Volume 61 Number 10 
      Produced: Sun, 12 Aug 2012 05:28:41 EDT

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

Concubinage revival? (4)
    [Keith Bierman  Yisrael Medad  Martin Stern  Martin Stern]
Gezerat shmad 
    [Martin Stern]
Ketoret revisited 
    [Martin Stern]
Meat after Tisha B'Av 
    [Art Werschulz]
No Mechitza - What to do? (3)
    [Joseph Kaplan  Wendy Baker  Stuart Wise]
Ritual handwashing after childbirth 
    [Leah S. R. Gordon]
Rushing out of shul (was Meat after Tisha B'Av) 
    [Martin Stern]
Waiting for the Rabbi (3)
    [Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz  Perry Zamek  Martin Stern]
Why the dagesh? 
    [Martin Stern]


From: Keith Bierman <khbkhb@...>
Date: Fri, Aug 10,2012 at 02:01 PM
Subject: Concubinage revival?

Robert Rubinoff wrote (MJ 61#09):

> I've heard this lots of times, and I find it very puzzling.  I've never
> heard of any other decree that had a time limit (except the one requiring women 
> who inherit land in Eretz Yisrael because their father had no sons to marry 
> within their tribe, but that's not a Rabbinic decree).  Does anyone know of an 
> actual source for this?

I don't have the text of the original takana. However, at the shiur there
were copies which purported to be accurate which had a fixed date (which
has passed). Now, the Rabbi who gave the shiur wasn't pushing for the ban's
reversal (in fact, he argued against it), but he wanted us to go through
sources and find basis for arguments either way.

It was more than two decades ago, I don't recall the name of the Rav (just
that it was while I was in Israel) or even the precise yeshivah (it wasn't
mine, I was just visting a friend).

So I would also be interested in precise sources, if anyone has them at
hand. Neither my nor my shul's library has the original text.

From: Yisrael Medad <yisrael.medad@...>
Date: Sat, Aug 11,2012 at 06:01 PM
Subject: Concubinage revival?

Martin asserts (MJ 61#09):

> most men would not be in a position to support multiple wives,

a) the object of many wives is actually to increase an ability to maintain
a household, at least when the practice began -  more hands that work.

b) in today's social welfare societies, I do not get the impression that many
relationships and many children has been an impediment.

Yisrael Medad

From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Sun, Aug 12,2012 at 02:01 AM
Subject: Concubinage revival?

Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz wrote (MJ 61#09):

> One point that should be made is that the entire concept of
> polygyny/concubinage seems to have been set up in order to control what
> people were doing anyway or for "sha'as hadechak" (emergency conditions).
> It seems to be very similar to the case of "Yefas Toar" (woman captured
> in war) where the Torah implies that it should not be done, but if it
> were to be done, at least do it this way.
> Whenever multiple wives are explicitly mentioned, trouble will ensue.
> Consider Avraham, Sara, and Hagar. Consider the tension between Rachel
> and Leah and the trouble it led to between Yoseph and his brothers.
> Consider King David and the trouble with Avshalom (the son of a Yefas
> Toar). In any case, the ideal has always been a monogamous couple.
> The gemara mentions cases of difficult marriages ...
> In the discussion of an infertile couple, the discussion is about the
> idea of the couple splitting and marrying another (as it may be the two
> of them as a couple that are infertile) and does not bring up the
> possibility of the man marrying a second wife (while still married to
> the first wife).
> Many discussions of halacha involve "boundary conditions" or unusual
> circumstances that should normally be avoided. This discussion too is of
> something that should be avoided and is a bad thing to have happened,
> but sometimes we are faced with the situation and need to see what is done.

Hillel has hit the nail on the head. Polygyny / concubinage is generally not
a very satisfactory arrangement in practice and usually gives rise to more
problems than it solves. However I believe that it should not be completely
ruled out but, rather, restricted to exceptional circumstances where, in
particular, all parties involved are happy with such a menage a trois (or more)
and prefer it to divorce and remarriage as a way of overcoming involuntary

Martin Stern

From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Sun, Aug 12,2012 at 02:01 AM
Subject: Concubinage revival?

