Volume 54 Number 69
                    Produced: Tue May 15  0:33:22 EDT 2007

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Religious psychotherpy
         [Joseph Ginzberg]
Rise and fall of the bima
         [Joseph Ginzberg]
The rise and fall of the bimah
         [Jonathan Baker]
Zaycher vs. Zecher
         [Michael Poppers]


From: Joseph Ginzberg <jgbiz120@...>
Date: Fri, 11 May 2007 15:46:06 -0400
Subject: Religious psychotherpy

Tzvi Stein takes issue with some of my feelings about the inherent
problems in practicing religious psychotherapy.

>I'm really surprised that you were "unable" to work this out!  These
>days there are quite a few frum people working in the social work /
>counseling / psychology field, so it would seem that there are
>halachically viable approaches.

First off, "Es chatai ani mazkir" ( I condemn myself), by letting you
know that although these days there are indeed many religious
therapists, I am older, and in the 1970's there were not.

Sadly, I must also point out that while many, perhaps most, of the
religious therapists are excellent, the field is also sadly flooded with
religious "wannabes", M.S.W.'s, rabbis, and sundry others who are doing
therapy and causing untold harm. Ask almost any rabbi, and he'll tell
you how many "counselors" there are using allegedly Ramchal-based,
kabbala-based, and the like, types of dubious therapy to help religious
people in search of help, and causing huge problems of all types. They
are finding, quietly, far more clients than the "magicians" who read
your mezuza, megilla, kesuba, palm, tzitzis, whatever.

>I'm not familiar with any halacha that would require notifying someone
>about their spouse's behavior, if that behavior doesn't affect them
>(i.e.  the examples you cited of "masturbation, failure to act in
>accord with halacha when the spouse wasn't around").  On the contrary,
>it would seem that it would be forbidden to notify the spouse, due to
>the halachas of loshon hara.

I am surprised to hear an orthodox Jew say that.  "L'afrushei meissura"
(saving another from doing a sin) is not an an important
principle. Also, one is in violation of halacha (in my opinion,
obviously) if you are being asked, consulted, or in any way involved
with someone religious and one does not tell him that what he's doing is
forbidden.  This is distinct from standing in the street and screaming
"shabbos" at passing cars, this is being in a counseling setting with
the person telling you that he does X, and you need to respond, and he
will in some way respond to that response.  That would be, for example,
applicable to masturbation.

Failure to act in accord with halacha when the spouse is not around is a
more serious issue, as it affects others. What happens to the issue of
reliability (ne'emanus)? The husband is eating at home thinking his home
is kosher, when it is not.  He may think she goes to the mikva, when she
does not.  There are many other examples, but in all these cases the
halacha is involved, the husband should know, and there are penalties
prescribed in the Shulchan Aruch, where such a woman is called a
"moredes", a rebel.  The only issue is if the therapist is obligated to
tell the husband, where major violations of halacha are involved.  This
issue is a complex one, and the modern-day "loshon hara" defense is an
inadequate response.

>As for "extramarital issues", that would only bring up a possible issue
>if a married *woman* had admitted to actual adultery (not just
>fantasies or any behavior short of actual adultery), since that may
>affect the husband halachically.  But even in that case, I don't think
>thre is any halachic mandate to inform the spouse.

Reality time is here, sadly. My friend, ask anyone in this field-
adultery, like alcoholism and drug abuse, is no longer a "not us"
phenomenon.  The problems raised, though, are huge. I know of a case
where a woman nursed her husband, ill with cancer, for years before
succumbing to her urges and lack of marital life and having a fling. Now
what? Tell the husband, so he'll die upset and alone? Tell her she's now
forbidden to be alone with this man?  Ignoring the issue is a lot easier
and seems more "fair", but how can one make it kosher?

>As for "condemnatory comments"... I don't know of any halacha that
>requires "condemning" anyone!  If you are referring to "rebuke", that
>is supposed to be constructive and likely to lead to a change of
>behavior. Also, if you know that the rebuke won't be effective, you are
>not required to give it.

I was referring to condemning the act, not the person.

Of course, there is also the Torah mitzvah of "Hocheach", which can be
called rebuke, if you prefer to call it that rather than condemnation,
but is not limited to constructive. How can telling another that he is
violating X be constructive, anD still be part of the procedure that
leads to bet-din penalties? Warnings, rebukes, condemnations, it Doesn't
matter what you call them, are meant to improve the observance of those
who accept them as they are lovingly given, but also to condemn those
who flout them.  Is there a difference between Hocheach (rebuke)and
hasraah (warning)?  I think the difference is semantics.

>Finally, there is the matter of "law of the land", which halacha
>requires you to follow, and may exempt you from many of these concerns.

The law of the land doesn't say that one should work in any particular
field, nor does it say that one may ignore halacha when it conflicts
with his professional ethics.  The concept is widely misunderstood, and
is IMHO is irrelevant to this topic.

>It just seems to me these issues you raise have solutions, and it would
>not be necessary to abandon a career in this field.

I do finally agree with a comment, and I am sure that had I worked
harder or been more persistent I could have found solutions, and that is
why I have never tried to propose that the field is forbidden to the
orthodox.  For myself only did I decide as I did.

