Volume 59 Number 17 
      Produced: Sun, 05 Sep 2010 15:31:51 EDT

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

Crumbs of comfort for Rosh Hashonoh 
    [Elozor Reich]
Galitsyaner Gaonim 
    [Mark Steiner]
Mail & email near Shabbos 
    [Carl Singer]
Rambam's change of mind 
    [Avraham Walfish]
Sexual Misconduct and Community Cover-ups 
    [Larry Israel]
Textual, Mimetic and Creative Halacha (Was Oral Sex, women's prayer, s 
    [Russell J Hendel]
Toeiva - enough! 
    [Eitan Fiorino]
When are MJ Digests produced - Shabbat 
    [Josh Backon]
Women Davening (2)
    [Mark Steiner  Carl Singer]


From: Elozor Reich <ereich@...>
Date: Fri, Sep 3,2010 at 12:01 PM
Subject: Crumbs of comfort for Rosh Hashonoh

I read this somewhere on the web

TASHLICH is performed during the High Holiday season throwing crumbs of bread
into a body of water. Some people have been known to ask what kind of bread
crumbs should they throw: 

  for ordinary sins, use white bread
  for exotic sins, French bread
  for particularly dark sins, Pumpernickel
  for complex sins, Multi-grain
  for twisted sins, pretzels
  for tasteless sins, Rice cakes
  for sins of indecision, waffles
  for sins committed in haste, matzah
  for sins committed in less than 18 minutes, Shmurah matzah
  for sins of chutzpah, fresh bread
  for committing arson, toast
  for committing auto theft, caraway
  for being ill tempered, sourdough
  for silliness, nut bread
  for not giving full value, shortbread
  for Jingoism, Yankee Doodles
  for excessive use of irony, Rye bread
  for telling bad jokes, Corn bread
  for hardening our hearts, jelly doughnuts
  for being money hungry, Enriched bread or Raw dough
  for war-mongering, Kaiser rolls
  for immodest dressing, Tarts
  for causing injury or damage to others, tortes
  for racism, Crackers

  for sophisticated racism, Ritz crackers
  for davening off tune, Flat bread
  for being holier than thou, bagels
  for unfairly upbraiding another, Challah
  for trashing the environment, Dumplings
  for sins of laziness, Any very long loaf
  for sins of pride, Puff pastry
  for lying, Baked goods with Nutrasweet and Olestra
  for wearing tasteless hats, Tam tams
  for the sins of the righteous, Angel food cake
  for selling your soul, Devil's food cake
  for lust in your heart, Wonder bread
  for substance abuse, Stoned wheat

  for heavy drugs, Poppy Seed
  for petty larceny, Stollen
  for timidity, Milk Toast
  for risking one's life unnecessarily, Hero Bread
  for trashing the environment, Dumplings
  for being hyper-critical, Pan Cakes
  for political skullduggery, Bismarcks
  for over-eating, Stuffing Bread or Bulky Rolls
  for gambling, Fortune Cookies
  for abrasiveness, Grits
  for being snappish, Ginger Bread
  for impetuosity, Quick Bread
  for incompetent child rearing, Raisin Bread
  for negligent slip ups, Banana Bread
  for dropping in without warning, Popovers


  Remember, you don't have to show your crumbs to anyone.


From: Mark Steiner <marksa@...>
Date: Sun, Sep 5,2010 at 10:01 AM
Subject: Galitsyaner Gaonim

I did a little search on the Mishnah Berurah, to see whether he
indeed quotes the Shoel Umeishiv.  I included also R. Shlomo Kluger, "Gaon
of Brody."  I found that I owe the Chofetz Chaim z"l an apology before Rosh
Hashanah, because he cites the former around 10 times and also makes use of
R. Shlomo Kluger's writings, as he should.  I didn't find a single citation
from the Divrei Chaim, however.

What remains is the attitude toward sanctified practice, or minhag,
whether of women or men -- even of his native Lithuania, to say nothing of
Galicia.  One of the minhagim in Galicia was that women were not required to
use lechem mishneh on shabbat, despite views to the contrary in the
Avudraham and others (that lechem mishneh is like kiddush which women are
also required to do, or because the lechem mishneh is in memory of the
miracle of the man (manna) in the desert, which women also participated in).
R. Shlomo Kluger (OC 114) announces, "Minhag of Israel is Torah," and
proceeds to show why neither of these reasons is conclusive.  It is in these
kind of cases that "our" traditions are missing from the MB.  In fact the MB
OC 274:1:2 in the Shaar Hatziyun simply quotes the "acharonim" that women
need to take lechem mishneh because they were included in miracle of the
manna. He doesn't mention that the gaon adir, Reb Shlomo Kluger, who was not
just "another acharon", says that there is a difference between a mitzvah
being established in thanksgiving for the manna (in which case women are
involved) and a mitzvah that just commemorates the manna, in which case it's
like any other time bound mitzvah.  Of course this is a hiddush, you might
even say a "Brisker hiddush," but it is in support of universal practice in
the empire of FJ.  My point is this: we are not just talking about the view
of one gaon or another, but we are talking about the leader of a huge
community, who is defending their customs.  After all, this was the role of
all the geonei Ashkenaz.

