Volume 58 Number 61 
      Produced: Tue, 10 Aug 2010 12:16:15 EDT

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

Hiyuv of avel to lead the service 
    [Joel Rich]
Obligation to pray with a minyan (2)
    [Akiva Miller  Joel Rich]
Origins of Bat-Mitzvah Ceremony (2)
    [Michael Pitkowsky  Gilad J. Gevaryahu]
pre-1918 Hungarian Jewry 
    [Martin Stern]
The "I want" syndrome, lobbying for change 
    [Batya Medad]
When a mechizah becomes obligatory 
    [Mordechai Horowitz]
Who is a posek? (2)
    [Harlan Braude  Joel Rich]
Women saying Kaddish 
    [David Ziants]
Women's learning (2)
    [Mordechai Horowitz  Menashe Elyashiv]


From: Joel Rich <JRich@...>
Date: Tue, Aug 10,2010 at 10:01 AM
Subject: Hiyuv of avel to lead the service

Haim Shalom Snyder wrote (MJ 58#58):

> 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 Goldberg:

> 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 services]."

To be exact, the mourner IMHO really has no "chiyuv", rather he has a desire to
do so.  The amud "belongs" to the congregation and the Aruch Hashulchan (see O"C
53:5) bemoans the practice of giving the "chiyuv" who doesn't know his left from
his right) the amud.  But even he felt he couldn't get people to change!

Joel Rich


From: Akiva Miller <kennethgmiller@...>
Date: Tue, Aug 10,2010 at 09:01 AM
Subject: Obligation to pray with a minyan

In MJ 58:59, in the thread titled "Egalitarian Orthodox (Partnership) Minyanim",
Ben Katz wrote:

> Men have no obligation to attend minyan every day. the Shulchan
> Aruch says "yishtadel" - he should try, not "chayav" - obligated.

Rather than take selected phrases out of context, let's look at the entire
quote. Shulchan Aruch Orach Chayim 90:9 reads: "A man should make the effort to
pray in the synagogue with the community. If he is forced and unable to come to
the synagogue, he should arrange to pray at the time that the community prays."

I concede that Ben is accurately translating the first sentence. The problem is
that the second sentence is not talking about a person who wants to go to the
synagogue and finds it to be too difficult. Rather, the second sentence is
talking about someone who is totally unable to go to the synagogue at all. This
leaves a large gap in the middle: What does the Shulchan Aruch say about a
person who is able to get to the synagogue, but for some reason considers it
difficult to do so?

Rav Moshe Feinstein, in Igros Moshe Orach Chayim 2:27, rules as follows: [Note:
a "mil" is a unit of distance, equal to about a kilometer.]

(from the first paragraph:) "Praying with ten is an obligatory mitzvah on a
person, and not merely an enhancement or higher level. Rashi shows, in Pesachim
46 and Chullin 122, that a person [when traveling] is obligated to travel up to
four mil in the direction of his travel even if he would prefer to stop here,
and is even obligated to go up to one mil back [to pray with a minyan]. This is
the decision of the Shulchan Aruch in 90:16, and from this it is understood that
one is obligated to go up to one mil even when he is at home. And this is
explicit in the Aruch Hashulchan 90:20 and Mishneh Berurah 90:52."

(from the third paragraph:) "One cannot explain the phrase 'a man should make
the effort to pray in the synagogue with the community' to mean that this is
merely a good thing ["rak maalah b'almah"] because such language is also
appropriate for obligations. One is exempt from the greater effort of walking
farther than one mil, and one can compare other difficulties which might come up
to being like walking more than one mil. And since one would have to judge
himself what is a real difficulty and what is not, it uses the phrase 'a man
should make the effort' to point out that he should not take this lightly,
comparing every difficulty to the difficulty of walking more than one mil.
Rather, he should be strict on many occasions, and it should not be so clear to
him that this is a great difficulty, for he has to judge this very carefully."

Later, in section 3:7, Rav Moshe answered someone who felt that his prayers
would have more kavana [be more heartfelt] if he would pray alone. He referred
to the above, and reiterated his opinion that praying with a minyan is a real
obligation, which one cannot avoid merely to improve the quality of his prayers.

If anyone knows of another opinion, who holds that praying with a minyan is
indeed something which one should *try* to do, but does not *have* to do, please
share it with us.

Akiva Miller

From: Joel Rich <JRich@...>
Date: Tue, Aug 10,2010 at 10:01 AM
Subject: Obligation to pray with a minyan

Ben Katz <BKatz@...> wrote (MJ 58#59):

> Mr. Cohen (MJ 58#54) is not correct.  Men have no obligation to attend minyan 
> every day. The Shulchan 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.

