Volume 53 Number 03
                    Produced: Fri Nov  3  6:28:44 EST 2006

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Attending non-Orthodox Shiva Minyan (4)
         [Ari Trachtenberg, Freda B Birnbaum, Irwin Weiss, Ben Katz]
Chief rabbi cancels Agunah conference
Clarification re Drisha classes on Family Purity Laws
         [Freda B Birnbaum]
Fish in Noah's Ark (2)
         [Andy Goldfinger, Alan Rubin]
Kashrut supervision
         [Mordechai Horowitz]
Naming child after deceased sibling (3)
         [Elazar M. Teitz, <chips@...>, Alex Heppenheimer]
The new "will your grandchildren..."
         [Shimon Lebowitz]


From: Ari Trachtenberg <trachten@...>
Date: Wed, 01 Nov 2006 20:33:40 -0500
Subject: Re: Attending non-Orthodox Shiva Minyan

> Friends of ours are Conservative and active in their community.  A close
> relative passed away and I received a call asking me to come to
> shacharit every morning to help make a minyan...
>  Others I have asked think there
> is no doubt that I should AVOiD going back...
> I would appreciate your comments and advice.

How about spending time outside of minyan with the mourner or else, if
it is someone very close to you, why not find five male friends that you
could bring with you to make sure that there is a minyan of men.  Since
it's not a permanent davening place, the lack of a mechitza should not
be a problem.  Alternatively, daven beforehand by yourself (or at a
different minyan) and sit in the minyan as a visitor.

At any rate, my feeling is that if you *honestly* make your choice for
the sake of heaven, then your friend should understand your sincerity
and accept your decision.

Good luck!

From: Freda B Birnbaum <fbb6@...>
Date: Wed, 1 Nov 2006 20:53:04 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Attending non-Orthodox Shiva Minyan

> From: Anonymous
> The dilemma is obvious.  I know they appreciated my being there, and
> also had some concept of my discomfort.  I decided I would stick it
> out for the rest of the week, and make my excuses for Thursday.  My
> wife wants me to keep going and believes it would damage our
> friendship and also be generally unkind if I didn't.  Others I have
> asked think there is no doubt that I should AVOiD going back and one
> even opined that it was borderline chillul hashem to daven there.  I
> would appreciate your comments and advice.

Oy!  You can't win.  This isn't quite the irresistible force versus the
immovable object.... but...  My own personal opinion is that if it
really upsets you to be there, they ought to be mature enough to
understand why and to cut you a break.  OTOH, if it's not totally
unbearable to you it would be a nice thing to do to go.  But, you HAVE
already shown support by going once or twice.  I don't think you should
let anybody bully you about chillul hashem one way or the other.  These
are tough calls and no matter what you do, there will be someone to
criticize it, so work out your own balance of values and go with that.
I wish you well.

Also, you didn't mention if they did eventually get 10 men and whether
there was a mechitza or not (although I'm not sure one is required at a
shiva minyan if the men and women are separate... oh, never mind...!)

Maybe if they have an afternoon/evening minyan that would be a little
less touchy?

Freda Birnbaum, <fbb6@...>
"Call on God, but row away from the rocks"

From: Irwin Weiss <irwin@...>
Date: Wed, 01 Nov 2006 21:54:57 -0500
Subject: Attending non-Orthodox Shiva Minyan

Well, first, I would say that you should consult your LOR--but be sure
to tell him what your wife said.

However, it is a bit painful to read your message for two reasons: In no
particular order: A) I am a member of a Conservative shul, and we permit
women to engage in all of these activities that you mention ("full
regalia" as you put it).  B) That the Conservative shul would not be
able to have a larger shiva minyan, but this may have to do with where
you are.

So, suppose there were 9 Conservative men there, plus you, plus the
women. Would this be ok with you? What issues would this raise?
Barchenu Avinu, Kulanu K'echad.

