Volume 55 Number 71
                    Produced: Mon Sep 10 21:37:35 EDT 2007

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Beis Din deciding Rosh Chodesh
         [Ira L. Jacobson]
da'as Torah vs. "instinct"
         [David Riceman]
Guitar at Selichot
         [Orrin Tilevitz]
Keeping Mezuzos for the Same Room Exclusively
         [Ira L. Jacobson]
Luach minhogei beis haknesses livnei Ashkenaz, 5768, available
Marriage of Two Unobservant Jews
         [Nachum Klafter]
Rabbi Nachman saw some of his own writing come out (2)
         [Gilad J. Gevaryahu, Yisrael Medad]
         [Joseph Ginzberg]


From: Ira L. Jacobson <laser@...>
Date: Fri, 07 Sep 2007 15:54:43 +0300
Subject: Re:  Beis Din deciding Rosh Chodesh

Bob Sherer stated the following on Thu, 6 Sep 2007 16:02:04 EDT:

>> 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.

I have not been following this thread, so forgive me if I am repeating
what has already been stated.

One who observed the molad, and he is closer to the bet din than the
distance it would take to reach them in one day and one night, it is a
mitzva for him to go there and give evidence, even if involves hillul
Shabbat, or at least so says the Rambam in Hilkhot Qiddush Hahodesh 3:2.

IRA L. JACOBSON         


From: David Riceman <driceman@...>
Date: Fri, 07 Sep 2007 09:53:59 -0400
Subject: Re: da'as Torah vs. "instinct"

 From: Carl Singer <casinger@...>

> 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.)

The existence of natural law is a machloketh rishonim [argument among
medieval Jewish scholars] - Rambam [Maimonides] in the introduction to
Perek Helek [Chapter [[of Mishnah beginning with the word]] "Portion"]
says its a foolish notion, and Sa'adiah in Emunoth V'Deoth [Opinions and
Beliefs] accepts it - as well as an argument among philosophers; as far
as I know nowadays only neo-Thomists [I'll let the moderator translate
that one] accept it.

 David Riceman


From: Orrin Tilevitz <tilevitzo@...>
Date: Sun, 9 Sep 2007 14:25:17 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: Guitar at Selichot

A highly reliable informant just attended a so-called Carlebach minyan
in Tzfat for the first selichot in which the davening was accompanied by
a guitar.  Is anyone familiar with this minyan?  Did Reb Shlomo himself
use a guitar during davening?  Is this better or worse than using an
organ during davening?  Is this permissible at all?  (PS: The Orthodox
shul in Trieste has an organ, which--I was told--used to be played, by a
non-Jew, during shabbat davening.)


From: Ira L. Jacobson <laser@...>
Date: Fri, 07 Sep 2007 16:02:36 +0300
Subject: Re: 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?

I know that some people intentionally mount the mezuzah in a different
room after returning from checking, so that they may say a berakha,
which otherwise would have been doubtful if the mezuzah had gone back to
the same place.

IRA L. JACOBSON         


From: <Phyllostac@...> (Mordechai)
Date: Sat, 8 Sep 2007 23:31:50 EDT
Subject: Luach minhogei beis haknesses livnei Ashkenaz, 5768, available


  As we approach Rosh Hashonoh again, I am happy to announce, that
thanks to the generosity of Machon Moreshes Ashkenaz (MMA), the 'Luach
Minhogei Beis Haknesses Livnei Ashkenaz' for the coming year, 5768, is
now available upon request, free of charge. For this year, the Eretz
Yisroel and chutz la'aretz versions have been combined into one luach,
with differences spelled out when they arise.

  As I have stated in the past, the luach (a 56 page and more widely
spaced Hebrew *pdf file this year) is chock-full of interesting and
detailed information on minhogim, and is therefore of interest, not only
to bnei Ashkenaz ('Yekkes'), for whom it is primarily intended, but also
to Ashkenazim of various backgrounds, scholars, talmidei chachomim,
connoisseurs of minhogim, as well as interested Jews in general.

To get a copy, drop me a line.

Thanks to Mail-Jewish for helping publicize this.

Kesiva vachasima tova.


From: Nachum Klafter <doctorklafter@...>
Date: Sun, 9 Sep 2007 02:41:31 -0400
Subject: Marriage of Two Unobservant Jews

In the course of a response to Jay Shachter's post, I asserted (in MJ
55:62) that there is no violation of Lifnei Iver when setting up two
unobservant Jews with one another for marriage, or for a Rabbi to
officiate at a wedding between unobservant Jews.  The reason that it is
not a violation of lifnei iver is because unobservant Jews will violate
the laws of niddah anyway, whether we help them get married or not.  For
a rabbi to officiate at such a marriage is certainly no

One of you responded that my line of reasoning will "end Orthodoxy", and
another of you is "flabbergasted" that I can be so confident in my
declaration of what the halakha is.  (Though, I must say that while you
feel I should not be so confident, you are not afraid to make your own
bold assertions, which include that anyone who serves as a mesader
kiddushin for such a marriage "will have what to answer in the next

I am not making things up.  This is a well known question in halakha
which has been discussed by the posekim.

I will quote from Rabbi Moshe Feinstein on this issue Iggrot Moshe, Even
Ha-Ezer 4:87 (Volume 7, p. 154):

Therefore, where there is no prohibition of Lifnei Iver, such as a case
where they [the couple getting married] will transgress [the laws of
niddah] in any case, there is also no transgression of Mesayeya [aiding
sinners].  And this provides a strong logical bases to establish this
[serving as the mesader kiddushin for a couple who will not observe
niddah] as permissible, as the Rabbis of most cities in America are
accustomed to be lenient [and to officiate at such weddings]&#8230;.

