Volume 58 Number 54 
      Produced: Sun, 08 Aug 2010 05:30:53 EDT

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

"Egalitarian Orthodox" (Partnership) Minyanim (6)
    [Ira L. Jacobson  Avraham Walfish   David I. Cohen  Meir Shinnar  Michael Rogovin  Mordechai Horowitz]
Capital "O" for orthodox, orthodoxy 
    [Batya Medad]
Conservative Judaism 
    [Janice Gelb]
Rabbinical headcovering? 
wine casks 
    [Dr. William Gewirtz]


From: Ira L. Jacobson <laser@...>
Date: Fri, Aug 6,2010 at 12:01 PM
Subject: "Egalitarian Orthodox" (Partnership) Minyanim

Janice Gelb <j_gelb@...> stated in mail-jewish Vol.58 #53 Digest"

>. . . when I was in aveilut for my mother, I attended mincha/ 
> ma'ariv every night of the 11 months. (And, btw, due to my chiyuv, I 
> also led davening about 90% of the time :-> )

There is no such hiyyuv.  Where did you get such an idea?


From: Avraham Walfish <rawalfish@...>
Date: Fri, Aug 6,2010 at 12:01 PM
Subject: "Egalitarian Orthodox" (Partnership) Minyanim

Let me take Eitan's "historical reality check" a bit further back (MJ 58 #52) -
to the time of Hazal. 

A celebrated passage in the Sifra (beginning, on pasuk of
"vesamakh et yado al rosh ha-olah), cited in Hagigah 16b and elsewhere,
asserts that "nashim somkhot reshut" (women are permitted to lean their
hands on sacrifices), and brings R. Yose's second-hand testimony about an
occasion where this was practiced (with rabbinic approval). The reason for
this was in order to provide women with "nahat ruah" (which I will
translate, perhaps controversially, as spiritual satisfaction). Apparently,
even during the late Second Temple period, there were women who were not
fully content to fulfill their traditionally prescribed mitzvot, and who
wanted to experience the spirituality attendant upon "male" mitzvot
(semikha). Leading Tannaim - whose opinion have been accepted as
authoritative - did not chastise these women for overreaching the role
Hakadosh Barukh Hu conferred upon them and did not insist that they accept
upon themselves new halakhic obligations along with their voluntary
practices, but respected their spiritual aspirations and found sufficient
flexibility in the halakhah (see for example Raavad to Sifra, ad. loc.) to
allow them to achieve their goals. I submit that this model is at least as
valid today as it was at the time of the Tannaim.

I will also confirm Eitan's recollection that R. Soloveitchik gave the
inaugural shiur for a gemara program at Stern College. Shortly afterwards, a
group of his students (including yours truly, along with luminaries such as
R. Mordechai Willig) inaugurated a weekly program of evening shiurim at
Stern College.

All this having been said, I do not disagree with those who argue that, when
changes are proposed in halakhic practice (and particularly in synagogue
practice -  regarding which R. Soloveitchik was extremely conservative -
small c), the community and its spiritual leadership are both entitled and
required to evaluate what motivates the changes and what their probable
consequences may be. 

But this needs to be done carefully and sensitively, by people who know the
parties involved, and also balanced by weighing the consequences of being
machmir where there is room to be lenient. Personally, since my first Stern
College "inauguration" into these issues, I have had close first-hand experience
with several such initiatives, some of which I supported and a few of which I
did not (both on halakhic and policy grounds). Based on my experience, I would
be wary of overgeneralizations on either side, and would recommend that
determinations on these matters be made only by those who are knowledgeable in
the halakha, as well as closely familiar with the parties involved. 

Btw, these are exactly the kinds of matters where R. Soloveitchik routinely
refused to issue blanket halakhic rulings and left the ultimate decision to the
community rabbi, who knew the parties and the communities involved.

