Volume 63 Number 32 
      Produced: Mon, 15 May 17 01:47:27 -0400

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

A tragic agunah case 
    [Martin Stern]
Differences between Shemoneh Esrei on Shabbat and Yom Tov 
    [Martin Stern]
Interruptions during Hallel 
    [Martin Stern]
Lo Ta'amod 
    [Joel Rich]
Local Government in the times of Tanach 
    [Joel Rich]
On six days melachah may be done 
    [Martin Stern]
Tefillin on Chol Hamoed 
    [Mark Symons]
The perils of Modern Hebrew 
    [Ben Katz, M.D.]
What is a 'chalalah'? 
    [David Dombrowski]
When did tzora'as disapear? 
    [Sammy Finkelman]


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Sun, May 14,2017 at 09:01 AM
Subject: A tragic agunah case

Several media outlets have highlighted the case of Zvia Gordetsky whose
husband has preferred to spend 16 years in jail rather than give her a get
as ordered by the Israeli Chief Rabbinate. Every six months, he is brought
from jail to the Beit Din and asked if he will give her a get and each time
he has refused. Over the years the conditions of his detentioned have been
made more sever but to no avail.

The stance of these  is that the fault lies with the "rabbis of the Beit
Din" who have to find a way of releasing her as her husband will never do
it. Since they claim that "where there is a halachic will, there is a
halachic way", the implication is that the Rabbanut simply does not care
about Mrs Gordetsky's plight.

In my opinion, it is not the rabbinate that is at fault since it has done
everything permitted under Israeli law. The halachic way to deal with such
recalcitrant husbands is to apply, in the last resort, the penalty of makkot
mardut [unlimited flogging for contempt of court].

Perhaps the Knesset should pass a law that would allow for such flogging
whenever a husband has spent a year in jail for get refusal. Probably taking
him to the place of flogging, stripping him and showing him the lash would
be sufficient to make him change his mind. If not, the first lash might have
the desired effect. If he were exceptionally obstinate he should be lashed
repeatedly, being asked after each lash if he is prepared to do as
instructed by the Beit Din, until he agrees.

This could continue in extreme cases "ad sheteitzei nafsho', as the Rambam
rules, in which case his wife would be automatically released as a widow.
If, as is highly unlikely, this should ever come to pass, it would convince
any future recalcitrant husband that he should obey the Beit Din's
instruction to grant his wife a get.

As Prof. Ruth Halperin-Kaddari, head of Rackman Centre for the Advancement
of Womens Status at Bar-Ilan University and Mrs Gordetskys attorney, is
quoted (Ha'aretz, 8 May) as saying "this case was a clear example of one in
which the rabbinical courts ought to use even the most exceptional measures
available in Jewish law to secure the divorce".

This procedure may be distasteful to Western audiences but, if they baulk at
using it, they have no right for blaming the Rabbinate for the situation of
ladies like Mrs Gordetsky. Continuing to do so would seem to suggest that
secular society is more interested in browbeating the Rabbanut into
deviating from halachah in the interests of "modern sensibilities" than
helping release agunot from their trggic predicament.

Any comments?

Martin Stern


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Sun, May 7,2017 at 06:01 AM
Subject: Differences between Shemoneh Esrei on Shabbat and Yom Tov

One major difference between Shabbat and Yom Tov davenning is that, on
Shabbat, the Kedushat hayom berachah in the Shemoneh Esrei is different in
ma'ariv (Atah kidashta ...), shacharit (Yismach Moshe ...) and minchah (Atah
echad ...), whereas on Yom Tov it is always the same (Atah bachartanu ...)
in all three (Mussaf is always different because of its nature as a parallel
to the additional offerings offered on special days).

One explanation is that the three aspects of Shabbat:

1. Shabbat Bereishit [Shabbat as memorial of Creation] - in ma'ariv

2. Shabbat as defined by observance of mitzvot - in shacharit

3. Shabbat as "mei'ein olam haba [a foretaste of the world to come]"

In contrast the Yamim Tovim do not have such a threefold nature so the
Shemoneh Esrei is the same on each occasion, so it I the same in all three.

An idea occurred to me recently that, though this is the case, the three
Regalim (Pesach, Shavuot and Succot) themselves correspond to the same three

1. Pesach is the commemoration of the 'creation' of the Jewish people

2. Shavuot is the commemoration of the acceptance by the Jewish people of
the Torah and mitzvot

3. Succot alludes to the Messianic future (as described in several of the
haftarot) when we will dwell in the succah constructed of the skin of

Thus each one corresponds to only one aspect of Shabbat and so its Shemoneh
Esrei does not change.

