Volume 61 Number 17 
      Produced: Mon, 20 Aug 2012 15:51:38 EDT

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

Accommodating both women and men in shul (2)
    [Leah S. R. Gordon  Katz, Ben M.D.]
An unusual form? 
    [Martin Stern]
Arkaot shel Akum 
    [Martin Stern]
Benching Gomel 
    [David Tzohar]
Meat after Tisha B'Av 
    [Isaac Balbin]
Men in the Ezras Nashim (3)
    [David Feiler  Perets Mett  Steven Oppenheimer]
Reporting Crimes committed by Jews 
    [Steven Oppenheimer]
Ritual handwashing after childbirth 
    [Katz, Ben M.D.]
Zu darka shel Torah? - Is this the way of the Torah? 
    [Shmuel Himelstein]


From: Leah S. R. Gordon <leah@...>
Date: Sat, Aug 18,2012 at 10:01 PM
Subject: Accommodating both women and men in shul

In reference to the back-and-forth discussion in earlier posts about efforts put
in, or not, to make both women and men comfortable in shul, Bill Coleman wrote
(MJ 61#15):

> Where there's a will there's a way, and where there isn't there isn't.

Might I inject some formal logic here? :)

Clearly, where there's a will there's a way - thus where there hasn't been
established a way, there must not have been a will!


From: Katz, Ben M.D. <BKatz@...>
Date: Mon, Aug 20,2012 at 01:01 PM
Subject: Accommodating both women and men in shul

Martin Stern wrote (MJ 61#14):

> Leah S. R. Gordon wrote (MJ 61#13):

>> I would suggest to Mr. Stern that women as well may be justified by 
>> having to leave early for work.  (It happens that I write this at 
>> 5:30am local time, just ahead of the sun, when indeed I am on my way 
>> out to work.)
>> Yet I agree that it is unfortunate that more women and men do not come 
>> to shul every day.  Since fewer women attend, that is extra unfortunate.

> Women do not have any obligation to participate in public prayer and, by and
> large, most only do so on Shabbat and Yom Tov. Even those who are punctilious
> to daven shacharit and minchah every day usually do so at home even if they
> could, without any great inconvenience, attend shul. They, therefore, have no
> need to have a 'reason' for not attending, unlike men who do have the
> obligation but may be excused by extenuating circumstances. Of course women
> should be welcomed should they come but it is unrealistic to expect shuls to
> make permanent arrangements for what is a very rare occurrence.

There is no "obligation" for men to daven with a minyan either.  The Shulchan
Aruch uses the word "yishtadel" (he should try) not chayav (obliged).  Once 10
men get together, then there are some chiyuvim that the congregation has (eg
kedushah, reading Torah Mon and Thurs, etc.)


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Mon, Aug 20,2012 at 02:01 AM
Subject: An unusual form?

Has anyone any explanation for the form "kehayom hazeh" (Nehemiah 9:10)
that we say every morning -- is there any significance in its use rather than
the more common "kayom hazeh"?

Martin Stern


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Mon, Aug 20,2012 at 02:01 AM
Subject: Arkaot shel Akum

The Jerusalem Post reports that Rabbi Ovadia Yosef has ruled "that anyone
who sends their children to a secular school or turns to the civil courts
system instead of the religious courts for legal redress cannot lead prayers
services in synagogue" and that "there is no doubt all the judges in the
secular court system are ineligible as witnesses, you can't take them to a
wedding to sign on a marriage certificate, it is forbidden... someone who
does so... it is as if there was no were no wedding ... [and] added that
anyone who uses such witnesses at his wedding subsequently engages in
illicit sexual relations when he sleeps with his wife because the witness,
and thus the marriage, is invalid".

The full article can be read on:


Any comments?

Martin Stern


From: David Tzohar <davidtzohar@...>
Date: Sun, Aug 19,2012 at 03:01 PM
Subject: Benching Gomel

Where I doven there are many Sefaradim who go according to the psak of
R'Ovadia Yosef SHLYTA, that anyone travelling by car between cities
for 70 minutes must bench hagomel. Therefore there are always many who
are obligated to bench. They always appoint someone who will exempt
all the others from his brocho.

