Volume 51 Number 75
                    Produced: Mon Mar 27  6:09:05 EST 2006

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Counting for a Minyan
         [Leah S. Gordon]
Mechallel Shabbos and Minyon--What about repentance
         [Russell J Hendel]
Minyan: Biblical or Rabbinic?
         [Mark Steiner]
Neturei Karta
Portable Eiruv for Camping
         [Mike Gerver]
Self Criticism (2)
         [Eli Turkel, Mark Steiner]
Yotzer Or Uvoreh Choshech
         [Feder Family]


From: Leah S. Gordon <leah@...>
Date: Mon, 27 Mar 2006 02:31:10 -0800
Subject: Re: Counting for a Minyan

I have read with some distress, posts back and forth about who "counts"
for a minyan.  Specifically, there seems to be an attitude that it is
praiseworthy (and/or a halakhically-motivated option) to count any males
who show up and claim to be Jewish (e.g. Mr. Raab's
Chabadnik-on-an-airplane story, and Shoshana B.'s stories about the
Sephardi customs in this area).

I cannot express easily how painful it is for religious, involved,
Jewish women to read about how the tiniest shred of minyan interest is
enough to count a male Jew.  It seems that poskim over the years have
tied themselves in knots trying to eliminate all kinds of obstacles to
"being counted" in the Jewish community, but only for men.

At the time that a minyan was defined, there were various mores about
religious observance and communal ideals that have changed over time.
When rabbis in the modern era acknowledge, for instance, that people who
drive to shul aren't really rebelling against Gd by breaking shabbat in
public, they are making a profound leap in acknowledging the way we
think of humanity and Jewish observance today.

But what I have a real problem with is that so little (any?) rabbinical
attention in Orthodoxy has gone to addressing when/how women can count
for more of a public religious role.  Aside from a handful of articles
about how women can make up the minyan for e.g. publicizing miracles, we
have been ignored as public congregants.

I can't understand why Rabbis look for all kinds of excuses to work
around the halakha and count men who break shabbat, men who may be
handicapped in ways that would curtail minyan participation, men who may
commit crimes or serious sins...but never in two thousand years have
they considered that maybe looking for ways to count women would be a
good idea.  And I'm not even really saying that the rabbis have to find
that the answer is "yes," but just that they should be *looking* for a
way to make the answer "yes" for us - at least as hard as they look to
help the men who drive to shul.

--Leah Sarah Reingold Gordon


From: Russell J Hendel <rjhendel@...>
Date: Sun, 26 Mar 2006 20:38:45 -0500
Subject: Mechallel Shabbos and Minyon--What about repentance

The long thread on Sabbath descecrators brings several thoughts to my
mind. First and foremost there is the issue of repentance. An idolater
who converts is no longer an idolater and can do anything jewish despite
his background. What about a sabbath descecrator--he can't convert but
can he repent? If so how. Here is a thought provoking example.

John Doe deliberately took a job involving Sabbath Descecration which
allowed him to keep up with his lavish style of living. After a while he
made good and got promotions and decided to start observing Shabbath.
When asked about his "repentance" he admits that if he were to lose his
job he would go back to working on Shabbath. But he hopes to God he can
stay as he is.

So my question is how do we classify him (This is a different question
then whether we count him). AFter all he has repented but not in the
most glamorous manner. A further side thought: Does repentance (like
conversion ) require a training session under a mentor.

There are other issues to raise. I once heard a Rabbi from a pulpit who
visited the Roumania relate that someone asked him if it was permissable
for him to work on Shabbath to support his wife and 5 children. The
Rabbi said to us: What would you do if you had such a religious

Conceptually I am bringing up the issue of monetary duress (Which is not
recognized by halachah). My point here is that this person is not doing
it "for rebelion" nor is he doing it for "urge" Rather he is doing it
for "some duress".

