Volume 63 Number 15 
      Produced: Sun, 11 Dec 16 02:02:43 -0500

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

Battery drain 
    [Meir Frank]
Can money be non-kosher? 
    [Chaim Casper]
Davening at the Amud 
    [Chaim Casper]
Genuine converts 
    [Chaim Casper]
Hotsa'at Sefer Torah 
    [Martin Stern]
Making a living off Torah 
    [Ari Trachtenberg]
Talking in shul (2)
    [Carl A. Singer  Immanuel Burton]
Women in shul on weekdays (2)
    [Martin Stern  Leah S. R. Gordon]
Yom Kippur Thought 
    [Martin Stern]


From: Meir Frank <meirman@...>
Date: Sun, Dec 11,2016 at 01:01 AM
Subject: Battery drain

Yisrael Medad wrote (MJ 63#08):

> 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."

I found this more than once on the web, but none of those places explained it
and it makes no sense to me.  The battery is on his wrist.  He must recharge it
once in a while, but other than that, it's draining ALL the time.  The
transmitter uses no less when he is in his apartment than when he is not.  The
transmitter doesn't know where he is.  It's only the receiver that knows whether
he's nearby or not, and even if the transmitter knew, that wouldn't change how
much current it uses.

If the transmitter needs charging in less than a day, that would be just as 
much a problem if he never went out, and yet I don't think they complain about
that.   Because it's a short range transmitter (just within  his apartment) it
doesn't use much power.    So it must hold enough charge to power it for more
than a day, as many things do.    For example aiui cell phones that are not
powered down constantly or every few seconds transmit their identity to the 
closest cell towers so that the system knows which towers you are near, that is,
where you are.  Otherwise when someone called you, every cell tower in the world
would have to transmit to you.

> 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?

Yes, indeed.  Things like this are disconnected from AC current 90+% of the
time. He must be wearing one or the transmitter would not transmit.

> 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?

I think he wears it when he sleeps too.   It's called non-removable and if one
could remove it, he could do that and then go out for the day, or the week.   He
could fashion a fake transmitter for such trips, so it would look like he was
wearing one.   So I'm sure he can't.  I assume there is a cord from a charger or
perhaps a USB port to his wrist, a cord long enough to be comfortable when he
sits in one place.

I think just as the authors of those web pages missed this point, so did the
lawyer representing the Parole Commission.   They had other things on their mind.


From: Chaim Casper <surfflorist@...>
Date: Thu, Dec 8,2016 at 05:01 PM
Subject: Can money be non-kosher?

Regarding the discussion about Can Money Be Non-Kosher? (MJ 63#12 and #13):

Yoreh Deah 116:5 prohibits the placing of money in one's mouth (The Sha"Kh
quotes the Ra"N for a reason why).  

So if you don't put it in your mouth, let alone swallow it, then what
prohibition are you violating?

B'virkat Torah,
Chaim Casper
North Miami Beach, FL


From: Chaim Casper <surfflorist@...>
Date: Thu, Dec 8,2016 at 09:01 PM
Subject: Davening at the Amud

Robert Schoenfeld wrote (MJ 63#12) about a minyan that was hijacked by a
non-member who was observing shloshim (the 30 days following the burial of
an immediate family member).   Robert asked if it was right of the gabbai to
allow this.

First, I remember seeing (I think it was Rav Shlomo Braun's, zt"l, Sha'arim
M'zuyanim B'halakhah but I couldn't find the exact source after a quick perusal)
to the effect that shuls exist for the membership.   After all, what reason
would there be for someone to join a synagogue if he/she would get no benefits
from that membership?   

Thus, a member who is an avel (mourner, be it during 7 days, 30 days or 12
months after the burial) would have first rights to the amud. That member should
have been asked by the visitor for permission to lead the t'filot.

Second, the RaM"A (Orah Hayim 591:1) offers the bottom line for who can be a
shaliah zibbur (prayer leader): he must be "m'ruzah lakahal" (acceptable to the 
community or wanted by the community).  If the visitor was not acceptable to
daven (lead the prayers) by the majority of people there, then he should not
have davened and the Rabbi and President and any good member would have been in
their rights to say, "No!"

