Volume 62 Number 81 
      Produced: Wed, 20 Apr 16 02:07:42 -0400

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

Criteria for publication 
    [Martin Stern]
Halachically married without civil marriage (2)
    [Martin Stern  Robert Rubinoff]
Single Parenthood 
    [Chana Luntz]
Some thoughts on An'im Zemirot (3)
    [Martin Stern  Yisrael Medad   Sholom Parnes]


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Fri, Apr 15,2016 at 04:01 AM
Subject: Criteria for publication

Recently mail-jewish has seen an upsurge in activity leading to our sending
out digests much more frequently. This has led to some members noticing that
their submissions appeared to get held up while later ones were published.
As one of my colleagues pointed out, in any moderated group "there is no
guarantee that a submission will be published (although we do our best to
ensure that most are), much less when it will be published".

Just to avoid any ill-feelings, perhaps I should clarify my criteria for
deciding what to include:

1) Compliance with MJ rules - I try to interpret these as liberally as
possible and avoid acting too much as a censor

2) Topics - I try to include all submissions on a related topic in the same
digest so that members can see all opinions on it - this sometimes leads to
later submissions 'overtaking' earlier ones
3) Length of digest - not so much length of individual items per se as
keeping each digest's length approximately the same but this can lead to delays
for long ones when several arrive together.  We have a few very prolix members
and that has caused some problems in selection recently.

4) Age of submission - I do not delay anything by more than one or two
digests, subject to the above, so 'first come first served' except in very
exceptional circumstances. However, this might lead to delay,
especially of a long item on a topic on which nobody else comments, so please
be patient if your submission does not appear immediately.

As regards editing, I may add material to which posters are responding
together with a reference to the digest in which it appears - it would make
things simpler if the original poster had included it in the first place. This
is to make each digest sufficiently self-contained to be intelligible
without having to search for that material.  This is something even more
relevant for people using our archives often years later.

When submitting items, it would be appreciated if members bore this in mind. You
may be fully aware of the topic to which you are referring but others may need a
bit more information to make your response intelligible - rather err on the side
of including too much than too little as the moderator finds it easier to trim
unnecessary details than to find essential ones that have been omitted.

Where several submissions respond to the same previous text, I only include it
in the first one and in the others substitute somethingh like "In response to
Ploni Almoni (MJ 00#00):" to avoid lengthening digests with unnecessary duplication.

Finally, I am aware that some members engage in correspondence offline which
they also submit to Mail Jewish. This can lead to confusion, especially where
they comment on submissions that, unknown to them, have been edited and the text
is no longer precisely the same as originally sent. I would therefore appeal to
everyone only to send submissions commenting on items that have already appeared
in published digests.

As this will be the last digest that I shall be sending out until after Pesach,
may I wish you all a chag kasher vesamei'ach

Martin Stern


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Sun, Apr 17,2016 at 05:01 AM
Subject: Halachically married without civil marriage

Steven Gold wrote (MJ 62#80):

> Sammy Finkelman wrote (MJ 62#79):
>> I read somewhere that in New York State, in 1944, Rabbis made a decision that
>> they would not perform any marriages that were not also civil marriages, but
>> this may have faded away with time and the example of certain Chassidim
> Let's once and for all put something in perspective: I cannot speak for other
> jurisdictions but in the State of New York for an officiant (read mesader
> kiddushin) to solemnize (perform) a marriage without first being given a
> license secured by the couple to do so, is a crime - a misdemeanor punishable
> by up to one year in jail and up to $500 fine.
> What follows is the text of the law in NYS Domestic Relations Law Section 17:
> "If any clergyman or other person authorized by the laws of this state to
> perform marriage ceremonies shall solemnize or presume to solemnize any
> marriage between any parties without a license being presented to him or them
> as herein provided or with knowledge that either party is legally incompetent
> to contract matrimony as is provided for in this article he shall be guilty of
> a misdemeanor and on conviction thereof shall be punished by a fine not less
> than fifty dollars nor more than five hundred dollars or by imprisonment for a
> term not exceeding one year."

