Volume 56 Number 56
                   Produced: Thu May 14 23:11:19 EDT 2009

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

Beracha on Mail-Jewish
        [Binyomin G Segal]
Birchat Hatorah on Mail Jewish
        [Mark Symons]
Internet Dangers - for adults, too!
        [Carl Singer]
New Web Directory of Torah Audio Shiurim
        [Akiva Feinstein]
A plurality of customs
        [Russell Hendel]
A plurality of local customs
        [Akiva Miller]
Plurality vs. Minority
        [Yisrael Medad]
Tircha D'tzibura
        [David Ansbacher]


From: Binyomin G Segal <bsegal@...>
Date: Wed, May 13, 2009 at 11:05 PM
Subject: Re: Beracha on Mail-Jewish

My apologies to Jeanette Friedman but she erred when she said:

> We are learning Torah, and nowhere does it say that it has to be out
> loud!

In fact, it does indeed say that it must be aloud for the blessing to be
mandatory. The Shulchan Aruch O"C 47:4 says, "Someone who thinks words
of Torah is not required to bless". The question of whether a non
required blessing is still permissible is as already mentioned non

Based on this statement of the S"A, the M"B suggests that people reading
seforim should read small amounts aloud.

Now to be fair to Jeanette, the B"H does quote the Gra who, it seems,
holds like Jeanette that since thinking in Torah is still clearly the
mitzvah, the bracha should fairly be said on thinking in Torah. But
neither Jeanette nor the Gra seem to represent the normative psak in
this regard.

BTW, in the previous paragraph 47:3, the S"A states that writing divrei
torah does require a bracha even if there is no verbalization.

It is so much fun to have you all back here,


From: Mark Symons <msymons@...>
Date: Thu, May 14, 2009 at 10:52 AM
Subject: Re: Birchat Hatorah on Mail Jewish

But doesn't the one birchat hatorah we say in the morning cover any
Torah learnt for the rest of the day?  So wouldn't the question only be
relevant for reading/writing mail-jewish before shacharit?

Mark Symons

     From: Hendel, Russell <RHendel@...>

     ...Even if silent reading did not require a blessing we still have
     a policy issue: Should we try and avoid the Birchat Torah.
     Wouldnt it be advisable to recommend that the reader say a few
     words so that (s)he is obligated to say the blessing and then
     continue reading silently...


From: Carl Singer <carl.singer@...>
Date: Thu, 14 May 2009 06:51:10 -0400
Subject: Internet Dangers - for adults, too!

Avi - welcome back

Re: children -- [my opinion] Children are vulnerable to the internet
because they are so comfortable with it and the "person" who is "talking"
to them on their PC. More formally, there are some interesting
articles on how "Millennials" (those born 1979-now?) process
information, etc. I stumbled into this while donating professional
journals to a nearby college. The university librarian's website listed
several interesting articles:

Re: ADULTS -- I know we're all mature enough (sophisticated enough?) not
to fall for internet scams -- and there are some very clever ones -- but
I recently came upon an halachic "danger" -- our community has a very
active yahoo group. Ostensibly for the Jewish community but clearly with
many others who participate or "lurk" (read but don't post.) It serves
some utility with questions like, "can you recommend an auto mechanic"
or announcing a new shiur in town. Sometimes postings and discussions go
into politics and social issues, etc.

In any case some postings contain loshun horah (I've become sensitized
to this as one of my sons is now giving a shiur on this topic between
mincha & maariv.) Although it's a moderated yahoo group, some things
slip through. Postings or statements that are loshan horah.

So now (finally) here's the halachic issue: MAY you subscribe to an
internet site (or equivalent) that contains loshun horah Is there any
cost-benefit analysis, or should you avoid this completely? {For those
of you who haven't seen the end of this movie - I unsubscribed.}

Again, welcome back.

Carl A. Singer, Ph.D.
Colonel, U.S. Army Retired


From: Akiva Feinstein <afeinstein@...>
Date: Thu, 14 May 2009 11:48:06 -0400
Subject: New Web Directory of Torah Audio Shiurim

I would like to share with the Mail-Jewish readers a new site that I have
put together:


A comprehensive directory of web sites that offer Torah learning that you
can listen to. Each reviewed site features a screenshot, information, and
user comments. Free and paid sites are featured. The best way to get
started taking learning on the go. 93 listings and growing!

