Volume 63 Number 07 
      Produced: Mon, 14 Nov 16 03:36:22 -0500

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

Avinu Malkeinu at YK Mincha 
    [Martin Stern]
Genuine converts (3)
    [Martin Stern  Rabbi Meir Wise  Yisrael Medad]
Hama'ariv Aravim 
    [Martin Stern]
Machzors and minhagim 
    [Orrin Tilevitz]
Notifying the congregation (was Machzors and minhagim) 
    [Martin Stern]
Starting minchah early (2)
    [Martin Stern  Rabbi Meir Wise]
Tumin v'Urim 
    [Ben Katz, M.D.]
    [Dr Russell Jay Hendel]


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Mon, Nov 7,2016 at 04:01 AM
Subject: Avinu Malkeinu at YK Mincha

Jack Gross wrote (MJ 63#06):

> I recall a statement in Birnbaum's machzor that Mahara"m of Rothenburg
> established the practice of omitting Avinu Malkeinu in mincha in order to
> start neilah while it is still daytime.

I looked in my (1951) edition of Birnbaum's machzor but could not find it.
However it is in the Mosad Harav Kook edition (5017) of the "Teshuvot,
Pesakim Uminhagim of Mahara"m Rothenburg" where in paragraph 5066 of the
Pesakim Uminhagim section it states "and similarly the Avinu Malkeinu of
Minchah is transferred to Ne'ilah in order to say Ne'ilah while it is still
day" with a footnote referring to the Teshuvot section, which I do not
possess, paragraph 134.

Martin Stern


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Mon, Nov 7,2016 at 02:01 AM
Subject: Genuine converts

Leah S. R. Gordon wrote (MJ 63#06):

> Yisrael Medad (MJ 63#05) wrote:

>> Martin Stern (MJ 63#04) wrote:

>>> I get the distinct impression that certain rabbis consider "the maintenance
>>> of a state and all its apparatuses" as more important than the desecration
>>> of the Shabbat and are inclined to bend their decisions accordingly.
>>> The same would seem to apply to the way they turn a blind eye to the obvious
>>> insincerity of prospective 'converts' who quite clearly have no intention to
>>> commit themselves to mitzvah observance.
>>> [...]
>> As for his attempt, I think, to despise these "certain" Rabbis by seeking to
>> draw a guilt-by-association to a (non)parallel case of "genuine" conversion,
>> it is too close to Ellul / Tishrei for me to write anything more.

> I also was struck by this conversion comment, and found it offensive.  How in
> the world would a private citizen in the UK have any idea about the level of
> commitment of a prospective Jew he has never met, in Eretz Yisrael? Everything
> I have read/heard on the subject indicates that many restrictions are put on
> personal status issues in E"Y including conversions, sometimes to the point of
> restricting things too much.

First, may I make it clear that I was certainly NOT making a general
statement about converts - I know many 100% genuine ones. Unfortunately,
over the years, I have also met others who went through the process, mainly
in Israel but also elsewhere, to facilitate marriage to a Jew, who quite
clearly had never had any intention of adopting a life of Torah and mitzvot.
I would not wish to blame them for following friends' advice as to how best
to 'deceive' the rabbi involved. It is where the latter turned a blind eye
to such suspicious activity, to which I referred.

The matter is, of course, extremely difficult since, even where a marriage
partner is involved, the applicant for conversion may be genuine - I know of
numerous cases. Often marriage was merely the trigger for going through the
formal conversion process and they fully adopted a Torah lifestyle, influencing
their spouse to become observant as well. 

But, unfortunately, gerim geruim cast suspicion on their genuine counterparts.

Martin Stern

From: Rabbi Meir Wise <Meirhwise@...>
Date: Mon, Nov 7,2016 at 03:01 AM
Subject: Genuine converts

Actually, recent rabbis from Rav Goren to Rav N L Rabinovitch have argued that
the Yerushalmi took a more lenient stance regarding converts than the Bavli. 

The reason is clear. In Israel the language is Hebrew, Shabbat and the Chagim
are national holidays ( we are approaching December...) and kashrut is standard.
There are whole towns where it is hard to find real treife! Also, the
intermarriage rate is very low.

Whilst, it might be better to live in Israel than Yemen, Ethiopia or the Sudan,
there are no economic benefits for moving to Israel from the West. Also, you,
depending on your age, but certainly your children will be required to spend
important years in the Army and, G-d forbid, pay the ultimate price for joining
the Jewish people. Can there be any greater association with the destiny of the
Jewish people than that?

