Volume 59 Number 82 
      Produced: Wed, 17 Nov 2010 10:24:34 EST

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

A deep philosophical antinomy 
    [Mark Steiner]
Changing psak / practices / observance 
    [Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz]
Divorces for battered women 
    [Mordechai Horowitz]
Halacha for Special Agents 
    [Menashe Elyashiv]
Ho Chi Minh Yeshivot (2)
    [Orrin Tilevitz  Jeanette  Friedman]
Pikuah-Nefesh on Shabbat (2)
    [Martin Stern  Akiva Miller]
Stipends for Torah students 
    [Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz]
The frumkeit of our generation (2)
    [Irwin Weiss  Wendy Baker]
They also serve who sit and learn? 
    [Shmuel Himelstein]
Video on gay Orthodox Jews I found compelling  
    [Leah S.R. Gordon]


From: Mark Steiner <marksa@...>
Date: Wed, Nov 17,2010 at 04:01 AM
Subject: A deep philosophical antinomy

A word on Smileys in reply to Leah S.R. Gordon's posting,PS on humming/education
(MJ 59#81): 

I would not use this icon, which means roughly: The preceding sentence is a
joke.  We get into difficulty on sentences like:

A) This sentence is not a joke. :)

A little analysis will reveal that sentence A) is paradoxical; it says of
itself that it is and is not a joke.  Logicians would say: no Internet can
contain its own joke operator.

Thus I don't think it is a good idea to use the Smiley. :)


From: Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz <sabbahillel@...>
Date: Wed, Nov 17,2010 at 09:01 AM
Subject: Changing psak / practices / observance

Ira L. Jacobson <laser@...> wrote (MJ 59#81):

> Elie Rosenfeld stated (MJ 59#76):
>> all the Orthodox shuls do still have the "midnight" (= ~1 am DST)
>> selichos the first night.
> Not exactly. The midnight is defined as sha`ot zemani'ot and
> therefore would only once in about 60 years (on the average) come out
> precisely on the hour (if we ignore seconds).
> And we are at this moment ignoring the halakhic implications of
> saying selihot before the prescribed time, which is another
> discussion entirely.

Even if the Shaot Z'maniyot do not come out to make chatzot occur at
the 1 AM exactly, many shuls use that time for the ease of making the
announcement. If the actual chatzot is earlier, it does not hurt, and
if it is later, the Rav speaks until after the actual chatzot.

Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz 


From: Mordechai Horowitz <mordechai@...>
Date: Mon, Nov 15,2010 at 11:01 PM
Subject: Divorces for battered women

Jeanette writes (MJ 59#80):

> That is why I can never, ever understand rabbis who absolutely refuse to
> grant divorces to battered women

Well then I suggest you start by learning the Gemorrah Gittin as a 
starter.   You can then follow that up by learning the Rambam, the 
Shulchan Aruch and the Aruch Hashulchan.

Rabbis have no authority in the Jewish religion to grant divorces to 
anyone. A divorce is given by a husband to a wife.  You are thinking of 
non-Jewish systems perhaps where clergy or a court grants a divorce.  No 
such system exists in the Jewish religion.  It never has and it never 
will.  If you personally wish to observe a non-Jewish religion, that is 
your right under American law but please don't pretend it has anything 
to do with Judaism.

The only thing a Beit Din, a Jewish court of law can do is order a man 
to give a divorce to his wife.  Unfortunately in the US there is no way 
to enforce this order. I would fully support JOFA if they were to try 
and make a system where at marriage people could agree to be legally 
bound by the decisions of a Beit Din, including punishments such as 
beatings and imprisonment, in the case of the end of a marriage.

But short of giving the Jewish court system legal authority to use any 
punitive measures sanctioned by halacha they are limited in what they 
can do.

There are things of course they can do. Unfortunately having two 
friends entering into potential aguna situations (cases where a man 
refuses to give his wife a get [a Jewish divorce when required by Jewish 
law]), I may get to know this, more than I want too very soon, such as:

1) Social isolation.  Losing all of your friends can be a powerful 

2) Public humiliation.  Losing your job because the local shul just had 
a sit in at your office can also be a powerful motivation.

