Volume 61 Number 81 
      Produced: Tue, 07 May 13 01:28:10 -0400

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

Books on Tefillah 
    [Josh Backon]
HaKedoshah or HaGedushah? (2)
    [Martin Stern  Sammy Finkelman]
Kotel Priorities & Sensitivity 
    [Leah S. R. Gordon]
Practice of Metzizah in the Twentieth Century 
    [Sammy Finkelman]
    [Leah S. R. Gordon]
Tefillah / Bet haknesset (2)
    [Stu Pilichowski  Harlan Braude]
The Sharansky compromise (2)
    [Carl Singer  Martin Stern]


From: Josh Backon <backon@...>
Date: Mon, May 6,2013 at 04:01 AM
Subject: Books on Tefillah

For a terrific website on Tefillah run by Abe Katz based on material prepared
and written by Rav Yeshaya Wohlgemuth z"l  who taught a weekly shiur on Biurei
Hatefilla, see:


Josh Backon


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Mon, May 6,2013 at 08:01 AM
Subject: HaKedoshah or HaGedushah?

Eitan Fiorino wrote (MJ 61#80):

> 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.

As a talmid of the Levush, Shabtai Sofer could not have attributed anything
to the Baal Shem Tov who lived over half a century later so this must be an
editor's comment rather than part of the author's original text. He does
however note that the Mahari Ashkenazi (I am not sure to whom he is
referring) does delete the words  "hakedoshah veharchavah".

> 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).

It is possible that the reading "hakedoshah" was a scribal error and once
"in print" was simply copied rather slavishly by later typesetters. This
sort of thing does tend to happen not infrequently. For example the Shulchan
Arukh HaRav writes that one should extend the final dalet of echad in the
first line of the Shema. He is of course merely repeating what the Gemara
says but since, apart from the Teimanim, nobody distinguishes between a
dalet with or without a dagesh and always pronounces it as a plosive, this
makes no sense in practice.

> I will try to check the machzor vitry as well.

According to the new Otsar Haposkim edition, the whole section "ki im leyadekha
... le'olam va'ed" is missing from all the manuscripts.

Martin Stern

From: Sammy Finkelman <sammy.finkelman@...>
Date: Mon, May 6,2013 at 12:01 PM
Subject: HaKedoshah or HaGedushah?

In MJ 61#80 Eitan Fiorino writes:

> 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.

Can that be said to be the "original" phrase, if whoever originally composed it,
and the people who originally used it (Babylonian Yeshivas?), did not have that
in mind?

Maybe it was that people continuously kept on making the mistake of replacing
HaGedushah with HaKedoshah  and in different places, Rabbis tried to get people
to say all sorts of alternative phrases to try to prevent this, because
HaKedoshah just wasn't right here. At that point, the Bircas HaMazon was not an
expression of thanks, but a prayer, that we should not need to rely on other
people, not their gifts and not their loans, but only on Hashem's "hand" which
is ... and we have some adjectives here.  (If so though, there should be some
record of Rabbis fighting this problem.) 

The general structure at that point would seem to be:

1)   Thanking God for giving food to all creatures. Just the principle of food,
that it exists.

2)   Thanking God for our food - for the land, where we can get food.

3)   But we don't have the land now, so a prayer for restoration and, in the
meantime, or in addition, not to have to rely on  other people for food.


From: Leah S. R. Gordon <leah@...>
Date: Mon, May 6,2013 at 09:01 AM
Subject: Kotel Priorities & Sensitivity

In MJ 61#80, Stuart Pilichowski writes:

> 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 am concerned as to why this first sentence made it past the moderators.
Why would you say that your personal freedom from beggars outweighs a
woman's right to daven at the Kotel as she wishes?  I read a quote this
morning in a magazine by Ms. Melanie Weiss that I think pertains:
"... too often, one man's trivialities are another woman's civil rights"

Let us please remember on MJ and in real life, that women = people, not
to mention daveners.

It would have been far more pleasant and productive if you had said:  "I
understand that it must feel just terrible to be kept from full kavana by
interruption, e.g. from protesters - I don't like even to be interrupted to
give tzedakah when I am trying to daven in peace."

