Volume 59 Number 06 
      Produced: Mon, 30 Aug 2010 07:25:13 EDT

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

Changing one's seat during availus 
    [David I. Cohen]
    [David Ziants]
Fixed seats in shul - was "Changing one's seat during availut" 
    [David Ziants]
Reish Lakish (2)
    [Martin Stern  Elazar M. Teitz]
When are MJ Digests produced - Shabbat (2)
    [Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz  Bernard Raab]
who washes the dishes? 
    [Leah S.R. Gordon]


From: David I. Cohen <bdcohen613@...>
Date: Thu, Aug 26,2010 at 04:01 PM
Subject: Changing one's seat during availus

In MJ v59#02 Harlan Braude wrote:

> 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).

At the Beit Knesset Nitzanim in the Baaka section of Yerushalayim, the
minhag is also to have all those saying kaddish stand by the bimah. (I am
not sure what the women do.)

When I started my period of aveilut, I moved laterally, as moving backwards
would put me too close to those who specifically prefer to stay in the back
(and I will leave the rest unsaid).

David I. Cohen


From: David Ziants <dziants@...>
Date: Thu, Aug 26,2010 at 02:01 AM
Subject: Dishwashers

Chana <Chana@...>  (MJ 59#03):

In response to David Tzohar<davidtzohar@...>

>> 3-Most commercial dishwashers do not have a door but have an open line
>> through which the dishes go through.

> 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 then not other issues.

Your visualising, Chana, is more or less correct. I  remember this 
technology from a religious kibbutz, around 30 years ago.

The conveyor belt went around a full circle. As the conveyor belt moves, 
the dishes are placed on by a small team at the start position area, and 
there has to be a similar team unloading the dishes at the other end to 
make room for new dishes. The racks on the conveyor belt are similar to 
drying racks. Unlike weekday usage, the machine cannot be manually 
stopped on Shabbat and so the washing up team has to work quickly 
loading and unloading to maximise the use. Also (similar to when washing 
up by hand), one has to be careful not to do borer [sort the cutlery and 
dishes, etc.].

Apart from the timer to which is set to go on at the appropriate time 
after Friday night dinner, I  think (but not sure) there were other 
settings for Shabbat use.

David Ziants
Ma'aleh Adumim, Israel


From: David Ziants <dziants@...>
Date: Thu, Aug 26,2010 at 06:01 PM
Subject: Fixed seats in shul - was "Changing one's seat during availut"

Although many shuls have labelled seats because of this halacha, many 
shuls do not.

Is the fixed seat halacha meant for the individual or the shul?
What if you come to shul on time/late and someone is sitting in "your 
seat"  (official or not) ?

I know at least one of the the fixed seat shuls (which is officially 
only relevant on shabbat night morning) where I live have a whole 
protocol depending on whether late i.e.  after kabbalat shabbat at night 
/ yishtabach in morning - or on time. Guests who are on time need to 
wait to be seated. Guest who are late can sit any where.

In my shul, I am happy they do not have this business (at least of yet) 
even though I sometimes find myself not always sitting in exactly the 
same spot.

David Ziants
Ma'aleh Adumim, Israel


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Wed, Aug 25,2010 at 05:01 AM
Subject: Reish Lakish

Leah S.R. Gordon <leah@...> wrote (MJ 58#98):

> To all the people shouting down Russell Hendel for discussing the opinion
> that Resh Lakesh was gay:
> You may never have heard this interpretation, or belief, but it is very
> widespread commentary outside of the Orthodox world.  I myself was a bit
> surprised that Dr. Hendel was williing to espouse the view, but he has many
> companions in this view even if not necessarily on M.J.

Perhaps the fact that this interpretation is very widespread outside of the
Orthodox world is a symptom of the desire to undermine the shalshelet hakabbalah
[authentic tradition], on which Orthodoxy is based, by discrediting its leading
proponents of previous generations in order to authenticate the various
heterodox theologies claiming to be valid versions of Judaism.

Martin Stern

From: Elazar M. Teitz <remt@...>
Date: Wed, Aug 25,2010 at 11:01 PM
Subject: Reish Lakish

Russell J Hendel wrote (MJ 58#96):
> I made a statement that Resh Lakish was a homosexual. The reaction was
> interesting: Some people said: Lets not discuss what happened; others asked me
> to justify my remarks; still others asked me to correct the aggregious error I
> made.

