Volume 63 Number 03 
      Produced: Tue, 11 Oct 16 01:47:25 -0400

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

Chillull Shabbat vs. Pikuah Nefesh (was Gender Relationships) 
    [Yisrael Medad]
Gender Relationships 
    [Dr Russell Jay Hendel]
Loud davening 
    [Martin Stern]
Power of the press 
    [Michael Poppers]
Rabbi Doniel Neustadt 
    [Yisrael Medad]
Shema and the first Beit Hamikdash 
    [Martin Stern]
Simanim for Rosh Hashanah 
    [Art Werschulz]
Venikeiti mipesha rav 
    [Sholom Parnes]


From: Yisrael Medad  <yisrael.medad@...>
Date: Fri, Oct 7,2016 at 10:01 AM
Subject: Chillull Shabbat vs. Pikuah Nefesh (was Gender Relationships)

Martin Stern (MJ 63#02) managed to insert this into the topic regarding using
commonsense in the matter of Shabbat work on the railways here in Israel

> the works were only scheduled for Shabbat to avoid (hardly life threatening)
> inconvenience to road users on working days.

Actually, all the Rabbis in my circle certainly supported that Shabbat work on
the basis of pikuach nefesh in that if those particular works were done on a
weekday, according to their reasoning, the too-heavy traffic jams would block
ambulances, fire trucks, police vehicles, army vehicles if the need arose and
would definitely cause immediate death which would thereby justify the works
done on the Shabbat.

This may be a case of a galut Jewish mindset versus the consciousness of the
requirement to take responsibility for the maintenance of a state and all its

Yisrael Medad



From: Dr Russell Jay Hendel <rashiyomi@...>
Date: Sun, Oct 9,2016 at 10:01 PM
Subject: Gender Relationships

In MJ 63#02, Susan Buxfield, responding to a posting of mine about halachic
commonsense (MJ 63#01), responds as follows:

> Halachic commonsense is an oxymoron even though sometimes the halacha on a
> particular issue would appear to be commonsense. If halacha is just
> commonsense then Judaism would be just a form of Humanism.

There are three errors in this statement.

First, I never claimed that *all* halacha was commonsense. I made the simple
observation that certain parts of halacha *are* commonsense and that these
commonsense principles can be used by a layman in a sudden situation. Certainly,
Susan would agree that "Love thy neighbor like thyself", is commonsense. It is
even ethical humanism. But if I go to a wedding to help a young couple celebrate
(and do so because it is ordered by God), then even if I enjoy myself, I have
fulfilled a positive commandment. The division of halacha into apodictic and
commonsense statements is reflected in the often used biblical phrase "Chukim
and Mishpatim", "Statutory laws and Civil laws."

Second, I don't agree that ethical humanism is logical. This is a subtle error
which one can easily fall into so I am glad Susan brought it up. Let me give a
simple example. Everyone knows Hillel's maxim that "Love thy neighbor like
thyself" is a basis for all Torah law (The famous conversation with someone who
wished to convert). The commentators ask how grace after meals or donning
tefillin fit into "Love thy neighbor like thyself". The classic answer is that
if you get married you expect your wife to proudly wear the wedding band you
gave her; similarly, since God married us, we should wear His wedding band - the
tefillin; we should also thank God for food the same way we expect guests to
thank us for meals. Now this is certainly logical. But  no ethical humanist
would wear tefillin or say grace after meals.

The fallacy in calling ethical humanism logical is that ethical humanism only
believes that humans should treat each other in terms of logically based ethical
imperatives. They do not see God as a Being who has needs. More could be said on
this, but I suffice with this to illustrate that logic is not the sole basis for
ethical humanism.

Thirdly, very often logic can justify a position and a counter-position. My
point is that certain broad halachic principles are so general that they can be
relied on. Perhaps an example will help (Perhaps another Mail Jewish thread)

I was watching footage of hurricane Matthew last week. There were on the spot
pictures of the winds, waves and damage. I am certain that many other Mail
Jewish members (at least those in the U.S.) saw similar footage. I felt like
saying the blessing on natural displays of might, shecocho o'gevuratho malay
haolam [Whose Strength and Might fill the world]. I didn't have time to ask a
question (By the time I would get to a Rabbi the TV footage would be over). I
had to make a decision on the spot. So I used halachic commonsense, which I have
translated as "general broad halachic principles." The general principle is that
if you are in doubt about saying a blessing, don't say it.

