Volume 58 Number 67 
      Produced: Fri, 13 Aug 2010 06:39:39 EDT

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

"Egalitarian Orthodox" (Partnership) Minyanim 
    [Yisrael  Medad]
Facing the Congregation During Layning 
    [Orrin Tilevitz]
Getting a second opinion 
    [Carl Singer]
L'Hai Ro'i bibliographic reference needed 
    [Susan Kane]
Ordination of women 
    [Harry Weiss]
    [Carl Singer]
Wedding invitations (4)
    [N. Yaakov Ziskind  Avraham Walfish  Robert Israel  Martin Stern]
Who is a Posek? (3)
    [Lisa Liel  Michael Rogovin  Mordechai Horowitz]
Women saying Kaddish 
    [Avraham Walfish]


From: Yisrael  Medad <ybmedad@...>
Date: Thu, Aug 12,2010 at 06:01 PM
Subject: "Egalitarian Orthodox" (Partnership) Minyanim

Guido Elbogen writes (MJ 58#59):
> Nine men can pray in a room containing women, but if there is a minyan,
> a mechiizah becomes obligatory.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".
I would suggest there are two additional issues, in this case
a) if the space were outside, rather than a room, how many would agree
that a mechitza is obligatory?

b) what is the character of the Tzibbur?  In Israel, you can see
minyanim taking place both inside and outdoors, with no mechitza and the
'congregants' are quite orthodox (and I guess also in the States).  For
example, at a wedding hall, the men will simply go off to the side.  One
could claim that there is in this case a 'separation'.  Perhaps.  But
there is no mechitza.
And I would also suggest that that is an Orthodox prayer assembly.
Yisrael Medad


From: Orrin Tilevitz <tilevitzo@...>
Date: Thu, Aug 12,2010 at 12:01 PM
Subject: Facing the Congregation During Layning

In addition to women receiving aliyot, another Conservative ritual innovation I know of is that the chazan and the baal koreh face the congregation. I was once told, by someone whose statements I do not automatically discount, that while the former is beyond the pale, the latter is not. He gave me no sources. Can anyone provide any, going either way? Is the Baal Koreh facing the congregation a practice in any shul recognized as Orthodox?


From: Carl Singer <carl.singer@...>
Date: Thu, Aug 12,2010 at 06:01 PM
Subject: Getting a second opinion

What is the halachik propriety of getting a second opinion (psak) ?


From: Susan Kane <suekane@...>
Date: Thu, Aug 12,2010 at 01:01 PM
Subject: L'Hai Ro'i bibliographic reference needed

Jon Greenberg <jon@...> wrote (MJ 58#65):

> I am seeking information (e.g., publisher and correct year of publication) for
> a full bibliographic citation of the following:

L'Hai Ro'i (Yohanan Fried and Avraham Rigel, Eds.) Jerusalem 1961 

Is it possible you are looking for one of these books?


If so, the author is Rav Kook (Abraham Issac Kook) not Abraham Joshua 
Heschel.  :)

Heschel does have some writings, in both Hebrew and English, from 1961, 
but the editors you mention have no association with him.  The second 
editor's name is Avraham Rieger not Rigel.

Perhaps the item you mention was held by or used by the Abraham Joshua 
Heschel School -- that seems quite likely.


Susan Kane
Boston, MA


From: Harry Weiss <hjweiss@...>
Date: Thu, Aug 12,2010 at 06:01 PM
Subject: Ordination of women

In response to Leah Gordon (MJ 58#66) responding to

> David Tzohar wrote (MJ 58#60):

>> R' Herschel Schter (IMHO, the real) Rosh Yeshiva of YU showed us the way
>> in his courageous stand against the ordination of women saying that this is
>> a life or death question. IMHO this view against innovations whose source
>> is change in societal conditions (in this case the impact of feminism on
>> Western society) is the correct one.

