Volume 60 Number 87
      Produced: Wed, 06 Jun 2012 11:10:30 EDT

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

Bracha for Hallel
    [Martin Stern]
May a woman wear a tallit? (4)
    [Bill Bernstein   Jeanette  Friedman   Michael Rogovin  Steven
Microphone/Voice Amplifier for Shabbat Use
    [Yisrael Medad]
Should non-Orthodox 'rabbis' be paid by Israel?
    [Martin Stern]
The perils of Modern Hebrew
    [Martin Stern]


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Sun, Jun 3,2012 at 06:01 AM
Subject: Bracha for Hallel

Ben Katz M.D. wrote (MJ 60#86):

> Interestingly enough, when the Yemenites say "incomplete" hallel
> they also leave out a few more things than we do.

Perhaps Ben could enlighten us on what passages are omitted according to
the Yemenite practice. Are the Baladi and Shami rites the same in this

Martin Stern


From: Bill Bernstein <billbernstein@...>
Date: Fri, Jun 1,2012 at 06:01 PM
Subject: May a woman wear a tallit?

Martin Stern (MJ 60#86) asks about a woman wearing a talis and quotes a
rabbi to the effect that "since according to Jewish law there is nothing
wrong with a woman wearing a tallit, why are women not permitted to wear
a tallit at the kotel?"

Perhaps I am then reading incorrectly the Rema on Shulchan Oruch Siman
Yud Zayin (17), Sif Beis (2), who writes that although women are allowed
to wear tzitzis and make a bracha on them, nonetheless it appears
like yuhara (arrogance) and they should not do so ("ein lahen lilvosh
tzitzis"). That certainly sounds like something wrong with the practice
in Jewish law to me.

Bill Bernstein
Nashville TN.

From:  Jeanette  Friedman  <FriedmanJ@...>
Date: Sun, Jun 3,2012 at 12:01 PM
Subject: May a woman wear a tallit?

In response to Martin Stern's question (MJ 60#86):

Rashi's daughters are recorded as having worn a tallit. Famous rabbis
like Rabbeinu Tam and the Rambam also permitted it. It was only in
medieval times that the Maharam Rottenburg ruled that women not wear a
tallit. The Rema also stated that it's an act of arrogance for a woman
to wear a tallit. The Maharil and the Targum Yonatan Ben Uziel both
state that the tallit is a male garment and so a woman shouldn't wear

Today, whether or not women should wear tallit is still being debated.
Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik has said that the woman's intention is what
makes the difference. If the woman is wearing the tallit to bring her
closer to G-d, then it's perfectly alright. However, some women wear
a tallit just to make a political point, usually about traditional
gender status and roles (that they can be just like men) - in this case,
it is not permitted. I guess you could ask yourself if you're still
wearing the tallit to pray even when there is nobody around to see you.
There are still some orthodox rabbis who say that women should not wear
tallit. However, in modern orthodoxy today it is generally accepted that
women are wearing tallit for the right reasons, especially since it has
become more common and a woman is less likely to stand out for doing so.


Rabbi Moshe Feinstein, another contemporary orthodox rabbi, has said
that any woman who wants to do a mitzvah can do it and be rewarded for
it, even if she's not obligated to do it, although he does say that if
she's wearing a four-cornered garment it should have tzitzit and that
it should be different from a man's garment. I think by looking at the
above-mentioned photo, you can tell that women's tallit are different
from men's. Other rabbis, such as Rabbi Yomtob ben Yisrael Alghazi and
Rabbi Yisrael Yaaqob Alghazi, have encouraged and admired women who
wear a tallit because they inspire men to be even more strict in their

From: Michael Rogovin <mrogovin118@...>
Date: Mon, Jun 4,2012 at 12:01 PM
Subject: May a woman wear a tallit?

Martin Stern asks in MJ 60#86 for opinions on whether a woman
wearing a tallit gadol is an infraction of the prohibition of "lo
tilbash" (cross-gender dressing) since this garment is perceived as a
specifically-male one, and whether insisting on wearing a tallit gadol
in public raises the suspicion that the woman is more interested in
some sort of 'religious' assertivism, the complete antithesis of the
traditional Jewish attitude of "kol kevod bat melekh penima."

