Volume 61 Number 80 
      Produced: Mon, 06 May 13 01:51:07 -0400

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

Books on Tefillah 
    [Sammy Finkelman]
HaKedoshah or HaGedushah? (3)
    [Sammy Finkelman  Eitan Fiorino  Sammy Finkelman]
Late comers/Early leavers 
    [Elhanan Adler]
Metzitzah BePeh 
    [Sammy Finkelman]
    [Yisrael Medad]
    [Yisrael Medad]
Tefillah / Bet haknesset (was Don't Blame Women for Not Going to Shul) (3)
    [Carl Singer  Frank Silbermann  Chaim Casper]
The Kotel 
    [Stuart Pilichowski]
The Sharansky compromise 
    [Chaim Casper]


From: Sammy Finkelman <sammy.finkelman@...>
Date: Sun, May 5,2013 at 05:01 PM
Subject: Books on Tefillah

Stuart Pilichowski wrote (MJ 61#79):

> There are a few books on Tefillah. An old one by B.S. Jacobson, of which
> only part - the more general information - was translated into English.
> More should be available in Hebrew in Israel - if the book can be found.

There is also book called Shemonah Esrei (the Amidah) by Rabbi Avrohom
Chaim Feuer (Artscroll 1990) and a small 2 volume set called the World of Prayer
by Rabbi Dr. Elie Munk (Philipp Feldheim ISBN 0 87306 170 5)

And among the books that were written by Rabbi Hayim Halevy Donin was "To Pray
as a Jew" which has some explanation of the prayers.

For that matter, anything derived from the Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim does,
although it is more Halachah and some things may be not held by many, and/or
imposssible to do for most people.

I am not sure what it is that would hit home.


From: Sammy Finkelman <sammy.finkelman@...>
Date: Mon, Apr 29,2013 at 04:01 PM
Subject: HaKedoshah or HaGedushah?

I saw (or was reminded again) that the Spero Foundation "Zmiroth for
Shabbos" edited by Rabbi Shubert Spero which used to be used in the shul I
attended (see http://i39.tinypic.com/311wef9.jpg - no copyright date, but must
date back at least to the 1960s, although I first saw maybe around 1982)
...has HaKedoshah with HaGedushah as an alternative in the Birchas HaMazon (see

From: Eitan Fiorino <afiorino@...>
Date: Tue, Apr 30,2013 at 12:01 PM
Subject: HaKedoshah or HaGedushah?

I have heard many times this idea that "hakedoshah" in birkat hamazon (which has
no parallel in other nusachot, at least Sefardi, Italian and Yemenite) is the
result of a late printer's error, but have never been able to document it
despite looking in many old nusach Ashkenazi printed and manuscript sources. 
There is no exact parallel passage in other nusachot, to my knowledge (I have
looked at Sefardi, Italian and Yemenite texts, not to mention old geniza texts). 

In looking at facsimiles and pdfs of old hagadot that have Ashkenazi versions of
birkat hamazon, I can report that the following hagadot have "hakedosha:"

Prague (1527), Mantua (1560), Venice (1629), Amsterdam (1695), Mateh Aharon
(Frankfort 1710), Hamburg ktav yad (1731), Wandsbek (1733), Bamberger
(Altona-Hamburg-Wandsbek, 1772), Pressburg (1777), Babad (Amsterdam 1789). 

Moreover,  I did not find any containing "hagedushah."  On my way out of the
house this morning, I looked in the hagadah of Shabtai Sofer (published by Ner
Yisrael as a stand-alone volume along with the rest of his siddur).  The
commentary on birkat hamazon attributes "hagedusha" to the Baal Shem Tov and
states that it is not found in old nusachot. 

Based on this research, I think it is more likely that "hakedosha" was indeed
the "original" Ashkenazi phrase, whenever that text actually crystallized
(presumably in the medieval period, since during geonic times the text of birkat
mazon was still quite fluid).  I will try to check the machzor vitry as well.

-Eitan Fiorino

From: Sammy Finkelman <sammy.finkelman@...>
Date: Tue, Apr 30,2013 at 06:01 PM
Subject: HaKedoshah or HaGedushah?

Eliezer Berkovits wrote (MJ 61#77):

> Can anyone explain the propriety of the word 'HaKedoshah' in the phrase
> in Bentching: 'Ki im leyodcha HaMelyah, HaPesucha, HaKedoshah veHorechovah'?

