Volume 56 Number 34
                    Produced: Wed Sep  3  5:29:15 EDT 2008

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Blessing for the Head of State.
         [Hanno D. Mott]
Haredi Hashkafa and Science
         [Bill Gewirtz]
Haredi haskafa (Science and Halacha)
         [Ari Trachtenberg]
         [Orrin Tilevitz]
         [Perets Mett]
A plurality of local customs
         [Eitan Fiorino]
Prayer for the Country in UK (3)
         [Martin Stern, Chana Luntz, David Ziants]
Royal Family - UK - Carved in Stone
         [Shmuel Himelstein]
Signing one's name
Ultra Orthodox hashakfa
         [Mordechai Horowitz]
Value of pi [was: Haredi haskafa (Science and Halacha)]
         [Art Werschulz]


From: Hanno D. Mott <hdm@...>
Date: Tue, 02 Sep 2008 08:01:37 -0400
Subject: Blessing for the Head of State.

In my grandmother's Siddur, given to her in Berlin on her 60th birthday,
there is a full page at the beginning - before "Ma Tovu" called "Teffila
Bishlohmo shel Malchus" [in German "Gebet fuer den Landes-Herrn"] which
blesses "Hameleh Hakaiser".  It was published in 1902.

In 1966, when in Nairobi, the shul blessed Jomo Kenyatta by name.

Hanno Mott


From: <wgewirtz@...> (Bill Gewirtz)
Date: Tue, 02 Sep 2008 19:04:18 +0000
Subject: Haredi Hashkafa and Science

relative to Russel Hendel's topic:

There is a new sefer that I picked up two weeks ago published in the
last year with a haskama from R. Eliyashuv (among others) written by
R. DY Burstyn entitled Zemanim keHilchasom.  The sefer seems to have
"discovered" a fact known as far back as R. D. T. Hoffman on the
scientific point of alot hashachar (cited in melameid lehoil).  Assume,
as the author and most do, that alot hashachar means the first light
from the sun.  two opinions on the time of alot hashachar used lehalakha
today are (an adjusted) 72 and 90 minutes before sunrise (accurate only
in the spring/fall in the Middle east.)  Along comes scientific
observation and determines that the first light of the sun is visible to
a sophisticated instrument ONLY 80 minutes before sunrise.  So our
sceince minded author declares that 90 minutes is valid only as chumrah
and cannot be relied on for a kula in extenuating circumstances.

A chareidi, i am assuming, using science to overturn at least 800 years
of psak going back (despite it being labeled the brisker achtel - 1/8th
of a 720 minute day = 90 minutes) to Ramban and all chachmei sforad, the
chok yaacov, the Gra(disputed), chatam sofer, minhag Yerushalayim, and
in the last century , R. Tukitzinsky, RMF (to be used in a time of need)
and RYBS (as a chumrah).  And there are a few more gedolim along the

I was really blown away, particulalry since those who know the topic, in
addition to the science, could argue strongly based on logical halakhic
grounds to maintain 90 minutes.  It is certain that two of the three
20th century gedolim knew the science and still adhered to 90 minutes.

Despite what I believe in this case is over-reaching, I kinda welcome
this willingness to trust science/observation.  Curious if this will
re-occur; there are actually a few other examples.

bill gewirtz


From: Ari Trachtenberg <trachten@...>
Date: Tue, 2 Sep 2008 10:55:17 -0400
Subject: Re: Haredi haskafa (Science and Halacha)

> From: Russell J Hendel <rjhendel@...>
> constant pie is 3. Some authors have seen this as a "belief" or a
> "Sanctioning" of pie as 3. I rather see it as a legally default
> approximation.

Excellent ... then it would be great to buy your property, and, in so
doing, measure all of it in terms of circles; it would be a nice
discount :-)

Ari Trachtenberg                       Boston University
http://people.bu.edu/trachten  <trachten@...>


From: Orrin Tilevitz <tilevitzo@...>
Date: Tue, 2 Sep 2008 09:44:03 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: Minhag-Halacha

Some of the practices quoted in Shmuel Himelstein's post may be a case
of minhag lo kehalacha; others are broader than as quoted in his source:

1.  Ignoring the "shtei searot" (two pubic hairs) issue, no matter when
the bar mitzvah is "observed", the kid is not "bar mitzvah", meaning
obligated in the mitzvot, until he is 13, and AFIK there is no
difference between sefaradim and ashkenazim in this regard.  And
according to some other material I found online, sepharadim observe not
the bar mitzvah but the first time a boy is called the Torah and puts on
tefillin, which can be some time before.