So I abstained. I did ask four Rabbis the next day (Perhaps Susan's point is
that Rabbis should eventually be asked about these spontaneous episodes; I agree
with this). Three of them said no, the blessing should not be said, on the
grounds that the sight has to be personally experienced. I in turn pointed out
that experiencing hurricane winds could not possibly be a prerequisite for
saying a blessing on them. The three all thought it was an interesting question
which bears more research. (In passing, the 4th Rabbi who is British (like
Martin) told me to stop making storms with my questions).

Susan further states:

> Except in life threatening situations where a delay for a rabbinic
> consultation would perhaps cause death, commonsense has to take into account
> normative halachic customs.
> Thus while a male helping a woman up after a fall or shaking a woman's hand
> may not be considered "chiba" - affection - normative halachic custom is to
> try and avoid it especially if the action could be done by another woman or,
> as in the shaking of hands, the woman understands the concern and is prepared
> to forego

I disagree with this and would challenge Susan for a source. The whole point of
my posting is that "embarrassment" (of a woman falling) overrides normative
halacha. One should immediately rush to help her. (Susan addresses a different
question: Suppose others are around who could equally help her; the original
question is about a man helping her if no one else is around).

Finally, I feel obligated to point out that whether the person who falls is male
or female one should not immediately lift them up. I actually witnessed (one
Shabath) an auto accident where someone was thrown from a car. I was eating the
3rd meal with a classmate from college who was now a doctor. She went out to
help. When she came back she explained that she instructed people not to touch
him. She further explained that if the person's neck is broken, moving them
could kill them (Similarly, if the person is in severe pain indicating a broken
bone they should not be moved as this could cause further damage)

Russell Jay Hendel; Ph.D., A.S.A.;


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Fri, Oct 7,2016 at 10:01 AM
Subject: Loud davening

Yisrael Medad wrote (MJ 63#02):

> On Chaim Casper's words (MJ 63#01):
>> 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).
> But *Berachot* 31a relates how Rabbi Akiva would conduct himself in prayer:
> When he was with the congregation, he would pray quickly so as not to be a
> burden on those praying with him (who would respectfully wait for him to
> finish). But when he prayed alone, one could leave him in one corner and
> afterwards find him in another corner, due to his many bows and prostrations.

This is slightly different from the walking about that Carl Singer found
disturbing (MJ 62#98) for two reasons:

1. He was not walking about the shul - his movement from one corner to another
was a result of his many bows and prostrations.

2. He was alone and so could not disturb other people - the fact that he had
moved was only apparent when others returned.

Martin Stern


From: Michael Poppers <the65pops@...>
Date: Sun, Oct 9,2016 at 01:01 AM
Subject: Power of the press

Martin Stern (MJ 63#02) blamed publishers/proofreaders:

> On Rosh Hashanah, I could not help noticing that the gentleman sitting next to
> me said 'teruateinu' in Areshet Sefateinu after the shofar blowing after
> Malkhuyot but 'tekiateinu' after the shofar blowing after Zichronot and
> Shofarot. As I was a intrigued by this inconsistency, I asked to see his 
> machzor which was printed in Hanover in 1837 and found that that was what was 
> printed in it. Obviously it had not been carefully proofread and he was 
> merely following what was in it.

The nusach [liturgical text] Martin considers to be in error is also in the
Roedelheim-print machzor ["cycle" of additional/festival prayers] that was
originally edited by R. Wolf Heidenheim:


and is still in use at "Breuer's"/KAJ and other q'hilos [congregations]. That
nusach seemingly was well-known long before the 19th century CE (e.g. see a
Venetian print from 1600, online here:


Certainly, errors can occur thanks to intentional or unintentional changes by
publishers or editors, but seems to me that in this case the error may be
one of hypercorrection on the part of any editor who wished to eliminate
"inconsistency."  If I may, my thought on the reason for "t'ruaseinu" is
that the "t'ruah" is the key sound, with the "t'qiyah" needed as the "rye
bread" for the "sandwich."