Actually, what Dr. Hendel wrote was that Reish Lakish "_according to many
opinions_ (emphasis mine -- EMT) was homosexual."  It was not stated as his own
opinion, but as an apparently widely held position.  It now develops that it is
his own interpretation.  In point of fact, a Google search, in both English and
Hebrew, yields the following result: in Hebrew, nothing.  In English, there are
four or five references, all attributed to avowed homosexuals.  In other words,
this position is held only by those seeking to justify their own violation of
Torah law.

He continued:

> Well first things first. I have not insulted anyone. If I meet a homosexual I
> not only tell them they can repent. I also tell them that they can go to the
> head of the class - they can the leader of the generation as Resh Lakish was.
> There is no stronger statement of man's capacity for repentance.

Insulted no one? What about Reish Lakish?  If one sees spiritually
suspicious behavior on anyone's part, the obligation is to be dan l'chaf z'chus
-- to give a favorable interpretation, if at all possible.  Certainly that
obligation applies to Chazal [Talmudic sages], whose greatness we can barely

He states further:

> Let me briefly tell you what is bothering me. 

> #1) The Talmud had this story of Rabbi Yochanan bathing in a river; Resh
> Lakish jumped in; they then relate some physical discussions about good
> looks; Rabbi Yochanan offers his sister to Resh Lakish. 

> #2) There are verious words to describe Resh Lakish - they could mean
> gladiator but they could also mean thief. 

#3) Rabbi JOchanan and Resh Lakish had a discussion once and Rabbi Yochanan
> got very insulted and insulted Resh Lakish back that "thieves/gladiators
> are experts in their utensils". Resh Lakish got very sick and died. His wife
> (Rabbi Jochanan's sister) asked Rabbi Jochanan to forgive him for her own
> sake so she doesn't become a widow and Rabbi Yochanan cruelly refuses.
> That is really all we known (There might be one or two more passages relating
> to whether Resh Lakish was originally Jewish...he definitely had a poor life).

> I think a very reasonable hypothesis is that Resh Lakish belonged to the Roman
> underworld. Criminals by and large dont make money by killing people (because
> there are protests). Rather they have scare tactics and get paid protection
> money. I assume that jumping into rivers where people bathed (there were no 
> home baths in those days) threatening them sexually UNTIL the frightened 
> victim offered money was one such method. 

> You never can prove such things: But the following may be of support: 

> a) Homosexuality was common in the Roman underworld 

> b) The physical discussions in the river about "looks" sound very peculiar
>  between two naked men, 

> c) if Resh Lakish did not threaten him sexually why would Rabbi Jochanan be 
> SO insulted many years later as to want him dead.

> Bottom line: My understanding begins to make sense of certain problems. This 
> is not a doctrinal belief of mine. But I do think that is what happened. I do 
> not think it insulting to Resh Lakish and I certainly think he was a great
> person.

The above contains so much misinformation and flights of unsupported imagination
that one hardly knows where to begin.  For example, it is simply untrue that
there were no home baths in those days, as anyone with even a passing
familiarity with Talmud would know, as there are repeated references to
bathing in the home.  There is no indication that either of the scholars was
fully naked.  There is little question as to what Reish Lakish was; the term
used is "listim," which is prevalent through out the Talmud, especially in the
expression "listim m'zuyan" -- armed robber.  Furthermore, assuming as Dr.
Hendel does that the bathers were naked, there would be no reason for the robber
to jump in and threaten the bather sexually; his money would have been on the
shore, with his clothing, ripe for the taking, and in any event, why would the
threat have to be sexual, rather than just the threat of physical harm? 

As to the conversation that took place in the water, Resh Lakish showed
great strength by his leap into the water, as the Talmud makes clear.  R.
Yochanan told him, "Your strength is fitting for Torah study," which requires
great stamina if done properly.  Reish Lakish answered in kind, "Your beauty is
more befitting for women," to which R. Yochanan responded that there was indeed
a woman -- his sister -- who was even more beautiful, and whom he would give in
marriage to Reish Lakish if he would assume the yoke of Torah.  This was enough
of an incentive to convince Reish Lakish to undergo a life change.  This
conversation certainly casts Reish Lakish as highly attracted by feminine
pulchritude -- his saying that R. Yochanan's beauty would better be in a woman,
his changing of lifestyle because of the promise of a beautiful wife.  

The story which resulted in Reish Lakish's death is completely
misrepresented -- indeed, reversed -- by Dr. Hendel.  In a halachic dispute
between them relating to weapons, R. Yochanan made the remark the thief knows
the tools of his trade. Reish Lakish took this as an insult, and in response
made a remark which belittled what R. Yochanan had done for Reish Lakish's
spiritual growth.  It was that statement that caused R. Yochanan grief and led
to Reish Lakish's demise.  There is not a scintilla of a hint that R. Yochanan
harbored any ill will towards his student and brother-in-law until that remark.
Even the parenthetic remark that Reish Lakish might not have been born
Jewish is a gratuitous slur.  He is often referred to as R. Shimon ben Lakish;
converts were never referred to by their father's name.

