Volume 61 Number 52 
      Produced: Mon, 12 Nov 2012 08:51:56 EST

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

Calling the Kohanim (4)
    [Gershon Dubin  Carl Singer  Perets Mett  Katz, Ben M.D.]
Hagbo and gelila (was Torah Scroll Falling) 
    [Perets Mett]
Mechitzah In Shul: Why and How? (2)
    [Yisrael Medad   Chana Luntz]
Torah Scroll Falling (2)
    [Perry Zamek  N. Yaakov Ziskind]


From: Gershon Dubin <gershon.dubin@...>
Date: Thu, Nov 8,2012 at 11:01 AM
Subject: Calling the Kohanim

Stuart Pilichowski asks (MJ 61#49):

> Why does the gabbai call the kohanim for duchaning?

The reason is that the mitzva of the priestly blessing is introduced by the
phrase "amor lahem", say to them.  The Gemara understands this as a "command" to
the priests to say the blessing.  This is also why it is not done for a single
priest, as the referenced phrase is in the plural form.


From: Carl Singer <carl.singer@...>
Date: Thu, Nov 8,2012 at 11:01 AM
Subject: Calling the Kohanim

Stuart Pilichowski wrote (MJ 61#49):

> Why does the gabbai call the kohanim for duchaning?

I let this pass during the previous MJ -- but something just caught my eye. The
question was why the GABBAI  (my emphasis) calls the Kohanim  --   To my
recollection in many shuls it is the Chazan who calls.

While on this topic -- the role of gabbai as pertains to the tephillah seems
unclear (or perhaps inconsistent is a better word).

Kol Tuv,


From: Perets Mett <p.mett00@...>
Date: Thu, Nov 8,2012 at 12:01 PM
Subject: Calling the Kohanim

Martin Stern (MJ 61#50) wrote:

> Stuart Pilichowski wrote (MJ 61#49):

>> Why is the gabbai silent when there is only one kohen?
> If there is only one kohen, the word kohanim would be incorrect but some
> have the custom that he calls it out nonetheless.

It is incorrect to call a lone kohen. The posuk says Omor lohem= say to ***them***

(Source: OC 128:10, from Sotah 39)


From: Katz, Ben M.D. <BKatz@...>
Date: Fri, Nov 9,2012 at 03:01 AM
Subject: Calling the Kohanim

Yisrael Medad  wrote (MJ 61#50):

> Stuart Pilichowski asks (MJ 61#49):
>> Why does the gabbai call the kohanim for duchaning?
> Because the Torah obliges a calling Rambam, Mishneh Torah: Hilchot Tefillah
> U'Birkat Cohanim, Chapter 14, Halacha 8, (also SA 128:10):
> "If there are two or more [priests blessing the people], they do not begin
> reciting the blessing until the leader of the congregation calls them, saying
> '*Kohanim*'"
>> Why is the gabbai silent when there is only one kohen?
> Because the command mentions a plural number of kohanim (Numbers 6:23):
> "Speak unto Aaron and unto his sons, saying: On this wise ye shall bless the
> children of Israel; ye shall say unto THEM".
> As a commentary makes clear: "based on Numbers 6:23: 'This is how you
> should bless the children of Israel: 'Say to them...,' our Sages explained
> that before the priests bless the people, someone must "Say to them" -
> i.e., invite them to recite the blessing. However, since the verse mentions
> "them," *Sotah* 38a teaches that this invitation is not extended to a
> single priest."

See my article in Tradition related to this topic (Summer 2009, vol. 42, No. 2).
 In the siddur of Rav Sadia Gaon the reading in birchat kohanim (the priestly
benediction) is "kohanay am kedoshecha" (the priests of your holy nation) which
flows better grammatically.  Kohanim (priests) may have entered the standard
siddur under the influence of Sotah 39b  as discussed above, due to the
requirement to call out Kohanim (priests) before the benediction.

