Volume 58 Number 59 
      Produced: Tue, 10 Aug 2010 01:34:18 EDT

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

"Egalitarian Orthodox" (Partnership) Minyanim (4)
    [Meir Shinnar  Guido Elbogen  Ben Katz   David I. Cohen]
Capital O for Orthodoxy 
    [David Tzohar]
Conservative Judaism 
    [Janice Gelb]
Format for citing previous postings (administrative comment) 
    [Carl Singer]
Hiyuv of avel to lead the service 
    [Ira L. Jacobson]
    [Ira L. Jacobson]
Lashon hara 
    [Martin Stern]
Rabbi Daniel Sperber - Posek 
    [ Chaim Steinberger]
Who is a posek 
    [Michael Rogovin]
Who is the leadership of the Torah community. 
    [Carl Singer]
Women saying Kaddish (2)
    [Martin Stern  David Tzohar]


From: Meir Shinnar <chidekel@...>
Date: Mon, Aug 9,2010 at 09:01 AM
Subject: "Egalitarian Orthodox" (Partnership) Minyanim

With respect to Rav Frimer's post (MJ 58#58):

1) Several different issues

  a)  Who can pasken - he agrees it is not the title, but the
knowledge of the individual. I would add that there are many who
bemoan that many go to rashe yeshiva for psak - because psak involves
both knowledge of the law as well as knowledge of the reality and the
community. The issue of acceptance is far more complex - as Rav
Feinstein himself wrote, one becomes an accepted posek by paskening,
and then gradually one's psakim either become accepted or not - so
every posek goes through a stage of issuing psakim when he is not yet

I would add that Rav Soloveichik was known for encouraging his
students to be independent and pasken for themselves if they felt
competent (the classical example is supporting Rav Lamm's support of
the Upper West Side eruv against Rav Kotler..(even though Rav
Soloveichik did not support eruvim), - even though Rav Lamm, though a
talmid chacham, would, with all due respect, not be viewed by most of the
community as a posek...(and the stakes in eruvin - and possible hillul shabbat -
are far greater than the drabbanans of partnership minyanim..) This doesn't seem
to be popular these days, but that doesn't mean it isn't a viable position...

  b) What is a communal issue?  It is not clear that this is such a
communal issue - how one runs one shul has minimal impact on the
community at large.

  c) Universal rejection by poskim - not so clear, and depending which
component.  If one looks at the major component of partnership
minyanim - aliyot for women - IIRC, Rav Henkin has ruled that in
some cases of private minyanim or at a bat mitzva, it may be
acceptable - although he rejects  doing it in a shul and is in general
opposed..  I would add that there are rabbanim respected as poskim who
have given shiurim about the acceptability of partnership minyanim....

I would add that, going to a different thread, while many reject Rav
Sperber's position, I doubt that most of those would classify him as

Meir Shinnar

From: Guido Elbogen <havlei.h@...>
Date: Mon, Aug 9,2010 at 01:01 PM
Subject: "Egalitarian Orthodox" (Partnership) Minyanim

Perhaps there is another undiscussed issue.

Nine men can pray in a room containg women, but if there is a minyan,a
mechiizah becomes obligatory.

And this is not only with Tefilah. Many orthodox events are allowed without
a mechitzah such as shabbos meals or even walking down the street, where
there is only a small group of non related mixed gender.

But the minute the male contingent grows, the barriers go up.

I would suggest that it's not a matter of more or less female
participation but rather that there is a concept of "Tzibbur" and that it
only applies to a significant group of adult Jewish males.

Thus if there are women intermingled, that concept may no longer apply
especially when the mechitzah becomes only a physical but not a voice

From: Ben Katz <BKatz@...>
Date: Mon, Aug 9,2010 at 04:01 PM
Subject: "Egalitarian Orthodox" (Partnership) Minyanim

David I. Cohen <bdcohen613@...> wrote (MJ 58#54):

> 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.

Mr. Cohen is not correct.  Men have no obligation to attend minyan every day. 
the Shulcha Aruch says "yishtadel" - he should try, not "chayav" - obligated. 
In fact, the SA states that it is preferable to daven by yourself at dawn rather
than later with a minyan.

From:  David I. Cohen <bdcohen613@...>
Date: Mon, Aug 9,2010 at 05:01 PM
Subject: "Egalitarian Orthodox" (Partnership) Minyanim

I appreciate Janice Gelb's thoughtful response in Volume58#53.

She claims to be surprised by my thought that inclusion should require
voluntary acceptance of further obligation, by claiming that I favor the
status quo. I am neither in favor nor not in favor of Partnership Services.
I am solely in favor of the issue being decided in accordance with halacha
by halachic authorities giving an actual p'sak (halachic decision) which by
definition must take into account, not only technicalities, but also policy
and motivation. Basing actions on theoretical academic articles such as R.
Shapiro's in the (now defunct) Edah journal, or R. Sperbers' is not a
substitute, IMHO, for an actual written p'sak.

Secondly, Ms. Gelb thinks that I am small minded in wondering why the same
people who are so enthusiastic at enhancing their spiritual connection to
the Divine, are notoriously absent in taking upon themselves other halachic
obligations, since (using my example of daily minyan attendance) many women
have family obligations that preclude this. Even if that is true, where are
all those either without families (yet), or whose families are grown etc.
etc. ?