Frank Silbermann wrote (MJ 61#09):

> Unfortunately, the acceptance since the 1960s of sexual promiscuity
> in secular society (based on the axiom that "what consenting adults
> do sexually in the privacy of their own homes is no one else's business)
> may prevent the secular authorities from doing anything about it.

Surely the more regulated concubinage system is infinitely preferable to
this sexual promiscuity that has almost become the norm in secular society.
A concubine has defined rights and any children of the union are also
legally protected. Much the same is true of polygyny.

Martin Stern


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Sun, Aug 12,2012 at 05:01 AM
Subject: Gezerat shmad

Following the recent court ruling in Cologne that male circumcision is a
form of assault, and its suspension in hospitals there and in parts of
Switzerland and Austria, Dr. Anne Lindboe, Norway's ombudsman for childrens'
rights has proposed that Jews and Muslims replace it with a symbolic,
non-surgical ritual because it is a violation of a persons right to decide
over his own body, something to which a child, let alone a 8-day old baby,
cannot give informed consent.

Those who wish to outlaw it may not be antisemites in the strict sense of
the word but they are certainly xenophobic in that they are opposed to other
people behaving differently from themselves in matters that do not affect

While we could, in theory, live without meat if shechitah were banned, as it
is already in 'progressive' Norway and Switzerland, should we be prepared to
defy the law of the land if milah were outlawed? Would such a decree not be
a gezerat shmad [enforced apostasy], for which we are even obliged to accept
martyrdom, as our ancestors did when Antiochus Epiphanes and Hadrian tried to
outlaw it, rather than dina demalchuta dina [the law of the land is
obligatory for Jews]?

Any comments?

Martin Stern


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Sun, Aug 12,2012 at 05:01 AM
Subject: Ketoret revisited

I have raised this problem in the past (MJ 60#26) with little response but a
new idea has occurred to me and I would be grateful for others' comments.

In the Torah (Ex. 30, 34), HKBH instructed Moshe Rabbeinu to make the
ketoret [incense] "Take spices, nataf, shekhelet and chelbenah, spices and
pure levonah (I have intentionally left the names untranslated), equal
weights of each."

In the Talmud (Bavli, Kritot 6a, and Yerushalmi, Yoma 4,5, also cited in the
siddur), the braita "Pitum Haktoret" states "The incense was composed of
hatsori, hatsipporen, hachelbenah and halevonah - seventy maneh weight of
each; mor, ketsia, shibolet nerd and carcom - sixteen maneh weight of each;
hakosht - twelve [maneh weight]; kilufah - three [maneh weight]; kinnamon -
nine [maneh weight] ..."

Rashi (based on the Gemara in Kritot) explains the apparent discrepancies
between the eleven spices in the braita and the number mentioned in the Torah as
follows: "The first word 'spices' indicates two [unnamed] spices to which
are added nataf, shekhelet and chelbenah making, in total, five. The second
word 'spices' indicates that this number is to be doubled, making a total of
ten, to which one adds levonah, giving a final total of eleven."

He also notes that nataf and shekhelet are identical to tsori and tsipporen
respectively, the latter being the Rabbinic word-equivalents of the Biblical
names. So far so good.

What is still difficult is why the eleven spices are not all of equal weights as
apparently specified by the Torah.

On further thought, I noticed that in the braita, the first four spices are
all quoted with the heh hayedia (definite article), perhaps indicating that
they are THE spices mentioned explicitly in the Torah. The next four are
written without it, perhaps indicating that they are subsidiary to the
former. Both groups are of equal (but different) weights. The final three
commence with the heh hayedia - hakosht - whereas the other two do not.
Perhaps this indicates each is a separate item and the 'equal weights' rule
does not apply.

Any comments?

