Volume 58 Number 21 
      Produced: Sun, 30 May 2010 21:23:09 EDT

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

adding up the numbers 
burkas etc. (3)
    [Frankl Silbermann  Akiva Miller  Martin Stern]
eReaders (2)
    [Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz  Ari Trachtenberg]
kashrut agencies 
    [Martin Stern]
marriage and separation 
    [Elazar M. Teitz]
mikvah (was "cohabitation outside of marriage" 
    [Stuart Cohnen]
unlikely names (was "synagogues with unlikely names") 
    [Sholom Parnes]
weddings at full moon 
    [Yisrael Medad]
Yom Yerushalyim 
    [Menashe Elyashiv]


From: Chana <Chana@...>
Date: Fri, May 28,2010 at 02:01 PM
Subject: adding up the numbers

I see that R' Elazar M. Teitz got in before me to respond to Yaakov Shachter
very much along the lines that I was intending to.  However, as one of my
personal frustrations over the years has been with people telling me what
the halacha is, without quoting the sources (and hence, in the days before I
was able to find things myself, leaving me struggling with alternative
assertions of what the halacha is and not always knowing on whom to rely),
perhaps I might add to what has been said with citations.

To begin with the second point:

> Ya'akov Shachter continued:
>> The halakha is that men who are healthy, who do not perform tiring labor,
>> and who are able to come home every day for mealtimes (i.e., they don't have 
>> to work late at the office -- jfs) are obliged to have sexual relations with 
>> their wives at least once a night....

And REMT responded:

> What is most painful about this paragraph is the misstatement of
> halacha.  There is nothing mentioned about healthy men not doing tiring
> work who come home at mealtimes.  The word used for those whose conjugal 
> obligation is nightly is "hatayalim," whose literal translation is "those who 
> stroll." It refers to people who have the means for their sustenance without 
> the need to work ... As for those who work for a living, the obligation is 
> twice a week for one whose work is in town and once a week for a commuter,
> even though he comes home every day.

If you want to look it up yourself, the source is Shulchan Aruch, Even
HaEzer siman 76 si'iim 1-2:

1: Hatayalim - their obligation is every night:

2. Workers - if their work is in the city, their [obligation] is twice a
week, and if their work is in another city, once in a week

The meforshim [commentators] have a great deal of discussion on the
definition of hatayalim and particularly on the question of whether the
person, in order to be considered a member of this category, in addition to
not having to work, has to be exempt from paying taxes.  See in particular
the Be'er Halacha si'if katan 2.

> Yaakov Shachter earlier wrote:
>> ...But I do know that driving your wife to a secluded beach on
>> a warm summer night is much more romantic than driving her to Touhy
>> Avenue.

And REMT responded:

> It may be more romantic, but it is wrong halachically.  The husband
> should not be the "mikvah lady" for his wife; she should take a female
> friend.

The Shulchan Aruch states Yoreh Deah siman 175 si'if 40 that it is necessary
that there stands over her a Jewess older than 12 years and a day at the
time she dips so as to see that none of her hair remains above the water
(and then talks about what to do if she does not have such woman available).

It is interesting that it does not, and none of the commentators surrounding
the Shulchan Aruch appear to refer to the husband as a possible alternative
(the assumption appears to be that either she has a female friend or she
tries to manage on her own), but I do note that the Kitzer Shulchan Aruch
says in Siman 162 si'if 6, that if she does not have an adult female friend
(ie a Jewess older than 12 years and a day), her husband can do it.
However, it is very much in the language of, if she doesn't have, not that
one should set out to use the husband if there are other alternatives.

Perhaps more critically, the Shulchan Aruch states in that siman in si'if 34
that she should not dip in a place where there is a chashash [concern] that
people might see since because of this she might go quickly to dip and not
be particular in her tevila, even though b'dieved [after the fact] such a
tevila is kosher.

While it may indeed be possible to find a secluded beach, no one can exclude
the public from coming along at an inconvenient time, and hence again this
route would not seem to be recommended where there are other alternatives.




From: Frankl Silbermann <frank_silbermann@...>
Date: Wed, May 26,2010 at 10:01 PM
Subject: burkas etc.

About the hassidic girl to be married within days who still knew nothing 
about reproduction:

Martin Stern Vol.58 #12:
> Unfortunately, this sort of Victorian prudery has been spreading in
> certain chareidi circles but has nothing to do with Torah values. The
> Torah and Chazal [the sages --MOD] are quite open on such matters,
> where they are relevant, even if they sometimes use circumlocutions
> to avoid being too explicit.

