Volume 60 Number 55 
      Produced: Thu, 29 Dec 2011 11:20:25 EST

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

    [Ari Trachtenberg]
Brouhaha about seating (3)
    [Martin Stern  Stuart Pilichowski  Frank Silbermann]
Chavivut hamitsvot (2)
    [Aryeh Frimer  David Ziants]
Hearing women sing 
    [Frank Silbermann]
Jewish Observer 
    [Menashe Elyashiv]
Origin of the name Bryna 
    [Yisrael Medad]
Rav Soloveitchik's standing during khazarot ha-shatz 
    [Dr. William Gewirtz]
    [Yisrael Medad]
Yet another conundrum (2)
    [Rubin  Menashe Elyashiv]
Yotser or uvorei choshech...?  (4)
    [Elazar M. Teitz]


From: Ari Trachtenberg <trachten@...>
Date: Wed, Dec 28,2011 at 11:35 AM
Subject:  Administravia

Dear Mail-Jewish members,

   Shamash, the listserv for M-J, has informed us that they will be shutting
their services down as of December 31, 2011.  As a result, we have set up a Google
group (http://groups.google.com/group/mail-jewish) to handle the mail-jewish
e-mail list, and you will all be getting an invitation to join this new group.

   If you accept this invitation, you will continue to receive mail-jewish as 
before, but it will come from Google instead of from Shamash.  Submissions and 
moderation procedures have not changed (i.e. send submissions to <mj@...>).

   Many thanks for your patience during this transition.

   The moderation team.


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Tue, Dec 27,2011 at 04:01 PM
Subject: Brouhaha about seating

Shmuel Himelstein <himels@...> wrote (MJ 60#54):

> Any male who flies even moderately frequently has probably been a witness to
> a Charedi man asking to be moved because his seating allocation is next to a
> woman. I have seen other men change places with these men to solve the
> problem. But I wonder about this arrangement. Is one's blood redder than the
> other's? Why would a Charedi man allow a non-Charedi man to switch places?
> Isn't that placing "a stumbling block before the blind"?

According to strict halachah, the only woman next to whom one might not be
allowed to sit is one's own wife at certain times (Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh
Deiah 195,5), although many people, both male and female, and not specifically
chareidi Jews, feel uncomfortable sitting next to a stranger of the opposite
sex. However, since there is no halachic prohibition, asking another man to 
take one's place next to a woman is not a case of placing "a stumbling block
before the blind."

Martin Stern

From: Stuart Pilichowski <stupillow@...>
Date: Tue, Dec 27,2011 at 04:01 PM
Subject: Brouhaha about seating

In reply to Shmuel Himelstein (MJ 60#54):

Seems to me a simple case of the Charedi man acting on a chumrah he practices
and he's pretty sure (chazakah?) the fellow he's asking doesn't practice.


From: Frank Silbermann <frank_silbermann@...>
Date: Wed, Dec 28,2011 at 02:01 AM
Subject: Brouhaha about seating

In reply to Shmuel Himelstein (MJ 60#54):

Their reasoning might be that, because of their extreme segregation practices,
haredim are more sensitive to sexual stimulation than others more callused.

Frank Silbermann


From: Aryeh Frimer <frimera@...>
Date: Tue, Dec 27,2011 at 04:01 PM
Subject: Chavivut hamitsvot

Mark Steiner asks (MJ 60#54) how Rav Soloveitchik's practice concerning hazarat
hashatz (standing "at attention") fits with Ashkenazic practice and specifically
"How do the kohanim wash their hands and walk to the duchan?"  

That's Tsorekh haTefilla [a necessary part of the prayer service - MOD] and
hence not a hefsek [interruption - MOD]. The same could be said for opening the
Aron - though if everyone held like the Rav, it could be that we wouldn't open
the Aron during Hazarat haShatz.

Aryeh Frimer (from home)

From: David Ziants <dziants@...>
Date: Wed, Dec 28,2011 at 04:01 PM
Subject: Chavivut hamitsvot

Mark Steiner (MJ 60#54) wrote:

> Rav Soloveitchik's practice concerning hazarat hashatz (standing "at 
> attention") is by now known to many. I would like to point out, 
> however, that it does not seem to have any source in actual practice 
> in Ashkenaz. For example, the ark is opened and closed many times 
> during hazarat hashatz on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. Who is 
> supposed to open the ark if everybody is standing at attention? How do 
> the kohanim wash their hands and walk to the duchan?

