Volume 61 Number 47 
      Produced: Wed, 24 Oct 2012 02:06:33 EDT

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

Do not Show Them Favour (3)
    [Frank Silbermann  David Lee Makowsky  Chana Luntz]
The Yehi Ratzon in Birchas Kohanim 
    [Martin Stern]
To say or not to say - Tachanun (2)
    [Martin Stern  Mark Steiner]


From: Frank Silbermann <frank_silbermann@...>
Date: Mon, Oct 22,2012 at 08:01 AM
Subject: Do not Show Them Favour

Martin Stern (MJ 61#46) wrote:

> This week's Weekly Halacha Discussion by Rabbi Doniel Neustadt may be a bit
> controversial and members may wish to discuss various aspects of them.
> The Torah prohibition of Lo Sechaneim  Do not show them favour appears in
> the context of laws governing the relationship that the conquering Jewish
> nation should have with the defeated remnant of the Seven Nations who
> resided in Eretz Yisroel before Yehoshuas time. 
> ...
> Note: People wonder why some of the halachos derived from Lo Sechaneim are
> often ignored

Was there a Rabbinical decree to extend these laws to peoples other than the
seven nations of Canaanites, even outside the land of Israel?

Frank Silbermann              Memphis, Tennessee

From: David Lee Makowsky <dmakowsk@...>
Date: Mon, Oct 22,2012 at 09:01 AM
Subject: Do not Show Them Favour

Martin Stern (MJ 61#46) wrote:

> This week's Weekly Halacha Discussion by Rabbi Doniel Neustadt may be a bit
> controversial and members may wish to discuss various aspects of them ...
> Possibly, those who are lax follow the opinion of the Rishonim (13) who  
> maintain that this halacha applies only to non-Jews who are active idol 
> worshippers (14). Shulchan Aruch however does not follow this opinion and 
> clearly rules that the laws derived from Lo Sechaneim apply to all non-Jews, 
> including Muslims who are not idol worshippers; the only exception would be a 
> non-Jew who became a ger toshav in the times of the Sanhedrin (15).

I was wondering when and why "Lo Sechaneim" would take precedence over
"Darkei Shalom" and vice versa.

David Makowsky
From: Chana Luntz <Chana@...>
Date: Tue, Oct 23,2012 at 08:01 PM
Subject: Do not Show Them Favour

Martin Stern writes in MJ 61#46:

> This week's Weekly Halacha Discussion by Rabbi Doniel Neustadt may be a bit
> controversial and members may wish to discuss various aspects of them.

I share the problem that others have expressed on this list in relation to
R' Doniel Neustadt's Halacha Discussions on other topics (such as a married
woman's hair being uncovered at Kiddush) - which is that, while what he
generally quotes is true, there is enough omitted or elided to give what I
believe is an inaccurate total summary of the situation, or else it is
expressed in a way that negatively slants one against alternative
viewpoints.  But the effort to show exactly why this is so requires quite a
detailed analysis of the sources.

I will attempt to give a flavour of what I mean here, but it is not an easy

To start with the concluding paragraph, since this is the one that leaves
one with a final impression:

> Note: People wonder why some of the halachos derived from Lo Sechaneim are
> often ignored, as today it has become commonplace to admire or praise
> non-Jews for their talents, athletic ability or statesmanship. Certainly,
> this laxity can be partially attributed to the Great American Melting Pot
> {multiculturalism in other places} and to the influence of the society and
> secular media to which we are constantly exposed.

i.e. the start being - it is all due to being overly influenced by the wider
society, not by halachic norms and different halachic positions.

> Possibly, those who are lax follow the opinion of the Rishonim (13) who
> maintain that this halacha applies only to non-Jews who are active idol
> worshippers (14).

Yes indeed, that is one position to bear in mind, for which he quotes - (13)
Rambam, Sefer Hamitzvos 50; Teshuvos Rashba 1:8; Sefer Hachinuch 426; Meiri,
Avodah Zarah 20a. He then quotes (14) See Torah Temimah, Devorim 7:2, who
suggests that these halachos apply only to the Gentiles of the Seven
Nations.  But he does not make it clear that it is not only the Torah Temima
who says so - but the Hameiri (Avoda Zara 20a) and Rabad (Hilchot Avoda Zara
10:6), also limit the entire prohibition to the historical seven Canaanite
nations, and this is a reoccurring theme that gets quoted in many achronic

> Shulchan Aruch however does not follow this opinion and clearly rules that
> the laws derived from Lo Sechaneim apply to all non-Jews, including Muslims
> who are not idol worshippers; the only exception would be a non-Jew who
> became a ger toshav in the times of the Sanhedrin (15).

