Volume 52 Number 45
                    Produced: Mon Jul 10  6:01:56 EDT 2006

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

         [Menashe Elyashiv]
Friday night kaddish
         [Baruch J. Schwartz]
Natural Disasters and Rabbinic expalnations
R. Ovadya as Posek
         [Shalom Carmy]
Sacrificing a Korban Minchah outside the Temple
         [David Riceman]
Shir shellayyoum (was: Kaddish After Aleinu)


From: Menashe Elyashiv <elyashm@...>
Date: Thu, 6 Jul 2006 15:45:52 +0300 (IDT)
Subject: Aleynu

How many times a day is Aleynu said? Each prayer, or as explained (I
don`t remember where) that Joshua wrote it. Because the idol worshpers
would bow to the rising sun and to the night moon, he instituted saying
Aleynu morning and night. That is the Yemanite minhag, even if Minha is
not connected to Arvit. And that is the reason on a Mussaf day, Aleynu
is pushed from Shaharit to Mussaf.


From: Baruch J. Schwartz <schwrtz@...>
Date: Thu, 6 Jul 2006 14:31:49 +0300
Subject: Friday night kaddish

It was a pleasure to read the two clarifications by Sherwood Goffin
concerning the Friday night pre-Amidah half-kaddish. Of the two options
that Cantor Goffin correctly describes, the choral one [eliyahu hanavi
motif; found at http://www.virtualcantor.com/146 kaddish (before
musaf--slower).mp3] and the more ancient one [shochen ad motif; not even
given at virtualcantor.com], only the former was mentioned in the
original discussion. This is because the thread began as a query about
the kaddish before musaf on Shabbat. At the time I claimed that the
choral one does not belong at musaf on Shabbat at all. I am pleased to
see this confirmed in Cantor Goffin's remarks, despite the fact that he
does seem to approve of its being sung before maftir (I have seen this
only in the US).

As for the other, more ancient, option for Friday nights [shochen ad
motif], it was not even mentioned in the earlier discussion and
everything that Cantor Goffin says of it is clear and precise.

In my subsequent off-line discussion with Orrin Tilevitz
<tilevitzo@...> and others, it was also stressed that the the
now-widespread custom of singing the Friday night half-kaddish to the
same melody as the rest of maariv [umaavir yom motif; sadly presented as
an acceptable option at http://www.virtualcantor.com/020 Chatzi Kaddish
(only).mp3], is not authentic or correct nusah. I am relieved and
gratified that Cantor Goffin's expertise confirms this contention as

Baruch Schwartz


From: Anonymous
Date: Wed, 5 Jul 2006 11:51:07
Subject: RE: Natural Disasters and Rabbinic expalnations

I deeply appreciate the replies to my original posting, and the replies
to the replies (some of which captured what my response would have
been).  I certainly continue to grow in my understanding of the issues
(not that I feel any better about them), and I am strengthened by the
fact that others have wondered about some of these same things.

With regard to Chana Luntz's (as usual) erudite comments:

> In brief we are discussing two questions:
> a) should we be looking at natural disasters and trying to discern the
> divine hand in them, or should we say that G-d was (chose to be?)
> absent (assuming you agree that we are not prepared to say that G-d is
> impotent). This is one of the prime questions of theology (and it
> comes up in the relatively small natural disasters that we may
> personally encounter as much as in the global ones).  Ie is to wrong
> to ask the question "Why?" and if not, are we permitted (and is there
> value in) trying and answer it, even if we may understand that our
> answers are imperfect.

The problem of theodicy is one that I have spent time contemplating; I
am certainly familiar with chazal's teaching that one must face personal
tragedy with introspection and that if, having examined one's deeds and
found oneself flawless, one should interpret the sufferings as "yissurin
shel ahava."  Moreover, there is clearly a communal element of this as
well; I believe that, for instance, the communal taanit in response to a
drought can be interpreted as a form of teshuva for both individuals and
for the entire tzibbur.

