Volume 50 Number 18
                    Produced: Thu Nov 24  4:17:04 EST 2005

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Birthday Celebrations
         [I. Balbin]
         [Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz]
Davening with a minyan
         [Michael Feldstein]
Ketubat non-Betulah
         [Asher Grossman]
Lechol Mar'eh Einei Hakohen
         [Gershon Dubin]
Obligation for Tefilah with Minyan
Tearing Shirt in Gaza
         [Dov Teichman]
Thanksgiving in US and Canada (4)
         [Frank Silbermann, Ben Katz, Joel Rich, Lawrence Feldman]
Wearing jackets to shul
         [Haim Snyder]


From: I. Balbin <isaac@...>
Date: Thu, 24 Nov 2005 16:03:44 +1100
Subject: Re: Birthday Celebrations

> From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
> Surely the Jewish view of a birthday celebration is precisely this, to
> thank HKBH for having preserved one for another year.

I read that the Chassam Sofer sat on the ground and treated it
as a day of mournful introspection. Don't ask me where I read it.
And then I found this:


From: Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz <sabba.hillel@...>
Date: Wed, 23 Nov 2005 10:14:20 -0600 (CST)
Subject: Re: Brit/giur

>From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
>on 22/11/05 10:55 am, Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz <sabba.hillel@...>
>> I think that a tevilah is done in order to actually change the level of
>> kedusha involved.  Thus, a person who is tamei becomes tahor, a woman
>> who is asur becomes mutar, a female ger goes to the mikvah *after*
>> having been megayer by the bais din, etc.  Similarly, a male ger could
>> not undergo tevilah until after the geirus is complete and all that is
>> lacking is the change in status.  I think that is why he must wait until
>> after the bris.  Beforehand he has the status of a nonJew.  After, he
>> has the status of a Jew who must change his level of kedusha.
>With all due respect, a non-Jew does not become a Jew until he or she
>comes out of the mikveh and then only if all the required preliminary
>steps of kabbalat ol mitsvot in front of a Beit Din and, where
>applicable, milah, have already taken place.

I obviously mistyped what I wanted to say.  Tevilah is the action that
actually changes the status of a person by raising the level of
kedushah.  Thus, a person who is tamei, after bringing the appropriate
korbon, needs tevilah to change his status from tamei to tahor.  THe
nonJew, having gone through all the required steps, requires tevilah to
actually change his status.  I should have made the last sentence "has
the status of a potential Jew who must change his level of kedusha to
that of an actual Jew".

The point was that tevilah is the last step to actualize a change in
status.  Thus, all previous steps (including milah) must have been
completed first.  This was in answer to the question of someone who
wants to do the tevilah before the milah (for health reasons).

Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz | Said the fox to the fish, "Join me ashore"
<Sabba.Hillel@...> | The fish are the Jews, Torah is our water


From: <MIKE38CT@...> (Michael Feldstein)
Date: Wed, 23 Nov 2005 06:47:19 EST
Subject: Davening with a minyan

> Changing the subject slightly, the impression I have is that most
> Americans (I don't know the situation in England) suffer sleep debt, and
> getting more sleep (e.g. on the night daylight savings time ends)
> reduces traffic fatalities in the aggregate.  Would one consider someone
> who drives daily skipping minyan to get more sleep as fulfilling the
> mitzvah of pikuah nefesh, or is pikuah nefesh only a posteriori [once
> someone is actually endangered rather than potentially endangered]?
> David Riceman

A bit far-fetched, don't you think?  How about going to sleep an hour
earlier instead to make up the time?

One additional comment about davening with a minyan when a minyan
already exists: I know that for many people, the simple act of being
with a tzibbur can inspire one's own tefilla.  Many times I find it
difficult to get up in the morning and daven with a minyan, wondering
whether it is necessary and/or important.  But then when I get there, I
might see someone to my right davening for a sick child, or someone to
my left celebrating the birth of a child.  That in itself is inspiring
to my owenm davening, regardless of whether or not my presence affects
the minyan.  Personal prayer can be inspired by being part of a larger

Michael Feldstein
Stamford, CT


From: Asher Grossman <asherg@...>
Date: Tue, 22 Nov 2005 23:18:47 -0500
Subject: Re: Ketubat non-Betulah

Frank Silbermann wrote:

      In many ways a convert is considered to be a completely new
      person.  For example, a brother and sister who convert are no
      longer considered to be


      Apparently, there is are limits to the concept of a convert
      becoming a completely new person ....

