Volume 59 Number 29 
      Produced: Tue, 14 Sep 2010 16:20:02 EDT

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

"Statement of Principles" regarding homosexuality  
    [Russell J Hendel]
Any community in Hyderabad India? 
    [Keith Bierman]
Dates of Rosh HaShanah 
    [Ben Katz]
Eldest Brothers Marrying Sisters (3)
    [Russell J Hendel  Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz  Shoshana L. Boublil]
Kaddish yatom when l'david hashem ori is straight after alainu (2)
    [Martin Stern  Yisrael  Medad]
Kezayis (was Tashlich and breadcrumbs) 
    [Alan Rubin]
Lashon hara and asking for forgiveness on the internet 
    [David Tzohar]
Moral Relativism 
    [Leah S.R. Gordon]
Responding "amen" 
    [Elazar M. Teitz]
Responding "amen" and "ye'hai shmay rahba ...." 
    [Carl Singer]
    [Ben Katz]
Time of Selihot 
    [Yehonatan Chipman]


From: Russell J Hendel <rjhendel@...>
Date: Tue, Sep 14,2010 at 02:01 PM
Subject: "Statement of Principles" regarding homosexuality 

I thank Avie Walfish (MJ 59#27) for his very CLEAR eludication of "flexibility"
and the role of the Local Orthodox Rabbi. I in fact agree with almost everything
EXCEPT its application to homosexuality.

Why? Because (male) homosexuality differs from almost all other Biblical
prohibitions in that the Bible EXPLICITLY classifies it as a TOAYVAH
(abomination). There of course has been discussion WHAT toayvah refers to (I
think it refers to unnaturality; others suggested (Strongly) to me that it
refers to breaking of family life)

But can't we all agree that if the BIble herself calls something a TOAYVAH then
it **MUST*** (independent of LOR) be classified as FLAGRANT.

This then answers the various objections: 

1) Why not apply this (the prinicples) to descecrators of Sabbath 

2) Why not apply this to heterosexual sinners.

The answer is: However henious Sabbath descecration and adultery are they are
not targeted as TOAYVAH by the Bible. I would respectfully submit to Avie that
the Bible is in effect saying that male homosexuality must always be classified
as a flagrant violation and never sympathized with independent of those other
factors (communal customs, views of the lor) which do influence flagrancy.

Going back to the principles I would have liked to see something of the form:

"Although each LOR will judge violators according to local customs, his own
understanding of halacha, and general norms, there can be no such flexibility
for male homosexuality since the Bible explicitly classifies male homosexuality
as an abomination. Therefore, while we do encourage toleration and community
acceptance this must be tempered with recognition of the flagrancy of the
violation. At the very least certain types of honors - being cantor, receiving
aliyoth - should be denied to those who practice male homosexuality or who
openly live with male partners."

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


From: Keith Bierman <khbkhb@...>
Date: Tue, Sep 14,2010 at 02:01 PM
Subject: Any community in Hyderabad India?

I will be traveling to India for business, spending two shabatot in
Hyderabad. I've not spotted any obvious links. Anyone on this list
have any jewish contacts in Hyderabad?

If people respond directly, I'll summarize for the list.

Keith Bierman


From: Ben Katz <BKatz@...>
Date: Tue, Sep 14,2010 at 12:01 PM
Subject: Dates of Rosh HaShanah

Stuart Wise <Smwise3@...> wrote (MJ 59#24):

> 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.
Just to add my belated 2 cents worth to some of the learned comments already
posted about this issue.

There are only 4 days on which RH can begin: Mon., Tues., Thurs. and Sat.  

Tues. is the least likely day, probably because it is the only day with an
adjacent day, so fewer of the postponed new moon dates are celebrated on Tues. 

