Volume 63 Number 17 
      Produced: Sun, 18 Dec 16 15:19:00 -0500

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

Another mechitzah issue 
    [Leah S. R. Gordon]
Davening at the Amud 
    [Martin Stern]
Express Mail Delivery on Shabbat 
    [Yisrael Medad]
Hotsa'at Sefer Torah (3)
    [Susan Buxfield  Isaac Balbin  Lawrence Israel]
It's "an inyan" 
    [Joel Rich]
Making a living off Torah 
    [Eli Turkel]
Men in the Ezrat Nashim (2)
    [Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz  Leah S. R. Gordon]
Vaccinations, autism, causes 
    [Irwin Weiss]
Women in shul on weekdays 
    [Martin Stern]


From: Leah S. R. Gordon <leah@...>
Date: Wed, Dec 14,2016 at 01:01 PM
Subject: Another mechitzah issue

I attended weekday mincha-maariv in a shul far from my home (with local
relatives).  There was a short shiur (by rotating speakers) between mincha and
maariv for timing reasons.

One time, the speaker turned his back to the women's section (actually sort of
leaned on the mechitza with his back to us, totally speaking only to the men,
and not loudly), and I couldn't make out what he was saying for most of the shiur.

I complained to my local family who spoke to the Rabbi who said it shouldn't
have happened and would not happen again.  Apparently this particular speaker
was not a local, either.  However, what do M.J people think I could have done
"in the moment"?  Would it be weird to call out, "I'm having trouble hearing you"?

As a teacher myself, I feel like it was obnoxious that a speaker/teacher
wouldn't want to address all of the people in the room.  (There were seven women
present, and probably 30 men.)

Leah S. R. Gordon


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Sat, Dec 17,2016 at 04:01 PM
Subject: Davening at the Amud

Following on from the discussion on this topic, but on a slightly tangential
point, this Shabbat morning a visitor from abroad who had yahrzeit was allowed
to daven the whole of shacharit and mussaf. Unfortunately he could not project
his voice and so was inaudible to almost everybody.

I sit immediately behind the amud and on a few occasions could not answer amein
because I did not hear him say the berachah. My wife, in the ladies' gallery,
said she only knew he had said one when the tzibbur answered amein.

His inability to make himself heard had become apparent as soon as he started
birkhot hashachar so my question is: Should the gabbai have asked him to stand
down before pesukei dezimra?

Martin Stern


From: Yisrael Medad  <yisrael.medad@...>
Date: Sun, Dec 11,2016 at 05:01 AM
Subject: Express Mail Delivery on Shabbat

Our Mishneh Torah learning has brought us to Shabbat 6:20 which deals with
the mail.

Since I do not wish to be unfair to the Rambam, I have to quote the text in

"[The following rules apply when] a person gives a gentile a letter to
bring to another city. If he fixed a fee for conveying [the letter], it is
permitted [even if the gentile conveys it on the Sabbath]. [This leniency
applies] even when [the Jew] gives [the letter] to [the gentile] on Friday
at nightfall, provided [the gentile] leaves [the Jew's] home before the
commencement of the Sabbath.

"When a fee was not fixed [beforehand, the following rules apply]: If there
is a designated person in the city/province who collects letters and sends
them to other cities with his agents, it is permitted to give a gentile the
letter, provided there is time [on Friday] for the letter to reach a house
adjacent to [the city's] wall before [the commencement of] the Sabbath,
lest the home of the gentile who collects and sends letters be located

"If there is no person designated to fulfill this function and the gentile
to whom one gives the letter is the one who brings it to the other city, it
is always forbidden to send a letter with a gentile unless one establishes
a fixed price [beforehand]."

My question is:

If one needs to have a contract (or a financial commitment or a tender bid)
delivered to arrive on a Saturday, in the case where (obviously) one
neglected to do it earlier or only learned of the requirment on the Friday,
can one post the letter/document on the Friday and have it delivered by
express service or special delivery on the Saturday?

As there is a fixed price for the service provided and the delieverer
actually worked for the service provider rather than for the sender, it
would seem to be okay.

I have found: 


which ultimately leans to leniency as well as:


But does anyone disagree, or has another more modern discussion, of the
issue, or other thoughts on it?

Yisrael Medad


From: Susan Buxfield <susan.buxfeld@...>
Date: Sun, Dec 4,2016 at 07:01 AM
Subject: Hotsa'at Sefer Torah

Martin Stern (MJ 63#12) wrote:

> On most occasions the person assigned to open the Aron takes out the Sefer
> Torah and takes it DOWN to the amud to give it to the shatz. I feel this is
> a bizayon [disgrace] to the Sefer Torah and, to the contrary, the shatz should
> go up to fetch it. On the rare occasions where the shatz actually goes up to
> fetch it, he usually takes it back to the amud. He may also go up on the left
> side and come back on the right whereas there is a general principle that the
> right takes precedence.
> Having taken it he, as often as not, says Shema etc. at the amud, or on the
> platform facing the Aron with his back to the tzibbur - the Aron may or may
> not have been closed by then. Surely he should be facing the tzibbur from
> the elevated platform since these pesukim are meant to be in the manner
> speaking to it. I know there is a problem about turning one's back on an
> OPEN Aron Hakodesh but this can be obviated by standing to the side facing
> diagonally (partly to the Aron and partly to the tzibbur). When it is closed
> there is no problem.