> Whether or not you support ordaining men, or ordaining women, or both,
> or neither, please refrain from using loaded terminology like "...his
> courageous stand against...[something many MJers support]"

Would it not be equally important for those people who are supporting a break 
away from the tradition of thousands of years to something much closer to the 
heterodox movements than to a true Orthodox service to refrain from using loaded
terminology such as egalitarian, partnership services etc.

Rabbi Shachter is the major posek of the non-Charedi world. This list is 
supposed to be for Orthodox views. The vast majority of the centrist leaders say
these are violations of Jewish tradition and are prohibited.  Of course 100% of
the charedi leaders would agree with that.

Accepting such deviations from traditional Jewish practice would create a 
permanent gulf between the so called Modern Orthodox  and Charedi worlds.  That 
must be avoided at all costs.


From: Carl Singer <carl.singer@...>
Date: Thu, Aug 12,2010 at 04:01 PM
Subject: Poskim

On the ArtScroll website I stumbled across a book by Rabbi Shimon Finkelman
entitled, "5 Great Lives" which discusses:   The Steipler * R' Yaakov
Kamenetsky * R' Moshe Feinstein * R" Yehuda Zev Segal * R' Shlomo Zalman

I found the descriptions below to be inspirational and want to share these:

We will be introduced to *Rabbi Moshe Feinstein* as the decisive and
encyclopedic halachic authority with a heart as big as his infinite fund of
knowledge and sense of responsibility for the nation and its individuals.

We will see why *Rabbi Yaakov Kamenetsky* was described by his peers as the
wise man of his generation, and how he had an uncanny ability to peer behind
the question and recognize the needs of the person who came to him for


From: N. Yaakov Ziskind <awacs@...>
Date: Thu, Aug 12,2010 at 06:01 PM
Subject: Wedding invitations

Akiva Miller <kennethgmiller@...> wrote (MJ 58#66):

> On the practice of omitting the names of the couple's mothers from wedding
> invitations, Martin Stern wrote (MJ 58#65):
>> There is an even more obnoxious custom in certain chassidic circles
>> to omit the name of the bride as well. I was told that this is
>> because of the fear that mentioning a female name might arouse the
>> passions of males who might be led to sinful thoughts or even
>> actions! This is nonsense.
> Do you think it is impossible for this to happen? My fear is that 
> some of these men live lives which are so sheltered that their 
> passions might indeed be aroused by the sight of a woman's name. If 
> so, then rather than being nonsense, it would be very very sad.

I seem to remember that there was a woman named Rachav who - merely by
mentioning her name! - could inspire a man to become impure. Is that "very very

From: Avraham Walfish <rawalfish@...>
Date: Thu, Aug 12,2010 at 06:01 PM
Subject: Wedding invitations

SBA wrote (MJ 58#66)

>Martin Stern wrote (MJ 58#65):

>> There is an even more obnoxious custom in certain chassidic circles to
>> omit the name of the bride as well.

> I have seen hundreds of 'chassidic' wedding invitations and NEVER seen one
> without the bride's name. Not even when it is the daughter of a rebbe.

> Have you actually seen such an invitation or just 'heard about it'?

Yes, I have actually seen many such invitations. I don't get a lot of
chassidic invitations, but in the multitude of invitations I get from my
haredi "Litvishe" relatives, that is definitely the norm, and definitely a
relatively recent one (I guesstimate maybe 20 years vintage). I also know of
a case when a prominent rabbi, of Religious Zionist orientation, married off
his neo-haredi son and attempted to include his wife's name in the
invitation by citing the precedent of R. Moshe Soloveichik's wedding
invitation, which included the names of both his parents (the father, of
course, being R. Haim Soloveichik). The precedent didn't help, and the
attempt failed. Who says haredim are opposed to changing Jewish practice?

Avraham Walfish

From: Robert Israel <israel@...>
Date: Thu, Aug 12,2010 at 07:01 PM
Subject: Wedding invitations

Akiva Miller  wrote:

> Yes, indeed. Please allow me to note that although we know who Rachel and Leah's
> father was, the Torah does *not* give us the name of their mother. Ditto for
> many other women, such as the wives of Noach and Potiphar.

