Volume 56 Number 32
                    Produced: Tue Sep  2  6:08:50 EDT 2008

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Blog vs. Mail List
         [Yisrael Medad]
custom of single men and talit
         [Binyomin G Segal]
Hefsek of Bracha
         [Yisrael Medad]
A plurality of customs
         [Carl Singer]
A plurality of local customs (2)
         [Emmanuel Ifrah, Frank Silbermann]
A plurality of local customs - what is community.
         [Carl Singer]
Wearing Tzitzis at Night
         [Martin Stern]
Wearing Tzitzis at Night - Authority vs Reasons - Blogs
         [Russell J Hendel]


From: Yisrael Medad <ybmedad@...>
Date: Mon, 01 Sep 2008 21:59:40 +0300
Subject: Blog vs. Mail List

Let's not forget that it was by virtue of a comment at a blog that
generated enough interest to unhibernate our List moderator.  And let's
not forget that it was by virtue of a sense of community of many
'talking to many' rather than one blogger drawing many that the call
went out for MailJewish.

So, the blog provided a better platform (for if the or any list
moderator had decided not to respond, where would we be) but the sense
of community that was motivated by participation in a discussion list
that delivered the volume and concern.

Yisrael Medad


From: Binyomin G Segal <bsegal@...>
Date: Mon, 1 Sep 2008 14:45:44 -0500
Subject: Re: custom of single men and talit

Guido Elbogen asserts:
> The custom of single talit-less post bar-mitzvah men arose so as not
> embarrass those unable to purchase this expensive commodity back in Lita
> (Lithuania), Hungary and the surrounding nations..

Seems interesting, but I don't recall that this is the reasoning
mentioned by MB. Is there a source for this explanation of the custom?



From: Yisrael Medad <ybmedad@...>
Date: Mon, 01 Sep 2008 21:42:08 +0300
Subject: Hefsek of Bracha

I think this was discussed previously in relation to whether or not to
say "baruch hu uvaruch shmo" in the M'ain Shivah blessing on Friday
nights.  My first Rav, Pinchas Brener now of Caracas, explained, if I
recall correctly, that when the blessing is intended to collectively
cover the obligation of a tzibbur to make individual blessings, no
hefsek should be uttered.  I think Rose Landowne seconded me at that

One could say but at kiddush, one usually does say "bhus" although one
is being covered, but I would respond that usually each dinner
participant usually makes his own "borei pri hagefen" before drinking.

Yisrael Medad


From: Carl Singer <carl.singer@...>
Date: Mon, 1 Sep 2008 16:03:57 -0400
Subject: A plurality of customs

Akiva Miller
>For the record, my post did not suggest that this opinion should be
>ignored, not because of the small number of authorities who hold that
>way, nor for any other reason. My point was that it is unreasonable to
>expect a typical teacher to be aware that the opinion exists.

To Akiva's point -- one cannot expect a teacher to be aware of / teach
myriad mihagim (some contradictory.) 

But what of tolerance and understanding that the minhag of the majority,
or those minhagim of major groups are NOT the only valid minhagim. 

If a mature student asserts that the minhag of his community is X, then
this should bear some weight and not be trivialized.

David Ziants
>Concerning  "Baruch who o' varuch Sh'mo" it is well known and well
>practised within "frum communities" that there are places where one
>shouldn't answer, for example in b'rachot of k.sh'ma, being a hefsek

>Where I grew up in the UK (and this was typical in many United Synagogue
>shuls in England) a lot of people would answer this at that point, to
>such an extent that it would be impossible  to explain to an older
>person that it is halachically wrong, because he would just rebut that
>it is his (family/community) custom.

>The question then is, where did this mistaken custom start? Did it start
>in the East End of London, or did they do this also in E. Europe?

To David's point -- I may be tilting at windmills, but because a minhag
is "well practised" does not make it correct.  But similarly, because it
is not common in our community does not make it "mistaken."

Can one really correlate popularity (or common practice) of a minhag [or
lack there of] with its correctness.

Then again, what makes a minhag correct?



