Volume 60 Number 15 
      Produced: Sun, 05 Jun 2011 05:34:01 EDT

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

Being driven to shul on Shabbat
    [Ben Katz]
Mohel driving to brit on Shabbat
    [Robert A. Book]
Rosh Chodesh and The Molad (3)
    [Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz Dr. William Gewirtz  Ben Katz]
Rosh Chodesh and The Molad correction
    [Steven Oppenheimer]
Wall posters in shuls - Modim d'Rabbanan (3)
    [Yisrael Medad  Carl Singer  Stuart Wise]
What Day Of The Week Will Shabbos Be In Samoa? (3)
    [Sholom Parnes Bernard Raab Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz]


From: Ben Katz 
Date: Tue, May 31,2011 at 06:01 PM
Subject: Being driven to shul on Shabbat

Batya Medad <ybmedad@...> wrote (MJ 60#14):
> Richard Fiedler <richardfiedler@...> wrote (MJ 60#13):

>> It is nonsense that something should only be prohibited because of Mar'it
>> "Not Shabbosdic" is a more interesting issue.

> Not everyone is on the level where it's "obvious" that there's a
> halachik reason/adjustment.  Most Jews know nothing about halacha and
> would accept what they see as what they see.  "It's permitted for
> religious Jews to travel on Shabbat."

The examples of marit ayin given in the gemara, according to my
recollection, assume that the person is viewing the entire act and would
still think I was doing something wrong.  So if I walk into a MacDonald's
and use the bathroom, no one will think I ate there.

From: Robert A. Book
Date: Wed, Jun 1,2011 at 06:01 AM
Subject: Mohel driving to brit on Shabbat
bat> (Apologies is this is a stale topic; I'm getting caught up on old

Tal S. Benschar <tbenschar@...> wrote (MJ 60#04):
> Most mohalim are very dedicated and will go far out of their way to
> stay somewhere on Shabbos so as to be able to perform a bris.

I wish I could agree with this, but my experience has been the opposite.  I
live in a community with no "resident" mohel, and when my son was born on
Shabbos, I had extreme difficulty finding a mohel willing to come to our
community to perform the bris.  This was in a community where there was no
difficulty obtaining a place to stay, a frum shul, kosher food, etc. The
worst part is that one mohel (who has a very good reputation locally)
actually tried to convince us that it was halachically prohibited to have a
bris on Shabbos.  Whether this was to avoid spending Shabbos away from home,
or to avoid losing the business to someone else, was unclear -- but he was
rather upset when we finally found a mohel willing to come.  (The one who
finally came lived about three times as far away from us as the ones who
refused to come.) 

From: Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz
Date: Fri, Jun 3,2011 at 07:01 PM
Subject: Rosh Chodesh and The Molad

Steven Oppenheimer <steven.oppenheimer@...> wrote (MJ 60#14)
> So why do we bother to announce the Molad in Shul during the prayer of
> Mevorchim HaChodesh? Why not just mention the day(s) on which Rosh Chodesh
> fall(s)? 
> The Molad is announced during the blessing so that people may calculate when
> they may recite Kiddush LeVanah, since the period of Kiddush LeVanah is
> counted from the Molad and not from Rosh Chodesh. (Aruch HaShulchan, O. Ch.
> 417:8). 

>From memory: There is a dispute as to whether the "fixed calendar" still
requires a declaration by Bais Din each month or not. There are those that
say that the declaration of the calendar was mekadesh [sanctified] the new
month from then on. Other stated that the declaration only set up when the
new months would begin, but that Bais Din still had to "officially" announce
the beginning of the month each month. We no longer have a central bais din.
I think it is the Ramban [Nachmanides] who says that there must be a
declaration of the new month in Israel at a minyon for the calendar to be
valid. I also remember that there are some who say that this declaration can
be done in chutz la'aretz [outside of Israel] as long as it is done each
month I have been told that this is why we announce the theoretical molad
every month. I have also been told that there are those who say that we
announce it now so that when the Sanhedrin returns, people will be used to
hearing the announcement and know to look and try to bring the testimony.
 Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz


