Volume 61 Number 64 
      Produced: Wed, 02 Jan 2013 15:23:57 EST

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

Abnormal Relations 
    [Ari Trachtenberg]
Chanukah Candle Conundrum 
    [Yisrael Medad]
Chanukah question 
    [Shmuel Himelstein]
Electronic keys on Shabbat 
    [Leonard Weller]
Harsh rhetoric? 
    [Eliezer Berkovits]
    [Orrin Tilevitz]
Status of Masorti 
    [Keith Bierman]


From: Ari Trachtenberg <trachten@...>
Date: Wed, Dec 19,2012 at 11:01 AM
Subject: Abnormal Relations

Gadi Simcha wrote (thread "Limitations on...", M-J V61#62:
> I'd like to know what issurim might govern BDSM ... practices.

Assuming, for sake of argument, that this is a sincere question (and not just
part of a masochistic desire for rebuke):

*  My understanding is that viewing pornography is a Biblical violation of
lo taturu (in the sh'ma) [do not follow your hearts and eyes that you prostitute 
after them].

*  Having relations with a woman married to someone else is a clear violation of
the decalogue prohibition against adultery.

*  Though I do not know what exactly is permitted within a married relationship,
physical abuse is clearly a biblical violation of pikuah nefesh [saving a life].



From: Yisrael Medad  <yisrael.medad@...>
Date: Wed, Dec 19,2012 at 03:01 PM
Subject: Chanukah Candle Conundrum

I thank the respondents Michael and David.

Yes, deliberately setting up the chanukiah with less than the amount of
fuel sufficient to meet the minimum time measure would disqualify the situation 
as a mitzva, which is what I wrote. That is not the conundrum, however.

I wanted to know "why?".

It would seem that the mitzva is fulfilled based on two main elements
(for argument's sake, let's ignore other elements):
a. a 30-minute time span and b. an amount of fuel for the time-span.

The literature there in another sub-paragraph, 674:2, stipulates that fuel
can be borrowed, but it is not clear if the lighter actually knew aforehand,
in that case, if there wasn't enough fuel.

So, I admit, I am still nonplussed.

There are many other elements, all based around pirsumei nisa
(publicizing the miracle).

So, why should a 15-second light override a 25 minute light, even if the
amount of fuel in the second instance could not have lasted the full 30 minutes?  
Would not 25 minutes be better than 15 seconds?

What is the difference between lighting and if it goes out almost
immediately while there is sufficient fuel, that fulfills the commandment,
on the one hand, while lighting even for a much longer time but it will not
reach the required time and is therefore inadequate when it would seem, the
purpose of the lighting of a Chanukah light is to publicize the miracle?

Yisrael Medad


From: Shmuel Himelstein <shmuelh@...>
Date: Mon, Dec 24,2012 at 03:01 AM
Subject: Chanukah question

In Volume 2 of his Otzar Taamei Haminhagim (p. 245), Rabbi Shmuel Gelbart
notes that some Chassidim light two Shamashim each day, as the first Shamash
candle also has a certain sanctity, and one may not benefit from its light. 

Can anyone expand on this? And why stop at two?

Shmuel Himelstein


From: Leonard Weller <stopperw@...>
Date: Mon, Dec 24,2012 at 09:01 AM
Subject: Electronic keys on Shabbat

May I suggest the ff topic: ELECTRONIC KEYS ON SHABBAT

In the book, Shabbat and Electricity, by L.Y.Halperin (English: compiled by
D. Oratz, Feldheim, 1993), it is categorically stated that electronic keys
are forbidden on Shabbat. About 15 years ago a prominent authority, in
replying to a question of whether it is permitted or not, answered in the
affirmative. (I have a copy of the letter but, since I am not aware of it
being published, must refrain from mentioning the author's name.) To me, as a
layman, both make convincing arguments. And, even if both arguments seem
reasonable, on the assumption that electricity is derabanan, can we not
accept the more lenient position? 

Lenny Weller


From: Eliezer Berkovits <eb@...>
Date: Sun, Dec 23,2012 at 10:01 AM
Subject: Harsh rhetoric?

Recently perusing Rabbi Avigdor Miller's 'Sing You Righteous - A Jewish Seeker's
Ideology', I was somewhat taken aback to come across the following statement
"The Jewish imitators of gentile ways attributed the destruction of the Six
Million to the ''failure to fight back'' or ''the failure to plan ahead''.
...That G-d planned the destruction in order to wipe out the sinful tendencies
of European Jewry, in accordance with the prophecies of the Scriptures, did not
occur to these misinterpreters. That the worst defection from the Torah since
the beginning of our nation's history had taken place in Europe, and was
therefore visited by the greatest retribution in history, was not mentioned by
any of the writers..."
(See also p.39 for similar rhetoric.)
I found these words to be very harsh - I was further surprised that Rabbi Miller
thought it was sensible to commit them to posterity in his book (some things are
better left unsaid, even if one believes them to be true).
Does anyone know if a similar idea is expressed by any other Gedolim?
Eliezer Berkovits


