Volume 62 Number 15 
      Produced: Thu, 29 May 14 15:36:37 -0400

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

Census Counts 
    [Menashe Elyashiv]
Chumra craze 
    [Martin Stern]
Know how to answer Epicurus 
    [Martin Stern]
Men and Women: Equal Kedusha? 
    [Josh Berman]
Sedra divisions 
    [Martin Stern]
Sfeika d'yoma of Yom Ha'atzmaut in Chutz La'aretz (3)
    [Chaim Casper  Reuven Miller  Martin Stern]
Tachanun on 29 Iyar--shouldn't it be omitted? 
    [Doniel Kramer]


From: Menashe Elyashiv <Menashe.Elyashiv@...>
Date: Mon, May 26,2014 at 10:01 AM
Subject: Census Counts

In MJ 62#13 Sanford wrote that the census round numbers sounds unlikely.

I prepared this week's d'var Tora from the Tosefet Beracha, authored by Baruch
Halevi Epstein (also author of Tora Temima). 

He asked the same question. His answer is based on the Rosh to Pesahim, who says
that the Tora rounds out numbers, e.g: 

69 bnei Yaakov came to Egypt, but they are numbered 70. 

Omer count is 7 weeks, i.e. 49 days, but is numbered 50. 

He added more cases: 

39/40 lashes, 

39+/40 years of manna, 

40/40.5 years of David's reign, 

7/10 between RH & Yom Kippur, etc

The only problem is the 50 here & 30 in the later census. 50 is a military 
number, vahamushim alu could be understood as 50 grouping. 30 is for sure an
army counting, veshalishim al kula, or David's 30 man special force.
However, when counting holy money etc, the Tora counts excactly, that was the
way the booty from Midian was counted. 

After the tefilah, someone said to me that this is pure kefira - but I still
think that it works out fine.


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Sun, May 25,2014 at 05:01 AM
Subject: Chumra craze

The current trend in adopting ever increasing numbers of chumrot
[stringency] suggests that in certain circles the early morning berachah
"she'asah li kol tzorki [who has fulfilled all my needs]" is being read "she'asar
li kol tzorki [who has prohibited all my needs]"!

Martin Stern


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Sun, May 25,2014 at 05:01 AM
Subject: Know how to answer Epicurus

Rabbi Meir Wise wrote (MJ 62#14):

> I should point out that my teacher, the Gaon Harav Simche Bunim Lieberman
> zatza"l, survivor of several camps including Auschwitz, from which he emerged
> with strengthened faith, pointed out that Chazal said that one should know
> what to answer an apikorus but not that one should actually answer or debate
> with one.
> He severely criticised his Talmid, one Jonathan Sacks (later Chief Rabbi
> Sacks) for doing so in the columns of the (London) Jewish Chronicle.

While I agree with rabbi Wise that debating with an apikoros is futile,  I
must make a distinction between that and answering his arguments. The
purpose of the latter is not to debate with those who have already made up
their minds and no arguments, however compelling, would have any effect,
but, rather to reach out to unlearned 'bystanders' who might otherwise be
swayed by them. Unfortunately one may only be able to reach these latter may
only 'innocents' through the non-religious Jewish press since we have no
other means of contact with them.

I think this approach is implied in the Haggadah shel Pesach if we examine
the replies to the wise and wicked sons especially when put in the context
of the full Biblical sources. The (unquoted) introduction to the wise son's
question is "ki yishalcha vincha ...[when your son will ask you]" (Dev.
6:20), whereas that of the wicked son is "vehaya ki yomru aleichem beneichem
... [it shall be when your sons say to you]" (Shem. 12:26). Clearly the
latter is actually not interested in the answers, only in asserting his own
opinions - and this is basically why he is called wicked.

There is an interesting peculiarity in the way his question "ma ha'avodah
hazot lachem [what is the purpose of this work for you] is answered which
brings out the very point I was making above. First the ba'al hahaggadah
emphasises one word "lachem" [for you] in contrast to "velo lo [and not for
him]". He deduces that the wicked son has thereby excluded himself from the
community before answering that we are celebrating what HKBH did for us in
taking us out of Egypt. He then returns to the point, saying "li velo lo
[for me and not for him]" and deducing that, had the latter been there, he
would not have been redeemed.

