Volume 61 Number 30 
      Produced: Wed, 05 Sep 2012 15:19:17 EDT

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

Asking a Gadol re: "little decisions" (was "Zu darka shel Torah?") 
    [Carl Singer]
Examining the issue of Metzitzah BePeh (MbP) 
    [Steven Oppenheimer]
Modesty at the Shabbos Table (2)
    [Orrin Tilevitz  Gershon Dubin]
Rosh Yeshiva Pasuls Chupah Eid Because of iPhone 
    [Steven Oppenheimer]
Showing honour to the Torah 
    [Martin Stern]
Websites for the Jewish New Year  
    [Marshall Gisser]
When to release the tzitzit after Kriat Shema (3)
    [Stu Pilichowski  Martin Stern  Carl Singer]


From: Carl Singer <carl.singer@...>
Date: Wed, Sep 5,2012 at 08:01 AM
Subject: Asking a Gadol re: "little decisions" (was "Zu darka shel Torah?")

In MJ 61#29 Frank Silbermann notes: 

> Of course, most people do not go to Gedolim for their practical questions;
> they go to their local Orthodox rabbi.  HE is the one who needs to be in
> touch with the world around him, if necessary sometimes to give a psak that is
> not normative but which nonetheless has a halachic basis.  The phenomenon
> you describe becomes a problem only when the Gedolim are asked to make
> every little decision for people.  In that case, people will follow a
> misguided path until continuing to do so becomes infeasible.

I've trodden this ground long ago in MJ posts -- those questions which reflect
upon community standards are to be (should I say "must be") asked to one's 
community Rabbi -- or, more generically, one's LOR (Local Orthodox Rabbi).

Again, I retell that some 30 years ago, when a baby sitter (possibly) traifed
up our kitchen, my wife called Rabbi Shmuel Kamenetsky*, the Rosh Yeshiva told
her that she should call Rabbi Abraham Levene who was the Rabbi of the shule we
attended at the time.

To me this is a clear reflection of a "jurisdictional" component. In many cases
when local balabatim email or call their Rosh Yeshiva in Israel or wherever for
shailahs, they are undermining their community Rabbi and, thus, their community.

* We lived in Philadelphia at the time, and she and Rebbetzen Kamenetsky
learned together and often spoke on the telephone, so the phone number was

Carl Singer


From: Steven Oppenheimer <steven.oppenheimer@...>
Date: Wed, Sep 5,2012 at 12:01 PM
Subject: Examining the issue of Metzitzah BePeh (MbP)

Recently there has been much controversy in the news regarding the issue
of metzitzah bepeh (MbP).

An article recently appeared in the Jewish Press explaining the halachic
basis for metzitzah bepeh.  The article was written by Rabbi Moshe
Zuriel.  Rabbi Zuriel lives in Bnei Brak and was a close talmid of Rav Ruderman,
famed founder and Rosh HaYeshiva of Ner Yisroel in Baltimore. He has written
well over 30 Seforim on subjects ranging from Shas to Tanach to Mussar to
Kabbalah.  After moving to Israel, Rabbi Zuriel learned with - and became
very close with many Gedolei Torah including Rav Sraya Deblitzky, Rav
Shmuel Toledano, and Rav Friedlander - the famed mashgiach of Ponovezh.  He
also learned with Rav Zvi Yehuda Kook, and was the Mashgiach in Shalavim.
His approach is an independent one and is solely guided by his understanding of
the the Torah.

In the article Rabbi Zuriel points out that MbP is a minhag.  There is no
mention in the Talmud, Rambam or Shulchan Aruch that this must be done
bepeh (by mouth).  The withdrawal of blood is a Rabbinical enactment, but
the direct application of the mouth is only a minhag.  Using a tube by
mouth suction is also a utilization of the mouth and should not to be
considered as abolition of the use of the mouth (see Rabbi Moshe Sternbuch,
Teshuvot VeHanhagot 2:503, who relates that Rav Chaim Soloveitchik permitted the
use of a tube for suctioning the blood when there was a TB epidemic reasoning
that the tube is kegufo mamash (like his own body).  Also Rav Shamshon Raphael
Hirsch authorized use of a glass tube after receiving approval from Rav Yitzchok
Elchanan Spector (Shemesh Marpey, p. 70).

Other Rabbonim who permitted the use of a tube are:  Chasam Sofer (Bris Olam
page 216),  Rabbi Yitzchok Herzog, Rav Avrohom Kook, Rabbi Chaim Berlin, Aruch

Rabbi Tzvi Pesach Frank claimed that since the entire purpose of the
Rabbinical enactment of withdrawing the blood from the wound is to avoid
infection, this act being done by the tube is part and parcel of that
healing process. May we add that this would even be a "hiddur Mitzva" since
this is even safer than the personal physical contact of the Mohel to the
open wound.

