Volume 62 Number 30 
      Produced: Wed, 03 Sep 14 01:52:44 -0400

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

Altering Halacha (3)
    [Perets Mett  Michael Poppers  Rabbi Meir Wise]
Is fifteen significant? 
    [Martin Stern]
Is there an obligation to serve in the Army? (3)
    [Bill Bernstein  Roger Kingsley  Carl Singer]
Loud Music (2)
    [Frank Silbermann  Lorne Schachter]
Reciting L'David Hashem Ori (4)
    [David Ziants  Martin Stern  Steven Oppenheimer  Chaim Casper]
Standardization of Yiddishkeit 
    [Martin Stern]


From: Perets Mett <p.mett00@...>
Date: Mon, Sep 1,2014 at 05:01 PM
Subject: Altering Halacha

Gershon Dubin (MJ 62#29) asks:

> Sticking with aveilus, how about atifas harosh?

The answer is on today's daf!!!

Moed Koton 21a Tosfos  "'Eilu Dvorim at the end: "we need to give a reason for
(not practising) atifas horosh" as it would cause ridicule"

Perets Mett
6 Elul

From: Michael Poppers <the65pops@...>
Date: Mon, Sep 1,2014 at 11:01 PM
Subject: Altering Halacha

>From the beginning of SA OC: how many people put on first their right shoe
(but don't tie it) and then their left, then tie the left before tying the
right (and take off the left shoe before taking off the right shoe), all as
per 2:4 <http://hebrewbooks.org/pdfpager.aspx?req=9729&st=&pgnum=37> (and

(FTR: I do follow this *halacha*.  An explanation I heard in the name of
Rav Kook *z'l'* may help explain it: that in the time of the Talmud, IIUC,
how one put on one's footwear distinguished the Jew from the Roman.  I'm
not sure why the noted foot-related methodology would be similar to how
Jewish men put on & take off *t'filin* [phylacteries], but there were
decrees against *t'filin*, and wearing *t'filin* did distinguish one as a

All the best from
*Michael Poppers* * Elizabeth, NJ, USA

From: Rabbi Meir Wise <Meirhwise@...>
Date: Tue, Sep 2,2014 at 11:01 AM
Subject: Altering Halacha

There is no such thing as "altering the Halacha". Some halochot fall into disuse
because of changing circumstances.

Turning over the bed is achieved by sleeping without pillows. Presumably their
beds were able to be turned over and slept on. Here in Israel, the children of
my wife's large family sleep on mattresses on the floor the whole year round as
did she as a child, so what's the issue.

The Rambam requires "atifat harosh" for several occasions, such as receiving
Shabbat, aveilut etc etc. that is why you will see many Yemenites wearing
tallitot over their heads in shul on Friday night, and when sitting shiva. This
practice is waning in the present generation in Israel

Atifat harosh is achieved by Ashkenazim by wearing a hat or at least a Kippa
(yamulkeh). I do remember as a young man walking to shul one Friday night with
my late Rebbe, Harav Moshe Turetsky zatzal and I was wearing my trilby hat down
over my eyes. He commented that it was a sign of aveilut but asked if that was
the style of the yeshiva boys (mid 1970s) to put me at my ease.

In the old pictures of Mir, you do see them wearing the hats on the back of
their heads brim up.

So you see, dear readers, no Halacha has been changed. If you enquire deeply
enough, you will see that the holy Jewish people, being descended from prophets,
basically continue to keep these traditions albeit in a modernised form.

Shana Tova

Rabbi Meir Wise


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Wed, Aug 27,2014 at 05:01 AM
Subject: Is fifteen significant?

The thirteenth century Chasidai Ashkenaz were assiduous in counting the
number of words and letters in the tefillot so it is possibly significant
that the number fifteen appears in several places in the liturgy. In this
they were continuing an ancient tradition as the Gemara (Kid. 30a) states
the early sages were called Sofrim because they counted the number of
letters in the Torah.

There are fifteen steps leading from the ezrat nashim up to the azarah. It
would appear therefore that the number fifteen signifies a significant rise
in kedushah [holiness], and so it is, perhaps, not surprising that we find
it at many stages in tefillat shacharit. Some instances that I have noticed
(all according to Minhag Ashkenaz) are (when words connected by a makeph
[hyphen] are treated as single words):

1. There are precisely fifteen Birkhot Hashachar at the beginning of the

Also, there are fifteen stages in the daily avodah in the passage Abaye have
mesader (Yoma 33a) towards the end of the Korbanot section, which might also
provide a reason for its inclusion since the order is only according to the
opinion of Abba Shaul and the halachah is not according to him (Yoma 14b).

At the end of this preliminary section there are fifteen words in the Yehi
ratson said at the end of the Beraita deRabbi Yishmael (and after Elokai
netsor after shemoneh esrei),

2. Similarly, there are fifteen expressions of praise at the end of
Yishtabach, which concludes pesukei dezimra.

Also, there are the same number of words in its conclusion (Keil Melekh ...
Chei haolamim), making it an unusually long short berachah,
3. After the removal of the word emet from emet veyatsiv, which we append to
the Shema, there are fifteen words used to describe the shema.

