Volume 52 Number 30
                    Produced: Mon Jun 26  6:27:05 EDT 2006

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Chiyuv for men to learn
         [Carl Singer]
Had To Work on Shabbos (2)
         [Ari Trachtenberg, Bill Bernstein]
Hashkama Minyan
         [Nathan Lamm]
         [Nadine Bonner]
Jewish Blogs (3)
         [Chaim Shapiro, Ari Trachtenberg, Chaim Shapiro]
Rabbi Ovadia Yosef
Staying up on Shavuot night - for women?
         [Saul Newman]
"tircha d'tzibbur" comparison
         [Freda B Birnbaum]


From: <casinger@...> (Carl Singer)
Date: Fri, 23 Jun 2006 11:57:34 +0000 (GMT)
Subject: Chiyuv for men to learn

From: SBA <sba@...>
> Of course. Men have a chiyuv of 'vehogiso bo yomom volaylo'.
> AFAIK, women don't.

Everyone knows that, but this is not the point.  Upon getting married
and siring children does a man also have family generated obligations.
Three categories of obligations come to mind.

(1) those towards his wife, for example, doing things that enable his
wife to go to shul, etc.  (and thus bring joy to her heart.)
(2) towards tending to his children
(3) towards earning a parnusoh

Can he eschew these because of his chiyuv to learn?

Carl A. Singer, Ph.D.
Passaic, NJ  07055-5328


From: Ari Trachtenberg <trachten@...>
Date: Fri, 23 Jun 2006 11:37:26 -0400
Subject: Re: Had To Work on Shabbos

> I can't judge them, but the rabbis of the time seemed to feel that
> this "have to work on Shabbos" attitude was feeding on itself and
> seriously undermining Shabbos observance. The fact remains that with
> all the people who "had to work" there were still plenty of people who
> did *not* work on Shabbos, including many with large families, and as
> far as a I know, there is no record of Shabbos observance causing any
> of them to starve.

I don't think that this comparison is valid.  While it's true that the
human mind puts up artificial fences to suffering, meaning that we can
typically suffer more than our mind allows (ask any long-distance
runner!), my understanding of the halachah with respect to pikuach
nefesh is that we leave it up to the individual to determine need.

Thus, a person who feels a life-threatening need to eat on Yom Kippur
may do so (I don't know of any objective and fool-proof way, except
post-facto death, of determining whether the person really had this need
or not).  Similarly, though halachah seems to impose stringent
pre-conditions to working on Shabbat for food, my understanding is that
we leave it up to the individual to establish this life-threatening

As such, it seems to me entirely possible to have people in similar
circumstances, some of whom were halachically working on Shabbat and
others who were not.  Though I do not have much family experience in the
US, some of the desparate stories that my grandparents have been
starting only recently to recount about pre-, during-, and post- WWII
Russia and Europe are beyond intellectual comprehension.

Ari Trachtenberg,                                      Boston University
http://people.bu.edu/trachten                    mailto:<trachten@...>

From: Bill Bernstein <billbernstein@...>
Date: Fri, 23 Jun 2006 08:43:28 -0500
Subject: Re: Had To Work on Shabbos

Tzvi Stein begins his recent post on this subject saying he can't judge
those people who felt forced to work on Shabbos.  He then continues and
does just that.

It is difficult at this point to remind ourselves of the circumstances
and mind-set that prevailed in the 1920s through the early 1960s.  An
interesting refresher is the famous film "Gentlemen's Agreement" with
Gregory Peck, where merely having a Jewish name disqualified people from
jobs and barred them from hotels and other places.  Further the welfare
mentality had not yet taken hold nor were benefits easy to come by.
People recognized their obligation to work and support their families.
At the same time the pressure to assimilate and become "Americans" was
considerable.  My grandmother a'h advised her father not to become
active in local politics in Savannah GA because people would make fun of
his accent.

In such an environment, it is no wonder so many abandoned Shabbos
observance.  It is to their credit that they continued any observance at
all.  And those who were steadfast in their principles deserve the
highest admiration.

Bill Bernstein
Nashville TN.


From: Nathan Lamm <nelamm18@...>
Date: Fri, 23 Jun 2006 05:51:57 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: Hashkama Minyan

Gershon Dubin wrote:

> He remembered that many of those people, in the summer months, made
> sure to be back in shul for Mincha.

