Volume 59 Number 31 
      Produced: Wed, 15 Sep 2010 09:47:27 EDT

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

Entering a church 
    [Chana Luntz]
Rambam's change of mind (2)
    [Avraham Walfish  Russell J Hendel]
    [Ira L. Jacobson]
Time for Selichot (2)
    [Menashe Elyashiv  Ira L. Jacobson]


From: Chana Luntz <Chana@...>
Date: Wed, Sep 15,2010 at 09:01 AM
Subject: Entering a church

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.

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

> 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.

And then Lisa Liel replied (MJ 54#24):

> 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.

I think there is a confusion here between three different shittot [opinions]
on the subject.

The first is the shita that Lisa sets out in the paragraph immediately
above, that non-Jews are not obligated in the prohibition on idolatry (at
least post matan Torah).  Marc Shapiro in his article


on pages 13-15 quotes the Abarbanel and R' Isaac Arama as supporting this view
as well as some others, see there.  This is however (as indeed he states there)
unquestionably a minority view.

The second shita is that of the Meiri.  The Meiri seems to see the problem
of idolatry as being one of no restraint, discipline or religion.  It is not
that he says that non-Jews are permitted in idolatry, it is just that he
seems to classify idolatry as being a situation without godliness and the
boundaries of the ways of religion.  Thus non-Jews today, if they have some
form of godliness and boundaries by way of religion, even if their beliefs
are far from our beliefs, do not fit into the category of idol worshippers
(see his writings at Beit HaBechira Baba Kama 113b, Pesachim 21b, Avodah
Zara 26a, 15b).  As mentioned, the Meiri was lost for many years and
therefore his views were not in a position to influence the mainstream
(although I don't think anybody seriously takes the view that these views
were inserted by the Vatican, but they are different).

The third shita is that of Tosphos, and this relates only to Xtians, and can
hardly be called a minority view, as it is brought in the Shulchan Aruch by
the Rema.  However, the problem is that there is dispute as to what Tosphos
actually meant.  Did they mean, as Lisa Liel put it in an earlier post

> That's a common understanding.  But a closer look (Sanhedrin 63b)
> shows that Tosfot merely says that it's permissible to enter into a
> business partnership with non-Jews who *swear* in the name of their
> saints and JC.  Because when they say "God", they're referring to the
> One God who created everything.  There's no indication in Tosfot that
> *worshipping* something other than Hashem is permissible even for non-
> Jews.

The way Lisa understands it is certainly understood by a number of achronim
(such as the Nodeh BeYehuda see Mehadora Tanina Yoreh Deah siman 148). 

On the other hand, others do understand it to mean that actually it is
permissible for non Jews to engage in what is called shituf [partnership or
linkage] of G-d with something else.

OK, let me try and give you some the sources (as near as I can, given that
these are my translations and a lot of this material is not that easy to

Here is the key Tosphos:

Tosphot Sanhedrin 63b:

"It is forbidden for a person to make a partnership [with a non Jew]:  Rav
Shmuel said 'and even more so an oath itself one should not receive from him',
but Rabbanu Tam said it is permitted to receive from him an oath before he
loses [financially], as it says in the first perek of avodah zara [6b] that
an oral lender can collect payment from them because this is saving it from
their hand and we are not concerned lest he go and give thanks [to his
idol], and even though there there is a doubt and here there is a certainty
in any event, today all of them swear on their holy things and do not add to
them gods, and even though perhaps they will recall in them the name of
heaven, and their intention is for another thing, in any event, there is not
in this the name of idols and also their intention is for the Maker of the
heavens and even though they partner the name of heaven and another thing we
do not find that it is forbidden to cause others to partner [the name of
heaven and another thing], and there is no placing a stumbling block before
the blind because the children of Noach are not commanded about this."

Now you may need a bit of further background, because this phrase the
Tosphos use which I have translated as "partnering the name of heaven with
another thing" [meshatef shem shamayim im dvar acher] has a history to it
that you may not be aware of.

Talmud Bavli Sanhedrin 63a:

"Rabbi Shimon ben Yochai said to him [R. Yochanan] behold all who partner the
name of heaven and another thing are uprooted from the world, as it says
[Shemot 22] 'only to Hashem alone'."