--Leah S. R. Gordon


From: Sammy Finkelman <sammy.finkelman@...>
Date: Sun, May 5,2013 at 05:01 PM
Subject: Practice of Metzizah in the Twentieth Century

I have found a few references to the practice of Metzizah in the Twentieth Century.

In the Soncino Gemorah says (note c 3 to Daf 133a (originally page 669 in the
separate English publication):

> (3) Mezizah. Nowadays the suction is accomplished by means of a glass
> cylinder.

This was originally published around 1933 to 1935, and had the support of
the Chief Rabbi of the British Empire, Rabbi Dr. J. H. Hertz.

It could be there was actually at that time a minority still performing MbP,
certainly outside of the British Empire, but the Chief Rabbi didn't want
people to do this, and no Mohelim who were, so to speak, under his
authority did it, and it says "nowadays" it is done this way. There is
almost no reason for the note unless it is to dissuaude people from seeking
MbP, and it is not understandable unless you know what the other thing

Also in Medicine in the Mishnah Torah of Maimonides by Fred Rosner (Ktav
Publishing House, 1984), half a century later, on pages 270-1:

> First he quotes Maimonides as saying: "....The wound is then sucked till the
> blood has been drawn from parts remote from the surface thus obviating
> the danger to the child. After this has been done a plaster, bandage or
> similar dressing is applied (Circumcision 2:2)

Fred Rosner then goes on to say:

> He is thus describing the three major parts of ritual circumcision: excision
> of the prepuce, tearing or cutting of the internal mucosa of the prepuce
> and its retraction over the glans, and the sucking of blood from the
> wound. The latter act, as cited above, is usually performed with a glass
> or rubber tube or the inverted barrel of a hypodermic syringe or similar
> suitable, whereby one end is opposed to the wound and the other end in
> the mouth of the ritual circumcizer. The nature of the "danger to the
> child" if the sucking of the wound is omitted is not further specified by
> Maimonides or other rabbinic writers.

I'm beginning to think that the "danger" is connected with the fourth thing
done: the dressing. If the blood is sucked out, it can be held tighter. If there
is liquid underneath squishing around, the bandage won't be so firm and there
will or can be a gap between the bandage and the skin, especially as the liquid
drains away inside the body.

There are really four steps, not three, as as indicated quite clearly in Mishnah
at Shabbos 133a (Shab 19:2)

The subject of Metzizah is also covered in the book "Bris Milah" by Rabbi Pesach
J. Krohn (Artscroll, 1985) in the section on Halachos of Bris Milha, Halachos
63-66, on page 99. He starts off by saying the Milah consists of three acts;
Chitukh (excision) Periyah (uncovering) and Metzitzah (drawing) BTW, Artscroll
also translates Metzitzah as "drawing" in their Gemorah in Shabbos.

Again, 3 steps, not four. Something's wrong here. Either it should be two steps,
or four steps.

The Mishnah (Shabbos 19:2, at Shabbos 133a in the Gemorah) lists 4 separate
things. They are, however, described as "Tzrichay Milah" which could mean
anything used for Milah - it means more something you do for Milah more than it
means something strictly necessary.

The very same words [Kol Tzrichay Milah] had also been mentioned in the Mishnah
at 18:3, without enumerating them, or giving examples, as thelast words of the
previous Perek, at 128b in the Gemorah. This is right after saying that you can
do a number of things for a woman about to give birth, including summoning the
midwife and even cut the umbilical cord (making a temporary knot could be an
alternative - the problem here, presumbably, is creating a wound, but you don't
have to devise less adequate workarounds that need to be  completed later)

So we have 4 steps, but there's a question mark about it. Or you can there are
two steps because the Gemorah quotes Rav Papa on 133b as a Mohel could say I
have performed half of the Mitzvah if he merely did the cutting and someone else
should trim it. He has to be able to do both on Shabbos if he is to do it all.
Half does not always strictly mean half, but from the Gemorah it seems clear
that the Mitzvah itself is completed with Periyah.