> People in those circles might claim that in the days when the Torah
> and Chazal were quite open on such matters, women were not permitted to study
> Torah.

Russell J Hendel V58 N16:
> Just to set the record straight. Women ALWAYS learned Torah. What the Talmud
> "frowned upon" were females being responsible for the organized memorization
> of codes of Jewish law (such as the mishnah).  This was frowned upon because
> **sustaining** the memorization required continual review and continual review
> was not always possible when women raised children. There was also frowning on
> serious research, again because of the large time required to organize a
> research study.

Our rabbi gave a shir a few weeks ago discussing the history of views on 

He cited one Talmudic sage who recommended teaching daughters Torah
because the merit of Torah study would postpone the horrible death if ever
she sinned and had to drink the waters of Sotah.  Another sage, 
horrified by that, said that women should be forbidden to study Torah lest it
teach them licentiousness.  The rabbi quoted later positions, pro and anti, but
he didn't quote anyone who raised your point.

> The Talmud is filled with women "answering learned Rabbis back" and showing
> off their knowledge. There NEVER was a prohibition or frowning on women 
> learning IN GENERAL except in those two areas (and of course it was never
> prohibited just discouraged/ frowned)

Point taken.  However, a few exceptions would not dispute a Haredi assertion
that it has always been the _norm_ for girls to go into marriage completely
ignorant of sexual matters.  Shoshana Boublil's objection is I think more
persuasive.  Shoshana L. Boublil wrote:

> People didn't need Torah to learn those topics in "those" days.
> They raised chickens, and geese, and sheep etc......
> When talking about the 'birds and the bees" it wasn't the euphemism
> it is today...

This is a good argument that it was never the norm for girls to enter
marriage completely ignorant of sexual matters.  On the other hand,
given that people could figure things out for themselves merely by
noticing the behavior of livestock would be consistent with a Haredi
assertion that it is traditional never to talk with children about such 

(Of course, the estrangement from animal husbandry in the last century
would be a good defense of the _innovation_ of providing sex education
to today's young people.)

Frank Silbermann         Memphis, Tennessee

From: Akiva Miller <kennethgmiller@...>
Date: Fri, May 28,2010 at 12:01 AM
Subject: burkas etc.

David Tzohar wrote:
> To compare burkas with a separate table for women, our married
> women's head covering, or sleeves down to the elbows is a little
> over the top. Modesty in the pursuit of holiness is no vice.
> Where it gets out of proportion is when you talk about separate
> sidewalks for men and women or separate hours at stores (which
> exist in Jerusalem and Bet Shemesh.

If I'm understanding this correctly, Mr. Tzohar sees nothing wrong with separate
tables for men and women, but he does see something wrong with separate
sidewalks for men and women. And he offers no explanation for why he makes this

If he truly believes that "Modesty in the pursuit of holiness is no vice", then
it seems logical to conclude that if someone wants separate sidewalks, and
he/she is truly motivated by a sense of "Modesty in the pursuit of holiness",
then there is nothing wrong with it.

Personally, I don't think that such a strong separation from women would make me
any holier. But I might be wrong; only G-d knows. And if there are other people,
who *do* feel that such separation is in a sincere pursuit of holiness, then I
would encourage them to do so.

(It is also possible/probable that some/many people are mistaken and misguided,
and although they might *think* that they support these separations out of a
sense of increased modesty and holiness, the *real* reason they do it is out of
a [conscious or subconscious] desire to do what "everyone else" is doing.)

Akiva Miller

From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Fri, May 28,2010 at 07:01 AM
Subject: burkas etc.

On Sun, May 23,2010, Avinoam Bitton wrote:

>> Someone mentioned to me that in some circles young couples are prohibited
>> from eating over at each other's houses during their first year of marriage
> Unfortunately, this is prevalent among more than a few YU couples.  AFAIK, it
> is not limited to the first year of marriage.  Single guests, however, are
> permissible invitees.  This leads to the (to me) perplexing situation of
> opposite-sex young singles being acceptable, while married couples are not.
> I guess I'm missing something.

While I am not familiar with the social set up in the USA, I would agree
with Avinoam that there seems to be something wrong somewhere if things are
as he describes them.

As regards opposite-sex young singles are concerned, I would have thought
that there might be an element of embarrassment if they got the idea that
they were being 'introduced'. I know my daughters when single did not like
us to invite just one single man for this reason.

