Volume 59 Number 32 
      Produced: Fri, 17 Sep 2010 01:44:26 EDT

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

"Egalitarian Orthodox" (Partnership) Minyanim 
    [Wendy Baker]
CAPS (On the light side) 
    [Russell J Hendel]
Entering a church 
    [Mark Steiner]
Kashrus magazine 
    [Ari Trachtenberg]
Moral Relativism 
    [Shoshana L. Boublil]
Reish Lakish 
    [Elazar M. Teitz]
Responding "amen" and "ye'hai shmay rahba ...." 
    [Martin Stern]
Time for Selichot 
    [Martin Stern]
Versions of prayers and poems in our liturgy 
    [Ira L. Jacobson]
Yedid Nefesh  (4)
    [Perry Zamek]


From: Wendy Baker <wbaker@...>
Date: Wed, Sep 8,2010 at 12:01 PM
Subject: "Egalitarian Orthodox" (Partnership) Minyanim

Mordechai Horowitz wrote:
> No they don't.  I doubt we have one in the entire state of Florida where
> I live associated with an Orthodox shul.  Women at the Wall's leader is
> a Meretz politician associated with the Reform movement. I'd take their
> claims to spirituality a bit more serious if they actually wore tefillen
> and prayed as a group when there weren't press around.

Women of the Wall is not representative of the many shul or home based 
Orthodox women's tefilla groups, although many women support that group. 
Their issues are different than the women's tefilla groups.  I have been 
an active participant in the one at our shul which has been in 
continuous existence since Simhat Torah, 1972.  Although am not skilled 
in layanning [reading Torah --MOD], I have receieved aliyot, in younger 
years done Hagba [raising the Torah], and once led the part of the 
service from opening the aron [ark --MOD], removing the Torah and processing
with it, like Moshe did when the camp moved in the desert, and sang while 
bringing it to the reading table, a high point in my life.  I find that 
hearing a "like me" voice reading the Torah or leading our prayers helps 
me with my kavanna [concentration].

We have this service about 6 times a year.  There are quite a few such 
services in New York City, although some women have been drawn to the 
Parnership minyanim.  We have had quite a few young women Bat Mitzvah at 
our service with no more than 9 men may attending, behind a mehitza 
[separation screen].

The women who lead the services or layan preform a service to hashem as
well as to the rest of us.  Like in many small minyanim, we have no
profesionals, so may have up to 7 layanners on a given Shabbat.

I also study in a parsanut shiur [class in Torah and commentaries] 5 
hours a week at Drisha and attend classes at the my synagogue as do many 
of the other women participating in our service.  I had been studying 
Gemorrah until my eyes failed me.  As I had only started to seriously 
learn Hebrew at age 60, I have not sufficient internalized skill in the 
laanguage to make up for the issues wit my eyes that make the letters 
dance and change shape.  In English, I can make up for what I can't see. 
In my parshanut class, I count on my excellent chavrutot [study 
partners]to carry me over the hard language problems, so we can all get 
to the meaning.

I am NOT setting myself up as a paragon, but just a member of a women's
tefilah group and a Jew.

Many, but not all, modern women look for this kind of service or for a
Partnership minyan to help them achieve closeness to Hashem.  Many of us
have grown children.  Although we do have infants in strollers and toddlers
at the service.  One of my fond memories is of one Simhat Torah when a
young woman was layaning [reading Torah --MOD] holding her infant and her
Mother-in-Law came up for Maftir.  The three generations together celebrating
our Torah. We daven by Halacha, as, I trust, do the Partnership Minyanim.   I
know  that is  their desire.  It may not be for all but is is for some.

Wendy Baker


From: Russell J Hendel <rjhendel@...>
Date: Wed, Sep 15,2010 at 01:01 PM
Subject: CAPS (On the light side)

Lisa asserts that emphasis should be indicated by underlines and asterisks
rather than caps (In passing I have seen all 3 methods used). She claims caps is

I believe Lisa is suffering from an improper orientation. Certainly the email
does not talk loudly. Rather she has been trained to identify caps with
shouting. She probably experiences anxiety when seeing caps. I am truly sorry
that her former life has exposed her to people who oriented her this way.

