Volume 59 Number 37 
      Produced: Mon, 20 Sep 2010 12:24:01 EDT

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

"Curing/Repenting from" Homosexuality 
    [Joseph Kaplan]
Anomalies in Ashkanazi Rosh Hashana davening 
    [Martin Stern]
Anomalies in Ashkanazi Yom Kippur davening - no aleinu 
    [Eitan Fiorino]
Entering a church 
    [Mark Steiner]
Greetings for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur 
    [Martin Stern]
Women and Men at davening and my RH/YK experience 
    [Leah S.R. Gordon]
Women going to shul on yamim noraim (2)
    [Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz  Yisrael  Medad]


From: Joseph Kaplan <penkap@...>
Date: Mon, Sep 20,2010 at 10:01 AM
Subject: "Curing/Repenting from" Homosexuality

I was criticized by the moderators recently for quoting the opinion of an
unnamed expert that homosexuality is not curable.  Putting aside whether my
quoting such expert justified certain responses to my post or the
moderators' criticism, let me quote from a letter to the 9/17/10 issue of
the New York Jewish Week from Naomi Mark, a well known psychotherapist (and
former director of the Trembling Before God Mental Health Project): "I have
worked with many clients who came to me following experience with JONAH and
other failed conversion therapies.  Despite having been highly motivated to
change, these clients describe the treatment as ineffective and often
harmful. . . . It is time for the Orthodox community to admit that there is
no way to domesticate this challenge by the easy way out of a 'quick fix'

For the full text of her letter, see


Joseph Kaplan


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Mon, Sep 20,2010 at 11:01 AM
Subject: Anomalies in Ashkanazi Rosh Hashana davening

Ed Greenberg <edg@...> wrote (MJ 59#36):

> 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.

The probable reason that Ed noticed this as a child is that he did not come
to shul at the very beginning of davenning - the Shir Shel Yom and Anim
Zemiros are said before pesukei dezimra both on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur
- as printed in many machzorim. The same is true of L'David in those shuls
that say it. This probably was the point at which they were said every day
but they were moved to the end of davenning in order that more people could
participate (and say the kaddish after them). En Kelokeinu is said in its
usual place on Rosh Hashanah but is omitted entirely on Yom Kippur. Adon
Olam is not an integral part of the davenning and was originally said or
sung before birkhot hashachar i.e. right at the beginning together with
Yigdal in some congregations. This was the practice in my old shul every
Shabbat and Yom Tov.

> 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.)

There is a stira [contradiction] between Ed's reisha [initial comment] and
the seifa [final comment] since Reb Artscroll must print these passages
somewhere in order to give a page reference!

Martin Stern


From: Eitan Fiorino <afiorino@...>
Date: Mon, Sep 20,2010 at 11:01 AM
Subject: Anomalies in Ashkanazi Yom Kippur davening - no aleinu

In MJ 59#33, David Ziants <dziants@...> discussed the lack of Aleinu after
musaf on yom kippur in nusach Ashkenaz.

It is worth pointing out that the addition of aleinu to tefila outside of musaf
of Rosh Hashana is a relatively late phenomenon, and was not even universally
adopted.  Italians and Yemenites (baladi) do not say Aleinu after mincha all
year round.  I apologize again for citing this from memory, but I believe some
Sephardim only recite the first paragraph of aleinu on a daily basis.  To my
knowledge, Amram, Saadia, the Rambam and the Abudarham know nothing of a daily
recitation of Aleinu.  My point is only that there may be no need to
over-interpret the presence or absence of Aleinu at a particular point given
that it was a medieval addition to the liturgy.

All that having been said, I would agree with the general idea that its absence
most likely signifies the fact that tefila was a fairly continuous process on
Yom Kippur in Ashkenaz, without a major "break".  Don't forget that selichot
ought to be recited on yom kippur at shacharit and mincha (though most nusach
ashkenaz congregations abandoned to recitation of selichot because of the time
needed to recite various piyutim).  I would agree that one could claim that
Aleinu ought to be recited after musaf on YK if there is a break.  Although, one
could even more strongly argue that if people are getting a break, then they
really ought to be reciting selichot!  Don't everyone thank me at once!!

