Volume 63 Number 18 
      Produced: Thu, 29 Dec 16 01:29:20 -0500

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

Another mechitzah issue (2)
    [Yisrael Medad   Martin Stern]
Another mechitzah issue and Davening at the Amud 
    [Michael Rogovin]
Davening at the Amud (2)
    [Haim Snyder  Orrin Tilevitz]
Express Mail Delivery on Shabbat 
    [Harlan Braude]
Genuine Converts 
    [Yisrael Medad]
Hotsa'at Sefer Torah (2)
    [Martin Stern  Orrin Tilevitz]
Kiy Yesh Shever 
    [Yaakov Shachter]
Lighting Hanukah candles Motzei Shabbat Kodesh 
    [Haim Snyder]
Making a living off Torah 
    [Ari Trachtenberg]
Sheitlach and Avoda Zara 
    [Orrin Tilevitz]


From: Yisrael Medad  <yisrael.medad@...>
Date: Sun, Dec 18,2016 at 04:01 PM
Subject: Another mechitzah issue

Leah S. R. Gordon (MJ 63#17) asks what can be done when, in my words, women are
slighted/treated disrespectfully from the other side of the mechitzah.

I can only relate my wife's custom.  These past two years I served as the
announcer here in Shiloh's Noam Yonatan synagogue (Yonatan was killed while
studying at Merkaz HaRav Yeshiva High School "vetalmudo beyado", literally). If
I missed noting the hour, the place or the speaker, she was there in the front
row upstairs, curtain aside and she would speak up loudly to either correct me
or demand that I correct my error.  Luckily for my pride, she does that to any

Yisrael Medad

From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Wed, Dec 28,2016 at 07:01 AM
Subject: Another mechitzah issue

Leah S. R. Gordon wrote (MJ 63#17):
> 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.

My first reaction was that the speaker's actions were, to say the least,
unfortunate but, not having seen the particular shul, it occurred to me that
it was possible that he was unaware of the women 'hidden from view' behind
the mechitzah. If so, he could hardly be blamed for turning away especially,
as is the case in most congregations, women almost never attend on weekdays
and nobody had made him aware of the situation.

> 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"?

That would not seem unreasonable.
> 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.)

In view of his response to the local family who spoke to him, he was unaware
of Leah's presence and would have been mortified to have upset her. Is it
possible that Leah might be just slightly oversensitive in this case? Not
every perceived slight is intended as such and a bit of dan lekhaf zekhut
[benefit of the doubt] might be appropriate.

Martin Stern


From: Michael Rogovin <michael@...>
Date: Tue, Dec 20,2016 at 11:01 AM
Subject: Another mechitzah issue and Davening at the Amud

Leah Gordon (MJ 63#17) asks what to do when the person giving a shiur turns his
back on women and addresses only the men. I suggest that she firmly but politely
(without any attempt to embarrass) say:

"Slicha (or pardon me), I know you did not mean to be disrespectful but I would
like to hear your shiur too. Would it be easier for you if, during the shiur, I
come to men's side, or can you please face me as well?"

Martin Stern (MJ 63#17) asks what is to be done when a Shaliach Tzibur is
inaudible. I have occasionally been too quiet and the gabbai has politely
approached me during my davening to ask me to raise my volume. I consider this
helpful and appreciated.

In both cases one should be polite but firm. It does little good to wait until
after the person is done and it is important to sensitize people in the moment
and be inclusive of everyone.

On a related note, in our shul a woman leads the tefilah for the IDF and almost
invariably (unlike the men who lead the tefilah for the medina and the US, the
woman does not walk to the bimah and is typically inaudible. It seems that women
are not acculturated to speak up so that they can be heard. They read it as if
to themselves. We have asked several times for the gabbait to tell them to
project but they just do not. I think this is indeed an acculturated habit that
stems from childhood and is a sad commentary on how our society (broadly, not
specifically Orthodoxy) sends subtle messages to women. Maybe I read into this
too much, but I see it time and time again with women, but not men.

Michael Rogovin
Teaneck, NJ


From: Haim Snyder <haimsny@...>
Date: Sun, Dec 18,2016 at 05:01 PM
Subject: Davening at the Amud

Martin Stern wrote (MJ 63#17):

> 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 ...
> 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?

