Volume 59 Number 72 
      Produced: Fri, 05 Nov 2010 03:11:51 EDT

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

Adding words in Shemonah Esrei 
    [Seth (Avi) Kadish]
Halacha and technology (2)
    [Joel Rich  Sammy Finkelman]
Halacha for Special Agents (2)
    [Yisrael Medad  Shmuel Himelstein]
Mail Jewish Atmosphere 
    [Joseph Kaplan]
Polling Places in Religious Buildings 
    [Gershon Dubin]
Sitting shiva for intermarried child 
Telephones on Shabbos (2)
    [Leah S.R. Gordon  Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz]


From: Seth (Avi) Kadish <skadish1@...>
Date: Thu, Nov 4,2010 at 05:01 PM
Subject: Adding words in Shemonah Esrei

It was nice to see my "Kavvana" book cited in the discussion of this topic,
but the way it was used bothered me a bit. Did I ever write that Maimonides
and Rav Soloveitchik had "blundered"?!

Maimonides was of the opinion that Ezra and his court wrote specific texts
for the blessings and prayers, and that it is not fitting to change what
they decreed. As is typical for Maimonides, this important detail is just
one part of an internally coherent and highly convincing view on the origin
of prayer in particular and the formulation of rabbinic texts in general
(e.g. he was also of the opinion that Rabbi Yehudah ha-Nasi actually wrote
down the Mishnah instead of teaching it orally). There is surely no
"blunder" here, but rather a very important way to approach to the topic.

It is not, however, the only possible approach, and the majority of rishonim
didn't accept it. Nor are we obligated to accept it as practical halakhah.
The same thing is even more true of Rav Soloveitchik's approach to prayer,
because the issues are far less halakhic and far more philosophical. To
compare different theoretical approaches, and argue that each has its
strengths and its weaknesses, is not to say that any of them "blundered."
Rav Soloveitchik's approach is very powerful, and very meaningful to many
people, but it also poses severe problems to many other people's service of
God. To respectfully argue that other approaches might be better suited for
some people is not to say that Rav Soloveitchik "blundered." I'm sorry if I
caused anyone to misunderstand me this way.

To return to the question of specific words, here is my take based in part
on alternatives to Maimonides' view (though it doesn't contradict his view

Of the major works central to Judaism, it may be said that the Siddur is the
oldest one after the Bible. This is not at all true of the Siddur as a kind
of "book" (such books have existed for only a thousand years), and certainly
not as a current text such as the Ashkenazic custom or Nosah Morocco. But it
surely is true of the Siddur as a *form*, i.e. the form of speaking to God
through "blessings and prayers, kedushot and havdalot" (Berakhot 33a), or
the form of the leader who leads the Shema responsively and "passes before
the ark" (Mishnah Megillah 4:5) in order to "repeat the prayer" for those
who cannot pray themselves (Rosh Hashanah 34b). These forms existed well
before the Mishnah (although how long is uncertain because the evidence is
ambiguous and sometimes conflicting). But the Mishnah already refers to
these forms as understood realities.

My book is an attempt to encourage all of us to fundamentally rethink our
relationship with the Siddur, and to find ways to recover these basic
rabbinic forms as tools for individuals and communities to speak to God. It
is not out of print and is still available from the publisher and
distributors such as Amazon.

Seth (Avi) Kadish
Karmiel, Israel  
Webpage <http://sites.google.com/site/kadish67/en>  


From: Joel Rich <JRich@...>
Date: Thu, Nov 4,2010 at 06:01 AM
Subject: Halacha and technology

Akiva Miller said (MJ 59#71) that I would prefer not to believe that any of
those poskim chose to forbid electricity simply because the alternative "would
destroy Shabbat".

Actually that's exactly what R' Asher Weiss says - anything that chazal (or
later poskim) thought was inconsistent with shabbat was forbidden under the
category of makeh bepatish (Usually translated as something akin to finishing
off for use) and thus he didn't have to do the mental gymnastics to make it fire
or building.


Joel Rich

From: Sammy Finkelman <sammy.finkelman@...>
Date: Thu, Nov 4,2010 at 08:01 PM
Subject: Halacha and technology

Akiva Miller wrote (MJ 59#71):

> I have heard (though I have not seen it in writing) that Rav Shlomo Zalman
> Auerbach said that - based on his *current* understanding of it - he would
> have allowed electricity on Shabbos if he was around when it was first
> discovered, but the poskim of the time had a different understanding and
> ruled it to be forbidden, and that now that that ruling was accepted it has
> become an unchangeable rule.

He didn't quite say that. I don't think he said he would have done
things differently if he would have been around, but rather based on
his knowledge then.

