Volume 54 Number 40
                    Produced: Wed Mar 21  5:23:33 EDT 2007

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Mi she-Berakh for Agunot (5)
         [SBA, Yael Levine, Avi Feldblum, Orrin Tilevitz, Bob Sherer]
Rabbinic Authority (3)
         [Yehonatan Chipman, Alex Heppenheimer, Orrin Tilevitz]


From: SBA <sba@...>
Date: Wed, 21 Mar 2007 00:54:07 +1100
Subject: Mi she-Berakh for Agunot

From: Yael Levine <>

> Avi wrote that he thinks my claim that the translation is faulty in
> the majority of places was perhaps an exaggeration...  The examples
> are: "The translator further erroneously wrote '...raise up their
> redemption'. The Hebrew is 'yarim et karnan'. 'karnan' is not at all
> redemption.

As R' Avi notes, you have twice posted this and neither time did you
offer the translation that you prefer.

Seeing that we say this every morning - in psukei dezimra, "Haleluka,
hallelu es Hashem min hashomayim....  vayorem keren le'amo", I decided
to see what the classic meforshim write.

Indeed the Redak explains that this refers to the redemption.
"...kesheherim keren le'amoy, sheyotzi'em min hagolus veyekabtzem
bo'amim, veyorem karnom al kol ha'amim..."

Accordingly, 'raise their redemption' is definitely NOT an erroneous


From: Yael Levine <ylevine@...>
Date: Tue, 20 Mar 2007 16:35:14 +0200
Subject: Mi she-Berakh for Agunot

Once again, outsiders are telling me and letting me know what the
"kavvanah" in the prayer was. And again, for precisely such reasons I
will not endorse any translation.

SBA quoted the Radak: "...kesheherim keren le'amoy, sheyotzi'em min
hagolus veyekabtzem bo'amim, veyorem karnom al kol ha'amim...". This has
nothing to do with the articulation in the prayer for Agunot, and "raise
their redemption" is an erroneous translation. This is but one
appearance, but the expression may be found in other places as
well. See, inter alia, I Shmuel 2, 1; ibid. 2, 10; Psalms 89, 18;
ibid. 92, 11; ibid. 112, 9; ibid. 148, 14; Divrei Ha-Yamim 25, 5. There
is a different usage in Psalms 75, 5. In general terms, "yarim et
karnan" in the prayer for Agunot means that after they are freed, Hashem
will lift and raise them up, i.e. repay them in kind for their prior
inferior existence and standing.


From: Avi Feldblum <feldblum@...>
Date: Tue, 20 Mar 2007 22:29:48 -0400
Subject: Re: Mi she-Berakh for Agunot

From: Yael Levine <ylevine@...> >

> Avi further wrote: "...so it is difficult to gauge whether the correct
> translation with substantially change the meaning of the overall
> sentence." It is not at all difficult for people who know Hebrew
> fluently to discern the incorrect meanings which stemmed from this
> mistranslation.

I would just note that as you appear to be concerned about how you are
being treated by others on this list, I find the above statement quite

> I'm copying parts of my post in reaction to Lisa of WTN concerning the
> contextual issues, with several ammendments:

>> The implication is made that all of these women can be freed to
>> marry, if only the rabbis were smart enough or brave enough to find a
>> way to make it happen.

> This is a total misunderstanding of the prayer, in its Hebrew
> original, and is not at all implicit in it. In the Hebrew version, a
> wish and hope are expressed that after these women are freed they will
> merit to remarry. This appears in a totally different paragraph.

To respond just to this point, I think the implication Lisa sees in the
text is very clear to me as well. Here is the approximate english
translation of the Hebrew that I think clearly makes this implication:

   God who releases prisoners [], give in the hearts of the judges of
   Israel a spirit of wisdom and understanding, a spirit of good advice
   and courage, a spirit of knowledge and fear of God, that they may
   release all chained women and those who have been refused a writ of
   divorce from their bonds

I open to anyone to compare this with the Hebrew text (I removed one
word where I freely admit I am not familiar with the Hebrew term, but is
not relevant to the point being made here) and correct it if they feel
there is any substantial correction that needs to be made. 