That noted, I think the problem of "tircha d'tzibbura" is somewhat
exaggerated. Even if there are ten who bench, how long will it take?
I say definitely less than five minutes, probably more like three.

Nisht gefairlich.
David Tzohar


From: Isaac Balbin <isaac@...>
Date: Sat, Aug 18,2012 at 10:01 PM
Subject: Meat after Tisha B'Av

Martin Stern wrote (MJ 61#16):

> Josh Backon wrote (MJ 61#15):
>> When I was giving a course on evidence-based medicine: diagnosis and therapy
>> at the Faculty of Medicine of Hebrew University, I used to relate the
>> following anecdote to my med students. My grandmother a"h, a Holocaust
>> survivor who was born in Andrychov Poland in 1889 and passed away 20 years ago
>> at age 103 in Brooklyn, was definitely charedi. Until age 97, she used to fast
>> the full 25 hours on Yom Kippur (until her doctors forbade her to fast). Like
>> many others of her generation, she used to break the Yom Kippur fast after
>> Neilah by downing a shot of brandy. All her doctors were horrified.
>> I know one thing: she OUTLIVED FIVE OF HER DOCTORS!!!
> Clearly a case of "shomer peta'im Hashem [G-d looks after the simple, i.e.
> straightforward people who follow ancestral customs without worrying too
> much]".

I'm not sure you are right. Traditionally, I would always get a headache
immediately after a fast. My father-in-law, an Opthalmologist, suggested that
this was due to a constriction of my blood flow, especially in the temple region,
and that I should try having a Schnapps immediately after the fast. My
father-in-law is not one who encourages alcohol consumption, by the way. I have
to admit that his suggestion has worked for me for years. Interestingly, my
father has Yohrtzeit for my Zeyda on Yom Kippur, and everyone comes to our
corner for some single malt immediately after the fast. I don't think we are
Pesaim (simple), Martin :-).


From: David Feiler <davidfeiler2@...>
Date: Sun, Aug 19,2012 at 12:01 PM
Subject: Men in the Ezras Nashim

Bill Coleman wrote (MJ 61#15):

> One such factor is something I have often observed in my own shul, which
> has a spacious beis medresh and a permanent mechitzah enclosing a ezras
> nashim which easily seats at least ten people.  While women do appear
> occasionaly, it is certainly true that, more often than not, no women are
> present.  What does this mean?  It means that hardly a day goes by that
> one, two, three or more men set up shop in the ezras nashim.  It's not
> because the men's section is full or even remotely close to being crowded,
> because it is neither, it's because for whatever reason they like to sit in
> the back behind the mechitzah.  When a woman shows up they generally clear
> out quickly, but sometimes this happens while they are davening shemonah
> esrei and I have overheard complaints that the women in question had no
> business entering until the men had finished and left.  This to me is real
> chutzpah and an indication of how these characters feel about women.

Even though clearly the women have first priority for occupying the Ezrat Nashim
I would like to be "dan lechaf zechut" and mention at least one situation where
some men may feel comfortable sitting there until a woman arrives.

We are a small shul situated near the NY State Thruway halfway between
NYC/Lakewood and Toronto.  We frequently have multiple visitors stop by to daven
on their way between these two major Jewish population centers.  Often we have
more visitors for Shacharit than locals.  Some of these visitors do settle in
the Ezrat Nashim since we only occasionally have women on a weekday.  We make a
point of chatting to our visitors after davening and I have asked several of
them over the years why some of them prefer to sit behind the mechitza.  The
answer that I have heard most often is that they are concerned that there might
be mekomot kvuim (permanent seat assignments) in the shul on which they do not
want to trespass.   When we uncovered this reasoning we placed two prominent
notices in the shul in Hebrew and English pointing out that we do not have such
assigned seating in an attempt to minimize the Ezrat Nashim seating incidence.

