Volume 60 Number 05 
      Produced: Thu, 14 Apr 2011 13:02:32 EDT

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

A conversion criterion (3)
    [Yisrael Medad  David Tzohar  Gershon Dubin]
Haftarah for Acharei Mot 
    [Martin Stern]
Modern Metzorah 
    [Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz]
Mohel driving to brit on Shabbat (5)
    [Sammy Finkelman  Carl Singer  Gershon Dubin  David Ziants  Akiva Miller]
The Katzav Case 
    [David Tzohar]


From: Yisrael Medad <ybmedad@...>
Date: Sun, Apr 10,2011 at 06:01 PM
Subject: A conversion criterion

Gershon Dubin sums up his opinion (MJ 60#04), which basically follows the 
Hareidi approach, on conversion by writing:

> Better to be a non-Jew without mitzvos than a Jew who violates the mitzvos.

While that certainly has validity, there is another way of phrasing one's doubt
but in such a way as to arrive at a different result, that of accepting the ger:

"Better to accept a non-Jew who express a desire to identify with the 
Jewish people by living in Israel, fulfilling military service (etc.) or 
paying taxes or just suffering the odd missile attack or suicide bomber 
and who claims to wish to become a good observant Jew rather than turn 
away a potential good Jew or, at the least, someone whose children will 
then be Jewish and could possibly remain very Jewish or even Orthodox 
even if you suspect he will violate mitzvot."


From: David Tzohar <davidtzohar@...>
Date: Mon, Apr 11,2011 at 09:01 AM
Subject: A conversion criterion

I think that here in Israel we have to look at this question from a totally
different perspective.

By conservative estimates there are presently over 300,000 Israelis who have
Jewish family connections but are not Jewish according to Halacha. The vast
majority are those who made aliya from the former Soviet Union under the
Law of Return (at least one grandparent or spouse being Jewish). Only a
small minority are interested in Orthodox conversion, especially since the
Orthodox establishment discourages it.

IMHO it is time to seriously consider the option of considering this group
as Gerei Toshav. They fit all of the requirements of the RAMBAM for this
status. They are not idol worshippers, they accept the seven Noahide Laws
and they totally accept Jewish sovereignty. Besides all this they have the
Jewish (racial?) connection, what Rav Amsalem calls "Zera Yisrael". They
already think of themselves as Jews, and the Arabs definitely consider them to
be Jews. In this case I think we must ignore the position of the Chareidi
community (including Gedolim). We have to find a solution for this
David Tzohar

From: Gershon Dubin  <gershon.dubin@...>
Date: Mon, Apr 11,2011 at 07:01 PM
Subject: A conversion criterion

Susan Kane <suekane@...> wrote (MJ 60#03):

> It's hard to know where to start as you make so many statements as though they
> were fact when they are not.
Basically, you are confusing gerei tzedek, righteous converts, with all
converts.  It is absolutely true that, as you say, "converts, particularly
outside of Orthodoxy, are almost always more observant than the people they
marry and the communities into which they convert."  However, you also say that 
"the main reason for conversion in these times is intermarriage."  Such converts 
are rarely an asset to the Jewish people, are not considered gerei tzedek, and in 
fact rarely if ever raise the children in the Jewish faith.  Quite the opposite on 
all those counts.
> 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.
And the REAL defining lines are...?   You've waved away THE most defining
mitzvos historically, right up to this day.

Gershon Dubin 


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Sun, Apr 10,2011 at 11:01 AM
Subject: Haftarah for Acharei Mot

Since next Shabbat is Shabbat Hagadol, we read the special haftarah but
Ashkenazim read the regular one for Acharei Mot on Shabbat Kedoshim in order not
to miss it out. We also do the same when the the two sedras are joined, which is
unusual since normally the haftarah of the second sedra is said. So it seems
we are particular to read it every year without fail which seems to indicate
that it carries a particularly important message.

On a slightly lighter note, I wonder whether this was done in Apartheid
South Africa, or in the Southern states of the USA when black people were
oppressed there - after all, it begins "Behold you are like the blacks to Me
..." If the usual Ashkenazi usage was followed, does this not show the
absurdity of the current antisemitic chorus of "Israel is an Apartheid

Martin Stern


From: Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz <sabbahillel@...>
Date: Sun, Apr 10,2011 at 08:01 AM
Subject: Modern Metzorah

Heard this about Metzora this Shabbos:

The metzora has oil and blood put on his right ear, right thumb, and
right big toe. Why?

Answer: The ear is because he listened to Lashon Hara [evil speech even if
true] and Motzi shem Ra [lies about someone] and the toe is because he
actively went to hear or say it.

But why is the the thumb used?

Answer: It is used for TEXTING

Why are the birds brought as part of the purification process and how does that
show a connection to our modern day?

Answer: They TWITTER

Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz


From: Sammy Finkelman <sammy.finkelman@...>
Date: Fri, Apr 8,2011 at 05:01 PM
Subject: Mohel driving to brit on Shabbat

This is covered in the very last words of the Mishnah Shabbos (Perek 18,
and the beginning of Perek 19). There seems to be no Gemarah (at least in the 
Bavli) dealing with this at the end of Perek 18 but there are a couple of pages 
in the Gemarah on this and related issues starting at 130a (Perek 19).

