Volume 58 Number 76 
      Produced: Wed, 18 Aug 2010 01:55:43 EDT

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

Agunot as "victims" (2)
    [Meir Shinnar]
    [Mordechai Horowitz]
Domestic Dishwasher On Shabbath. 
    [Immanuel Burton]
Minhag for a newlywed couple 
    [Jack Wechsler]
Origins of Bat-Mitzvah Ceremony 
Unity an innovation  
    [Ira L. Jacobson]
Who married Cain? (2)
    [Robert A. Book  Scott Spiegler]


From: Meir Shinnar <chidekel@...>
Date: Tue, Aug 17,2010 at 07:01 PM
Subject: Agunot as "victims"

REM Teitz wrote (MJ 58#75):

> As a rabbi who spends a good part of his time trying to resolve problems of
> iggun, and who deals with many other rabbonim who do likewise, I take umbrage 
> at the accusation that the rabbis of today are "refus[ing] to solve this
> problem.

I think that there are three separate issues:

1) Are all problems of aguna solvable? 

No, and there are many honest rabbanim (and REMT has the reputation of being
amongst them) who try hard within the system to work for agunot.

2) Are there options out there which would solve more problems? 

Yes, but many are halachically problematic.  The Rackman z"l bet din
solution is one of the more halachically problematic ones, but there
are others not quite as extreme.  The question is the extent to which
rabbanim today are either willing or able to be innovative.  One
example is the tnai (prenuptial clause) proposed by RE Berkovits z"l
in the 60s, with the encouragement of the Seride Esh - when he
circulated that around, he got a response from Rav Feinstein z"l that
there was no halachic problem with the proposal, but he did not see
the need.

There is a statement by Blu Greenberg that where there is a halachic
will, there is a halachic way - which is quite problematic, and not
all problems are solvable..  However, the inverse of that statement -
where there is no halachic will, there is no halachic way - is, IMHO,
correct, and the issue is the presence (or absence)  of that halachic

3) are all rabbanim involved in bate dinim for gittin (courts for
Jewish divorce) doing what they can within the system to solve the

Here, unfortunately, (and I think that REM Teitz may even agree), the answer 
is no.  I think that the examples are rife of bate din who are problematic. 
Even without moral issues, many bate din are very reluctant to intervene even
when mainstream halacha woud suggest that they do.

Rav Daichovsky, who was until recently a leading member of the Supreme
Rabbinical Court of the Rabbanut (and is no LW radical), wrote an
article in Techumin about some of the changes that he has seen on the
court.   For example, IIRC, there is an  opinion by the Maharhsadam
(early acharon) that if the husband would be willing to give a get,
but only for a large sum of money - the court can not compel him to
give a get.  According to Rav Daichovsky, this opinion used to be
essentially universally rejected - but is now becoming increasingly
used by many courts - which essentially sanction blackmail by the

Therefore, while not all problems are soluble, a large part of the
problem does exist with many rabbis...

Meir Shinnar

From: Michael Rogovin <mrogovin118@...>
Date: Tue, Aug 17,2010 at 09:01 PM
Subject: Agunot as "victims"  

Rabbi Elazar M. Teitz  wrote in 58:75 about the significant efforts he  
and his rabbinical colleagues make to help free agunot. I take him at  
his word and am glad that there are those who devote time to this  
noble effort.  It is unfortunate that we still hear of cases,  
particularly in Israel but I have also heard of those in the US, where  
the response of a beit din is to tell the woman to give in to any  
demand by the husband in order to procure a get. This may involve  
money, custody, property, etc. I trust that Rabbi Teitz is not one of  
those rabbis, but they are out there.

As I understood the halacha, when a marriage is clearly at an end, the  
husband is required to give a get. Period. A rabbi or beit din that  
advises an aguna to pay for it or give up custody rights to receive a  
get (even where the man was physically abusive) is, IMHO, complicit in  
the husband's sin. It would seem to me that a woman who agrees to such  
conditions does so under duress and once she receives the get, the  
agreement should be unenforceable and she would have a valid action to  
recover any money (for which the husband would have no defense) and  
any custody agreement would be null and void. What that would mean for  
future negotiations is unclear. But rabbis and rabbinical courts  
cannot escape their responsibility.

We must separate a get from any other matters in a divorce and it must  
come at the beginning, not the end, in order to level the playing  
field for negotiations. It is not acceptable to use an obligatory  
procedural issue (who gives/receives a divorce decree) as a  
substantive matter of negotiation.

