Volume 59 Number 60 
      Produced: Mon, 18 Oct 2010 15:57:10 EDT

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

A punctuation question 
    [David Ziants]
    [Michael Poppers]
Christians and Moslems  
    [Robert Israel]
Friday night Kiddush: Ashkenaz vs. Sphard 
    [Bob Kosovsky]
Halakha for Special Agents (2)
    [Orrin Tilevitz]
Moslem tolerance or lack thereof 
    [Eitan Fiorino]
Prohibition of entering a church (2)
    [Russell J Hendel  Leah S.R. Gordon]
Tefillin on Yom Tov Sheini 
    [Steven Oppenheimer]
    [Stuart Wise]
    [Sammy Finkelman]


From: David Ziants <dziants@...>
Date: Sun, Oct 17,2010 at 05:01 PM
Subject: A punctuation question

With reference to the question from Orrin Tilevitz (MJ 59#57):

Rinat Yisrael Siddur punctuates the second way.

My old Minchat Yerushalayim Siddur punctuates the first way, implying "ishay
yisrael" here, relates to the sacrifices. 

Both Eshkol Siddur and my old second edition Singer's (this is used in the UK),
does not have a comma at all in this long phrase, but the English translation in
the Singer's implies the second punctuation.

I tend to believe Rinat Yisrael more than the others, because the editor 
Shlomo Tal went out of his way to correct errors that had crept in for 
various reasons.

David Ziants
Ma'aleh Adumim, Israel


From: Michael Poppers <MPoppers@...>
Date: Mon, Oct 18,2010 at 11:01 AM
Subject: Beschert

In MJ V59#56, Martin Stern <md.stern@...> asked:

> In view of the current shidduch crisis where all too many young people are
> unable to find their spouse, I wonder if anyone can explain the following:
> We are told that 40 days before the birth of a boy, a bat kol [heavenly
> voice] declares 'Bat ploni leploni' [so and so's daughter is to marry so
> and so] - this underlies the concept of 'beschert' [intended marital
> partners]. Often young (and not so young) people come for advice to leading
> rabbis regarding their inability to find their heavenly intended partner and
> often they are told "you may well have met, but rejected, him/her". This
> raises a problem. If we have free will and can therefore reject our intended,
> what should happen to that person, who did not do the rejecting yet has been
> deprived of their heavenly designated spouse?

To try to answer that question, I would like to raise another question: when a
divorced or, lo aleinu, widowed man [or woman, but the "bas qol" noted by Martin
specifies, "The _daughter_ of such-and-such a person..."] marries someone who
was never previously married, who was that divorced or widowed person's
"bashert," the first person whom [s/]he married or the second person?

On a technical level, an answer appears to be along the lines of "tav l'meisav"
[a Talmudic axiom that "it is better for a lady to 'sit together' as a couple
than to 'sit alone'"], and perhaps we can generalize by going back to the
p'suqim of "lo-tov heiyos ha'adam l'vado" [for Man to be alone is Not Good] and
"al-kein ya'azav-ish es aviv v'es imo v'davaq b'ishto v'hayu l'vasar echad"
[accordingly, a man should leave his parents and cleave to his wife, and they
will become one unit].  In other words, an individual should seek a partner with
whom s/he can become a couple, a single unit, and Hashem, a Maitiv [Do-Gooder]
who wants the best for us, so ordains, as couched in the phrase "Bas-p'loni
liP'loni," that our soulmate is "out there".

So now, to try to answer Martin's question and the one we raised: each one of us
should do our best to find our "soulmate," but we may not succeed on our first
attempt or, indeed, at all.  Just as "p'loni" may not get it right, so too
"bas-p'loni" may not get it right -- Hashem ensures that each soul which will
enter this world via a male body has a "soulmate" in this world, but only He
knows what will happen after that.