Avie Walfish

From:  David I. Cohen <bdcohen613@...>
Date: Fri, Aug 6,2010 at 01:01 PM
Subject: "Egalitarian Orthodox" (Partnership) Minyanim

On Fri, Aug 6, 2010 at 3:36 AM, Eli Turkel <eliturkel@...> wrote:

> And the further question, are you following his p'sak because it
> coincides with your pre-conceived philosophical bent 
> I suspect most of us pick poskim based on our pre-conceived bent. R.
> Elyashiv is a major posek but not one that I follow as that is not my 
> community. While once people automatically belonged to a given community now 
> because of the mixtures in almost all places one chooses which community to 
> belong to.

While it is true that we all try to choose a posek to follow who closely mirrors
our general spiritual bent, it is the picking and choosing of different poskim
depending on how they have ruled on a particular issue that I find
objectionable. Using the Shira Chadasha version of Partnership in Jerusalem as
an example, some members might in general follow the p'sak (decision) of Rav
Riskin, but when he opposed aliyot for women, they quickly jumped to Rav
Sperber. That's really deciding for yourself and then trying to find a
justifier. Not my understanding of the halachic way.

I had written (MJ 58#52):

> I am currently in the midst of the year of
> aveilut for my father. This not only entails being at a minyan twice a day
> (something which I did regularly anyway) but also, at least in our
> congegation the "chiyuv" (obligation) to lead the davening usually for all
> 3 services daily. So I wonder, have those who so enthusiastically support
> and participate in "Partnership" also taken upon themselves to be a regular
> at shul every morning or evening?
> I have no experience with partnership minyanim. However, I do know of women
> who decided to say kaddish for a parent and came to a minyan at least once a
> day to say kaddish (from the women's section)

Maybe I was not clear enough in my previous post. I, too, have
known a few women who were meticulous in minyan attendance in order to say
kaddish during their year of aveilut. I am not commenting on them at all, or
in any way denigrating women who do not do so. What I meant to convey was
the sense that men have an obligation to attend minyan every day. While
those advocating women's participation in Jewish communal prayer to the
extent possible (e.g. leading kabbalat shabbat, getting aliyot etc.) do not
also advocate for women voluntarily taking upon themselves the obligation of
daily public prayer.

Let me see if this example helps: A non-kohain wants to get the honor of the
first aliya on Shabbat, but has no desire to take on the obligation of daily
blessing the congregation (in Israel) or doesn't want to give up the ability
to visit a relatives grave. Not a prefect analogy, but hopefully you see my

Shabbat shalom
David I. Cohen

From: Meir Shinnar <chidekel@...>
Date: Fri, Aug 6,2010 at 01:01 PM
Subject: "Egalitarian Orthodox" (Partnership) Minyanim

Hopefully one last reply to Isaac Balbin.
He takes my response to people on mail jewish questioning the
Orthodoxy and motivations of those involved in shira chadasha type
minyanim, as reflecting on the actions of a particular rav acting for
his kehilla.  I have never questioned the rights of rabbanim to do so
when done with integrity  - whether to ban or promote some activities,
or to ban those active in Conservative shuls,  or other activities
that are thought harmful to the public welfare - (although, in
general, do question the general wisdom of exercising that right).
Furhtermore, I  have no knowledge of the specific actions and Rav
that Balbin is commenting about (outside of his comments) - so have no
knowledge of the basis, but what is described sounds well within
standard practice.  However, it is different when that action of a
specific rav for his kehilla morphs into a general right to malign

With respect to motivations - of course a rav can base his psak on his
understanding.  However, remember that psak requires knowing both the
halacha and the metziut (reality)  - and my sense is (and knowing many
fine RW) that they do not have a good understanding of what is truly
going in the LW world - and I would add that some communications on
mail jewish reflect that - and therefore may not reflect the reality.
(of course, true knowledge may lead either to greater sympathy or to
greater horror - I am not arguing that knowledge will lead to

However, as a general rule , those who are not close to a community
are not well equipped to judge motivations - which requires quite
intimate knowledge - or the detailed facts on the grounds - which is
the reason why we normally defer to the mara d'atra - the local rav -
who better understands the local facts.  In 2010, local rav refers not
merely to geographic closeness...