They have an obligation to try and given that "tfilat hatzibbur tamid nishma'at"
(the prayer of the congregation is always heard), a real incentive to do so (and
someone who takes upon himself davening at dawn (and, if I remember correctly,
the SA was only talking about someone who does it regularly) would be well
served to think about this if it means always praying in private (as well as how
it impacts him in general viv-a-vis concern for self versus tzibbur)

Joel Rich


From: Michael Pitkowsky <pitkowsky@...>
Date: Tue, Aug 10,2010 at 10:01 AM
Subject: Origins of Bat-Mitzvah Ceremony

> Just to set the record straight, Prof. Mordechai M. Kaplan had only
> daughters and for that reason introduced the Bat Mitzvah ceremony.

While the bat-mitzvah of Mordechai Kaplan's daughter, Judith Einstein, was
clearly a turning point in the history of the bat-mitzvah ceremony, it was
not the first time that a ceremony to mark the coming of age of a Jewish
girl was held.  There is evidence that ceremonies, differing in details,
names, and the age of the girl, were common in Italy, and apparently were
also held in Egypt and some other parts of Europe.  Many of the descriptions
include a girl being tested by the rabbi about her Jewish knowledge and the
rabbi delivering a special sermon to mark the occasion.  Mordechai Kaplan
actually traveled to Rome soon after his daughter's bat-mitzvah, and his
description of the ceremony that he witnessed there is very similar to what
he instituted at SAJ, leading some to think that he had some familiarity
with the Italian ceremony.

The description of Kaplan's trip to Rome can be found here:
Also see this post for some overview of the history of the bat-mitzvah:
One should also consult the entry "Bar Mitzvah, Bat Mitzvah" in the new
edition of the Encyclopedia Judaica.

From: Gilad J. Gevaryahu <gevaryahu@...>
Date: Tue, Aug 10,2010 at 12:01 PM
Subject: Origins of Bat-Mitzvah Ceremony

Ira L. Jacobson (MJ 58#59) wrote:
> 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.

Kaplan did not "introduce the Bat-Mitzvah ceremony" in the US or anywhere else. 
I have dealt with this issue on several forums and have shown that there are
earlier recorded Bat Mitzvah ceremonies in the US and in Europe. It is more
likely that the Reconstruction movement captured this ceremony and adopted it as
their own and as the "first", but history does not supports their claim.

Gilad J. Gevaryahu


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Mon, Aug 9,2010 at 08:01 AM
Subject: pre-1918 Hungarian Jewry

Carl Singer <carl.singer@...> wrote (MJ 58#58):
> 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.

I always thought that the Marmorish was considered as being in the Unterland
where Jews normally spoke Yiddish rather than Hungarian. Can anyone more
familiar with pre-1918 Hungarian Jewry shed any light on this?

Martin Stern


From: Batya Medad <ybmedad@...>
Date: Tue, Aug 10,2010 at 10:01 AM
Subject: The "I want" syndrome, lobbying for change

Even those who consider the term "Evolution" evil and forbidden must
admit that Torah Judaism evolves.   Not being an expert in Talmud/Mishna
etc I can't give you chapter and verse on it, but I've heard many times
that if ancient shofrot were discovered they wouldn't be automatically
declared kosher for use today.  Each generation has its way of
paskening.  But that doesn't mean that a group of people who consider
themselves Torah (aka Orthodox) Jews have halachik/historic legitimacy
in lobbying/demanding that Judaism must bend to their demands/ideology.
In Israel for many years Alice Shalvi, a leading religious feminist kept
insisting that dati synagogues should follow her interpretation of
Judaism, including female participation in services.  To many of us
who'd read her articles and interviews it was clear that her approach
was Conservative with a capital "c" and not traditional Judaism with a
small "t."  Personally I found it a relief when she officially, publicly
announced that she's part of the Conservative Movement.
According to traditional Torah Judaism, women make a bracha every
morning thanking G-d for making us "as He wishes."  From our eighth day
when we're spared surgery, it's clear that women are different from men
and should be thankful for that.  I'm a married mother of five, and I
have no doubts that we're different and should be "happy with what we
have" as it's said in Pirkei Avot.  That makes us very rich.  I don't
need to dabble in halachik responsibilities from which I'm exempt.
Life's complicated enough.
There are many ways of celebrating the female rite of passage, Bat
Mitzvah, without imitating a Bar Mitzvah.  I could go on, but I don't
want this to be too long.  I may blog more about the issue.
Chodesh Tov!


From: Mordechai Horowitz <mordechai@...>
Date: Tue, Aug 10,2010 at 09:01 AM
Subject: When a mechizah becomes obligatory

Guido writes (MJ58 #59):

> 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

Not really. When I was in yeshiva in Israel I remember feeling very embarrassed
going to a family of 2 senior citizens in Jerusalem where the wife ate Shabbos
dinner alone in the kitchen only coming out to serve her husband and the 2
yeshiva students eating with him.  I kept feeling I stole her Shabbos from
her because I assume if we weren't there she could eat with her husband.  No
minyan involved.

