Volume 56 Number 95 
      Produced: Thu, 23 Jul 2009 22:23:07 EDT

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

    [Leonard  Paul]
Birkat Kohanim in Haifa 
    [Arie Weiss]
Chatzi kaddish [half kaddish] after Torah reading 
    [Martin Stern]
eat from a vessel that was not toiveled 
First Moon Landing / Tisha B'Av. 
    [Immanuel Burton]
Inulin powder 
JOFA (2)
    [Joseph Kaplan  Aryeh A. Frimer]
The Agunah Issue is NOT a feminist issue 
    [Carl Singer]
The Missing Hekesh 
    [Martin Stern]
Time of Sunset 
    [Richard Fiedler]
Translation - Sack's Koren Siddur 
    [ Mark Polster]
Translation of Shema Yisrael 
    [Arnie Resnicoff]


From: Leonard  Paul <lenpaul@...>
Date: Wed, Jul 22,2009 at 07:01 AM
Subject: Agunot 

Readers may be interested to know that there is a great deal of sympathy and
support outside the Orthodox community for women who are being refused a
GETT [Jewish divorce --MOD]. A few years ago, while my wife and I were spending
some time at our condominium in Delray Beach, Florida, I read with interest a
series of articles in the Sun-Sentinel about religious women who were having
difficulties being given a GETT. The newspaper is rather broadly across Palm
Beach and surrounding counties.

One of the articles reported a woman by name whose husband's lawyer had
advised him not to give his wife a GETT. The woman went before a non-Jewish
local magistrate who was very sympathetic to her plight and issued an order
that the husband gives a GETT.  When the husband found himself in a situation
where his continuing refusal was placing him in jeopardy of being in
contempt of court and possibly jail, he quickly relented.

Another article was about a woman who was being refused a GETT by her
husband who was a psychiatrist.  When a group of protesters carrying signs
outside of his office stating that he was refusing to give his wife a GETT
and urging his patients to go away, he quickly relented.

My personal, non-Halachic, friendly advice to anyone, anywhere within the
reach of Mail-Jewish: if you are even thinking about refusing to give a
GETT, don't go there.  Give a GETT.  I promise that you'll be a lot happier in
the end.

Leonard Paul
Elkins Park, PA


From: Arie Weiss <aliw@...>
Date: Sat, Jul 18,2009 at 08:01 PM
Subject: Birkat Kohanim in Haifa

Daniel Cohn wrote:
> Right. I ran into this also in Kibbutz Shluchot (near Bet Shean) and I was
> told there is a "minhag hatzafon" where they do not duchen on weekdays.

It's called minhag hagalil, and it dictates that you only duchen [perform the
Cohanic blessing --MOD] on shabbat at musaf in Haifa and the Galil, not every
morning and at shacharit + musaf on shabbat like the rest of Israel.

I think the question was why at the shul in Haifa they duchen at shabbat
shacharit as well, and I haven't yet found the answer.


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Wed, Jul 22,2009 at 02:01 AM
Subject: Chatzi kaddish [half kaddish] after Torah reading

Mordechai <Phyllostac@...> wrote:
> Finally, my personal thought is that it is clear that this is not a kaddish
> like any other kaddish yasom [Mourner's kaddish --MOD], because only one
> person says it at a time.
> Have you seen more than one person/all kaddish zogers
> [sayers --MOD] say it simultaneously,  as it done in most places with other
> kaddeishim, e.g. after aleinu? I don't recall seeing such. That seems to be a
> tip-off that shows that it is a different type of kaddish.

Actually the original Ashkenazi custom was that only one person would say
any kaddish yatom (mourner's kaddish) and the present regrettable 'custom'
of all saying it together in such a way that nobody can hear anything nor
answer "Amein, yehei shemei rabba" only became current in the last 200

It is based on a comment by Rav Yaakov Emden that he preferred the Sefardi
custom where all mourners say it in unison. As I explained in an article
many years ago, and now reprinted in my book "A Time to Speak", the main
difference is that Sefardim, unlike Ashkenazim, say all the tefillot aloud
together in unison so this is no problem for them, something that he seems
to have overlooked.

