Volume 62 Number 83 
      Produced: Fri, 06 May 16 06:33:15 -0400

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

A shul in the Bronx (was Some thoughts on An'im Zemirot) 
    [Saul Mashbaum]
Halachically married without civil marriage (2)
    [Martin Stern  Frank Silbermann]
Sefirat Ha'omer 
    [Martin Stern]
Some thoughts on An'im Zemirot (6)
    [Mark Steiner  Martin Stern  Martin Stern  Joseph Kaplan  Saul Mashbaum  Dr Russell Jay Hendel]


From: Saul Mashbaum <saul.mashbaum@...>
Date: Wed, May 4,2016 at 11:01 AM
Subject: A shul in the Bronx (was Some thoughts on An'im Zemirot)

Sammy Finkelman wrote (MJ 62#82):

> I remember it from the Young Israel of Claremont Parkway in the Bronx. I think
> there may be a tendency to have children say this - and actually everything
> from Ain Keloheinu on, because it is not officially part of the davening, so a
> koton can be a chazzan, and people like to give children some responsibility.

I was very gratified to see a reference to this shul in the Bronx. The Young
Israel of Claremont Parkway closed its doors in the Bronx in the '70's, but
lives on in its new location - in Jerusalem, and is now known as the Young
Israel of Claremont Parkway-Givat Shaul,

The congregation in the Bronx, when it liquidated its assets when population
changes forced it to close the shul, used the funds to buy a ground floor
apartment in the Givat Shaul/Kiryat Moshe neighborhood in Jerusalem, (the one
you pass as you enter the city from the direction of Tel Aviv) and set it up as
a shul. The sifrei Torah of the old shul were transferred to the new one, as
were  the impressive, weighty bronze memorial plaques. The Gabbai of the old
shul, Nathan Brinksky z"l  came on aliyah at that time, and became the Gabbai of
the new shul.  The Young Israel of Claremont Parkway-Givat Shaul is a small but
active congregation - dozens of people attend each of the daily minyanim, there
are regular shiurim, and a very prominent Rov, R. Eitan Eissman, a senior talmid
of R. Tzvi Yehuda Kook, serves the congregation.

Many here are familiar with the Rabbinic statement (Megilla 29a) that the batei
keneset and batei midrash in Babylonia will in the future be established in
Israel.  The Young Israel of Claremont Parkway merited a literal fulfillment of
this statement.

Saul Mashbaum


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Tue, May 3,2016 at 11:01 PM
Subject: Halachically married without civil marriage

Carl A. Singer wrote (MJ 62#82):

> Martin Stern wrote (MJ 62#81):

>> 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.

> It is the flip side of this coin that is problematic:

> An individual claiming to be "single" -- that is neither legally married nor
> in a common-law marital relationship -- and using this single "status" to
> fraudulently obtain government benefits ....

I fear Carl is begging the question. If, as is the case in England, those in
a "common-law marital relationship" are deemed to be married as far as
welfare benefits are concerned then claiming single "status" is fraudulent
and obviously halachically forbidden as theft.

If the legislation were absolutely clear that only those living in a state
recognised marriage were debarred then those not in one would be clearly
permitted to make such a claim.

The problem only arises if the legislation does not explicitly make the two
equivalent but the general public assumes them to be that is the point at issue. 

Put in more general terms one might ask whether, in law, words are to be
understood according to general usage or are to be interpreted strictly
according to how the laws are framed. Until we know which is correct use of
terms like "to fraudulently obtain government benefits" is making a judgement
without full consideration of the evidence.

Martin Stern

From: Frank Silbermann <frank_silbermann@...>
Date: Wed, May 4,2016 at 10:01 AM
Subject: Halachically married without civil marriage

In reply to Carl A. Singer (MJ 62#82):

I would note, however, that this is the normative way LBJ's "Great Society"
programs such as Welfare and Aid to Dependent Children were used.

That is to say, the recipients did not view themselves as victims of bad luck or
temporary bad judgement, welcoming the needed aid as they strove to do better. 
Rather, the majority of recipients chose to have children without marriage and
without disclosing a common-law relationship specifically so that they could
make use of these programs.

That these relationships often did not last was not intentional; it was rather
an undesired side-effect of the lack of marriage, the declining stability of
families in general (even those based on marriage), and the high rate of
imprisonment (as people not wanting to lose benefits relied upon earnings from
the underground economy, which in turn was dominated by fundamentally illegal

Perhaps it was naive to think that this kind of social program abuse would
remain limited to a small number of ethnic groups and not imitated, despite
being cynically tolerated for generation after generation.

Or maybe we're just shocked because we expected frum Jews to be better than that.

Frank Silbermann
Memphis, Tennessee


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Wed, May 4,2016 at 01:01 AM
Subject: Sefirat Ha'omer

It's that time of the year again when those of us who live in the higher
latitudes of the Northern Hemisphere have to stay up late to count the omer - in
Manchester, England this can be getting on for 11 p.m. towards the end. Those of
us who daven ma'ariv early, just after plag haminchah, are always liable to fall
asleep and miss counting a day if we are not careful.

