Volume 61 Number 27 
      Produced: Thu, 30 Aug 2012 11:25:07 EDT

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

Accommodating both women and men in shul - Public Prayer 
    [Chana Luntz]
Berov am hadrat Melekh (3)
    [Orrin Tilevitz  Keith Bierman  Perry Zamek]
Modesty at the Shabbos Table 
    [Martin Stern]
When to release the tzitzit after Kriat Shema 
    [Steven Oppenheimer]


From: Chana Luntz <Chana@...>
Date: Thu, Aug 30,2012 at 09:01 AM
Subject: Accommodating both women and men in shul - Public Prayer

Martin Stern (MJ 61#14) writes:

> 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.

Martin is certainly correct in relation to women that "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".

The question is why? - given the sources we have on public prayer -
particularly those that have been quoted on this list.

Let's do a summary of the various gemoras on public prayer which lead Rav
Moshe (in Iggeros Moshe Orech Chaim chelek 2 siman 27 and the Aruch
HaShulchan (in Orech Chaim siman 90) - as well as the Mishna Brura (more
briefly in 90:52) to hold there is a chiyuv [obligation] for an adam (which,
although adam can often be used to include women, would seem to mean men in
this context) to daven b'tzibur [publically]:

(a) the prayer of a person [adam] is only heard in a shul (Brochos 6a);

(b) HaShem does not despise the prayers of the many (Brochos 8a);

(c) Hashem is to be found in a shul and in the presence of a minyan of ten;
(Brochos 6a);

(d) if one who is regular to come to shul does not come one day HaShem asks
about him as it says "who is there among you who fears HaShem who listens to
the voice of his servant who walks in darkness and does not have light" - if
for a matter of mitzvah [he does not come to shul] he does have light, if
for a dvar reshus [not a mitzvah matter] he does not have light (Brochos

(e) If HaShem comes to a shul and does not find ten there he becomes angry
(Brochos 6b);

(f) that it is a mitzvah to run to a shul (Brochos 6b) and that would seem
to be even on Shabbas when there is a prohibition of taking big strides (as
ruled in the later poskim, although the discussion here on Brochos 6b, while
following on from the reference to running to shul, actually refers to
learning Torah);

(g) whoever engages is Torah and gimilus hachasadim [deeds of kindness] and
prayers with the congregation HaShem deems it as if he has redeemed His
children from amongst the nations of the world (Brochos 8a);

(h) whoever has a shul in his city but does not enter there to pray is
called a bad neighbour (Brochos 8a);

(i) not going to shul causes him and his children to be exiled (Brochos 8a);

(j) going to shul merits long life (Brochos 8a);

(k) the shiur [measurement] set "for prayer" (and other things, such as
netilat yadayim) is four mil in front of him and anything less than a mil
behind him (Pesachim 46a, Chullin 122b)

(l) there is greater reward in going further to a shul than going closer, so
that if there are two shuls in a city there is more reward for going to the
one that is further (Sotah 22b).

Now Rav Moshe in the aforementioned teshuva derives that there is an
obligation to daven in a minyan primarily from (k) - ie the fact that there
is a measurement set for the distance one needs to go for public prayer
shows that there is an obligation to go. He then further derives an
obligation from the statement referred to in (b) that Hashem does not
despise the prayers of the many, noting the Rambam's formulation that one's
prayer is not heard at all times except in a Synagogue.  Rav Moshe argues
that this itself creates an obligation because if the prayer of a person is
not able to be accepted, it would seem it is as if he has not prayed at all
- because it is only because prayer is able to be accepted does a person
fulfil the mitzvah of tefila.  

The Aruch HaShulchan (Orech Chaim siman 90 si'if 20) further states that a
person is not permitted to go out from a city which has a shul even before
it is light for a dvar reshus, and the only reason that we are not careful
about leaving a city with a shul and hence avoiding tefila b'tzibur is
because we go for our livelihood and this is considered a dvar mitzvah since
it is a mitzvah to sustain one's wife and children - there is an absolute
obliation to sustain one's wife, while his children are considered a matter
of constant tzedaka (as per Kesubos 50a).

