Volume 50 Number 53
                    Produced: Tue Dec 13  4:53:26 EST 2005

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Davening with minyon
         [Perets Mett]
Obligation in Minyan
         [Martin Stern]
Syllabus Construction  Was RASHBAM
         [Russell J Hendel]
The Term "homophobia" and Some Questions
         [Frank Silbermann]
TV News
         [Frank Silbermann]
women/men to minyan
         [Leah S. Gordon]


From: Perets Mett <p.mett@...>
Date: Mon, 12 Dec 2005 23:56:28 +0000
Subject: Davening with minyon

Aliza wrote:

      As was discussed on this thread, beyond making sure that the local
      minyan is assured, it is not a universal opinion that every man
      has an obligation to go to minyan.

It is not an 'opinion' at all. It is a din in Shuchon Orukh.

The only exception is an 'onus' e.g someone who is not well enough to go
to shul or will lose money (or his job) by davening in shul. There is no
basis for missing tefilo betsibur, not to mention kadish and kedusho, so
that your wife can go to shul.

Perets Mett


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Tue, 13 Dec 2005 08:40:31 +0000
Subject: Obligation in Minyan

on 12/12/05 9:28 am, Aliza Berger <alizadov@...> wrote:
> Martin Stern wrote, in part:
> << Any woman who considers that her husband should daven at home so
> that she daven with a minyan has her whole scale of priorities
> seriously disordered.>>
> As was discussed on this thread, beyond making sure that the local
> minyan is assured, it is not a universal opinion that every man has an
> obligation to go to minyan. In some communities it is a social norm that
> all husbands go all the time.

Aliza is correct that the primary obligation of ensuring a minyan three
times a day lies with the community as a whole rather than each
individual personally which is why the Mechaber states 'yishtadel adam
...' rather than 'chayav adam ...' If every man were personally
obligated, then nobody, for example, would be permitted voluntarily to
book a flight in the morning if that meant he would be unable to daven
with a minyan, or to work in a place where he would be unable to daven
minchah with a minyan in the short winter afternoons. However she is
incorrect that it is only "a social norm that all husbands go all the
time" in some communities. It may not be "a universal opinion that every
man has an obligation to go to minyan" but this reflects these problems
rather than an acceptance that attendance was entirely voluntary. I
recommend she read Hatefillah Betsibbur by R. Yitshak Yaakov Fuchs

> But where it is not, I think there is room to permit a wife to go and
> her husband stay home.

Whatever a man's obligations may be, there is no doubt that no woman is
obliged to daven with a minyan. If she wishes to do so, she may but this
cannot override her or anyone else's duties. Therefore it would be
utterly wrong for a man to stay at home so that his wife can go to shul
unless he is forced to do so by other factors, for example, like myself
at present because of an accident a fortnight ago, he cannot manage to
go to shacharit on weekdays.

> This discussion began with the question of how to balance family
> considerations with going to minyan. Family considerations can include
> not only taking care of children but also the feelings and desires of
> both spouses with regard to maximizing their prayer experiences.

Apart from taking care of children, there is no reason for women, who so
wish, not to attend a minyan for shacharit or minchah (possibly also
mariv which women customarily do not daven). Therefore one would expect
many women between the age of 12 and the birth of their first child, and
those whose children are grown up, to be there. I have seen the
occasional woman of German Jewish origin come when she has yahrzeit but,
otherwise female attendance is virtually non-existent. In other
communities there may be more who attend but I would be surprised if
they were anything but exceptional individuals. Furthermore, I suspect
that the vast majority of women would object strongly to being told that
they should come to shul apart from Shabbat and Yom Tov.

Aliza may well be an exceptionally pious woman who has always gone to
shul every day, but she would not be typical of the generality of Jewish
women, and she is wrong to suggest her husband stay home to allow her to
do so.  Would she consider telling him that when he comes home from
shul, he should stay in while she goes to a later minyan and, thereby,
be late for work? If the answer is no, then she obviously considers
mundane matters to be more important than our relationship with the
Almighty, which I described in a previous posting as a seriously
disordered scale of priorities

"Feelings and desires ... with regard to maximizing their prayer
experiences" are all well and good but must take second place to
fulfilling their obligations at whatever level they may apply. We are
supposed to do HaShem's will and not to satisfy our own narcissistic
desires where they conflict with it.

Martin Stern


From: Russell J Hendel <rjhendel@...>
Date: Mon, 12 Dec 2005 22:23:34 -0500
Subject: RE: Syllabus Construction  Was RASHBAM

On the Rashi Rashbam issue, Avi recently suggested that "there is
nothing to discuss" and that "it is not our job to chose between

I disagree--we ALL make choices among rishonim and it therefore behooves
us to make explicit our underlying rules.

