Volume 59 Number 04 
      Produced: Wed, 25 Aug 2010 05:35:10 EDT

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

"Statement of Principles" regarding homosexuality 
    [Martin Stern]
A techinah [domestic prayer] for our era? 
    [Ben Katz]
Changing one's seat during availut (3)
    [Martin Stern  Yisrael Medad  David Ziants]
    [Judith Weil]
even more jewish homosociality? 
    [Sam Gamoran]
homosexual cures 
    [Ben Katz]
Shaliach Tzibur Practices 
    [Michael Poppers]
To the males of this list - A woman's status as a Jew 
Who is a religious Jew? 
    [Shmuel Himelstein]


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Wed, Aug 25,2010 at 05:01 AM
Subject: "Statement of Principles" regarding homosexuality

Lisa Liel <lisa@...> wrote (MJ 59#03):
> On Tue, Aug 24,2010 at 10:01 AM, Ira L. Jacobson <laser@...>
> wrote (MJ v59n2):
>> Lisa Liel <lisa@...> stated in mail-Jewish Vol.58 #98:
>>> Homosexuality is not an illness, and there is absolutely nothing in
>>> Judaism that says it is.
>> The practice of homosexuality is referred to in halakha as mishkav
>> zakhur and is a very serious infraction of Torah law.  
> No, sir.  Mishkav zachor refers to anal sex between men. ... Acts are
> forbidden.

Lisa is absolutely correct. I wrote recently to our local paper, the Jewish
Telegraph (13 Aug. 10):

> Orthodox Jews should make it clear that we are only opposed to gay sexual
> practices and not to the people who call themselves gay per se.  As human
> beings they should be treated with respect and not suffer discrimination.
> I believe that I do not have to know what goes on in private between two
> people and would generally always put the best possible interpretation on
> what I see.  For example, if two men share a flat, I would assume that the
> reason is to share the expense.
> On the other hand, I object to the public display of any sexual activity,
> but that is equally true whether it be homosexual or heterosexual.
> What I do find objectionable is that some gay activists seem to expect us
> to publicly acknowledge homosexuality as a 'legitimate alternative
> lifestyle'. 

I feel that the discussion on this topic in mail-jewish is now just going round
in circles and we have exhausted it.

Martin Stern


From: Ben Katz <BKatz@...>
Date: Wed, Aug 25,2010 at 04:01 AM
Subject: A techinah [domestic prayer] for our era?

Leah S.R. Gordon <leah@...> wrote (MJ 59#03):

> In the dishwasher discussion, I was reminded of something.  I hope it won't
> damage my angry-feminista cred. too much when I say that every time I run my
> dishwasher, or washing machine, or dryer, or answering machine, or any of my
> host of household robots, it is a spiritual experience for me.

> I can't push the "on" button without thinking, "thank you God for taking me
> out of Egypt and sparing me hard labor when I accomplish these tasks!"  I
> really believe that God enabled the invention of labor-saving devices, and
> that they free people, statistically more often women, to accomplish more
> intellectual and practical things in life.

To amplify what Ms. Gordon said: Washing machines are commonly acknowledged as
the greatest 20th century labor saving devide for women.  They transformed an
often back-breaking job that took a whole day ("wash day") to a chore that we
accomplish in < 2 hours with a bit of shlepping and pushing of a few buttons.

I often feel like saying a beracha every time I use my cell phone.  To think
that I can sit on a bus in Jerusalem and call my mom in NY is nothing short of

Ben Katz


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Tue, Aug 24,2010 at 01:01 PM
Subject: Changing one's seat during availut

Harlan Braude <hbraude@...> wrote (MJ 59#01):

> More seriously, in the synagogue I attended during the year for my mother,
> A"H, the Rabbi requested that all aveilim gather at the front/left of the
> congregation to (try to) recite the Kaddish in unison, thereby mitigating one
> of the otherwise more confusing parts of the service (i.e. trying to hear the
> words of any single kaddish recited by dozen people at different locations,
> tempos and rhythms).

The original Ashkenazi custom was that only one person said each kaddish,
unlike the Sefardim where all aveilim said it in unison. There were rules as
to had precedence should there be more aveilim than kaddeishim, as can
easily happen at minchah or ma'ariv, but, unfortunately, this led to

Rabbi Ya'akov Emden, therefore, recommended in his siddur that the Sefardi
custom, which he had seen while his father, the Chacham Tzvi, had been rav
in Belgrade, be adopted.

Unfortunately, he had overlooked the fact that Sefardim are accustomed to
daven aloud in unison whereas Ashkenazim generally do not. This led to the
unfortunate situation to which Harlan refers where the kaddish itself
becomes an orphan that nobody can hear.

To avoid this, some larger communities such as Amsterdam instituted the
practice of all the aveilim going to the front of the shul and reciting
kaddish together there.