BTW I think its a foolish thing to limit the issue of aguna to women who 
are beaten. One of the aguna issues I am dealing with is an abuse 
situation and one is just a typical divorce where the wife can't stand her 
husband.  Jewish law is clear a women is not to be held against her will 
in a marriage. She is not a slave to her husband.  A woman who wants a 
divorce because she just can't stand him is just as entitled to a Jewish 
divorce as a woman who is beaten and raped.  When you use spousal abuse 
as your standard you legitimize those husband in more "normal" divorce 
cases who leave their wife an aguna. Shame on you for legitimizing 
keeping women an aguna because she wasn't abused enough by her husband.

Jeanette continues:

> A pregnant woman should not be wracked by guilt for calling the midwife
> because she used the phone on Shabbos

No kidding. Exactly where has any Rabbinic authority ever suggested otherwise.
Name one.  Indeed every single Rabbi I have ever spoken too has screamed on the
top of his lungs if you have any doubt whatsoever about performing melacha on
shabbat where life in in danger (and that included pregnancy) you save the life.

And the idea this has anything to do with sexism is just plain foolishness.
Every pregnant woman, and the expectant father, should travel to the hospital.

Jeanette continues:

> We have people stepping around "non-Jewish" bodies on Shabbos because we are
> going to let someone else eventually come along to save a person who might be
> dying in front of our eyes

Name one example.  And if you can't I ask the moderators stop your 
future postings or at least insist you prove every single statement you 
make.  Time and time again you have been proven to be fabricating your 
facts.   I know no educated Jew who would ever hesitate in a pikuach 
nefesh situation to do melacha. Yes I did once know a recent newly 
religious igoramus who did and shame on them for not taking the effort 
to learn something so basic and preferring to be so holy than though 
they lost a pregancy.   But no Rabbi I know celebrated their behavior as 
piousness, unless being known as a foolish chassid is considered an honor.


From: Menashe Elyashiv <Menashe.Elyashiv@...>
Date: Wed, Nov 17,2010 at 03:01 AM
Subject: Halacha for Special Agents

Yisrael asked (MJ 59#81):

> a) were they [women in Gush Etzion and Mishmar Hayarden] "combat" or simply
> residents of the communities that did not leave but stayed to assist?
> b) isn't the "kalah m'chupata" paradigm ("all go out to fight, even the
> bridegroom from his chamber and the bride from out of her wedding canopy"
> - Sotah 44B in the Mishna) applicable in that and other situations, even
> 'mildly'?

Well, in those days there was not a regular army. The women chose to 
stay after the evacuation of women and children. In Gush Etzion the group 
spoke about, but did not decide whether the women should surrender 
or commit suicide.

There are different ways to interpretate the bride going out ... it seems 
that this is not combat but rather the noncombatant positions. As far as I 
know, women did not fight in the ancient world.


From: Orrin Tilevitz <tilevitzo@...>
Date: Wed, Nov 17,2010 at 08:01 AM
Subject: Ho Chi Minh Yeshivot

The term used in a widely-circulated parody many years ago, not The Jewish
Press, was "Yeshiva Arba Daled" [4D]. Of course these yeshivot present the
question of whether it is permissible to attend a yeshiva with the intent of
avoiding dying in a war at the expense of other individuals, possibly Jews, who
therefore would die instead (and I would think the answer would in theory have
to be "yes", because of the general rule that "your blood is not redder than
mine"). However, with rare exceptions, the students were students in name only,
raising the issue of whether chilul hashem outweighs this general principle.
Furthermore, to this day there are former students who are attempting to make
livings, as pretend-Orthodox rabbis in clueless Conservative shuls and giving
hechsherim where people don't know any better from the pretend-rabbinical
degrees they earned at the time. I'm not sure that the situation in Israel is
comparable from this latter

From: Jeanette  Friedman <FriedmanJ@...>
Date: Wed, Nov 17,2010 at 09:01 AM
Subject: Ho Chi Minh Yeshivot

My husband, like Carl Singer (MJ 59#79), is a Vietnam veteran, with shrapnel in
his groin, post-traumatic stress disorder, and a whole host of other lovely
reminders of his days there, including a Bronze Star and a Purple  Heart.