So the question is not -- do we quote this one or that one on an
individual issue, but: what is our attitude toward the customs of "our"
forefathers and mothers, where they have been ratified by gedolei hador?
Most of the people on this list don't know much about chassidim, or don't
have much sympathy for them, but they certainly do hold by their minhagim
against the MB.  (E.g., chassidim use eruvim freely, Litvaks do not.  They
use thin planks for their schach, Litvaks do not.)

This is a very large subject that has been treated by various scholars, but for
me, this will have to suffice.


From: Carl Singer <carl.singer@...>
Date: Thu, Sep 2,2010 at 08:01 PM
Subject: Mail & email near Shabbos

Guido Elbogen (MJ 59#15) notes:

> The permit to mail letters on Fridays is presumably only relevant in Chutz
> LeAretz where the handlers are generally goyim. However if there is a big
> chance that the mail will arrive Saturday and opened by a non scrupulous
> Jew then presumably it would be a mitzvah to refrain from Erev Shabbat
> posting (inclusive of emails!).

Unfortunately, I think this can be carried to the point of absurdity.
I mentioned in a previous post -- if my email (or postal mail) directs
someone (Jewish or not) to do work -- for example, "immediately shred previous
version of this document and copy / distribute this to your team"

If I mail it on Friday it might arrive on Shabbos -- but if I mail it on
Thursday again it might arrive on Shabbos with a pretty high probability.  
Wednesday also a reasonable probability to certain locales .....  We can never
be completely certain as to when our mail will arrive, or for that matter when
it will be opened.  Some people who are not Pavlovian about incoming mail, may
wait until the weekend to open their mail.

Then again I might posit that if I mail it on Friday perhaps it's most
likely to be delivered on Monday -- we're dealing with some distribution of
delivery times.

The 50 hours internet window is certainly at issue as well. Shabbos "lasts"
for approximately 50 consecutive hours each week "as the world turns."

Am I putting a stumbling block in front of a blind person by sending (e)mail
which they may receive on Shabbos?  Am I responsible?  Need I modify my behavior?



From: Avraham Walfish <rawalfish@...>
Date: Thu, Sep 2,2010 at 08:01 PM
Subject: Rambam's change of mind

Chana Luntz (MJ 59#15), at one point in her typically learned and
enlightening posting, wrote:

> Indeed, and like you, Rav Ovadiah just says that there are many cases
> where the Rambam says something in his commentary on the Mishna and then
> changes his mind in the Mishna Torah, and this is yet another case.  But on
> the other hand if one is of the school that prefers harmony to contradiction,

One doesn't need Rav Ovadiah to know that "there are many cases where
the Rambam says something in his commentary on the Mishna and then changes
his mind in the Mishna Torah". The Rambam's autograph copy of the Mishnah
commentary is extant (serving as the basis for most of the Rav Kappah edition of
the work), and in many cases (documented by Rav Kappah), you can see where the
Rambam crossed out earlier versions and corrected the manuscript to correspond to
what he wrote in the Mishneh Torah. That doesn't mean that in all cases we
can automatically exclude a harmonistic reading, but a "school that prefers
harmony to contradiction" would seem to contradict our current state of knowledge.

Avie Walfish


From: Larry Israel <larry.israel@...>
Date: Fri, Sep 3,2010 at 11:01 AM
Subject: Sexual Misconduct and Community Cover-ups

The religious Jewish community is not the only one that (allegedly) covers up sexual offenses. Here is a reference to a new article in the New York Times about a problem in the Amish community.



From: Russell J Hendel <rjhendel@...>
Date: Sun, Sep 5,2010 at 03:01 PM
Subject: Textual, Mimetic and Creative Halacha (Was Oral Sex, women's prayer, s

Hi. I have many postings that I intend to address. But rather than go around in
circles - you believe X, I believe Y - I thought it more productive to show
common themes of disagreement and method.  The Rav's son, Rav Chaim wrote a deep
paper on mimetic vs. textual traditions. However, his father the Rav, Rabbi
Joseph B. Soloveitchick, introduced a third method, the creative method of
halachic man. Let me use three (current) mj issues to illustrate.