I have not seen this idea in the literature but it may be there. Does anyone
know of any source?

Martin Stern


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Sun, May 7,2017 at 05:01 AM
Subject: Interruptions during Hallel

Generally the halachah is that the rules for interruptions during Hallel is
the same as for birchat kriat shema. My query is "Does this only apply when
we recite the whole Hallel as on Yom Tov and Chanukah?" or also on Rosh
Chodesh when we only say half-Hallel and its recital is 'only' a minhag.

The last seven (six in EY) days of Pesach would seem to be an intermediate
case where we only say half-Hallel for a different reason.

Does anyone know any sources that throw light on this?

Martin Stern


From: Joel Rich <JRich@...>
Date: Sun, May 14,2017 at 09:01 AM
Subject: Lo Ta'amod

Rav Asher Weiss discusses in his comments on parashat Vayeitzei the prohibition
of "lo ta'amod al dam rei'echa [thou shalt not stand idly by when one's fellow
is in danger]" (Vay. 19:16) that one would have to give up all his assets to
save a single life if he is the only one who can do it. However, "it's pashut
[simple]" that if others can also do it, that he doesn't have to give up all his assets.
Why is it so pashut if others refuse? (i.e. why isn't it a joint and several

Joel Rich


From: Joel Rich <JRich@...>
Date: Sun, May 14,2017 at 09:01 AM
Subject: Local Government in the times of Tanach

Does anyone have any sources on how local government, if any, functioned in the
times of Tanach? Was there any besides the court system? What was the role of
the nesiim [leaders] of the shevatim [tribes]?

Joel Rich


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Sun, May 14,2017 at 08:01 AM
Subject: On six days melachah may be done

In Emor in the preamble to the parashat hamo'adim (Lev. 23:3) it states "on
six days melachah (deliberately left untranslated) may be done and the
seventh [shall be] a shabbat shabbaton ... [on which] you shall do no
melachah ...'

The precise significance of this is somewhat unclear. Rashi notes this
anomaly and asks (ad loc.) "what is the reason for mentioning Shabbat in
connection with the Mo'adim [festivals]?" to which he replies that it comes
"to teach that whoever profanes the festivals is considered as if he had
profaned the Shabbat ..."

On the other hand the Gra interprets it quite differently, noting that, with
regard to the Mo'adim apart from Yom Kippur, only "melechet avodah" is
prohibited (which allows a melachah connected with food preparation -
derived from Ex. 12:16). There are six such days: the first and seventh days
of Pesach, Shavuot, Rosh Hashanah and the first and eighth days of Succot.
According to him these are the "six days on which [some] melachah may be
done" and "the seventh [shall be] a shabbat shabbaton" refers to Yom Kippur,
so described in Lev. 23:32, on which melachah is proscribed (Lev. 23:28,31).

I wondered whether the two explanations might be connected by pairing each
festival with a day of the week.

Clearly Yom Kippur would correspond to Shabbat so I thought to connect the
festivals as they come after it during the year with the days of the week.
On this scheme, the first day of Succot would correspond to Sunday (A=1),
the eighth day of Succot (Shemini Atzeret) to Monday (B=2), the first day of
Pesach to Tuesday (G=3), the seventh day of Pesach to Wednesday (D=4),
Shavuot to Thursday (H=5) and Rosh Hashanah to Friday (U=6) - where I have
put the letters whose gematria correspond to each day in brackets.

In fact, the first Rosh Hashanah after creation was on a Friday, but, on our
current calendar it cannot ever fall on that day (Lo AD"U Rosh). Similarly,
the first day of Succot cannot fall on a Sunday for the same reason, and
Shavuot, which always falls on the same day of the week as the second day of
Pesach (A"T Ba"Sh) cannot fall on a Thursday (LO Ba"DU Pesach).

So the only festival which can fall on the corresponding day of the week is
Pesach (the days of the week on which the last days of Pesach and Succot are
fixed by those of the first days, so I presume nothing can be noted from
them). Is this pure coincidence or is there some hidden message encoded by
Chazal in the rules for fixing the calendar?