Most of these places' customs are based on Minhag Ponevicz which places little
emphasis on formality.

There is also very little written halacha on the issue. The main original source
- Massechet Sofrim - talks only about about hagbaha (which the ashkenazim do
after the Kriat Hatorah) which the Shaarei Efraim also follows.

The mechaber places Hotza'at Sefer Torah at the end of the Tachanun section
(rather than in the following Hilchot Kriat Hatorah) and with the main emphasis
on the way to do hagbaha.

The Be'er Heitev (134-4) writes that after taking the Sefer Torah, the chazzan
should first turn towards the "teva" (aron) and then turn to the north which is
towards the right hand.

The Mishnah Berurah states that on shabbos the Sefer Torah should be lifted 3
times - shema, echad, gadelu. HaArchot Chaim (seder sheni vehamishi ot 7) states
about the chazan that he does not lift the Sefer Torah - "arur asher lo yakim at
divrei hatorah hazot" (see the notes attached to the dirshu version of the
Mishnah Berurah). The Aruch Hashulchan  states that the minhag is to say shema
and echad in front of the tzibbur and then turn the head slightly towards the
aron kodesh when saying gadlu. However the Piskei Teshuvot states that shema and
echad towards the aron kodesh, and gadlu towards the tzibbur.

There are two points of critical interest that Minhag Ponevicz seems to ignore -
one of which Martin raised:

It is mentioned in the Mishnah Berurah that it is not a kavod for the Sefer
Torah that the chazzan should wait for the Sefer Torah to be brought to him,
rather he should show his desire to go and take the Sefer Torah. All that
besides the fact that the person honored with Hotza'at Sefer Torah, is not being
honored with the halicha [carrying it to the bimah], or even part of it, which
is the mitzva of the chazan.

The second point is that the before the halicha, the chazan should first turn to
the right (as do the cohanim) to face the bimah, before turning to the north.
That right turn is obliterated today according to Minhag Ponevicz.

According to the original custom in most schuls in the West, the amud would be
directly in front of the aron kodesh, and the chazzan would ascend from the
right, facing northwards next to the aron kodesh. The person honored with
Hotza'at Sefer Torah, while facing southwards would take the Sefer Torah in a
rightwards arc and hand it to the chazzan's right hand which is then closest to
the aron kodesh.

However the chassiddishe - nusach sefard tradition - is not to have steps to
the aron kodesh and the amud is at the right of it, obviating the possibility to
turn to the right.

The author of Piskei Teshuvot holds that there is less "gaive" if the amud is
not directly in front of the aron kodesh.

An additional point that Martin did not cover is that the mechaber holds that
hagbaha should be first to those standing on the right (front right back) and
then the left (front left back), twisting one's body without moving the feet as
in the original minhag of hakafot lulav.

Because the Minhag Ashkenaz is for the letters to be facing the chazzan, the
chazan should first turn to his left - to the right of the tzibbur and then to
his right - the left of the zibbur as in bircat cohanim: the cohanim after
turning to the right to face the tzibbur are then bidden according to the
mechaber to move their hands at Yivarech'cha first to the those on the right of
the schul (south) which is to the cohanim's left and then afterwards to their
the cohanim's right (north).

The Mishnah Berurah (and also the Hazon Ish) hold that a full clockwise circle
like that of the cohanim turning is preferable although there is no source
for such a minhag except for one teshuva. The Minhat Halachot holds not to
deviate from that of the mechaber.


From: Isaac Balbin <isaac@...>
Date: Wed, Dec 14,2016 at 02:01 AM
Subject: Hotsa'at Sefer Torah

Yisrael Medad  wrote (MJ 63#16):
> 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
> deceased.
> Does anyone else have any further information?

No doubt. The Tzitz Eliezer has a full Teshuvah on this matter and considers it
the height of rudeness for the Sefer Torah to be taken around to people. Rather,
people COME to the Sefer Torah, and the Sefer Torah goes directly to its place
rather in a circuitous route. 

I think the circuitous route was born from Anglo/German/Oberlander customs but
have no evidence of that. It's been 20 years since I read the Teshuvah but it
made sense and is consistent with the Halacha to come to the Aron and accompany
the Sefer Torah  I am away from my Tzitz Eliezer, but I am sure you can find it
in the later index. If not, let me know.

Derech Agav. When I carry the Sefer Torah to the Bima. I stop every few steps.
The people eventually realise that I am cajoling them to come TO the Sefer
Torah, rather than have the Sefer Torah Fed-Exed to them wherever they are
standing stationary.