I have written several times in the past on this topic and an exposition can
be found in my book "A Time to Speak" (Devora Publishing. '10).

Martin Stern

From: Yisrael Medad <ybmedad@...>
Date: Tue, Aug 24,2010 at 06:01 PM
Subject: Changing one's seat during availut

Since in mail-jewish Vol.59 #01, the topic continues to be discussed,
I thought I'd stop using my memory and turn to the Pnei Baruch book.
On page 235, Para. 2, Note 7, he explains that the custom of moving away
from the Aron Kodesh (Ark) is simply because the closer to the Ark is
more important and that's not what aveilut is all about.  He refers to a
book, Lashon Chachamim, and the Maharam Schick (Yoreh Deah 369)
He quotes the Gesher HeChayim 22:3 as stating that one simply changes
his location to the opposite side, north to south, east to west - which,
I presume can have you ending up closer to the Ark.  And, oddly enough,
he indicates that those who don't change their places on the Shabbat are
to be praised.  But that the Rama disagrees.
In Para. 1, he notes that for a parent, the change is 12 months and for
others, 30 days.

From: David Ziants <dziants@...>
Date: Wed, Aug 25,2010 at 03:01 AM
Subject: Changing one's seat during availut

A few months ago, I finished aveilut for my mother. Changing seats in 
shul was a little bit murky:-

a) My primary shul, where I tend to go for shabbat had only just been 
built and had started to been used. It was only a few times I had been 
there and was trying out a seat at the far end as my "permanent" seat. 
When my availut came, I moved to a seat closer to the door and I prefer 
it there. At the end of availut I was in a bit of a quandary. At the end 
of the day we are talking about light minhagim [customs] for which there 
are not always clear answers and it feels a bit stupid asking serious 
Rabbanim on how to behave. I felt my best approach would be to try out 
once again my "permanent" seat (that I had at the start) for a few weeks 
and then decide where I really want to sit. I tend now to sit closer to  
the door.

One of the difficulties in asking a question to a Rav is that officially 
this shul does not have fixed seats for it's members (except Rosh 
HaShanna and Yom Kippur), but it is on a first come first served basis. 
In practice, though, many people tend to have their seat, or maybe row, 
which they prefer to occupy.

b) In my weekday membership shul, there are fixed seats but I do not 
have one. Instead, I have the section of the shul in which I prefer to 
sit and I vary my seat within this section. During my availut I found it 
advantageous to move to a front section of the shul as in any case 
kaddish is said from the front of the shul and this also gave me easy 
access to the amud [stand for prayer leader] for when I took turns with 
other chiyuvim [men in their year who should make an effort to lead the 
prayers] or most often I preferred only to lead from ashray [the last 
part of the weekday morning prayer service].

I am still saying kaddish, but now not for my mother but a distant 
uncle, and since I am in my old section towards the back of this shul 
and have to stand towards the front to say the one kaddish (I was 
instructed that one kaddish is enough) , I appreciate the small hassle I 
saved myself by sitting in a front section during my year.

David Ziants


From: Judith Weil <weildj@...>
Date: Wed, Aug 25,2010 at 03:01 AM
Subject: Dishwashers

Regarding the Chana's statement (MJ 59#03):

> I confess I am having trouble visualising this, but this may be because
> I have never seen it.  I am imagining a sort of conveyor belt and a kind
> of dish car wash, but I can't quite see how that works.  Are the dishes
> placed in/near the dishwasher before it starts working, or once it begins
> to work? If the former, how does one fit 200 dishes on the conveyor belt?
> If the latter, are there then not other issues.

I don't want to enter into the actual discussion, but want just to describe
the automatic dish-washer system, which I have seen in kibbutzim. There is a
circular conveyor belt and it contains dish racks, like those in domestic
dish-washers. Where people stand, there are just uncovered racks. People put
in their plates, cutlery, etc. and then, as the belt goes round, the racks
enter a point where they are sprayed with hot water. I imagine this water is
soapy. They then continue onto a point where they are sprayed with clear
water, which rinses them. They then enter the point where they can be
removed. After the plates are removed it is possible to put more plates etc.
into the racks. 

I know that when religious kibbutzim designed the system they did so under
rabbinical consultation. To the best of my knowledge the system works under
a Shabbos clock on Shabbos. I don't know how many sets of cutlery and
crockery can be handled simultaneously, but it is certainly nothing like
200. When people finish eating they put their things into the racks. They
sometimes have to wait a minute or two, but the operation is normally fairly

To the best of my knowledge the same system is used for milk and for meat
(although not at the same time). There are separate racks, blue for milk and
red for meat. I don't know how they cope with the possibility of steam
rising into the machinery from the plates where they are sprayed with hot
water. Maybe the water isn't that hot, I don't know. Maybe the water comes
from the side, I don't remember. In any case, I think that part is cleaned
in between milk and meat and, as I wrote, I know the system was designed
under rabbinical supervision.