The story associated with its being added to the daily liturgy is that during
the burning at the stake of about 30-40 Jews of Blois, France in the 12th
century, they recited Aleinu as they were being burned.  This was reported by
one of the baalei hatosafot, Ephraim of Bonn (who witnessed and documented other
martyrdoms including the massacre at York, England in 1190) and the event is
memorialized by the fast of 20 Sivan observed by some Ashkenazim.  See Susan
Einbinder's book _Beautiful Death: Jewish Poetry and Martyrdom in Medieval France_.

I have seen attributed to Professor Ta-Shma (I've not read the piece; also there
was an article in Tarbiz in 2004 by Ophir Munz-Manor on this topic which I've
also not seen) the idea that Aleinu was made part of the daily liturgy by virtue
of being incorporated into the seder hama'aracha or seder hama'amadot, a series
of additional prayers and learning said after tefilah (including ketoret, ein
keloheinu, shir shel yom, uva letzion).  This was designed to provide daily
Torah study for those unable to engage in more detailed and lengthier study, and
the text differed for each day of the week - the practice began in France in the
11th century and from there spread to Germany, Italy and eventually into Spain.
 This may or may not be an alternative explanation to the above, but rather
something that explains the mechanism by which Aleinu became so widely
distributed a part of the daily liturgy.  Though it would be interesting to see
if the manuscript evidence suggests Aleinu being recited in France as part of
the seder hama'aracha prior to the Blois martyrdom.



From: Mark Steiner <marksa@...>
Date: Mon, Sep 20,2010 at 08:01 AM
Subject: Entering a church

I don't have much time right now, and I suppose Chana doesn't either, but in
taking a rest from building the sukkah, I will make some replies to only
some of Chana's comments (MJ 59#35).

First, I believe that the reading of the Tosafot in Sanhedrin saying that belief
in the Trinity etc. is permitted (to Gentiles) because it is only
"shituf" -- this reading is untenable.  The Tosafot there is not necessarily even
talking about Jesus, but about any saints on whosse name one takes oaths.
This point was already made by others on mail-jewish.  A detailed reading of
this Tosafot with the only tenable "pshat" was published by Rabbi Dr. David
Berger and others, and in the work of poskim such as the Hazon Ish (he has a
very interesting discussion of Christianity also, and explain how worship of
a dead human being who doesn't exist any more could be avoda zara in the
first place).  Since the work has been done by others, thankfully, I won't
go into a word by word explication.  

The following notes are meant to reply to any claim that either the Tosafot
are not referring to Christianity, or that the views they express are not
that of ALL the Rishonim.

1.	It is obvious to all who learn the Tractate, that the very many
decisions "lema'asseh" in Tosafot are talking about Christianity, i.e. the
idolatry they knew.  They even mention the spring at Lourdes (they say it
might be helpful but that this is no evidence for the truth of
Christianity).  In the very reference I gave, Tosafot refers also to
"seforim pesulim" which are used for "tiflah" (a play on tefilah).  What
other religion could they be talking about than Christianity, where
illuminated books were used in the mass.  (I just came back from Pisa, where
at the Tower Museum, there is an exhibition of the seforim pesulim of
Tosafot.)  Thus, when Tosafot, after a discussion of the Talmud, start
drawing practical conclusions, they are always referring to Christian

2.	In the Tosafot at 50a, ba`inan ke`en penim, the Tosafot discusses
the sugya and then says (or say): "And we see from here [an expression which
means that they are deducing conclusions for contemporary idolatry, i.e.
Christianity] that those wax candles that are brought as an offering to the
avoda zara and are put before them, and when the priest extinguishes them and
sells them or gives them to a Jew, they are permitted [i.e. this constitutes
"bitul", or nullification of the avoda zara status of the wax]....  There is no
doubt whatever that Tosafot are talking about votive wax candles -- they are
giving a psak to a contemporary shayle [query].  I don't know whether the Romans
even used wax candles in their worship, but the conclusion is unavoidable that
Tosofot considers Christianity avoda zara.

3.	Tosafot RID (avoda zara 51b) "All wax wicks that burn before a.z. or the
wax figurines that are hanging before the idol even though the priests take
them down (destroy them?) and sell them...[all are forbidden].  The business
with wax was a shayleh all over Europe (RID learned in Ashkenaz, then went
back to Italy).

4.	Ramban 51b, Rashba 51b mention the business about wax, and are
clearly talking about church use, but differ with RID concerning whether
"bitul" applies to them afterward.