From: Lawrence Israel <larry.israel@...>
Date: Wed, Dec 14,2016 at 07:01 AM
Subject: Hotsa'at Sefer Torah

With regard to taking the shortest route. In our shul the shortest route is
taken when taking out the torah. However, on Saturday mornings it is carried
toward the back on one aisle, and back down another aisle to the bimah. I assume
that is to let people kiss the torah. Is the proper? We have no congregational
rabbi, but several rabbis pray with us and form the ritual committee. I don't
know if any of them are unhappy with the practice, but certainly none are so
unhappy as to stop it.

Larry Israel



From: Joel Rich <JRich@...>
Date: Sun, Dec 18,2016 at 03:01 PM
Subject: It's "an inyan"

What halachic category does "being an inyan" fall into?

Joel Rich


From: Eli Turkel <eliturkel@...>
Date: Sun, Dec 11,2016 at 04:01 PM
Subject: Making a living off Torah

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

It is simply not feasible for almost anybody to make a living, especially
through manual labor, and on the side be a full time rav or rebbe. I know of
exceptions but they make a little by dealing just an hour or two a day in
financial markets. A top flight rav or rebbe is a full time position, not to
speak of the effort of getting to that level of knowledge.

Eli Turkel


From: Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz <sabbahillel@...>
Date: Wed, Dec 14,2016 at 01:01 PM
Subject: Men in the Ezrat Nashim

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).

I have been in shuls where the Rav has posted a psak that it is *asur* for men
to daven behind the mechitzah even if no women are there. 

The only exception that I have seen is on Chol Hamoed Succos to have a division
between those wearing tefillin and those not wearing tefillin, and even there a
different section is set up to keep the women's section available.

Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz

From: Leah S. R. Gordon <leah@...>
Date: Wed, Dec 14,2016 at 01:01 PM
Subject: Men in the Ezrat Nashim

As to the men who make it a habit to sit in the women's section during davening
(!) - I have observed it, and I'm upset about it - but additionally, I'm
actually really surprised that it happens.

My understanding is that the most Orthodox perspective of a mechitza is to
cordon off the actual davening space as its own room (for the men) and make it
clear that the women are not actually "in the room" per se.  The most extreme
example of this was a shul I davened at as a child in Jerusalem, with literally
a separate room with a window above head-height to the men's section.  Given
this, why would a man think he was part of the minyan while outside "the room"?

This rationale of course does not apply in more modern settings where it is
clear that the women's section is a significant part of the room and the
structure, in some cases half the room.  But in those kinds of shuls, it seems
rarer to me anecdotally that men will attempt to colonize/annex the women's area.

Leah S. R. Gordon


From: Irwin Weiss <irwin@...>
Date: Fri, Dec 16,2016 at 08:01 AM
Subject: Vaccinations, autism, causes

Back in MJ 62#96, I mentioned an offensive flyer linking autism to injections,
without scientific basis.

Well, here is a new article of interest:


In this article, the scientists found an association between autism in children
with mothers with a Vitamin D deficiency. Now, I am not a doctor and I am not
advocating that pregnant women should rush out and consume massive or any dose 
of Vitamin D. I just point it out because Vitamin D deficiencies are related to
the failure of the person to get enough sun on his/her skin. In the case of
Orthodox women, who dress modestly and do not expose their arms or legs to the
sun, they may have enhanced risk for vitamin D deficiency.

So, when a woman learns she is pregnant, in my view, it would be wise to discuss
their vitamin D levels with their doctors, and follow the doctors' advice.

Irwin Weiss
Baltimore, MD {Maryland not Doctor of Medicine! - MOD]



From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Wed, Dec 14,2016 at 02:01 AM
Subject: Women in shul on weekdays

Carl Singer wrote (MJ 63#16):

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

> As is her custom, she says Kaddish quietly - not aloud.

This is problematic since the main purpose of saying kaddish is to prompt
the tzibbur answer "Amein, yehei shemeih rabba mevorakh ..."  Possibly if
somebody else is saying it aloud, the fact that nobody specifically hears
her might be permitted but it certainly merits a sha'alah [halachic query to
the rav].

> 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.

Presumably this is also so that her kaddish yatom [orphans' kaddish] should
not itself be a yatom [orphan] that nobody listens to.

> 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.

There are differing opinions on this matter and one should defer to the
local Rabbi's ruling.

> 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.

Good for her! I hope they took the hint and left.

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

Possibly, because they are not in the same room as the main tzibbur, they
are not considered as part of it so they may not fulfil the mitzvah of
tefillah betzibbur [participation in communal worship], unlike ladies for
whom the space is designated who, though they cannot be counted to the
minyan, can participate there.

> In our current shul things are never so crowded in the men's section that
> anyone is "forced" into the ezras nashim --

Almost invariably, fewer men come on weekdays than Shabbat, so I very much
doubt if anyone is ever "forced" into the ezrat nashim because of lack of
space. Perhaps some men are late and, therefore, embarrassed that others
might see it (halevai! [if only!]).

> 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 present.

If only that happened in every shul!

Martin Stern


End of Volume 63 Issue 17