Volume 59 Number 16 
      Produced: Fri, 03 Sep 2010 10:23:15 EDT

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

a place for us (women): Rosh Hashana 
    [Leah S.R. Gordon]
Entering a church 
    [Frank Silbermann]
going to church and more 
    [Jeanette  Friedman]
Paying members 
    [Menashe Elyashiv]
Public domain 
    [Menashe Elyashiv]
Reish Lakish 
    [Ben Katz]
Shul Joke - was re: Entering a church 
    [David Ziants]
The Torah view on homosexuality 
    [David Tzohar]
Women Davening 
    [Mark Steiner]


From: Leah S.R. Gordon <leah@...>
Date: Thu, Sep 2,2010 at 09:01 PM
Subject: a place for us (women): Rosh Hashana

I was really disturbed to read of an M.J member, whom I will not name
directly, whose community accepted a situation where women had no place to
daven on Rosh Hashana.

Apparently the construction/design was planned so that there was a
half-hearted ezrat nashim during construction, and then no ezrat nashim at
all when the high holidays began.  I find this frankly appalling.

I think it is a red herring, this business of "we couldn't get it done in
time" - we all know that if it were the men's section, or the bathrooms, or
some other part of the shul, the construction or the move would have been
modified in such a case.  Davening would have happened in a different
location (outside?  someone's house?  the temporary shul?) instead.

It is so outlandish to me that I'm not even sure what more to say, except,
how could you devalue people - people like me - so much that it is an
afterthought for us to have a place to daven with a minyan on the high

I give thanks more than ever for my minyan.  My husband is even now
practicing [he is the shofar blower], as am I [I am reading Torah, yes it is
a partnership minyan], and my boys are preparing emotionally and
intellectually for this important time of our Jewish year.  How could a
family not value all of its members being part of the community at this

Obviously the women in the above community are not reading Torah or giving
the sermon, fine.  But surely they would come and open a mahzor and hear the
d'var Torah and sing and pray and be part of the most moving, deep,
uplifting parts of our liturgy in a communal setting.  Jews from all stripes
recognize this basic need, especially for RH and YK.

--Leah S. R. Gordon


From: Frank Silbermann <frank_silbermann@...>
Date: Thu, Sep 2,2010 at 08:01 PM
Subject: Entering a church

Jeanette Friedman wrote (MJ 59#12):

> I had to attend her funeral service in a black church in Bed-Stuy. I also
> had to attend the funeral service for the guard who was murdered at the
> door of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in a black church
> in Virginia, and my best friend's mother's funeral in a Catholic cathedral.

Josh Backon (MJ 59#15):

> As much as I can commiserate with the tragedies of non-Jewish friends,
> it is strictly forbidden by halacha to even enter a church. See: TZITZ ELIEZER
> XIV 91 who not only prohibits entering a church but also a mosque. See also
> ...
> There is 1 lenient position (in Asei Lecha Rav) that permits entering an
> *empty* church that hasn't been used for services for many years (e.g
> a museum). And even that is on a need for one's livelihood (e.g. a student
> of architecture or art history).

I would be very surprised to learn that this was indeed the only liberal position,
and the most liberal position, as I have been told that it is only a problem with
Catholic churches due to the statues.
I am not disputing the prohibition of Jews praying the way Christians do,
but it seems to me that the majority (especially among Askenazim) hold that
Christianity does not amount to Avodah Zara (idol worship) at least for gentiles.
Therefore I suspect that not everyone agrees that the laws pertaining to
Avodah Zara apply here.
Frank Silbermann...........Memphis, Tennessee


From: Jeanette  Friedman <FriedmanJ@...>
Date: Thu, Sep 2,2010 at 08:01 PM
Subject: going to church and more

Josh Bacon wrote (MJ 59#15):

> The source of the biblical prohibition is  *meshamshei avoda zara*
> [things used for idolatry - MOD] (Talmud Avoda Zara 37b in the Chidushei
> haRamban). See also Rambam in his Peyrush Hamishnayot to  Avodah Zara 1:1.
> One is prohibited from even to come 4 *amot* [6 feet) near a  church (see
> commentators on the gemara in Avoda Zara 17a). In addition to the  above,
> there is also a prohibition of *mar'it ayin* [giving the appearance of 
> doing something prohibited - MOD] where one would assume the person is
> participating in a church service. One is biblically prohibited from any
> benefit whatsoever from *meshamshei avoda zara*.
And according to my daughter we shouldn't even talk to goyim. So let me  
tell you what happened this morning when the Polish nurse came in to prep my  
husband for his heart surgery today. I started to talk to her, since she  
remarked on my husband's very Polish last name and my daughter in Ivrit told 
me to shut up and not to talk to this woman because she was a Polish "shiksa". I
persisted in talking about where my mother was, where my father was and where my
father in law came from. It turns out that this nurse's father had hidden two
Jews in his house for two years during the war, and had lost touch with 
them  soon after. He was never, ever thanked or recognized for this, even tho 
he  deserves at least a tree on the Avenue of the Righteous. Since I am the 
editor  of a newspaper that specifically looks for Holocaust survivors 
seeking each other and perhaps their rescuers, we gave her my card and we are 
going to talk to her father to get some facts so he can try to find his 
childhood friend.

