Volume 63 Number 13 
      Produced: Tue, 06 Dec 16 07:30:05 -0500

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

Can Money Be Non-Kosher? (3)
    [Perets Mett  Martin Stern  Frank Silbermann]
Davening at the Amud (4)
    [Martin Stern  Perets Mett  Joel Rich  Orrin Tilevitz]
Egalitarian minyanim  (was Kavanah) (3)
    [Martin Stern  David Tzohar  Isaac Balbin]
Jared Kushner (was What is an Orthodox Jew?) 
    [Martin Stern]
Walking as Exercise (was FitBit) (2)
    [Carl A. Singer  Robert Schoenfeld]
What is an Orthodox Jew? (2)
    [Isaac Balbin  Joel Rich]


From: Perets Mett <p.mett00@...>
Date: Sun, Dec 4,2016 at 04:01 AM
Subject: Can Money Be Non-Kosher?

Yisroel Medad (MJ 63#12) wrote:
> It has been reported that England's new 5 pound notes are made of polymers that
> contain rendered animal fat. The bills entered circulation in September.
> If one counts money by licking one's finger, is there a question of kashrut that
> may arise?
> Or is the bill totally altered by its production process?
Not a problem for three reasons:

1 Nothing comes off the note when you lick it
2 The amount is so small as to be nullified
3 It is rendered inedible by the production process

Actually the polymer does not contain tallow, but the pellets used in the
production process come coated with it.

Perets Mett

From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Sun, Dec 4,2016 at 05:01 AM
Subject: Can Money Be Non-Kosher?

> Yisrael Medad  wrote (MJ 63#12):

> It has been reported that England's new 5 pound notes are made of polymers
> that contain rendered animal fat. The bills entered circulation in September.

Certain Hindu groups in the UK have objected to their use and tried to
enlist Jewish (and Muslim) support to have them withdrawn. I believe this is
because the fat is derived from cows which they hold to be sacred, though
they have raised the possibility that it may be of pig origin. There is a
fundamental difference between Jewish and Muslim attitudes to pig products.
Muslims treat them as polluting whereas we only are forbidden to eat them
but may use for example leather made from pigskin. The response from one of
our lay leaders was that he was not in the habit of eating money so the
problem did not arise from a Jewish point of view.
> If one counts money by licking one's finger, is there a question of kashrut
> that may arise?

Even if the fat were not completely batul [annulled as a minute part, less
than 1/60th, of the polymer] it is certain that the amount adhering to the
fingers is minute and would certainly not make the person liable for
punishment under a Torah prohibition [chatzi shiur]. It is unlikely that he
would have any intention to consume it and, also, would not notice the
taste. He therefore would not benefit from it so it is doubtful if the
principle of chatzi shiur asrah Torah [there is a prohibition even if the
act is not punishable] applies.
> Or is the bill totally altered by its production process?

I think Yisrael has answered himself because AFAIK this is precisely what
has happened - the fat has been so altered in the processing that it has
lost its original identity [nishtaneh].

In view of all the above considerations, there seems to be no problem with
using these new 5 notes but anyone with qualms on the matter should consult
a qualified Orthodox Rabbi.

Martin Stern

From: Frank Silbermann <frank_silbermann@...>
Date: Sun, Dec 4,2016 at 08:01 AM
Subject: Can Money Be Non-Kosher?

In response to Yisrael Medad (MJ 63#12):

Whether it is fat is viewed as totally altered (e.g. not even the same
molecules) might determine whether the bills are permitted to eat.

As for the permissibility of licking one's fingers while counting money, it
might depend upon whether the rendered animal fat affects the fingers' taste.

Frank Silbermann

Memphis, Tennessee


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Sun, Dec 4,2016 at 02:01 AM
Subject: Davening at the Amud

Robert Schoenfeld wrote (MJ 63#12):

> A person who takes me shopping every week is in charge of the weekday minyan.
> Just this week he ran into a problem. Usually one of the members who is avel
> davens but this week someone who is in sheloshim but not a shul member came
> and was allowed to daven. The Rabbi and the shul president complained because
> this person is not a shul member and was even called a schnorer. Was my friend
> right to allow him to daven?