Using Salomon W. Freund's Fargleich Kalendar (Hebrew Publishing Co., NY, 1925, a
terrific, out-of-print work) one can easily see that in the 216 years ending in
the year 2000 (it would be wonderful if this work were updated for the next 100
years, as was done with Spiro's great calendar book), RH began on Tues. only
about 20 times, while it began on Mon., Thurs. or Shabbat ~ 60-70 times. 
Now we get to 1 of my favorite expressions: random events cluster.  In those
same 216 years, 8 times RH begins 4/5 consecutive years on the same day: 5 for
Thurs., 2 for Mon. and 1 for Shabbat (never for Tues., as would be expected -
too few to choose from). 


From: Russell J Hendel <rjhendel@...>
Date: Tue, Sep 14,2010 at 02:01 PM
Subject: Eldest Brothers Marrying Sisters

Just to clarify: I agree with both postings (MJ 59#28) that asserted that Rabbi
Jochanan's offer of his sister was a SUGGESTION which his sister had to approve.
If you read my posting you will see I was responding to Shoshana who interpreted
this along the lines of brothers selecting mates for their sisters. Also (just
to clarify) my own statement that he made the offer under duress does not
contradict the understood requirement of his sister's consent.

There were some comments on BM 84a. I think at this point the best I can do is
cite a standard English translation and respectfully remind people that what is
bothering me is not two men in a lake - what is bothering me is the viciousness
with which Rabbi Jochanan refused to forgive Resh Lakish, making his sister a
widow. The response of another person - Resh Lakish was angry at himself - does
not explain why he wouldn't forgive. Anyway I intend to follow up and show my
reading of BM is a natural reading of the text without reading in.

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

From: Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz <sabbahillel@...>
Date: Tue, Sep 14,2010 at 02:01 PM
Subject: Eldest Brothers Marrying Sisters

Elazar M. Teitz <remt@...> wrote (MJ 59#28):

> First, the Talmud does _not_ explicitly call Reish Lakish a listim in BM 84,
> other than R. Yochanan's comment years later, in response to a halachic
> opinion stated by Reish Lakish dealing with weaponry, that "a listim knows
> his trade". There is also no mention made that Reish Lakish was carrying any
> weapon; no mention of robbery, armed or otherwise; no mention that 
> R. Yochanan was naked; no mention that there were any threating actions or
> words on the part of Reish Lakish. All it says is that R. Yochanan was
> bathing in the water, and Reish Lakish jumped in. ... 
> Furthermore, the offer of his sister's hand is not presented in the Talmud as
> fending off a threat, but as an inducement to t'shuva (repentance). There is
> also nothing to indicate that the sister's consent was not sought before the
> offer became a reality. It is also not unreasonable to assume that R. Yochanan
> knew his sister well, and was sure that she would accept his recommendation
> for a shidduch (match).
> There are no sexual overtones whatever in the entire incident as related in
> the Talmud, and attempts to read them into the discussion are more reflective
> of the interpreters' attitudes than the Talmud's.

In fact if we want to treat this like many other aggadic writings, the
"water" could be "ma'ayana shel torah" (the "waters" of Torah) and it
meant that R. Yochanan was learning and enticed Reish Lakish to join
him in learning. That would be why he thought that Reish Lakish
merited to marry his sister. It was the fact that Reish Lakish was
capable of (and willing to) "joining" him (learning on that lofty and
esoteric level) that was the critical point.

   Sabba  -     ' "    -  Hillel
Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz 
From: Shoshana L. Boublil <toramada@...>
Date: Tue, Sep 14,2010 at 03:01 PM
Subject: Eldest Brothers Marrying Sisters

Russell J Hendel <rjhendel@...> wrote (MJ 59#27):

> Shoshana (MJ 59#24) asserted that Rabbi Jochanan's giving his sister to
> Resh Lakish is an example of customs of another period when such things
> are common.
> This is not true. Marriage ALWAYS required the consent of the woman. 

In his rush to return to his previous agenda of implying suspicious behavior
to Tana'im, Russell has completely ignored a whole collection of G'marot and
halachot regarding the issue of a parent marrying off his daughter.