But why is there such a vehement outcry against the usage of the tube?  The
answer is that for nearly two hundred years there is fear of Gentile
government intervention making the essential circumcision ritual illegal.
This started in Paris in 1843, reached Germany and Poland and today in
California a small group of "humanists" appealed to the State Legislature
to ban the practice. This move was defeated.

The fear is that if we ourselves admit that this mitzvah could be damaging
to the child, the Department of Health might make capital of our admission.
The second cause of the great emotional outbursts of resistance to any
change in the ceremony is the worry to keep intact all of Jewish way life,
to stay as close as possible to the customs of our forefathers; to
forestall all reforms.

But as intelligent human beings we must always weigh the pros and the
cons.   If we are dealing with a Torah law, or at least a Rabbinical
enactment, certainly it is Chassidus to be stringent and rely on "Shomer
Mitzva Lo Ye-da Davar Ra".  But we are referring here not to religious law
but to medical advice tendered by our sages, calculated to save the child
from danger. This is not a "mitzvah" per se.  If, as per modern medical
advice, we are doing the opposite, we are exposing the child to danger, how
is this in any way Chassidus?   True, we should perform metzizah, but why
by direct contact with the mouth?

Rabbi Zuriel suggests that every conscientious father or mother take every
true consideration for the benefit of the newborn infant, and ask the Mohel
in advance to use the tube.  And if he denies or objects, they should find
another Mohel willing to accede to the psak of the Chasam Sofer, Rabbi
Kook, of Rabbi Herzog, or Rabbi Frank.  True Chassidus is not to be
belligerent but to be intelligent and thoughtful, to be cautious within
the limits of Torah Law.

Why is it that when taking blood samples to be tested in the medical
laboratory, the nurses don protective gloves so not to be endangered; why
is it that dentists before treating another patient take off the previous
gloves and exchange for a new pair of  gloves? Why be backward? What is
the religiosity involved to make a creed of being against anything that is
modern, to stand stubbornly against any medical advances? How is it that
when someone needs medical attention he chooses the best medical advice,
price being no object.

However, when it comes to metzizah, which according to Chazal was only
enacted due to worry for medical health, there he will stand with fierce
antagonism and wish to remain as we were years ago, using a "no-no"
exclamation as a standard way of life?

The paramount question is, is that what G-d wants?

It must be emphasized that the resolution of this controversy will not be
achieved by government involvement or regulation.  Any government
entanglement with the manner in which Bris Milah is performed, would be a
severe blow to the foundation of religious rights and freedom which is a
cornerstone of the magnificent beacon of liberty, The United States of
America.  The arguments and facts cited above are directed to the parents
of the infants to be able to decide for themselves, and to explain why they
should not be concerned on a halachic level to use a tube (if done with a
proper suction), since for 180 years, the greatest Torah authorities [from
the time of the Chasam Sofer] have already permitted it.

See the following article by Rabbi Moshe Zuriel from the Jewish Press:


Steven Oppenheimer, D.M.D.


From: Orrin Tilevitz <tilevitzo@...>
Date: Wed, Sep 5,2012 at 08:01 AM
Subject: Modesty at the Shabbos Table

At the decided risk of sticking my nose into a discussion thread that I've been
only half following, about which others on this list know far more than I, about
which, at my advanced age, I no longer have much practical interest, and over
which oceans of ink, real and virtual, have been spilled over at least the last
100 years:

1. Sammy Finkelman writes (MJ 61#29):

> When you say the visibility of a certain body part is ervah, it's ervah for
> everyone.

Not necessarily true. As I recall, the source of the notion that hair is ervah
(which is not the same source for women covering their hair) is, I recall,
Brachot 24 or thereabouts, where it says "se'ar be'isha erva". It also says "kol
be'isha erva" and "tefach be'isha erva". As to the last, the uniform
interpretation is that a tefach of a woman which is normally covered is
considered an ervah. So, for example, if a child's thigh is not normally covered
but an adult woman's is, or if a single woman's thigh is not normally covered
but a married woman's is, it's ervah for one and not the other. It is no stretch
at all to say the same is true for hair. In context, BTW, the gemara is talking
about saying keriat shema and, by extension, prayer. If you say that the basis
of the custom for women to cover their hair at kiddush is erva, there is no
reason to think that the custom can't be limited to married women (or all women
above a certain age).

