Volume 62 Number 29 
      Produced: Mon, 01 Sep 14 16:00:06 -0400

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

Altering Halacha (3)
    [Martin Stern  Orrin Tilevitz  Gershon Dubin]
Is there an obligation to serve in the Army? (3)
    [Orrin Tilevitz  Carl Singer  Rabbi Meir Wise]
Kosher Supervision Standards 
    [Chaim Casper]
Loud Music (Was Boys Meeting Girls | Girls Meeting Boys) (2)
    [Martin Stern  Michael Rogovin]
Reciting L'David Hashem Ori 
    [David Ziants]


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Sun, Aug 31,2014 at 01:01 PM
Subject: Altering Halacha

Yisrael Medad  wrote (MJ 62#28):

> 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 ignored today and is no longer applicable.
> ...
> 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.
> ...
> 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?

Perhaps I am reading too much into the way Yisrael frames his final question
but it seems to imply that there is some desirability in changing halachic
practice and the only problem is what criteria can be found for so doing. I
would strongly reject this (and hope that I have misunderstood Yisrael) as
this was precisely the mind frame of the initiators of the Reform movement
such as Aaron Chorin. They wanted to alter Judaism to fit in with
contemporary fashions and tried to find pseudo-halachic justifications for
their 'modernising' innovations.

Some changes may occur because of changed circumstances (e.g. no longer
using beds as seats) or dangers arising from them (accusations of sorcery)
but it goes against the whole halachic system deliberately to make changes
to suit one's personal preferences.

Martin Stern

From: Orrin Tilevitz <tilevitzo@...>
Date: Sun, Aug 31,2014 at 01:01 PM
Subject: Altering Halacha

Yisrael Medad asks (MJ 62#28) of examples of "altering halacha" in addition to
the one he gave, that mourners no longer invert their beds.

One that comes to me immediately is the widespread practice outside of Israel of
not eating in the sukkah on shemini atzeret.  It is so widespread,
notwithstanding the gemara's psak halacha that is brought down in the Shulchan
Arukh, that my rav, a rosh beth din, paskened that it was not required -- on the
basis of some midrash.  Arukh Hashulchan is "melamed zechut" (he finds a logical
reason for transgressing the halacha) for those who do not, but even he agrees
that sitting in the sukkah on shemini atzeret is halachically required.

From: Gershon Dubin <gershon.dubin@...>
Date: Sun, Aug 31,2014 at 05:01 PM
Subject: Altering Halacha

Yisrael Medad asked:

> But my query is: are there other such examples of withering or altered halachot?

Sticking with aveilus, how about atifas harosh?



From: Orrin Tilevitz <tilevitzo@...>
Date: Sun, Aug 31,2014 at 01:01 PM
Subject: Is there an obligation to serve in the Army?

As long as this thread is continuing, I have a question, directed solely to
those who think the answer is "yes".  

R. Yehoshua in Sotah (I think it is 20a) says that a "hassid shoteh" (which I'll
translate here as a "pious fool", although that is not quite right) destroys the
world.  A "hassid" for this purpose means someone who is "machmir" (takes a
stringent position).  An example of a "hassid shoteh" -- by no means the only
one, according to the Meiri and to the Rambam in Hilchot Arakhin -- is one who
refuses to save a drowning woman because, he says, it is forbidden to look at her.

So my question is: if the obligation to serve in Tsahal is one of pikuach
nefesh, and the excuse not to serve is "we'll be subject to secular corrupting
influences" or "it is essential that I sit and learn" (i.e., "I am the
civilization they are fighting to defend"), is a chareidi who refuses to serve
on these grounds - or, better yet, a chareidi rabbi who paskens that it is
forbidden to serve for these reasons -- a hassid shoteh?

From: Carl Singer <carl.singer@...>
Date: Sun, Aug 31,2014 at 03:01 PM
Subject: Is there an obligation to serve in the Army?