Indeed, in the first half of the twentieth century, Mincha, not
Shacharis, was the major Shabbos service.  It was when the Rav gave his
drasha, it was the most attended, and possibly where we get our shul
shalosh seudos from. This was all because people worked on
Shabbos. (Needless to say, this was in Orthodox shuls.)

As our moderator has pointed out, my teacher Prof.  Jeffrey Gurock has
done much work regarding this era.  For example, see his article
"Twentieth-Century American Orthodoxy's Era of Non-Observance:
1900-1960," at <http://www.yutorah.org/showShiur.cfm?shiurID=703942>.  I
believe he's working on a book about it as well.

Nachum Lamm


From: Nadine Bonner <nfbonner@...>
Date: Fri, 23 Jun 2006 09:55:39 -0400
Subject: Hatikva

I've never understood the fuss about the origins of the "HaTikva" melody.

The melody for the US national anthem, "The Star Spangled Banner" is not
original either. Francis Scott Key wrote the words as a poem, and people
began singing them to the tune of a popular drinking song. That other
ode to America that begins "My country tis of thee" is sung to "G-d Save
the King."

When it comes to national anthems, I think the sentiment trumps the
song.  I personally find the tune to "HaTikva" to be emotionally
stirring, so I think the song works on both levels.

Nadine Bonner


From: <Dagoobster@...> (Chaim Shapiro)
Date: Sun, 25 Jun 2006 12:38:15 EDT
Subject: Jewish Blogs

David wrote:

      It should be noted, however, that a question like this posted to
      Mail-Jewish will produce a biased result.  The fact that we're all
      communicating via e-mail means we don't consider computerized
      communication to be prohibited

David, I was NOT asking for scientific poll results representing a cross
section of Orthodoxy.  I specifically wanted to see what computer savvy
Orthodox Jews felt about the Jewish blog world.

Chaim Shapiro

From: Ari Trachtenberg <trachten@...>
Date: Fri, 23 Jun 2006 10:25:37 -0400
Subject: Re:  Jewish Blogs

 >I am very interested in hearing the perspective of members of this list
 >toward Jewish blogs, and what role, if any, they feel they may play in
 >the future of Orthodox Judaism.

In my opinion, they may play the same role as the telephone
... providing important self-correction and discussion to the community
when properly motivated, and having the potential to spread terrible
libel when improperly motivated (I can think of at least two
well-publicized blogs that fit this description, although I'm not sure
that it is appropriate to publish their names in this context).  The
traditional community is especially sensitive to the latter threat,
because of the pressure to conform to strict communal guidelines.

Ari Trachtenberg,                                      Boston University
http://people.bu.edu/trachten                    mailto:<trachten@...>

From: <Dagoobster@...> (Chaim Shapiro)
Date: Fri, 23 Jun 2006 11:27:44 EDT
Subject: Jewish Blogs

THE major difference between the telephone and Jewish blogs as a medium,
is the wider distribution the Internet allows.  Your political
perspective on wire tapping aside, the reach of even the most widespread
phone gossip can only go so far.  Most of the time, and even at its very
worst, such gossip remains in the frum community.  ANYONE with a
computer can stumble on a blog entry.  Some of the most popular Jewish
blogs have received OVER 600,000 page views.  Bloggers often quote posts
of their fellow bloggers, maximizing the visibility of a story.  News
agencies screen blogs and often print blog entries.  Information that
would be limited to thousands by phone CAN reach Millions because of the

Standard telephone gossip has a relatively short half life. Eventually
people grow bored of the same old news.  Blog entries and the comment
sections they contain are archived forever, providing a much easier
forum for resurrecting old gossip as new news.

It frightens me greatly that any person I have encountered in my
professional life as a Jewish educator (or my personall life for that
matter) could easily besmirch my reputation to thousands in an instant.
There is nothing preventing a student who disliked the grade I assigned
from spreading the most malicious forms of lies about me or my family.

On the other hand, not all blog allegations are false.  Some see it as a
means to respond to serious abuse cases (and I do believe this is a
misguided idea) without having to go through the embarrassment and shame
that is often associated with such claims.

We need communal policies on how serious allegations presented in
anonymous blogs will be handled by the community.

