Volume 59 Number 41 
      Produced: Tue, 21 Sep 2010 16:16:08 EDT

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

A Cure for STS (3)
    [Carl Singer  Orrin Tilevitz  Frank Silbermann]
Certainty in Torah (was Prohibition of entering a church) 
    [Joel Rich]
Prohibition of entering a church (4)
    [Mark Steiner  Rabbi Meir Wise  Frank Silbermann  Akiva Miller]
The Electra controversy 
    [Josh Backon]
Wheat and chaff 
    [Shmuel Himelstein]
Yom Kippur "closing" shofar (2)
    [Ben Katz  Martin Stern]
Yom Kippur prayers 
    [Menashe Elyashiv]


From: Carl Singer <carl.singer@...>
Date: Tue, Sep 21,2010 at 08:01 AM
Subject: A Cure for STS

Stuart Wise (MJ 59 #39) asks

>Is there a permanent cure for STS -- that is, Sliding Talis Syndrome?

I suffer from the same syndrome when wearing a kittle as the two smooth
fabrics slide easily against each other.

Stuart notes there are "no slip" options -- some do report success (at a
recent STS anonymous meeting, one member proclaimed that he was cured.)

There are some who try different ways of wearing / folding their talis --
this has offered relief to some - but is not yet approved by the FDA.  (The
Frum Dress Arbitrators)

Many people have talis clips bought by a well meaning relative who ran out of
gift ideas, most people I see have both clips on one side of their talis so
as not to get in the way.

I remember back in the 1970's when leisure suits were in vogue -- anyone
wearing a leisure suit was assigned a chevrusah who sat behind him and
picked his talis off of the floor at 2 minute intervals.

Seriously - the fabric of the garment worn under the talis as well as the
way it is worn.


From: Orrin Tilevitz <tilevitzo@...>
Date: Tue, Sep 21,2010 at 12:01 PM
Subject: A Cure for STS

Stuart Wise wrote (MJ 59:39)
<Is there a permanent cure for STS -- that is, Sliding Talis Syndrome?>

It's called a tallis clip. A cable with an alligator clip at each end (these
things used to be common in pre-computer days) will do just as well and you can
use it as a conversation piece to explain why it's not muktseh.

From: Frank Silbermann <frank_silbermann@...>
Date: Tue, Sep 21,2010 at 02:01 PM
Subject: A Cure for STS

Stuart Wise wrote (MJ 53#39):
> Is there a permanent cure for STS -- that is, Sliding Talis Syndrome?
> For as long as I am married, I have battled with talis after talis, having 
> to readjust it several times during anytime I wear it. I even bought one 
> advertised as no-slide, but alas, it too was less than perfect.
> I don't move about a lot while davening, and my shoulders aren't 
> particularly narrow, but what is there about the woolen talis that cause 
> slippage and what is the practical solution, short of velcroing it in place?

I have often wondered about troublesome garments in halacha.
Tephilin also seems to be held on by mere friction.  Too loose
and it slides down your arm; too tight and it cuts off the circulation.
Is there a religious reason?  Was the need to constantly adjust what
we are wearing planned as an opportunity for us to check ourselves
for stray thoughts?  Or is it like the ultra-long fingernails of a Chinese lord
(and the woollen business suits that many Orthodox men feel obliged to always
wear) -- to give us dignity by showing everyone that our activities are
sedentary to the utmost?
(WRT always wearing a suit for davening, no, I do NOT think I would have
worn a suit had I been invited to visit President Bush at his ranch.)
Frank Silbermann                Memphis, Tennessee


From: Joel Rich <JRich@...>
Date: Tue, Sep 21,2010 at 04:01 PM
Subject: Certainty in Torah (was Prohibition of entering a church)

In mail-jewish Vol.59 #40, Meir Shinnar said "Given the people who have read the
Tosphot differently, I am a bit surprised at this certainty (one is reminded of
the Ramban's introduction to his book Milhamot Hashem, where he talks about how
halachic reasoning never achieves mathematical certainty..)" 