I guess that there must be something wrong with the children of Holocaust  
survivors, like me, Carl and Phil, that we sort of feel an  allegiance to 
the country that took in our parents and gave them the  opportunity to work 
their body parts off to give us life, put roofs over our  heads, and provide us 
with educations -- Jewish and secular.   

My husband, like Carl, could have gone to DRAFT DODGER school to get his  
DD (Doctorate of Divinity), but didn't. Most of my brother's friends did. I  
told my father not to bring me boys from DD schools - they were by nature, 
already cheats.

And since my father and Shlomo Lorincz were the ones who cooked up the deal with
Ben Gurion, so many years ago during the Shoah  -- my father remained in
Budapest because he was busy with Reb  Burachel giving out Mantello papers --
the deal was for Talmidei Chachomim,  NOT BENKEL KVETCHERS. To compare a benkel
kvetcher to a Talmid Chochom is an insult to the Talmid Chochom.

That these descendants of Holocaust  survivors spit on the country that allows
them to do that is an even bigger  disgrace. To say that these people are
learning Torah is a mockery of learning.

BTW, the reason Brooklyn College has a Judaic Studies Department is because in
the late 60's Sruly Singer realized we needed  Yeshiva Transfer Credits for
these guys to move from DD school to a legitimate college so that they wouldn't
get parts of their anatomy shot off in the Nam. I know. I marched for a Judaic
Studies Department with him, but not for those reasons. I felt that a college
stuck in the middle of  a very Jewish neighborhood should be able to offer
students Jewish history  and learning from a secular point of view, hoping
that maybe the distortions I was taught in yeshiva would be corrected.

Jeanette   Friedman, EIC
The Wordsmithy


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Wed, Nov 17,2010 at 05:01 AM
Subject: Pikuah-Nefesh on Shabbat

I must disagree with Abe Brot <abe.brot@...> (MJ 59#81) when he

> About 40 years ago, when I lived in the USA, I had two friends who were
> Orthodox Rabbis, and by coincidence, both their wives were pregnent. One
> rabbi studied the laws of pikuah-nefesh from A to Z, so that he would know
> whether to drive his wife to the hospital, or ask a non-Jewish neighbor to
> take them, how to park after delivering his wife to the emergency room,
> should he turn off the lights afterwards, what about turning off the
> ignition, etc., etc.
> The other Rabbi told me that he didn't do any planning, and if his wife
> enters labor on shabbat, he will do what needs to be done and whatever he
> does incorrectly will be b'shgaga (not intended) and not b'meizeed
> (deliberate).
> I am not a Rabbi, but I think the second Rabbi had a healthier attitude to
> this problem.

If one can reasonably foresee a problem and deliberately does not investigate
its halchic ramifications, it is possible that any consequent transgression is
not considered as a shogeg [inadvertent sin] at all but as a meizid [deliberate
sin]. At the very least, it would be a shogeg karov lemeizid [inadvertent sin
verging on being deliberate]. Abe's friend will no doubt find out after 120
whether he did in fact behave correctly because his true intentions will be
klapei shmaya galya [clearly known to the heavenly tribunal].

Martin Stern

From: Akiva Miller <kennethgmiller@...>
Date: Wed, Nov 17,2010 at 07:01 AM
Subject: Pikuah-Nefesh on Shabbat

Avraham Brot (MJ 59:81) wrote:

> ... One rabbi studied the laws of pikuah-nefesh from A to Z, so that he
> would know whether to drive his wife to the hospital, or ask a non-Jewish
> neighbor to take them, ... ...
> The other Rabbi told me that he didn't do any planning, and if his wife
> enters labor on shabbat, he will do what needs to be done and whatever he
> does incorrectly will be b'shgaga (not intended) and not b'meizeed
> (deliberate).
> I am not a Rabbi, but I think the second Rabbi had a healthier attitude
> to this problem.

