Volume 58 Number 58 
      Produced: Mon, 09 Aug 2010 06:05:07 EDT

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

"Egalitarian Orthodox" (Partnership) Minyanim (4)
    [I. Balbin  Ira L. Jacobson  Ira L. Jacobson  Aryeh Frimer]
Accomodating women who wish to say kaddish 
    [Joseph Kaplan]
Conservative Judaism 
    [Stuart Wise]
Conservative Judaism and "Biblical criticism" 
    [Martin Stern]
Hiyuv of avel to lead the service 
    [Haim Snyder]
Rambam & Women Learning 
    [Yisrael Medad]
Sermons in the vernacular (3)
    [Carl Singer  Martin Stern  Ira L. Jacobson]
Who is the leadership of the Torah community. 
    [Mordechai Horowitz]


From: I. Balbin <Isaac.Balbin@...>
Date: Sun, Aug 8,2010 at 08:01 PM
Subject: "Egalitarian Orthodox" (Partnership) Minyanim

Re: Meir Shinnar's post in Vol.58 #54.

Whilst Meir Shinnar necessarily was forced to address generalities, the original
post from Dr Symons was very much about an actual case with which Dr Symons is
well acquainted. To cause people to extrapolate from that case without context
could be seen as disingenuous (Gneivas Da'as). There is no way one could use the
case of the MJ protagonist as a Binyan Av [general typical rule] for other cases
without full disclosure. Indeed, Meir Shinnar himself exhorts us to know the
particulars and understand the motivation of Shira Chadasha adherents.
As a relevant aside, the particular Shira Chadasha service in Melbourne is
arguably atypical for reasons I'd rather not go into, as there is little point
dissecting a group's level of shmiras torah and mitzvos in a public forum.

From: Ira L. Jacobson <laser@...>
Date: Mon, Aug 9,2010 at 03:01 AM
Subject: "Egalitarian Orthodox" (Partnership) Minyanim

Stuart Pilichowsk stated the following in mail-jewish Vol.58 #57 Digest:

>Some of the mi shebayrach tfillot in my siddur now includes the 
>Matriarchs in addition to the Patriarchs. (I'm still getting used to 
>reciting it that way.)

While I am unaware of the adoption of the other changes mentioned by 
Stuart Pilichowski, I am certainly aware of the use of the 
matriarchs' names in the me sheberakh for ill women.  That has been 
around in some rituals for longer than I have.  Much longer, I should wager.


From: Ira L. Jacobson <laser@...>
Date: Mon, Aug 9,2010 at 03:01 AM
Subject: "Egalitarian Orthodox" (Partnership) Minyanim

Wendy Baker stated the following in mail-jewish Vol.58 #55 Digest:

> Voluntarily taking on an obligation, but still not "counting" seems, 
> to me, at least, to be of a higher order than someone accepting his 
> given responsibilty while getting the satisfaction of helping others 
> at the same time.

While one might think so, we have a principle that one who is 
commanded and does is greater than one who is not commanded and does 
(Bava Qama 38a).


From: Aryeh Frimer <frimea@...>
Date: Mon, Aug 9,2010 at 05:01 AM
Subject: "Egalitarian Orthodox" (Partnership) Minyanim

Anyone knowledgeable in Torah can pasken.  Not every community Rabbi who 
paskens is a "Posek." Nor are Professors of Talmud, with all their erudition 
in paricular areas. Certainly, not everyone who has semicha should be relied 
on to change millennia  of halakhic precedent. Certainly not when every 
recognized  posek who has been asked as to the validity of partnership 
Minyanim has ruled against them.

In our article on women's prayer groups we discuss this issue at some length.
["Women's Prayer Services: Theory and Practice. Part 1 - Theory," 
Aryeh A. Frimer and Dov I. Frimer, Tradition, 32:2, pp. 5-118 (Winter 1998). 
PDF File available online at: http://www.jofa.org/pdf/Batch%201/0021.pdf; 
See section C and note 217*].  Rav Moshe Feinstein and former Chief Rabbi 
Rav Avraham Shapiro (both ZT"L) maintained that these community wide issues 
need to be paskened by Poskim who would be turned to to rule on  Nidda and 

