Volume 58 Number 22 
      Produced: Wed, 02 Jun 2010 14:11:55 EDT

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

"magical" influences on halacha 
    [David Tzohar]
bamidbar 24:25 (Moabite women in the desert) 
    [Sammy Finkelman]
brocha when toyveling glassware 
    [Carl Singer]
candle lighting time 
    [Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz]
Eating before a fast before dawn 
    [Ira Bauman]
fences do not always make good neighbors 
    [Michael Rogovin]
    [David Neuman]
ignorance of sexual matters (2)
    [Batya Medad  Bernard Raab]
meat or milk 
    [Martin Stern]
socializing, the shidduch crisis etc. 
    [Sammy Finkelman]
    [Russell J Hendel]
taharat hamishpaha (2)
    [Martin Stern  Menashe Elyashiv]
yekum porkan 
    [Michael Pitkowsky]


From: David Tzohar <davidtzohar@...>
Date: Fri, May 28,2010 at 04:01 AM
Subject: "magical" influences on halacha

Yisrael Meidad and Joel Rich both wrote about influences like the full moon
on halachic subjects. We have to remember that Chazal, and indeed Jewish
tradition in general takes for granted the fact that there is another
spiritual dimension in the world that is beyond the realm of our senses.
there are certain otot and simanim (signs and portents) which can make us
more aware of that other world and enable us to act accordingly. This is also
the basis of Jewish Astrology, which says that the alignment of the stars
and planets can help us better understand (and even predict) temporal
events. On another level Torat Hanistar (the hidden Torah i.e kabbalah) is
an important element in some halachic systems such as that of the Ben Ish
Chai and Rav Mordechai Eliyahu. On the other hand the Mishna Brura and Rav
Ovadia Yosef rarely take into consideration things that are outside the
rationalist tradition(spiritual father Rambam) in their rulings.
David Tzohar


From: Sammy Finkelman <sammy.finkelman@...>
Date: Thu, May 27,2010 at 05:01 PM
Subject: bamidbar 24:25 (Moabite women in the desert)

Re Russell J Hendel posting:

RH> Nu. 24,25 describes premarital casualness between Jewish men and
Moabites women.
RH> The Bible considers this an act of war.

I don't know where it says that. Is that because Bilaam was punished for

RH> Let me be very clear. There is no indication in the Bible that the
Moabite women were hostile. On the contrary, they were friendly (Too friendly).

No, the purpose was indeed hostile. And the Bible describes this as the
matter of Ba'al Peor, and that was the essential nature of it.

The purpose of all of this was to deprive Israel of the blessings bestowed
by God. Bilaam had tried to curse Israel and been stopped from doing so. But
before he set out to leave for home he told Balak, the king of Moav, that, there
*was* after all, a way he could stop teh Banai Yisroel.

The idea was to involve them in idol worship, in particular a kind of idol
worship that involved exposing yourself in flagrante delicto [upon a flagrant
transgression --MOD].

Bilaam thought there was probably no sin in this, or no great sin because
after all he or even the people of Moav would not be doing so. But this was
like really what happened later with King David - who used his enemies to
kill Uriah. This kind of thing, if planned, has all the evil as the same
result caused more directly. There are no loopholes for sin.

Incidentally, it was actually the daughters of Midian who involved
themselves in this a lot more, and it was against them that a military
revenge campaign was conducted.


From: Carl Singer <carl.singer@...>
Date: Sun, May 30,2010 at 11:01 PM
Subject: brocha when toyveling glassware

I have learned and my wife (the "Litvak", a descendant of the Goan)
practices that one does NOT say a brocha when toyveling glassware.

I was recently in at my community's dish mikveh and the lady who was there
before me proudly taught her daughter the brocha as they toyveled a GLASS

My presumption is that there are some who hold that one DOES say a brocha --
are their groups that do?

Much to my consternation, there's an "instructive" sign on the wall of the
mikveh that says one DOES say a brocha.  Since I don't run the mikveh I
wouldn't put up a sign countering this -- but I'm a bit taken aback that
someone has either the chutzpah or the ignorance to feel that THEIR way is
the only way.

Comments, please.



