Volume 54 Number 34
                    Produced: Mon Mar 19 20:51:13 EDT 2007

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Am I growing shorter? (2)
         [Leah Aharoni, Menachem Petrushka]
Conservative Responsa
         [Yehonatan Chipman]
Finishing the last letterts of a sefer torah
         [Moshe Rozenberg]
Rabbinic Authority (previously conservative responsa)
         [Orrin Tilevitz]
Shehechiyanu on Shoes
         [Freda B Birnbaum]
         [Mark Symons]


From: Leah Aharoni <leah25@...>
Date: Sun, 18 Mar 2007 23:12:52 +0200
Subject: Re: Am I growing shorter?

May be your tzitzit shrunk during laundry?

Leah Aharoni
Email:  <leah25@...>

From: <Menachem_Petrushka@...> (Menachem Petrushka)
Date: Mon, 19 Mar 2007 12:11:07 -0400
Subject: RE: Am I growing shorter?

Carl Singer wonders if he is growing shorter because he replaced his
tstitis on his tallis and noticed they were dragging on the floor.

The truth is that Carl is growing shorter. Studies have shown that men
shrink an average of 3/8 of an inch every five years after 30. Some men
in their nineties still are wearing the tsitsis that they had since
their marriage.  A man at approximately 44 would be an inch shorter than
at 30, at 57 he would be 2 inches shorter, etc, Therefore a shift to the
right might not be the explanation for Carl Singer's dragging fringes.

Whether studies on people in general are applicable to Jews is a
halachic topic that I will not get into.

Menachem Petrushka


From: Yehonatan Chipman <yonarand@...>
Date: Mon, 19 Mar 2007 12:03:39 +0200
Subject: Re: Conservative Responsa

I hadn't planned to continue this thread, but sonce others have gone on,
I'd like to add my proverbial two cents:

    1.  I didn't know the rule about not discussing Conservative
movement.  Evidently, the moderator felt it was nevertheless appropriate
after reviewing it.

   2.  For the record, and in response to the poster who rather
pointedly referred to me as "Mr. Chipman," I am an Orthodox rabbi, a
musmakh of Rav Yehudah Gershuni z"l; an observant Jew by anyone's
lights, member, davener and paying member of several Orthodox shuls.
Basically, since my teen years long ago, I am no more than an interested
observer of the Conservative movement, and have some C friends who come
to my home now and again.

    3.  About Rav Moshe's teshuvah about not answering Amen to a C
rabbi's "hamotzi": I was quoting from memory: I don't have the reference
handy, will post it when I get a chance to check it out.  For those
interested in the subject, Yael Levine once wrote an article with a
bibliography of all of Rav Moshe's teshuvot on the non-Orthodox
movements, but I don't have the reference to that handy either. Maybe
she'll post it.

    4.  The central point I wanted to make is twofold: first, that Rav
Moshe's argument as I remember it is kind of ad hoc: that they don't
practice halakhah, at least as understood by the Orthodox, so prima
facie that means they don't believe in Gd and hence even their brakha is
no good This argument seems, bemehilat kevodo, illogical and mixing two
very different things

   Second, the Conservative movement is a big movement, with thousands
of shuls, over 100 years of history, and dozens if not hundreds of
rabbis, scholars and JTS professors who've written seriously about
issues of Jewish belief and halakhah, so they can't all be lumped
together in one category, any more than one can include in one breath
the Satmar Rebbe, Meir Kahana, Rav Soloveitchik and Norman Lamm because
they're all "Orthodox."

    Even if I often disagree with their conclusions, their method and
approach is halakhic, or at least that of certian people much of the
time.  Would someone who isn't deeply committed to kashrut bother to
investigate in detail, e.g, the status of sturgeon, as did the late
Rabbi Isaac Klein of Buffalo?  Again, I'm not ratifying his decision (I
don't even remember many of the details, although I recall that he
included in his discussion extensive correspondence with the US Game and
Fish Service to establish the realia; or is using extra-halakhic sorces
for informational background now treif?).  Thus, when Rav Tendler
disagreed with his conclusions, that was a mahloket over "shikul
ha-da'at," similar to that which might exist between two Orthodox
rabbis, and not over whether his responsa was somehow "apikorsut."

   5.  Re the recent posting stating that the Law Committee can nullify
Rabbinic or even Torah laws: that simply isn't the case.  In the teshuva
about driving on Shabbat, their argument was two-pronged: that operating
a car, specifically an internal combustion engine, is derabanan, not
deoraita (because the use of fire for mechanical energy and moving
things, rather than for heat, light or cooking, was unknown to Hazal,
and thus not "hav'arah"; an argument that I think is falacious, but the
point is that they weren't prepared to be matir something they thought
was Torah law); and that public worshhip ("mikdash me'at") is so
important that it can override a derabanan.  Similarly, the liberal
opinion in the recent controversy over homosexuality started by saying
that they permitted same-sex marriages only with the explicit
understanding that they would not engage in penetrative sexual acts, but
only in other forms of homo-erotic pleasuring, which are arguably
derabanan, and that here kevod ha-beriot -- the need of every human
being for a loving sexual relationship -- trumps a derabanan.  (Again,
in this case I find a certain excessively flippant attitude to
derabanan, especially given that sex, homo- or hetero-, is an area where
one can easily slide into Torah transgressions.)  That's what I meant by
saying that structurally they show a certain respect for the proper
forms of halakhic argumentation.

