Volume 61 Number 31 
      Produced: Thu, 06 Sep 2012 17:12:46 EDT

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

Davening on an aeroplane 
    [Martin Stern]
Minhag (was: When to release the tzitzit after Kriat Shema) 
    [Josh Backon]
Modesty at the Shabbos Table 
    [Frank Silbermann]
Rosh Yeshiva Pasuls Chupah Eid Because of iPhone 
    [Martin Stern]
Showing honour to the Torah (2)
    [Joel Rich  Stu Pilichowski]
When to take the tzitzit (3)
    [Martin Stern  Carl Singer  Mark Symons]
    [Martin Stern]


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Mon, Sep 3,2012 at 12:01 PM
Subject: Davening on an aeroplane

Since the previous few of Rabbi Neustadt's Halachah Weekly Discussions that
I submitted seem to have generated some interest, I thought that members
might like to discuss some of this week's topics (Ki Tavo).
Question: What is preferable: davening Shacharis at the airport or
on the plane at the proper time (after sunrise) or davening at home
or in shul before sunrise but after alos amud hashacher?

Discussion: Although generally, the preferred time to recite
Shacharis Shemoneh Esrei is no earlier than sunrise, this rule is
waived for one who is embarking on a trip. It is lchatchillah
permitted to put on tallis and tefillin and daven from the time of
misheyakir (approximately 60 minutes before sunrise) for someone
who is travelling (16). Since it is difficult, for several reasons, to
daven and concentrate properly while davening at the airport or on
an airplane, it is preferable to daven at shul or at home, even
though one would be davening earlier than the ideal time for
davening Shacharis (17).

Question: While flying on an airplane, is one obligated to join a
minyan which is being organised on the plane?

Discussion: Shulchan Aruch (18) rules that all men should make
every effort to daven all tefillos with a minyan for tefillah
b'tzibbur (19) is much more than a preferred course of action: it is a
rabbinic obligation (20). Still, everything has its time and place.
Many people just cannot concentrate properly while standing in a
busy aisle or passageway, valiantly trying to keep their balance.
Sometimes there is turbulence in the air and the captain orders
those standing to immediately return to their seats, which certainly
interferes with ones concentration. Being able to concentrate
properly often overrides the importance of davening with a
Minyan (21).

In addition, davening while standing in an aisle surrounded by
other passengers, could entail the prohibition of davening in the
presence of a woman who is not properly dressed or whose hair is
not covered. Those who remain in their seats do not encounter
these problems since they need only look straight ahead, close
their eyes or focus entirely on the siddur in front of them.
But there is yet another point to ponder: Some airlines welcome
public prayer and permit the passengers to daven in a minyan
while flying. Others, however, object to this practice and resent the
fact that the orthodox Jews are taking over the plane. Passengers
may become upset from the noise and the tumult created by the
makeshift minyanim. Since there is a strong chance that a chillul
Hashem will result many poskim recommend davening
byechchidus while remaining in ones seat, being careful to keep a
low profile and to create the least disturbance possible.

Question: How does one daven Shemoneh Esrei in his airplane

Discussion: He should sit up as straight as possible with his head
slightly bent downward; his feet should be placed together (22). He
should rise slightly from his seat onto his feet when it comes time to
bending his knees and bow and to take the three steps backwards (23).

Question: What should one do if he stood up for Shemoneh Esrei and
while davening the captain turned on the seat belt sign ordering the
passengers to return to their seats?

Discussion: He should finish the brachah being recited, take three steps
back and then walk back to his seat and resume davening. He must be
careful not to speak at all on his way back to his seat since it is strictly
forbidden to talk during Shemoneh Esrei (24).
In addition to the safety issue involved, an Orthodox Jew who fails to
return to his seat when ordered to do so by the airline staff could very
well be causing a massive chillul Hashem, which must be avoided at all

16 O.C. 89:8.
17 Mishnah Berurah 89:40.
18 O.C. 90:9. See Shulchan Aruch Harav 90:17.
19 For the exact definition of tefillah btzibbur, see The Daily Halacha
Discussion on 8-9 Tammuz.
20 Igros Moshe, O.C. 2:27; 3:7; 4:68; Minchas Yitzchak 7:6; Peninei
Tefillah, pg. 119, quoting Rav Y.S. Elyashiv. There are dissenting views
that hold that tefillah b'tzibbur is not an absolute obligation; see Orach
Yisroel, pgs. 535-538, for a review of all the opinions.
21 Igros Moshe, O.C. 3:7; 4:20.
22 Mishnah Berurah 95:2.
23 Rama, O.C. 94:5.
24 See Shaarei Teshuvah 104:1 and Mishnah Berurah 96:7.


From: Josh Backon <backon@...>
Date: Wed, Sep 5,2012 at 04:01 PM
Subject: Minhag (was: When to release the tzitzit after Kriat Shema)

Martin Stern (MJ 61:30) wrote:

> 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.