From: Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz <sabbahillel@...>
Date: Sun, May 23,2010 at 07:01 PM
Subject: candle lighting time

Akiva Miller wrote:

> So it seems to me that one does NOT have to have an express intention to =
> avoid the *mitzva* of starting Shabbos early. It is sufficient that he is 
> not adopting this practice as a personal and binding custom. (And of course, 
> the fact that he does this only in the summer, is adequate proof that he is not 
> doing it on a permanent basis.)
IIRC, (If I Recall Correctly), this is the basis for a tsheva
(response) by Rav Moshe Feinstein. However, he does point out that if
the "minhag hamakom" (local custom) is to always start Shabbos based
on the shul timing, then that is indeed a minhag. The discussion is
whether or not the early start in the summer is or is not a matter of
convenience when the entire shul does it.

Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz 


From: Ira Bauman <irabauman1@...>
Date: Sun, May 30,2010 at 10:01 PM
Subject: Eating before a fast before dawn

When I found out years ago that my headaches on fast days resulted from
caffeine withdrawal, I started to wean myself off caffeine for the 3 days
before the taanis [fast --MOD].  On the fast days other than tisha b'Av and Yom
Kippur, I now get up before dawn and have my coffee.  While I'm up I also
partake of a light breakfast.

I have always been a big fan of R. Boruch Epstein the author of the Torah
T'mima, Tosefes Brocha and Boruch Sheamar.  I admire his innovative thought
process and imaginative explanations.  Therefore I was pained to see in his
Mekor Boruch, an anthology of his memoirs, in the footnotes (page 930) a
fierce repudiation of the practice of waking to eat before dawn.  He calls
it m'chuor (ugly) and that it turns the taanis into a bdichusah (a joke).

1. What is the prevailing thought on starting the taanis morning with a
predawn light breakfast?

2. I have spent many hours learning the Torah of this talmud chochom [scholar
--MOD].  By virtue of the effort spent I may call him my rebbe.  When he calls my
practice ugly and ungenuine I am duly chastised.  On the other hand, he is
not my morah d'asrah [spiritual leader --MOD] or posek [halachic decider --MOD].
I respect his ideas when it comes to hashkafa [outlook --MOD] but I have never
depended on him to clarify halacha.  I am not coming to the forum with a
halachic question here as much as asking for advice.


From: Michael Rogovin <mrogovin118@...>
Date: Sun, May 23,2010 at 04:01 PM
Subject: fences do not always make good neighbors

Any thoughts on the following situations from a halachic perspective. Even
pointing me to responsa or primary sources would be appreciated.

(1) A tree entirely on the property of person A is diseased, though assume
it is unknown to A (though probably could have been determined by
professional examination. A strong thunderstorm causes a large limb to break
off and fall onto B's and C's properties, resulting in damage to a fence
between B and C's property). A disputes any liability since the damage was
on B's (and C's) property. Is A liable to B (and C)? Is there a statute of

(2) About 14 months after the above, another strong wind storm severely
damages a tree that B claims is on A's land (based on B's survey), and A
claims is on B's land (B claims, reading A's survey, that they are not
consistent, but according to B, A's survey shows the tree is at best on the
borderline, 50/50. A disputes B's reading of the survey). A tree expert says
the tree is in imminent danger of collapsing and falling onto B's property
and will likely damage B's house. B contacts A about removing the tree, but
A is away and B does not wait for A and has the tree cut down immediately.
The tree's core was rotted. A disputes B's claim to pay for the removal of
the tree or to split the cost, since the tree was (a) on B's side of the
fence and (b) was at risk only to B. Can B recover the full or 1/2 of the
cost of the removal of the tree?

(3) There are other trees either on the border or on A's property which,
while healthy now, could fall and damage B's property. Can B compel A to
inspect and maintain the trees to prevent foreseeable damage? Would A be
liable if any tree which it knows or could know was weak and it falls? Is A
liable regardless for any damage to B even from healthy trees that fall?

