Volume 63 Number 24 
      Produced: Wed, 29 Mar 17 10:41:45 -0400

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

Airbrushing women out of news photographs (3)
    [Carl A. Singer  Leah S. R. Gordon  Susan Buxfield]
Is nail polish on all fingers a chatzitza in emergency situations? (2)
    [Martin Stern  Daniel Geretz]
Should one go to shul when one is unwell 
    [Martin Stern]
Transgender individuals and gittin  
    [Chaim Casper]
When a Sefer Torah Falls (2)
    [Martin Stern  Yisrael Medad]


From: Carl A. Singer <carl.singer@...>
Date: Mon, Mar 27,2017 at 09:01 AM
Subject: Airbrushing women out of news photographs

In response to Martin Stern (MJ 63#23):

Many government photos, for example those from the White House, are shared with
the legal stipulation that they not be altered.  

Does law matter to some actors?

Carl A. Singer

From: Leah S. R. Gordon <leah@...>
Date: Mon, Mar 27,2017 at 11:01 AM
Subject: Airbrushing women out of news photographs

Martin Stern comments (MJ 63#23) that sometimes women are dressed
inappropriately in photographs and explains that Chareidi press just censors
out all women as a solution.  He agrees that this is "irritating" but then says:

> However, I don't think it is sufficiently important to make a fuss about
> and denigrate them over it.

I find this comment truly astounding.  Surely it is up to women to state how we
feel about being ERASED, rather than up to a group of men, or individual men, to
decide that it's not "sufficiently important to make a fuss about".  Let's ask
Hillary Clinton how she feels about being erased from one of the seminal news
photos of our time (capture of Bin Laden).

As to "denigrate them over it" - people who behave poorly need to be called out
and criticized reasonably for it.  That is not the same as "denigrating" but
honestly, if someone feels denigrated for this rude erasure of women, then I
have little sympathy.

I changed the subject matter from "females" to "women" because it rehumanizes
the rest of us. (We recognise that this was an oversight that should have been
corrected when the thread first appeared - MOD)

Leah Sarah Reingold Gordon

From: Susan Buxfield <susan.buxfeld@...>
Date: Tue, Mar 28,2017 at 10:01 PM
Subject: Airbrushing women out of news photographs

Martin quotes (MJ 63#23):

> https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/hillary-clinton

That link just gives the latest edition of the guardian. The correct link is


As he has pointed out the current state of dress of most women in the
advertising world leaves much to be desired from the religious viewpoint.

However the issue is much deeper. Back in the days of the Chofetz Chaim where
pictures, of him and his wife exist, and of HaRav Moshe Feinstein with his wife
at a mixed sitting wedding table, times were different since women were not
photographed with men as their equals with similar jobs etc. Today they often
feel it is right to sit around with men (moshav leitzim).

Just recently several judges have made comments that many of the women who get
raped are drunk or are high on drugs have brought it upon themselves.



in fact the above link is indicative of halacha. If a woman doesn't scream the
act is considered consensual.

While the modus vivendi of the ultra-orthodox community may seem strange to the
outsider, there is very little sexual abuse, and their women have great freedom
of movement and job opportunities.

Keeping sexual thoughts at bay is perhaps the main reason for airbrushing and of
course the restrictive usage of the internet.

Finally, while airbrushing is deception, when there is no loss involved,
presumably there is no halachik problem.



From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Mon, Mar 27,2017 at 02:01 AM
Subject: Is nail polish on all fingers a chatzitza in emergency situations?

