Volume 61 Number 36=20
      Produced: Fri, 14 Sep 2012 01:09:51 EDT

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

Ketivah vechatimah tovah=20
    [Martin Stern]
Davening on an airplane=20
    [Martin Stern]
Do we think we live in a vacuum?=20
    [Steven Oppenheimer]
Examining the issue of Metzitzah BePeh (3)
    [Martin Stern  Barak Greenfield  Martin Stern]
Gender Relationships (2)
    [Martin Stern  Barak Greenfield]
Immersion in mikveh of single women=20
    [Menashe Elyashiv]
Modesty at the Shabbos Table=20
    [Frank Silbermann]
Musical  instruments during davening=20
    [Mark Goldenberg]
Rabbi Doniel Neustadt=20
    [Martin Stern]
Touching tefillin (was Tzitzit during Shema)=20
    [Martin Stern]
What next?=20
    [Martin Stern]


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Thu, Sep 13,2012 at 04:01 AM
Subject:  Ketivah vechatimah tovah

Wishing all members of Mail Jewish a ketivah vechatimah tovah and looking
forward to a new year with digests filled with incisive discussions on
topics of current concern.

Martin Stern and family

From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Tue, Sep 11,2012 at 04:01 AM
Subject: Davening on an airplane

Sammy Finkelman wrote (MJ 61#33):

> Martin Stern (MJ 61#31) quoted Rabbi Neustadt's Halachah Weekly Discussio=
> for Ki tavo in which he stated:
>> 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.
> I assume he means continue davening while sitting, but he doesn't say so.=
> Or does he?

I think it is fairly obvious from the context that he implies this. It is
almost explicit in what Rabbi Neustadt also wrote:

>> 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 one's concentration.

When the captain orders those standing to immediately return to their seats=
he means that they should return AND SIT in their seats. It is almost
impossible to stand at one's seat anyway.

Martin Stern

From: Steven Oppenheimer <steven.oppenheimer@...>
Date: Thu, Sep 13,2012 at 10:01 PM
Subject: Do we think we live in a vacuum?

We think we live in a vacuum.  We discuss issues that affect the Jewish
community, but I wonder if we are cognizant of the outside world.

My son is doing a rotation in Anesthesia.  When he walked into the hospital
this morning, the chief and the assistant program director approached him,
observing that he wears a kippah, and asked him, "What's the story about
Metzitzah bePeh?  Do people really do that?"

And this is not New York!

The world is very aware of our issues and our actions and our discussions.
May HaShem guide us to speak and act wisely.

Shana Tova and Ketiva Vechatima Tova to all the MJ readers.

Steven Oppenheimer, D.M.D.


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Thu, Sep 13,2012 at 09:01 AM
Subject: Examining the issue of Metzitzah BePeh

There was a report on this on the Jerusalem Post website:


> New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg wants to regulate and restrict the pract=
> of metziza bipeh, a ritual used by some Orthodox Jews in circumcision, Th=
e New
> York Sun reported Wednesday...
> While the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene recognizes the health
> benefits of circumcision and doesn't seek to ban it completely, it wants =
> enforce a requirement for a written waiver or consent from parents before=
> metzitza bipeh part of the ritual can be done, according to the report.
> Mayor Bloomberg rejected pleas from leaders of the Orthodox Jewish commun=
> in New York to cooperate and consult with them on the practicing of metzi=
> bipeh, the Sun reported.
> The mayor's health commissioner, Dr. Thomas Farley, replied to the pleas,
> quoting the US Supreme Court's remark in a 1944 child labor case that the
> right to practice religion freely does not include the liberty to expose =
> community or the child to communicable disease or the latter to ill-healt=
h or
> death, according to the report.

If this report is accurate, I fear it will only exacerbate matters. While
there is much to be said for Mayor Michael Bloomberg's well-intentioned
objective to avoid even the remotest risk of infection, rejecting pleas fro=
leaders of the Orthodox Jewish community to cooperate and consult with them=
probably prove counterproductive.

Martin Stern

From: Barak Greenfield <docbjg@...>
Date: Thu, Sep 13,2012 at 10:01 AM
Subject: Examining the issue of Metzitzah BePeh

Steven Oppenheimer wrote (MJ 61#35):

> The fact is that the evidence that MbP can be dangerous is impressive. Wh=
y is
> it being ignored? The death or maiming of even one child is not acceptabl=
e. The
> ways of the Torah are pleasant.