There are various rules in halachah regarding who has precedence in leading
the tzibbur. These depend on the 'strength' of the person's 'right' - shiva,
sheloshim, yahrzeit and remainder of 11 months. These apply only to someone
who is an aveil for a parent - those who have voluntarily taken on such
observance as a zechut for someone else cannot 'push away' genuine aveilim.

A further distinction is between a toshav [local inhabitant, but perhaps
better translated as shul member under current social conditions] and a n
oreiach [guest or non-member]. The general rule (somewhat simplified) is
that the latter gives way to the former unless he is two degrees 'stronger',
e.g. shiva versus 11 months.

There may be a distinction between an oreiach who is from out of town, and
has no fixed place to daven, and a member of another in-town shul who just
happens to turn up in this particular shul. Since the latter can be told to
go to his own shul if he wants the amud, he has a lower claim though, if
there is no aveil for a parent, the shul can, of course, let him have the
amud as an act of chesed [kindness] but he cannot claim it as a right.

These matters can be complicated by local custom so, whenever such disputes
occur, the Rav should be asked what to do.

It is not entirely clear from what Robert wrote what sort oreiach was
involved but, since the Rabbi objected, it seems that his friend acted

Martin Stern

From: Perets Mett <p.mett00@...>
Date: Sun, Dec 4,2016 at 04:01 AM
Subject: Davening at the Amud

In response to Robert Schoenfeld (MJ 63#12)):

I think it is clear that a member of the shul (especially one who davens at the
shul regularly on Shabbos morning) takes precedence over a non-member.

And, since this is a matter of halocho, the Shul rabbi should have been consulted.

Perets Mett

From: Joel Rich <JRich@...>
Date: Sun, Dec 4,2016 at 10:01 AM
Subject: Davening at the Amud

In response to Robert Schoenfeld (MJ 63#12):

The shul might (should) have established policies - there is no real "right"
other than that the shul controls the rules for who may lead the davening for
the congregation.

There's a great story concerning R' JB Soloveitchik and "rights" to lead the
davening for the congregation as "brought down" in halacha.  The punchline was
something like halacha had to make something up (i.e. the rules are just to
prevent fights, not to express an existential truth)

Joel Rich

From: Orrin Tilevitz <tilevitzo@...>
Date: Mon, Dec 5,2016 at 11:01 PM
Subject: Davening at the Amud

In response to Robert Schoenfeld (MJ 63#12):

According the Rama (S.A. O.C. 53:22): 

"Ein le'adam lehitpallel belo retzon hakahal, vechol me shemitpalleil bechozka
vederech alamut ein onin amen achar birkato" [one should not go to the amud to
act as sheliach tzibur without the permission of the congregation [or its
delegate], and if one does so by force, the congregation may not answer amen to
his blessing].

How does this work in practice -- or is it supposed to be merely the nuclear
option, like the punishment for ben soreir umore [the rebellious son], on the
books but never carried out? 

Let's say that in a shul where the gabbai normally selects the shatz, this time
the gabbai walks in to find that an individual has gone to the amud on his own
and has started Ashrei; the particular individual has done such things
repeatedly before and has been warned not to. (If it matters, the individual is
a non-member and apparently a non-contributor as well.) The individual is
substantially larger and younger than the gabbai, so physical removal is not an

Possible choices might include 

(1) the gabbai's telling everyone that the shatz is a usurper, and not to answer

(2) the gabbai's simply, but audibly, quoting the Rama, or 

(3) the gabbai's doing nothing, except possibly walking to the back, davening
shemone esrei himself and sitting down. (The LOR is not present.)

Obviously, not a hypothetical question.


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Sun, Dec 4,2016 at 02:01 AM
Subject: Egalitarian minyanim  (was Kavanah)

Leah S. R. Gordon wrote (MJ 63#12)

> Martin Stern wrote (MJ 63#11):
>> On a somewhat tangential point, the current campaign for Partnership Minyanim
>> (let alone the so-called Women of the Wall and their demand for 'equal rights
>> to daven as and how they wish' who strike me as being motivated more by a
>> desire to provoke a reaction than any genuine spirituality) would carry more
>> weight if the above-mentioned absence were not their default position.
>> Perhaps, one day I will notice streams of ladies coming to a weekday
>> shacharit at 6 a.m. on a cold and rainy winter morning but, somehow, I doubt
>> it will ever happen.