2.  Again AFIK, a 11 or 12-year-old boy may be counted in a minyan only
besh'as hadechak (if there's no other choice), and again AFIK sefaradim
and ashkenazim do not differ - as a matter of halacha.  It is also not
unusual for minyan customs to transgress halacha among ashkenazim, for
example, the occasional custom of counting an open aron kodesh as the
tenth man, whose basis seems to be a hava amina (a refuted position) in
the gemara.

3.  The practice of permitting a kohen to get any aliya after the fourth
is, AFIK, prevalent among most or all seferadim, and it is explicitly
provided for in the Shulchan Aruch.  We Ashkenazim don't do that only
because the Rema says that out minhag is not to.

4.  Gerer cemeteries also have separate sections for women.

5.  The last time I davened on shabbat at the Spanish-Portuguese
Synagogue in New York, they didn't do chazarat hashatz at Musaf either.


From: Perets Mett <p.mett@...>
Date: Tue, 2 Sep 2008 10:22:33 +0100
Subject: Minhogim

Shmuel Himelstein wrote:

> We (Ashkenazim) always thought that one says Kaddish for 11 months for
> one's parents and for 30 days for others for whom one must mourn.

I have never heard of an Ashkenazi custom to recite Kadish for 30 days  
(for relatives other  than parents).

Does anyone have any further information about this custom?

Perets Mett


From: Eitan Fiorino <afiorino@...>
Date: Tue, 2 Sep 2008 10:04:31 -0400
Subject: RE: A plurality of local customs

Binyomin Segal wrote:
> To my understanding, early sources suggest that diverse observance is
> NOT desirable or appropriate. It is acceptable when it is
> inconspicuous. And under certain conditions it is the only acceptable
> compromise of halachik ideals. Ideally, there should be a single Torah
> for all of Israel.

While I think the idea that "diverse observance is NOT desirable or
appropriate" may be true in some purely theoretical realm (ie, the Torah
should be uniform with respect to its laws" there is no evidence that
such a state has ever existed, except perhaps before Moshe's insitutions
of courts and judges.  Certainly with regard to Torah she b'al peh, it
is clear that a multiplicity of opinions existed from antiquity, and
there is an internal struggle about how to reconcile the existence of
machlochet with the idea of a unified law (I will concede it is clearly
an agenda of the Bavli to harmonize disparate opinions). Once a legal
system begins to generate case law and exits the realm of the purely
theoretical, it is inherent characteristic that such a system will
produce a variety of different outcomes given the variety of jurists,
locations, circumstances, available resources, etc.  Moreover, outside
of the realm of halachically-defined norms, the system itself allows for
a multiplicity of practice, which allowed multiple minhagim to develop
and flourish.



From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Tue, 02 Sep 2008 10:54:02 +0100
Subject: Re: Prayer for the Country in UK

On Janice Gelb <j_gelb@...>, Sun, 31 Aug 2008 18:35:58 -0700 (PDT)
> It does, or at least it did when I was at services in Glasgow in
> 1999. Not only did it mention the Queen,

What I have always wondered was whether in Scotland they pray for Queen
Elizabeth the second or Queen Elizabeth unnumbered since she is the
first queen of that name in Scotland. Perhaps Janice remembers or
someone else can provide the information.

Martin Stern

From: Chana Luntz <Chana@...>
Date: Tue, 2 Sep 2008 14:04:00 +0100
Subject: Re: Prayer for the Country in UK

David Ziants writes:
> It is interesting to note that the standard prayer as used by the
> United Synagogue (Orthodox) in England starts with the traditional
> "hanotain teshua lamalachim" but omits "hapotzeh et david avdo meherev
> raa" (tehillim 144) which was in the E. European versions.  I guess
> that suggesting the queen needs to be saved from "evil swords" is not
> within British etiquette...

Not quite. This rather suggests that you have yet to be acquainted with
the second verse of G-d Save the Queen (the national anthem) - which

Oh Lord our G-d arise,
Scatter our enemies,
And make them fall.
Confound their politics;
Frustrate their knavish tricks
On thee our hopes we fix
G-d Save us all.