PS (what are discussion groups for if not for tangents of tangents): I am always
a bit miffed when the chazzan (cantor) spoon feeds the priests the blessing,
word-by-word, esp. if I am the only kohen, since I know it by heart.  I wonder
if this practice originated at the end of the 2nd Temple period when kohanim
were not always as learned as they should be or because of tension between the
Rabbis and the priests at that time, since many of the priests were Sadducees.


From: Perets Mett <p.mett00@...>
Date: Thu, Nov 8,2012 at 01:01 PM
Subject: Hagbo and gelila (was Torah Scroll Falling)

Eliezer Berkovits (MJ 61#50) wrote:

> The sofer is doing no more that repeating the Halacha in Shulchan Aruch
> which states that 'Hagolel tzorich she'yaamidenu keneged hatefer,' to
> reduce damage if it tears. I understood that despite using the word
> Hagolel, the Mechaber was referring to the act of Hagbaha [as well as
> Gelilah] for his - Sephardic - custom would be for *one* person to lift
> and then open and show the Sefer Torah to the Tzibbur. 

This is not quite right. The golel is the one who closes the sefer Torah after
the reading. The magbiah (amongst sfardim, and some chasidim in Yerushalayim)
raises the sefer to show to the tsibur before the reading.
> The implication is that for Ashkenazim it is the Magbiah, not the Golel,
> who should align the Sefer along the Tefer before lifting, to avoid risk
> of tearing. Not, as some seem to erroneously read the Shulchan Aruch
> literally, to mean that it is the Golel who needs to adjust it, as this
> makes no sense in terms of precautions against tearing.

Yes, for Ashkenazim the golel is the one we call the magbiah. The person who
assists in rolling the sefer is a supernumary kibud.

Perets Mett


From: Yisrael Medad  <yisrael.medad@...>
Date: Thu, Nov 8,2012 at 03:01 PM
Subject: Mechitzah In Shul: Why and How?

Ben Katz's comments (MJ 61#50) were quite interesting but his 5th comment on
Martin Stern's posting on mechitzah (MJ 61#49):

> There seems to be no archeological evidence of a mechitzah in nearly 100
> synagogues excavated from the Roman Empire or Israel in the first seven
> centuries of the common era; only 5 of those synagogues had balconies and
> there is no evidence that they were exclusively the provenance of women

seems to be a bit problematic: exactly what type of construction of a mechitzah
would he expect to survive 2000 years?

Yisrael Medad

From: Chana Luntz <Chana@...>
Date: Mon, Nov 12,2012 at 08:01 AM
Subject: Mechitzah In Shul: Why and How?

Ben Katz wrote in MJ 61#50:

> 1. The great tikun (fixing) described in the Temple of separating the ezrat
> nashim (where men and women were permitted) from where only men were
> permitted was instituted on simchat beit hashoayvah, a time of unparalleled
> frivolity.
This does not give the full picture.

Basically in the Temple there was a separation between the ezras nashim
(where indeed both men and women were permitted) and the ezras Yisrael, where
it would seem only men were permitted to enter except for a special reason
(such as at the time of bringing a specific korban).  Men generally passed
through the ezras nashim to get to the ezras Yisrael, but were unlikely to
stop there, while this is where the women congregated. There was required to
be a group of men (known as the ma'amad of that week) standing in the ezras
Yisrael.  There was yet a further area, the ezras cohanim, where most of the
real action took place, carried out by the cohanim, where the rules were
similar, non-cohanim could not come there except for a special reason.  

On simchas beis hashoayvah, unusually, the action took place in the ezras
nashim, and it was then that a balcony was built for the women.

However Ben Katz is right that it is strange that this once a year building,
during chol hamoed Sukkos, which was explained in the gemora as being to
avoid frivolity, is cited by numbers of poskim (as Martin Stern brought in
the name of Rabbi Doniel Neustadt) as being the source for mechitza in shul.
Especially as the action that took place in the ezras nashim seems to have
been dancing, and nothing to do with tephila or the general requirements of
the Temple.