In some large Ashkenazi communities like Amsterdam this problem was to some
extent avoided by having all the mourners go to the front of the shul and
say kaddish together in unison there, but most others do not do so, giving
rise to the cacophony commonly heard nowadays.

Martin Stern


From: <chips@...>
Date: Thu, Jul 23,2009 at 01:01 AM
Subject: eat from a vessel that was not toiveled

Ari Trachtenberg wrote:
>> I recall many, many years ago when we were new in a town -- we invited
>> someone to dinner and they responded "do you toyvel [ritually immerse
>> --MOD] your dishes?"...
> Frankly, I don't see the relevance of these people's question to the
> dinner.  As I understand it, toyveling is related to ownership, not
> kashrut.  It would be the equivalent of coming to your house and
> checking your clothes for shatnez [forbidden clothing mixtures] before
> being willing to eat dinner.

You understand partially incorrectly. It is a huge argument among those
Rabbis who have been judged by the religious masses to be acceptable
decision makers of what are the proper methods of following the way.
The arguments fall into two concerns:
  Is there any problem with the food?
  Is there any problem with using the utensil?

I am pretty sure that all that decide that there is a problem with the
food also decide that there was a transgression in using the utensil.
Among those that decide there is no problem with the food, some of them do
say that there was a transgression is using the utensil. And then there
are some who decide based on what the food/utensil combination is.

To make matters even complex, the argument extends from where one is
eating at someone's home, to what are the rulings when eating at a
commercial establishment run by Jews. Some of the decision makers take a
more lenient approach in those situations.

What [did] Rav Moshe Feinstein do when [he] encountered such a sitaution[?]



From: Immanuel Burton <iburton@...>
Date: Tue, Jul 21,2009 at 09:01 AM
Subject: First Moon Landing / Tisha B'Av.

The astronauts who first landed on the moon forty years ago returned to Earth on
24th July 1696, which corresponds to Tisha B'Av 5729.  Has anyone seen any
comments about the significance (if any) of such a landmark event and
achievement coming to a conclusion on Tisha B'Av itself?

Immanuel Burton.


From: <Jillmrn@...>
Date: Tue, Jul 21,2009 at 07:01 PM
Subject: Inulin powder

I'm looking for information on the kosher status of the product INULIN  
POWDER - wondering if it requires certification.


From: Joseph Kaplan <penkap@...>
Date: Tue, Jul 21,2009 at 07:01 PM
Subject: JOFA

Mordechai Horowitz continues to call JOFA a "non halachic  
organization." It is, and always has been, committed to following  
halacha, even if Mr. Horowitz may disagree with some of its halachic  
positions.  In any event, his language is, hopefully unintentionally,  
insulting both to the organization and its members and followers,  
some of whom are members of this list.  I would therefore suggest  
that he either find some other non-insulting description or drop the  
description completely and just refer to it as JOFA.

Joseph Kaplan

From: Aryeh A. Frimer <frimea@...>
Date: Wed, Jul 22,2009 at 01:01 AM
Subject: JOFA

Rose Landowne writes regarding JOFA:
> I think this makes it clear that 
> the whole point is to work within Halacha to dowhat can be done in the 
> social/political areas to make women feel more welcome in the Orthodox 
> communal world.

   IMHO, the central issue is not JOFA's declared commitment to work within 
Halakha, but rather how JOFA defines what is Halakhic!  Is every opinion 
found within the Halakhic discussion -  Halakhic? What about rejected 
minority opinions which are adopted simply because "it gets ya where ya' 
wanna go"?  What about the views of Rishonim that are rejected by Shulhan 
Arukh and later poskim [decidors --MOD]?   What about Beit Shammai when it
is rejected by  Beit Hillel.  "Is Everything in Halakha - Halakhic?" is the
subject of two  articles I wrote on the subject which were published [much to
JOFA's credit!] in the the JOFA Magazine - the links are given below.