Michael Rogovin


From: Mordechai Horowitz <mordechai@...>
Date: Tue, Aug 17,2010 at 11:01 PM
Subject: Converts

Batya  Medad <ybmedad@...> wrote (MJ 58 #75):

Deborah Wenger wrote (MJ 58#74):

>> If that is the case, why do some organizations - National Council of
>> Young Israel, for one - prohibit converts from becoming shul rabbis
>> or shul presidents? If, as Martin (correctly, IMHO) states, a convert
>> and a born Jew are equal, why should a convert who has achieved a
>> level of learning that qualifies him to be a rabbi be prohibited from
>> being one in a shul? Wouldn't this be contrary to treating the convert
>> equally, not to mention bringing up his past, which is also prohibited?

> As far as I'm concerned, Young Israel has made a very serious mistake
> in their reading of Hebrew.  "Ger" is stranger, but "ger tzedek" is
> convert.  We are midarayta forbidden to discriminate against converts.
> http://shilohmusings.blogspot.com/2010/07/bad-definition-and-translation

I was learning Sefer HaChinuch and its commentary on last weeks parsha took the
mitzva to establish a king to say all Jewish offices of any type of any
authority should only go to born Jews.  

This would ban converts from heading the kitchen committee by its logic.  

I have not looked in detail at other opinions on this issue.


From: Immanuel Burton <iburton@...>
Date: Wed, Aug 18,2010 at 12:01 AM
Subject: Domestic Dishwasher On Shabbath.

According to the English edition of Shemirath Shabbath Ke-hilkhatah (volume 1, chapter 12, paragraph 35), one may not use a domestic dishwasher on Shabbath even if it will be turned on by a time-switch that was set before Shabbath.  One may, however, do so on Yom Tov provided that the dishes will be needed again that day and that the machine will be turned on by a time-switch set before Tom Tov so that one does not commit any direct action to switch the machine on or off or otherwise regulate its operation.

Amongst the questions that I have on this are:

(1)  What is the reason that dishwashers may not be used on Shabbath even with a time-switch?

(2)  In what way is Yom Tov different in this respect?

(3)  Why is this ruling qualified by the word "domestic"?  Does it imply that the Halachah would be different for a commercial dishwasher in a non-domestic setting?

Immanuel Burton.


From: Jack Wechsler <wechsler@...>
Date: Tue, Aug 17,2010 at 03:56 PM
Subject: Minhag for a newlywed couple

My recently married son-in-law told me of a minhag from his native country 
(South Africa) where a newly married couple puts honey on their bread on 
shabbat instead of salt for the whole first year of marriage. I wondered if 
anyone else has heard of this minhag and what it's roots are. I only know of 
the minhag of replacing honey for salt on Rosh Hashanah - shana tova umtukah. 

Jack Wechsler


From: Chana <Chana@...>
Date: Tue, Aug 17,2010 at 03:56 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.

And Gilad J. Gevaryahu <gevaryahu@...> replied (MJ 58#61):

> 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 support their claim.

Indeed in his earlier piece cited by Michael Pitkowsky <pitkowsky@...>
at: http://bit.ly/aU7xGq, Gilad J. Gevaryahu writes:

> The early confirmation ceremonies were held at the end of the
> academic year, again in conformity with the Christian ceremony. The Reform
> celebrated the ceremony to the Holiday of Shavuot (that is year-end and end
> of school period). As the process of change went along, the "confirmation"
> was moved from the holiday of Shavuot to the date of the girl attaining the
> age of 12 for Orthodox, or 13 for some Conservative and Reform girls. It
> also changed its meaning. The confirmation remained a distinct ceremony for
> educational maturity, still practiced today by the Conservative and Reform
> movements at the end of the school year, whereas the bat-mitzvah became the
> right of passage of religious maturity, celebrated around the birthday.
> Note that the haredie Orthodox Jews do not celebrate bat mitzvah even today,
> and even bar mitzvah in the hareidi community is much less fancy than the one
> celebrated elsewhere.

All of which I would have said to be true, which is why I was completely
taken aback to read the following piece in the English Edition of HaModia of
18th Adar 5770 (or March 4 2010) in the British Community Section on page
B2, under the heading of Manchester, which I will quote to you in full
(although I have added in translations in square brackets in accordance with
MJ policy):

Beis Ya'akov High School Holds Bas Mitzvah Event

"Ima, I'll sing you this song of perfection. The song of my neshama [soul]
to show my affection".  So sang 47 students of Form 1 Beis Yaakov High
School to an audience of mothers, grandmothers and teachers who gathered
together to celebrate the milestone of reaching  bas mitzvah.
The palatial stage setting was decorated with a burgundy and gold visual
presentation of the theme of the evening - Kol Yisrael bnei melachim hem
[all of Israel are the children of kings]. Those present were treated to an
uplifting programme arranged and coordinated by dedicated mechanchos
[educators] together with an array of talent from across the school.

The evening began with a choir, followed by a short dvar Torah from a member
of the class.

