Volume 61 Number 22 
      Produced: Mon, 27 Aug 2012 17:43:06 EDT

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

An unusual form? 
    [Martin Stern]
Arkaot shel Akum 
    [Meir Shinnar]
Benching gomel 
    [Martin Stern]
Berov am hadrat Melekh 
    [Martin Stern]
Blessing Children on Friday Night (and Erev Yom Kippur) 
    [Orrin Tilevitz]
Is Chabad Lubavitch? 
    [Martin Stern]
Linguistic change (was Accommodating both women and men in shul ) (2)
    [Martin Stern  Katz, Ben M.D.]
Taking advantage of an obvious mistake (2)
    [Martin Stern  Carl Singer]
When to release the tzitzit after Kriat Shema 
    [Martin Stern]


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Fri, Aug 24,2012 at 04:01 AM
Subject: An unusual form?

Michael Poppers wrote (MJ 61#18):

> In MJ 61#17, Martin Stern asked:
>> 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"?
> You might also want to consider the varying use in Yirm'yahu 44.

In this chapter, as Michael points out, it appears that the navi uses the
forms "kehayom" and "kayom" indiscriminately, and I cannot see any
distinction in meaning. This is the sort of point that I might have expected
the Malbim to pick up but, as far as I can see, he makes no comment. Does
anyone know of any?

Martin Stern


From: Meir Shinnar <chidekel@...>
Date: Mon, Aug 27,2012 at 07:01 AM
Subject: Arkaot shel Akum

Josh Backon wrote (MJ 61#20):

> What's termed Arkaot shel HEDYOT (Jews who are not dayyanim) is permitted
> ONLY in a community where there is NO Bet Din. See the Aruch Hashulchan
> CM 8#1. However, wherever there IS a bet din, then Arkaot shel HEDYOT is
> not permitted.
> To reiterate: since there are Batei Din in all the larger cities in Israel,
> by definition, government courts are Arkaot she AKUM. It makes no difference
> if the judges are religious. In fact, being a religious judge in the secular
> courts makes the offense even more heinous (an Issur D'oraita according to 
> the Rambam).

We can argue about the status of Israeli courts, although most do not view
arkaot shel hedyot as an issur d'oraita (eg, see Rav Ariel, techumin 1 - the
Rambam applies when there are semuchin, which we no longer have), and arkaot
shel hedyot are NOT forbidden in the Shulchan Aruch. However, the above post is
problematic for the following reasons:

1) Even if one holds that Israeli courts have a din of arkaot shel hedyot and
are forbidden, they are NOT arkaot shel Akum - courts of idolaters - a big
difference, and calling them arkaot shel Akum is proof that one is dealing with
politics - not Halacha - and is guilty of slander (and in Elul...).

2) While most rabbis, even of the dati leumi (DL = national religious), have
advocated that individuals with the choice turn to batei din (religious courts)
rather than secular Israeli courts, the issue is with the litigants - not the
judges.  Indeed, the religious parties (at least Mizrachi type) have pushed for
religious judges to be appointed - so it clearly was not viewed as problematic.
Similarly in America - where there is more ground to argue about them being
arkaot shel Akum, the norm for most people is NOT to view judges (and lawyers)
as sinners  - even while arguing people should go to bet din.

3) Part is realistic - even if the entire religious community would only use
batei din, there still would be many cases where religious individuals have to
go to secular court - and it is better that there are religious judges.

4) Another problem with the batei din is that there isn't a developed
theoretical base or case law for much modern commercial transactions (status of
corporations, option trading...etc.) and criminal law(?). Back in the 40s and
50s, Yeshaya Leibovitz was arguing for Halacha to develop ways of dealing with
modern realities, with little response.  Rav Herzog did publish some attempts.

However, if the Knesset were to suddenly give all power to batei din, society
would collapse - batei din depend on the existence of secular Israeli courts to
allow them to avoid facing many thorny halachically difficult issues - while
maintaining the right to snipe from the sidelines - and that sniping is 

5) Underlying this opposition to it is the tortured relationship many in the
religious camp have with a national Jewish government that is not halachically
based - and whether it has a din of melech. 

