Volume 59 Number 26 
      Produced: Tue, 14 Sep 2010 01:15:16 EDT

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

"Statement of Principles" regarding homosexuality 
    [Orrin Tilevitz]
Blowing the Shofar at the Kotel -- pre-1948 
    [Carl Singer]
Dates of Rosh HaShanah 
    [Richard Fiedler]
Eroticism in Prayer language (was Selichot) 
    [Yisrael Medad]
Kaddish yatom when l'david hashem ori is straight after alainu 
    [Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz]
Rambam's change of mind 
    [Avraham Walfish]
    [Andy Goldfinger]
The Minchat Elazar (sic) (2)
    [Martin Stern  Dov Teichman]


From: Orrin Tilevitz <tilevitzo@...>
Date: Mon, Sep 13,2010 at 04:01 PM
Subject: "Statement of Principles" regarding homosexuality

Avie Wallfish wrote (MJ 59#24):

> 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 ... 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.

> 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... But if the community decides
> that there are other extra-halakhic considerations that overweigh the
> non-binding halakhic values, that is their prerogative.

I think there are at least three disagreements between us:

First, Avie and I seem to define halakha differently. 

Certainly, there are areas where Halakha permits a range of practices, and the
community decides standards"to take a relatively trivial example, the Halakha,
by custom, requires the sheliach tzibbur to wear a tallit. Must he put it over
his head? But Halakha"and, it follows, the area where the rabbi's decision
should be the last word, not merely a factor"is not just a list of technical
rules. Often, we look to the mara de'asra [literally, the LOR] to tell us what
we should do, not just what we may or may not do. Technically, it would be
permissible to have a big TV screen in the shul broadcasting during the World
Series during Neilah. Do you really think this should be a matter of communal
standards? Or, take another issue weve discussed on MJ, whether women can
receive aliyot. As I recall, R. Yehuda Henkins teshuva [responsum], intended to
be definitive"states that while there is nothing technically problematic, he
would permit them only on limited circumstances, on special occasions.
Is he saying that this is also a matter of community standards?

Second, I provided a halachic source stating that one who sins flagrantly may
not receive an aliya. 

I think that provides ample authority for the proposition that one who openly
engages in forbidden sexual acts may not receive an aliya. Avie evidently disagrees.

Third, Avie seems to believe that if the community is free to apply its
standards in an area (lets take synagogue membership, to which we
agree this applies), it is free to adopt a standard that directly contradicts
the Torah. 

The Torah and by this I mean far more than the literal words in Sefer Vayikra
says that homosexual acts are equivalent to forbidden heterosexual acts, and
that both of them are very bad. Neither is better, in any way, than the other. I
concede, arguendo, that a shul would be free to decide that sexual conduct is
not relevant to membership. But if a shul admits open homosexuals to membership
but denies membership to some guy who is openly living in sin with his sister,
because the shul thinks that modern values say the first is good and the second
is not, it is flatly contradicting the Torah. 

Avie says thats OK. I disagree.


From: Carl Singer <carl.singer@...>
Date: Mon, Sep 13,2010 at 08:01 AM
Subject: Blowing the Shofar at the Kotel -- pre-1948


Things we take for granted can be taken away.

*Carl A. Singer


From: Richard Fiedler <richardfiedler@...>
Date: Mon, Sep 13,2010 at 10:01 PM
Subject: Dates of Rosh HaShanah

Rosh HaShanah 2013 has another extremely unusual aspect. The Old Moon will be visible on Wednesday Morning Sept 4, 2013 and we will welcome in Rosh HaShanah Wednesday Night.

The Molad of Tishrei 2013 will be Yom Chamishi (Thursday), 16 hours  830 parts. This is under the window of the Molad Zaqen rule (18 hours causes a deferral of Rosh HaShanah)  that normally prevents as Old Moon from being seen Erev Rosh HaShanah.

If you will join me in Jerusalem that week I will be on Mount Scopus at 5:10 AM when the Moon will rise. The Sun will rise at 6:16 AM. We will be seeing the cause of the Gemora of Rabban Gamliel and Rabbi Yehoshua (120 CE).