The crucial peculiarity is that the answer emphasises the word (used twice)
"lo [for him]" which, if one thinks about it, is inappropriate when speaking
to a person. If the father were answering the wicked son, he should have
used the word "lecha [for you]" not "lo [for him]". This indicates that he
is not actually trying to answer the latter but, rather, to warn other, more
simple, children present against being taken in by his approach.

It is for this reason that one might think it necessary and suitable to
reply to the perverse arguments of the apikorsim.

Martin Stern


From: Josh Berman <mesechetbrachot@...>
Date: Thu, May 22,2014 at 07:01 PM
Subject: Men and Women: Equal Kedusha?

Aryeh Frimer wrote (MJ 62#13):

> See Iggerot Moshe, Vol. IX, Orah Hayyim who argue that a man's and woman's
> kedusha are identical.

Len Moskowitz (MJ 62#14) wrote:

> you can determine a population's formal level of k'dusha by how far they can
> enter the Mikdash.

Neither of these statements are true. Is there anyone who disagrees with the
link I posted? Is there anyone who says the link I posted is not true? Please
reply to the initial link that says men are more sanctified than women instead
of bringing in their own opinions:


Leah S. R. Gordon wrote off-line:

> Respectfully, I am not sure where to begin with you. I don't understand the
> arguments you made at all. I am not going to reply to you because I do not
> think it will be productive and I think other educated readers can make their
> own judgement. 

I am not a chauvinist.

If anyone reading this can specifically reply to the link I provided it would be
appreciated. The link states clearly that men are more sanctified than women.


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Mon, May 26,2014 at 05:01 AM
Subject: Sedra divisions

It struck me that the division between Bemidbar and Naso seems strange. In
particular, shevii of Bemidbar seems to be thematically more connected to
the following section at the beginning of Naso than to shishi.

The same could also be said, though to a lesser extent, of the division
between Naso and Beha'alotecha which might have been expected to start four
pesukim later, as we read on the last day of Chanukah.

While it might be possible that the divisions were made to avoid having too
excessively long sedras, it is still rather puzzling. Can anyone suggest any
significance for this?

Martin Stern


From: Chaim Casper <surfflorist@...>
Date: Thu, May 22,2014 at 06:01 PM
Subject: Sfeika d'yoma of Yom Ha'atzmaut in Chutz La'aretz

Sammy Finkelman (MJ 62#10) and Rose Landowne (MJ 62#12) discussed changing the
dates of certain holidays in Israel (e.g. Yom Hazikaron, Yom Ha'azma'ut and Lag
B'omer) in an effort to avoid hilul Shabbat (violating Shabbat as one might set
up on or observe these holidays on Shabbat itself.  For a story where one had to
violate Shabbat so that others could observe these customs, see

The problem with changing these dates is that a question always arise as to when
to do certain observances that are associated with that holiday.   For example,
tahanun is not said Lag B'omer (this year, Sunday).   But here in Miami, we had
heard that ALL observances (including tahanun) associated with Lag B'omer were
moved to Monday.  And so we skipped tahanun on Monday. That's when everyone
started scratching their heads and going, "Huh?".     

Some in the community found current Israeli rabbinic sources (Rav Yitzhak Yosef,
the current chief Sepharadi rabbi was visiting Miami at the time) who said
nothing was changed this year.    Others said that only igniting  the bonfires
was moved from Saturday night to Sunday night (see the "Rationalist Judaism" May
12 and May 18 blogs of Rabbi Natan Slifkin) (Dr Josh Backon made the same point
to me off line).    

A friend of mine in Jerusalem said they did not say tahanun on Monday (he was
not clear if it was skipped because all the Lag B'omer observances were moved to
Monday or if it was because it was Lad/34 B'omer, the day R` Yosef Caro, the
author of the Shulhan Arukh, said marks the end of the Omer mourning

I could not find anything on the Rabbanut web site. And so I ask the MJ readers,
especially our friends in Israel, whether tahanun was or was not said on Monday,
May 19, 2014 in your shuls?   And why?   Please feel free to answer either on
line through MJ or contact me off line.    Thank you in advance.         