By the way, the Netziv of Volozhin rules like this as well, in Meshiv
Davar 2:31-32.  Reb Moshe cites this in his Teshuva, and states that
this ruling applies to both fixing up such couples as a shadchan, or
serving as the mesader kiddushin.  Note that Reb Moshe also states that
this is the majority practice of rabbonim in America, and he defends
this practice.  Also note that Reb Moshe is clear that if the couple
will be violating the laws of niddah regardless, then there is no
problem of Lifnei Iver OR Mesayeya.

Lifnei Iver is a very important topic to understand in halakha.  I
recommend that everyone start with the article by Rabbis Michaeal Broyde
and David Hertzberg, "Enabling a Jew to Sin: The Parameters" in the
Journal of Halakha and Contemporary Society, 19:5-36 (1990).

(One person made an assertion that this type of wedding would be a
"mitzvah she kiyamta al yedei aveira" [a mitzvah performed through
violation of a prohibition] and therefore is not a proper mitzvah.  This
is incorrect.  At the time of the ceremony, the couple is being married
through kiddushin, and not through bi'ah.  There is no violation
occurring at the time of the wedding ceremony at all.)

Nachum Klafter
Cincinnati, OH


From: <Gevaryahu@...> (Gilad J. Gevaryahu)
Date: Fri, 7 Sep 2007 10:03:26 EDT
Subject: Rabbi Nachman saw some of his own writing come out

>From MJ v55n67:
Yossi Ginzburg wrote:
>> There are NO original writings from Rabbi Nachman, only attributions
>> to him, generally via Rabbi Nosson, his aide and promoter, so all
>> alleged quotes must be taken with a large grain of salt.

Yisrael Medad wrote:
>That doesn't seem to be right.  The first edition of Likutei Moharan was
>published in 1808, two years before he died with the haskamot of five
>Rabbis with the dates of their agreement to approve the book, including
>Rav Efraim Zalman Margoliot of Brod, Yaakov Yitzhak (the Chozeh) of
>Lublin and Yisrael (the Maggid) of Kuznetz.  Rebbe Nahamn reviewed the
>entire work before it went to press.

Rabbi Nachman ben Simcha from Breslav [1772-1811] saw his first book
~three years before his death and might have seen also the second
edition of his book which was printed in 1811 in Mahlov in the printing
press of Zvi Rabin Stein.

Gilad J. Gevaryahu

From: Yisrael Medad <ybmedad@...>
Date: Fri, 07 Sep 2007 18:40:00 +0300
Subject: Re: Rabbi Nachman saw some of his own writing come out

The decision to print a book was made suddenly, it seems, after a visit
to a doctor in Lemberg (Lvov) in late 1807 when he probably learned he
had TB and was to die soon.

He couldn't really have "seen" a book that was published after he died.
I would suggest that he probably authorized the second edition and
oversaw its editing.

Yisrael Medad


From: Joseph Ginzberg <jgbiz120@...>
Date: Fri, 07 Sep 2007 10:27:59 -0400
Subject: Uman

Some comments on the comments to my post:

Yisroel Medad is correct- The Likutei Muharan was publsihed before reb
Nachman's death, so I agree that it is safe to assume that he
approved. I stand corrected.

Shoshana's comment on modern-day "aliya l'regel" being preferable to
going "up" to the Ukraine is reasonable, and in fact I go to Israel
several times a year while the Uman trip was most likely one in a
liftime, but still: Uman is a true spiritual experience. Sadly, Israel
today (for most people) is not, I think.

I have never been a staunch chossid visiting my Rebbe, so maybe for them
it's different, but I have done all the other roles: My own sukkah (tied
up with re-opening the apartment, restocking with food, too busy to be
spiritual), staying in hotels (what's the dress code for dinner?), or
staying with relatives (great opportunity to catch up, etc., but not so
spiritually uplifting).  Hence, the comparison is not such a simple
calculation. Also, even now airfares rise dramatically at the holiday
seasons, so having another 20,000 people coming somehow to me doesn't
seem like it would promote discount travel.

Eitans failure to be shocked at the Besht's allegedly having denigrated
the learning of Talmud and his comment that he would have expected this,
are to me also surprising.  While we all know the generics of the
dispute between the chassidim and the original misnagdim, I think that
most have assumed it to be a emphasis issue, rather than an actual open
statement that learning Talmud is bad for you.

I always understood it that in the same way that today Chabad can
discount all the wackiness of individual shlichim by saying that it's
not "official policy", chassidism discounts the fact that many/ most
individuals do not emphasize Talmud by saying that that stance is not
official. Per the Tzavaas Harivash however, that's incorrect and it IS
in fact official.

In that case, the Gra's position becomes far more understandable, and it
in fact becomes difficult to understand how anyone (especially Rabbi's)
dared to take the side of the chassidim.  That would indicate a sea
change, not just in the attitude towards D'veikus, the time of prayer,
and "lesser" halacha, it means a totally radical restructuring of one's
approach to Torah study, one of the major pillars of the religion.

Leah-Perels comment on teh existence of both scholar/ Rabbi's and
secular intellectuals in Chassidus in true, to the extyent taht they do
exist, but certainly there are far, far fewer proportionately than in
the regular yeshiva-educated circles, and in fact even among chassidim
the values change. A secularly-educated scholar is rare among many if
not most types of chassidim, and the existance of the exception proves
nothing. This is particularly noted in Breslov, where there ae
(anecdotally) many more people that work in thr secular world and
economy, but far fewer that are intellectually occupied.  i.e., there
are few Satmar cabdrivers or mailmen, but many Breslovers.

With all that, I will admit that having had my eyes opened by my
experience, I love them even if I cannot become one of them.

Yossi Ginzberg


End of Volume 55 Issue 71