Volume 58 Number 78 
      Produced: Wed, 18 Aug 2010 07:42:40 EDT

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

"statement of principles" regarding homosexuality 
    [Avraham Walfish]
Agunot as "victims" 
    [Sam Gamoran]
Being a Zionist is a curse? 
    [Jeanette  Friedman]
Domestic Dishwasher On Shabbath 
    [Martin Stern]
Minyan -- deoraysa or derabbanan 
    [Tal S. Benschar]
Who married Cain? 
    [Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz]


From: Avraham Walfish <rawalfish@...>
Date: Wed, Aug 18,2010 at 07:01 AM
Subject: "statement of principles" regarding homosexuality

Orrin Tivelits wrote (MJ 58#77):

> Actually, I am concerned about paragraph 8, which implies that openly
> practicing homosexuals should be given full synagogue ritual honors, even if 
> they are not recognized as members (at least if they . . . accept and fulfill 
> all the responsibilities of such membership, including those generated by 
> communal norms or broad Jewish principles that go beyond formal halakha, 
> although I do not understand how that is possible); and paragraph 9, which 
> implies that it is up to the congregation to decide whether openly practicing 
> homosexuals may be shelichei tziibur, even on High Holidays. It is possible, 
> for all I know, that they may be permitted ... but I would appreciate 
> clarification either that the signatories of this document felt that these two
> items apply equally to practitioners of other, equally halachically forbidden,
> sexual lifestyles, or if not, what is the distinction.

I am glad that Orrin has modified his original broadside accusation that the
statement of priniciples on homosexuality was designed merely to
accommodate the halakhah to contemporary social norms, and has focused on
the particular paragraphs that concern him. In response to Orrin's second
posting I will reiterate what I wrote in my previous response: most of the
paragraphs in the statement of principles, which clearly distinguish between
disapproval of actions and sympathy for proclivities and for those who
struggle with them, will apply to people who have strong urges to commit
other serious transgressions as well, as long as they have not acted upon
them. However, some of the paragraphs are specific to homosexuality. In
particular - to address Orrin's concerns - those paragraphs regarding which
the halakhah accords great weight to the attitude of community (synagogue
membership, participation, and leadership) will not apply equally to all
types of transgressions, because the attitude of the community to the
transgression and the transgressor is a determinative factor.

> I have difficulty believing that Avie, or very many of the signatories,would
> welcome into their shuls, let alone call to the Torah or permit to act as
> shelichei tzibur, serial rapists, mass murderers, or for that matter people
> of the ilk of, say, Baruch Lanner or Bernie Madoff, to take just two of the
> most notorious examples of Jews who have hurt other people financially or
> emotionally. My question is limited to people who are engaging in a
> particular type of sin that is bein adam laMakom, not bein adam lachaveiro.

This is indubitably correct. Is Orrin arguing that this is normative
halakhah? If so, please cite a source. If not - and to the best of my
knowledge, it is not - then nothing here contradicts the call of the
statement of principles to leave these things to the discretion of every
community. If, heaven forfend, the predilections of significant numbers
observant Jews towards sexual abuse or Ponzi schemes become a significant
issue for Jewish communities, there may be a need to assess more generally
what communal attitudes should be towards such individuals.

> I also find troubling that this document appears to propose that a shul
> will decide halachic matters "whether a practicing homosexual may be a shatz" 
> by vote. My recollection is that the Conservative movement permitted a
> congregation to decide by vote whether to count women in a minyan.

Guilt by association? If Orrin thinks there is a clear halakhah on this
point, which ought not to be decided by each community individually, I'd
like to see the source.

>> 9. We do not here address what synagogues should do about accepting
>> members who are openly practicing homosexuals and/or living with a same-sex
>> partner. Each synagogue together with its rabbi must establish its own 
>> standard with regard to membership for open violators of halakha.

> It says that Jews with homosexual orientations or same-sex attractions
> should be given membership and ritual honors, and then qualifies this by 
> saying that they aren't opining as to whether openly practicing homosexuals 
> shouldn't be given MEMBERSHIP, NOT that they shouldn't be given synagogue
> honors.

When I signed the statement of principles, it was clear to me - and I think
to all signatories and most readers - that if a person's open practice of a
serious transgression is regarded by community as grounds to deprive them of
membership in a shul, then they certainly wouldn't be accorded any form
of honors in that shul. Since Orrin did not understand this point, perhaps
the document should have spelled it out.