From: Ben Katz <bkatz@...>
Date: Thu, 02 Nov 2006 10:17:50 -0600
Subject: Re: Attending non-Orthodox Shiva Minyan

         I agree with your wife.  I don't see it being any worse than
davening by yourself, and your presence is giving comfort to mourners,
which is a tremendous mitzvah.  It would certainly cause sinat chinam if
it got around that Orthodox Jews were too frum to participate in a
shivah minyan.  (I also believe that one could be a lot worse off
Jewishly than an egalitarian Conservative Jew, but I digress.)  I think
Orthodox Jews often flatter themselves that their very presence somehow
"legitimises" practices with which they are uncomfortable.  And
remember, there is precedent within the tradition for women wearing
tallit and tefillin; popular legend has it that Rashi's daughters wore
tefillin and the Talmud says that Micha the daughter of Saul did so.
There were also geonic opinions to encourage women wearing tzitzit,
although they were obviously in the minority and fell into disuse.

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: <FriedmanJ@...>
Date: Thu, 2 Nov 2006 12:40:57 EST
Subject: Chief rabbi cancels Agunah conference

Israel's Sephardi chief rabbi seemed set to cancel a conference on
agunot, or women who can not obtain Jewish divorce papers from their

Less than a week before the conference of renowned rabbis and heads of
Jewish courts from across the world was set to convene in Jerusalem, a
fax was sent to the 27 rabbis who had agreed to attend, notifying them
that it would be canceled.

The Hebrew note obtained by JTA, signed by Rabbi Eliyahu Ben Dahan, head
of Israel's rabbinical court system, said that Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar
had canceled the Nov. 7-8 meeting "due to petitions that came to him
both from Israel and outside of Israel."

However, Amar's office later hinted that the decision might not be
final and that an official announcement would come only next week.

"It is clear that the ultra-Orthodox leaders in Israel have been
pressuring him and it was too much to bear," Sharon Shenhav of the
International Council of Jewish Women, who worked closely with Amar over
the past two years to plan the conference, told JTA.

"Shamefully at the last minute he has canceled."


From: Freda B Birnbaum <fbb6@...>
Date: Wed, 1 Nov 2006 21:01:08 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Clarification re Drisha classes on Family Purity Laws

Russell J Hendel writes:
> Date: Tue, 31 Oct 2006 20:14:14 -0500
> Subject: RE: Drishah classes on Family Purity Laws
> Freeda (v52#93) in advertising the derisha program on Family Purity Laws 
> writes "The laws of the menstruant are full of language and imagery 
> which can be painful and offensive to the contemporary woman. How can we 
> deconstruct these laws and impose our own meaning upon them to enhance 
> our spiritual lives and our relationships to self, God and community"

OY!!  I did not write that!!  I passed along a flyer about Drisha
classes.  That is the language used by whoever wrote the course

I had private email as well, expressing similar concerns, and here is
part of what I replied to that:

   I have a sense that some women feel upset about the way the state of
   being a menstruating woman is occasionally used to be an analogy to
   something unclean or reprehensible.  I think that probably the
   lecturer meant to try to put a positive spin or meaning on some of
   this; to take the concept back from people who have/make unpleasant

   [Footnote about the booklets: Rabbi Lamm's "A Hedge of Roses" was a
   big improvement on the ones available until then.  Even so, a
   well-known rebbetzin of my acquaintance, who was a very popular
   taharas hamishpacha teacher, used to refer to it as "A Crown of
   Thorns".  I guess you had to be there....]

> I personally find offensive the implication that only "contemporary
> women" find certain things offensive. I think the English translations
> of family purity laws would be equally offensive to former
> generations.  I also think the "meaning of these laws" was something
> known to former generations (Not just to comtemporary women).

See above!  Many of those English booklets are just horrendous!  (Of
course, they may have improved: I haven't looked at them for a LONG

> I personally would not mind a thread in which we discuss exactly what is 
> offensive and in which wediscuss if the remedys to this offense are 
> modern are Talmudic.
> I think a clarification of the issues would be of interest to mljewish
> readers.
> In passing I note that this class is "for women only." My personal 
> opinion is that if you want **couples** to observe family purity laws 
> then you need the cooperation of both genders both of whom have to see 
> these laws as meaningful.

Actually Drisha does offer a class in taharas hamishpacha to couples,
taught by a serious, observant, and very knowledgeable couple.

Your point is excellent.

> Furthermore I dont want to hear a speech from anybody about modesty. 
> When over 50% of women do not observe these laws the only breach of 
> modesty is to be silent on the issue.

Psak it to me...

> Finally in passing...if we do have a thread I think it might be better
> (in some respects) then the class...we frequently on mljewish have
> original ideas and good scholarship.

Especially yours!