First, the initial assertion is circular. It is only an infraction if
the garment is a male garment and it is only a male garment if only men
can wear it (one can continue going around in circles on that one). So
in principle I would disagree. Having said that, I don't know when the
current style of black or blue stripes on a white garment came into
vogue, but it has been worn pretty exclusively by men. Interestingly,
some Reform and Conservative women wear more colorful and creative
designs, which I would argue are more feminine and distinguishable from
the male counterpart (some men also wear more creative and colorful
talitot gedolot too, but still distinguishable from the ones many
women wear). Other than a concern about imitating the practices of
non-Orthodox movements, ISTM (FWIW) that such a talit gadol for a women
would not only be permissible, it would be preferable. I do think that
women wearing male-style kippot and talit gadol comes close to the line
of Martin's concern.

As for his second issue, there may or may not be a generally-accepted
value, but it is not a halacha. While some may find their sensibilities
challenged, since this is no halachic violation, the state ought
not prohibit it. I agree that the actions of women of the wall are
often provocative and I do not agree with them. One can condemn such
actions and protest them. It is wrong to make them illegal as a
matter of secular law. Indeed, in general, the Knesset should refrain
from enforcing religious laws, especially when there is disagreement
within the halachic community as to the scope of the halachic issue in

Finally, I also hope we can all agree that no matter what the women
do, verbal and physical assaults are prohibited and should be severely
punished by the legal system.

Kol tuv,

From: Steven Oppenheimer <steven.oppenheimer@...>
Date: Mon, Jun 4,2012 at 10:01 PM
Subject: May a woman wear a tallit?

Martin Stern (MJ 60#86) raises the question as to whether it permitted
*al pi halacha* for women to wear a tallit. He specifically references
the "problems" that have occurred in the Women's section of the Kotel.

HaRav Moshe Feinstein z"l wrote a responsum 36 years ago about this
issue (see Iggerot Moshe O. Ch 4:49). Rav Moshe explains that according
to the law it is permissible, but only for women who have a strong
desire to observe this mitzvah even though they are not commanded to do
so. Unfortunately, he observes, many women have an alternative agenda to
try and change what they perceive to be a gender bias in the observant
community. If that is the case, it would be forbidden for them, as
that would constitute an act of *kefirah* (heresy). Furthermore, the
tallit must be distinctively different from the tallitot worn by men
and as such would not be a violation of *lo yihye kli gever al isha*.
(Tefillin, however, would not be permitted.)

Most folks have difficulty observing the mitzot that they are commanded
to do. One might ask why some people insist on doing mitzvot that they
are not commanded to do.

I do not know what is truly in the hearts of the women who come to pray
or gather at the Kotel. However, given the activism and protests, I can
only wonder about their true motivation.

Steven Oppenheimer, D.M.D.

From: Yisrael Medad <yisrael.medad@...>
Date: Sat, Jun 2,2012 at 03:01 PM
Subject: Microphone/Voice Amplifier for Shabbat Use

I do not recall seeing any reference on this list recently to a fairly
new technical Halachic development, but, seeing a report that the
ShabbatKol has been used now at a Shavuot Tikkun session at Tzavta
in Tel Aviv and a Hillel House event that same night at Jerusalem's
Cinematheque, I thought the list should be alerted.

Rabbi Rosen's articles are here:
and here:

and the basic elements for permissability are:

   - The system uses only transistors, without any glowing (or
"burning") elements at all.

   - No electric current is ever manually turned on. It is turned on by
a Shabbat timer, and once it is on the current flows continuously in the

   - The microphone is not "dynamic" (creating a new current when
it operates) but is based on the use of a condenser (there is
a continuous current which is modified by the sound of speech:
<http://www.zomet.org.il/Eng/?CategoryID=199&ArticleID=63&Page=>). This
is essentially the same type of microphone as used in hearing aids. All
prominent halachic authorities permit the use of hearing aids on Shabbat
(including speaking directly into the ear of somebody fitted with such a

   - The systems are used for speech only and not for music. According
to halachic rulings, an amplifier is not considered a "musical

   - All the lights and displays are disconnected, as are internal
   electronic circuits which are modified by the speaker's voice.

