Volume 57 Number 36 
      Produced: Wed, 21 Oct 2009 07:50:20 EDT

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

Aliyot (2)
    [Ralph Zwier  Ben Katz]
Broken up Minyan  
    [Ira L. Jacobson]
    [Russell J Hendel]
Gabbai's handbook (2)
    [Martin Stern  Ken Bloom]
Kaporos (3)
    [Alex Heppenheimer  Ken Bloom  Mona Berdugo]
Modim d'Rabbanan 
    [Yisrael Medad]
Shabbat Elevators (2)
    [Carl Singer  Stephen Phillips]


From: Ralph Zwier <ralph@...>
Date: Sat, Oct 17,2009 at 07:01 PM
Subject: Aliyot

>From Menashe Elyashiv:

>   Aliyot [Menashe Elyashiv] Why are  there 7 Aliyot in Vezot Habracha?
> Even in places that stick to the original law and call 5 only, why
> write 7? 

The reading of Vezot Habracha is universally treated as though it were 
Shabbat, since there is no regular Shabbat on which it is ever read. This 
means that in Eretz Yisrael they read the same on Simchat torah whether it 
falls on Shabbat or not.

So, as with any Shabbat which has 3 sifrei torah to read, we read 6 aliyot 
from the first sefer, the seventh aliyah from the second sefer, and the 
maftir from the third sefer. 

Now this raises an interesting question: The 6 aliyot from the first sefer 
are the (a) regular five from the said division into seven, and the shishi 
(6th) is a double portion - joined into shevii (seventh). This is what the 
chatan torah reads. Now this is exactly what is done at other times when 
there are three sifrei torah to read. So why is there a shevii (7th) aliyah 
marked in the chumashim? No one will ever be called up on the shevii 
division under any circumstace! It may be there, simply for those who learn 
the Parasha during the week preceding. (eg Chabad Chitas [study of Chumash,
Psalms/Tehillim, and Tanya --MOD])

Ralph Zwier
Double Z Computer

From: Ben Katz <BKatz@...>
Date: Fri, Oct 16,2009 at 04:01 PM
Subject: Aliyot

From: Menashe Elyashiv <Menashe.Elyashiv@...>
> Who put the Aliyot (i.e. sheni, shlishi) into the Humashim?
> Second question - Why are  there 7 Aliyot in Vezot Habracha?

I don't know for sure, but I believe there were times when Vezot Haberacha was
read on shabat (either the shabat before RH or between RH and YK) in which case
one would need 7 aliyot.
See Yairi's book published by Mosad Harav Kook - Toldot Hag Simchat Torah.

Ben Z. Katz, MD
Professor of Pediatrics
Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine


From: Ira L. Jacobson <laser@...>
Date: Sat, Oct 17,2009 at 02:01 PM
Subject: Broken up Minyan 

Yisrael Medad <ybmedad@...> wondered in mail-Jewish 
Vol.57 #35 Digest:

>Ishei Yisrael notes 15:41, infra, that 6 is the minimum required in 
>order to finish what had been started when there was a Minyan 
>including Kedusha and the rest of the Amidah but I admit, I am not 
>sure reading it whether for Kaddish after Amidah the minimum isrequired.

Here are some rules (following the rulings of Rabbi Schneur Zalman of 

    * If the one leading the services begins the repetition of the 
amidah in the presence of a minyan, and then a person or persons 
walks out, leaving less than ten men present, the leader may finish 
the repetition, and may even recite the full qaddish that follows (as 
it is considered an extension of the amidah).
    * In most other instances, qaddish can not be said unless ten men 
were present when the qaddish began.
    * . . .  the Kohanim cannot bless the congregation unless a 
minyan is present when they begin reciting the blessing.
    * If qaddish was begun in the presence of a minyan, it may be 
concluded even if the quorum is depleted. However, the barchu that 
sometimes follows qaddish may not be said.
    * If the first aliyah blessing was begun, the entire Torah 
reading may be concluded, and the blessings recited. The haftara, 
however, is considered a separate unit, and its blessings cannot be 
recited if there is no minyan present when it is begun.
    * During the evening prayer, if the minyan was depleted during 
the Shema or its blessings, the qaddish that follows it may be said. 
The qaddish that follows the amidah can be said if there was a minyan 
present when the amidah was begun.



