Volume 59 Number 70 
      Produced: Tue, 02 Nov 2010 12:44:59 EDT

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

Adding words in Shemonah Esrei 
    [Sammy Finkelman]
Bowing at Borchu 
    [Stuart Wise]
Halacha and technology (use of digital telephones on shabbat) 
    [David Tzohar]
Halacha for special agents (3)
    [Mark Polster]
Inviting deceased relatives to a wedding 
Mail Jewish Atmosphere 
    [Russell J Hendel]
Pirkei Avos numbering 
    [Sammy Finkelman]
Polling Places in Religious Buildings 
    [Sammy Finkelman]
Rabbinical Headcovering 
    [Shoshana Ziskind]
Sitting shiva for intermarried child 
    [Marc Yunis]
Telephones on Shabbos (2)
    [Akiva Miller  Robert Schoenfeld]


From: Sammy Finkelman <sammy.finkelman@...>
Date: Mon, Nov 1,2010 at 06:01 PM
Subject: Adding words in Shemonah Esrei

In MJ 59#61 I wrote, in discussing the original form of the Brachah Retzai:

> There may not have been an exact text.

> At least when the Berachahs in the Shemonah Esrei were first
> established, what it was was that the berachah had to end with certain
> words (which is how they are named in the Gemorah)

> and it had to cover certain items and it had to maybe say this before that
> and not mention this - all sorts of conditions applied, but nevertheless
> there could be many ways of wording the Berachah. And this was not an
> omission.

I think I got this idea out of the book Kavvana by Seth Kadish (Jason
Aronson 1997)  It is now I think out of print and sells for over $30 second hand
when on a list of books, although some copies are described as new.

If I remember right, Seth Kadish says the that the Rambam thought
differently (that is, that the exact text of the prayers were fixed by
Chazal) and Rav Joseph B. Soloveichik was even stronger on this point
(he opposed altering anything) and Seth Kadish thought they had

> It was an early principle, that a person saying the Shemonah Esrei
> should vary his text and not say the exact same words every day. It's right
> there in Pirkei Avos 2:13 [in the Mishnah, 2:18 in the Siddur]

> c'she'atah mitpalel, al ta'as tefilat'cha keva - Rabbi Shimon says,
> when you pray, don't make your prayer keva [fixed = exact wording].

> But this was a principle impossible for many people to follow,
> especially later when Hebrew stopped being a really living language,
> and so they settled down to a fixed text.

In MJ 59#64 Sam Gamoran wrote::

> I always understood the word keva as meaning "routine" i.e. don't make your
> prayers mechanical or rote without feeling or intent.  This is irrespective
> of the text of the prayers though harder to avoid if the text is fixed.

First, I cited the wrong text. My real source was somewhere else. It
is Berachos 4:4.


Rabbi Eliezer (like Rabbi Shimon also a pupil of Rabbi Yochanan ben
Zakkai) says: If you make your tefillah "keva", it is no supplication [not a
real prayer] In other words it isn't what it should be, and maybe it's pointless.

Among the interpretations of this Mishnaic statement is one that
indicates that you could add words to Shemonah Esrei.

In the Gemorah this Mishnah is printed at Berachos 28b and discussed on 29b.

Among the explanations (this is not included by the Rif) is:

Rabbah and Rav Yoseph say: Whoever is not able to add anything fresh
into it.  R Zera says he could do this but I'm afraid (I'll become
confused - that is, lose my place. It was said by heart).

BTW, I think these additions were mostly added clauses or adjectives.

The fact that this idea was plausible at one time, means that you
could add words to the Shemonah Esrei.

The gemorah also gives at Berachos 16b-17a how various Rabbis used to
add to their prayers, starting with R Elazer (not Eliezer) - but where they
added it was after the end of Shemonah Esrei. One we use today, that of Mar
ben Ravina. Some others have been adopted and transferred to other places.

Rabbi Eliezer either was talking about adding words to the Shemonah
Esrei, or that if you can't even add words if you want to, your
davening is no good.