As far as young couples in the first year of marriage, there is a lot to be
said for them not accepting every invitation so that they could spend the
occasional more intimate Shabbat meal together to help strengthen their
relationship - too much socialising might be counterproductive from this
point of view. However this should not inhibit others from inviting them
though they might do well to say something like "We would like you to come
over for a Shabbat but we would understand if you prefer to be together
alone this week so don't feel compelled to accept".

Martin Stern


From: Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz <sabbahillel@...>
Date: Thu, May 27,2010 at 10:01 PM
Subject: eReaders

Joel <familykorn@...> wrote:

> Before I start, I just want to say I've been reading this mailing list for
> years, and enjoy it a lot! I don't usually have a lot to contribute, but
> have a list of questions to ask whenever I get the time.
> Anyway, I wanted to put my 2 cents worth in on the discussion on eReaders.
> The issue of writing was mentioned and glossed over very quickly, but in
> the case of eReaders specifcally, I don't think it is so simple. The whole
> reason they are so easy on the eye and don't cause a headache after reading
> for hours is because they don't flicker and refresh constantly. The display
> is permanent. Only when a button is pressed to get to another page does it
> refresh. Even some devices with eInk displays (like the soon to be released
> iPad competitor, the Adam) continue to show the contents of the screen as
> it was last, when the power is turned off. They are all great devices, it
> saves power, but does it change the status of the display on the screen
> itself?

I am not familiar with the device you describe, but from what you say,
it sounds as if the action is indeed writing, erasing in order to
write again, then writing again. It sounds just like writing on a
paper with pencil as it requires an explicit action to erase and then
write again. This is different from the kind of screen that requires a
constant refresh.

Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz 

From: Ari Trachtenberg <trachten@...>
Date: Thu, May 27,2010 at 11:01 PM
Subject: eReaders

Joel wrote:
 > Even some devices with eInk displays (like the soon to be released
 > iPad competitor, the Adam) continue to show the contents of the
 > screen as it was last, when the power is turned off. They are all
 > great devices, it  saves power, but does it change the status of the
 > display on the screen itself?

Based on a very quick look, it appears that EInk operates by separating 
pigment within a microcapsule using electricity.  In other words, when 
charge is applied, depending on the charge, different pigment will float
to the foreground (visible) or the background (hidden) of the capsule.

The writing thus does not have the permanence of real ink, which stays 
on its target and cannot be easily removed, but rather acts more like
writing in sand, which can be easily changed once written.  Here charge 
is used to move pigment rather than your finger.

If I understand the halacha, this could be a rabbinic [as opposed to 
Torah] problem on Shabbat.


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Fri, May 14,2010 at 09:01 AM
Subject: kashrut agencies

In M-J V58#13, Mordechai Horowitz responded to me:

>Martin Stern wrote:
>> As I remarked above, traders tended to maximise the appeal of their goods
>> by adopting the former. After all, the meikilin would not object to the
>> kashrut of foodstuffs acceptable to the machmirin, whereas the latter
>> would not accept the leniencies of the former. ...
> I object and I won't buy the inedible passover food marked non gebrochs
> [not containing matza that has been dampened]. If a cake or cookie isn't
> made with matzoh meal I won't buy it because it tastes horrible.

If sufficient people agree with Mordechai, then the product will not sell
and the manufacturers will produce an alternative one that meets customer

> Last time I checked one shouldn't do "chumras" [stringencies] that cause
> people to violate Torah commandments such as rejoicing on Yom Tov.  As
> it's a Torah commandment to rejoice on Yom Tov and part of that Torah
> commandment is enjoying the food, eating food that tastes bad because of
> a chumra that is not part of  non-chassidic Jewish tradition seems to be
> a violation of Torah.

I could not agree more on this point but it is not relevant to the problem
under discussion. Nobody is forced to take on any specific chumra regarding
foodstuffs. One is not obliged to purchase ready made goods at all - one can
cook anything from raw materials and the result will probably taste better
and be healthier.

> Lets stop treating this chumras as if they are Torah.  They aren't.
> I would say in most cases they are violations of Torah.  Creating new
> prohibitions is as much a violation of Torah as ignoring the
> real ones we have.

Mordechai should realise that different groups of Jews have different
traditions on certain matters and just as he objects to being forced to
accept what he feels are the chumras of  others, he should not suggest that
they be forced to abandon their chumras because he does not particularly
like them.

