Volume 59 Number 36 
      Produced: Mon, 20 Sep 2010 09:54:41 EDT

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

Action and Orienation - A personal statement (Was homosexuality, Resh  
    [Russell J Hendel]
Al Het 
    [Stuart Pilichowski]
All-caps (emphasis conventions) 
    [RE Sternglantz]
Anomalies in Ashkanazi Rosh Hashana davening 
    [Ed Greenberg]
Anomalies in Ashkanazi Yom Kippur davening - no aleinu 
    [Martin Stern]
Anomalies in Ashkanazi Yom Kippur davening - no birkat hacohanim a t m 
    [Akiva Miller]
Anomalies in Ashkanazi Yom Kippur davening - selichot 
    [Martin Stern]
Greetings for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur 
    [Carl Singer]
Sunset Period - Neilah - Yom Kippur "closing" 
    [David Ziants]
Women going to shul on yamim noraim 
    [David Tzohar]
Yom Kippur "closing" shofar (2)
    [Art Werschulz  Martin Stern]


From: Russell J Hendel <rjhendel@...>
Date: Sun, Sep 19,2010 at 08:01 PM
Subject: Action and Orienation - A personal statement (Was homosexuality, Resh 

I owe several postings on different topics. But since I am busy, I would like to
change my arguments (not my position!) on orientation. Both Frank and Avie
(correctly) related my viewpoints to a basic belief that on the impossibility of
changing orientation. 

Up until now, I have been arguing verses. I have tried to extract from the word
TOAYVAH, abomination, that (male) homosexuality is emotionally unnatural. Maybe
however I should just argue experientially. So in this posting I tell you how I
grew up, the people I know and why **I** take it for granted that people can
change actions and orientation. I also show why Americans are ignorant of this.
First several stories.

#1) What could be more hard wired than a mongoloid status? Yet, growing up, I
witnessed a mongoloid (from birth) perform more at his bar-mitzvah than most
people do (Leining, haftorah and musaf). His hard wired disability didn't affect

#2) His father was a chain smoker of three packs a day. When the surgeon general
report came out the Rabbi of our shule delivered a sermon that smoking was
prohibited according to Jewish law. His father, quit by cold turkey. But we all
know smoking and nicotine is addictive! It CREATES orientation that did not
stop him from changing overnight.

Several people (including me) discussed HOW he could achieve this. He pointed
out that in his experience those who abstain from smoking on Shabbath find it
much easier to quit than those who never abstain. Here we have an interesting
insight into the religion-science dialogue. Psychology may not have thought of
seeing if once a week stoppage would ease quitting. The person who quit did not
need the blessings of science, however. He knew his religion guaranteed people
the right to change orientation and he simply stopped.

This is the old story of the Jewish 'We will do and listen'. Our actions come
first. Science follows. Not vice verse. We do not have to wait for science to
base our actions. This is a very important point. OK just be emphatic. After
quitting he lost his urge to smoke. Orientation can be changed.

#3) In High School I was privileged to learn from former atheists a result of
the holocaust. They made it clear that what was lacking was an emotion vs belief
in God. They taught us that emotions could change. No problem! 

#4) Homosexuals and lesbians. No problem. I have known religious homosexuals and
lesbians who fully repented (the word THEY used) and are now happily married
(not to each other). They are now changed people. Their tastes have changed.

#5) I finally remembered an old Jewish law about orientation (Yes it DOES occur
in Jewish law). Gamblers are invalid for witnesses UNTIL their habits and
orientation change. Jewish law gives a whole slew of addictive practices (didnt
have time to look it up). It describes a rehab therapy 'go to the opposite
extreme till you are straightened out'. There are details in the Gemarrah and

6) Even animals can change their orientation! (Despite their lack of soul). A
goring ox is a creature ORIENTED to gore. The owner pays full damages vs. half
damages for the ox while it is in its non-goring status. Yet Jewish law knows of
the repentance of animals --- if an animal plays with infants and doesnt gore
anymore it is cured that is, its orientation is cured.