Now we know that women are obligated in tefila (rachmei ninhu - they are in
need of the compassion of HaShem - as set out in Brochos 20b).  So why do
not all, or at least most of the above, not apply to women?  Indeed the last
reference - ie (l) is in fact learnt out from a woman, as the story there in
Sotah was of a widow who used to come to daven in Rav Yochanan's study hall,
and he asked was there not a shul in her neighbourhood? and she answered,
does she not get a reward for each extra step she takes coming to his shul?,
a position Rav Yochanan accepted as can be seen in Baba Metzia 107a.

However there are achronim who have made explicit this idea that women have
no obligation to daven b'tzibbur.  The Shvut Ya'akov chelek 3 siman 54 has a
teshuva about a man who lived in a house where for many years certain rooms
had been used for communal prayer, one for men, one for women.  And the man
had a falling out with a certain man and his wife who usually came for such
prayers.  Can he exclude them from his house?  And the Shvut Ya'akov says he
cannot exclude the man, but he can exclude the wife, since women do not have
an obligation in tefila b'tzibur - (although his reasoning appears to, inter
alia, rest on the fact that women are not mitztaref [joined] to the minyan
or kedusha and on the position of the Magen Avraham that most women say only
a few requests in the morning and hence exempt themselves from their Torah
obligation (to the extent that one holds that the obligation is from the
Torah). While women who are punctilious in davening shachris and mincha are
obviously rejecting the leniency (or is it limud zchus) of the Magen
Avraham, and separate rooms in a house would cause problems for being

The Bnai Banim in Chelek 2 siman 10 p. 42 appears to give what I suspect is
the standard explanation for this exemption, namely that there is a
distinction between tefila and tefila b'tzibur - with tefila being based on
either the Avos or korbanos (as seen from Brochos 26b) while tefila b'tzibur
is based on "and I shall be sanctified amidst the sons of Israel" (Vayikra
22:32) as seen in Megilla 23b.  So while women are obligated in tefila as
per Brochos 20b, the Chachamim only obligated men and not women under the
rubric of "and I shall be sanctified amidst the sons of Israel" so as to
sanctify HaShem in the community of ten, making it two very different

But this explanation, which I agree seems part of the common currency (ie
everybody "knows" this), does not work very well with the sources regarding
public prayer I brought above (ignoring (e)).

Perhaps the easiest to explain using this distinction (although even this is
a bit of a stretch) would be (k) - the shiur of four mil and one mil.  One
just has to say that despite the reference to "tefila" ie prayer in the list
on Pesachim 46a and Chullin 122b, and the fact that the other things on the
list (netilas yadayim, various matters of tumah and t'hara) would seem to
apply to women, the gemora is not being very precise, and really it is
referring to the obligation of nikdashti b'toch bnei Yisrael [I will
sanctified amongst the sons of Israel] otherwise known as tefila b'tzibbur -
and it is in relation to fulfilling that obligation that the Sages decreed
the distance requirements of four mil in front and one mil behind.  

There is also the possibility of explaining (h) using the standard
distinction ie the reference to non shul going person as a bad neighbour.
Indeed this is done in the first explanation of the Prisha (Orech Chaim
siman 90 si'if katan 15) - that this is a reference to a situation where
there are not enough men for a minyan without the man in question, and thus
he causes the shechina not to rest on the community if he does not show up.
Clearly a woman who does not count for a minyan cannot be called a bad
neighbour for not showing so as to enable that minyan, as it is not she who
has caused the shechina not to rest.  On the other hand, the more dominant
explanation given in the poskim is that one is called a bad neighbour where
there is a minyan even without the man in question (or alternatively even
when there is no minyan even with him) - "because this is the way of bad
neighbours that they do not enter the houses of their friends" (see eg
Mishna Brura 90:38, Chaye Adam chelek 1 klal 17 and others).  So why would
this not apply to a woman?  If a shul is HaShem's house, and one is called a
bad neighbour for not visiting, what difference does the fact that only men
make up the 10 to make the minyan make?  Is this some form of kol kavuda bas
melech penima [the glory of the kings daughter is only on the inside]?  

And how about Rav Moshe's second proof for the obligation to daven with a
minyan, that tefila is only heard at all times with a minyan, and that
therefore to daven in a situation where one has a good chance of not being
heard is as if one has not davenned at all?  Why would that not apply
equally well to a woman and to her obligation to daven - at least for those
who accept, as "those who are punctilious to daven shacharit and minchah
every day" (to use Martin Stern's language) clearly accept, the obligation
of women to daven and not just say a couple of bekashos in the morning.