Yes and yet not quite.  He quotes for this (15) C.M. 249:2; Shach, Y.D. 151:18.
See Mishnah Berurah 225:33.

The Shulchan Aruch says in the siman quoted, namely Shulchan Aruch Choshen
Mispat siman 249 si'if 2:

"An oved cochavim who is not a ger toshav, it is forbidden to give him a
present unless he is acquainted with him or if there is in it a matter of
darchei shalom."

And in the Beis Yosef (Choshen Mishpat Siman 249) the Shulchan Aruch writes:

"And that which Tosphos asks (d"h Rebi in perek kol sha'ah Pesachim 22)
where it teaches that a man sent a thigh to a non Jew (Chullin 93b) and like
Rebbi Yehuda and they answer in the Tosephta (Avodah Zarah perek 3 halacha
5) that it was taught regarding the matter of Rabbi Yehuda [since in Avodah
Zara 64b-65a we see that Rabbi Yehuda sent a present to a non-Jew called
Avidarna on his festival, and when asked about it, he said, I know him well
enough to know that he does not worship idols] that with a non-Jew that he
is acquainted with it is permitted because it is as if he sells it.  And
that which it says in perek hadar (Eruvin 64b) that [Rabban Gamliel] said to
a non-Jew take these loaves [of bread which they had found on the road] even
though he was not acquainted with him like it can be derived there [as it
later emerged that Rabban Gamliel knew the name of the non-Jew Mavgai only by
ruach hakodesh, never having met him before] it is different there because
he accompanied him on the way.  And if you say that we should not sustain
the poor of the non-Jews with the poor of the Jews because of darchei shalom
(Gitten 61a) there is to say that when there is darchei shalom that is not a
free gift."

Now in the case of giving presents to an individual in a place like America
- how often does it ever come up that you have a situation that can
genuinely be considered a case of a gift that does *not* fall within either
the category of being acquainted with the person in question, or it being a
situation of darchei shalom.  But by not elaborating on these two exceptions
(even though they are referred to in the piece) a misleading impression is
given.  The idea that these two exceptions can be reduced down to the
situation where it is for a past service rendered is only one possible
interpretation of this idea, and an extremely narrow one at that, while
others understand these exceptions to mean something a lot wider than this
(as would seem to be suggested by the gemora passages themselves),
especially in the malkus shel chessed [kingdom of lovingkindness] which is
the way modern states such as America are frequently characterised in the

Secondly let us look at this portion:
> 1. Do not sell to them land in Eretz Yisroel. Eretz Yisroel was dedicated by
> Hashem as a land for the Jewish People, where the mitzvos of the Torah can
> be kept with intensity and devotion. Idol worshippers and Gentiles do not
> belong in the Holy Land at all and they certainly may not own property
> there. It is therefore forbidden for a Jew to sell any property in Eretz
> Yisroel to a non-Jew (1), even if the non-Jew is not an active idol
> worshipper (2) and even if the sale will benefit the Jew only (3). Renting
> or leasing a house or apartment to a non-Jew in Eretz Yisroel is permitted
> (4).

Now some of you might have heard of the heter mechira - the sale of the land
of Israel to a non-Jew every shmitta year so as to allow the use of the
produce of the land during the shmitta year.  

Obviously in order to effect the sale of the land to enable the heter
mechira, one has to not run into a problem with Lo Sechaneim.  Indeed, this
is the most cogent argument of those opposed to the heter mechira - how can
you sell the land of Israel to a non-Jew, in breach of the Torah prohibition
of lo sechaneim, to avoid the prohibition of eating shmitta produce, which
everybody agrees is only a rabbinic prohibition today? 

So, how did Rav Kook, Rav Hertzog and all those who support the heter
mechira (such as Rav Ovadiah Yosef) deal with this question?  Rav Kook in
Mishpat Kohen (inyanei aleph) siman 58 spends a great deal of time on this
matter, as does Rav Hertzog in Tchuka L'Yisrael al pi HaTorah section 1
Sidre Hashilton umishpat b'medina HaYehudit at p 13 et seq.  In very short
and oversimplified form they hold (and hold that the Shulchan Aruch in the Kesef
Mishna holds) that while the prohibition applied to an individual Muslim in a
time when some Muslims were non-idol-worshippers, but some were still
worshipping baal peor and others, once you have a whole nation that universally
accepts not to worship idols, as the Muslims have now done, then these
prohibitions fall away.