Martin Stern


From: Art Werschulz <agw@...>
Date: Fri, Aug 10,2012 at 03:01 PM
Subject: Meat after Tisha B'Av

Yisrael Medad wrote (MJ 61#09):

> Isaac Balbin (MJ 61#08) expresses having trouble understanding the
> rationale not to eat meat until the day following a postponed Tisha be'Av.
> Well, 
> (a) it could be that they don't want people mixing up the 10th into
> 11th situation with the regular 9th of Av into 10th and are stingent;  

That's understandable.  The Rabbis instituted "lo p'lug" in a number of
instances wherein people could get confused.

> (b) it's not that healthy to eat meat after a fast in any case.

I'm not trying to be argumentative here, but do you have any medical evidence to
back up this statement?  This would be a good place for Rabbi Dr. Backon to jump in.

For what it's worth: My family and I have almost always broken a fast with dairy
food, the lone exception being when the 10th of Tevet falls out on Friday  As
per Wikipedia: "This is a fairly rare occurrence. The last three times this
happened were on 20 December 1996, 5 January 2001 and 17 December 2010; the next
time will be on 13 December 2013."  

And, an anecdote (not data): The person who used to run a kosher (meat)
restaurant in Elizabeth NJ once told me that he always breaks his fast with
chicken soup.  (Presumably, this would not include Tisha B'Av.)

Art Werschulz 


From: Joseph Kaplan <penkap@...>
Date: Fri, Aug 10,2012 at 03:01 PM
Subject: No Mechitza - What to do?

Carl Singer write (MJ 61#9):

> I recall when I worked at Bellcore (Bell Communications Research) that
> there was a Mincha minyan in a meeting room in one of the office buildings.
> When a female employee asked to participate in the Mincha minyan, a portable
> mechitza was built -- one that could be temporarily erected in a meeting
> room and then taken down and stored.   The slight inconvenience was well
> worth it.

In a mincha minyan in which I used to daven which was held in the basement of an
office building, there was no mechitzah.  Once, a woman who had yahrtzeit asked
if she could come and daven so she could say kaddish. The answer was "of course"
and a jerry built mechitzah was quickly put up.  The next day I noticed that it
was still there and I asked one of the regulars about it.  He said they had
decided to keep it up in case other women, who might be uncomfortable asking,
would feel comfortable coming.  

> A related issue that occasionally occurs in our shul is a woman comes to
> say kaddish and there is no man saying kaddish at that minyan. The informal
> accommodation is to have one of the men say kaddish (even though he has no
> cheyuv).   I wonder what other congregations do in this circumstance?

In my shul, when the rabbi was asked by some men what they should do if only a
woman was saying kaddish (there was never a question that women could say
kaddish), the rabbi answered: "Listen and say amen, yehey shmey rabbah." When my
wife was saying kaddish, one day she wanted to daven in a different local shul
and called the rabbi to ask if it was all right for her to say kaddish (knowing
that in some of the shuls it was not okay),  The rabbi said that his shul's
policy was that  a woman could say kaddish as long as a man was saying kaddish.
 And then he added: our policy also is that if there is no man saying kaddish in
such a situation, the gabbai, or someone he designates, says kaddish.  And he
ended by saying that since that situation had not arisen for some time, he was
going to call the gabbai to remind him of the entire policy.

So, Leah, there is hope.


From: Wendy Baker <wbaker@...>
Date: Fri, Aug 10,2012 at 03:01 PM
Subject: No Mechitza - What to do?

In reply to Carl and Martin (MJ 61#09):

I wish to detail two experiences I had in 1990 when I, alone, was saying Kaddish
for my mother.  One evening, when I had to attend a meeting far from my 
shul, I walked in, unannounced (as I had no idea I would be in this 
situation) to a shul shortly before Mincha-Maariv to find an all male group 
with no Mehitza.  Immediately, ingenuity was forthcoming, as well as a 
warm welcome and the door to the adjoining library was opened and I was given 
a seat, where I could see and hear the service with a comfortable chair 
and nice library table.  One elderly gentleman, appointed himself to help 
me out, finding the page for me in the unfamiliar siddur (the particular 
one they used, not siddurim in general) and asked if he should signal me 
as to when to be ready for the Kaddish.  I declined the signal and thanked 
him and the service was held and no bolt came out of the heavens to strike 
anyone down for this behavior.