5.	Tosafot Harosh 50a agrees with Tosafot at 50a, but instead of the word
"komer" or priest extinguishing the candles, he uses the much more explicit
expression "galach" which I assume I don't have to translate [literally 'shaved'
referring to the tonsure or shaved head of priests in the Middle Ages - MOD].

6.	Ritva 51b in talking about the lighting of candles as a.z. (he
permits their use after they are extinguished, i.e. after the mass is over),
mentions another practice: eating the wafer (obldash, a corruption of the
Latin phrase for the wafer), and he permits the leftover communion wafers to
be eaten by Jews (if they eat pas akum!!!), as is the custom (in Spain),
though he frowns on the practice of eating a leftover communion wafer.
(Incidentally, the Ashkenaz rishonim discussed the kashrut of these wafers
in detail in ways which would horrify kashrut agencies today -- they go
through one "problem" after another and show that there is no "problem" with
the wafers.  Ironically, I have heard that today the mass is celebrated
sometimes with matzah, as I assume the Last Supper consisted of.)

7.   Ritva 51b, allows "those who pay rent with money [talking about Church
lands]" because "everybody knows that the money goes for food and drink [of
the priests], but for those who rent consists of oil or wax this is forbidden
because it is presumable for a sacrifice (the same votive cancles we talked
about in reference 6 to the same Ritva).

8.   Piske Harosh chapter 1, siman 15: "And NOWADAYS (i.e. not the Romans,
not the Baylonians, but you know who), they usually offer incense to the
idol, therefore it is forbidden to sell incense to a priest.  Also wax on a
holy day it is forbidden to sell to an idolator...because the Jew violates
"thou shalt not offer a stumbling block before the blind."

Add to this the Meiri who rules the same about selling wax.

The general conclusion from this is, that all the Rishonim discussed the
Christian practice of lighting candles in context of two questions: (a) can
one sell them wax on a holy day (b) after the holy day is over can one use
the wax.  All these discussion are in contexts in which other clearly
Christians practices are mentioned; such as communion wafers; in one source
the priest is called a "Galach" (a common contemptuous reference to this
very day in Yiddish).  These were not theoretical discussions, but responses
to contemporary problems of making a living in a Christian society.  And all
these sources either imply or state explicitly that the Christian mass is
avoda zarah.

To these Rishonim, we need hardly add the Rambam, who rules unequivocally
on the matter -- to the extent even of saying (in his Commentary to the
Mishnah, a.z. chapter 1) that in theory one is not allowed to live in a city
with a church.  (And that our inability to comply with this is the curse
that Moshe Rabbenu placed on us, "And thou shalt worship other gods [in the

Hag sameah!


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Mon, Sep 20,2010 at 11:01 AM
Subject: Greetings for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur

Carl Singer <carl.singer@...> wrote (MJ 59#36):

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

The general Ashkenazi custom is to greet one's friends with:

Ketivah vechatimah tovah - before Rosh Hashanah

Leshanah tovah tikateiv veteichateim -first night of Rosh Hashanah (this is
to a single man, there are slight variants when addressing a woman or groups
of men or women)

Gemar chatimah tovah - until Yom Kippur

Gemar tov - until Hoshana Rabba

On Hoshana Rabba the tradition is to say "A gut kvittel" (some say piska
tava which is the same in Aramaic) referring to the final 'receipt' from
above for one's teshuvah that one would hope to obtain on this day which
marks the finale of the season.

Martin Stern


From: Leah S.R. Gordon <leah@...>
Date: Mon, Sep 20,2010 at 11:01 AM
Subject: Women and Men at davening and my RH/YK experience

As a point, that I have not seen mentioned, re. making sure that all of us,
women and men, get to shul on RH/YK:  If my tiny shul, with an annual budget
less than $10,000, can make sure that there are [non-Jewish] babysitters,
then so can a well-established community.  Also, I realize that I forgot to
ask the original poster, how did these women [and children??] hear the

To tie this into the neilah-timing thread, I have to say that this year's YK
davening was the most transcendent and wonderful I have ever attended, which
I attribute to the fact that we were running a bit ahead of time, and
stretched out the end of neilah with tunes and unison Avinu Malkenu, and no
worries for me because the little ones were well cared for in the next room.