From: Emmanuel Ifrah <emmanuel_ifrah@...>
Date: Mon, 1 Sep 2008 06:05:36 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: Re: A plurality of local customs

Akiva Miller wrote regarding the article commented upon by Carl Singer
(an interview with Rabbi Marc Angel,

> When I read that article over Shabbos, I too felt badly about these
> cases. But on the other hand, the way it is presented in the article,
> the customs of Rabbi Angel's father, were in the small minority. Most
> authorities indeed hold differently.

The fact one is not familiar with a minhag does not mean that this
minhag is "in the small minority".  I think that the origin of this kind
of opinion is no different from the origin of racial prejudice:
ignorance.  Teachers of limudey kodesh should be careful when teaching
halacha to children or youngsters from different traditions and don't be
arogant for that matter.

As what lacks here is knowledge of this minhag, I will just point out
that answering "Baruch Hu u-baruch Shemo" even for a beracha through
which you intend to become yotzeh was one of the top issues on which R.
Shalom Messas zt"l waged the war of Torah with R. Ovadia Yossef Shlita.
This minhag was the universal one in all Morrocan communities and beyond
in North Africa and Turkey (as is recorded in R. Angel's interview).  In
the Ashkenazi landmark, the Shearim Metzuyanim (7:7) brings a responsum
of the Maharam Schick (OH 51) that the practice in the Chatam Sofer's
schule was for the kahal to answer "Baruch Hu u-baruch Shemo" for birkat
shofar and that he was never mocheh anyone on this.

From: Frank Silbermann <frank_silbermann@...>
Date: Mon, 1 Sep 2008 11:41:37 -0500
Subject: A plurality of local customs

 Mordechai Horowitz <mordechai@...> v56 #29:
> I think sadly to something I saw when I first went to a Baal Teshuva
> yeshiva. I had some friends from Holland who followed that communities
> minhag of only waiting 1 hour between meat and milk, which was the
> custom of their Torah community. The Rabbis in the yeshiva who were
> not Dutch Jews demanded they abandon it because it wasn't "really:
> their custom.

Many customs changed over the last 2,000 years.  Is there a halacha that
determines which era of one's ancestors determines one's proper minhag?
I've heard that it is _nice_ when a Bal Teshuva adopts the minhag of his
ancestors (although different ancestors might have had different
minhagim, and frum people from one's ancestors' community might have
made changes in that minhag during the years that family strayed).

But one might argue that the Baal Teshuva's family custom was to wait
not at all to eat dairy after meat (assuming that one could not consider
the practice of eating milk and meat together to be a minhag).  So I
would consider their adoption of the stricter 1-hr Dutch minhag to be a
praiseworthy Chumra!  :-)

Frank Silbermann


From: Carl Singer <carl.singer@...>
Date: Mon, 1 Sep 2008 10:26:19 -0400
Subject: A plurality of local customs - what is community.

Thank you to the posters for their thoughtful responses.  <Aside - I
don't read / follow Blogs, but Mail-Jewish provides multiple,
interesting, thoughtful views.>

I note that "community" is a relevant thread as we weave answers to this

Those who've suffered through my previous postings of long ago will
recall my discussions of the "shtut Rav" (community Rabbi) and related
examples -- including how Rabbi Shmuel Kamenetsky, shilta, the
Philadelphia Rosh Yeshiva referred a kashrus shaylah to the Rav our our
congregation -- in that this was a community standards issue.

Recently I was contacted by a reporter regarding the "strawberry issue."
She came right out and asked me if I (still) eat strawberries.  I came
right back and said that this isn't the issue - the issue is how do I
make that decision -- and went on to note that as a member of a
community ....

