Volume 58 Number 69 
      Produced: Sat, 14 Aug 2010 18:36:02 EDT

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

"Egalitarian Orthodox" (Partnership) Minyanim  
    [Wendy Baker]
"statement of principles" regarding homosexuality 
    [Orrin Tilevitz]
Facing the congregation (2)
    [Perry Dane]
For everyone's information.  
Ordination of women 
    [Harry Weiss]
Rashi (3)
    [Martin Stern  Orrin Tilevitz  Robert Rubinoff]
Some recurring issues 
    [Rabbi Meir Wise]
Unity an innovation 
    [Mordechai Horowitz]
Wedding Invitations 
    [Frank Silbermann]


From: Wendy Baker <wbaker@...>
Date: Fri, Aug 13,2010 at 12:01 PM
Subject: "Egalitarian Orthodox" (Partnership) Minyanim 

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

> 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).

I do know that the reward is greater for fulfilling commandments than for 
taking on, but not necessarily on earth.  I am thinking of how we think of 
the person and her character, as exemplified by the woman who commits and 
does say Kaddish with only her parent in mind, not the satisfaction of 
being able to help others fulfill their obligations.  Such women should be 
thought of a very honorable by the community, not as some kind of 

Wendy Baker


From: Orrin Tilevitz <tilevitzo@...>
Date: Fri, Aug 13,2010 at 12:01 PM
Subject: "statement of principles" regarding homosexuality

By now I am sure many or all of you have seen the "Statement of Principles on
the Place of Jews with a Homosexual Orientation in Our Community" It is online at

I have a question, directed in part at signatories who are list members: would
the same set of principles apply if each time the document said "homosexual
orientations or same sex-attractions" (or the equivalent) one substituted the
broader term, "alternative sexual lifestyles"? I have in mind, say,
spouse-sharing, bigamy, polyandry, and more. If the same set of principles would
not apply, why not?

This question occurred to me both because of prior discussion on this topic on
ML Jewish, where my question on a similar point was never answered, and a New
York State Court of Appeals case decided last year, Godfrey v. Spano, which
implicitly recognized out-of-state gay marriages for some purposes. The Court of
Appeals cited case law to the effect that New York recognized out-of-state
marriages unless either a New York statute specifically banned them or they fell
within the prohibition of "natural law". Marriages involving incest or polygamy,
the court said, fell within this prohibition but homosexual marriages did not.
Halachic Judaism would, I think, conclude differently. Is this document intended
to have the halacha adapt to the societal attitudes reflected in this case, and
no more?


From: Robert Rubinoff <rubinoff@...>
Date: Fri, Aug 13,2010 at 03:01 PM
Subject: Facing the Congregation

Art Werschulz <agw@...> wrote (MJ 58#68):

> Orrin Tilevitz <tilevitzo@...> wrote (MJ 58#67): 

>> In addition to women receiving aliyot, another Conservative ritual innovation 
>> I know of is that the chazan and the baal koreh face the congregation. 

> This is not universal in C shuls. 

At the Conservative shul I used to daven at years ago, the chazan's stand has
two podia, so that he could face the Aron during the Amidah, Kaddish, and other
times when everyone is standing, and face the Congregation at other times. 


From: Perry Dane <dane@...>
Date: Fri, Aug 13,2010 at 05:01 PM
Subject: Facing the congregation

Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz writes (MJ 58#68):

> Similarly, the chazan facing the congregation is derived from the
> church concept that the blessing comes from the priest and his
> prayers are not directed to Hashem.

I'm not sure where this idea comes from. Historically, both Western
Catholic and Eastern Catholic and Orthodox priests did face in the same
direction as the congregation for most of the important parts of the
service (except for the sermon/homily). Western Catholic practice
changed in the 1960's after Vatican II, but more traditional Catholics,
significantly, still argue for a return to the older practice for some of
the same reasons that many Jews believe the chazzan should face the
Aron. In any event, in whichever direction the priest is facing, his prayers are
definitely directed to Hashem. 

Protestant ministers have historically faced the congregation, but that was
largely because their principal role in the service was to preach the word. That
is to say, a minister at a Protestant service plays a role more analogous to
that of the Rabbi than that of the chazzan or Torah reader in a Jewish service.
The Jewish practice of the chazzan facing the congregation probably was
influenced by the Protestant model, but the reasons were more aesthetic and
sociological than theological. I actually do believe that the chazzan should
face the Aron and not the congregation. But, in giving reasons for Jewish
practices, it seems to me that we should avoid 

(a) denigrating the practices and beliefs of
other religions, particularly when we don't fully understand them and

(b) unnecessarily denigrating the motives of other Jews with whose
practices we disagree.


From: <FriedmanJ@...>
Date: Fri, Aug 13,2010 at 08:01 PM
Subject: For everyone's information. 