7) An even more shocking law about animal orientation. An animal trained to gore
in bullfights has had his orientation changed. So if the animal kills someone it
is not executed. Why? It is the beauty of Jewish law that to the extent that
animals mirror humans the Jewish values we cherish are inherited by them. After
all: The Bible could execute the goring animal. It was TRAINED to kill. It did
kill, possibly an infant. But Jewish law doesnt say that. Animal orientation is
not incurable. We dont kill the animal. The animal is not behaving its normal
self. It can be cured. And the symbolic gesture of not killing it is more
important than killing it.

#8) I think I can also mention non Jewish examples like Beethoven and Hawkins
who overcame hard wired disabilities (even if they didnt overcome orientation).

Anyway. This is how **I** grew up. I took all the above for granted. I also
found it consistent with Jewish values. A few weeks ago, I saw the posting on
homosexuality and said to myself: They must be joking. Let me write a simply
posting and I am sure everyone will retract.

What has happened to everybody?  Am I the only person who knows such stories,
such laws and such people. Certainly not. Or are we going to get a whole slew of
postings with people using their distinction guns to bump off a valid Jewish
value? We are supposed to be a beacon of light to the world, not a follower. Of
course, Americans dont know about these things. Repentance in the broadest sense
of the word is something only Jews believe it (Think about it: Christians
believe in vicarious atonement, and Muslims believe they are sojourners and
helpless; only Jews believe that man is a conqueror of the world rather than a
helpless slave to it!).  So of course there is no scientific evidence for
repentance, no one ever looked for it. (There is also no scientific evidence for
quitting smoking among shomer shabbas people) Lack of science can indicate a
trend not necessarily a result.

Anyway: As Herman Wouk said: This is my God, the God of repentance.

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


From: Stuart Pilichowski <stupillow@...>
Date: Mon, Sep 20,2010 at 04:01 AM
Subject: Al Het

Ira L. Jacobson <laser@...> wrote (MJ 59#34):

> I feel that this is very much timely regarding the details of 
> abominations discussed recently on Mail-Jewish at length.  Just as I 
> should feel guilty of having listened to a short description I heard 
> many decades ago by an American of the ****** persuasion, who 
> described his first sexual experience with a lamb.  These are indeed 
> abominations of which we have no need to learn their details.

Like it was really crucial to the subject matter to know the ethnicity of the

Moderators - Come on! 

Stuart Pilichowski
Mevaseret Zion

Moderator's comment: This was an unfortunate oversight - ethnicity was


From: RE Sternglantz <resternglantz@...>
Date: Sun, Sep 19,2010 at 10:01 PM
Subject: All-caps (emphasis conventions)

In MJ 59#33, Martin Stern posted:

> I must say that I also found Lisa's comment strange but assumed that she was
> referring to a convention generally accepted in the USA which is, as far as
> I am aware, unknown in the UK. Since Russell has shown that the use of
> capitals is not universally recognised as offensive in the USA, I shall not
> feel inhibited from using them for emphasis, and would encourage others to
> do so, since as Russell points out they are far superior for this purpose
> than the alternatives.

Respectfully, the convention *not* to represent emphasis via all-caps has
nothing to do with US vs UK convention. It has entirely to do with the normative
standards of discourse in Internet forums, both academic/professional and
social, for approximately the past quarter of a century. I have participated in
dozens of groups (with international memberships) over the years and this is one
of several universals. 

Lisa's remark was entirely reasonable and straightforward. Frankly, I took
Russell's response as a combination of his characteristic independence/"daas
yachid" and a flippant and quite inappropriate commentary on some extremely
serious issues raised by a previous thread on homosexuality.

If Russell feels strongly about bucking the norms of the medium and representing
emphasis in all-caps, I can live and let live. But Lisa's comment was in no way
strange to me, as someone familiar with the norms of discourse. 

