Volume 59 Number 42 
      Produced: Mon, 27 Sep 2010 04:32:52 EDT

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

Anomalies in Ashkenazi Yom Kippur davening - no birkat hacohanim at mi 
    [Avraham Friedenberg]
    [David Tzohar]
Maariv after YK 
    [Art Werschulz]
Mezonos Bread?  Motzi Cake? 
    [Orrin Tilevitz]
More on Birkat hacohanim on Neilah after sunset 
    [Dr. William Gewirtz]
Prohibition of entering a church (4)
    [Eitan Fiorino  Josh Backon  Yisrael  Medad  Bernard Raab]
    [Menashe Elyashiv]
Women's places 
    [Menashe Elyashiv]
Yom Kippur "closing" shofar (2)
    [Wendy Baker  Sammy Finkelman]


From: Avraham Friedenberg <elshpen@...>
Date: Wed, Sep 22,2010 at 04:01 AM
Subject: Anomalies in Ashkenazi Yom Kippur davening - no birkat hacohanim at mi

Ira Jacobson writes in (MJ 59 #39):

> My experience (in the Land of Israel) is that Hasidim ordinarily do
> not dukhen at fast day minha, while non-Hasidim do.

I asked one of our kohanim in shule this morning what we do (since I didn't
remember), and his answer was, "It depends."

He explained that the Rav of our neighborhood said duchening at mincha on a
ta'anit depends on the time of the minyan.  If it's earlier in the
afternoon, like mincha gadola, the kohanim do not duchen.  If it's closer to
shkeeya, then they do duchen - because davening at that time
is comparable to n'eela time.

Chag samayach to all!

Avraham Friedenberg
Karnei Shomron


From: David Tzohar <davidtzohar@...>
Date: Sun, Sep 26,2010 at 06:01 AM
Subject: Boycotts

Another example of a questionable boycott similar to the Elektra
controversy, was the Charedi boycott of the Shefa Shuk suprmarket chain two
years ago. As the mashgiach (kashrut supervisor) of a supermarket connected
with this chain, I was shocked to read in a Charedi newspaper that certain
Charedi Rabbis were instituting a boycott on the chain because of
infractions of Shabbat observance. Knowing that our supermarkets
scrupulously and stringently observe Shabbat, I asked Rav Avraham Tzuriel,
the overall kashrut supervisor what this was all about. It seems that the
parent company of Shefa Shuk also owned a coffee house called AM-PM, operated
under franchise which was guilty of opening before the end of Shabbat on
Saturday night. The owner of the parent company protested that by law he
couldn't force the franchise to comply with Shabbat observance, and that if
he closed them down he could be sued at great loss, to no avail. In the end
the boycott was less than effective and eventually the furore died down.
There were rumors that business interests rather than concern for Shabbat
observance were the underlying cause of the boycott. In any case such strong
arm tactics do not reflect positively on the Charedi community.

David Tzohar


From: Art Werschulz <agw@...>
Date: Wed, Sep 22,2010 at 07:01 AM
Subject: Maariv after YK

Ben Katz <BKatz@...> writes(MJ 59#41)

> 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).

I've seen the following answer: After a full day of davvening and fasting, we've
lost all our concentration, and so we're davvening ma'ariv rather mindlessly. 
So *this* is for what we're asking forgiveness.  Alternatively, the YK process
makes us aware of where we are vs. where we ought to be, and this realization is
worthy of a s'lach lanu.

> 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?

>From an online parsha sheet somewhere: It's a matter of the direction in which
we're heading.  On Kol Nidrei night, we are heading into increased qedusha, and
so we're entitled to say "baruch shem" out loud.  At the end of YK, we're
heading back into our quotidian lives, and so we go back to our usual practice
of saying this passage in a whisper.

Hag sameah.

Art Werschulz


From: Orrin Tilevitz <tilevitzo@...>
Date: Wed, Sep 22,2010 at 12:01 PM
Subject: Mezonos Bread?  Motzi Cake?

Last night I baked four halachically problematic objects in honor of yom tov.
The dough for each was the same. It consisted of yeast, a little sugar, 3 T of
soy powder, almost 1/2 cup of buckwheat, honey, a cup of water, oil, 4 eggs, and
flour. I divided the dough in 4 portions. Three portions I shaped into round
challot. The fourth portion I rolled out flat, covered in a mixture of cocoa,
cinnamon, sugar and almond liqueur, rolled up and placed in a loaf pan.

I have little question that one or more of these objects is pat haba bekisnin
[moderator: please do not attempt to translate], a halachic category of baked
good over which the blessing is hamotzi if one is "kovea seudah", whatever that
means, on it, and boreh minei mezonot otherwise. My question is: which?