Third, there are various halakhic accountings as to whether a person in 30 days
of mourning has priority to lead the davening before a person in 12 months or
vice versa. You can argue whose priority it was to daven, but both options have
their champions in halakhic literature.
Finally, I will not address the issue of whether it was proper to call the
visitor a "schnorer", either by the Rabbi, President or the avel.   In most
cases, with a little good will and derekh eretz, ways can be found to accomodate
everyone (especially two men trying to honor their respective relative) without
resorting to name calling.  

B'virkat Torah,
Chaim Casper
North Miami Beach, FL


From: Chaim Casper <surfflorist@...>
Date: Thu, Dec 8,2016 at 10:01 PM
Subject: Genuine converts

David Tzohar (MJ 63#12) and Martin Stern (MJ 63#14) among others talked about
genuine converts.  

Allow me to offer a point derekh agav [a side point].  I had the honor and
privilege of being in Rabbi Norman Lamm's last class at YU (1975-76) before he
became the President in 1976.  He said that he was personally very uncomfortable
with converts because "if they truly believe so strongly in God, then they would
have no need to convert.  They could continue to believe as a Christian or Muslim." 

Yes, there are issues with converts, even among the liberals amongst us.  But
that should not prevent us from working through those issues.

B'virkat Torah,
Chaim Casper
North Miami Beach, FL


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Thu, Dec 8,2016 at 05:01 PM
Subject: Hotsa'at Sefer Torah

Yisrael Medad wrote (MJ 63#14):

> 1) When noting "established customs", perhaps one should be aware that there
> are other established customs.
> ...
> 2) As for the direction preference, from the description, it is not clear to
> me if the Shatz ascends to his left because that is where the Ark opener is
> standing or he ascends to his left and then crosses over to the right where
> the Ark opener is standing.  The principle that I am aware of is to go the
> shortest distance so it depends where the Sefer is. ... The Shatz, IMHO, would
> not be in error if he ascended to his left.

AFAIK this principle of going by the shortest route is only mentioned regarding
someone being called up to the bimah for an aliyah. In any case, there is little
difference between the two routes from the amud to the aron, so I doubt if it
would apply here.

Since there are many variant established customs in different communities, I
think Yisrael's use of the term "error", which I had intentionally avoided (MJ
63#12), rather than "less preferable" is unfortunate. However, kavod sefer torah
is universally accepted so my objections may still need answering.

Martin Stern


From: Ari Trachtenberg <trachten@...>
Date: Thu, Dec 8,2016 at 02:01 PM
Subject: Making a living off Torah

Rambam comments on Mishna Avot 4:7 (not to make [of the Torah] a spade with
which to dig]) that one who makes a financial living off teaching Torah is
culpable for death from the heavenly court, like one who makes [profane] use of
sacred property.

I know that in today's times we rely upon leniencies to this proscription based
on it being et la'asot l'ashem (a time to act for the Lord) - essentially that
the economic demands of the day require the ability to make money from Torah

It seems to me, though, that today's economic times are *much* better than they
were just about ever in Jewish history.  A typical healthy person in the US can,
through manual labor, make enough money for food and basic shelter, while also
teaching Torah on the side.  If so, what remain as valid reasons for rabbis and
Jewish educators to support themselves (financially) from Torah learning?


From: Carl A. Singer <carl.singer@...>
Date: Thu, Dec 8,2016 at 06:01 PM
Subject: Talking in shul

Martin Stern wrote (MJ 63#14):

> Basically the author decries the way too many people treat their shul as some
> sort of clubhouse where the shatz is at most tolerated for his interruption of
> their conversations, reminding me of the satyrical poster displayed in some
> shul's on Purim which read:
> "Assur lehitpallel besh'at hadibbur [It is forbidden to pray during 
> conversation time]!"