B'virkat Torah u'b'virkat Hag Shavuot Sameah,
Chaim Casper
North Miami Beach, 
FL 33162

From: Reuven Miller <reuvenbbz@...>
Date: Fri, May 23,2014 at 02:01 AM
Subject: Sfeika d'yoma of Yom Ha'atzmaut in Chutz La'aretz

Rose Landowne wrote (MJ 62#14)

> Sammy Finkelman wrote (MJ 62#12):
>> Not too many years ago in Israel they realized that, this not being an
>> actual Rabbinical holiday or day of mourning decreed by Chazal, like Lag 
>> B'Omer, they could move some days around as much as they wanted to, and this 
>> has happened with Yom Hashoa and Yom Ha-Atzmaut. Yom Ha-Atmaut now very rarely 
>> comes out on the 5th of Iyar.

> This year the Rabanut moved lag b'omer to a day later so people wouldn't start
> their fires on Shabbat.

Lag b'omer was not "moved" . The Rabbanut asked people to do the bonfires on
sunday night  instead of motzei shabbat. The celebrations and fires in Meron
were held as usual on lag b'omer - motzei shabbat. 

AS to Yom HaAzmaut - the day remains on the fifth of Iyar - just the special
prayers and celebrations are moved as needed. Tachanum was not said on both days.

Reuven Miller

From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Sun, May 25,2014 at 05:01 AM
Subject: Sfeika d'yoma of Yom Ha'atzmaut in Chutz La'aretz

Rose Landowne wrote (MJ 62#14):

> This year the Rabanut moved lag b'omer to a day later so people wouldn't start
> their fires on Shabbat.

I believe that all they said was that the bonfires should not be lit on motsa'ei
shabbat, not that the day itself be moved. Therefore, for example, tachanun
would have been said as usual on the Monday. In any case the traditional
celebrations at Meron, including bonfires, took place as usual.

Martin Stern


From: Doniel Kramer <dzkramer@...>
Date: Wed, May 28,2014 at 05:01 PM
Subject: Tachanun on 29 Iyar--shouldn't it be omitted?

I. Halachically, it would seem that, based upon the prevalent explanation for
tachanun not being recited on 2 Sivan (Yom Hameyuchas) since it is sandwiched
between Rosh Hodesh Sivan and the sheloshet yemai hagbalah (when tachanun
definitely should not be said), that tachanun also should be omitted on 29 Iyar
if it is omitted the day before, on Yom Yerushalayim, and the immediate days
that follow!

The celebration of Yom Yerushalayim on 28 Iyar is followed 2 days later by Rosh
Hodesh and at least 8 days without tachanun. It therefore would seem that 29
Iyar should have the same status as 2 Sivan.

[For halachic background, I am appending an analysis of  Yom Hameyuchas by Rav
Yosef Dov Soloveitchik, zt"l  [the Rav], followed by a personal suggestion.]

II. Yom Hameyuchas -- the Rav z"l had a totally different cheshbon [reasoning -
MOD] and said tachanun.

"Bedidi ha've uvda! [I saw this in practice - MOD]" when I was in Rav
Soloveitchik's shiur, and it was either 2 or 3 Sivan (I do not remember which
of these days it was but as shall be shown -- it doesn't matter!), we were
davening minchah in the shiur room after the shiur and the Rav instructed us
to say Tachanun!!!

He explained his psak afterwards, and as we had been learning Eruvin, he
used a concept from that mesechta, "Omaid merubah al haporutz [literally 'the
solid wall is of longer than the gap', but this is used metaphorically - see
below - MOD]" to illustrate. 

He said that, for those who believe that the sheloshet yemay hagbalah [three
days of preparation before Shavuot - MOD] begin on 3 Sivan, as our calendars
declare, when tachanun is omitted, then indeed, 2 Sivan, merely by being
sandwiched between Rosh Hodesh and the sheloshet yemay hagbalah, would see
tachanun omitted, too, and therefore it was given the name "Yom Hameyuchas",
since its "yichus [exceptional status]" for not having tachanun said on it is
its immediate relationship to Rosh Hodesh on one side and the sheloshet yemay
hagbalah on the other side of it when the "Omaid" of the multiple days when
tachanun is omitted is "merubah [longer - MOD]" than the one day which is
"porutz [potentially omitting it - MOD]", namely 2 Sivan. 