I find the Ramban's comments of great interest - after saying pretty much what
R'MS quotes, he then goes on to say (in the context of the original comment
which was his taking issue with the Baal Hamaor on many issues) that his
interpretation will be clearly the logically correct interpretation of the
sugyot.  What I always took away from this is that one develops a "halachic
heart" and then (consciously or subconsciously) begins to see clarity in what
would otherwise seem to be many grey areas (by minimizing those elements which
do not clearly cohere with his approach to the halacha at hand).


Joel Rich


From: Mark Steiner <marksa@...>
Date: Tue, Sep 21,2010 at 09:01 AM
Subject: Prohibition of entering a church

I will make one more attempt before Yom Tov to explain a very simple point.
I will try to be brief because I believe that some of the main points get
lost in the welter of sources.  Let's ask the question: is the Christian
mass an act of avoda zara for the Gentile as well as for the Jew?  This is
not the direct question posed by the Tosafot in Sanhedrin, which is in the
first instance discussing entering into a business deal with a Gentile, when
we know that the Jew might force the Gentile to swear in a court of law on
his, i.e. the Gentile's, saints or whatever -- and Tosafot there says that such
an oath is permitted for the Gentile, and that, therefore a Jew need not
refrain from entering into a partnership with a Gentile.  The Christian mass
itself is not there in question.  But there are sources which raise and
answer this question about actual Christian worship.  I will now review a
number of sources, already quoted, which prove that participating in a
Christian worship service is forbidden to a Gentile.

I had originally pointed out that Tosafot in Avoda Zara 14b states that it
is forbidden to sell wax to an idolator on his holy day because of creating
a stumbling block (lifnei iver), namely the Jew facilitates a forbidden act
of avoda zara worship.  The Tosafot is obviously talking (among others)
about Christians -- for example, the same Tosafot makes reference to "seforim
pesulim," i.e. Christian liturgical manuscripts, which are also forbidden to
sell where there is a problem of lifnei iver.  The fact that the Christians
may have adopted the votive candles from the pagans is irrelevant to the
question: whom is Tosfat in AZ 14b talking about?  The answer to anyone who
reads this text is clear: Tosafot is talking about their contemporaries,
they are deciding a contemporary shayle (query).  The conclusion is, that
Tosafot holds that the Christians themselves are in violation of a cardinal
prohibition of idol worship.  I ask my readers to get out the sefer and read
it in Hebrew.

In her reply to me, Chana I believe overlooked one of my sources, Piskei
Harosh 1:15.  There the Rosh rules that TODAY (i.e. the Middle Ages) it is
BEFORE THE BLIND.  Thus the Tosafot Avoda Zara 14b reflects a widespread
consensus which is codifed by the Rosh in his code of law.  Namely, that
Christian forms of worship are just as forbidden to the Gentile as to the
Jew, and a Jew is not allowed to facilitate this form of worship.

I also assembled a number of other sources from just about all the Rishonim,
every one of whom is talking about contemporary Christians (and, again, the
origin of their pagan customs or haircuts is not relevant here, or rather it
makes Christianity worse from the point of view of the Rishonim) that
lighting a wax candle in the context of Christian worship (the Rashba, the
Ritva, the RID, even the Meiri) causes the wax to be forbidden to
use -- unless it undergoes "bitul" (whatever that may be here).  THIS PROVES
Otherwise the wax would not become forbidden.

This is the end of my argument, whose conclusion seems to me unavoidable.
If this still is not clear, I accept the decision of the public, and will
not inflict any more postings on the readership on this subject (for a

For those who want to read further, I will comment on Chana's references
from Tosafot 2a.  The Mishnah says that a Jew is not permitted to do
business with idolators at least ON their holy days.  The Talmud states that
the reason is that we are fearful that the idolator will run to the temple
and thank his god.  Is that lifnei iver?  No.  Thanking a foreign god is not
in itself an act of official worship, so this is not lifnei iver, as the
Talmud later makes clear.  It is not a cardinal violation of the mitzvot of
Bnei Noach.  What is it?  Another violation: a JEW is not allowed to cause
anyone to mention the name of an avoda zara, "lo yishama al pikha."  The
Jew is not allowed to cause the spread the name of avoda zara, even if the
Gentile who does this is not in violation.

