Volume 62 Number 28 
      Produced: Sun, 31 Aug 14 11:42:11 -0400

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

Altering Halacha 
    [Yisrael Medad]
Another number puzzle 
    [Martin Stern]
Boys Meeting Girls | Girls Meeting Boys 
    [Isaac Balbin]
Counting meshulachim 
    [Martin Stern]
Different types of inhabitants? 
    [Sammy Finkelman]
Is there an obligation to serve in the Army? (3)
    [Carl Singer  Rabbi Meir Wise  Yisrael Medad]
Mistakenly Calling Up a Levy 
    [Yisrael Medad]
Mourning Period 
    [Joel Rich]
Reciting L'David Hashem Ori 
    [Martin Stern]
    [Carl Singer]


From: Yisrael Medad  <yisrael.medad@...>
Date: Sat, Aug 23,2014 at 06:01 PM
Subject: Altering Halacha

In the weekly "M'orot HaDaf HaYomi" No. 796, there is a discussion of the
halacha that a mourner must turn over his bed.

This is a clear directive (Rambam Hilchot Aveilut 4:19) which is totally ignored
today and is no longer applicable.  Other sources that discuss it are Tosafot,
Moed Katan 21a, s.v. Eilu, Shulhan Arukh Y.D. 387:2.  

Quoting R. Moses Sofer from Hatam Sofer: Derashot (New York: Avraham Yitzchak
Friedman, 1961) vol. 2, p. 774), Zvi Ron claims that "turning mirrors parallels
and substitutes for kefiat hamittah [overturning the bed]". 

The "M'orot" notes that the main reason given for the discontinuation is that we
Jews might be thought by non-Jews as practicing a form of magic and thus place
Jews in danger.  A second reason is that we simply do not use beds today as
implements to sit on.

As to why we do not practice this in places where this suspicion does not exist,
I have no answer except the above suggestion that there is a replacement custom
in place.  As for places today, such as student dorms or single's digs, where
beds are used for sitting, and why the custom is not to turn them over, I do not

But my query is: are there other such examples of withering or altered halachot?
 Are there reasons so that a paradigm can be constructed?  And, finally, what
does that reflect on how halachic practice can be changed?

Yisrael Medad


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Thu, Aug 14,2014 at 05:01 AM
Subject: Another number puzzle

After the ketoret [incense] passages (Shem. 30:34-36, 7-8, Y. Yoma 4:5)
recited each morning (and by some also before minchah), we are instructed to
say 3 pesukim from Tehillim (46:8, 84:13, 20:10) three times each followed
by one more (32;7) and one from Malachi (3:4) recited once each - 11 verses
in total. Is this number chosen to reflect the 11 spices in the ketoret?

Martin Stern


From: Isaac Balbin <isaac@...>
Date: Sat, Aug 2,2014 at 10:01 AM
Subject: Boys Meeting Girls | Girls Meeting Boys

In reply to Martin Stern (MJ 62#27):

It is not the first time I have read Martin complain about loud music. Martin,
as a band leader for 30 years I can tell you that I am only ever guided by the
Baalei Simcha (parents and bride and groom) and never the guests (each of whom
has an opinion slightly or largely at variance with each other). Some like to sit
in their seats instead of being mesameach Chosson Vekalloh (causing happiness to
the young couple -- a mitzvah).

Young people like their music loud. They occupy the dance floor and have the
energy. That being said many a simcha is held in a hall with very poor
acoustics. It is sometimes nigh on impossible to stop leakage and bouncing waves
from disturbing the sedentary types.

I am surprised that Martin does not wash. My reading is that there is an
imperative to do so. There are discussions amongst the Acharonim (later
authorities) regarding whether one is then obliged to wait for Sheva Brachos,
but avoiding washing and dancing would suggest to me that declining an
invitation might be more mentchlich (polite)


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Sun, Aug 24,2014 at 05:01 AM
Subject: Counting meshulachim

Since one may not say kedushah without a minyan, the sheliach tzibbur cannot
start chazarat hashatz until 9 others have stepped back after their silent
amidah, though there is a lenient opinion that rov minyan, i.e. 5 others, is
sufficient, presumably because it can be assumed that a further 4 have
almost finished and will have done so by the time kedushah is reached.