That is not to say that all is rosy in the Jewish state. There are tens of
thousands of immigrants whose status needs to be rectified. My illustrious
Rebbe, Harav N L Rabinovitch, the Rosh Yeshiva of Maalei Adumim has worked
relentlessly so to do (converting minors with the agreement of the Bet Din).

This is not the situation in the West, where a boy brings a non-Jewess home and
the parents threaten to cut him off unless she goes through some kind of conversion.

The Reform, Liberal, Reconstructionist and Conservative movements will shrink if
they don't keep converting. They keep little and their converts keep less. They
argue that Judaism and the Jewish people are in crisis and therefore they need
to alter the Torah, relax the Law and convert and convert and convert to keep
the numbers up.

The Jewish people have gone from one crisis to the next for the last two
thousand years. Meanwhile, there are more Jews in Israel than ever before in
Jewish history! One million of whom are "Chareidim". The "Orthodox" including
the Chareidim and National-Religious are thankfully keeping the birth rate up.
Of course this is what is frightening the left wing who thought in 1948 that
Orthodoxy was in its death throes.

Whilst I myself have been involved and helped a few righteous converts, we need
to teach Judaism to the Jews and not try to increase our numbers by fake

As the late Dayan Fisher of Grodno and London said: conversion is not a heart
transplant it is a brain transplant and very often does not work.

Hebrew speakers can search on YouTube for Rav Nachum Rabinovitch on a symposium
of conversion or read his Teshuva in Siach Nachum.

With blessings from Zion

Rabbi Meir Wise (formerly Rav of the Western Synagogue, London)

From: Yisrael Medad  <yisrael.medad@...>
Date: Mon, Nov 7,2016 at 02:01 PM
Subject: Genuine converts

Martin Stern (MJ 63#06) quotes Rabbi Haskel Lookstein as saying:-

"I do not believe in theological pluralism, but I believe in practical
pluralism. We must find a common path to bring us together. We must stop being
afraid and act to break down the barriers between the Orthodox and the Reform."

And then asks:-

"In view of this does not Rabbi Lookstein's wish to break down barriers
seem to be misguided. This would suggest that, should he be implementing it
in practice, some of his conversions might be of dubious validity."

In a word: No.

Yisrael Medad


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Wed, Nov 9,2016 at 02:01 AM
Subject: Hama'ariv Aravim

After the recent infamous UNESCO resolution that chose to ignore the Jewish
connection with the Har Habayit, I see that the Palestinians are now
pressing for the return of the Dead Sea Scrolls "with the claim that given
the location of the find, they are historical artifacts which belong to the
Palestinians" (Jerusalem Post, Nov. 7).

What will they think of next? Maybe they will press for a UN Security
Council resolution demanding that we stop using the words "Hama'ariv Aravim"
because it is an 'obviously' racist praise of the Almighty who "mixes up the
Arabs" especially when contrasted with the next paragraph with its 'clearly
chauvinist' conclusion "Ohev amo Yisrael [Who loves HIS people Israel]".

Martin Stern


From: Orrin Tilevitz <tilevitzo@...>
Date: Mon, Nov 7,2016 at 07:01 AM
Subject: Machzors and minhagim

Anonymous (MJ 63#06) asks how the "leadership" of a synagogue communicates the
sequence of prayer - and / or changes in the sequence of prayer during the
services when, for example, the shat'z and congregation are using different

In our little shul in Brooklyn, the "official" HH mahzor (i.e., the one that is
available in multiple copies for everyone) is Birnbaum. Many people have their
own -- it used to be the old Kol Bo, and might be the Art Scroll or the Koren.
We announce deviations from the order in Birnbaum, e.g., inserting Avinu
Malkeinu in YK mincha. I am the baal musaf, I daven from a Birnbaum, and
announce that any man who gets lost should come to the amud and see where I am.
(Any woman should see where my wife, who also uses a Birnbaum, is) The baal
shachrit, a Satmar chasid, davens from a Birnbaum too to make sure he is in the
right place.


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Mon, Nov 7,2016 at 02:01 AM
Subject: Notifying the congregation (was Machzors and minhagim)

An anonymous contributor wrote (MJ 63#06):

> I read with interest the multiple comments regarding different sequences of
> prayer and inclusion / exclusion of certain prayers for Yom Tovim. Like many
> of you I have several  different Machzorim at home.  Of course, they are not
> identical.
> I believe a related topic of focus is how the "leadership" of a synagogue
> communicates the sequence of prayer - and / or changes in the sequence of
> prayer during the services.

