Volume 63 Number 08 
      Produced: Thu, 17 Nov 16 01:40:49 -0500

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

Battery drain 
    [Yisrael Medad]
Genuine converts (3)
    [Martin Stern  Yisrael Medad   Martin Stern]
Non-newsworthy acquittal 
    [Martin Stern]
Notifying the congregation (4)
    [Orrin Tilevitz  Irwin Weiss  Lawrence Israel  Immanuel Burton]
Shatz's personal prayer 
    [Joel Rich]
Shulchan Aruch Orach Chayim question 
    [Joel Rich]
Starting minchah early 
    [Martin Stern]
Tumim v'Urim 
    [Dr Russell Jay Hendel]
    [Martin Stern]


From: Yisrael Medad  <yisrael.medad@...>
Date: Tue, Nov 15,2016 at 01:01 AM
Subject: Battery drain

I quote below a paragraph from a news story of Jay Pollard:

"Pollard...is required to wear a GPS monitoring system that consists of a
non-removable transmitter installed on his wrist, and a receiver that is plugged
into an outlet in his Manhattan residence. Whenever he moves outside the range
of the receiver, the transmitter "which is three inches long and two inches wide
" acts as a GPS tracker and monitors his location. Were Pollard to step out of
his tiny studio apartment to daven with a minyan or get some fresh air on
Shabbos or Yom Tov, the battery would begin to drain, forcing him to choose
between violating Shabbos or facing re-arrest."

My questions are halachic:

1. If (I repeat, "if", since I do not know) he is wearing a battery, should not
a relative short period of time disconnected from the electric source not be
problematic even if he cannot reconnect?  After all, that is what a battery
does, no?

2. And should not that period of a state of disconnection not require a replug?
 And is a replug totally prohibited?

3. Does he disconnect to go to sleep and therefore, that time of disconnection
does not allow him any further disconnection time to leave his apartment on Shabbat?

Yisrael Medad


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Mon, Nov 14,2016 at 04:01 AM
Subject: Genuine converts

Yisrael Medad wrote (MJ 63#07):

> 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.

Of course not all his conversions may be invalid but these sentiments
suggest that they must be examined on an individual basis to make sure he
has not been swayed by these extra-halachic considerations.

However, Yisrael has ignored the crucial point I made:

>> On the same day, I read that Steven M. Cohen, the foremost US expert on
>> Jewish demography, had stated that "72% of non-Orthodox American Jews marry
>> non-Jews, and over 20 years, the community's attempts to embrace those
>> intermarried families have failed completely".
>> 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.

>From my experience, many do take the step of converting in order to marry a
Jew but that is only a trigger for undergoing the formal process and does
not imply they are completely uninterested in keeping mitzvot. Often they
become frummer than their Jewish-born spouse whom they influence positively
to be more observant. The way the media suggested recently that the Rabbanut
were rejecting all his conversions because of doubts in a specific case -
emphasising that of Ivanka Trump - was obviously malicious propaganda. That
case involved a giyur which was not conducted under the auspices the Beit
Din of the RCA and was only approved retroactively.

Martin Stern

From: Yisrael Medad  <yisrael.medad@...>
Date: Mon, Nov 14,2016 at 05:01 AM
Subject: Genuine converts

Martin Stern notes (MJ 63#07):

> gerim geruim cast suspicion on their genuine counterparts

I would rather phrase it that the suspicion is cast on a bad system.

Yisrael Medad

From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Mon, Nov 14,2016 at 07:01 AM
Subject: Genuine converts

Rabbi Meir Wise wrote (MJ 63#07):

> 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.

The whole business of changing the rules of psak just because we happen to
be in EY is total and unheard-of sophistry - and the Rambam sometimes
paskened like the Yerushalmi even though he was in Egypt and R. Yosef Karo
paskened like the Bavli though he was in EY. In any case the Bavli won over
the Yerushalmi long ago, including in EY.

Rabbi Wise is a perfect example of somebody who may have been misled by the
attempt in certain quarters to change the very nature of gerut and of the
people of Israel. In this secularized version, the desire to serve in the
Israeli army replaces the desire to serve God.

What in any case does gerut have to do with where you are? A gentile who
becomes a citizen of Israel and goes to the Army just as a Jew. Many
non-Jews have been killed in combat and thereby linked their destiny to the
Jewish people" but this does not make them into Jews!