> To marry a woman against her will is basically an act of rape, slavery or
> both. It is an extremely serious crime.

Here is the source of his misunderstanding - there are stages from the moment
when a marriage is recommended between 2 parties until you reach the actual
moment of marriage.

The ancient custom was (in many communities worldwide) for the father to
decide on the daughter's husband. But it is clear from all Jewish sources
that the woman has to agree. Nowhere does the tale state that the proposed
marriage was going to be against common Jewish custom of the era.

The presumption therefore, following all the other sources, is that indeed
in this case as well, Rabbi Yochanan and Reish Lakish knew that the marriage
was contingent on the sister agreeing with the proposed marriage.

Therefore, the rest of his post is not at all on point, unless there are
indeed other people who don't know that in Judaism, the marriage was always
dependent on the woman's agreement. Even when a father marries off his minor
daughter - when she achieves adult status she can proclaim that she doesn't
want the marriage - and it's nullified.

So, in any case, as we are talking about people who lived in the times when
it was indeed known that a woman's permission is needed, the story did not
have to state it explicitly - it was part of the basic Jewish culture. I'm
sure there are many other interesting points that the story fails to report.
It is after all a short story - not a full length romance novel.

Shoshana L. Boublil


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Tue, Sep 14,2010 at 11:01 AM
Subject: Kaddish yatom when l'david hashem ori is straight after alainu

Baruch J. Schwartz <schwrtz@...> wrote (MJ 59#27):

> We too (Efrat Central Synagogue) eliminate the kaddish after Ledavid,
> preserving the one after Alenu, in order not to overdo it on the number of
> kaddishim. However, in light of the findings of R. Shlomo Hayyim Aumann in
> his recent article, "Kaddish Ahar Alenu Leshabeah Leminhag Ashkenaz"
> (= "Kaddish Following Alenu Leshabeah in the Ashkenazic Rite"), which
> appeared in Yerushatenu 3 (5769), pp. 156-169, it would seem preferable
> to omit the kaddish after Alenu, which, the author demonstrates conclusively,
> is not an ancient or essential element in Ashkenazic practice but rather a
> recent and controversial development, and to preserve the kaddish said after a
> mizmor (any mizmor; not Ledavid Adonai Ori specifically, which in fact is not
> a part of the authentic Ashkenazic order of prayer). The article as a whole is
> very informative and I would highly recommend reading it in its entirety.

There is just one point about R. Aumann's article about which perhaps Baruch
is unaware. When R. Aumann uses the term Minhag Ashkenaz, he is referring
primarily to the West German minhag (Minhag Hareinus) and in particular the
minhag of Frankfort-on-Main. This differs from the minhag of the North and
East German communities, also used by the Ashkenazim of Poland, Litta etc.,
(Minhag Polen) in several ways, of which saying the Aleinu kaddish is one.
This Minhag Polen is what is nowadays called Minhag Ashkenaz, as opposed to the
Minhag Sfard of the Chassidim, by most people.

Martin Stern

From: Yisrael  Medad <ybmedad@...>
Date: Tue, Sep 14,2010 at 11:44 AM
Subject: Kaddish yatom when l'david hashem ori is straight after alainu

Baruch J. Schwartz, in dealing with the saying of Kaddish yatom when l'david
hashem ori is straight after alainu in 59#27, does not touch on why that Psalm
is kept separate and tacked on as if an afterthought to the service.  Why could
it not be said immediately after the Shir shel Yom, thus saving one Kaddish?

In Shiloh, where on Shabbat we revert in Ramat Shmuel to the Ashkenaz rite
instead of our normal Sfard rite during the weekday, we recite the Shir shel Yom
to separate Shacharit from Mussaf right after the morning Kaddish and it is at
that time that we immediately add L'David and say but one Kaddish.


From: Alan Rubin <alan@...>
Date: Tue, Sep 14,2010 at 03:01 PM
Subject: Kezayis (was Tashlich and breadcrumbs)

David Ziants  wrote (MJ 59#24):

> 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.

