Volume 60 Number 03 
      Produced: Fri, 08 Apr 2011 14:34:45 EDT

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

A conversion criterion (2)
    [Susan Kane  Martin Stern]
Haftara for Shabbat Hagadol question 
    [Irwin Weiss]
Haftarah for Parshat Zachor query (2)
    [Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz  Martin Stern]
Mohel driving to brit on Shabbat 
    [Ari Trachtenberg]
Q on Megilla reading 
    [Lisa Liel]
Tazria/Metzora query 
    [Tal S. Benschar]


From: Susan Kane <suekane@...>
Date: Mon, Apr 4,2011 at 08:01 PM
Subject: A conversion criterion

In reply to Lisa Liel (MJ 60#02):

You forget that the main reason for conversion in these times is intermarriage -
which will go forward in most cases outside the frum world whether conversion is
accepted or not.  This was not at all true in earlier times. 

Obstacles to conversion create hatred and animosity between Jews and
particularly among non-observant Jews whose spouses are rejected. Those Jews
will be completely lost to the Jewish community and will never take on more

In contrast, we know that converts, particularly outside of Orthodoxy, are
almost always more observant than the people they marry and the communities into
which they convert. There is a reason they are called gerim tsadikim - it is
because most of the people who join the Jewish people are indeed tsadikim. 

So on the one hand, you can rule stringently and create rifts in the Jewish
people while driving away born Jews who are already tenuously committed.  You
will lose that Jew and his/her descendants. 

On the other hand, you can rule leniently, which is allowed by halacha, and keep
two people within the Jewish community where the convert is likely to influence
the Jew towards greater observance. And you will have their children raised in a
Jewish home, after which anything is possible. 

I think that people forget how many mitzvot non-Orthodox people can and will do.
Shabbat, kashrut, and taharat hamishpacha are not the only mitzvot in the Torah
nor are they the defining lines between real Jews and everyone else. 

Think of all the mitzvot the convert is likely to keep, not the ones they are
likely to break. Think of the importance of keeping the Jewish partner's
children in the Jewish community. 

I believe it is a serious mistake to be strict in this matter. In Israel, the
standards for conversion and the corruption in the conversion system have
created nothing but hatred for the haredim and even the State among some 

The legal requirements for a halachic conversion are fairly minimal.  Why seek
ways to keep people out of the Jewish community?  Because they may drive on
shabbat?  There are no good Jews who drive on shabbat?  

Our ancestors who came to America and who went to early minyanim on shabbat
because they needed to work the rest of the day - were not good Jews?  They
raised many of the people on this board and many upstanding members of frum
shuls.  Would it have been better for them to have not been born Jews because
they were not able to keep shabbat fully?

What about all the good which converts will do as Jews and the kavod they may 
bring to the Jewish people?  What about their positive influence on their Jewish 

Jews are liable to G-d for failure to keep the mitzvot. As long as the potential
convert understands and accepts this, the rest is between him/her and G-d. Being
lenient may or may not result in more mitzvot broken than mitzvot performed.
Being strict will definitely drive existing Jews away from Judaism. 

From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Tue, Apr 5,2011 at 01:01 AM
Subject: A conversion criterion

Lisa Liel <lisa@...> wrote (MJ 60#02):

> Martin Stern wrote (MJ 59#99):
>> This would provide an asmachta (biblical support) for the halachah
>> that the conversion of someone who accepts all the mitzvot except one
>> is invalid ab initio (Bechorot 30b and Rambam Hil. Issurei Biah 14.8).
>> Any comments?
> Yes.  Lama li kra?  Svara hi.  (Why is there any
> need for biblical support?  It's simple logic.)

I specifically used the word asmachta (biblical support) as opposed to kra
(biblical derivation) because it means that the halachah is not derived from
the Biblical verse -- rather, Chazal "hang" the independently derived halachah on 
it or use the verse as a "support" or aide-memoire. For details of the 
distinction, see the Encyclopaedia Talmudit vol.2 pp.105-8.