Maybe it would help those who don't see a need for women in shul, to share
my experiences with davening over the last couple of weeks:

Like others who have written in to M.J, I looked out over the packed ezrat
nashim and thought, how could a shul be missing this half; how terrible that
would be.  My friends and I are nearly all in the young-married-with-children
demographic.  Our younger children, like my three-year-old, were in the
babysitting room.  My eight-year-old came in and out, but was certainly there
for the end of neilah.  My twelve-year-old was with my husband.  Shul is a
family experience, for any family that wants to teach its next generation to
come to shul!

Having babysitting available is a statement of profound respect:  respect
for both parents in a family and their need to daven (not to mention
single-parent families!); respect for the children's needs since even the
most angelic toddler cannot be expected to be still and quiet for a long
service; respect for the rest of the congregation that needs 

(a) enough people (parents!) for a full service and 

(b) enough quiet for an appropriately decorous service.  

I think my minyan is very supportive and indulgent to children, with lollipops
on shabbat and no nasty looks when kids are quiet and sitting nicely [in some
shuls, just being under four feet tall earns you glares].  But it's a very
focused, quiet environment, and children can't necessarily take that for the
whole time.

On shabbat, we don't normally have babysitters at shul, but we do have some
volunteer parents who lead kids' groups for different ages, including
teaching davening-leading for the very few older kids that we have.  (My
oldest son is the oldest kid in our young minyan.)  But I recommended to the
minyan chairs that we consider more regular babysitting availability, after
I had a chance on RH/YK to hear the divrei Torah, think/meditate without
interruption, get to shul on time, and generally participate at an even
higher level than on shabbat.  It felt so spiritually moving, that I think
it would be worth the cost/inconvenience of making that possible on at least
some shabbatot.

My husband and I had signed up to be "on-timers" for the second day of RH,
to make sure we made quorum, and it was such a positive experience that we
went "on-timer" for the shabbat the next day, too.  This is the first shul
I've ever attended where I want as much davening as possible, and don't want
to miss any of it!  Judging from the complete lack of chattering and the
level of participatory davening/singing, I'm not the only one who feels this
way.  We had well over our 10 men and 10 women within minutes of our
davening start-times for every service I observed these last few weeks.

I was thinking, too, about those women who "expect not to go to shul for
fifteen years".  How do they get back in the rhythm of davening?  I find
that even not being in shul for a few weeks, makes it harder the next time
to have the right frame of mind.  But mostly I just felt sorry for any Jew
who did not get to be with his/her community at such an important time, with
the heartfelt prayer and singing and getting closer to Gd.

--Leah S. R. Gordon


From: Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz <sabbahillel@...>
Date: Mon, Sep 20,2010 at 11:01 AM
Subject: Women going to shul on yamim noraim

David Tzohar <davidtzohar@...> wrote (MJ 59#36):

> 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.

A number of shuls in the United States arrange for baby sitting
service for mothers with small children. Others have arrangements such
as you describe. It is also interesting when children are "grown up
enough" to be at mincha or maariv, or at shacharis for the shofar and
sit quietly (and say the parts of davening that they have learned).
They are so proud of themselves for being able to do this.

   Sabba  -     ' "    -  Hillel
Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz 
From: Yisrael  Medad <ybmedad@...>
Date: Mon, Sep 20,2010 at 12:01 PM
Subject: Women going to shul on yamim noraim

David Tzohar (MJ 59#36) wrote:

> 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, we had this when we first came to Shiloh 29 years ago.  It soon 
ended as more and more families had older kids and worked things out 
within the families.

Almost any Israeli community can do this sort of thing and bring quiet 
babies to shul all holidays and Shabbat, because it's the norm to have 
an "eruv."  In chutz l'Aretz (out of Israel) many communities don't have 
that wonderful halachik invention, so Shabbat and Yom Kippur children 
who can't walk and need diapers, food etc can't be taken to shul.  The 
mothers are imprisoned at home.  That's the way I felt when we were on 
shlichut (doing youth work for the Jewish Agency) after She'era was 
born.  That's a reason why  few women have the custom of dovening in a 
shul in many parts of the world.  Young girls aren't trained in shul 
dovening by their mothers, because their mothers can't go.

We live in such a wonderful time and place in the Land of Israel.  
Solutions seem so simple, because they are for us.  Our neighborhood 
shul in Shiloh even has a second Ezrat Nashim (ladies section) 
wheelchair accessible, yes, easy to wheel the baby in, too!

Batya Medad


End of Volume 59 Issue 37