There are no fees, no ads, purely lishmah.

Rabbi Akiva Feinstein
NCJW/ Montefiore Hospice


From: Russell Hendel <RHendel@...>
Date: Thu, May 14, 2009 at 1:50 PM
Subject: Re: A plurality of customs

Martin's problem should be addressed more thoroughly. Isnt this an
example of the hypocrisy some people have in claiming to be "orthodox"
but violating a serious Biblical prohibition of causing anguish to
people (Lo Tonu)

I have a concrete suggestion. We have a problem with Agunoth (married
women without an official divorce certificate). One approach is to have
couples sign a prenuptial agreement. This forces a divorce when and if
it is needed. I believe the RCA or some other org has required its
members who perform weddings to require prenuptial agreements (A good
website on the subject can be found on Rachel Levmores page on the young
israel website at http://www.youngisraelrabbis.org.il/divorce.htm

Why not have a similar idea for shule squabs. Why not REQUIRE synagogues
to put in their charter that "We endorse lack of tolerance for
violations of LO TONU (causing anguish) and respect Din Torah when
violation have caused damages (I havent worked out all details)"

My point is why not put our BELIEFS into the SYNAGOGUE charters and make
srue that SYNAGOGUE monetarily obligate themselves to recompense members
who have been violated (e.g. by refunding dues). A Rabbi over a
synagogue with such a charter would think twice before abusing someone

The above is the "seed" of an idea. It is not fully developed (So it can
be attacked) But it can also be developed and if adopted could "curtail"
some of the infantilsm going around.

(For example AFTER throwing Martin out did the synagogue refund his
membership fo rthe year....a simple question showing lack of consistency
between our BELIEFS and ACTIONS ) My solution is to codify our actions
in our charters and make up responsible.

Russell Jay Hendel; Ph.d. ASA; http://www.Rashiyomi.com/


From: Akiva Miller <kennethgmiller@...>
Date: Wed, 13 May 2009 12:10:34 GMT
Subject: re: A plurality of local customs

Martin Stern wrote:
> Unfortunately those in control saw fit to ignore its ruling
> despite having signed a shtar birurim (deed of arbitration)
> before the hearing agreeing to accept its ruling. Can anyone
> suggest what I should do next?

I am not a lawyer, barrister, counselor-at-law, whatever. I'm just an
ordinary Mail-Jewish reader who occasionally reads newspapers and
magazines. Something I've noticed over the years, is the care with which
laws and contracts are written, and the unfortunate results which occur
when they are written carelessly.

For example, a government may sometimes write a law which requires
something, or prohibits something, but prescribes no penalty for
violations. Such laws are frequently broken because the public knows
that there is no penalty.

Similarly, a contract might prescribe certain obligations of each party,
but not prescribe what should happen if the contract is broken. For
example, an employment contract is not merely a promise, but it
obligates the employer to keep on paying the employee even if he gets
fired. (There are probably some penalties imposed on an employee who
quits, too.)

My understanding is that when Shomrei Mitzvos submit a matter to Beis
Din, it is done in cooperation with the civil authorities, who are
empowered to enforce the decision of the Beis Din. For example, if
either side refains from paying its share of the Beis din's fee, the
government can enforce that.

Unfortunately, I don't see anything else that might be done in your
case. It is one thing for the government to size a bank account for the
purpose of paying the Beis Din's fee. It is quite another for a
policeman to enter the shul and insist that certain piyutim be
recited. That is simply not going to happen.

At first, I was going to send this email directly to Mr. Stern
offlist. But now I see that -- to my regret -- I have no advice to offer
him, though I do hope that someone else might come up with a good
idea. Instead, I am posting this to MJ, with advice to all: Contracts
should not be mere promises, but should also impose penalties. That may
not be realistic in the case of drawing up a shul's by-laws, as in
Mr. Stern's case. But it could have been done at the go-to-arbitration

For example, the last paragraph of the Psak was:
> That being the case, any member may insist that the
> constitution be adhered to. It is not necessary for me
> to determine now, nor, I hope, in the future, what should
> happen if the adherence to the old ways will result in
> mass defection to the extent that it would not be possible
> to carry on with the Shul activities.