Talmud Bavli Sukkah 45b:

"When they used to leave [the temple on Hoshana Raba] what did they say 'to
you beauty oh altar, to you beauty oh altar', Rabbi Eliezer said 'to G-d and
to you oh altar, to G-d and to you oh altar'.  But this is partnering the
name of heaven with another thing, and it is taught in a braita [saying from a
mishnaic rabbi not included in the Mishnah - MOD], all who partner the name of
heaven and another thing are uprooted from the world, as it says [Shemot 22]
'only to Hashem alone', [rather] this is what they said 'to G-d we acknowledge
and to you we give praise, to G-d we acknowledge and to you we sing praise'."

That is, there is a separate prohibition that is learnt out in the gemora
called partnering the name of Heaven and another thing and it is this that
(if you read Tosphos not the way Lisa wants to read it) Tosphos seems to be
suggesting firstly is a prohibition only for Jews and not for non-Jews and
secondly it is what the Xtians are doing.

The Rosh echoes Tosphos in saying:

Rosh Sandhedrin perek 7 siman 3:

"And further there is reason to permit today because they swear on their holy
things and do not add into them gods and even though they recall the name of
heaven and their intention is for another thing, in any event they do not recall
the name of an idol, and also their intention is to the Maker of the heaven
and the earth, and even though they partner the name of heaven with another
thing it is not found that it is forbidden to cause other to partner and
because of a stumbling block for the blind there is not because the children
of Noach were not warned on this. 

And here is the Shulchan Aruch with Rema:

Shulchan Aruch Orech Chaim [Hilchot Beit Knesset] siman 156:

"And they are warned against partnering with the non-Jews lest they
obligate them in an oath and they violate 'that it should not be caused to be
heard from you'.  Rema: And there are those who are lenient in making
partnerships with the non-Jews today, because there are no non-Jews today
that swear by idols, and even though they recall the idols in any event,
their intention is for the Maker of the heavens and the earth rather they
partner the name of heaven with another thing, and we have not found that
there is in this any placing a stumbling block before the blind (Vayikra
19:14) because, behold, they are not warned against partnership [Ran first
perek of avodah zara and rabbanu Yerucham n17 chelek 5 and Tosfot at the
beginning of the first perek of Bechorot) and you can [go and give to them]
without partnership, according to all it is permitted but not on the [actual]
day of their festival (Hagahot Maimanot the first perek of avodah zarah) ..."

As mentioned there are definitely those who understand this as meaning only
that one can form a partnership with and take an oath from a Xtian.  However
there are others who disagree.  As this post is long enough, let me just
quote from a book by Rav Yitzchak Isaak Halevi Hertzog  who was from 1937
until his death in 1959 the Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi (of British Mandate of
Palestine and of Israel after its independence in 1948). The book is called
Tchuka L'Yisrael al pi HaTorah, and this quote comes from section 1 entitled
Sidre Shilton Umishpat b'medina HaYehudit p 16:

The position of the Notzrim:

6)  Until now we have discussed the question of the large minority of Muslim
Arabs, but now we come to the question of the small minority of Christians
from all communities and groups, ... In order to uproot the questions that
we have explained above by means that we uprooted them in connections with
the Muslims, we need to prove that the Christians are not in the category of
idol worshippers.  And behold the Christians themselves establish themselves
in the category of those who believe in the unity of the creator, but our
intelligence does not comprehend how they mix the belief in the unity of the
creator with belief in the trinity.  And thus there is no doubt that there
is to them a concept of the creator of the world and overseer rather that
this concept is not pure, and the end of the matter is that their status
depends on the dispute as to whether the children of Noach are commanded on
partnership as this is the substance of their belief.  And my opinion
concurs with the opinion of Rabbi Zev Vulf Halevi Baskovitz tzl who
determines that the children of Noach are not warned on partnership and
since our rabbis place at the head of the seven commandments the mitzvah
forbidding idol worship, and since [it is so] from the other version, that
on partnership they were not warned, he says that worship in partnership, is
like worship in one go, to the one G-d who has no beginning and no ending,
the creator of the heaven and the earth that they join on him may he be
blessed without kind, the strength of body or one of the forces of nature or
a man ... in the manner that the first is the essence and the second the
addition even if this is idol worship to Jews to obligate on them death by
beit din or death by the hand of heaven, the matter is not so for the
children of Noach because upon them there is no prohibition at all.  And
according to this they go out from the category of idol worshipper and all
that which was said on the Yishmaelim applies also on them.  
And in any event by the way that our rabbis said that a non Jew outside the
land of Israel is not an actual idol worshipper, but rather the custom of
their fathers is in their hands (Chullin 13b) so [can we say about] the
Christians in our days, that even the Catholics are not worshippers of idols
[essentially] rather their hearts are to heaven, and even if they themselves
comprehend in their understanding hidden nature of the contradiction that is
between the unity and the trinity.