[There is also a third verse which tends to be better known than this

Saving from evil swords being a fairly good summary.


From: David Ziants <dziants@...>
Date: Tue, 02 Sep 2008 22:51:03 +0300
Subject: Re: Prayer for the Country in UK

I have not lived in England for approx. 25 years, have forgotten the
first verse and am not sure whether I ever knew the other verses.

Thanks in any case for the note. So why do you think "hapotzeh..." was
not included?

Are you sure that we need to spell as "G-d" when we are quoting something
that has the context of the Xtian concept of diety?



From: Shmuel Himelstein <himels@...>
Date: Tue, 02 Sep 2008 13:37:10 +0300
Subject: Royal Family - UK - Carved in Stone

In the Shul where I up grew up, in Yeoville, Johannesburg, the prayer
for the British royal family was engraved on two tablets - one in Hebrew
and one in English, and which more-or-less flanked the Aron
Kodesh. These tablets included the names of the royal family members at
the time of the building of the Shul in the 1920s. Needless to say, it
became outdated by the time King George V died in 1935, but it was never

Shmuel Himelstein


From: <FriedmanJ@...>
Date: Tue, 2 Sep 2008 08:12:56 EDT
Subject: Re: Signing one's name

> Answer aiui is your question may be of historical interest but of no
> practical import - the fact that "the hashgacha" kept this fact from
> him was so that the psak, which now stands independently of the
> reasoning, should be as is

Does this mean that all of us have to change our signatures to hebrew
lettering to conform to this "new" halacha?


From: Mordechai Horowitz <mordechai@...>
Date: Tue, 02 Sep 2008 09:17:24 -0400
Subject: Ultra Orthodox hashakfa

> Joel Rich <JRich@...>
> Answer aiui is your question may be of historical interest but of no
> practical import - the fact that "the hashgacha" kept this fact from him
> was so that the psak, which now stands independently of the reasoning,
> should be as is

Why should a psak not supported by its reasoning stand at all.  What
Torah source is there to state we should follow incorrect psak.

Indeed isn't their an entire tractate of Gemorrah that discusses what to
do when the Sanhedrin makes in incorrect psak.  That certainly makes me
believe that when Rabbis make "halacha" based on their lack of knowledge
that we are required to repudiate such a psak when we have correct

Indeed I believe this to be one of the major dividing lines between
Modern Orthodox and the haredi world.


From: Art Werschulz <agw@...>
Date: Tue, 02 Sep 2008 14:39:58 -0400
Subject: Value of pi [was: Haredi haskafa (Science and Halacha)]

Russel J. Hendel wrote:

 > 1) The Talmud based on a verse in Kings of a temple construction with a
 > diameter of 10 and circumference of 30 infers that the mathematical
 > constant pie is 3. Some authors have seen this as a "belief" or a
 > "Sanctioning" of pie as 3. I rather see it as a legally default
 > approximation. I believe that Hilcoth Mechirah justifies that a) If the
 > law of the land requires 4 digit accuracy in pie that would be binding in
 > Jewish commercial activity b) if either of the partiers had stipulated
 > (Tenai)a value of pie that would be binding. But IN THE ABSENCE OF A LAND
 > LAW and A STIPULATION then the DEFAULT value of pie is its integer
 > approximation, 3. So for example if I sold a circular plot of land with
 > 3000 square feet I would by default have committed myself to a circular
 > plot with radius 1000 (Which would give the buyer 3142 square feet of
 > land)

There's another explanation, based on the q'ri/l'tiv difference WRT the 
verse in question.  It was discussed in this forum (see, e.g.,
http://www.ottmall.com/mj_ht_arch/v17/mj_v17i46.html#CLJ), and you can 
find it elsewhere online as well.

Art Werschulz (8-{)}   "Metaphors be with you."  -- bumper sticker
GCS/M (GAT): d? -p+ c++ l++ u+ P++ e--- m* s n+ h f g+ w+ t+ r-
Internet: agw STRUDEL cs.columbia.edu
ATTnet:   Columbia U. (212) 939-7050, Fordham U. (212) 636-6325


End of Volume 56 Issue 34