I had not intended to comment on Russell's post at all, but now that I have in
passing, might I request, for the new year, that members of this list refrain
from the mocking and bullying that has characterized several recent threads? I
understand that some posters may feel that they are the last bastion against
evil forces of modernity that are destroying Torah Judaism, and that it is
essential not to give an inch. The sentiment is coming from a good place but the
hostility -- and the refusal of some posters to even listen to others -- has
frankly become soul-crushing. Don't mock other people's nisyonos (challenges)
just because they are incomprehensible to you. 

May we all be better listeners in 5771. 

Ruth Sternglantz


From: Ed Greenberg <edg@...>
Date: Mon, Sep 20,2010 at 08:01 AM
Subject: Anomalies in Ashkanazi Rosh Hashana davening

While we're on the subject. I remember noticing when I was a kid, that 
on Rosh Hashana, we did not say L'Dovid,  En Kelokenu, Shir Shel Yom, 
Anim Zemiros and Adon Olam at the end of musaf like we do on shabbos and 
all other Yomim Tovim.

Consulting Reb Artscroll, I note that these prayers, are not printed in 
the Machzor, but rather a note indicates that "some congregations" say 
these things, and giving the page number in Shacharis. (En Kelokenu is 
not even mentioned.)

My recollection is that Birnbaum's Machzor did not have these things, 
but the service just tails off after Aleinu.

Is there any articulated reason for this?

Ed Greenberg


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Mon, Sep 20,2010 at 07:01 AM
Subject: Anomalies in Ashkanazi Yom Kippur davening - no aleinu

Art Werschulz <agw@...> wrote (MJ 59#34):

> Regarding the fact that we don't say Aleinu on Yom Kippur during the day,
> David Ziants wrote (MJ 59#33):
>> We are not missing out on alainu because we say it in the amida at musaph.
> I don't know if that works as "the" explanation.  After all, we say Aleinu
> during the Rosh Hashana mussaf, but we still say Aleinu at its "usual" place.

I fear David and Art have got things a bit back to front. Saying Aleinu at
the end of davenning is a relatively recent innovation dating back about 900
years when the martyrs of Blois intoned it as they were being burnt alive. The
haunting melody was even noted by the non-Jewish French chroniclers who
obviously did not understand the words. This event took place on 20 Sivan and a
fast day was instituted to commemorate it by Rabbeinu Tam who passed away
shortly after.

The original place of Aleinu in the liturgy was in mussaf for Rosh Hashanah as
an introduction to the Malkhuyot.

Martin Stern


From: Akiva Miller <kennethgmiller@...>
Date: Mon, Sep 20,2010 at 09:01 AM
Subject: Anomalies in Ashkanazi Yom Kippur davening - no birkat hacohanim a t m

David Ziants (MJ 59:34) asked about duchening (blessing of the kohanim) at
Mincha on Yom Kippur.

> With this in itself, I do not feel any inconsistency. Shacharit and
> Musaph like every shabbat and yom tov. Ne'lla - a reason being I assume,
> that this is "ait rachamim" [a great time of heavenly mercy] and so an
> ideal time to receive birkat hakohanim.

Good guess, but your assumption is in error. Duchaning at neilah has nothing to
do with it being a special time. The kohanim bless us at ne'ilah simply because
that is the standard procedure for any repetition of the Amidah. It is Mincha
which is the anomaly to be explained.

> The point is that at mincha we have the place-holder "elokainu velokai
> avotainu" used as if there should be duchening [go up to the stage to
> bless] but no cohanim present (also used outside of Israel at shacharit
> as cohanim never bless then). Therefore why do we have this place-holder
> at mincha? If it is like a minor fast day, then why should the Cohanim
> not duchen? If mincha on Yom Kippur is not comparable to mincha on a
> minor fast day (for Yom Kippur is a happy day and Cohanim duchen at
> shacharit as well as musaph) then why have the place-holder?

Here's the deal (based almost entirely on Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 129)

Kohanim cannot give this blessing when they are drunk. We don't need to worry
about this at Shacharis, and (except for Simchas Torah, which Mr. Ziants
explained) we're not concerned about Musaf either. But Mincha (on a non-fasting
day) is a real concern, and the halacha is that Kohanim do not duchen at Mincha.
In fact, even if a kohen would claim to be sober, and get up in front of the
synagogue to say the blessing at Mincha, he is removed and is not allowed to say
the blessing. This is why no one (neither in or out of Israel) says the
"place-holder" at such a Mincha.