The reason for this is rooted in a very exceptional lunar orbit which is taking a path below the African Continent. Here is a link to the R H van Gent chart of Lunar Visibility for that date.    https://files.me.com/richardfiedler/tfsa4d

Richard Fiedler 


From: Yisrael Medad <ybmedad@...>
Date: Mon, Sep 13,2010 at 07:01 PM
Subject: Eroticism in Prayer language (was Selichot)

Martin Stern asked (MJ 59:24):

> Do others find that selichot tend to be said, if anything, faster than the
> regular davenning despite their relative unfamiliarity and difficult poetic
> language?

depends on the Chazzan but it depends more, I would assume, on how much time the
Gabbaim have set. By us in Shiloh, 30 minutes is tops. And by the third day, you
get into the swing of things,  and a lot is repetition and I think I even caught
the word 'pizza' (i'll check) but, of course, that is from the Hebrew root
l'fatzot = to make up, compensate.

As for

> it struck me that some of them...use rather erotic imagery...

Well, that is really nothing new.  Medieval Jewish literature did not avoid
erotic language, neither did the Zohar, Ibn Gvirol, etc.



From: Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz <sabbahillel@...>
Date: Mon, Sep 13,2010 at 12:01 PM
Subject: Kaddish yatom when l'david hashem ori is straight after alainu

David Ziants <dziants@...> wrote (MJ 59#24):

> 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
> interested.

I would say that this occurs in maariv as the psalm of the day comes
in between Aleinu and L'Dovid in Shacharis. THe minhag of my shul
(Baltimore, MD) is to say the kaddish only after L'Dovid. Other shuls
in my neighborhood say both. I do not know the reason. I have also
seen the minhag of saying kaddish after the Shabbos Mizmor but not
during the week because the shofar is blown in between at Shacharis
during Elul. After Rosh Hashannah, the kaddish is not said even though
the shofar is no longer blown.

   Sabba  -     ' "    -  Hillel
Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz 


From: Avraham Walfish <rawalfish@...>
Date: Mon, Sep 13,2010 at 10:01 AM
Subject: Rambam's change of mind

Chana Luntz wrote (MJ 59#25):

> The odd thing about Hallel though is that the whole obligation of
> Hallel (for all festivals) is mentioned as an almost by the way, in the
> midst of his discussion about Channukah.  In many ways one would have
> expected him to follow his more usual format and had a separate perek
> entitled Hilchot Hallel or some such.  If he had, then I would have
> expected him to again follow his more common format and set out who is
> obligated and who is exempt.

You're treating the Rambam's discussion of Hallel as a divergent "blip"
which can just be left unexplained, but shouldn't be allowed to disturb the
picture of the Rambam as working with a "common format" from which he normally
doesn't diverge. I think this is one illustration - if I had time I could find
you more - that there is a great deal of variability in the way Rambam presents
his topics.

Chana further responded to an earlier comment of mine (MJ 59#23):

>> I think this is a problematic reading, because even if 6:10 is
>> referring to the rabbinic thrice-daily requirement of prayer, the
>> Rambam still should have noted that the requirement of children is due to
>> education, as he did in Hilkhot Keriyat Shema (and elsewhere). To
>> my mind, Rav Rabinowitz in Yad Peshuta to Keriyat Shema 4:1 (pp. 111
>> ff.) has a better reading, which differentiates between
>> mitzvot where the rabbis imposed the educational obligation on the
>> parent and mitzvot where the the educational
>> obligation devolves on the child himself. In Rav Rabinowitz's view (p.
>> 113), this has nothing to do with whether we are discussing
>> rabbinic or Torah dimensions of prayer.

And Chana responded:

> I don't follow the logic of this (I am not sure if this is Rav Rabinowitz's
> view or yours).  You can still argue for a differentiation between mitzvos
> where the rabbis imposed the educational obligation on the parent and
> mitzvos where the educational obligation devolves upon the child while
> continuing to maintain that both is a rabbinic dimension of prayer (and if
> it were not, then ketanim need to be included in the Rambam's 1:2).  And
> hence the statement in 6:10 is either mixing up rabbinic (minors) and
> Torah (women and slaves) obligations (which is as mentioned, very odd) or
> these are all rabbinic obligations.  And if women have a rabbinic obligation
> vis a vis prayer, over and above the Torah one, then what is it?
> I personally find the argument you have quoted from the Sidrei Moshe (via
> Rav Kappah) more compelling - especially  if you go back to Brachos 20b
> (which everybody agrees this comes from) and assume the wording of
> "d'rachmai ninhu" - because then the logic of devolving a personal
> obligation on the minor, and not just an educational obligation, would
> seem to be that minors too need mercy (as indeed we see unfortunately every
> day).

