Volume 61 Number 02 
      Produced: Wed, 25 Jul 2012 12:34:44 EDT

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

A question re: tephillin 
    [Carl Singer]
A Unique Iranian Custom? (2)
    [Martin Stern  Martin Stern]
BASH (4)
    [Yisrael Medad  Martin Stern  Martin Stern  Frank Silbermann]
Mourner's kaddish by a non-mourner 
    [Chaim Casper]
Music During The Nine Days 
    [Martin Stern]
Proliferation of Chumras -- was "Who asked you?" 
    [Carl Singer]


From: Carl Singer <carl.singer@...>
Date: Wed, Jul 25,2012 at 11:01 AM
Subject: A question re: tephillin

On those weekday occasions when I have Pesicha, Hagbah or Gelilah -- I
rewrap my tephillin shel yad around my wrist, that is, off of my hand and
fingers.  I was recently asked why by a fellow congregant -- the primary reason is
because I've always done it the way that I was taught (minhag avosainu) and
the underlying reason (I think) is so that the leather from the tephilin
straps never touch the Torah Aitz.

I was wondering if others have this same minhag -- and also if anyone can
provide further understanding of the underlying reason (if any) for same.

Carl Singer


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Tue, Jul 24,2012 at 04:01 PM
Subject: A Unique Iranian Custom?

Stuart Pilichowski wrote (MJ 61#01):

> Martin Stern wrote (MJ 60#97):

>> Stuart Pilichowski wrote (MJ 60#96):

>>> Nowadays in Israel ... I like to start late if someone has to say kaddish
>>> and we don't have a minyan at the announced time.

>> A case of the tail (kaddish) wagging the dog (tefillah)! I hope Stuart would
>> not keep the minyan waiting for a late kaddish-soger to come -- as our old
>> gabbai used to say, "If you want to be an aveil you have to come on time!"

> Perhaps he has misunderstood me. I'm sorry if I wasn't clear. The
> kaddish-soger / aveil is already there. I'm holding off from starting until we
> get a minyan so kaddish can be recited instead of starting tefillah and
> skipping kaddish because of the latecomers.

Since, strictly speaking, an aveil only has to say one kaddish per day, and
there will be an opportunity to say it after Aleinu (hopefully the minyan
will have assembled by then!), so why hold up the davenning and possibly make
people skip breakfast or be late for work. Is this not tircha detzibbura
[inconveniencing the congregation]?  Perhaps, even worse, the aveil will feel
he must catch up the lost time and rush through the rest of davenning.

Martin Stern

From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Wed, Jul 25,2012 at 04:01 AM
Subject: A Unique Iranian Custom?

Stuart Pilichowski wrote (MJ 61#01):
> Martin Stern wrote (MJ 60#97):

>> When we set the times it is as if we are telling HKBH to expect us then. The
>> Rabbi should know the starting time so why should he keep Him waiting?
> The Rabbi is keeping Him/Her waiting because he's busy with important matters,
> again not because he's watching reruns of Seinfeld. I'm 1000% sure HKBH
> wouldn't mind waiting for the Rabbi to complete his important work (avodas
> hakodesh) even at the risk of delaying tefillah a few minutes. I think HKBH
> would certainly be mevatail (cancel) the respect normally afforded Him/Her.

While I find Stuart's avoidance of gender designation of the Almighty
quaint, I think he has missed my point. It was not that HKBH is, so to
speak, waiting with his super-accurate watch and becoming impatient with us
for keeping Him waiting.

What I was trying to say was that WE should show our respect to Him by being
on time, and He deserved more respect than the rabbi, whatever important holy
work he was doing. The latter might have been an oneis [prevented by
circumstances beyond his control], and so excused from turning up on time,
but that does not apply to the rest of the congregation. Waiting for him,
whatever the circumstances, implies we regard his honour as more important
than that of HKBH - surely this is incorrect.

