Volume 59 Number 19 
      Produced: Mon, 06 Sep 2010 04:20:55 EDT

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

Clapping and Dancing on Shabbat 
    [Yechiel Conway]
Crumbs of comfort for Rosh Hashonoh 
    [Marilyn Tomsk]
Stealing crumbs erev rosh hashana 
    [Naomi Graetz]
Women Davening 


From: Yechiel Conway <jeremy.conway@...>
Date: Sun, Sep 5,2010 at 06:01 PM
Subject: Clapping and Dancing on Shabbat

The Shulchan Aruch (Code of Jewish Law) states in Orach Chaim 339:3 that on
Shabbat, one may not clap or dance, because one might come to prepare or fix a
musical instrument. It is, however, permitted to clap backhandedly.

The Rama adds that we should not object when someone claps or dances on Shabbat,
because it is preferable for someone to transgress inadvertently than
deliberately.  He adds that nowadays, some authorities permit clapping and
dancing on Shabbat because we are not experts at making or fixing musical
instruments and there is therefore no reason to enact a decree prohibiting it
for fear that one might come to make or fix a musical instrument.

The Mishnah Berurah 339(10) comments on the Rama that clapping and dancing does
not deserve to be tolerated except in cases involving a mitzvah. Earlier, in
339(8), the Mishnah Berurah, citing acharonim (later authorities) who clearly
include Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi (see Shulchan Aruch HaRav 339:2, but note
that Chabad chassidim nowadays follow the ruling of the Minchat Elazar mentioned
below), states that it is permitted to clap and dance on Simchat Torah in honour
of the Torah, but not for any other mitzvah rejoicing (the term used by the
Mishnah Berurah is "simcha shel mitzvah") such as a wedding feast.

The Minchat Elazar (1:29), however, takes the view that according to all
authorities, including the Ashkenazim who follow the Rama (the language used is
a pun on Shemot 14:8), it is permitted to clap and dance on Shabbat whenever a
mitzvah is involved.  Nowadays, according to the Minchat Elazar, clapping and
dancing is part and parcel of the mitzvah rejoicing of Shabbat enjoyment (the
term used is "simcha shel mitzvah shel oneg Shabbat") and is therefore permitted
as an accompaniment to vocal singing.  The Minchat Elazar would not have allowed
clapping by way of applause because this has nothing to do with the "simcha shel
mitzvah shel oneg Shabbat".  The Minchat Elazar's ruling is widely followed by
chassidim, including Chabad chassidim.  In Sha'arei Halacha uMinhag, the 7th
Lubavitcher Rebbe justified the practice of holding children's Shabbos parties
(which involve clapping and dancing) in the face of objections based on the
Shulchan Aruch.

The Aruch HaShulchan (Orach Chaim 339:7 et seq) takes a completely different
approach from the Minchat Elazar.  The Aruch HaShulchan objects to the Rama's
assertion that we are not experts at making or fixing musical instruments, and
points out that it is easy to string a guitar.  He takes the view that we cannot
"disapply" a rabbinical enactment, but he arguably proceeds to do exactly that!
 He also discounts the "mitzvah" approach, even in the case of clapping and
dancing on Simchat Torah.  The Aruch HaShulchan's approach is to analyse the
context of the original rabbinical enactment against clapping and dancing on
Shabbat.  In his view, the enactment only ever applied in the case of rhythmic
clapping and rhythmic dancing in the Temple, and does not apply to our clapping
and dancing nowadays.  This reasoning would seem to allow clapping by way of
applause as well as clapping and dancing as an accompaniment to vocal singing. 
Many people follow the ruling of the Aruch HaShulchan, but it is worth noting
that the Aruch HaShulchan remarks that he has seen talmidei chachamim (learned
rabbis) clapping and dancing on Shabbat and that it therefore must be permitted.

Best wishes to all for a k'tiva vachatima tovah l'shanah tovah um'tukah (that we
should all be inscribed and sealed for a good and sweet year.)

Regards from Leeds, England.

Yechiel Conway.