There are 2 issues here. In my opinion, the more important is that if nine 
people didn't hear and answer his blessings during the repetition of the 
amida (both shachrit and musaf), then he made 14 "brachot
l'vatala"[unauthorised, and therefore, invalid blessings].

The second issue, which applies even if his blessings were heard and answered,
the Shaliah Tzibur (since he is the congregation's agent) must be acceptable to
the congregation. From Martin's description, I doubt that many in that
congregation thought he was acceptable.

For both of the reasons cited and since davening at the amud on a yahrzeit is
only a custom, whereas the reasons I cited are halacha, the gabbai should heve
replaced him at his earliest opportunity.

I must ask, where was the Rabbi who permitted this violation of halacha?

I am reminded of a story of a prominent rabbi (I've heard it ascribed to a
number of different rabbis) who told a mourner who was known not to have a nice
voice and/or couldn't carry a tune, "When your parent died, you became an
orphan, not a hazan."


Haim Shalom Snyder

Petah Tikva

From: Orrin Tilevitz <tilevitzo@...>
Date: Sun, Dec 18,2016 at 06:01 PM
Subject: Davening at the Amud

In response to Martin Stern (MJ 63#17)

The answer would be "yes", he should have been asked to stand down even if he
were a shul member and a regular attender.


From: Harlan Braude <hbraude@...>
Date: Sun, Dec 18,2016 at 05:01 PM
Subject: Express Mail Delivery on Shabbat

In MJ 63#17, Yisrael Medad wrote:

> If one needs to have a contract (or a financial commitment or a tender bid)
> delivered to arrive on a 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'm no posek, but it seems to me given the second case of the Rambam Yisrael
quoted there may be an additional cause for leniency:

> "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,"

Note that the Rambam describes a situation where the letter reaches a certain
location within a specific time frame. In the days of the Rambam, it was common
practice - leaving room for exceptions - for a letter carrier to pick up and
deliver the same letter, perhaps even on the same day.

Fast-forward to a modern national post office like the US Postal Service. The
letter carrier brings the letters and such to the branch office to which s/he is
assigned and the mail gets collected, sorted and distributed for delivery the
following day (local) or on to another depot for additional handling.

In a sense, delivery is made when the mail carrier hauls his bag into the
branch office at the end of the shift. True, it hasn't yet arrived at the
requested address, but, as far as the Post Office is concerned, it was never
their intention to bring it from origin to ultimate destination in one 

I suppose if same day delivery is offered for an additional fee, this leniency
may not even be necessary.


From: Yisrael Medad  <yisrael.medad@...>
Date: Tue, Dec 20,2016 at 07:01 AM
Subject: Genuine Converts

Case example:

A woman has undergone non-Orthodox conversion, has been married now for 10 years
and is also a mother. Realizing her conversion is not recognized she undergoes
an Orthodox conversion.

Would anyone dissallow the conversion based on an "obvious" presumption that she
is only undergoing the conversion for "non-genuine" reasons, i.e., rather for
love of her children and husband.

Yisrael Medad


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Sun, Dec 18,2016 at 04:01 PM
Subject: Hotsa'at Sefer Torah

Isaac Balbin wrote (MJ 63#17):

> 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.

Just one point: people trying to come to the Sefer Torah should refrain from
jostling others in their attempt to do so. If the only way to get near is to
push others out of one's way this might be a case of mitzvah haba'ah be'aveirah!

Martin Stern

From: Orrin Tilevitz <tilevitzo@...>
Date: Sun, Dec 18,2016 at 06:01 PM
Subject: Hotsa'at Sefer Torah

Isaac Balbin writes (MJ 63#17):

> 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.

Sometimes that would not work exactly as Isaac presumably thinks it ought to. In
our little shul in Brooklyn, the practice has evolved over the years (I don't
remember doing this when I came there 30 years ago) for the person carrying the
sefer Torah to bring it over to the mechitza towards the back of the shul (the
mechitza runs roughly front to back), where there is a curtain that women can
reach through an kiss the sefer. (Our baal shachrit on yamim nora'im won't do
that, so someone carries the sefer for him.) Perhaps 15 years ago some hapless
baal tefilah brought it to the back of the men's section without going over to
the mechitza, so one woman (Ukrainian: the Soviets had never stifled her
Judaism) ran into the men's section to kiss the sefer. So, yes, people came to
the sefer.


