Volume 59 Number 24 
      Produced: Mon, 13 Sep 2010 09:33:57 EDT

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

"Statement of Principles" regarding homosexuality 
    [Avraham Walfish]
ATID.online - Interactive Professional Development for Rabbis and Teac 
    [Jeffrey Saks]
Dates of Rosh HaShanah 
    [Stuart Wise]
Entering a church (2)
    [Lisa Liel  Martin Stern]
Kaddish yatom when l'david hashem ori is straight after alainu 
    [David Ziants]
Rabbi Yochanan and Resh Lakish 
    [Shoshana L. Boublil]
    [Martin Stern]
    [Aharon A. Fischman]
The Uman Phenomenon 
    [Stuart Wise]
Throwing bread crumbs to fish on Shabbat/yom tov 
    [David Ziants]


From: Avraham Walfish <rawalfish@...>
Date: Sun, Sep 12,2010 at 02:01 PM
Subject: "Statement of Principles" regarding homosexuality

Orrin Tilevitz wrote (MJ 59#23) in reply to myself (MJ 59#22):

> The case of shabbat, which many posters have cited as an analogy in this
> discussion, is a red herring. For one thing, as serious a transgression as
> it is, it is not in the category of yehareig ve-al yaavor. For another, at
> least in the past, many who committed that transgression felt that the
> alternative was starvation for themselves and their families. That is not
> the alternative to abstaining from sex. For a third, even today there are
> Orthodox shuls with few or no Sabbath-observing congregants beyond the rabbi,
> at least congregants capable of acting as shelichei tzibur. There are also
> specific sources, which Rabbi Fuchs quotes, that permit sabbath-desecrators
> to receive aliyot.

I think all of Orrin's arguments are a red herring. Until Orrin can cite a
source establishing that any of these supposed (or real) differences entail the
halakha absolutely requiring a community to deprive a sexual transgressor of
communal honors, we will be left after Orrin's arguments in the same place we
were before: any of these considerations, if valid (and I do agree with some of
them), may be relevant in guiding one or another community to determine its
attitudes towards different kinds of transgressors. None of them require ALL
communities to adopt a uniform policy of exclusion.

>> If Orrin thinks that taking communal attitudes into account in areas where
>> the halakhah allows for it amounts to calling for the halakhah to "adapt",
>> then I plead guilty - yes, where the halakhah allows for flexibility, it
>> should adapt.

> Despite my persistent questioning, Avie does not say why he thinks the
> halacha permits distinctions to be made between homosexual conduct and
> forbidden heterosexual conduct.

Perhaps the reason Orrin missed my explanation is because he and I clearly
have different conceptions of how halakhic parameters operate. See below.

>> technically there is no prohibition, but the LOR would not permit it - i.e.
>> this is a matter where the halakhah leaves room for communal discretion.

> That is a non sequitur. That there is no technical halachic prohibition
> does not mean that the halacha is indifferent or that it is a matter to be
> decided by the community.

Here, I think, is the source of disagreement. For me the "sequitur" is clear
- where there is no "technical halakhic prohibition" regarding participation of
transgressors in one aspect or another of the functioning of a shul, the policy
decisions depend greatly on what is or is not acceptable to the community and
its mores. The halakhah establishes bounds beyond which no
halakhically-observant community should go, but within those bounds there is
room for communal attitudes to operate. This certainly applies to those areas
where the halakhah may indeed be indifferent (and there are such areas), but
even granting Orrin's presupposition that the halakhah is not "indifferent" to
the issues we have been debating, the fact that the halakhah has not seen fit to
issue a blanket ruling does mean that the halakhah has left room for other
non-halakhic considerations that each community can take into account. A
community certainly should (and usually does) include a rabbi, and perhaps other
talmidei hakhamim, who will ensure that even non-binding and "non-technical"
halakhic guidelines and values are considered and given their appropriate weight
when the community makes their decision. A community that ignores their input
will be acting improperly. But if the community decides that there are other
extra-halakhic considerations that overweigh the non-binding halakhic values,
that is their prerogative.