Also there are fifteen words in Tsur Yisrael at the conclusion of the
morning Birkhot Kriat Shema,
4. There are fifteen words in Nekadesh, the introduction to every Kedushah
except at Mussaf, or on Yom Kippur (itself a day of higher kedushah),

In addition, I noticed:
1. There are fifteen pesukim included in the mezuzah (Shema  6 + Vehaya im
shamoa - 9), perhaps this reflects the higher degree of holiness of a Jewish
home over the outside world,
2. There are fifteen words in the pesukim of birkhat kohanim (3+5+7),

3. The total number of esronim [measures of flour] brought with the Mussaf
offerings on Rosh Chodesh, each day of Pesach and Shavuot is also fifteen (3
for each of the 2 bulls + 2 for the ram and 1 for each of the 7 lambs) - but
not the three Tishri festivals,
4. There are fifteen stages in the Seder (kadeish urechats  nirtsach) and
fifteen stages in dayenu leading from Hashems taking us out of Mitsrayim to
the establishment of the Beit HaMikdash, the place of ultimate kedushah on
Furthermore it would seem that even in passages where a smaller number is
explicitly stated, there might really be fifteen items. Two such situations
that spring to mind are:
1. the thirteen hermeneutic rules in the Beraita deRabbi Yishmael, where two
(numbers 3 and 12) contain distinct subrules that might more reasonably be
listed separately,
2. the eleven spices in the incense, to which a further 4 ingredients are
recorded with anonymous attribution (as opposed to the kippat hayarden added
in the name of Rabbi Natan).

Is this fortuitous or is the occurrence of the number fifteen significant?

Martin Stern


From: Bill Bernstein <billheddy@...>
Date: Mon, Sep 1,2014 at 07:01 PM
Subject: Is there an obligation to serve in the Army?

The discussion on Is There An Obligation TO Serve In The Army seems to have gone
crossways.  Most of the responses I have seen focus instead on the issues of
"Should we (Israel) draft yeshiva students" which is a very different question.
I would leave it to the politicians and soldiers in Israel to decide whether it
serves their national policy or not to draft yeshiva students.  I can think of
arguments both for and against.

But as to the original question, once the law is passed it seems that the
yeshiva students are obligated to obey it and go.  I cited the Melamed L'Hoil in
an earlier post arguing that Jews were obligated to obey the draft in Imperial
Germany and the reason of not being able to keep certain mitzvos was not strong
enough to nullify their obligation to the country.

Bill Bernstein
Nashville TN.

From: Roger Kingsley <rogerk@...>
Date: Tue, Sep 2,2014 at 04:01 AM
Subject: Is there an obligation to serve in the Army?

I have tried to avoid this one, because of the level of vitriol it
engenders, but Rabbi Wise's misuse (MJ 62#29) of the statistics he quotes
requires an answer. 

Using his figures, of 27.7% males "not inducted", 11.2% were yeshiva
deferments; 4.7% were unwanted - criminals or druggies.  4.2% were "residing
abroad" - ie they are children of yordim who are only technically Israeli -
and it is known that a percentage of this category do come back to serve.

Which leaves 7.3% medical deferments - of which it is known that some
proportion are psychological evaders - and some are very real medical cases.

So the figure who "avoid conscription for "no good reason" (if that is what
one calls the "fearful and fainthearted" - Devorim 20,8) is a good bit less
than 7.3% - not the 16.2% he was trumpeting.

So the 11.2% Yeshiva deferments are the vast majority of the self-elected
avoiders, comprising the Yeshiva deferments and the psychological evaders.

The question Moshe Rabbenu addressed to the tribes of Reuven and Gad is very
relevant here.

Roger Kingsley

From: Carl Singer <carl.singer@...>
Date: Tue, Sep 2,2014 at 08:01 AM
Subject: Is there an obligation to serve in the Army?

As I understand it in hockey there is a "third man in" rule -- if two people are
fighting a third person entering the fray is subject to severe sanctions.

That said -- forget the statistics and the demographics -- these are always
subject to change. Let's stop tap dancing around the halachic question by
dealing with current political, logistic and demographic realities.

Perhaps I should state more clearly -- and I will type more slowly as well :)  
-- I've added a single clarifying word - now in capital letters:

Does an INDIVIDUAL have an obligation to serve in the Army?



From: Frank Silbermann <frank_silbermann@...>
Date: Tue, Sep 2,2014 at 09:01 AM
Subject: Loud Music

Does anyone know why Simcha music, aside from being too loud, is so _bad_?
It seems to me it's typically a screaming voice, massive percussion, and a few
instruments (or simulated instruments) adding rhythm.  No harmony -- nothing
like Simon & Garfunkle, the Mommas and the Poppas, doo-wop, Betty Boop cartoon
Swing, or any other kind of good music I know.

I can only suppose it's the gentile influence, most of the latest secular pop
being really bad, too.

Frank Silbermann          Memphis, Tennessee

From: Lorne Schachter <lorne136@...>
Date: Tue, Sep 2,2014 at 10:01 AM
Subject: Loud Music

Martin Stern wrote (MJ 62#29):

> 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
> leave.
>> 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.