From: Yaakov Shachter <jay@...>
Date: Wed, Dec 28,2016 at 04:01 PM
Subject: Kiy Yesh Shever

In the Torah there are several 3-word passages in which the adjacent words are
connected to each other such that the last letter of the 1st word is the 1st
letter of the 2nd word, and the last letter of the 2nd word is the 1st letter of
the 3rd word.  Two examples from this week's parasha are "kiy yesh shever" and
"bney yisrael lishbor" (in each of these examples, yod is the connecting letter
between the 1st and 2nd word).

I am curious to know what is the longest such sequence in the Torah.

This is a question that I think you could answer relatively easily if you had a
machine-readable Torah without vowels or cantillation marks.
For example, to search for a 4-word passage, you could search your computer file
for (\w)\s+\1\w*(\w)\s+\2\w*(\w)\s+\3.  This test is not perfect; for example,
it would fail to detect the 2-word passage "elohim mraxefeth" -- you would have
to establish an equivalence between the final and nonfinal forms of letters, and
you would have to break the equivalence between sin and shin; but a perfect test
be only slightly more difficult.  If you are able to answer the question and
satisfy my curiosity, please post your answer to MJ.

Jay F. ("Yaakov") Shachter
6424 N Whipple St
Chicago IL  60645-4111


From: Haim Snyder <haimsny@...>
Date: Mon, Dec 19,2016 at 06:01 AM
Subject: Lighting Hanukah candles Motzei Shabbat Kodesh

This year we will light Hanukah candles on Motzei Shabbat Kodesh twice.

There are 2 opinions on which comes first, making Havdala on the cup or lighting
Hanukah lights.

Those who decide on the basis of "tadir veeino tadir, tadir kodem" [more
frequent and less frequent, the more frequent comes first] will make havdala
first and then light the Hanukah candles. However, the Vilna Gaon stated that
this rule only applies when there is no other basis for the decision. In the
case under discussion, he made the following distinction: one has until Tuesday
morning to make havdala but the time for lighting Hanukah candles is, at the
very latest, until midnight. Therefore, lighting Channuka candles should take
precedence because it is more urgent.

Haim Shalom Snyder

Petah Tikva


From: Ari Trachtenberg <trachten@...>
Date: Mon, Dec 19,2016 at 12:01 AM
Subject: Making a living off Torah

Eli Turkel wrote (MJ 63#17):
> 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. ...
> A top flight rav or rebbe is a full time position, not to
> speak of the effort of getting to that level of knowledge.

Rambam seemed to do ok in his level of knowledge, and, indeed, many of the
rabbis in the Talmud were known through their (prosaic) occupations.

Perhaps our expectations of a rav are the problem ... that we expect our rabbis
to be poskim, social workers, psychologists, community builders, visitors of the
sick, etc. ... essentially quintessential super-Jews. Perhaps there is a
communal and religious toll in such expectations.




From: Orrin Tilevitz <tilevitzo@...>
Date: Wed, Dec 21,2016 at 12:01 PM
Subject: Sheitlach and Avoda Zara

Those interested in the 2004 controversy over sheitlach made from hair
supposedly derived from Hindu tonsure ceremonies and in historical, economic,
and sociological aspects of sheitel wearing in general might wish to read Emma
Tarlo, "The Secret Lives of Hair" (Onworld Books 2016), particularly the
chapters entitled "Tonsure", "Idolatry", and "Sheitel". 

The author, an anthropology professor at Goldsmiths at the University of London,
is respectful towards religion, both Hindu and Orthodox Jewish, but is strongly
biased in favor of fact. 

Among her insights: sheitel wearing originated several hundred years ago as a
rebellion by women wishing to follow the latest secular fashions and was
initially opposed by the rabbis; rabbis attempting to certify sheitel
manufacture depend on the manufacturers to tell them where the hair comes from;
and one can purchase a prosthetic Hassidic beard.


End of Volume 63 Issue 18