> It's very unclear to me why he feels the need to make such an unkind side
> remark about the purported low kavanah of women in Partnership Minyanim or the
> Women of the Wall.  He is talking about me. I have a high level of kavana and
> spirituality.  And it is not for him to judge my kavanah in any case; that is
> for Hashem only.

It is equally unclear to me how Leah comes to construe my remarks as
referring to "low kavanah of women". What I was pointing out was that it is
extremely unusual for women to come to weekday tefillot - not the kavanah of
women in general when they attend. I certainly would not wish to judge leah
personally - from reading her much valued contributions to Mail-Jewish, I am
sure that she takes davennning very seriously.

> It feels particularly offensive because we have a situation in which men
> excluded women from being counted in davening for thousands of years, and
> assigned them other competing tasks.

Obviously it is not practical for women with small children to leave the
house two or three times a day and I certainly did not have them in mind.
But the same would apply to single fathers and nobody would hold it against
them if they davenned at home - so it is not a matter of gender per se but,
rather, a conflict of responsibilities. Before I retired, I often had to
daven minchah without a minyan in the winter because it was simply not
possible to get away to where minyanim were held at the times they davenned.

However, there is no prohibition on women without other prior commitments
attending on ordinary weekdays. However, this does not explain (excuse?) the
almost total non-attendance on ordinary weekdays of

1. unmarried girls,

2. "newly weds" who have as yet no children (OK I agree that pregnancy
itself might be a valid reason but then so would illness in either sex),

3. older women whose children have left home or are old enough to to look
after themselves (and also go to shul?).

The fact is that, by and large, they do not - Partnership Minyanim meet only
on Shabbat and other special days (Women of the Wall meet only on Rosh
Chodesh) - suggests an element of cherry picking.

Even on a parent's yahrzeit, when men who do not bother to come to shul the
rest of the year make a special effort to attend, it is almost unheard of
for women, outside certain German Jewish circles, to come.

> To then smirk about minyan attendance is borderline obnoxious - and
> inaccurate.  In Egalitarian minyanim, the tendency is for women to dominate in
> numbers, and, in fact, this has been written up with hand-wringing about why
> men don't participate as much in the Conservative movement.

This phenomenon is also found in the mainstream UK Protestant churches.
Might I suggest that the reason is that the men are 'scared off' by the
women - another good reason for gender segregation.

Perhaps, in Boston, the Egalitarian minyanim to which Leah refers meet
regularly every day of the week, in which case my "borderline obnoxious"
comment was inaccurate - and I must admit admiration for such ladies who
make the effort - but I suspect that such groups are few and far between.

Martin Stern

From: David Tzohar <davidtzohar@...>
Date: Sun, Dec 4,2016 at 03:01 AM
Subject: Egalitarian minyanim  (was Kavanah)

IMHO the term "egalitarian minyan" is a pure oxymoron. The halacha is very clear
on what constitutes a minyan - 10 men over the age of 13 who exhibit normal male
maturity (i.e. 2 pubic hairs). Shteht geschrieben pashut ve kal [as is clearly
and straightforwardly recorded in halachic sources].

David Tzohar

From: Isaac Balbin <isaac.balbin@...>
Date: Sun, Dec 4,2016 at 04:01 AM
Subject: Egalitarian minyanim  (was Kavanah)

In response to Leah S. R. Gordon (MJ 63#12):

I do not know where Leah got her information from but it wasn't the Torah
Shebe'al Peh which manfully (sic) determined that a minyan is made up of men.
Torah Shebe'al Peh is not an invention but a transmission of the meaning of
Torah Shebiksav and is from Sinai. No woman is excluded from davening with or
without kavonoh, but to imply this is a *man* invented rule, is at worst 
apikorsus (heresy) and at best Am Horatzus and guided by the pseudo-religion of
Egalitarianism. Little wonder that some men and women consider the majority of
these women to be led more by Western sensibilities of equality (viz Feminism)
than the immutable Masoretic Torah with its pre-ordained ancient task-based

May I pose a counter-question: How many women from these movements ask their
husbands to equally perform Mitzvas Hafrashas Challah? 


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Sun, Dec 4,2016 at 06:01 AM
Subject: Jared Kushner (was What is an Orthodox Jew?)