For this reason R YH Henkin in Bene Banim (chelek aleph, siman 1- 4, chelek
bet siman 12-13) rejects this idea that the balcony on simchas beis
hashoayvah is the fundamental source for the requirement for a mechitza in
shuls today, but rather bases it on the structure of the Temple itself.  He
further brings Seder Eliyahu Raba perek 8 and also the Yalkut Shimoni
parshat ki tezei 247 in the name of the Tana D'bei Eliayhu that a man is
not permitted to daven within 4 amot of women (in public) or within the same
room if in an a private house, within the whole area.

I would add that we know from the Mishna in Ta'anis and subsequent gemoras
(26a) that of the men allocated to a particular ma'amad (there were 24,
corresponding to the 24 mishmarot, groups of cohanim who took weekly turns 
to perform the services in the Temple), only some of them went up to
Jerusalem to stand by while the korbanos were offered in temple, and some
stayed in their local towns and gathered to have specific services with
particular Torah readings (corresponding to the services conducted by the
ma'amad in the Temple itself).  It stands to reason that these services are
going to be structured precisely like those in the Temple, including the
structure of an ezras Yisrael and an ezras Nashim (there will be only
limited need for an ezras cohanim, as most of the cohanim will have gone up
to Jerusalem to perform the actual Avodah).

> 2. It sounds like Ezra read the Torah on Rosh Hashanah to men and women
> together (Neh. 8:1-2).

> 3. It sounds like men and women worshipped together in the Temple (Judith
> 4:9-12).

> 4. At least according to some opinions in the Talmud (Sotah 40b-41a), the
> King read the Torah (during hakhel) in the women's court.

Rav Henkin notes at least the last one, but if, as he suggests from the
Tanna d'bei Eliyahu, the issur is on tephila in the presence of women, then
Torah reading may be less of an issue.  

> 5. There seems to be no archeological evidence of a mechitzah in nearly 100
> synagogues excavated  from the Roman Empire or Israel in the first seven
> centuries of the common era; only 5 of those synagogues had balconies and
> there is no evidence that they were exclusively the provenance of women.

It is very difficult to obtain evidence of this sort from the excavation of
such synagogues.  Many of these same synagogues have mosaics which show eg
the sun god in his chariot and other very pagan motifs, along with the
Jewish motifs making it clear it was a synagogue.  It is hard to know
exactly how sectarian these were.  Also if one does not know what one is
looking for, one may not understand what one is seeing.  If indeed the idea
of mechitza is based solely on the simchas beis hashoayvah, then yes one
would expect a mandatory balcony, but if it is based on the general layout
of the temple, then one would be looking for two adjoining courtyards, and
one would not require that one of them be exclusively for the use of women,
but only that the other of them be for the exclusive use of men (ie what
appears to arise from Rabbi YH Henkin's analysis is that it is forbidden for
a man to daven in the presence of women, but not necessarily the reverse, so
you need a mechitza in order to enable the men to daven).

> We also know that many women attended synagogue (eg Sotah 22a, Avodah zara
> 38a-b).  See Lee Levine, The Ancient Synagogue, 2nd ed, chapter 14.
Yes indeed, and in addition Meseches Sofrim perek 18 halacha 5.  But note
that there it brings the requirement that the one who blesses needs to raise
his voice because of his small sons and his wife and his daughters - so they
can hear.  This rather suggests that the women and small children were not
in the same place as the one who blesses, because otherwise what need is
there to raise his voice?  Rather there is clearly an assumption that the
women and children were in a different area from him or the other men (since
he did not have to raise his voice more generally) and might struggle to hear
if voices were not raised.

> 6. There is no mention of mechitzah in hilchot beit kenesset (laws of the
> synagogue) in the shulchan aruch (Code of Jewish law).