At least I find heartening his closing remarks, in which he tacitly
acknowledges that there is a lot of fake gerut in Israel (and elsewhere):

> 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 ...

> 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.
> ...
> 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
> conversions.
> 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.

If only the "certain rabbis" to whom I referred in my earlier postings would
follow Rabbi Wise's lead.

Martin Stern


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Mon, Nov 14,2016 at 04:01 AM
Subject: Non-newsworthy acquittal

The (London) Jewish Chronicle reported on-line (2 Nov. '16)


> An Orthodox Jew accused of touching an actress's bottom on the bus was cleared
> in just 30 minutes after insisting he was just moving his coat.
> X was accused of having used his clothing to hide his hand as he pressed it
> against the young womans body while she tried to read a theatre script.
> The woman, in her late 20s, demanded 'Are you trying to touch me up?'
> prompting the father-of-13 to apologise and move to another seat.
> She photographed him with her mobile phone and told police he might be
> deliberately targeting women on the bus because he had sat next to her when
> there were plenty of empty seats.
> ...
> X said that he chose that seat because it had good views out of the front
> and sides of the bus so he knew when to get off.
> ...
> Although it only took the jury 10 minutes to unanimously acquit him the whole
> process has taken almost a year ...

What I find disturbing is that this item has not appeared in its (or for
that matter any other paper's) print issues, unlike what almost certainly
would have happened if he had been found guilty.

The vulnerability of visibly Orthodox Jewish men to such false accusations
suggests that their avoidance of sitting next to potentially oversensitive
females, especially on planes, is based on real concerns for their personal
safety and not misogynistic discrimination against women. Yet, the latter
cases seem by contrast to be routinely published.

Why should the acquittal not have been considered newsworthy?

Martin Stern


From: Orrin Tilevitz <tilevitzo@...>
Date: Mon, Nov 14,2016 at 07:01 AM
Subject: Notifying the congregation

Martin Stern suggests (MJ 63#07):

> 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 barekhu.
> 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.

How about waving a flag? That's what they did in Alexandria to let people know
when to say "Amen". (Sukkah 51a)

From: Irwin Weiss <irwin@...>
Date: Mon, Nov 14,2016 at 09:01 AM
Subject: Notifying the congregation

In response to Martin Stern (MJ 63#07):

Mr. Stern's post reminds me of what once happened to me when my wife and I went
to Miami Beach to visit friends who had moved there from Baltimore. Our friends
are Chassidish. We are not.  The plan was to meet at their home on Sunday and to
go out to dinner together. When we got there the guy invited me to go to his
shul with him for Mincha and Maariv, and then afterwards we would go out for

We got to the little shtiebl where he davens, and the room was full, with about
30-40 Chassidim all dressed in Chassidic garb, chatting loudly with great
animation.  Plus me, with pants and an open shirt and a kippah.

A guy went up to the shtender [davenning desk] and banged on it, and called out in
Yiddish something like "Drei avek ihre cellphones, os is zeyt tzu davennen
[Please turn off your cellphones, as it is time to daven]".  At that point, the
30-40 Chassidim, dressed in their 18th century Polish clothing, reached into
their pockets and turned off their cellphones. I, in my 21st century dress, was
the only person present without a cellphone.  I was struck by this clash of the
modernism of the cellphones with the dress and customs of the Chassidim. Anyway,
with the cellphones off, we could start the davenning together in peace and quiet.

Irwin Weiss
Baltimore, Maryland

From: Lawrence Israel <larry.israel@...>
Date: Tue, Nov 15,2016 at 04:01 AM
Subject: Notifying the congregation

In response to Martin Stern (MJ 63#07):

In some synagogues they have a notice saying "It Is Forbidden To Talk During
Prayer Times". Perhaps other synagogues need a sign saying "It Is Forbidden To
Pray During Talking Times!"

From: Immanuel Burton <iburton@...>
Date: Tue, Nov 15,2016 at 02:01 PM
Subject: Notifying the congregation

In response to Martin Stern (MJ 63#07):

This reminds me of a story told about the Wise Men of Chelm:  Near the city of
Chelm, there was a tall cliff.  People kept falling off this cliff and unjuring
themselves, so the Wise Men of Chelm decided to build a hospital at the bottom
of the cliff.