   It should also be noted that in many of their decisions, certainly
all the major and controversial ones (counting women in the minyan, in
the mid ''70s, is a third example) their Law Committee was split, and
adopted strict opinions alongside the lenient ones.  Meaning: it's
opinions are advisory, and the local rabbi decides whom or what to

   6.  Here we come to the crux of the matter: the real problem of the C
moment is that they don't have a mass of committed laity, but a small
elite of rabbis and other professional Jews many of whom do take
halakhah seriously, plus a small smattering of observant laymen.  The
great masses of Conservative Jews couldn't care less -- as their leaders
will readily admit, at least off the record.  They (i.e., the
leadership) more or less see themselves as engaging in the front lines
of the battle against assimilation, and are happy for even minor
successes. And, in my opinion, they -- and even the Reform, for that
matter -- are deserving of a kind of respect for it.

    To summarize in one sentence: the real problem is sociological, not

    Yehonatan Chipman


From: Moshe Rozenberg <rmoses@...>
Date: Mon, 19 Mar 2007 12:09:26 +0200
Subject: Finishing the last letterts of a sefer torah

I recently was at a tekes of the completion of the last letters of
writing a sefer torah.  One of the attendees, a woman, asked to also
fill in one of the letters, she was denied. What are the halachic issues



From: Orrin Tilevitz <tilevitzo@...>
Date: Mon, 19 Mar 2007 09:00:44 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: Rabbinic Authority (previously conservative responsa)

>From Barry S. Bank:

>> .....rabbis have never had the authority to nullify a toraitic
>> ordinance....

> If that were true, then we would blow shofar when Rosh Hashanah falls
> on Shabbat, bench lulav and etrog on Shabbat Sukkot, and in the galut,
> we would put on t'fillin on the last day of every chag -- all of which
> are examples of mitzvot d'oraita (Toraitic ordinances) which were
> nullified by rabbinic authority.

Excellent!  The gemara (I forget where) asks the identical question and
concludes "shani shev ve'al taaseh".  That is, the Rabbis have the
authority to tell people not to observe a positive commandment but do
not have the autority to permit them to violate a negative one (e.g.,
they may not permit driving to shul on Shabbat).  I should have made
that clear.  There is of course the case of loans during shemita, but
that is an exception that proves the rule.


From: Freda B Birnbaum <fbb6@...>
Date: Mon, 19 Mar 2007 08:12:21 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: re: Shehechiyanu on Shoes

Leah S. Gordon notes:

> Perets Mett writes:
>> This reasoning would not apply to shehecheyonu (though most people 
>> would not make shehecheyonu for new shoes anyway, since they are more 
>> of a necessity than an enjoyable experience).
> LOL!  Whether or not new shoes are an "enjoyable experience" apparently 
> varies significantly by sartorial inclination, if not also by 
> age/gender.

Or by economic situation: I have heard that some people don't think it's
necessary to make a shehecheyonu on a new shirt, as it's not special
enough.  I know lots of people for whom a new shirt is enjoyable/special
enough to warrant a shehecheyonu.

Also, a shoe is used in the chalitza ceremony as it is a sign of
economic well-being.  Aside from the question of leather shoes, this
might factor in here.

Freda Birnbaum


From: Mark Symons <msymons@...>
Date: Mon, 19 Mar 2007 22:32:57 +1100
Subject: Zeicher/Zecher

> Orrin Tilevitz <tilevitzo@...> wrote
> What authority do you have for the proposition that those who pronounce
> Hebrew in separadit--as opposed to Israeli street Hebrew--do not
> differentiate between a tzeyrey (as in Fay Wray) and a segol?

AFAIK, the Edot Hamizrach, who pronounce Hebrew in various variants of
Sefaradit, do distinguish between tseirei and segol, but not as in the
example you give - which I think is the way Americans speak in sefaradit
- and which is no different to the tzeirei pronounced in Ashkenozis (at
least by Eastern Europeans and Anglosaxons), which pronounces it as if
there is a yud.

In the Edot Hamizrach pronunciation, which I'm led to believe is the
more authentic way (including because it doesn't insert a yud), the
distinction between segol and tseirei is like that between the first
vowels in FERRY vs FAIRY, or VERY vs VARY, or the third vowel in YOGI
BERRA vs YOGI BEAR - which is really quite a clear distinction.

Mark Symons


End of Volume 54 Issue 34