David Ziants  wrote (MJ 63#23):

> In the "observations" column of the supplement of today's (Friday March 17th)
> Jerusalem Post, there was a story where a mikveh attendant had to make a
> decision concerning a lady who, from the article, goes to the mikve because
> she promised her grandmother but her husband "doesn't like it".
> (Not written explicitly in the article, but my own observation is that this
> scenario could be common in semi-traditional sephardi families in Israel.)
> It was Friday night (Shabbat) and the lady had forgotten to remove the nail
> polish on her fingers - and it would now be forbidden to do so because of the
> laws of Shabbat. According to basic halacha, nail polish is considered a
> chatzitza [barrier] between the body and the water, which is why it should
> have been removed before Shabbat.
> Of course, at that time it was impossible to contact a Rav, and frightened
> that the lady would not come again if she was turned away, the attendant
> allowed the lady to immerse with nail polish on all her ten fingers. The
> attendant ruled this, based on parameters for immersion that deal with
> beautification.
> In view of the circumstances, does the attendant have a valid halachic case?
> If so, what are the sources? If not, what are parameters for immersion that
> deal with beautification, that are mentioned in the article?

It is unfortunate that such matters should appear in the general press where
anything printed will be open to misinterpretation by the readership.

I think that in the circumstances, she probably did the right thing. In
chuts la'aretz, it might have been possible to get a non-Jew to remove the
varnish (like the situation where the lady forgot to cut her fingernails)
but I doubt if that would have been practical in this case.

Though we are generally strict with chatzitzot [barriers] and insist all
should be removed, min Hatorah only those which cover most of her body (or a
significant part thereof like the head) AND on which the person was makpid
[particular not to have them on their body], invalidate the tevilah
[immersion]. This is extended miderabbanan to those chatzitzot which fall
under either category (but not both). As regards miut ve'eino makpid [a
minority of the body area and of which the person is not bothered], removal
is 'only' a custom. Unless one considers the finger nails to be a
sufficiently significant part of the body to be taken into account
separately, the mikveh attendant was therefore faced with the last situation
which could possibly have allowed some leniency. This is similar to the case
of a decorator who is not bothered by paint marks on himself.

In fact it might be even less problematic since the lady might have been
particular TO HAVE varnish on her finger nails and only removed it because
she was told to do so. Possibly she would even have re-applied the varnish
if she had been made to remove it which, itself, would have been a
prohibited melachah.

That the attendant was frightened that the lady would not come again if she
was turned away, might therefore be justification for allowing her to
immerse, since, certainly min Hatorah and possibly also miderabbanan, the
immersion would have been effective in terminating her niddah status and
permitting her to her husband.

There is a further consideration that might allow her course of action: had
she sent her home without immersion, the lady would probably have been, at
the very least, too embarrassed to admit her carelessness to her husband or,
possibly, afraid that he would beat her up for it, and would have engaged in
marital relations with him while still a niddah. She would then have been
deemed a meizid [deliberate sinner] and subject to the Divine punishment of
kareit. Her husband would have been a shogeg [inadvertent sinner] and
obligated to bring a korban chatat when he found out (unlike Shabbat
transgressions there is no patur [exemption] of oneis [literally compulsion
but here better translated 'complete lack of awareness of he status']
because ein mitaseik bechalavim ve'arayot shekein neheneh [in the case of
non-kosher foodstuffs and forbidden sexual relations, one always gets a

She would probably have continued having marital relations until she went to
the mikveh after her next period, each of which would have carried the
penalty of kareit. As far as he is concerned, since he would not have been
made aware of the situation between each act [behe'elam echad], there would
only be an obligation to bring one korban.

Finally, having to keep these facts secret might prey on her mind and
undermine the marriage or even make her so depressed that she become
suicidal. Thus there might even be a consideration of piku'ach nefesh

Of course, these thoughts are entirely speculative and any decision in
practice must be left to a competent rav.

Martin Stern

From: Daniel Geretz <danny@...>
Date: Mon, Mar 27,2017 at 01:01 PM
Subject: Is nail polish on all fingers a chatzitza in emergency situations?

In response to David Ziants (MJ 63#23):

I will certainly defer to those more knowledgeable than I for elaboration, and
note that this is *not* a forum for pesak halakha bichlal [making definitive
halakhic rulings].

