Volume 56 Number 37
                    Produced: Wed Sep  3 23:25:20 EDT 2008


Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Administrivia
         [Avi Feldblum]
Blogging and e-lists - creating a virtual community
         [Michael Frankel]
Head of state blessing
         [Rose Landowne]
A plurality of customs (2)
         [Eitan Fiorino, Dr. Josh Backon]
A plurality of local customs (2)
         [Ben Katz, <FriedmanJ@...>]
Prayer for the Country in UK
         [David E Cohen]
Tzitzit at night
         [Binyamin Lemkin]
Ultra Orthodox hashakfa
         [Joel Rich]


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From: Avi Feldblum <feldblum@...>
Date: Wed, 3 Sep 2008 23:07:42 -0400
Subject: Administrivia

Hello All,

It seems that issues 34 and 35 did not get distributed to many of you
(including me, but I did not notice), so I just resent them out. My
apologies to those who may have gotten them twice.

Avi

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From: Michael Frankel <michaeljfrankel@...>
Date: Wed, 3 Sep 2008 12:26:17 -0400
Subject: Re: Blogging and e-lists - creating a virtual community

> Robert Book   <rbook@...>
>
> ..Facebook is great for keeping in touch with friends and colleagues, but
> it's not really set up for exchanging ideas or discussing topics.  The
> same applies to LinkedIn and the others.

 I do not know why this individual - clearly still suffering from
yisurim of MJ withdrawal - thought I had any insight into that, but i
expressed my hope there was a more benign explanation. And so we're
pleased to see there was.

I too subscribe to the notion mailing list offers benefits a blog would
not.  these have pretty much been articulated already so i content
myself with a me-too. As well, the mediocrity of many/most? of the blogs
(and many/most/all? of the general purpose jewish mailing lists for that
matter) again commends MJ by comparison.

Since Mr Book commented on a few other communication venues, i'll use
that as an excuse to offer a few of my own comments.  I am unable to
comment about Facebook or LinkedIn since i am not technologically ept
enough to be familiar with them.  the latter i had never even heard of
until two weeks ago when someone i also never heard of apparently
invited me to join something associated with it.  but that felt
suspiciously like an invitation to succor nigerians in need of a fellow
criminal and so i gave it a pass.

As far as jewish blogs go, by far and away the best i've seen is the
seforim-tradition blog run by dan rabinowitz and menachem butler.
(http://seforim.traditiononline.org/ re-reading that sentence, i didn't
really want such praise to come across as over the top here.  part of
the enthusiasm it engenders is driven by comparison to the other blogs
out there, many of which fall somewhere between mediocre and
godawful). while not every column is a homerun, the percentage of
excellent scholarly material available with its reflection of current
controversies is very good.  even many of the comments are good by
people who have a grasp of what they're talking about, though the
occasional reflexive hashqofic partisan and/or impervious-to-logic nut
job does show up even here.  they are usually treated with undeserved
courtesy.  If you wanted to sample I would commend as examples the
seforim posting by (MJ list member) Dr. David Glasner describing the
censorship travails he endured in the course of publishing a new edition
of R. Moshe Shmuel Glasner's
chidushim(http://seforim.traditiononline.org/index.cfm/2008/2/15/The-Saga-of-Publishing-
he-Works-of-Rabbi-Moshe-Shmuel-Glasner), or a review of the recent
publication of R. Shlomo Zalman Auerbach material, carefully bowdlerized
to obscure his opinion of the heter
mechiroh(http://seforim.blogspot.com/2007/10/chaim-rapoport-from-maadanei-eretz-to.html
)

I also read hirhurim on a semi-regular basis, but that is more uneven in
quality and of course doesn't purport to offer much scholarly insight.
It has a different purpose as a torah centric discussion group and i
think fills that function well enough. It has also hosted interesting
and informative discussions such as its posting and associated comments
on Rabbi Shimshon Rafael Hirsch and TIDE. But of course the agenda is
completely controlled by r. student, the blogger in chief (that's not a
criticism.  but i personally prefer the more variegated discussion
opportunities inherent in MJ) and the comments are likely to be a lower
quality than the average seforim blog commenter (unless of course
they're my own).  still, hirhurim is a cut above many of the other
jewish blogs.