When my second son got married, I specifically wrote into the contract with
the band that I (and my wife) had the absolute authority to adjust the volume of
the music down and that acceptance of the deposit was an acceptance of this
condition.  The band leader came to us several times during the chasanah to 
verify that we were satisfied with the volume levels.  We had a guest who is a
hearing specialist and she commented on the low volume.  It made the whole
simcha more enjoyable and I plan to do the same thing in future simchas.

Lorne Schachter


From: David Ziants <dziants@...>
Date: Mon, Sep 1,2014 at 05:01 PM
Subject: Reciting L'David Hashem Ori

I wrote (MJ 62#29):

> 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?

I forgot to mention the basic premise, which is that the one psalm is 
the psalm that was sang by the Leviim in Bet HaMikdash. (L'David H' Ori 
was not one of them.)

David Ziants

From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Mon, Sep 1,2014 at 05:01 PM
Subject: Reciting L'David Hashem Ori

David Ziants wrote (MJ 62#29):

> 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).

Having been there on several occasions I also noticed these notices which
seemed to be in every room that might have been used for davenning.
> 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 HaShabbat was said after Musaph.

AFAIK, it is always said at the end of davenning, certainly after the shir
shel yom. I can't believe anyone would come so late that they would miss it.
David clearly was present well before the end so it would appear from his
report that the Bet Knesset HaGra in Shaarei Chesed does not say it at all.

Martin Stern

From: Steven Oppenheimer <steven.oppenheimer@...>
Date: Mon, Sep 1,2014 at 09:01 PM
Subject: Reciting L'David Hashem Ori

It was the custom of the Maharsha and the Gr"a not to recite LeDovid
because of tircha detzibura.  See Maaseh Rav (53) with peirush Tefillat
Dovid LeAderet.  The GR"A did not recite any mizmor at the end of davening
except for the shir shel yom (psalm of the day).

Many communities of Germanic origin and the Chassidic communities of
Kamarna, Bobov and Tzanz do not recite LeDovid to this day. The Chozeh
MiLublin did not recite it.  It appears the custom to say LeDovid was
originally mentioned in the sefer Chemdas Yomim (printed in 1731) which was
open to criticism and so there were those who opposed the custom to recite
the mizmor.  See Divrei Moshe (Halberstam) Orach Chaim 34.

This supposition was incorrect because the custom to recite LeDovid is
already mentioned in sefer Shem Tov Koton (printed 1706).

The Kloizenberger Rebbe quoted the Tzanzer Rebbe that the their custom is
that if it is not mentioned in Shulchan Aruch and the associated writings,
they do not recite it. (Divrei Moshe, ibid.)

*Steven Oppenheimer, D.M.D.*

From: Chaim Casper <surfflorist@...>
Date: Tue, Sep 2,2014 at 10:01 AM
Subject: Reciting L'David Hashem Ori

David Ziants wrote (MJ 62#29):

> 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. 

David may be right but I think the GR"A says something else.   The GR"A never
said said any of the extra t'hillim we say: L'David, Borkhi Nafshi (on Rosh
Hodesh), Lamnazeah or Mikhtam L'David (in the house of a mourner), or Mizmor
Shir Hanukat Habayit (on Hanukkah and even as part of the daily shaharit).  
That is because they are not part of the davening regime that HaZa"l set up for
us.  They are later additions.   The only extra t'hilah the GR"A said was the
Shir Shel Yom (the Psalm of the day) as that was said in the Beit Hamikdash and
so we continue that tradition to today.    

The GR"A did say Ashrei [and Tehillim #146-150] at Shaharit and Ashrei again at
Minhah as that is mentioned in the Gemara.   On the other hand, Mizmor Shir
Hanukat HaBayit before Barukh She'amar is a later addition. 

I once davened at the Beit K'nesset HaGR"A in Rehavia (Jerusalem).   They have a
sign by the shaliah zibbur (leader) saying that the official nusah of the shul
is ArtScroll(!!!) which follows contemporary Ashkenazic liturgy and not the
liturgy of the GR"A.   So I asked someone I know there why do they call the shul
the Beit K'nesset HaGR"A if they don't follow the GR"A's liturgy/nusah?    My
friend just shrugged his shoulders. 

B'virkat Shalom and b'virkat shanah tovah u'metukah,
Chaim Casper
North Miami Beach, FL


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

Carl Singer wrote (MJ 62#28):

> ... 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?

The abolition of minhag hamakom [local custom] or minhag avoteihem
[ancestral custom].

> 2 - Is standardization within Yiddiskeit a good thing?

In my opinion - no - there is room in Yiddiskeit for such local colour and
it adds to its richness much as the various instruments in an orchestra
combine to produce something greater than the sum of their individual

> 3 - Is standardization within Yiddiskeit becoming more and more widespread?

Unfortunately - yes - and this reflects an ever greater intolerance of
anything different. Another analogy that brings out its noxious effect is to
an artist's palette on which s/he has various pigments from which s/he can
produce a great work of art. If they are standardised [mixed together] the
result is a drab brownish mess no use for anything.

Martin Stern


End of Volume 62 Issue 30