From: Russell J Hendel <rjhendel@...>
Date: Sat, Oct 17,2009 at 09:01 PM
Subject: Dictionaries

As long as the subject was brought up I strongly recommend everyone have
a copy of Radak's Shoroshim (Roots) the first volume of Michlol
(comprehensive grammar). This beautiful book is the best of its kind. I
can't understand why more people don't use it. It lists each of the 2000
biblical roots. It gives all meanings with examples and verse citations.
There is no way to seriuosly read the Bible without using it. Even when
Rashi or someone else says something the Radack can add support (or
complementary definitions). I find the Radack superior to the
Briggs-Driver lexicon and Gesenius. There is more detail and analysis. I
could go on for hours on how many problems this wonderful book solves. I
would be happy to have us start a thread on this I would also be happy to
hear other people's experiences.

Russell Jay Hendel; http://www.Rashiyomi.com/


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Sun, Oct 18,2009 at 11:01 AM
Subject: Gabbai's handbook

On Thu, Oct 1,2009, Rose Landowne <Roselandow@...> wrote:
> I would assume that the custom was to wait until the rabbi or
> assistant rabbi finished the amidah and start then, with no signal.
> Without the accepted community leader there, you don't want to get
> into an argument about who is the important community person to wait
> for, so you wait for a minyan.

I happened to notice that the Rema (O.C.124,3) writes "If there are
individuals in the congregation who prolong their prayer, the shats does not
have to wait for them even if they are among the prominent members of the

On this the Mishnah Berurah (s.k. 13) notes that this is because of
inconvenience to the congregation. He also notes that when the rav is not
present it is customary to wait for someone who pronounces every word (I
would have hoped that referred to everyone!) but that this is not necessary
if he is unduly slow.

Presumably it can be assumed that any rav worthy of his position, unlike a
private individual, will know how long he can keep the congregation waiting!

Martin Stern

From: Ken Bloom <kbloom@...>
Date: Fri, Oct 16,2009 at 09:01 AM
Subject: Gabbai's handbook

> The problem is that we use the word 'minyan' rather loosely to mean 'those
> gathered to daven together' whereas it only refers to the minimum number to
> qualify for public prayer, i.e. ten. Unfortunately some people do not
> understand this and think 'rov minyan' means the greater part of those
> present, which would be a great stringency if more than twenty people are at
> the 'minyan'.

Perhaps it's a stringency, perhaps it's just a courtesy to all of the
other people davening in that group. (i.e. you could go ahead with 6 or
10 people, but will the other 50 people at the shul come back if you
don't wait for most of them?) It's probably not a time sink though,
because as you get more people davening together you're likely to get
more fast daveners as well as more slow daveners.


From: Alex Heppenheimer <aheppenh@...>
Date: Fri, Oct 16,2009 at 12:01 PM
Subject: Kaporos

Bernard Raab <beraab@...> replied to me:

>> Given all of this, I would be very wary of calling the custom "barbaric." 
>> The unfortunate fact is that some of those who label it as such, have a broader
>> agenda in which they try to thus stigmatize actual Torah laws (such as
>> shechitah) too.

S. Wise wrote:

>After witnessing how it is performed in person and in pictures, I cannot 
>imagine that this was the intention when this minhag was instituted, and 
>still bemused that given how it is evolved over history that it is still a 
>custom, one that seems to have actually widened in recent decades. 

>Watching the smiling faces during the process leads me to believe that the 
>meaning behind using the chicken may have been lost.

