Volume 56 Number 63
                   Produced: Sun May 24 20:29:08 EDT 2009

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

Grave Stones
        [Carl Singer]
Kadosh Kadosh Kadosh
        [Avraham Walfish]
A new topic for discussion (3)
        [David Ziants, Martin Stern, David Ziants]
We don't paskin by Gra, Jeanette, OR Shulchan Aruch
        [Binyomin G Segal]
Zman Shacharis/t on the plane
        [Alexander Seinfeld]


From: Carl Singer <carl.singer@...>
Date: Fri, 22 May 2009 05:52:03 -0400
Subject: Grave Stones

I'm sure that there are many minhagim.

Here in the States, I often hear it called an "unveiling" -- as the
stone has previously been physically put in place (aka "set") -
dependent on (as noted by other posters) weather and settling of the
earth at the grave site. A cloth is placed over the gravestone prior to
the ceremony and is "unveiled." For whatever reason, this cloth tends to
be a cheese cloth that one can read through - perhaps so people will not
disturb it when checking for accuracy, etc. At the "unveiling" some
words may be spoken and kaddish is often recited.

As noted many cemeteries have "rules" and it's best to go with a
headstone company that knows these rules. Perhaps the local hevra, the
cemetery association or a local Rabbi can advise re: choice. Similarly,
re: schedule and conduct of the unveiling.

I do not know if there is any halachic underpinning to "unveiling."  I
recall learning that in ancient times, visitors to a grave would place
stones upon the grave and these would over time build the headstone.
Today we have the custom of putting small stones or pebbles atop the
gravestone - I believe said custom derives from the original.

Regarding refreshments, etc., Prevailing local custom is to go to a
restaurant afterwards for a group meal.



From: Avraham Walfish <rawalfish@...>
Date: Fri, May 22, 2009 at 12:07 PM
Subject: Re:Kadosh Kadosh Kadosh

I'm not sure what Ari means by "reconciling" the two positions. The
Mishnah Berurah holds that the pesukim of kedushah must be recited along
with ten others, and this includes the sheliach zibbur, and Rav Moshe
clearly holds otherwise, preferring the sheliach zibbur to repeat the
pasuk (as he does, for example, with Barchu) in order to enable
longer-davening people to hear his recitation and be yotzei through
shome'a ke-oneh. There is a discussion of this issue in Rav Aryeh
Pomeranchik's Emek Beracha (a talmid of the Griz), and he also prefers
having the sheliach zibbur repeat the pesukim.

Avie Walfish


From: David Ziants <dziants@...>
Date: Sun, 24 May 2009 09:53:09 +0300
Subject: Re: A new topic for discussion

Without knowing any specific written sources, etc., intuition can give
me an answer.  After going to the toilet, b"h most of us are as healthy
as before we went in. We thank h' for maintaining this status quo.  A
lady, straight after child-birth, is still in life danger for a number
of days after. Once this danger passes she recites the b'racha
"hagomel". Hopefully, she has succeeded in saying asher yatzar many
times before she is ready to say hagomel - the issues that need hagomel
being much stronger.

David Ziants
Ma'aleh Adumim, Israel

> From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
> In the brachah, asher yatsar, the Almighty is praised for creating the
> human being with many orifices and organs ... if one of these should be
> open or closed at the wrong time it would be impossible to exist.
> In former times obstructed labour was a major cause death in childbirth
> of the mother or the baby, or both.
> In light of this can anyone suggest why it is not said by the mother
> after a safe delivery since its wording would seem particularly
> appropriate at that time?

From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Sun, 24 May 2009 15:15:33 +0100
Subject: Re: A new topic for discussion

David Ziants <dziants@...> writes:

> A lady, straight after child-birth, is still in life danger for a number
> of days after. Once this danger passes she recites the b'racha
> "hagomel". Hopefully, she has succeeded in saying asher yatzar many
> times before she is ready to say hagomel - the issues that need hagomel
> being much stronger.