Well, the easiest explanation is that it's a mistake dating at least from the time
of the Rishonim before printing began, and it should indeed be 'HaGedushah' but
since it is a much rarer word, which most people would not know, (although you
can find it, or the root, in the Mishnah in Menachos with regard to the measures
they had in the temple - one was set so that it counted as an esaron only when
it overflowed) people repeatedly assumed that it really was 'HaKedoshah' when
they heard it and, when and if they encountered it in manuscript, assumed
somebody made a mistake, since that was not what they were hearing.


From: Elhanan Adler <elhanana@...>
Date: Sat, Apr 27,2013 at 04:01 PM
Subject: Late comers/Early leavers

The halacha is that an aliyah must be at least three verses, and must end either
at the end of a parasha (=paragraph) or at least three verses from the end of
one or from the beginning of one (shulhan arukh, orah hayyim, 138).

The reason given for this is to prevent people who either arrive in the middle
of the Torah reading or exit before the end of the reading from mistakenly 
thinking that the previous aliyah was only two verses or that the next aliyah 
would be only 2 verses.

Aside from the question of why Hazal were so concerned that someone (not a very
normative person to begin with - he arrived late and/or walked out in the
middle) might make such a false conclusion, I have always been amazed at the
assumption that this person would have such knowledge of Massorah as to know
where the parasha breaks are or be able to count the verses back and ahead if
listening to Torah reading, aside from some of the obvious ones (like the days of 
creation at the beginning of Bereshit), without a humash in hand.

Has anyone seen a source which discusses these points?

Elhanan Adler


From: Sammy Finkelman <sammy.finkelman@...>
Date: Fri, Apr 26,2013 at 04:01 PM
Subject: Metzitzah BePeh

In MJ 61#77 Steven Oppenheimer cited an article in Pediatrics


that had a paragraph that discussed what is the halacha of Metzitzah BePeh.

It cited the Babylonian Talmud at Sabbath 133b as saying that for the sake
of the infant, the mohel is obliged to perform the metzitzah "so as not
to bring on risk."  It went on to say that the nature of the risk is not
specified and that "this procedure is performed for the sake of the infant's
safety and if a mohel does not perform the suction [of the wound], this is
deemed dangerous and he is to be dismissed."

There is actually a much stronger argument at Shabbos 133b that Metzitzah
BePeh is not actually required. It says that Rav Papa said - and that's all
it says - that if the person doing the Milah does not suck out (the wound
on Shabbos - the Mishnah is discussing here performing the Bris Milah on
Shabbos), it is dangerous - a Sakanha - and he is to be dismissed
(from his job - presumably the community appointed him)

The Gemara has a question on that statement: Isn't it obvious that since we
are Mechallel Shabbos when we do it, it is dangerous?

An answer offered is, maybe you could think Metzitzah does not violate
Shabbos (so the fact that it is done does not mean it is dangerous not to
do it) because you might think the blood is stored up (separately from the
rest of the body's blood and it doesn't belong to it), but actually this is
just like any other wound, and you have to take care of it.

This question means that Metzizah is only done because of considerations of
danger, and not because it is an actual requirement of the Mitzvah, as
perhaps the Mishnah on daf 133a might lead you to believe.  It is, true, a
thing needed for Milah, but they say that only because it was standard at
the time of the Mishnah. But it is not part of the Mitzvah itself. That, in
fact, would be the reason it is possible to imagine a Mohel skipping it
because of Shabbos.

Now you might say, regardless of the validity, or the continuing
validity, of the reason for whatever was established by Chazal, we should
still do it, but this doesn't apply to their medical declarations. Here we
go by what we understand now to the truth. How can I prove that we follow
things that they gave medical reasons for only to the extent we think it
applies now.

There is a Mishnah - Oholos 7:6, which states that if a woman is having
trouble giving birth, we break up the baby in the womb, because her life
takes precedence over his life (so long as the greater part of the baby has
not emerged).

This is an out-and-out endorsement of partial birth abortion, as commonly
described (although not what a certain doctor in Philadelphia who's now on
trial actually did, which was to induce labor and kill the baby after it
was born).

But we don't do this now, we don't come close to doing this now, because
there is such a thing as forceps (although now there are fewer and fewer
doctos who know how to do that correctly) and there is such a thing as a
Caesarian section. And it was not so long ago that it would be completely
ruled out. As recently as 1904, this nearly happened to the physicist
George Gamow when he was born, as he writes in one of his books.

