Volume 59 Number 38 
      Produced: Mon, 20 Sep 2010 16:06:58 EDT

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

Action and Orienation - A personal statement (Was homosexuality, Resh 
    [Tom Buchler]
Eruv and kids to shul 
    [Leah S.R. Gordon]
Hard-wired nonsense 
    [Eitan Fiorino]
    [Joseph Kaplan]
Multiple comments on the time for neilah 
    [Dr. William Gewirtz]
Shul is a family experience 
    [Carl Singer]
Sunset Period - Neilah - Yom Kippur "closing" 
    [Martin Stern]
Wearing Kittel on Yom Kippur 
    [Carl Singer]
Women going to shul on yamim noraim (2)
    [Joseph Kaplan  Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz]
Womens place 
    [Menashe Elyashiv]


From: Tom Buchler <tbuchler@...>
Date: Mon, Sep 20,2010 at 12:01 PM
Subject: Action and Orienation - A personal statement (Was homosexuality, Resh


I have lived in more than one community in which homosexuals have
quietly integrated with the frum community without major issues.
From those with whom I've discussed this matter, homosexuality
appears to a gay person the way heterosexuality appears to you,
except that from a frum Jewish perspective, they feel outside of the
mainstream of Jewish life with pressure to perform in ways they have
great difficulty with.

Regarding your points (MJ 59#36), I have problems with all of them:

1) It is not a diminution of mental faculties, so, hard-wired or
not, the analogy to mongoloid status is inappropriate, except that
this person will have to fight every day of his life for degrees of

2) It is not a chemical addiction, just as your heterosexuality is
not the result of, nor absence of a chemical addiction.

3) If it were a matter of making emotional changes, you should be
able to become homosexual merely by changing your emotions. I'd as
soon not put words or ideas in your mouth, and I suspect you find
the idea of your engaging in sexual activities with men to be as
disgusting as some of my formerly married gay friends report when
engaging (or attempting to engage) in sexual activities with their
wives. It is not a matter of lack of belief. I have friends who
prayed, learned kavanos, begged and beseeched Borei Olam for years,
to no avail.

4) I know some as well who have had success in their marriage. To a
man, they also have cheated on their wives with other men.

5) Is your attraction to your wife an addiction? If so, I will
certainly stipulate your case for #5. Go to the other extreme until
your addiction is straightened out? I know some who have gone to
female prostitutes in order to attempt to get their addiction
straightened out. No success there.

6) I really can't tell whether the characteristics of an animal who
recurrently gores can be validly likened to those of a man who is
sexually attracted to other men and not to women.

7) None of the homosexuals I have talked to ever said they were
trained to be gay, so I wouldn't draw too many conclusions about an
animal who was trained to gore subsequently being successfully
trained to not gore.

8) Overcoming deafness, and more so ALS, certainly point to the
ability for people to overcome great difficulty. We might hold
homosexual behavior to be a crippling spiritual disability, but in
day-to-day life it doesn't present itself the same way as the
inability to feed one's self or communicate with others on a
minute-by-minute basis. Those I know who do or did hold their
homosexuality as a moment-to-moment crippling spiritual disability
are, for the most part, tortured, maladjusted, depressed and bitter;
or have vaulted off the derech.

I was raised with ideas similar to yours. Living in communities
where I was face-to-face with many gay people gave me the
opportunity and imperative to have long, heartfelt discussions,
leading to the understanding I've attempted to convey above.



From: Leah S.R. Gordon <leah@...>
Date: Mon, Sep 20,2010 at 02:01 PM
Subject: Eruv and kids to shul

Batya Medad (MJ 59#37) says that an eruv enables women to attend shul on shabbat/YK.

While it is true that an eruv makes it much easier for a whole family to
attend shul together, walking-status notwithstanding, it is not the only
solution.  I do love our eruv, don't get me wrong!  But "no eruv" does not
necessarily translate to "no women" - for starters, you still have all the
women, or men for that matter, without young children.

When we lived in Pasadena, CA in the late 1990's, a non-Jewish friend
arranged to take her "walk" for exercise pushing our Akiva when he couldn't
walk yet, on several shabbat/YK occasions.  Then, he learned to walk the 1.2
miles a whole lot earlier than his stroller-sitting brothers who were born
later into the newly eruv'ed Cambridge, MA community.  Toddler Akiva even
wore a tiny backpack with his own water cup and spare diaper.  We saw a lot
of doggies and other exciting distractions on the way to chase....