I agree that the practice of standing at attention during hazarat hashatz 
is not widely adopted, but if a congregation were to adopt this, then 
there are solutions to both examples given by Mark Steiner.

Kohanim could wash their hands before chazarat hashatz and stand on the 
duchan throughout the hazara. They would just need to turn around to 
face the people at the appropriate time, like the shaliach tzibbur 
[prayer leader] does if he is a kohen.

If the ark is on or next to the duchan, then the kohen who is standing 
closest can do the opening or closing. Precluding this, then one or two 
members of the congregation will stand next to the ark the whole time 
and do all the opening and closing.

David Ziants
Ma'aleh Adumim, Israel


From: Frank Silbermann <frank_silbermann@...>
Date: Tue, Dec 27,2011 at 07:01 PM
Subject: Hearing women sing

Shmuel Himelstein <himels@...> wrote (MJ 60#54):

> And as an afterthought: based on the "ruling" (?) of a non-Charedi Israeli
> Hesder rabbi that it is better to go before a firing squad than to hear a
> woman sing, would the same apply to sitting next to a woman on a plane?

It might not apply if there is nothing in the Shulchan Aruch about men
sitting next to women.  But is it indeed better to go up before a firing squad
than to hear a woman sing?  What would be the halachic ramifications
of this principle?  If you had the chance to save a Jewish prisoner of war
from a firing squad, but in the process of escape he would hear a woman sing,
should you refraining from taking action?

This may be an example of a kind of rabbinical rhetoric I've heard before where
a rabbi says "this is better than that" when in truth all one could claim is
that "in one respect, this is better than that."

For example, the RAMBAM said that it is worse to violate a rabbinical law
than a Torah law.  That is, it is worse to be a Karaite who willfully violates
the Oral Law (which violates the Torah command to listen to the Sages) than
to be a student of the Rabbis who accidentally violates a Torah law.
But in the _general_ context, the statement is blatantly false -- otherwise,
the Rabbis made us worse off when they put "fences around the Torah"!

Likewise, I've recently read that the Netziv declared it was worse to be an
atheist than to become a Christian or Muslim -- because the latter at least
still believes that there is One who watches his actions.  And yet, other rabbis
have told me that the reverse is true -- because it is easier for a Jewish
atheist or his children to return.  Is this an actual difference of opinion? 
Surely, a comprehensive evaluation of two alternatives cannot result in each
being worse overall than the other!

So how can a rabbi make a general statement omitting the "in this respect"
qualification without violating the dictum "distance yourself from falsehood"?

Frank Silbermann           Memphis, Tennessee


From: Menashe Elyashiv <Menashe.Elyashiv@...>
Date: Wed, Dec 28,2011 at 04:01 AM
Subject: Jewish Observer

Does any reader know why it ceased to appear?


From: Yisrael Medad <ybmedad@...>
Date: Tue, Dec 27,2011 at 07:01 PM
Subject: Origin of the name Bryna

Batya Medad <ybmedad@...> wrote:

> Brown in Hebrew is "chume," so "Nechama" or "Chamutal" would fit.

a) Nechama comes from the root "to comfort"
b) Hamutal is problematic as the Hebrew root chet-mem-tet could mean a sand
lizard (Leviticus 11)

and there's this:

*1. Bryna* as a girl's name is a variant of *Breena*,*Brianna* (Irish, Gaelic,
Celtic) and *Brina* (Slavic), and the meaning of Bryna is "high, noble, exalted;

and this:

*2. The meaning of the name Bryna is * Strong One
*The origin of the name Bryna is *Irish
*Alternate spellings:* Brynna
*Notes:* Female form of Bryan

and this:

3. Welsh origin meaning hill

4. The name Breina, and many variants such as BREINDEL:YIDDISH FOR 
BRAUNE (BROWN) or from BRUNHILD: German for fighter in armor, BRINA 
- brown or from Slavic, meaning protector or, finally, BRYNA, a variant 
of BRUNE. The name may also stem from BRIAN, Celtic or Gaelic, meaning 
strength or nobly-born or one who is eloquent

All of which mean, well, the matter is difficult.