All the best from
Michael Poppers * Elizabeth, NJ, USA


From: Robert Israel <israel@...>
Date: Sun, Oct 17,2010 at 07:01 PM
Subject: Christians and Moslems 

Ira L. Jacobson  wrote (MJ 59#56):

> Akiva Miller stated the following (MJ 59#54):
>> We believe that they are mistaken, but that doesn't make them
>> [the Mulsims] idolaters, and this is not something we would demonize them 
>> over.
> It seems to me that there is a lot in common between throwing stones
> at Markulis and throwing stones at the Ka'aba.  Why has this not been
> pointed out.  It just might change Akiva Miller's belief.

This (more precisely, the ritual of "throwing stones at the devil", practised 
by Muslims during the Hajj) was in fact discussed by the Rambam. He concludes 

"The long and short of it is that even though at their root these 
things were established for idolatry, not a man in the world throws these 
stones or bows down to that place or does any of the rites for the sake of 
idolatry - neither verbally nor mentally; their heart is rather surrendered to 

See http://www.wikinoah.org/index.php/Islam_and_Noahide_Law
for this and much more.

Robert Israel                   


From: Bob Kosovsky <kos@...>
Date: Sun, Oct 17,2010 at 02:01 PM
Subject: Friday night Kiddush: Ashkenaz vs. Sphard

If one compares the nusach of Friday night Kiddush between Ashkenaz and Sephard, 
one can see that several words are not said in the latter.  (Nevertheless, I've 
met a number of people who daven nusach Sephard and say the "longer" kiddush.)

Is there a reason why those words are omitted in nusach Sephard?

Bob Kosovsky


From: Russell J Hendel <rjhendel@...>
Date: Sun, Oct 17,2010 at 05:01 PM
Subject: Halakha for Special Agents 

I was rather shocked at this thread. First: One person questioned whether we
should believe the student reports of teachers that a Rabbi allowed sex for
intelligence matters.

Second: The idea of a "report" on clandestine intelligent operations seems like
a contradiction. We are not going to find out what really happened. So I doubt
the story.

Third:  Even Rabbis can have light moments. Say at Shalosh seudos, some people
are discussing intelligence. Maybe someone said something in a light moment.
That doesn't mean they would pasken that way. Of course, if women were around it
would be offensive but I think some women on this list should get used to the
fact that men do make such remarks and if they are not made in a woman's
presence in a light atmosphere I wouldn't object (Personally I never make such
comments but I will not impose my frumkeit (religiosity) on other people).

As to the actual question: Some points are worth mentioning

a) The Talmud **explicitly** identifies Ester and Yehudis as rape victims. They
were SPECIFIED by the rapist and totally helpless. 

b) Yael was not Jewish. If she wanted to use sex to kill a ruthless general she
should be praised. (It was her CHOICE)

c) Although we are at war with Hamas, no woman is targeted for rape and
therefore no woman can consent to have sex for intelligence purposes. 

d) Jewish law is very clear on the requirements of martyrdom. I have heard that
female Jewish soldiers carry suicide pills in case they are captured (Please
confirm or deny this WITHOUT making fun of me...I really heard it).

The request to violate the laws of family purity requires martyrdom. The sages
have declared all relations with a non jew as if they violated family purity
laws. Martyrdom is required.

e) There are no guidelines of "triage" for non-religious people. We assume that
a person who has violated laws till now may repent. She doesn't have any
"available status" or "presumed status" as consenting to such things. 

f) Finally: The point made distinguishing relations in an intelligence situation
and relations in a marital setting are correct. There is a wide spectrum of
behavior subsumed in the term relation. Serious psychological and physical
damage can happen.

And I might ask what are we fighting. If we give into the non-Jews by following
their ways what is left of us. Our ancestors including those in the holocaust
gave their lives rather than succumb to such measures. We owe them continuity
and respect.