On another related topic, something often needs to be done to notify the
congregation that davenning has started. All too often, because of the
background noise, one only becomes aware that the shatz has begun minchah is
when he says chatzi kaddish after ashrei, or, at ma'ariv, when he says

I would like to suggest that a new 'minhag' be introduced that he should
always bang loudly on the reading desk so that they should know to stop
chatting and start davenning. There might be some precedent for this in the
custom in many shuls to do so before mussaf on a weekday Rosh Chodesh so,
perhaps, this is not such a radical innovation.

Any comments?

Martin Stern


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Mon, Nov 7,2016 at 02:01 AM
Subject: Starting minchah early

Joel Rich wrote (MJ 63#06):

> I'd add that R'YB Soloveitchik felt the Rambam was being specific that one
> must sit for Ashrei at the beginning of mincha as part of the "setness" of the
> prayer so it might be an integral part of it.

This does not necessarily mean that it must be said after minchah gedolah,
merely that it should be said before the shemoneh esrei of minchah in order
that there should be some mikra before tefillah (equivalent to shema at
shacharit and ma'ariv).

Perhaps the Rambam was only emphasising that Ashrei should be said sitting
since taking literally its opening words "Ashrei yoshvei veitekha ..."
meaning "Fortunate/happy are those who SIT in Your house ..."

Incidentally, I have noticed, especially in shiva houses, that many people,
who were sitting to talk to the aveilim, stand up when starting Ashrei.
Surely this is not really correct. Can anyone explain why they do so?

Martin Stern

From: Rabbi Meir Wise <Meirhwise@...>
Date: Mon, Nov 7,2016 at 03:01 AM
Subject: Starting minchah early

I was told that the reason for the (rabbinical) 30 minute gap after midday is so
that some people are not still davvening shacharit! 

However, if one did inadvertently daven mincha at chatzot [midday], one would
not need to repeat it.

Midday plus 30 minutes in Israel at the moment is about 11.50am !


Rabbi Wise


From: Ben Katz, M.D.<BKatz@...>
Date: Mon, Nov 7,2016 at 12:01 PM
Subject: Tumin v'Urim

Aaron Lerner wrote (MJ 63#06):

> Parashas Vezos Haberachah, chapter 33, verse 8 speaks of "tumecha v'urecha,"
> [Your Tumim and Your Urim].  Everywhere else in TaNach the expression is Urim
> v"Tumim. Why is the phrase reversed in Vezos Haberachah?

Might I suggest that this is a case of poetic license, recognized as a
phenomenon of Biblical poetry by Ibn Ezra and others.


From: Dr Russell Jay Hendel <rashiyomi@...>
Date: Thu, Nov 10,2016 at 08:01 PM
Subject: Vaccinations

Irwin Weiss (MJ 62#96) mentions an offensive flyer with anti-scientific
statements which could cause great harm in the community. The flyer, bearing the
seal of Rabbi Eliezer Dunner of Bnei  Brak, urged people not to have their
children vaccinated. In my response (MJ 62#97), I suggest that one is obligated,
by both U.S. state and Jewish law to vaccinate one's children and the ignorance
of right-wing Rabbis should be addressed by outreach to them on scientific

But the issue still remains why anyone would even think of prohibiting
vaccinations. While at an actuarial conference over the past few days I learned
what had happened. Before presenting the story, the speaker used this as an
example of hastily reaching conclusions and causing damage which is sometimes
hard to repair.

It seems there was a paper published in a prestigious journal showing that
vaccinations for mumps, measles and rubella does cause harm. It eventually
emerged that:

a) the data on which the study was based was fabricated, 

b) the author had a conflict of interest (that is, he stood to gain from making
such falsifications) and 

c) the author was punished by revoking his license to practice medicine.

>From a scientific point of view, although, say, one verse does justify not
only an exegetical inference but sometimes an exegetical inference that is
considered the simple meaning of the text, by contrast, one scientific
study does not necessarily justify anything, even "doubt". This is
particularly true if the paper contradicts a large body of literature.
Medical acceptance of opinions frequently requires multiple papers from
multiple sources with duplications of results.

I think this case is interesting because it shows how easily a Rabbi, who
is erudite in halachic matters, can so easily be misled by scientific
fraud. I reiterate, that the proper approach to such rabbinic opinions is
outreach educating them on proper scientific methodology.

Dr. Russell Jay Hendel; 


End of Volume 63 Issue 7