From: Dr. William Gewirtz <wgewirtz@...>
Date: Tue, Dec 27,2011 at 08:01 PM
Subject: Rav Soloveitchik's standing during khazarot ha-shatz

A number of recent submissions have noted the lack of precedent for the Rav
ztl's minhag of standing during khazarot ha-shatz. Undoubtedly, the rav was well
aware of the lack of precedent and the occasional need for various members of
the tzibbur to move around during khazarot ha-shatz. I doubt he behaved this way
because he thought that it was traditional as much as it fitted with his view of
the importance of khazarot ha-shatz in our day when the normal reason to be
motzi those who cannot pray is unlikely to be relevant. As others can explain
better than I, the Rav often spoke of the difference between tefillah be-Tzibur
and tefilat Ha-Tzibbur and attached unique importance to both. Since only the
shaliakh tzibbur, with the congregation attentively listening, can accomplish
the latter, the Rav stood to demonstrate the point.

I believe many can give other examples of the Rav's unique behaviors that attach
to his insights as opposed to the more regular source of his actions that were
rooted in tradition / minhag. I suspect here he was trying to emphasize the
unique importance he attached to khazarot ha-shatz - one must remain attentive.
His actions - standing as the khazzan does - indicated the tzibbur's
participation in tefillat Ha-Tzibbur.

I know of a few other actions of the Rav that have no precedent in prior
practice, but resulted from how he understood a particular concept or mitzvah or
halakhic position. Note his unique/unprecedented observance of Rabbeinu Tam's
zemanim, as I understand it adjusting an "akhtel" using depression angles.


From: Yisrael Medad <ybmedad@...>
Date: Tue, Dec 27,2011 at 07:01 PM
Subject: Shoeless

Robert Schoenfeld asked (MJ 60#54):

2) Was there a custom for the removal of shoes before entering the Bais 
Hamiqdosh (Temple) or even synagogues?

As for shoeless, try this:

and this:

Rambam (Hilchos Nesi'as Kapayim 14:6): One of the enactments of Ezra 
was that Kohanim may not ascend the Duchan while wearing shoes. Rather, 
they must be barefoot.


From: Rubin <rubin20@...>
Date: Tue, Dec 27,2011 at 05:01 PM
Subject: Yet another conundrum

Stephen Phillips <admin@...> posed the conundrum (MJ 60#54):

> Under what circumstances would you see a husband and wife, who are living
> together under the same roof, such that on the second day of Yom Tov the 
> husband puts on Tefillin and the wife davens a Musaf Amidah for Yom Tov?

An Israeli who married a Chutz La'aretz girl in EY, with plans to settle in 
Chutz La'aretz! She has no plans of settling in EY, and he has no obligation 
to start keeping two days because he only 'plans' on moving to Chutz Laretz but
has not yet done so.

From: Menashe Elyashiv <Menashe.Elyashiv@...>
Date: Wed, Dec 28,2011 at 04:01 AM
Subject: Yet another conundrum

In reply to Stephen Phillips (MJ 60#54):

They got married within less than a year before Yom Tov. He is an Israeli, 
out of Israel for a short time, planning to come back soon. Therefore, the 
last day of Yom Tov is a weekday. She is a local, of course on her way to 
Israel, but still considered a non - Israeli. Therefore, she observes Yom 


From: Rabbi Meir Wise <Meirhwise@...>
Date: Tue, Dec 27,2011 at 07:01 PM
Subject: Yotser or uvorei choshech...?

In response to Martin Stern (MJ 60#54) about darkness:

There are two opinions.

Those who say that darkness is the absence of light:

1. Ibn Ezra and the Redak on the posuk (Isaiah 45:7),
2. Rabbenu Saadia Gaon Emunot VeDeot hamaamar harishon perek gimmel  
(page 56-7 in the Kapach edition),
3. The Raavad in Emumah Ramah (ikar hashishi amud 103),
4. The Rambam Moreh Nevuchim chelek gimmel perek yud,
5. Derashot HaRan 3 page 9b
and others

Then there are rishonim who explain that darkness is a creation:

1. See TB chagiga 12a according to the hagahot HaRadal (although the  
hagahot Maharatz Chayes learns the opposite),
2. The Zohar to shemot 18b teruma 155a and vayakhel 210a.
3. Also look at the Torah Temima to bereshit 1 note 18
4. The Bechor Shor to bereishit 1:2
5. The Rokeach to Isaiah 45:7
6. The Ramban in his intro to Shir Hashirim
7. The Gaon MiVilna in Avnei Eliyahu on the blessing yotzer or and in  
Aderet Eliyahu on bereishit 1:4.
8. The Chasam Sofer on Bechukosai on the verse natati shalom baaretz
9. The Netziv in haamek davar to bereishit 1:5
and others.

I'm working on proving that there are two types of darkness (one - the  
absence of light; the other - a creation) which will make peace between  
the two camps, but my books are on the high seas, so you'll have to wait.