Now R' Neustadt does bring both opinions in this form: "Chazon Ish, Sheviis
24:3. See, however, Darchei Teshuvah 158:22 who quotes opinions who permit
selling property to Muslims who are not considered idol worshippers." But
the implication is very much with the more charedi position of rejecting the
heter mechira - and without careful reading one might miss exactly how
controversial R' Neustadt's stance is.  I would have guessed that most
people on this list, if asked to site themselves either with the Chazon
Ish's camp emanating out of Bnei Brak, or with that of Rav Kook or Rav
Hertzog, would choose the latter, and certainly when I was in the States
many years ago, I would have said the same for Young Israel, but perhaps
things have changed.
> 3. Do not admire them. It is forbidden to admire a non-Jew, including
> admiring his (or her) appearance, his actions or his statements. If however
> the intent is to praise Hashem who created such an admirable person, it is
> permitted (9). It is also permitted to praise a non-Jews accomplishment in
> the sciences or arts, etc.(10). Similarly, honouring a non-Jew in
> appreciation of past favours he has done for the Jewish community is
> permitted. Honouring a non-Jew for the purpose of raising funds for a Jewish
> institution should be avoided but is permitted when it is halachically
> determined that there is no alternative (11).

Again, while the relevant sources are quoted, there is a slant here in
favour of a more "Torah only" view.  Because just as the previous discussion
highlighted a fault line between the dati leumi world and the charedi world,
over the heter mechira, this one highlights a fault line between the Torah
v'derech eretz/Torah u'madah world and the "Torah only" world.  That is, it
does need to be acknowledged that in one place the Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh
Deah siman 151 si'if 14) says that one may not say the praise of non Jews,
even saying how beautiful is such a person, and in another place (Shulchan
Aruch Orech Chaim siman 225 si'if 10) it requires a bracha on seeing a
non-Jewish beautiful person "that He has such in His world".  And yes, one
resolution to the problem is simply to say as R' Neustadt has done this.  But it
is not the only resolution, and it ends up throwing up no end of problems.

Now again here- R' Neustadt cites the Tzitz Eliezer for the proposition that

> It is also permitted to praise a non-Jews accomplishment in
> the sciences or arts, etc.(10).

But this teshuva of the Tzitz Eliezer goes much wider than that.
The question asked to the Tzitz Eliezer was (Tzitz Eliezer Chelek 15 siman
47) how come we see the Rambam praise Aristotle and that there are numerous
references in the gemora and throughout our sages such as praising eg
nations such as the Persians for modesty and the various wisdoms of the wise
men of the non-Jewish world and also that we make a bracha on seeing a
beautiful non-Jewish person and on non-Jewish wise people (which is indeed
the question that the Mishna Brura and the Magen Avraham also grapple with).
And the response of the Tzitz Eliezer goes so much wider than R' Neustadt's
summary, and embraces a whole range of explanations for the frequent praises
and acknowledgements of the non-Jewish world and individuals therein
throughout our history by universally recognised gedolim.

And of course again there has to be another side.  Because the Torah im
derech eretz world in its widest expression, and the philosophy of RSRH and
those who follow and expand on him involves embracing the best of the non-Jewish
world.  And so those who go along that path understand and relate to
these sources differently, and limit their application to those negative
aspects of the non-Jewish world and those individuals in it that express
these negative attributes.  And those that follow this path have at their
disposal so many examples of situations where, if you follow the narrow
reading advocated by R' Neustadt, Chazal and prominent rishonim such as the
Rambam violate an issur d'orisa.

But again, one would not get any sense from this piece that this is one of
the fault lines within Orthodoxy, and the R' Neustadt was taking a
controversial position within a Modern Orthodox context, although perhaps
not so controversial within the charedi world, who indeed look to such
interpretations to justify their own inward looking stance vis a vis non
Jewish wisdoms.

There is much more to be said, but I have done my best to keep it brief and
just give a flavour of why this synopsis appears problematic, despite it
also being accurate both in terms of citations and with regard to a
particular world view.




From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Mon, Oct 22,2012 at 02:01 AM
Subject: The Yehi Ratzon in Birchas Kohanim

Yisrael Medad wrote (MJ 61#46):

> Eliezer Berkovits' query would seem to me not to be applicable here in Israel.
> In the 41+ years I've lived here, I can't recall a synagogue I've been in one
> that recites the Yehi Ratzon, unlike some synagogues in the Galut
> (Dispersion).
> Am I alone in my experience?

The trouble with duchaning in Israel is that it is done every day and tends
to be rattled off as quickly as possible. While this is understandable on
weekdays, it is a great shame that this is also done on Shabbat or Yom Tov,
when there is not such a need to hurry. As a result no time is given for
saying the Ribono shel olam and Yehi ratson even on Yom Tov (they are not
recited on Shabbat since they involve personal petitions). The former is
based on the Gemara (Berachot 55b) and is to be said by anyone who had a
disturbing dream. Since the Gemara says that anyone who goes three days
without dreaming is a rasha (wicked), it would seem important to say it.

