Volume 58 Number 80 
      Produced: Wed, 18 Aug 2010 16:27:30 EDT
Status: O
Content-Length: 19277
Lines: 453

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

Agunot as "victims"  
    [Harlan Braude]
Converts (2)
    [Stephen Phillips  Josh Backon]
Finding a "halakhic way" (agunot/whisky) 
    [Leah S.R. Gordon]
Following the latest version (2)
    [Martin Stern  Carl Singer]
Honey on challah for newlyweds (2)
    [Jeanette  Friedman  Eric Rosen]
Origins of Bat-Mitzvah Ceremony 
    [Michael Rogovin]
Pikuach Nefesh and the Munkatcher Rebbe 
    [Daniel Cohn]
Wedding invitations 
    [Josh Backon]
Who married Cain? 
    [Elie Rosenfeld]


From: Harlan Braude <hbraude@...>
Date: Wed, Aug 18,2010 at 10:01 AM
Subject: Agunot as "victims" 

In MJ V58#77 Digest, Avraham Walfish wrote:
> years without a *get*, when more forceful rabbinic leadership could easily
> have produced a halakhically valid divorce much much earlier.

I think Avie may have answered his own question.

I'm no halachic authority, but, as I understand it - now, I'm focusing
strictly on the legal issue, not the ethical one (and yes, I can imagine
receiving some flak for suggesting legal is not automatically ethical) -
the husband must be willing to grant the divorce; it cannot be compelled.

If that is true, then it doesn't matter what reason the husband has for
doing so (love, hate, greed, spite, etc.)

That requirement essentially ties the hands of the court. Strategies to
compel the husband to grant the divorce employing pressure (financial,
social, physical, etc.), while emotionally satisfying, don't address the
underlying legal issue.

An obvious question, then, is what about the procedure cited by the
Rambam of flogging the man until he states: "I am willing"? Perhaps,
that only works in a case of a man in a Biblically prohibited marriage
(e.g., a cohen married to a divorcee).


From: Stephen Phillips <admin@...>
Date: Wed, Aug 18,2010 at 12:01 PM
Subject: Converts

David Tzohar wrote (MJ 58 #75):

> Converts are not completely equal to born Jews. 

In what sense?

> A woman convert cannot marry a cohen. 

Neither can a divorcee. A widow cannot marry a Kohen Gadol [High Priest]. A
convert can give eidus [testimony) before a Beis Din, but a King of Israel
can't. So what does that prove about equality?

According to Tractate Horayos 13a a mamzer who is a Talmid Chacham [learned man]
takes precedence over a Kohen Gadol who is an am ha'aretz [unlearned].
Presumably that applies to a convert who is a Talmid Chacham. So again I ask in
what sense does David say converts are not equal to born Jews? If you say it is
in terms of kedusha [holiness], then I might agree, given that the parentage of
one is not wholly or even partly zerah Yosrael [Jewish seed]. But then David
should make that clear. 

> The progeny of two converts have the din of converts until one of
> them marries a born (see the first simanin in Tur, SA Even HaEzer).


> A convert cannot hold any position of authority. Obviously this would
> include a pulpit Rabbi along the lines of the American model where the rabbi
> is a community leader. 

I have to disagree with that. HaRav Aaron Rakeffet of Grus Kollel, as far as I
recall, in one of his Shiurim (which can be downloaded from yutorah.org) stated
that nowadays no American pulpit Rabbi has sufficient authority such as to
disqualify a convert from being appointed. 

> Converts can be talmidei chachamim and even Gedolei Hador as were Shmaya and
> Avtalion (some say that they were sons of converts).

Well of course they can, but what does that prove?

Stephen Phillips

From: Josh Backon <backon@...>
Date: Wed, Aug 18,2010 at 03:01 PM
Subject: Converts

Batya Medad wrote (MJ 58#&%) re: Young Israel making mistake about not allowing
converts as shul presidents:

> 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
> -fouls.html

On the basis of the gemara in Yevamot 45b, Kiddushin 76b, and Yerushalmi
Kiddushin 4:5 (on the prohibition of having a king not of Jewish stock) [see
also Minchat Chinuch 498], the Rambam in Hilchot Melachim 1:4 rules that a
convert can have no "serara" [authority] over a Jew and this is also codified by
the Beit Yosef TUR Yoreh Deah 269 and Beit Yosef TUR Choshen Mishpat 7.

The term to be defined is "serara". The Iggrot Moshe YD IV 26 has no 
problem with a convert being a rosh yeshiva nor does the Tzitz Eliezer XIX 47 on
whether a convert can be a dayan.

The Encyclopedia Talmudit Volume on "gabai tzedaka" does indicate 
that a convert shouldn't be a gabai tzedaka (person responsible for disbursement
of funds).