We see that changing the words or adding to the words was something
people could do, and this was at least recommended at least by some
Tannaim.  (The question here would be, is it a no-good tefillah if you

By the time of R Zera (late 200s), it is also obvious from this
gemorah, or he wouldn't be cited this way, that very few people could
add any words and even he didn't. But the Mishnah, remember, dated
from an earlier time.


From: Stuart Wise <Smwise3@...>
Date: Sat, Oct 30,2010 at 09:01 PM
Subject: Bowing at Borchu

My understanding is that when saying borchu, you bow at borchu and stand  
straight by Hashem. Yet I seem many Yeshiva boys, and even adults, who  
remain bowed until after Hashem. Is there more than one custom for this?
Stuart Wise


From: David Tzohar <davidtzohar@...>
Date: Sun, Oct 31,2010 at 02:01 PM
Subject: Halacha and technology (use of digital telephones on shabbat)

Unlike the case of changing societal norms where halacha remains a constant,
halacha must evolve with evolving technology. The best example is
electricity. When electricity was discovered about 150 years ago the leading
halachic decisors had to deal with a new technological phenomenon. This was
a form of energy which was not combustion in the physical sense, yet
resembled fire in that it produced heat and light. Could it be used on
Shabbat for heating and cooking? The poskim realized that permitting the use
of electricity would destroy Shabbat. The question was how to define
something that didn't exist in the time of the building of the mishkan and
therefore didn't fit in the framework of the 39 melachot. Most paskened that
electricity that produces heat and light is considered the same as fire.
Other later authorities (notably the Chazon Ish) said that since the closing
of an electric circuit creates something that did not exist before, that it
is forbidden because of boneh, makkeh bepatish (completing something that
was incomplete before shabbat) or nolad (using something that didn't exist
before shabbat). Perhaps 'evolve' is not the right term, but halacha had to
deal with the new technology. This too was revealed to Moshe on Sinai. It
just had to wait 3,000 years to be implemented.
David Tzohar


From: Mark Polster <polsterm1@...>
Date: Sat, Oct 30,2010 at 09:01 PM
Subject: Halacha for special agents

David Tzohar wrote (MJ 59#69):

> There is a source for R' Shvat's idea that non-religious women should be
> used in situations where their modesty would be compromised.

I continue to be frustrated by those who attribute to R' Shvat that which he
never wrote. Source notwithstanding, this may be David Tzohar's idea and may
even be valid - but it is not asserted by R' Shvat.  As noted previously, R'
Shvat does not at any point suggest that non-religious women *should* be
used - he simply observes that it is more likely that they *would* be used.
One point of his article (see the last sentence before his Conclusions
section, as well as the opening sentence of the Conclusions) is precisely to
argue that if such missions are necessary for our protection it would be
WRONG to say "let the non-religious do it" - we must find the halachic
parameters within which such missions are acceptable.

Avraham Walfish wrote (MJ 59#69):

> I believe no one has yet mentioned, in reference to the debate raging in
> recent MJ's over honeypot operations, the classic modern-day source for
> discussing this issue, Rav Kook's responsum in Mishpat Kohen 143, esp. the
> last three pages (315-317).

Note that R' Shvat discusses this opinion of R' Kook and the issue of "karka
olam" extensively in his article - which I continue to encourage those
interested in this thread to read.

May we soon see the day where such missions are completely unnecessary.

Mark Polster

From: Russell J Hendel <rjhendel@...>
Date: Sun, Oct 31,2010 at 01:01 PM
Subject: Halacha for Special agents

Nachman Ziskind (MJ 59#69), responding to my assertion (MJ 59#67) that Ester was
a rape victim states: 
> Esther  initially was taken to the harem against her will, yes, but - at the
> time she approached the king to invite him to the feast - she offered  herself
> willingly to him, and thereby became forbidden to her husband.

Really!?!?! If a women merely offers herself to a man she becomes prohibited to
him? No! They have to actually do something. If the woman offers and the man
says no (Happens all the time) she is not prohibited to him.