However, I have always interpreted this approach as Chazal suggesting
that we ought to use any opportunity to improve ourselves and to do
teshuva, and in particular when we are suffering and calling out to God,
this is an especially good moment to search our souls for ways of
improving ourselves.  Note, this is very different from saying "I have
cancer because I didn't cover my hair when I got married" or something

Thus I would answer Chana's question (a) in the negative, at least in
the way it is framed.  I do not believe we ought to be "looking at
natural disasters and trying to discern the divine hand in them" because
I believe the task to be fruitless and dangerous (more on that below).
I do believe, however, that one is obligated to respond to natural
disasters and communal disasters and personal tragedy with introspection
and that one should attempt to use these times as a driver for
self-improvement, for better avodat hashem, for more careful observance,
for better interactions with one's parents/spouse/children, etc.  Again,
this is a very different process from associating a specific tragedy
with a specific sin as a "punishment."  Which leads to Chana's next

> b) if we do hold that one of our obligations is to try and learn
> lessons from eg natural disasters are the particular ones that
> particular rabbis identify the right ones to identify?  To even ask
> the question in b) one has to already have answered the question in a)
> in the affirmative.  In the Avodah discussion to which I refer, above,
> I tried suggesting that if one was to answer a) in the affirmative,
> there existed an alternative lesson that could be learnt different
> from that proposed eg by Rav Eliyahu.  If you hold that one should not
> try and look for moral lessons, then obviously no lesson is
> acceptable, but if you do not so hold, you might accept the principle
> but demand that the responses be different (or in fact there might be
> value in multiple responses, this and this and this).

So here is my problem with the interpretation of disaster.  It was
illustrated in some of these postings with regard to the Holocaust and
Zionism.  So the Satmar viewed the Holocaust as a punishment for
Zionism.  The Zionists view the establishment of the state of Israel as
a kind of tikkun for the Holocaust.  Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik sees the
establishment of the medina as God knocking on the door and he wonders,
"will we answer?" - will we see this as a Divine act?  You could not
have views more divergent.  Some would say, "eilu v'eilu" but THAT
cannot be true, in my view - sometimes both views cannot be true because
they are mutually exclusive.  Some might say "you are part of the
Mizrachi/MO community so who cares what the Satmar rebbe said" or vice
versa, which I find seriously unsatisfying.  How is the committed Jew
supposed to pick the right "gadol" to listen to with regard to such
pronouncements?  These issues always seem crystal clear from one
perspective, but quite muddy from another.  Katrina was a punishment for
the US stand on the Gaza withdrawal?  OK, then again, maybe it was a
punishment for the US being too SOFT on Israel and not demanding it
immediately withdraw from the West Bank too.  Maybe it was a punishment
for the US for supporting Israel altogether!  That notion seems absurd
to probably most readers on this list, but what evidence can ANYONE
bring to the table that supports one interpretation of Katrina over
another??  None, with the exception of the pronouncements of some
rabbis, which doesn't qualify as evidence IMO.

So basically any disaster or tragedy can be interpreted in any way to
support any position.  It depends not on logic, not on sources, not on
learning, not on the right pasuk, not on the right midrash, but ONLY
upon what explanations are possible given one's pre-existing world view
and hashkafa.  For the right-leaning religious Zionist, disaster as
punishment for the withdrawal from Gaza is entirely plausible; disaster
as punishment for lack of withdrawal from the West Bank would not even
be considered in the universe of possible explanations.  And (continuing
this example, not because I am not a religious Zionist, but because it
works), for those who actually BELIEVE that disaster is a God-sent
reprimand for supporting withdrawal for Gaza - well unfortunately it
never enters their minds to think "what if we are all WRONG and what God
is trying to tell us is that we should be much more aggressive about

I believe that an honest soul-searching and cheshbon hanefesh in
response to crisis, disaster and tragedy is precisely what Chazal demand
of us.  Not some superficial lip-service that provides an opportunity to
reformulate or cling more doggedly to our pre-existing views.  It is
possible that every gadol who has issued some pronouncement on why God
sent some disaster has indeed performed such a true cheshbon hanefesh
(maybe the chassidic rebbes really did contemplete the possibility that
perhaps the Holocaust was a consequence of NOT being Zionists), but
forgive me for feeling extremely skeptical about that possibility.