2. Martin Stern (ibid.) writes:

> Covering the hair in public is a halachic requiremen.

That certainly is the prevailing psak, for (in the Ashkenazic community at
least) married women, but it is not so obvious as Martin makes it. Such
requirement, if indeed it is one, is based on the statement in the gemara about
women being forbidden to go out "bashuk" "peruot rosh". It is, first, not
obvious that "shuk" means generally "in public." It is even less obvious that
"pruot rosh" means "uncovered hair." Indeed, my recollection of the Rashi on the
parsha of sota that he translates "parua" is "loosened". As I also recall, there
is a teshuva in the Seridei Eish that also points this out (in the course of
avoiding dealing with the question of whether hair covering is mandatory).

From: Gershon Dubin <gershon.dubin@...>
Date: Wed, Sep 5,2012 at 11:01 AM
Subject: Modesty at the Shabbos Table

Sammy Finkelman wrote (MJ 61#29):
> Martin Stern (MJ 61#23) quoted The Weekly Halacha Discussion as answering:
>> According to Torah law a married (1) woman must cover her hair whenever she
>> is outside her home (2)"
> The only argument that it applies also in the home is from the Zohar.
> Where is Kiddush said? Inside the home!!!
> So how can it say:
>> if a married lady with uncovered hair is sitting at your Shabbos table,
>> Kiddush may not be recited. This halacha applies to one's own wife, sister,
>> mother, daughter and granddaughter as well."
> Wife, too? Where there is a question about the wife, it's whether she is there
> at all or not, because it might reduce his concentration for Shema or Shemonah
> Esrei. Which is not a question when this is about Kiddush, since it is a
> santification or marking of Shabbos, and not a prayer, although it may be a
> brachah WHERE HE IS TRYING TO BE MOTZEI HER! And maybe others.

It should be understood that there are two different considerations here. One is
the prohibition of seeing a part of the body of a woman that is normally
covered.This does not normally apply to one's wife.

Another is the prohibition of saying Shema OR ANY prayer, in sight of a part of
a body that is normally covered. This DOES apply to one's wife.

The latter is clearly and explicitly stated by the Gemara and codified in all
the Rishonim (early commentators) and the Shulchan Aruch. Not, as you say, "it
is such an absurdity I don't think his sources would bear him out. (aside maybe
from the latest generation)"

Same place: Gemara, Rishonim, Shulchan Aruch. Where one would expect to get
halacha. It does not apply only to hair (there are Rishonim who hold that the
prohibition on praying in front of exposed hair DOES apply to unmarried women,
but the consensus of halachic opinion is otherwise.) but to certain other parts
of the body, but not others, since some parts are objectively ervah and others
are (only) culturally so.

The idea that you consider silly, that parts of a body may be ervah in some
cultures and not in others, while other parts are objectively ervah without
consideration of the cultural milieu, is sourced, again, in Gemara, Rishonim and
Shulchan Aruch.

I shall ignore the rest of the speculation concerning these halachos and the
reasons for them, since one must first study the halachos and be familiar with
them before speculating.


From: Steven Oppenheimer <steven.oppenheimer@...>
Date: Wed, Sep 5,2012 at 10:01 AM
Subject: Rosh Yeshiva Pasuls Chupah Eid Because of iPhone

Perhaps members of Mail Jewish may wish to comment on the incident below which
was reported recently on Yeshiva World News:

*Rosh Yeshiva Pasuls Witness at Chupah Because of iPhone*

The preparations for the chupah were proceeding without incident. The
rabbonim were meeting with the chosson and family members in preparation
for the event on Monday night the eve of 17 Elul 5772 in Jerusalems
Armonot Hall. As the kesuva was being written, Rabbi Yosef Zeev Feinstein,
Rosh Yeshivas '"  "', the mesader kedushin, asked to meet the Eidim
(witnesses). He asked them to see their cell phones. One pulled out a
kosher phone. The second an iPhone. The latter was disqualified as a

Needless to say the witness was shocked but the rabbi was not about to
enter into a discussion over his ruling.

Read the full article at Yeshiva World News URL to article:

Steven Oppenheimer, D.M.D.


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Sat, Sep 1,2012 at 07:01 PM
Subject: Showing honour to the Torah

This (Shabbat) morning the gentleman who had been given hotsa'ah vehachnasah
[the honour of taking out the Sefer Torah and returning it to the Aron Hakodesh]
took it out and then went down the steps and handed it to the shatz at the amud.
I have seen this on occasion in the past and it struck me that this was not
correct and the shatz should have gone up to fetch it, this being a way of showing
honour to the Torah. 