One way to avoid the consequences is to make a point of reading the omer board
in shul every morning before shacharit even if one knows one has counted the
previous night. I recommend getting into this habit as a useful insurance policy.

As regards the much more important mitzvah of Kriat Shema shel Arvit, it might
be a case of Ha'ones Rachmana patrei [force majeure is not punishable] and one
would have to rely on the opinion of Rabbeinu Tam that one can say it earlier.

Martin Stern


From: Mark Steiner <mark.steiner@...>
Date: Tue, May 3,2016 at 11:01 PM
Subject: Some thoughts on An'im Zemirot

An`im Zemirot is an extremely important piyyut, in fact I doubt whether kids
should be allowed to say it. It marks the victory of Maimonides (and R. Saadya)
over the anthropomorphist trends in Ashkenaz.  The poem is in two parts: the
first part is an apology for the second part; the second part is a list of many
of anthropomorphic depictions of God in the Bible and Rabbinic literature (e.g.,
that God "wears tefillin").  I strongly believe that if not for the Rambam, the
first part of the poem would not have been written.

From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Wed, May 4,2016 at 01:01 AM
Subject: Some thoughts on An'im Zemirot

Stuart Pilichowski wrote (MJ 62#82):

> But kids singing An'im Zmirot is so very cute . . . . . You really mean the
> chazzan is supposed to know the meaning of the words? How often does that
> happen?

Yes and if he does not he should be banned from being shatz see what the
Shulchan Arukh writes about the qualifications for being a shatz.
> We have kids that sing Anim Zmirot by heart. They don't know how to read
> yet..... their parents/grandparents taught them the song so they could kvell
> over their ayniklach / grandchildren in shul

This is karov le'avodah zarah - they are worshipping themselves not HKBH! I hope
Stuart's comments are tongue in cheek, else I would be shocked by them.

Martin Stern

From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Wed, May 4,2016 at 03:01 AM
Subject: Some thoughts on An'im Zemirot

Dr Russell Jay Hendel wrote (MJ 62#82):

> Martin Stern wrote (MJ 62#81):
>> 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.
> I disagree. According to the Rav, Rabbi Joseph Baer Soloveitchik, the main
> part of prayer is the Shmoneh Esray and Kriat Shema.

This is undoubtedly true. In fact tefillah betzibbur [public prayer] refers
specifically to starting Shmoneh Esrei with the congregation. It always
surprises me how so many people seem to be unaware of this and, when coming
late, do not omit parts of Pesukei Dezimra in order to catch up in order to
do so.

> The songs we sing at the end of service have no halachic significance for the
> commandment of prayer ... If these songs have no halachic significance then
> their sole purpose is emotional and evocative. They are not there for specific
> meaning but rather for overall atmosphere.

I must disagree with Dr Hendel on this. Though these songs may not have
halachic significance as vital components of public prayer, our sages
included them in our liturgy, not purely for the emotional and evocative
atmosphere they may create. The Talmud states (Sota 35a) "Rava expounded:
Why was King David punished [by having the death of Uzza attributed to him]
- because he called the words of the Torah 'songs'" Similarly we must be
careful to treat them with proper respect as containing profound meaning
even if we cannot always plumb their depths.

Martin Stern

From: Joseph Kaplan <penkap@...>
Date: Wed, May 4,2016 at 07:01 AM
Subject: Some thoughts on An'im Zemirot

I wonder about the reasoning of the decision made by my friend R. Frimer's
Halakha Committee prohibiting minor girls from leading An'im Zemirot and Adon
Olam (MJ 62#82). 

The reasoning seems to be that minor boys may do so for hinukh, and since girls
may not lead services when past bat mitzvah hinukh in this area does not apply
to them.  

Having been davening in Orthodox shuls for almost seven decades (and having once
been a minor boy who led An'im Zemirot and Adon Olam), I find it strange to
believe that anyone would seriously think that the reason boys lead those part
of the services is "hinukh". 

Really? It teaches them to be a hazzan? Really? There is, of course, hinukh
involved in learning how to be a hazzan, but it comes after bar mitzvah in Youth
Minyanim and the like. My ability to lead services during the week (I have a
poor voice so I don't daven for the amud on Shabbat and Yom Tov) has absolutely
nothing to do with my having led An'im Zemirot and Adon Olam when I was 7 and 8,
and my guess is that is true of most men (if they are being honest with

Interestingly, others who posted in the same digest gave what I believe are
some of the real reasons we allow children (read boys) to do so: 

"people like to give children some responsibility";

"it gives them a sense of participation in the service";

"kids singing An'im Zmirot is so very cute ... [grandparents can] kvell over
their ayniklach/grandchildren in shul."

Not a mention of hinukh.

