Volume 58 Number 64 
      Produced: Thu, 12 Aug 2010 01:44:02 EDT

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

Daf Yomi 
    [ David I. Cohen]
Obligation to pray with a minyan 
    [Sammy Finkelman]
Sermons in the vernacular 
    [Michael Frankel]
Subject: Innovations 
    [Frank Silbermann]
Wedding invitations 
    [Fay Berger]
Who is a Posek? (2)
    [Mordechai Horowitz  Martin Stern]
Women Saying Kaddish 
    [Russell J Hendel]


From:  David I. Cohen <bdcohen613@...>
Date: Wed, Aug 11,2010 at 04:01 PM
Subject: Daf Yomi

M. Horowitz wrote in 58#61 denigrating those who learn Daf Yomi everyday.
Whether or not he he needs to ask mechila [forgiveness -MOD] for his remarks,
I'll leave to the Higher Authority.

As one who has studied through two daf yomi cycles and teaches a daf shiur
at least once a week, I feel that I can lend some perspective.

True, learning the daf in an hour is not learning at the highest level.
However, it accomplishes a number of things, especially for those who are
not able to spend their entire day in Torah study. 

1) Daf Yomi fulfills the requirement to set aside time every day to study Torah.
While there are many ways to do so, human nature being what it is, the structure
of daf Yomi is much more compelling  -- even with a regular unstructured set up,
so you miss a day, big deal, we''ll just start from where we left off last time.
And, eventually the times you miss begin to outweigh the times you don't. But
Daf is relentless. It is every day. It is a rigorous discipline, of daily
structured Torah study.

2) Daf gives one a perspective on the very wide range of Torah, dealing with
parts of the Talmud rarely studied in the Yeshiva's beit medrash.

3) Although it is true, that due to its nature, much of what is studied is
not retained, the recurrence of many Halachic and Talmudic themes, topics
and concepts begin to resonate and become familiar, and the language and
style of discussion also become further ingrained.

4) Many become involved with daf, having little or no background, as less
intimidating way of entering the Sea of Talmud. This is enhanced by the
camaraderie of those who regularly learn together.

5) What's wrong with learning being entertaining as well?

Many Roshei Yeshiva teach a daf shiur. And many Yeshivot actually have a daf

It may not be valuable for everyone, and no one should think that if I study
daf, that's all I need to do, but to denigrate it so broadly, is, I feel,

David I. Cohen


From: Sammy Finkelman <sammy.finkelman@...>
Date: Wed, Aug 11,2010 at 03:01 PM
Subject: Obligation to pray with a minyan

Akiva Miller wrote (MJ 58#81):

> 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.

> ...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?

I thought it is obvious that, for one thing, he's talking about someone who
needs to work or has other obligations - not somebody who is TOTALLY unable to
go to a syngagogue.

There is no obligation to arrange your affairs so that you would always be
able to daven with a minyan. And if there was such a thing, a person could
not travel.  There are no conditions attached under which you are allowed to
travel (which would often mean you would not be able to daven with a minyan,
or listen to the Torah etc.  In general, a person can arrange his affairs as
it suits him best and then the issue of where and how to daven comes
up.  The Gemorah deals with people in situations where they have limited
time to daven, or say Shema. the Gemorah discusses towns where there are ten
men kept around so there would be able to be a minyan.

The need to daven doesn't impose any limitations on a person - unlike the
need to keep Shabbos, Succos, Pesach etc.

> 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].

So this would translate into a period of time (where this does not really
interfere with what he is doing)


From: Michael Frankel <michaeljfrankel@...>
Date: Wed, Aug 11,2010 at 11:01 PM
Subject: Sermons in the vernacular

Martin Stern <md.stern@...> wrote (MJ 58#58):

> 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. 

The gathering referred to was in the 1860s not the eighties and became known as
the 'bais din" of Mikhailowitz.  Convened by the Bais Halevi, a notably kanoi
[zealot - MOD] Hungarian rov (of course kanoi Hungarian is a tautology, but this
gentleman managed to distinguish himself even in this rough crowd), it
formulated a series of hungarian yeihoraig v'al ya'avor [a matter over which one
should accept martyrdom rather than transgress] which did indeed include the
matter of no sermons in the vernacular, but also other equally
weighty-to-a-hungarian matters whose defense demanded the ultimate sacrifice,
such as shul bimohs bing moved from the center, the impermissability of
marriages in shul, the abomination of "choir" shuls, and a number of others
which slip my mind at the moment but you get the idea.  