I can't argue THAT there are acharonim (later authorities) of all 'flavors'
(Lithuanian, German etc) who deliver various pronouncements on this issue. I
also can't argue that to SOME people the TEXT (or PERSONAL CURRENT traditions)
is BINDING as normative law. What I can do is show how the Rav approached
similar issues (Disclaimer: I don't know offhand his views on women's prayer).
The Rav believed in the reading of primary texts. The Talmud says, "Women must
pray because they (also) need mercy/supplication".  

A possible counterargument (or, a possible counterargument, to the additional
obligation besides praying, of praying 3 times a day) is that women are GENERALY
exempt from time bound commandments. But, again going back to primary sources,
in all time bound commandments IN WHICH WOMEN PARTICIPATED; they ARE obligated.
Women are obligated to the time bound commandment of the Passover Seder BECAUSE
they participated in that miracle. Women are obligated in the time bound
commandment of listening to the megillah because they participated. 

Well in this case, the Temple sages instituted prayer as complementary to the
sacrifices (Rav Hirsch shows this is the main reason ... even in Temple times
there were the "standing organizations" who said shmoneh esray (the main Morning
Prayer) at the time the morning communal sacrifice was offered). But it
immediately follows then THAT WOMEN ARE ALSO INVOLVED IN THIS (the communal
daily sacrifice). The possible counterargument that men, not women, offer the
sacrifice is specious since lay Israelites don't offer sacrifices but they do
pray. Rather the sacrifice represented the entire community including women.

So based on primary sources I argue that women must pray the Shmoneh Esray 3
times a day. In concluding this, I have not based myself on textual or mimetic
traditions. I have based myself on a creative reading of original Talmudic
passages (Creative - because I seek the underlying reasons as mentioned in the
Talmud - actually my reading is quite conservative to original Jewish law).
Women need mercy; women participated with the community in offering the
sacrifice. Ergo women must pray. 

What do I do with those later authorities who say otherwise? Simple. Since my
primary method is creative halacha I will only give serious consideration to an
authority if they too account for all Talmudic statements. If they don't I will
not feel obligated to follow those authorities.


I repeat this even though we discussed it a while back. Instead of citing
traditions (textual and mimetic) I cited original Talmudic examples and sought
to creatively find a common denominator. It emerged that "treating reality with
the same symbolic methods as a dream is biblically prohibited as superstition;
however false science and other similar things are not so prohibited". 
Incidentally, I told one person that I considered the foods we eat on New Year
as omens as superstition ("People do it because of superstition and hence even
if you think otherwise you should not do it.") Since then many people have told
me that everyone knows they are only omens. So I retract this statement (Happy
new year to the entire Mail Jewish family; enjoy your apples and honey)


One person, while acknowledging Rambam's permissiveness here, cited numerous
traditions of what you can't do (in rather gory detail). I can't argue that some
people said certain things. But I can argue with method and approach. Again the
approach I would use here is the creative halachic approach. The primary
prohibition of spilling of seed occurs in Gen 38. Onan engaged in coitus
interruptus for which God punished him with death. Almost everyone who comments
on this, points out that it is painful for the woman. Note: Judaism is the only
legal system which legally requires the women's right of a pleasurable
experience (men have no such legal protection though they have "commercial"
rights on their spouse (as long as they stayed married to them)).

So coitus interruptus is a violation of a biblical positive commandment
requiring the husband to "visit" his wife and make sure she is satisfied (And
within that context he can do whatever else he wants). The rabbinic prohibition
of spilling seed is a fence - it encourages males not to release themselves at
every feeling of urgency lest they get into the habit and not spend sufficient
time with their spouses during marital visits.

True: There is a very strong secondary reason to the prohibition of spilling
seed - the interference with reproduction. But, and again I am using creative
halachic methods, this is a secondary reason. For after a couple has one boy and
girl and cannot (psychologically and economically) endure further children they
are no longer obligated in reproduction. Would you then say that spilling seed
is permitted? Certainly not. Rather as I have indicated the primary reason is
the women's happiness and the secondary reason is interference with
reproduction. (NOTE: This reading of mine is more stringent)

But now let us return to oral sex. Suppose the man is overly anxious and the
wife (to protect her own pleasure) needs him to release himself first so that he
can take time while with her? Under such circumstances the original biblical
obligation to satisfy the wife would take precedence over a rabbinic prohibition
designed to encourage good habits. In fact the Talmud (I forget where) praises
men "who do things twice" (I have interpreted this as oral sex - full relations
... there are probably other possible interpretations). I have been bogged down
in some details here but what I have added to the discussion is the effect of
behaviors on the women's happiness which is a biblically protected goal.

I might add - something already discussed. When men try to be overly religious
they get into trouble. I mentioned the case (about a year or two ago) of the
Rosh yeshiva in this city who had a habit of molesting children (to the extent
that there was a Kiddush club among the molested people after they had grown
up). Similar stories have been documented by other mj postings. Maybe if these
men had practiced some of these practices (such as oral sex or whatever)
especially with their wives' approval they wouldn't have gotten involved in
these very serious Torah injunctions.  