Study: Mental health needs of Orthodox Jews not being met

August 13, 2010  

NEW YORK (JTA) -- The mental health needs of the Orthodox community  are 
not being sufficiently addressed, according to a new study from Yeshiva  

The service gaps are particularly pronounced in the haredi Orthodox and  
Chasidic communities, according to the study. 

Eliezer Schnall, a YU psychology professor who led the research team, was 
to  present his findings Aug. 13 in San Diego at the annual convention of the 
American Psychological Association.

Researchers asked approximately 250 Orthodox mental health professionals 
to assess the state of services offered to the Orthodox community today, 
compared to 25 years ago. The 100 respondents perceived little if any 
improvement, particularly among the Chasidim. Schnall called the results a
wake-up call, and said there is still a stigma  in the Orthodox community
attached to mental illness that prevents people from  seeking help. An
additional factor impeding good mental health services is their  cost, he said. 

The study showed that the most common problem for which  Orthodox Jews seek 
mental health services is marital difficulties. More services for children 
and teenagers are needed, and there is a lack of services for substance 
abuse problems, the report found. Most respondents said few of their patients
were referred by their rabbis.  Researchers said this indicates the need to
train Orthodox rabbis to recognize  mental illness and understand that proper
treatment can help. 
Jeanette  Friedman 


From: Harry Weiss <hjweiss@...>
Date: Fri, Aug 13,2010 at 03:01 PM
Subject: Ordination of women

Stuart Cohnen <cohnen@...> wrote in Vol.58 #68 Digest:

> Harry Weiss wrote (MJ 58#67)in response to Leah Gordon (MJ 58#66):
>> 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.
> I can't believe what I am reading  - Rav Schachter IS the  major posek for 
> the Orthodox world. If you trust the kashrus of anything with an OU on it, 
> that means you accept him as a posek.  Perhaps Mr Weiss doesn't accept  
> Orthodox Jews as Charedi, in this he is sorely mistaken.

When those of us in the non charedi O world go to a posek, the main one is 
Rab Schachter, (who is the posek I personally go to).  A cheredi Yeshivish 
would go to Rav Eliyashiv, Rav Kanievsky etc.  A chassidishe would go the 
posek from their Kehilla.  I defnitely did not want to denigrate Rav 
Shachter in any way.  My comments were in response to the prior poster who 
found his views objectionable because he does not support the breaking from 


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Fri, Aug 13,2010 at 03:01 PM
Subject: Rashi

Perets Mett <p.mett@...> wrote (MJ 58#68)
> Rashi almost certainly spoke a language which ultimately transformed into
> Yiddish.

I cannot understand why Perets thinks Rashi spoke some sort of

AFAIK, Rashi spoke Old French, evidence for which is that his lo'azim
(translations) are in that language. Yiddish seems to be derived from Old
German, which Rashi describes as Lashon Ashkenaz, not Old French even if a few
words were borrowed from that language.

Martin Stern

From: Orrin Tilevitz <tilevitzo@...>
Date: Fri, Aug 13,2010 at 03:01 PM
Subject: Rashi

I wrote (MJ 58#60):

> I'd bet plenty of charedim think Rashi spoke Yiddish.

In response to which Peretz Mett wrote (MJ 58#68):

> And they would be essentially correct. Rashi almost certainly spoke a language
> which ultimately transformed into Yiddish.

A linguist on the list can correct me but I think that's wrong. Rashi's foreign
words are in Old French, whose ancestor languages were primarily Latin with a
smattering of what eventually became German. If you look in the "metargem",
there is a rarely any correspondence between Rashi's language and the Yiddish
translation. So perhaps he spoke a language which is like Yiddish except the
non-Hebrew words are French instead of German. You might as well say that he
spoke a language which ultimately transformed into Ladino.

From: Robert Rubinoff <rubinoff@...>
Date: Fri, Aug 13,2010 at 03:01 PM
Subject: Rashi

Perets Mett <p.mett@...> wrote (MJ 58#68):
> Orrin Tilevitz wrote (MJ 58#60): 

>> I"d bet plenty of charedim think Rashi spoke Yiddish. 

> And they would be essentially correct. Rashi almost certainly spoke a language
> which ultimately transformed into Yiddish. 

Do you have any evidence for that? I would assume Rashi spoke old French, since 
he (mostly) lived in France, and there are lots of examples of French in his
writing, but only a small number of examples of "Yiddish". (It's a little
misleading to call it "Yiddish" anyway, as the distinction between the Jewish
and non-Jewish forms of German was much more limited at that point. But that's a
minor quibble.) 



From: Rabbi Meir Wise <Meirhwise@...>
Date: Fri, Aug 13,2010 at 01:01 PM
Subject: Some recurring issues

If I may try to shed light on some recurring issues.

