainly geared toward 
> > children. If you truly want us to educate non-Jews (and even 
> > non-educated Jews) about Judaism, then we should emphasize our own 
> > important holidays, not boost a more minor holiday just because it 
> > happens to fall at the same time of year as someone else's major 
> > holiday.
> Because of the children, particularly Jewish children of other than
> Orthodox Jews, it is important to have a public presence of Channukah to
> counter the enormous impact of the Xmas season.  Even a chanukiah in the
> corner of the toy store or drug store window indicates to the child that
> hir holiday "counts" too in the place s/he lives. [snip]
> If we don't want the less observant children to feel marginalized in
> their society (I speak of the US here), some public demonstration
> acknowledging the Jewish holiday, no matter how tacky, is important.
> Even the one Channukah song in the holiday assembly makes a difference
> to public school kids.  We have to think beyond our own small group here
> to consider the larger Jewish picture.

I still disagree with this reasoning. As someone who grew up in a
non-observant family and went to public school, I'm not thinking about
"our own small group," but about maintaining a Jewish identity in the
face of a majority non-Jewish culture.

All of the reasoning above implies a competition: that Chanukah needs to
be acknowledged with Christmas so Jewish kids won't feel left out. But
in fact, Jewish kids during the Christmas season *should* feel left
out. Christmas is not our holiday. Our most important holiday season is
not in December. And Chanukah is not just the Jewish Christmas. Jewish
kids need to know this, and non-Jews needs to know this too. Jewish kids
should be told that this season is for non-Jews not for Jews, just like
Passover and Rosh Hashana and Purim are for Jews and not for non-Jews.

> Another issue is that the non-Jewish world, who wishes us a happy
>hannukah, is acknowledging that we have a holiday we are entitled to
>and are not just a group of misanthropes who want to rain on the holidy

I don't think that I'm raining on anyone else's parade when I express
the desire that people who wish me a Happy Chanukah do so while Chanukah
is actually going on and not as an equivalent to saying Merry Christmas
to non-Jews. And not participating in someone else's holiday shouldn't
be interpreted as raining on someone else's parade.  I hope that all of
my non-Jewish friends and co- workers have a happy holiday season, just
as I hope they would wish me a happy holiday season when my important
holidays occur.

-- Janice


From: I. Balbin <isaac@...>
Date: Wed, 9 Nov 2005 12:57:51 +1100
Subject: Re: Mode of Dress and Tefilah

> From: <Yisyis@...>
> Do we know what standard of dress G-d finds most appropriate?  Does he
> fancy Brooks Bros. suits and did our holy predecessors suffer because
> they had no access to them?  Transferring our sartorial preferences to
> the Ribono Shel Olam is problematic in my opinion.

It's the opposite. NOT transferring our sartorial preferences to Hashem
is the problem. That is the Halacha. And no, the aspect of
brand/style/colour isn't an issue UNLESS there is an accepted norm in a
given community to wear colour X on Shabbos, for example.  Neatness and
cleanliness are of course issues that apply irrespective of the
sartorial norms of society at a given time, restricted of course by any
Ervah. That some assume a lesser sartorial mode before Hashem than they
do in front of lesser beings is the issue at hand. It is time modulated,
as is fashion.  Of course, this presumes a normal person. A Talmid
Chacham has an additional issue of "Levush Talmid Chacham" which may
imply that they wear a longer coat on Shabbos.

I'm reminded of a vort allegedly from Rav Soloveitchik (or was it the
Griz his Uncle) that to wear a short jacket (as in our suits) requires
one to actually live in an area where that is already the Minhag. In
places where a long jacket is worn, even if one was visiting a place
where short jackets are worn, one would continue with the long
jacket. If I'm not mistaken, the view was that otherwise it required
some form of Hatoras Nedarim!

From: Tzvi Stein <Tzvi.Stein@...>
Date: Tue, 08 Nov 2005 20:45:39 -0500
Subject: Re: Mode of Dress and Tefilah

      Do we know what standard of dress G-d finds most appropriate?
      Does he fancy Brooks Bros. suits and did our holy predecessors
      suffer because they had no access to them?

Well, we know that when the Jews left Egypt, they were wearing kapotas
and streimlach, and the kids were wearing chasish caps.  If you don't
believe me, I can show you the pictures that my kids bring home from
school.  Also, I have pictures proving that Avraham Avinu wore a round
bowler type black hat.


From: Michael Mirsky <mirskym@...>
Date: Tue, 08 Nov 2005 22:47:34 -0500
Subject: Mode of Dress and Tefilla

Often the topic comes up of why we do certain things or take certain
actions that are appropriate in our eye's when approaching Hashem.

Why do we need to wear certain clothes when davening?  As others have
noted, styles change and what is respectable in one generation isn't in
another.  Does Hashem care?  Why make brachot, why the korbanot, does
Hashem need them?

I'm sure I heard this concept told over by a Rav, but I can't
specifically say whom.  But the approach I have is to think about it as

We're not doing this for Hashem's sake - the Halacha wants us to do this
for OUR OWN sake in order to approach Hashem in the proper manner.

Everyone knows the expression "clothes makes the man".  If a man or
woman is wearing a well-cut formal suit, you are in a different frame of
mind than in casual clothes.  So if we come to shul dressed in what you
yourself know is very casual wear, you will not have the same serious
Kavana (intent - concentration), the same sense of "Dah lifnai mi atta
omed - Know Before Whom You Stand" than if you are in formal clothes.
It has been pointed out that the word "lehipalel", to pray is the
reflexive form in Hebrew ie. speak/pray unto yourself.  Again, in one
aspect of davening, it's YOU who is being improved/changed by means of
doing so.

