Volume 63 Number 21 
      Produced: Mon, 13 Mar 17 07:19:10 -0400

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

Another significant occurrence of fifteen? 
    [Susan Buxfield]
Choice in mitzvot 
    [Joel Rich]
Exactly six consecutive days of Leining? 
    [Asher Samuels]
Genuine Converts 
    [Martin Stern]
IKEA apologizes for woman-free catalogue 
    [Martin Stern]
    [Joel Rich]
Should one go to shul when one is unwell? 
    [Carl A. Singer]
Symbolism in Mussaf (was Another significant occurrence of fifteen?) 
    [Martin Stern]
Tefilat nedavah (voluntary prayer) 
    [Joel Rich]
The Case of the Mistaken Levi 
    [Orrin Tilevitz]


From: Susan Buxfield <susan.buxfeld@...>
Date: Sun, Jan 15,2017 at 05:01 AM
Subject: Another significant occurrence of fifteen?

Further to Martin Stern's observations (MJ 63#19,06, et al.): 

According to the Ashkenazi rite, the retzuah [strap] of the hand tefillin is
wound 15 times:

twice on the upper arm
seven times on the forearm
three times on the hand like the letter Shin
three times on the middle finger

which makes a total of fifteen.


From: Joel Rich <JRich@...>
Date: Sun, Feb 26,2017 at 01:01 AM
Subject: Choice in mitzvot

There are several mitzvot where HKBH seems to give us different types of choice
(marriage/divorce, Yibum/Chalitzah (levirate marriage/separation), Pidyon Bechor
Chamor/arifa (redeeming first born mule/breaking its neck)) and also some
prohibitions with a special fix, e.g. notar (leftovers of sacrifices/burn).
Anyone see anything written up (or have any thoughts) on why specifically these

Kol tuv 

Joel Rich


From: Asher Samuels <asher.samuels@...>
Date: Wed, Jan 18,2017 at 03:01 AM
Subject: Exactly six consecutive days of Leining?

Following up on my own question (MJ 63#19), R' Elazar M. Teitz advised me that
not only isn't there a case of exactly six days, with our current calendar we
don't have a case of seven days!   While Pesach in Israel is seven days, Pesach
can never begin on Monday, Wednesday or Friday.  When it begins on Sunday or
Tuesday, erev Pesach has leining; and when it begins on Thursday or Shabbos,
Isru Chag has leining, so that it all cases, it is eight consecutive days.

Asher Samuels


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Thu, Jan 12,2017 at 02:01 AM
Subject: Genuine Converts

Yisrael Medad wrote (MJ 63#20):

> But what is happening now in the Israeli Rabbinical bureaucracy is that if she
> does display intention but later on, lapses, intentionally or otherwise, if
> she does not revert to her previous religious practices she becomes a secular
> Jew in essence but the courts seem to seek to negate and disqualify her
> conversion.

If this is indeed the case, then I would agree with Yisrael that this is
unjust. However, should there be no evidence that she ever observed any
mitzvot, perhaps the Rabbanut is justified in disqualifying the 'conversion'
on the principle of chazakah demei'ikkarah [that somebody or something
retains its previous status until we have evidence that it has changed]. She
was certainly a non-Jew and there is a doubt as to whether she intended to
accept ol mitzvot [observance of the commandments], so we need to have some
evidence that she did so, at least for a short time after the 'conversion'

> My pointing to the Rambam, I thought, indicates that he would not be too happy
> with this new development.

The trouble with citing pre-modern authorities is that social conditions
have changed radically since their times. Until about 200 years ago
conversion to Judaism was viewed by the dominant religion as a capital
offence, so anyone applying to do so could be assumed to be sincere or
insane - and distinguishing the two was not too difficult.

Even subsequently, at least until about 60 years ago, there were certainly
social disadvantages in being Jewish so some genuine, though perhaps lesser
degree of, religious motivation must have existed.

It is only in more recent times, especially in the USA, that intermarriage
has become acceptable both to a majority of Jews and non-Jews, so much so
that it has become politically incorrect in more liberal circles to
disparage it, at least publicly.

There is an excellent book on the subject "Conversion, Intermarriage and
Jewish Identity" edited by Adam Mintz and Marc D Stern in The Orthodox
Jewish Forum series (Yeshiva University Press, '15) based on the latter's
conference held in 2012 which discusses many aspects of these matters - ven
though I disagree with the approach many of the contributors, I strongly
recommend reading it.

Martin Stern


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Sun, Feb 26,2017 at 06:01 AM
Subject: IKEA apologizes for woman-free catalogue

I saw a report from the Jewish Telegraph Agency that IKEA had apologized for
issuing a woman-free catalogue catering to haredi families in Israel.