Rav Papa makes a separate statement about Metzizah. And then there is a
discussion of the 4th step: the compress. I don't know what is done now - if we
stopped doing the compress, or if we stopped doing it in the exact way we did it
then in the time of the Mishnah and Gemorah, but it seems to me that if that is
the case, it follows that we could stop doing Metzizah as well, or doing it the
same way it was done then, without even considering the issue of sakanah.

The drawing out of the blood is tied to the compress, not to the Milah, and it
is, in any case, a form of aftercare, and not part of the Mitzvah. Only if it is
tied to the compress, to make it more secure, does it make any sense, and it has
got to make sense, and it can't be a mystery.

But somehow it has been assimilated to the Mitzvah, without the compress being
assimilated too. And we have here "3 steps."

This is what Rabbi Pesach J. Krohn says in his book for Halachah 66 on page 99:

> Metzitzah (in Hebrew) [metzitzah] drawing: Blood is extracted from the wound. 
> The Talmud considers metzitzah to be a therapeutic imperative (Shabbos 133b; 
> see O.C. 331:3 with M.B. notes 4 and 36). It strongly admonishes those who 
> delete this portion of the bris, warning that any mohel refraining from 
> practice. Additionally, Zohar bases the reason for metzitzah on
> performing metzitzah is to be removed from his Kabbalistic considerations 
> (see Ohr HaChaim, Leviticus 12:3, and Migdal Oz).
> There is controversy regarding the exact method of performing metzitzah. Many
> feel it should be done only Bepeh [Heb ltrs], orally, while there are those
> who contend that other measns are acceptable as well. [For a detailed
> discussion on the halakhic ramifications and historical background to this
> controversy, see Kuntrus HaMetzitzah, in Sdei Chemed; Sefer HaBris 
> p. 213-226; see also Beur Halachah to O.C. 331:1.]

On the last page of the book (page 192) a number of references are given (saying
this is besides the regular commentaries and responsa) and Sdei Chemed is
explained as having been written by Rabbi Chaim Chizkiyahu Medini (1832-1904)
and Sefer HaBris as a book written by Rabbi Moshe Bunim Pirutinsky and published
in 1972. Migdal Oz is described as written by Rabbi Yaakov Emden (1697-1776)
M.B. obviously means Mishnah Berurah, and Orach Chaim is part of the Shulchan
Aruch and Ohr HaChaim is the commentary of Chaim ibn Attar (18th century Morocco
/ Israel) on the Chumash.


From: Leah S. R. Gordon <leah@...>
Date: Mon, May 6,2013 at 10:01 AM
Subject: Singing

Yisrael Medad  wrote (MJ 61#80):

> 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.

I wholeheartedly agree with Yisrael Medad, above.  And I believe there is a
quote whose source is escaping me right now, about how if someone is having
trouble finding kavana, then s/he is recommended to find a melody that speaks to
the heart in davening and start there.

Many a time my mind has wandered and I have been spiritually "called back" by
joining in or just hearing a moving tefila tune.  The role of music in prayer
and spirituality is well-established, in many times and many places and many



From: Stu Pilichowski <cshmuel@...>
Date: Mon, May 6,2013 at 04:01 AM
Subject: Tefillah / Bet haknesset

Carl Singer wrote (MJ 61#80):

> 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.

It's not a question of educated/learned or not. It's where you place the 
emphasis. That's why so many shuls insist that there be a kiddush following 
davening - for socializing after davening and not during davening.

And for those who can't wait to socialize . . . there's the kiddush club.

Stuart P

From: Harlan Braude <hbraude@...>
Date: Mon, May 6,2013 at 10:01 AM
Subject: Tefillah / Bet haknesset

The explanations offered as to why folks "socialize" during davening don't
really explain the behavior. It's true that gathering in shul presents a social
opportunity unavailable when hurrying off to work or errands. It's also true
that despite the availability of translated texts there are and will probably
always be people who haven't (yet) learned the basics of the service, I think
there are other factors involved.

I think the key is to note that this is not a new phenomenon. The halacha
seforim throughout the generations offer plenty of "mussar" against the
practice. In my mind, that fact alone removes regional, cultural, economic and
educational factors from the equation.