I found an interesting aside on this:

There is a paper by the Conservative movement in the United States
adopted March 9, 1988 by a vote of 11-2 with 2 abstentions. The thing
they were getting at was this question of riding to a bris on Shabbos.
They said no, not (as one might have expected) yes.

They say classical halakhic sources say it can't be done. The mohel
should spend Shabbos in the area where the Bris is to be done.  But,
they say, this is not realistic given the wide scattering of areas
where Jews now live and the fact that most Mohalim are officiating

(I would say the problem, or change, is caused by the fact that there
are too few mohalim. The number of people capable of, or trusted, to
do this is much lower as a percentage than in earlier times.)

Anyway, they said, given that they had authorized travel on Shabbos to
shul, the argument was why not this too? They actually said no,
because Shabbos cannot be postponed but Milah could be and it would
tend to lower the importance of Shabbos - it would not be interpreted
as a statement about the importance of a bris but rather as a
denigration of Shabbos.  They said that when Jews kept Shabbos more,
allowing Milah to contravene Shabbos was acceptable, but not now, when
Shabbat observance is weak and people need little excuse to violate
Shabbat. But Milah is one of the most widely practiced contemporary
Jewish rituals. So therefore insisting that Milah give way to Shabbos
will proclaim their commitment to Shemiras Shabbos. As a movement they
should utilize every opportunity to emphasize the importance of
Shabbat and it shouldn't look like strict Shabbat observance is of
little importance even to their leadership.

But if the family is absolutely determined to do it on Shabbos, then,
they said, let them do it in the synagogue, where they anyway ride to on
Shabbos, but no Mohel who didn't belong to the community should take a


This is not exactly Halakhic reasoning, as usually understood,  but is
an interesting example of sociological reasoning and attempted

From: Carl Singer <carl.singer@...>
Date: Sun, Apr 10,2011 at 07:01 AM
Subject: Mohel driving to brit on Shabbat

Perhaps the wording of the original question is suspect.
If searching for a chumra is not to be implied -- then the question might be

What should one do when the (first) halachic time for the bris is on Shabbos
and there is no nearby Mohel?

From: Gershon Dubin <gershon.dubin@...>
Date: Sun, Apr 10,2011 at 02:01 PM
Subject: Mohel driving to brit on Shabbat

Sammy Finkelman <sammy.finkelman@...> wrote (MJ 60#04):

> What about this situation: Suppose the mohel is not informed about the
> need for a bris until Shabbos, or very very late on a Friday??

> I think the halakhic question might be answered differently in such a case.

No difference.  Just as forbidden.


From: David Ziants <dziants@...>
Date: Mon, Apr 11,2011 at 03:01 AM
Subject: Mohel driving to brit on Shabbat

The responses so far (MJ 60#04) seem to appertain to melachot d'oraita 
[= Forms of labour that are one of the 39 main labours that are 
forbidden on shabbat or forms of labour directly derived from any of them].

If the melacha is de'Rabbanan [Rabbinic] - for example the mohel being 
driven by a non-Jew to do the brit  or the mohel carrying the case with 
the equipment in a karmalit [= a public domain that does not meet the 
Torah criteria and so carrying is Rabbinicly not allowed unless there is 
an eruv] with no eruv - would the mohel be allowed to do this if no 
better solutions were available?

David Ziants
Chag Kasher V'Same'ach

From: Akiva Miller <kennethgmiller@...>
Date: Mon, Apr 11,2011 at 09:01 AM
Subject: Mohel driving to brit on Shabbat

Ari Trachtenberg (MJ 60#03) asked:
> I'm looking for sources that permit a Shabbat brit to be delayed
> if the mohel would otherwise have to drive (on Shabbat).

Why would you need sources for this? It happens automatically.

Only the brit itself is allowed on Shabbat; if the knife was accidentally left
elsewhere, and there's no eruv, they are not allowed to bring the knife to the
baby, and the brit would get delayed automatically. I don't see how your case
differs. Since there's no mohel in the baby's vicinity on Shabbat, it will have
to be done later. I must have misunderstood the question.

Akiva Miller


From: David Tzohar <davidtzohar@...>
Date: Sun, Apr 10,2011 at 06:01 AM
Subject: The Katzav Case

Jeanette Friedman (MJ 60#02) seems to think that the Rabbis who wrote the
letter supporting Katzav are "in denial" or exhibit an "incredible lack of
understanding." Just the opposite is true.

Rav Aviner and Rav Tau ShLYTA both followed the case very closely and came
to some disturbing conclusions. For one the case was tried in the media. For
another all the evidence was circumstancial and subjective. In essence the
women who accused Katzav were not required to PROVE their allegations. As
far as the Rabbis were concerned the laws of Lashon Hara (slander) require
them to give the accused the benefit of the doubt. This is beside the
question of the authority of a court composed of women, non-religious Jews
and goyim to pass judgement.

The fact that Rav Tau who is the leader of the Mamlachti (statist) trend of
the Hesder yeshiva movement was one of the signatories is proof that these
questions were taken into account.

David Tzohar


End of Volume 60 Issue 5