Martin Stern


From: Mark Symons <mssymons@...>
Date: Tue, May 9,2017 at 05:01 AM
Subject: Tefillin on Chol Hamoed

Immanuel Burton asks (MJ 63#31):

> ... Why is there a difference of opinion as to whether to put on tefillin on Chol
> Ha'moed in the first place?  Surely on the first Chol Ha'moed after the Torah was
> given the question of whether to wear tefillin could have been posed to Moshe
> Rabbenu, who had good access to the highest authority? ...

While I understand that we have evidence that tefillin were worn during the 2nd
Temple period, I am not aware of evidence that tefillin were already worn in
early Biblical times.

Mark Symons


From: Ben Katz, M.D.<BKatz@...>
Date: Wed, May 10,2017 at 02:01 PM
Subject: The perils of Modern Hebrew

Martin Stern wrote (MJ 63#30):

> In Parashat Emor (21:7) we read that a kohein may not marry  a 'zonah'
> (deliberately left untranslated).
> In modern parlance the former means a 'prostitute', i.e. a woman who engages
> in sexual relations for payment, but it had a variety of other meanings in
> Biblical times, and using this translation can therefore be misleading.
> ...
> Alternatively it could derive from the root z-n-h meaning 'engage in
> extra-marital sexual activity' as in the noun zenut - the general term
> for this. However financial payment is not necessarily implied, though it
> may be as in the case of Yehudah and Tamar (Gen. 38:15).
> Parenthetically, the alternative word for prostitute 'kedeishah' is often
> considered by modern Bible scholars to refer specifically to women who
> prostitute themselves as part of some pagan rite. They derive it from the
> root q-d-sh which they claim means 'sanctify' as in 'kedushah' but in
> reality its basic meaning is only 'set aside for some special purpose'.
> Since Yehudah, when he wishes to make payment to the woman he had thought to
> be a 'zonah', refers to her as a 'kedeishah' (Gen. 38:21), this is clearly
> not the case.

I am not sure Mr Stern is correct in the above assumption.  It is possible, as
Sarna points out, that Hirah the Adullamite was trying to make Yehudah's deed
less embarrassing more acceptable by saying that Yehudah was with a cult
prostitute rather than just any prostitute.


From: David Dombrowski <ddombrowski44@...>
Date: Tue, May 9,2017 at 10:01 AM
Subject: What is a 'chalalah'?

The Rambam writes explicitly in Hil. Isurei Biah 17:3 that a woman becomes a
chalala through biah [sexual relations] even without kiddushin [a marital bond].

This is also evident from 19:2, where he writes that even a 9 year old boy
(whose biah is halachically considered to be biah even though he is a minor and
cannot contract a marriage) makes a woman a chalala through biah, even though
there is no marriage. 

It is also apparent from 19:5 where he writes that a kohen who has relations
twice with an erva - ANY erva - makes her a chalala, even though, for most
arayos, a formal act of kiddushin is ineffective [ein kiddushin tofsim beissurei
kares / misah). 

The Rambam also writes in this last halacha that the children too are chalalim,
so we see that kiddushin is not necessary to make the children chalalim.

Indeed, in the whole of perek 19, kiddushin are not mentioned at all, only biah.
This is true even though the Rambam holds that there is no punishment of malkus
[lashes] without kiddushin.

By the way, R' Chaim Brisker says that in his Sefer HaMitzvos, the Rambam says
that although there is no malkus without kiddushin, nevertheless there is still
an issur min hatorah [potur aval ossur].

Dovid Dombrowski 


From: Sammy Finkelman <sammy.finkelman@...>
Date: Fri, May 5,2017 at 06:01 PM
Subject: When did tzora'as disapear?

I have the feeling tzora'as was not around during the time of the second Beis
Ha-Mikdash but there are is a whole Massechta in the Mishna (Nego'im) about it.

Besides that, there is a story in the Midrash Tanchuma, which maybe somebody can
find and translate) but is peculiar.

The story is that there was a kohain who was poor and wanted to leave Eretz
Yisroel to make some money. Before he left he told his wife that because people
 frequently come to him to consult him about Tzora'as he was very reluctant to
leave but he will tell her what to do. And it goes on about one thing he said 
and what she said back to him and why he didn't leave.

I don't know if this is a real incident or if this is a moshul, but it doesn't
make sense either way. Only a male kohain could proclaim something to be tzora'as.

So I think people were worried about it, because the halacha was still taught,
but it NEVER was tzora'as.  The Torah however tells the kohain about all kinds
of other things, so there's some expertise here.  He wanted to train his wife to
identify what it in fact was. We also know they were worried about soemthing
being a sign of zav when it wasn't.


End of Volume 63 Issue 32