Although the Torah does not indicate the name of Noach's wife, the midrash 
has her as Naamah, sister of Tubal-cain (Bereishit 4:22).  If so, although 
she is not named as Noach's wife, she is mentioned by name, and in fact 
her mention comes considerably before Noach's (I don't know if that 
counts when keeping score...).

The mention of Potiphar's wife is interesting, since in a previous 
paragraph you indicated modesty as a reason for avoiding mentioning of
the wife's name on invitations.  Potiphar's wife was not exactly a paragon 
of modesty.  The Torah has its own reasons for mentioning or not 
mentioning names, and I doubt that any of these reasons have much to do 
with wedding invitation customs.

Robert Israel                                <israel@...>
Department of Mathematics        http://www.math.ubc.ca/~israel 
University of British Columbia            Vancouver, BC, Canada

From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Fri, Aug 13,2010 at 05:01 AM
Subject: Wedding invitations

SBA <sba@...> wrote (MJ 58#66):

> Martin Stern wrote (MJ 58#65):
>> There is an even more obnoxious custom in certain chassidic circles to omit
>> the name of the bride as well.
> I have seen hundreds of 'chassidic' wedding invitations and NEVER seen one
> without the bride's name. Not even when it is the daughter of a rebbe.
> Have you actually seen such an invitation or just 'heard about it'?

I was a little imprecise. Usually the bride's name does appear on the actual
invitation but is only suppressed in newspaper or notice-board
announcements. However if the present trend continues, it would not surprise
me if it is omitted from the invitations as well in the not too distant

Martin Stern


From: Lisa Liel <lisa@...>
Date: Thu, Aug 12,2010 at 12:01 PM
Subject: Who is a Posek?

Mordechai Horowitz <mordechai@...> wrote (MJ 58#:

>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.

In the first place, to the best of my knowledge, Daniel Sperber has 
not made any attempt to legitimate lesbian sex, despite his daughter 
being gay.  I know his daughter, and I remember him not being at all 
happy when she came out.  That said, his radical left-wing 
pronouncements are such that I wouldn't accept him as a posek myself.

In the second place, *some* lesbian behavior is a clear 
transgression.  We don't pasken from English translations, so despite 
the common translation of "nashim ha-mesollelot" as "lesbian 
behavior" or "lesbian sex" or "lesbianism", the prohibition remains 
limited to the one category of "nashim ha-mesollelot", which 
according to Rashi, means imitating heterosexual intercourse.  According
to those who hold this issur to be d'Orayta rather than d'Rabbanan (which
I think is correct), expanding the issur based on an imperfect English
translation may possibly involve a violation of bal tosif.


From: Michael Rogovin <mrogovin118@...>
Date: Thu, Aug 12,2010 at 12:01 PM
Subject: Who is a Posek?

Ben Katz may have misunderstood (I think) the intent of my post (MJ 58#65).

What I referred to in 'how orthodoxy does not work' is the case where one has
a posek (or in this case, a group of rabbis that are regularly consulted for
what is and is not halachicly appropriate) and one turns to him/them for
years and has stated that they are the moral exemplars of the community in
question on issues of women's participation in ritual matters. Suddenly,
someone suggests a new way to approach ritual. So far so good. The idea
is circulated in the community, including these rabbis. They unanimously say
no, it is assur (prohibited) or if not assur per se, it should not be done
and they oppose it. Then those who want to and are not satisfied, look
around until, ah ha, they find someone to whom they had never turned to
before as their posek (even if he is a posek in his own community) but he
thinks it is mutar (permitted) and in fact favors the idea. So now, the
other rabbis are discarded as poskim for this community and the new rabbi is

I agree with Ben that ultimately, it is what happens that ultimately counts.
But the idea that someone abandons her posek when she is disappointed and then
runs to find someone else, the way JOFA has done, makes me question the
sincerity and orthodox bona fides of the organization under its current
leadership. This is true even though I may personally be sympathetic to the
ideas they promote. And this is true even though I have been and remain a
supporter of JOFA and a regular attendee at its programs.