He actually was around pretty early, although not that early.

While he tried to learn more consulting Professor Zev (or Ze'ev) Lev
(also known as William Low) as it says here:

See http://seforim.blogspot.com/2007/11/review-of-beis-havaad-by-eliezer-brodt.html

"....As R. Zev Lev writes, in his introduction to Marchei Lev, how he
used to explain and discuss the various aspects of science with R.
Shlomo Zalman Auerbach when he was working on his teshuvos about
opening a refrigerator on Shabbos."

...Shlomo Zalman Auerbach was around in the 1930s when he published a
book that was actually the very first sefer devoted to electricity.

See http://www.tzemachdovid.org/gedolim/ravauerbach.html [English
Yated Neeman obituary, probably the source for for this Wikipedia
article. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shlomo_Zalman_Auerbach

"When Shlomo Zalman was 11, he knew all of Kiddushin by heart. By the
time he was 19, his remarkable chiddushim on Shev Shmaytsa had gained
wide acclaim. These chiddushim, though, were published only many years
later after his mentor, Rav Isser Zalman Meltzer, advised him to
publish other works first.

"As a result, Rav Shlomo Zalman put aside his chiddushim on Shev
Shmaytsa and published his monumental Me'orei Esh, the first work ever
written on the use of electricity on Shabbos.

"Me'orei Esh contains the Haskama of Rav Chaim Ozer Grodzinksy. When he
received a copy of it, he secluded himself in his room and read the
entire book. When he finished, he remarked, "Or chadash al Tziyon
ta'ir [A new light will shine on Tziyon]."

He continued to write about electricity over the years.

You can find his conclusions written about here in this article:


The Use of Electricity on Shabbat and Yom Tov by Rabbi Michael Broyde
& Rabbi Howard Jachter

This is in the Journal of Halacha & Contemporary Society produced by
the Rabbi Jacob Joseph School issue No. XXI which is Spring 91 -
Pesach 5751.

Back issues are sometimes available here and there including Yeshiva
Universty Soy Seforim sale.

It states there:

> G. Electrical Appliances Permitted

> Rabbi Auerbach (Minchat Shlomo 74, 84), after rejecting all the
> potential sources discussed above for prohibiting the use of
> electricity when no light or heat is generated, concludes that, at
> least in theory, electrical appliances that use no heat or light
> (e.g., a fan) are permitted on Shabbat and Yom Tov. However, he
> declines actually to permit their use absent urgent need. He states:

>> In my opinion there is no prohibition [to use electricity] on
>> Shabbat or Yom Tov... There is no prohibition of ma'keh bepatish or
>> molid... (However, I [Rabbi Auerbach] am afraid that the masses will
>> err and turn on incandescent lights on Shabbat, and thus I do not
>> permit electricity absent great need...) ... This matter requires
>> further analysis....

>> However, the key point in my opinion is that there is no
>> prohibition to use electricity on Shabbat unless the electricity
>> causes a prohibited act like cooking or starting a flame.

> Rabbi Auerbach additionally states that since the tradition forbids
> the use of electricity, and this tradition received near unanimous
> approval from rabbinic authorities in the normal course of events
> observant Jews should accept this tradition (even though he feels it
> is based on incorrect premises) and operate under the presumption that
> the use of electricity without light or heat is a violation, of
> rabbinic origin, based on molid. [41] Only in the case of urgent need
> does he allow one to rely on his opinion that electricity is permitted
> where no heat or light is generated.

Akiva Miller continued:

> I will concede that this [tradition] *appears* similar to saying that we
> cannot allow electricity because it is un-Shabbosdik, but if one understands
> the mechanics of the legal system, it is really very different.

Actually this grounds is no stronger than the grounds for kitniyos or
the second day of Yom Tov.  Which are both being slowly partially

There are other grounds.  Very many things that electricity is used
for are melachos in themselves. If electricity is regarded as
prohibited there are no worries that somebody will make a mistake.
This has not undergone analysis.

So as practical matter electricity not involving light is treated as if
it violated a Rabbinical prohibition, with all the exceptions
Rabbinical prohibitions allow. For that reason many Rabbis will give a
heter for many things, especially when there is a general

Martin Stern wrote (MJ 59#50) in reply to Orrin Tilevitz (MJ 59#49):

>> Another is turning lights on or off. One rav told me that he held that the
>> use of electricity is permitted on yom tov, even though we don't use it in
>> practice; but therefore if you really need to turn a light off on the second
>> day of yom tov -- not the first day -- you may do so.

> This is a daat yachid [opinion of a specific rav] but is AFAIK not widely
> accepted so it is hardly relevant.

