Volume 51 Number 32
                    Produced: Wed Feb 22  7:48:04 EST 2006

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Benching in a hurry (2)
         [Elazar M. Teitz, Martin Stern]
Simchat Bat (4)
         [Akiva Miller, Martin Stern, Ben Katz, Naomi Kingsley]
Valentines Day and Halacha (3)
         [Orrin Tilevitz, Arie, Saul Davis]


From: Elazar M. Teitz <remt@...>
Date: Tue, 21 Feb 2006 18:47:54 GMT
Subject: Re: Benching in a hurry

> At all too long wedding meals, people are often seeking 2 more to
> answer so they can bench and run (escape?)  Which brings up a new
> question -- if someone asks you to answer their zimmun under such
> circumstances what is your "status" -- can you later do the same (answer
> again) for another person at the table>

The halacha is specific: only one zimmun per meal.

It should be added that strictly speaking, it is improper for three to
make zimmun in those circumstances.  Once one has begun a meal with nine
others, he is obligated to say birchas hamazon with a minyan.

A related posting had the following dialogue:

> Surely the correct procedure for someone in a hurry is to ask if two
> others will join him to answer the zimmun with the intention of
> continuing to eat.  He then benches and goes and they bench later when
> they have finished eating.

> My understanding is that if two are in a hurry they may ask a third to
> join them (under certain circumstances), but not that one may ask two to
> join him.

One may ask two.  The difference is that if two request of one, he
_must_ pause for the two to be m'zamein.  If one requests of two, they
are not obligated to accommodate him, but they may, and unless there are
pressing circumstances, they should.


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Tue, 21 Feb 2006 14:49:21 +0000
Subject: Re: Benching in a hurry

If I am not much mistaken, he cannot be counted a second time for zimmun
though he may bench with the rest of the assembly.

Martin Stern


From: Akiva Miller <kennethgmiller@...>
Date: Tue, 21 Feb 2006 12:53:38 GMT
Subject: Re: Simchat Bat

Anonymous was
> invited to a Simchat Bat from an old friend who has limited
> jewish background. It seems that what she has planned is a
> Simchat Bat which follows the same format of a Bris without
> the actual physical part. ... Do any members of the list have
> any good reference sources on a more authentic and halachically
> preferred ceremony that I can give her and hopefully change her
> plans?

My advice is that you're priorities are different than mine would be.

The main problem which needs to be addressed is not that this ceremony
is not traditional, nor even that some violations of halacha might occur
as part of it. (What they might be, I don't know, but my guess would be
unauthorized blessings.)

Rather, the main problem is that the friend has "a limited Jewish

If you show her sources which demonstrate that her ceremony is
inappropriate, you'll most likely cause nothing but resentment. Her
values are not the same as your values! Why should she prefer your
"reference sources" over what she sees as a beautiful homespun ceremony?

My advice is to work on increasing her "limited Jewish background" to
the point where she understands the concepts involved with the different
ceremonies, and then everything will fall into place.

But there's probably not enough time (from now until the ceremony is
scheduled) to teach her these things. So what? Let it go as
scheduled. For now, Dayenu (it is good enough) that she wants some sort
of Jewish ceremony at all, even if it is non-traditional. Use that as
the starting point to build upon, and I wish you success in helping her
to increase her knowledge and observance of Judaism for whatever
ceremonies she has in the future.

Akiva Miller

From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Tue, 21 Feb 2006 14:45:25 +0000
Subject: Re: Simchat Bat

There is a Sefardi ceremony called Zeved Habat which would be more
appropriate. I think it can be found in their siddurim.

> What halachic problems might there be with what she is doing? What
> issues might there be with an orthodox person taking part in a
> ceremony as described above?

Apart from an innovation clearly meant to blur the halachic distiction
between the sexes, which might suggest an external agenda, she is not
technically doing anything wrong! After all, standing on one's head for
five minutes before davenning is also not forbidden.