I futher wrote:

>> There is indeed an odd mix of nashim, avadim, ketanim, insofar as the
>> reasons for obligating and exempting of the former two differ from the
>>reasons regarding the minor.

And Chana responded:

> Only if you read it the way you have to read it to get to the answer you
> want to get to.  If however you read the obligation as fully rabbinic in
> 6:10, (and if you will, with rabbinic concerns driven by the need for
> rachamim) the halacha works comfortably and you don't need to go to:

I continue to argue that, however you cut or slice it, the Rambam - following
the Mishnah Berakhot 3:3 - is mixing up two categories: those who are excluded
from certain mitzvot because they are time-bound (i.e. women and slaves) and
those who are excluded from the same mitzvot, because they have no mitzvah
obligation at all (i.e. minors); consequently - those whose obligation, when it
exists (whether from the Torah or rabbinic) is a addressed to a "bar mitzvah"
(one who bears mitzvah obligations), together with those whose mitzvah
obligation is rooted in educational concerns. Calling both of these rabbinic may
narrow the gap, but it doesn't close it. I don't think that narrowing
the gap is a serious enough exegetical gain to warrant reading into the Rambam
something which he should have said, had he intended it, namely that the
obligation upon women to which he is referring here differs from the one he
referred to earlier in Tefillah 1:1-2.

I wrote:

>> However, the Rambam here, as usual, is simply citing the language of  the
>> Mishnah, which lumps the three together - and creates a complicated
>> exegetical problem. It should be noted, however, that this trio is often
>> brought together in the Mishnah, and it is far from unlikely that the
>> literary desire to keep the trio together overrode the different halakhic
>> logic applying to each. Some Rambam commentators (I forget where I saw this)
>> suggest that "ketanim" in this formula does not really belong to this
>> halakhah, and is simply cited together with its usual partners as a catch-
>> phrase (similar to some citations in the Mishnah of gerushah vahalutza,
>> mamzer venatin, etc.).

And Chana responded:

> Can you see how all this is a stretch, far more of a stretch than saying
> that the Rambam meant what he said, he meant the three to be together
> because he thought the Mishna had rightly put them together, and he
> understood the gemora in Brochos as talking about a rabbinic obligation.
> Just in addition, he thought there was a Torah obligation learnt out from
> the Torah language of avodah b'lev which was a mitzvah not dependent upon
> time.  It is far more respectful to the Rambam, as well as more satisfying
> on a learning level.

As I explained earlier, I think that reading Tefillah 6:10 as referring to
something other than what was referred to in 1:1-2 is more of an exegetical
stretch. Unless we find an agreed yardstick for measuring exegetical stretches,
we'll just have to disagree on this point. As far as being "respectful" to the
Rambam - the phenomenon of halakhic things or persons who are commonly grouped
together, even when the halakhic topic doesn't actually apply to all of them,
is well-known, and I cited some examples of it from Mishnah. It is also
well-known that the Rambam cites the language of his sources even when it
doesn't exactly fit his intended meaning. I don't see why it is more respectful
to the Rambam (or to the Mishnah) to assume that such formulations appear one
less time. I also prefer taking my texts "straight" without attributing them to
stock formulae, but when you have to pay (what I regard as) too high an
exegetical price to do so, I think we pay respect to the Rambam by remaining
faithful to his intended meaning.

Chana further wrote:

> There is yet another reason though why I believe that the straight reading
> of the Rambam is that women were included in the rabbinical mitzvah.  And
> that is because of a general Talmudic principle of kol d'tikun rabbanan
> k'ain d'oraisa tikun [anything that the rabbis enacted they enacted like a
> Biblical law].

> And indeed, this is the position followed in all the other cases I can
> think of vis a vis women.  Once we say shamor v'zachor [guard and remember]
> obligates women in the positive mitzvos of Shabbas along with the negative
> from the Torah, all of the other rabbinic obligations follow.  We do not
> sit here quibbling about whether all the myriad of positive rabbinic
> obligations vis a vis Shabbas do or do not apply to women... Similarly with
> Pesach, once women are considered obligated biblically in the korban pesach
> and other Torah mitzvos of seder night, the four cups and other rabbinic
> mitzvos follow.
> All of a sudden those who try and read the Rambam this way are suggesting
> that the Rambam is deviating from this principle - and without any kind of
> explanation or justification, not in him, and not in any of the major
> commentators on him.