Another time, that same year, when I was startng to take an evening class 
at my own shul I notified the instructor that I would be leaving early in 
order to make the minyan downstairs as I was saying Kadish for my Mother. 
His reaction was to say, don't do that, as I will guarantee that you will 
have a minyan after class every week.  As this was early in my year , I was 
not very familiar with the Kaddish, as I, unfortunately, am now.  The very 
first week we had this class and a few others from other classes, dragooned 
by the instructor,  I was alone in saying Kaddish.  The instructor did not 
say it along with me, alowing me to stumble through on my own, I am sure, 
to indicate that it was valid for a woman to be saing the Kaddish alone if 
there were no other mourners.  The next week, he did give me some prompts 
and assistance as he said I still needed that, as a new mourner.   That 
young instructor still holds a special place in my heart.

It is now over 20 years since these events and I am still hearing these 
kind of comments about having to make advance arrangements, or even 
telling the women to leave, or even the reletively mild comment of there 
not being a male mourner saying Kaddish so can she say it.  Please, 
remember to be gentlemen and think of the woman who may well be the only 
mourner for a dearly beloved parent or even spouse, who needs the 
communal solace of the Kaddish and, if you like, the soul of the 
departed, who is entitled to have this kaddish said for its sake.

Wendy Baker

From: Stuart Wise <Smwise3@...>
Date: Fri, Aug 10,2012 at 05:01 PM
Subject: No Mechitza - What to do?

In reply to Deborah Wenger (MJ 61#08):

I certainly agree that a makeshift mechitza could be made, but my point was 
why would an Orthodox woman on her own want to be in a situation and not 
feel  uncomfortable, rather than insulted. It probably all depends on how 
important  one views the mechitza and the separation of sexes in occasions, 
sacred or not.  I know my wife and daughters in no way would attend such a 
place that had no  mechitza, nor feel insulted if there is no accommodation, and
would sit in the  hall if that is an option. I have also been in situations 
where accommodations  were made with tents outside,
Under the halachic circumstances, I don't believe "women" and "people" are  
interchangeable. As far as I can tell, most Orthodox congregations are not  
Stuart Wise


From: Leah S. R. Gordon <leah@...>
Date: Fri, Aug 10,2012 at 04:01 PM
Subject: Ritual handwashing after childbirth

Regarding Martin Stern's observation (MJ 61#09) that a laboring woman would
touch her own body parts aside from face/forearms, thus needing to wash
ritually:  is
this always a requirement?

I feel like I've seen Orthodox women nursing their babies hundreds of times
and never seen one do netilat yadayim afterward.  Even in shul.  Maybe I'm
just not that observant.  (My assumption is that they are handling at
minimum, their bra/breasts/stomach area to nurse the baby.)

However, if this is the issue, certainly we would expect the vast majority
of delivering mothers to be nursing their babies immediately after birth if
possible, leading to the other situation discussed.  OTOH, I think washing
up a bit *before* nursing is usually the directive for obvious hygiene



From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Sun, Aug 12,2012 at 02:01 AM
Subject: Rushing out of shul (was Meat after Tisha B'Av)

Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz wrote (MJ 61#09):

> Perhaps the analogy could be to rushing out of shul after davening.

Sometimes this is the consequence of over-pious individuals extending the
time of the davenning (on weekdays) at the expense of those who have to go
to work.

Martin Stern


From: Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz <sabbahillel@...>
Date: Fri, Aug 10,2012 at 02:01 PM
Subject: Waiting for the Rabbi

Martin Stern wrote (MJ 61#09):

> Truly a lesson for everyone in humility (see my comment in MJ 61#05), but he
> could have spoken to the gabbai (or shatz) and asked them not to wait for
> him. Then he could have davenned with a minyan without being an
> inconvenience to anybody.