Martin Stern

From: Ben Katz <bkatz@...>
Date: Tue, 21 Feb 2006 13:42:54 -0600
Subject: Re: Simchat Bat

         There is a zeved habat ceremony in the sephardi liturgy.  While
I am not sure there is anything halachically "wrong" with the ceremony
outlined above, there is a whole literature on the simchat bat ceremony,
beginning with the Whole Jewish Catalog published in the 70's.  Most
people make some sort of misheberach, talk about the girl's name, say a
devar Torah, perhaps recite a shehecheyanu ...I have a large amount of
material on this, having been blessed with 3 daughters, that I would be
happy to share with anyone who contacts me offline.

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: Naomi Kingsley <rogerk@...>
Date: Tue, 21 Feb 2006 14:39:34 +0200
Subject: Re: Simchat Bat

Sephardim [or at least some of them, I don't know which varieties] have
such a ceremony.

One part of the ceremony is a sort of procession of all the female
relatives [great-grandmothers, grandmothers, mother, sisters, newborn].
I don't remember whether the baby gets passed round all these or not.
In any case, as long as the food is kosher and the event is not taking
place in a "treif" venue or atmosphere, why should there be any halachic
problems with what the poster is describing above? Why should the birth
of a girl not be a reason for a party if the parents want to have one?
Until quite recently, no-one had bat-mitzvah parties - try to tell this
to your 11 year-old daughter!

Naomi Kingsley


From: Orrin Tilevitz <tilevitzo@...>
Date: Tue, 21 Feb 2006 10:27:08 -0800 (PST)
Subject: Valentines Day and Halacha

Rabbi Broyde likens Valentine's Day to New Year's Day.  He cites with
approval Rav Moshe Feinstein's responsum that celebrating New Year's Day
is ok although a "baal nefesh" (which Rabbi Broyde translates as a
"pious person") should be strict.  He states that the same is true of
Valentine's Day; and that while it is ok to give one's significant other
chocolate, it seemingly should not be done with an explicit mention of
Valentine's Day.  I disagree with this approach almost entirely.  First,
I believe Rabbi Broyde mistranslates "baal nefesh".  In the cited
responsum and elsewhere (notably the one on chalav stam), Rav Moshe uses
the phrase "baal nefesh yachmir al atzmo".  The implication is that not
everybody is a "baal nefesh", and in fact most people are not "baalei
nefesh".  Instead, a "baal nefesh" is someone on an unusually high
madreiga, someone of heightened spiritually so that it is suitable for
him to take on chumrot.  For most people, chumrot are not optional; they
are not permissible.  Many people may be pious, but I think the idea is
that few fall into the category of "baal nefesh".

Second, IMHO, no Jew who calls himself Orthodox, religious, or
religiously observant should be celebrating or observing New Year's Day,
Rav Moshe's apparent heter notwithstanding.  Aside from the day's
debatable direct religious association - if Jesus was born on Christmas
Day (a big if), then New Year's Day was his bris - it has all sorts of
quasi-religious associations.  For example, people wish each other a
happy, healthy and prosperous new year, just the way they do before Rosh
Hashana, thus investing January 1 wi th a similar status.  Our joining
in this, other than as a matter of darchei shalom, denigrates Rosh
Hashana.  Moreover, the only nonreligious association of January 1,
particularly New Year's Eve, is drunkenness and general debauchery,
values that are, or ought to be, alien to us, with a limited and
questionable exception of Purim.  Rabbi Broyde's dismissal of this as
"while there might be many problems associated with the way some
celebrate it" strikes me as similar to the statement, "guns don't kill
people; people kill people" With rare exceptions, New Years Eve is
celebrated in a manner antithetical to Jewish values, and to the extent
it is not, what is being celebrated is not something we ought to
celebrate.  This is not a baal nefesh issue.

Third, by contrast, again IMHO, I see no reason to forbid even a baal
nefesh from recognizing Valentine's Day, because it has absolutely no
current religious associations and the values it represents are
consistent with Jewish values.  (The only alien association I can think
of is the notorious St. Valentine's Day massacre, which involved the
mafia.)  In fact - puk chazi ma ama debar - many years ago my wife and I
spent shabbos with a Chabad shaliach and his wife, both quite pious and
at least he quite learned.  Either Friday or Shabbos was Valentine's
Day, and we observed the shaliach giving his wife chocolate, with, as I
recall, an explicit mention of Valentine's Day.  Since then, my wife has
insisted that I do likewise.