The statement I see being made is that if the judges of Israel where to
have the proper spirit of knowledge and fear of God, then they would be
able to release all chained women. To my understanding, I view this as a
slander on many well meaning Rabbanim who are full of fear of God, but
are not able to "release all chained women". On the contrary, many of
the people who have made these type of statements basically state right
out, that if the Rabbis don't "solve" this problem, we should just
change the law. Some of these people are also the ones that say that the
concept of Mamzer is old fashioned and should be abolished. In this
context, I do not agree that I could support saying this text, as
written, in shul.

>From a halachic perspective, the almost complete focus of this prayer is
on those who have been refused a writ of divorce, as opposed to an
Aguna. As such, when reference is made to earlier teshuvot that used
some of the terminology used in this prayer and uses that as the
defining precedence to validate it's use here, I question whether
phrases used in reference to classic Agunot can be used for the current
situation of those who have been refused a writ of divorce. As has been
mentioned by others, especially in regards to the situation in the US
and other places outside of Israel, the biggest issue is that Beit Din
and community has largely lost any enforceable powers.

I am in no way belittling the tragedy of the current situation, but at
the same time, that does not put the advocates for change and
improvements in a position where their stances and proclamations cannot
be challenged and discussed.

Avi Feldblum

From: Orrin Tilevitz <tilevitzo@...>
Date: Tue, 20 Mar 2007 10:59:46 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: Mi she-Berakh for Agunot

Our posts are crossing.
From Yael:

> The law states clear cut that the author holds the translation rights.

Not exactly.  It says that copyright rights extend to the creation of
derivative works, including translations.  But just as I may publish the
original work in a manner that constitutes a fair use, I may translate
it in a manner that constitutes a fair use.

> "Fair use" means partial use.

That's only one of the factors going into the determination.

> Translating an entire work is beyond that. Since the entire work was
> translated, and not only those portions which the translator sought to
> criticize, it went beyond fair use.

Not necessarily true.  Again, the amount of the work copied - even if
the whole work is copied - is only one of the four factors.  See, e.g.,
Sony Corp. of America v. Universal City Studios, Inc. 464 U.S. 417, 448,
text at fn 33 (1984), which states that there would be no infringement
(under the facts of the case) even though an entire work was copied.

> The prayer in itself falls under the category of an independent literary
> work, despite the fact that Orrin called it "short".

Technically, yes, but what if your prayer had been only 5 words long?

> It is precisely attempts such as these, by people who are not totally
> familiar with the entire range of sources upon which the prayer was
> based, and consequently could not possibly produce an accurate
> translation, and attempts to "overtake" the work of others, from which
> I have to protect the work.

But you have no legal right to protect your work per se.  You have no
exclusive right to say what your prayer means.  If you did, then essays
explaining what a work means that are not a word-for-word translation
would also constitute a copyright infringement.  But they don't.

> I consider it extremely serious to be accused of trying to control
> people's thought processes. Again, you are "hoshed bi-ksheirim," in
> public, without any basis whatsoever. This in itself is problematic
> halakhically, and does require in my eyes a request for "mechila" on
> the same forum on which it was voiced.

This is a highly unusual situation, as others have pointed out.  This is
very different from a book that will be read by non-speakers, or a play
that will be performed outside the author's country.  People don't
normally copyright prayers.  You are now claiming the exclusive right to
translate a work that is intended to be recited by common people.  The
target audience of the translation is largely presumably those who are
reciting the original, because presumably many of them don't understand
what they are saying.  They think in English while reciting a prayer in
Hebrew.  That is quite usual, but therefore the practical effect of your
claim of an exclusive right to translate - wholly setting aside the
issue of whether that claim has legal validity - is that you are
claiming the legal right to tell them what to think - i.e., to control
what they are thinking- while they are reciting your prayer.  Moreover,
you are claiming that someone infringed your copyright even though her
translation was not intended to be used, and could not have been used,
for recitation in the environment you intended for your prayer. While I
meant no personal offense, I am very troubled by people asserting legal
rights -- even if they have them -- with the apparent purpose, and
evident effect, of attempting to stifle discussion.

In your initial objection to Lisa's translation you stated

> this translation is incorrect, unreliable and unauthorized, and as
> already mentioned a breach of the law, and consequently of halakhah.