I believe the above statement is a bit too strong -- nonetheless, people DO
talk in shul. I am not a sociologist - so this is my observation, not a
"professional opinion"

Many (most?) of us no longer live in a first person community - that is we spend
much of our time among strangers. The only time we see many of our friends and
acquaintances is at shul.

Ask yourself, how many of the people who you see in shul do you also see outside
of shul -- at work, at shopping, etc.

Not an excuse -- but, again an observation -- people who only see each other
only at shul tend to use that opportunity to socialize.

Carl Singer

From: Immanuel Burton <iburton@...>
Date: Thu, Dec 8,2016 at 10:01 PM
Subject: Talking in shul

In MJ 63#14 Martin Stern asked if the suggestions that people who are disturbed
by talking in Shul should secede and form a minyan in another room might seem a
bit extreme.

Lack of decorum in Shul is one of my pet peeves, and I often find that I have to
move my seat when the chatting gets too intrusive.  On occasion I have actually
left and finished davenning on my own in another room.  I once asked a colleague
whether one is better off davenning in a talking minyan or davenning with better
concentration on one's own, and he told me that he once asked his Rav in
Yerushalyim the same question.  (I forget the Rav's name, so I'm not going to
guess.)  The answer he got was, "You should daven where you feel most comfortable'.

Why is it extreme to leave proceedings that are far from satisfactory? This
might well be a case of, "If you can't beat 'em, leave 'em".

I wonder whether talking during davenning isn't a problem with talking but with
davenning.  I have been to Shuls where there was no talking, and these were
invariably either Sefardi services where the entire davenning was recited out
loud in unison, or Shuls which were full within five minutes of the davenning
starting.  It occurred to me that in these types of Shul, the people connected
with the davenning, either by reciting it out loud in unison, or by making a
point of arriving on time.  If people don't connect to davenning they don't see
anything wrong with coming late, and don't see anything wrong with talking.  

Rather than focus on the prohibition of talking during davenning, maybe efforts
should be concentrated on how to connect with the davenning.

My father once quipped that if a custom eventually acquires the strength of a
law, then by now there should be an obligation to talk during davenning.

Immanuel Burton.


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Thu, Dec 8,2016 at 05:01 PM
Subject: Women in shul on weekdays

Bill Coleman wrote (MJ 63#14):

> I have to say that Orthodox shuls which I have attended range from extreme
> hostility to women attending to what I would call reluctant tolerance.

Such behaviour is disgraceful - anyone who comes to shul should be welcomed
and treated courteously.

> Some have no mechitza set up for daily services, some put the women in a
> separate room, some don't have a separate room.

Until relatively recently, it was very uncommon for ladies to come on an
ordinary weekday so cost considerations resulted in the room used on weekdays
not to have facilities for them. Perhaps this reflects on the fact that most men
also only attend on Shabbat and Yamim Tovim so the main shul would be
uncomfortably empty if used then (quite apart from the considerable heating
costs in winter). If this were not the case, and the same room was used, as in
the shuls I attend, there should be ample accommodation for ladies.

> I belong to a shul which has a perfectly good ezras nashim but, more often
> than not, women who show up are faced with men who have already set up shop
> there.

They have no business to be there and should be removed, preferably by the
gabbai. A notice to this effect should be prominently displayed and, if ignored,
the first lady to come should ask the miscreant to leave. If he ignores her, she
should simply stand right next to him and start davenning - AFAIK there is no
halachic problem for aldies to do so. Hopefully this would make him feel
uncomfortable and he would leave. If this fails might I suggest she starts
singing the davenning loud enough for him to be unable not to hear (but be
inaudible to the men in the main part of the shul).

> As an aside, I'll add that while the rabbi has paskened that women may recite
> kaddish, there are sometimes men present who growl and kvetch when they do.

If he has ruled thus, those who disagree should keep their opinions to themselves.

> It's a simple fact that men are encouraged to attend and made to feel welcome,
> while women are not. It is pretty rich to hear women being criticized for not
> showing up regularly.