Martin Stern


From: Yisrael Medad <yisrael.medad@...>
Date: Tue, Jul 24,2012 at 02:01 PM
Subject: BASH

Regarding Carl Singer's story (MJ 61#01) of a Rosh Yeshiva physically moving
someone so others might get to their seats, I repeat something I posted here
many, many years ago:

Our Rav here in Shiloh published a responsum addressing the matter of a
young child crying and interfering with the congregation's kavanna
[concentration - MOD] with the parent in the middle of Amidah.  He clarified
that Amidah means being quiet, not necessarily not moving. And so, if a child is
interfering, the father's - and mother's - responsibility is to stop that, to
pick up the child and walk out, without talking.
Yisrael Medad

From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Tue, Jul 24,2012 at 04:01 PM
Subject: BASH

Stu Pilichowski wrote (MJ 61#01):

> What's wrong with posting a sign or many signs - A  B I G   S I G N - in a
> few languages if necessary, DON'T BLOCK THE DOORWAY DURING TEFILLAH !!!

An excellent idea which I have seen in one shul here in Manchester. The only
problem is that far too many people ignore it.

Martin Stern

From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Tue, Jul 24,2012 at 04:01 PM
Subject: BASH

Carl Singer wrote (MJ 61#01):

> But I also heard a contrasting story -- which I cannot locate / verify via
> search. That is a young man standing and davening in the aisle (rather than in
> front of his shtender) and a Rosh Yeshiva physically moving him so others
> might get to their seats.

Our daf yomi maggid shiur told us that he himself did precisely this one
Rosh Hashanah (or maybe Yom Kippur) in similar circumstances.

Martin Stern

From: Frank Silbermann <frank_silbermann@...>
Date: Tue, Jul 24,2012 at 04:01 PM
Subject: BASH

Stu Pilichowski wrote (MJ 61#01):
> What's wrong with posting a sign or many signs
> - A  B I G   S I G N - in a few languages if necessary,

What do you write on the sign if it's the Shechinah that has been blocking the
doorway?  (E.g. if a davener is not blocking the doorway but would block it were
he to take two steps forward.)

Frank Silbermann           Memphis, Tennessee


From: Chaim Casper <surfflorist@...>
Date: Tue, Jul 24,2012 at 08:01 PM
Subject: Mourner's kaddish by a non-mourner

Martin Stern commented (MJ 61#01):

> Chaim Casper wrote (MJ 60#99):
>> This is a constant challenge to me.  Husbands want to observe the yahrzeits 
>> of their wives' parents.   But they have no hiyyuv (obligation) to do so!   
>> So if I don't give them an aliyah on the Shabbat before the yahrzeit or ask 
>> them to daven on the day of the yahrzeit I will hear about it big time.
> I hope that this does not mean making endless hosafot [supernumerary aliyot],
> which some shuls that have not heard of tircha detzibbura [troubling the
> congregation] seem to delight in doing. Oh! the problems of being a communal
> rabbi with a not-too-learned community.

This is the gabbai's dilemma: How many hosafot (additional Torah aliyot) can one
politely add on a Shabbat morning?   

The Mishnah in Megillah (21a) is very clear that there is a minimum of 7 aliyot
plus the maftir on Shabbat; however, one may add.   The question is, how many?
Neither Rash"i, Tosafot nor RaMBa"M offer an answer.   Tosafot Yom Tov and
Kahati understand the Mishnah to mean unlimited additional aliyot because
everyone has the time to sit in shul (it is Shabbat, a non-work day, except for
the rabbi, gabbai, and the kiddush maker).    

The Shulhan Arukh (OC 282:1) could be understood either according to
Rash"i/Tosafot or Kahati/Mishnah.  Others seem to get cold feet with this
concept of unlimited aliyot.   