David Feiler
Syracuse, NY

From: Perets Mett <p.mett00@...>
Date: Sun, Aug 19,2012 at 06:01 PM
Subject: Men in the Ezras Nashim

Bill Coleman (MJ 61#15) wrote:

> When a woman shows up they generally clear out quickly, but sometimes this
> happens while they are davening shemonah esrei and I have overheard complaints
> that the women in question had no business entering until the men had finished
> and left.  This to me is real chutzpah and an indication of how these 
> characters feel about women.
> Where there's a will there's a way, and where there isn't there isn't.

In our shul the rov has put up a notice in the ezrath noshim saying that no men
may be present when women wish to daven there.


From: Steven Oppenheimer <steven.oppenheimer@...>
Date: Sun, Aug 19,2012 at 10:01 PM
Subject: Men in the Ezras Nashim

It is not uncommon to see men davening in the Ezras Nashim.  This is,
however, problematic since they are not considered to be part of the minyan
(see Shevet HaLevi 9:20 who also cites Aruch HaShulchan 55:20).

If people realized that they were not part of the minyan, perhaps they
would not choose to sit in the Ezras Nashim.

Steven Oppenheimer, D.M.D.


From: Steven Oppenheimer <steven.oppenheimer@...>
Date: Sun, Aug 19,2012 at 06:01 PM
Subject: Reporting Crimes committed by Jews

Elliot Berkovits (MJ 61#16) referred to a responsum by Rabbi Y. Y. Weiss zt"l
regarding reporting crimes committed by a Jew.

Rabbi Y. Y. Weiss zt"l was asked whether it is permitted to report a
reckless driver to the police since the reckless driver is a menace to
pedestrians and other vehicles.  Rabbi Weiss answered that someone who
speeds and, therefore, could potentially injure pedestrians or other
vehicular traffic is considered a rodef.  Consequently, if this individual
has been warned to refrain from driving in this manner, yet continues to do so,
it is permitted to report him to the police.  Furthermore, if a driver
repeatedly fails to stop for a red light or a stop sign or engages in any
manner of driving that endangers pedestrians or other vehicular traffic, or
if the driver does not have a valid driver's license, he is also considered a
rodef who poses a threat to himself and others around him.  This is so even
if he had no intention of causing any harm.  Rabbi Weiss extends this
designation to someone who parks in an unsafe manner or blocks the
sidewalk with his car, thereby causing pedestrians to walk into the street
where they could be in danger.  Rabbi Weiss insists, however, that before
going to the secular authorities, since the offender must have prior
warning, it would be best if this were done by competent halachic authority
(Responsa Minchat Yitzchak, volume 8, siman 148).

If time is of the essence, or if it is known that the offender would not
appear before beit din and the offense is happening now, then it is
permitted to go directly to the secular authorities (Pitchei Choshen,
volume 5, chapter 4).

Regarding Elliot Bewrkovits' reference to Rav Elyashiv's zt"l opinion about
reporting sexual predators:

The Talmud relates a story about Rabbi Elazar, the son of Rabbi Shimon bar
Yochai (Bava Metzi'a, 83b).  Rabbi Elazar, who was known for his
perspicacity, was appointed by the Roman authorities to be a marshal and
arrest Jewish thieves.  He was admonished, however, by Rabbi Yehoshua ben
Korchah, "Vinegar, son of wine, how long will you hand over HaShem's people
to be killed?" (Rashi interprets "Vinegar, son of wine" as evil son of a
righteous father).  Rabbi Elazar answered, "I am eliminating the thorns
from the vineyard (I am weeding out the wicked from among the Jewish
people)".  Rabbi Yehoshua replied, "Let the Master of the vineyard get rid
of his own thorns! (let HaShem take care of the wicked without your
assistance)".  Rabbi Elazar, however, continued his job as a marshal.

The Gemara recounts that Rabbi Yishmael bar Rabbi Yosei also served as a
marshal and turned over thieves to the authorities until Eliyahu HaNavi
protested to him, "How long will you continue to hand over HaShem's people
to be executed?"  When Rabbi Yishmael protested, "What can I do?  I'm just
following the king's order," Eliyahu HaNavi answered, you should have run
away like your father did.