In a famous Tosafot there, 2a, in fact the first Tosafot in the Tractate,
Tosafot says that this prohibition does not apply to today's Gentiles,
because we know that they don't worship avoda zara.  What this means is not
that the Christian mass is not avoda zara, but that the medieval Christian
is not so "frum" as to run to the cathedral and light a candle on the holy
day, or participate in the Eucharist ceremony, or even thank the Son, just
because he made a business deal with a Jew.  It is for this reason that the
Piskei Harosh (not the Tosafot Harosh) that I cited before makes a clear
difference between selling wax to a priest ('NOWADAYS", i.e. in the Middle
Ages, not 300 CE) and selling wax to the laity.  Priests DO worship avoda
zara all the time.   Tosafot 2a is perfectly consistent with the view on 12b
that Chrisitianity is avoda zara, by which I mean the mode of worship is
avoda zara, for all humanity.

My claim here then, is that the sources I cited state exactly what I say.  I
can't do any better than this.

From: Rabbi Meir Wise <Meirhwise@...>
Date: Tue, Sep 21,2010 at 02:01 PM
Subject: Prohibition of entering a church

I think that if Chana Luntz (MJ 59#40) checks her source (shemos 23:12) she will
find that it is yishoma not shoma (sic). This is important as it is the very use
of the indirect causative that underlies the opposition of Tosefos and other
Rishonim to calling Christians into court to take an oath even to recover debts.
From this we can see that Tosefos and others (the Or Zarua, Maharam  
Mirottenberg, Raviyah etc etc) viewed the Christian god to be other gods and
hence idolatry. 

Apart from the fact that they (the Xtians) had no hesitation to lie under oath
so nothing much has changed there! At least not in the UK.

Chag sameach

Rabbi Wise

From: Frank Silbermann <frank_silbermann@...>
Date: Tue, Sep 21,2010 at 02:01 PM
Subject: Prohibition of entering a church

Chana Luntz wrote (MJ 59#40):

> On the other hand, the mimetic tradition and local custom in Ashkenaz
> was to choose martyrdom rather than convert to Christianity.
> If Christianity is not really idol worship, then what were people
> giving up their lives for?

For the sake of Kiddush HaShem.
It is one thing if a gentile king demands that you taste his tref dinner
to prove it has not been poisoned.  It is quite another matter if 
the gentiles are demanding that you violate any part of our tradition
solely for the sake of the violation.  In the latter case, the Rambam
says we should rather die than comply -- even if their demand is
something as insignificant as wearing shoelaces of red instead of black.
(Because Sephardi Jews did have permission to falsely and temporarily
convert to Islam as a means of escaping fanatics, I guess the Rambam
distinguished between "should" and "must.")
For a practical consideration, had the Jews of one Askenazi community submitted
to conversion then the mob would have demanded that all Jewish communities
convert. Because the Jews of the first communities instead chose death, the
gentile princes who depended upon Jews of other communities knew they had to
make good on their promises of protection lest they lose the Jews' services
Therefore, Jews of neighboring communities honored and supported
(e.g. via desirable marriages) any of the martyrs' surviving relatives
who might have fortuitiously relocated before the pogrom.
Frank Silbermann                 Memphis, Tennessee

From: Akiva Miller <kennethgmiller@...>
Date: Tue, Sep 21,2010 at 02:01 PM
Subject: Prohibition of entering a church

Chana Luntz (MJ 59#40) wrote:

> On the other hand, the mimetic tradition and local custom in
> Ashkenaz was also to choose martyrdom rather than convert to
> Christianity.  If Christianity is not really idol worship, then
> what were people giving up their lives for?