Michael Rogovin


From: David Neuman <daveselectric@...>
Date: Mon, May 31,2010 at 06:01 AM
Subject: funerals

What is the reason for throwing grass over the left shoulder after leaving
funeral and after leaving a cemetery in general?


duvid neuman


From: Batya Medad <ybmedad@...>
Date: Sat, May 29,2010 at 03:01 PM
Subject: ignorance of sexual matters

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

That's the custom/law in some chassidesh and chareidi groups.  Those
aren't the type to be part of mail Jewish, so let's just look at it as
anthropologists/sociologists.  From what I know, most religious kids
know "birds and bees" and Taharat Mishpacha well before marriage.  Of
course "religious" is a varied grouping.  Don't reply with "x didn't
know."  Of course there are exceptions.  There are those young couples
who have to call special "hot lines" for guidance. 

We have a neighbor who was raised in one of those groups.  Today he's
dati leumi and had told his story publicly.  He had been married in his
old life and had to divorce his first wife, because she couldn't live
the way he felt he had to, make the same changes in his religious life.
Before his first marriage, he knew nothing.  He only met his wife to be
once or twice before the wedding and wouldn't have recognized her in the
street.  Someone explained "the marriage act" to her a few days before
the wedding.  And a doctor, a tzadik who took the role as a personal
mitzvah, came with them or to them in their apartment immediately after
the wedding and explained it to him.  That chassidishe group is very
strict and controlling.  The theory behind the last minute instructions
to the chattan, (and all males,) is that he shouldn't think about it
until he is permitted to do it.  The Kallah is given a few days to
adjust to the idea.

This has been their way of doing things for a long time.  It's nothing
new at all.


From: Bernard Raab <beraab@...>
Date: Sun, May 30,2010 at 04:01 AM
Subject: ignorance of sexual matters

The case of the soon-to-be-married haredi girl who knew nothing of sex has been
trumped by a women with whom I recently shared a YomTov lunch at the home of a
mutual friend. She is a marital counselor and was visited by a couple who were
married for a year and were distraught that they were not getting pregnant.
Yup--she discovered that they were not having sex--didn't know a thing about it!
At my expression of skepticism, she insisted that she was not making it up. I
suppose it is possible in some extremely isolated haredi circles. Am I being duped?

Bernie R.


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Tue, May 11,2010 at 05:01 AM
Subject: meat or milk

On Wed, May 5,2010, Menashe Elyashiv wrote:

> Same by us - We are careful not to bring milk to the Shavuot night
> learning because supper was meat.  Of course in Temple time, one ate
> sacrifice meat.

There is still an inyan [interest --MOD] in eating meat at every Yom Tov meal as
zecher leshalmei simchah [a remembrance of the Yom Tov joy offerings] even though,
nowadays, such joy is expressed primarily in drinking wine or, for women,
wearing new clothes. Unfortunately, my wife insists on having milchigs on
the first night of Shavout because of the late hour and for reasons of
shalom bayit [domestic harmony] I have acceded.

I would like to suggest the following halachic justification for her custom.
The shalmei simchah were only offered in the daytime of Yom Tov so such meat
was not available on the previous evening. From this it would appear to
follow that there is no need for a remembrance of them at the evening meal
(this would apply equally to the first evening of Pesach and Succot as
well). Any comments on this argument?

Martin Stern


From: Sammy Finkelman <sammy.finkelman@...>
Date: Fri, May 28,2010 at 01:01 PM
Subject: socializing, the shidduch crisis etc.

Carl Singer wrote:
> Since I interact with many WW-II vintage Jewish War Veterans, I've heard
> more than once how they met their wife because a male friend invited
> them to Shabbos dinner at their parents' home and they eventually married a
> sister or cousin who they met at this Shabbos dinner. Apparently, today, in
> many communities such mixed gender dinners would be verboten.
> .....
> But apparently, many communities are uncomfortable with singles
> socializing at a bris, a kiddish, a wedding ....   They are uncomfortable with
> singles socializing, stam.  Yet they expect these same singles to emerge from
> gender isolation and to form healthy, everlasting marital unions.

Maybe they don't any longer expect ***healthy* *everlasting* marital unions
to form.

Russell J Hendel wrote:

> I might also add that there seem to be other "weird" practices arising. 
> Someone mentioned to me that in some circles young couples are prohibited
> from socializing with one another (eating over at each other's houses) 
> during their first year of marriage

Avinoam Bitton wrote:

> 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.