Kol tuv

Rabbi Wise
In sunny Ramat Gan

From: Bernard Raab <beraab@...>
Date: Tue, Dec 27,2011 at 09:01 PM
Subject: Yotser or uvorei choshech...?

Martin Stern wrote (MJ 60#54):
> I have always been rather puzzled by the verse from Isaiah (45,7) that
> commences "yotser or uvorei choshech ... [who forms light and creates
> darkness]" which we quote every morning after barechu at the beginning of
> the first brachah before kriat shema. The essential difference, as I
> understand it, between the verbs yotser and borei are that the former means
> creation of something from a pre-existing entity whereas the latter means
> creation of something from nothing. This phrase presents several
> difficulties:
> i.   According to our usual understanding, light is an entity and darkness
> is merely its absence, so what can it mean that darkness is created while
> light is formed (presumably from it)? (This might be related to the way the
> verses at the beginning of Bereishit (1,2-3) "vechoshech al pnei tehom ...
> vayomer Elokim yehi or ..." describe creation.)
> ii.  If light is created from darkness, why is this mentioned first (unlike
> in Bereishit)? Surely the two phrases should then be in the reverse order
> (i.e. "borei choshech veyotser or ...")?
> One idea that did occur to me was that these problems might be explained by
> reference to the current big bang theory of creation. According to it, all
> matter was initially concentrated in a very small space which would have
> generated a tremendous gravitational field, so strong that nothing, in
> particular light, could escape. Hence it would make sense to refer to this
> as the creation of darkness though the light was there but could not be
> observed. Only after the initial expansion would the gravitational field be
> sufficiently reduced for the light to escape so one could say that it was
> formed from the darkness. However, since it was in potential (but
> unobservable) existence previously, it can reasonably be mentioned first 
> hence the way this verse is phrased. 
> Furthermore, this might give us a way of understanding the nature of the "or
> ganuz" [light hidden away] that we are told will be brought out for the
> tzaddikim [righteous] at the end of days.
> Of course this is pure speculation -- what do others think of it?

Martin suggests an intriguing way to understand the "light-from-darkness"
phenomenon. It seems very well accepted today that "black holes" proliferate in
the cosmos, the significant feature of which is that light is trapped, unable to
escape. Although the Big Bang theory is still dominant, I wonder how it can
survive the currently accepted cosmology, which posits that the universe is
expanding at an ever-increasing rate, which means that the initial condition,
i.e., the "big bang", will never be repeated. This means that there was a unique
process of "creation", with no suggestion of what might have preceded  it. Since
science is loath to postulate an all-powerful "creator", able to create matter
(or energy) from nothingness, I imagine that we are a long way from a
fully-realized cosmological theory. Until then, the Creator concept would seem
to be a good (perhaps the best) option. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Bernie R.

From: Elazar M. Teitz <remt@...>
Date: Wed, Dec 28,2011 at 07:01 AM
Subject: Yotser or uvorei choshech...? 

In discussing the phrase "yotser or uvorei choshech"  [who forms light and
creates darkness], Martin Stern (MJ 60#54) notes that this is not in consonance
with our usual understanding that light is an entity and darkness is merely its

The Brisker Rav (Rav Yitzchak Zev Soloveitchik, also known as "Reb Velvel")
commented that proof that choshech is not merely the absence of light would be a
situation of neither light nor darkness.  This, he said, is the interpretation
of the final stanza of  Vaihi Bachatzi Halaila, said towards the end of the
Pesach seder:   "Kareiv yom asher hu lo yom v'lo laila"  {Hasten the day which
is neither daytime nor nighttime].  Thereby, "Hoda ki l'cha yom af l'cha laila"
[make known that the day is Yours and the night, too, is Yours].  By bringing
about a time which is neither day nor night, Hashem would make known that both
day and night, light and darkness, are His creations, and that the latter is not
merely the absence of the former.


From: David Ziants <dziants@...>
Date: Wed, Dec 28,2011 at 05:01 PM
Subject: Yotser or uvorei choshech...?

In reply to Martin Stern <md.stern@...> (MJ 60#54):

Try and understand the pasuk in metaphysical terms, as only then does it make 
sense. Hashem was able to "form" "light" because "light" is the essence of G-
dliness. On the other hand, "dark" is the evil that Hashem created in order to 
give mankind free choice to eventually correct the world, so that all darkness 
will then become eliminated. Thus the "or haganuz."

I think that what I wrote is the approach I learnt from the Ramchal in Derech 

David Ziants


End of Volume 60 Issue 55