Volume 62 Number 59 
      Produced: Mon, 28 Dec 15 21:28:15 -0500

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

After-action review (2)
    [Isaac Balbin  Chaim Casper]
Anti-feminist liturgy? 
    [Irwin Weiss]
Chazan's role? (3)
    [Isaac Balbin  Chaim Casper  Haim Snyder]
duchening (blessing from cohanim) in Israel  
    [Joel Rich]
Greed, wealth and scandal 
    [Chaim Casper]
Is there another Jordan? (2)
    [Yisrael Medad   Immanuel Burton]
Lavan and the Shema? 
    [Martin Stern]
slichot of asarah btevet 
    [Joel Rich]


From: Isaac Balbin <isaac@...>
Date: Sun, Nov 29,2015 at 04:01 AM
Subject: After-action review

Joel Rich asked (MJ 62#58):

> Does your shul ever do an after-action review of any of its programming (e.g.
> how did people feel about yamim noraim services? Scholar in residence)?  If
> so, how?

We did a full anonymous comprehensive survey one year. I can try and dig it
out if MJ members are interested.

From: Chaim Casper <surfflorist@...>
Date: Sun, Nov 29,2015 at 09:01 AM
Subject: After-action review

Joel Rich asked (MJ 62#58) if 

> our shul ever d[id] an after-action review of any of its programming (e.g. how
> did people feel about yamim noraim services?...". 

When I was gabbai, I used to email to the members a request for feedback
regarding the entire fall davening (Selihot, Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Sukkot
and Shmini Azeret/Simhat Torah).   However, the shul's rabbi requested I stop
because it was a form of lashon hara.   His reasoning was that the feedback
allowed the members to "mouth off" about our davening personnel without any
beneficial change actually occurring in our daveners: "A" who davens too softly
will not daven louder and "B" who davens too fast will not slow down, etc., so
why solicit complaints about these people?  I acceded to his request.  

B'virkat Torah,
Rabbi Chaim Casper
North Miami Beach, FL


From: Irwin Weiss <irwin@...>
Date: Sun, Nov 29,2015 at 10:01 PM
Subject: Anti-feminist liturgy?

Martin Stern's post (MJ 62 #58) queries whether certain language from Yekum
Purkan is anti-feminist in nature.

Note also that in the Mi Shebeyrach Prayer for the Congregation recited just
after, the text says...

"Mi Shebeyrach Avotenu.....Hu Yvarech Et Kol haKahal...  Heym, Unsheyhem,
Uveneyhem.... [May He who blessed Avraham... Bless this Congregation....Them,
their wives....].

It could be said also, by those who wish to parse words, that this Beracha is
also anti-feminist, since it seeks Hashem's blessing on Them [meaning the members
of the Kahal] and their wives as if wives cannot be members of the Kahal.

I am not sure it is anti-feminist liturgy, if that means liturgy intentionally
written to be demeaning of or nasty to women.  What it is, is old liturgy. 
Martin says that until recently women were not heads of households.  I think
that until recently, we did not note that women were heads of households.  But
they have been heads of households.  After all, we've had women who never
married and women who became widows and thus were single parents for many years,
don't you think?

Does this mean we should change the tefillot to reflect reality?  That is a
different question altogether, beyond my pay grade.

Irwin E. Weiss
Baltimore, MD


From: Isaac Balbin <isaac@...>
Date: Sun, Nov 29,2015 at 03:01 AM
Subject: Chazan's role?

Joel Rich asked (MJ 62#58):

> The importance of the ongoing role of the chazzan seems to me to have changed
> since the advent of the printing press and the general availability of prayer
> books. What roles do mail-jewish members see in their experience for the 
> chazzan in contemporary daily prayer? Shabbat? Yom Tov? Yamim Noraim? 

I was Chazan for a big shule for many years. When people could daven and knew
nusach it was one experience. You had people answering and participating. Once
it moved to an era where people looked blankly at Machzorim and Siddurim I
realised I needed to become an entertainer and adopt happy Carelebach songs and
old israeli melodies. At that point, my role ceased. I refuse to play with
Mesora (tradition) and I won't Carlebachise davening. 

I know one place here which had a quiet quick davening in the front, and most
people sat in bean bags at the back and had explanations given to them. It's a
Chabad place run by Laibel Wolf, which suits some who otherwise did not go to
Shule, but that's not for me by a million miles. I have enough trouble getting
out the words for Hineni. People simply don't understand. 

Davening isn't the problem. Education is.

From: Chaim Casper <surfflorist@...>
Date: Sun, Nov 29,2015 at 09:01 AM
Subject: Chazan's role?

Joel Rich asked (MJ 62 #58) about the role of the chazzan in contemporary daily
prayer, in light of the fact that nowadays, everyone has use of a siddur.  