I'm wondering if this thread has been using the words "church" and
"Christianity" too loosely, and perhaps some of what is being written about
Christianity might only apply to Roman Catholicism and similar versions of
Christianity, but not to others.

>From what I've picked up over the years, the theologies of the many Christian
religions are spread out over a very broad spectrum. At (or near) one end is
Roman Catholicism, which sees little or no difference between the three parts of
their trinity, and which practices a great deal of praying directly towards
certain other humans as well (Mary in particular, but also many other of their
saints). At (or near) the other extreme might be Unitarianism, which (if I
understand correctly) rejects the trinity entirely, and considers Jesus to be a
regular human. In the middle are a wide range of approaches regarding the
concept of the "trinity". (The debates Jews have about the nature of the
song/prayer "Shalom Aleichem" are minor compared to the debates Christians have
about the trinity.)

If the above is even partially correct, then I think it is wrong to state in
general terms that "Christianity is idol worship" or any similar things. And if
so, then the halacha for entering a Catholic church could be very different than
the halacha of entering a Anglican or Lutheran church.

More directly to the point of Chana's post, my (admittedly limited) knowledge of
European history suggests that the Roman Catholics were responsible for most or
all of the Crusades and whatever other things might have pushed Jews to choose
between martyrdom and conversion.

If so, then her question -- "If Christianity is not really idol worship, then
what were people giving up their lives for?" -- could have a simple answer.
Namely, that we gave up our lives only for the most idolatrous forms of
Christianity, but no major precedent has yet been set regarding the less
idolatrous forms.

Akiva Miller


From: Josh Backon <backon@...>
Date: Tue, Sep 21,2010 at 08:01 AM
Subject: The Electra controversy

R. Shmuel Himelstein wrote (MJ 59 #39):

> For those unfamiliar with it, there is a "ban" among many Haredim in Israel
> against buying Electra brand products (air conditioners, etc.). This is
> because another company of the parent company is involved in excavating and
> building in an area where it is claimed there are graves. One sees 
> spray-painted notices on many stone walls in the area of Meah Shearim stating
> "One does not buy Electra."

Based on  a gemara in Sanhedrin 47b, the Mechaber (Shulchan Aruch Yoreh Deah
364:5) explicitly rules that a grave *hamazik et ha'rabbim* can be 
moved. And here, we're referring to Jewish graves. What a subsidiary company of
Electra is doing (Tel Aviv/Jaffa ??) is excavating a building site where there
MIGHT  be graves (which are virtually certain not only to be gentile but PAGAN
Philistine idol worshipers). It's quite comical since most of the charedi
Jerusalem neighborhoods of Sanhedria and Meah Shearim are built on top of JEWISH
graves. You don't hear anyone screaming "Kevaros!!" :-)

It reminds me of the old Jewish joke about the chassid on shabbat who 
runs in to the rebbe's house and says, "A cow is drowning in the lake ! We have 
to save it!". The rebbe says, "Shabbes !! ISSUR CHAMUR" (a major prohibition).
Two seconds later another chassid runs in, "Rebbe, a cow is drowning in the
lake; we have to save it!" and the rebbe says, "Shabbes ! ISSUR D'ORAISA" (a
Toraitic prohibition). Two seconds later a third chassid runs in and says,
"Rebbe, **YOUR COW** is drowning in the lake !". The rebbe looks up and says,
"TZAAR BA'ALEI CHAYIM !!" (cruelty to animals) :-)

>a) What is the Jewish law involving a secondary boycott? (Here, the
>"offender" is not Electra but its parent company).

There might be an analogy with dealing (e.g. stock ownership) of a gentile
company who side-line is selling nonkosher food. According to the Pitchei Tshuva
YD 117 #6  there is no problem. According to the Tzofnat Paneach I 184 a
corporation is not even an entity. See also the Maharam Schick #158. So in my
opinion, even if the Jewish company (Electra) were violating Jewish law (and
they are not !), I can't fathom causing them damage by a boycott.