Avie Walfish


From: Jeffrey Saks <atid@...>
Date: Mon, Sep 13,2010 at 06:01 AM
Subject: ATID.online - Interactive Professional Development for Rabbis and Teac

Live, interactive, online professional development seminars
For Rabbis and Jewish Educators
Powered by WebYeshiva.org
For more details visit: www.webyeshiva.org/atid.php

How, Why, and When to Teach the Book
With Rabbi Menachem Leibtag
4 Mondays at 9:00-10:15 pm (New York Time)
October 4, 11, 18 & 25

In most Jewish schools each year is usually dedicated to the study of
a one book of Chumash (and usually also to one book of Navi). However,
rarely is there enough time in the school year to study the entire
book, so each school (or teacher) decides which chapters to teach and
which ones to skip.  The result is that most students are familiar
with certain sections of Chumash, but never attain a thorough
understanding of what each book is about. In our seminar, we will
introduce a methodology for teaching an entire book over the course of
a school year, so the students can attain a more comprehensive
understanding of each book, and its prophetic purpose. We will also
demonstrate how the themes that develop in each book relate to the
basic concepts of daily Judaism, such as tefilla, machshava, and
halacha " and how those topics can be integrated with this method of

Rabbi Leibtag, founder of the Tanach Study Center (tanach.org),
currently teaches at Yeshivat Shaalvim, Midreshet Lindenbaum, and at
the Gruss Institute of Yeshiva University in Jerusalem.

With Rabbi Chaim Tabasky
5 Wednesdays at 1:00-2:15 pm (New York Time)
October 27, November 3, 10, 17 & 24

Seminar for rabbonim on the array of issues they encounter "in the
field" regarding kriah, kashrut, and care of their shul's sifrei
Torah. As these issues often arise on Shabbat or Yom Tov, require an
immediate decision or psak, when a rabbi is unable to consult with
mentors or colleagues, the study and review of these topics is
essential for a Rav's proper functioning as the halakhic leader of his
congregation. The seminar is geared to give congregational rabbis the
background and practical exposure to rules of kashrut of sifrei Torah
that will enhance both decision making in problematic situations and
proper care of sefarim.

Rabbi Tabasky, a certified Sofer Stam, is an instructor of Talmud at
the Machon HaGavo'a l'Torah (Institute of Advanced Torah Studies) at
Bar Ilan University.

The seminars are open to Rabbis and Jewish studies teachers
(worldwide). They are given live and - using a webcam and microphone -
are fully interactive. Seminar cost $50 each series.
For details or to register, visit: www.webyeshiva.org/atid.php
All classes are recorded and archived along with all course materials,
and available for review or in the event you miss or are unable to
attend the live sessions. Participants will have the opportunity to
interact and consult with the instructors by email throughout the run
of the seminar.

For more information contact Rabbi Jeffrey Saks, Director, ATID, at
<saks@...> or 2-5671719.


From: Stuart Wise <Smwise3@...>
Date: Sun, Sep 12,2010 at 05:01 PM
Subject: Dates of Rosh HaShanah

Interesting note about 5751 and beyond.

Jewish Action magazine notes that beginning this year four of the five  
next  years (excluding 2012) will all have Rosh Hashanah on Thursday and  
Friday with Yom Kippur on Shabbos. The article did not explain why that is so,  
and wondering if anyone has a layman's explanation.
Stuart Wise


From: Lisa Liel <lisa@...>
Date: Sun, Sep 12,2010 at 01:01 PM
Subject: Entering a church

Orrin Tilevitz <tilevitzo@...> wrote (MJ 59#23):

>Lisa Liel wrote (MJ 59#22):
>> And even according to the small minority view which says that Christianity, 
>> as such, is not idolatry for non-Jews, it certainly is for Jews.
> I have heard this position and have had difficulty understanding it. 
> Does it mean that the act is only prohibited to Jews or that it 
> bears the punishment of yehareig ve-al yaavor [accept martyrdom 
> rather than transgress - MOD] as real avoda zara [idolatry - MOD]? 
> If so, how is that possible? Btw, in that small minority is the 
> Meiri, hardly a minor figure.

