Volume 61 Number 24 
      Produced: Tue, 28 Aug 2012 16:50:46 EDT

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

Benching gomel  
    [Stuart Pilichowski]
Berov am hadrat Melekh (3)
    [Martin Stern  Martin Stern  Stuart Pilichowski]
City Eruvin 
    [Martin Stern]
Modesty at the Shabbos Table 
    [Frank Silbermann]
Type sizes in siddurim 
    [Avraham Friedenberg]


From: Stuart Pilichowski <stupillow@...>
Date: Tue, Aug 28,2012 at 01:01 PM
Subject: Benching gomel 

Seems to me there's been too much fixation on minyan being a "factory." 
AAMOF, there are a proliferation of just that very thing on the market 
today: "Minyan Factories."

You must begin exactly on time and, of course, end precisely on the button - 
otherwise the people attending will have their work / personal schedules 
messed up. As important as those factors are - it doesn't leave much room 
"heartfelt" tefillah. You rack up your mitzvah points. Thanks for 
participating. See you at the next round.

Taking into account Wendy's comment (MJ 61#23) - Our tefillot in the main are
voiced not in the private realm, but on behalf of the entire Kahal / People of 
Israel. Private requests make up a very tiny portion of standard tefillah. 
(Of course, one can increase his/her personal requests to alter the 
balance.) So why shouldn't the congregation feel an obligation to partake of 
the thanksgiving/gomel blessing of any individual that wants to attend a 


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Tue, Aug 28,2012 at 11:01 AM
Subject: Berov am hadrat Melekh

Orrin Tilevitz wrote (MJ 61#23):

> In MJ 61#22, Martin Stern writes:

>> 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.

> and asks for comments.

> Martin is absolutely right, but as usual he is tilting windmills. I have done
> the same thing. In a nearby yeshivish mega-shtiebel, the minyan for maariv
> routinely splits when there is a second chiyuv or, more commonly, a "chiyuv".
> When I was saying kaddish there, I frequently had the ammud, and a second
> chiyuv or "chiyuv" came along, I would offer to cede the ammud to him -- and
> my offer would be rejected.

I have always done the same as Orrin except that if my offer is rejected and
there is a danger that the chiyuv or "chiyuv" (presumably Orrin means by
this someone who has no halachic chiyuv, such as when his wife is commemorating 
a yahrzeit in the following week or when he has 'taken on' to say kaddish for 
someone with no surviving sons), I insist on stepping down rather than split the

Also, Joseph Kaplan wrote (MJ 61#23):

> And I had a similar reaction to Martin's discussion of breakaway minyanim
> when two men who consider themselves chiyuvim wish to lead services.  I'm no
> supporter of such breakaways; like Martin I don't attend them.  I was told
> by a good friend early on in my aveilut that whatever benefit to the soul of
> the departed my leading the service has, giving up that honor to someone,
> even with a lesser chiyuv, who has a strong desire to lead the services will
> engender a greater benefit, and I acted upon that advice and passed it on to
> others. Indeed, in my shul the prevailing ethos is that when two or more
> individuals are chiyuvim or even feel like chiyuvim, they either share or
> gladly defer...  

This is the advice of the Kitsur Shulchan Arukh, who points out that learning
Torah and doing mitzvot brings a greater merit to the departed than being
shatz. He points out that doing mitzvot is also available to daughters, who
cannot do so, as a way of memorialising their departed parent.

While for those whose connection to Judaism is tenuous, it might be the
final link, for those who are basically observant, in my opinion, saying
kaddish or leading davenning has become emphasised too much at the expense
of real Torah values.

Martin Stern

From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Tue, Aug 28,2012 at 11:01 AM
Subject: Berov am hadrat Melekh

Isaac Balbin wrote (MJ 61#230

> Martin Stern wrote (MJ 61#22):

>> 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.

> Martin, You do what you are comfortable with. I think one needs to be somewhat
> realistic here. One cannot just go to people and tell them in such a situation
> "God will be happier if we all daven in one minyan" and quote a Pasuk etc. We
> are dealing with people's foibles and their feelings. As such, the IDEAL is to
> daven in a larger minyan, but if in cajoling people to do so causes a degree
> of enmity or worse, then what's the davening worth anyway? One should daven
> with a clear head and ensure that the environment is conducive. It may well be
> that you are the only one uncomfortable in such a situation, and perhaps
> should daven in an established Shule Minyan?