How so: a) You sit down on Friday night to go over the Parshah...you
have limited time...you may read CHumash and Rashi but then what...do
you frequently read Ramban but not Rashbam--if so then YOU have made a
decision about Rishonim...perhaps ALL you say is that the Ramban
stimulates you more but that is still a decision b) a school principle
outlines a curriculum for a class---the teacher has limited time (4
hours a day for 5 days a week for a semester). How many Rishonim to
cover? In fact dont' we typically chose SOME rishonim over others? Arent
there reasons c) You are writing a chumash like the stone chumash
etc. Sure you could be encyclopedic...but typically you make choices!

All **I** have done is made explicit what choices I made. I chose
Rishonim whose commentary requires certain advanced reading skills(Like
comparison of texts) over those rishonim that are flat (Just commenting
on the immediate text). I similarly chose Rishonim whose commentary
AGREES with Chazal over those that dont.

I can make further comments about **my** choice. If I continuously read
non-stimulating rishonim then I would get bored and unhappy. I would
probably want to spend alot of time watching TV and movies. Maybe I
would want to go into secular studies to stimulate my starved brain. But
because I "hang out" with Rishonim that encourage comparative texts and
other important skills I do not feel the need to go elsewhere.

But now I go even further. I assert that I am not that different than
other people. If I would get bored reading these rishonim and go
elsewhere for stimulation then other people would also. And if this is
so then these rishonim are hurting Judaism in a specific measurable
manner...there is less people-hours of Torah in the world because of

Let me get specific. A year ago I published an article on the meaning of
Aleph-Caph in the Jewish Bible Quarterly. The President of the YU
chemistry / physics association wants to know why I made harsh comments
on the Rashbam. But indeed I want to know why few people in that
association are writing Bible articles. Is it lack of skill? Surely
not...we are both trained in writing articles. Rather it is because I
have spent 10s and 20s of hours on the meaning of ach till I had
something to say. And why didn't others spend 10s of hours? Because they
werent motivated. And why werent they motivated? Because the Rashbam
said in effect you dont have to look for answers...it is OK to read the
text as is ..it is ok not to ALLWAYS seek logical pristine explanations
to Chazal ...indeed such explanations dont exist.

For this reason I have mentally denied Rashbam access to my vocabulary.
If I find a chazal I dont understand I will put in the 10-20 hours till
I do understand it. And I respectfully submit that the reasons others
dont put in these 10-20 hours is because they dont see the NEED to look
for an answer since Rashbam has said that answers dont always exist.

Enough for now. I think I have made my point. My point in motivation!
Rashi motivates me to study chazal; Rashbam doesnt! I dont see a way out
of this. I therefore dont want Rashbam on my chumashim because it would
demotivate me.

Returning to Avi's statement "there is nothing to discuss...we cant
judge rishonim" I would respond "We can discuss what turns us on...not
turns us on emotionally (eg I like Rashbam vs Rashi) but what turns us
on intellectually (e.g I spent 50 hours studying the meaning of Aleph
Caph because Rashi made me). And if we discuss what turns us on
intellectually then we in effect have judged Rishonim...indeed we have
judged the RELATIONSHIP of Rishonim to ourselves...some rishonim are
helpful to our study while other are hurtful to our study.

Perhaps I am wrong?! But I have yet to hear an answer to the above
argument. I have yet to even hear that it is me vs others. I think there
is something to discuss here.

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


From: Frank Silbermann <fs@...>
Date: Mon, 12 Dec 2005 12:23:31 -0600 (CST)
Subject: Re: The Term "homophobia" and Some Questions

> Avi Feldblum <avi@...> wrote:
>>  As an individual contributor to the list, I do not accept 
>>  Leah's definition and would limit (the term "homophobia")
>>  to describe a situation of a person who has a 'fear' / 'aversion'
>>  reaction to another individual who is of Gay / Lesbian orientation.

Janice Gelb <j_gelb@...> V50 N50:
> ... I think one of the points that Leah was trying to make is
> that there are many halachic violations that are equal to or more
> serious than homosexual practices but those who violate other types of
> prohibitions are not treated publicly with the same disdain, to the
> extent of complete shunning, or pursued with the same vigor, as those
> who are suspected of homosexual practices. Therefore, it's understandable
> that the extra vigilance connected with this particular violation is
> attributed to aversion/fear.

It is true that there are comparably serious halachas -- e.g. shabbas,
kashrus, and mikvah -- whose violation does not provoke a comparably
vigorous negative reaction, but centuries ago this was not the case.  To
understand why the attitude against homosexual behavior remains harsh,
we must review exactly how we developed more lenient attitudes towards
those other violations.