So here we go against a Mishnah because the medical situation has changed.
The same thing should apply to MbP - it is only done because of danger to
life or risk, but now we have better ways of guarding against risk and new
dangers have appeared with the old fashioned way of sucking, and even if
you wanted to get a more complete suction, you can do that too now with a
new tool.

Rabbi Moshe Feinstein paskened according to what he thought the authors of
Talmud would ahve said had they known or been in the cdurrent sutuation.

For all that, MbP is first of all a danger to the Mohel - from herpes,
hepatitus or even HIV.

To prevent medical complications, the Talmud permits only an experienced
and responsible mohel to perform the ritual circumcision


From: Yisrael Medad  <yisrael.medad@...>
Date: Sun, Apr 28,2013 at 11:01 AM
Subject: Pessia

Gilad Gevaryahu suggests that the feminine nomenclature, Pessia, is derived
from the male Pesach. I would suggest it is rather a corruption of Batya = Bassia.

Yisrael Medad


From: Yisrael Medad  <yisrael.medad@...>
Date: Tue, Apr 30,2013 at 11:01 AM
Subject: Singing

Stuart P. wrote (MJ 61#79):

> Singing doesn't equal understanding or "spirituality."

I disagree with him totally. While it is trye that people can sing words without
understanding what they mean, we know that the Leviim in the Bet Hamikdash used
their singing to inspire the people to reach greater spiritual hights.

Yisrael Medad
Post Office Box 9407
Mobile Post Efraim 4483000
http://www.ymedad.blogspot.com/  (')
http://shilohinsense.wordpress.com/ (')


From: Carl Singer <carl.singer@...>
Date: Sun, Apr 28,2013 at 07:01 AM
Subject: Tefillah / Bet haknesset (was Don't Blame Women for Not Going to Shul)

>From my experience, I disagree with Stuart Pilichowski when he writes (MJ 61#79):

> Many people use the bet haknesset as a social club because they don't 
> understand the tefillot. They use their time to socialize rather than simply 
> mouth words; they haven't the foggiest notion what they're saying or reading.

The implication of the above is that (only) those who are not well-educated
and thus do not understand the tefillot socialize.  Or conversely, those
who socialize are uneducated - "haven't the foggiest."

I believe that the core reason for so much socializing in shul is that it is the
only opportunity that neighbors get to see each other. People tend to run off to
work each morning, etc.   In years past, people socialized constantly in that
they saw each other during the work week:  one went to the schnyder to fix one's
suit, the scheester to get a pair of shoes, .... and, of course, at daily
minyanim. Today we tend to be commuters (to / from work) -- although I've seen a
daf yomi on a commuter train and some learning on the express bus into "the
city" (New York) -- for the most part the only time many people see each other
is in shul on Shabbos.

*Carl A. Singer, Ph.D.
Colonel, U.S. Army Retired
70 Howard Avenue
Passaic, NJ  07055-5328

From: Frank Silbermann <frank_silbermann@...>
Date: Sun, Apr 28,2013 at 04:01 PM
Subject: Tefillah / Bet haknesset (was Don't Blame Women for Not Going to Shul)

Stuart Pilichowski wrote (MJ 61#79):

> In response to Chaim Casper (MJ 61#78):
> Many people use the bet haknesset as a social club because they don't 
> understand the tefillot. They use their time to socialize rather than simply 
> mouth words; they haven't the foggiest notion what they're saying or reading.

When I was a boy I was amazed at the chutzpah of synagogue leaders -- that they
would expect people to do such a thing. 

When I was in college I read someone who said, "Dissatisfaction with praying in a
language you don't understand is no justification for changing the way we pray.
 If you don't like doing that, then learn Hebrew."

Taking that advice, when I did join an Orthodox synogogue in my 30s, I 

(1) read a couple of books about the structure of the prayer service and

(2) bought a copy of the Metzudah siddur (which translates three or four words
at a time) so that, over the years, I could gradually learn what the words meant.