Also Joseph Kaplan made much the same point (MJ 63#14):

> Of course, part of the reason that other shuls may not get a larger attendance
> of women on their parents' yahrtzeit is the poor way that many (not all) shuls
> (including, unfortunately, some MO ones) treat women who come to shul when
> it's not Shabbat; e.g., having no ezrat nashim thus requiring them to stand in
> hallways, having men usurp the ezrat nashim, having many men refuse to answer
> amen when those women commemorating a yahrtzeit say kaddish etc. etc. (Things
> appear to be getting better but not fast enough.)
> It would be helpful, I think, if those pointing fingers at women for not
> coming to shul when it's not Shabbat, would also point fingers at this
> inhospitality.

There is obviously a great need to improve on this unfortunate situation but
it is a bit of the "chicken and egg" syndrome. It appears to me that only
when weekday attendances by BOTH men and women approach those on Shabbat
will there be any hope that it will happen.

On the other hand, Sholom Parnes wrote (MJ 63#14):

> We have a female neighbor who attends our 6:00am weekday minyan quite often.
> Yes, her children are older and either out of the house or able to get
> themselves out in the morning without maternal (parental) help. I asked her
> why she attends the minyan, was she saying kaddish etc?
> Her answer was that she finds davening with kavanah simpler to do in shul than
> at home where there are numerous distractions.
> After a number of months she said that she really appreciates the men that
> attend minyan *every* day. She had never realized what an effort this is.

This lady is truly praiseworthy. If only there were many like her.

Recently, I saw this article "Women of the Wall: Warring Against Torah" on
the Jewish Press website:


While I would not agree with everything the author writes, it suggests that
she may be exceptional.

Martin Stern

From: Leah S. R. Gordon <leah@...>
Date: Thu, Dec 8,2016 at 05:01 PM
Subject: Women in shul on weekdays

May I thank Joseph Kaplan, Sholom Parnes, and Bill Coleman for their remarks
about women at davening (MJ 63#14); I would like to add my own take on this -

In my community and those surrounding, women attend shul and say kaddish on
parents' yahrtzeit routinely, to the extent of seeking out minyanim while
travelling, etc.  This latter situation, as others have noted, is fraught with
risk because sometimes when we go to unfamiliar shuls, it can be very unwelcoming.

Once I saw that the space (a smaller chapel area) for weekday mincha had no
mechitza, and I asked, "wait, is this going to be egalitarian?" and was told, TO
MY FACE, "Oh, no, women don't come to daven on weekdays."  I was literally right
there in front of him, obviously.  On a weekday (not a yahrtzeit).

I admit that I was reminded in that moment of a 1990s era Mail.Jewish
conversation.  I had said that I love to play hockey, but that my Orthodox co-ed
summer camp only set up for boys to play when I attended in the late 1980s. I
felt this was unnecessary and certainly not a halakhic rule.  The post in reply
was, "girls don't like to play hockey".

It's demoralizing enough when someone purports "not to know" what women might
feel or think, but hello, we're right here showing up and telling you!



From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Thu, Dec 8,2016 at 05:01 PM
Subject: Yom Kippur Thought

Joel Rich wrote (MJ 63#14):

> When you look at the backup lists to the ashamnu's and al cheit's, you may
> notice a lot of thought issues (e.g., thinking haughtily). While it would be
> great to change oneself to never have a bad thought, are we required to ask
> forgiveness for something we haven't acted on?

There is such a concept and some say that the kapparah [atonement] for
improper thoughts that were not actualised was obtained through a korban
olah.  While improper thoughts may not be punishable, that does not mean they
are inconsequential (perhaps parallel to the concept of patur aval assur
[exempt from punishment yet still forbidden])

This may be the thought expressed in Ibn Gabirol's pizmon selichah "Shachar
kamti" said on the fifth day leading up to Rosh Hashanah according to Minhag
Polen, the third day according to Minhag Boehmen/Ungarn and the third day of
the Asseret Yemei Teshuvah according to Minhag Lita:

"Halo chatat mekhaperet veha'olah makhsheret [Behold, a sin-offering atoned,
and a completely-burnt-offering set matters right]"

Martin Stern


End of Volume 63 Issue 15