R. Ovadiah Yosef, Yom haShishi, 16 Iyyar 5757 (May 23, 1997), p. 26 and 
again on 27 Tevet 5762 (January 11, 2002) p. 26, has indicated that one 
should not rely on the halakhic rulings of a rabbi who, despite his 
recognized general scholarship, is known not to be a bona fide expert in 
halakha. Should one rely on such a halakhic ruling, if the rabbi's pesak 
later proves to be in error, the questioner is held fully culpable (ne-hshav 
ki-meizid) for his/her misdeeds. A similar position was stated by R. Hayyim 
Volozhiner, Resp. Hut haMeshulash, I, end of sec. 13. See also Resp. Rashba, 
I, sec. 98 (end). If, however, the Rabbi is a halakhic expert, then no onus 
is borne by the questioner, should the posek have erred in his decision. 
See: Resp. Iggerot Moshe, O.H., I, sec. 186, s.v. "ve-Af she-ha-biur;" and 
E.H., IV, sec. 61, s.v. "u-le-Fi zeh ke-she-ehad," p. 221.

Even so, R. Nachum L. Rabinovitch, Darka shel Torah (Jerusalem: Maaliyot 
Press, 5759) p. 212, and personal communication to DIF, January 17, 2004, 
maintains that the questioner is still ultimately responsible for his 
actions. Thus, he is only free of onus if the posek made an error in 
reasoning or analysis (shikul ha-da'at). However, as R. Zerahya haLevi, 
haMaor haGadol, Sanhedrin, bottom of p. 12a (pages of Rif) rules, if the 
posek makes an "obvious" error, i.e., a ruling contrary to the classic texts 
or codes (davar barur ke-dvar mishna), the questioner should have known 
better and is held culpable for following the judgment of such a posek.

As to Rabbi Sperber's daughter:  Rav Goren was once asked whether as a 
matter of policy women should go into Tsaha"l. He answered in the negative. 
The questioner then asked: But your own daughter served in Tsaha"l. To which 
Rav Goren responded:  May we never be judged by the actions of our children!
ve-haMeivin Yavin

Dr. Aryeh A. Frimer
Chemistry Dept., Bar-Ilan University
Ramat Gan 52900, ISRAEL


From: Joseph Kaplan <penkap@...>
Date: Sun, Aug 8,2010 at 01:01 PM
Subject: Accomodating women who wish to say kaddish

Congregation Rinat Yisrael in Teaneck accommodates women who wish to say kaddish
by having them say it whether or not there is a man saying it. When my rabbi, R.
Yosef Adler, was asked what to do if only a woman was saying kaddish, he gave
exactly the same answer that I heard from R. Saul Berman a few years before: "Be
quiet, listen and answer amen and yehey shmay rabba."

When my wife was saying kaddish a number of years ago there were a few occasions
(not many) where she was the only person saying kaddish. Our shul population has
aged in the ensuing years, and although we have women who say kaddish, there are
(unfortunately) no longer any times when they are the only ones doing so. She
once wanted to go to another Teaneck shul for mincha. She called the rabbi to
find out its policy.  He told her: the first part of our policy is that a woman
can only say kaddish if a man is saying kiddish. The second part is that if a
woman wants to say kaddish and there is no man saying it, it's the gabbai's
responsibility to have a man say kaddish so the woman can recite it.

Joseph Kaplan


From: Stuart Wise <Smwise3@...>
Date: Sun, Aug 8,2010 at 11:01 PM
Subject: Conservative Judaism

IRA JACOBSON wrote (MJ 58#56):

> In MJ 58#54, Janice Gelb <j_gelb@...> stated the following:

>> 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 have culled a few gems from the Web to indicate the adherence of this
> group to Halakha:

> In consideration of fellow Heichal  Baoranim congregants and others 
> attending Heichal Baoranim's pot luck  seder on April 11th who may be 
> observing Passover dietary  restrictions, below are some guidelines ...

> Weekday morning  minyans
> Please contact Beth Ami's office (360-3000) a week in advance  of the 
> date you would like to have services held (to say Kaddish,  read Torah, 
> memorialize aspecial event) and we will do our best to  secure a minyan.
> Time for these services would be Mondays-Fridays at 7:30 am, Sundays at 
> 8:30 am. Torah reading occurs on Mondays and  Thursdays.

