Volume 53 Number 87
                    Produced: Mon Jan 22  6:06:51 EST 2007

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Cantor Schulman of Great Neck
         [Batya Medad]
Change in Jerusalem Hechsher policy
         [Shmuel Himelstein]
Explaining catastrophies (2)
         [Sammy Finkelman, Leah Aharoni]
Lots of Questions (2)
         [Shmuel Himelstein, Akiva Miller]
Shabbat accomodations in orlando
         [Moshe Bach]
Using Jewish blood
         [Shmuel Himelstein]


From: Batya Medad <ybmedad@...>
Date: Sun, 21 Jan 2007 10:24:38 +0200
Subject: Cantor Schulman of Great Neck

I had no idea!
We take things for granted, especially when we're young.

As I've written before, I spent my adolescence in the Great Neck
Synagogue, and it was during that time that I became religious. I took
for granted that all rabbis were like Rabbi Wolf and all cantors sounded
like Cantor Eleazer Schulman.

It's decades since, and I'm embarrassed to say that I've just discovered
that Cantor Schulman was world-class. I remember hearing his recordings
on the radio here in Israel about twenty years ago, but I didn't take it
very seriously.

Only when we recently spent a Shabbat with some internationally
acclaimed chazanim, that I got an inkling. First hint was that they had
known him, and not "just in passing." The "performance/service" was so
staged that it was difficult to judge and compare their voices to
his. But then my husband bought some CD's, and I've been listening.

Yes, Cantor Schulman did sound very much like the chazanim on the CD's,
if not better.

So, better late than never, if I ever besmirched his skills, I'd like to




From: Shmuel Himelstein <shmuelhim@...>
Date: Sun, 21 Jan 2007 12:16:50 +0200
Subject: Change in Jerusalem Hechsher policy

Up to now, the policy of the Jerusalem rabbinate regarding food chains
was "all or nothing." In other words, if a single branch of the chain in
the city would be open on Shabbat, none of the branches in the city
would be given a Hechsher. Now, in a clear change, branches of the Aroma
coffee shop chain in Jerusalem which have always been closed on Shabbat
now have a Hechsher, along with a sign indicating which branches in
Jerusalem have a Hechsher. Thus, even though the branch on Emek Refaim
Street is open on Shabbat and does not have a Hechsher, those on King
George Steeet and the Malcha Mall (and I believe a few others) now have
a Hechsher.  Maybe the rabbis realized that we are not so stupid after
all, and can differentiate between stores with and those without a

Shmuel Himelstein


From: Sammy Finkelman <sammy.finkelman@...>
Date: Sun, 19 Jan 07 05:40:00 -0400
Subject: Re: Explaining catastrophies

-> > From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
MS> The Tosafot Yom Tov blamed the Chmielnitski massacres on
MS> talking in shul. I believe the Gerer Rebbe also attributed

Eitan Fiorino
EF> I am quite interested in how people interpret statements such as
EF> these and integrate them into their view of yehadut and chachamim.

It's not that difficult to figure out what happened over here.

First, how does the rabbi himself come to make such a statement? I think
maybe he was thinking of that statement - it's in Pirkei Avos - Moshnah
2:1 - that we don't know what is the reward (or punishment) of a
Mitzvah. OK, he says, let's find something that "everybody" does (so that
everybody merits it) that nobody takes very seriously - maybe this -
whatever he nominates - is actually a very serious Avereh - and he comes
up with some arguments as to why it should be so.

I might mention that Pirkei Avod there talks only of reward, but it's
somewhat easy not to notice this, and to misread that as also talking
about punishment. (That is Rabbi Yehuda Hanesi only meant to say that
there could be a great reward for what looks like a small thing and this
thought is in the same category as the one about someone winning Olam
Haboah because of one thing, and I'm not sure where that is)

Now, it's not that he's really reasoning from whatever he thinks of what
he nominates - it is that he is looking for something that you can say
maybe was overlooked. There are great weaknesses in his case - but
perhaps he becomes convinced of this.