Last Motsa'ei Shabbat I discussed the phenomenon with several people and can
assure Isaac that I was certainly not the only person who found it
incorrect. To daven elsewhere after shiur would be impractical since there
would be no time to get to any other location.

> At worst, they aren't doing it in the best way. I would hope that in a
> situation where there were nine in one room and 11 in the other, and they
> asked you to move to the other room, you'd do so! Ditto regarding splitting
> minyanim for Kadish.

I once asked a sha'alah on this and was assured that it was incorrect to
join such a breakaway minyan, so I would tell them to ask someone else. As
far as I am concerned, it would be karov lemsyeia le'ovrei avairah
[tantamount to assisting others to do wrong]!

> I know some do this, and they have kabalistic notions of "more" kaddish doing
> "more" for the departed.

I would be more inclined to call these notions "superstitious" rather than
kabbalistic since most people have no understanding of kabbalah.

> They have their calculations, and we have ours, but I don't think it's worth
> making anyone upset over such things. We should all have this as the "sins" we
> have to answer for after 120.

> It obviously bothers you a lot, so write a Kuntres (collection) pointing out
> the importance of large single minyanim and distribute it in the places you
> daven.

As it happens, I wrote a piece called "Kaddish Yatom - The Orphan's Kaddish"
25 years ago on this topic. It is included in my book "A Time to Speak"
(Devora Publishing, '10), pp. 135-138.

Martin Stern

From: Stuart Pilichowski <stupillow@...>
Date: Tue, Aug 28,2012 at 02:01 PM
Subject: Berov am hadrat Melekh

If "Berov am hadrat Melekh" was a serious halachik / philosophical factor 
and consideration than the gedolei yisroel would've decided to enact and 
enforce an institution of Central Synagogues rather than every Yankel and 
Shemril opening another shul / breakaway and thereby duplicate costs, 
expenses and services.

What a shanda that in this day and age, especially with troubling economic 
times that we can't get our act together and join forces rather than 
dissipate into disparate fiefdoms.



From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Tue, Aug 28,2012 at 12:01 PM
Subject: City Eruvin

This article from last Friday's Jerusalem Post might be of interest to
members who may wish to comment on some of the points raised:
May one build an eruv within a large city?


An eruv is a legal construct that allows Jews to move objects, including
prayer shawls and baby strollers, within a public area on Shabbat, an act
that would otherwise be prohibited. Through the eruv, the area, which can
greatly range in size, becomes legally joined through two mechanisms.
Firstly, one must enclose the territory, either through physical barriers or
symbolic doorposts (made of strings and poles), to designate the areas

Secondly, people within the area must establish a legal relationship that
symbolically unifies ownership of the territory. This is accomplished
through the residents sharing possession of a designated object (frequently
a box of matza) and renting the territory from the local government to
authorize joint use of public area for these purposes.

These processes have generated two types of controversies.

In the Diaspora, there is occasional opposition from local residents to the
government providing permits for construction and space rental. Fortunately,
courts have repeatedly understood that an eruv facilitates the religious
liberties of observant Jews without infringing on the rights of others.

Indeed, the widespread building of eruvin in many Jewish communities, in
both Israel and abroad, has enhanced religious life by allowing families,
including young children and the handicapped, to attend synagogue services
and celebrate Shabbat outside of their homes. Many 20th-century rabbis
desired to build eruvin because they (rightly) feared that their congregants
would  accidentally or otherwise  violate Shabbat regulations that greatly
inhibited their activity. This sentiment, in part, was already expressed by
medieval scholars who ostracized rabbis that did not construct halachically
acceptable eruvin within their locales.

The aspiration to build eruvin within modern metropolises, however,
generated a second, more fundamental disagreement regarding which
territories may be enclosed within an eruv, as recently evidenced in the
London eruv controversy. The sages asserted that biblical norms proscribe
one from carrying an object more than roughly two to three meters within a
public domain (e.g. a desert) or transporting something from a public domain
into an enclosed private domain. The rabbis imposed similar restrictions on
a carmelit, a semi-enclosed area not intended for mass thoroughfare, such as
an alleyway or a courtyard enclosed on three sides.