1. I have read that some hold that the category of "mezonos bread" does not
exist because one cannot taste the apple juice, substituting for water, that
supposedly endows mezonos bread with this halachically quality. By contrast, if
one puts 1/2 cup of buckwheat, honey in a recipe of bread, one tastes it in the
finished product. Is that the test, or does the fact that the largest amount of
liquid by volume is water make it hamotzi bread?

2. If that doesn't work, what about my chocolate babka/challah? And if that
works (and it has to), what about if instead I had used cinnamon, sugar, and
raisins, i.e., made a raisin challah? What about pumpernickel bread, whose
prominent ingredients include molasses and cocoa?


From: Dr. William Gewirtz <wgewirtz@...>
Date: Wed, Sep 22,2010 at 09:01 AM
Subject: More on Birkat hacohanim on Neilah after sunset

In MJ 59#40 both R. Avraham Walfish and Dr. Josh Backon commented on Birkat
hacohanim during Neilah after sunset, a practice I believe is strongly supported
as I indicated in my previous entry in MJ 59#39.

R. Walfish bases leniency on some level of reliance on the opinion of Rabbeinu
Tam; my point is that there is extensive evidence for leniency up to 5-15
minutes after sunset proper even for those following the Geonim. BTW my reading
of R. Moshe Feinstein is that he would be lenient only until 9.375 minutes not
13 minutes after sunset. Do you have a source for 13 minutes?

Dr. Backon's references are pre-Gaon and Baal Hatanya and from European Achronim
whose knowledge on the impact of latitude/season on these issues has been
questioned and are strongly influenced by Rabbeinu Tam. While they clearly are
supportive, I prefer to quote poskim either from the Middle East or who are
known to follow some version of the Geonim or both. Beyond your gabboim, there
are any number of even prominent roshei yeshivot and rabbonim who believe that
sunset precisely defined is the cutoff, without realizing how difficult it is to
reconcile such a view withthe text on Shabbat 34b and 35a. Does anyone really
think that after neilah in our distant past, they would kvetch avienu malkenu
for close to half-hour??

In MJ 59#41 Martin Stein quotes my opening sentances in number MJ 59#38 ABOUT
WHAT OTHERS SEEM TO BELIEVE including: 1) the priestly blessing cannot occur
after sunset proper and 2) you cannot sound the shofar until after the point of
nightfall. Just to be clear I DISAGREE WITH BOTH as I try to indicate in the
remainder of the post. 

chag sameach to all


From: Eitan Fiorino <afiorino@...>
Date: Tue, Sep 21,2010 at 04:01 PM
Subject: Prohibition of entering a church

In MJ 59#40, Chana Luntz <Chana@...> wrote:

> Now for the Rambam who lived in Muslim lands, and who could 
> minimise his contact with Christians, it is fine to take a 
> purist reading of the texts and take one look at Christianity 
> and say idol worship, all forbidden (and as I mentioned in 
> other postings, I am of the view that that purist approach 
> does tend to be the Rambam's way in any event).
> But the Ashkenazi poskim, and particularly the Tosofists, 
> were hardly likely to take that approach.
> 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?
> The really interesting thing about the classic understanding 
> of the Tosphos is that it steers a course between these two 
> poles.  It says that Christianity is idol worship for us 
> (indeed akin to the golden calf, which we hardly want to 
> repeat) and so martyrdom is completely appropriate.  But it 
> also says that we don't have to worry about causing them to 
> practice Christianity, and hence all of the business 
> practices and other dealings that was common in Ashkenaz are 
> indeed fully permitted.  None of the other explanations fully 
> does this.  Rashi's idea that they are not really idol 
> worshippers rather undercuts the martyrs.

I wanted to add some commentary here.  At first I thought my point would be that
the behavior of Jews during the Crusades and the halachic response (or
non-response) actually undermined the ability to understand the question of the
halachic status of Christianity for Jews.  But I got to the end of my post and
had to revise my initial thought - understanding the millieu of the Baalei
Tosafot can actually provide insight into their position and support Chana's
conclusion that at least for some, Chistianity was indeed forbidden for Jews as
avoda zara but not necessarily for gentiles.  In the end, I am probably not
adding all that much to the conversation, but I already wrote the post, so ...
here's my thought.

Although the extent to which Ashkenazic Jewry engaged in the following acts is
not precisely known, it is clear that at least some Jews were willing to, and
indeed did, commit suicide and murder, including murder of their children, in
the face of siege and being potentially offered the chance by Crusaders to
convert or die (this is very different than "martyrdom" mentioned by Chana, in
which one is halachically obligated to allow oneself to be killed rather than
engage in avoda zara).  Murder appears unjustified by any halachic norms or
rationale.  The best that the Baalei Tosafot can do in trying to justify the
behavior is to say that perhaps, if someone is not sure that they won't convert
to Christianity under torture or threat of death, then maybe they can commit
suicide to avoid that possibility.  Nobody even tries to tackle the question of
filicide, to my knowledge.