The Mishnah Berurah says don't add too many, but he doesn't define "too many".  
The Be'er Hetev quotes the Rasba"z (Shimon ben Zemah Doran, Algiers, 1361 -
1444) who says that since everyone makes the Torah berakhot (before and after
the aliyah) today when they get an aliyah, no additional aliyot should be added
as that would require unnecessary berakhot [during the time of the Gemara, the
first oleh/honoree made the blessing before and the last oleh/honoree made the
blessing after; no one else made a berakhah.  Today, every oleh makes a 
blessing before and a blessing after].  The Be'er Hetev then quotes the
MaHaRa"Sh, Shmuel Yosef Landau from Prague, d.1837 (the son of the
Nodeh B'hudah), who tried to strike a compromise by saying don't do more than a
total of ten aliyot (the required seven, two hosafot and an acharon) plus the

It is this compromise of ten that we have implemented in my community on those
Shabbatot that we have a large crowd (bar mitzvahs and aufrufs, yeshiva
vacation week [end of January] and Yom Tov [this is Miami where people come in
droves for Pesah].  While additional aliyot are theoretically acceptable on
Yom Tov, the custom is to not add any aliyot on a Yom Tov day [see OC 282:1];
however, on chol hamoed Shabbat it would acceptable).  Now, some people
disagree with me and complain it adds too much time to the davening.  My
response is that it is the same Torah reading.  The only things that are being
added are the berakhot and the mi shebayrakh prayers which totals +/- 60 seconds
per oleh.   

But the perception is that we are unduly adding to the length of the davening.
That is what I think Martin is referring to.

B'virkat Torah
Chaim Casper
North Miami Beach, FL


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Wed, Jul 25,2012 at 09:01 AM
Subject: Music During The Nine Days

In his column in the Jewish Press [see 
part-i/2012/07/20/?print or http://goo.gl/pQstq --Mod.], Rabbi J. Simcha Cohen 
Question: Is it prohibited to listen to music in the privacy of one's home
(or car) during the Nine Days?

Answer: This issue has intrigued me for some time. HaGaon HaRav Moshe
Feinstein, zt"l (Igrot Moshe, Yoreh Deah, II:137), rules that it is indeed

He explains that after the destruction of the Beit Hamikdash, our sages
enacted a number of ordinances to manifest a degree of sadness and mourning.
One such decree was the prohibition to listen to music throughout the year.
The Rema (Orach Chayim 560:3) contends that this prohibition applies only to
people who formerly awoke in the morning and retired at night to the
accompaniment of music, i.e., kings. In addition, the Rema notes that those
in attendance at a beit mishteh [lit., house of drinking/merriment, i.e. a party 
--Mod.] were also included in the ban. The Mishnah Berurah (Orach Chayim 560:12) 
explains that this prohibition is due to the presence of wine at a beit mishteh.

All this suggests that a person who did not listen to music on a daily basis
and did not attend a beit mishteh would be permitted to listen to music
year-round. Rav Moshe, however, disagrees with this inference. He contends
that even the Rema would prohibit Jews from attending public musical events
during the year since one derives excessive simcha from such events.

If public music is thus forbidden year-round, what additional music were the
rabbis prohibiting when they enacted the laws against music during the Nine
Days? Perforce, they were prohibiting listening to music even in the privacy
of ones own home (or car).
What do Mail Jewish list members have to say on this?

Martin Stern


From: Carl Singer <carl.singer@...>
Date: Tue, Jul 24,2012 at 05:01 PM
Subject: Proliferation of Chumras -- was "Who asked you?"

Regarding Martin's thoughtful response (MJ 61#01):

> Carl Singer wrote (MJ 60#99):

>> In contrast to welcome suggestions -- there are the "who asked you"
>> exporters of chumrahs.
> While I agree with Carl regarding unsolicited chumrahs, I wonder if anyone
> has thought about why we are witnessing their proliferation nowadays. One
> thought that has occurred to me is that it is a consequence of the way Jews
> from different parts of the world are now living together in mixed
> communities. 
> What had previously been local chumrahs are now becoming known to those
> originating from other areas and so, for those who are particularly careful,
> there is a tendency to go for the "Greatest Common Multiple", i.e. try to be
> yotsei lechol hadei'ot [be correct according to all opinions] and take on
> those of other people.
> This contrasts to the trend in some other sectors to go for the "Least
> Common Factor", i.e. try to find a leniency at all costs.
> Which is the religiously preferable option is open to dispute.
> Any comments?