I don't know what happens in hotels.



From: Sam Gamoran <SGamoran@...>
Date: Wed, Aug 25,2010 at 03:01 AM
Subject: even more jewish homosociality?

Prof. Reuben Freeman wrote (MJ 58 #99):

> Perhaps MJ'ers could address the question whether predominantly
> homosocial behavior is a desirable and necessary consequence of a Torahni
> lifestyle.
> ...
> There are jewish sectors that advocate and follow more and more stringencies
> that separate and segregate between men and women. For example, gender
> segregation in public transportation

There was an article in today's Yisrael Hayom newspaper (the daily freebie which
is now the largest circulation daily paper in Israel and, in my opinion, the
best of the mainstream press) about the troubled Jerusalem light rail system.

When the rail actually starts operating (not before next April) CityPass, the
operator/concessionaire, is considering putting "mehadrin" trains on the line
e.g. every third or fourth train will have a men's-only car (the article didn't
say anything about women's-only cars).  However they don't have the final say in
this matter.  Rules regarding seating and operating conditions are regulated by
the Ministry of Transportation.  I suppose coalition politics next year will
have a role in deciding whether this happens.  It's also moot till the trains
actually start running!



From: Ben Katz <BKatz@...>
Date: Wed, Aug 25,2010 at 04:01 AM
Subject: homosexual cures

Jeanette  Friedman <FriedmanJ@...> wrote (MJ 59#02):

> Russell Hendel wrote (MJ 59#01):

>> if through traumatic events he now feels differently he can repent (from

> In most cases, homosexuality is a physical condition caused in the womb
> by hormonal changes. There are even people who because of these hormonal
> washes early in a mother's pregnancy born with both sets of sexual organs,
> and  parents and doctors have to decide what to do about that. There are
> men trapped in women's bodies and women trapped in men's bodies. This is
> a scientific fact proven by X-rays, cat scans and other medical procedures,
> and in many cases, these people are surgically corrected and when they are
> adults, you might never know if they started life as a member of the
> opposite sex.
Much of what Ms. Friedman said above regarding homosexuality is speculative. 
What she says about hermaphrodism is more correct, but it is not known to be
necessarily related to issues of homosexuality.  This is a very complicated
field, of which I am not an expert. That being said, the hormonal issues (which
usually have a genetic basis) work better in the opposite direction of what Ms.
Friedman described.  There were well studied cases of boys whose penises were
severely injured as neonates in the 1960's (usually as the result of a botched
[non-mohel] circumcision), who, based on the best evidence of the time, were
told to remove all male sex organs and raise the child as a girl.  This
generally didn't work, and many of these unfortunate individuals felt more
comfortable as males (for the hormonal reasons cited by Ms. Friedman) and were
reassigned as males in adolescence or young adulthood. The biggest issue at
birth with hermaphrodism (of which there are many types) is to decide what sex
the baby will function best as; as you all know, the first question anyone asks
when a baby is born is: is it a boy or a girl (myself included, although I try
to ascertain first if the baby is healthy).  Not being able to answer this
question promptly is very distressing for parents and all involved.

Ben Katz, MD


From: Michael Poppers <MPoppers@...>
Date: Tue, Aug 24,2010 at 10:01 PM
Subject: Shaliach Tzibur Practices

In M-J V58n82, Elie Rosenfeld <rosenfeld.elie@...> wrote:

> I've been wondering about the following set of practices/customs by the
> shaliach tzibur [prayer leader], each of which is typically done in one
> of two ways:

> 1) Blessing of "ga'al yisroel" before Amidah of shacharis:

> A) End of blessing not said aloud, to avoid a the congregation answering
> "amen" which would interrupt between "geulah" and "tefilah"

> B) End of blessing said aloud
> 2) Insertion in 2nd blessing of Amidah during rainy season:

> A) Last word pronounced "gashem"

> B) Last word pronounced "geshem"
> 3) The paragraph of "Modim" during the repetition of Amidah:

> A) Shaliach tzibur recites in a semi-undertone until the last several
> words, while congregation recites "Modim d'rabannan"

> B) Shaliach tzibur recites entire Modim aloud
> 4) Ends of blessings in the musaf Amidah of Rosh Chodesh and Yom Tovim:

> A) Sung to usual nusach [tune] for those holidays

> B) Tune is truncated at the ends of blessings, presumably to avoid the
> congregation's answering "amen" before the blessing is fully complete.
> My question is not about the details behind each specific alternate
> practice, but rather I'm wondering if the following observation of mine
> is correct.  Namely, that until recent years, the standard practice in
> Ashkenazic shuls was Option A in each of the above.  However, within
> the past 20 or 30 years, Option B in each case has become increasingly
> prevalent.... 

