Volume 63 Number 09 
      Produced: Sun, 20 Nov 16 01:35:00 -0500

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

Battery Drain 
    [Carl A. Singer]
Genuine converts (4)
    [Martin Stern  Yitzchak Scott-Thoennes  Rabbi Meir Wise  Frank Silbermann]
Notifying the congregation (6)
    [Martin Stern  Martin Stern  Martin Stern  Yisrael Medad   Art Werschulz  Carl A. Singer]
Sexual harassment (was Non-newsworthy acquittal) 
    [Leah S. R. Gordon]
Tumim v'Urim 
    [Saul Mashbaum]
What is an Orthodox Jew?  (was "Genuine converts) 
    [Irwin Weiss]


From: Carl A. Singer <carl.singer@...>
Date: Thu, Nov 17,2016 at 11:01 AM
Subject: Battery Drain

Yisrael Medad asks (MJ 63#08) about the halachic ramifications of battery drain
on Shabbat.

Let's look at a larger question of worn battery operated devices.

It seems that there is no objection within the observant community to wearing a
battery-powered wristwatch. It is presumed, one supposes, that one will not
engage in any functions (on Shabbos) that manually cause display changes, etc.

What of a "fit-bit" -- a wrist mounted device which counts steps, for example. 
Some of the simpler devices have NO manual interface -- that is when you're
wearing them you simply have this thing on your wrist. To see the count, you
need to engage a computer. However, your movement is noted by the device and
should you remove the device, this may also be noted.

A related question deals with hearing aids.

Finally, what of solar-powered devices?  Say a Solar Powered wristwatch -- here
you have the potential for battery charging as well.



From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Thu, Nov 17,2016 at 02:01 AM
Subject: Genuine converts

Yisrael Medad wrote (MJ#63#08):

> 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.

I totally agree with Yisrael on this. But that is precisely what I wrote at
the beginning of this thread (MJ 63#04):

> 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.

Perhaps I had not made myself completely clear, and should have written "the
obvious insincerity of THOSE prospective 'converts' ..." to avoid appearing
to imply ALL prospective converts are insincere. However I thought I had
made that clear in the posting to which Yisrael refers where I had written
(MJ 63#07):

>> 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.

The major fault lies with those who conduct conversions without making
sufficiently searching investigation of the applicants' true intentions,
often for social or nationalistic reasons such as enabling those non-Jewish
immigrants with some Jewish ancestry to marry. It is this through which, in
my opinion, "suspicion is cast on a bad system".

It would, therefore, be helpful if Yisrael could clarify whether this was
the point he was trying to make or, otherwise, what he really means.

Martin Stern

From: Yitzchak Scott-Thoennes <sthoenna@...>
Date: Thu, Nov 17,2016 at 03:01 AM
Subject: Genuine converts

Martin Stern wrote (MJ 63#08):

> Of course not all his [Rabbi Haskel Lookstein's - MOD] conversions may be
> invalid but [his expressed] sentiments suggest that they must be examined on an
> individual basis to make sure he has not been swayed by these extra-halachic
> considerations.

They *must*?  Who is it that would be tasked with that, and what possible
purpose would be served?

From: Rabbi Meir Wise <Meirhwise@...>
Date: Thu, Nov 17,2016 at 05:01 AM
Subject: Genuine converts

I should like to assure Martin Stern (MJ 63#08) that I have not been misled by
anyone. Both Rav Goren and Rav Rabinovitch were correct in stating that the
attitude of the Yerushalmi was more lenient towards converts that the Bavli.
There are many situations in Israel that the Bavli doesn't cover but are dealt
with by the Yerushalmi. The clue is in the title!

I did not suggest for a minute that non-Jewish soldiers should be buried next to
Jews. There are military cemeteries which have sections for Jews, Druze, other
religions and no religion.

What I do say is that moving to Israel and putting one's life on the line to
defend the state and the people of Israel should weigh heavily as a factor in
determining the sincerity ofa person who asks to convert. It would seem that the
late Rav Ovadiah Yosef zatzal was of the same opinion.

There are 600,000 Israeli citizens whose status is undetermined. In the absence
of secular marriage I have yet to hear anybody offer a solution apart from the
illustrious Rosh Yeshiva of Maalei Aumim.

From: Frank Silbermann <frank_silbermann@...>
Date: Thu, Nov 17,2016 at 08:01 AM
Subject: Genuine converts

Martin Stern wrote (MJ 63#08):

> 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
> (of) the Beit Din of the RCA and was only approved retroactively.

The_ Beit Din of the RCA?  I was taught that three qualified Jews (usually
Orthodox rabbis) congregate to form a Bet Din.

When did the halacha change to require centralization of this nature?

Frank Silbermann
Memphis, Tennessee


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Thu, Nov 17,2016 at 02:01 AM
Subject: Notifying the congregation

Orrin Tilevitz wrote (MJ 63#08):

> 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)

That would work during davenning when, hopefully, the congregation would be
paying attention but would be ineffective while they are chatting before the
beginning - being engrossed in their conversations, they simply would not
notice the flag being waved.

Martin Stern

From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Thu, Nov 17,2016 at 02:01 AM
Subject: Notifying the congregation

Lawrence Israel wrote (MJ 63#08):

> 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!"

This would not help in the situations to which I referred since the
problematic talking was before the beginning of davenning. To be effective
it would have to read "It Is Forbidden To Talk in Shul even NOT During
Prayer Times" which is certainly the rule for frivolous chatter (Sh. Ar.
O.H. 151.1).