6) I would add that Dr. Backon's thesis depends on the existence of valid batei
din.  With the recent spate of cases with the bet din ignoring and violating
halacha (e.g. annulling conversions, being me'ane gerim [inflicting pain on
converts - a d'oraita]), it is not clear at all that that is true - and those
judges from those batei din do deserve the opprobrium Dr. Backon casts on judges
in the secular network.  Indeed, today it is difficult to say that there are 
valid batei din in many cities - so there is no problem with going to the 
secular courts.

Meir Shinnar


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Sun, Aug 26,2012 at 05:01 AM
Subject: Benching gomel

Joel Rich wrote (MJ 61#20):

> Martin Stern wrote (MJ 61#19):
>> Joel Rich wrote (MJ 61#18):
>>> Martin Stern wrote (MJ 61#14):

>>>> This (Thursday) morning we had a troop of people come up one after the
>>>> other to bench gomel, delaying the davenning interminably. IMHO it would be
>>>> much better if the gabbai would call out before the first one that he would
>>>> be doing so in order to be motsi (exempt) everyone else present and not
>>>> permit this tircha detzibbura. What do others think?

>>> The Chashukei Chemed (R' Yitzchak Zylberstein - son in law of R' Elyashav
>>> z"l) in his commentary on Masechet Berachot says it would be an issue unless
>>> it is obvious that the folks are being exempted (e.g. they stand by the bima
>>> when it is  being said).
>> Does he consider it insufficient for the gabbai to announce that the person
>> would be exempting all those who wished to be exempted from benching gomel?
> He doesn't say, but the logic would seem to require that it be obvious who the
> individuals were who were giving thanks

The problem seems to be whether the whole congregation has to know who is
benching gomel or whether it is sufficient for the individuals to have
kavannah to be yotsi [intention to be exempt]. If the word 'shegemalani [who
has bestowed on me]' is replaced by 'shegemalanu [who has bestowed on us]',
this should suffice to alert the former - I doubt if they are always aware
of who is benching gomel even under the usual circumstances!

Martin Stern


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Sun, Aug 26,2012 at 05:01 AM
Subject: Berov am hadrat Melekh

I attend a shiur on Shabbat afternoon in a private house timed to end with
Motsa'ei Shabbat, when we are joined by neighbours for ma'ariv. I have
noticed that, on the slightest pretext, the minyan is split if there is more
than one person who wishes to be sheliach tzibbur. I find this practice
unintelligible and unhalachic.

On one occasion this was even done when we had a genuine aveil and someone
who only had yahrzeit during the following week where the halachah quite
clearly states that the latter has no real chiyuv [obligation] and so must
give way to the former.

While I can appreciate the emotional aspect where the two candidates are on
an equal level of chiyuv, I still find this a infraction of the principle of
"Berov am hadrat Melekh [there is greater glory to HKBH when there is a
larger group praying together]". Personally, I always refuse to go into a
side room to make such a breakaway minyan - let others who do not have these
qualms do so if they must.

Last night, however, we had two brothers who were aveilim for the same
father and they still split the minyan (I have seen this done occasionally
even in shiva houses in similar circumstances). Surely doing this in such
cases is even worse since it goes against the explicit statement
(Tehillim 133.1) "Hinei mah tov umi naim shevet achim gam yachad [See how
good and pleasant it is for brothers to dwell together in unity]"!

Any comments anyone?

Martin Stern


From: Orrin Tilevitz <tilevitzo@...>
Date: Mon, Aug 27,2012 at 11:01 AM
Subject: Blessing Children on Friday Night (and Erev Yom Kippur)

How far into their adulthood should children be blessed by parents on Friday
night? Does it extend past marriage? What about when the children have children
of their own? Is the answer different on erev Yom Kippur? (I have no family
minhag either way.) I have so far considered three, meager sources:

1. The Art Scroll siddur says that this "mitzvah" applies to "ketanim and
gedolim" (children and adults), but of course "gedolim" could mean only that it
doesn't stop at post bar/bat mitzvah.