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

From: Orrin Tilevitz <tilevitzo@...>
Date: Sun, Oct 17,2010 at 10:01 PM
Subject: Halakha for Special Agents

In MJ 59#59, Leah S.R. Gordon writes:

> With regard to women using sexuality in pro-Israel missions,
> Orrin Tilevitz writes . . .

> I find this post offensive, and here is why:

> 1. Please do not use the word "girl" to mean a grown woman. . . .
> 2. Please do not equate, (or perpetuate this idea if it was not your own),
> the voluntary sex life of a random person . . .
> 3. Please do not assume that a "secular girl," whatever that means, . . .

And Martin Stern writes:

> I find it difficult to believe that any reputable rav would have paskened
> that a Jewish woman should deliberately lure a non-Jew into a sexual
> encounter as halachah lema'asseh [a ruling for a practical situation].
> In all probability Orrin's daughter must have misunderstood Rav Schvat whom
> I assume was talking about where a woman is confronted with a non-Jew . .
> I also doubt if he actually paskened that it was better for a non-religious
> girl to do it. Probably he merely suggested that a religious girl should avoid
> such situations whereas a non-religious might be less inhibited.

I have said this before, but it would be really helpful if people read posts
before they commented on them. As for Leah's comments, they should be
directed to Rav Schvat, not me. 

As for Martin's, Rav Schvat's psak, as quoted by my daughter, was clearly
directed at a Mossad operation, where a female was needed to do a disreputable
task for the purpose of saving Jews"hatzalat am Yisrael. In such a situation,
the principle of yehareig ve-al yaavor might not even apply"that is precisely a
rationale for permitting Jewish leaders to attend church services. It would also
permit Jewish girls to seduce non-Jews. Avoiding such situations is not an
option. Think Esther. Or Yehudit. Or, for that matter, Yael. Nonetheless,
evidently Rav Schvat paskened that it is better to use non-religious girls for
that purpose. One can debate that psak, but it is hardly "difficult to believe".


From: Eitan Fiorino <afiorino@...>
Date: Sun, Oct 17,2010 at 09:01 PM
Subject: Moslem tolerance or lack thereof

On- and off-list there were postings claiming, in reponse to my posting, that
Moslem tolerance for Jews is a bit of a myth.

I want to qualify what I wrote a bit in response to this - I should first point
out that I did limit (or intended to if I did not explicitly) the period of
tolerance to the medieval and early modern period   Second, I took pains to
point out that Jews had an official second class status that included many
difficult restrictions that were enforced to a greater or lesser extent in
different times and places.

Having read widely on medieval and early modern Jewish history in Europe, the
Levant, and North Africa, it is my impression that in the aggregate, life was
less bad for Jews under Moslem rule during those periods.  This is not to say
that there were not times and places that were awful for Jews in Moslem lands,
or times and places that were good for Jews in Christian lands (indeed, the Jews
of Italy fared relatively well despite living in the shadow of the Vatican).

It is also my impression that in best case scenarios (geonic-era Iraq,
post-expulsion Turkey, maybe north Africa at the turn of the first milenium) the
position of Jews was better than anything achieved in Christian countries. This
is merely an impression.



From: Russell J Hendel <rjhendel@...>
Date: Sun, Oct 17,2010 at 12:01 PM
Subject: Prohibition of entering a church

This has been an interesting thread with lots of insightful comments. I wanted
to add 5 comments most of which have not been mentioned. The five comments deal with
a) the distinction between idols and idolatrous acts
b) Rambam's "other religion" prohibition
d) the shituf (combined God-idol) distinction
b) the 8th noachide law
c) Why unitarians are not a fulfillment of messianic visions


Once an entity is classified as an idol, Jewish law separately discusses which
ACTS with that idol receive a death penalty. There are 4 acts that ALWAYS
receive a death penalty. Then also any act UNIQUELY ASSOCIATED WITH THAT IDOL
receives a death penalty.