Which problem is being addressed by the shatz banging on the desk loudly before
starting davenning?  Surely congregants should be educated to pay attention to
proceedings and stop chatting when they see that prayers are about to commence.
After all, does one come to shul to chat or to pray?

With regards to banging on the desk before mussaf on a weekday Rosh Chodesh, I
thought that this was done on account of the pause after the half-Kaddish
immediately before mussaf while people remove their tephillin - the banging on
the desk is done to co-ordinate everyone starting their silent mussaf together.

Immanuel Burton.


From: Joel Rich <JRich@...>
Date: Tue, Nov 15,2016 at 06:01 AM
Subject: Shatz's personal prayer

There's debate what nusach (version) the shatz (prayer leader) should use in his
private amida if his nusach differs from that of the Kahal (minyan he is
leading). One opinion holds he uses the same as the Kahal because he's just
practicing for tefilat hatzibbur (reader's repetition). If this is the case,
does he not get to make his own personal requests as part of tefila b'tzibbur
(communal prayer)?

Joel Rich


From: Joel Rich <JRich@...>
Date: Tue, Nov 15,2016 at 06:01 AM
Subject: Shulchan Aruch Orach Chayim question

In Shulchan Aruch Orach Chayim 79:6 the mechaber (R Yosef Karo) quotes the
halacha by saying biYerushalmi(i.e. he mentions the source of the law as the
Talmud Yerushalmi).  

What is the purpose of the attribution? Is it in case we were looking for the
makor (source) or that its only a Yerushalmi.   

A similar question regarding sometimes attributing a law to a particular rishon
(early authority).

Joel Rich


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Mon, Nov 14,2016 at 04:01 AM
Subject: Starting minchah early

Rabbi Meir Wise wrote (MJ 63#07):

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

Nice idea but the real reason is that in former times when there were no
reliable clocks, people decided whether it was morning or afternoon by
observing the sun and the direction of shadows. It is not easy to be sure
until about 30 minutes after midday whether it is already afternoon, so
Chazal made the ruling. That is why, nowadays, with the availability of

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

Martin Stern


From: Dr Russell Jay Hendel <rashiyomi@...>
Date: Tue, Nov 15,2016 at 08:01 PM
Subject: Tumim v'Urim

Aaron Lerner (MJ 63#06) asks for an explanation of the order reversal,
Tumin/Urim in Deut 33:08 vs Urim/Tumim in the rest of the Bible.

Although Rashi does not comment on this particular one, there are several Rashis
on order reversal, based on the Midrash Rabbah. The grammatical rule is that:

1) If the Bible *always* uses a particular order then the 1st named entity is
most important while other entities are of lesser importance

2) If the Bible reverses order, it thereby indicates that all members of the
group are equal.

Many examples may be found on the Rashi website, devoted to showing that all
Rashis are rule-based. Please visit www.Rashiyomi.com/gn33-02a.htm for a list of
cases and appropriate citations. Examples of lists with order reversal (and
hence all items are of equal importance) are heaven-earth,
Abraham-Yitzchak-Yaakov, Chukim-Mishpatim, and Zelafchad's daughters.

An example of a list without order reversal might be Moses-Aaron; Moses is
always mentioned first because in terms of traditions and prophecies he takes
precedence over Aaron.

So the reversal of urim-tumim simply shows that the two instruments are of equal

Dr. Ben Katz (MJ 63#07) suggests that it might be a simple exercise of poetic
license and mentions that the Ibn Ezra and others recognized poetic license as a
phenomenon of Biblical poetry.

Actually, Rashi was an accomplished  poet. He wrote piyutim and selichot, some
of which are in our liturgy.  Rashi also frequently uses poetic devices to
explain the simple meaning of the text. Moreover, Rashi contributed rule-based
interpretation to poetic techniques thereby facilitating our understanding *why*
the Bible used a particular technique and what its intent was.

Dr. Russell Jay Hendel


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Mon, Nov 14,2016 at 04:01 AM
Subject: Vaccinations

Dr. Russell Jay Hendel  wrote (MJ 63#07):

> 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 methodology.
> ...
> 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.

This is a rather interesting perspective which is stark contrast to the
general knee-jerk reaction to anything said by "right-wing Rabbis" coming
from their "more modern" critics. Perhaps the latter might also benefit from
"outreach educating them on proper rabbinic methodology".

Martin Stern


End of Volume 63 Issue 8