In German congregations the whole duchaning was chanted responsively by the
chazan and cohanim with a specific niggun for each festival and they
extended the niggun before the last word of each pasuk to enable the
congregation to recite these prayers. Unfortunately this beautiful custom is
becoming rare because of opposition in certain circles.

Martin Stern


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Mon, Oct 22,2012 at 02:01 AM
Subject: To say or not to say - Tachanun

The other afternoon, we davenned minchah (before a daf yomi shiur, NOT in a
shul with a fixed minhag)  starting before shkia [sunset] but did not finish
chazarat hashatz until a few minutes after.

Some people present insisted that we should omit tachanun since it was after
sunset. Others argued that since we had begun shemoneh esrei early enough
and tachanun was essentially part of it, it should be said nonetheless.
Others argued that their minhag was to say tachanun anyway.

In the event, the nay-sayers forced through their opinion.  Is this not a
case of religious coercion? My opinion is that they should have allowed
those who wanted to say tachanun to say it and merely quietly abstained
without making a public issue.

Martin Stern

From: Mark Steiner <marksa@...>
Date: Mon, Oct 22,2012 at 04:01 AM
Subject: To say or not to say - Tachanun

I believe that I posted the following some years ago, but perhaps it might
be valuable to post it again. The Christian Hebraist, Johannes Buxtorf, in 1603,
published his monumental "Synagoga Hebraica", a remarkably accurate description
of Jewish customs and laws. Here is what he says about the recitation of
tachanun (at minchah):

"...the congregation completes the eighteen prayers of praise which were
previously mentioned in the morning prayers. When this is over, the cantor
steps down from the high place, which is the pulpit in the Christian church,
and kneels on the steps in front of the Ark, and falls down with his face on
his left hand, the people doing the same. They let their head fall on their
left side, and cover their face, and say very devoutly, coming from the
heart - because the heart is on the left side, and in their bowing head and
heart meet - the following words: Merciful and gracious God, I have sinned
before your face, but you are full of mercy; have pity on me and accept my
humble prayer. O Lord do not punish me in your anger. And they go on in
their prayer with bowed and covered face until they finish the sixth psalm."

Apparently the adage, "the generations have declined" is appropriate here. I had
never heard of the custom that the cantor kneels on the steps, by the way.

Here is what he says about the recitation of "Vehu Rachum," which many Jews
in my neighborhood avoid saying on any pretext (in one of the shuls here a
mohel was the hazan every day because of his year of mourning, and because
he did a milah every day, they never said tachanun: people came from miles
around to daven in such a shul).

"Regarding the prayers, they add another one to their morning-prayers which
they call Vehu rachum ["And He, being merciful, pardons iniquity."] because
it starts with those words. They rely on it very much, and think it has
great power and effect, although it did not show any effect in sixteen
hundred years. They pray it standing up, and with great devotion...

"...it was ordered that this prayer be said always on Mondays and Thursdays
in their synagogues. This is still held and observed today, and they put
high hopes on it that they may be saved by this from their lengthy captivity
and misery - it has not happened yet though, and it will not happen in the
future as long as they despise Christ and insist on their terrible disbelief."

Scholars disagree about the sincerity of the anti-semitic remarks here (some
try to defend Buxtorf by saying that the remarks are a cover to avoid his
getting a reputation of a closet Jew), but there is no question about the
authenticity of the description of the devotional recitation of vehu rachum,
which has obviously been lost today.

Finally, here is his synopsis of the prayer:

"The prayer begins this way: Vehu rachum, etc. And he is merciful, forgives
the sin, does not destroy the sinner. He turns away his anger, and does not
arouse all his fury. O God, do not leave me without your mercy, your grace
and truth should always protect me. Help us, God our God, and assemble us
from the heathens. The sum of the whole prayer is that God should forgive
their sins, show mercy concerning the destruction of the city of Jerusalem
and the devastation of the temple, should gather them again from all four
corners of the earth, and fulfil the promise of their inheritance. They do
not forget the Christians here, and pray: Oh how long will your power be
imprisoned, and your beauty (the following words are omitted in many books
by order of the authorities, they usually have a Spatium [gap] so they can
insert it, or be reminded to ask their elders) in the hands of the harmful?
O Lord God, raise your power and your zealous vengeance over our enemies,
then their power will be destroyed and disgraced. Here they mean the
Christians over whom they call down vengeance."


End of Volume 61 Issue 47