So: Whenever a Protestant or Catholic PRAYS to the founder of their religion, an
ACT of idolatry has been performed punishable by death. But eating the bread and
wine has a different status for Protestants and Catholics: Since this is a
religious worship for Catholics it receives a death penalty. There is no death
penalty for Protestants since this is not the way they worship their idol. 

Also: All acts of "sacrifice" are ALWAYS idolatrous. So the offering of the wine
and bread on the altar would be idolatrous for EITHER a Protestant or Catholic.
As for the eating: I have not classified EATING as a sacrificial act. If one did
so classify then EVEN for Protestants it would be punishable by a death
penalty.(Offhand I think it would be very reasonable to classify EATING as a
sacrificial act since sacrifices were freqnetly associated with consumption).

All this aside: The issue before us was whether certain Christian sects were
idolatrous - not HOW they were idolatrous. If they believe a human being is god
then they are idolatrous. The fact that they differ on acts of service simply
affets who receives a death penalty.


No one has mentioned in the postings till now the prohibition mentioned by the
Rambam "....we do not let non-Jews create another religion"

Now the Rambam did not just say that....He must have derived it from some
source.  My opinion is "other religion" is a "child" of the "father principle"
of idolatry. Just as idolatry is prohibited so too any creation of another
religion (even if monotheistic) is prohibited. This was an innovation of the
Rambam. NOTE: It applies to Islam also.

SHITUF (Combined God-idol worship)

Much of the dialog rests on the fact that one Rishon (is there more than one)
holds that combined God-idol acceptance is prohibited for Jews but not for non-Jews.

But where did such a distinction come from? Is there a source for it? Can we
base actual decisions and behaviors on such a view if it has no roots. 

It also doesn't sound right: If you believe that a human "partnered" with God in
creation then you have idolized that peron. It therefore seems to me that in
terms of practical halachah we must regard anyone accepting a human being as an
idolater (independent of what else he believes in).


It is known that there are (at least) 7 noachide laws. These are prohibitions
the violation of which entails a death penalty. I would argue there is an 8th
Noachide law - the obligation to accept prophecy. However there is no punishment
for violation of this. 

The reason I classify this as a Noachide law is for two reasons: 1st) We
explicitly say that a Noachide has a share in the next world only if he obeys
the laws because God said so - hence we see that there is an obligation to
believe in prophetic orders; 2nd) If you look at the Biblical text concerning
the reading of the law in the 7th year, the Noachides are mentioned indicating
that they had obligations to recognize prophecy.


Our Messianic vision is not just a statement about political peace and Jewish
sovereignty. It is also a statement about the restoration of prophecy and
recognition of true prophecy. My opinion is that the Messiah will achieve
political peace because prophecy will be used to settle disputes. 

In passing: Even today....it is known that inter-Arab feuds with vicious
fighting are stopped when appropriate spiritual people issue declarations based
on their dreams requiring stopping. I am surprised the "dream aspects" and their
content has not received more publicity in the current crisis.

Be that as it may....the Unitarians may believe in one god but they do not
acknowledge Mosaic prophecy. They also have not renewed prophecy. So they are
not Messianic. True messianism means restoration of prophecy. Prophecy is the
means by which the other attributes of the Messianic era (Building the Temple,
peace, etc) will be achieved.

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

From: Leah S.R. Gordon <leah@...>
Date: Mon, Oct 18,2010 at 08:01 AM
Subject: Prohibition of entering a church

In M.J 59#58, Chana Luntz credits us wayward colonists :), thus:

> Now it seems to me that Rabbi Wise asked a very important question (albeit
> I suspect he actually asked it rhetorically, whereas I am asking it for
> real): Why would any Jew want to enter a Church?
> ....
> a) a Jew might wish to enter a Church in order to go to the Church hall
> (usually not via the actual sanctuary) where such a hall is the assigned
> polling station in government and similar elections.  This hall may, or may
> not, have motifs on the wall, and may, or may not, be used for overflow
> services at various times (but clearly not at the time it is functioning as
> a polling station).  Now I imagine this cannot occur in the United States,
> due to the separation between State and Religion, nor of course will it
> happen in Israel, but it can happen in other countries.  And perhaps the