David is making an interesting point. However I do not think it entirely
answers the question which could be rephrased in his scenario as "Should a
lady after childbirth have intention also to cover that event when saying
asher yatsar after going to the toilet?"

Martin Stern

From: David Ziants <dziants@...>
Date: Sun, 24 May 2009 20:08:12 +0300
Subject: Re: A new topic for discussion

My emphasis, though, is:

     After going to the toilet, b"h most of us are as healthy as
     before we went in. We thank h' for maintaining this status

in my original posting, and not just the part quoted.

Asher Yatza is a b'racha thanking h' for maintaining the status quo, i.e.
day-to-day needs.

Giving birth is something special, but explicitly life threatening.
Hagomel is what is needed for that.

I don't think that one can at all compare the two issues.



From: Binyomin G Segal <bsegal@...>
Date: Thu, May 21, 2009 at 12:29 AM
Subject: Re: We don't paskin by Gra, Jeanette, OR Shulchan Aruch

I thoroughly enjoyed Russell Jay Hendel's discussion of derech psak. I
found his discussion both of the specific topic at hand, and the process
of psak clear and scholarly. Respectfully, I do want to take issue with
it though, as I think it is not really a complete look at the process,
even though I admit that his conclusion is an entirely reasonable and
legitimate one.

Essentially, I believe that there is another important aspect to
deciding Jewish law, that of submitting to authority, that Dr Hendel
seems to discount.

There are two ways in which I think submission to authority have a
legitimate role in halachik decision making -
1 Determining if it is a dvar mishna or shikul hadaat
2 Even if it is a question open to shikul hadaat, there is a value to
humble submission to a previous authority.

What is a dvar mishna or shikul hadaat you ask? Simply put, dvar mishna
refers to decided law. A classic example might be the debates of Bait
Hillel and Bait Shammai. These questions are decided, and nobody today
has the right to practice like Bais Shammai. Exactly what falls into the
realm of decided halacha is open to some question and debate, but
certainly much (most?) of the Shulchan Aruch/Rama would be considered by
most poskim today to be dvar mishna.

The second role of authority is perhaps a little amorphous, but it is an
important part of ANY JUDICIAL SYSTEM, and particularly important in
halacha. Earlier court opinions, precedents, are an important aspect of
a fair and consistent system. Although there may be few formal limits to
a judge's decisions, in practice, judges look for precedent and parallel
decisions in earlier court opinions. This is particularly important in
halacha which is an attempt at understanding and interpreting the divine
REVELATION. That is Torah is at some level, by definition, a submission
of our intellect to a Higher Authority. Taking this one step further,
humility argues that I do not understand the topic better than the S"A
or the GRA and so I should not rely entirely on my own thinking.

The "problem" with this second aspect of authority is that it is in
direct conflict to another well established principle that "ein ladayin
ela..." which basically means that every judge is required to make his
decision based on his personal understanding. I acknowledge the conflict
between these two aspects of psak, and suggest that every posek is
required to come to some synthesis of these two conflicting principles.
And indeed we find that different poskim throughout the ages came to
different understandings of these conflicting principles.

If you will allow me to give some oversimplified examples...  If one
studies Yechava Daat, the tshuvot of Rav Ovadia Yosef, you will find
that many tshuvot are PRIMARILY an appeal to earlier authority. And if
one studies the tshuvot of Rav Moshe Feinstein, you will find that many
tshuvot are PRIMARILY the author's personal decision making. But neither
is exclusive in his approach. Rav Moshe does sometimes submit to earlier
authority. And Rav Ovadia does certainly make independent decisions.

Similarly, in a previous era, we have the Mishna Brura and the Aruch
Hashulchan. The Mishna Brura is primarily based on previous authority,
while the Aruch Hashulchan is primarily an independent decision maker.
But again, these are not exclusively true. The Mishna Brura argues
against many prevailing customs - eg non-married men not wearing a
talit.; and the Aruch Hashulchan submits to earlier authority - take for
example the expression "kvar horah zaken" (the elder has already
decided) which the Aruch Hashulchan uses upon occasion (see for example
O"H 51:4) to indicate that he has subjugated his understanding to the
earlier authorities.