Note that if, as the Aruch HaShulchan says, the tzedaka of earning a
livelihood to support one's children is enough to exempt a man from the
obligation of tefila b'tzibur, then surely looking after such children,
ensuring their safety through guarding and other forms of care would count
as a dvar mitzvah and women who were looking after such children must be
exempt from any possible obligation that did exist of tefila b'tzibur.  But
that still does not deal with the cases where women are not currently
engaged in such tzedaka and chessed.

And yet, the only case I am aware of where people appear to have even
semi-seriously suggested an obligation for women to daven with a tzibur was
in the case of the Yeshiva University rabbonim who came out against women
tefila groups - and it was only in that negative context (ie better that
they should be coming to shul than davening in these women's tefila groups)
did they appear to be advocating shul going for women - not that they were
preaching to their women an obligation to attend tefila b'tzibur. 

An alternative explanation for the lack of a woman's obligation to go to
shul might be found from the opinion that was previously quoted on this list
by Steven Oppenheimer in MJ 61#17:

> 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).

However the Bnai Banim argues at length in chelek 2 siman 7 - as he
summarises in English in Equality Lost (YH Henkin Urim Publications 1999)

"...Following the view of the rishonim in Eiruvin (72a) and elsewhere, the
great majority of women's sections today are, for the purposes of a quorum,
extensions of the men's section: ie nine men in the men's section and one
man behind the mechitzah in the woman's section would constitute a minyan.
There are two rationales for this: 

1) In the absence of a floor to ceiling partition or separating wall which is
rare today, the common roof unites the two into one room, following the opinion
of Hagahot haSemak, Or Zarua, R. Yehonatan and others; and 

2) the women's section is functionally subordinate (beteilah, nigreret) to the
men's section (Ramban, Rashba, Shulchan Aruch)." [Note I have omitted the
footnotes that gives sources for each of these rishonic citations.  For more
details see there and in the Hebrew teshuva].

The point being that the reason given in the Aruch HaShulchan (referred to
by Steven Oppenheimer above) is  because in the women's section "kivan
shehamechitzot gmurot hen" [the walls are complete] "af sheyesh chalonot
me'ezrat hanashim" [even though there are windows from the women's section].
It may well be that the Shevet HaLevi, in Bnei Brak davens in similar kinds
of shuls, where there is a floor to ceiling separation and just windows from
the Ezrat Nashim upper story, which itself can constitute an independently
used room.  But most of the shuls frequented by members of this list will
not fall within this category - and so the position of the Meiri (Rosh
Hashana daf 28a d"h zeh barenu")"our women who stand in a shul divided for
themselves are not yotzei to tefilat zibbur since it needs ten" would not
seem to apply to the shuls of most of those found on mail jewish, although
it might well apply to the shuls of the Shevet HaLevi, and none of the
benefits enumerated by the gemora of tefila b'tzibur might be possible for
women in such shuls.

So I confess I am at a bit of loss as to why, based on the sources, women do
not indeed go more often to shul. However the reality is that it is not
customary for women to go, except on shabbat and yom tov, and indeed shuls
may have historically been built, and, at least in certain circles, continue
to be built which may in fact preclude women from gaining the benefits of
tephila b'tzibur that are set out in the gemora and cited in the Rambam, the
Shulchan Aruch, and all the poskim.




From: Orrin Tilevitz <tilevitzo@...>
Date: Tue, Aug 28,2012 at 06:01 PM
Subject: Berov am hadrat Melekh

Stuart Pilichowski wrote (MJ 61#24):
> If "Berov am hadrat Melekh" was a serious halachik / philosophical factor
> and consideration then 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.

"Berov am hadrat melekh" is indeed a passuk, but it is also a halachic principle,
cited many times in the gemara and poskim. It underlies the rule "I will find it
if anyone is interested" that other things being equal, one should daven in the
shul with the most people. It is the reason for what I believe to be the rule
"contrary to common practice in some quarters" that one person should make
kiddush and motzi on Friday night rather than everyone making it for himself. It
is also an underlying reason for the mitzvah of aliya leregel.

The principle, at its core, is that prayer is more powerful, on several levels,
the more people join in it together. One level is the effect of the prayer on
the listener, and anyone who doubts it should go to the Kotel the next time they
have a mass duchening, or get a ticket to the siyyum hashas in 7 years at some
big stadium and witness umpteen thousand Jews answering Barchu.