This is a misunderstanding of the idea. A convert is considered to be a
new person in such as he has no connection to his old life as a gentile.
Thus familial relationships are severed (although the convert is
encouraged to keep respecting his gentile parents, for the same reason
that we don't allow the convert to marry his converted sister), and
transgressions committed in his gentile days are expunged. However,
Physical aspects are not removed or changed. Just like you wouldn't
expect a missing limb to regenerate just because he/she is considered a
"new person" you cannot expect the Betulin to regenerate.

Asher Grossman


From: Gershon Dubin <gershon.dubin@...>
Date: Wed, 23 Nov 2005 14:34:31 GMT
Subject: Lechol Mar'eh Einei Hakohen

From: Orrin Tilevitz <tilevitzo@...>

>What's the baal koreh supposed to do?  The only possibilities are (1)
>continuing to layn or (2) walking away.  A possible, though unlikely,
>analogy is that a nega (blemish) is not impure until the kohen
>pronounces it so.  (The rov is kohen.)

I presume the last suggestion is facetious.

The determination whether a letter looks like a letter or not (I'm
assuming that the existence of a line is doubtful, not clearly absent)
is vested by halacha in a child who is not too smart nor too stupid, but
able to call 'em as he sees 'em.  The reason for the first qualification
is thus that he not see a line that doesn't exist.

As to the baal koreh's options: few.  If you can hint to the rov that he
is not a yanik and he's too smart for that role, fine.  Otherwise,
walking away or making a scene both far outweigh reading in what may
well be a passul sefer Torah, as there are poskim who permit bedi'avad.



From: <rubin20@...>
Date: Wed, 23 Nov 2005 08:50:13 -0500
Subject: Re: Obligation for Tefilah with Minyan

Amusing story with Rav Hillel Zaks (currently Rosh Yeshiva in Chevron)
which has some bearing on this discussion. When he was a student in
Lakewood Yeshiva, he would frequently come late for Shachris. Rav Aron
Kotler once approached him to chastise him about this. Rav Zaks replied
that he got up every day to come to Shacris on time, but the was a lady
in his building with many small children and nobody to help her. Many
days he got delayed helping her dress and feed her children, and so came
late to shachris. Rav Aron asked him who this lady was. Rav Zaks replied
'my wife'!!!


From: <DTnLA@...> (Dov Teichman)
Date: Wed, 23 Nov 2005 08:53:24 EST
Subject: Re: Tearing Shirt in Gaza

From: Shoshana L. Boublil <toramada@...>

> There is a Halacha that you do Kri'a over a city in Israel that is
> destroyed.

> In Yamit, Rav Neriya ZT"L and Rav Ariel Shlit"a instructed the
> bochurim to do Kri'a before they were forceably removed from the
> Yeshiva, and they did so themselves.

In Shulchan Aruch (OC 561:1) the halacha states that one who sees cities
of Judah in their destruction must tear Kriah. The Bach adds some verses
to say as well as the brocha of Baruch Dayan HaEmes (_without_ Hashem's
name). Mishna Brurah states that this specifically applies to cities of
Judah and not to other cities in the Land of Israel. Furthermore, the
modern day poskim have said that we do not tear kriah even for cities of
Judah, (either because they are under Jewish sovereignty or because we
don't know their precise location).

Either way, the cities of Gaza are not cities of Judah. Also, at the
time of the disengagement, the cities had not yet been destroyed. The
Jews were expelled, and that is a horrible tragedy, but I don't know of
a brocha mandated for that occasion. And it also seems that Kriah was
not required by halacha.  The only thing that would make sense is under
the general Halacha of one who hears bad news must make a Dayan Emes (OC
222:2) Even though Mishna Brura brings achronim that say that we ought
to minimize recital of these subjective brochos, however, shouldn't that
brocha have been made when the government first passed the decree of
disengagement? Unless we say that the residents of Gaza did not accept
the bad news as true until they came physically to kick everyone out.

Dov Teichman


From: Frank Silbermann <fs@...>
Date: Wed, 23 Nov 2005 10:05:57 -0600 (CST)
Subject: Thanksgiving in US and Canada

Michael Mirsky <mirskym@...> V50 N15:
> I've always found the fact that frum Jews in the U.S. celebrate
> Thanksgiving rather curious.  I hear that the family sits down to a
> turkey dinner etc just like other citizens.  I'm not being judgemental
> or critical, but I just find it a bit odd that American Jews would
> adopt all the trapping of this holiday. Perhaps it was accepted
> because AFAIK it has no specific Christian religious overtones.
> And maybe it was part of the concept of "the melting pot"
> - becoming an American and not being a "greener" anymore. 