Fair enough, perhaps. But that's much different than describing it as
"barbaric," as in your original post, which implies that even if someone
performs kapparos in all seriousness, it's still a bad practice.

But to your current point: perhaps there's good reason for the smiling faces -
the fact that the participant is glad to have a (symbolic) way of getting rid of
their aveiros? Do you know what they're thinking inside? I could easily imagine,
back when people brought offerings in the Beis Hamikdash (and when we will again
soon, with G-d's help), that they might be happy yet serious at the same time -
in fact, the same mix of emotions that we have (or should have) on Yom Kippur -
in the spirit of "rejoice with trembling" (Psalms 2:11). Perhaps it's the same
here, at least for some of those performing kapparos.

Furthermore, even let us say that those who are smiling are missing the point of
the minhag. That still doesn't invalidate it, though. Consider, for example,
that Pesukei Dezimrah (the chapters of Psalms, etc., recited at the beginning of
the morning prayers) were instituted originally in order to provide time for
reflection on G-d's greatness before approaching Him in the Amidah prayer. Most
people that I know, though (myself included) usually rush through them. That
doesn't mean that we should therefore omit them altogether; perhaps such a
person will one time be inspired to concentrate properly on the words and thus
to make their Amidah more meaningful. Similarly here: perhaps one of these
people who now is smiling will later come to realize the seriousness of it, and
to make that feeling inform their Yom Kippur prayers (and in turn, the rest of
their year).

>In addition, if we 
>believe that Hashem forgives us for aveiros, why are we to assume we will be 
>slaughtered in this world for our sins and not punished in the next?

How Hashem rewards and punishes is a whole other topic in itself, but these two
possibilities aren't mutually exclusive; Hashem may reward or punish a person
only in this world, only in the next, or distributed between both. But the point
of kapparos is for ourselves to take an experiential object lesson, as below;
that can only be done with an action in this world, since we know of the next
only intellectually.

Bernard Raab wrote:

>The thought of slaughtering a chicken to atone for ones sins is not quite in the
>same category as shechitah for food production.

Why not? What do you think the chickens slaughtered at kapparos are used for?
They're not thrown away (unless they turn out to be unkosher, of course). In my
neighborhood, they are given to the local yeshivos, who freeze them and use them
for months afterwards to feed their students.

>Rather it reflects a modern
>sensibility on the act of animal sacrifice for ritual purposes. I'm afraid if
>that ever were to be restored as a routine part of our religion, that would be
>yet another cause of cleavage among our Orthodox co-religionists.

It would be sad if that were the case. What do those with this "modern
sensibility" do with all of the prayers, Torah readings, and sections of the
Talmud that deal with sacrifices, and in many of which we pray for their

And after all, the point of kapparos (and of the sacrifices in the Beis
Hamikdash, on which it's modeled to some extent) is not the pagan idea of
vicarious atonement ("the deity is angry at me and wants to kill me, so I'll
appease his blood lust by slaughtering a dumb animal instead - he won't know or
care about the difference"). It is rather, as the Chinuch explains (mitzvah 95,
et al),addressed to the participant, to make him or her realize that by rights
they deserve such a death for having disobeyed G-d, and to be contrite and do
teshuvah. And it is teshuvah that brings about Hashem's forgiveness for our sins.

So it is true that it is possible to do teshuvah without these visual aids,
but it is more difficult to do so, because then we have a hard time making it
real to ourselves that sin has real and terrible consequences. (For those of us
who live in democracies, it is still more difficult; we have no idea of what it
means to owe absolute allegiance to a ruler who holds the power of life and
death.) So if the actions that the Torah associates with teshuvah are out
because of "modern sensibilities," then how indeed should one translate this
intellectual knowledge into something experiential and practical, that will
affect one's behavior for the future?

Kol tuv,

From: Ken Bloom <kbloom@...>
Date: Fri, Oct 16,2009 at 09:01 AM
Subject: Kaporos

> After witnessing how it is performed in person and in pictures, I cannot  
> imagine that this was the intention when this minhag was instituted, and 
> still  bemused that given how it is evolved over history that it is still a 
> custom, one  that seems to have actually widened in recent decades. 