With all due deference to Rabbi Wise (MJ 62#28) and Dr. Katz (MJ 62#27) -- my
question, again, is an halachic one. The practicality, utility of yeshiva boys
(or any specific demographic) serving in the Army is not an halachic issue.

In 1970-71 I spent two years in the U.S. Army Chief of Staff's Office on a
Manpower and Force Structure team. I can assure you that similar issues re: the
makeup and quality of recruits existed then -- and most likely exist today.


From: Rabbi Meir Wise <Meirhwise@...>
Date: Sun, Aug 31,2014 at 05:01 PM
Subject: Is there an obligation to serve in the Army?

According to Yisrael Medad (MJ 62#28), I argued with non-halachik reasoning
(sic). I'm not even sure what that means or why even a rabbi should not be
permitted to use "non-halachik" reasoning. 

I notice that he did not offer any refutation to my non-halachik reasoning.

Then, he went on to shoot himself in the foot and I quote:

> Even the tribe of Levy's release was for one tribe out of all the rest.

That is exactly my point, Mr Medad. So allow me to quote the major halachik
reasoner of all time.....Maimonides (the Rambam). In his halachik code, the
Mishneh Torah (Hilkhot Shemita Ve-yovel 13:12), Maimonides provides the reason
behind this prohibition:

"Why did Levi not earn a portion of the Land of Israel or its spoils together
with its brethren? Because it was set aside to serve God, to attend to Him, and
to instruct His upright ways and just laws to the masses... They were therefore
set apart from the ways of the world: they do not conduct warfare like the rest
of Israel, nor do they receive a portion [of the land]... They are rather the
army of God... and He, blessed is He, earns on their behalf, as it says, 'I am
Your share and Your portion'."

The Kohanim and Levi'im are excluded from the distribution of Eretz Yisrael and
spoils of war because of their responsibilities as God's attendants in the
Mishkan and instructors of His law. This function exempts them from other
burdens of responsibility, such as livelihood and military service, which would
encumber them and hamper their efforts in the sacred realm. God assures that He
will adequately provide their sustenance " "I am Your share and Your portion" "
which He does through the system of priestly gifts offered by the rest of the

Similarly, Maimonides writes in his Guide for the Perplexed (3:38), 

"You certainly know that the Levites had no portion, because their whole tribe
was to be exclusively engaged in the service of God and the study of the Law.
They shall not plow or cut the corn, or conduct warfare,  but shall only
minister to God." 

The tribe of Levi was 1/12 of the Jewish people ie 8.3333 %.

The most recent figures emanating from The Israel Defense Forces itself, said
that 27.7 percent of Israeli males of conscription age are not inducted into the

Army statistics presented at the Sderot conference on societal issues showed
that 11.2 percent of those who avoided conscription did so under exemptions
granted to yeshiva students.

Another 7.3 percent were granted medical deferments. The figure apparently
includes psychological deferments, often cited as a source of "gray avoidance,"
referring to young men who avoid service by presenting evidence that they are
mentally unfit to serve.

A total of 4.7 percent were ruled ineligible because of criminal records or had
a history of drug abuse and 4.2 percent because they were residing abroad.

The largest single group of young Israelis who avoid conscription is comprised
of women who claim exemptions on the grounds of being religious. This group
makes up 35 percent of all women eligible for the draft.

Those people who (wrongly) think that the army is short of recruits should stop
focussing obsessively on the yeshiva students whose Torah study & prayer help to
protect the people of Israel, and turn their attention to 16.2 % who avoid
conscription for no good reason!

Meir Wise


From: Chaim Casper <surfflorist@...>
Date: Mon, Sep 1,2014 at 10:01 AM
Subject: Kosher Supervision Standards

In MJ 62#26, Orrin Tilevitz asked about 

> someone who is looking for [kosher] supervision for a new chain of 
> restaurants  

It is very clear to me that this person has no concept of the realities of the
marketplace when he says:

> All vegan foods are kosher by their nature  

I do not know the standards of the community he is living in, but here in the
US, the Department of Agriculture allows for a 12% contamination of lard (from a
previous run) in vegetable oil and still call that oil "Pure Vegetable Oil."