During the 19th century so many Jews assimilated that we now liken their
offspring to someone who was kidnapped as an infant and raised by
idolators.  When they violate the Torah, we consider them as not being
completely responsible for their actions.  (Some extend this idea even
to Jews who were raised religiously, arguing that even nominally
religious communities have been affected.)

The alien ideologies that caused so much assimilation over last two
centuries neither promoted nor defended homosexuality, so the "captured
as infants" argument we use to justify tolerance for nonobservant Jews
did not apply to homosexual behavior.

Now that we understand why the leniency often show for certain
violations was not applied to homosexuality, we see that there is no
basis for assuming an irrational fear or averion on the part of those
who hold the traditional negative attitude -- and, therefore, no
justification use of the term "homophibia".

The very recent incorporation of a "gay rights movement" within the
secular world suggests that the "captured by infants" argument might one
day be extended to this sin, but I don't know whether any influential
rabbis have made this argument.

Frank Silbermann	Memphis, Tennessee


From: Frank Silbermann <fs@...>
Date: Mon, 12 Dec 2005 09:26:43 -0600 (CST)
Subject: TV News

me, earlier:

>> Leftists were pro-Israel in the 1950s when there was still hope the
>> country might become a Soviet satellite.  It was only when the Soviet
>> Union decided it was in their interest to court the Arabs that the Left
>> became anti-Israel.  After the fall of the Soviet Union the Left remain
>> anti-Israel, partly because it would be embarassing to try to to
>> withdraw so much anti-Israel propaganda, and partly because Israel
>> remains an ally of the hated United States.  _That_ (and not
>> antisemitism or simpleminded viewers) is the reason for the news media's
>> anti-Israel bias.

Bernard Raab <beraab@...> V50 N51:
> ... Frank's assertion above implies that these left-leaning media
> are, or were, Communists or Communist sympathizers ... and are too
> embarassed now to withdraw their anti-Israel attitudes.
> The fact is, the leftist media and basically all the US media were
> pro-Israel until the six-day war and for some time thereafter, well
> after the Soviets had cozied up to the Arabs.

Let me be a bit more precise.  I believe most of our newsmen are soft
left-leaning _moderates_.  That's why beliefs springing from the
hard-left takes a while to reach them.  Beliefs filter across the
political spectrum slowly, much as once-radical fashions in clothing
slowly travel from Greenwich Village to the Upper East Side, then to
Queens and New Jersey, and only very much later to places like Wyoming
and Utah.

Our moderate liberal newsmen get their ideas from liberal political
activists and from (further-left) European newsmen.  Liberal political
activists and European newsmen get their ideas from leftist university
professors (many of whom openly admit to being Marxists).  Marxists get
their ideas from their political parties, who supported the Soviet Union
in the past, and who today seek the votes of the anti-Jewish and
anti-Israel Muslim immigrants.  As with fashions in clothing, it takes
time for fashions in political ideas to propagate.

> Eventually, the liberal bias to favor the downtrodden and the underdog
> reversed this to favor the Arabs.

On the global level, Israel _is_ the underdog.  The Palestinians are
downtrodden more by other Arabs (particularly by other Palestinians)
than by Israel.  Our news media has never made a big deal about
underdogs downtrodden by the Left and its allies.  "Favoring the
downtrodden and the underdog" is just propaganda to justify a decision
made for other reasons.

> As for the "_hated_ United States", are we now talking about the Arab

No, I'm talking about the European media.  Their hatred for the United
States adds to their hatred of Israel.

When I say that European newsmen hate the U.S., I don't mean that they
hate the soil of America, nor do they hate American self-haters (such as
Michael Moore and Noam Chomsky).

I mean only that they hate the great many Americans who cling to a
two-hundred and fifty year-old political philosophy that rejects the
coming of Marx and socialism.  This is analogous to the medieval hatred
of Jews who refused to accept Nazarene religious innovations.

Frank Silbermann	Memphis, Tennessee


From: Leah S. Gordon <leah@...>
Date: Mon, 12 Dec 2005 11:52:30 -0800
Subject: women/men to minyan

I wanted to post my support for Aliza Berger's statements about
different couples working out plans for each of them to fulfill
religious/spiritual obligations of tefila.

It may work just fine for Martin Stern and his wife to arrange things so
that he always goes to minyan and she never does, but this is no reason
to disparage other frum families in comments denigrating their
priorities as misinformed or even sinful.  As Aliza said, when there
will be a minyan's worth of people in any case, there is room to discuss
how a person of either sex should balance shul and other obligations.

Also, it is unfair to characterize a decision made by a couple as some
kind of pressure from a haranguing wife ("wife who makes her husband
stay home so she can go to minyan").  This kind of description borders
on the misogynist IMHO.

--Leah S. R. Gordon


End of Volume 50 Issue 53