Martin Stern


From: Irwin Weiss <irwin@...>
Date: Mon, Apr 4,2011 at 09:01 PM
Subject: Haftara for Shabbat Hagadol question

The language at the end of the Haftara for Shabbat Hagadol:  Verse 22 talks
about the teachings of Moshe, and ends with the word "Mishpatim."  Then follows
the sentence "Hinei Anochi Sholeach Lachem et Eliyahu HaNavi."

In Parshat Mishpatim, after a recitation of a number of Mishpatim, and
specifically after the "Lo T'vashel G'di BaChalev Imo" verse, comes this verse
(Shemot 23:20):  Hinei Anochi Sholeach Malach Lefanecha,....and then (23:21) "Ki
Sh'mi B'Kirbo."

Does anyone know any source that compares the two passages or relates them in
any way?

Irwin Weiss
Baltimore, MD


From: Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz <sabbahillel@...>
Date: Mon, Apr 4,2011 at 06:01 PM
Subject: Haftarah for Parshat Zachor query

Martin Stern <md.stern@...> wrote (MJ 60#02):

> Many thanks to all those who replied to my Haftarah for Parshat Zachor
> query. I was aware of the onomatopoeic aspect but wondered if there was
> some other reason for the variation between MAH and MEH.
> It occurs in other places. For example, in birchot hashachar, we find "MAH
> anachnu, MEH chayeinu, MEH chasdeinu, MAH tsidkeinu, MAH yeshuateinu, MAH
> kocheinu, MAH gevuroteinu ...." Similarly, the second perek of Massechet Shabbat
> commences "BAMEH madlikin UVEMAH ein madlikin ...."
> The bleating of sheep would not explain these cases, so is there some other,
more linguistic explanation?

Rabbi Hirsch speaks about the connection of hei and ches in the
meaning of various words. Could the hei of hatzon and the ches of
chasdeinu for example connect to the change of mah to meh? I am not
sufficiently knowledgeable in the grammar to know if this is true or
not, but it does strike me as possible.

An alternate possibility would be the patach at the start of the
second word. Could that be the reason? I have seen differences in the
last vowel of a first word based on whether the first vowel of the
second word is katon or gadol. This would depend on other examples and
the vowel used for a mem or bais found as a prefix for a word.

Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz

From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Mon, Apr 4,2011 at 06:01 PM
Subject: Haftarah for Parshat Zachor query

Larry Israel <larry.israel@...> wrote (MJ 60#02):

> Or, it might be, that 'meh' is used when the next word starts with a guttural,
> such as 'kuf' might be.

Unfortunately kuf is not considered a guttural in Hebrew grammar (only alef,
hei, chet and ayin are gutturals - see Sefer Hayetsirah 2:6), so this cannot be
the reason.

Martin Stern


From: Ari Trachtenberg <trachten@...>
Date: Thu, Apr 7,2011 at 11:01 PM
Subject: Mohel driving to brit on Shabbat

I'm looking for sources that permit a Shabbat brit to be delayed if 
the mohel would otherwise have to drive (on Shabbat).



From: Lisa Liel <lisa@...>
Date: Mon, Apr 4,2011 at 06:01 PM
Subject: Q on Megilla reading

J Wiesen <wiesen@...> wrote (MJ 60#02):

>A minyan is required to say the bracha after the megilla reading.
>Why does that bracha require a minyan and not the brachot before the
>megilla reading?

Is this the case?  Is there a source for that?



From: Tal S. Benschar <tbenschar@...>
Date: Tue, Apr 5,2011 at 01:01 AM
Subject: Tazria/Metzora query

In reply to Martin Stern (MJ 60#02), I had very similar thoughts this past
Shabbos.  Just to strengthen the question a bit, one would think that the
parshiyos at the end of Metzorah (niddah, zavah, baal keri and zav) would
precede the parsha of yoledes.  After all, in personal experience they certainly
do -- one has to deal with the laws of Niddah (and for a man in the time of the
BHMK, baal keri) well before the laws of giving birth. 
So we have an ordering issue as well as the interruption with the laws of 


End of Volume 60 Issue 3