People intuitively understand not to speak - and they don't - during theater
or opera performances, even to friends they may not have seen in a while and
even if they don't understand what's going on (yes, there are always
exceptions). The same behavior is found at symphonies and in the library.
Courtroom decorum is the consummate in respectful behavior, though perhaps
the immanent threat of tangible consequences there makes it a poor example.

Even at sporting events that promote loud and raucous cheering, the attendees
are focused on the event and aren't open to discussions not pertaining in some
way to the event at hand.

What's left is attitude and agenda, which cut across all the categories
mentioned before.

Somehow, the shul is different. Some people are actually bored there. They have
neither the attention span nor the discipline for a multi-hour service. I've
seen people who can daven for the amud as well as anyone sit back for lengthy 
chats during the Yom Kippur service. They know what's going on, but it just 
doesn't touch them the way one might expect.

They attend "religiously" because they feel it's the right thing to do, but try
as they might they just can't get into it.

It's probably easier to explain than to address.

Kicking them out of shul is a poor, if effective, solution. A radical solution
might be to offer a completely different package for people who see themselves
in this category. Perhaps an abbreviated service followed by engaging discussion
groups in separate rooms (if available - ah, there's the rub) on Jewish topics
they find compelling.

Such an approach would be a tough sell in an Orthodox shul, which has vested 
interest in adhering to halacha as it's traditionally viewed. Which respected
Torah personality would advocate anything other than the one-size-fits-all
approach? It would take someone with awfully broad shoulders to publically
institute something like that. Yet, I cannot help thinking that quite a few
people would benefit from something different from what they're experiencing now.


From: Carl Singer <carl.singer@...>
Date: Mon, May 6,2013 at 08:01 AM
Subject: The Sharansky compromise

The trouble with compromises (The Sharansky compromise included) is not one
of logistics - it is one of spirit. As long as parties do not want to
compromise, no solution is viable.

*Carl A. Singer*

From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Mon, May 6,2013 at 08:01 AM
Subject: The Sharansky compromise

Chaim Casper wrote (MJ 61#80):

> 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.

This is quite true but I doubt if the WoW will accept it - they are simply
not interested in any compromise. As far as I can see, their aim is to break
the "chareidi control" of the kotel and force their views and practices,
however offensive others may find them, on everyone else who, almost
certainly, form the majority of those, male or female, who come regularly to
daven there. 

As Leah Aharoni wrote in the Jerusalem Post (7 May)


> The time has come to state the truth, simple and unadorned: The Western Wall
> doesn't belong to the Women of the Wall.
> Considering that after 25 years and massive public relations efforts the
> group can hardly gather 100 women on a good month, the assertion sounds
> ludicrous.
> Can you imagine so small a fringe group demanding to do as it pleases at the
> Vatican? Westminster Abbey? St.Patrick's Cathedral in New York? Mecca? At any
> place of worship in the world? That's not freedom of religion, that's
> anarchy! The Women of the Wall can argue all they want that the Kotel is not
> a synagogue and has no tradition. 
> The claim is patently false.
> ...
> Lest you think the Jews prayed in the Reform fashion until the evil haredim
> (ultra-Orthodox) showed up and usurped the power, think again. There is ample
> photographic evidence to prove it.
> The time has come to state the truth, simple and unadorned: The Western Wall
> doesn't belong to the Women of the Wall. The Western Wall belongs to its 10
> million visitors a year, who respect the sanctity and decorum of the site.
> ...
> As much as the group would like to position itself as a grassroots initiative
> defending the rights of its members, its supporters have made it patently
> clear that this is just the first step in their battle "to liberate Judaism
> from the ties of an Orthodox hegemony."
> ...
> Even Israel's ultra-liberal Supreme Court has ruled that the notion of 100
> women calling the shots at a site visited by some 10 million people annually
> is just too rich.
> The Western Wall is the holiest site available to us - a place we all can call
> home.
> Let's not let anyone take that away from us.

Martin Stern


End of Volume 61 Issue 81