Meir Shinnar

From: Michael Rogovin <mrogovin118@...>
Date: Fri, Aug 6,2010 at 02:01 PM
Subject: "Egalitarian Orthodox" (Partnership) Minyanim

Orrin Tilevitz wrote (MJ 58#53):

> I don't have the time to address each of these, but the practice of  
> sermons being delivered in the vernacular is about 2000 years old. Pick up  
> any volume of the Talmud and see for yourself.

In Talmudic times, they interrupted davening between Torah reading and  
Musaf to deliver a sermon in the vernacular on the parsha or other  
topical issue? SInce this was an innovation of Reform temples that  
migrated into orthodox services (mostly Young Israels) and I believe  
was heavily criticized by Eastern European rabbaim, I find it  
surprising that it was a practice that was in continuous use  for 2000  

> While the tunes are different, Yemenite kabbalat shabbat services are   
> effectively Carlebach-type -- everybody sings the entire thing, together,  
> to what seems to me to be the same tune. Kabbalat shabbat is part of long
tradition of adding pieces to the services -- look at piyutim.

Not everyone agrees that piyutim should be added. In any case,  
Kabbalat Shabbat as a fixed part of Maariv [Friday evening service] is  
only a few hundred years old. Hasidim did not like the status ante and  
sought to make the service more meaningful to them. I am sure there  
was similar opposition to them and their innovations, but it must have  
struck a chord with enough people that it outlasted the opposition.

> And I'm not saying "chadash assur min hatorah". I am saying that in
> Orthodoxy innovation requires more than "I don't like the status quo."

Innovation requires a valid purpose and a halachicly valid rationale.  
It does not require as a prerequisite a consensus ruling of any  
rabbinical organization or a majority of rabbis (though that would  
certainly help). I personally think that these minyanim should not be  
a priority and perhaps not be done at all (I certainly think JOFA is  
wrong to promote them). But I am not ready to write people out of  
orthodoxy just yet.

From: Mordechai Horowitz <mordechai@...>
Date: Fri, Aug 6,2010 at 06:01 PM
Subject: "Egalitarian Orthodox" (Partnership) Minyanim

David (MJ 58#52} wrote:

I cannot look into anothers mind and see motivation. All I
> can judge by is actions. And what I see in the Partnership 
> service is a method by which a person gets to fulfill a 
> personal desire without any corresponding voluntary
> acceptance of obligations and responsibility. Jewish
> spirituality is not just what I can do, it is also what I must do

Janice responded (MJ 58#53):

> First of all, this seems like a rather odd argument 
> from someone supporting the gender-based status 
> quo. Most women in Orthodox communities have child-
> rearing responsibilities that mean that it is impractical 
> for them to attend daily services even if they should 
> fervently wish to do so.

What I think David is speaking about is how many women involved with 
these type of minyanim don't often follow basic halacha.  For example 
while a woman does not have an obligation to pray with a group, 
according to most authorities women do have an individual obligation to 
daven Shomenei Esrei twice a day.  How many members of Women at the Wall 
do so.  Those I've met in the past did not.

One poster involved in this type of service admitted her fellow women in 
the group were not at all observant.  One cannot expect the Torah 
community to be that excited by the demands of women who don't keep 
Shabbos or Kosher.

Women have no obligation to publically read the Torah, they do have some 
obligation to learn Torah, most minimally those areas of halacha 
relevant to them.  Especially in our day many hold women have a higher 
level of learning including Tanach and for some even Oral Torah.  Do the 
women who lead public reading of the Torah also the time to learn and 
understand Torah when not in front of a group?