But certainly this orientation is not inborn or hard wired - even with modern
technology foetuses are still without internet access (just imagine if they had
it:)) But then because we are Jewish - the major religion/culture that believes
that orientation can be changed - we have every reason to believe that such an
orientation can be changed. In Judaism change of orientation is free. In fact I
will be happy to reorient everybody - just read my postings on mail jewish for a
few months.

You will then become a transformed person. You will experience the joy of caps.
The reason caps are superior to asterisks and underline is because they are more
easily noticable. If you skim a posting and see a capped sentence or capped word
you can, if the author used them skillfully, instantly identify the major thread
of the posting. In fact, caps is no different than say a yellow highlighter.
True, yellow is loud, but it is an excellent way to bring INSTANT NOTICABILITY
and therefore a useful aid in notetaking.

Do not belittle this unique opportunity during the 10 days of repentance. Caps
is no low case matter! Caps is one key to Talmud Torah - learning, a primary
Jewish method of serving God. Improving learning in any way during these 10 days
carries many brownie points in heaven.

Just to illustrate my point of view: If you skimmed this posting a few months
from now you would notice the SUBJECT: CAPS and the capped words INSTANT
NOTICABILITY. Those 3 words would summarize the essence of this posting. Caps
are the preferred vehicle for enhancing noticability.

With best wishes for enriched Torah learning and a capstone year!
Russell Jay Hendel; Phd ASA http://www.Rashiyomi.com/


From: Mark Steiner <marksa@...>
Date: Wed, Sep 15,2010 at 11:01 AM
Subject: Entering a church

As usual, Chana (MJ 59#31) touches almost all the bases on the question of
Christianity (I don't use the X because they Christians use the X sign as a holy
symbol). However, I have a reference, that almost nobody cites and which seems
to me conclusive: Tosafot Avoda Zara 14b, s.v. hatzav states that it is
forbidden to sell wax to ALL Christians on their holy days, since they are very
likely to use them for (votive) candles, and then the JEW violates "lifnei iver"
(thou shalt not put a stumbling block before the blind).  This seems to prove
that the religion itself is idolatry and that it is forbidden for Gentiles to
practice Christianity.  (A Jew is not permitted to cause a Gentile to violate
one of the latter's prohibitions.)

Though the Meiri is thought to have ruled otherwise, I would like to point
out that he cites this same halakha about the wax!  The Meiri gives the well
known rulings in cases in which Jewish law seems to be discriminatory.  This
is not one of the cases.

Gemar Hatima Tova 


From: Ari Trachtenberg <trachten@...>
Date: Thu, Sep 16,2010 at 05:01 PM
Subject: Kashrus magazine

In MJ58#34, I had requested information about a claim from a reader that some
mail-jewish material was published in the March 2010 issue of Kashrus magazine.

Someone from that magazine contacted me and told me that they got their
material from a blog with the site owner's permission.  Having no further
information, I consider this issue closed.

G'mar tov,


From: Shoshana L. Boublil <toramada@...>
Date: Wed, Sep 15,2010 at 04:01 AM
Subject: Moral Relativism

Leah S.R. Gordon <leah@...> wrote (MJ 59#29):

> 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.

Thank you for giving me the opportunity to clarify matters.

You can always make moral judgments.  But that is not what you are doing.
You are assigning feelings and meaning and motivations based on modern
western world custom to a person living 1800 years ago. You are attaching
your modern day values to his intentions. You call it "misogynistic" - when
he is living in a world where such behavior is loving and caring. You can
feel as you like, but you can't analyze their behavior and motivations using
your motivations.

In other sources Rabbi Yochanan shows himself to be a caring man, who goes
out of his way to help people. This should not be ignored when attempting to
understand his motivation in this story.

> 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.

No, the culture was not okay - and they were indeed destroyed for it.
> 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.  

B/c you cannot accept that in his culture he was acting in good faith, you are
sure that he was behaving in a sick manner, and you assign motivations that are
indeed sickening.

The story only gives the highlights of the situation.  It is not a full
romance novel. Perhaps Reish Lakish was friends with Rabbi Yochanan when
they were younger; perhaps he knew that his sister had been attracted to and
interested in Reish Lakish and b/c of circumstances she was not able to act
on those feelings. Perhaps there are other issues involved.  We do know that
the marriage was a success and that she loved her husband.