"Feminist Innovations in Orthodoxy Today: Is Everything in Halakha - 
Halakhic?" Aryeh A. Frimer, JOFA Journal,5:2,pp. 3-5 (Summer 2004/Tammuz5764). 
PDF file available online at:http://www.jofa.org/pdf/JOFASummerFinal1.pdf

"On Understanding and Compassion in Pesak Halakha - A Rejoinder," Aryeh A. 
Frimer, JOFA Journal, 5:3, p. 6 (Winter 2005/Tevet-Shvat 5765). PDF file 
available online at: http://www.jofa.org/pdf/JOFAWinter%20pdf.pdf.

beNehamat Tziyyon viYerushalayyim [in comfort of Zion and Jerusalem --MOD],

Kol Tuv, Aryeh


From: Carl Singer <carl.singer@...>
Date: Tue, Jul 21,2009 at 07:01 PM
Subject: The Agunah Issue is NOT a feminist issue

OK -- I've got your attention.

It is a community issue.   It is an halachic community issue.  It is a
mainstream, halachic community issue.

Unless or until the entire community, male and female - impacted or
uninvolved - sees this as a mainstream halachic community issue it won't get
the attention that it demands.

Time and again we hear of abuse of the halachic get [divorce] process and it
seems that many find it easier to sweep such abuse under the carpet.

As noted in a previous post, those who take a stand may be risking life and



From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Sun, Jul 19,2009 at 07:01 AM
Subject: The Missing Hekesh

On Sun, Jul 5,2009, Russell J Hendel <rjhendel@...> wrote:

> I recently responded to Martin's question - why is Hekesh (making inferences
> from Biblical texts that combine several matters in one (or proximate)
> paragraphs) not mentioned in the Rabbi Ishmael rules - by suggesting that
> Hekkesh is subsumed under "Matters inferred from context." I also responded by
> pointing out that the Rabbi Ishmael rules are NOT meant to be THE EXHAUSTIVE
> list of exegetical rules but rather refer to those rules dealing with STYLE,
> Martin responded by stating
>> The only problem with Russell's explanation is that one would have expected
>> the term Hekkesh to be listed rather than "Matters inferred from context"
>> since that is the way this rule is usually termed in the Gemara.
> So it seems that Martin is happy with my explanation and just wants
> clarification on why Hekkesh isn't mentioned.
> Simple: Hekkesh - making inferences from proximate or multi-topic paragraphs
> is NOT universally accepted (There are opinions that paragraph inference does
> not apply to the book of Deuteronomy because it has so many diverse topics).
> On the other hand INFERENCE FROM CONTEXT applies to all books of the Bible.

On consideration, I am not entirely happy with Russell's thesis, quite apart
from my previous reservation.  It would seem to me that a Hekesh is a
deduction from apparently unrelated terms in a particular verse, similar to
the rule of Semuchim which makes a deduction from the fact that two verses
are juxtaposed (possibly the obverse of the rule of ein mukdam ume'uchar
batorah [there is no 'earlier' and 'later', i.e. specific chronology, in the
Torah --MOD] - any comments anyone?).

This is rather different from the idea of "Matters inferred from context"
where the context explains the meaning of a word.  The example of the latter
that comes to mind is the word 'chamra' used in the Gemara where the context
makes it clear (usually) whether it means 'wine' or 'a donkey'. I don't
think Hekesh works this way but rather on the fact that the Torah has
written two things together as an indication that the dinim (rules) that
apply to one apply to the other.

Furthermore, I do not think that Rabbi Yishmael's rules are meant to be for
ascertaining the meaning of texts in the simple sense (peshat) but, rather,
are those rules by which halachot can be deduced from them.  Having used one
of them, the resulting halachah is treated as if it were explicitly in the
text, i.e. it is has mitsvah d'oraita [Torah commandment --MOD] status, not even
a halachah le'Mosheh miSinai [law given to Moshe at Sinai --MOD] let alone a
mitsvah derabbanan [Rabbinic commandment --MOD]. The fact that this braita is
put as an introduction to the halachic midrash, Mechilta, seems to indicate this

The fact that Rabbi Yishmael seems to accept the rule of Hekesh elsewhere
makes its omission here puzzling. I suppose that it is possible that a
reason might be that it is not used in the Mechilta but I would be surprised
if that were so even though I have not checked through it.

Martin Stern


From: Richard Fiedler <richardfiedler@...>
Date: Wed, Jul 22,2009 at 01:01 PM
Subject: Time of Sunset

I am noticing a potentially very serious discrepancy with the value  
used for sunset common throughout the Jewish World.