The Talmud (Messechet Sofrim 14:18)  states MINHAG MEVATEL HALACHA (an
entrenched custom can overturn a law) since every custom is based on the Torah
because if it isn't, it's faulty logic (TO'EH b'SHIKUL ha'Da'at). The Shulchan
Aruch (YOREH DEAH 214:2) states that once accepted, a minhag also binds one's
descendents. The town's elders (BNEI HA'IR) can even force acceptance of a bad
custom (Minhag GARU'A) (Choshen Mishpat 163:3). Yet, if a custom was abolished
one reverts back to the prior custom (EVEN Ha'EZER 45:2 quoting the Rivash).
However, customs once accepted are not to be abolished or ridiculed (ORACH CHAIM
690:17 quoting the Beit Yosef) nor to be changed (YOREH DEAH 39:18; YOREH DEAH 

There is such a thing as MINHAG TA'UT (mistaken) or SHTUT (nonsensical) (See:
Tosafot in Pesachim 51a; Be'Er Heitev Orach Chaim 182 in Hilchot Birkat
Ha'mazon; Be'er Heitev Orach Chaim 653  in Hilchot Lulav; and in Orach Chaim
551:4 in Hilchot Tisha B'av). The Rambam in Hilchot Issurei Biah also mentions 

Josh Backon


From: Frank Silbermann <frank_silbermann@...>
Date: Wed, Sep 5,2012 at 10:01 PM
Subject: Modesty at the Shabbos Table

Martin Stern wrote (MJ 61#29)

> Frank Silbermann  (MJ 61#28):

>> For the record, my first "Local Orthodox Rabbi" poskened
>> to me and my wife that if the husband's family custom
>> is for the woman to cover her hair,  then the wife was
>> obligated to do so, and if not, then she was not obligated.
>> (It was not his family custom for the wife to cover her hair,
>> so his wife did not do so, even though her own mother did.)
> I find Frank's interpretation of this ruling strange.
> According to him, his LOR said "she was not obligated"
> to cover her hair NOT that "she was permitted" to leave
> it uncovered in public.

I was paraphrasing, but is there a logical difference?

> While a woman normally adopts the customs of her husband
> on marriage, this does not apply AFAIK to specifically female
> matters such as how many candles she lights on Friday night.

This is perhaps an angle worth looking into.

> Covering the hair in public is a halachic requirement ... 
> and not merely a family custom so it would seem, a fortiori,
> wrong for her to go against her ancestral practice.

All this means is that you disagree with this rabbi who held otherwise.

As I recall from the discussion twenty years ago on this mailing list,
the position is based on the argument that 

#1 covering the hair was mandatory because it was a universally accepted minhag,

#2 when large numbers of religious women stopped following
this custom (improperly or not), the minhag ceased to be universally
accepted and therefore no longer carried the weight of halacha,
falling back to the status of family custom by those who practiced it.

I once gave this explanation to a rabbi friend and he responded,
"Yeah, I've heard that argument, but I don't buy it."  No, he doesn't
buy it, but apparently other rabbis do.  (The fact that he had already
heard that argument challenges the original assertion that
"there is no halachic basis".)

> What this LOR might have been ruling was that, if her husband
> objected to her covering her hair in the house when no strangers
> are present, or shaving her head as is done in some chasidic circles,
> she should do as he wishes so as not to be 'repulsive' to him.

And how would this explain his wife's not covering her hair in public?

> A husband's wishes might possibly override Dat Yehudit [custom]
> but NOT Dat Moshe [halachah].

Which again begs the question.

> Perhaps Frank should consult the rabbi to clarify his ruling.


Frank Silbermann          Memphis, Tennessee


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Wed, Sep 5,2012 at 04:01 PM
Subject: Rosh Yeshiva Pasuls Chupah Eid Because of iPhone

Steven Oppenheimer wrote (MJ 61#30):

> As the kesuva was being written, Rabbi Yosef Zeev Feinstein,
> Rosh Yeshivas "Ameilah shel Torah", 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 witness.

I fear this is the beginning of a trend and we will see many more such
rulings in the coming months. Only this week I saw a notice in a certain
beit hamidrash that stated among its rules that "nobody who has internet
access without an approved filter will be allowed to have an aliyah".

Martin Stern


From: Joel Rich <JRich@...>
Date: Wed, Sep 5,2012 at 04:01 PM
Subject: Showing honour to the Torah

Martin Stern wrote (MJ 61#30):

> 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

Yes, but perhaps for a different reason. IIRC it is told that R' Chaim 
Soloveitchik would hold a Torah all night on Simchat Torah since no one
would presume to take it from him and he felt it would be a lack of kavod
to the sefer to give it up without a request for it.

