Volume 58 Number 95 
      Produced: Sun, 22 Aug 2010 12:44:35 EDT

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

Agunot as "victims" 
    [Shoshana L. Boublil]
Emphasis on Bein Adam L'Makom (2)
    [Carl Singer  Martin Stern]
Farzogerke (2)
    [Carl Singer  Martin Stern]
Not seeing a doctor 
    [Josh Backon]
To the males of this list - A woman's status as a Jew 
    [Akiva Miller]


From: Shoshana L. Boublil <toramada@...>
Date: Sun, Aug 22,2010 at 07:01 AM
Subject: Agunot as "victims"

Akiva Miller <kennethgmiller@...> wrote (MJ 58 #83):

> Avie Walfish wrote (MJ 58:81):
>> My complaint is about cases - some of which I have personally
>> witnessed - in which the court has authority to compel a divorce,
>> and sometimes has even issued such a ruling, but shies away from
>> enforcing it, due to exaggerated fears of *get me'useh* (a divorce
>> compelled illegitimately, hence void).
> The critical word here is "exaggerated".
> Evaluating whether these fears are exaggerated or reasonable is not a
> matter of fact, but of opinion. It seems to me that there have been cases 
> where Avie considered the fears to be exaggerated, but the court felt them
> to be reasonable. I have no problem with this -- good people can disagree,
> even about important things.

I hate having to write on this issue.  

While there are  many, many dayanim, such as Rav Teitz and Rav Dichovsky,
there are unfortunately, some Dayanim who have different worries.

There are Dayanim who have never, ever, in all their judicial lives
paskened for Chiyuv [Obigation to give] Get (let alone Kefiyat [Compulsive]

It's not true that there are no cases warranting such psika, as someone
mentioned in  a previous post.  There are legitimate reasons that support
the dayanim paskening [ruling] to give a Get. For example, Rav Chaim Falaghi
ruled that if a couple does not live together for 18 months - the court can
force the husband to grant a Get. This psika has been supported by many
other Dayanim, including Rav Moshe Feinstein (though IIRC, he quoted it in a
psika where the couple had been separated for 2 years).

So, it is logically impossible, with the hundreds of requests for divorce
that a Dayan sees, that there wasn't a single case that warranted ruling for

When asked - this dayan said he was "afraid for his Olam HaBa".  He
regularly demanded that the couple resolve all their issues themselves and
didn't ever rule on anything.  I wish him a long life, but B"H he has now
retired from being a Dayan.  Unfortunately, while very rare, he is not the
only such Dayan.

The other issue mentioned by Avi Walfish is the various rulings by specific
Dayanim (their names were published in association with articles on the
subject in Tehumin IIRC) who rely on psika of Maharshdam and others whereby
if the husband makes a reasonable demand as part of his agreement to grant a
GET, the request should be upheld.

Unfortunately, some Dayanim, again B"H rare, think that absolving the
husband from any obligation to pay child support is a "reasonable request".
In another case, the wife was told "you are from a wealthy family, he isn't.
Pay him xxxx thousand dollars and he will grant you the Get".  Again, B"H
such cases are rarer than advertised.

OTOH, I know a man whose case is stuck in the court of such Dayanim and
hasn't been able to grant his wife a divorce for 14 years(!). He also hasn't
remarried (the rabbis btw were willing to give him the 100 rabbi signatures,
but not force the wife to accept a GET) b/c he is religious and how can he
go out and tell his date, that yes, he wants to marry her even though he is
still married.... Most women do not want to mess with such a situation.

OTOH, I have to state for the record, that too many cases sent to me (my
husband is a senior attorney specializing in family law, especially
Mesoravei/Mesoravot Get and estate law problems) asking me to request my
husband's aid were not as publicized.  In too many cases the reason that the
GET was withheld was indeed b/c the wife was making unreasonable demands
(she wanted the joint apartment, instead of "just" the half that was legally
hers....).  While in the past I used to pester my husband every time an
Agunah case was sent to me, I nowadays ask them to send us the court
protocols before getting all teary eyed...

One thing we all have to remember. Very few divorces are amicable.  They
usually are filled with anger, bitterness, meanness and the wish to visit
vengeance whether justified or not.  I'm sure many here have heard of Dr.
Phil.  I once heard him say that people should go to counseling before
getting a divorce so that they can resolve their issues and have an amicable
divorce.  Especially when there are children involved. 

Shoshana L. Boublil


From: Carl Singer <carl.singer@...>
Date: Sun, Aug 22,2010 at 10:01 AM
Subject: Emphasis on Bein Adam L'Makom

Shoshana L. Boublil (MJ58#93) in her discussion on the topic
"To the males of this list - A woman's status as a Jew" states:

> But on the practical side, Jeanette is right that somehow too much of being
> Orthodox has been pinned on the questions of keeping Shabbat, Kashrut and
> Family Purity laws, and not enough on laws of commerce, social justice and
> general Bein Adam LeChaveiro issues and behavior.