I will, however, cite a few sources which may be pertinent for further 
halakhic speculation:

Mid'oraita, to be considered a chatzitza it must be rov (cover a majority of the
body) and makpid (she must care that it is there and want to remove it).  IOW,
both conditions are necessary: it must cover a majority of the body and the
woman must care that it is there. Example: A full body cast. Here, nail polish
would not be a problem since it is not rov (and therefore, makpid doesn't matter.)

Mid'rabbanan, however, it is considered a chatzitza if it is EITHER rov OR
makpid. In other words, even if she doesn't care, if it covers a majority of the
body, it is a problem. Or, if she does care, even if it does not cover a
majority of the body, it is a problem. So, even though the nail polish is not
rov, makpid might still be a problem.

[Note: Hair is a special case since it doesn't seem to cover the majority of the
body but in fact the combined surface area of all of the hair strands is very
large. Assuming 100,000 hairs that are each 0.08 mm in diameter and 100 mm long
yields about 2.5 million square millimeters or about 2.5 square meters of
surface area, compared with about 2 square meters of surface area for an adult
human body (excluding hair). You may quibble about the number of hairs I used in
my assumption, or the diameter, or the length, but consider the order of magnitude.]

There is some discussion whether makpid is a concern about the object being a
physical barrier to the water or concern about the object being ruined during
the tevillah (since the woman may be reticent to do a full, valid tevillah).

SA YD 198:17 addresses hair coloring (and dye absorbed into skin), but I don't
think that nail polish is comparable since it has mamashut [physical substance]
and acts as a barrier to the water as opposed to hair dye or ink which is
absorbed (this point made by the nos'ei keilim [commentators] but not
specifically about nail polish).

Shu"t Achiezer 3:33 uses the term "manicure" but deals with the issue of a woman
who does not want to trim her nails because she wants to get a manicure *after*
tevillah. Achiezer does not seem to speak to nail polish directly, although
perhaps a careful read may find a way to allow a heter bedieved even for nail

More to point seems to be Shu"t Igrot Moshe YD 3:63 which deals with false
eyelashes. Perhaps based on Rav Moshe zt"l's rationale that false eyelashes that
are adhered completely (and obviously, at the point of adhesion, are a barrier
to water) certainly are not a chatzizta bedieved, one can find a basis to permit
in this case bedieved, although one might want to limit the circumstance to a
recent professional manicure which is not chipped or damaged yet (analogous to
the case where the false eyelashes are well adhered as opposed to starting to
come off). There is also at least one reason to push back on this line of
reasoning so it may not be a perfect analogy.

I doubt that teshuvot dealing with chatzitzot in beit hasetarim (internal areas
such as the mouth, ear canal, vagina, etc.) and/or for medical reasons are
applicable here, since nail polish is 

(a) external and 

(b) not medically mandatory, 

but I could be, and have been, many times, wrong in this matter.

Noting also that David's scenario occurred in Israel and not the US, and David's
suspicion that this is a semi-traditional Sephardi type scenario, other poskim
may also have something to say (Rav Ovadia Yosef zt"l comes to mind, for example).

Daniel Geretz


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Mon, Mar 27,2017 at 02:01 AM
Subject: Should one go to shul when one is unwell

Carl A. Singer wrote (MJ 63#23):

> Ill or allergies -- it may not matter -- the effect on the other mispalelim of
> someone coming to shul coughing & sneezing is disturbing.

The same applies to those who talk, wander about and many other commonly
practiced distracting activities!

> ... At the time, I personally found moving to another seat problematic as
> well. How would you feel if you sat down in shul and the person next to you
> then got up and moved to another seat?

If one does not tolerate disturbing activities, and shuls were restricted to
those who take davenning seriously, they may well end up being almost empty!

Martin Stern


From: Chaim Casper <surfflorist@...>
Date: Mon, Mar 27,2017 at 09:01 PM
Subject: Transgender individuals and gittin 

Martin Stern (MJ 63#23) mentions two recent cases where men who had undergone
gender reassignment surgery still had to provide their wives (married while they
were still men) gittin [Jewish writs of divorce]. 

