Volume 61 Number 37=20
      Produced: Sun, 16 Sep 2012 04:40:37 EDT

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

A redundant word?=20
    [Martin Stern]
Examining the issue of Metzitzah BePeh (4)
    [Martin Stern  Leah S. R. Gordon  Steven Oppenheimer  Katz, Ben M.D.]
Gender Relationships (3)
    [Yisrael Medad   Elliot Berkovits  Katz, Ben M.D.]
Havdalah  after Yom Kippur=20
    [Martin Stern]
Immersion in mikveh of single women=20
    [Martin Stern]
Just say no -- make that NO!!!! (was Gender Relationships)=20
    [Carl Singer]
Modesty at the Shabbos Table=20
    [Martin Stern]
Releasing Tzitzit=20
    [Yisrael Medad]
Simaniyot (Bookmarks) for Gilad Shalit for Rosh HaShanah=20
    [Yael Levine]
What next? (2)
    [Keith Bierman  Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz]

From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Sat, Sep 15,2012 at 05:01 PM
Subject: A redundant word?

This (Shabbat) morning I noticed a strange usage in a mizmor we say every S=
(145,17): "af ein yesh ruach befihem". The word 'yesh' seems redundant and =
of the commentators I consulted (Rashi, Ibn Ezra, Redak, Metzudot, Malbim,
Hirsch) explained its relevance. Can anyone suggest its significance?

Martin Stern


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Fri, Sep 14,2012 at 04:01 AM
Subject: Examining the issue of Metzitzah BePeh

Barak Greenfield wrote (MJ 61#36):

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

I think the immediate reaction of most people would be that the advantages
gained by these activities far outweigh the risks involved. That those who
wish to restrict milah raise objections based on the risk involved shows
that they do not consider its advantages as being so very significant.

Perhaps it is this difference of view from that of Orthodox Jews that
underlies the hostility of the latter to any interference by the former,
even in peripheral matters such as metzitzah befeh for which there would
appear to be halachic grounds for allowing minor changes in practice, espec=
since these might remove a source of possibly fatal infection.

Martin Stern

From: Leah S. R. Gordon <leah@...>
Date: Fri, Sep 14,2012 at 06:01 AM
Subject: Examining the issue of Metzitzah BePeh

In MJ 61#36, Barak Greenfield writes:

> Steven Oppenheimer wrote (MJ 61#35):
>> The fact is that the evidence that MbP can be dangerous is impressive.
>> Why is it being ignored? The death or maiming of even one child is not
>> acceptable. The ways of the Torah are pleasant.
> To prohibit MbP on the grounds that its risk is greater than zero is to
> apply a standard to bris milah that we would not apply anywhere else in o=
> lives. For example, we don't avoid travelling in automobiles just because
> there is a very real risk of accidents. Shouldn't one choose a career tha=
> involves Internet work rather than commuting? Maybe all shopping should b=
> done online to avoid trips to the store. And forget about a pleasure trip=
> how can one risk one's life for recreation?

Mr. Greenfield is looking at only 1/3 of the risk analysis situation.
There are three things to consider in any choice that may cause harm:

1. What is the risk of this harm occurring?

2. What is the cost (badness) if this harm occurs?=20

(these above two are multiplied to get a sense of how bad an outcome it
would be)

and then:

3. What is the upside possibility of making this choice?

Mr. Greenfield accurately assesses #1 above, but misses #2 and #3 entirely.

In the case of MbP, it is definitely a low probability of dire harm (#1).
HOWEVER, the cost, or bad outcome, if it causes harm (#2), is nearly
infinite - babies dying, chillul hashem, etc.  And furthermore, the upside
of MbP (#3) is near zero halakhically, from everything I have read and
learned.  MbP certainly has zero medical upside.  Potentially one could say
that MbP has a nonzero cultural upside in some marginal communities, but I
cannot speak for that, and I suspect that in this case, "nonzero" still doe=
not make up for the harm.