And provides an example:

> Several years ago, at a book sale, I overheard a young Orthodox man (in his
> early 20s) make some ugly disdainful remarks about a secular woman who bought
> a book on Jewish thought [written by my daughter]. I asked him if he realized
> he had to go apologize to her for insulting this woman in public - and he
> didn't know what I was talking about. I asked him if he realized that when
> Yom Kippur came around, he wouldn't be getting forgiveness from Hashem until
> this lady forgave him - and he looked at me. He stated: No one in Yeshiva
> ever taught him to think like this! Yes, he said, he was taught Shiviti
> Hashem LeNegdi Tamid [I imagine myself in Hashem's presence at all times]
> - but they never >connected it to the issue of how to behave with other
> people!!!

Several threads come to mind - two follow:

Along with the emphasis on the Bain Adam L'Makom - among many I see that
they consume the restrictions as some sort of spiritual mana. Simchas
Shabbos falls to the wayside and is overshadowed by both legitimate restrictions
and a plethora of chumrahs.  The "to keep it Holy" somehow has morphed into a
one-sided list of potential transgressions.  Perhaps because many in society are
well off, Shabbos is no longer the only day that we eat meat as part of an
elegant meal. (or for that matter the only day we don't go hungry.)  It's not
the only day that we might come up for air from six days of arduous labor, thus
it's not the only day that we have some recreational or casual time .... So the
physical contrast between Shabbos and Chol is diminished.

Disrespect for others, especially the secular, (yes and Female) as well is
rampant.   I spend much of my week dressed comfortably in slacks and a polo
shirt, or even jeans or shorts and a T-shirt, and a baseball cap atop my
Yarmulke. It's hard to quantify but I'm treated differently in that garb
than when I put on a dark suit and a kapalosh [Fedora].

Not long ago I was talking with the proprietor of a dry cleaner when a young
frum man, perhaps 30 years old, walked in and started talking over me to ask
his question -- the proprietor was in a bind not wanting to be rude to his
other customer.  Having no such restrictions I told the young man that I was
here first and he would have to wait.  He was agape.

For those of us who live in "multi-cultural" communities, I find that on
Shabbos (in suit & kapalosh) when I say "good morning" to a non-Jew on the
street, they are at times startled that one of "them Jews" acknowledged their
existence rather than walk past them as if they were street lamps.


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Sun, Aug 22,2010 at 12:01 PM
Subject: Emphasis on Bein Adam L'Makom

Batya Medad wrote (MJ 58 #94):

> I think that the campaign against the "women in the back of buses" must be
> based on this sort of halacha and not on western sensibilities of "equal
> rights."  

While I can understand that some people might feel uncomfortable sitting on a
bus next to someone of the opposite sex, this is not a halachic matter. In fact,
strange as it might seem, the only woman next to whom a man should not sit
on a double seat, according to halachah, is his own wife when she is niddah,
though there may be ways of getting round even this e.g. by putting
something between them (for a ruling in how to conduct oneself in practice
one should consult one's own rav).

> Causing women pain by making them stand, since there are fewer
> seats in the back.  Men not helping women with heavy bags or getting up
> for them when they need help

This applies equally to all people and not just women - one should offer to
help anyone in need. The Gemara describes as a chasid shoteh someone who
refuses to help a drowning woman because he can't bring himself to touch
a woman!

> and separating married couples or a parent from an adult child of the opposite
> sex when one is needed to assist the other are against Halacha.


> And while I'm at it, a synagogue which sets up a Kiddush with seats for men
> only and none for women is also causing women damage, bain adam l'chavero.

And vice versa. Batya obviously uses the word women because of her personal
experience but gender should be irrelevant when it comes to chessed.

Martin Stern


From: Carl Singer <carl.singer@...>
Date: Sun, Aug 22,2010 at 08:01 AM
Subject: Farzogerke

Fay Berger in MJ 58#91 wrote:

> I have heard the expression "farzogerke" used for the woman who knew
> how to daven,who would daven in a louder voice, so the women,who didn't
> know how to daven would follow. There is such a painting in one of the
> Jewish Museums.

The term is Yiddish for one who tells --  the "ke" at the ending makes it

From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Sun, Aug 22,2010 at 12:01 PM
Subject: Farzogerke

Fay Berger (MJ 58#91) wrote:

> I have heard the expression "farzogerke"  used for the woman who knew
> how to daven, who would daven in a louder voice, so the women, who didn't
> know how to daven would follow.

This was quite a common practice in times gone by when most women were

In Germany such a woman was known as a Vorsagerin, the word being a feminine
form of Vorsager, meaning one who says in front of [the congregation] i.e. a

It derives from the verb sagen = to say, with the prefix vor- meaning in
front of. It seems fairly clear that farzoger is essentially the same word
as Vorsager, allowing for dialect differences.