Perhaps it would be useful first to distinguish between minhagim and

Many communities have a long standing mesorah [tradition] and related minhagim.
 I would imagine that if time travel were available, that if a Yekke could
travel back 100 or 200 years, he or she would find that many minhagim --
especially those related to davening -- have not changed.  A study of older
siddurim which some scholars on this list have from time to time
undertaken, may point out limited differences but (change the focus)
really might also point out the consistency of the mesorah.  And this same
can be said for many other Torah communities.

However, many of us live in heterogeneous frum communities.  We've even
intermarried -- as previously confessed to, I am a Polack by birth and am
married to a Litvak.  Seriously, heterogeneous congregations and
communities establish minhagim rather than carry on a tradition -- what

Now chumrahs are to me a different situation.  We tend to speak in extremes
-- Machmir (STRICT!) and Maykel (LENIENT) -- when actually these extremes
are not necessarily appropriate.   For example, if Plony A waits 6 hours
between meat and milk and Plony B waits into the 6th hour -- is A stricter
(more Machmir) than B -- I'd say no.    Yes, A waits longer than B -- can't
argue with this linear function -- but B may be a machmir who simply
follows a different mesorah or tradition.   One might even overstate that
should he wait 6 hours then he'd be a ba'al gaaveh in certain communities.
To carry this to an absurdity -- since the longest halachic hour is 72
minutes (in summer) then 6 halachic hours are 432 minutes = 7 hours and 24
minutes (clock time) -- so should a real machmir wait that long?

There are many who hold by Rabbainu Tam's cheshbon (measurement /
calculation) of halachik times -- these times are a bit later than those of
others.   So if you hold by Rabbainu Tam you might make Havdalah later than
someone who holds by another source.  Nonetheless -- the same people who insist
that Rabbainu Tam's halachik times are to be used, refuse to use Rabbainu Tam's
pronouncements (some would say leniencies) regarding the use of glass cookware.
 They claim that his glass dishes are different than our glass dishes.

So why the proliferation of chumrahs?   My conjectures:

1 - Mesorah.  This is fine in my eyes -- one follows one's family's or
community's traditions -- and this may be seen as a chumrah by others.

2 - Personality / margin of safety.   Some people feel driven by their
personality to be extra safe -- so if 9:00 is the posted time for
Havdalah, then 9:10 is a better time.  Of course others want to hold on to
Shabbos for as long as they can.

3 - Competition / peer pressure.  It is not far-fetched to see our 9:00
Havdalah person (per his mesorah) waiting until 9:10 because of
non-halachik reasons -- peer pressure,  competition, wanting to fit in.

Take another example -- in a city with a kosher eruv, some people choose
to wear their talisim rather than carry.  They will not carry seforim, etc.
Is it that they don't trust the eruv -- or is it that they feel that
they're going above and beyond by not using the eruv?  Or is it that they
feel that certain members of the community will have a lower opinion of them if
they use the eruv?

4 - Politics -- I won't elaborate here.

Getting back to the "who told you" -- unless one is involved in education
-- perhaps removing a stumbling block from someone who is unaware -- then
the "exporting" of chumrahs is not appreciated by this author.

I recall about a decade ago asking on a local mail list for recommendations
re: brand of electric razor (I was looking for a replacement).  Someone
instead sent me a treatise on the halachas of shaving.  Being that I had by
that time been shaving for over 4 decades, I was a bit amused.  What
made it even more amusing to me was that this (I'm sure) well-meaning
individual was female.

I am blessed with many sources of information -- my sons are, thankfully,
more learned and perhaps brighter than dear old dad; it has been my good
fortune for decades to sit next to a true talmid chochim who both in
scholarship and midos sets a fine example and is always accessible re:
my questions; the Rabbi of my Congregation, likewise, is both
knowledgeable and a fine person; and there is a revered Gadol haDor who
is only a telephone call away should I need.

Given these resources -- exporters are seldom welcome.


End of Volume 61 Issue 2