That the revulsion felt by the Jews of Ashkenaz towards Christianity was potent
and powerful enough for at least some them to engage in these behaviors, and
that the poskim more or less acquiesced to the violation of halacha, says
volumes about what Jews felt about the prospect of being forced to practice
Christianity.  As Haym Soloveitchik, Jacob Katz and other scholars of medieval
Ashkanaz have noted on many occasions, the Baalei Tosafot try systematically to
reconcile the practices of their holy communities, as well as their received and
cherished minhag, with halachic norms derived from the gemara.  In this case,
they were forced to reconcile a long history of open commercial interaction with
these excessive behaviors exhibited by Jews during the Crusades - and God forbid
they would accuse those who committed suicide and filicide of having been
murderers!  The *only* tenable solution is one that identifies Christianity as
avoda zara for Jews but not Gentiles.  Potentially lending further support to
this is the view of Rashi - AFIK during most of his life relations between Jews
and Christians were fairly decent; the first Crusade, which devastated Rhineland
Jewish communities, did not occur until 9 years before his death and some
scholars, such as Avraham Grossman, assume that the lack of overt references to
the first Crusade in Rashi's work suggests that his written works were largely
completed by that time (others disagree and see some subtle references).  In any
case, it is likely that Rashi's recorded view is one that was formulated without
need to interpet Christianity in light of "beyond the halachic pale" acts of
suicide and filicide committed by Jews whose complete and wholehearted devotion
to halacha and tradition was complete, perfect and beyond question. 

While some may cringe at the idea that sociological and economic factors could
have possibly played a role in the evolution of a halachic position, we live in
a world in which our leaders poskin halacha out of books.  The millieu of the
Rishonim, particularly the Rishonim of Ashkenaz, was completely different, as
has been exhaustively documented by many scholars, and they lived in a time and
place in which (1) they had few books, (2) they placed enormous inherent value
on minhag, and (3) they viewed the behavioral norms of their communities as
possessing an inherent chezkat kashrut.  In this context, the position of the
Baalei Tosafot regarding Christianity is the only one that can reconcile the
behavior of the community during the Crusades with the commercial dependence and
interaction that characterized it before and after.


From: Josh Backon <backon@...>
Date: Wed, Sep 22,2010 at 04:01 AM
Subject: Prohibition of entering a church

Akiva Miller wrote (MJ 59#41):

> 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.)

In the spirit of the Ecumenical Movement, the leaders of the world's 
religions meet and decide that if each one give up a major tenet of their faith,
there will be world peace and harmony. The first are the Shinto who give up
ancestor worship. There's a major round of applause. The Buddhists give up
Buddha, the Hindus give up 2346 of their gods, the Muslims give up Mecca and
Medina, the Pope gives up Mary and the saints, the Archbishop of Canterbury
gives up the divinity of Jesus. Then comes the Chief Rabbi of Israel
OYSGEMATTERET UND OYSGEMUTCHET. He says, "After much discussion, deliberation and
TZURISS you wouldn't believe, we've decided to give up the 2nd Yekum Purkan in
Mussaf!"  :-)


Josh Backon

From: Yisrael  Medad <ybmedad@...>
Date: Fri, Sep 24,2010 at 10:01 AM
Subject: Prohibition of entering a church

Since the Halacha seems to have been quite thoroughly discussed over 
the past two weeks or so, permit me one story and one humor item.

The first was told to me by Yaakov Gelis z"l.  After the Six Days War he 
was in the Old City and unknowingly entered the Church of the Sepulchre 
where there is one section, he told me, where one needs to bow since the 
ceiling is low.  He told me that while in Chutz La'Aretz he would never 
enter a church, in Eretz Yisrael he felt different but he didn't want to 
be observed as if giving respect so he did the only thing he could.  He 
reversed himself and entered the same way he would have exited: tuchus 

As for the humor, a Jewish convert to Catholicism was informed that that 
day's Mass was to be attended only by born-Christians and he would have 
to leave.  He protested, explaining how much he had given up to be 
Catholic but to no avail.  As he left, he saw a statue of Yoshke and in 
desperate protest, placed his arm around the status and whispered aloud: 
"Come, bubeleh, you don't belong here either."

By the way, Rav Gelis told me he was privileged to escort one of the 
Gedolim in 1967 to Mt. Zion and when he came across an altar of a church 
that was damaged and temporarily abandoned, he struck it until a piece 
came off so he could merit the mitzvah of "titatzun" (smashing, see 
Exodus 34:13 = 'But ye shall break down their altars, and dash in pieces 
their pillars, and ye shall cut down their Asherim').