If anyone else has concerns about Drisha's material, please write to
them; they may find the feedback useful.

Freda Birnbaum, <fbb6@...>
"Call on God, but row away from the rocks"


From: Andy Goldfinger <Andy.Goldfinger@...>
Date: Wed, 1 Nov 2006 08:16:24 -0500
Subject: Fish in Noah's Ark

What about fresh water fish?

-- Andy Goldfinger

From: Alan Rubin <alanrubin1@...>
Date: Wed, 1 Nov 2006 10:49:31 +0000
Subject: Re: Fish in Noah's Ark

It would not be a simple matter of fish surviving in the sea. Marine
fish will not live in fresh water and fresh water fish will not live in
sea water. We do not know what the salinity of the flood would have been
(and I assume thorough mixing) but is seems to difficult to suppose that
there would be a degree of salinity that all fish would tolerate.

Alan Rubin


From: Mordechai Horowitz <mordechai@...>
Date: Wed, 1 Nov 2006 19:15:19 -0500
Subject: Kashrut supervision

> I did not mean ALL mashgichim were kollel guys.  But especially in
> larger cities that job is usually done by them.  Yes, even here in
> Chicago, some mashgichim are not Kollel guys, but the bulk of the
> local work starts out as such.  Kollel guys, or guys in general,
> always get preference in our communities.  That's what happens.  Why,
> for various reasons, one of which is Tznius.  While ALL the staff is
> not male, many are and the tight quarters of many kitchens has lead to
> many people requesting male mashgichim.

Halacha allows women to be kashrut supervisors.  I've never heard of an
all male employee restaurant.  Every restaurant I have ever been in, the
majority of staff is women, so these Kollel men who are against mixed
environments should be banned by their Roshei Yeshiva from working in

Really only women are qualified to work as mashgiot due to modesty
reasons.  The women in restaurants are often dressed immodestly by
haredi Kollel standards.  My understanding it is less of a halachic
problem for women to be with immodestly dressed woman than men.

I think this issue is the problem of non Jewish sexism intruding into
the Torah community.  It's reserving jobs for men because they are men
not because of Torah.


From: Elazar M. Teitz <remt@...>
Date: Thu, 2 Nov 2006 00:27:07 GMT
Subject: Re: Naming child after deceased sibling

> Has anybody heard of an - apparently German - minhag, whereby if a
> family had a child who died very young, and the family subsequently had
> one-or more - children, the later one(s) would be named after the
> deceased child?

     It is said in the name of the Vilner Gaon that in a family which
has had infant mortality, a s'gula for its non-recurrence is to name a
child with the same name as the deceased child and add a name to it,
with the added name coming first.


From: <chips@...>
Date: Wed, 1 Nov 2006 20:28:55 -0800 (PST)
Subject: Re: Naming child after deceased sibling

Even though I am not esteemed, I will note that in our non-German family
the situation did unfortunately come up and the newborn was named after
the deceased child.

From: Alex Heppenheimer <aheppenh@...>
Date: Wed, 1 Nov 2006 20:36:12 -0800 (PST)
Subject: Re: Naming child after deceased sibling

I've come across the same thing in my own genealogical researches. As my
family name indicates, my ancestors are from Germany. I've found that my
great-great-great-grandparents (in the 1840s) had a daughter named
Johanna (Hebrew name: Chanah), who died as an infant (may we all be
spared such tragedies!); and they reused both the "shem kodesh" and
"shem chol" for their next baby, born later that year.

The book What's in a Name, by Rabbi Y.Z. Wilhelm (Brooklyn: Sichos In
English, 1998), ch. 21, cites various halachic sources both for and
against this practice, including one (based on a pseudo-Rashi to II
Divrei HaYamim 3:8 (and Radak ibid. 3:5)) according to which King David
followed it and reused a name for a later child.

Kol tuv,


From: Shimon Lebowitz <shimonl@...>
Date: Thu, 02 Nov 2006 07:13:39 +0200
Subject: The new "will your grandchildren..."

A friend just sent me a link to the revised (using data from NJPS 2000)
version of "Will Your Grandchildren be Jews?"  by Gordon and Horowitz.

It is available at:

The original version, from ten years ago, can be seen at:

It has probably been available for years and discussed to death, but I
just saw it, and what can I say... it doesn't look good. :-(



End of Volume 53 Issue 3