True, Ester was worried that the wine meals would lead to intimacy. But it is
EQUALLY likely (maybe more likely - a job for actuarial estimates:)) that
Achashveirosh was the type that wanted novelty. He had enough of Ester. He now
went on to new women. And in fact there was no intimacy.

>From the point of view of the discussion we are having: We are not seeking a
heter (permissability) for Jewish women to flirt with terrorists to get
information, we are seeking a heter for actual relations. 

There is no heter! There is no Biblical precedent.

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

From: Russell J Hendel <rjhendel@...>
Date: Sun, Oct 31,2010 at 01:01 PM
Subject: Halacha for Special agents

David Tzohar (MJ 59#69) discussing the requirement for martyrdom to an ambush by
Terrorists who demand one women for sexual purposes (or the death/rape of all)
cites a Yerushalmi Trumot 47:A which says explicitly that this is only in the
case where all of the women are unmarried virgins or married women. If one of
them has already been "defiled" then she can be given up to the goyim in order
to save the rest. 

But as David well knows we do not decide Jewish law simply by citing Talmudic
sources. Why for example did the Rambam omit mention of this. 

I would harmonize the Rambam (who rejected this) with the Yerushalmi by bringing
in repentance. The Rambam holds that their is a presumption that when people are
about to die they repent. Once the defiled women repented she is PROHIBITED to
give herself up. 

What about the Yerushalmi? I would say it refers to a situation where the women
regularly defiles herself with non-Jews and does not repent. She is liable to a
death penalty so it doesn't hurt to give her up because she must be sentenced to
death anyway. 

I should again emphasize: Halahcha is not a push button exercise. You have to
seriously analyze primary (Talmudic) and secondary (Rishonim - early authority)
texts to find a harmony and balance. You can't just cite an obscure source to
justify your point.

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


From: Yakir <yakir@...>
Date: Sat, Oct 30,2010 at 04:01 PM
Subject: Inviting deceased relatives to a wedding

The Zohar (Parshat Pinchas) states that as parents are partners of HKBH in the
creation of their offspring, if necessary, He takes them from Gan Eden to
participate in their offspring's wedding.

Based on this there was/is a custom to go to the cemetery prior to the wedding
to invite one's parent(s). I have also seen invitations, or wedding mementos
(birchonim etc.) which display the above quote from the Zohar.

This can be for the parent of the bride or groom or for a grandparent.


From: Russell J Hendel <rjhendel@...>
Date: Sat, Oct 30,2010 at 09:01 PM
Subject: Mail Jewish Atmosphere

What a beautiful (and right on the mark) posting written by Mark Polster (MJ 
59#61, thread "Halakha for Special Agents") about the decline of atmosphere on
this list. Several other people have told me offlist that the atmosphere on
mail-jewish is not what it used to be. 

I don't think we should place responsibility on the moderating team. I would
suggest starting a thread discussing rules of etiquette.

Let me start by responding to a recent posting of Jeanette Friedman's (MJ 59#65,
thread "Discussing intelligence at Shalosh Seudos and a sense of humor"). I
asserted that sometimes men will make abusive remarks about women, say, at shule
meals; I expressed my opinion that this is alright if done in a light manner (no
one thinks this is Jewish law) and away from women. I also said that the women
on the list should get used to the fact this is done. (I personally do not
engage in such conversations.)

Jeanette responded that she will not get used to abuse and reminded us of sexual
abuse laws and then spoke about hypocrisy.

Let us analyze this; what is wrong with Jeanette's posting? After all, her
values are correct. 

On a simple level, Jeanette did ignore my statement that the male
remarks should be made at a shule meal AWAY from the presence of women.
(I was ONLY legitimizing them when made AWAY - Jeanette objected to them being
made at all). But on a deeper level, the atmosphere problem with Jeanette's
posting is use of what I would like to call an "I" vs a "We" approach. Jeanette
spoke about what "SHE" did not like: "I" will not get used to this; "I" find it
hypocritical. Since this is a discussion of male comments vs. female
sensitivity, here, "WE" refers to "women+men" while "I/SHE" refers to "women."
That is I am using "I" vs "WE" in the extended Buberian sense.

