Volume 55 Number 68
                    Produced: Fri Sep  7  6:02:08 EDT 2007

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Beis Din deciding Rosh Chodesh
         [Robert Sherer]
Da'as Torah
         [Shoshana L. Boublil]
da'as Torah vs. "instinct"
         [Carl Singer]
Halakhic reasoning vs. reward/punishment calculations
         [Janice Gelb]
Keeping Mezuzos for the Same Room Exclusively (5)
         [Joseph Ginzberg, Joel Rich, Carl Singer, Akiva Miller, Shimon
Tzva'at HaRivash
         [Yisrael Medad]
Uman (2)
         [Keith Bierman, Carl Singer]
Unwanted "gifts" from Tzedukahs
         [I. Balbin]


From: <ERSherer@...> (Robert Sherer)
Date: Thu, 6 Sep 2007 16:02:04 EDT
Subject: Re: Beis Din deciding Rosh Chodesh

      Was the court session when the Eidym came for seeing the New Moon
      an open court, available for all to view?

I thought that Rosh Hashonah was deliberately made two days after the
29th of Elul to obviate any reliance on witnesses who may have sighted
the moon, but can't travel to Yerushalyim because the holiday is already
on them Rosh Hashanah is the only holiday on the calendar that falls on
the first day of the lunar month.

                                    rOBERT sHERER 


From: Shoshana L. Boublil <toramada@...>
Date: Fri, 7 Sep 2007 10:23:39 +0300
Subject: Re: Da'as Torah

> From: Michael Frankel <michaeljfrankel@...>
>>>From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
>>>The faction which has taken over my shul and radically altered its
>>>character justify their changes by claiming to be based on an
>>>anonymous "Da'as Torah".  Since this term seems to be used rather
>>>frequently nowadays it has to all intents and purposes been emptied of
>>>meaning. Can anyone explain how one can tell the genuine article from
>>>its many purported imitations?
>> It's really very simple -- true Da'at Torah will have sources to back
>> it up, and won't fear questions. If you don't believe me, go to any
>> true Gadol and ask him a question. He will have no problem not only
>> giving sources, but patiently addressing all your questions, and
>> discussing your opinions.  Shana Tova Shoshana L. Boublil
> I think this is exactly wrong. "da'as torah" in current usage

Here is where we depart. Da'at Torah should be what you wrote below.
But it isn't.  It's turned into a rumour filled ex-halachic resource
that forces many to take "halachic" action in ways that are always seen
as "chumrot" and most barely (if at all) have a leg to stand on.

Therefore, in such a place, where - as the poster said - the source is
anonymous, it is NOT the opinion of a Gadol, as you have described
below.  Rather it is some trend to out-frum the neighbors and many times
it leads to ouright leniencies, if not Aveirot in other very important
halachic issues, usually in Bein Adam LeChaveiro, but also in Bein Adam

> is precisely the expression of an unerring, and inerrant, instinct
> rather than anything as mundane as source analysis/inference.  It
> includes what that very embodiment of da'as torah of recent
> generations - the CI - termed the 5th cheleq of SA.  Not that its
> practitioners couldn't moqore their way about with the best
> (especially if they were the best),

And the last sentence IS the issue.  First of all, they were Gedolim who
when they went to the 5th Cheleq of the SA, it was mostly to guide
people into more Ru'ach Ha'halacha [the spirit of the law], and very
rarely into newer stringincies.  It was mostly used for Bein Adam
LeChaveiro, in cases where the stringency of halacha was leading to
results that were NOT Ru'ach hahalacha.  It is a mixture of Torah based
common sense and a keen sense of understanding of what Hashem (through
Torah, Nevi'im, Ketuvim and Torah SheBeAlPeh) wanted from the nation of

Let me give you an example. I heard this from my father.  (I may be
repeating it) Many years ago, there was in Jerusalem the great Rabbi
Salant.  One day a poor woman comes to him and says that some milk
spilled into her chicken soup, what should she do?  From her report it
sounded like the soup was treif.  But the rabbi told her to sit a while,
and sent for the milkman.  He took the milkman into his office, closed
the doors and told him: Okay, I won't repeat what you tell me, and
nobody can hear us.  How much water do you add to your milk?

Afterwards, the rabbi came out to the woman and told her that her
chicken soup was fine.

The halachic instinct of Da'at Torah is exemplified in the rabbi's
understanding that you don't pasken such a question directly from the
books.  The woman couldn't afford another pot of soup, and would
probably go hungry.  But his greatness was in seeing outside the
confines of the Yeshiva; of being a rabbi who knows his congregation.
Such a rabbi can indeed give a Da'at Torah based on instinct as you have

> but da'as torah means they could operate ex cathedra guided if
> necessary only by inerrant perception of divine truth vouschafed those
> y'chidim by some distant cousin of ruach haqqodesh.