Tangentially -(were the words in square brackets added by the 
moderator?) we may be happy to accept that these inflated "olive sizes" 
lechumrah (it involves being stricter) but there is good reason to be 
sceptical about these sizes, particularly when accepting the large size 
ends up with a considerable kulah (leniency). An olive is 4 - 6cc.

Alan Rubin


From: David Tzohar <davidtzohar@...>
Date: Tue, Sep 14,2010 at 04:01 PM
Subject: Lashon hara and asking for forgiveness on the internet

There is a famous story told about the Chafetz Chayim. When the town of
Radin was connected to the telephone network his students showed the Chafetz
Chayim this great invention that made it possible to speak with someone all
the way in Vilna! Suddenly he started crying. Shocked, his students asked
him what was wrong. He then said that this invention would magnify lashon
hara in the world a thousand fold.

I wonder what the Chafetz Chayim would say about the internet with its
anonymous blogs, chat-rooms, twitter and facebook. It is so easy to say
something disparaging, hurtful or completely false about people and put it
up on the internet for all the world to see. Especially when people dont
identify themselves it is impossible to do teshuva for such a sin since
there is no way to ask for forgiveness. This is one of the reasons that for
many years I refrained from using the internet. In the end I think that the
positive aspects outweigh the dangers. Words of Torah now reach many more
Jews than ever before. Like the printing press which was viewed in the
beginning as a possible danger, the internet cannot be ignored today.

I would like to take this opportunity to ask for selicha umechila from
anyone who may have felt hurt or slighted by anything that I have written on
MJ. This was not my intention.

Gemar chatima tova to all.

David Tzohar


From: Leah S.R. Gordon <leah@...>
Date: Tue, Sep 14,2010 at 02:01 PM
Subject: Moral Relativism

I commented that R' Yochanan acted badly, even misogynistically, when he
offered his sister sexually/maritally to an attacking brigand (who later
turned out to be Reish Lakish and a reasonable husband).

Shoshana takes issue with my comments, asserting that it was a different
time and place.  Obviously, I know it was a different time and place, but
that does not mean I cannot make a moral judgment.

I don't care how long ago, or how far away:  if one human thinks it is ok to
decide unilaterally the sexual/family/partnership/daily relationship for
another human being, this is not acceptable.  It is made all the worse, not
better, by the surrounding culture in which women's feelings and thoughts
are disregarded.

Russell has already pointed out that Jewish law requires a woman's consent
to a marriage, and this would seem evident to anyone who has ever considered
what marriage means in even the most old-fashioned contexts.

I do not believe that I have to accept whatever someone else says is "just a
different culture" - if it relies on abrogation of human rights.  I say, if
someone's culture abrogates human rights, then there is a problem, yes a
problem, with that culture, and I'm not afraid to make a moral judgment.

Do we think it was ok for Lot to offer his daughters for
violence/sexual-assault back in his day?  After all, it was long ago in a
culture where that was hunky-dory.

Finally, surely you do not think that it would convince me, to bring
examples of exotic cultures that still practice primogeniture and treat
women as property!

I think that R' Yochanan was acting not-himself to do such a rash thing, and
I think it is fully consistent with him being overcome with some strong
emotion at the time.  Russell thinks it is fear; I think it may have been
love; who knows.  Likely some interpret it as ruach ha-kodesh because
eventually Reish Lakish became such a fine husband.

Even in cultures where brothers or fathers feel that they have the right to
assign their sisters' or daughters' sexuality, I doubt it is considered
great etiquette to select one's mugger as the recipient.