At the risk of being overly pedantic, allow me to demonstrate this
interplay between subservience to earlier authority and independent
decision making....

Consider the halachik construct of "minhag", custom. Minhag is obviously
more complex than just subservience to authority, but  the idea that the
collective knowledge and understanding of previous generations can
supersede our understanding is a basic underpinning to the concept of
minhag. Minhag at its root is based on authority. However, here also the
concept of independent understanding is acknowledged with the idea of
minhag taut, a mistaken custom. A rav essentially has the power to annul
a custom that he feels is mistaken.

Or consider the current situation in regard to the mitzvah of tcheilet.
From a simple scholarly analysis, it seems clear that we now have the
opportunity to fulfill the Torah commandment of putting a blue thread on
our 4 cornered garments. And there are many Torah scholars today who
having reached that conclusion, are indeed wearing tcheilet on their
tzitzit. However, there are also many Torah scholars today who, even
while they acknowledge that conclusion, do not wear tcheilet. A number
of scholars that I have spoken with who do not wear tcheilet  see their
choice not to wear tcheilet as a way of submitting their understanding
to authority - either because they humbly submit to the authority of
greater Torah scholars in our day who themselves do not wear tcheilet,
or because they see the history of the Jewish people as having created a
custom not to wear something that might be tcheilet.

To return to our original example of making a bracha on silent reading,
I will grant that its inclusion in the S"A may not be sufficient to make
it a dvar mishna, since it is not entirely clear what the S"A means. As
a result, Russell's conclusion seems both legitimate halachik discourse
and a reasonable conclusion. On the other hand, I find that I am very
willing to accept something as a "dvar mishna" even if it is "only" in
the Mishna Brura, especially if it is an area that I am not overly
familiar with.  That is, I would not feel the need for psak at all,
since it is already a "dvar mishna" in the M"B. And the M"B clearly
disagrees with Russell's conclusion. On the third hand, if I was
studying this topic in greater detail, I might very well open this
question up to the type of shikul hadaat that Russel
demonstrated. However, even were I to consider shikul hadaat in this
question, I would feel the need for greater clarity before taking on the
M"B. That is, while I would be comfortable with a conclusion different
from the M"B, I would want to both understand clearly why the M"B held
as he held, and also feel that I was not taking him on alone, but that I
was in the company of others comparable in stature to the M"B.

Gee, I have certainly missed MJ.

binyomin segal


From: Alexander Seinfeld <seinfeld@...>
Date:Sun, 24 May 2009 11:41:50 -0400
Subject: Zman Shacharis/t on the plane

What is the correct time to daven Shacharis/Shacharit on the plane from
NY to Israel.

For example, consider the flight that leaves at approximately midnight.

The problem is that you don't know where you are geographically, and at
that time of night/morning, good luck getting the info from the captain!
Once I even missed zman shacharis altogether because when I awoke it
was clearly afternoon.

It seems to me that one can approximate - sunrise right now in N Europe
is going to be around 4:30 am, which is 10:30 pm New York time! - which
means you would have until about 4 am NY time.

Now here's the hard part: since your total flight time is about 11
hours, that means that you should be reaching Europe about 4 hrs into
the trip, right at the tail end of zman shacharis there. Remember that
you are not flying due east, rather NE (later becoming SE). Therefore,
it is not a simple calculation.

So my guestimate is to set your alarm for about 3 hrs into the flight.

Any expert suggestions?

Alexander Seinfeld

PS a related topic - although there is almost always a minyan on the El
Al and other flights, I have heard from two poskim that one should daven
in his seat, because of the possibility of blocking the aisles and also
davening near the restroom.


End of Volume 56 Issue 63