One cannot compare something like earning a living, or taking a vacation,
which have very significant upside potential.

--Leah Sarah Reingold Gordon

From: Steven Oppenheimer <steven.oppenheimer@...>
Date: Fri, Sep 14,2012 at 09:01 AM
Subject: Examining the issue of Metzitzah BePeh

I appreciate Barak Greenfield's and Martin Stern's comments regarding MbP
and its attendant risks.  What seems to be ignored here is that a clearly,
safer alternative exists - namely the use of a glass tube.  And its use has
been sanctioned by some of the greatest poskim.

We can make excuses and try and obfuscate the issue.  Each family will have
to decide and live with that decision.  However, kol yisroel areivim zeh
bazeh.  And so, please forgive me, if I try to present a reasonable, safe
and sanctioned alternative.

Shana Tova!

Steven Oppenheimer, D.M.D.

From: Katz, Ben M.D. <BKatz@...>
Date: Sun, Sep 16,2012 at 02:01 AM
Subject: Examining the issue of Metzitzah BePeh

Metzitzah bapeh is insanitary.  The fact that we are even arguing about it
demonstrates the inherent conservatism of religion and (some would say) wha=
t is
wrong with (some segments of?) Orthodoxy.  Herpes, HIV, syphilis and TB are=
some of the diseases that can be transmitted this way.  The French rabbinat=
realized this over 200 years ago and banned the procedure.

The Talmud says to do this because of what it thought was a health benefit,
which is clearly not the case.  There are perfectly acceptable halachic
alternatives accepted by many gedolim of the past 200 years, such as using =
suction device or putting a barrier between one's mouth and the baby's bloo=
I hope this is the last time I need to write this (but I doubt it will be).


From: Yisrael Medad  <yisrael.medad@...>
Date: Fri, Sep 14,2012 at 02:01 AM
Subject: Gender Relationships

The reason of embarrassment is but one in the case of shaking hands with so=
of the opposite sex.

As Carl Singer wrote (MJ 61#35):

> 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
> is far worse than shaking hands.

There is also "eivah", causing animosity which could permit a certain

Yisrael Medad

From: Elliot Berkovits <eb@...>
Date: Fri, Sep 14,2012 at 05:01 AM
Subject: Gender Relationships

Martin Stern wrote (MJ 61#36):

> 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
>>> touching her, may a man (literally) give her a hand?

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

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

Yes, but surely there is a distinct difference between the Gemara, which
discusses saving someone from death, and Rabbi Neustadt's scenario,
where there is no indication even of injury (certainly not death) -
maybe only an issue of common courtesy? It thus appears unfair to term
this person a chasid shote.=20

I am also not sure on what Halachic basis Carl labels him an Am HaAretz.
Please clarify. IF it is Assur, then the lack of action may be
unfortunate, but surely unavoidable. I was in hospital (in London) when
my wife was in labour on Shavuos night. The door to each corridor is
locked electronically and visitors can only be buzzed in from the
inside. Unfortunately when a visitor appeared (note, not a doctor) it
was very uncomfortable/embarrassing for me that I could not buzz him in,
despite his obvious anxiety. But the issur made it unavoidable.

Eliezer Berkovits


Web : www.landaumorley.co.uk

Lanmor House
370/386 High Road
Middx HA9 6AX

Tel: +44 (0)20 8903 5122
Fax: +44 (0)20 8903 7507

From: Katz, Ben M.D. <BKatz@...>
Date: Sun, Sep 16,2012 at 02:01 AM
Subject: Gender Relationships

In reply to Joel Rich, Carl Singer, Meir Shinnar (MJ 61#35):

The Rashi on the top of Kidushin 82a draws a distinction between teyvat ish=
(the desire for women) and teyvat kerovah (the desire to be close, showing
affection) seems to be relevant, and Tosafot there explains that we rely on=
in order to "use women", which  I assume to mean in professional ways that =
allow contact (eg cutting hair?)