I have myriad questions re: community, but let me begin with two basics:

1. How do we define community today?  Both in practical terms and in
conceptual / philosophical terms.

2 - Given the ease of global communication - for example, one can pick
up the telephone and with relatively similar effort call their
congregational Rabbi who lives a few blocks away OR their (former) Rosh
Yeshiva who lives thousands of miles away or their (former) shule Rabbi
who remains in a previous community, say, hundreds of miles away.  --

What are the responsibilities and the "boundaries" -- for both the
questioner (you or me) and the answerer (Rosh Yeshiva, former Rabbi,



From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Mon, 01 Sep 2008 20:19:37 +0100
Subject: Re: Wearing Tzitzis at Night

On Mon, 1 Sep 2008 14:39:54 +0300, Guido Elbogen <havlei.h@...> wrote:

> The custom of single talit-less post bar-mitzvah men arose so as not
> embarrass those unable to purchase this expensive commodity back in Lita
> (Lithuania), Hungary and the surrounding nations..
> But today when they are relatively cheap, it's hard to understand why
> such a minhag has become entranched as if its a minhag instituted by the
> Knesses Anshei Gedola.

The custom in Germany, on the other hand, was that even small boys wore
a talit in shul. Unfortunately when they went to Litvishe yeshivos they
get ridiculed and many become too embarrassed to keep up their ancestral
customs. This is all part of the (in my opinion) unfortunate destruction
of variant customs in the name of uniformity.

An orchestra would not sound very good if everyone played the drums!

Martin Stern


From: Russell J Hendel <rjhendel@...>
Date: Mon, 1 Sep 2008 10:05:53 -0400
Subject: Wearing Tzitzis at Night - Authority vs Reasons - Blogs

Akiva (correctly) cited Rav Moshe in response to Aviva's questions about
wearing Tzitzis at night.

As long as we are discussing Blogs vs Email lists I bring up a subject I
have brought up several times in the past: Is the ideal way to have a
thread  to cite AUTHORITIES or to give REASONS (or REASONS +

My own thinking is that mail-jewish is not a center for Psaks (Decisions
on religious law). Rather it is a discussion forum. But if so discussion
is facilitated best when reasons are given. The idea is simple: A REASONS
invites discussion - you either agree, disagree with support. An
AUTHORITY at most invites presentation of OTHER AUTHORITIES.

That being said let me answer Aviva's posting. I come to the same
conclusions as Akiva but I give reasons. Personally I think the reasons
make it easier to understand the answer and also apply applicability to
other situations

1) It says in the Chapter on Tziztizh (End of Shlach Nu 15 or 16) that
"...and you shall SEE them (the Tziztizh) and REMEMBER the Mitzvoth."
This verse serves as a basis for the idea that the requirement of wearing
tziztizh is only by DAY not by NIGHT. Immediately we can answer one
question of Aviva: There is no requirement to wear Tziztzith at night.

2) But there is a difference e.g. between a commandment that is dependent
on time vs a commandment dependent on events that can only happen at
certain times. The commandments for Shabbath, Omer, Succoth explicitly
identify TIMES for these commandments: every 7th day, 49 days of
counting, 7 days of sitting. There is no such TIME defined requirement
for Tziztzith. Rather the requirement is to SEE which typically can only
happen by day. Hence IT IS a violation of DONT ADD COMMANDMENTS to
observe an additional Sabbath on Sunday, to count the 50th day or to eat
in a Succah (with blessing and intent to fulfill) on the ninth day. But
there is no prohibition of DONT ADD COMMANDMENTS if one wears Tziztzith
at night.

3) Finally: We deal with whether there is a possibility of HIDDUR
(Beautifying commandments) by wearing them at night. My own opinion is
that since the Biblically defined purpose of Tzitzith is to SEE and
REMEMBER therefore there is no HIDDUR at night since one does not SEE
them (You are performing an act without the desired consequence).

Again: I invite discussion on HOW this questions should have been
answered in the more general context of HOW threads should be conducted
on mail jewish (NOTE: I did not check Rav Moshe's responsum; however I
assume (since Rav Moshe, unlike some other Posekim,  always gives reasons
and sources) that Rav Moshe said similar things. Again this raises the
question on HOW the citation of Rav Mosheh should have been given (Raw
Psak or Psak+Reason).

Dr. Russell Jay Hendel; http://www.Rashiyomi.com/


End of Volume 56 Issue 32