Chana Luntz


From: Avraham Walfish <rawalfish@...>
Date: Tue, Sep 14,2010 at 06:01 PM
Subject: Rambam's change of mind

In my response to Chana Luntz (MJ 59#28), I'm going to try to streamline the
discussion and cut to the main points. Chana wrote:

> I will try and bring some other examples from Pesach, which, it would seem
> to me on your understanding of the Rambam, would mean women are exempt to
> try and show what an enormous can of worms you are opening.
> The Rambam states (Hilchos Pesach u'matza perek 6 halacha 10) that women
> are obligated in eating matzah (and this is derived as originally a Torah
> obligation in pesachim 43a).  He then goes on to say in halacha 7 - that
> from the rabbis one may not have anything after the matza.
> Now presumably according to you, this does not apply to women, as there is
> no specific reference.  Similarly, presumably any shiurim that are
> rabbinic can be disregarded by women as not applying, as all the add ons
> to this mitzvah do not apply.  So can women eat it after chatzos (or maybe
> even alos hashachar)?  Can women eat less than the rabbinically mandated
> shiur?
> Now lets go back to shabbas...  He then goes on to list various of the
> obligations that come under the category of kavod and oneg.  Now he
> doesn't mention specifically that women are included in these various
> mitzvos...
> Do you understand women to have an obligation to eat matzah on first night
> pesach today?  If so, what is the source for this Rambam or otherwise?

You are (again) presuming a greater degree of textual and halakhic uniformity
than I do. I don't claim that wherever the Rambam wants to obligate women in a
rabbinic law he will say so explicitly any more than I claim that he will always
necessarily state an exemption explicitly. My claim was text-specific: the way
that the Rambam has formulated the obligation of women in prayer in chapter 1
would require him to formulate things differently, i.e. more
explicitly, in chapter 6 if indeed he intended your meaning. In other places
this exegetical guideline would not be relevant. 

Second: I certainly would not claim that every detail or nuance added by the
rabbis to a Torah law would require an explicit declaration as to whether women
are included or not. Ditto, when the rabbis continue a Torah Mikdash-based
commandment (matzah) rabbinically after the destruction of the Temple. I think
that covers pretty much all of your examples. But when the rabbis have
significantly changed the very nature of the mitzvah, especially in the
determinative area of redefining a non-time-bound commandment as being
time-bound, then the conclusion as to whether women continue to be included - or
excluded - is rendered unclear. Here, absent explicit clarification to the
contrary, I think the default reading is that they are not included in
the new rabbinic time-bound institution of prayer.

> What seems at first blush the unusual thing about prayer is that it is a
> case of non-time-bound from the Torah becoming time-bound by the rabbis 
> ...
> All the other cases we are discussing are commandments which are time
> bound but women were included anyway by the Torah
> ...
> But in the case of the latter, when the rabbis then refined and detailed
> how the positive mitzvah was to be performed, womenwere included in those
> details.  It is only where they get into separate mitzvah territory that
> the rule regarding exemption occurs.

I agree entirely. That's why we're arguing about prayer and not about the
other mitzvot, and it seems we're destined to continue to disagree regarding the
best reading regarding prayer.

> (although even the Rambam's non time bound is really kind of time bound,
> since it is a once a day obligation, even though he says it is not time
> bound).

