Volume 62 Number 99 
      Produced: Tue, 20 Sep 16 04:39:10 -0400

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

A seat by the eastern wall (2)
    [Martin Stern  Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz]
Artscroll Question 
    [Art Werschulz]
Gender Relationships 
    [Yisrael Medad]
Interaction with Non-Observant Jews (2)
    [Isaac Balbin  Harlan Braude]
Loud davening (3)
    [Harlan Braude  Chaim Casper  David Tzohar]
The missing shammas (3)
    [Martin Stern  Martin Stern  Yisrael Medad]


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Thu, Sep 15,2016 at 02:01 AM
Subject: A seat by the eastern wall

Joel Rich wrote (MJ 62#98):

> I'm looking for references as to why such a seat is considered honorific. Can
> anyone help?

The only thing that springs to mind is that an aveil has to move from his
regular seat to one further from the Aron. This would seem to imply that
seats closer to the Aron have a higher status. So the wall adjacent to it
would then have the highest status of all. This parallels the levels of
holiness in the Beit Hamikdash.

Another possible consideration is that the more elderly members (zekeinim)
tend to be somewhat hard of hearing so they may be given seats nearer the
shatz's amud. The word 'zekeinim', like the English 'elders' has a dual
meaning: people of advanced years and spiritual leaders. So the presence of
these older members at the front might endow the seats with a certain

Even if the status of shul seats were not a halachicly objective reality,
once it is perceived that those sitting at the eastern wall have higher
status, people will be prepared to pay more for those seats and this, in
itself, gives them that higher status.

Martin Stern

From: Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz <sabbahillel@...>
Date: Thu, Sep 15,2016 at 02:01 PM
Subject: A seat by the eastern wall

Joel Rich wrote (MJ 62#98):

> I'm looking for references as to why such a seat is considered honorific.
> Can anyone help?

The main reason is that it is the wall on which the Aron Kodesh with the Torah
is kept so that everyone faces that direction. The Rav of the shul usually sits
next to the Aron kodeh.


The Holy Ark (*Aron Kodesh*), where the Torah Scrolls are kept, is situated in
the front of the synagogue. The Ark is the holiest place in the Synagogue.

In most synagogues the Holy Ark is on the Eastern wall, so that when we face the
ark, we are facing the holy city of Jerusalem, where the Holy Temple once stood.

Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz


From: Art Werschulz <agw@...>
Date: Thu, Sep 15,2016 at 09:01 AM
Subject: Artscroll Question

Joel Rich (MJ 62#98) wrote:
> Anyone know why in the standard daily Artscroll siddur they moved the "chazan's
> stop" right after kriat shma from before l'dor vdor to after it by al avoteinu,
> while leaving it there in the all Hebrew version (Tifferet Yaakov)?

The chazan's pick up point is also at "al avoteinu" in the Koren Siddur.

Art Werschulz


From: Yisrael Medad  <yisrael.medad@...>
Date: Thu, Sep 15,2016 at 07:01 AM
Subject: Gender Relationships

Martin Stern, in replying to my response to his rather long quotation from
a Rabbi Neustadt (MJ 62#98), is nonplussed that I was critical of the method
employed to arrive at the Halachic conclusion by which the Rabbi "must
bring his sources". He adds, that he "cannot understand why [I] find this so
objectionable" as "what might seem obvious prima facie to a layman is not always

I could respond by noting, as Martin does, that my conclusion and the Rabbi's
was the same so either the Rabbi is more of a "layman" than I thought or perhaps
I am more of a "Rabbi" than even I would admit to being.

But while Martin is essentially correct, my point is that sometimes a Rabbi can
err by being too methodological, too arcane, too tedious, too picayune or
whatever.  And to be clear, in this particulate instance I think, IMHO, that a
better overall lesson that the Rabbi could have passed on is that in the
specific case under discussion a "cut to the swift", as it were, probably could
have been the better lesson to teach.