But a shul president ?? [all jokes aside)  [Murray wants to know 
where Moishe the shul president lives. Irving says, "Moishe ? That dreck? That
ganiff? Two blocks up, 2nd house from the corner". Murray continues walking
another block and asks Sammy. Sammy spits in disgust and says, "Moishe? That
neveyla? That oysvorf?? He lives half a block up, 2nd house from the corner".
Murray knocks on Moishe's door and asks why he serves as shul president. Moishe
says, "Why? FOR THE KOVID!!" (honor)  :-)

Josh Backon


From: Leah S.R. Gordon <leah@...>
Date: Wed, Aug 18,2010 at 10:01 AM
Subject: Finding a "halakhic way" (agunot/whisky)

In M.J vol 58 #76, Meir Shinnar quotes REMT and replies:

> 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.

> 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
> will....

I believe that the quote is, "where there is a rabbinic will, there is a
halakhic way," and while I agree with Mr. Shinnar that its inverse is true,
I think that there is some truth to the original statement.

Consider the whole business with kosher whisky:  it takes a pretty big
rabbinic will to look for loopholes around treif wine taste or content; I
guess whisky was a pretty darned big priority for some rabbis.  Personally I
find it a little bit appalling, how much rabbinic effort went into
permitting un-hechshered whisky, while not enough rabbinic effort is
directed toward what I consider human rights issues (e.g.agunot).  Then
again, those whisky bottles weren't demanding better treatment and their
labels were tzniusdik enough for everyone.

On the other hand, this is why (aside from my general principle of trying to
avoid disagreement with Teitzes, ever since being dorm-mates with REMT's
brilliant and lovely sister years ago), I trust REMT when he says that he
does his best for agunot.  His family, after all, didn't truck with the
whisky loopholes, and looked to the true halakha whether it was pleasant for
them or not.  They are known for that, actually.

Pertaining to these issues, I have grave suspicions of rabbis, even
well-respected rabbis, who come down really hard, including dramatic
language (*), with positions they know will be roundly cheered by their
base.  What courage does it take to say "no women" or "no gays" when you are
neither a woman nor gay, and have no real respect/contact with either group
on an intellectual or spiritual level?  And no, I do not consider "my wife
agrees with me" to be real respect/contact with women in general, any more
than you all would consider "my husband agrees with me" to be general male
Jewish understanding/agreement.

--Leah S. R. Gordon

(*) By 'dramatic language,' I mean melodrama like claiming that to object to
women rabbis is to choose life over death (!!)  Who, except the
already-agreeable, would give that rhetoric a second glance?


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Wed, Aug 18,2010 at 12:58 PM
Subject: Following the latest version

Leah S.R. Gordon <leah@...> wrote (MJ 58 #79):

> In Mail.Jewish vol. 58 #76 Immanuel Burton writes:
>> According to the English edition of Shemirath Shabbath Ke-hilkhatah (volume
>> 1, chapter 12, paragraph 35) ...
> My first suggestion would be if possible to consult an earlier edition, in
> Hebrew.  I have found astounding differences between the two ...

Generally speaking we always assume that the later edition of any halachic
work is more authoritative since the author will have had the opportunity to
consult other works that had not been available previously and revised his
work in their light.

> Pretty clearly the translation sticks in a number of prohibitions that are
> imaginary, unless the Hebrew edition is somehow not to be trusted.

This is a slur on the author for which Leah should apologise.

Martin Stern

From: Carl Singer <carl.singer@...>
Date: Wed, Aug 18,2010 at 02:01 PM
Subject: Following the latest version

In MJ(58#79) Leah Gordon notes differences between the English translation
and the earlier Hebrew edition of Shemirath Shabbath ke-hilkhatah.

> I have found astounding differences between the two (one that comes
> to mind is the permissibility/not of using nail polish to stop a run in
> one's stocking on shabbat).  Pretty clearly the translation sticks in a
> number of prohibitions that are imaginary, unless the Hebrew edition is
> somehow not to be trusted.

This seems to be an all too common occurrence -- translations, subsequent
editions, anthologies, etc., -- seem to "bend" to the author's viewpoint
rather than to the truth of the original.

Does the issur of Ganayvus Da'as -- play a role here?



From: Jeanette  Friedman <FriedmanJ@...>
Date: Wed, Aug 18,2010 at 12:58 PM
Subject: Honey on challah for newlyweds

Sam Gamoran wrote (MJ 58#79):

> Jack Wechsler  <wechsler@...> wrote (MJ 58 #76):

>> 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.

> I don't know about the newlyweds' minhag.  However our family's minhag for
> the new year is to substitute honey from Rosh Hashanah through Simchat Torah.
Yes. My son and his new wife did it at the wedding and at Sheva Brachot, 
and we used to do it from RH to ST in our house.
It sure beats that new minhag of not having guests for the first year.

From: Eric Rosen <ericrosen7@...>
Date: Wed, Aug 18,2010 at 02:01 PM
Subject: Honey on challah for newlyweds

Jack Wechsler <wechsler@...> wrote (MJ 58 #76):

> 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.

I don't know the source of this minhag, but my daughter and son-in-law are
observing the same minhag.  It was a bit of a surprise the first Shabbos
they spent with us, but seems harmless enough.  FYI, both are of a
modern/centrist Orthodox background.