> Due to requests we received, we decided to launch an alternative and special
> catalogue, which allows the religious and Haredi communities to enjoy thumbing
> through our products and the solutions that IKEA offers in accordance with
> their lifestyle, IKEAs Israel headquarters said in a statement when it
> released the catalog earlier this month.
> Over the weekend Shuky Koblenz, chief executive of IKEA in Israel, said in a
> statement: We realize that people are upset about this and that the
> publication does not live up to what IKEA stands for and we apologize for
> this. We will make sure that future publications will reflect what IKEA stands
> for and at the same time show respect for the Haredi community.

The absence of women from haredi newspapers has become a well known and now
almost unremarkable phenomenon in recent years. We don't have to approve of
this phenomenon but why should IKEA be pilloried over it? Obviously, it saw
such a catalogue as a way to increase its customer base. Since the general
catalogue, with pictures of ladies, was available, its publication has no
effect on the non-haredi sector so why did the latter pressure IKEA to issue
an apology? 
I always thought that tolerance of others' differing lifestyles, where they
do not affect us, was the hallmark of a mature liberal democracy. Why are
haredim excluded from such tolerance?

Martin Stern


From: Joel Rich <JRich@...>
Date: Mon, Feb 20,2017 at 11:01 AM
Subject: Psak

Seeing a recent discussion of R' Bleich's thoughts


on kula (leniency) vs. chumrah (stringency) as a poseik (decisor) dovetails with
an issue that came up at a shiur I recently gave on Prayer and OCD. The question
was raised as to how one should relate to a poseik who one perceived as being on
the OCD spectrum. This led to a discussion of personalities and what draws one
into certain professions (e.g. extroverts becoming actuaries). 

Any thoughts on this topic, would be appreciated, especially on how this impacts
psak. For example, if a poseik was always stringent due to a desire to limit
uncertainty (which is what OCD really is about) might later poskim take this
into account when weighing his opinion or does the psak take on its own reality.

Joel Rich

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From: Carl A. Singer <carl.singer@...>
Date: Fri, Mar 3,2017 at 10:01 AM
Subject: Should one go to shul when one is unwell?

Should one go to shul when one is unwell or. more precisely, if one is (or may
be) contagious.

This morning a gentlemen came into shul red-nosed, coughing and sneezing. As
luck would have it, he ended up sitting next to me.

He was NOT a chiyuv -- that is he didn't recite the mourner's kaddish.

I did not interact with him other than a friendly nod. 

Should he have stayed home?

Carl Singer


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Thu, Jan 12,2017 at 02:01 AM
Subject: Symbolism in Mussaf (was Another significant occurrence of fifteen?)

Menashe Elyashiv wrote (MJ 63#20):

> Martin Stern wrote (MJ 63#19):

>> In previous postings, I have drawn attention to the apparently significant
>> occurrence of fifteen in our liturgy (MJ 63#06, 62#36,34,32,30 et al.) as
>> indicating a rise in sanctity. This morning, Rosh Chodesh Tevet, I noticed
>> yet another one.
>> The korbanot mussaf for Roshei Chodoshim and Regalim (apart from Succot where
>> 70 bulls are brought over the first 7 days of the festival on behalf of the
>> 70 non-Jewish nations and one is brought on Shemini Atzerret specifically for
>> Klal Yisrael (Suc. 55b)) consist of two bulls, one ram and seven sheep.

> However, Rosh Hashana & Yom Kippur have 1 bull.

There must be some symbolic meaning attached to the numbers of animals in
the mussaf offerings, but why Rosh Hashana & Yom Kippur should only have one
bull has always puzzled me - perhaps someone can shed some light on it.

Martin Stern


From: Joel Rich <JRich@...>
Date: Sun, Feb 26,2017 at 01:01 AM
Subject: Tefilat nedavah (voluntary prayer)

There is a concept of tefilat nedavah (voluntary prayer), whereby one can say an
extra shemoneh esrei on a voluntary basis.

Why do we no longer allow it in most cases? Has human nature dramatically
changed over time since the Talmud so as to make such prayer generally suspect?
What are the observable indications of this change?

Kol tuv 
Joel Rich


From: Orrin Tilevitz <tilevitzo@...>
Date: Sun, Mar 12,2017 at 06:01 PM
Subject: The Case of the Mistaken Levi

Here is a problem:

You are the rabbi of an Ashkenazi (i.e., not Sefaradi) shul. A new person turns
up in shul who says he is a Levi, and gets called up to the Torah for some time
as such. 

You then find out -- not from him -- that in fact he was adopted; his adoptive
father is a Levi, but his birth father was not. 

(1) Must you immediately begin calling him up as a Yisrael, not a Levi (and
explain to him why), or 

(2) May you continue to call him up as a Levi so as not to hurt his feelings?

I am not asking for a psak; I am curious whether there is any basis of saying
that option (2) is a possibility.


End of Volume 63 Issue 21