> These should set us back to reality rather than let us indulge in wishful
> thinking.

I would have liked to have read more on the seder guidelines.

To Ms Gelb: What exactly is the point of having a movement that calls for  
halachic observance when few people adhere to it? I have heard talk that  
Conservative movement was dying precisely because it doesn't really stand for  
anything, with those troubled by the level of observance required by the  
Conservative Judaism moving toward orthodoxy and those who really don't want  
observance moving further left. 
When I worked for the Conservative movement, I received a phone call from  
the New York Public Library for a picture of something that was "typical"  
Conservative. Administration knocked down all my selections (women being 
called  to the Torah, mixed davening, etc.) because it said none of those 
typical  because at the time there were affiliated congregations that still
didn't give  aliyos to women, and a few that had separate seating with no 

It  seems the point of the movement was to retain adherents by making Judaism
more palatable with fewer restrictions and a more open policy. If that is what
people really wanted, it should be the biggest sector of Judaism today.

Stuart Wise


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Sun, Aug 8,2010 at 06:01 PM
Subject: Conservative Judaism and "Biblical criticism"

Frank Silbermann <frank_silbermann@...> wrote (MJ 58#57):

> Martin Stern wrote (MJ 58#55):
>> Thus I consider that acceptance, whether tacit or explicit, of the results
>> of Higher Criticism is the essential point at issue between the Conservative
>> movement and Orthodoxy or, as I would rather call it, Torah Judaism,
>> whatever the actual practices of individual adherents of either might be. In
>> view of this discussion, it would appear that what Frank was told is
>> absolutely
>> correct. 
> Therefore, if congregations such as Shir Chadash are not associated with
> rabbis who express belief in the Higher Criticism, we need not view them as
> synogogues which have "gone Conservative."

I am not familiar with Shirah Chadashah so I cannot comment on it. What I was
arguing was that the underlying point at issue between Conservatism and
Orthodoxy is Higher Criticism and almost all other deviations stem from
accepting its conclusions. 

It is not quite so simple when discussing a specific synagogue as there are
other factors involved when dealing with such an organisation. In any case, just
because a Conservative synagogue hired an Orthodox Rabbi does not make it

However all this is irrelevant when discussing the Egalitarian movement which
may be heterodox without being Conservative but on this I have not come to a
conclusion as yet.

Martin Stern


From: Haim Snyder <haimsny@...>
Date: Mon, Aug 9,2010 at 03:01 AM
Subject: Hiyuv of avel to lead the service

In Volume 58 #54, Ira Jacobson implied that there is no hiyuv (obligation)
for an avel (mourner) to lead the services. It may have been that his
comment was related to a woman having the obligation, in which case, I have
nothing to say. However, if his comment was in general, then I want to point
to the following extract from "Mourning in Halachah" by Rabbi Chaim Binyamin

Chapter 40, paragraph 1 states: "The custom is that the mourner leads the
prayer service during the entire eleven months [during which he recites
Kaddish]. Leading the service is even more effective [in benefitting the
soul of the deceased] than reciting the Mourner's Kaddish, which was
originally instituted only for children [since they cannot lead the

Haim Shalom Snyder


From: Yisrael Medad <ybmedad@...>
Date: Sun, Aug 8,2010 at 07:01 PM
Subject: Rambam & Women Learning

I think it appropriate and relevant to several parallel ongoing threads
here to quote one line from the Rambam.
My source is the Shilat edition of his Introduction to the Mishna, p.
53, where, in discussing the role of Drishot, explanations based on the
Aggada, he writes (my translation):
".and moreover, the instruction for the masses cannot but be through
riddles and illustrations so that women and young boys shall be
It would seem that the Rambam certainly did not exclude women from the
practice of learning Torah.
Yisrael Medad


From: Carl Singer <carl.singer@...>
Date: Sun, Aug 8,2010 at 06:01 PM
Subject: Sermons in the vernacular

I recall that in the 1960's Rabbi Shubert Spero at the Young Israel in
Cleveland, Ohio -- would give his outstanding sermons in a combination of
English, Yiddish and Hebrew -- catering to his congregation.  Although we
had a "Marmorish" section in shul, I don't recall any use of Hungarian.