Without the independent third party verification, there is no way to verify that
vegetable oil is completely free from any traces of animal product.

> We can serve wine. They do not need to be kosher because we drink them, not
> cook with them

There is a whole section in the Shulhan Arukh (Yoreh Deah 123-138) based on the
Gemara in Avodah Zarah that prohibits the use or consumption in any form of
gentile produced wine or Jewish produced wine that has gentile workers in the

> We don't need ingredients to be kosher

No comment necessary.

> Used equipment and or pots and pans are fine you just "kosherize" them by
> turning up the heat to kill anything or clean them well

Kashering (and much of the halakhah for that matter) does not necessarily follow
the laws of science.   Cleanliness may be next to Godliness but it still isn't
necessarily kosher.   If the entrepreneur is serious about kashering his
utensils, then there are a whole slew of variables: is the item metal, glass,
plastic, corning ware, pyrex, rubber, wood, ceramic etc.   Not every material is
kosherable.   If it is metal, does it need libun gamur (kashering by making the
metal red hot), libut kal (bring a blow torch over it) or haga'alah (boiling
water)?   See Yoreh Deah 120-121 and Orah Hayim 451.

> Vegetables and fruits need to be washed well. 2X with a little salt in the
> water to get rid of bugs. So they recommend using a basin or tub to really
> soak and rinse

Bug cleaning needs training.   Many bugs do not come out easily as their horns
or limbs stick into the vegetable.    A little soak and rinse will not get rid
of all the bugs.  Don't believe me?   The Star K, one of the five main American
kashrut organizations, developed a video to show the skeptics how common place
bugs are in vegetables and how difficult it is to get rid of insects that are
visible to the naked eye.


> To start he needs a VERY general list of ingredients such as all purpose
> flour, lentils, fresh fruits and vegetable, etc.

Flour can have bugs (weevils are common here in Miami) which is why it needs to
be resifted prior to use.   But 'Puh-leaze', don't confuse the two: natural is
natural while kosher is kosher.

> In a couple of weeks I can arrange to meet him at our ice cream co-packers and
> he can see how they are cleaning the ice cream maker. He is quite confident
> that there will not be an issue.

He's right.   There are no problems to the kashrut of ice cream except for maybe
the flavorings, the colorings, the glycerides, gel, etc.  Or to put it another
way, those ingredients that give the frozen cream its flavor, texture and color,
its identity and uniqueness.     Years ago, I heard Rabbi Moshe Tendler,
shlit"a, (a Rosh Yeshiva at YU and Rav Moshe Feinstein's, zt"l, son in law) say
that it took the kashrut industry 20 years to learn that the US government
allows the addition of glycerides (which since it can be made from both meat and
vegetable sources requires rabbinical supervision to ensure its kosher status)
into pasta but that addition does not need to be listed as an ingredient.     
You may be buying "natural" pasta or ice cream but there may be a non kosher
ingredient in that product that is not listed in the ingredients.

And what about bishul yisrael?   That is a big problem for the S'fardim who
require total Jewish cooking.   The Ashkenazim accept a professional gentile
chef doing most of the cooking, but a shomer shabbat (Shabbat observer) must be
involved with part of the cooking process, usually turning on the stove.  Yoreh
Deah 112-119.

Is the food being cooked intentionally on Shabbat?   That is a big problem.   
With the exception of cooking for an ill person, the halakhah does not allow the
cooking of food on Shabbat.   See Orah Hayim 253-255, 257-259 and 318. 
Precooked food may be warmed up on a blech (hot plate) but cooking from scratch?
  I don't think so.

> From a business model perspective, does his friend really believe he can 
> attract kosher consumers without a hashgaha (kosher cerfication)?