2. Many years ago, I saw an elderly rabbi bless his adult daughter, who then
must have been in her 50s, but she never married.

3. I asked my LOR, who has great-grandchildren. He laughed and admitted never to
have thought about it. He no longer blesses his children -- he thought he might
have stopped when they got married -- but said "look, there's no harm in doing it."


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Fri, Aug 24,2012 at 01:01 AM
Subject: Is Chabad Lubavitch?

Yisrael Medad wrote (MJ 61#19):

> While Cooper highlights the split-offs and break-offs, as was usual with
> almost all Hassidic courts/dynasties, his main point of Chabad vs.
> Lubavitch is not that impressive. After the 6th Rebbe wrote the
> history/chronicles, combined with Beit haRebbe and Miflefet Chabad, the two
> books unique in their semi-academic history nature, their supposed differences
> basically disappeared.

The main reason that the other branches disappeared was that, after WW1 and
the Communist takeover, the other dynasties physically died out, leaving
Lubavitch as the only surviving group following the Chabad ideology. Quite a
good history of these developments is to be found in Avrum Ehrlich's
"Leadership in the HaBaD Movement" (Jason Aaronson Inc., '00).

Martin Stern


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Sun, Aug 26,2012 at 04:01 PM
Subject: Linguistic change (was Accommodating both women and men in shul )

Menashe Elyashiv wrote (MJ 61#21):

> Chana Luntz wrote (MJ 61#20):

>> And it is also fascinating to note that as far as I am aware, among the
>> Eidot HaMizrach (not being Yemenites), the only time they still do targum,
>> ie translate what is being read, is on Tisha B'Av...
>> But the targum that is done by the Edot HaMizrach on Tisha B'Av of the
>> haftorah is a real translation - done in Spanish or Arabic or, in the more
>> modern shuls, in English.

> Of course in Israel we do not translate - we understand the original
> Hebrew

While this is true in general, there is still room for error since Modern
Hebrew sometimes uses words in a different meaning to the Biblical or
Mishnaic forms of the language. To take one example, we may not know what the
word "chashmal" means in Tenakh but one thing is certain - it does not mean

Martin Stern

From: Katz, Ben M.D. <BKatz@...>
Date: Mon, Aug 27,2012 at 03:01 PM
Subject: Linguistic change (was Accommodating both women and men in shul )

In reply to Menashe Elyashiv (MJ 61#21):

Actually, modern Hebrew and Biblical Hebrew and "siddur"  are quite different
from each other, kind of like modern and Shakespearean English.  One of the
things I find interesting when I daven from Rinat Yisrael is to see which words
R Tal "translates" into modern Hebrew, at the foot of the page.  There is also
now a Chumash in Israel which "translates" Biblical Hebrew into modern Hebrew. 
Piyutim are even more difficult...


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Fri, Aug 24,2012 at 01:01 AM
Subject: Taking advantage of an obvious mistake

Carl Singer (MJ 61#19) and others might find this extract from the Weekly 
Halacha Discussion by Rabbi Doniel Neustadt for Parshat Shoftim helpful in his 
query regarding taking advantage of an obvious mistake:
Theft and Deception

Question: Some people are under the assumption that the Biblical prohibition
Do not steal applies only to stealing from a Jew. Is there a basis for
such an assumption?

Discussion: No, there is not. Stealing from a non-Jew, either from a private
person, corporation or government entity is strictly forbidden min Hatorah
(1). In a certain respect, stealing from a non-Jew is even worse that
stealing from a Jew, since it causes a greater level of chillul Hashem (2).
In addition, some poskim maintain that although the Biblical prohibition
against stealing from a Jew is limited to stealing more than the value of a
perutah, stealing from a non-Jew is forbidden min Hatorah even for an item
valued less than a perutah (3).

Question: If a cashier at a non-Jewish owned store mistakenly returns too
much change or fails to charge for an item, is one required to make the
cashier aware of his mistake?