This psak seems to presume that the shul will obediently adhere to the
old ways, even at the risk of mass defections of those who prefer to
make changes. It ignores the possibility that the shul will *not*
obey. My advice and suggestion to all is that any psak should not only
instruct the litigants about their responsibilities, but should also
prescribe penalties for noncompliance.

For example, the psak might have said that noncompliance would result in
the dissolution of the shul's assets - or some other financial penalty
which the government and banks could enforce - that might motivate them
to comply. But with the situation as is, there seems to be little

(Side point: It bothers me very much when someone comments on a dispute
without hearing both sides of the dispute. In this post, I believe that
I have not taken sides. It is very tempting to say, "The Beis Din gave
its psak and there is no need to hear the other side." But that would be
wrong, because this dispute is about AFTER the psak. It is about the
shul's ALLEGED failure to comply with the psak. I believe that in this
post, I have not taken sides on whether the shul did or didn't comply
with the psak, or if they did fail to comply, whether or not they might
have been justified in doing so. I have merely illustrated the
importance of specifiying a penalty when a contract is written, or when
a case goes to arbitration.)

Akiva Miller


From: Yisrael Medad <ybmedad@...>
Date: Thu, 14 May 2009 15:12:11 +0300
Subject: Plurality vs. Minority

As for Martin's query about what to do, from his description of the
case, it would seem that he is in the minority of the synagogue and that
there is an opposing position in the plurality.

Despite the fundamental documents, charter, etc., one would presume that
except for the Torah, all things change over time.

If Martin is the only German customs inspired member left, let us
surmise, could he have the power to deny the schule the right to alter
its character within the Orthodox framelwork?  Does he need a minyan?
One-third membership?  At least 49%?

At some point, he must give in.  Life exists even outside the Beth Din.



From: David Ansbacher <dansbacher@...>
Date: Wed, May 13, 2009 at 9:33 AM
Subject: Tircha D'tzibura

Regarding your ongoing discussion with Martin Stern, I sent the following
letter to the Jewish Tribune last week - they did not publish it. To keep
it short, I only spelled out the bare bones of the case. I could
elaborate and be more specific, but they then would certainly not

Dear Sir.

As a former member of the shul which I think Martin Stern (30th April)
is refering to, I would like to set the record straight. The fact that
the rabbi who was appointed some three and a half years ago insists that
the tzibur wait for him after every chapter of Pesukei D'zimro is not
the only reason for about fifteen regular members leaving the shul.

Shortly after the rabbi's appointment, when he realised that there was
opposition to the changes he was making, he called a meeting, the notice
for which declared that "this meeting takes preference over other
commitments, shiurim or chavrusos". At the meeting, he stood infront of
the Aron Hakodesh before a packed shul and declaired "That if you don't
like the changes I am making, you go and daven elsewhere".  The first
major change he made was to cut out the extra Selichos which we have
always said on Yom Kippur.

I spoke to Harav Tuvia Weiss Shli'to and he told me that I should fight
with all my 'koiches' to reinstate the Selichos. This they would not do.
Likewise, when Dayin Berger Shli'to gave a p'sak that what they have
done is against Halocho, they rudely rejected his p'sak. I therefore was
forced to leave the shul where my father Z'l had been a founder member
and I had davened all my life.

I recently heared that the reason the beautiful nigunim which we had
always used for the Yomim Tovim were no longer allowed was because the
members of the kollel who had recently joined the shul were not happy,
in their own words, "with the old church tunes". Todays' "Pop Tunes"
which most rabbonim shout against, are much preferred.

No wonder so many people have left the shul.

May we speedily see the coming of Moshiach, when all shuls will be
transported to Eretz Yisroel and there will be sholom in the world.

D. A.


End of Volume 56 Issue 56