Elie may be referring to Eastern European nusach when he uses the term
"Ashkenazic," but I can only be of some assistance re minhag Frankfurt as
practiced at KAJ/"Breuer's" while I was growing up.  In contradiction to his
"observation," the KAJ practice re item#1 is B.  I'm not as sure whether such is
also true for item#3, and unfortunately I can be of no assistance re item#4
(although, there, I think the practice was A), but a theory requires only one
counterexample for dismissal :).  (The practice for item#2 was A.)

Michael Poppers 


From: Chana <Chana@...>
Date: Tue, Aug 24,2010 at 07:01 PM
Subject: To the males of this list - A woman's status as a Jew

Akiva Miller <kennethgmiller@...> wrote: 

> I can tell you that on a short winter afternoon, if I am at work in a
> non-Jewish office, or out with my family on a Sunday, finding a time and
> place for mincha (the afternoon prayer) is not a simple task. 

Just to take this out of the realm of science fiction and into the world of
halachic fact, I would point out that the Mishna Brura holds that women are
obligated to daven twice a day (Mishna Brura siman 106:5 [shachrit v'mincha
chova, arvit reshut ... chayavo otan b'tephilat shachrit v'mincha k'mo
anashim], and the Aruch HaShulchan three times a day [siman 106].  Indeed, I
think that working in a non-Jewish office, finding a time and place for
mincha is generally more difficult for women.  Working in the City of
London, for example, the men in a similar situation almost invariably tended
to have access to a lunchtime minyan that they could frequent.  However, as
these also tended to be overflowing rooms, unsuitable for a mechitza, that
option was generally closed to a woman.  Similarly on a family outing, when
there is no minyan available, and where you belong to a family that takes
these obligations seriously, you end up taking it in turns to watch the
children while the other one finds somewhere to daven, but the difficulty is

> And in the summer, I can't go to bed as early as I might like, because it
> is too early for maariv (the night prayer). I'll admit that I'm not perfect
> at these things, and when I fail, I feel bad and guilty about this failure.

Again, those women who follow the Aruch HaShulchan (and others) are in the same

Instead of relying on what are, at least amongst Ashkenazim, approaching
minority opinions in the poskim (albeit widely practiced positions amongst
the laity) (On the Sephardi side, Rav Ovadiah Yosef holds that women are
only obligated in Shachrit, and if they miss that they can make it up in
Mincha - see Yachave Daat  chelek 3 siman 7) perhaps it would be better if
we had a discussion from what is more like halachic reality.  The primary
difference in obligation is thus less in relation to tephilla [prayer], and
more in relation to the requirement to perform that tephilla in a minyan.
Note by the way, that there may be halachic downsides of the nature that you
describe as well.  One of the heterim [leniencies] involved in davening with
a minyan involves davening  - for example mincha and ma'ariv together,
effectively one after the other.  The heter to do this in a non minyan
situation is much weaker, so you might actually find that you as a man can
go to bed earlier in the summer than a women unable to daven with a minyan
(although in the case of a man, there is still the obligation to say krias
shema after nacht, which probably does not apply to a woman, the obligation
is in relation to tephila only, although the references to being obliged in
the first pasuk of the Shema in order to be mekabel ohl malkus shamayim,
[accept upon oneself the yoke of heaven] does confuse the matter, as it is
not clear to me whether those who hold that this is obligatory on women
[such as the Bach] are also referring to a night-time obligation as well as
a daytime one [See Shulchan Aruch Orech Chaim siman 70 si'if 1 and the
discussion there]).  Note also various heterim given vis a vis the timing
of davening when the only minyan one can daven at davens too late must
surely only be applicable to a man who has an obligation to daven in a
minyan.  Hence minyanim who daven after shkia [dusk], or after sof zman
krias shema [the end of the time for reciting the shema] or tephilla, would
arguably be even more problematic for a woman than for a man, etc etc.

In short this conversation has a level of unreality for those of us who do
daven and regard ourselves, based on majority sources, as obligated to daven
several times a day.


Chana Luntz


From: Shmuel Himelstein <himels@...>
Date: Tue, Aug 24,2010 at 12:01 PM
Subject: Who is a religious Jew?

Following Ira L. Jacobson's post regarding who is/is not a religious Jew, I
posit the following scenario: 

"A" is what is commonly called a "religious Jew," who prays three times a
day, learns Talmud daily, but also - as a minister in the Israeli government
- is ruled by the courts to have taken kickbacks to award lucrative
contracts to friends, for which he is sentenced to a prison term (and let's
- for argument's sake - state that the court ruling was correct).

"B" Is not known as a "religious Jew," but when his factory burned down
continues to pay his employees' salaries out of his own pocket.  

And now the question - given the above scenario, who is a "religious Jew"?

Shmuel Himelstein


End of Volume 59 Issue 4