And certainly, in a non-eruv community, it is still not a definite
conclusion that the *woman* per se will be "imprisoned," to use Batya's word
- I have friends where the parents trade off time in shul, in some cases
going to earlier/later minyanim.

Finally, there is the option of a baby-sitter or local teenager in the home,
so that all walkers can proceed to shul.

I grew up in Urbana, IL, which had even less of a frum community than
Pasadena, and certainly no eruv.  We used all the permutations above, and
probably more that I'm not remembering.  My mother certainly relished the
chance to go to shul as much as she possibly could, and she loves being in
an eruv community now (even though we are all grown).

By the way,  none of this would apply to a day of RH where there is shofar,
i.e. not shabbat.  Clearly every person in the community should do his/her
best to be in shul at that time!

--Leah S. R. Gordon


From: Eitan Fiorino <afiorino@...>
Date: Mon, Sep 20,2010 at 02:01 PM
Subject: Hard-wired nonsense

Russell J Hendel <rjhendel@...> (MJ 59#36) wrote:

> 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 him.

Russell claims (based on a sample size of 1) that because a person with Down
Syndrome was able to perform successfully at his bar mitzvah, "hard-wired"
mental states can simply be overcome as a matter of will.  This a completely
preposterous and illogical argument.  It is well known that the intellectual
impairment resulting from various genetic or other congenital disorders has wide
variance.  According to Russell's argument, the vast majority of children with
congenital disorders who are not able to have a bar mitzvah simply didn't try
hard enough, because if they had they surely could have overcome their
"hard-wired" deficits.  This is not only ridiculous and unsupportive of his
thesis, it is frankly offensive.  And while on the topic of offensiveness, I
must point out to Russell and the list that the term "mongoloid" has been
long-abondoned and is itself considered offensive - it was used by John Lanngdon
Down in the 19th century based on theories of ethnicity and intelligence that
were inherently racist.

Russell's other example, that he once knew someone who quit smoking on learning
it was assur, is similarly nonsensical.  It is an exception that proves the rule
- after all, the physical dependence on nicotine is a documented scientific fact
that is observed on the cellular and molecular level.  The fact that the vast
majority of people addicted to tobacco are unable to quit, whether their rabbi
tells them it is assur or the Surgeon General tells them it will kill them, is
consistent with physical dependence on nicotine.  Patients who survive
esophageal and lung cancer (caused by cigarettes) sometimes continue to smoke,
using their tracheostomy!  

To try to make a "limud zechut" here, if Russell is trying to say "there may be
a some homosexuals who are able to supress there sexual orientation and be
content with a celibate life or content living a lie in a heterosexual marriage"
- well, that may be so.  Here, the otherwise lousy example of the smoker who
quits upon hearing it is assur is actually useful - the fact that a minority are
able to pull this off says ABSOLUTELY NOTHING about how we should approach the
majority who aren't able to.  And it certainly does NOT suggest that the
approach ought to be to adopt a policy that says "quitting is simply a matter of



From: Joseph Kaplan <penkap@...>
Date: Mon, Sep 20,2010 at 11:01 AM
Subject: Homosexuality

Russell Hendel (MJ 59/#36), apparently amazed that after reading his posting
on homosexuality those who disagree with him didn't simply retract their
position, regales us with "several stories" that he thinks conclusively
demonstrate that homosexuals can change.  I must say I find his anecdotes
unconvincing.  Take the first one: the Down Syndrome child (mongoloid???
moderators, please check a dictionary; such term is "usually offensive") who
was able to perform at his bar mitzvah. I'm sure that's true; high
functioning Down Syndrome children can perform at that level. But, of
course, lower functioning Down Syndrome children, and other children with
what Russell calls a "hard wired disability,"  cannot overcome their
disabilities and are unable to so perform.  I'm sure many of us know of such
children; I know I unfortunately do. Simply put; some can and some can't.  

Or take his example of  stopping smoking.  Well, my father was one of those
people.  After smoking more than a pack a day for decades and trying,
unsuccessfully, to stop many times, the doctor told him that smoking would
kill him.  So, he thought to himself:  for 25 hours every week I don't light
up a single cigarette, and I'm fine.  If I can do it for 25 hours, I can do
it all the time.  And that worked; he never smoked another cigarette in his
life.  But again, we all know of many people who are shomer Shabbat and who
have tried to stop smoking to no avail.  Once again; some can and some

Even assuming Russell's examples are relevant to the issue of homosexuality
(and I don't believe they are; physical disabilities and addiction are not
the same as a homosexual orientation), all they show is that diseases and
addictions affect people differently; some people can overcome them and
others can't.  The same seems to be true for homosexuality. Some homosexuals
who also have a strong bi-sexual orientation can, under certain conditions
and if highly motivated, sublimate their homosexual tendencies; other, who
have no bi-sexual orientation, cannot as much as they would like to. 