However, the Rav continued, such reasoning is wrong because the sheloshet
yemay hagbalah never included 3 Sivan. He quoted the machloket [dispute - MOD]
in the gemara (Shabbat 86b) as to whether there were 2 yemay hagbalah, as
originally commanded by HaShem, or if there was a third day of hagbalah, which
Moshe added himself. According to all accounts, the first two days of hagbalah
were 4 and 5 Sivan, and if Moshe added a third day it was 6 Sivan, meaning that
Kabbalat haTorah was on 7 Sivan [This is on the assumption that in that year
there was only one day Rosh Chodesh Sivan - MOD]. In any case, 3 Sivan was not
one of the yemay hagbalah. Therefore, while there is no tachanun on Rosh Hodesh
Sivan, the next time tachanun should be omitted would be for the beginning of
the yemay hagbalah on 4 Sivan. Since there is only one day of Rosh Hodesh with
tachanun omitted, followed by TWO days when there is no reason to omit tachanun
[when asked, the Rav said that he didn"t believe that tachunun should be omitted
on 2 Sivan merely because the "havtachah [promise - MOD]" of "atem tehiyu Li
mamlechet kohanim etc. [you shall be for Me a kingdom of priests etc. - MOD]"
was given then, so the principle in Eruvin does not apply since the one day of
Rosh Hodesh is now sandwiched between multiple days before it, and at least 2
days after it, when tachanun should be recited. We therefore said
tachanun on that day which was either 2 or 3 Sivan!!! 

I do not know what the Rav's minyan in Maimonides School in Brookline, MA,
regularly did but that was his psak to us then. I do not recall the Rav
instructing the regular yeshiva minyan in YU's Morgenstern dorm where he davened
when he slept at YU to follow this hanhagah [practice - MOD], probably because
he realized that his was a daat yachid [private opinion - MOD], and the regular
yeshiva minyanim followed the more widely accepted opinion that the
commemoration of the sheloshet yemay hagbalah begins on 3 Sivan, but in his own
shiur room, he felt confident that he could pasken as his own reasoning dictated.

III. Someone asked me how the Rav explained our general minhag. He did not
justify the "velt's minhag [generally accepted opinion - MOD]".

I have a personal thought, since 3 Sivan is the yahrzeit of my grandmother,
Baile bat Yaakov, and leiluy nishmatah [in honour of her soul - MOD], I tried to
analyze this matter.   

Briefly, I would explain our minhag as being a conglomeration of both "shitot
[opinions - MOD]" in Shabbat 86b. Our structured calendar now automatically
makes 6 Sivan the 50th day after the beginning of sefirat haomer, which is also
the day that the Rabbanan say was when "nitnu Aseret Hadibrot leYisrael [the Ten
Commandments were given to the Jewish people - MOD]". We therefore
liturgically and calendrically follow this view of the Rabbanan.

However, on Shavuot especially, which saw Klal Yisrael at Har Sinai "ke-ish
echad belev echad [as one person with one heart - MOD]", we don't want to
emphasize "pirud [dissension - MOD]", and indeed, there is unanimity in that, as
the gemara says, "udchuli alma, beShabbat nitnah Torah leYisrael [according to
everyone the Torah was given on Shabbat - MOD]", Chazal wanted to establish a
calendar that would respect both the Rabbanan and Rebbi Yosi, and not emphasize
the disagreement between them.

Chazal therefore wove both views into our observance. We observe Shavuot on 6
Sivan like the Rabbanan (who held that there were 2 days of hagbalah), but we
also commemorate the THREE days of hagbalah stipulated by R. Yosi, by observing
those 3 days before the day when we commemorate Mattan Torah, which perforce
must be on 3, 4 and 5 Sivan. These 3 days were not the original sheloshet yemay
hagbalah, but they allow us to at least respect and honor R. Yosi's  view that
there were 3 such days, even though we do not commemorate Mattan Torah on 7
Sivan, as he taught. 

Therefore, the one day between Rosh Hodesh and our reconstituted sheloshet yemay
hagbalah is indeed a "meyuchas-dik [distinguished - MOD] day, because 2 Sivan
now reminds us that Chazal worked out our calendar so that there would be shalom
by reconciling the views of the Rabbanan and R. Yosi. We are thereby reminded
that we are to try our best to eliminate "pirud" amongst Klal Yisrael so that we
can once more be united "ke-ish echad belev echad" as we prepare to
re-experience Mattan Torah on Shavuot. 

Nekaveh shenireh -- "V'liYrushalayim ircha berachamim tashuv ..."

[This discussion is academic this year since 2 Sivan falls on Shabbat - MOD]

Hag samayach.

Doniel Z. Kramer


End of Volume 62 Issue 15