Atmosphere would have been improved (without compromising her individual values)
if Jeanette had used a "WE" approach. The "WE" here refers to women and men.
Here is some background that will help understand this. The Rav (Rabbi Joseph B.
Soloveitchick) commenting on Gen 4:1, "And the HUMAN (Haadam) had relations with
his wife CHAVAH," points out the contrast that the woman is referred to BY NAME,
CHAVAH, while the MAN is referred to by SPECIES (HUMAN/HAADAM). The Rav
explained that men think of sex more in object terms while women think more in
interpersonal relationships. This is simply the psychological tendency of men
and women. Hence the Torah uses a PERSONAL term to refer to woman - CHAVA, a
person's name - but uses the SPECIES term (HAADAM-humans) to refer to Adam.

But if that is true, men have a need to sometimes let off steam. What I was
trying to do in my posting is BALANCE the "WE" - the WOMEN and MEN. Women have a
right not to HEAR any abuse (AT ALL); MEN have a right (if they so need) to let
out steam in a light manner when women are not present. This does not represent
hypocrisy since by not doing this in the presence of women they are
acknowledging female values. (NOTE AGAIN: I personally do not engage in any such

The very fascinating thing about Jeanette's posting is that it is ENTIRELY
correct from an "I" point of view; however it is incorrect from a WE point of
view. Mail-Jewish atmosphere could be made better if people wrote from a WE

What am I suggesting? I am suggesting that AFTER you write a posting and BEFORE
sending you think about the other side, the WE, and see if your views can be
retained but balanced with the others. I think this would improve atmosphere.

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


From: Sammy Finkelman <sammy.finkelman@...>
Date: Mon, Nov 1,2010 at 05:01 PM
Subject: Pirkei Avos numbering

In Volume 59 Number 64 (thread "A punctuation question"), Sam Gamoran
responded to me, in part:

> It was an early principle, that a person saying the Shemonah
> Esrei should vary his text and not say the exact same words every day.
> It's right there in Pirkei Avos 2:13

Actually it's Pirkei Avoth 2:18. The Siddur splits Pirkei Avos into more
separate Mishnahs than when you see it otherwise.

This is Mishnah 13 in the Mishnah, and you'll see it numbered that way
many times (if not always) when Pirkei Avos is published by itself, and certainly
as part of a Mishnayos (in complete sets of Shas it's usually after Avodah Zorah).

I knew that for most of Pirkei Avos the Mishnah number is different
once you get past the first few Mishnahs in each Perek (although on checking I see
that's not true for the first Perek. And the 6th perek is not actually in the 
Mishnah, although it's included when Pirkei Avos is published by itself).

But I rushed to send that and didn't wait 'til I had a chance to check
the number both ways because I knew 2:13 was right at least one way. (I got it
off the Internet.)


From: Sammy Finkelman <sammy.finkelman@...>
Date: Mon, Nov 1,2010 at 08:01 PM
Subject: Polling Places in Religious Buildings

In New York City, there are a few, but not many, polling places in
churches. Most are in public schools, and most of the rest are in some
sort of assisted living places. I know one was in a public library.
Since they are not in churches, they are not in synagogues either.

When I went one time to request an absentee ballot because of poll
duties, the woman there thought maybe this was because of a church.
and she told me that this is only if I think it is the part used for worship. So
many Jews do not avoid some of these polling places.

In the list of poll sites for 2009 I do see what look like some
Christian places in Jewish areas. St Brendan's House at 1215 Avenue O
was one of them.

This year there was one incident in the news where they wanted to put
a polling place in a messianic Christian center right in the middle of

In the end, the messianic center dropped out.


From: Shoshana Ziskind <shosh@...>
Date: Sat, Oct 30,2010 at 10:01 PM
Subject: Rabbinical Headcovering

Thank you everyone who responded both privately on the list to clarify that this
isn't davka a rabbinic head covering but a type of kippah that for some reason
became out of fashion. 