The "p'soq din" itself was eventually circulated amongst other rabbonim until
seventy one (get it?) signatures had been amassed - including that of my great
great grandfather the Yeitiv Lev of Sighet.  The whole event was both an
historical oddity and innovation. I've elsewhere suggested this meeting
represented the very first manifestation of "daas torah" in its modern
incarnation.  i.e. a self appointed gathering to consider a communal
"question" which no one had actually raised, to promulgate an unrequested
"p'soq din"  on a broad geographical basis not limited to the shtelles [towns]
represented by the rabbonim present.

As for the Chasam Sofer, his opposition to sermons in German is, ostensibly,
well known - indeed included as a specific instruction in his last will and
testament, but something a lot more complex was also going on.   At the same
time that he railed against such rabbinical sermons in the vernacular, he also
recommended a Rav Hertzberg for the post in Furth, who was known for just such
vernacular preaching.   Also, the CS's most prominent student - the Maharam
Shick of Chist - wrote explicitly that the CS had no problem with German if the
rav was a truly God fearing individual and employed the language to reach people
who needed it.  (the Bais Hillel, also a student of CS, disputed Rav Schick's
version of the matter).

Mechy Frankel



From: Frank Silbermann <frank_silbermann@...>
Date: Thu, Aug 12,2010 at 01:01 AM
Subject: Subject: Innovations

David Tzohar wrote (MJ 58#60):
>> Innovations in halacha because of changes in societal conditions should not
>> be made unless they are based totally on how the Gemarra and former
>> generations of poskim related to the societal conditions of their times
>> ...

Bernard Raab commented (MJ 58 #63):
> What I find strangely missing from this entire discussion is any reference to
> "recent" history, as if feminine empowerment is a modern innovation. When 
> Sarah Shenirer in early 20th century Poland saw the crisis in Jewish life 
> developing as a result of Jewish women being admitted to secular schools, 
> without women being offered any corresponding Jewish education, she was 
> determined to organize a religious school system for Jewish women. Most of 
> today's rabonnim would like to claim that she readily received the blessings 
> of the rabbis of her day, and so was born the Bais Yaakov school system. In 
> reality, she was roundly rejected by the rabbis of her day as a radical 
> troublemaker, to say nothing of a woman troublemaker! But thank G-d she 
> persisted, despite her lowly status, and eventually convinced Rabbi Yisrael 
> Meir Kagan, the "Chofetz Chaim", to give his approval. At the time R. Kagan 
> was hardly viewed with such universal respect as eventually became his 
> due. Perhaps some of today's innovators will also be viewed by future 
> generations as great visionaries who saved traditional Judaism from the fate
> of irrelevance.

As for those who initially opposed Miss Shenirer, what were their concerns?
Did they say anything like, "This sort of thing will eventually lead to women
wanting to become rabbis and lead services"?

I'd hate to do anything that might vindicate those who opposed educating women.

Frank Silbermann         Memphis, Tennessee


From: Fay Berger <JuniperViv@...>
Date: Wed, Aug 11,2010 at 09:01 AM
Subject: Wedding invitations

Many wedding invitations leave off the names of the mothers of the bride and  
groom. They print the father's name "V'raayato". Why has this become  

Fay Berger


From: Mordechai Horowitz <mordechai@...>
Date: Tue, Aug 10,2010 at 10:01 PM
Subject: Who is a Posek?

Joel asks (MJ 58#61):

> 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)

There is no sin in either being an agunah or being unemployed (and my 
opinion of Kollel is very different that of the community at large)

Lesbian behavior is a clear sin according to all opinions.  And its not 
surprising that someone who is suspect in legitimizing lesbian behavior 
will not be accepted as a posek in the Torah community.

From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Wed, Aug 11,2010 at 05:01 PM
Subject: Who is a Posek?

Stuart Pilichowski <stupillow@...> wrote (MJ 58#63)

> The answer is really a very simple yet profound Yiddish adage:
> If you ask the shalah the answer you get might be "tref"
> So better not to ask . . . . .  go ahead as if it's ok . . . . .  if the
> custom prevails you've won!

Unfortunately, the opposite attitude "If I don't know, I"ll be machmir
[stringent]" seems to be all too prevalent, as witnessed by the article to
rebut which I wrote a reply in our local Jewish paper and about which I
asked opinions (MJ 58#56) under the title "Writing to a non-religious paper
about halachic matters".

Martin Stern


From: Russell J Hendel <rjhendel@...>
Date: Wed, Aug 11,2010 at 10:01 PM
Subject: Women Saying Kaddish

Just to recap where we are, David Tzohar, asserted that women are EXEMPT from
saying Kaddish because 

(A)they may not have an obligation to pray since according to Ramban this
obligation is Rabbinic, and 

(B) it is a time bound commandment from which they are exempt.