That last statement is a non sequitur.  Dina demalchuta dina (the
secular law is halacha) has its limits.  Some simple examples: the law
in the Soviet Ukraine (I was told) required people to work two Saturdays
per month.  Would avoiding work (assuming that it equals melacha) have
violated halacha?  Or, say U.S. law barred abortions to save a woman's
life, as the Church has advocated.  Would performing an abortion to save
a woman's life - as I believe the halacha requires - be a violation of
halacha?  And if a creditor has a right, under secular law, to foreclose
on property of a poor family, does the halacha necessarily give him that
right?  While, as I wrote in my crossing post, copyright infringement is
a form of hassagat gevul, even assuming that there was copyright
infringement here - and the more I look at this issue, the more
skeptical I get - I question whether halacha would regard it as such; it
should be clear that secular law's disposition of the matter would not
control halacha's.  And if halacha does not give you such a right, then
your assertion of the right under secular law would itself be a
violation of halacha.

From: <ERSherer@...> (Bob Sherer)
Date: Tue, 20 Mar 2007 15:23:34 EDT
Subject: Re: Mi she-Berakh for Agunot

      There's a misheberach inflation going on.

As a former gabbai in my previous shul , I agree and sympathise with
you.  The time for making misheberachs should not exceed the time
required to daven Musaf.

                Bob Sherer 


From: Yehonatan Chipman <yonarand@...>
Date: Wed, 21 Mar 2007 07:12:22 +0200
Subject: Re: Rabbinic Authority

Ben Katz writes:

>          The matter is not so glib.  I believe chametz she-avar alav
> hapesach would be considered a lav deorayta by everyone and yet the
> rabbis did get around it by instituting the selling of chametz to a
> nonJew prior to pesach.

Where did he get this?  Rambam says in Hametz u-Matzah 1.4 that it is
indeed forbidden to have any benefit from it forever, but that this is
"kenas hu mi-divrei sofrin" -- that is to say, a Rabbinic prohibition.
Albeit, the reason is because during Pesah he violated the Torah law of
"bal yeraeh u-val yimatze."  So this example is incorrect.  

Yehonatan Chipman

From: Alex Heppenheimer <aheppenh@...>
Date: Tue, 20 Mar 2007 20:07:05 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: Re: Rabbinic Authority

If the sale of chametz wasn't valid according to Torah law, then never
mind the prohibition of "chametz she-avar alav ha-Pesach" (which, by the
way, Magen Avraham 448:3 says is a Rabbinic enactment); one would be in
violation of "bal yera'eh uval yimatze" (chametz shall not be seen nor
found in your possession during Pesach), which are unquestionably Torah
prohibitions (Shemos 13:7 and 12:19). See, for example, the Baal
HaTanya's Seder Mechiras Chametz (printed at the end of vol. 3 of his
Shulchan Aruch):

"One who thinks that the sale of chametz is Rabbinical, given the custom
that everyone nullifies their chametz... - is mistaken, since the sold
chametz is not included in the nullification or declaration of
ownerlessness, since he intends to re-acquire it after Pesach. This is
explained in the responsa of Rashba where he cites the Yerushalmi, and
it is also the decision of the Rema in Darchei Moshe, and of Pri
Chadash. Hence, if the sale is legally invalid, one would be violating
'bal yera'eh uval yimatze,' and so one must be careful."

So the sale of chametz must indeed be valid according to both Biblical
and Rabbinical law. It's been formalized, in that it's done by the
community Rabbi rather than by each individual; but after all, a major
reason for that is precisely to ensure that the sale is executed in a
manner that is valid according to halachah.

So this is still not a case where the Rabbis made it possible for a
person to legally violate a Torah prohibition.

Kol tuv,

From: Orrin Tilevitz <tilevitzo@...>
Date: Tue, 20 Mar 2007 19:25:06 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: Rabbinic Authority

See http://www.star-k.org/kashrus/kk-passover-purcpesach.htm: "After
Pesach, there is a Rabbinical injunction of not eating or deriving
benefit from Chometz SHeAvar Alav HaPesach"


End of Volume 54 Issue 40