I am not entirely clear whether this is relevant if "the clergyman or other
person authorized by the laws of this state to perform marriage ceremonies"
conducts a ceremony which is intended neither be him or her, or the parties
involved, to be a marriage within the meaning of the NYS Domestic Relations
Law. In any case, someone not so authorized could perform the ceremony and
any clergyman present could be there in a private capacity. If people want
to throw a 'party' using traditional 'props' like a chuppah or fancy dress,
why should the authorities be bothered?

Nowadays people live together without being married and this usually carries
little if any social stigma. As far as I am aware, the civil law takes no
interest in these matters provided nobody makes any claims that depend on
being married, and that would come under laws relating to deception or fraud
rather than marriage per se.

Martin Stern

From: Robert Rubinoff <rubinoff@...>
Date: Sun, Apr 17,2016 at 02:01 PM
Subject: Halachically married without civil marriage

In response to Steven Gold (MJ 62#80):

This depends on whether solemnizing a marriage means overseeing a marriage
ceremony of any sort. 

I find it hard to believe that a Jewish marriage ceremony that was intended as
purely a religious event, with no intent to present it as a legally recognized
marriage, would be covered by this. Furthermore, what if the marriage was
overseen by someone who wasn"t authorized by the laws of this state to perform
marriage ceremonies?

Even if there is case law supporting the interpretation that this law applies to
purely religious ceremonies, it strikes me as being completely unconstitutional,
since it would be a clear breech of the constitutional principle of separation
of church and state.

Married according to Jewish law and married according to the State of New York
(or any other American jurisdiction) are two different things.

Now if a Rabbi (or anyone else) performed a marriage ceremony intended as a
legally recognized marriage according to New York / American law, and the couple
didn't have a valid license, then certainly NY State can treat that as a
misdemeanor. But the whole question being discussed here is of cases where the
marriage was specifically not intended to be legally recognized.



From: Chana Luntz <Chana@...>
Date: Wed, Apr 13,2016 at 02:01 PM
Subject: Single Parenthood

Steven Oppenheimer (MJ 62#77) writes:

> Is there any discussion about what is best for the child?  Do folks honestly
> feel that the the nuclear family (father, mother, child) is not preferred?  Is
> there something missing when a single person, male or female, says I *want* a
> child irrespective of what is best for the child?

> It is hard to honestly argue that having a father and a mother (in a stable
> relationship) is not the better situation for a child.

My assumption is that nobody is arguing that having a father and mother in a
stable relationship is not the best situation for a child - the question is
rather if that does not appear to be achievable (which is the situation that the
women we are discussing find themselves in, where they have looked and looked
for a man to form a stable relationship with, and have just not found him, and
their biological clock is ticking) is it acceptable/better to bring a child into
the world in a less than ideal situation, or should you not bring a child into
the world at all.

Going solely on what is "the best for the child" in deciding whether to create
them or not, can open a huge can of worms.  Let me illustrate from my own
personal situation.

As (some of) you may know, my oldest child is very severely disabled. Despite
looking normal at birth it transpired that he was born with a very rare medical
condition (a random genetic mutation, which is not hereditary) called
lissencephaly (it means smooth brain, and means he doesn't have the normal folds
in the brain, just a few thick folds). As a consequence, although now aged 14,
he functions at the level of a six month baby (at best) is fully wheelchair
bound, prone to epileptic fitting, and needs 24 hour care.

When we were in Great Ormond Street (the premier children's hospital in the UK)
getting the diagnosis, and having tests - we met numbers of (non-Jewish) parents
of severely disabled children of various ages.  By and large, for those for whom
it was their first child, it was also their only child - and we asked a number
of them about whether they had considered having more children, if they could
ensure (e.g. through genetic testing, or other means) that those other children
would be normal - and their response was, almost invariably, that they didn't
think having other children would be in the best interests of the child they had
nor would it be in the best interests of the siblings they would bring into the
world. The burden of looking after a child of this nature was too great.

My husband and I looked at each other, and we both were of the view that this
was not the kind of family we had envisioned.  We had envisioned a family whom
we would educate to be chayav in mitzvos, to have bar and bas mitzvos, and to
carry on our tradition.  Our oldest son, loveable as he is, does not and will
not do any of these.  And as soon as the doctors confirmed that the mutation
really was a random one, and the risks to any future children were very low, I
got pregnant again.

But if you consider, primarily, the best interests of the child - is it really
in the best interests of a child to be brought into the world knowing that his
parents are carrying the enormous physical, financial and emotional burden of
having an severely disabled old sibling?  The view of the parents in Great
Ormond Street (not to mention many of the doctors) was that it is not.