Chaim Shapiro


From: Anonymous
Date: Fri, 23 Jun 2006 09:17:49
Subject: Rabbi Ovadia Yosef

There has been some discussion of the piskei halacha of Rabbi Yosef on
the list, in particular his attempts the unify the Sephardic minhag,
particularly in eretz yisrael (or, if you are not iraqui, his attempts
may seem more an effort to purge Sephardic jewry of many honored and
ancient minhagim).

I have a more fundamental issue with Rabbi Yosef.  I have found his
commentary on some matters (in particular the reasons for hurricane
Katrina to have caused so mush damage and suffering in New Orleans) to
be so far beyond the pale of reasonable theology, not to mention
completely at odds with the facts of the world we live in (disasters do
not strike only places of debauchery) that I can no longer view Rabbi
Yosef as a legitimate posek or gadol.  Add to these issues the hubris
involved in making pronouncements about G-d's will (for what else is it
when one opines on the reason a hurricane struck a particular location?)
- does he see himself as a posek or as a navi, one must wonder.

This is a very serious matter to me - indeed one that is causing a small
crisis of faith.  If our appointed interpreters of G-d's law can be so
wrong-headed in their thinking, there is something seriously amiss in
our community - I mean the entire halachically committed community - for
our tolerance and support of such leaders.  Even people I know who found
Rabbi Yosef's comments utterly repugnant were content to dismiss them as
him "having gone a little too far." I have not heard even once in a
private conversation on the matter (forget about public pronouncements)
that one ought to question his credentials as a claimed gadol and posek.
I for one do not believe one can seperate the psak from the man - if he
believes what he said to be true (and moreover lacks the sechel to keep
such comments to himself) then I don't see how knowing shas and all the
rishonim backwards and forwards can redeem what is clealry a flawed
understanding of the world.  Is it really enough to demand mere
computational knowledge from our poskim - someone who can count up all
the rulings on one side or another and issue a psak?  I am sure a clever
programmer could create a piece of software to do that.  I think the
least we can expect from our leaders is that the Torah and learning in
which they have steeped themselves for decades has done more thann
create an automaton, but has created a sensitive and humble soul.  Too
many fail this test.

I know most will find my words shocking and even repugnant but, for me
at least - eit laasot lehashem.  Someone has to say "the emporer is
wearing no clothing." Our rabbinic leadership has shown itself full of
moral decay (issues of sexual abuse, of covering up sexual abuse, the
various scandalim with the rabbanut, the list is too long and too
sordid).  What should be our response?  To emulate?  To ignore?  Or
rather to demand of our leaders that they lead with midot as well as in
learning?  But what is to be done when the community is either
indifferent to the issues or so wrapped up in a papal-like view of
infallability of its leaders that it believes criticism of rabbis is an
issur karet?


From: Saul Newman <Saul.Z.Newman@...>
Date: Fri, 23 Jun 2006 07:48:39 -0700
Subject: Re: Staying up on Shavuot night - for women?

> rSBA asks 'Maybe what we should be asking, is, how far will MO rabbis
> and their communities allow this to go?'

undoubtedly to the limit of what halacha allows.there will always be
leftists trying to call themselves orthodox, while actually relying on
only the flimsiest daat yachid. but there will be an acceptable
mainstream----it will NEVER be acceptable to communities ruled by
'chadash assur min hatorah' and 'es pas nisht' ....and what may not be
kovod hatzibur in one place, will be de rigour in another...


From: Freda B Birnbaum <fbb6@...>
Date: Fri, 23 Jun 2006 06:56:21 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: "tircha d'tzibbur" comparison

Leah Gordon asks:

> I find myself puzzled about the confluence on M.J of both:
> 1. The opinion that an extra kaddish (time: 30 seconds?) may be a delay 
> for the congregation
> 2. The opinion that a whole re-do of a bar mitzvah boy's haftorah (in 
> case of twins) would not be worthy of comment as a delay for the 
> congregation

Nice catch.  Speaking of confluence... re the hashkama minyan debate:

A year or so ago I was at a bar mitzvah of twins where, IIRC, the boys
divided the Torah reading at the main minyan, and for the haftorah, one
did it at the hashkama minyan and the other at the main minyan.


Freda Birnbaum


End of Volume 52 Issue 30