Volume 54 Number 96
                    Produced: Wed Jun 13  6:42:00 EDT 2007

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

         [Dov Teichman]
Expanded definition of Kashrut
         [Joel Rich]
Jay ("Yaakov") Shachter's Post (2)
         [Chana Luntz, Joseph Kaplan]
OlamRadio.com - Jewish Music on the Internet
         [Jonathan Baker]
Synagogue membership and dues
         [Chana Luntz]
The uniform of the day is ....


From: <DTnLA@...> (Dov Teichman)
Date: Tue, 12 Jun 2007 20:27:12 EDT
Subject: Beseder

Does anyone know the origin of the common expression: "Beseder"?

It is now incorporated into speech by Jews when speaking many different
languages like English, Yiddish, French, Yeshivish, etc.

Did it enter colloquial speech through the Zionist revival of spoken
Hebrew? or was it used in pre-Zionist Yiddish too?

("Nafka Mina" is whether a Satmerer Chussid may use this term.)


Dov Teichman


From: Joel Rich <JRich@...>
Date: Tue, 12 Jun 2007 20:03:53 -0400
Subject: Expanded definition of Kashrut

> The points raised in this discussion are also given much concurrent
> support in a seemingly unrelated matter that interestingly has received
> little attention up to now: an attempt of the Conservative movement to
> redefine the halacha of kashrus.
> It was with considerable interest that I read the enclosed article in
> the Jewish Press:
> http://www.thejewishpress.com/page.do/21769/Conservatives_And_Kashrut.html
>Despite all good intentions, does one seriously believe that
>Conservative rabbis are actually qualified to render competent
>independent opinions that deal with "safe, fair working conditions" and
>such matters?

If you mean from a halachik viewpoint, I imagine not (based on how we
might define competent from an orthodox viewpoint).  If you mean from a
non-halachik viewpoint, there are many Rabbis who opine on issues that
they do not have professional training in and do a fine job.

Joel Rich


From: Chana Luntz <chana@...>
Date: Wed, 13 Jun 2007 00:22:36 +0100
Subject: Jay ("Yaakov") Shachter's Post

Joseph Kaplan writes:

> 3.  My main comment is a question of tone.  Recently, I heard 
> a major Rosh Yeshiva, who has been actively involved in 
> agunah/msorevet l'get issues for many years, speak about 
> another topic.  In the midst of that presentation, he told of 
> his experience with a case of an Israeli woman, married to a 
> homosexual, who was seeking a get.  The husband was willing 
> to give one for a million dollars. This rosh yeshiva was 
> called in to try to find a way to annul the marriage without 
> a get, but he said he was unable to do so.  (From the context 
> of his remarks, I don't think that was true, but that 
> requires a much lengthier discussion.)  And so, he concluded 
> his story by saying that he could not annul the marriage but 
> that the woman was able to get her get by paying her husband 
> a sum of money which, luckily, turned out to be significantly 
> less than a million dollars.
> I had many problems with this story, but a major one was a problem
> with its tone.  The words, the voice, the expression, the language
> used all said: no big deal, she got out of the marriage and it cost
> her some money (and she came from a rich family).  Case closed; see,
> halacha works.  There was no sorrow that a woman had to be put through
> not only the bitterness of a marriage destroyed because of a husband
> who lied and cheated, but SHE was the one who then had to pay through
> the nose to get out of it.  There was no regret that only extortion,
> and not halacha, could help this poor woman.  There was no heartbreak
> for the woman's heartbreak.  It was simply business as usual; indeed,
> the feeling conveyed was that this was a "good" result because the
> woman did get her get.

I understand your issue with the question of tone.  And yet, and yet,
let me give you a scenario which unquestionably can be understood as a
question of pikuach nefesh, where some of the issues might seem really
very similar - and yet I question whether you would have a problem with
the tone if a similar statement was made.

The case is one of pidyon shevuiim [redemption of captives].

The gemora in Baba Babra 8b makes it clear that pidyon shevuiim is
considered such a great mitzva because being captured can be considered
worse than being put to death by the sword or dying of hunger because it
in includes all of these.

And interestingly, while it is a general mitzvah to redeem captives (See
Yoreh Deah siman 242), and money should be used on this in priority to
almost any other form of tzedaka, a husband has a specific duty to
redeem his wife if taken captive (see Even Haezer siman 78).

Now let us say that, instead of this fellow demanding a million dollars
for a get, his wife was captured and the kidnappers demanded a ransom of
a million dollars, but the husband was able to obtain her freedom for a
sum of money which, luckily, turned out to be significantly less than a
million dollars.

Would you be upset by a tone which said that this was a good result -
that she got to freedom albeit that it cost her husband some money (and
he came from a rich family)?  That there was no regret that only
extortion, and not divine intervention blasting the kidnappers from the
sky, could help this poor woman?  That in fact the halacha, by
encouraging and making such a big mitzvah of pidyon shevuiim, must in so
doing be encouraging kidnappers to try their luck, whereas a no
negotiate with terrorists and lets go in with guns blazing kind of
approach might make those prepared to act in such a way less likely to
do so?

If the answers to any of these questions does not mirror the answer that
you would give in relation to a msoreves haget, what is the reason for
the difference in your approach?