I have two objections to this argument. First, the principle of of *kol
d'tikun rabbanan k'ain d'oraisa tikun* is far from universally applied, and your
examples actually tend to demonstrate the reverse of your position: the gemara
Pesahim 108a-b explains that women are obligated in 4 cups at the seder because
*af hen hayu b'oto haness [they were also in the miracle]*. In other words, the
fact that they are biblically obligated in other Torah mitzvot of seder night
would not in and of itself be a sufficient reason to obligate them in the
rabbinic requirement of 4 cups. Similarly rishonim deliberate whether or not
women are obligated in *lehem mishneh* on Shabbat, and do not take it for
granted based on your reasoning.

The second objection is more fundamental: if we were to apply the priniciple
of *kol d'tikun rabbanan k'ain d'oraisa tikun* to our case, this would actually
undercut your main argument. *Kol detikun* would have the following result -
just as Torah law differentiates between time-bound and non-time-bound
commandments, so too rabbinic law will make a similar distinction (see how
Tosfot applies the principle in commenting to the aforementioned gemara in
Pesahim). Applying that to the Rambam under discussion would yield the following
result - had prayer, as a Torah command, been time-bound, women would have
been exempt; they are obligated only because it is not time-bound. Therefore -
using the principle of *kol detikun* - when the rabbis added a time-bound
component to prayer, they exempted women from it.

> As I have also said, I fully understand the motivations that drive a desire
> to learn an exemption for women from thrice daily prayer in the Rambam, and
> indeed there are commentators who very much do look to the social reality...
> But the Rambam is not one of them.  If anything he tended to represent the
> purist school, going back to the original sources and setting out the halacha
> as found in them, regardless of social reality... But if you read his
> explanations for why he made "so many mistakes" in his earlier work that
> needed correction, he states that this is because there he followed the
> position of the geonim, and that having now gone back and reviewed the
> original sources, he now believes those positions are untenable.  That is
> not the philosophy of somebody who is likely to be swayed away from the
> original sources based on the reality of what women were actually doing.

This is, again, a very large topic, and I think you have overstated your
case and the Rambam is far less of a "purist" than you present him. Even though
the Rambam moved more towards freeing himself from geonic positions, the cases
where he actually does this are not that frequent, and the Rambam certainly
continued in most cases to represent the halakhah as it was actually practiced
in his environment - and presumably, in most cases, to read the sources in that
light. It bears mentioning in this regard that the Rambam's view of prayer as a
Torah commandment was actually held be many geonim, as demonstrated by Prof.
Blidstein in his book on the Rambam's laws of prayer. So specifically regarding
the halakhot we're discussing, I think it highly likely that the Rambam is not
breaking with the traditions and practices that he saw.

Gemar hatimah Tovah to all.

Avie Walfish


From: Andy Goldfinger <Andy.Goldfinger@...>
Date: Mon, Sep 13,2010 at 05:01 PM
Subject: Selichot

Martin Stern asked (MJ 59#24):

> 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 mean?

Because of this problem, I say the selichot themselves in English. I also pause
where needed to think a bit about what is being said.

Usually, however, even if I don't pause I cannot finish the Selicha in time!

Andy Goldfinger


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Mon, Sep 13,2010 at 05:01 PM
Subject: The Minchat Elazar (sic)

Jeanette  Friedman wrote (MJ 59#25):

> The "Minchas Eluzer" would throw one of his classic hissy fits if he saw
> himself referred to in Modern Ivrit, which to him was an abomination.

I suppose he would call Ivrit "Loshon mechullal" [profaned language] to
distinguish it from Lashon Hakodesh [holy language]!

Perhaps the title should have been The Minchat Elazar (sick)!

Martin Stern

From: Dov Teichman <dtnla@...>
Date: Mon, Sep 13,2010 at 05:01 PM
Subject: The Minchat Elazar (sic)

Jeanette Friedman wrote (MJ 59#25):

> The "Minchas Eluzer" would throw one of his classic hissy fits if he saw
> himself referred to in Modern Ivrit, which to him was an abomination.

Maybe he was using the sefardic pronounciation? It's well known that the
"Minches Eloozer" had a great respect for Sefardic Jews and their traditional

Speculations about the ME aside, even the most ardent Anti-Zionists today
recognize that while it may be an "impure language," it is still the Lingua
franca of the State of Israel. Not so in Pre-WWII Munkacs when it had much
different connotations and was a Zionist propaganda tool.

Dov Teichman


End of Volume 59 Issue 26