I have seen situations in which a rov asks the people not to wait and then the
congregation insists on waiting or complaining that the congregation is not
waiting. I have even seen cases where people in the congregation try to stop the
shliach tzibur. This tends to occur more in a yeshiva setting than a shul as the
students tend to insist that they are showing kovod (honor) to the rov.

Since the rov is still davening, he cannot signal the shliach tzibur to
continue, and more disturbance is created.

Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz

From: Perry Zamek <perryza@...>
Date: Sat, Aug 11,2012 at 03:01 PM
Subject: Waiting for the Rabbi

Orrin Tilevitz wrote (MJ 61#09):

> That leads to the question of how many men one must wait for if one winds up
> saying chazarat hashatz without a minyan altogether (because someone has left).

As far a I understand, surely this would be a situation in which no chazarat
hashatz would occur, since there is no minyan at that point. 

This differs from the question of reciting Kaddish Titkabal when the minyan that
was present at the beginning of chazarat hashatz has lost some of its number
during the repetition, or subsequently - the Rema holds that it is to be
recited, even absent a minyan. The Sephardi poskim hold that it is not to be

Martin Stern (MJ 61#09):

> Truly a lesson for everyone in humility (see my comment in MJ 61#05), but
> he could have spoken to the gabbai (or shatz) and asked them not to wait for
> him. Then he could have davenned with a minyan without being an inconvenience
> to anybody.

I doubt that someone like Rav Dovid Lifshitz would have done so. Since he wanted
to avoid them giving him excessive honor, he would probably not have wished to
raise the matter himself. Had he done so, the gabbai may well have insisted on
having the chazan wait for him.

Perry Zamek

From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Sun, Aug 12,2012 at 02:01 AM
Subject: Waiting for the Rabbi

Orrin Tilevitz wrote (MJ 61#09):

> Martin Stern writes (MJ 61#08):
>> Some people are very particular not to start until they are absolutely sure
>> that 10 (so that those 10/the "minyan o rov minyan" should be able to answer
>> "amen" to his brachot, as required by halachah) are ready,
> If I read Martin correctly, he is saying that waiting for 10 men to finish is
> only a late chumra. I used to think so too, but then, if I remember correctly,
> I saw in all of the Mishna Brura, Chayeii Adam, Kitzur Shulchan Aruch, and the
> Shulcan Arukh harav -- all of the poskim I could get my hands on in shul at
> short notice -- that starting chazarat hashatz before 10 men are finished is
> "karov livracha levatala".
> That leads to the question of how many men one must wait for if one winds up
> saying chazarat hashatz without a minyan altogether (because someone has
> left).

Orrin has misunderstood my point. What I had endeavoured to say was that
some people are not prepared to accept just any 10 (or 6) people before
saying chazarat hashatz but do not want to assume that that 10 (or 6) will all
be qualified according to all opinions (no hearing aids, no 13 year olds
who might not have brought shtei se'arot etc.) and paying proper attention (not
learning while they wait etc.). 

According to halachah, one can assume (umdena) that such people can be counted
to the 10 (or 6) and not doing so is imposing an unnecessary chumra on the
congregation. If the shatz has any such doubts he can always make the mental
proviso that his chazarat hashatz should be a tefillat nedavah [voluntary/extra
prayer] as I pointed out previously (MJ 61#08).

Martin Stern


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Sun, Aug 12,2012 at 03:01 AM
Subject: Why the dagesh?

Last night (Motsa'ei Shabbat), during Veyiten lekha, it struck me that the
word "viyvarekheka" had a dagesh in the final kaf. This seems to happen from
time to time when the 2nd person singular direct object is appended to a
verb as a suffix (similarly "viychuneka"). 

At other times the kaf does not have a dagesh, as in "veyishmerekha"
This seems only to occur in pausal forms but I could not think of any reason
for its insertion in some cases but not others. Can anyone explain the rule
for this phenomenon?

Martin Stern


End of Volume 61 Issue 10