From: Joseph Kaplan <penkap@...>
Date: Tue, 12 Jun 2007 20:16:26 -0400
Subject: Re: Jay ("Yaakov") Shachter's Post

My reaction to your scenario and question is the following:

The world is a lousy place sometimes.  It is, unfortunately, filled with
great evil (though, thank God, much good as well).  And there is nothing
one can do to eradicate evil completely; we can combat it, defeat it
sometimes, but not completely eradicate it.  So, when faced with a
hostage situation, a question of evil people doing evil things, if the
solution is not the worst one, we can rejoice that the bad result won
out over the worse result.  With the agunah case (I hope you don't mind
if I don't use msorevet get), however, there is one added factor: the
evil arises out of a misuse of halacha that, somehow, should be fixable.
And if our rabbis can't/won't fix it, if they allow halacha to be
misused in a way that brings such hurt to an innocent party, then it's
not a case of bad winning out over worse; it's a case of bad plus being
the result. And it's that plus that made the tone so infuriating.



From: Jonathan Baker <jjbaker@...>
Date: Tue, 12 Jun 2007 23:03:47 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: OlamRadio.com - Jewish Music on the Internet


For those of you who enjoy listening to Jewish music, I wanted to make
you aware that there is a free option for doing so over the
Internet. OlamRadio.com is a so-called Internet radio station that plays
non-stop Jewish music 24 hours a day, 6 days a week. In addition to
playing music they also have live shows.

To listen, just go to http://www.OlamRadio.com/ and click on the LISTEN
link on the upper left of the page. I hope you enjoy!

Full disclosure: My brother (Yosef Dov Feldhamer) runs this site.


Stuart Feldhamer


From: Chana Luntz <chana@...>
Date: Tue, 12 Jun 2007 16:12:43 +0100
Subject: Synagogue membership and dues

Janice Gelb wrote:

> Sorry to quote at length but I didn't want to destroy the context.

Interesting that you quoted at length, but did not quote the part that I
felt was most important, namely the text of the letter sent out by the

> I think Chana is being a bit hard on the synagogue in question. I
> agree that it was thoughtless to send out such letters to the
> membership at large without having people familiar with the personal
> situations of the congregants cull the list first to remove from the
> rota those people who were unlikely to be able to fulfill security
> duties due to health or family situations. However, I think that a
> letter pointing out this oversight would have been more appropriate
> than blasting the leadership for ignoring/not encouraging membership
> of people in those situations.

As I thought was made clear, I did indeed first send a letter pointing
this out, and asking to be removed from the list.  I was then promised
that I would be added to the list of people who were not to be allocated
security (although I also got a series of paragraphs about the uncertain
nature of our times, and the need for security).  The culling process
did not work, however, and instead I continued to receive such letters.

But I think there is a deeper problem here than just a failure to cull,
and that was the nature of the letter itself.  The letter stated very
clearly that it was a decision of the Board of Management and the Rabbi
that *ALL* members (note that the bolding and capitalisation was theirs,
not mine) should do security.  Not, all members who are capable of it,
or all members without other higher responsibilities, but *ALL* members.
That, to my view makes a clear statement, sent out in the name of the
board of management and the rabbi, that there is no expectation of there
being members who could not do security.  Even if they were to have
people familiar with the personal situations of the congregants cull the
list first, the very nature of the statement of *ALL* means that such
people who may need to be so culled are somehow not *real* members.

And further the statement that it was "unlikely" that a person would not
be able to do security, but should that occur, it was their job to swap
with somebody else (ie no suggestion that there might reasonably be
cases where a person could not do it at all), and the shifting of the
onus of responsibility onto such a person to find a substitute (not even
a telephone number to ring to explain why you could not do it, but an
absolute requirement that you fill the slot), again gives a very strong
flavour that they did not expect or contemplate the existence of people
who might, perhaps, find both doing security and finding a substitute a
little bit of a challenge (your ninety year old housebound member,

As I tried to indicate, what I found unappealing, well beyond the fact
that I may have "slipped through the net" was the tone of the letter,
which did not acknowledge the existence of a cohort of members who could
not reasonably be asked to do security.  What do you call members who
are not a member of the club called ALL?  And while I do think that it
is a form of oversight, it strikes me as a a rather unfortunate form of
oversight - to completely miss the existence of the weak and vulnerable.
And while it is not totally clear to me that the Board of Management and
the Rabbi actually approved the precise language of the statement, it
certainly read as though they did, meaning that you have a significant
number of heads who all seem to have managed to overlook the fact that,
assuming it were a normal community, there would be a decent sized
cohort of people who are just not able to do what is being demanded of
ALL members.

> I doubt very much that the shul's security policy is meant to send the
> message that they do not welcome as members any but the young and fit.

I totally agree that that is unlikely to be the message that they meant
to send.  What is worrying is a) it seems to me clearly to be the
message that was in fact sent and b) that, when I tried pointing this
out to them, they were not able to understand in what way the language
of their letter might feel exclusionary.  That is, they were not able to
put themselves into the shoes of somebody who might be less than
physically able, and see how the language of such a letter might impact
on them.  That, to my mind, displayed an extraordinary lack of empathic
ability for what is supposed to be a community institution, and
indicated to me that this was a community institution that I could not
feel was worthy of my support.



From: Carl <casinger@...>
Date: Tue, 12 Jun 2007 21:06:11 -0400
Subject: The uniform of the day is ....

> Within the parameters that Merkaz haRav set itself, the yeshiva never
> became "black" in the sense that its kippa is still the kippa seruga
> (knitted kippa) although sometimes a little bit larger, and only a
> handful of its students wear black suits.

I find it a sad commentary that we (myself included) tend to describe
Jews by the knit of their yarmulke or the cut and color of their suit.
Shame on us all.

Carl Singer


End of Volume 54 Issue 96