So to answer Russell's final question: "what has happened to everybody?"
Well, I can't speak for "everybody," but what happened to me is that I
haven't heard a single argument from Russell, either textual or
experiential, that I found convincing in the slightest. So, sorry Russell,
but I find no reason to retract; my God, the God of repentance (as you say
your God is), is also the God of compassion, the God of rav chesed. 

Joseph Kaplan

Moderator's comment: It seems to me that this discussion is simply going round
in circles and not producing any further useful insights. Protagonists of one
stance seem unable to convince the other. Perhaps we should now close it.


From: Dr. William Gewirtz <wgewirtz@...>
Date: Mon, Sep 20,2010 at 12:01 PM
Subject: Multiple comments on the time for neilah

Two assumptions appear to be common to a number of the comments made in the last
few posts:

1) the priestly blessing cannot occur after sunset proper

2) you cannot sound the shofar until after the point of nightfall

I have not studied the customs of various communities in the Middle East on this
topic specifically. But I suspect Neilah may have concluded 10-15 minutes after
sunset and included the priestly blessing. Remember that sunset proper may not
have been as universally practiced. There is more than occasional reference to a
brit of a baby born a few minutes after sunset on say Wednesday having his brit
the following Wednesday. See for example R. Kapach's (slightly extreme but
directionally correct, in my humble opinion) approach to Rambam across all of
Mishneh Torah or the the rulings of various poskim in the 19th/early 20th
century in the ME. Some even used the call of the mugrab!

Sounding the shofar can certainly occur before we typically end YK given our
stringency of awaiting adepression angle of approximately 8.5 degrees (more
commonly referred to as 3 small stars.) Either a depression angle of
approximately 6 degrees (3 medium stars) or even during bein hashemashot (at
least 11-12 minutes earlier than that) is late enough to allow the shofar to be
sounded. In the Middle East this would allow the shofar to be sounded after
Neilah (given the recitation of aveinu malkeinu, etc.) and maariv to conclude at
the practiced end of YK with the stringency of 8.5 degrees.

Note as well both 8.5 and 6 degrees are a tad more stringent than historical

At more northern latitudes, with an assumed longer period of bein hashemashot
this becomes more problematic and hence our various customs.


From: Carl Singer <carl.singer@...>
Date: Mon, Sep 20,2010 at 02:01 PM
Subject: Shul is a family experience

Leah Gordon (MJ 59#37) reminds us that Shul is a family experience.

The shuls that I've belonged to have always worked out some combination of
paid (non-Jewish) babysitting and parents (not exclusively -- although
usually mothers) rotating to help out with child care.

Since my children are now grown (our "baby" is now 20) - I'm now on the
second wave as our oldest grandchild is now 6.  I go by the credo that
whatever sounds my ayniklach make in shul is singing and not noise.

It's important that children be integrated into davening -- clearly one
cannot expect a 6 year old to sit through 6 hours of tefillah and must plan

On a related topic, one of the reasons our shul has an early (7AM - 9AM)
Shabbos minyan is so that one parent can be home by, say, 9:15 to take over
child care and thus allow the other to attend.



From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Mon, Sep 20,2010 at 11:01 AM
Subject: Sunset Period - Neilah - Yom Kippur "closing"

David Ziants <dziants@...> wrote (MJ 59#36):

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

Originally the time was as the sun was about to set. In Northern Europe this
allows about an hour until nightfall but in Israel the time is much shorter.
As Carl pointed out (MJ 59#34) the length of twilight gets shorter as one
approaches the equator.

Martin Stern


From: Carl Singer <carl.singer@...>
Date: Mon, Sep 20,2010 at 03:01 PM
Subject: Wearing Kittel on Yom Kippur

Several years ago an elderly neighbor, now deceased, asked a local Rabbi
if there was some halacha about Pesach for which women were required to wear
black -- his was an honest question based on his observation of the informal
dress code in his synagogue.

I'm not quite that old but I have to ask -- is there a minhag that supports
the following observation?

On Friday night of Yom Kippur I saw several of my neighbors walking home
wearing their kittel and tallis.  In the morning I saw these same people 
wearing kittel and tallis en route back to shul.

I was puzzled, because most members of my shul left their kittel and tallis
in shul overnight. I should add that I quipped, tongue in cheek, to a
friend that it seemed unlikely  that anyone would steal on YOM KIPPUR.