--Leah S. R. Gordon


From: Elazar M. Teitz <remt@...>
Date: Tue, Sep 14,2010 at 02:01 PM
Subject: Responding "amen"

Daniel Geretz <danny@...> wrote (MJ 59#27):

> Something that I have noticed increasingly lately is the practice by some
> shlichay tzibbur (prayer leaders) to alter the traditional (Ashkenazic)
> melody for a kaddish in order to say the word "amen" before the congregation
> does.
> This practice seemed to be confined to the last "amen" in the full kaddish
> at the end of an Amidah, which IIRC from my younger days, used to be sung by
> the shaliach tzibbur as "v'imru a-a-men", the amen being sung by the
> congregation at the same time. Now, it seems increasingly prevalent that the
> shalicah tzibbur will sing "v'imru amen" quickly, leaving the congregation
> to finish out the melody by singing "amen."

> My question is: Does this practice have any basis in halacha, and if so,
> can someone please point me to the appropriate sources?

     See Mishna B'rura 124:35 (the bracketed remarks are mine): "If the shaliach
tzibbur lengthens the tune of 'v'imru amein,' the congregation should say
'amein' immediately, because the tune is an interruption [between the prayer and
the amein], but only if he greatly extends the tune.  But this is the case only
for kaddish, since the prayer itself is finished after the words 'bizman kariv'
or 'da'amiran b'al'ma' [the words immediately preceding "v'imru amein"], but if
the shaliach tzibbur extends the end of any other b'racha with a tune, one
should not answer 'amein' so long as he [the shaliach tzibbur] has not finished
the actual word of the b'racha." 



From: Carl Singer <carl.singer@...>
Date: Tue, Sep 14,2010 at 02:01 PM
Subject: Responding "amen" and "ye'hai shmay rahba ...."

I'm not sure if this best falls under the category of halacha or "good

>From time to time there are some who respond out of synch with the tzibor. For
example, any number of young boys have figured out that if they wait an
extra second or so and then respond "AMAIN!" after the tzibor have done so that
they'll be heard loud and clear.  The same goes for adults, of course.

Similarly, in responding "Ye'haish may rahba ...." some seem to throw the
Shaliach Tzibor off his "rhythm" as he (the ST) is continuing with the brocha
which follows.



From: Ben Katz <BKatz@...>
Date: Tue, Sep 14,2010 at 12:01 PM
Subject: Selichot

Martin Stern <md.stern@...> wrote (MJ 59#24):

> 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 a
> 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.

Again, to add to what has already been said on this topic:

The paytan (poet) chooses metaphors from Song of Songs and Hosea, both books
with many sexual metaphors, so the selichah prayer ends up with similar imagry.
 This argues of course against the ArtScroll "translation" of Shir Hashirim.
Ashkenazim were always more prudish than Sepharadim.  When Yedid Nefesh makes
its way from Sepharad to Ashkenaz in the Middle Ages, shifchat olam (your
everlasting maidservant) becomes simchat olam (eternal joy), which doesn't even
really make sense.

Once again, gmar vachatimah tovah.


From: Yehonatan Chipman <yonarand@...>
Date: Tue, Sep 14,2010 at 04:01 PM
Subject: Time of Selihot

There is a very common and widespread custom - in the US, in Israel, I suppose
in other places -- to recite Selihot immediately before Shaharit, usually
between 20 to 30 minutes before the regular time for the minyan in question.
This means that, unless the minyan is one of vatikin (i.e., who begin the Amidah
precisely at sunrise), Selihot are recited during the early daylight hours.  Yet
it is well-known that the proper time for Selihot is described as "be-ashmorot"
or "be-ashmoret ha-aharonah"-- during the [last] watches of the night, usually
interpreted as between midnight and dawn.

There are also many places at which Selihot, particularly on the first night and
on Erev Rosh Hashanah, are recited at 11 pm or slightly earlier -- i.e., before

Does anyone know details of specific Rabbinic rulings permitting selihot during
these time periods.  I'm particularly interested in knowing if there are any
printed teshuvot (responsa).  I assume that the reason for thsi practice is
convenience, and the habits of modern life, but how is all this justifiued and
couched in halakhic terms?
Yehonatan Chipman


End of Volume 59 Issue 29