By pointing out that by asking such a question, the questioner is displaying
characteristics that are not necessarily what are expected of a commonsense yid
and that, by getting caught up in too much minutiae, can be counter-productive
and even harmful.  A woman, old, or even young, who has fallen and needs to be
assisted to prevent further injury or to help transport her to an ambulance or
stretcher that necessitates physical contact, is a question of life and death -
and life overrides. If the questioner was educated enough or smart enough to
know to ask such a question, his commonsense would have dictated an immediate
response. Can one imagine a parallel situation where the woman in question was,
shall we say, dishevelled. Should he have even thought, if he was the only
person in proximity or similar, that he would have halted providing emergency
services until a blanket be sought? And if there wasn't to be found?  Being a
"Halachic man" should not take the mensch out of the religious Jew nor thwart
any simple commonsense actions.

Yisrael Medad


From: Isaac Balbin <isaac.balbin@...>
Date: Thu, Sep 15,2016 at 03:01 AM
Subject: Interaction with Non-Observant Jews

Martin Stern wrote (MJ 62#98): 

> This week's Weekly Halacha Discussion (Ki Teitsei) by Rabbi Doniel Neustadt is
> clearly going to be controversial so I am distributing it for members'
> comments.

Let me first question the definition of an apostate. In the Shule that I used to
daven at (used to be 99% Holocaust survivors, now their offspring) many of them
could have been classed as "a Jewish person who denies the existence of G-d,
rejects His Torah and wilfully desecrates the commandments".

What has not been considered in the article by Rabbi Neustadt, is that these
Jews come to Shule. Most would come for High Holidays, or a yohrtzeit, but they
came. That reality, clearly conflicts with the perhaps objective, as opposed to
subjective, definition of an apostate.

The Rav of that Shule was Rav Chaim Gutnick. I never realised or knew why, but
at the conclusion of davening, or after a Kiddush, he would go to his office,
and remain there until he was the last to leave. I was to learn later that this
was so that he never saw anyone who drove to Shule, doing so. I heard many a
zealot come up to him during Shule or after and say "How can you allow X an
Aliya - he is a Mechallel Shabbos etc." Rav Gutnick replied What are you talking
about. I sit in my seat, and I see a Yid enter the Shule to Daven. Why should I
suspect that even if that Yid did something wrong, that he had not done Tshuva
(repentance) as soon as he walked through the door.

On the matter of Kohanim Duchening, Mori VRabbi Rav Hershel Schachter has made
it clear that today's Mechallel Shabbos is not the same as one of yesteryear. In
times gone by there were people who explicitly and purposefully wanted to show
their disdain and such people were not permitted to Duchen because of the law of
Duchening, whereby the Kohen needs to be someone (a conduit) through which the
congregation is amenable to, and does not hate. Rav Schachter says that in
many/most circles, one doesnt hate such a person any longer, and therefore it
would be WRONG for this person not to perform a Mitzvah of Duchening that he is
commanded to do. Why remove their opportunity to perform a Mitzvah with  love?

Let me note, that Rav Asher Weiss, in his Responsa Minchas Asher, is seemingly
not convinced of the argument of Tinok Shenishba (the Jew who is basically an
ignoramus through fault of a lack of education) in this day, and feels that
almost everyone knows what is required. I contrast this to statements from
Naftali Bennett MK where he has realised great holes in the Israeli system of
education and wants to address them so that they are taught de jure, like Maths
and Science.

Finally, let me note the reports in the paper that in the USA a large proportion
of people support abolishing the Orthodox control of religious direction of
Israel. This is not surprising given that the proportion matches those who are
given a non-authentic, or non-existent Jewish education, assimilate at alarming
levels, and are driven by Western agendas which they attempt to graft and
metamorphose into Judaism. In my opinion, this is not the thinking Lehachisnik
(openly rebellious to Judaism) person, who Rabbi Neustadt may consider an apostate.

From: Harlan Braude <hbraude@...>
Date: Thu, Sep 15,2016 at 10:01 AM
Subject: Interaction with Non-Observant Jews

In MJ 62#98, Martin Stern wrote:

> The halachic definition of a mumar, an apostate, is a Jewish person who denies
> the existence of G-d, rejects His Torah and wilfully desecrates the
> commandments.