Avie Walfish


From: Sam Gamoran <SGamoran@...>
Date: Wed, Aug 18,2010 at 04:01 AM
Subject: Agunot as "victims"

Attached to the English edition of the Chareidi weekly paper/magazine Mishpacha
two weeks ago was their monthly literary/hashkafic (philosophical outlook)
supplement called "Kolmos" ("quill pen" as in the writing instrument used by a
Torah scribe).

One of the articles in this issue was a praise to Rabbanim throughout the
generations who have always worked tirelessly to free agunot.  Among the things
mentioned was the kulot in witness procedures mentioned here by Rabbi EM Teitz
to allow, inter alia, a woman or a single witness to attest to the death of the
husband (for other Bet Din (Rabbinical court) proceedings these testimonies
would be deemed insufficient.

However, I was perturbed after reading the article because it seems to be in
dissonance with what I've read and heard elsewhere about "the aguna problem". 
How could the article praise Rabbanim throughout the generations, including the
modern era and yet there still be such a problem?

I've resolved the matter in my mind by concluding that this is mixing apples and
oranges.  The article implicitly defines agunot as those women whose husbands'
status is unknown i.e. they disappeared after some event and may have died. 
These are the women being discussed in the Mishpacha Kolmos article.

The more difficult case (at least in our day) is a different class of agunot
perhaps better called mesuravei get (those refused a bill of divorce) by their
husbands who are known to be alive and perhaps even living with a new wife. 
These are the cases where blackmail and extortion are unfortunately not
uncommon.  They are controversial because pressure put on the husband might
render the divorce pasul (invalid).  The controversy lies in where the line of
pressure or public opprobrium can be placed.

The Mishpacha Kolmos article didn't discuss these cases at all.  I was
disappointed in the article.



From: Jeanette  Friedman <FriedmanJ@...>
Date: Tue, Aug 17,2010 at 03:56 PM
Subject: Being a Zionist is a curse?

Martin Stern wrote (mail-jewish Vol.58 #74):
> I heard a slightly  different version that the Minchas Elazar cursed the
> Satmar Rebbe that he  would not have a son to succeed him and this was
> what happened though he was  succeeded by other members of the family.
> The Satmar Rebbe cursed the Minchas  Elazar that his sons would become
> Zionists which, though he did not have a  son, was fulfilled in his
> descendants. As far as the Minchas Elazar was  concerned this was probably
> a much worse outcome, as Jeanette will, no doubt, confirm.

The ME's son-in-law, Reb Burachel, went with him to visit the Yishuv as a 
little boy (the kids got engaged when my uncle was 11). He loved my uncle  
dearly, right to the end. But he hated the Zionists. Yet my uncle said you 
must choose life and the ME said essentially "Better dead than red; red, 
white and blue, or blue and white."  
To quote a quote sent to me by a rabbi I respect on this list: "Eile  
had'varim asher ya'ase otam ha'adam vachai bahem," on which Chazal said "v'lo  
sheyamut bahem," which is the source for pikuach nefesh allowing violation of 
all but three aveirot
The ME and "reyuto" wouldn't even let his own daughter see a doctor for 
her TB because Pikuach Nefesh meant ZERO to him, no matter how much my uncle 
begged her parents to get his wife help.
OTOH, my uncle saved thousands with the Mantello papers and with visas to  
Palestine. For that today, there are those ignorant disgusting  descendants 
of those he saved who proudly and snidely call him The Rebbe Yemach Shmo. 
(No good deed goes unpunished?)
Being a Zionist is a curse? Really?  Then why did Orthodox Jews hijack a 
secular movement and make it theirs?
Jeanette  Friedman 


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Wed, Aug 18,2010 at 06:01 AM
Subject: Domestic Dishwasher On Shabbath

Immanuel Burton <iburton@...> wrote (MJ 58#76)
> 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?