Joseph Kaplan

From: Saul Mashbaum <saul.mashbaum@...>
Date: Thu, May 5,2016 at 11:01 AM
Subject: Some thoughts on An'im Zemirot

Martin Stern wrote (MJ 62#81):

> 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.

Although the suggested translation is reasonably close to the literal meaning,
it is diametrically the opposite of the author's intention in context. This
beautiful piyyut describes the Jewish people, and the angelic host, praising
Hashem, each separately and then both together. The praise they offer to Hashem
is exalted, profound,and meaningful; Rabbi Shimon Hagadol of Mainz surely did
not mean to suggest that both the Jewish people and the angels praise Hashem
with meaningless twitter. This may possibly apply to those who mindlessly sing
An'im Zmirot, but not to the joint praise of Hashem described in the piyyut Kol
Shinenei Shachak.

Saul Mashbaum

From: Dr Russell Jay Hendel <rashiyomi@...>
Date: Thu, May 5,2016 at 05:01 PM
Subject: Some thoughts on An'im Zemirot

Rabbi Aryeh Frimer (MJ 62#82) shared a unanimous decision of the halacha
committee of the Rabbi Jacob Berman Community Center - Tiferet Moshe Synagogue,
signed by Rabbi Yehezkel Babkoff, Rabbi Mordechai Goldreich and Rabbi Aryeh
Frimer. The decision was to prohibit minor girls from leading An'im Zermirot or
Adon Olam.

This decision was based on four points. I argue below that the four points were
incorrectly applied.

Point #1:

> Hazal forbade a community to appoint as their permanent hazzan one who lacks
> the signature of adulthood and maturity of a full beard - which is at about
> 20 years old.

Point #2:

> In the latter cases it would be improper for a community to choose someone
> who  is "only a kid" to represent them before the local temporal powers to be
> - a fortiori before the King of kings.

As I pointed out in my posting (MJ 62#82) "prayer" refers to the Shmoneh Esray
and Shema. During Shemoneh Esray and Shema one does stand before God and the
halachic codes describe prayer that way. The word cantor (Chazan) refers to the
person leading the community in these two important prayers.

Neither Anim Zemirot nor Adon Olam have the status of "prayer". They do not
involve standing before God (For example there is no requirement to stand for
Adon Olam; there is no prohibition of talking during Adon Olam; none of the laws
of reverence apply). Thus these two points by themselves do not prohibit a minor
from standing on the Bimah and leading them.

There is a further concept in halacha that women should not lead the
congregation because of the "honor of the congregation" (Megillah 23a).  It is
not clear what "honor of the congregation" refers to. However, one possible
explanation is that it is embarassing, for example, if a man cannot read the
Torah and his wife has to do it for him. This embarassment is phrased as a lack
of honor.

This concept however does not apply here. No one perceives the girls or boys as
leading there because their parents do not know how to sing. There is no
dishonor or embarassment

Point #3:

> The custom to allow minors to recite certain minor portions of the davening
> (e.g.,An'im Zemirot or Adon Olam is based on the concept of Hinukh [to
> educate them of how to function as a Hazan].

Hinukh [education] is one possible motive to allow minor boys to lead the
congregation. However, praising God and feeling part of the community are other
motives. The Talmud (Berachot 31) learns the laws of prayer not from King David
but rather from a woman, Chanah who sang her "An'im Zemirot", her praise of God,
when she was able to have children. The Song of Deborah (Judges 5) is credited
to a woman, not to the general who won the war. We see that women seem to excel
over men in praising God. It would therefore be consistent to allow minor girls
to sing songs of praise such as Anim Zemirot "I make pleasant  songs and weave
poetry because my soul thirsts for You". This **is** something a woman should do
and they do it better than men because they lack inhibitions.

Point #4:

> There is no obligation of hinukh on minor female regarding mitsvot and
> rituals that willnot be obligatory - and certainly if they are forbidden -
> when the child becomes an adult.

This is interesting. In one of the synagogues where I lein adult women sometimes
recite responsively (English/Hebrew) Ashray from the pulpit. The desire of the
Rabbis here is to give them a sense of participation.

Let us carefully examine this. Ashray is not prayer and is not standing before
God. The Talmud says that whomever says Ashray 3 times a day has a share in the
next world (Berachot 4b). This is one reason we recite Ashray. But aren't woman
entitled to a share in the next world. If so minor girls should start preparing.

Let me summarize my dispute with this decision. I fully agree with Rabbi Frimer
that women should not be allowed to lein or officiate as cantors for Shmoneh
Esray or Shema. However, there are other aspects to the synagogue lituyrgy
besides education and standing before God. The after-prayer songs we sing deal
with praise, something the Talmud identifies more with women than men. Some of
these prayers deal with our rights to the next world. There is no embarassment
in having a minor say these things since no one perceives it as reflecting
ignorance in the parents. We therefore should allow this and see it as something

Dr. Russell Jay Hendel; 


End of Volume 62 Issue 83