Jewish immigrants began celebrating Thanksgiving around the same time
they began celebrating the Fourth of July -- when they learned about it
in school -- and in Yiddish newspapers such as the Jewish Daily Forward.

At the same time, non-religious Jewish immigrants also began observing
customs associated with Christmas and Easter, but these were rejected by
the more religious Jews (even by many in the Reform movement).

But Thanksgiving was accepted even among the religious because the
values it symbolizes are the very reason America has generally behaved
so much better towards Jews over the course of its history than has any
other gentile nation.

Thankgiving symbolizes what America is all about (or once was, and in
the opinion of many, should still be all about), namely: a religious
G-d-fearing nation whose people have the freedom to worship G-d
according to their conscience, without one sect or denomination seeking
to oppress others.

(Which is sort of ironic, because a hundred years before America's
national independence the descendents of the Pilgrims most certainly
_did_ make conformance to their Puritan religious standards obligatory
-- at least within their own settlements.)

In this sense, Thanksgiving is not only a national holiday, but to some
extent also a nondenominational (Noachide?) religious holiday.

> Canadians embraced multi-culturalism, so people were
> "hyphenated-Canadians" eg. Italian-Canadians, Polish-Canadians and
> ethnic groups kept their customs alive.  So maybe Jews here didn't
> feel any pressure to conform.

I suppose that Thanksgiving is not such a big deal among Canadians
because it does not resonate with their sense of national identity.

I'm not even sure Canadians have much of a sense of national identity.
Originally, Canadians defined themselves as the Anglo-Americans who
remained loyal to the British Crown -- but later they abandoned even
that distinction.  Perhaps Canadian Orthodox Jews would celebrate a
"National Democratic-Socialism Day" -- should their government ever
institute such a thing.

Frank Silbermann	Memphis, Tennessee

From: Ben Katz <bkatz@...>
Date: Wed, 23 Nov 2005 11:29:56 -0600
Subject: Re: Thanksgiving in US and Canada

  Maybe the immigrants to the US felt more grateful than those to Canada
0.5 :-)

  Also, I believe Thanskgiving in general is a much bigger deal in the
US that in Canada, and that the holiday began here

  I think it is nice that there is a national holiday in which we can
celebrate along with our nonJewish American neighbors.

Ben Z. Katz, M.D.
Children's Memorial Hospital, Division of Infectious Diseases
2300 Children's Plaza, Box # 20, Chicago, IL 60614
e-mail: <bkatz@...>

From: Joel Rich <JRich@...>
Date: Wed, 23 Nov 2005 06:40:10 -0500
Subject: RE: Thanksgiving in US and Canada

See  http://www.tfdixie.com/special/thanksg.htm   . 

Also think about the Medinah shel chesed that HKB"H has provided for us
(and all our citizens). Hakarat Hatov (as Uncle Moishe would say) is a

Joel Rich

[Note: this article is by one of our list regulars, and if you actually
read all the footnotes, mail-jewish has a reference there. Happy
Thanksgiving to all those members who are celebrating it today! Avi]

From: Lawrence Feldman <lpf1836@...>
Date: Wed, 23 Nov 2005 04:05:28 -0800 (PST)
Subject: re: Thanksgiving in US and Canada

For a pretty thorough halachic analysis of Thanksgiving that presents
what I believe is the spectrum of opinion on the topic, please see:


Lawrence Feldman


From: <Haim.Snyder@...> (Haim Snyder)
Date: Wed, 23 Nov 2005 12:38:02 +0200
Subject: Re: Wearing jackets to shul

I am also among the fortunate who live in Israel.  However, I grew up in
the States and I remember what I thought was the most ridiculous sight
during Saharit on a week day: a man with his suit jacket off of the arm
on which he laid his tfilin and the jacket buttoned so that it wouldn't
fall off.

I never understood why they didn't buy a jacket with a sleeve loose
enough to allow them to put the arm with the tfilin on back into it.
Then they would look like a well-dressed man, not a would-be toreador.

Haim Shalom Snyder


End of Volume 50 Issue 18