Martin Stern


From: Elazar M. Teitz <remt@...>
Date: Sun, May 30,2010 at 12:01 PM
Subject: marriage and separation

Orrin Tilevitz asked:

> 1. Can a non-Jewish woman qualify as a pilegesh?
Since pilegesh means a one-man woman, distinct from a wife only by lack of
kiddushin and k'suba (formal marriage and marriage contract), and since for
non-Jews there is no state of kiddushin, so that marriage is defined as living
together, it follows that having a non-Jewish woman as a pilegesh is an act of

> 2. Does the status of "nidah" [menstrually unclean] apply at all to a
non-Jewish woman . . .?
By Torah law, no. However, by rabbinic decree, it does.

> 3. Again if it applies, is having sexual relations with such a woman an issur
karet, as it is with a Jewish woman?
Whether or not it applies is irrelevant.  By Torah law, niddah applies only
to a Jewish woman.  However, there is karet, albeit of a lower level, described
in the Talmud as "karet midivrei kabbala;" i.e., one derived from Nevi'im (the
books of the Prophets, rather than from the Torah) for _any_ cohabitation with a
non-Jewish woman, whether in a permanent relation or in a casual encounter. See,
e.g., Rambam Hilchos Issurei Bi'ah (Maimonides, Laws of Prohibited
Cohabitation), 12:4-6. 


From: Stuart Cohnen <cohnen@...>
Date: Fri, May 28,2010 at 10:01 AM
Subject: mikvah (was "cohabitation outside of marriage"

Perhaps this thread has gone on long enough, but I wanted to tell over
one story that should shed some light on this matter.

In the late 70s, in a suburb of New York, a divorcee shows up to the
local mikvah. Having not remarried, the mikvah lady (attendant) was
taken aback and she called the local Rabbi who was responsible for the
mikva for approval to allow the divorcee to use the mikva. The Rabbi,
as I understand the story, was not sure as to what the p'sak (decision)
should be. On the one hand, allowing her to use the mikve would
seemingly give approval to out-of-marriage sex. On the other hand, you
are preventing someone from being chayav korais for living with a Nida.
The Rabbi called his rebbe, The Rov (Rabbi J.B. Soloveitchik) to pose
the question. The response of the Rov was to say "NO" and he slammed
the phone down. Reportedly, the Rov was incensed at the premise of the

Stuart Cohnen


From: Sholom Parnes <merbe@...>
Date: Mon, May 24,2010 at 03:01 PM
Subject: unlikely names (was "synagogues with unlikely names")

My mother, who grew up in Montreal, tells of the Hasidic Rebbe in Montreal known
as the "Saint Sofia Rebbe".

I am not sure if Saint Sofia was the name of the street or the name of the

While on the subject of Montreal (quite a Catholic city), there was also a
"Notre Dame de Grace Kosher Meat Market".

Sholom J Parnes


From: Yisrael Medad <ybmedad@...>
Date: Sat, May 8,2010 at 07:01 PM
Subject: weddings at full moon

I appreciate the suggestions of Perets Mett (Volume 58 Number 10)
and further inquire:
1.  If "nahagu" truly implies non-obligatory custom, one would need to
review all uses of "nahgu" by Rav Karo and make a judgment on that.
Nevertheless, by mentioning the custom davka in the context of Magic
would indicate that there were/are Jews who would consider it to be so.
2.  The translation of "b'milui" as a present participle adjective and
that it refers to 22 days out of the month is interesting and I would
appreciate a source rather than "widely understood".  I am not doubting
but rather seeking a reference.
3.  If indeed the custom is "observed widely", I admit to being
surprised.  Of course if it means 22 out of 29 days, I find it difficult
at my age to recall all the 1000+ weddings I've attended and their
Hebrew dates, but I will say that I haven't heard of it.


From: Menashe Elyashiv <Menashe.Elyashiv@...>
Date: Mon, May 10,2010 at 11:01 AM
Subject: Yom Yerushalyim

Yom Yerushalayim, for those that celebrate it, is one week before Shavuot. 
That means it can fall on Sunday, Monday (rare), Wednesday or 
Friday. Unlike Yom Haazmaout, the prayers additions are not postponed 
because it falls before or after Shabbat. However, the secular ceremonies 
are not held on Friday, they are held on Thursday. Why is Yom Haazmaout 
different, that the prayers have to be on the same day as the secular 


End of Volume 58 Issue 21