A thought occurred to me recently: what if a meshulach [charity collector]
comes in - can he be counted to allow starting chazarat hashatz? On the
other hand should the tzibbur be held up by latecomers who nevertheless
daven very slowly and do not omit permitted passages in order to catch up.

Even so, it would seem unreasonable for a very fast davenning sheliach
tzibbur to start with 9 such meshulachim, but where should one draw the

Martin Stern


From: Sammy Finkelman <sammy.finkelman@...>
Date: Wed, Aug 13,2014 at 05:01 PM
Subject: Different types of inhabitants?

Martin Stern wrote (MJ 62#24):

>> there seems to be a glaring discrepancy in the Shirah (Shem. 15) we say each
>> morning.

>> In verse 14 we have the phrase "yoshevei pelashet [inhabitants of Philistia]"
>> and in verse 15 "yoshevei kenaan [inhabitants of Canaan]".

I replied (MJ 62#25):

> Yoshevei pelashet = people living in these scattered settlements (linked only
> by coming from the sea, but not any stretch of continguous territory on land)

> Yoshevei kenaan = inhabitants of the land of Canaan in general

Martin Stern then commented (MJ 62#26):

> This is an interesting idea but I think that it is incorrect. The construct
> form "yoshevei" must be followed by a noun and not an adjective. So, if
> "Pelashet" is an adjective, one would not expect to read "yoshevei pelashet"
> but, rather "yoshevim pelishtim" or "yoshev pelishti".

On thinking it over, I think pelashet is not so much an adjective, as a noun
with meaning, ssomething like "land-archipelago" or "scattered communities"

I found out that this is, or used to be, called a "substantive" or adjective
that replaces a noun. According to the original Encyclopedia Judaica article  on
Hebrew Language, added to the last volume of the alphabet, the boundary between
substantives and adjectives isn''t very clear, but many of the words that fall
into this category are segolata (or segolates). A lot of color words are like
this. So I think of Adamdemes. Baheres I guess could be like this.

It looks like there is similar construction is in Divrei Hayomim Aleph 8. Both
on verses 6 and 13, although they both assumed to be the name of an unknown
place rather than a type of place. In the first case (8:6) it could mean people
who live in hills and in 8:13 it could mean people who live in wooded areas.
Maybe that's wrong.

Peleshet also occurs in Tehillim 83:8 and the two locations there are translated
there Philistia and Tyre, but maybe it means peole who live spread out and
people who live all together in a fortified place.

Tzephania 2:5 has Yoshvei Chevel Hayom - not a place, but a type of place. There
is a hey but it is not on the main modifier.

We also have Yoshvei Choshech, Yoshevei Cheled.


From: Carl Singer <carl.singer@...>
Date: Fri, Aug 1,2014 at 10:01 AM
Subject: Is there an obligation to serve in the Army?

I continue to address the halachic issue -- not the politics.

Ms. Kane rightfully points (MJ 62#27) out that the current make up of the US
military is skewed towards the poor. Without getting overly political (both
parties are to blame) in the post 9-11 era the Federal Government choose to
avoid a universal draft (which is btw inherently biased, but not entirely so)
and greatly increase the burden on Guard and Reserve.

Getting back to halacha - the issue is NOT whether the situation in Israel
and the situation in the United States or Great Britain or wherever are
comparable. The issue is whether there is an halachic obligation to serve in
one's homeland.

As an aside, the following is from the Jewish War Veterans of the USA website --
it is not only in Israel that military service is a "credential" of honor:

In 1654, Asher Levy, one of the original 23 settlers in New Amsterdam (later New
York), demanded and secured for himself and his fellow Jews the right to stand
guard at the stockade, thus affording Jews a status of citizenship hitherto not
granted in the New World.*

Carl A. Singer, Ph.D.Colonel, U.S. Army Retired

From: Rabbi Meir Wise <Meirhwise@...>
Date: Fri, Aug 1,2014 at 11:01 AM
Subject: Is there an obligation to serve in the Army?