Agreed, but of course there is in the Rema in Choshen Mishpat siman 35 si'if
14 writing in relation to women giving testimony that "there is an ancient
takana that in a place where it is not customary for men to be, such as in a
synagogue of women [beit Knesset shel nashim]... women are believed."  And
there is a long history of disputes regarding women fighting over the
inheritance of certain places in the women's synagogues [beit Knesset shel
nashim] see eg Teshuvos haRitva siman 182,Teshuvos haRashba chelek 2 siman
226 and in other places the teshuva literature is littered with references
to the women's sections or women's shuls - from the minhag of the MahaRam (as
brought in the Beis Yosef) of sleeping in the women's section of the shul on
Yom Kippur, when the women were not there, to proofs being brought by the
Rashba (Teshuvot haRashba chelek 1 siman 96) that having a shaliach tzibbur
up on a platform surrounded by mechitzos was not a problem for him to be
considered part of the congregation and for the congregation to answer after
his kedusha etc from the women's section of the shul, to questions (answered
in the affirmative) as to whether the women's section was considered part
enough of the shul to do falling on one's face during tachanun from the
women's section, to various property disputes (people wanting to build on)
in which casual references are made.

Of course most of this is in Ashkenaz.  In an environment where the Rambam
can genuinely suggest that women only go out once a month (Rambam hilchos
Ishus perek 13 halacha 11) and that to see family or to houses of feasting
and mourning, one can deduce that women did not exactly go to shul.  Thus it
is not really surprising that the Shulchan Aruch, who himself was Sephardi
and followed the Rambam in many matters, did not see the need to include a
requirement for a women's section into a shul for women who did not go, and
were not expected to go.  But the Ashkenazi teshuvos tell another story, as
can be seen from the Rema's reference.

In relation to the original piece that started this off in MJ 61#49, where
Martin Stern brought a discussion by Rabbi Doniel Neustadt regarding

> The halacha that requires men to be separated from women while davening in
> shul has its origins in the procedure followed in the Beis Hamikdash. Our
> Sages in the Mishnah (1) report that a major adjustment was made in the
> Beis Hamikdash during the festive holiday of Succos. The Talmud explains
> that the adjustment consisted of building a balcony over the mens section
> so that the women could witness the festivities of simchas beis hashoeivah.
> Had they stood where they normally did the mingling of the crowds and the
> festive holiday air would have led to kalus rosh  excessive frivolity. The
> Talmud attests that the need for a balcony was so pressing that its
> construction was approved even though it is generally prohibited to expand
> or modify the original structure of the Beis Hamikdash. The Biblical source
> for the separation of men and women, says the Talmud, is found in the verse
> in Zechariah in which the prophet foretells the eulogy of Mashiach ben
> Yosef, where men and women will be seated separately. If separate seating is
> required even at so solemn an affair as a eulogy, how much more so must
> separate seating be required on a joyous occasion!

As I indicated above, there is another view.  Rav Henkin rejects this as the
fundamental basis for the need (to which of course he agrees) requiring a
mechitza in a shul, rather basing the matter on the structure of the Beis
HaMikdash itself, although the balcony built once a year is indeed the sole
basis cited by Rav Moshe Feinstein and others.

Rabbi Doniel Neustadt then cites two views, - the first of which is that the
men must not be able to see the women, and the second that men must not be
able to mix with the women.  This is an accurate reflection of the
discussion in the poskim - it can also be understood to be a reflection of
the two different forms of language brought by the Rambam in describing the
takana for the simcha beis hashoeva - the first in his perush hamishnayos on
Sukkah, where he uses the term "shelo yistaklu - they should not see, and
the second in the Mishna Torah itself in Hilchos Lulav perek 8 halacha 12
where he uses the term shelo yisarvu - they should not mix.

It should also be noted that (I believe) one of the oldest if not the oldest
still functioning shul we have, that of Bevis Marks in London (built 1701)
while clearly fulfilling the no mixing requirement (my means of a balcony)
certain does not fulfil the "no seeing" position.  There are numerous old
shuls that appear to have been structured likewise (see the displays at Beit
Hatfutsot), Thus those who follow the no seeing view are therefore ruling
out a goodly portion of the Jewish community well before the Reform and
Conservative movement arose on the scene.  But given Rabbi Doniel Neustadt's
previous pieces, it is not really surprising that he gives particular
prominence to views that emanate more from the "right wing" end of the