It's not a da'as Yachid.


From: Yisrael Medad <ybmedad@...>
Date: Thu, Nov 4,2010 at 04:01 AM
Subject: Halacha for Special Agents

As one of the initiators of the discussion, and after reading most of 
the responses, cross-debates, disputations, arguments, tangential 
discussions, etc., and while well aware of the principled mode of 
setting Halacha by employing, at times, the most extreme situations from 
which to learn, nevertheless ... does anybody know any female/woman of an
Orthodox bent that would apply for such a position in the Mossad and could
benefit from the article and our subsequent communications?


P.S.  I am not in the employment section of any covert body.

From: Shmuel Himelstein <himels@...>
Date: Thu, Nov 4,2010 at 07:01 AM
Subject: Halacha for Special Agents

In a book I am reading right now by Yehuda Bauer, entitled "Rethinking the
Holocaust," I found the following on p. 159, regarding Brest (Brisk) during
World War II:

Rohde, the local commander of police (of Brest) was totally corrupt, and the
Judenrat tried to prevent the tightening of the screws by supplying him with
"gifts" of various kinds, brought to him by pretty young Jewish girls. There
is more than a hint that the Judenrat called for volunteers to take on this
awful mission and that four girls did; it seems that they were raped,
although this is not stated explicitly, and that they were viewed in the
ghetto as heroines."

Shmuel Himelstein


From: Joseph Kaplan <penkap@...>
Date: Tue, Nov 2,2010 at 03:01 PM
Subject: Mail Jewish Atmosphere

Russell Hendel's post on "I" vs. "WE" (MJ 59#70) makes some statements
that I believe are incorrect.  He argues that it is okay to make abusive
comments about women when no women are present ("letting out steam" is what
he also calls it, though I think "abusive" is more accurate) because by not
doing it in the presence of women they are acknowledging "female values".
Well, what about acknowledging Jewish values, the first being that all
people are created in the image of God, and that abusive comments about
anyone created in the image of God - notwithstanding the audience -- are
improper.  I am offended, and I assume many others on this list are
offended, when abusive comments are made about women even if no women are
present; the same is true if abusive comments are made about others (e.g.,
African-Americans, Asians, Hispanics etc.) even if they are not present.  (I
also note that there are often young men present at shul meals, so from an
educational point of view, approving of such abusive comments is wrong as

Thus, Russell is wrong, I believe, when he claims that Jeanette is looking
at this from an "I" perspective.  I believe she is looking at it from a "WE"
perspective, the "WE" being people, regardless of gender; that is, people
who were brought up properly and who have Jewish and basic moral values
don't speak that way even within the confines of the "boys club".  Russell,
OTOH, seems to me to be speaking from an "I" perspective, the "I" being his
own, somewhat unique I believe, view of this. In that sense, I agree with
Russell that the "Mail-Jewish atmosphere could be made better if people
wrote from a "WE perspective" and would hope he would take his own words
into consideration before he sends out his posts.

Joseph Kaplan


From: Gershon Dubin <gershon.dubin@...>
Date: Wed, Nov 3,2010 at 06:01 PM
Subject: Polling Places in Religious Buildings

In M-J V59#70, Sammy Finkelman <sammy.finkelman@...> wrote:

> 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.

That's a building belonging to the St Brendan's church across the street, but
it's an apartment building (not sure who lives there).



From: Chips <chips@...>
Date: Thu, Nov 4,2010 at 03:01 AM
Subject: Sitting shiva for intermarried child

Marc Yunis <grchomarc@...> wrote (MJ 59#70):

> 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.

I asked about this in the early 70's , to a non-Chasidic posek.
The answer I was given was that it was not done anymore , for two reasons:

1: It is , unfortunately, not unusual anymore

2: Given the higher divorce rate, it is not unreasonable to believe
that the marriage would break up and the Jewish ex-spouse return to the

I would submit that both reasons apply even more now in the 2010's than
they did 35 years ago, though maybe not #1 in the Chasidic population.

As a further note, when I investigated this issue I found that most of the
practitioners who did the 'shiva' did so in private, though there was also
one practice that held to do the 'shiva' for 2 weeks, not just 1.


From: Leah S.R. Gordon <leah@...>
Date: Thu, Nov 4,2010 at 08:01 AM
Subject: Telephones on Shabbos

While I agree that "no one" is arguing with either:

(1) in case of threat to life, use the damned phone!