Similarly, the magbia [person who displyed the Sefer Torah after (in Ashkenazi
shuls) the Torah reading], stood up to give it to the shatz. Surely it would have
been more proper for the latter to have taken it from him or, as I have seen in
many places, the gabbai takes it from the magbia and gives it to the shatz. The
latter procedure would seem the most correct based on the procedure on Yom
Kippur (Yoma 7,1) on which Rav (Yoma 69a) comments that having many people form
a chain to pass on the Sefer Torah is a way of showing honour.

An analogous situation is where one meets an important person - even a visitor
to one's shul might qualify in this respect - where etiquette demands that one
goes to greet them rather than expect them to come to greet oneself.

What do others think?

Martin Stern


From: Marshall Gisser <mgisser@...>
Date: Wed, Sep 5,2012 at 09:01 AM
Subject: Websites for the Jewish New Year 

See   www.mesora.org/philosophy
At the bottom are links to many articles on the High Holidays


From: Stu Pilichowski <cshmuel@...>
Date: Wed, Sep 5,2012 at 04:01 AM
Subject: When to release the tzitzit after Kriat Shema

While your legal analysis may be 1000% correct, the fact of the matter is 
that the custom has become widespread. AFAIK even the Artscroll siddurim 
quote the minhag. Calling it a "minhag shtus" doesn't and won't alter the 

Isn't there an halachik concet of "pug chazi" - go see what the practice of 
the masses are in order to ascertain how one should act in practical 

While halacha is in the details sometimes we take it way too far . . . .


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Wed, Sep 5,2012 at 05:01 AM
Subject: When to release the tzitzit after Kriat Shema

Kalonymos Nachtvogel wrote (MJ 61#29):

> I would like to suggest that it is assur to take one's tzitzis in hand
> during the bracha before the Shema and equally assur to release them
> during the bracha after the Shema.
> I'm not trying to create a chidush: the halacha is unequivocal that
> one is not allowed to do anything, not even the mindless action of
> walking, while making a bracha. Ideally, one should not be holding
> anything either. Grabbing, releasing and certainly thinking about the
> subject removes one's focus from the words of the bracha (unless one
> completely pauses in the middle of the bracha, which then is an
> interruption.
> ...
> The fact that many people have these customs, and that they have been
> enshrined in some siddurim, does not alter the fact that they go
> against hilchos brachos. To worry at all in the middle of a bracha
> about grabbing and releasing one's tztitzis harms the kavana of the
> bracha, i.e., the ikkar of the bracha. The brachos are a Takana
> d'Rabanon, and a minhag against a d'Rabanon is a minhag shtus
> (especially if it renders the bracha into a bracha l'vatala, which
> puts the action in the category of issur d'Oraisa).

Since this custom seems to be firmly entrenched in all sectors of the Jewish
people and the only point in dispute is at precisely what point one releases
the tzitzit, it is up to us to try and find a justification for it and NOT
to try and uproot it.

While the principles of "Minhag mevateil halachah [established custom
overrules theoretically derived law]" (Yer. Yev. 12.1) and "Le'olam al
yeshaneh adam min haminhag [a person should never abandon an established
custom]" (B.M. 86b) strictly apply only to monetary matters, the principle
of "Minhag Yisrael Torah [established Jewish customs are Torah]" based on
Hillel's observation (Pes. 66a) "Im ein nevi'im heim b'nei nevi'im heim
[even if the Jewish people are not prophets, they are the descendants of
prophets] may still apply in this case. Thus the Rema rules (Sh. Ar., O. Ch.
790) "ein levateil shum minhag or lela'ag alav ki lo lechinam hukb'u [it is
forbidden to abolish any established custom, or to mock it, since it was
surely not established for no reason]". Only one that overrides CLEAR
biblical or talmudic enactments, and intrinsically involves an element of
halachah violation, is considered null and void (Or Zarua 1.7) and that is
certainly not the case here.

Martin Stern

From: Carl Singer <carl.singer@...>
Date: Wed, Sep 5,2012 at 07:01 AM
Subject: When to release the tzitzit after Kriat Shema

In MJ 61#29, Kalonymos Nachtvogel states:

> I would like to suggest that it is assur to take one's tzitzis in hand
> during the bracha before the Shema and equally assur to release them
> during the bracha after the Shema.

This appears in contrast to common practice of many which is to gather one's
tzitzis in hand while standing for Borchu, thus avoiding the need to "fish" for
one tzistzis while seated atop one's tallis.

Carl Singer


End of Volume 61 Issue 30