I have said a lot here. So let me recap my main point: One approach to halachah
is to focus on original Biblical and Talmudic concerns and check, at every point
of the discussion, whether they are being met. This is my main point. I believe
such a focus could resolve some of these controversies. I also believe it would
solve some serious problems present in the Jewish community.

Russell Jay Hendel; Phd ASA http://www.Rashiyomi.com


From: Eitan Fiorino <afiorino@...>
Date: Fri, Sep 3,2010 at 12:01 PM
Subject: Toeiva - enough!

David Tzohar <davidtzohar@...> wrote in Vol 59 #16

> 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 really wish people would spend the time to actually look at how the word
toeiva is used in the Torah and not rely on the King James translation.  Take a
concordancia and look up every pasuk in which the word occurs - you'll find LOTS
of things are called a toeiva (it appears >100 times in Tanach, if I recall - it
has been years since I did this exercise).  Generally, it refers to practices of
other nations, including practices linked to avodah zarah but not necessarily,
that are forbidden to Jews.  Or, more generally, it refers to practices of one
group that are forbidden to another - for example, for Mitzrim, eating with Jews
is a toeiva, and Moshe himself refers to the fact that for the Mitzrim, the
korbanot of the Jews is a toeiva.  So in the eyes of others, Jewish practices
are a toeiva, according to none other than Moshe Rabbenu.  I hardly think that
Moshe would tell Paroh that the korbanot commanded by God were an "abomination"
to anyone's eyes . . . 

I have heard suggested that the word "taboo" is a more appropriate translation,
and indeed this seems to fit the use of the word in the Torah.


From: Josh Backon <backon@...>
Date: Fri, Sep 3,2010 at 05:01 AM
Subject: When are MJ Digests produced - Shabbat

Guido Elbogen wrote  (MJ 59 #15):

>In Israel there is no mail delivery on Shabbat but the sorting offices are
>sometimes mehallel Shabbat.

Huh ???

As someone who was a "representative of the public' (Netzig Tzibbur) of
the Telecom Branch of the Israeli Ministry of Communications (1992-1998)
under Tzvi Ilani and who knows how the Postal Commission in Israel operates,
this statement (that postal sorting offices are mechallel Shabbat) is simply
not true.

The post office in Israel doesn't work on Fridays, it should work on
Shabbat ??? :-) :-)

[This reminds me of the old joke about the shnorrer who knocks on the
door of the wealthiest guy in town and asks for a donation. The millionaire
says, "My wife needs $250,000 for an urgent heart transplant. My brother's
business is failing. If he doesn't cough up $100,000 tomorrow, he'll have to
declare bankruptcy. My daughter has to pay $50,000 tuition to Bennington.
[it's a great line to answer shnorrers in shul, the chutzpidik ones who demand
cash right in the middle of daavening]

Shana Tova

Dr. Josh Backon


From: Mark Steiner <marksa@...>
Date: Fri, Sep 3,2010 at 07:01 AM
Subject: Women Davening

In light of Chana's continued ignoring our Galitsyaner poskim :), preferring
to shift the discussion to Hungarians :), I had no choice but to look myself
for this material.  Arguably one of the greatest of them all is the Shoel
Umeishiv.  (His biography in the Bar Ilan data base states that he wrote
THREE HUNDRED haskamot (approbations) on halakhic works of others, showing
what an international authority he was.)   In First Edition, Part I, section
62, sure enough: he says that although tefilah is "rahamei" (which he
understands as mercy), that function can be served by one tefilah (probably
the shmone esreh) a day.  As for the other two tefillot, we revert to the
rule that women are exempt from time bound mitzvot.  He is willing to say
this about people who work as well, by the way, so men who complain about
having to find a place to daven mincha can't argue about how hard life is
for them -- workmen in the trees are allowed to come down to daven, true,
according to the Mishnah, BUT, says the greatest Galitsyaner posek, they MAY
be also exempt from mincha.   (Note the work ethic for workers implied here.
I doubt that this can be applied today.  The assumption is that workmen
spend every minute working for the boss, and this is obviously not true
today -- if you get a coffee break, first daven mincha and then see if you
have time to drink coffee.)

I would therefore respectfully suggest that the statement that "most poskim
in Ashkenaz require women to daven twice or thrice a day" is unproven.

From: Carl Singer <carl.singer@...>
Date: Fri, Sep 3,2010 at 12:01 PM
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, 

If a woman did not, for example, say grace after meals when a niddah, this
would be a violation of Snious {modesty} in that it would be a public indication
of her cycle.


End of Volume 59 Issue 17