I told my daughter who heard this entire conversation, that she has become 
a bigot le sheym shamayim, that her attempt to prevent me from talking to 
this woman would have been a major chillul Hashem --- not to mention that I 
would not have been able to do some hakoras hatov for someone who risked 
his life and the lives of his entire family to save two Jews who never said 
thank you --- which I did do for them, even tho it was infinitely too little 
too late. After all, he who saves one life saves a world -- but that's just 
in Pirkei Avot and can't possibly have as much heft as the orders to stay  
out of places of avodah zorah, because you might commit a lurid sexual act in  
the face of the false gods instead of saying thank you to a goy who saved 
Jewish lives.
So I will take my chances at the pearly gates and have my discussion with  
whomever greets me there and sends me to hell for paying respects to: 
a. a woman who saved my life and trained me as a professional writer and  
was there for me always until the day she died 

b; disrespecting my best friend by not showing up at her mother's funeral 
mass and 

c; not paying respects to a man who was shot to death because he was  
protecting people, including many of my Jewish friends who work there, at a  
museum about the Holocaust that we use to beat people over the head in  order to
teach them to treat people like people and not animals -- while we Jews get 
to treat non-Jews with disdain.  
So you can stay away from doing the right thing by not respecting and  
honoring people who aren't Jewish (but then you would never allow yourself to 
get so close to a goy that they might save your life). Never, ever set foot 
in a house of worship that is not Jewish, even if it means disgracing  
Jewish honor. (Remember the film Hiding and Seeking by Menachem Daum, a frum  
fellow from Borough Park -- classic example of trying to right a wrong by  
recognizing the people who saved his father-in-law and his brothers. Menachem's
sons treat him with disdain, too, for doing this work, and he is tortured by 
the fact that his sons just don't get it. I know. He's a friend of mine, 
and that stuff comes out in the movie.  The Agudah tried to prevent people 
from seeing it by banning it. It was the best thing they could have done.
I honored people who deserved to be honored.  I did not pray to Jesus, I 
did not sacrifice babies, and I will not let one of my babies continue to be 
a stinking bigot because that's what she became when she became frum. 
Today taught her a serious lesson about the stupidity she was taught in Bayit 
VaGan about hating all goyim 
But like Menachem, I don't think anything will stop the hate ingrained in  
our children. It's too late to stop the hate.
Jeanette  Friedman 


From: Menashe Elyashiv <Menashe.Elyashiv@...>
Date: Fri, Sep 3,2010 at 03:01 AM
Subject: Paying members

In MJ 59#14, Carl wrote:

> A large shul here in Passaic, also a "minyan factory" with several
> minyanim put up flyers and then went around demanding $100 from regular 
> attendees who were not members.

> It was a bit of a strong arm tactic, but I believe it reflected the
> desperation of those paying the shul's bills. The shul may be a not
> for profit, but the utility company is not and the shul must pay to
> keep the lights on.

I agree, and I see what happens here. A local shtiebel, where no one feels 
commited to upkeep, and sells Aliyot for 5 (!)shekel looks like that. 
Dirty, old furniture, hot in the summer, wet in the winter, etc. The 
Hassidic Rabbi outlawed the minyanim factory in his place after being 
stuck with electric bills and receiving no support from the public. If 
anyone really can not find 75 shekels for a HH seat, we would give him a 
free one. However, usually after explaining why we need his very small 
support, most people will understand that it is better to save on your own 
needs rather than on holy needs.


From: Menashe Elyashiv <Menashe.Elyashiv@...>
Date: Fri, Sep 3,2010 at 03:01 AM
Subject: Public domain

In MJ 59#15, J. Backon wrote:

> The problem is definition of a public domain (reshut ha'rabim m'doraita).
> The following decisors ruled that a public domain must be 16 amot wide
> (about 24 feet) and 600,000  traverse it daily: Rashi in Eruvin 6a; ROSH ...