In sum, not one of the points adduced by Dr. Hendel to justify his thesis
appears in the Talmud, but are results of gross misreading of what does appear.
To cast base aspersions on one of our greatest predecessors  is indeed nothing
less than an egregious insult with absolutely no basis whatever.



From: Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz <sabbahillel@...>
Date: Wed, Aug 25,2010 at 01:01 PM
Subject: When are MJ Digests produced - Shabbat

Guido Elbogen <havlei.h@...> wrote (MJ 58#96):

>> Akiva is correct that some digests are not produced in the USA.
>> The one he refers to was in fact produced in the UK. I have had other people
>> query other such apparent breaches of Shabbat and rejected them on these
>> grounds and the assumption that one should always be melamed zechut [give
>> people the benefit of the best possible interpretation of their actions].
> If a person is in a non Shabbat time zone and directly causes a machine to
> operate productively and thus benefit financially in a Shabbat time zone, is
> there not a problem?
> Let's say it's Shabbat in a field you own, could you "personally" sow seeds
> in that field and then water those seeds all from a location that is not as
> yet Shabbat by perhaps pressing a button on a computer?
> There was a case sometime ago when a father in the USA on Fridays was
> sending Divrei Torah faxes to his son in Israel when it was already Shabbat.
> It was ruled that those faxes were in the category of "Nolad" (newly
> created) and should not be removed from the machine until after Shabbat.
> Perhaps this is not exactly the same but I would appreciate a response.

IIRC I heard a shiur from Rabbi Frand a number of years ago that the
question arose about his sending his son a FAX on Friday when it was
Shabbos in Israel. The question was not about the son reading the FAX
(which he did not) but about turning the FAX machine off even though
it was in a room that was separate. If my memory is correct, the
analogy was drawn to putting a letter in the mail box Friday
afternoon. Even though the non-Jew picks up the letters from the box
on Shabbos, it is allowed because the Jew is willing to wait for it to
be picked up after Shabbos and the non-Jew is choosing the time that
is most convenient for himself.

A google search found a reference to "Parshas Tetzaveh - Tape # 407 -
Fax Machines on Shabbos "

In this case, the post is being "dropped" into the mail box at a time
when it is permissable and shipped to the main server at a time that
is convenient for the local ISP server. I would consider it an analogy
to snail mail put in the mail box on Friday and delivered on Shabbos.
I have not listened to the referenced tape for a long time and would
suggest that it would give a better explanation than I could.

A series of searches found the following two answers


According to Jewish Law one is allowed to mail a letter on Friday for
delivery by a non-Jewish mailman. The reason: Since he is not
specifically asked or required to deliver it on Shabbat, you are not
asking him to work for you on Shabbat. He would be like any other
contracted-worker, with whom it is permitted to do business on
Fridays. It's permitted to mail the letter even if the mailman tells
you he will deliver it on Shabbat, because it was his choice to
deliver it then, and not per your request.

"Special Delivery" or a telegram is a different story. In this case
you are requesting delivery on Shabbat, and it would therefore be
forbidden. However, there are ways to send these messages in the case
of an emergency -- in such a case consult your LOR (Local Orthodox

In a future edition of this column I intend to deal with the related
topic of sending E-mail that is "delivered" on Shabbat.


There are two concerns here:

   1. May someone set up a machine before Shabbat to receive E-Mail
(or faxes, for that matter) on Shabbat?
   2. May someone for whom it is not yet Shabbat cause "melacha" (work
forbidden on Shabbat) to be done in a place where it is Shabbat?

Regarding the first point, one is allowed to initiate a process before
Shabbat, even though the work will continue unattended throughout
Shabbat. For example, one may program a timer to turn lights on and
off at specified times during Shabbat. Other examples are setting a
thermostat, or switching a fax machine to "auto-receive."

As for the second point, the question centers on whether the mail
server or fax machine located in the area where it is Shabbat is:

   1. An extension of the sender (picture the sender of the E-mail
having really long arms), which would be prohibited on Shabbat.


   1. Independent of the sender (the sender has nothing to do with the
machine once he issues the send command).

A source that apparently supports the position that the machine is
independent of the sender is found in the book Shemirath Shabbath. It
states that in a place where it is not Shabbat it is permitted to
phone a non-Jew in a place where it is Shabbat.