(1) The prohibition is basically rabbinic (marit ayin), based on the
water-mill, because such machinery generates noise and might cause people to
think that the person is grinding grain which is a Torah prohibition on

(2)  Since grinding, at least by Torah law, is permitted on Yom Tov, the
rabbis did not make a gezerah ligezerah (a rabbinic prohibition to avoid the
appearance of transgressing a rabbinic prohibition)

(3)  I think Immanuel is reading too much into the wording here. AFAIK there
is no difference between domestic and commercial dishwashers. The only
reason I can think for specifying a domestic dishwasher is that, in a
commercial setting, it may be more likely that the dishwashing is to be done
by non-Jewish staff who have the choice of doing it by hand or by machine
and choose the latter for their own convenience which would not contravene
amira le'akum [asking a non-Jew to do a melachah for one].

Martin Stern


From: Tal S. Benschar <tbenschar@...>
Date: Tue, Aug 17,2010 at 10:01 PM
Subject: Minyan -- deoraysa or derabbanan

Contrary to what has been written here, at least according to the Gra, a
"minyan" is a deoraysa [Torah - MOD] concept.  
The same limmud [hermeneutic rule - MOD] the Gemara in Megillah uses to derive
the number ten for davar shebekedushah  (a double gezeirah shava -- toch--toch,
edah-edah) is used by the gemara in Sanhedrin to learn that when one is forced
to violate the Torah bepharhesya (in public), then any violation is yehareg v'al
yaavor  (when one must martyr oneself, rather than violate the Torah.  In
private, only three sins require martyrdom -- idolatry, incest/adultary and
murder.  In public, all sins do).  "In public"  means before ten Jewish men --
bepharhesya. Whether the Torah demands martyrdom (yehareg v'al yaavor) is
clearly a din Torah.
Contrary to some Acharonim, the Gra insists that there must be ten Jewish men
present  to make it a situation of yehareg v'al yaavor.   A woman does not count
-- EVEN THOUGH a woman is herself obligated in the mitsvah of kiddush Hashem,
and under the right circumstances, is be obligated to martyr herself.  Thus a
minyan is NOT, according to the GRA, ten who are obligated in the mitzvah, but
ten Jewish men. (From the Gem. in Sanhedrin, it is clear that they must be Jewish.)
Ten Jewish men comprise a tsibbur -- or an "edah" to use the Biblical language.  
Chazal borrowed this concept for davar shbekedusah.  Certain prayers must be
said before a tsibbur.  This is a very common phenomenum -- kol de tikkun
rabbanan ke'eyn deoraysa tikkun [all that the rabbis instituted, they instituted
in the same manner as the Torah - MOD].
(This is a primary example of where the Torah is NOT egalitarian.  10 Jewish
bochurim just past bar-mitzvah make a minyan.  10,000 Jewish women don't).
Tal Benschar 


From: Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz <sabbahillel@...>
Date: Wed, Aug 18,2010 at 07:01 AM
Subject: Who married Cain?

Bernard Raab <beraab@...> wrote (MJ 58#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).
> And who was Cain fearful of, that "they" would kill him? Rashi suggests the
> animals, but would the animals have been able to recognize the mark which 
> haShem gave Cain to protect him? And who did he build a city for, in the land 
> of Nod? 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", even 
> if it requires some creative embellishment. Is this further evidence of the 
> overwhelming influence (or fear?) of the charedi community?

To answer your last question, it is not "fear", it is logic. Given the
definition of Hashem as omnipotent, and the definition of creation,
this is a logical solution. I do not think that there needed to be
other "creations" as the other children of Adam could have been meant.
However, since we cannot "prove" that the Universe was not created 5
seconds (or 5 billion years) ago, it is a possible answer. We only
know what the Torah tells us. Without the Torah we cannot know when in
the course of history the world was created. It could have been
created with you reading this post and with all our memories intact.
You cannot prove otherwise.

The first few generation after Adam would have been without the incest
restrictions, by necessity. However, since this is not something we
would want to continue or emphasize, the Torah would be careful not to
mention it. Consider that for Noach, the Torah says "animals that are
not tahor" rather than "animals that are tamei".

I should also point out that the Torah is constantly only speaking
about those things that are relevant to the narrative. For example, it
quickly narrows the focus to the family of Avrahom, and the Bnai
Yisroel. It does not speak of what was happening in the world outside
of the focus that it wants to describe.

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

> Scott Spiegler asked (MJ 58#72)
>> Who married Cain's children and so forth.
> 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.

I think that the appropriate English word would be "sired" or
"fathered". That is, "caused to be born".

   Sabba  -     ' "    -  Hillel
Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz 

End of Volume 58 Issue 78