From: Joseph Kaplan <penkap@...>
Date: Mon, Sep 20,2010 at 02:01 PM
Subject: Women going to shul on yamim noraim

Batya Medad notes (MJ 59#37): 

> Almost any Israeli community can do this sort of thing and bring quiet babies
> to shul on 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. 

While that was true while I was growing up in the 1950s and early 60s,
things have changed drastically in the US.  It's difficult for me to
remember the last time I was in a community for a Shabbat or Yom Tov that
did not have an eruv.  And while there are still some, more eruvim are being
built (and expanded) all the time. And interestingly, the post that began
this thread was about a community in Israel, and not the US, which went
ahead with RH/YK davening in a shul that did not have any place for women.
I can't think of any community in the US that would consider doing such a

Joseph Kaplan

From: Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz <sabbahillel@...>
Date: Mon, Sep 20,2010 at 03:01 PM
Subject: Women going to shul on yamim noraim

Batya Medad <ybmedad@...> wrote (MJ 59#37):

> 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.

Thank you for reminding me about the eruv. In many communities, the
eruv is so integral a part of the community that one forgets how one
lived without it. Our second son had his bris in our apartment because
it was on Shabbat. We had to make sure that the mohel had everything
available beforehand. On the other hand, we had a bris in shul this
Rosh Hashana and another one on Shabat Shuvah (two different
families). The bris on Rosh Hashannah was done just before we started
the shofar blowing so that there would not be a hefsek (interruption)
in the rest of the service. Obviously that bris did not have a problem
that needed an eruv.

We also had a bar mitzvah "bo bayom" [the exact day] on Yom Kippur.
The bar mitzvah boy is a kohen so he did not get to do Maftir Yonah.
Twenty years ago we had a similar bar mitzvah (the boy was named
Yonah) and he was called for maftir Yonah in a side minyon.

Now that there is an eruv, families are able to attend even with
little children.

   Sabba  -     ' "    -  Hillel
Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz 

From: Menashe Elyashiv <Menashe.Elyashiv@...>
Date: Mon, Sep 20,2010 at 03:01 PM
Subject: Womens place

In MJ 59#33, Chana wrote:

> And this is not to get into the Masseches Sofrim perek 18 halacha 6 that
> says "that on Shabbas they [the women] are early to come in order to
> recite the shema "kvatikin" with sunrise and they are late to go in order
> that they should hear the explanation of the portion, but on the festivals
> they are late to come, because they need to fix the food for Yom Tov, and
> are quick to go because it is not according to the law to explain to them
> like it was said of Rav that he would not place an expounder by his side
> from the beginning of Yom Tov until the next day [because of potential
> drunkenness on Yom Tov see Beitza 4a].
I checked this source in Higger's version. It states that one should 
translate (the Torah into Aramaic) for the people (am) women & children 
... as on Shabbat they come early etc, but on Holydays  ... they leave 
early in order to prepare. The meaning is that we need to translate for 
all the non-Hebrew speakers, the "am", women & children. That does not 
mean that woman have to come to hear the reading, rather, that whoever 
would be there and not understand, needs translating. That they should go 
home to prepare the holyday meal - that means the men! because the use of 
"hen srichin" - is not female, but rabbincal male languge. Also, Higger 
has a different text that has "hem Srichim"

up the Tosphos on which this comment is based (it is Megilla 31a, d'h
"b'mincha korin") and pointed out to him that actually it doesn't say (as 
she seemed to assume) that the reading of the arayos [forbidden relationships]
was instituted because the women were in shul to hear it, but because the
women adorned themselves in honour of the day and therefore they (masculine)
were warned concerning arayos.  Still, if Tosphos assumed that the women
were all at home with the children, then nobody would have seen them,
adorned or not (and somehow adornment seems somewhat unlikely if one is
running around after small children while fasting), so I think a reading
that the women were in fact all in shul in Tosphos's time seems pretty

I understand Tosafot as explaining why Hazal instituted this reading. 
Because in Temple time, the climax of YK was the service in the Temple, 
leaving outsiders with plenty of time to make shidduchim, as in the last 
Mishna in Taanit. The Torah reading was also a warning not to mate with 
relatives. In the post-Temple times, YK prayers were shorter than today, 
so that men would see women outside.

I just stated the situation here were I live. This year we had some 20 
womem, most of them with older children or married ones.

Shophar for women on RH - we have it 20 minutes after Mussaf. Others have 
it in the afternoon


End of Volume 59 Issue 38