From: Mordechai Horowitz <mordechai@...>
Date: Thu, Aug 12,2010 at 08:01 PM
Subject: Who is a Posek?

Joel writes (MJ 58#65):

> 1. Does having a relative who engages in certain behaviors (e.g. R' Shach's
> son went off the derech and became a religious zionist :-)) mean one is
> suspect with regard to legitimizing the relative's behavior?

When I was taught about that, it was in the context of someone using that 
to prove Rav Shach did not consider being religious zionist off the 
derek and that religious Jews in the IDF should be treated with honor 
and respect.

The fact Rav Shach did not condemn his son has been used to prove he 
supported the legitimacy of his son's behavior.

I admit I'm an extremist and also believe that religious zionism is not 
a sin. But I am not aware of anyone who thinks homosexuality is not a sin.

Also remember if someone is to be considered a posek then their every 
behavior will be scrutinized.  From the positive side it's because we are 
supposed to learn from every thing they do not just from their published 
books.  One difference between a professor and a Rabbi is that the 
personal life of a professor has nothing to do with the legitimacy of 
his or her scholarship.  But the legitimacy of the Torah a Rabbi teaches 
is intimately connected to how he lives his life, not just the amount of 
material he has mastered. (Please don't take this as an attack on any 
Rabbi who is also a professor, the point is to describe the difference 
between secular and religious scholarship)

And in the world we live in, anyone who takes an opinion different from 
the normative opinion in the Torah world will have people try to 
undermine their authority by attacking their credibility.  And, at the 
end of the day, the Rav has an obligation to lead a life where he is 
above suspicion.


From: Avraham Walfish <rawalfish@...>
Date: Thu, Aug 12,2010 at 06:01 PM
Subject: Women saying Kaddish

Elazar M. Teitz wrote (MJ 58#66):

> Dr. Russell Handel has written a long explication, partly intended as a
> rejoinder to what I wrote about his original comments. I don't care to
> rebut his comments point by point, but lest silence be accepted as 
> concession, I find it necessary to say that in my opinion virtually every 
> sentence of his statement is either incorrect or irrelevant to the question 
> being discussed.
> I will limit my remarks to two errors of fact.  First, he writes that "The
> Kaddish (instituted during the crusades to deal with people suddenly orphaned)
> is a beautiful RESPONSE TO DEATH."
> This is simply not so.  The Kaddish has been with us for more than two
> millennia.  It is a "davar shebik'dusha" [a sanctified matter], which is
> why it requires a minyan for it to be said; no prayer was given that status 
> after Talmudic times.  What is of later origin is _not_ the Kaddish itself; it
> is the saying of it by mourners which is a more modern development.

Elazar is correct that the Kaddish goes back to Talmudic times,
mentioned near the beginning of tractate Berakhot and towards the end of
Sotah, and that initially it had nothing to do with death (its connection
with death is first documented in the 13th century Or Zarua). However, it is
not a "davar shebikdusha" - it is not listed in the Mishnah Megillah 4:3,
which lists the devarim shebikdusha, and is not brought in the Gemara in
that context. The reason it requires a minyan is because it was instituted
originally as a concluding prayer to a public mitzvah, specifically to a
public derashah (hence the use of Aramaic language, which was the language
of derashot at the time of Hazal). This is not a trivial point in the
context of discussing whether women can recite Kaddish - it is precisely
because Kaddish is NOT a davar shebikdushah that poskim such as Rav Henkin,
Rav Moshe Feinstein, and Rav Soloveichik ruled that women can recite
Kaddish, and indeed there is clear testimony that in Lithuania and other
places in Eastern Europe it was not uncommon for women to recite Kaddish,
and even enter the men's section of the shul to do so. For a detailed discussion
of sources, see Dr. Joel Wolowelsky's book on Women in
Halakhah, and the exchange between Dr. Wolowelsky and R. Neriyah Gutel in
the 8th issue of the journal Tzohar.

Avraham Walfish


End of Volume 58 Issue 67