I presume the suffix -ke in Yiddish indicates the feminine and is equivalent
to the -in in Juedisch-Deutch (German Jewish dialect sometimes called
Western Yiddish).

Martin Stern


From: Josh Backon <backon@...>
Date: Sun, Aug 22,2010 at 07:01 AM
Subject: Not seeing a doctor

Dr. Dan Wiener wrote (MJ 58#92):

>I know a young baal teshuva who became a Breslover. He refuses to see a doctor
>nor would he allow his children to see one on instructions from his rebbe. All
>he needs is Emuna. I asked about severe Diabetes or other diseases and he
>responded in kind that it was what rebbe Nachman wrote. I asked higher ups in
>Breslov who told me it was nonsense. however, he continues on that derech.

As I teach my med students: the BT referred to definitely has an advanced case
of the Keylikaku Syndrome [tm] :-) 

OK, I shall explain the Keylikaku joke.

Batya and Eliyahu are 2 young BT's. They meet. He asks, "What's your name?"
and she replies: "BatKa". She asks, "What's yours ?" and he replies, 
KeyliKaku !!"

Seriously, many poskim insist that patients follow the advice of their doctors
(see: Yechaveh Daat Chelek Alef 61, Lev Avraham II 1:5). It is a mitzva for a
doctor to heal patients (see: Yoreh Deah 336:1)

Dr. Josh Backon


From: Akiva Miller <kennethgmiller@...>
Date: Sun, Aug 22,2010 at 12:01 PM
Subject: To the males of this list - A woman's status as a Jew

I asked (MJ 58#90):

> How do these women feel about these things? Are they, or are they
> not, quietly relieved about not having these obligations?
> ...
> Let's get a little science-fictiony for a moment: How many women
> would be willing to trade this world for one where they are fully
> equal to the men in shul, but they also have to daven three times
> a day, on a specific schedule, properly with a minyan, even when
> it is rainy or snowy, or when one is at work, or on a Shabbos
> afternoon when one would rather hang out with friends?

Avie Walfish responded (MJ 58:92):

> If you want to be "science-fictiony", why not take into account
> a few more relevant factors, such as household responsibilities?
> I suspect that not a few women would be happy to go to minyan
> every day, even when inconvenient, rather than staying home to
> get the kids up and out for school. My children today are grown,
> but when I run out in the evening to my dafyomi leaving my wife
> babysitting for a house full of grandchildren (thank God*, ken
> yirbu*!), I have the distinct impression that she doesn't feel
> she got the better part of the deal... :)

Perhaps I'm not understanding your ":)" properly, but if your wife resents
taking care of the grandchildren, perhaps you should reconsider the importance
of dafyomi. Household responsibilities are a matter to be worked out between
husband and wife, which is why I did not address it in my post. 

> But as far as I'm concerned, Akiva's thought experiment misses the
> point for a more fundamental reason. Rights and responsibilities
> are not symmetrical. Take a simple example. The extent to which
> the halakhah requires men to go to minyan has been debated by
> poskim (and in previous discussions on MJ), but the
> incontrovertible fact is that not all men see themselves as
> duty-bound to come regularly to minyan.

That precisely why my post also mentioned "having to say the full service at
all, minyan or not", and "three times a day, on a specific schedule". Even men
who do not see themselves as duty-bound to come regularly to minyan,  would (I
expect) still feel duty-bound to say their prayers on their own, and while it is
easier than attending minyan, it is still inconvenient and time-consuming.

Let's take this out of being a science fiction thought experiment. For most
women, there are at least a few years between Bas Mitzvah and when they have
children to take care of. And, for most women, there are more than a few years
after the last child has left the nest. Do they appreciate the freedom they have
during these years? I admit that it might not be enough to fully compensate for
the extreme workload during the years when they *do* have the burdens of
motherhood, but do they at least appreciate their freedom from these obligations
which men have from their bar mitzvah day until they leave this world?

> Finally - the feelings of your wife and daughter are legitimate,
> perhaps admirable. But neither they nor you should challenge the
> legitimacy of different feelings by different women. Turn your
> thought experiment around - if you and other men were offered the
> option of legitimately foregoing minyan and minchah (for which
> women may be obligated) at the expense of losing the right to
> lead services and receive aliyot, would all men universally accept
> the proposal? Wouldn't different men react differently to such a
> deal? Mutatis mutandi, different women are entitled to feel
> differently about their current synagogue status.

Very well put. Thank you. Indeed, I would jump at such an opportunity, but I can
imagine other men who would not. Unfortunately, when I think about the
motivations of such men, the only one I can think of is a need to show off, and
that does not seem like an admirable trait in my view. But I do recognize that
people have different personalities; I guess it is my non-outgoing nature which
is making it hard for me to see the other viewpoint.

In any case, my main point was not so much to complain about women who want
these public roles, as it was to point out that there is an upside to being

Akiva Miller


End of Volume 58 Issue 95