>From elsewhere we know that Reish Lakish's father was a well known rabbi of
his time. From other sources we can assume (no proof to the contrary) that
Reish Lakish was a top yeshiva student who somehow went astray and later
came back to the fold. Reish Lakish's breadth of knowledge and intelligence
are discussed by his brother-in-law Rabbi Yochanan after Reish Lakish dies,
where he says that he was the only one smart enough to show him the problems
arising during their halachic discussions. Nobody else at the time was as
smart as he was.

I find it truly baffling why people ignore a lifetime of information
associated with a person and prefer to assign questionable motives based on
partial information, instead of looking at the full picture of the person's
life (including his views on many halachic issues, including marriage of
minors, btw) and realizing that perhaps their actions are indeed guided by
positive moral behavior.

Shoshana L. Boublil


From: Elazar M. Teitz <remt@...>
Date: Wed, Sep 15,2010 at 11:01 AM
Subject: Reish Lakish

Dr. Hendel writes (MJ 59#30):

> NOTE: Rashi in BM (in contrast to Rabbi Teitz's comments) **explicitly**
> states LISTIM HAYAH - he was a thief.  

Although misquoting me is not nearly as serious as misquoting the Talmud, let me
point out that the comment Dr. Hendel referred to was my remark that he was
wrong in stating "the Talmud (BM 84) **explicitly** calls Resh Lakish LISTIM (a
thief)".  I did not say Reish Lakish was not a thief; I said that the Talmud in
BM does not say so, and certianly not **explicitly.**.  Note that Rashi is not
"the Talmud".  Nor is it mere quibbling that it was Rashi, rather than the
Talmud, that says so. The fact that the Talmud did not see fit to mention it
means that it was not material to the discussion, contra Dr. Hendel's position
that the event constituted a threat by Reish Lakish on R. Yochanan -- a position
for which there isn't a scintilla of evidence.



From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Thu, Sep 16,2010 at 05:01 AM
Subject: Responding "amen" and "ye'hai shmay rahba ...."

Carl Singer <carl.singer@...> wrote (MJ 59#29):

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

Something I have found even more off-putting is the habit of certain people
on Rosh Chodesh to 'scream' the words 'Ya'aleh veyavo' when they get to it
in their 'silent' shmoneh esrei, and similarly for other additions on other
'special' days. If one is at a different point, the shock can make one lose
one's concentration, just as a meshulach does when he talks to one at points
when one is not allowed to speak.

Martin Stern


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Thu, Sep 16,2010 at 04:01 AM
Subject: Time for Selichot

> Ira L. Jacobson <laser@...> wrote (MJ 5931):

> 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?"

Perhaps I may have exaggerated the time allocated for selichot slightly.
When I wrote 35/50 minutes before shacharit, I did not mention that the shul
allows a gap of 5 minutes for everyone to put on their tallit and tefillin.
However I concede that I tend to say the piyutim [poetic compositions] rather
slowly, chanting them with a nigun [tune] rather than just glancing over the
words, and sometimes I pause over an unfamiliar word or allusion to look at the
peirush [commentary] (I use the Selchot Hamephorash which I find very helpful).
AFAIK the shul does not skip anything though I also omit the three longish
pieces between the viddui [confession] and nefilat apayim [= tachanun, the
petitionary prayer also said after shemoneh esrei] in order to finish in time. 

Martin Stern


From: Ira L. Jacobson <laser@...>
Date: Wed, Sep 15,2010 at 04:01 PM
Subject: Versions of prayers and poems in our liturgy

With the starting point the comments made recently in MJ regarding 
Selihot, I wish to make some comments on the basis of my (limited) 
understanding of the development of Jewish prayer, touching on some 
of the major points.  (See 


for a far more comprehensive and scholarly handling of the subject.)