Joel Rich

From: Stu Pilichowski <cshmuel@...>
Date: Wed, Sep 5,2012 at 04:01 PM
Subject: Showing honour to the Torah

In reply to Martin Stern (MJ 61#30):

I don't know what others think, but I rise quite quickly to greet and make a
newcomer as welcome as can be.

As far as honoring the Torah, I think you're making too much of it. No one needs
to delve so deeply into such a minor issue IMHO.  To me this comes pretty close to 
falling into the "gimme a break" category.



From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Wed, Sep 5,2012 at 04:01 PM
Subject: When to take the tzitzit

Carl Singer wrote (MJ 61#30):

> 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.

AFAIK the general minhag is to collect the four tzitzit while saying
"vahavi'einu leshalom mei'arba kanfot ha'aretz", but Carl is quite right that
it is awkward to have to "fish" for them while seated on one's tallit. My
practice is put the two rear corners over my thighs after Barechu before
sitting down and have all four tzitzit hanging in front of me so that I can
easily gather them in my hand at the appropriate time.

Martin Stern

From: Carl Singer <carl.singer@...>
Date: Thu, Sep 6,2012 at 10:01 AM
Subject: When to take the tzitzit

Elaborating on my previous post (MJ 61#30):

The minhag that I grew up with and practiced these past 35+ years (since
marriage) is to place my tallis over my head (from shoulders) at Yistabach
and before sitting after Borchu to grasp all 4 tzitzis in my left hand.
I transfer them to my right hand prior to the appropriate paragraph.  I
just noticed the following "instructions" in the Art Scroll Siddur -- I'm
quoting from the English side to avoid transliteration.

"Before reciting the third paragraph (Numbers 15:37-41 the tzitzis, which
have been held in the left hand, are taken in the right hand also, and are
passed before the eyes at 'that you may see it.' "

Towards the end of the 4th paragraph before "l'olam olameem" it instructs
"kiss the tzitzis and release them"

I also notice many people whose minhag is not to hold or kiss the tzitzis
at all.

Carl Singer

From: Mark Symons <mssymons@...>
Date: Thu, Sep 6,2012 at 04:01 PM
Subject: When to take the tzitzit

In reply to Carl Singer wrote (MJ 61#30):

I understand that some consider that to be an incorrect practice, because
the correct way of wearing tzitzit is to have 2 in front and 2 behind, so
that when holding all 4 together for kriat shema (which I understand to
have been an innovation by the Ari, and doing this from "vahavieinu
leshalom mearba kanfot haaretz" - I imagine because of something to do with
a parallel between arba kanfot haaretz and tzizit being on arba kanfot
habeged - though I imagine there are complex kabbalistc reasons) one should
do this for as short a time as possible.

I understand that the Gra wrote to only hold the 2 front tzitzit - if one
were to hold them at all - and emphasised the importance of having 2 in
front and 2 behind especially while reading the paragraph that talks about
the mitzvah of tzitzit itself.

It would seem to me that if one wants to fulfil both practices, one would
pause before vahavieinu leshalom, gather all 4 tzitzit (and ideally not be
saying words during this process), then continue from vahavieinu leshalom;
continue holding all 4 till no later than the end of vehaya im shamoa, then
release the 2 back tzitzit before vayomer, and continue just holding the 2
front ones.

Mark Symons


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Wed, Sep 5,2012 at 01:01 PM
Subject: Zenut

The website of the Jewish Press (not in the print edition) carries a report
dated Sep. 5:


> Israels Supreme Court on Monday ordered the Minister of Religious Affairs
> Yaakov Margi and the Chief Rabbinate Council to explain why they not allow
> single women to immerse in state-run mikvahs, Kikar HaShabbat reports.

> Justices Eliakim Rubinstein, Esther Hayut and Uri Shoham have recently been
> discussing a petition requesting that any Jewish woman, regardless of her
> marital status, should be allowed to dip in the mikvahs run by the religious
> councils.

> The petitioners are Oriya Pliah, Amital Sachs and the Center for Womens
> Justice (CWJ), who are seeking to change the policy.

Two questions immediately come to mind. First, what do they hope to achieve?
Nowadays the laws of taharah (ritual purity) are in abeyance since, until
the Temple is rebuilt, there are no kodshim (sacrificial offerings) for them
to eat. The only reason nowadays for any woman to immerse in a mikvah is to
permit her to have sexual relations with her husband but, if they are not
married, this is not relevant.

Second, why do they need to petition the Supreme Court? Surely there is no
way that a woman's marital status is so obvious that she can be prevented
from using a mikvah if she so desires unless she declares it herself.

So, if they wish to engage in zenut (extramarital sexual activity), they can
do so without having the ban removed. It is, therefore, obvious that their
sole purpose is to force the Rabbinate to condone their immorality. This is
hardly a matter for the secular Israeli courts!

What do others think?

Martin Stern


End of Volume 61 Issue 31