Carl A. Singer wrote (MJ 63#12):

> I don't know Jared Kushner nonetheless I found the recent thread troubling. In
> general terms -- I feel it is inappropriate to discuss the religiosity of
> *any* given *lay* individual in this forum.

While I have some sympathy with Carl's reservations, I allowed this
discussion to proceed (wearing my moderator hat) because I felt that the
current emphasis on male head covering (as opposed to that by married women
which is much more halachically required) needed airing.

Furthermore I did not consider Jared Kushner to be just "*any* given *lay*
individual" in view of his being very much in the public eye and presented
in the media as a representative Orthodox Jew.

Martin Stern


From: Carl A. Singer <carl.singer@...>
Date: Sun, Dec 4,2016 at 01:01 PM
Subject: Walking as Exercise (was FitBit)

Isaac Balbin wrote (MJ 63#12):

> Robert Schoenfeld wrote (MJ 63#11):

>> Carl A. Singer wrote (MJ 63#09):
>>> 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.
>> FitBit and similar devices count steps, so going to Shul for Shachris or
>> Mincha/Maariv also count as exercise.
> I'm interested in a source that classes walking to Shule as *exercise* 
> forbidden on Shabbos. It is an incidental permitted activity required to get
> from point A to point B, within the Techum Shabbos (Shabbat limit of
> sojourn). How does it metamorphonse into formal exercise, taking it out of
> its normal conduit? There are those who walk differently on Shabbos as a
> matter of Halacha! I see people running down the road in their gym outfits
> wearing a fitbit or similar. I would venture only the reform, conservative, or 
> some Open Orthodox would permit this.

I did not say "forbidden on Shabbos" --  to the fit-bit (or similar) walking is
walking: Indoors, outdoors, within the techum Shabbos, outside of techum
Shabbos, walking to shul or walking "laps" around the block.

BTW - some devices with pulse counters have another "feature". If charged and
lying face down on a table, for instance,  they will blink rapidly (trying to
measure pulse). After a few seconds they turns dark.  BUT passing any object
near such devices will cause them to resume blinking.

Carl Singer

From: Robert Schoenfeld <frank_james@...>
Date: Sun, Dec 4,2016 at 03:01 PM
Subject: Walking as Exercise (was FitBit)

In response to Isaac Balbin (MJ 63#12):

It is certainly a Psik Reisha De Nicha Lei [a direct activity (wearing it)
which, as a side effect, benefits some overall fitness value]. It is, as I also
stated (MJ 63#11), possibly preparation (Hachono) for connecting to some device
later for analysis and perhaps most importantly Zilzul Shabbos (cheapening of
the day of rest).



From: Isaac Balbin <isaac@...>
Date: Sun, Dec 4,2016 at 04:01 AM
Subject: What is an Orthodox Jew?

Chaim Casper wrote (MJ 63#12):

> In the discussion about Who is an Orthodox Jew, Irwin Weiss (MJ 63#09) 
> mentions that he has not seen a picture of Jared Kushner wearing a kipah. 
> Haim Shalom Snyder (MJ 63#11) responded that Senator Joe Lieberman was often
> seen without a kipah yet no one challenged his Orthodoxy. 
> ...
> Let us focus on Martin's definition: Men who are Jewish and Shomer Mitzvot. 

Regarding those who don't wear a yarmulke? Why not mention Rabbi Nathan Lopez
Cardozo who blogged that he is considering taking his off. He is somewhat more
learned than Mr Kushner. I'm not even going to mention Rav Shamshon Rephoel Hirsch. 

Everyone seems to focus on chitzoniyus (outward appearance). Yes the Chasam
Sofer felt it was Chukas HaGoy not to wear one nowadays but we see that even in
business many allow temporary removal anyway. 

From: Joel Rich <JRich@...>
Date: Sun, Dec 4,2016 at 10:01 AM
Subject: What is an Orthodox Jew?

In response to Chaim Casper (MJ 63#12):

Karov l'malchut (closeness to the ruling power) is a halachic category which can
allow for certain leniencies regarding head covering. I'm not sure whether
ensuring greater business success also merits such leniencies.  

A bigger question to me is if you see them bareheaded in the supermarket.

Joel Rich


End of Volume 63 Issue 13