From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Sun, Sep 16,2012 at 01:01 AM
Subject: Havdalah  after Yom Kippur

This week, Rabbi Doniel Neustadt's Weekly Halacha Discussion is less
controversial than previous ones but I think that this question may be of
interest to readers who may wish to comment on it:

Question: If one washes for bread on Motzaei Yom Kippur after reciting
Havdalah, does he first recite Al ha-gefen val peri ha-gefen over
the wine or grape juice?

Discussion: Yes, he does. Concerning this halacha, Havdalah is unlike
Kiddush: When one recites Kiddush right before the meal,
Birkas ha-mazon over the meal covers the wine as well since Kiddush is
considered part of the meal (6) even though the wine was drunk before
ha-motzi was recited. But when it comes to Havdalah, the majority of
the Rishonim do not consider it as part of the meal and therefore require
that Al ha-gefen be recited prior to washing. Bdiavad, however, if one
forgot to recite Al ha-gefen and only remembered after washing, he
should not recite it and relies instead on the opinions that hold that
Birkas ha-mazon covers Havdalah wine as well (7).An additional point to
remember concerning this meal is that the bread (or cake) that will be eate=
should not be on the table during Havdalah. If it is already there, it
should be covered (8). One who is breaking his fast on foods other than
bread (and does not, therefore, recite Al ha-gefen before eating) must
remember that no shehakol or Borei nefashos is recited over any other
beverage which is either on the table or which one is planning on drinking
at this sitting (9).

6 Based on the rule that Ain kiddush ela bmakom seudah.
7 Mishnah Berurah 174:15 and 299:29.
8 O.C. 299:9 and Mishnah Berurah 31.
9 O.C. 174:2 and Mishnah Berurah 3.

From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Thu, Sep 13,2012 at 02:01 AM
Subject: Immersion in mikveh of single women

Menashe Elyashiv wrote (MJ 61#35):

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

Is it possible that the Ben Ish Hai is referring specifically to Erev Yom
Kippur since sexual relations are prohibited the following day and, in any
case the eimat hayom [awe generated by YK] would deter such improper
behavioue subsequently? He may, therefore, not be allowing single women to
immerse for other non-sexual relation reasons.

Martin Stern

From: Carl Singer <carl.singer@...>
Date: Fri, Sep 14,2012 at 08:01 AM
Subject: Just say no -- make that NO!!!! (was Gender Relationships)

In MJ 61#36 Martin Stern, in discussing whether it is permissible for a man
to shake a woman's hand, states:

> Carl Singer wrote (MJ 61#35):

>> 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 o=
> the Carlebach rabbinic dynasty, was once challenged on shaking hands when
> proffered by women and ruled similarly. I believe that this was the gener=
> practice in the Orthodox community, including rabbis, in Germany.

This is one of many posts that indicate what is considered a proper derech
in this situation. Unfortunately, many people today would describe this as =
"leniency" -- and such characterization is a gross misnomer. This trend tow=
replacing what I'll call halachic accuracy with an artificial spectrum of
"leniency .... stringency" is a growing problem within the observant commun=

Certainly halacha is a moving target as is our mesorah (or that of multiple
communities) and we have over a millennium of sources and opinions to
study. Accuracy is thus an elusive and illusory target.

Getting away from the specific issue (hand shaking) and generalizing:

As our generations grow further from Sinai, and as communities with differe=
traditions now live together, and as what one might call "halachic politics=
" is
practiced among individuals and groups there has been a growing tendency to=
stringency. Again, to replace halachic accuracy (some might call it a "prop=
derech") with a spectrum along an axis of "leniency" or "stringency" distor=

One can argue / debate examples to the absurd* -- but more stringent is not
equivalent to more halachically accurate. Neither is it necessarily equival=
to being more in keeping with the halachic tradition or mesorah of a commun=
-- to the contrary it may distort same.