I believe he is not referring to a chazan, but rather to a shaliah zibbur.   As
the name implies, a shaliah zibbur is the "emissary of the congregation."  He is
responsible for saying the tefilot on behalf of those who cannot say it (e.g.
they don't know how to read Hebrew, they can't be at shul for prayers, etc.).

I agree that in earlier times, when there were no siddurim (prayerbooks), the
shaliah zibbur's role was very important.  He was, after all, saying the prayers
on behalf of those who could not. 

The chazzan is a different story entirely.   At least here in the US, there are
very few Orthodox shuls that have a professional chazzan.   That's because many
of the ba'alei batim (members) want to lead the davening themselves, either
because they are observing a yahrzeit (anniversary of the death of a relative)
or simply because they enjoy leading the services themselves.   As a result of
this trend, the Belz School of Jewish Music (also know as the Cantorial
Institute) of Yeshiva University only graduates one chazan a year, simply
because there are no jobs for such graduates.  The primary function of this
school is to teach the future ba'alei batim (synagogue members) the correct nusah
(liturgical tunes) for the davening. 

B'virkat Torah,
Rabbi Chaim Casper
North Miami Beach, FL

From: Haim Snyder <haimsny@...>
Date: Fri, Dec 4,2015 at 09:01 AM
Subject: Chazan's role?

Joel Rich questions the role of the chazan since the advent of the printing
press and the availability of siddurim.

If his question relates to professional chazanim, I am of the opinion that they
are totally unnecessary when praying and, in many cases, actually cause lack of 
concentration on the prayer(s) being recited. If one wants to hear a
professional chazan, I believe one should go to a concert.

If his intent is the shaliah tzibbur, then they do have an important role in the
service. Tfila b'tzibbur (communal prayer) is more effective than individual
prayers, independent of the particular individual. The shaliah tzibbur is there
to keep the people at the same place, so that their prayers can be joined. Also,
the shaliah tzibbur says those prayers that can only be said in a minyan
(kedusha, barchu and the reader's kaddishim). Moreover, the fact that mourners
are encouraged to be shlihai tzibbur during non-festive prayers shows that Hazal
gave importance to this function, especially since they cause the community to
respond to barchu and kedusha and say Shma together.
In addition, on special days (Shabbat, Yom Tov, the Yamim Noraim), they add to
the occasion by singing the tunes that the community associates with the day.
While these tunes may (and frequently do) differ from community to community,
any given community has those tunes which they use and the lack thereof would
lessen the day.
Haim Shalom Snyder
Petah Tikva


From: Joel Rich <JRich@...>
Date: Thu, Dec 24,2015 at 12:01 PM
Subject: duchening (blessing from cohanim) in Israel 

What is the practice with regard to moving the chazzan for duchening in Israel for 
those shuls who have the chazzan lead daily services from next to the Aron Kodesh? Does 
he move? If not, how is he included?

Joel Rich


From: Chaim Casper <surfflorist@...>
Date: Sun, Nov 29,2015 at 10:01 AM
Subject: Greed, wealth and scandal

The Rambam in the Guide for the Perplexed talks about good vs. evil in the
world.  He makes it very clear that there is so much more good than evil.   If
so, then why does it appear that there is more bad in the world than good?  And
so he answers that people tend to listen to and believe more in the bad they
hear than they do in the good.   In other words, people tend to prefer to read
the National Inquirer and the Daily News rather than the New York Times and the
Washington Post.   

I thought of this Rambam when I read the posts from Nahum Amsel (MJ 62#58) and
Joel Rich (MJ 62#56), based on the writings of Rabbi JB Soloveitchik, ztz"l, that
(frum/Orthodox) Jews don't do well as rich people like they do when they are poor.

But last week I saw that Shlomo Rechnitz bought a quality lunch for 400 US
soldiers in Ireland.  And don't forget Aaron Feuerstein whose factory burned
down but he nonetheless continued to pay the salaries of his employees.

And through the years and through my travels, I have had the privilege of
meeting other financially affluent, Orthodox Jews whose personal scruples were
above reproach.  (In Boston, one of the Rav's personal best friends and
financial supporter was Moses Feuerstein, Aaron's brother, a wealthy frum Jew
who was president of the OU for a number of years.)

Yes, Bernie Madoff and Ezra Merkin were lowlifes (and don't forget, Bernie was
not Orthodox while Ezra was Orthodox).   But they are the exception to the rule.
  Most frum wealthy Jews labor quietly in the background, raising a family,
paying their taxes and giving much more than their fair share of zedakah
(charity).    They may occasionally make bad judgements, but by and large, their
good outweighs their bad.

B'virkat Torah,
Chaim Casper
North Miami Beach, FL


From: Yisrael Medad  <yisrael.medad@...>
Date: Sun, Nov 29,2015 at 02:01 AM
Subject: Is there another Jordan?