True, but then, we don't know for sure what the Meiri said, since the 
Beit HaBechira that we have in our possession was gotten from the Vatican.

As far as how it's possible, we just read in the Torah that "And they 
went and they worshipped them; gods that they did not know and that 
were not apportioned to them."  One possible drasha is that "lo 
chalak lahem" (not apportioned to them), but apportioned to 
others.  The meaning would be that it is either not idolatry for 
non-Jews, or is a permissible form of idolatry for them.  But as I 
said, that is a very small minority opinion, even if the Meiri is 
counted.  And Tosfot certainly never said that worshipping other 
deities is permitted to non-Jews; only that swearing by them is, and 
that only because when they refer to God, they mean God for real.


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Mon, Sep 13,2010 at 09:01 AM
Subject: Entering a church

David Tzohar <davidtzohar@...> wrote (MJ 59#22):

> I think that Orrin Tilevitz (MJ 59#21) lets the minim (xtians) off much too
> easily. First of all besides the tosfot he quoted which considers worshiping
> other gods along with Hashem somewhat less than avodah zara, other rishonim
> including Rambam considered it avodah zara lamehadrin [100% - MOD]. Some later
> authorities make distinctions between the various denominations, but
> Catholics who kneel before idols (crucifixes) and Eastern Orthodox who pray to
> icons are definitely ovdei avodah zara.
> Rav  Tzvi Yehuda Hacohen Kook ztzl and his talmidim R'Aviner, R'Tau and
> R'Ariel all shlita, hold that it is completely forbidden to enter a church
> under any circumstances.

David has pointed out that Christianity is considered minut [heresy] which
is different from avodah zarah [idolatry]. However the Gemara (Avodah Zarah
27b) treats minut as more serious than idolatry because "shanu minut demashcha"
[minut is different [from idolatry] because it attracts]. This is because
Christianity claims to be Biblically based and misinterprets Scriptural passages
to bolster its opinions, something a relatively unlearned Jew might not be
properly equipped to refute.

Therefore it is irrelevant whether it is considered to be a form of idolatry for
us Jews even if shittuf [accepting other powers in addition to HKBH as being
divine] might not be prohibited to Bnei Noach [non-Jews]. Since it is definitely
minut (and it would appear that this term was coined in the Talmud specifically
to refer to it), entry to a Christian place of worship would clearly be
prohibited. Whether this would apply to a place that was once a church but is no
longer in use as such is less clear and must be the basis of the lenient opinion
of Asei Lecha Rav, noted by Josh Backon (MJ 59#22), that permits entering an
*empty* church that hasn't been used for services for many years. 

Martin Stern


From: David Ziants <dziants@...>
Date: Sun, Sep 12,2010 at 07:01 PM
Subject: Kaddish yatom when l'david hashem ori is straight after alainu

It is customary for ashkenazi communities to say twice a day psalm #27 
" l'david hashem ori", at the end of shacharit [morning service] and 
either at the end of mincha [afternoon service] or arvit [evening 
service] according to custom. Most siddurim [prayer books] prompt for 
kaddish yatom [orphans' kaddish] after this, as it does after psalm of 
the day and after alainu [ancient prayer affirming unity of G-d that 
comes towards end of service].

There seems to be a tendency of many communities - especially when 
kaddish is said by all the kaddish sayers together - to try and cut down 
of the number of kaddishes said, by rolling two psalms together. For 
example, if on shabbat morning if "l'david hashem ori" is said 
immediately after "mizmor shir l'yom hashabbat" [psalm of the day for 
shabbat], kaddish would be omitted after "mizmor shir l'yom hashabbat" 
and just said after "l'david hashem ori".