From: Dr. William Gewirtz
Date: Mon, May 30,2011 at 09:01 PM
Subject: Rosh Chodesh and The Molad

In MJ 60#14, Steven Oppenheimer discusses the Molad and Rosh Chodesh
attempting to explain why there is a discrepancy between the Molad and Rosh
Chodesh. He then provides an excellent summary of the system via which we
are mekadaish al pi cheshbon ('sanctifying' based on mathematical
calculation --Mod.). To his exposition, I would add three additional factors
that help address why a molad occurs 2 days prior to Rosh Chodesh. First,
the molad used in R. Adda's calculations is the average molad over a twelve
month period. Rosh Chodesh depends not on the average molad but on the
actual molad that can occur many hours after or before the time Chazal
established using the average molad. Second, Chazal's number for the average
molad while exceedingly accurate is very slightly in error. In the roughly
1700 years since it was calculated, the accumulated error is approximately 3
hours. Thus Rosh Chodesh is only rarely impacted by the minor discrepancy
and only in the direction of possibly delaying Rosh Chodesh, something that
happened for a variety of factors even when Rosh Chodesh was established by
witnesses. Rosh Chodesh too early is much more problematic; Rosh Chodesh
delayed is within the purvey of rabbinic edict. Third, while Dr Oppenheimer
quotes the opinion of R. Zerachya Halevi popularized by the Chazon Ish in
his attempt to establish a halakhic dateline, the more usual explanation of
the gemara, and one that is also scientifically correct, is that the
(actual) molad (and certainly the average molad) is only a theoretical
point. The actual molad is invisible. A new moon is only visible many hours
after the actual molad, when the new moon crescent is of sufficient size to
be observable. For that reason, a molad after noontime, may result in no
moon crescent being visible that evening. (That is how Rashi and most
Rishonim explain the gemara in RH 20.) As a simplified example, assume the
average molad as calculated in the halakha is at 1pm on Wednesday.
Accurately calculated, the average molad may be at 10am. The actual molad
for that month may occur at 5 am or 3pm. In the former case, a new moon
crescent might be observable Wednesday into Thursday. In the latter case, it
would not be visible that evening. To explain a particular day of Rosh
Chodesh in our fixed calendar may on occasion be complex; what is clear that
the calendar over these past 1700 years could not be easily improved. We
ought not to worry about the minor inaccuracies for another 3000 years; we
should pray that before then we are again mekadaish al pi r'eeah [determine
the new moon by direct observation and sanctification by the Great

From: Ben Katz  
Date: Tue, May 31,2011 at 06:01 PM
Subject: Rosh Chodesh and The Molad

In his submission (MJ 60#14), Dr Oppenheimer is correct, but he leaves out
one thing: the molad is a theoretical calculation and the new moon is never
visible till 12-18 hrs. at the earliest after the molad, so there is often a
discrepancy of at least 1 day between the Molad and Rosh Chodesh.
Discrepancies of 2 days are often the result of the factors explained by Dr


From: Steven Oppenheimer
Date: Mon, May 30,2011 at 01:01 PM
Subject: Rosh Chodesh and The Molad correction

There was a typo in the piece I wrote (MJ 60#14): This second dechiya also
prevents Rosh HaShanah from falling out on Shabbat, in which case we would
not be able to perform the custom of Arava and the 7 Hakafot.  In order to
prevent this, Rosh HaShanah is not allowed to fall out on a Sunday. This
should read: This second dechiya also prevents Hoshanah Rabah from falling
out on Shabbat, in which case we would not be able to perform the custom of
Arava and the 7 Hakafot.  In order to prevent this, Rosh HaShanah is not
allowed to fall out on a Sunday.

Steven Oppenheimer, D.M.D.


From: Yisrael Medad
Date: Tue, May 31,2011 at 08:01 AM
Subject: Wall posters in shuls - Modim d'Rabbanan

Aaron Lerner<lerner603@...> asked (MJ 60#14):

>  Why is there a need to post a wall version of it?