Martin Stern asked (MJ 62#58):

> At the beginning of Vayishlach (Ber. 32:11), Ya'akov Avinu says, "Ki vemakli
> avarti et-hayarden HAZEH [With my stick I have crossed THIS Jordan]." AFAIK
> there is no other Jordan, so what is the significance of "hazeh [this]"?

Off the top of my head, as Ya'akov Avinu is addressing the assembled extended
family, he could have been pointing, as people are wont to do, as a gesture
towards the object of his words.

Yisrael Medad

From: Immanuel Burton <iburton@...>
Date: Sun, Nov 29,2015 at 11:01 PM
Subject: Is there another Jordan?

Martin Stern asked (MJ 62#58):

> At the beginning of Vayishlach (Ber. 32:11), Ya'akov Avinu says, "Ki vemakli
> avarti et-hayarden HAZEH [With my stick I have crossed THIS Jordan]." AFAIK
> there is no other Jordan, so what is the significance of "hazeh [this]"?

A similar question was asked by Joshua Hosseinof (MJ 40#83, dated 10th October 

> As I was reading parashat Vayelech two weeks ago, it occurred to me that
> the River Jordan ("Yarden") is never referred to in Tanach as either a
> Nahar or Nachal - the two main terms in Hebrew for a river or stream.
> The pasuk in Vayelech says that Moshe will not cross "this Jordan" -
> "Hayarden Ha-zeh", which led me to think - what other Jordan could there
> be?
> Throughout Tanach the Jordan is only referred to as "The Jordan", or the
> "Jordan by Yericho" (Yarden-Yerecho).  So that led me to think, that
> perhaps "Yarden" is not a place name after all, but really a geographic
> term for a type of river.  What type of river?  If we look at the root
> of "Yarden" the root is Yud, Resh, Dalet - "Yarad" for going down.  The
> Jordan river goes downhill from the Kinneret, to the lowest place on
> Earth, the Dead Sea.  So a Yarden could be a type of river that flows
> from a high place to a low place.
> However, I have not found any commentary on the Torah that discusses
> this idea, so I am wondering if anyone has ever heard any similar idea
> regarding the meaning of the word Yarden.

Going back to Martin Stern's question, maybe Ya'akov Avinu is referring 
either to the River Jordan that we know nowadays or to a specific other 

Immanuel Burton.


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Sat, Nov 28,2015 at 03:01 PM
Subject: Lavan and the Shema?

The Avudraham (p.77) writes:
"It is said in Devarim Rabbah: Guard my mitzvot and live (Prov. 4:4) --
guard the 248 words in Kriat Shema and the Holy One, blessed be He, will
guard your 248 limbs. However, it will be found to be three words short
since in the first paragraph, including baruch shem kevod malchuto leolam
vaed, there are 54 words, in the second 122 words, and in the third 69
words, making a total of 245. Therefore they added keil melech neeman whose
acrostic is amen as mentioned in Massechet Shabbat 119b. They also
instituted that the sheliach tzibur should repeat the three words HaShem
Elokechem emet in order to make up the 248 words."

If one examines the Shema, one might note that several words are joined by a
makkef. This occurs 32 times, which is the gematria of lev, heart. Since
words joined by a makkef are to a certain extent treated as one word, this
reduces the number of words in the Shema to 213.

Perhaps one can gain an insight from this by observing that this is the
gematria of the word yegar, which is part of the only Aramaic phrase found
in the Torah (Gen. 31:47), yegar sahaduta, meaning mound of testimony. This
name was given by Lavan while Yaakov called it gal ed, which has the same
meaning (Rashi ad loc).

Why the Torah included the Aramaic name given by Lavan has always been a
mystery. Perhaps it was meant to be a hint to the Shema as being a mound of
testimony if we only take its message to heart.

Furthermore, in the Masoretic text, the ayin of shema and the dalet of
echad, are enlarged, also spelling the word ed, as pointed out by the Tur in
his commentary.

In some editions of the Chumash there is a further makkef joining the words
lo taturu (Num. 15:39). This makes no difference to the meaning of the verse
but changes the cantillation from kadma veazla to azla geresh. In such
texts the makkef occurs 33 times, which is the gematria of gal, the Hebrew
equivalent of yegar. There remain 212 words, which is the gematria of riv, a
dispute, which the mound set up by Yaakov and Lavan was meant to resolve.
So either way there seems to be a linkage between the Shema and this

Martin Stern


From: Joel Rich <JRich@...>
Date: Thu, Dec 24,2015 at 12:01 PM
Subject: slichot of asarah btevet

Due to the relatively late time of hanetz et al., the first minyan at a local shul said 
slichot before the regular davening.  I'm wondering if anyone else did this and, if 
yes, did they just say what they would have said after shmoneh esrai or did they say 
say ashrei et al.

Joel Rich


End of Volume 62 Issue 59