Martin Stern

From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Thu, Nov 17,2016 at 02:01 AM
Subject: Notifying the congregation

Immanuel Burton wrote (MJ 63#08):

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

Of course, ideally, the congregants should all be paying attention but the
fact is that they DO chat while waiting for the shatz to start and the noise
of their chatter is so loud that he is inaudible unless he shouts.

> 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.

That is most certainly the reason. Doing so before every tefillah might,
just possibly, alert them more effectively which was the reason for my

Martin Stern

From: Yisrael Medad  <yisrael.medad@...>
Date: Thu, Nov 17,2016 at 03:01 AM
Subject: Notifying the congregation

Orrin Tilevitz suggests (MJ 63#08) that, to notify the congregation, a flag
should be waved as that's what they did in Alexandria to let people know when to
say "Amen". (Sukkah 51a)

And for those behind the mechitza, especially in the back rows (the front row
women may be peeking)?

Yisrael Medad

From: Art Werschulz <agw@...>
Date: Thu, Nov 17,2016 at 09:01 AM
Subject: Notifying the congregation

Lawrence Israel wrote (MJ 63#08):
> 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!"

My wife has been known to ask the talkers, "Excuse me, but is my davvening
interrupting your conversation?"

Art Werschulz

From: Carl A. Singer <carl.singer@...>
Date: Thu, Nov 17,2016 at 04:01 PM
Subject: Notifying the congregation

Perhaps one issue is WHEN does davening begin AND whether that time is adhered to.

There are some congregations where the Shatz stands staring at the wall clock
and the moment the time is reached he begins.

There are others where davening starts "on or about" -- and this uncertainty
usually results in talking continuing until everyone realizes that the davening
has, indeed, begun.

Carl Singer


From: Leah S. R. Gordon <leah@...>
Date: Thu, Nov 17,2016 at 06:01 AM
Subject: Sexual harassment (was Non-newsworthy acquittal)

Martin Stern wrote (63#08):

> 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?

The acquittal of one Orthodox man from one groping incident on one bus, hardly
implies that sexual harassment, even by Jews, isn't a problem.  I found this
article to be subtly biased against the actress.  For example, why mention that
this guy is the father of 13?  Why emphasize that the actress was "young"?

In no way does one acquittal imply that men are somehow under attack by women
looking to make accusations.  One case of an Orthodox man also does not in a
vacuum imply anything about Jews being accused.  I don't even follow that logic.

Women get groped *all the time* in public places, and we get
comments/whistles/stares nearly daily, in spite of minding our own business
while dressed modestly.

I say, kudos to the woman for calling out what she perceived to be inappropriate
behavior (and what we cannot be sure was appropriate, but only beyond proof in a
court of law - I don't need to remind Martin that in modern courtrooms,
acquittal is different from innocence).  We on M.J have basically no data as to
what this guy's intentions were.

In my unfortunately nonzero experience with such things, women are very
sensitive to their bodies/space being invaded by this kind of contact.  I do
wonder why this man felt the need to sit by this woman on a bus with other seats
available.  If it happened to me, I would be uncomfortable and might even ask
him to take one of the other seats (or move myself) - because more often than
not, this is exactly how harassers behave.

But a bus with open seating is quite different from an airplane with crowded
conditions and seating assigned by the airline (i.e. not open to abuse by a man
who is looking for trouble).  As to whether an Orthodox man should behave like a
toddler throwing a tantrum if asked by public accommodation (e.g. airplane) to
take his seat next to a woman, the answer is still clearly, "it's offensive" -
and if there were more normalized gender relations (as have been the case
throughout Jewish history; this strict segregation is *not* required), then it
wouldn't even be a question. 

All research shows that groping/harassment behavior is worse among people who
have strict gender separation/segregation in their culture, as Martin should
know from reading all of the controversy about the middle-eastern immigrants
coming to more open EU societies and resulting rates of sexual harassment.

Leah S. R. Gordon


From: Saul Mashbaum <saul.mashbaum@...>
Date: Thu, Nov 17,2016 at 10:01 AM
Subject: Tumim v'Urim

Dr Russell Jay Hendel  wrote (MJ 63#08) :

> 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.

Exodus 6, 26-27 is a counterexample to the above. Aharon is mentioned before
Moshe in verse 26; Moshe is mentioned first in Verse 27.

Saul Mashbaum


From: Irwin Weiss <irwin@...>
Date: Thu, Nov 17,2016 at 07:01 AM
Subject: What is an Orthodox Jew?  (was "Genuine converts)

Martin Stern (MJ 63#08) continues the conversation about genuine converts and
mentions the case of Ivanka Trump, (daughter of the President Elect) who is
married to a guy named Kushner.  

The US media always mentions that they are Orthodox Jews.  What is an Orthodox Jew?

To me, an Orthodox Jew is one who is 

1) Jewish and 

2) Shomer Mitzvot - one who obeys commandments (or at least strives to do so) 
such as Kashrut, Shabbat, modesty AND who follows our tenets with regard to
personal values.    

I note that Mr. Kushner is shown on television many times, and I have yet to see
him with any form of head covering.  I have no knowledge of what he eats or
where he davens or what he believes or how he acts in any other fashion.  

To me, merely paying dues, or otherwise affiliating with, an Orthodox shul does
not make one Orthodox.  Here in Baltimore we have persons who belong to a modern
Orthodox congregation, who eat tref at home and at restaurants, and who drive on
Shabbat, and so forth.  Are they Orthodox Jews?

I personally know people who belong to a Conservative shul here who are very
strict about Kashrut and Shabbat, and, although they may daven with a different
siddur and with mixed (male and female) seating, they are very kind and moral

This should not be interpreted as any sort of criticism of Mr. Kushner or Ms.
Trump.  I don't know them and have no opinion of them.

Irwin Weiss


End of Volume 63 Issue 9