Would that this were so in the United States, Chana!  In fact, often voting
stations are in churches.  My parents voted "absentee" for this reason for
many years in Illinois.  Here in Massachusetts, I have not heard of voting
in a church, and perhaps it varies by state requirement.  I have a vague
memory of reading that a reason for an absentee ballot may be obtained if
one has religious/moral objections to entering one's assigned polling place,
but I cannot remember if I read that in Illinois, Texas, California, or
Massachusetts, all places that I have lived in at one time or another.

Someone who knows more case law than I do could speak to whether voting in a
church has been challenged in the USA, and if so, whether it was thought
that allowing an absentee ballot in this case is reasonable accommodation.

Our current polling station is an elementary school.  There are definitely
rules about what kinds of religion/state things can occur in each others'
spaces in the United States, e.g. I know that certain religious groups are
not allowed to meet in public schools, particularly it has come up for
groups that use religion to discriminate against other kinds of people
against USA law.

--Leah S. R. Gordon


From: Steven Oppenheimer <steven.oppenheimer@...>
Date: Mon, Oct 18,2010 at 11:01 AM
Subject: Tefillin on Yom Tov Sheini

Ben Katz asked (MJ 59#54):

> "A better question is how tefillin, which is d'orayta (from the Torah) can
> be abolished by yom tov sheni shel galut, which is d'rabanan (from the
> rabbis)"

This is a classic question and is dealt with in the Gemara, T.B. Yevamot 90b.
The Rabbis are allowed to tell us "Shev Ve'Al Ta'aseh" even regarding a mitzvah
De'Oraita (from the Torah).

Steven Oppenheimer, D.M.D.


From: Stuart Wise <Smwise3@...>
Date: Sun, Oct 17,2010 at 02:01 PM
Subject: Zemanim?

I davened this morning in one of Boro Park's minyan factories, and I saw  
the following for this week:

1) The latest scheduled kabalas Shabbos is 2 hours after shekiah.
2) The latest Shabbos morning davening is 11:45 a.m. (weekday also has a  
similar late Shacharis)
3) The latest Maariv motzei shabbos is 10 p.m.
I am quite aware that chasidim in particular follow late times, but 2 hours 
after sunset? This does not include mincha, but I also thought kabalas 
Shabbos is supposed to be said before the beginning of nightfall.
Shabbos morning at 11:45 seems past all the accepted times for kerias Shema 
and shemoneh esrai for Shacharis.
I guess you can end Shabbos so late, but is this based on a zeman?
I have mixed feelings about such scheduling. While it leaves little excuse  
for not davening with a minyan, it also seems to encourage such behavior by 
making it available.
Stuart Wise


From: Sammy Finkelman <sammy.finkelman@...>
Date: Mon, Oct 18,2010 at 03:01 PM
Subject: Zkainim

David Ziants <dziants@...> wrote (MJ 59#57):

> I agree that it is not easy to explain to kids that in the context
> of the mishnah "zkainim" does not necessarily mean old people, but is more
> of an indication of their wisdom. But maybe this point does not really
> matter because probably most of the"zkainim" were older men anyway (maybe
> should start a separate thread on mj for this point...).

Actually it does mean old men, but not any old men.

The term Z'kanim in the first Mishnah in Avos is probably taken from
Sefer Yehoshua [Joshua] 24:31.

"And Israel served the Lord all the days of Joshua, and all the days
of the elders that outlived Joshua, and had known all the work of the
Lord, that He had wrought for Israel."

It is only when they became old that they were so important because
they were the people left who had seen or knew more about everything
that had happened. The fact they were old is exactly what was
important about them - not that they were old, but that they outlived
others. (all teaching of Torah at that time was person to person)


End of Volume 59 Issue 60