From: Bernard Raab <beraab@...>
Date: Sun, Sep 26,2010 at 03:01 AM
Subject: Prohibition of entering a church

Rabbi Meir Wise (MJ 59#39) wrote:
> Lord Jakobovits zatzal was invited to Windsor Castle as a guest of the  
> Queen during the sefira and asked his Bet Din to sit in special  
> session  to allow him to shave for the occassion as he was frightened  
> to be moreh heter le'atzmoh [rule leniently for himself - MOD]!
> This is a far cry from the attitude of some or our correspondents! And  
> all of this does not alter the halachah to allow any of us to enter  
> churches.

The anecdote described by Rabbi Wise calls to mind the time many years ago when
I found myself on an airplane with a well-known Rosh Yeshiva and Mashgiah
Ruchani of one of the premier black-hat yeshivos of the United States. I was not
known to him nor him to me at that point, but since we were sitting together and
he was obviously a Rov of some kind, I chatted him up. He was very friendly and
relaxed once he determined that I was a member of a shul whose rabbi was
well-respected and well-known to him, although clearly by my mode of dress
(jeans, etc.) not part of the Yeshiva world. Our airplane was headed to Houston,
Texas, not then known for a religious Jewish community, so I was curious about
his mission to that city. He readily revealed that he was on a fund-raising
mission to a single individual, who had finally agreed to see him. He then
revealed to me, obviously somewhat troubled, that he planned to shave for the
meeting. It was during the sefira, and he was apparently referring to the parts
of his face not covered by his very neatly-trimmed rabbinic beard. I was quite
taken aback by this confession, and astonished that this very dignified Rov
would confess such a thing to me, a complete (and shaved) stranger. I tried to
assure him that he looked quite presentable as he was, but he said that he just
didn't want anything to potentially mar his meeting. I came away from this
encounter with tremendous respect and admiration for this Rov. It is all well
and good for ivory-tower scholars and roshei yeshiva to issue dogmatic piskei
halacha forbidding this and that. But those of us in the real world know that
compromise is sometimes unavoidable. On at least one occasion I felt it
necessary to enter a church to attend the funeral service of a close co-worker.
There was no Queen of England ready to offer understanding. There were only
other co-workers and families who might not have understood, and might indeed
had been offended by my absence. Beyond that, I felt impelled to be at the
service in respect of a close working relationship over a number of years. I
respect the halacha and felt quite uneasy at the funeral service, but I would do
it again under the same circumstance.

Bernie R.


From: Menashe Elyashiv <Menashe.Elyashiv@...>
Date: Thu, Sep 23,2010 at 07:01 PM
Subject: STS

I fold my talit under, not over, the first folding. That way it stays fit


From: Menashe Elyashiv <Menashe.Elyashiv@...>
Date: Thu, Sep 23,2010 at 07:01 PM
Subject: Women's places

Chana wrote (MJ 59#40):

> I know that, I just wondered what had happened in your community that had
> led to a breakdown in what seemed to me to be the norm around the world
> and I suspect throughout most of our history.  It seemed odd, that is all.

I heard that in the old Yishuv of Jerusalem, they did not build ladies 
sections, because the GRA wrote in his will to his wife & daughters that 
they should not go to the synogogue. I assume that the low attendence is the
norm in most Israeli haradi places. 

Moadim lesimha (or hag sameh outside Israel)


From: Wendy Baker <wbaker@...>
Date: Wed, Sep 22,2010 at 12:01 PM
Subject: Yom Kippur "closing" shofar

Martin Stern (MJ 59#41) wrote:

> Dr. William Gewirtz  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].

Wouldn't this then prohibit the sounding of the shofar at the end of Yom 
Kippur when Yom Kippur is on Shabbat as this year and quite a few in the 
next four years? Apparently, the legal assumption is that had someone 
forgotton to bring the shofar before the beginning of Yom Kippur, he would 
be able to run home and get it before the final blast. (As the widow of a 
wonderful baal tokea it was always my job to remind my husband several 
times to make sure he brought the shofar to shul for Kol Nidre:-)

Wendy Baker

From: Sammy Finkelman <sammy.finkelman@...>
Date: Wed, Sep 22,2010 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

Martin Stern  (MJ 59#41) commented:

> 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].

This is also what Rabbi Phillip Harris (Pinchas) Singer ZT"L said one
year when they had blown the Shofar just a bit early according to the
written time for the end of Yom Kippur.

He also found a justification for why most people walk out after the
shofar without waiting for Maariv but I forgot it.


End of Volume 59 Issue 42