None of the above applies to Neilah. I'd like to point out that although
nowadays Neilah is said only on Yom Kippur, it was also said on certain fast
days in previous generations. I don't remember exactly what the circumstances
were (I think it was when fasting after a prolonged drought), but the critical
point is that Neilah is said only on fast days. It is therefore similar to
Shacharis and Musaf in that there is no fear that the kohanim may be drunk, and
so they do go up to say the blessings.

But what about Mincha on a fast day? It is included in the general law against
duchening at Mincha, or do we make an exception because there's no fear of
drunkenness? The law is that we do not allow the kohanim to go up to say the
blessing. However if a kohen does go up, we allow him to say the blessings,
because if we don't it might cast aspersions on his lineage. This is the sort of
situation where the chazan does recite the "place-holder" (in contrast to Mincha
on a non-fast day, where it is omitted).

(The previous paragraph applies to Mincha on Yom Kippur, and also to an early
Mincha on other fast days. However, on a fast day when Mincha is said at the
very end of the day, it is considered similar to Neilah, and the Shulchan Aruch
allows the kohanim to duchan as they would at Neilah. I don't remember whether
or not this is the actual practice nowadays in Israel, when Mincha is said in
the very late afternoon on a regular fast day.)

I'll now share an interesting story very relevant to all the above. On the fast
day of Asara B'Teves in 5740, I was the chazan for an early mincha at a certain
yeshiva in Israel. After Kedusha, I became aware of a commotion in back of me,
and realized that the kohanim were being told to wash their hands and go up to
say the bracha. I knew the halacha was that they should *not* do that, and I was
very tempted to force the issue by reciting the "place-holder" and not allow
them to say their blessing. But I also knew the halacha that if they do ascend,
then we allow them to say it. So I did.

After the service ended, I overheard the following conversation between two of
the rabbis:

A: Why did you tell them to duchen?
B: It's a fast day. We do say Birkas Kohanim on a fast day.
A: No we don't!
B: I'm very sure we did when I was at Yeshiva Torah V'Daas.
A: Torah V'Daas??? In Brooklyn??? On a fast day??? That wasn't duchaning!!!

Clearly, Rabbi B's memory had confused the place-holder and the actual blessing
itself. In Torah V'Daas they duchan only on Yom Tov, but Rabbi B's many years in
Israel had caused him to temporarily forget that. I think this story is a good
example of how people can and do make mistakes, but the halacha also teaches us
how to deal with them.

Akiva Miller


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Mon, Sep 20,2010 at 08:01 AM
Subject: Anomalies in Ashkanazi Yom Kippur davening - selichot

Perry Zamek <perryza@...> wrote (MJ 59#35):

> Some thirty years ago, I served as chazzan for Rosh Hashanah and Yom
> Kippur in Adelaide, South Australia. ...
> For Yom Kippur, the official Machzor used in Adelaide was that published
> by Routledge and Keegan Paul. I was surprised to find it contained a
> full set of selichot for each of Shacharit, Musaf and Mincha, whose
> texts (for the piyutim) I had never seen before. This was in contrast
> with my old set of Machzorim printed in Vilna which simply stated,
> before Zechor Rachamecha, "One says selichot and then one says this" (in
> Yiddish of course). Unlike Martin Stern's community, in Adelaide there
> were no omissions from the selichot (and no break between Musaf and Mincha).

The Routledge and Keegan Paul machzor does not actually have a full set of
selichot but they have already been 'pre-selected' to the minimal set (petichah,
pizmon and akeidah) customarily said in the English communities so there was
nothing left to omit. The more comprehensive Shapiro Vallentine machzor
contained more like the editions produced by Sachs and Heidenheim published in

Martin Stern


From: Carl Singer <carl.singer@...>
Date: Mon, Sep 20,2010 at 08:01 AM
Subject: Greetings for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur

There seem to be multiple "formulaic" greetings on both Rosh Hashanah and
Yom Kippur. G'mar hatima tova ....  some seem to get longer each year

There are Yiddish ones, "ob a geet g'benched yur"  -- Have a good, blessed
year and  "a geeten kvital"  -- (you should receive) a good note [as in piece of

I was wondering if anyone has any insights to the custom and the variants.