Mr. Book also mentioned another blog, cross-currents, and characterized
it as "very good".  here you find goodness is in the eye of the
beholder.  So, I mention that i don't find it good at all.  while I
don't look at it very often, my impression is that it is rather a
partisan mouthpiece for a very narrow slice of the jewish polity and
populated by a cadre of approved posters who are on the whole completely
predictable (and thus not very interesting either). indeed in at least
one case actually professional, spinmeisters for latter day
"chareidism".  It is thus also almost laughably mis-named.  but if you
want a reliable window into knee-jerk charedi thinking about almost any
subject, or a perspective from the defensive crouch assumed after
hullabaloos ranging from concert bans, to thuggery and ^”mehadrin^‘
buses, to geirus recalls, to the virtue of education and/or working for
a living, to r.slifkin, it is a quite useful forum to acquire such data.
The comments - which must all pass through the filter of a moderator -
are surprisingly better and they do allow a variety of dissenting views
to appear there.  (though i personally would never contribute to a
moderated comments section.  moderation undermines the instant
gratification of blog commenting.  you might as well be sending to a
moderated list.  besides, something chafes at the very thought that
someone else - doubtless in your own estimation far less competent than
yourself - is to pass on the print worthiness of your offerings.)

Mechy Frankel             W: (703) 676-6955
<michaeljfrankel@...>       H: (301) 593-3949

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From: Rose Landowne <Roselandow@...>
Date: Wed, 3 Sep 2008 07:44:15 -0400
Subject: Re: Head of state blessing

I've got a sidur, published in Frankfort on Main, from before 1898, with
English translation, that blesses Queen Victoria, Prince Edward, and all
the royal family.  

Rose Landowne

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From: Eitan Fiorino <afiorino@...>
Date: Wed, 3 Sep 2008 13:31:46 -0400
Subject: RE: A plurality of customs

> From: David Ziants <dziants@...>
> I now think that I answer part of my own question here
> concerning certain types of communities where a lot of people
> answered whereas in others they did not:-
>
> Those communities where Jewish learning is strong, the habit
> of answering BHUV"Sh in a place where hefsek is not allowed
> has now been obliterated as the individuals have a strong
> will to do everything correctly.
>
> The communities where Jewish learning is/was not so strong,
> people continued following force of habit, not even
> necessarily knowing that what they are/were doing is not
> halachikally acceptable (hoping this premise is now proven).
> In these communities, it might take another generation for
> the error to disappear, as the individuals in the next
> generation, who hold onto their Judaism, tend to be more
> knowledgeable.

I think the entire concept that people who hold onto a minhag that
appears to be not in accordance with halacha (with "halacha" defined as
"things written in sefarim by rabbis generally viewed as poskim") are
not from "communities where Jewish learning is strong" is a mistaken
one.  There is a long tradition in Ashkenaz of "minhag mevatel halachah"
- the early hachmei Ashkenaz inherited this approach from Eretz Yisrael
(the phrase does not even appear in the Bavli) and expanded on it and
used it to defend minhag Ashkenaz where it appeared to deviate from
precepts set down by the Bavli or the Geonim.  The importance of custom
and practice in Ashkenaz is also reflected in the later efforts of the
baalei hatosafot to reconcile the Bavli with the practices observed in
Ashkenaz; Jacob Katz, Haym Soloveitchik and others have written
illuminatingly on this.  The irony never fails to escape me that the
Jewish culture that once most vigorously defended its customs against
the hegemony of the homogenizing approach to psak has become utterly
intolerant of any practice whose source is not clearly documented in the
20th century text of the Mishna Berura.

As an aside, AFAIK even if one says "baruch hu u'baruch shmo" during a
beracha which has daat to be yotzei (e.g., kiddush), one is still
yotzei.  While I'd agree this is not a practice that one should
advocate, among the transgressions that need be stamped out in our
community, one would have to put this pretty low on the priority
list. And I think the issurim involved in insulting and potentially
shaming individuals and communities who engage in this recitation are
more problematic than the practice itself.

-Eitan

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From: Dr. Josh Backon <backon@...>
Date: Tue, 02 Sep 2008 14:07:46 +0300
Subject: Re: A plurality of customs

>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?