To prohibit MbP on the grounds that its risk is greater than zero is to app=
ly a
standard to bris milah that we would not apply anywhere else in our lives. =
example, we don't avoid travelling in automobiles just because there is a v=
real risk of accidents. Shouldn't one choose a career that involves Interne=
work rather than commuting? Maybe all shopping should be done online to avo=
trips to the store. And forget about a pleasure trip -- how can one risk on=
life for recreation?

The halacha as articulated in Shulchan Aruch is that if two brothers die fr=
bris milah, the third is not circumcised in infancy, the assumption being t=
he is at increased risk. But clearly, this means that we are willing to acc=
some level of risk, otherwise how could we circumcise anyone? What about th=
first two? But we don't ban bris milah entirely. The point is to determine =
level of risk is acceptable, and engage in activities whose level of risk i=
s low
enough, not to insist (for one activity only!) that the level of risk be ze=

Barak Greenfield

From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Thu, Sep 13,2012 at 04:01 PM
Subject: Examining the issue of Metzitzah BePeh

The extract below is from an article that appears in the on-line version of
the Yated Ne'eman:

> The Department of Healths campaign to demonize metzitzah bpeh by blaming
> herpes infections in newborns on the mohel, has taken a new hit.
> Twice in the past two months, the DOH has been embarrassed by evidence
> shattering its myth about the so-called life-threatening dangers of metzi=
> bpeh. =20
> In two of the five herpes cases continually cited as showcasing these
> dangers, new evidence backed by medical records has pointed to family
> members with active herpes sores - not the mohel - as the most likely sou=
> of the infection.
> The discovery of this evidence, in live interviews with parents of the
> affected babies, has prompted sharp criticism of the Departments policy o=
> attacking the practice of mbp, and groundlessly targeting mohelim as the
> source of infection in every case.
> In a third case, a baby with a rash on his knees was diagnosed as having
> herpes even though lab results were negative. Nevertheless, the DOH mount=
ed a
> hunt for the mohel who performed mbp.
> Now, for the first time, a mohel blamed for transmitting herpes to a Kiry=
> Yoel baby in May has submitted to blood tests to determine if in fact he
> carries HSV-1 antibodies.
> A positive finding, while not proving claims that mbp caused the babys
> illness, would not disqualify the mohel as a potential source. In rare
> circumstances, someone who has herpes antibodies may shed the virus in hi=
> bloodstream and possibly transmit it to another party.
> Contrary to Department presumptions, however, the mohel tested negative. =
> is proof positive that since he never had the HSV-1 virus, he could not
> possibly have transmitted it.
> In an exclusive interview with Yated, the mohel, Rabbi G., said he chose =
to be
> tested a second time, to be absolutely sure.
> ...
> The distrust of the Department runs so deep, that Rabbi G. chose to speak
> anonymously to this writer, and only with counsel present. Even while arm=
> with a legal affidavit signed by doctors and nurses who attest to his bei=
> free of HSV-1 antibodies, Rabbi G. is wary of DOH efforts to identify him=
> Their attitude is, we have a case of herpes in a baby boy, lets find a mo=
> to blame it on. I am not willing to be their scapegoat.
> ...
>In 2006, the Rabbinical Council, a group comprised of representatives from=
> spectrum of Orthodox Jewry in New York, entered into a Circumcision Proto=
> with the NY State Health Department. The terms agreed upon called for an
> unbiased investigation in exchange for rabbinic and community cooperation=
> This included banning the mohel from performing mbp if he=92s found to be
> DNA-matched to an infected infant.
> The State Health Commissioner lauded the agreement, praising =93the
> participation of the Rabbinical Council of the State of New York, and the
> good faith that was put forth with the Department of Health to protect th=
> public health, and at the same time, respect religious freedom.=94
> The Protocol was reviewed by nationally renowned neonatal infectious dise=
> experts and the National Institutes of Health, and was unanimously passed=
> the NYS Public Health Council.
> It was adopted by every health department in the State of New York =96 ex=
> New York City=92s.
> On the rabbinic side, it was entered into by the Central Rabbincal Congre=
> of the United States and Canada, Rav Feivel Cohen, Rav Hillel David, lead=
> of Koshau, Satmar, Skver, Belz, Bobov, Pupa and Vien. It was subsequently
> adopted by the Moetzes Gedolei HaTorah of Agudath Israel, and the rabbini=
> leadership of the National Council of Young Israel.
> ...
> The Protocol was terminated when a new administration came into office. I=
t was
> recently raised by representatives of the Jewish community with the State
> Department of Health, as well as city officials. The hope was that this
> carefully negotiated agreement could be resurrected to benefit all concer=
> parties. The officials declined to revisit it.
> ...
> It is not the Orthodox community that refuses to cooperate; it is the DOH
> that has steadfastly refused to conduct unbiased investigations. It has
> adopted an intransigent and adversarial stance that has left the communit=
y no
> choice but to close up.