From: Orrin Tilevitz <tilevitzo@...>
Date: Wed, Dec 19,2012 at 05:01 PM
Subject: Mechitzah

Joseph Kaplan writes (MJ 61#63):

> One item that has not been mentioned in the discussion of moving from a
> balcony to a mechitzah on the main floor of the shul is the difficulty that
> some women, usually older but not always, have with climbing the stairs to
> the balcony. I wonder what solutions exist that allow women who cannot climb
> the stirs to come to shul other than letting them daven without climbing
> stairs.
> ...
> But there are many men and women who are strongly in favor of not having
> balconies and fight to have mechitzot on the main floor in order to meet
> what I hope most would agree are legitimate needs of women (including being
> able to see and hear the service they are trying to participate in).

My PC alarm just went off. In fact, this issue first reared its head in one shul
I knew about 25 years ago when some 20-something-year-old college students told
the rabbi, who was in his 80s (and the rebbetzin was the same age), that they
wanted to daven downstairs or not at all. The average age of the regular
congregants, none of whom wanted to give up the balcony, was probably in their 

It reared its head again a couple of years ago, and although the rabbi had gone,
the age disparity remained. That is, the dispute had nothing to do with anyone's
inability to climb the stairs, or their inability to be "part of the service"
upstairs (since the balcony is on both side of the shul and women in the balcony
are actually closer to the action than some of the men and can see everything),
and everything to do with these women feeling put upon.  And the phrase
"legitimate needs of women" reminds me of the, also PC, phrase, "legitimate
aspirations of the Palestinian people." 

As to Michael Rogovin's reply (MJ 61#63) to my post (MJ 61#62), please
understand that my failure to reply should not be taken as an indication that I
agree with anything he says.


From: Keith Bierman <khbkhb@...>
Date: Wed, Dec 5,2012 at 02:01 PM
Subject: Status of Masorti

Reb Martin responding to Reb Bierman:

> Bierman: If one can point to such blunders on the part of the Israeli based
> Masorti movement, that would be far more educational.


> While I cannot comment on the Israeli based Masorti movement, I have
> some familiarity with its UK branch... UK equivalent of the US Reform is
> called Liberal, the Masorti movement is more akin to the 'traditional' wing
> of the US Conservatives"


I do not believe that is a correct characterization. Even the "traditional
US Conservative" wing went astray at the start with respect to not putting
Halacha first, as noted early in the discussion. For example,  the "logic"
behind permitting driving to schul on shabbat. There is no real US
equivalent to the Israeli Masorti movement outside of advertising and
fundraising (that is, the Conservative and Masorti movements advertise and
fund raise together; but their fundamental approach to halacha is not
consistent in the least).

>From the cited incident about a wedding, one can learn nothing about the
theology of the UK movement. The unnamed Rabbi did NOT explain what kulot
(leniences) (if any) were the basis of his ruling; all we know is what Reb
Martin conjectured might have been his logic. Not knowing any of the
particulars, it could just as easily have been that as the Grandfather he
was simply misinformed and then was too embarrassed to "come clean" about
what his grandchildren had arranged. There are numerous other possibilities
as well. Unless the unnamed Rabbi published some responsa detailing why the
described meal was even kosher at all, we cannot conclude anything even
about the Rabbi's halachic reasoning.


> This is not a one-off situation since I have noticed the same tendency
> in the comprehensive work "A Guide to Jewish Religious Practice" by the
> late Isaac Klein of Buffalo who was also on the more traditional wing of
> the US Conservative movement and is described in Wikipedia as "a prominent
> rabbi and halakhic  authority within Conservative Judaism.


Ditto with respect to comparison with the Israeli Masorti movement. Can't
say that I've ever heard anyone from a US based Conservative pulpit (or any
laity) quote Isaac Klein at any time in any context. Perhaps he is
"prominent" (he certainly wrote many books) but that's not a basis for
declaring him a spokesperson for the movement's formal positions.

Returning to the "miesah" (story cited)  the behavior described isn't even
consistent with the most "liberal" wing of the US based Conservative

No kulah permits misstating the kashrut status in such a manner. All we
can learn from this is that "rabbi" shouldn't be relied upon in matters of
kashrut. It is no different than when an "orthodox" rabbi is caught
granting an improper heksher (sadly, such things have been known to happen)
or worse when one is implicated in sexual misadventures with children.
These  events tell us a lot about the individual and their failing to
control their yetza hara (evil inclination), but nothing about the theology
they and their community subscribe to.

As noted in my original posting, I think the entire topic is really out of
scope for the MJ list.


End of Volume 61 Issue 64