There is also the companion principle, which Martin should have cited, of lo
titgodedu, which in its drashic form means that one should not chop up the
community into little pieces. So while a single central synagogue is not always
practical, Stuart to the contrary notwithstanding, many of these breakaway shuls
are contrary to the halacha.

Martin's campaign is Quixotic, but he is correct as a technical halachic matter
and as a matter of principle.

From: Keith Bierman <khbkhb@...>
Date: Wed, Aug 29,2012 at 02:01 PM
Subject: Berov am hadrat Melekh

Martin Stern wrote (MJ 61#25):

> If I am not mistaken, it was precisely this kind of stiebelisation that was
> one of the objections raised against the early Chassidic movement.

Really? Not the halachic issues, but that there would be too many schuls?
Having davened at both styles, while I can't argue that there is weight to
the masses (my normal schul has at least 350 people when there isn't a
simcha), the tangible kavanah and kiruv of a small close group is a
wonderful thing. And when it's actually a shteibel (someone's home, or very
close to it), what additional costs?

Given the wide range of nusach, etc. even where we build large central
synagogues, I would be happier if we encouraged like-minded groups (whether
it's to daven at alot hashachar, or to maintain local customs from their
immediate ancestors) than packing everyone into the largest hall we can
afford to build. Being able to share costs shouldn't mean "least common
denominator" davening.

Yes, I appreciate the talmudic ruling that davening with 100 is better than
with 10. But when it gets a lot larger than 100, folks succumb to
amplification systems (or, as per the talmudic discussion, flags) to keep
everyone moderately synchronized. And the temptation for off-topic chatter
(and the notion one can "get away with it") seems to grow with size.

From: Perry Zamek <perryza@...>
Date: Wed, Aug 29,2012 at 05:01 PM
Subject: Berov am hadrat Melekh

I just wanted to ask whether the principle of Berov Am applies in all
circumstances of private minyanim and the like, or only to specific cases (e.g.
reading the Megillah on Purim).
Perry Zamek


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Wed, Aug 29,2012 at 04:01 PM
Subject: Modesty at the Shabbos Table

Yisrael Medad wrote (MJ 61#26):

> Martin invites comments on Rabbi Doniel Neustadt's views (MJ 61#23).

> As I am unfamiliar with this Rabbi, may I ask in what country he resided
> and in what century?

Though this information is not strictly relevant since halachah is
essentially non-century-dependent, I can inform Yisrael that Rabbi Doniel
Yehuda Neustadt is Rav of Young Israel of Cleveland Heights, Ohio, USA. He
writes a weekly halachah discussion sheet included with the Peninim sedra
sheets, which are widely distributed in English speaking shuls and are also
available by email. Many previous issues have been collected together and
published by Feldheim in book form (with accompanying beiurei halachah in
Hebrew for those who wish to go more deeply into the topics) as "The Weekly
Halachah Discussion" (2 volumes), "The Monthly Halachah Discussion" and "The
Daily Halachah Discussion". His works have/had approbations from Rabbi
Mordechai Gifter, Rabbi Chaim Stein, Rabbi Shmuel Kamenetsky and Rabbi Dovid

In the volumes, it says that any questions or comments on their contents can
be emailed to him at <dyn@...> [in the discussion sheet, his email is 
listed as <dneustadt@...>, and a moderator can testify that this email 
address was monitored no further in the past than earlier this year --Mod.]. I 
hope Yisrael and others will take advantage of this information if they have any 
problems with what he writes.

Martin Stern


From: Steven Oppenheimer <steven.oppenheimer@...>
Date: Wed, Aug 29,2012 at 06:01 PM
Subject: When to release the tzitzit after Kriat Shema

Martin Stern wrote (MJ 61#26):

> Yisrael Medad (MJ 61#25) presented a clear kabalistic explanation as to
> why the tzitzit are released at "lo'ad."  

This *is* the explanation offered by the Ya'avetz in his siddur and I cited this
in my post.  Still, the Ya'avetz instructs us to kiss and release the tzitzit at
"lo'ad kayomet."

That should clear up any misunderstanding.  I am sure the Ya'avetz understood
the kabalistic nuances.

Steven Oppenheimer, D.M.D.


End of Volume 61 Issue 27