In this connection, I have also read - you may have seen this book - of
great punishments for not answering Amen - in fact merely not answering
Amen properly. (The author of that book took various statments that had
been made from time to time, and took them as simple Torah, collected
them and then made an argument as to how important answering Amen is.
If it were so, a person should make every effort not to put himself in a
situation where it would be necessary to answer Amen.)

These statements had probably originally been made, in passing, not
because anyone was seriously thinking about Amen, but because someone
was seeking an answer as to tragedies - for individuals.

Another thing I think that goes on - that I think leads to increasing
Chumrahs - is that are times in the year - as well as other occasions -
when we are exhorted to do Teshuva. Now, these people, and the people
around them, don't feel taht they did or do anything big or well known.

What happens then is that they look for "mistakes" (new sins that nobody
realized before) that everybody is making. By everybody I mean that the
people they are speaking to are making or could be making. Even if most
jews violate Shabbos that will never be there.  And these things almost
invariably, are something in the category of Orach Chiam - because
that's very public and obvious.  Anything about money will never be
there (except using somebody else's credit and paying the interest) It's
got to be something easy to stop, at least in theory.

What a person who hears this sort of thing thinks, I have no idca. Of
course, you could reason, this is wrong. If they are not the type pf
person to reason that a Rabbi can be wrong, I have no idea. Perhaps they
only pay attention to their own personal Rabbi, so this won't happen so
often. Perhaps even then the rabbi doesn't repeat this too often, or in
the proper context, indicating that he himself is not certain of
this. In fact, in may even be explained, when someone gets close to a
person saying this, that there is no certainlty about this, but that a
person should free himself from doubt. That's also a misinterpretation
of something in Pirkei Avos. (Mishnah 1:16)

Perhaps, also, it's understood as very possibly wrong or as exaggeration
- in a "good cause" - teshuva.

From: Leah Aharoni <leah25@...>
Date: Thu, 18 Jan 2007 23:02:31 +0200
Subject: Explaining catastrophies

Eitan wrote:

>If, on the one hand, these speculative statements about God's will are
>correct (and God wiped out tens of thousands of innocents and tzadikim
>and talmidei chachamim because of some chatter in shul), then we are
>faced with a God who is radically unjust (and one who has altered His
>midot since allowing Himself to be bargained with over the potential of
>a handful of tzadikim in Sedom).

While I can identify with Eitan's gut instinct, analyses of some
tragedies in the Tanakh, we will clearly show that God DOES kill
seemingly innocent people for sins that do not appear in Shulchan
Arukh. Here are just 2 examples I can think of right now:

 1. In Yehoshua 7:1-6, The first battle of Ay. The very first pasuk
    blames the sin of Achan (taking from the spoils of Jericho on the
    entire Jewish people! The Navi tells us explicitly that the sin of a
    single person awakened the wrath of God on the entire nation. As a
    result, 36 innocent people died in battle and the entire nations
    suffered the psychological damage of defeat. Our idea of justice
    would be to kill off Achan, but Hashem apparently Hashem had other
 2. In Shmuel 2 21, God brings a three-year-long famine on the entire
    nation, because Shaul had harmed the Giveonim in a different
    generation! The reason for the famine is stated explicitly in the
    Tanakh. Once again, we can well imagine the terrible suffering of
    innocent people for a sin not of their doing.

There are many other such examples in the Tanakh, but I think the idea
is clear. Our notions of justice are very different from God's. I am
sure that in the cosmic order of things, every bit of personal suffering
is accounted for (even when it results from a catastrophe brought on by
the sins of other).