Because the latter prohibition was a rabbinic stringency, greater leniencies
were afforded to enclose the area into a private domain, including the
building of a symbolic doorpost on its fourth side.

For any area (such as a city street) to be characterized as a public domain,
it must be uncovered, entirely publicly owned, have a minimum width of 7.3
meters (or 9.8 meters according to some) and allow 24-hour public access. If
the thoroughfare has walls, like some public markets do, the street must run
uninterrupted throughout the area. Most significantly, many medieval
authorities, including Rashi, claimed that a public domain requires the
presence of 600,000 people  the number of Jews included in the biblical
census in the desert  although this requirement was listed neither in the
Talmud nor by Maimonides.

Accordingly, most medieval scholars asserted that their towns did not
constitute a public domain since they lacked the requisite street width and
population, or their walled cities were locked at night and did not have
unobstructed streets.

New problems emerged in the modern era, as sprawling cities sprouted up and
Jews moved out of walled neighborhoods into urban environs.

Many scholars, including Rabbi Jacob Brukhim of Lithuania, contended that
modern streets were wide enough to constitute public domains and that one
could not rely upon the criterion requiring 600,000 people.

Depending on calculations, one might further argue that more than 600,000
people daily traverse certain areas or streets within cities like New York
or Paris. As such, one cannot turn large metropolitan thoroughfares into a
private domain, even though eruvin might remain possible in smaller, less
populated areas.

Besides defending the use of the 600,000 population standard, supporters of
metropolitan eruvin rely on one or more of the following arguments: (1)
contemporary avenues that digress with curves or turns do not fit the
criterion of uninterrupted streets; (2) The buildings that frequently
surround major streets (i.e., urban canyons) in fact provide two halachic
walls, which are joined by a third wall when the street dead ends, thereby
making it a carmelit; (3) The 600,000 population count may only include
pedestrians, since car passengers, who are encompassed within their own
domains (i.e., the walls of the vehicles) do not get tallied; (4) The
600,000 people must be found on a particular street, as opposed to the
entire encompassed area; (5) Some of the dispensations afforded to a
carmelit may also be used in a public domain; and (6) More substantive
material that could theoretically block a street, such as a tarpaulin
wrapped around a lamppost, can be used to provide a sufficient barrier.

Taken together, these arguments have facilitated the widespread building of
metropolitan eruvin and arguably comprise the most creatively lenient
position in contemporary halachic discourse.

The author teaches at Yeshivat Hakotel and directs the Tikvah Israel
Seminars for Post-High School Students. <JPostRabbi@...>


From: Frank Silbermann <frank_silbermann@...>
Date: Tue, Aug 28,2012 at 11:01 AM
Subject: Modesty at the Shabbos Table

Martin Stern  wrote (MJ 61#23):
> I thought the latest issue of Weekly Halacha Discussion by Rabbi Doniel
> Neustadt (Ki Teitsei) ...  Many theories have been postulated as to why
> some women, although meticulous in the observance of other mitzvos,
> are lax in regard to covering their hair. Some do not cover their hair at all
> and others do so only partially.   It must be stressed that this practice is
> roundly condemned by all poskim.  There are no halachic authorities
> who permit a married woman to leave her hair uncovered.

This is only true if one limits the definition of "poskim" and "halachic
authorities" to rabbis widely praised by the haredi community who have published
tshuvot or halachic codes dealing with this subject.

It is not true if the terms "poskim" and "halachic authorities" include less
famous local Orthodox rabbis or even famous ones who did not publish their tshuvot.

Frank Silbermann           Memphis, Tennessee


From: Avraham Friedenberg <elshpen@...>
Date: Tue, Aug 28,2012 at 11:01 AM
Subject: Type sizes in siddurim

This is not a halachic question, but perhaps there may be people on the
list who know the answer to this question.

Why are so many all Hebrew siddurim printed using multiple type sizes,
ranging from gigantic down to tiny (and almost impossible to see)?  Why do
printers continue to do this?  Any ideas?

Avraham Friedenberg, KVS
Karnei Shomron


End of Volume 61 Issue 24