While some may consider the Yated to be not entirely impartial, it seems to
be raising serious questions which members may wish to discuss.

Martin Stern


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Thu, Sep 13,2012 at 02:01 AM
Subject: Gender Relationships

Carl Singer wrote (MJ 61#35):

> Martin Stern (MJ 61#34) paints several scenarios of interest.

>> Question: If a lady fell and the only way to help her up requires touchi=
>> her, may a man (literally) give her a hand?

> I do not pasken -- BUT  I would reply unequivocally that any man who woul=
> delay in providing needed aid is an Am HaAretz (Yes, this is a strong res=
> -- it is meant to be.)

Carl's response is not  as strong as the Gemara (Sota 21b) which calls a ma=
who refuses to save a woman from drowning a "chasid shote [stupidly
over-pious person]"!

>> Question: Is it ever permitted to shake hands with a woman? Is there a
>> dispensation to do so if otherwise one would suffer a substantial loss o=
>> would embarrass the woman, possibly causing a chillul Hashem?

> I know an esteemed Rabbi who although he will not initiate a handshake,
> will reciprocate lest he embarrass the woman -- I believe this is an
> essentially sound approach.  Not to try to set up a hierarchy of avayros =
> but I would think that (publicly) embarrassing another of God's children =
> far worse than shaking hands.
My wife's great-grandfather, Rabbi Salomon Carlebach of Lubeck, founder of
the Carlebach rabbinic dynasty, was once challenged on shaking hands when
proffered by women and ruled similarly. I believe that this was the general
practice in the Orthodox community, including rabbis, in Germany.

Martin Stern

From: Barak Greenfield <docbjg@...>
Date: Thu, Sep 13,2012 at 02:01 PM
Subject: Gender Relationships

Meir Shinnar wrote (MJ 61#35):

> There is an element of Hillul Hashem involved - which is also directly re=
> to our ability to function in the larger world. The world at large may (b=
> understand that we have certain limits and things we can't do - and toler=
ate it
> based on pluralism. However, if the reason is not viewed as religious, bu=
> based on giving hyper-sexual content to common social gestures - that wil=
l not
> be tolerated (and even viewed as morally problematic) - and directly affe=
ct the
> toleration of Orthodox Jews.

It can't be a chillul Hashem to follow halacha, even if the secular world
doesn't realize it's halacha. To violate the Torah is a chillul Hashem and =
follow it is a kiddush Hashem, whatever the opinion of the masses is. For
example, if the whole world turns against bris milah, would we stop doing i=
t "to
avoid a chillul Hashem"? How about the world being opposed to shechita, or =
in favor of worshiping a man-god - are these areas of halacha to be changed=
order to avoid a chillul Hashem? Of course, one can discuss whether the
intergender contact previously mentioned is mutar or ossur, but according t=
o the
opinion that it's ossur, it certainly can't be a chillul Hashem to refrain =
doing it.

Barak Greenfield

From: Menashe Elyashiv <Menashe.Elyashiv@...>
Date: Mon, Sep 10,2012 at 02:01 PM
Subject: Immersion in mikveh of single women

The Ben Ish Hai (Vayelech, first year, #8) states everyone immerses on=20
erev Yom Kippur. He brings the Matteh Ephraim (#600/8) who wrote that even=
young boys and young girls (virgins) should immerse. However, other Poskim=
disagree about virgins. But what we do see that there are some Poskim that=
allow single women to immerse for a non-sexual-relations reason.=20

From: Frank Silbermann <frank_silbermann@...>
Date: Mon, Sep 10,2012 at 02:01 PM
Subject: Modesty at the Shabbos Table

Martin Stern wrote (MJ 61#34):

> Frank Silbermann wrote (MJ 61#31):
> =20
>> 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.)


>>> Perhaps Frank should consult the rabbi to clarify his ruling.
>> Because?
> Because Frank may have read more into his LOR's ruling than was intended.=
> may have been referring to uncovered hair in private areas (Dat Yehudit)
> rather than in public (Dat Moshe). People often hear what they want to he=
> rather than what is said, so I would recommend Frank checks with him.

It should have been understood that the wife of my then rabbi in New Orlean=
did not cover her hair IN PUBLIC, even though her mother had done so -- and=
this was the explanation he gave.  (Did Martin Stern imagine that I somehow
never saw my LOR's wife in public?)

Had this been only a private behavior, it would not have made sense for me =
mention it.