Yossi Ginzberg


From: Joseph Ginzberg <jgbiz120@...>
Date: Fri, 11 May 2007 15:58:08 -0400
Subject: Rise and fall of the bima

The question as to the history and attitudes toward having a raised bima
in the synagogue intrigues me.

I did a quick look at the few books on synagogue architecture that I
have (Synagogues of Europe by Carol Krinsky, The Synagogue edited by Uri
Kaploun, Jews and Synagogues by Umberto Fortis), and as I expected the
raised bima appears in virtually every large and non-chassidic orthodox
synagogue shown, some dating back to the 1600's.

My impression is that the raised bima was done away with by poverty, in
those times and places where elaborate construction was not
possible. Later, with the rise of chassidus, when prayer in an intimate,
informal, and close "shtiebel" became a desirable thing, the raised bima
was discarded as being too formal.

Does anyone have another theory?

Yossi Ginzberg


From: Jonathan Baker <jjbaker@...>
Date: Fri, 11 May 2007 17:25:08 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: The rise and fall of the bimah

From: <Phyllostac@...> (Mordechai)
> It seems to me that the situation in the Jewish world presently is...

> 1) large Ashkenazic Shuls usually have raised bimahs, which, however,
> can vary significantly in various ways, among them height and area.

> 2) smaller houses of worship, whether Chassidic 'shtieblech', Yeshiva
> minyonim or other types, generally do not have them.

> 3) some Chassidic shuls do have them (there seem to be more larger
> Chassidic houses of worship going up in recent years and they may be
> more likely to have them).

> 4) large Yeshivas generally do not have them, with some exception.

> 5) perhaps we can say that they are more usually seen in a beis
> haknesses and less so in a beis medrash.

I think a lot of it has to do with pragmatics.  That is, chassidic shuls
tended to be shtibls, hence small, and maybe their practice from the old
days comes down to largely prevent them from using raised bimah.

The overriding issue is, it seems to me, visual and auditory contact
with the action on the bimah (leining, shliach tzibur).  In small shuls,
everyone can see or hear.  In large shuls, raising the speaker a few
feet above everyone else's heads and hats makes them more visible and
audible to the rest of the people all sitting on the flat floor.

Often, the larger the shul, the higher the bimah. 

And if the shul is a multipurpose room, whether sharing with a beis
medrash or with a school or a day-care, a raised bima is impractical;
the furniture must be wheeled so you can put it away after Shabbos.

For instance, my parents' summer shul, generic Ashkenazim (as built; now
Conservative), has a raised bimah, for a squarish building about 60' on
a side.  The floor of the bimah is about 2 feet up, and it's quite close
to the stage at the front.  I think it could hold 150-200 at its peak;
since then, they chopped off the back third for a kiddush and party

Cong. Kehillath Jeshurun in New York, maybe 100x80, seats perhaps 700 in
the men's section, and has a raised bima with 5 steps, or about 3'

770, the big Chabad shul, is a similar size, if not larger, maybe
100x140, and it has a big raised bimah.

The shuls in Park Slope: the Conservative one doesn't have a bima, the
Orthodox has a small bima (1 step portable platforms), for a smallish
group (about 100 on Shabbos); Yavneh Minyan in Flatbush is also
smallish, so no raised bimah.  The Orthodox, when it was in the basement
of the Conservative, didn't have a bima; they shared space with a
day-care, so had to take out & put away the furniture every morning and

Big Yeshiva: Chaim Berlin - no bima, again because things are portable,
even if it's also a permanent shul with a women's gallery.

So to me, pragmatics seem to run things: size demands height, and also
allows room for steps sticking out from the sides of the bima.
Different uses for the room demand ease of putting away.  Small size
doesn't require height.

        name: jon baker              web: http://www.panix.com/~jjbaker
     address: <jjbaker@...>     blog: http://thanbook.blogspot.com


From: <MPoppers@...> (Michael Poppers)
Date: Fri, 11 May 2007 11:38:33 -0400
Subject: Re: Zaycher vs. Zecher

In M-J V54#45 (I'm catching up on some old, unread digests -- forgive me
if someone already responded w/ the thoughts listed below), Joshua
Hosseinof writes:

> See the responsa of Rabbi Avraham ben Harambam #79, question Bet.  He
> was asked why the Gemara Berachot 15b does not list the phrase "benay
> yisrael" as a case in keriat shema where we must be careful to not
> join the two words together since "benay" ends with yud, and "yisrael"
> begins with yud.  He answers that "benay" is pronounced as if the yud
> is silent like an aleph (so it is pronounced "bene")....So if the yud
> is not vocalised it could not be "benay", and the tsere sound could
> not possibly be an "ay" sound.

Josh, are you adding "(so it is pronounced 'bene')," or does that come
from RAvBaM?  If the former, I humbly suggest you're misunderstanding
the answer, at least for those who pronounce a tzeireh the same whether
or not a yud follows -- rather, one can explain that because the yud
doesn't modify the sound, there is no worry of two consonants being
pronounced like one, as there is no "first [audible] consonant" at the
end of the first of the two words, just as would have been the case if
"b'nei" was spelled beis-nun-aleph.  I hope that makes sense, but if
not, please reply.  Thanks!

All the best from
--Michael Poppers via RIM pager


End of Volume 54 Issue 69