My shul would never consider a mechitza at kidddush or at our shul 
dinner and its Rabbi poskened I could have mixed seating at my wedding 
even though he would never have it at his own families.

Separation is a lot more about communal norms and public policy than 
numbers in my experience.


From: Harlan Braude <hbraude@...>
Date: Tue, Aug 10,2010 at 10:01 AM
Subject: Who is a posek?

In MJ Vol.58 #59 Digest, Meir Shinnar wrote:

> 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 accepted....

This is a fascinating step in the process. Who, exactly, does the accepting 
or rejecting?

Is it up to the person asking his Rabbi for a halachic decision to, then, 
choose whether to follow that decision?  Sure, the person has the ability/power
to ignore it. But, I'm asking if this is considered acceptable practice in
Jewish law?

On the other hand, Do we monitor the acceptance/rejection of other poskim in
that generation? That, too, would be a fascinating step. After all, some 
decisions of even Rav Moshe were in conflict with those of other poskim of his
day (like the Satmar Rebbe etc.)

Perhaps, then, it's a function of majority: the majority of the posek's
decisions are agreed to by a majority of poskim in that generation.

Is that the formula?

From: Joel Rich <JRich@...>
Date: Tue, Aug 10,2010 at 10:01 AM
Subject: Who is a posek?

Someone said: Who considers Rabbi XXXX a posek?  He's a college professor not a
Rosh Yeshiva. 

Interesting questions (notwithstanding the truth, or lack thereof, of the claim)
about what makes one a "posek"?
1. Does interest in continuing secular education or  the "academic" study of
Judaism (broad category) or pastoral pursuits  automatically eliminate one?  

2. Might one conclude that if one had a daughter who was an  agunah, we might
not trust his psak in these issues? A son who didn't earn a  living? ...
(Personal interest)

BTW I think there is a similar issue by being a "gadol" - Does a community
"produce" a gadol to fill a need (yiftach bdoro) or is there an objective standard?

Joel Rich  


From: David Ziants <dziants@...>
Date: Tue, Aug 10,2010 at 11:01 AM
Subject: Women saying Kaddish

HaRav Yitzchak Shila"t, whom Yisrael quotes (MJ 58#58), also allows women to 
say kaddish from behind the mechitza, provided it is done in a tz'nua 
[modest] fashion. I once overheard this Rav make a statement to this 
effect orally, but am not sure whether he documents this point somewhere.

David Ziants
Ma'aleh Adumim, Israel


From: Mordechai Horowitz <mordechai@...>
Date: Tue, Aug 10,2010 at 09:01 AM
Subject: Women's learning

Orrin writes (MJ 58#60):

> 3. There is ample precedent, ancient and medieval, for high-level women's
> learning. Certainly it's happening on a systematic basis more than it has ever
> happened before, but just how widespread is it, and how widespread will it ever
> be? Just how many women are motivated enough to study daf hayomi?

I don't tend to think of Daf Yomi and high level learning in the same sentence.
 Maybe in other areas its different but where I am Daf Yomi is a bunch of men
with Artscroll Gemorrah's sitting around for about an hour being entertained by
a Rabbi explaining the daf they haven't even read in English and won't remember
by the time they get home.

Its exactly this type of learning I hope women don't get into as they enter into
traditionally male areas.  I hope those women who take the time to learn Oral
Torah take the time and effort to really learn it and develop real skills in
learning rather than turn Torah classes into passive entertainment as too many
men have.

One of the reasons I favor women learning seriously today is too many men
outside the kollel world don't learn seriously even though they do have the
obligation, and I see daf yomi as an example of that.

From: Menashe Elyashiv <Menashe.Elyashiv@...>
Date: Tue, Aug 10,2010 at 09:01 AM
Subject: Women's learning

Orrin Tilevitz (MJ 58#60) wrote:

> I"d bet plenty of charedim think Rashi spoke Yiddish. So while using the
> vernacular in sermons may have seemed radical,that may be because the people
> who opposed it were not thinking.

Just see some books for Haredi children - all biblical Jews wear long 
coats and fur hats (wow, and they were in the desert for 40 years!) Lately 
I saw an article quoting a Rabbi saying that a ben - Torah (beyn Tayra) 
must always wear his jacket and hat in public, because this is the way of 
dressing that we received at Sinai

> Certainly women's learning at a lower level was not widespread until recent
> times but for, that matter, neither was men's learning. How educated Jewishly
> were the vast majority of male Jews in Eastern Europe? Not at all

Any better now? How much Nach, classical Torah commentaters, or even 
Mishnah outside of Moed does the average Yeshiva boy know? Almost any Beit 
Yaakov girl knows more than him in Nach or the classical Torah 


End of Volume 58 Issue 61