Rather than people hearing what they want to hear, this seems more a proble=
m of
people READING what they want to READ rather than what is WRITTEN.

Frank Silbermann        Memphis, Tennessee

From: Mark Goldenberg <GOLDDDS@...>
Date: Tue, Sep 11,2012 at 12:01 AM
Subject: Musical  instruments during davening

I have viewed on-line numerous Selichos services from around the world=20
that include the use of various musical instruments.  They were very lively=
and inspiring Selichos.  Is there a Halachic issue with the use of musical=
instruments during davening, even though it is not on Shabbos?
Mark Goldenberg

From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Tue, Sep 11,2012 at 04:01 AM
Subject: Rabbi Doniel Neustadt

Yisrael Medad wrote (MJ 61#33):

> Martin Stern (MJ 61#31) suggests:
>> Since the previous few of Rabbi Neustadt's Halachah Weekly Discussions t=
hat I
>> submitted seem to have generated some interest, I thought that members m=
>> like to discuss some of this week's topics (Ki Tavo)."
> And he drops off four such.
> I, for one, find little interest in his hashkafa and I strongly suggest
> that Martin simply provide the address for either registration/subscripti=
on to
> receive his Halachic outpourings or a site location where those truly
> interested can peruse them.

May I first point out that I do not necessarily agree with everything Rabbi
Neustadt writes and only submit those that I think might provoke discussion=
as I have done with items that I have noticed in other publications - which
they seem to do.=20

I very much regret that Yisrael wishes to suppress views with which he
disagrees but I suggest that he allows other MJ members the opportunity to
consider and comment on them.

Martin Stern

From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Wed, Sep 12,2012 at 05:01 AM
Subject: Touching tefillin (was Tzitzit during Shema)

Steven Oppenheimer wrote (MJ 61#32):

> The Shulchan Aruch (61:25) writes that it is proper to touch the tefillin
> shel yad when it is mentioned (le'oht al yadecha) in the Shema and to tou=
> the tefillin shel rosh when it is mentioned (letotafot bain ainecha).  Th=
> Mishnah Berurah (61:39)  writes that this should also be done in the seco=
> parasha of Shema when tefillin are mentioned.
> Chayei Adam (14:15) reports that the custom is to kiss the tefillin after
> one touches them.  This custom is also brought by the Kitzur Shulchan Aru=
> (10:17).=20

What they obviously mean is to kiss the fingers that have just touched the
tefillin - to actually kiss the tefillin involves some very complicated

The Mishnah Berurah (25:13) writes that some have the custom to touch (and
move slightly) both tefillin when saying the berachah "oter Yisrael
betifarah". This is because the shel rosh is called pe'er. We have a
principle that we always touch the shel yad before the shel rosh, so we hav=
to touch it as well. I have noticed many people do not understand this and
touch the shel yad while saying the berachah "ozer Yisrael bigvurah", as if
that referred to it, which is incorrect. It would be better to wait until
after the berachah and then touch the shel yad as a preliminary to touching
the shel rosh.

I have seen in the new siddur published by the Machon Moreshet Ashkenaz tha=
the minhag of German Jews, who do not put on tefillin until after birchot
hashachar and korbanot, is to put one's hand on the tefillin bag while
saying "oter Yisrael betifarah" and move it slightly.

Martin Stern

From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Wed, Sep 12,2012 at 04:01 AM
Subject: What next?

I saw an article on the Jewish Press website on which members may wish to


> The first Jewish Israeli male couple to marry has filed for divorce in a =
> Aviv rabbinical court that never recognized the marriage.

> It is unknown if the rabbinical court will provide a divorce for Uzi Even=
> the first openly gay Knesset member, and Dr. Amit Kama, Ynet reported. Th=
> were married in Canada in 2004 after living together for more than a deca=

> Even, a professor of physical chemistry at Tel Aviv University, and Kama
> the first same-sex male couple in Israel to have their legal right of
> adoption recognized  split three years ago. Even now wants to marry anoth=
> man abroad, but cannot until he is divorced from Kama, according to Ynet.

> Under Israeli law, the rabbinical court is the only body authorized to an=
> the marriage of Jewish citizens in Israel. The Interior Ministry will not
> dissolve the marriage without an order from the rabbinical court. Only
> Canadian citizens can be divorced in Canada, Ynet reported.

> A separation agreement has been approved by the Ramat Gan Family Court.

> Even and Kama filed a lawsuit with Israels Supreme Court that forced the
> Interior Ministry to register their marriage in 2006 recognizing the
> marriage abroad.

Martin Stern


End of Volume 61 Issue 36