From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Sun, Aug 8,2010 at 06:01 PM
Subject: Sermons in the vernacular

Meir Shinnar <chidekel@...> wrote (MJ 58#57):

> Some people here think that sermons in the vernacular are no big deal and no
> innovation.  
> 1) In the 1880s in Hungary, a gathering against innovations and reform put in
> herem any rav and shul who gave sermons in the vernacular (ie Hungarian or
> German - Yiddish was acceptable)

This was typical of the Hungarian situation where the Orthodox followed the
Chatam Sofer's slogan "Chadash assur min Hatorah" [all innovation is
prohibited] literally. Elsewhere, as in Germany, there was less opposition.

Martin Stern

From: Ira L. Jacobson <laser@...>
Date: Mon, Aug 9,2010 at 03:01 AM
Subject: Sermons in the vernacular

Meir Shinnar stated the following in mail-jewish Vol.58 #57 Digest:

> 2)In the 1930s-40s, a large Conservative shul in Philadelphia, which 
> back then had a Chief Rabbi who was Orthodox, went to him and said 
> that they would become Orthodox - put in a mechitza, no microphone, 
> - but one requirement - they wanted a rav who gave sermons in 
> English, not Yiddish. He said "das is nicht a rov" (that is not a 
> rabbi), and the shul remained Conservative.

This needs a bit of historical perspective.  The reason that 
Philadelphia became such a stronghold of the Conservative movement 
was precisely because Rav Levinthal at the (previous) turn of the 
century was jealous of his position as Chief Rabbi and kept other 
Orthodox rabbis out.  He didn't care about any challenge from the 
Conservatives, and so they flourished there during his reign, and of 
course afterwards.

The New York Times of 28 July 1906 reports that Rav Levinthal had 
just been elected as the "Chief Rabbi of the entire body of Orthodox 
Jews in America," after having been the Chief Rabbi of Philadelphia 
for 27 years.



From: Mordechai Horowitz <mordechai@...>
Date: Sun, Aug 8,2010 at 08:01 PM
Subject: Who is the leadership of the Torah community.

Meir Shinnar (MJ 58#57) wrote:

> Rabbi Professor Sperber, in addition to being a college professor (of
> Talmud), after yeshiva background, has been a rav of a shul in the
> Old City for many years, and been a posek for a significant community for
> a long time.  (~ 10 years ago, at Brovenders, my daughter had pskaim from
> Rav Sperber cited (which had nothing to do with women's isues..). It may
> not be Mordechai's community, and he is welcome to follow his leader - but
> this drivel and personal attacks is something that I must protest.  

> BTW, the notion that one has to be a posek to pasken is a modern notion
> - one paskens if one has the learning - one becomes gradually accepted
> as a posek by being accepted, but that was never the requirement for
> someone to pasken...

What I notice in how the issue of changes in women's roles change the 
Rabbis who have led the way on this type of issue and have the respect 
of the broader Torah community tend to be those leading yeshivot and 
seminaries not those teaching college classes even in Talmud (which at a 
university is a secular subject not a religious one).  Remember the 
academic study of Talmud, from the perspective of the academic field 
of Judaic studies can be equally done by a professor who is an observant 
Jew or an atheist. It's not an attack on Rabbi Sperber to note that the role of 
being DR. Sperber is not the same as being RABBI Sperber.   And being a 
shul Rabbi is not the same as being the head of a yeshiva. And in our 
day the leadership of the community is in the hands of the yeshiva Rabbis.

The fact when Rabbi Weiss chose to leave YU over his views, he chose 
not to join the faculty of Columbia or JTS as a professor but rather 
found a yeshiva and become a Rosh Yeshiva, IMHO lends support to my thesis. 
The role  of Nishmat, led by Rabbi Yehuda and Rebbetzin Chana Henkin, in 
creating Yotzaot Halacha has done more practically on these issues than 
all the JOFA conferences.

Recognizing the reality of how the Torah community selects it leadership 
is not a ad hominen attack on anyone. Reality is something I try and 
deal with on a regular basis. One reason MO has not been as successful 
as it should be in the US is the lack of MO yeshivot in America.  2 is 
not enough.  Just as most major charedi communities have a yeshiva 
gedola MO needs its own yeshivot in its major communities.


End of Volume 58 Issue 58