Eric Rosen


From: Michael Rogovin <mrogovin118@...>
Date: Wed, Aug 18,2010 at 11:01 AM
Subject: Origins of Bat-Mitzvah Ceremony

I don't have the source sheets from a series of lectures I once attended on
the origins of bat mitzvah (led by R. Ari Berman, then of the Jewish Center
in NYC), but I will try to summarize what I can recall.

One should distinguish between confirmation and bar/bat mitzvah. They are
separate and distinct coming of age ceremonies. Reform adopted confirmation in
Germany (later adopted in the US also by some Conservative shuls). It was
intended as a replacement for bar mitzvah, which the movement tried (and
continued to try well into the 20th C US) to eliminate. This is logical
since if the concept of mitzvah as a commandment is rejected, being a bar
mitzvah (one obligated) is meaningless. Confirmation was in fact the
opposite of am segula (chosen nation), in that the child (usually 16, not 12
or 13) would confirm that they intended to live as a Jew, at least by Reform
standards. It was the culmination of Jewish education, comparable to
graduation from the gymnasium. There were attempts to force orthodox shuls
to adopt some form of confirmation as well, but these were largely rejected.

Confirmation continues in Reform and some Conservative shuls, though I believe
it may be waning since many youth do not continue Jewish education after their
bar/bat mitzvah. Interestingly, Reform Rabbis were unable to convince their
laity to abandon bar mitzvah, though it is certainly devoid of its original
meaning. Thus they added bat mitzvah ceremonies (I believe in the mid/late
20th C, well after R Kaplan celebrated his daughter becoming a bat mitzvah).
Reform and many Conservative do a bat mitzvah at 13, not 12 since they are
egalitarian and do not recognize any distinction in mitzvah obligation (or
in the case of Reform, since there is no mitzvah as obligation per se, and
it is the culmination of Jewish education, doing it at the same year makes
more sense).

Thus while confirmation predated bat mitzvah ceremonies, the bat mitzvah
itself is likely to be of American origin. In any case, it was not adopted
widespread until at least the 1960s or 1970s AFAIK.


From: Daniel Cohn <4danielcohn@...>
Date: Wed, Aug 18,2010 at 09:01 AM
Subject: Pikuach Nefesh and the Munkatcher Rebbe

I have been following with interest Jeanette's posts sharing her family
history. However I am increasingly inclined to question the accuracy of some
of her statements, or to believe there is some kind of bias influencing
them. I find it extremely hard to believe that any Rabbi can hold that
"Pikuach Nefesh means ZERO". There is absolutely no dispute in halacha
regarding the principle of Pikuach Nefesh, and it seems laughable to imply
that the Munkatcher Rebbe was not familiar with the school-level drash
quoted by Jeanette. There are of course arguments regarding when a situation
becomes Pikuach Nefesh, but I never heard of a Rabbi not allowing a sick
person to see a doctor. In fact, what's wrong at all with seeing a doctor,
even when pikuach nefesh is not involved? Can Jeanette or anyone offer a
rationale, or historical background or precedent for such a bizarre story?
I must also say I don't understand another of Jeanette's statements, namely
"why did Orthodox Jews hijack a secular movement and make it theirs"? How
did exactly Orthodox Jews "hijack" the Zionist movement? Even though the
Zionist movement was driven by the secular majority, Orthodox Jews were part
of it from its inception. What is exactly the definition of hijacking? 
And, also, clearly the Orthodox Jews that joined the Zionist movement were
not aligned with those for whom being a Zionist was a curse, so why muddle
the waters by deliberately blurring the difference between anti-Zionist and
Zionist Orthodox Jews?

I think this thread is becoming marred by personal bitterness.




From: Josh Backon <backon@...>
Date: Wed, Aug 18,2010 at 03:01 PM
Subject: Wedding invitations

Akiva Miller wrote (MJ 58#66):

> 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.

Yet the name of the mother of every king of Judah is listed  in II Kings
(Melachim Bet) and Chronicles (Divrei haYamim).See: II Kings 8:26, 12:2, 14:2,
15:2, 15:33, 18:2,  21:1, 21:19, 22:1, 23:31, 24:8, 24:18.

Josh Backon


From: Elie Rosenfeld <rosenfeld.elie@...>
Date: Wed, Aug 18,2010 at 12:58 PM
Subject: Who married Cain?

Lisa Liel <lisa@...> wrote (MJ 58#79)

>Scott Spiegler <scottspiegler@...> wrote (MJ 58 #76):

>> 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?

> Perhaps God created Adam and Eve with sufficient genetic diversity
> that it wasn't a problem.

Or perhaps, such diversity wasn't created with Adam and Eve, or even Noah,
but a bit later; specifically, at the time of the Tower of Babel!  The Torah
explicitly tells us that humanity was diversified both geographically and
linguistically at that time - so why not racially/genetically as well?
Otherwise it becomes difficult to explain how peoples of three different
racial groups (Semitic, African, Indo-European) were descended from three
sons (Shem, Ham, Japeth) of the same husband and wife.

Elie Rosenfeld - <rosenfeld.elie@...>


End of Volume 58 Issue 80