If you use a program like Siddur on the iPhone you will find that the  
time of sunset for July 22nd is 7:47 PM in Jerusalem. Yet secular  
programs will say sunset is at 7:42 PM or 7:43 PM.

For Denver the value is 8:30 PM but the secular value is 8:23 PM.

For New York City the value is 8:21:30 PM and the secular value is  
8:21 PM.

New York City has no problem because it is near sea level.

The difference is due to the altitude which is a substantial factor in  
the way some programs calculate this using an algorithm found at

According to the Astronomy department of Cornell University even a  
1500 meter rise in altitude would only change the time of sunset by  
one minute.


Yet the algorithm that is in common use by the Jewish Community  
appears to be a minute for every 200 meter rise.

This means that if one is inclined to let things go to the last minute  
you had better not do it in Jerusalem or Denver.

If any of you are amateur or professional astronomers and can show I  
am wrong I would like to know it.

Richard Fiedler


From:  Mark Polster <mp@...>
Date: Thu, Jul 16,2009 at 12:01 PM
Subject: Translation - Sack's Koren Siddur

In MJ Vol. 56, #92, Martin Stern wrote:
> A closer look at the source would show that the word beshem carries the
> ta'am (musical / punctuation mark) tippecha which separates it from the
> following word. This would suggest the meaning "called out loud: Hashem".
> However there is one possible objection in that it often happens that in
> this particular sequence of te'amim in a verse the tippecha has replaced 
> the expected mercha which would join it to the following word rendering the
> phrase "and He called out in the name of Hashem".

While Martin is, of course, quite correct in saying that the sequence 
mercha-tippecha often swaps for tippecha-mercha, anecdotal evidence that 
at least Rav Aharon Lichtenstein, shli'ta, feels that in this instance 
that is not the case.  Around twenty-five years ago (when I was somewhat 
less careful about these matters than I try to be now) I was leining in 
his presence on a fast day and inadvertently read "Vayiqra (tippecha) / 
b'shem Hashem", and (not the sort of thing one forgets...) he corrected me 
on the trup!  On that basis, I must conclude that at least Rav Aharon 
feels that the correct understanding of the pasuk is most assuredly the 
former rather than the latter of the two possiblities.

Mark Polster
Cleveland, OH


From: Arnie Resnicoff <resnicoff@...>
Date: Wed, Jul 22,2009 at 08:01 AM
Subject: Translation of Shema Yisrael

I have been fascinated for some time by the various possible translations of the
first verse in the Shema, especially when we consider it alongside the line in
aleinu, praying that "on that day -- the Lord shall be One, and His name One."

But here I would like to share a comment about the first word in the Shema:
"Hear."? I think that the meaning of this English word has been softened in some
ways over the year, and would like to share a different way of understanding it,
based on the way it is used in the military in general, but even more, in the
Navy, in particular (and I share this as someone who served many years in the

When we are told in the Navy, "Now Hear This," longstanding military tradition
tells us that there are three parts to that command:
1 - Listen 2 - Understand 3 - Obey

And the reply, "Aye, Aye, Sir" (or today, "Aye, Aye, Ma'am," when we are
replying to a female officer), also has these three components, affirming that:
1 - I listened 2- I understand 3 - I will obey. (And this is a pretty good
translation of the response of the Israelites at Sinai, "Naaseh v'nishmah" --
"Aye, Aye, Lord!)

When we say, "Shema Yisrael," I think the meaning is much more than simply
"hear", (in the sense of listening to the words, that follow. I think it means
listening in a way that we understand the truth that follows must change both
our understanding of the world, and our understanding of commandments we must
follow in our lives.

One final note for prayer is that I sometimes teach others that, while we cover
our eyes during the Shema for one reason, we should pay a little attention to
the act of UNCOVERING our eyes, as well.  After we say these words -- the first
words of the Shema -- and then open our eyes, we should "see," or think about
"seeing," in a different way (just as Hagar saw differently after the Lord
"opened her eyes").

I am glad this verse is being discussed....

Arnie Resnicoff


End of Volume 56 Issue 95