Shoshana Ziskind


From: Marc Yunis <grchomarc@...>
Date: Mon, Nov 1,2010 at 09:01 PM
Subject: Sitting shiva for intermarried child

We have all heard of the practice of "sitting sh'va" for a child who has married
out of the faith. Has anyone actually witnessed this event? If so, without
revealing the identity of the family, can you tell us the circumstances.

Marc Yunis


From: Akiva Miller <kennethgmiller@...>
Date: Sat, Oct 30,2010 at 10:01 PM
Subject: Telephones on Shabbos

Carl Singer (MJ 59:69) wrote:

> Over the years there have been a number of threads on Mail Jewish asking
> if one can [fill in the blank] without transgressing (either a d'Oraisah
> or a d'Rabbanim.)
> Sometimes these might be rudely paraphrased as "I am seeking permission
> to...." ,  or "I am seeking a means to ....", or "How do I avoid the
> transgression while still ...."

The very first mishna (Brachos 1:1) asks "From what time may we say the Shema in
the evening?"

This might be rudely paraphrased as "I am seeking permission to say Shema as
early as possible," or "I am seeking a means to go to bed as early as I can," or
"how do I do the mitzva while still having an early dinner?"

Whatever it is that Mr. Singer is complaining about (or perhaps merely
commenting on,) it seems to have been going on for a very long time.

Sometimes people ask these questions because they want to cut corners, and that
is regrettable. But not as regrettable as if they'd just do what they want and
ignore the consequences.

In other cases, people want to be prepared. If one does not know the exact lines
between what is required, what is permitted, and what is forbidden, then he
risks crossing those lines. Borderline cases happen all the time and if one does
not prepare for this by learning the laws in advance, he is asking for trouble.

And in still other cases, one simply wants to learn Torah, and learn what HaShem
asks of us, even if it will never come up in practice.

> All that said, we've come a long way in a few generations re: what's
> normative behavior on Shabbos.  My Mother recalls bringing the family
> chulent pot to the baker on Friday afternoon, as there was no cooking or
> warming or keeping food warm done within the home (due to technology
> restrictions.)  I recall issues with a coal furnace - the home I lived
> in until age 12 has such a furnace.

And I'm fairly confident that your family was at least somewhat conversant with
the halachos of how to bring that chulent pot back home on Shabbos morning, and
what (if anything) could be done with that coal furnace.

> Today keeping food warm in the home is commonplace, and most take Shabbos
> home heating (and air conditioning for that matter) for granted.

Yes indeed. Each generation has its own set of devices, and rules on how to deal
with them.

> I would dare say that if a frum Yid from 100 years ago walked into our
> kitchen on Shabbos - he or she might be tempted to say at first glance,
> "dus is nisht Shabbosdik" [This is not in keeping with the sanctity and
> atmosphere of Shabbos.]

Each generation has a different set of what it grows up with. My mother still
can't get used to the idea that ice cream is available Kosher For Passover. I
grew up with that, so it doesn't bother me; I'm bothered by innovations like
frozen pizza and waffles. My kids grew up seeing them in the stores; their shock
is reserved for newer items, like the rice cakes (made for Passover from tapioca

Some people want to impose their views of what is "Shabbosdik" upon the next
generation. I prefer to consider that this is a flexible point, to be defined by
each society for itself. (At the same time, I am grateful that our Sages took
certain activities (business and muktzeh, for example) and put them forever

Akiva Miller

From: Robert Schoenfeld <frank_james@...>
Date: Sat, Oct 30,2010 at 10:01 PM
Subject: Telephones on Shabbos

As as telecommunications engineer I can definitely say that just about 
all modern phones use gramma switches and that no lights are turned on in a 
telephone central office when a phone goes off hook. HOWEVER just because 
this is so does not mean we should use a telephone on Shabbos for any 
reason except in emergencies. Its use would still be not shabbosdick.



End of Volume 59 Issue 70