Frank Silbermann          Memphis, Tennessee

From: Chaim Casper <surfflorist@...>
Date: Sun, Apr 28,2013 at 06:01 PM
Subject: Tefillah / Bet haknesset (was Don't Blame Women for Not Going to Shul)

Stuart Pilichowski (MJ 61#79) responded to my post (MJ 61 #78) that touched
upon the lack of decorum in many shuls:
> Many people use the bet haknesset as a social club because they 
> don't understand the tefillot. They use their time to socialize rather than 
> simply mouth words; they haven't the foggiest notion what they're saying or
> reading.
I am troubled by this.  First of all, in my limited travels up and down
the US east coast and over to Cleveland, it has been my experience that
most Orthodox synagogues use prayer books with translations.   True, it
may not capture the imagination of all daveners, but it does offer the person
praying who does not know Hebrew the opportunity to understand what she/he
is saying.
Also, we are in the era of ArtScroll.   In their plethora of books there
are a number which offer a glimpse of the meaning of the prayers.
There are siddurim in the name of the Rav (Rabbi Joseph D Soloveitchik,
zt"l) and a siddur by Rabbi Sacks, shlit"a.  And others and others....  
And the same thing can be said about the Torah reading.
And, as Stuart notes, there are many handouts at shul for people to study.
The point is that there are resources to help anyone who wants to learn
about the prayers they are saying as well as parshah.
But I am not sure that is the problem.   When the Amidah starts, one can
hear a pin drop in virtually any synagogue in my neighborhood -- they know
how to daven and why we are doing it.   But wait a couple of minutes for
some people to finish (even before the shaliah zibbur/reader starts the
repetition of the Amidah) and you will hear a murmur starting.     The
bottom line is that shul for too many people is a social hour.    Not
only do too many people (men and women) spend most of their time in shul
talking, but they come to shul as they would to a family picnic (very
casual), they run to the impromptu kiddush in the library when the
haftorah is being recited (I always felt this was a bizayon/slap in the
face to the navi/prophet), they run out of shul when the rabbi gets up to
speak (this, too, is very ill mannered) in a language they understand,
and they come late and leave early.
And so my conundrum remains:   "... how can we say one group deserves
exclusive control and participation in our communal prayer service?"
B'virkat Torah,
Chaim Casper


From: Stuart Pilichowski <stupillow@...>
Date: Sun, Apr 28,2013 at 06:01 AM
Subject: The Kotel

A far greater problem than the issue of what and how women will pray at the
Kotel is my pet peeve of not being able to get out one full sentence at the
Kotel without an open hand being shoved in my face without any regard for what I
might be in the middle of..... who I might be praying for and who I might be
talking to . . . 

I'm still in favor of Rabbi Angel's proposition that the Kotel outlaw 'minyanim'
and be strictly a venue for personal prayer and supplication.

Stuart P


From: Chaim Casper <surfflorist@...>
Date: Sun, Apr 28,2013 at 06:01 PM
Subject: The Sharansky compromise

Wendy Baker(MJ 61 #79) commented on the Sharansky proposal at the Kotel:

> [S]hould [the Kotel] actually be a Synagogue of any group of Jews or
> should it be a space that can be used (with arrangements of portable 
> Mehitzas, etc) by all Jewish groups?  Should it be permissible for tourist or 
> school groups of young people to have a "Kumsitz" with acoustic guitar?  
> Should it only be available to people dressed to meet the standards of an  
> Orthodox synagogue during service times.  

The scheduling problems alone make this a nonstarter.    And secondly,
how do we combine two groups that do not like the other's "style" of
prayer?   I used to work at Camp Yavneh in Northwood, NH.  There were
always two minyanim, mehiza/Orthodox and non-mehiza/egalitarian,
throughout the week.  However, we "came together" for one camp-wide
Friday night davening with a mehiza under Orthodox auspices.   It goes
without saying that many of the nonobservant women staff members did not
like this arrangement at all.

Rabbi Avi Shafran, a spokesperson for the American Agudas Yisroel,
offered the first printed critique of the Sharansky proposal that I saw. 
He said the Kotel as is currently constituted is the only place in the
world where all Jews can pray together. If the Sharansky proposal is
instituted, then we can no longer pray together at one place as one
people.   He can say this because he does not understand the disdain nor
does he feel the pain many non-Orthodox women have towards the mehiza nor
does he see the meaning a women's prayer group gives to Orthodox women.  

The second printed critique of the Sharansky plan is from the rabbi of
the Wall, Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz.   Reportedly, after speaking to
American Orthodox rabbis, he is "reconsidering" his earlier approval of
the Sharansky plan.

The beauty of the Sharansky proposal is that with two portions of the
Kotel, one mehiza and the other non-mehiza, anyone can approach the Kotel
at whatever time of day he/she chooses.  Neither side needs to compromise
his/her beliefs.   And by both sides having their space at the wall, we
are able to take this issue off the table of inter-Jewish conflict.  

B'virkat Torah,
Chaim Casper
North Miami Beach, FL


End of Volume 61 Issue 80