Volume 63 Number 16 
      Produced: Wed, 14 Dec 16 01:26:58 -0500

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

Davening at the Amud (2)
    [Orrin Tilevitz  Robert Schoenfeld]
Genuine converts (2)
    [Isaac Balbin  Yisrael Medad]
GPS Monitoring Systems (was FitBit) 
    [Steven Oppenheimer]
Hotsa'at Sefer Torah 
    [Yisrael Medad]
Making a living off Torah (2)
    [Martin Stern  Joel Rich]
Men in the Ezrat Nashim (was Women in shul on weekdays) 
    [Carl A. Singer]
Talking in shul (2)
    [Haim Snyder  Martin Stern]
Women in shul on weekdays 
    [Martin Stern]


From: Orrin Tilevitz <tilevitzo@...>
Date: Sun, Dec 11,2016 at 07:01 AM
Subject: Davening at the Amud

Chaim Casper writes (MJ 63#15):

> 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?
I'd be interested in an exact source. A mega-shtiebl near me adopted a practice
-- supposedly after asking its rav -- that the halachic priorities to the amud
for an avel apply only to one who attends a particular minyan regularly. Thus, a
non-member after shloshim (perhaps even for someone other than a parent, and so
a non-chiyuv -- I didn't check) who regularly attends the daily 10 P.M. maariv
minyan has precedence over a member with yahrzeit for a parent who does not
regularly attend that minyan. Annual membership is $250, extraordinarily high in
our neighborhood for an Orthodox shul, and there are few members. The only
benefit of membership, AFAIK, is a slightly-reduced price for HH tickets. Based
on the seating chart, few members attend HH services.

From: Robert Schoenfeld <frank_james@...>
Date: Sun, Dec 11,2016 at 03:01 PM
Subject: Davening at the Amud

Chaim Casper wrote (MJ 63#15):

> 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!"

Perhaps I should add some extra information. My friend was the gabbai and chose
who davens but this particular incident was a one-off event. Also he runs the
davening every day whereas the Rabbi and president were not there every day



From: Isaac Balbin <isaac.balbin@...>
Date: Sun, Dec 11,2016 at 03:01 AM
Subject: Genuine converts

R. Chaim Casper wrote (MJ 63#15):

> 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." 

Indeed, but I see that as ONE of the questions you OUGHT to ask a convert
(without getting into the question of possible Avoda Zara in some Christian
denominations) as opposed to ruling them out. Hear from them. Listen why. By all
means tell them to become Bnei Noach according to the Rambam, or Muslims. THEY
have to come back with cogent reasons why they want to be Jewish. I don't accept
the approach of the Syrian Jewish community that we don't accept any converts.
According to the Baal Hatanya the Neshamos of ALL gerim were at Maamad Har
Sinai. Our job is to seek to find evidence of the link. 

From: Yisrael Medad  <yisrael.medad@...>
Date: Sun, Dec 11,2016 at 04:01 AM
Subject: Genuine converts

In response to Chaim Casper (MJ 63#15):

True.  But then they (if women for sure, but I'd go egalitarian in this case also
for men) could not marry Jews and give birth to future generations of Jews
as lauded in the Bible (Ruth).

Yisrael Medad


From: Steven Oppenheimer <steven.oppenheimer@...>
Date: Sun, Dec 11,2016 at 02:01 PM
Subject: GPS Monitoring Systems (was FitBit)

There has been previous discussions regarding ankle bracelets which utilize a
GPS tracking system to monitor the location of people who are under house
arrest.  What Shabbat problems arise with this system?

Rabbi Asher Weiss, an American born posek in Israel (who is also the current
posek for Sha'arei Tzedek Hospital) discussed this issue in responsum #32 in
volume 1 of his Minchat Asher (See also #30 and #31 where he presents his
understanding of electricity on Shabbat).

Rabbi Weiss is lenient in the above case as well as using monitors for people
with Alzheimer's. Every time a person moves the GPS sends a new signal that is
even recorded on a screen in the police station or other monitoring facility.

Rabbi Weiss is lenient because he opines that there is no "melacha" that is
violated and there is also no "melechet machshevet" (no intentional act of

Steven Oppenheimer, D.M.D.


From: Yisrael Medad  <yisrael.medad@...>
Date: Sun, Dec 11,2016 at 04:01 AM
Subject: Hotsa'at Sefer Torah

Martin Stern (MJ 63#15) wrote:

> AFAIK this principle of going by the shortest route is only mentioned regarding
> someone being called up to the bimah for an aliyah

I am almost sure that it applies to the Sefer Torah itself being carried and by
extension, anything to do with moving it from one place to another, especially
causing it to reverse its route and then proceed in the original direction.

And if I am not mistaken, that general principle also holds for the bier of a

Does anyone else have any further information?

Yisrael Medad


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Sun, Dec 11,2016 at 05:01 AM
Subject: Making a living off Torah

Ari Trachtenberg wrote (MJ 63#15):

> 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?