The Talmud (Messechet Sofrim 14:18) states MINHAG MEVATEL HALACHA (an
entrenched custom can overturn a law) since every custom is based on the
Torah because if it isn't, it's faulty logic (TO'EH b'SHIKUL
ha'Da'at). The Shulchan Aruch (YOREH DEAH 214:2) states that once
accepted, a minhag also binds one's descendents. The town's elders (BNEI
HA'IR) can even force acceptance of a bad custom (Minhag GARU'A)
(Choshen Mishpat 163:3). Yet, if a custom was abolished one reverts back
to the prior custom (EVEN Ha'EZER 45:2 quoting the Rivash). However,
customs once accepted are not to be abolished or ridiculed (ORACH CHAIM
690:17 quoting the Beit Yosef) nor to be changed (YOREH DEAH 39:18;
YOREH DEAH 89:4.

There is such a thing as MINHAG TA'UT (mistaken) or SHTUT (nonsensical)
(See: Tosafot in Pesachim 51a; Be'Er Heitev Orach Chaim 182 in Hilchot
Birkat Ha'mazon; Be'er Heitev Orach Chaim 653 in Hilchot Lulav; and in
Orach Chaim 551:4 in Hilchot Tisha B'av. The Rambam in Hilchot Issurei
Biah also mentions this.

Josh

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From: Ben Katz <BKatz@...>
Date: Wed, 3 Sep 2008 12:42:39 -0500
Subject: RE: A plurality of local customs

From: <bdcohen@...> (David Cohen)
> Ben Katz wrote:
> > This gets into the whole mimetic vs text tradition issue of
> > Rabbi Dr. Aharon Soloveichik
> 
> The author was Rabbi Dr. Hayyim Soleveitchik in his article Rupture and
> Reconstruction, available at
> http://www.lookstein.org/links/orthodoxy.htm.

	Thanks for the correction.
	A slip of the "pen".  

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From: <FriedmanJ@...>
Date: Wed, 3 Sep 2008 08:05:25 EDT
Subject: Re: A plurality of local customs

Here's is a question--why should anyone want to belong to a congregation
that doesn't want them anywhere near it? If the minority of people were
unhappy, after witnessing what happened to Martin Stern because he
wanted to maintain the status quo, they should have taken a hike with
him and started their own Ashkenazic congregation.  You don't need your
own a building to daven in it.

Oh, and another thought: with such 'loyal' friends in a community of
totalitarians like that, who needs enemies?

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From: David E Cohen <ddcohen@...>
Date: Wed, 3 Sep 2008 16:15:41 +0300
Subject: Prayer for the Country in UK

I have a machzor printed in London in 1807 in which the prayer mentions
by name:

Our sovereign Lord, KING GEORGE THE THIRD
Our Most Gracious QUEEN CHARLOTTE
His Royal Highness, GEORGE, PRINCE OF WALES
THE PRINCESS OF WALES
THE PRINCESS CHARLOTTE OF WALES
AND ALL THE ROYAL FAMILY

--D.C.

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From: Binyamin Lemkin <lemkin@...>
Date: Wed, 3 Sep 2008 14:30:20 +0300
Subject: Tzitzit at night

I was asked by HaRav David Bar-Hayim (of www.machonshilo.org) to clarify
that his position that one should wear tzitzit at night is based on
clear statements of Hazal in both Talmudim, which were understood by the
Tosaphoth and Rosh etc. to clearly demonstrate that the issue is not
whether the garment is being worn at night or during the daytime
hours. Rather it is the type of garment: if it is a garment worn mainly
at night (kesuth laylah, e.g. pajamas) it is pattur; if a kesuth yom, it
is hayav.

Hazal do not state that 'Laylah lo zeman tztzith' but rather that kesuth
laylah is pattur.

                                  Binyamin Lemkin

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From: Joel Rich <JRich@...>
Date: Wed, 3 Sep 2008 20:47:41 -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
>information.
>
>Indeed I believe this to be one of the major dividing lines between
>Modern Orthodox and the haredi world.

Indeed there is - Horiyot (although it does cover more than that).
However I was answering lshitatam, and to be fair, we don't always know
what the defining issue in a psak is.  For example, there was a recent
US Supreme Court Case which included an incorrect "fact" in the majority
opinion.  I doubt that had this fact been known prior tot the decision
that the decision would have been any different - just the logic
supporting the final result would have been rewritten (or in our
language - the ratzon hatora/lev shel tora gave the result, the rest was
backfill)

KT
Joel Rich

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End of Volume 56 Issue 37