Not to quarrel with Rabbi Neustadt since I'm not qualified to do so, I need some
clarification of the definition offered here of "mumar".

I thought the word "min" is the term for an apostate and that the term "mumar"
is more often used to describe a specific type of habitual violator.

For example, a "mumar l'tayavone" is one who consistently violates one or more
commandments by succumbing to his/her passions and desires like eating
"irresistible" forbidden foods or having illicit relations because of physical
desire as opposed to conviction.

Even the "mumar l'hachis" - meaning one who intentionally violates a commandment
out of spite or rebellion - could be argued to have essentially demonstrated a
powerful belief in the One against whom s/he is rebelling, r"l.


From: Harlan Braude <hbraude@...>
Date: Thu, Sep 15,2016 at 11:01 AM
Subject: Loud davening

In MJ 62#98, Carl Singer wrote:

> ... many things enhance my davening -- and several things detract [such as] loud
>  davening

I can certainly empathize with Carl, having a laundry list of my own that makes
Carl's that of a veritable Job in comparison,

I heard a rav say in a shiur that one of the reasons a "makom kavua" (sitting in
the same seat at every service) is considered meritorious is because it requires
a remarkable amount of tolerance to bear with the annoyances one is invariably
subjected to being around the same people day in and day out. It's the nature of
the beast, you should pardon the expression.

I recall a weekday Shacharis minyan experience I had my first year as an
undergrad at YU. The sound was the usual "white noise" sound of semi-audible
mumbling of a large group of mispallelim. That is, until Krias Shma on one
particular occasion.

The fellow who sat behind me that morning was not a regular at that minyan. I
was to learn months later that this person is actually a well-known and
extremely well respected rosh yeshiva. I, on the other hand, was (am?) a rookie,
I didn't know the who's-who of gedolai Torah and I was also operating in
almost-awake-automatic-pilot-davening mode.

Well, I practically fell out of my seat clutching my chest when Rabbi Famous
belted out "Shema Yisroel"!


From: Chaim Casper <surfflorist@...>
Date: Sun, Sep 18,2016 at 12:01 AM
Subject: Loud davening

Carl A. Singer while raising the issue of loud davening in MJ 62#98 also
objected to men

> wandering or pacing around during davening - especially if you invade my space
> (aka daled amos)  

I remember seeing R` Yosef Caro or the Mishneh Brurah codify that it is
forbidden to walk around during t'fillot (perhaps someone can remind me where I
saw this; I couldn't locate this).  If you have ever been to the beit midrash of
the Mehaber in Sfat, you would see that there is nowhere for anyone to walk
around during t'fillot - the place might hold 20 men maximally but there would
be no place for anyone to move. I also remember reading in the biographies of
both the Vilna Gaon (Rabbi Eliyahu Ben Shlomo Zalman) and the Baal Shem Tov
(Rabbi Yisoel Ben Eliezer) that they used to walk extensively during their
davening as a means of reflecting on their prayers.   They of course did not
invade anyone's daled amot (+/- 6 feet).  But they did offer an alternative of
standing/sitting in one place per the Mehaber.    

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

From: David Tzohar <davidtzohar@...>
Date: Sun, Sep 18,2016 at 03:01 AM
Subject: Loud davening

I think that Carl (62#98) should be a little more tolerant of "loud daveners".
According to the Mishnah Brurah it is incumbent on those who feel they must say
the words out loud for kavannah to do so. It is questionable if those who say
all of the prayers silently are yozei. Davening is not meant to be only silent
meditation (except according to some Braslavers, others are extra loud). The
problem is that often the speed of the shaliach tzibbur is such that most of the
daveners can't keep up with him. Recently I have been davening with a Sephardi
minyan where the shaliach tzibbur says all of the prayers out loud, so there is
no problem.