The Haifa court ruled that "she" was still a "he" in the eyes of the halakhah
and as a result, "she" had to give her (ex-)wife a get.   "She" argued that
"she" was no longer a "he" and since it is impossible for a woman to be married
to a man, "she" had no responsibility to offer a divorce to the (ex-)wife. 

In the Manchester case, "she" (with the support and encouragement of the local
LGBT community) held out against giving the divorce because "she" was using it
as leverage to obtain more favorable child custody arrangements. 

This issue came up last year in MJ 62#65 (February, 2016).  I pointed out that
R` Eliezer Waldenberg, zt"l, the Tzitz Eliezer, held like the Haifa court "she",
namely that once "she" underwent the gender reassignment, "she" was no longer a
man and since two women cannot be married under the halakhah, "she" did not have
to provide her wife with a get.  As I said,  

"The fact that the ["she"] has a Y chromosome is irrelevant to R` Waldenberg
because the Talmud was concerned only with external appearance, not genetic
makeup. He goes as far to suggest that a woman who undergoes a sex change
operation becomes halakhically a man as reflected in the external genitalia (and
vice versa) and does not need a bill of divorce (i.e. a get) from her spouse
because a man cannot be married to another man (Tzitz Eliezer Vol 10,25)".  

Best wishes to all for a Hag Kasher v'Sameah, a most meaningful Pesah. 
B'virkat Torah,
Chaim Casper
North Miami Beach, FL


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Mon, Mar 27,2017 at 02:01 AM
Subject: When a Sefer Torah Falls

Immanuel Burton wrote (MJ 63#23):

> Yisrael Medad asked (MJ 63#22) about fasting if a Sefer Torah falls to the
> floor, and wrote:
>> The decision of the Rav was to fast one day and instructed that all those who
>> saw it or heard the noise of it hitting the ground are to fast. This despite
>> that the Shulchan Aruch does not mention it but he holds that it is a firmly
>> entrenched minhag, i.e., custom, mentioned by Ahronim, i.e., post-16 century
>> Rabbinic decisors.
> ...
> Does the case cited by Yisrael differ in that no-one actually dropped the
> Sefer Torah but it just fell out of the Aron HaKodesh on its own?

This may be the case since it might be argued that the fact that the Sefer
Torah was not securely fixed in the Aron HaKodesh reflects a carelessness on
the part of the whole congregation so that all members should fast. However
that could hardly obligate visitors who just happened to be present on that
occasion since they could hardly be blamed for this.

Martin Stern

From: Yisrael Medad  <yisrael.medad@...>
Date: Mon, Mar 27,2017 at 02:01 AM
Subject: When a Sefer Torah Falls

Immanuel Burton (MJ 63#23) correctly quotes the Chida (Le'David Emeth, ch. 3,
par. 11):
> If a Sefer Torah fell from his hand he has to fast.  According to the 
> halachah one who sees a Sefer Torah fall does not have to fast, but there is 
> the custom to be stringent as I wrote in a responsum.

and asks:

> Does the case cited by Yisrael differ in that no-one actually dropped the
> Sefer Torah but it just fell out of the Aron HaKodesh on its own?

To try to answer him, here are our Rav's exact words (my translation):

"It is the custom in many congregations/communities, as is known from the days
of the Rishonim, to fast when a Sefer Torah falls. This custom does not appear
in the Shulchan Arukh, and there are those amongst the Rishonim who relax the
stringency or oblige only he from whose hands the Sefer fell (non-applicable in
our instance). In the end, the decision rests with those Rabbis in every
location as to what they see fit."

He does mention the fact that the Sefer was passul but nevertheless, cites
"honor/respect for the Torah and for our Sages" as elements that caused him to
declare a fast as he did.  He does not specifically deal with the "sound"
aspect, which is what caused me to seek additional information from this list.

Yisrael Medad


End of Volume 63 Issue 24