Perhaps a psychiatrist or psychologist might be able to explain why the ten=
to just say  "no" or "NO!!!" -- but there seem to be there are many who wit=
h or
without an halachic foundation gravitate toward what they believe to be mor=
e a
stringent position.   I believe this approach may cause one to miss the hal=
boat. For example:

* People who hold by Rabbainu Tam for "timing" won't hold by Rabbainu Tam
for glass dishes -- they posit that glass was different back then, thus
voiding Rabbain Tam's opinion.

* How would many in our communities compare one who holds 72 minutes with
one who holds 60 minutes -- but wait, what of the person who holds 73
minutes or 75 minutes lest the clock or calculations be inaccurate .....

* Similarly compare the "I don't use an eruv" with, "I use the eruv"  --
is the former in any way more machmir, "frummer", or whatever than the
latter? Reword it as "I don't use THIS eruv" and suddenly we have a person
casting aspersions on the Rabbaim who designed, built and maintain THIS eru=

Carl Singer

From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Fri, Sep 14,2012 at 04:01 AM
Subject: Modesty at the Shabbos Table

Frank Silbermann wrote (MJ 61#35):

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

I must apologise to Frank for misreading his original submission (MJ 31#28)
and did not appreciate his bracketed comment:

> 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.

as applying to the LOR himself.

Martin Stern

From: Yisrael Medad  <yisrael.medad@...>
Date: Wed, Sep 5,2012 at 03:01 AM
Subject: Releasing Tzitzit

In MJ 61#29 Kalonymos Nachtvogel writes:-

> 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 would rather suggest that gathering together the fringes can be done
in-between the benedictions. Of course, since the custom is so entrenched, =
wonder why he would seek to destablize the situation, especially as, if I
understand him correctly, he prefers that the Shema concentration be distur=
rather than that of the benedictions before and after. That is his chiddush=
, I
suggest. =20

Of course, the fringes are usually gathered, well, as I do, just before the

Yisrael Medad

From: Yael Levine <ylkpk@...>
Date: Fri, Sep 14,2012 at 03:01 AM
Subject: Simaniyot (Bookmarks) for Gilad Shalit for Rosh HaShanah

Prior to Rosh HaShanah 5767 (2006) simaniyot (bookmarks) with a prayer for =
release of Gilad Shalit were prepared in Israel and distributed. I read abo=
this in two sources, but haven't seen it.

I was wondering if anyone either might still have a copy which they could
photograph or perhaps someone remembers having seen it, and would be able t=
describe it.

Yael Levine


From: Keith Bierman <khbkhb@...>
Date: Fri, Sep 14,2012 at 02:01 PM
Subject: What next?

Martin Stern wrote (MJ 61#36):

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

>> The first Jewish Israeli male couple to marry has filed for divorce in a
>> Tel Aviv rabbinical court that never recognized the marriage.
>> It is unknown if the rabbinical court will provide a divorce for Uzi Eve=

It seems to me that this should be relatively trivial. The Beit Din should
write a note that the original "marriage" was invalid, so freeing the
Interior Ministry to release the two "agnunot".

From: Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz <sabbahillel@...>
Date: Fri, Sep 14,2012 at 03:01 PM
Subject: What next?

In reply to Martin Stern (MJ 61#36):

This has also occurred in the United States. The point is that one=20
cannot grant a divorce without simultaneously acknowledging that the=20
marriage being dissolved was valid. Since the "marriage" was never=20
valid, then it would be nonexistent to begin with. A court cannot=20
dissolve a legally nonexistent situation.

in the case of Port and Cowan, a Maryland judge ruled in 2010 that the=20
state's constitution could not recognize their divorce, and denied their=20


Appeals court says gay couples can't divorce in Texas

By Jamie Stengle


Published: 11:07 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 31, 2010

A Texas appeals court said Tuesday that gay couples legally married in=20
other states cannot divorce in Texas, where same-sex marriage is banned.

The state's 5th Court of Appeals ruled that a Dallas district court=20
judge didn't have the authority to hear a divorce case involving two=20
Dallas men who married in Massachusetts in 2006.

Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz=20


End of Volume 61 Issue 37