Unfortunately, being a congregational rabbi in a large community is a full
time job involving considerable pastoral duties so it is not feasible to
take on any other occupation if it requires one to be available most of the
day, which excludes almost every form of employment. Similarly running a
business is time consuming. That only leaves those with sufficient income
from investments or property. Perhaps Ari is correct that they should carry
out their rabbinic functions gratis which, incidentally, would make them
financially independent of their congregation and, therefore, able to
admonish even the wealthiest and most powerful members without fear of

The position of teachers is even more precarious since, to be successful,
they have to devote long hours outside the classroom for preparation and
marking, leaving them little time and even less energy to support
themselves. That they often do not get paid on time and are forced to
subsist on credit or charitable organisations does little to ameliorate
their status in the community.

Martin Stern

From: Joel Rich <JRich@...>
Date: Sun, Dec 11,2016 at 06:01 AM
Subject: Making a living off Torah

In response to Ari Trachtenberg (MJ 63#15):

IMHO this question is a subset of a broader question - how does the halachic 
process yield halachic resultant change in response to changes in outside
circumstances?  The answer is that, without a Sanhedrin, there certainly is no
clear algorithm.  This goes back to Talmudic times -  Havdalah practices
changing when there was wealth and when there wasn't.

BTW the same question could be applied to writing down the oral law.

Joel Rich


From: Carl A. Singer <carl.singer@...>
Date: Sun, Dec 11,2016 at 11:01 AM
Subject: Men in the Ezrat Nashim (was Women in shul on weekdays)

Martin Stern wrote (MJ 62#15):

> Bill Coleman wrote (MJ 63#14):

>> 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 ladies 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).

My wife attends weekday services on the occasion of a parent's yahrzeit.

As is her custom, she says Kaddish quietly - not aloud.  If there are no others
saying Kaddish, then I will say kaddish aloud for 2 reasons, primarily to say
kaddish for my in-laws, and secondarily so there will be a pause for kaddish so
the tzibor doesn't immediately go on.

Over the many years I recall two incidents.

In a small shul -- a store turned into a shul and the mechitzah seems to come and
go (up on Shabbos morning, down more often than not otherwise) -- I asked if the
mechitzah would be in place for maariv (motz'ei Shabbos) explaining why -- and
the Rabbi admonished her -- that she should not say kaddish.

At another time and place, in a shul where due to the architecture - an old
house converted to a shul - the men and women's section each had a different
entrance from the outside. My wife arrived for maariv in the women's section
only to find two men there.  She sat down in her usual seat and continued as if
they weren't there.

Which brings me to a related point.  May men daven in the designated ezras
nashim? If so, under what circumstances?

In our current shul things are never so crowded in the men's section that
anyone is "forced" into the ezras nashim -- our gabbaim will ask any man who is
in the ezras nashim to join us in the men's section -- even when women are not

Carl A. Singer


From: Haim Snyder <haimsny@...>
Date: Sun, Dec 11,2016 at 04:01 AM
Subject: Talking in shul

I believe that there are two purposes for praying with a community. The 
first is spiritual (our teachings say that public prayer is accepted more than
private prayer). The second is social. However, they do NOT have to be fulfilled

Those who only see some people when they come to shul can wait until after the
service is over and then speak to them as loud and as long as they like. Even on
a week day, when one is in a hurry to get to work, one can take a few seconds to
greet a friend after services.

On Shabbat morning, I personally pray in a minyan that starts at 6:15, because I
have found that people who get up that early on Shabbat are there primarily to
pray and there is little to no talking. Because I live very close to the shul
and my wife goes to the later minyan, I go back to shul at the end of that
service and stand outside and talk with my friends, then walk home with my wife.

Haim Shalom Snyder

Petah Tikva

From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Sun, Dec 11,2016 at 06:01 AM
Subject: Talking in shul

Immanuel Burton wrote (MJ 63#15):

> 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.

Immanuel is undoubtedly correct that talking in shul is a symptom of people
not connecting to davenning and treating it in a rather off-hand manner.
This problem that has been with us for centuries as is evident from the
denunciations of such behaviour over many generations. While it is laudable
that men make the effort to come to daven in shul, many, unfortunately,
treat it as rote recitation, not being conversant with the deeper meaning of
the tefillot. Perhaps, our schools should devote more time to this topic but
time is limited and other studies carry more prestige. 

The fact that people see ostensibly more learned people immersed in learning
from a sefer during davenning also does little to raise its importance in their

In this respect, those ladies who do come, on a voluntary basis, probably
take it all the more seriously and might provide a valuable role model.

Martin Stern


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Sun, Dec 11,2016 at 05:01 AM
Subject: Women in shul on weekdays

Leah S. R. Gordon wrote (MJ 63#15):

> 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.

Presumably Leah means "some women" or "many women" in her community attend
shul and say kaddish on parents' yahrtzeits routinely. While I am not
familiar with her particular community, I find it difficult to believe that it is
the general rule. Those with small children should have other priorities -
continuity with the future should take precedence over continuity with the
past, especially as women do not have any halachic obligation to say kaddish
for a parent even if they wish to do so voluntarily.
> 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 think Leah is being a bit hard on this gentleman. Presumably she was the
first woman to come to his particular shul on a weekday and it simply never
occurred to him that she wanted to daven but he assumed she was merely passing and
making what he considered a 'flippant' comment.

Martin Stern


End of Volume 63 Issue 16