Many people indeed would argue that it is not in the best interests of the child
to have more than one or two other siblings, even if they are all normal - as
that child gets less attention than those with fewer siblings (not to mention
those who argue that it is not in the best interests of society to have parents
have more than their replacement number of children, given the "over population"
of the earth).

All of these are "bests interests of the child" arguments, and once you open the
door to one of them, are you not in effect opening the door to all of them?




From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Sun, Apr 17,2016 at 01:01 AM
Subject: Some thoughts on An'im Zemirot

An anonymous poster wrote (MJ 62#80):

> In my experience, in most orthodox minyanim An'im Zemirot is recited with the
> Aron Kodesh opened. Why? What's so special?

This is similar to the way we open the Aron Kodesh on Yom Kippur for some,
but not all, piyutim. Generally it is meant to arouse the congregation
though I have never been able to fathom out why those specific ones are
given extra prominence.

> Some minyanim have moved it to before reading the Torah instead of the very
> end of davening to afford it more respect. By the end of davening everyone is
> putting away their tallit and can't wait to get home or to the kiddush.

This is not strictly true. There are varying minhagim as to when it is
inserted. In the old days in Ashkenaz, they used to say every day the
daily part of the shir hayichud, followed by the shir hakavod (An'im
Zemirot), its final part, immediately after the kaddish following shacharit.
Others say it, especially on the Yamim Noraim, before Pesukei Dezimra.

I think R. Yaakov Emden wrote strongly against the custom of saying the shir
hayichud daily because of its esoteric nature and I have never seen it said
except, in a few places, on Shabbat.

There is a widespread minhag to chant the whole shir hayichud and shir
hakavod after ma'ariv on Kol Nidrei and some explain that this is a
'compensation' for having dropped its daily recitation. Even so many people,
in my experience, do not remain for it.

> In my experience it is recited/performed by kids. I've only seen little boys
> lead it until relatively recently when my minyan has a seven year old girl do
> it. And just last week a group of little kids formed a choir and did it in
> unison.

IMHO this practice of having children, of either sex, lead it is unfortunate. It
was never the custom in England until some forty years ago when some people who
had seen it in Israel introduced it, and it has now spread to other communities.

This piyut is far too difficult to understand unless one is familiar with
all the midrashic allusions, and I doubt if even 1% of those adults present
qualify. That being so, it is doubly incorrect for it to be led by children
who cannot possibly have any idea what it means, as is evident from the way
they punctuate it in a nonsensical manner. As Rabbi Shimon Hagadol of Mainz
put it all too well in his piyut Kol Shinenei Shachak for the second day of
Rosh Hashanah "Eilu va'eilu betsiftsuf metsaftsfim" which can be loosely
translated "They all twitter like birds" - i.e. they sound beautiful but are
essentially meaningless.

This custom of having it led by children should be abolished as soon as
possible. At the very least An'im Zemirot should be led by an adult who
understands what it is all about. Where I daven we don't say it at all
except on Yamim Noraim and I think that is the best way.

> And then, fasten your seatbelts, since the boys were wearing a talit, the
little girl had one too.  What do you make of this?

Political correctness gone mad!

Martin Stern

From: Yisrael Medad  <yisrael.medad@...>
Date: Sun, Apr 17,2016 at 02:01 AM
Subject: Some thoughts on An'im Zemirot

In response to the anonymous poster (MJ 62#80):

a. Young Israel of Scarsdale includes, on occasion, young girls, if I am not

b. this event is as good as any other to induct youngsters into the art of
appearing before a congregation.

c. as for whether at end of Shacharit or prior to Torah reading, each
congregation should follow its own custom.

Yisrael Medad

From: Sholom Parnes <sholomjparnes@...>
Date: Sun, Apr 17,2016 at 09:01 AM
Subject: Some thoughts on An'im Zemirot

I have no comments for the anonymous poster (MJ 62#80) other than;

"What a breath of fresh air! There are other topics beside marital rape, concubines and underage 

May everyone have a Happy Pesach holiday (kosher, too!). 

Sholom J Parnes
Hamelech David 65/3
Efrat 90435 ISRAEL


End of Volume 62 Issue 81