You seem to be defining "time-bound" as meaning any mitzvah which has
a time span within which it must be performed. According to this reading,
arguably remembering Amalek, which many poskim see as an annual
mitzvah, might also be time-bound. The Rambam, however, appears to define
time-bound differently - a mitzvah which is not continuous, i.e. times when
it can be performed alternate with times when it cannot. Prayer as a Torah law
can be performed at any time. So even though it needs to be performed daily,
insofar as there is no time when it cannot be done, it is not time-bound. A
similar definition guides the Sha'agat Aryeh #12 in discussing whether women are
obligated in the daily remembering of the Exodus from Egypt.


From: Russell J Hendel <rjhendel@...>
Date: Tue, Sep 14,2010 at 08:01 PM
Subject: Rambam's change of mind

Avie (MJ 59#23) answered my assertion that the Rambam should be read with
underlying reasons vs only textually. 

Avie is correct in doubting that he fully understands Rambam. So let me modify
my position. One starts with a creative reading of the text based on reasons and
THEN justifies this reason with the usual textual tools.

This debate is quite interesting and has taking up many postings. Let me add one
point WHICH IS TEXTUAL and has been OVERLOOKED. Rambam 1:5 (or 1:6) after
speaking about the Rabbinic commandment of praying 3 times a day (because of the
sacrifices) strangely adds a verse "As it says: Morning, afternoon, and evening
I will chat and murmur (a euphimism for Prayer)". Why does Rambam have to add
this verse. Alternatively, what does this verse add to our understanding of the
Rabbinic commandment to pray.

But if you follow the way I have been approaching the Rambam...I try to connect
things with original reasons. Here the Talmud (certainly a valid textual
approach) states about prayer "Women must pray because it is supplication for

Then things click. The cited verse in Psalms about "chatting and murmuring" 
is simply a scriptural source emphasizing that prayer, even though it
CORRESPONDS to the sacrifices, is about SUPPLICATION FOR MERCY.

But then it immediately follows that WOMEN also need SUPPLICATION and the time
bound nature of the rabbinic commandment does not justify annuling it as a
requirement for women. 

To recap: I have used a reason based approach - but I have been careful to
justify my conclusions by a traditional text based approach. The advantage of
the combination is that the reasons encourage me not to overlook certain
passages. Here the EXTRA verse and EXTRA reason give insight into, "why prayer,"
that is, "Why are we obligated to pray - ANSWER: For mercy", and hence this
applies to women also.

Russell Jay Hendel


From: Ira L. Jacobson <laser@...>
Date: Wed, Sep 15,2010 at 06:01 AM
Subject: Selichot

Ben Katz stated the following (MJ 59#29):

> 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.

Modernists, most prominently Shelomo Tal in Siddur Rinat Yisrael, 
claim that the traditional Ashkenazi text has become distorted, and 
they print in their siddur what they regard as the authentic text.

But Dr. Katz has just made a more plausible explanation.  The 
Ashkenazi Jews simply censored the text, even though they were fully 
aware of the original wording.



From: Menashe Elyashiv <Menashe.Elyashiv@...>
Date: Wed, Sep 15,2010 at 06:01 AM
Subject: Time for Selichot

Selihot should be said during pre-dawn, and can be said after halachic 
midnight. The old Yishuv (perushim) in and out of Jerusalem have pre-dawn 
Selihot. Same for many Sepharadim. This week it is very early, as Israel 
is already on standard time. We started today ay 03:55! It is not easy, 
but that was the way Selihot were said for hundreds of years . 

From: Ira L. Jacobson <laser@...>
Date: Wed, Sep 15,2010 at 06:01 AM
Subject: Time for Selichot

Martin Stern stated the following (v59 #30):

> How on earth do they manage in such a short time? In the shul I have 
> been going to, they start selichot 35 minutes before shacharit 
> before Rosh Hashanah and 50 minutes before during the Asseret Yemei 
> Teshuvah, and I still find it impossible to say more than about half 
> of each one.

Not necessarily connected to Selihot, but in one shul a fellow asks 
his neighbor, "Why does the rav take so long with his prayers?"

To which the neighbor answers, "Maybe he says every word?"



End of Volume 59 Issue 31