From: David Ziants <dziants@...>
Date: Mon, Sep 20,2010 at 09:01 AM
Subject: Sunset Period - Neilah - Yom Kippur "closing"

Thank you for your response, Carl, and also thank you for CCing me this 
as I receive mail-jewish in digest form and am not likely to see the 
postings (including mine) till the next day. Please remember, that in 
Israel, birkat hacohanim at ne'illa is an important part of the tephilla.

Question:- Is there an earliest time to start ne'illa, or can it be said 
any time after mincha?

If we were to start mincha half an hour earlier so that ne'illa starts 
half an hour earlier, and the congregation says all the piyutim [poems] 
with 13 middot [divine attributes] in the order as set in the machzor. 
We then reach birkat hakohanim before sh'kiya [halachic sunset] which 
is appox. 20 minutes before complete dark (i.e. the shophar can be 
blown). This means we have 20 minutes for the end of ne'ila + avinu 
malkainu + shma yisrael etc.

(Davening maariv before shophar blowing is just not an option in the 
type of shuls I belong to in Israel although I remember it was done in 
some of the big shuls in England.)

I remember that in yeshiva, they managed to stretch the last bit out for 
that 20 minutes naturally, as part of the spirit of the davening of the 
place. Ditto with the Karlebach chassidim [modern orthodox neo-chassidic 
group who sing and dance a lot more than average in davening].

Any ideas of how a normal speed minyan or shul can stretch the tefilla 
in that time? Saying the whole of avinu malkainu one verse at a time 
(like we generally do for the middle verses) might stretch 10 minutes, 
but there is still left a void.

If birkat hakohanim is done slightly after sh'kiya - is it so terrible?
I have heard that there are Rabbanim, not specifically in my city, who 
allow this for their shuls. On what do they base themselves? Would there 
still be a later time limit?

David Ziants
Ma'aleh Adumim, Israel


From: David Tzohar <davidtzohar@...>
Date: Mon, Sep 20,2010 at 05:01 AM
Subject: Women going to shul on yamim noraim

When we lived in a small settlement on the Golan Heights there was a
rotation among the young women each of whom took care of the little children
for an hour so that the rest could attend the services. This is especially
important for those who want to be there for yizkor (why this is so
important is another subject). My daughter and daughters-in-law who live in
the yeshiva community in Mitzpeh Ramon have a similar arrangement. This
arrangement could be implemented in any community.

David Tzohar


From: Art Werschulz <agw@...>
Date: Mon, Sep 20,2010 at 07:01 AM
Subject: Yom Kippur "closing" shofar

Carl Singer wrote (MJ 59#34):

> In contrast, some congregations finish Neilah a bit earlier, thus allowing
> for a more benign Ma'ariv and the shofer is blown (at the correct time) AFTER
> Ma'ariv.

That's our shul's practice.  A major advantage is that it keeps everybody in
shul for ma'ariv.

Art Werschulz 

From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Mon, Sep 20,2010 at 07:01 AM
Subject: Yom Kippur "closing" shofar

Carl Singer <carl.singer@...> wrote (MJ 59#34):

> In contrast, some congregations finish Neilah a bit earlier, thus allowing
> for a more benign Ma'ariv and the shofer is blown (at the correct time) AFTER
> Ma'ariv.

The correct time for blowing the shofar is after Ne'ilah and before Ma'ariv.
However it was noticed that some people, who thought it meant everything was
over, would rush out once they heard it and simply not bother to daven
Ma'ariv at all. So some congregations decided to leave it until after
Ma'ariv to avoid this mistake.

Martin Stern


End of Volume 59 Issue 36