My point is that Torah true Judaism is, IMHO, is a complex method of
spiritually coming closer to the Divine. It is the totality that works, not
just one component that the individual wishes to highlight and ignore the

David I. Cohen


From: David Tzohar <davidtzohar@...>
Date: Mon, Aug 9,2010 at 08:01 AM
Subject: Capital O for Orthodoxy

Batya makes an excellent point,but to my mind the really problematic term is
"Judaism" or "Jewish Religion" Perhaps someone knows when these terms were
first used? Torat Hashem is not a religion in the way that Catholocism is a
religion. It is a way of life which was revealed to Moshe on Sinai. Is there
a Reform Torah? To whom was it revealed? What are its mitzvot? Why should we
take it (or Conservative, Reconstructionist etc.) seriously. There is one
Jewish People, one Jewish Torah, one Jewish country and One G-d who chose
them. All the English language terms are totally irrelevant.

David Tzohar


From: Janice Gelb <j_gelb@...>
Date: Mon, Aug 9,2010 at 09:01 AM
Subject: Conservative Judaism

Stuart Wise <Smwise3@...> wrote (MJ 58#58):
> To Ms Gelb: What exactly is the point of having a movement that calls for  
> halachic observance when few people adhere to it? [snip]

I don't want anyone to think I'm trying to avoid having to answer questions
about Conservative Judaism and I am happy to communicate privately with anyone
regarding my beliefs and opinions about the value of the movement and why I have
thrown in my lot with them :-> However, I don't think that Mail-Jewish is the
correct venue in which to discuss this subject.



From: Carl Singer <carl.singer@...>
Date: Sun, Aug 8,2010 at 10:01 AM
Subject: Format for citing previous postings (administrative comment)

Kudos on the new (?) format for citing previous Mail Jewish postings, e.g.

Plony wrote (MJ 58#52):

> In reply to Almony who wrote (MJ 58#50):

>> (quote within quote, all lines beginning >>)

> (quote, all lines beginning >)

It is a great improvement. Perhaps all submissions could adhere to this format
in future.



From: Ira L. Jacobson <laser@...>
Date: Mon, Aug 9,2010 at 04:01 AM
Subject: Hiyuv of avel to lead the service

Haim Snyder states (MJ 58#58):

>In Volume 58 #54, Ira Jacobson implied that there is no hiyuv 
>(obligation) for an avel (mourner) to lead the services.

Actually, you inferred what I did not intend to imply.  To have made 
it clearer (as I did in further posts), I should have stated, "There 
is no such hiyyuv for a woman to lead prayers.  Where did you get 
such an idea?"

The hiyyuv for a son (not any other mourner) to lead prayers during 
the 11 months is of course a well-known Ashkenazi custom.

> It may have been that his comment was related to a woman having the 
> obligation, in which case, I have nothing to say.

Now it should be clear that what I intended was the obligation of a 
son and not any other mourner -- in other words, more restrictive 
than what Haim Snyder has stated, and far more restrictive than what 
Janice Gelb claimed.

There is also a custom observed in a few places that the mourner does 
not lead the prayers during the shiv`a period, and there is also a 
minority custom that some recite qaddish for close relatives other 
than parents, for 30 days.



From: Ira L. Jacobson <laser@...>
Date: Mon, Aug 9,2010 at 06:01 AM
Subject: Innovations

Meir Shinnar stated in mail-Jewish Vol.58 #57 Digest:

> that halacha had to respond to the social reality - was realized by 
> the rabbanim, with some solutions (think women's learning, bat mitzvahs,

Just to set the record straight, Prof. Mordechai M. Kaplan had only 
daughters and for that reason introduced the Bat Mitzvah 
ceremony.  He introduced LOTS of questionable practices after he left 
Orthodoxy and left his post as rav of the Jewish Center in Manhattan.

What are the odds that is the course that will be taken by 
present-day Orthodox innovators?

Would that improve the overall situation?  (I am reminded of the 
saying regarding people who transferred from my alma mater to another 
institution of higher learning in the same city.  I will blur the 
names of the institutions:  "When someone transfers from CU to CCNY, 
the average IQ increases in both places."



From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Mon, Aug 9,2010 at 08:01 AM
Subject: Lashon hara

Aryeh Frimer <frimea@...> wrote (58#58):

> 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

Perhaps this is a topic that verges on lashon hara which should not be
pursued any longer.