Chag Sameach

Josh Backon


From: Shmuel Himelstein <himels@...>
Date: Tue, Sep 21,2010 at 08:01 AM
Subject: Wheat and chaff

Eitan Fiorino writes (MJ 59#39) that " there is nothing like politics to get
people to focus on chaff and ignore the wheat . . ."

That reminds me of the saying that "it is the job of a newspaper editor to
separate the wheat from the chaff and to print the chaff ..."

Shmuel Himelstein


From: Ben Katz <BKatz@...>
Date: Tue, Sep 21,2010 at 01:01 PM
Subject: Yom Kippur "closing" shofar

Martin Stern <md.stern@...> wrote (59#36): 

> 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.

I have always felt that Maariv after YK is an anomaly.

First, all religious protestations aside, for the vast majority if not all Jews,
selah lanu (Forgiove us) in the Amidah is close to being a beracha levatalah (a
blessing in vain).

Second, since we are still fasting, why don't we say Baruch shem kevod malchuto
leolam vaed (Blessed be the Name of His glorious Kingdom forever and ever) in a
loud voice?

Third, I think it is unfair to postpone shofar blowing, as some shuls did when I
was a kid, esp. for women who have no chiyuv (obligation) and who wish to get
home to begin preparing the break-fast, or for (older) people with a long walk

And I don't know where Mr Stern davened, but when I was a kid "some people" was
nearly the entire shul.  There was barely a minyan (quorum) for Maariv (night
time service).

From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Tue, Sep 21,2010 at 04:01 PM
Subject: Yom Kippur "closing" shofar

Dr. William Gewirtz <wgewirtz@...> wrote (MJ 59#38):

> Two assumptions appear to be common to a number of the comments made in the
> last few posts:
> ....
> 2) you cannot sound the shofar until after the point of nightfall

This cannot be true since blowing a shofar does not involve any forbidden
work, as the Gemara puts it is "chochmah ve'eino melachah" [a skill rather
than labour].

Martin Stern


From: Menashe Elyashiv <Menashe.Elyashiv@...>
Date: Tue, Sep 21,2010 at 04:01 AM
Subject: Yom Kippur prayers

Some posters have commented on YK prayers.

Aleinu was deleted after Musaf & Minha because in the past, YK services 
lasted all day in Europe. However, some Poskim hold that if there is a 
recess , Aleinu should be said. The Sefaradi minhag is to say Aleinu after 
Minha even though Neela follows, because Minha always has Aleinu
The Aruch Hashulhan asks why the Eastern Europeans do not say Selihot on YK 
day, even though the geonim stated that 13 midot are said 26 times on YK, 
5 times at night & morning, 7 times in Musaf, 6 in Minha, 3 at Neela. His 
answer is that the hazzanim prefered the piyuttim, leaving no time for 

In Israel, it is almost dark at 20 minutes after sunset, although the 
Hazon Eesh held that it is 40 minutes. Therefore, the shofar can be blown 
then. However,  it is still YK until 32 or 33 minutes after sunset. The 
Tur wrote that the shofar is blown after Arvit, and that is the Yemenite 
minhag. And my father did that when he was Rabbi in places where the 
majority would leave after the shofar.

Birkat Kohanim after sunset - can be done, but should be before sunset. 
What is the correct time for Neela? Maran in the SA says that when the sun 
is on top of the trees. This is 30 minutes before sunset. On the other hand,
he says that one should finish the reportition at sunset. This is possible only
if one does not add piyyutim or selihot. The Sefaradi way is to say selihot 
for some 20 minutes after sunset. In Europe, most places did not have 
birkat kohanim at Neela, so they had no problem finishing at nightfall. 
However, the GRA followers that came here followed his opinon that it 
should be done daily. So they started Neela at plag haminha, which is 
about 45 minutes before the . . sun is above the trees, leaving too much 
time between sunset and shofar time


End of Volume 59 Issue 41