Besides being up in almost all the schules I visited in Poland that
remained, being a centuries-old custom (and customs never die), I presume it
is intended for the two congregants who are talking to each other during
davening, discussing the stock market, their favorite baseball team, an
anti-Israel NY Times story or the lack of good schnaps at the Shabbat
Kiddush club and are caught without a siddur open and need to see the words.



From: Carl Singer 
Date: Mon, May 30,2011 at 08:01 AM
Subject: Wall posters in shuls - Modim d'Rabbanan

Aaron Lerner <lerner603@...> asked (MJ 60#14):

> Recent posts regarding the wording of Modim d'Rabbanan wall posters in shuls
> brings up a question I have have often wondered about.  Why are there wall
> posters of Modim d'Rabbanan at all?  The Modim d'Rabbanan, just like all other
> daily tefilos, is found in every siddur.  Why is there a need to post a wall
> version of it? 

Perhaps one reason may be as "art" appropriate for posting on a synagogue
wall. Many years ago, in the house that was the Agudah Synagogue in
Cleveland, Ohio (on Euclid Heights Boulevard as I recall), the living room
was the men's section, the dining room was the ezras nashim and the kitchen
was for kiddish. There were four hand-scribed "posters," one of them the
Modim d'Rabbanan, the other three other passages. My paternal grandfather's
brother, Chaim Singer, known as "Chaim Soifer" by his contemporaries, had
created these. 

Carl Singer


From: Stuart Wise  
Date: Mon, May 30,2011 at 01:01 PM
Subject: Wall posters in shuls - Modim d'Rabbanan

In reply to Aaron Lerner <lerner603@...> (MJ 60#14)

My guess is that during chazaras ha-shatz, people, sadly, are doing other
things -- maybe catching up for being late, or finishing up for an early
exit. I know I am guilty for the former (korbonos) or saying tehillim. The
poster is a convenience for such folks, I think.

Stuart Wise


From: Sholom Parnes
Date: Tue, May 31,2011 at 09:01 AM
Subject: What Day Of The Week Will Shabbos Be In Samoa?

Bernard Raab wrote (MJ 60#13) regarding his son's trip to Australia:

> He was prepared to avoid any melacha for the hour or two until nightfall
> (which primarily would mean avoiding use of the lavatory with its electric
> door switch, etc.), but wondered if he would be expected to daven Shabbat
> Mincha and Maariv again. My opinion was yes, based on the following
> reasoning.... 

The psak (halachic ruling) that I heard regarding Jewish astronauts is that
they observe Shabbat based on their point of departure from Earth. We
certainly would not expect them to pray the 3 daily prayers each time their
spaceship completes another orbit! Why should it be any different for those
flying out of Australia on Sunday?

Sholom J Parnes 
Hamelech David 65/3
Efrat 90435 
ISRAEL 972-2-993-2227


From: Bernard Raab 
Date: Tue, May 31,2011 at 01:01 PM
Subject: What Day Of The Week Will Shabbos Be In Samoa?

In MJ 60#13, I was quoted as writing:

>> It is by now well-established that one observes Shabbat on the day that the
>> local community does so. As a practical matter this has negated the whole
>> idea of a halachic dateline which differs from the international dateline,
>> since AFAIK there is no community on Earth which observes Shabbat on any day
>> other than the secular Saturday.