In response to Ben Katz (MJ 62#27)

> Rabbi Meir Wise stated, in response to Bill Bernstein (MJ 62#25):
> ...
>> The reality is that the IDF Chief of Staff has said that he doesn't
>> want 20,000 yeshiva boys to turn up. He doesn't have the budget for them
>> whilst he is cancelling planned airforce training manoeuvres and not
>> calling reservists for training (this was before the present crisis).
> This is hearsay.  It requires documentation.

Here's the documentation....

Chief of Staff Benny Gantz to the Shaked committee:

"I want to choose the recruits because I don't need everyone, I need fighters
and soldiers with technological knowledge, and I don't need to receive them at
the age of 24."

24 is the age to which the Shaked committee allowed the "Chareidim" to postpone
their recruitment by which time they will be married with children and virtually
useless to the Army.

The fact is that the army is not trying to increase its ranks at all costs. In
fact, it is looking for ways to discharge its overloads, such as soldiers in
non-combat positions in the home front, and to cut their service from three to
two years. In this current budget reality, after the cut in defense expenses,
the IDF does not need thousands of extra soldiers, most of whom are over 24
years of age and married with children, who could cost NIS 5,000 ($1,400) a
month to maintain "a salary that is equal to the one of a lieutenant".

>> As of 31 December 2013, 1,369,532 people were on active duty in the
>> armed forces.  As of 31 December 2010, U.S. armed forces were
>> stationed in 150 of the world's 192 countries.  Population 309,000,000.
>> Israel 7.9,000,000.
>> Military of Israel:
>> Active personnel        176,500.
>> Reserve personnel       445,000.
>> You can work out the percentages!
> This is a comparison without meaning.  During WWII when we were under attack 
> and the population of the US was 1/2 what it is now (< 150,000,000) there  
> were about 16,000,000 people in uniform.

Why is that comparison without meaning? The population of Israel in the time of
Ben Gurion was 1/10 of what it is now. 

Only your comparisons have meaning......

> If there is no army to defend the country there won't be any place in
> Yerushalayim God forbid to study Torah!

This is just hysterical rubbish. There is an Army. A very good army which with
God's help continues to protect the people of Israel. A large percentage of the
Army, especially of the officer corps are religious! Have you forgotten about
the hesder boys?

In fact, the same left wing press that calls for the forced conscription of the
hareidim criticises the army for being taken over by the "religious Kippa
wearing" right wing boys! Of course, they cannot or do not want to see the
contradiction. They want to have it both ways.

The Torah is not just studied in Jerusalem but all over the country. And by the
way, Rav Herzog, refusing to leave Jerusalem in 1948, despite the promise of
safe guard from the British, said that the prophets prophesied two destructions
of Jerusalem not three. That's the Bible not Midrash!

Dr Katz, I wouldn't have take your silence as agreement, as I don't know who you
are or where you are. But, as I write, in the safe room of my house in Beit
Shemesh, during another siren alert, I can testify that every soldier who has
ever served in the Israeli army with whom I've had a conversation, has told me
that they do not think that it is a good idea to take boys out of yeshiva to
serve in the Army.

By the way, we have forgotten that there are more secular, left wing youngsters
in Tel Aviv alone avoiding the draft than there are Chareidim.

Finally, can somebody explain to me, if they are really serious about "shivyon
banetel" why the Shaked committee doesn't discuss calling Chareidi girls and
women to the Army or National service? Could it be that they are afraid and
realise that it would never work?

And why do Israeli Arabs, who insist on full equal rights, get a free pass. (I
do know why, but theoretically, they should at least do some National service,
but that is not even on the table).

From: Yisrael Medad  <yisrael.medad@...>
Date: Mon, Aug 18,2014 at 12:01 PM
Subject: Is there an obligation to serve in the Army?