All the best from
Michael Poppers 
Elizabeth, NJ, USA


From: Yisrael Medad  <yisrael.medad@...>
Date: Fri, Oct 7,2016 at 10:01 AM
Subject: Rabbi Doniel Neustadt

Since Rabbi Neustadt, who is by the way a grandson of Rav Yaakov Kamenetsky, has
recently been quoted frequently on this list, I think his opinion as expressed
in a 2011 interview is appropriate for us:

"... each *posek* develops a formula for how to deal with issues that are a
*machlokes* among the *poskim*. In actual practice, the way the final ruling is
presented would depend on the exact case. Sometimes, we follow the majority
opinion, other times we follow the accepted custom, while still other times we
have no choice but to bring down several opinions without a clear-cut ruling
since none is available. In cases of this last nature, people have to choose
which opinion to follow, depending on the level of stringency they want to adopt
for themselves and their family."

That seems rather clear.

Yisrael Medad



From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Sun, Oct 9,2016 at 08:01 AM
Subject: Shema and the first Beit Hamikdash

I wrote previously (MJ 62#84):

>> In an essay "Reading between the lines of the Shema" included in my book "A
>> Time to Speak" (Devorah Publishing), I noted (p.24) that the word kadosh has
>> the same gematria, 410, as the word shema and suggested that this might be
>> one reason for the connection between kedushah and shema in several places in
>> the liturgy
> ...
> The First Beit Hamikdash stood for 410 years. That might also be a
> coincidence but it may have some significance though I have no idea as yet
> what that may be.

Recently, an idea occurred to me that might suggest a connection:
The Beit Hamikdash was meant to be everlasting and would only be destroyed if we
transgressed the three cardinal aveirot [sins] but, unfortunately, our ancestors
succumbed to them (Yoma 9b).

These might be alluded to in the letters of the word Shema. The first and last
letters are easily understood - shin being the first letter of shefichat damim
[murder] and ayin of avodah zarah [idolatry].

The significance of the middle letter mem is slightly more difficult but might
allude to the word mishpachot [families] as in the phrase "ha'am bocheh
lemishpechotav" (Bam. 11,10) which Rashi translates, based on the Gemara (Yoma
75a) as "the people cried because of [the prohibition of incestuous] family
relationships", i.e. gilui arayot.

Thus the word Shema contains both a warning, as an acronym in its letters, of
what must be avoided, and the time limit given before its destruction in its

Perhaps this is a bit fanciful but critical comments are welcome.

Martin Stern


From: Art Werschulz <agw@...>
Date: Fri, Oct 7,2016 at 12:01 PM
Subject: Simanim for Rosh Hashanah

Martin Stern wrote (MJ 63#02):

> I have heard that some people have 'updated' this to their current vernaculars.
> For example, among English speakers, some eat Waldorf salad (minus the nuts)
> since its primary ingredients are raisins and celery - the corresponding wish
> being to have a raise in salary!

The girsa I follow says that we should divide a raisin into two equal pieces,
and then combine one of these pieces with a bit of lettuce and celery.  We then
list the ingredients: "Lettuce, half-a-raisin, celery", i.e., "Let us have a
raise in salary".

G'mar tov.

Art Werschulz


From: Sholom Parnes <sholomjparnes@...>
Date: Sun, Oct 9,2016 at 01:01 PM
Subject: Venikeiti mipesha rav

Martin Stern wrote (MJ 63#02):

> Haneshamah lakh concludes with "veslachta la'avoneinu ki rav hu". Why do we
> blame the rabbi for our sins?

I have heard an explanation whereby we read Rav (the first generation Amora)
rather than rav (rabbi) based on a passage in the Talmud (Bava Kamma 74a).

It discusses the case of a thief who is caught who pay keifel [double - both
what he stole and a knas (penalty) of equal value]. If, however, he approaches
the court before he is caught and admits to his sin, he is exempt from paying
the penalty [modeh beknas patur].

There is a difference of opinion between Shmuel and Rav in a case where the
person steals and realizes that he has been seen. He then races to the court and
admits his sin so that he won't have to pay the penalty.

Rav says that we have a rule exempting the penalty for those who admit before
they are caught and that would apply here too.

Shmuel says that we have to examine why he admitted his sin. If it was solely to
avoid the penalty, then the penalty is not revoked.

On Yom Kippur we admit our sins and we ask G-d not to examine our motives, i.e.
"veslachta la'avoneinu ki Rav hu" is to be translated "please hold like Rav and
exempt us from the penalties".

Ketiva Vechatima Tova

Sholom J Parnes
Hamelech David 65/3
Efrat 90435 ISRAEL


End of Volume 63 Issue 3