A person who has already engaged in marital relations is more likely to
overcome minor obstacles to enagge in a prohibited relationship - and in
such a case it also would be a violation of aishas ish.

Apparently, at first, they only worried about the first year, before
couples got a chance to know each other, but now I guess some people must
think there's some kind of a implication or encouragement of wife swapping
if two married couples socialize alone together - and who wants to create


From: Russell J Hendel <rjhendel@...>
Date: Sun, May 16,2010 at 06:01 PM
Subject: sotah

In v58n14 Perry, commenting on the Sotah, states
> My take on this "spirit of jealousy" is that it is somewhat irrational - the
> husband sees his wife with another man, and suddenly assumes the worst.

Excellent question. The Talmud explains that "sudden suspicion" does NOT justify
the Sotah ceremony. According to the oral traditions (Which can be justified
from the semi explicit texts such as Nu05-13), the husband must FIRST warn his
wife IN FRONT OF WITNESSES "Do not privately seclude yourself with male so and
so." If a) after such a warning she b) does privately seculde  herself with male
so and so (and note that such private seclusions of a married woman with a man
is a Biblical violation of the "seclusion prohibitions") then (and only then)
may the husband "subject" his wife to the Sotah ordeal. 

So it is not irrational. The woman has done two things to "provoke the test" She
has violated the seclusion laws and she has insulted her husbands declared

As to the irrationality: If a man sees his wife e.g. staying in another man's
locked apartment (even to do business or discuss communal charitable matters) I
hardly consider it "irrational" for him to be jealous and concerned and warn his
wife. He might even consider divorce.

Russell Jay Hendel; Phd ASA http://www.rashiyomi.com/


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Sun, May 30,2010 at 05:01 AM
Subject: taharat hamishpaha

On Sat, May 8,2010 Carl Singer <carl.singer@...> wrote:

>> Anonymous wrote:
>> It seems the opposite in Israel: you can find woman who observe mikva, but
>> their dressing is far from being halachikly correct. I doubt if their
>> husbands even look for a Minha minyan.

> Please define halachicly correct dress for women -- there are significant
> variants among Torah observant communities.

Carl is obviously not familiar with the social set-up in Israel where women,
especially among 'traditional' as opposed to 'chareidi' Sefardim who may
not even strictly observe Shabbat, are punctilious as regards mikveh usage.
This is in sharp contrast to the situation in Western countries where this
was probably one of the first practices to be abandoned by those Jews who
were assimilating into general society. Such ladies' mode of dress might strike
most Westerners as hardly halachically correct by any recognised standard.

> From where do we draw the conclusion that their husband don't daven mincha
> with a minyan.

Obviously this cannot be done but, in those circles, observance of taharat
hamishpachah [the rules of family purity] is widespread, whereas there is
much greater laxity in other matters, so it is not unlikely.

Martin Stern

From: Menashe Elyashiv
Date: Sun, May 30,2010 at 06:01 AM
Subject: taharat hamishpaha

Carl Singer <carl.singer@...> wrote:

Please define halachicly correct dress for women -- there are significant
variants among Torah observant communities.

> From where do we draw the conclusion that their husband don't daven
> mincha with a minyan.

What I wanted to state is that mikvah use is not only by halachicly 
dressed women or wives of minha minyan goers. It is used by all the 
different types of religious women, and (in Israel) also by "shomrei 
masoret" (quasi religious?) women 


From: Michael Pitkowsky <pitkowsky@...>
Date: Tue, May 11,2010 at 09:01 AM
Subject: yekum porkan

The Cairo Geniza has enriched our knowledge of the origins of the Yekum
Purkan prayer.  For a scholarly discussion of the origins of the Yekum
Purkan prayer and previous scholarship see: Danzig, Neil, "Two Insights From a
Ninth-Century Liturgical Handbook: the Origins of Yekum Purqan and Qaddish
De-adata in The Cambridge Genizah Collections: Their Contents and Significance",
edited by Stefan Reif, 74-122, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002.


End of Volume 58 Issue 22