I countered that 

(A') EVEN according to the Ramban, prayer IS Biblical in a time of distress and
the saying of Kaddish is a response to DEATH OF A LOVED ONE which is a distress. 

(B') the woman saying Kaddish is performing the NON TIME BOUND COMMANDMENT of
honoring one's parents. THEREFORE they **are** obligated to say Kaddish (or
saying Kaddish is a fulfillment of two Biblical commandments).

Both Martin Stern and Rabbi Teitz counter that 

(A'') Kaddish is not SUPPLICATION but  PRAISE and therefore is not prayer!!!
(Other arguments will be answered below). 

But a most beautiful Rashi on the first verse of Vaethchanan cites an exquisite
Midrash Rabbah: 

> There are 10 words (and hence 10 forms) of prayer>> So certainly SUPPLICATION
> is what the person in the street thinks of when you say prayer but all 10
> words connote EQUAL methods of Prayer.

Let us analyze. The person's parent died. Is she supposed to pray/supplicate for
his resurrection!! Is she supposed to pray for no further deaths!! The whole
tragedy of death is that it is an irreparable loss. Perhaps you argue she should
pray for relief from her misery. But I would argue that ONE APPRAOCH to dealing
with irreparable loss is THINKING POSITIVELY. The Kaddish (instituted during the
crusades to deal with people suddenly orphaned) is a beautiful RESPONSE TO
DEATH. A rough translation of the Kaddish is: 

> May God's name be magnified whether in this world (of Death) or in the future
> world when He will be King (and death will be devoured)WHETHER in my lifetime
> **or** the life of the Jewish people, hopefully soon....

So bottom line: The Kaddish PRAISE **is** a prayer and does deal with the
person's serious distress. It is fully consistent with one approach to grief. 

(In passing the Ramban never REQUIRED that the person pray for REMOVAL OF THE
DISTRESS. Rather he said it was Biblical to pray when IN DISTRESS) One approach
to DISTRESS is PRAISE and as indicated above SUPPLICATION here is not relevant.

Let us now discuss issue (B) honoring one's parents. Martin Stern is of the
opinion that women, once married are not obligated to honor their parents if
there is a clash with their husbands. Rambam (Mamrim, 6:8) says

> Both men and women are OBLIGATED in Awe and Honor but the woman (may) not
> have capacity since she is under other people>>

The response is simple: 

a) My remarks still hold to single, divorced and widowed woman; 

b) Even Martin would agree that if the husband DOES NOT object the women is

c) in our day it is frequent for women to hold their own jobs and their own bank
account...it is not clear to what extent they belong to their husbands...they
are free agents that can do whatever they want with their money. 

d) Finally: Martin is only possibly correct if there is a class OF NEEDS (not
any clash). So a husband who claims that his wife is not preparing breakfast
(one of the duties of a POOR wife) and going to shule in the morning then he has
stated a clash of needs. But if the woman says Kaddish at Minchah it is no
different from her visiting her girlfriends (She is not caged in the house and
has a right to go out) Her husband may NOT WANT her going to shule but this is a
clash of TASTES not a CLASH OF NEED. Her husband doesn't OWN his wife (like a
slave) and he has no right to prevent her from seeing her girlfriends or going
to shule. Also (Rambam Ishuth 21, a woman who is not poor need not prepare every
meal for her husband).

A few other comments are worthwhile to be made. Rabbi Teitz asserted that the
Ramban's view that prayer is Biblical is CONDITIONAL on accepting the Rambam's
verse. I cannot check books now but the people I learned from (e.g. Rabbi
Soloveitchick) made it clear that the Ramban's view was UNCONDITIONALLY to
require prayer during times of distress.  I of course will look it up but I
believe Nu10 as well as Dt11-13 should be cited (Again: This is a topic in itself).

Finally I emphasize that Kaddish in its present form is a late Medieval
enactment to prevent orphans whose parents were murdered by the Crusaders from
leaving Judaism. The purpose of the enactment is to get them to join the
community. This is a beautiful outreach idea. Today many non-religious women
don't go to shule. If this is their only opportunity (they want to go) we should
encourage it as it is in the spirit of the law.

Bottom line: I still hold that according to all Rishonim the KADDISH PRAISE is a
fulfillment of the Biblical obligation to pray in times of distress. I also hold
that especially in our age when many women have their own bank account and earn
their own living that their obligation to honor parents applies (True there are
some exceptions but they are rare). Besides the fact that saying Kaddish is a
fulfillment of a Biblical commandment we should encourage it as an outreach
method to retain women who have lost their ties to Judaism.

Russell Jay Hendel; Ph.d., ASA; http://www.Rashiyomi.com/



End of Volume 58 Issue 64