But checking back to the Talmud, it seems clear that the public domain 
is defined only by width, and the 600,000 is first mentioned by the BHAG. It 
also seems that the Mishna & Gemarra are dealing with a real public 
domain, and therefore the Rabbis (Hazal) forbidded many things so that one 
should not carry on Shabbat


From: Ben Katz <BKatz@...>
Date: Thu, Sep 2,2010 at 01:01 PM
Subject: Reish Lakish

Shlomo Engelson Argamon <argamon@...> wrot (MJ 59#13):

> Leah S.R. Gordon <leah@...> wrote (MJ 59#12):

>> ... these same people are not anyone who thinks it "discredits" someone
>> to interpret their sexual orientation as gay.
> True enough - they are not trying thereby to discredit Resh Lakish.
> Rather, by such tendentious reinterpretations, they seek to legitimate
> homosexuality and homosexual behavior.  "See!  The great sages of the
> Talmud accepted homosexuality!  And some of them were homosexuals!"  A
> particularly egregious example of this genre is the literature on the
> supposed homosexuality (Ch"vSh) of David and Jonathan.

The David and Jonathan business has always bothered me, because it does have
some textual justification.  David says "My love for you was greater than that
of the love of women" (my translation, from memory).  That of course, can have 2
meanings, either with or without physicality.  

Also, some of the medieval Jewish and Arabic homoerotic poetry is not so easy to
dismiss.  Again, 1 line from memory: "The son of Amram [Moses] would not have
outlawed homosexuality if he had ever gazed upon you."  Whether this is just a
trope or not has been debated academically.


From: David Ziants <dziants@...>
Date: Fri, Sep 3,2010 at 10:01 AM
Subject: Shul Joke - was re: Entering a church

A sequel to Josh Backon's joke (MJ 59#15) appertains to a shul with famous
stained-glassed windows.

So Moshe comes to the Visitors' Centre of the place and where this shul 
is and was told that entry costs 30NIS . He pleads to the clerk that he 
just wants to daven Mincha [say the Afternoon Prayer].
The clerk tells him he can daven - but just don't let me catch you 
looking at the windows!!! :-)

Shabbat Shalom and Shanna Tova
David Ziants


From: David Tzohar <davidtzohar@...>
Date: Thu, Sep 2,2010 at 07:01 PM
Subject: The Torah view on homosexuality

Both Meir Shinnar and Akiva Miller have asked me for sources in the Torah
that explicitly prohibit homosexual orientation or attraction. Of course
there are none. What I wrote was that a homosexual lifestyle which includes
prohibited acts is not only prohibited but is "toeivah"(repulsive,
repugnant, aberrant ,perversive-all included in the traditional translation
of "abomination"). I also wrote the obvious fact that the Torah forbids a
promiscuous heterosexual lifestyle. But there is a difference. The Torah
does not call forbidden heterosexual acts toeiva, even rape. The reason is 
that the sexual act between a man and a woman when consecrated by marriage 
is not only permitted but is itself holy (marriage=kiddushin=holiness).

HaRav Kook ztz"l expressed it this way in Orot Hakodesh Vol.3: 

"By sanctifying your will, the evil inclination in sexuality is rectified. The
sexual drive is incredibly strong because it contains the expression of life ...
From this great basis flow life and refinement, beauty and the glory of
holiness. The pure soul leads the sexual drive to its goal through the boundary of
Torah,which is the source of wisdom rectitude and modesty"

The Yeshivish style in Mussar is in general not to quote sources, but I think
that these two passages are appropriate:

"Thus a man will leave his father and his mother and will cleave to his wife
and they will become one flesh." (Breishit 2;24). 

And from this week's parasha:
"I call heaven and earth to witness this day before you,that I have set 
before you life and death, blessing and curse; therefore choose life so 
that you and your progeny may live." (Devarim 30:19)

David Tzohar


From: Mark Steiner <marksa@...>
Date: Fri, Sep 3,2010 at 09:01 AM
Subject: Women Davening

Chana Luntz wrote (MJ 59#15):

> But carrying on the discussion above about women's permissibility to say
> the HaShem's name and daven during the period of their menstrual flow, at
> the end of Siman 88 the Aruch HaShulchan, after quoting the Rema in full
> and clarifying (again based on the Magen Avraham) that the permission to
> go to shul during their periods commences from the first day of Slichos,
> he notes:
> "and when they go they are able also to pray [l'hitpallel] ... and even in
> the days of her period she is obligated to recite the grace after meals
> which she is obligated in from the Torah ..."
> So what happened to this idea that a woman is obligated to daven once a
> day from the Torah?
My answer to this:

I didn't want to add this to an already long post, but I'll write it
now: it appears to me that the Grace after Meals satisfies the Torah
mitzvah of prayer, as it has all the elements that the Rambam mentions:
praise, requests, thanksgiving.  "Modeh (or rather Modah) ani" doesn't.
Chana quoted me (MJ 59#12):

>> (Otherwise, nobody could carry in an eruv, since the established 
>> minhag to do so contradicts the view of many rishonim that one does
>> not need 600,000 travellers daily to creat a "public domain."
And then commented:

> This is not a fair comparison.  The need for 600,000 travellers goes
> beyond minhag.  It is listed as a yesh omrim [there are those who say] in
> the Shulchan Aruch (Orech Chaim siman 345 si'if 7).  That is, the Shulchan
> Aruch itself lists the dispute amongst the rishonim as to whether or not
> one needs 600,000 even if it brings the view that one does not as the stam
> [ie first unqualified opinion].