When I saw this custom for the first time this year, I was really
surprised that it didn't look that painful for the birds. It wasn't an
exercise in centrifugal force -- we held the bird by the wings, and
circled it slowly above the head three times.

> Watching the smiling faces during the process leads me to believe that the  
> meaning behind using the chicken may have been lost.  In addition, if we  
> believe that Hashem forgives us for aveiros, why are we to assume we will be  
> slaughtered in this world for our sins and not punished in the next?

Because the judgment of Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur is about who will
live and who will die, and about parnasah and other such things. It
isn't about our punishment for sins in the next world -- that judgment
comes after our death.

From: Mona Berdugo <yignmona@...>
Date: Mon, Oct 19,2009 at 10:01 AM
Subject: Kaporos

> In fact the question is asked as to what to do for a pregnant woman
> may be carrying a male child. Some suggest that in this case one
> the ritual three times, once with a hen for her, then twice more, once
> with a hen and once with a cock, for her (as yet unborn) child. Others
> dispense with the second hen, presumably relying on the opinion that
> can do the ceremony for a group together, i.e. the woman and her child
> this case.

I always wondered about this.  Why do kaparot at all for an unborn
child?  What sins can an unborn child possibly commit?  It's not like
there are any chinuch issues involved either.



From: Yisrael Medad <ybmedad@...>
Date: Mon, Oct 19,2009 at 06:01 AM
Subject: Modim d'Rabbanan

Perusing the Sefer Minhagim of YICC provided us a while back, I noticed
on p. 8, note g for Shacharit ,  that "while reciting modim the Hazan
should bow and say the word modim.  They should stop, still in the bent
position, and wait until the congregation has finished reciting modim
d'rabanan.  When the congregation finishes the modim then the Hazan
should continue..."

I would most respectively make the following comments:

1. the verb used should more properly be repetition.  We all recite the
Shmoneh Asreh but only the Hazan repeats it.

2.  The word 'they' is incorrect.  It should be 'he'.

3.  I see no reason for a Hazan to remain in a bent position for the
entire congregational repitition of modim d'rabanan nor do I see any
reason not to begin the Hazan's repetition until after the congregation
has finished the entire modim d'rabanan.   Not only is that a physical
strain, quite unnecessary in itself,  and possibly the wait would be a
tircha d'tzibbur, but  it leaves open a major/critical element:  who is
the last person that finishes which would permit the Hazan to take up
again?  Seems fraught with indecision and hesitancy and pain. 
As with most if not all congregations I have davened in, the hazan
simply pronounces 'modim', waits 3-4 seconds and then proceeds.

Yisrael Medad


From: Carl Singer <carl.singer@...>
Date: Fri, Oct 16,2009 at 09:01 AM
Subject: Shabbat Elevators

I believe the issue is that "old" elevators were essentially "dumb" -- they
went up and down,  up and down -- using a counterweight, perhaps.
One's getting on or off didn't effect the elevator's operations, per se.

My presumption is that "new" elevators are "smart" -- they have sensors that
are impacted by a passenger getting on or off -- thus impacting the weight
of the elevator AND causing some electrical things to happen in response.


From: Stephen Phillips <admin@...>
Date: Fri, Oct 16,2009 at 09:01 AM
Subject: Shabbat Elevators

> From: Sammy Finkelman 
> but the new reason
> that accordimng to them every observant Jew should accept seems to be
> extra energy is used in carrying an additional load and this is
> directly the result of being on the elevator.

My understanding, such as it is, is that the problem is not when the elevator
ascends, but when it descends. It is something to do with the braking creating
additional energy. Maybe someone else here can bring more authority to explain
what I heard was the problem with elevators.

Stephen Phillips


End of Volume 57 Issue 36