Discussion: If there is a chance  even a small one - that a chillul Hashem
will occur, e.g., the cashier might notice his mistake and realise that the
Jew hid something from him; or, the cashier intentionally made a mistake
in order to test the integrity of an Orthodox Jew, then one is halachically
obligated to notify the cashier of what happened (4). Even if there is no
possibility of causing a chillul Hashem, but there is an opportunity for
making a kiddush Hashem, e.g., the non-Jew will be impressed by the honesty
and integrity of an Orthodox Jew then one is strongly urged to take the
opportunity to make a kiddush Hashem (5). If there is no possibility of a
chillul Hashem, and there is no opportunity for a kiddush Hashem, then one
is not obligated to notify the cashier of his mistake.

1 Shach, C.M. 348:2, followed by all of the poskim.
2 Tosefta, Bava Kama 10:8, and Minchas Bikkurim.
3 Aruch Hashulchan, C.M. 348:1.
4 Rama, C.M. 348:2; Shach 3; Shulchan Aruch Harav, Gezeilah 4.
5 See Mordechai, Bava Kama 10:158, quoting Yerushalmi and
Knesses Hagedolah, C.M. 183:54

Martin Stern

From: Carl Singer <carl.singer@...>
Date: Mon, Aug 27,2012 at 08:01 AM
Subject: Taking advantage of an obvious mistake

The El Al example is, to say the least, complex -- as is the analysis that
my neighbor, Harlan, was kind enough to point out (MJ 61#21).  Issues of halacha
and ethics and kiddush HaShem are brought out.

Similarly, Leah (MJ 61#21) points out the importance both of setting a good
example for one's children as well as ethical behavior when one is clearly
identifiable as a Jew in a society where one is a minority (Kiddush HaShem).

I'd like to focus back on the simplified situation:    A generic merchant who
due to some error is unaware that (say) a $500 item is ringing up at only

My first question is, is there a Kinyan -- a contract?    The merchant by
tagging an item at $500 has stated his or her price.  The $50 payment does
not suffice. If one knowingly takes the item at the $50 price is one therefore
stealing (I know this may seem harsh)?

My second question is rather obvious, if the mistake had been in the other
direction -- say a $50 item ringing up at $500 -- what would the purchaser
do upon later discovering this error? Understanding, of course, that the halacha
may not be "symmetrical."



From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Mon, Aug 27,2012 at 01:01 PM
Subject: When to release the tzitzit after Kriat Shema

Steven Oppenheimer wrote (MJ 61#21):

> A while back, the question was raised as to when is it appropriate to let
> go of the tzitzit after kriat shema.  Many of us remember from yeshiva
> ketana that we were taught to release the tzitzit after "lo'ad kayomet."
> However, newer siddurim such as Artscroll instruct one to release the
> tzitzit after "ne'emanim venechemadim lo'ad."
> What is the proper way?

Dare I suggest that there may not be a 'proper way' as such but, rather,
different minhagim in this - as the Gemara observes (Chullin 18b) on the
matter of variant customs, "nahara nahara uphashtei", which can be
loosely translated as "all rivers run into the sea".

However, I would like to make one observation, for which I have no source,
but which might be of interest. The word "la'ad [for ever]" is a homograph
of "la'eid [as a witness]". We have the principle (Dev. 19,15) of "al pi
shnay eidim o al pi shloshah eidim yakum davar [by the testimony of two or
three witnesses shall a matter be established]". So one might consider
releasing the tzitzit after the second "la'ad" to symbolise that they are
the equivalent of two witnesses to the truth to which we refer in the

Though most people hold all four tzitzit, strict halachah only requires holding
the two that are in front. Could this possibly also be linked to this witness 

Perhaps the word "va'ed", which is at the end of the first sentence of this
paragraph (before the two instances of "la'ad"), might refer to the possible
third witness. If anyone has come across this thought, I would be interested to
have the reference.

Martin Stern


End of Volume 61 Issue 22