David Tzohar


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Thu, Sep 15,2016 at 02:01 AM
Subject: The missing shammas

Michael Poppers wrote (MJ 62#98):

> Martin Stern writes (MJ 62#97):

>> On Rosh Chodesh, there is a minhag, mentioned by the Maharil, for the
>> shammas to call out "Ya'aleh veyavo" before the shemoneh esrei of ma'ariv
>> ... Actually he writes that in his town (Mainz) this was only done on the
>> first night of Rosh Chodesh and "Rosh Chodesh" was called out on the second
>> evening  (or on the only evening if there is only one day) ... though this
>> distinction does not seem to be widespread. Certainly, it was NOT the custom
>> for anyone else to do so.

> It is also the *minhag* in KAJ/"Breuer's" (which follows Minhag Frankfurt).
> I can't speak as to whether it was the *minhag* in any community other than
> that of MaHaRYL in his day (14th century CE).

It was also the minhag in the former Adas Yeshurun of Manchester founded by
Jews forced to flee Germany in the '30s who wished to keep up their
ancestral customs, and similar congregations in London.

Martin Stern

From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Thu, Sep 15,2016 at 02:01 AM
Subject: The missing shammas

Chaim Casper wrote (MJ 62#98):

> In MJ 62#97, Martin Stern talks about a minhag, mentioned by the Maharil, for
> the shammas to call out "Ya'aleh veyavo" before the shemoneh esrei of ma'ariv
> which has been replaced by a more recent custom where someone (usually a
> number of people) will bang loudly to remind people of a particular prayer to
> be added to the Amidah. I draw the reader's attention to OH 236:2 where the
> M'haber says:
> "One must not interrupt (speak) between Yiroo Eineinu and the Amidah (in the
> Ashkenazic Ma'aariv).  However, what the shaliah zibbur (i.e. the shamash or
> gabbai) announces (out loud) between kaddish and the Amidah is not considered
> an interruption because it is needed for the davening."

Of course Chaim is correct but that was not the problem to which I was
referring. What I had written was:

> In recent times, in many shuls, the custom has arisen to bang on the bimah
> before the shemoneh esrei of shacharit as well - calling out being a
> forbidden hefsek at that point - to which one can hardly object, so long as
> only one person does so unless one holds "chadash ossur min hatorah
> [innovation is Biblically prohibited]". This has now spread to minchah as
> well. There is no problem of hefsek [interruption] there so I have always
> wondered why people bang rather than call out the words.

Obviously one cannot interrupt by calling out "Ya'aleh veyavo" before the
shemoneh esrei of shacharit since the prohibition of hefsek there is much
stricter, so banging on (for example) the bimah is the only option. But as I
wrote, only the shamas should do so:

> Certainly, it was NOT the custom for anyone else to do so.

It is distracting when numerous persons bang and, even more so, call out
loudly "Ya'aleh veyavo" when they reach it, all at different times, in their
"quiet" shemoneh esrei.

He continues:

> For better or for worse, we live in an era where people feel a need to be
> stricter than the halakhah.

A highly regrettable trend in my opinion.

> So they won't announce out loud, per the M'haber and the Mishneh Brurah, the
> last minute instructions to help the community daven the correct t'filot.  So
> they have opted for a "new custom", hitting the table or shtender (lectern) in
> front of them.   I would feel comfortable with this change in davening
> protocol except that there are a lot of people in most synagogues who will not
> understand what message is being conveyed when someone hits the table in front
> of them.   If so, what benefit has been gained?

None, and I am not at all happy with this change for precisely the reason
Chaim cites.

Martin Stern

From: Yisrael Medad  <yisrael.medad@...>
Date: Thu, Sep 15,2016 at 07:01 AM
Subject: The missing shammas

Rabbi Chaim Casper's observations (MJ 62#98) on the "new custom" of banging
whereas the Halacha clearly permits a gabbai to make the announcement reminds me
of the neo-philosophical principle that "it's only kinky the first time you do it".

I have found (and I'll admit that all that banging annoys me no end, especially
as usually 3-5 people seek to be the first one to bang away while at least two
non-gabbaim yell out "Ya'aleh v'Yavo") that a congregation quickly finds the
routine and a "custom" is accepted readily. Of course, the Rabbi  could remind
the Congregation just before the "Bar'chu" to include Yaaleh V'yavo in the
Shmoneh Esreh.

Yisrael Medad


End of Volume 62 Issue 99