Of course, there are certain minimum guidelines in Halacha as to what
dress is acceptable for davening. So I'm not suggesting that if some
time in the future wearing a bathing suit becomes formal wear in our
society (who knows!), that it would be acceptable for davening.  But
what I am saying is that this approach would allow Israeli less formal
dress be acceptable FOR AN ISRAELI, as wearing a jacket and hat is for
those of the European Yeshiva background.

Michael Mirsky  <mirskym@...>


From: Russell J Hendel <rjhendel@...>
Date: Tue, 8 Nov 2005 23:08:35 -0500
Subject: RE: "Obligation" to Pray with a Minyan

RE: The discussion of Ira, Ben, Gershon on whether there is an
obligation to pray with a minyan. I believe the following "talmudic"
distinctions are well known and would resolve the difficulties here: (a)
There is a separate obligation to pray (Whether with a minyan or not)
(b) there is an ADDITIONAL fulfillment (of a rabbinical commandment) of
praying with a minyon (c) the minyon presence however is not a
PREREQUISITE for prayer (So you can fulfill the PRAYER obligation but
not the MINYON obligation).

A similar idea holds on praying with sunrise. Certainly many people do
not do this. They certainly have fulfilled their obligation to pray.
Equally clear they have NOT fulfilled their rabbinic obligation to pray
with sunrise.

Perhaps a crucial point is that if you are not retired and have
obligations to earn money to raise a family (Which is a Biblical
fulfillment of the laws of charity towards your young children) then you
are excused (that is there is no sin) from praying at sunrise and with a
minyan if you have conflicting obligations.

I believe these ideas of ADDITIONAL fulfillment, PREREQUISITE, and
CONFLICT clarify the "place" of davening with a minyan.

Russell Jay Hendel; http://www.Rashiyomi.com/


From: <casinger@...> (Carl Singer)
Date: Tue, 08 Nov 2005 17:51:28 -0500
Subject: Q re story of early 20th century rabbi declaring matzoh treyf over

In the mid-19th century (in Europe) Rav Yisroel Salanater, a gadol
haDor, when too ill to perform his annual supervision of the baking of
matzoh was asked by his talmidim what they should look for when they did
the supervision.

The response was to make sure that the baker does not yell at the
almonehs (widows) who were working for him.

(Thanks to Rabbi Chaim Wasserman for relaying this story in one of his


From: Yehonatan Chipman <yonarand@...>
Date: Tue, 08 Nov 2005 18:06:51 +0200
Subject: Re: Shomer Shabbat Ketubah Witnesses

R Nudleman wote: 

<< <SNIP> a colleague has asked me what the implications would be for
his marriage if the signers of his ketubah were not shomer shabbat...is
the kedushin considered valid at all?  Is the marriage considered
invalid?...  what does this mean for him and his wife-to-be?  His
potential children?  If the witnesses aren't shomer shabbat, is it
better halakhically to have two non-observant Jewish males sign than two
non-observant Jewish women?... >>

The first respondent to this question, Stephen Phillips, writes:

<<I think it is clear from the various Teshuvos in Igros Moshe on the
subject of Reform weddings that lack of Kosher witnesses renders the
Kiddushin invalid.>.  etc.

He has given a right answer to the wrong question. The question as asked
concerns witnesses to the ketubah, not those for kiddushin.  The ketuba
is an instrument of finanacial obligation on the part of the hatan, a
requirement imposed by Hazal. It has nothing to do with the validity of
the kiddushin, for the simple reason that it is part of nissuin, the
actual comletion of the marriage, and not if kiddushin, which is
structly speakling the "betrothal" or setting aside of the bride for
this man only. In Mishnaic practice the two stages were separated by as
much as a year in time, or even more.

Thus, the marriage per se is valid, and the children are legitimate
(which, incidentally, they would be even if the witnesses to kiddushin
were invalid, or for that matter if they were born out of wedlock).

True, there is a halakhah that if a couple do not have a ketubah they
are not allowed to live under the same roof.  Does that apply to one
with non-kosher witnesses?  A matter for examination.  The function of
witnesses to the ketubah is probably not the same as those for
kiddushin: technically, I thunk that they are conisdered as "edei
birrur" as against "edei kiyyum" -- meaning, that their function is to
validate the authenticity of the document in case of doubt, not that
their presence is an indispensible requiremennt for creating a new
personal status.  But that is taking us too far afield, into yeshivishe

Whether it is recommended to have non-kosher witnesses even for the
ketubah is a separate issue.  Why not give them some other equivalent
honor (reciting one of the blessings at the wedding dinner, for

As for the issue of male vs. female witnesses who are "anyway"
non-kosher: while it might not be a halakhic issue strictly constructed,
having women witnesses is likely to be understood by those present as
taking a public stand against generally accepted halakhah on a highly
sensitive, controversial issue.  Even the most radical religious
feminists, at least within Orthodoxy, have not generally advocated this.

   Rabbi Yehonatan Chipman, Jerusalem 


From: Ira L. Jacobson <laser@...>
Date: Tue, 08 Nov 2005 21:05:43 +0200
Subject: Re: Shul Ritual Objects Needed

<morissa.rubin@...> (Morissa Rubin) stated on Tue, 08 Nov 2005
03:45:21 +0000:

      We are looking for a Ner Tamid. Does anyone know of any shuls that
      are remodeling and might have one they will no longer be using?
      or have other suggestions as to where to look. Though our building
      is modernish we'd love to have either an antique or tradtional
      looking lamp.

In a book published some years ago, it was stated that the use of such a
light in certain synagogues is actually a Frankist custom and should be

Has anyone further information?

IRA L. JACOBSON         


End of Volume 49 Issue 94