David Ziants's suggestion that we have Tu B'Av is interesting but
problematic.  Tu B'Av involves shidduchin, not married couple.  Also,
the on ly ritual associated with it is unmarried girls going out dressed
in - sorry - their Sunday best.  Do we have the power to add additional
rituals to a religious occasion (e.g., we don't say tachanun)?  Now, for
married couples, it is also true that we already have a suitable
occasion for chocolate giving, generally about once a month; but that
doesn't work, shall we say, in certain physical circumstances or after a
certain time in life.

However, my wife's zeal in demanding a chocolate offering at least
annually has forced me to search high and wide for quality chocolate
with an acceptable hechsher.  "Quality chocolate" in my book requires,
at a minimum, vanilla and not vanillin.  There's not much out there, and
all that I know of is halachically dairy and not chalav yisrael.  So if,
as Rav Moshe paskens, a baal nefes h should not consume chalav stam,
then presumably he ought not be feeding it to anyone else either, which
means that perhaps he ought not be subjecting his significant other to
chocoate on Valentine's Day or, for that matter, any other time.

From: <aliw@...> (Arie)
Date: Tue, 21 Feb 2006 20:48:50 +0200
Subject: Re: Valentines Day and Halacha

in MJ 51/29, Rabbi Meir Wise wrote:

>The Gaon Rabbi Nachum Rabinovitch, Rosh Yeshivat Maale Adumim, former
>Principal of Jews College, London in a ruling to the Jewish Students of
>the University of London (UJS, Hillel) issued through me - then their
>Campus rabbi, in 1979 forbade them to celebrate Valentine's day due to
>its origin.

i have the privilege of living in proximity to Rav Rabinovitch, and i
asked him this morning about this issue.  he didn't recall being asked
("it must be almost 30 years ago !"), but said there's no question in
his mind about the issur. ("the worst kind of avoda zara"). he also sent
his best to rabbi wise.  


From: Saul Davis <saul.davis@...>
Date: Tue, 21 Feb 2006 21:26:27 +0200
Subject: Valentines Day and Halacha

I want to make a gezira shawe (comparison) to Sylvester. Only in German
speaking countries, a little in Eastern Europe, and, ironically, in
Israel is New Year's Day called Sylvester! In most places in the world
(Western Europe, Asia, North America and all English speaking countries)
the day and its name is 100% non-religious. Mr Sylvester was an
unpleasant man who died in 335 ace on 31st December and was made a Xian
saint. The church tried to capitalize on the yahrzeit to sanctify what
was even then a secular, universal day. 1st January was set as the
beginning of the year in 153 ace by the Roman Senate more than a century
before Rome was Xianized.  The Rabbanuth in Israel has for years been
against New Year's Day claiming it is not Jewish etc., their proof is in
the name.

BTW in Wikipedia it is written "In 1969 as part of a larger effort to
pare down the number of saint days of purely legendary origin, the
Church removed St. Valentine's Day as an official holiday from its

On the one hand, Avi Feldblum and David Ziants are right: what do we
need these days for when we have our own Purim to dress up and get
drunk, tu-beav for shiddukhim and love and Rosh Hashana as the beginning
of the year?! But, beavanothenu harabim, we are in galuth (sometimes
even in Israel) and the influences on us from all around are
enormous. Some of those influences are not even bad (eg university,
technology). We cannot stop (even frum) Jews from doing non-Jewish
things. Rabbanim posqim are in the business of telling us what is
specifically against the Halalkha. IMHO Michael Broyde's conclusion is
correct not least because it is well founded in the sources. Valentine's
Day is not a religious or anti-Jewish event and it is not worth making a
fuss over shidduchim and chocolate (all very, very good things) just
because they are done on a specific day in February.


End of Volume 51 Issue 32