I emphatically disagree. If the second "rabbi" is the more correct one, then why
bother ever learning any halacha at all?

With that attitude, if he ever has a problem in business, or he doesn't know
what prayers to say, or he's not sure how to keep his kitchen kosher, he can
simply do what needs to be done, and whatever he does incorrectly will be
regarded as unintentional.

That's ridiculous. "Unintentional" means that one is truly unprepared. But if
one can anticipate a situation, and he deliberately chooses not to prepare for
it, that is called "deliberate".

(For the record, I do realize that there is "only" a 1/7 chance of needing to go
to the hospital on Shabbos, and I'm not saying that one is obligated to become
an expert on all facets of such situations. My objection is to the claim that
"he didn't do any planning", which suggests a far-too-uncaring attitude. One
must do *some* planning. It's hard to pinpoint how much, but it must certainly
rise above zero!)

Note the words of the Mishna Brurah 430:1: "It is proper for a woman who has
reached her ninth month to prepare whatever she'll need each Friday, because she
might give birth on Shabbos, and this way she won't have to break Shabbos."

And on a related topic, the Shulchan Aruch 206:1 writes: "If one is unsure
whether a fruit is Ha'etz or Ha'adama, he says the blessing Ha'adama." But
Mishna Brurah 206:4 adds: "This is if the law itself is unclear, but if his
uncertainty is a result of not having learned, then he shouldn't eat it until he

Akiva Miller


From: Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz <sabbahillel@...>
Date: Wed, Nov 17,2010 at 09:01 AM
Subject: Stipends for Torah students

Elazar M. Teitz <remt@...> wrote (MJ 59#81):

> Mordechai Horowitz, discussing chareidim, writes (MJ 59#80):
>> They have no emuna as a community. I was learning in yeshiva when
>> the first gulf war came. The kollels in Israel of the charedi community
>> quickly emptied out with black hats streaming to the airport to run to
>> galut for the protection of the gentiles. For all the claims that Torah
>> learning protects Israel and that is why kollel students musn't serve in
>> the army, in time of war they ran from their Talmuds back to America to
>> watch the war on CNN. It seems learning isn't that important and
>> following the "gedolim" optional when the missiles are flying. The
>> Modern Orthodox yeshivot remained full.
> I don't recall seeing a single Israeli chareidi who ran to the US during the
> Gulf war. (They would have had a difficult time leaving, since their legal
> status is not draft-exempt, but draft-deferred, requiring permission to leave
> the country.) Ponevez, Chevron, Slobodka et al., remained as full during the
> war as they were before. Perhaps Mr. Horowitz refers to Americans who came to
> learn in Israel, but I doubt that he has a scintilla of evidence that they 
> came back "to watch the war on CNN." They would be more likely to have
> returned to the American yeshivas whence they came, and were learning there.
> The assumption that they weren't bespeaks a willingness on the writer's part
> to see only negatives when it comes to chareidim.
> As for the modern Orthodox yeshivos, most of their American students were high
> school graduates who were spending the year learning in Israel. Many of them
> went through a program which involved registering in Yeshiva University and
> paying their tuition through YU, rather than directly to the Israeli
> institution. I can attest from personal experience that while most remained,
> many came back; YU was not going to return the tuition for the spring
> semester, and I succeeded in negotiating on their behalf to have that tuition
> credited to the following fall semester.