From: Marilyn Tomsk <jtomsky@...>
Date: Sun, Sep 5,2010 at 07:01 PM
Subject: Crumbs of comfort for Rosh Hashonoh

"Elozor Reich: 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: - - "

I think that it is a joke list but this is ridiculous!  Instead of throwing bread into the water, why not do a good mitzvah and take it to a food center or a food kitchen for the poor.  I am sure God would approve of that rather than this waste nonsense.  Children and hungry homeless would appreciate that.  You would be saving lives instead of wasting.  That makes more sense.  If you want to be generous give a little more.  That would be a blessing to the hungry.

Marilyn Tomsky


From: Naomi Graetz <graetz@...>
Date: Mon, Sep 6,2010 at 02:01 AM
Subject: Stealing crumbs erev rosh hashana

I imagine that  Elozor Reich  in his  MJ  59 #17 posting of crumbs of comfort is
unaware of his sin of non-attribution, which is a form of Geneivat da'at,
stealing of knowledge.  Since it is erev rosh Hashanah, we should be getting rid
of our old habits of non-attribution. By quickly googling, as I did, one can
avoid this egregious sin. 

The work that was passed around as crumbs of comfort was not called that by the
original author, Rabbi Richard Israel zl and it was originally meant to be part
of a service for tashlich as can be seen at the web site of

It is worth while reading the following which I hope the editors of MJ will
print in its entirety, since it can serve as  tochecha, friendly rebuke, since
we are all too quick in the sin of passing around unattributed work that appears
on the internet. This entry can be found at
http://www.bricklin.com/jokeattrib.htm  and at the end of this entry I am
posting the last 13 lines of Rabbi Israel's work, which do not appear in the
version of what ER posted.
It's amazing how problems we run into in the new world of the Internet are
really just the same problems of old, often with similar solutions. Here is an
There is a custom among many Jews during the second day of the Rosh Hashanah
holiday to symbolically get rid of their sins by throwing bits of bread into a
body of water, such as a river. The practice is known as "Tashlich" (pronounced
"TAHSH-lich"). My friend Robbie Fein had the idea that it would be fun to
associate different types of breads with different types of sins. He mentioned
this to a friend of his, Rabbi Dick Israel of Newton, Massachusetts. Dick liked
the idea, and wrote a humorous piece listing several different sin/bread
combinations for a sermon. For example:
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
(You get the idea...)
Dick participates in an email mailing list for rabbis, and sent a copy to the
list. Like many professional mailing lists, this was supposed to be a closed
list, with no sharing of the material outside of the list. Unfortunately, that's
not what happened with his piece. Within hours of posting the Tashlich list,
people all over the world were forwarding each other copies. Dick was getting
back copies of his own joke. While he was flattered by the widespread delight at
his humor, he was upset that the attribution to him was removed and didn't
travel with it. (In the academic and spiritual world, of course, attribution is
Dick described it this way:
"It was circulated not only with no attribution, but also with spurious
attribution. If A sent it to B, B assumed that A wrote it and gave A credit.
There were any number of A's who were given such credit. But the worst was when
someone showed me a copy of the list which they thought was clever and I
responded that I had written it. 'You did not!' He said, 'No one wrote it.' It
had become folk-lore and it was apparently my lot to have my fifteen minutes of
fame anonymously."
One of the people who wrote him was his friend Richard Dale. Richard had
received a copy of the Tashlich piece from a friend in England. Understanding
Dick's problem, Richard proposed a Rabbinical solution to keeping the
attribution with the text. He suggested that Dick send out an updated list with
additional entries. This time, Dick should encode his own name in the text using
a method common to the poems of old: make the first letters of each entry spell
out his name. Richard found it a little strange to propose a solution that came
from his religious background rather than his technical background. It is well
known to most Jews that some prayers, such as the Lecha Dodi sung every Friday
evening, have the author's name encoded this way (in that case, Shlomo HaLevi).
Dick followed Richard's advice, and now the new version circulates with his name
"Richard Israel" encoded inside as the first letters of the last 13 items.
The problem that Dick ran into is an important one in the Internet world. People
with content, including images, programs, text, music, video, and more, face the
problem of attributing ownership and authorship. "Digital watermarks" in
pictures, encrypted file formats, and more are being developed. But the problem
is not new. The content creators of hundreds of years ago left "watermarks" in
their works that have survived copying for generations. Hopefully we can come up
with simple and powerful enough methods so that our signatures will last as long.
In his Tashlich Supplement he embedded his inititals which I (Naomi Graetz) took
the liberty of putting into CAPS so that it stands out clearly!!! 
(c) 1997 Richard J Israel
For Rearing children incompetently - Raisin Bread
For Immodest behavior - Tarts
For Causing injury or damage to others - Tortes
For Hardening our hearts - Jelly doughnuts
For Abrasiveness - Grits
For Recurring slip ups - Banana Bread
For Davening off tune - Flat Bread
For Impetuosity - Quick Bread
For Silliness - Nut Bread
For Risking one's life unnecessarily - Hero Bread
For Auto theft - Caraway
For Excessive use of irony - Rye Bread
For Larceny (especially of copyright material) - Stollen