Is it allowed for a community to fix a custom that "l'david hashem ori" 
is said immediately after alainu, omiting kaddish yatom after alainu?
I am asking in light of the Ram"a (Rabbi Moshe Isserles) note at 
Shulchan Aruch - Orech Chaim 132:2

[Note that the URL contains Hebrew characters - if this does not come 
out right on mail-jewish digest or in your browser/email client - then 
try entering:
http://he.wikisource.org/wiki and then searching manually for the source.]

where he indicates very clearly that the kaddish yatom is meant for 
after alainu.

Is the Ram"a basing himself on an earlier source, or is he documenting 
what he sees around him and enters this very ancient ashkenazi custom to 
his glosses?

On the other hand, sephardim [Jews from Middle Eastern countries] do not 
believe in Kaddish Yatom after alainu at any time, and also Yekkes 
[Germanic Jews] would, throughout the year, have a psalm immediately 
following alainu and say kaddish just after this psalm.

Among ashkenazi congregations who do not normally skip kaddish after 
alainu, does any one know any that skip kaddish there and have it 
directly after l'david hashem ori". I know at least one, and that is 
most of the ashkenazi minyanim in my neighborhood. I am sure that they 
are doing it on good authority, but am interested on what others have to 
say. If there are other opinions who differ to the Ram"a, I would be 

David Ziants
Ma'aleh Adumim, Israel.


From: Shoshana L. Boublil <toramada@...>
Date: Sun, Sep 12,2010 at 01:01 PM
Subject: Rabbi Yochanan and Resh Lakish

Leah S.R. Gordon writes (MJ 59#22):

> However, in spite of the fact that apparently the couple (R"L and
> sister of R"Y) got along in the end, I think it is pretty misogynistic that
> R"Y just decided that his sister would marry this stranger/brigand he had
> just met. What a ridiculous exercise of power for a brother!  That actually
> further supports my questioning of R"Y's care for women in general and in
> particular

I don't know why people continue to try and evaluate historical stories based on
modern day norms, or more accurately - western world modern day norms.

The fact of the matter is that to this day there are Jewish traditions where
the eldest brother has the right to decide whom his sisters will marry. The
fact that modern day western world norms do not agree with this view,
doesn't make the idea ridiculous - just different.

To elaborate, in many North African communities, the role of the eldest son,
as a bind between the generations of parents and children is taken very
seriously. This is a continuation of ancient traditions that talk about why
the Egyptians eldest sons were specifically targeted during the plague of
Bechorot [eldest sons]. This added value placed on the role of the eldest
son has produced traditions where the eldest son holds many of the rights
and obligations of the father with regard to the other children. The other
children owe the eldest special respect equal to the father, and the eldest
child is expected to be there for his siblings when necessary. This view is
strengthened by the halacha that the eldest receives a double portion of the
inheritance.  It is not b/c he was born first - it is b/c of the weight of
obligation set upon him b/c of who he is.

As it was customary for the father to decide who his daughters married, it
became customary for the eldest son to hold the same power, at least in some
communities and traditions.

Therefore, the above discussion of Rabbi Yochanan and his sister is based on
a total misunderstanding of an ancient and different way of life.

Shoshana L. Boublil


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Mon, Sep 13,2010 at 05:01 AM
Subject: Selichot

Do others find that selichot tend to be said, if anything, faster than the
regular davenning despite their relative unfamiliarity and difficult poetic
language? I have found that I never have time to finish more than about half of
each one before the chazan starts "Keil Melech ...". Is it just that I am a
slow reader or is it normal simply rush them off without thinking what they

In today's selichot (the day after Tzom Gedaliah), it struck me that some of
them, in particular "Eilcha va'ashuva el Ishi harishon" (number 54 according
to Minhag Polen, said on the following day according to Minhag Ungarn,
number 63, but not said at all in Minhag Litta), use rather erotic imagery,
though the Artscroll translation tends to sanitise them.