The siddur versions extend from that of Rav Amram Gaon in about 850 
CE.  Followed by the siddur of Rav Sa`adia Gaon in about 940 
CE.  This was followed by Mahzor Vitry in 1208.  The Rambam's order 
of prayers is found in the Mishneh Torah.  Ashkenazi siddurim were 
formulated by Shabetai Sofer in the 16th century and Seligman Baer in 
the 19th century.  R' Ya`aqov of Emden produced a siddur, and the 
Lubavitch movement produced the Nusah Ha'Ari siddur in 1803.  And 
there are various versions of the prayers as recited by the Vilna 
Gaon.  The Baladi Yemenites, of course, have the T'kelal, based on 
the Rambam's formulation.  (I ask forgiveness of anyone who 
formulated a siddur prior to the twentieth century and has not been 
mentioned above.)  And today anyone worth his salt publishes a siddur 
-- some of which are based on the important work of Daniel 
Goldschmitt, without so much as mentioning his name.

I do not imagine that anyone reading this prays precisely in 
accordance with any of the large variety of "original" 
formulations.  I wonder why it would be so important to anyone who 
can be so described -- to find it so important to reverse changes 
introduced in a poem such as Yedid Nefesh -- which were introduced in 
accordance with the views of the redactors.

Isn't there some sort of contradiction here between preserving older 
versions of prayers and poems?



From: Perry Zamek <perryza@...>
Date: Wed, Sep 15,2010 at 11:01 AM
Subject: Yedid Nefesh 

Ira L. Jacobson wrote (59#31):

> 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.

While Dr. Katz's explanation may be more plausible, I doubt that there 
was a specific decision to censor the text of Yedid Nefesh.

I would argue that, since the text would probably have arrived through 
multiple channels, some merely by word of mouth, errors crept in during 
transmission, and that the current version is an amalgam of the various 
corruptions that occurred, when someone finally put the text in print.

If one argues that the text of Yedid Nefesh entered Ashkenazi Jewry 
through a single point, then one would also have to argue that someone, 
at that time and place, and with a reasonable knowledge of Hebrew, 
modified the text before transmitting it further (this could possibly 
happen if this single point of entry was, in fact, a Hebrew print-shop, 
where the text was being set in type).

Just my thoughts.

Shana Tova and Gmar Chatima Tova

Perry Zamek

From: Gilad J. Gevaryahu <gevaryahu@...>
Date: Wed, Sep 15,2010 at 11:01 AM
Subject: Yedid Nefesh

Ira L. Jacobson (MJ 59#31) commented on Ben Katz (MJ 59#29) about the poem Yedid

Rabbi Dr. Shlomo Tal reported that Prof. Meir Benayahu (the son of late Chief
Rabbi Yitzhak Nissim) found in the JTS library the autograph of the poem Yedid
Nefesh (Autograph means handwritten by the author, Rabbi Elazar Azikri). Rabbi
Tal published a photocopy of the poem in his book Hasiddur be-hishtalshluto,
(Jerusalem 1988, p.68) and so we know the original wording, and he printed the
original wording in his Siddur Rinat Israel. Tal shows that it was printed
exactly as the original in Hadrat Zekenim, Livorno 1910, and Korban Todah,
Jerusalem 1953 and included a photocopies of both pages.

Gilad J. Gevaryahu

From: Lisa Liel <lisa@...>
Date: Wed, Sep 15,2010 at 11:01 AM
Subject: Yedid Nefesh

Ira L. Jacobson <laser@...> wrote (MJ 59#31):

> 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.

There is a third plausible explanation.  Kabbalists often engaged in 
variations on a theme.  Permutations and variations.  It's entirely 
possible that the traditional nusach and the nusach found in the 
Cairo Geniza (considered by Shlomo Tal and others to be the 
"original" text) were simply variant versions by a single author.


From: Ben Katz <BKatz@...>
Date: Wed, Sep 15,2010 at 12:01 PM
Subject: Yedid Nefesh

Ira L. Jacobson <laser@...> wrote (MJ 59#31):

> 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.

I thank Mr Jacobson for his comment.

Not only is the author's autographed ms. available in the JTS library (a copy of
which was published by Rabbi Tal in his little book that explained how he made
the decisions that he did when editing Rinat Yisrael) but the first printed
edition of the poem (which is available on line) also has shifchat olam.  There
are scholarly articles that have discussed this issue - I did not make it up.
Also, in regards a previous post - maybe I was a bit loose calling 400 years ago
the middle ages, but you all know what I mean.  It was pre-enlightenment,
pre-industrial revolution but post-antiquity (and it sounds pretty middling to me).

Ben Katz


End of Volume 59 Issue 32