Further questions: Jewish law holds that a captive Jew (who was not
brought up in a Jewish environment) who sins has a status of negligent
(vs helpless). To clarify the example consider my shooting arrows at a
target around which people are standing. If I am an excellent archer who
never misses and do miss I have killed the person NEGLIGENTLY (THe
Hebrew shogayg is erroneously translated as accident..but the proper
translation is negligent).  However if I aim in one direction and a wind
carries the arrow in a perpendicular direction I am helpless (e.g. I
dont go to refuge cities).

So ...if a person descecrates sabbath FROM A HOUSEHOLD WHERE HE WAS
NEVER EXPOSED TO IT he has a status of NEGLIGENT (He eg has to bring a
sin offering). My point here is two fold: First this person is not
rebelious even though he knows what he is doing. Second: If a learned
Yeshiva person does descecrate the Sabbath then perhaps we should not be
lenient with him (if he didnt repent). Perhaps we should not count him
(eg he descecrates Sabbath but comes back to say Kaddish for a
parent...why should we count him...to honor his parents?---but Jewish
law holds that his parents will be more honored by observing the

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


From: Mark Steiner <marksa@...>
Date: Sun, 26 Mar 2006 18:48:03 +0200
Subject: RE: Minyan: Biblical or Rabbinic?

Chana Luntz wrote: 
> Interestingly though, the most explicit statement I am aware of that
> indeed minyan is d'rabbanan is found in Shulchan Aruch Yoreh Deah
> (hilchos avadim) siman 267 si'if 79): "It is permitted to free [a
> slave] for a dvar mitzvah even m'divreihem [ie d'rabbanan] like if
> there is not 10 in the synagogue one can free his slave and thereby
> complete the count of ten".

I believe we must distinguish between two issues: (a) what constitutes a
minyan; (b) what is the obligation to pray with a minyan.  There is no
contradiction in saying that (a) is a Torah definition, only in a minyan
do we have the mitzvah of kiddush hashem; (b) the obligation to pray
with a minyan, even though there is a Torah fulfillment of a mitzvah
therein, is only an obligation d'rabbanan.

I therefore do not believe that this passage can be used to prove that a
safek mehalel shabbos can be counted for a minyan.

Mark Steiner


From: <Smwise3@...>
Date: Sun, 26 Mar 2006 17:28:45 EST
Subject: Re: Neturei Karta

      From: P.V. Viswanath <pviswanath@...>

      In m.j. 51.69, Yisrael Medad wrote regarding Martin Stern's
      comment about the Neturei Karta that "their theological position
      which does, whether we like it or not, have a basis in Talmudic
      sources," among other things:

Whether anyone wants to acknowledge that the Neturei Karta has support,
does anyone believe that Hakadosh Baruch Hu would condone advocating
destructing of the state that would inevitbaly result in the death of
Jews? The picture of these NK's rep meeting with Iran and supporting
them sickened me.

S. Wise


From: <MJGerver@...> (Mike Gerver)
Date: Sun, 26 Mar 2006 18:36:16 EST
Subject: Portable Eiruv for Camping

Eli Adler writes, in v51n72,

      This summer I hope to take the family camping in the Canadian
      Rockies in a motorhome.  How can I setup a quick simple but kosher
      eiruv for the immediate camping area.  What materials to prepare

      Any other Shabbat camping or kosher motorhoming hints

I used to do this sometimes when I was a grad student, in the 1970s,
though I haven't done it since then, more from inertia than from not
enjoying it. You should bring four wooden posts that can be put into the
ground forming a rectangle delineating the area you want to carry in,
with a nail hammered into the top of each post. When you set the posts
up, wrap string around each nail in succession, returning to the first
nail at the end.

If you want to go for a hike on shabbat, you can twice as far if, before
shabbat, you hang some food from a tree, within 2000 amot, in each of
the cardinal directions (north-south, and east-west) of where you are
camping, and in the direction you want to hike, and establish your
tachum shabbat around that point. Then you can hike up to 2000 amot, in
each cardinal direction, beyond that point. You can look at a detailed
topological map to plan this out before shabbat, and make sure you can
identify features of the landscape that will tell you when you get to
the end of the tachum, along some trail. You can go further if the trail
goes at 45 degrees to the cardinal directions, and/or if it winds
around. Even if you find, when you get to the food, that a bear has
eaten it, your tachum is still good if the food was there when shabbat
began, or even if there is a chazakah that it was there when shabbat
began, because you have no reason to think it wasn't. Preferably the
food should be in a paper bag and suspended with cotton string or with
twine, not with plastic or other material that won't quickly decay,
unless you plan to hike back and pick it up after shabbat.