Using the famous mashal [parable] of the Ibn Ezra on the passuk "lo sachmod"
[do not covert], the menahel [I think in this context, head teacher], Rabbi
Yochonon Goldblatt, encouraged the girls to use their status as bnos
melachim [daughters of kings] to regard the enticements of this world as
far, far beneath them.  This limud [learning] was continued later in a
thought-provoking slide show that showed how everything can be found in the
Torah way of life.

Inspiring words were spoken throughout the evening. The girls then took over
with a visual and musical presentation of the stories of our great
tzidkanios [righteous women] - Ruth, Miriam and Esther - produced by members
of form 4.

It was clear that a phenomenal amount of work and effort on the part of
staff and pupils alike went into this wonderful evening."

Ad kan [until here] HaModia.

Knowing the history, isn't this quite extraordinary.  I wonder how many
other Beis Yaakov's are today doing likewise.




From: Ira L. Jacobson <laser@...>
Date: Tue, Aug 17,2010 at 03:57 PM
Subject: Unity an innovation 

Mordechai Horowitz stated the following (MJ V58 #69):

> 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.

I have tried to avoid any lashon hara in my reply.  In any event, I 
am unclear about who is "us."

> Rav Shach put Rabbi Riskin Shlita in cherem.

I don't know about this, but I do know (from newspaper reports) of 
serious condemnation by the Chief Rabbinate of Israel, about 25 years ago.

> Should he be banned from RCA conferences because of this.  Should he 
> be fired as Chief Rabbi of Efrat

The following is a general comment.  According to law, there are four 
cities in Israel that have chief rabbis:  Jerusalem, Haifa, Tel Aviv 
and Beer Sheva.  Other cities have city rabbis, and towns have town 
rabbis, and local councils have local council rabbis.

The term "chief rabbi" is often used loosely and incorrectly.



From: Robert A. Book <rbook@...>
Date: Tue, Aug 17,2010 at 07:01 PM
Subject: Who married Cain?

Bernard Raab <beraab@...> (MJ58#75):
> Scott Spiegler wrote (MJ 58#74):
>> I was having a discussion with a friend about the problem of who married
>> Cain. I read somewhere that Cain and Abel each had a twin sister, and so
>> each married the other twin. Whether or not that posed genetic problems, it
>> seems to me that that answer only begs the question of who married Cain's
>> children and so forth.
>> I would be interested in hearing some discussion about this dilemma and how
>> Chazal provides solution(s).
> ... I asked these questions as a child in Talmud Torah and my rebbe then
> said that Gd had created other people which He didn't bother to tell us
> about. I asked the same question last year at a shiur by a prominent MO
> rabbi who teaches at YU, > and he said that my rebbe's answer is correct.
> I was astonished, not at his specific answer, but at the thought that our
> rabbis still (again?) cling to the literal interpretation of "maase bereshit"
> ...

How then do these two rabbis respond to the numerous teachings derived
from the fact (or the claim) that G-d specifically did NOT "create
other people which He didn't bother to tell us about," for example in
Sanhedrin where it states:

     "Therefore a single person is created to teach that if any causes
     a single life to be lost, it is on him as if he has lost a whole
     world, and if anyone saves a single life, it is on him as if he
     saved a whole world. It is because of the peace of creation that
     no man shall say to his fellow "my father is greater than your
     father" and no heretical groups shall say "many rule in heaven."
     To tell of the greatness of the Holy One, Blessed be He, that man
     stamps many coins with one seal, and each is like the other, but
     the King, King of Kings, the Holy One, Blessed be He, stamps
     every man with the seal of Adam and not one of them is like his

By my count, that's *FOUR* lessons derived from the assumption that
G-d created only Adam HaRishon (the first man) and Chava (Eve) and no
one else.  And those are not just "feel-good sayings," but important
lessons critical to the Jewish view of the world.

At least one commentary I have read (I think Rav Hertz, perhaps
quoting someone else but I don't have it in front of me) said they did
indeed marry their sisters, but their sisters were not mentioned
explicitly because the generation of Matan Torah (the giving of the
Torah) and those following found incest so repulsive it was better not
to mention it even though anyone who thought about it would figure out
what had to have happened.

--Robert Book    

From: Scott Spiegler <scottspiegler@...>
Date: Tue, Aug 17,2010 at 07:01 PM
Subject: Who married Cain?

Sammy Finkelman <sammy.finkelman@...> wrote (MJ 58#75):

> It says in the Torah for every generation from Adam "Vayoled Bonim
> U'Vanos" - and he (gave birth to - what's the right English word here)
> sons and daughters.

Yes, it does say that, but that seems to only beg the 2nd part of my
question, which is - if they keep marrying bonim u'vanos, how do they every
get out of the problem of only marrying within the same, biological family?



End of Volume 58 Issue 76