In MJ 60#14, Dr. William Gewirtz responded:
> This reasoning is both logically faulty and according to the two major
> opinions that define a halakhic dateline internally inconsistent.
> First, to assert that we follow the local community, something I agree to in
> practice, means that by necessity we reject BOTH the 90 degree and 180 degree
> opinions. (Consider New Zealand and Hawaii.) The only line base opinion which
> conforms with local community practice is that of R. Dovid Shapiro, who based
> his opinion on a Midrash that when the sun was created, it was 9am in
> Jerusalem. 
> Those mathematically inclined can determine a dateline from this Midrash
> (Parenthetically see the Levush on Birkhat Hakhamah for a possibly related
> psak.) In any case, if you check the various arguments for following local
> custom, few (if any) are based on R. Shapiro's brilliant, innovative but
> far-fetched basis for a halakha.
> Second, those who accept local custom, more likely REJECT the existence of any
> precise line. This opinion was held by R Isser Zalman Meltzer and R.Tzvi
> Pesach Frank in the WWII dispute over yeshiva students in Kobe and Shanghai.
> They, like R. Shaul Natanson, 2 generations earlier, argue against any such
> dateline; establishing local custom does not depend on, nor base itself on, a
> notion of a dateline. It seems to me that many rabbis, including both the
> Chazon Ish and R.Tukatzinsky, tacitly assumed the logical necessity of a
> dateline. That logical necessity is perceived but entirely unsubstantiated.
> Many of the other notes on this subject tend to make that assumption. It is a
> commonly held belief by many halakhists, but not at all a logical or halakhic
> necessity. I am amused that after labeling my input as both "logically faulty
and ... internally inconsistent,"

Dr. Gewirtz goes on to basically confirm it. It seems that every young rabbi
who travels to Australia or the Far East has a lot of fun reviewing the
various opinions and history of the subject, but in the end finds himself
observing Shabbat on the local Saturday, which confirms that the
international dateline is "halacha-lema'aseh" (i.e. the practical halachic
dateline). A real conundrum exists with regard to counting sefirah since
there is no provision for skipping or repeating a day, but unless you do so,
you will end up observing Shavout on the "wrong" day (unless you cross back
before the end of the sefirah period). The paradigmatic event which best
illustrates the confusion over this issue is the one referred to above by
Dr. Gewirtz. During WWII, the entire Mir Yeshiva (some 300 students and 100
faculty and families) as well as many other prominent Rabbonim found refuge
in Kobe, Japan. Although there was a small local community of Jewish
businessmen who were very instrumental in helping the new refugees, it seems
they did not have a regular minyan. The new arrivals were uncertain as to
how to proceed, so they wrote letters to the rabbis of the yishuv in
Palestine. Rabbis Meltzer and Frank, referred to by Dr. Gewirtz, convened a
meeting of rabbis to consider the issue. The Chazon Ish received his own
letter. He was not aware of the letters to the other rabbis, and responded
first with his own opinion, which was that Japan was to the east of the
halachic dateline, and so they should observe Shabbat on the local Sunday.
When the other Rabbonim responded, their p'sak was to observe Shabbat as
observed by the local community, i.e., on Saturday. I have heard that the CI
expressed regret that he had not heard of the letter to the other rabbis and
would not have offered his own contrary opinion if he had known about it.
Nevertheless, his opinion is still referred to and given respect, even
though it has been extensively revised so that his "dateline" does not pass
through land masses. The refugees of Kobe were eventually (within a few
months) moved to Shanghai where they lived out the war, and observed Shabbat
on Saturday without apparent dispute. The Star-K Website's
http://www.star-k.org/kashrus/kk-trav- dateline.htm provides an extensive
review of the various Rabbinic opinions, with much reference to the CI.
Cutting through the confusion, however, it is clear that the
"halacha-lema'aseh" today, is that the international dateline is the
"majority opinion," with the (revised) CI offered as a "minority opinion."
(Ever wonder why the Japanese, who were allied with Germany during WWII,
offered refuge to the Jews of Europe? If you would like to arrange for an
extensively illustrated lecture on this fascinating subject, email me.)

Bernie R.


From: Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz
Date: Mon, May 30,2011 at 10:01 AM
Subject: What Day Of The Week Will Shabbos Be In Samoa?