More problematically though in Rav Doniel Neustadt's piece, he then goes on
to only bring Rav Moshe Feinstein's version of the second (ie no mixing)
view which as follows:

> Rav M. Feinstein,ZTL, (10) however, after establishing that the basic
> requirement for separating men and women during prayer services is a
> Biblical obligation, holds that the basic halacha follows the second
> approach (B) that we mentioned earlier. Although he agrees that it is
> commendable and praiseworthy to maintain the age-old traditional mechitzah,
> he nevertheless rules that the widespread practice of many shuls to lower
> the mechitzah somewhat is permitted according to the basic halacha. As long
> as the mechitzah is high enough to effectively block out any communication
> or interaction between the mens and womens sections, it is a halachically
> valid mechitzah. 
> Accordingly:
> 1) The minimum height for a mechitzah is shoulder-high, which the Talmud
> calculates to be 17 to 18 tefachim high (11). Allowing for a difference of
> opinion concerning the exact size of a tefach, Rav Feinstein rules that a
> 66 inch (1.68 metres) mechitzah is permitted (12), while in extenuating
> circumstances 60 inches (1.52 metres) will suffice (13). Any mechitzah
> lower than that however, is not considered a mechitzah at all.

That is indeed Rav Moshe's view, but of those who hold that the issue is
mixing, rather than seeing (ie that the Mishna Torah is authoritative,
rather than the perush hamishnayos), Rav Feinstein is not the only view.
Rav Henkin in Bnei Banim chelek 1 simanim 1-4 elaborates at length on his
view, which is that the need is for two different reshuyos - different
halachic areas - for which the requirement is that there be a separation
(mechitza) at least ten tefachim high surrounding an area of at least 4 by 4
amos (as is true in the rest of halacha, such as for reshuyos for carrying
etc).  He buttresses his comment by noting that the Rambam in Hilchot Tumas
Ztora'as perek 10 halacha 14, in discussing what to do when a metzora
(person stricken with leprosy, who is not allowed to mix with the community)
wants to come to shul, requires that they construct for him a mechitza of 10
tefachim high around a 4 by 4 amos area, and thus he is able to come in and
daven and not "mix with" the people - using the same terminology that he
uses in Mishna Torah when describing the issue regarding men and women and
hilchos beis hashoeva.  

Rav HY Henkin at the end of siman 2 also brings that he heard from many
reliable sources that Rav Yosef Dov Soloveitchik permitted people to daven
in a shul where the mechitza was only 10 tefachim high, and he cites his
grandfather Rabbi Yosef Eliyahu Henkin as having once permitted someone in
his presence to daven in a shul where the mechitza was 11 tefachim high.  It
should be noted that Rav Feinstein specifically rejected this view regarding
separate reshuyos and only needing a ten tefach mechitza, but as has been
pointed out by others, it would appear that this view regarding a minimum 10
tephachim separation is what is commonly followed in America today.




From: Perry Zamek <perryza@...>
Date: Thu, Nov 8,2012 at 11:01 AM
Subject: Torah Scroll Falling

Regarding the advice to place the "tefer" (seam) in the middle when performing
hagbahah, to reducing tearing, as Eliezer Berkovits pointed out (MJ 61#50), I
would add that this refers to minimizing the chance that the *parchment* would
tear, since the damage caused by a tear in the parchment would be more difficult
(and costly) to repair than a tear along the seam. 
Perry Zamek

From: N. Yaakov Ziskind <awacs@...>
Date: Thu, Nov 8,2012 at 01:01 PM
Subject: Torah Scroll Falling

Martin Stern wrote (MJ 61#50):
> I always thought that this was the standard procedure. It certainly
> minimises the risk that the seam will split. 

I think this is incorrect. I think you want to *maximize* - in the event
of a mishap, G-d forbid - the possibility of the seam splitting, and
*minimize* the possibility of the Torah tearing in the klaf [parchment]
- which would certainly be a more complicated repair.

Nachman Yaakov Ziskind


End of Volume 61 Issue 52