Martin Stern


From:  Chaim Steinberger <chaistein@...>
Date: Mon, Aug 9,2010 at 09:01 AM
Subject: Rabbi Daniel Sperber - Posek

As has been correctly pointed out in recent postings, Rabbi Daniel Sperber is
the Rav of a community in the Old City, Jerusalem, and surely his congregants
ask him to pasken. But as is well known: Aseh Lechah Rav, individuals usually
ask she'ailot of a Rabbi of their choosing, and typically go to the same Rabbi
on a consistent basis. And anyone who knows Rabbi Sperber well will attest to
his vast knowledge of halachah and his careful responses to questions asked of
him. Just as a matter of record: he is the recipient of the Israel Prize, a
prestigeous award given by Medinat Yisrael, for his multi-volume Minhagei
Yisrael, which is only a portion of his numerous publications in the world of
halachah, minhag and related subjects. He is highly regarded throughout the
world, and may those who don't know much about him be inspired to learn from him
and his writings. 
Chaim Steinberger, New York City, NY


From: Michael Rogovin <mrogovin118@...>
Date: Mon, Aug 9,2010 at 01:01 PM
Subject: Who is a posek

Others have already responded well to the attack on Rabbi Sperber's status
as a posek. As I note in a parallel post on the hirhurim blog (which is
debating actions by Rabbi Weiss in allowing a woman to lead kabbalat
shabbat, lumping this with the other issues of "open orthodoxy" and the fear
of legitimizing heterodox movements), the crux of the matter seems to be not
"who is orthodox" but "who is a posek?"

There does not seem to be a generally accepted definition. As Rabbi Aryeh
Frimer wrote, one can pasken but not be a posek. But that still begs the
question. He suggested that being a communal rabbi, college professor and
prolific author with an acknowledged expertise in areas of Jewish thought,
halacha or history does not make one a posek. This was aimed directly at
Rabbi Sperber, but could be applied equally to Rabbi Michael Broyde, whom
some have referred to as a MO posek. Others have suggested that one must be
a Rosh Yeshiva. That would rule out both Rabbis Sperber and Broyde, but lets
in Rabbi Weiss. A posek is not an appointed or elected position. It seems to
me that a "recognized posek" is a person who paskens halacha, acquires a
following, and is respected (even when they disagree strongly) by others. I
am not sure who falls into this category within the MO world, and that may
be the crux of the problem for MO/OO laity who feel that the people they
legitimately turn to will never achieve the status of a posek since the RW
will never, ever respect anyone in the center, let alone LW, to the point of
acknowledging any of them as a "posek."

My point to be clear is not to opine as to who is or is not a posek, it is
to say that this is somewhat subjective. I do not see how  anyone else can
or should decide for me who is and is not a posek. I think that decision
ultimately is made by the community I am a part of and the market.

Michael Rogovin


From: Carl Singer <carl.singer@...>
Date: Mon, Aug 9,2010 at 08:01 AM
Subject: Who is the leadership of the Torah community.

MJ#58-58 & MJ#57-58 raised interesting questions -- perhaps in need of dissecting:

The obvious fundamental question is:  is there such an entity as a singular
"Torah *community*"  -- depending on one's definition of community I believe
the answer is no.

Rather than stop at this point, let's consider what makes for leadership
within one's own community (as large or small / inclusive or restrictive as
one wishes to define same.)

Newsweek, a U.S. National magazine (I'd say a "leading" magazine, but
they're awaiting a "white knight" to keep them afloat) listed "50 most
influential Rabbis" -- the list, itself, (not limited to the Torah
community) is an embarrassment to say the least -- but it did bring out one
vector, "celebrity" -- thus Roshei Yeshiva were conspicuously absent.

Let's look at other factors:

Scholarship / publications

Influence / visibility within the Torah community

Influence / visibility outside the community - includes political influence    
  (note influence & visibility are clearly not synonymous)

Number of "followers" / Number of students

Who do other Rabbis turn to for tough halachic rulings

Position within various Torah organizations

and the list goes on

It is to be noted that many Rabbis shun leadership and its trappings.
While some will rush to appear at, say, a White House ceremony, others would
find it zman bitul torah [a waste of time that could be better used for learning

Let us not confuse leadership with notoriety -- we don't measure leaders by
the number of column-inches of newspaper (or web equivalent) they occupy.



From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Mon, Aug 9,2010 at 08:01 AM
Subject: Women saying Kaddish

Joseph Kaplan <penkap@...> (MJ 58 #58) wrote:

> When my wife was saying kaddish a number of years ago ... 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 kaddish. 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.

How would a shul that adheres to the original Ashkenazi custom (now very
rarely met) of only one person saying kaddish deal with this problem?

Martin Stern

From: David Tzohar <davidtzohar@...>
Date: Mon, Aug 9,2010 at 04:01 PM
Subject: Women saying Kaddish

It is commendable that Wendy Baker wants to take upon herself the obligation
of saying Kaddish (MJ58#55) 

However this can in no way be compared with the obligation of men. There is a
principle in halacha which AFAIK no authority from the Gemarra to the Mishna
Brura has questioned: He who performs a mitzva because he is obligated receives
a greater reward than one who takes the obligation upon himself. Women are not
obligated in any way to participate in public prayer. They are not obligated to
pray at certain times since halacha exempts them from time bound commandments. 

There are some later authorities who said that women should pray privately two
or three times a day. This has to do with the dispute between the Rambam and the
Ramban on the question of whether prayer is a Torah or rabbinical commandment.
It is natural that women as well as men want to remember and give honor to their
dead on the anniversary of their passing, but this dosn't need to be done in
public on either side of the mechitza (partition between men and women in the

David Tzohar


End of Volume 58 Issue 59