Ritva explains that Eliyahu HaNavi criticized Rabbi Yishmael's actions
because the government punished thieves without taking testimony from
witnesses, contrary to halacha.  If it is contrary to halacha, how could
Rabbi Elazar and Rabbi Yishmael, pious Tannaim, have behaved in this
fashion?  Beit Yosef explains in the name of the Rashba that Rabbi Elazar and
Rabbi Yishmael were criticized not because the halacha prohibits turning
the thieves over to the authorities, but because very pious people should 
refrain from such behavior. (Sh. Aruch, Choshen Mishpat, end of siman 388).
Therefore, when Rabbi Yehoshua ben Korchah scolded Rabbi Elazar and called
him "vinegar, son of wine," he meant that Rabbi Elazar was not as pious as
his father Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai (Beit Yosef and Rashba interpret
"vinegar, son of wine" differently from Rashi).  Similarly, when Eliyahu
HaNavi scolded Rabbi Yishmael, he declared you should have run away like
your pious father.  The halacha, however, allows someone who is directed by
the government to report thieves to do so.  Rabbi Y. Sh. Elyashiv cites the
above as proof that one is certainly allowed to report a teacher to the
school principal and if nothing is being done, one may report the teacher
to the police.  The case of child abuse is much more serious than thievery,
says Rabbi Elyashiv, and it makes no difference whether the child is male
or female (Nishmat Avraham by Prof. Avraham-Sofer Avraham, volume 4, page

If a teacher or a Rebbi is found to have sexually molested students, male
or female, what should be done?

Rabbi Eliezer Yehuda Waldenberg zt"l says that we are permitted to report
this person to the authorities since the Shulchan Aruch permits reporting a
person who harasses the public, and this is certainly more serious.
(Shulchan Aruch, Choshen Mishpat, 388:12, and Responsa Tzitz Eliezer, Vol.
19, siman 52).
Steven Oppenheimer, D.M.D.


From: Katz, Ben M.D. <BKatz@...>
Date: Mon, Aug 20,2012 at 01:01 PM
Subject: Ritual handwashing after childbirth

Yossi Ginzberg wrote (MJ 61#11):

> Why are people looking for what she may have touched? Hand-washing is required
> after haircuts, manicures, bloodletting and such even if no "unclean" areas
> were touched. Simply put, the same "ruach rah" that comes from sleeping (and
> thus nearing death a bit), comes from any encounter with loss of bodily
> integrity, nearness to serious danger, and so on, and this requires natilas
> yadayim. 

As a Maimonidean (or at least a Maimonidean-wannabe),  I cannot let the "ruach
rah" comment go by unnoticed.  Rambam of course did not believe in superstition
of any kind and thus does not give any credence to this concept.  He thus holds
that one can say God's name upon awakening before one washes his/her hands.


From: Shmuel Himelstein <himels@...>
Date: Mon, Aug 20,2012 at 05:01 AM
Subject: Zu darka shel Torah? - Is this the way of the Torah?

In the hagiographic praises heaped on one of the recently departed Gedolim,
we are told that he was so devoted to his Torah learning that he basically
reserved all his time and mind to Torah learning, to the extent that he did
not know the names of some of his children.

We are also told that he had no contact with his children during the week,
except that on Shabbat he would take a walk with a different one of them
each week - during which they did not converse. His children felt it was a
great enough privilege just to walk with him.

In a similar vein, in my books of stories about Gedolim, I went through
literally hundreds of such stories. One particular story stood out in my
mind - but I simply refused to print it. It is claimed that the sister of
the Gaon of Vilna came to visit him. He was, of course, studying Torah.
When he was told that his sister had come to visit him, he is alleged to
have stated that he was too busy studying Torah, and that she should visit
him in the World to Come, when he would have time. Even if this story is
merely apocryphal, it really rubs the wrong way. This story is obviously
meant as the highest praise of the Gaon.

My first question is a simple one: is this really what the Torah expects of
us? And my second question - related to the first Gadol above - is how he
could rule on Jewish law when he was totally out of touch with the world
around him.



End of Volume 61 Issue 17