I think the most delicious chicken I had ate on a Friday night was in
Furnace Creek, Death Valley, in September 1973, where I went camping
with my roommate Bob Roth. (He was the friend, with my pants size, whom
I mentioned in my posting on "Reason for Mitzvot - Brisk," by the way.)
I took a Cornish hen, cut up a raw onion and a raw tomato into a few
wedges, and put them in the cavity of the hen, then wrapped the whole
thing in aluminum foil, and stuck it into the coals of the fire. Corn on
the cob and baked potatoes are also delicious when cooked this way.

Make sure to have a big container, like a 5 gallon plastic container, to
keep water in, where you are camping, since you can't easily get more on
shabbat. You can fill the container up at a gas station before shabbat.
Even if there is a creek nearby, in North America, at least, all water
is infected with giardia, and is not safe to drink without treating it
with water purifying tablets, or boiling it. (That was not true in
1973.) I suppose if the creek flows through the eiruv, you could collect
the water in a canteen on shabbat and add water purifying tablets to it,
but it might be difficult to set up your eiruv that way.

You should also take into account, when planning a hike on shabbat, that
you won't be able to carry water with you. At Furnace Creek, there was a
museum nearby, that did not charge admission, and that had water
fountains inside, so we hiked there. It would not have been a good idea,
in Death Valley, to hike any significant distance without water.

Have fun!

Mike Gerver
Raanana, Israel


From: Eli Turkel <eliturkel@...>
Date: Sun, 26 Mar 2006 22:40:47 +0200
Subject: Self Criticism

Mark Steiner writes

> Whatever the spiritual dangers of attending today's universities,
> there is one thing that one gets at a university that it's hard to
> replicate anywhere else: criticism of one's own ideas, particularly of
> one's WRITTEN ideas.  That an autodidact like R.  Agushewitz, z"l, was
> able to subject his ideas to SELF criticism, is unheard of.

I didn't follow the connection with university life and self-criticism.
The gemara and commentaries are filled with stories of rabbis who
brought proofs to the other side of the argument than their own.

There is the famous story of R. Chaim Soloveitchik who gave a shiur to
be accepted as RY in Volozhin. In the middle of the shiur he stopped and
said he could not continue because he found a question on his position
even though known of the attendees realized the question.  Pne thing
RYBS stresses in his shiurim was intellectual honesty and I doubt he got
that from Berlin.

I would greater credence to a RY criticizing his own ideas than to most

Prof. Eli Turkel
Tel Aviv University

From: Mark Steiner <marksa@...>
Date: Sun, 26 Mar 2006 23:16:57 +0200
Subject: RE: Self Criticism

I have spent time both in yeshiva and in University.  In all my time in
yeshiva, I was never asked to hand in a written piece of work to be
criticized by my rosh yeshiva.  How R. Haym Brisker and other geniuses
were educated, I have no idea, but R. Haym Brisker did not learn in any
yeshiva.  Neither I think did the Hazon Ish.  Neither did the Vilner
Gaon.  I don't think stories about gedolim who saw the other side of the
argument are relevant here.

The havruta system in yeshiva is a valuable way to avoid self-deception,
but it does not extend to written work.

Conversely, I have seen very bright yeshiva students try to write
philosophy without really having had their written material subject to
criticism--it is full of self deception.


From: Feder Family <federfamily@...>
Date: Sun, 26 Mar 2006 11:06:34 -0500
Subject: Re: Yotzer Or Uvoreh Choshech

I wanted to get people's feedback on whether or not one should say the
Bracha of "Yotzer Or Uvoreh Choshech" out loud ?? yes or no?? and why or
why not?



End of Volume 51 Issue 75