Naomi Graetz 
Ben Gurion University of the Negev 


From: Chana <Chana@...>
Date: Sun, Sep 5,2010 at 09:01 AM
Subject: Women Davening

Mark Steiner writes (MJ 59#17):

> 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. 

For which I thank you, I had an enjoyable morning exploring the the Shoel
Umeishiv reference you provided.

> Arguably one of the greatest of them all is the Shoel Umeishiv. ...
> 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. 

It is interesting, he says this despite the fact that he holds that tephila
is rabbinic, i.e. he appears to argue that when the rabbis included women in
tephila because of the need for mercy, they only did it to the extent of one
prayer, as that will solve the need for mercy problem, and therefore for the
rest it reverts to the standard positive mitzvah dependent upon time
position where women are exempt.

In addition, he refers us to another of his works where he discusses the
reasoning for women being exempt from positive mitzvos dependent upon time
(but unfortunately Bar Ilan does not appear have it).  However he does make
it clear from here that the reason he concludes there for women's exemption
is that they are in the domain of others, namely their husbands, and their
husbands might not like them to do positive mitzvos based on time
(presumably including davening).  What is not clear here is what his
position is on women who are not in the domain of others - most obviously
the widowed or divorced, does the positive mitzvos spring back (the analogy
with workers which he half makes might suggest it might, but other language
suggests that it wouldn't).  Similarly, if the husbands were not makpid
[particular] about women performing these mitzvos, then, analogous to
workers, would the obligations then reappear?

> He is willing to say this about people who work as well, by the way,

Actually, I don't think he is as categorical as that.  He raises it as a
possible suggestion, (he is mesupek [doubtful]) but also suggests that as
they are "bnei chiyuvin" [generally within the category of obligated] one
has to say that they did not meshubad [subjugate] themselves to their
employers to this extent.

> 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 don't know that you are right about the metzius [reality] here.  That
might be true in factories where one gets 15 minutes (or whatever) off for a
coffee break, during which time one stops working.  But for example in the
law offices I have mostly worked in, while it is perfectly acceptable to
wander down to the coffee machine to get coffee, it is assumed that you are
available during that time to discuss deals (in fact the coffee machine is a
great place to corner or be cornered to discuss something, as you are
assumed not to be solidly concentrating on something else).  This of course
is not the case with the Shmonei Esrei, where you are not available to talk
and you are required to be concentrating on davening and not interupt.

I think the more correct reason why it is not a problem in most modern
offices is because the employer is assumed not to be makpid [particular] for
you taking 5-10 minutes out to do personal things during the day, especially
if you make up those minutes after hours.  In fact most of the firms I have
worked for have said in their handbooks things like - you are permitted to
use the telephone for reasonable personal matters during the day that cannot
be dealt with at other times, but such use should be kept to a minimum and
not abused - or some such.  And particularly in places where one bills in
six minute units, the employer clearly does not care when the six minute
units are billed, and if one stops for one or two units at around 2 or 3pm,
and bills more later they do not lose out in any way and the gezel [theft]
question is therefore moot.