Michael Frankel <michaeljfrankel@...> wrote (MJ 60#14):

> David Ziants <dziants@...> wrote (MJ 60#13):
>> I found the following map that shows the various halachic opinions:
>> http://www.star-k.org/images/timezones.pdf
>> ..Unlike the civil International Date Line which is a zigzag based on 180
>> degrees longitude from Greenwich in the UK, the halachic date line
>> (according to all opinions) must be a straight longitude from North to
>> South.. 
> This is incorrect.  With all due respect to the star-K, which
> certainly knows better (but then I don't know the context of the star-K
> graphic which was provided by the URL) there are many more halachic opinions,
> and significant opinions, than those listed. I know of at least seventeen
> myself, with lines drawn quite literally all over the map.

The lines drawn on the map are referring to the article at
http://www.star-k.org/kashrus/kk-trav-dateline.htm and refer to specific
statements by the rabbis mentioned in the legend. They are used as an
indicator to what is explained in the article. Opinions not mentioned in the
article are not shown on the map. > the opinions of the Acharonim (late
medieval through present day authorities) > would seem about evenly divided
between straight longitudinal dividers and > those espousing "crooked" lines
bent to avoid running through a land mass. In > that context I also cannot
understand the legend in the provided star-K > graphic which identifies a
straight line of longitude at 90 deg east of > Jerusalem as the "Technical
Chazon Ish" line. I have no idea what a > "technical" line could possibly
mean, but it is a simple fact that the CI - > as recorded in his Qunteros
Sh'monoh Esreh Sho'os - finds the date line at 90 > deg in the sea between
China and Japan, but then deforms it to conform to the > Chinese coast line
as it moves on Northward. The "technical" line is part of an explanation as
to why the Chazon Ish does not use a straight line as the international date
line. To quote the article:

------------------------------ begin quote --------------------------------

The Dateline "technically" runs 90 degrees east of Yerushalayim, where the
time is six hours later. This line is at 125.2E (line B) and runs through
Australia, China, and Russia. However, if the Dateline in reality ran
through the Chinese and Australian continents, the line could run through
Main Street of Changchun, China, and Rawlinna, Australia. Families on one
side of Main Street would recite kiddush while families on the other side
recite havdala. It may be possible for those who want two days of Shabbos to
cross from west to east after shalosh seudos and start Shabbos again. Those
who want to skip almost all of Shabbos could cross Main Street from east to
west and go from sunset Friday to sunset Saturday. However, halacha does not
allow for such a situation. Instead, we consider the eastern land masses of
the Asian and Australian continents tafel, secondary, to the western land
masses of these same continents. Therefore, eastern sections of Australia,
China, and Russia observe the same day for Shabbos as the western sections
(based on Yesod Olam - a student of the Rosh). Therefore, the halachic
Dateline of the Chazon Ish avoids going through land by gerrymandering along
the Russian and Korean coasts, then along the 125.2E longitude line, through
the East China Sea, Philippine Sea, and Indonesia. Finally, the line cuts
eastward, around most of the Australian coast, and south towards Antarctica.
According to the Chazon Ish, Japan, New Zealand, and Fiji are on the same
side of the Dateline as the United States. When the Japanese and New Zealand
residents say it is Saturday, halacha says it is Friday. When they say it is
Sunday, it is halachically Shabbos.

----------------------- end quote ---------------------------------------

Another interesting point is that there are those who talk about getting off
a boat which is on a cruise to Alaska according to those who would follow
the line that "technically" goes through Alaska (the Gesher Hachayim line)
but actually is bent around the Alaska coast. This is similar to the
situation for the east coast of Australia according to the Chazon Ish line.
Another point that would be of interest is what effect the International
Dateline (using any of the opinions) would have in Antarctica. Since it is a
complete continent around the South Pole (unlike the North Polar sea), there
is no way that the bases in Antarctica can avoid the problem of the line
going through an area of the land. However, the scientific bases there could
be treated as if they are "ships" anchored in different areas of the world.
Consider a ship "anchored" on the International Date line with the bow and
stern in "different" days. It would be like an island in the Pacific with
the date line running through it. The date line is "bent" around it as with
the east coast of Australia and the Chazon Ish line.

Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz

End of Volume 60 Issue 15