My response to this:

I don't understand the point here -- you are saying the same thing as
I.  The minhag everywhere is according to the yesh omirim to
require 600,000, i.e. to make an eruv wherever a wide street does not have
the 600,000.  If we can't follow women's minhag not to daven , we
certainly can't follow the yesh omrim in a serious question of sabbath
Another comment of Chana:

> This is of course a fascinating aspect - although one does wonder how long
> it has really been going on.  Why is it that the first reference (at least
> that I am aware of) discussing this is the Magen Avraham in Ashkenaz in
> the 17th century?  What happened before then?  Why are none of the
> rishonim jumping up and down and clarifying this (Tosphos as we know seems
> more concerned about women making brochos from which they might be exempt
> than the other way around - although there is their reference as to why
> women do not make zimun)?  Even in this discussion by the Ravya and the
> Trumat HaDeshen regarding women not saying the name of Hashem and davening
> and going to shul, why is this not brought in relation to the general
> question of women davening and the gemora on Brachos 20?
My response:

There is some evidence which I am checking now for women davening in
the circles of R. Yehuda Hehasid, when I finish looking it up, I will
write some more.  The Ramban in Ki Tavo (quoting Masechet Sofrim) states
that when the Torah is lifted it is a mitzvah on ALL THE MEN AND
WOMEN to see the writing, so we see that there were women in shul.  In
some Mizrahi shuls, the curtain is drawn aside during the lifting of the
Torah and even reading of the Torah for this reason.  (Of course we are
talking about a curtain on a balcony.)

Chana quoted me:

>> just as I assume that my grandfather didn't do anything wrong by 
>> standing for kiddush (like millions of Galitsyaners)

And then commented:

> Again though, this is not really a fair comparison.  The argument for
> sitting for Kiddush does not go back to an explicit Mishna and the
> straight reading of all the rishonim. 
My response:

Yes it does.  The Mishnah in the 6th chapter of Berakhot states
explicitly that one person can say the blessing of borey pri hagefen for
the rest, only when all are reclining.  European rishonim say that this
translates into "sitting" for us.  Ergo, all must be sitting for kiddush
(and the real Litvaks say also havdalah).  We Galitsyaners say that the
borey pri hagefen of kiddush is a birkat hamitzvah [berachah on a mitzvah - MOD]
and must be said standing.  This is why all stand under the chupa when drinking
the wine also -- the blessing is not primary birkat hanehenin [berachah prior to
enjoyimng something - MOD], but birkat mitzvah.
Chana quoted me:

>> Let me end with a "chumrah" instituted by a woman, which was adopted 
>> by all the gedolei hador: a story is told about a widow who used to 
>> daven in R. Yochanan's bais medrash in Tiberias.  When he asked her why 
>> she walked so far when she had a shul next to her house, she answered: 
>> but what about the reward of pesi`ot (each step towards a shul is itself
>> a mitzvah). R. Yochanan loved this answer, and it was of course published
>> in the Talmud as a model for how a person should approach davening. I 
>> assume furthermore that if there were no mitzvah for a woman to daven in
>> a shul, i.e. public prayer, there would be no concept of the reward of   
>> "steps". Thus we see that a woman's prayers are counted as part of the
>> tefilah of the minyan, even though she herself is not counted for the minyan.
And then commented:

> It is a great reference, but is it clear that she was coming for the
> davening, rather than the chance to respond to kaddish (and/or other
> blessings) and/or krias haTorah?
My response:
Chana, don't be such a "Litvak."  She was obviously coming to daven
with R. Yohanan's tzibbur, because she believed that her tefillah had a
better chance of being answered as part of the tefillah of such a tzibbur
with a gadol hador.  (Of course, she didn't embarrass R. Yochanan by bring
this up explicitly.)  As such, each step to such a bais medrash was a
separate mitzvah.  Even if she was coming to respond to kaddish, this is
also meaningless if a woman's response to it is not part of the response
of the tzibur -- same for kedusha.  She is participating in a public
sanctification of God's name and her response is part of the public response. 
By the way, as a galitsyaner, I was expecting some reference to our gedolim like
the Minchas Chinuch, one of the only authors quoted in R. Chaim Soloveitchik's
sefer (if he needs Litvish haskomos).

Allow me, by the way, to wish you and all the readers and contributors to
mail-jewish and moderators a sweet good year.


End of Volume 59 Issue 16