Also, the frequent comparison of our sinful state as being soiled like beged
iddim (I have intentionally not translated this term) is something one that does
not accord with present-day sensibilities.

In view of the comments some people have made regarding discussions on sexual
matters on Mail Jewish as being of a prurient nature, perhaps they would prefer
to gloss over the meaning of such selichot. However they show quite clearly how
our tradition differs in this respect from the puritanical one of Christianity
that influences much of Western thought.

Martin Stern


From: Aharon A. Fischman <afischman@...>
Date: Wed, Sep 8,2010 at 01:01 PM
Subject: Tashlich

If I remember correctly, my year in Yeshivat Sha'alvim 20 years ago (has it
really been that long!) we said tashlich in front of the water tower.

Aharon Fischman


From: Stuart Wise <Smwise3@...>
Date: Sun, Sep 12,2010 at 05:01 PM
Subject: The Uman Phenomenon

Year after year I am bemused by the throngs, many of them from Eretz  
Yisroel, who flock to Uman for Rosh Hashanah. I still cannot understand the  
attraction of a gravesite of a rebbe most attendees don't follow the rest of the 
year. This year there were troubling reports of some goings on, which even 
if they don't reflect a majority of those present, are enough to taint 
what is  supposed to be a spiritual uplift. 
More troubling to me than the "happening" aspect of this, however, is the  
reason that brings them there: That R' Nachman of Breslov reportedly said 
that  whoever visits his grave on Rosh Hashanah, he will personally drag such 
a person  out of gehenom. First, based on what could he have been so sure of 
that. Second,  what level of modesty would compel such a proclamation. And 
third, given that we  believe that all of our sins are forgiven on Yom 
Kippur if we repent, why would anyone need such "pull"?  I am aware that as a 
born and raised non-Chasid, there is unbreakable bonds with the rebbe and his 
followers, but all these other people who go? Who leave their families? 
Who leave the Holy Land? I have read that R' Ovadia Yosef has spoken out 
against the  pilgrimage, but where are other voices that should be encouraging  
families to be together, rather than apart, on Rosh Hashanah. Quite  
honestly, the pictures I have seen of the even look like a day at Great  
Adventures. Is that what R' Nachman intended? 
It boggles the mind.
Stuart Wise


From: David Ziants <dziants@...>
Date: Sat, Sep 11,2010 at 06:01 PM
Subject: Throwing bread crumbs to fish on Shabbat/yom tov

There was a recent thread on throwing bread crumbs to fish when doing 
tashlich. I have never seen this "minhag" [custom] but do know of the 
custom of shaking out one's pockets as if to shake out one's sins.

Two issues that were brought up, when doing this, is "ba'al tashchit" 
[performing unwanted destruction or waste] as well as the prohibition of 
feeding undomesticated animals on shabbat and yomtov, if this was being 
done on yom tov.

I once asked a she'ela [question] to a rav - the context being different 
(and cannot remember off hand what the context was) - concerning 
throwing bread crumbs to wild birds.
Adhering to two constraints would alleviate the above two issues.

a) If the crumbs were less than a k'zayit [a halachic measurement which 
literaly means "olive size" - in practice this is larger than today's 
olives and the most accepted opinion is that it is 27g for bread], then 
there is no "ba'al tashchit" for such a small size.
b) One should not throw, or put directly in front of the birds, but just 
put on the ground where there are no birds, and then it doesn't matter 
that the birds will immediately come to eat it and so it is not 
considered formally that one is feeding undomesticated animals.

I guess the same can apply to fish although I don't know how easy it is 
to see through the water to make sure that the fish are in a different 
place before throwing the crumbs in.

g'mar chatima tova
David Ziants
Ma'aleh Adumim, Israel


End of Volume 59 Issue 24