Unfortunately, too many are abusing the term Da'at Torah and using it as
a block of wood to beat on the other's heads with frumkeit.  That is NOT
what it's supposed to be. But that is exactly what the original poster
described in his post.

In such a case, this is not Da'at Torah we are dealing with but
something that is using the term to force obediance.  That is NOT IMHO
what Da'at Torah is all about. Therefore, when dealing with the current
usage of Da'at Torah you have to know that it always has a basis in
halachah/machshava =Torah, and when it doesn't, and when it won't face
up to the light of day and respond to questions -- then it is suspect.

Shoshana L. Boublil


From: Carl Singer <casinger@...>
Date: Thu, 06 Sep 2007 23:11:16 -0400
Subject: da'as Torah vs. "instinct"

> I think this is exactly wrong. "da'as torah" in current usage is
> precisely the expression of an unerring, and inerrant, instinct rather
> than anything as mundane as source analysis/inference.

I believe the above is "exactly wrong"  (and therefore correct.) 

There is something called "natural law" -- by which, for example, most
people, regardless of their religious views might conclude that killing
children is WRONG.  Thus with or without Torah many (most?) people would
come to this same conclusion (and presumably act accordingly.)

If common usage for "da'as Torah" has mutated to some equivalent of
"Moral is that which feels good the next morning." -- e.g., "Da'as
Torah" is that which feels "Toradik" or "frum" or "religious" or "what
(I think) some Gadol would have said had he had the opportunity to
consider this" -- then we are dealing with an anarchy of gut vs. the
Torah tradition.  A tradition which as we all know begins with "Moshe
received the Torah from Sinai and passed it along to ...."  (Perkai Avos
-- yes there is a source :)

One's religious gut (or "religious compass") may be useful at times in
certain domains and certain circumstances -- but woe onto the ego that
believes his or her gut trumps true da'as Torah and the accompanying
centuries old tradition upon which it is built.



From: Janice Gelb <j_gelb@...>
Date: Thu, 6 Sep 2007 16:59:17 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: Halakhic reasoning vs. reward/punishment calculations

Daniel Wells <wells@...> wrote:

> We have the Conservative movement allowing on Shabbos, the driving to
> Shul but forbidding the driving to the football match thus hoping to
> engender allegiance to their heritage. What actually happens in many C
> homes is that shul is missed and the football or golf gets that
> allegiance.

This is a ludicrous statement. Do you honestly think that someone who
feels that a teshuva is necessary in order to drive on Shabbat would
also be someone who would skip shul and go to football or golf and use a
teshuva as their rationale for being able to do so? People who do not
attend shul in order to go to football or golf are not people who would
take teshuvot seriously, assuming they'd even heard of them at all.

-- Janice


From: Joseph Ginzberg <jgbiz120@...>
Date: Thu, 06 Sep 2007 10:24:36 -0400
Subject: Keeping Mezuzos for the Same Room Exclusively

>Does anyone know the basis / origin of the custom to keep mezuzos for
>the same room exclusively even after having them checked?

In the Halachot of Sukka, there is a custom mentioned , that some people
number the boards of the sukkah so that in subsequent years they are all
in the same order. The reason given is that since we cannot know which
particular spot might be more "honored" than any other, we can avoid
"demoting" any parts by keeping everything in the same place. There is a
halachic concept that forbids "demoting" Holy articles (tashmeshei
kedusha) to lesser uses.

It follows that since the mezuza on, say, the living room is more
prominent/ honored/ used than the one on the bedroom, they should be
replaced in the same places.

Yossi Ginzberg

From: <JRich@...> (Joel Rich)
Date: Thu, 06 Sep 2007 06:47:39 CDT
Subject: Re: Keeping Mezuzos for the Same Room Exclusively

no but I'd guess it's based on the mishkan reconstruction having the
same pieces in the same places.

joel rich

From: Carl Singer <casinger@...>
Date: Thu, 06 Sep 2007 07:32:07 -0400
Subject: Keeping Mezuzos for the Same Room Exclusively

Speaking only of practicality -- if one has mezzuzah cases that are not
uniform in size, it's much easier re: nail holes, paint coverage, etc.,
to return then to their previous locales.  (More specific than room,
locale -- for example, if your dining room has two entrances thus two

It is conceivable that someone has stretched this into a custom or
undocumented d'as bubbe meynseh.