In order to receive a definitive ruling with regard to Email and faxes
I asked Rabbi Chaim Pinchas Scheinberg (one of the foremost Halachic
authorities of our time). He ruled that it is in fact permitted to
send E-mail and faxes from an area where it is not Shabbat to an area
where it is Shabbat. So as the sun is beginning to lower on the
horizon on erev Shabbat and you are faced with a question that just
has to be answered, don't hesitate to send it to us!


    * Rav Yehoshua Y. Neuwirth - Shemirath Shabbath, 31:26.

   Sabba  -     ' "    -  Hillel
Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz 
From: Bernard Raab <beraab@...>
Date: Fri, Aug 27,2010 at 05:01 PM
Subject: When are MJ Digests produced - Shabbat

Ari Trachtenberg wrote (MJ 58#98):
> The closest I can imagine to this is the situation of an Israeli who is 
> visiting a territory outside of Israel on the second day of a holiday 
> (which is only observed for one day in Israel).  In such cases, my 
> understanding is that one not only may use the work done by the Israeli, 
> but one may even ask the Israeli for (non-public) help that requires 
> otherwise forbidden work on the holiday.

Not exactly. There is a large and growing group of poskim who hold that
chutzniks [foreigner-Jews] visiting Israel need only observe one day of Y"T. A
subset of this group believes that Israelis visiting abroad need to observe two
days. This latter group is a smaller group simply because few Israelis will sign
up to this chumra. But I don't think anyone imagines that such Israelis can do
otherwise forbidden melacha for our benefit.One more reason why this sensible
trend in halacha (one day in Israel; two days abroad-- for all) should be
universally supported.

Bernie R.


From: Leah S.R. Gordon <leah@...>
Date: Wed, Aug 25,2010 at 02:01 PM
Subject: who washes the dishes?

Martin Stern <md.stern@...> wrote (MJ 59#05):

> [... examples of extreme exertion] one suggested by David Tzohar (MJ 58#99):
>> 4-Washing the dishes at home is tircha (exertion). Washing the dishes in
>> a Yeshiva for 200 bachurim is tircha yeteira (great exertion)
> that led Leah to write (MJ 59#01):
>> Hm.  So if young, strong, not-otherwise-occupied men would be washing the
>> dishes in some kind of organized rotation, *that* is more of an exertion
>> than the wife in the kitchen washing a family/guests-worth of dishes?
> I wrote (MJ 59#04):
>> Obviously the Yeshiva in question employed staff to wash the dishes and
>> it was to avoid their tircha yeteira (great exertion) that the ruling was
>> given.
> It was Leah's criticism of the 'lazy' not-otherwise-occupied men that I
> found unfair but, even if one were to concede that there would be grounds
> for preferring her solution rather than invoke the concept of the tircha
> yeteira of the staff, this would not apply to hotels unless she would
> expect the guests to do the dishwashing.

WADR to Martin, I never said they were 'lazy'; see above for my whole
quote.  I assumed that they would be enjoying their shabbat in appropriate
ways.  Which ways are just as appropriate for any housewife/husband in a
domestic environment.

Honestly, I bet SSK just ruled on "domestic dishwashers" because of his
access to information on that topic; probably it was more relevant to what
he was working on and what his readers wondered about and what he had
rabbinic data about, readily at hand.

> Perhaps she would also like to consider substituting "a hospital with 200
> patients" or "old age home with 200 residents" for "a Yeshiva for 200
> bachurim" to understand that David's point was entirely reasonable and it
> was merely his choice of example that allowed her to make her comment.

I actually this is a really important point, because in a hospital/hotel the
assumption is that there are staff, and a secondary assumption might be that
at least some of the staff are nonJewish and might therefore be assigned to
wash dishes and it's "up to them" if they run the dishwasher.  Running a
totally Jewish youth organization is different for at least two reasons:

1. There is no guarantee of staff [and I believe domestic staff are unusual
in women's yeshivot, where there are chore rotations and/or apartment

2. I suspect the existence of an influential "rabbinic will" in a context
where you have a room full of rabbis, or perhaps future-rabbis, who would
have to go wash the pile of icky dishes.  It is human nature.

BTW wishing to refrain from washing dishes is no more, and no less, "lazy"
for a yeshiva bochur than for a housewife.  All of us should have access to
technology instead.  We can all wash dishes in the dishwasher zecher
l'yitziat mitzraim, as I do.  :)

--Leah S. R. Gordon


End of Volume 59 Issue 6