Rabbi Meir Wise's post on the Subject: "Is there an obligation to serve in
the Army?" (MJ 62#26) is an example of arguing with the use of non-halachic
reasoning and relevancy but, nevertheless, to argue non-halachicly and even

Can one name any major Jewish leader, spiritual and political from our Biblical,
Midrashic and other classic sources, who wasn't schooled in the ways of war or
did not engage in war? Moshe Rabeinu started off his public life as a boxer. 
David HaMelech was a slingshooter. Reish Lakish was a brigand.  The first
assassin was Ehud, and the list is long.

In Devarim 20:21, we read "When you go to war against your enemies".  Who is
that referring to, except the broadest swath of the Jewish people's demography.
When the special Annointed Kohen announces (there, 3) "Hear, Israel: Today you
are going into battle against your enemies. Do not be fainthearted or afraid; do
not panic or be terrified by them."  Who is the "you"?  Who is the "Israel"?
Even the tribe of Levy's release was for one tribe out of all the rest.

The suggestion of a professional army: is this intended for the 'not-so-smart',
those who can't suffer the long hours of yeshiva learning?  The reality is that
there is a mitzva to be able to help save a Jewish life and many Jewish lives. 
Even a Rabbi like Akiva Yosef Schlesinger from Pressburg (!) realized that and
promoted self-defense preparation for the Old Yishuv.

I think a better case could have been made for "Jewish thinking".
Yisrael Medad


From: Yisrael Medad  <yisrael.medad@...>
Date: Sat, Aug 16,2014 at 04:01 PM
Subject: Mistakenly Calling Up a Levy

At Mincha on Shabbat, after clarifying that there was no Kohen present, the
Gabbai called up an Yisrael.  For the second aliyah, he called up someone who it
turned out was a Levy and he already ascended the bimah. We decided the Levy
should continue and make the blessing over the Torah.

Does anyone think we erred?

Yisrael Medad


From: Joel Rich <JRich@...>
Date: Wed, Aug 13,2014 at 11:01 AM
Subject: Mourning Period

I think it's generally accepted that for someone whose parent died in a Jewish
leap year prior to Adar, that the last Kaddish is said after eleven months and
the Aveilus period last 12 months even in a leap year. Interesting is that the
mishna in Edyot (2:10) states: 
12 months is the judgment of evildoers in the netherworld as it is written "and
it shall be from one new moon to another"(Isaiah 66:23)

and the R"AV adds :
meaning when the same month comes that he died in, he will exit the netherworld
and come and bow down in front of HKB"H which would imply you would wait for one
month less than the actual named month if this were contingent on the longest
possible "sentence" to the netherworld.
Any thoughts?

Joel Rich


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Wed, Aug 27,2014 at 05:01 AM
Subject: Reciting L'David Hashem Ori

It has become an almost universally accepted custom to recite L'David Hashem
Ori (Teh. 27) every day after shacharit and ma'ariv (or minchah) from Rosh
Chodesh Ellul until Hoshana Rabba (or Shmini Atseret). I heard that, when
this custom was first introduced some 300 years ago, there was considerable
opposition as it was thought to be of Sabbatian origin. Can anyone shed any
further light on this?

Martin Stern


From: Carl Singer <carl.singer@...>
Date: Tue, Aug 5,2014 at 03:01 PM
Subject: Standardization

This morning during a discussion of Kinnos my Rabbi mentioned the nuances of
minhagim, etc., from village to village in the pale of settlement. He mentioned
that Rabbi Chaim Ozer Grazinski when he invited Polish yeshivas to join him in
Vilna during the early stages of the war wanted each to maintain their unique
identity. At some point in the discussion the word "standardization" came up. 
And it gave me pause - because I am alleged to be an expert in SW Engineering
standards -- but I never thought of standardization in terms of Yiddishkeit.

An essay might follow, but first three questions:

1 - What is standardization within Yiddiskeit?
2 - Is standardization within Yiddiskeit a good thing?
3 - Is standardization within Yiddiskeit becoming more and more widespread?



End of Volume 62 Issue 28