Leah Aharoni
Hebrew/Russian/English translator
Email:  <leah25@...>


From: Shmuel Himelstein <himels@...>
Date: Fri, 19 Jan 2007 14:21:30 +0200
Subject: Lots of Questions

I think that Avi is much too cavalier in dismissing Ms. Friedman's
questions regarding rabbinic (in)action today in regard to Gittin,
Agunot, and sexual abuse. While Avi states (in theory, correctly) that
we don't know why the Agunah conference was cancelled (at very short
notice!), the preponderance of evidence of years and years past leads to
only one conclusion - a desire to sweep the issue under the carpet - as

I have a relative who deals with the Rabbanut on a steady basis, and he
is aghast at the way most of the batei din are run. There are numerous
cases which have been delayed time and time and time again, because one
or two of the three rabbis has not shown up - no explanation given. Thus
the case is continued over to the next "round."

And what about the crock called "shalom bayit," which can manage to
delay any meaningful solution to a totally wrecked marriage (and too
often where the husband is abusive) for months and years on end?

And this is but the merest shadow of the tip of the iceberg, in my


From: Akiva Miller <kennethgmiller@...>
Date: Fri, 19 Jan 2007 13:06:02 GMT
Subject: Re: Lots of Questions

I cannot answer most of Jeanette Friedman's questions, but there are two
that I'd like to try:

> When a man's knees are permitted to be broken until he "wants" to give
> the get--a violent and life-threatening situation, which might also be
> described as torturing someone until he gives you, freely, what you
> want--why can't civilized means be used to make a man want to give a
> get in a court of law?

My understanding is that such acts are NOT permitted nowadays. Once upon
a time, they were indeed allowed, and that is what that halacha appears
in various sources, but today's rabbinical courts do not have the power
to order or sanction such actions.

> Why do the rabbis insist that felonious behavior (extorting money from
> the other party for a get) is halachically permissible? >>>

I am going to say something which can too-easily be taken out of context
and distorted, so let me begin by agreeing with you: There ARE evil
people in the world, some of whom act and dress like religious people,
who do stoop to extortion and other despicable activities, and I am just
as opposed to such things as anyone else is.

But there are also other people, ordinary folk, who are *not* evil.
Sometimes they feel that they are entitled to something which other
people feel they're *not* entitled to. They appear to the other side
like an extortionist, but in their own eyes and the eyes of their
supporters, it is an entirely reasonable request.

Thus, the truth is that rabbis do NOT insist that felonious behavior
(extorting money from the other party for a get) is halachically
permissible, but it is often difficult to tell the difference between
extortion and reasonable requests.

Again: If there is a case which appears to *you* like a very clear case
of extortion, I am NOT saying that you are wrong in that particular
case. I am only saying that there ARE SOME cases where intelligent and
reasonable people on one side will call it extortion, yet the
intelligent and reasonable people on the other side will call it

Akiva Miller


From: Moshe Bach <moshe.bach@...>
Date: Sun, 21 Jan 2007 09:09:38 +0200
Subject: Shabbat accomodations in orlando

Hi all,

My daughter and family (4 kids < 7 yrs old + hubby) will fly to the US
in a couple of weeks, and they plan to visit R Michael et al in Orlando.
Constraints on their travel dates make it convenient to spend shabbat in
Orlando.  Can someone send recommendations on whether there are
hotels/motels convenient to a shul, easy to make shabbat in a
hotel/motel, or hospitality?  If there is no convenient way to spend
shabbat in Orlando, where is the closest community - tampa?

Please reply off list.

maury (moshe) bach
<mbach@...>, moshe.bach@intel.com


From: Shmuel Himelstein <himels@...>
Date: Fri, 19 Jan 2007 14:28:16 +0200
Subject: Using Jewish blood

The question of using Jewish blood, mentioned figuratively in a recent
post, reminds me of a story of one of the Gedolim.

As was the custom in Europe, when hand-baked matzah was made the work
was most often given to widows. The hours were long and the work arduous
- and the pay was minimal.

This Gadol (and I forget his name right now) said, about the situation:

"The Gentiles accuse us of using Christian blood in baking our
Matzos. That is obviously untrue, but the way the woman are treated we
can say that we use Jewish blood in our matzah baking."

Shmuel Himelstein


End of Volume 53 Issue 87