Thus, I believe the entire process (of determining God's messages in
events) is profoundly flawed because (1) no objective evidence can be
presented to distinguish between the truthfulness of subtly different or
diametrically opposed interpretations; (2) interpretation appears
entirely dependent upon the pre-existing views of the interpreter; and
(3) the process as it is practiced today appears to subvert Chazal's
intention that the individual and the community respond to disaster and
tragedy with a genuine soul-searching and not use it as an oppoortunity
to engage in polemics or to harden one's pre-existing views.

This last point is very important, because in listening to our leaders,
one comes away not thinking for example "Katrina is a horrible disaster,
let me examine my thoughts and deeds and consider where I am wrong or
possibly mistaken" - but rather, one walks away thinking "my belief in
the correctness of my politcal position is strengthened because not only
is there a gadol on my side, but that gadol has told me that God has
made his view clear as well, and God is on my side."


From: Shalom Carmy <carmy@...>
Date: Wed, 5 Jul 2006 13:56:16 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: R. Ovadya as Posek

It seems to me a gross error to characterize R. Ovadya as a mere
"computational prodigy."

His clarity of language, in tackling difficult questions, his peerless
ability to organize material into arguments calculated to create the
broadest basis for agreement with his solution, these characterize a
judicial mind of the highest order. Teshuva after teshuva, one is left
with an unmistakable impression--not, isn't it amazing that one man
knows so much? but--ka-zeh re'eh ve-kaddesh, this is how it should be

If you have not studied Yabbia Omer sufficiently to discover this on
your own, see Benny Lau's intellectual biography of R. Ovadya (to be
reviewed in an upcoming issue of Tradition by Jeffrey Saks).


From: David Riceman <driceman@...>
Date: Thu, 6 Jul 2006 09:07:10 -0400
Subject: Re: Sacrificing a Korban Minchah outside the Temple

> From: Elazar M. Teitz <remt@...>
> The statement was made that it would be possible (were it not for
> problems of tum'ah) to bring a korban mincha outside the Beis 
> Hamikdash

I think the reference here is to "Aramaic Papyri of the Fifth Century
B.C."  ed. A. Cowley, number 32.  I think the reading it was given on
this list is overbroad, and the author is not named (possibly "Bigvai
governor of Judah", to whom the initial petition was addressed), but in
any case it's outside of the halachic tradition

[Subsequent posting on same issue. Mod.]

I glanced at Professor Cowley's introduction last night.  He argues that
the practices described in the letter were not normative.  As evidence
he points out that the question was addressed both to the "Persian
governor of Jerusalem" and to the High Priest, but the only answer we
have comes from the governor and not the High Priest, implying, he
argues, that the High Priest wished not to be associated with the whole
business.  He also adduces parallels of local practice not conforming to
normative behavior in Egypt (in the book of Jeremiah) and Israel (books
of Ezra and Nehemiah).

David Riceman 


From: Minden <phminden@...>
Date: Thu, 06 Jul 2006 13:52:03 +0200
Subject: Shir shellayyoum (was: Kaddish After Aleinu)

In connexion with the rather recent minneg of saying the Shir
shel(lay)youm, I'd like to mention the older minneg of saying tillem
before shachres, a seventh of the book each day. My impression was that
after this first turned to be a matter of a special chevre and later
fell into oblivion altogether, the Shir shellayyoum was a kind of ersatz
for it.



End of Volume 52 Issue 45