   - The system is locked, without any possibility of changing the
settings on Shabbat. The on-off switches on the microphones are also

   - In case of a disturbance or intolerable noise, the system
can be turned off using a *gramma* (indirect action) switch:
<http://www.zomet.org.il/Eng/?CategoryID=199&ArticleID=55&Page=> It
cannot be turned on again, since the only way to reset the system is
with a special key held by a person of authority, such as the rabbi.
Thus, there is no need to fear that someone will attempt to fix the
system on Shabbat.

   - As is true of many modern devices, there is no fear of the
appearance of Shabbat desecration, since "everybody knows that the
system was set up in advance."

Since the list members include those with technical knowledge of physics
and electricity, if there are any comments, the contributions would be

Yisrael Medad

From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Sun, Jun 3,2012 at 05:01 AM
Subject: Should non-Orthodox 'rabbis' be paid by Israel?

This response to the Jerusalem Post editorial (Recognizing rabbis,
Editorial, 3 June) on the recent decision to pay Reform and Masorti
(Conservative) 'rabbis' in Israel from state funds might provide a
thread for further discussion on Mail Jewish.

The editorial text can be found here:

I fully support the editor's position that "the Jeffersonian separation
of Church and State is universally applicable. Its goal is to protect
the integrity of both religion and politics ... The state has no
business interfering with religious autonomy ... only religious
movements should decide who is a rabbi and who is not."

My only caveat is that the Reform and Masorti movements movements should
organise themselves separately following the model of the various
Christian denominations that are recognised by the state. If they define
clearly their criteria for such personal status matters as conversion,
marriage etc., they should be free to do so. This would avoid "the
mixing of religion and politics [which] has created absurd situations
[where] secular courts have found themselves issuing decisions on purely
religious matters".

There would be a disadvantage in that membership in the Reform or the 
Masorti millet {see
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Millet_(Ottoman_Empire)#Jews --Mod.} would
not imply automatic recognition as being a Jew in the eyes of the
Orthodox, but this is a necessary price to pay. It could be avoided,
of course, if they were willing to grant "Orthodoxy a monopoly over
marriages, even if this discriminates against Israelis who are not
Jewish according to Orthodox criteria" in order to avoid it.

Their response to this challenge would make clear whether they really
are interested in upholding the unity of the Jewish people or are more
concerned with furthering their own sectarian agendas.

Martin Stern


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Tue, Jun 5,2012 at 05:01 AM
Subject: The perils of Modern Hebrew

Last night in Daf Yomi we learned the Mishnah (Niddah 17b) "Mashal
mashlu chachamim b'ishah - hacheder vehaprozdor veha'aliyah ..." and
the accompanying Gemara that refers to a "lul [literally, skylight]"
connecting the "aliyah" with the "prozdor".

The Maggid Shiur understood the word "prozdor" in its Modern Hebrew
sense and tried to explain the concept of the "lul" in that context,
which made little anatomical sense. In this context, the translation of
Rav Hai Gaon and the Arukh as the area in modern medical terminology
known as the vestibule, which is the word's literal meaning, makes more
sense. The "aliyah" would then be the urinary bladder, which 'sits'
above the cheder, which would then refer to the whole internal female
genital tract, and the "lul" would be the urethra, which also opens
into the vestibule. This all fits much better with the mashal of the
Mishnah and Gemara, and the distinction between dam tahor and dam tamei
depending on where it is found, than any other explanation.

Languages, by their very nature, change over time, as anyone reading
Shakespeare, who wrote only 400 years ago, will be aware. For example,
he uses the word "want" to mean "lack" whereas nowadays we use it to
mean "desire", and not realising this can lead to misunderstanding his

Perhaps this is an example of the danger of using modern meanings of
words when reading texts from over a thousand years ago.

Martin Stern


End of Volume 60 Issue 87