As I said, without that third party verification (i.e. kosher certifying
agency), there is no way to ascertain that the food is being prepared according
to the halakhah.   Without someone in the factory or kitchen verifying both the
process and the ingredients are kosher, there is no way to verify the food one
is eating is actually kosher.

B'virkat Torah u'v'birkat shanah tovah u'me'tukah,
Chaim Casper
North Miami Beach, FL


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Sun, Aug 31,2014 at 01:01 PM
Subject: Loud Music (Was Boys Meeting Girls | Girls Meeting Boys)

Isaac Balbin wrote (MJ 62#28):

> 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).

My experience, having married off 10 children, is that band leaders either
ignore the Baalei Simcha's request or have had their hearing so impaired by
exposure to excessively high noise levels that they no longer are aware that
they may be too loud. Damage to hearing by exposure to excessive noise is a
well attested medical phenomenon and there might be a case for suing bands
that cause it. At one of my sons' weddings the level of noise (I find it
difficult to refer to it as music) was so high that I became ill and had to
> 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.

This might excuse louder music during dancing but not at other times when it
makes conversation impossible.
> 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).

I can assure Isaac that I do decline invitations whenever I can but
sometimes it is impossible.

It would be interesting to hear other members' experiences and views.

Martin Stern

From: Michael Rogovin <michael@...>
Date: Mon, Sep 1,2014 at 11:01 AM
Subject: Loud Music (Was Boys Meeting Girls | Girls Meeting Boys)

I am unsympathetic to Isaac Balbin's defense of loud music at simchas (MJ
62#28). First, as someone who has planned simchas and spoken with baalei
simchas, I do not ever recall anyone demanding that the band play loudly. In
fact, at my wedding when I instructed the band (Shelly Lang//Negina (who did a
great job by the way) to lower the volume, they said guests will complain.

In fact, I have been to many, many affairs where the music exceeded safe decibel
levels. No matter what the guests or hosts want, band leaders have an ethical
obligation (and probably a halachic one as well) not to create an environment
that is unsafe. Sustained levels above 85 decibels are considered unsafe, even
for relatively short periods of time, as damage is cumulative. 

Being mesameach the hatan and kalla should not require permanetly damaging the
hearing of guests, making it uncomfortable for older people (who are typically a
very large proportion of guests), to dance and have conversations or otherwise
enjoy an affair. And guess what, not all young people like music that loud. This
is a myth, perpetuated by people in the music industry to justify playing it loud
(perhaps because their own hearing has been damaged and they don't realize how
loud it is). 

Finally, one should be aware that in most affairs there are likely to be people
who are especially sensitive to loud noises and this causes great distress for
them, preventing them from celebrating with their friends and family. It need
not be chamber music and can still be 'loud' enough to create a vibe, but it
should never be so loud that one cannot hear one's companion's words or cause
potential damage that cannot be repaired.

Michael Rogovin


From: David Ziants <dziants@...>
Date: Sun, Aug 31,2014 at 05:01 PM
Subject: Reciting L'David Hashem Ori

Martin Stern wrote (MJ 62#28):

> 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?

I was in Yerushalayim this Shabbat, and due to convenience reasons was in one of
the minyanim in "Bet Knesset HaGra" in Shaarei Chesed for Shacharit and Musaph.
This was founded 90+ years ago, and there is a stern notice about anyone trying
to change the "standard" nusach ashkenaz (quotes around "standard" my own - and
this relates to Carl's posting in the same MJ issue).

Unless they said L'David H' Ori before I came (and I was rather late), I don't
think it was said at all. Mizmor Shir L'Yom HaShabbt was said after Musaph.

My gut feeling was that this is the "only one psalm a day" issue where, unlike
yom tov there might be a special psalm so the normal one is not said, during
this month of Elul there is no special psalm according to the Gr"a. Can anyone
refute this?


End of Volume 62 Issue 29