When I was there in 5727 (1967), those who went home left because their
parents were panicking and insisting that they come home. There were
many who wanted to come as volunteers, but were told that it would be too
difficult to make the arrangements for them to come at the last minute
(in the run up to the war). Some who came had already received
military training. It was a similar situation in the Gulf War. Many
who went home would not have been able to help had they stayed and
their parents were ready to fly to Israel and drag them onto the

Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz 


From: Irwin Weiss <irwin@...>
Date: Wed, Nov 17,2010 at 07:01 AM
Subject: The frumkeit of our generation

Carl Singer writes (MJ 59#81) about "an important element in our (self?)
assessment of the current generation is menchlechkeit. Thus I'd like to see more
discussion of behavior and the mitzvahs bayn Adam L'chavayro."

I couldn't agree more with Carl, and with the ideas underlying his comment. 
I recall here in Baltimore an incident when, one Shabbos evening, an 
"Orthodox" kid ran another one over with a car, seriously injuring the 
victim.  The comments that were heard thereafter included comments to the 
effect "How could this happen on Shabbos?"

On Shabbos? How could it happen at all? Lots of people seemed to more upset 
with the fact that the perpetrator was driving a car on Shabbos then that he 
intentionally injured the other person.  To me, if you try to kill another 
person in these circumstances, even on Tuesday, you are not "Orthodox" any 
more than if you have a ham sandwich at McDonalds.

Of course, this is just an anecdote and I won't bore readers with others.

Irwin E. Weiss, Esq.
Baltimore, MD 

From: Wendy Baker <wbaker@...>
Date: Wed, Nov 17,2010 at 10:01 AM
Subject: The frumkeit of our generation

Carl Singer asks (MJ 59#81):

> I'd be interested to know how much time and emphasis is spent in our schools
> and yeshivot re: midos, for example.

I belong to a definitely Modern Orthodox synagogue in New York.  I run a large
food and clothing drives several time a year and have been using many children
above the age of 8 as volunteers, sorting and packing at these drives.  

For a number of years many of the Jewish High Schools the older kids attend have
required that they earn hours of chesed work, so I sign books or arrange for
letters from the synagogue.  This year the local Jewish day school began to
require these hours for the 10-13 year olds in their upper grades.  I had
numerous new volunteers just come in to sort as a result of this.  One can hope
that requiring these hours will begin a lifetime of understanding that it is
important to help one's fellow man.
Many kids I have worked with for years have understood this without any
prompting by earning school credits and have gone on to continue or even set up
and run such activiies when they have attended college.

I think it is important to set an example, find actual programs for young people
to work in and, for those not internally (or parentally) motivated, to have
requirements so they can get the chance to do this kind of work. Not everyone is
able to understand the need for Chesed without education.

Wendy Baker


From: Shmuel Himelstein <himels@...>
Date: Wed, Nov 17,2010 at 07:01 AM
Subject: They also serve who sit and learn?

The classic reason given for exempting Yeshiva students in Israel from going
to the army is that by their learning they protect the country at least as
well as (and even much better than) those in the army. Of course, I've never
heard of anybody being killed by having a stray Ketzot HaChosen hit him, but
that's a different issue...

What bothers me to this day is that when Israel went to war in the first
Lebanon war, we, who lived in Arzei Habira, Jerusalem, an area with a very
high percentage of Yeshiva young men of military age, saw no discernible
difference in these young men in what was going on around them. We saw the
same young men congregating around in the courtyard, and certainly not
spending any more time learning Torah in order to protect our nation - as is
the claim.

What, then, is the rationale for exempting them from the army?

Shmuel Himelstein


From: Leah S.R. Gordon <leah@...>
Date: Tue, Nov 16,2010 at 11:01 PM
Subject: Video on gay Orthodox Jews I found compelling 

I saw this video, designed to encourage gay Jewish teenagers to refrain from
committing suicide (which is a statistically demonstrated problem).  I hope
others find it as moving as I did:


--Leah S. R. Gordon

p.s. If you would like to read more about the higher suicide rates among gay
youth, particularly those in religious communities, the it-gets-better
website/project provides many sources and links, and I would be happy to
provide more sources off-line.


End of Volume 59 Issue 82