From: Akiva Miller <kennethgmiller@...>
Date: Thu, 6 Sep 2007 12:18:12 GMT
Subject: Re: Keeping Mezuzos for the Same Room Exclusively

Here's my guess: First, keep in mind that the list of 39 basic
activities which are forbidden on Shabbos is based on the activities
which were needed for the building and rebuilding of the Mishkan. The
Mishna (in Gemara Shabbos 103a) says: "Rabbi Yosi says, 'The prohibition
of writing two letters is only because of the marks which they would
make on the boards of the Mishkan, to know which is matched with which."
Rashi comments there, "They made a mark on each board, because they took
it apart, and when they'd put it back together, they wouldn't change the
sequence of the boards." The Gemara Yerushalmi (Shabbos 40, which I
don't have, but I see it quoted elsewhere) explains even further: "The
board which which was priveleged to be put on the north side will be put
on the north; the one on the south will be put on the south."

>From there, it seems to be a very simple extension, to say that the
mezuza which had been priveleged to be on this door in the past should
be on this door again, and the mezuza which had been priveleged to be on
that door in the past should be on that door again.

> Someone told me that they have the sofer come to their house to check
> the mezuzos to make sure the mezuzos do not get mixed up and placed on
> a different room.

My procedure is more practical, but not quite as foolproof: I put each
mezuza in a separate sandwich-size plastic bag, with a note indicating
which door it is form. I give the pile of mezuzos to the sofer, and
point out those notes, and he understands and is careful to keep it all

Akiva Miller

From: Shimon Lebowitz <shimonl@...>
Date: Thu, 06 Sep 2007 18:40:22 +0300
Subject: Re: Keeping Mezuzos for the Same Room Exclusively

I have also heard of this 'rule'.

It reminds me of something... 

I *think* (please take all such memories from me with a large grain of
salt! I go to daf yomi, but shas sort of flits by me...)  that I
remember a tosfot somewhere discussing the fact that the boards of the
Mishkan (the Tabernacle in the desert) were labeled, so as to ensure
that on reconstruction each board was in the same relative place as the
last time.

A board that was e.g. closer to the mizbeach, would not be moved farther
from it, and one that was farther could not get moved closer, at another
board's expense.

It seems possible that the same logic would apply to the mezuzas on the
doors of your house.



From: Yisrael Medad <ybmedad@...>
Date: Fri, 07 Sep 2007 08:32:04 +0300
Subject: Tzva'at HaRivash

Most scholars are now of the opinion that the document is a collection 
of morality instructions of the Maggid Dov Ber of Mezritch and express 
his differences with Yaakov Yosesf of Polany.

Yisrael Medad


From: Keith Bierman <khbkhb@...>
Date: Thu, 6 Sep 2007 22:18:04 -0600
Subject: Re: Uman

  Shoshana L. Boublil <toramada@...> wrote:

> (I'm also sure that if just 20,000 of the Jews in America would come,
> the price of the plane rides would become unbelievable low. Imagine if
> every male religious Jew over 13 came!)

Assuming that economics is even approximately correct as a science, this
is backwards. A huge upswing (especially for a short time, all at the
same time) would result in huge price *increases*.

I know that the Talmud teaches that there never was a time when
Jerusalem was too crowded and that there was always adequate space in
the Holy Temple ... but I don't think that extends to seats on El-Al and
the rest of the airlines which fly to Israel in our time.

That said, I don't disagree that going to Jerusalem (or indeed, anywhere
in Israel) has got to be more important than traveling anywhere else for
the Holy Days.

Keith H. Bierman   <khbkhb@...>
<speaking for myself*> Copyright 2007

From: Carl Singer <casinger@...>
Date: Thu, 06 Sep 2007 22:45:59 -0400
Subject: Uman

I saw in the Jewish Press an advertisement for a website where one can
have a kvitel (note) sent to Uman.  Credit cards accepted.


From: I. Balbin <isaac.balbin@...>
Date: Fri, 7 Sep 2007 09:35:54 +1000
Subject: Unwanted "gifts" from Tzedukahs

My answer of course may be LeHalocho but certaily isn't L'Maseh (ie this
note is of theoretical value)

It seems to me to be a clear case of "Matono Shelo Al M'nas LeHachzir" A
gift given without any expectation that it will be returned.  Any
expectation would need to be communicated, and failing such a
communication, clearly Zochin Le-Odom --- man acquires it.  Surely, the
intention is to influence you, through the gift, to donate to a
particular cause. There is no notion of conditional Kinyan by Hamshocho
or Hagboho (acquisition by handling the goods) I suggest that if someone
feels uncomfortable they can write to ask that the gifts not be sent in
the future.


End of Volume 55 Issue 68