What it seems to me is a far more real question in modern offices is that of
fasting on a taanit tzibbur [public fast].  This question has been raised
(see eg Yabia Omer Chelek Bet Orech Chaim siman 28 si'if katan 8 and the
sources he brings there).  Again Rav Ovadiah there rejects the idea that
workers might not be obligated to fast (eg on the four minor fasts) mostly
again on this idea that the employer took them on this basis or the employer
is not makpid.  However, while this might be the case in Eretz Yisroel where
people may be aware of these fasts, and know what it means to employ
religious workers, I am not at all convinced that this is the case outside
Israel.  Nor, in jobs where one is employed to think, something which is
unquestionably impaired by a day of fasting, am I sure that an employer
would not be makpid, in the way it would not be with a few minutes out to
daven.  In fact, I had my employer say this to me explicitly once.  There
were two of us working on a huge securitisation (shows it was a while ago),
myself and the partner, (lots and lots of money, big public name) and I was
the one who knew all the documents.  And it had to close two days after
Tisha B'Av and so of course I was fasting and trying to work.  And feeling
more and more rotten (eventually I did phone a Rav and he did authorise me
to break my fast, but by then I was struggling to eat without throwing up I
was so nauseous).  And the partner said to me something along the lines of -
what am I supposed tell the client, this deal can't close because you are
fasting?  i.e there was absolutely no question that my employer was indeed
makpid.  (Just to give you a further idea, after the deal closed a couple of
days later, the first thing I did was go to one of the shops near my work
and buy myself some new clothes, as I was still in the clothes I had been
wearing for Tisha B'Av, and before, of course, because I hadn't been home to
shower or change my clothes since Tisha B'Av finished.  Even so, I don't
think my partner was the slighted bit fussed about time out for davening,
but wrecking myself fasting was another story).

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

Actually what I said was:
(first post): "Instead of relying on what are, at least amongst Ashkenazim,
approaching minority opinions in the poskim (albeit widely practiced
positions amongst the laity)"

(second post): And, at least for Ashkenazim, the position is doubly
complicated by the fact that even the Magen Avraham's limud zchus
[justification] only works if you follow the position of the Rambam and the
Rif, and while that appears to be the position brought in the Shulchan
Aruch, it is not, as the Magen Avraham and other Ashkenazim note, the
dominant position amongst Ashkenazi poskim, who generally hold that tephila
is a rabbinic enactment. ... Still, leaving logic aside, women who follow
Sephardi psak have much stronger names and fewer hurdles to justify a
practice of noy davening three (or two) times a day.

(third post): I am not disputing the need and desire for a limud zechus here.
The issue was that the original poster posited a "science fictiony" idea -
how would women feel if suddenly they discovered they were actually
obligated in three times a day davening?  Are they not quietly relieved that
this is not the case?  What I was trying to point out is what I called the
halachic reality, rather than the historical reality, is that this science
fictiony idea is actually a fact.

Now I stand by the idea that davening less than two times a day is, at least
amongst the Ashkenazim "approaching minority opinions in the poskim".   The
Shoel U'Meishiv you will note is disagreeing even with the other Ashkenazi
poskim who learn a limud zechus for women not davening three times a day
(like the Magen Avraham) by positing both tephila as a rabbinic obligation
and exempting women from part (but part only) of that obligation.  That is
unquestionably a minority position, and the verdict of history (whether as a
result of brainwashing or not) is not to quote him so extensively, and not
to quote him at all on this issue.  If people have a personal minhag
[custom] to follow a particular posek that is fine, and this can be l'chumra
[stringency] or l'kula [leniency].  But on this issue, anybody following
such a position would have to be, if any sense of being quietly relieved is
going, being quietly relieved that one's personal posek is lenient in the
face of the dominant position coming out of the increasingly accepted (if
you would prefer me to phrase it this way) poskim.

Kativa v'chatima tova



End of Volume 59 Issue 19