1. A mechitza is required in a "makom meyuchad latefilla" a place set  
aside for prayer. Hence in the park, in a wedding hall and even in  a  
shiva house a mechitza is not required although there should be no  
mingling of the sexes. Whereas in a school dining hall or gym for example which
is regularly used for prayer a mechitza is required even if it is minimal ie a
row of stacked empty chairs.

2. A posek is not elected or voted for but emerges as the person to  
whom the difficult questions are posed even by other rabbis. In recent  
generations the names of Rav Feinstein and Rav Henkin in the USA come  
to mind; Rav Abramsky and Rav Weiss in the UK; and Rav Auerbach, Rav  
Eliyashiv and Rav Wosner in Israel amongst others.

3. The question of who is a Jew is really who is a rabbi and either way  
should not be discussed in the Knesset and voted on by non-Jews any  
more than a non-player should vote on changing the rules of cricket.

4. I am shocked beyond words by Jeanette Friedman's language and cannot  
understand how this was allowed to be published. Once again she  
excludes the pain of the agunim who outnumber the agunot in Israel.

5. I have supported Jewish education at the highest level for women  
for years. My wife graduated twice with honours from Jews College,  
London - the second time whilst I cared for our youngest child whilst  
she attended shiurim. I sent both of my daughters to the best Jewish  
school and seminaries but none of them feel the need to "make" a  
minyan or to be "called up" or read out of a Torah scroll to connect  
to the Almighty. They prefer to study the weekly parasha with the  
meforshim (commentaries), midrashim, halachot, recite tehillim with  
understanding and feeling for their families, communities and people.
And whilst Ashkenazic Jewesses may fulfil certain time bound positive  
commandments and even recite the blessing eg shofar, lulav it seems  
strange to me that many have abandoned the beautiful mitzvah of  
challah that was given to them.

I love the term egalitarian but as has been pointed out 10 bar mitzvah  
boys can make a minyan whereas 9 world reknowned poskim cannot. Women  
cannot make a minyan. It is not a reflection on their status but a  
technical point. In the UK the queen cannot be called into court  
neither as a defendant nor a witness. It is not that she is not to be  
believed heaven forfend!

In the case of Her Majesty Elizabeth the Second - she is one of the  
most admired and moral rulers and Head of the Anglican church.
Similarly, Jewish women cannot be called into court or make a minyan.  
I cannot get pregnant and nurture and bring life into the world and  
that is patently not fair. It is probably one of the most beautiful  
experiences known to denied to man (I use the term in it's restricted  
meaning) but I can only guess as I will never know.

Equal does not mean identical. Being a rabbi isn't a job for a Jewish  
boy let alone a Jewish girl!

Kol tuv

Rabbi Meir Wise, London


From: Mordechai Horowitz <mordechai@...>
Date: Fri, Aug 13,2010 at 06:01 PM
Subject: Unity an innovation

Harry Weiss <hjweiss@...> wrote (MJ 58#67):

> 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.

I've thought of this issue too.  But the question arises how much veto power
should we allow the charedi world to have over us.

Rav Shach put Rabbi Riskin Shlita in cherem.  Should he be banned from RCA
conferences because of this.  Should he be fired as Chief Rabbi of Efrat because
the charedim say he's a Jew for Jesus (he's not but the accusation has been made)

The Rav Z"L supported teaching females Talmud and IMHO its very important to
teach my daughter to learn independently but the charedim say written Torah
only.  Do I have to follow them

Is the rule how extreme their reaction is?  Would that possibly have the
unwanted affect of encouraging extremism.

I want to make it clear I am not rejecting Harry's concern. I believe it is
valid an as someone who otherwise agree's with Rabbi Broyde's arguments in favor
on female clergy and  supports Rabbi Henkin's work in promoting women as
halachic authorities, worry about the very real possibility of a schism between
the two communities. But I'm also concerned that we give up our own legitimacy
when we abandon our own halachic positions because they reject them, and they
never feel they need to compromise for unity with us.  But I don't know where we
should draw the line.


From: Frank Silbermann <frank_silbermann@...>
Date: Fri, Aug 13,2010 at 03:01 PM
Subject: Wedding Invitations

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.

Akiva Miller replied (MJ 58#66): 
> 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.

N. Yaakov Ziskind responded (MJ 58#67): 
> 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 sad"?
Having a daughter like that is something I would consider to be "goyishe nachas"
(i.e. a traditional Jew wouldn't consider it a source of pride, though some
people might).
I think we should also be considerate of the young men who are so holy that they
become impure merely from hearing the word "marriage."  So maybe weddings
shouldn't be mentioned at all.
Frank Silbermann .......... Memphis, Tennessee


End of Volume 58 Issue 69