(2) in case of casual desire, no phone allowed on shabbat

There are these middling cases that come up, and so I do think it is
relevant to discuss, as we have on M.J, the details of the rules.  Two
instances have come up in my own life:

(1) When I thought, but wasn't sure, that I went into labor with my second
son, it was about 3pm on shabbat afternoon (in March).  I did end up calling
the midwife, but I wish I had known about how prohibited or not it was to do
so if I wasn't necessarily in mortal danger.  It turns out that I was in
early labor, and ended up needing to be checked about 10pm that night.
(Though Ezra wasn't born until Monday evening, yes a harrowing ordeal but
worth it ;) )

(2) A few weeks ago, actually the second day of Sukkot, my youngest son
(3yo) had trouble breathing and needed a nebulizer treatment.  Of course
this was something we would do on chag/shabbat for pikuach nefesh, no
question.  But when we went to use the nebulizer, we found that it had been
flood-damaged and we had to get a new one.  We did two things:  we asked a
friend at shul to borrow her daughter's, and my husband walked over to get
it [and we used it for the first treatment].  But simultaneously, because we
weren't sure that *that* one would work, I walked to the doctor's office and
asked them for a new prescription to be called in to the pharmacy.

We were able to use the friend's nebulizer on both Friday and Saturday to
keep Gedalya's breathing stable, thank G-d.  And then on Saturday night, we
got a voicemail from the pharmacy that they couldn't fill the prescription
(left Saturday) and what did we want them to do - by the time I called after
shabbat, it was too late; they said (and this still makes me boiling mad)
that they had thrown away the prescription by then and could not forward it
to another pharmacy).  Naturally, it was the middle of the weekend and it
was a royal pain to do a series of calls and get a "new" prescription and
get another nebulizer.

So let's say that in such a case, we would have been allowed to use the
phone on the 2nd day chag, or to answer (caller ID) the pharmacy on shabbat
- it would have led to getting the new nebulizer much sooner and having a
much better backup plan for Gedalya's breathing treatments.  Granted, there
was always the option of the ER, and there ended up also being the option of
the friend's nebulizer, but this was therefore another borderline case.

If Gedalya's breathing had turned any worse, even a slight bit, *OF COURSE*
we would have brought him to the ER and/or called 911.  But it wasn't at
that level.

--Leah S. R. Gordon

From: Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz <sabbahillel@...>
Date: Thu, Nov 4,2010 at 12:01 PM
Subject: Telephones on Shabbos

Bernard Raab <beraab@...> wrote (MJ 59#71)

> I reason as follows: It is widely agreed that telephones are prohibited
> rabbinically, certainly once the issue of lights being triggered in a central
> switching station was obviated many years ago, when all switching became
> electronic, with no moving parts or possibility of sparking, etc. What Bob
> reveals above is that in today's technology, random delays are built into the
> system as well, such that it is far from the cause-and-direct-effect situation
> like talking into a microphone which then drives a loudspeaker. Thus the
> "gramma" heter may apply, in which case the principle of "shvus-d'shvus" might
> make any call totally mutar. Armed with this knowledge, our poster might have
> felt comfortable making that call to his doctor.

I think that the point *might* be the original connection from the
phone to the switching station. Since the first "gramma switch" is at
a remote location, it may be that the direct connection from the phone
itself to the station would require a gramma switch itself to prevent
the difficulties that may arise.

> In writing the analogy to the microphone-loudspeaker situation, I am reminded
> of our earlier discussion on precisely this issue: In the 1940's and 50's, the
> argument about the use of loudspeakers in shul on Shabbos was raging. The
> majority or poskim were ruling issur, but some powerful forces were
> questioning this ruling: Rav Soloveitchik privately ruled mutar, if turned on
> before Shabbos and left undisturbed, and Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach was
> clearly inclined to rule similarly on technical grounds, but decided that he
> could not oppose the "mesorah". It was clear from that point on that this
> restriction was rabbinic in nature.

I remember seeing a demonstration of a "hydraulic loudspeaker" which
enabled the sound to be amplified without any electronics. Even though
it seemed to be permitted, it was still not accepted because of
various mar'is ayin [appearance of impropriety] issues.

I also remember that when one Rav took over a shul that had a
microphone, it was taken out. His first Shabbos, he went out of his
way to point out that it was not that he said that the retired rav
(Rabbi Emeritus, who was there and continued to come) was wrong, but
that there had been poskim in the previous generation who held that it
was correct. Since the psak [determination] of the current generation
was that it was not correct, it could no longer be done. He then
quoted the gemoro of (this is from memory so I am not sure of the
name)  of Rabbi Eliezer (?) who told his son (paraphrase), "I was able
to rely on my teachers so I could continue to rule as I did. I am only
a yachid [single posek] so you must follow the Rabbis in this matter".

Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz 


End of Volume 59 Issue 72