From: Batya Medad <ybmedad@...>
Date: Fri, Aug 6,2010 at 12:01 PM
Subject: Capital "O" for orthodox, orthodoxy

Capital "O" for orthodox, orthodoxy

When you refer to "Orthodox Judaism" or "Orthodoxy" it sounds like a
separate religion from mainstream Judaism.  That's problematic if you
believe that it's the real thing and that Reform, Conservative,
Reconstructionist etc have separated themselves from mainstream Judaism
developing into separate religions.  In Israel being "dati" means
following "unadorned" Torah Judaism.



From: Janice Gelb <j_gelb@...>
Date: Thu, Aug 5,2010 at 08:01 PM
Subject: Conservative Judaism

Orrin Tilevitz <tilevitzo@...> wrote:
> Conservative Judaism may officially endorse halachic observance in some
> fashion, but as a practical matter it is, and has been for many decades, a
> refuge for those who are not halachically observant in any systematic way and
> do not want to be made to feel guilty about it. 

I don't think that the loaded word "refuge" is appropriate in this discussion. I
agree that the percentage of Conservative Jews who are halachically observant is
not as high as the movement would wish, but the movement itself calls for
halachic observance, even though details of its opinions on certain aspects of
kashrut might not match the Orthodox definition. (I can't disagree about the
driving teshuva which I, and many other Conservative Jews I know who are serious
about observance, feel was a very unfortunate ruling.)

-- Janice


From: Menashe.Elyashiv <Menashe.Elyashiv@...>
Date: Sun, Aug 8,2010 at 04:01 AM
Subject: Rabbinical headcovering?

Hillel Raymon (MJ 58#53) wrote:
> The pillbox-shaped kippah in question was not uncommon among lay Eastern
> European men (or at least Litvaks) of Rav Moshe's generation.  The
> shamashim and several of the other European-born older men in the shuls
> I attended in New Brunswick, New Jersey while growing up in the late 1950's
> and early 1960's wore similar kippot. ....  Those who regularly wore the
> pillbox kippot in America were not necessarily more learned or pious than
> other men of their generation -- they were simply continuing a fashion they
> had grown up with in the "old country".

I also had seen these kippot in use in Israel, some elder Rashai Yeshivot 
and elder City Rabbis. But it went out of fashon. The same is happening to the 
regular black kippa, worn by the older, but not by the younger, men who wear 
the velvet black kippa. This is true not only in the more open Litvak 
circles, but also in the more closed Hassidic sects. 


From: Dr. William Gewirtz <wgewirtz@...>
Date: Fri, Aug 6,2010 at 12:01 PM
Subject: wine casks

Rabbi Teitz writes (MJ 58#53):

> At the time the correspondence between my father and R M Feinstein, zichronam
> livracha, on the matter of whisky, I was in my early teens, and away from home
> attending yeshiva, so I was not too familiar with the details. However, to the
> best of my recollection, my father's objection was not to the aging of liquor 
> in sherry casks, since that would have applied to blended and unblended
> whiskies alike, and his objection was only to the blended. As I recall it, he
> had discovered, in discussions with a local distiller, that a wine- or grape-
> derived pectin was used as a binder for the blend, making it a davar hama'amid
> [an agent for holding together], which cannot be nullified. I know that he
> convinced the distiller to make a kosher blended, and when the time came for
> adding the wine-based ingredient, my father arranged for a crew of shomrei
> Shabbos to come to the distillery and be the only ones to open the containers
> and handle the problematic ingredient."

This corresponds exactly to what I have been told by members of RMF's family as
well. RMF was talking to Rav Teitz about small quantities of wine actually added
as opposed to use of wine casks. I posted this a while back on mail-jewish. What
I heard was that RMF viewed an admixture as permissable but lechatkhilah to be
avoided as R. Teitz enabled. However, RMF viewed casks as mutar lechtkhilah!
That is not in writing as far as I know. 

While the OU is certifying Glenmorangie 10 year old, their 18 year old Scotch is
really incredible and made in wine casks. Enjoy!


End of Volume 58 Issue 54