Volume 63 Number 33 
      Produced: Mon, 22 May 17 01:46:06 -0400

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

A Kabbalat Shabbat query 
    [Martin Stern]
A tragic agunah case (3)
    [Frank Silbermann  Sammy Finkelman  Leah S. R. Gordon]
Differences between Shemoneh Esrei on Shabbat and Yom Tov 
    [Bill Coleman]
Interruptions during Hallel (2)
    [Yisrael Medad   Sammy Finkelman]
Lo Ta'amod 
    [Dr. Josh Backon]
Malbish Arumim other than birkat hashachar 
    [Immanuel Burton]
    [Martin Stern]
Tearing Kriah at the Kotel 
    [Carl A. Singer]
Tefillin on Chol Hamoed 
    [Isaac Balbin]
The perils of Modern Hebrew 
    [Martin Stern]


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Sun, May 21,2017 at 05:01 AM
Subject: A Kabbalat Shabbat query

While the Kabbalat Shabbat liturgy (Lekhu neranana to Lekha Dodi) is a
relatively recent innovation dating back to Tsfat Kabbalists of the
sixteenth century, the recital of Mizmor Shir Leyom Hashabbat (Ps. 92) is
much older. 

This is probably part of a tradition to say one or more Psalms before
beginning Ma'ariv - Le'David Barukh (Ps. 144) and Lamenatzei'ach Bineginot
(Ps. 67) on Motsa'ei Shabbat and Shir Hama'alot (Ps. 134) on other weekdays.

The latter is still said according to the Chassidic Nusach Sefard but has
dropped out in the East European Ashkenazi rite. Interestingly, it is still
said according to the West European Ashkenazi rite provided Ma'ariv is said
after nightfall, but not otherwise. I speculate that its omission then might
have been a result of the prevailing custom was to daven Ma'ariv immediately
after Minchah since it was difficult (and possibly dangerous) to gather a
minyan later in the evening. As a result the two were treated as a single
unit and, in the German communities, Aleinu was also omitted after Minchah
unless a shiur took place between the two.

Possibly the rubric in West European Ashkenazi siddurim only to say the Shir
Hama'alot after nightfall is incorrect and should have read not to say it
when Ma'ariv immediately follows Minchah. Can anyone provide further
information on this point?

The problem that occurred to me regarding Kabbalat Shabbat was as to why we
also say Hashem malach (Ps. 93) after Mizmor Shir Leyom Hashabbat. The
latter seems to be appropriate to the commencement of Shabbat but the former
seems to be out of place, especially as it is the Daily Psalm for Friday. If
anything, it would seem more appropriate to say it before, rather than
after, so that the pair might allude to the change of day in the correct
order, something that perhaps has to be emphasised since the longstanding
custom was to daven Ma'ariv before nightfall on Friday evenings. While I
would not wish to suggest we should change long established customs, I
wonder whether anyone can shed light on this apparent incongruity.

Martin Stern


From: Frank Silbermann <frank_silbermann@...>
Date: Mon, May 15,2017 at 08:01 AM
Subject: A tragic agunah case

Martin Stern wrote (MJ 63#32):

> 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. 
> ...
> 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.
> ...
> 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.

It seems to me that Martin is telling the rabbinate's critics to "put your money
where your mouth is".  In other words, instead of telling the rabbinate to
do whatever it takes they should be willing to tell that to the secular
authorities.  Of course they won't, because most of the rabbinate's harshest
critics reject such punishments even for murderers.

One point which I think is overlooked in these discussions is that the issue is
not just a Beit Din's willingness to release the woman, but the willingness of
all other Batei Din to recognize their decision.  It does the agunah little good
if her Beit Din announces that she is released, but other Orthodox rabbis decide
not to recognize that decision and treat her (and any children she might
subsequently have) as though she had not been released.

Frank Silbermann
Memphis, Tennessee

From: Sammy Finkelman <sammy.finkelman@...>
Date: Mon, May 15,2017 at 04:01 PM
Subject: A tragic agunah case

In response to Martin Stern (MJ 63#32):

Nobody will do anything so strong - they just don't administer corporal
punishment but surely there might be a way to reason with this man. What
was going on?

From: Leah S. R. Gordon <leah@...>
Date: Thu, May 18,2017 at 10:01 AM
Subject: A tragic agunah case

Martin Stern (MJ 63#32) suggested that we bring back state-sanctioned flogging to
convince men to give gittin [religious divorces].

Those of us who view the aguna crisis as a human rights abuse, do not
necessarily want to introduce another human rights abuse to fix it. Perhaps a
system that would need such cruelty to resolve, needs fundamental halakhic change.

There was a famous American quote from a politician who said, "while I might
like to kill him myself, that doesn't mean I want the state to be empowered to
do so."  I feel similarly about flogging.

Leah Gordon


From: Bill Coleman <wbcoleman@...>
Date: Mon, May 15,2017 at 05:01 PM
Subject: Differences between Shemoneh Esrei on Shabbat and Yom Tov

Martin Stern wrote (MJ 63#32):

> 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
> ideas:
> 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
> Leviatan.
> 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?

Although this is not a source in the sense that Martin was seeking, Franz
Rosenzweig wrote about the centrality of creation, redemption and revelation to
Jewish thought in his book "The Star of Redemption".

As Martin notes, we see these concepts embedded every week in the Shabbat amidah
and in the festival cycle every year. Let me suggest that the importance of this
trio is also reflected on Rosh Hashanah, when at Musaf we recite the longest
amidah of the year. The three operative brachot are Malchuyot [Creation],
Zichronot [Redemption], and Shofarot [Revelation]. In makes for a really neat


From: Yisrael Medad  <yisrael.medad@...>
Date: Mon, May 15,2017 at 03:01 AM
Subject: Interruptions during Hallel

In MJ 63#32, Martin Stern asks, regarding interruption procedures during Hallel,
if there is a difference between the "full" and the "half" recitation versions.

I would think no. It all depends on a bracha being said at beginning and end
that sets the bar.

Yisrael Medad

From: Sammy Finkelman <sammy.finkelman@...>
Date: Mon, May 15,2017 at 04:01 PM
Subject: Interruptions during Hallel

Martin Stern wrote (MJ 63#32):

> [On] the last seven (six in EY) days of Pesach ... we only say half-Hallel...

I am sure he wrote this too fast, because of course it is the last 6 days
everywhere, but Chol Ha-Moed stars one day earlier in EY, but there are only
seven days. 

In Chutz L'Aretz the 6 days consist of 4 days of Chol Ha-Moed and 2 days of Yom
Tov and in Eretz Yisroel they consist of 5 days of  Chol Ha-Moed and 1 day of
Yom Tov.


From: Dr. Josh Backon <backon@...>
Date: Mon, May 15,2017 at 05:01 AM
Subject: Lo Ta'amod

In MJ 63#32 Joel Rich wrote:

> 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 liability?)

The halacha [SMA Choshen Mishpat 426:1)


is that if the person in danger has $$, he has to pay someone to reimburse costs
of the rescue.

Josh Backon


From: Immanuel Burton <iburton@...>
Date: Sun, May 21,2017 at 04:01 PM
Subject: Malbish Arumim other than birkat hashachar

I've been looking into the blessing of "Malbish Arumim", as virtually every
Siddur that I've checked says that one recites "she'hechiyanu" on a new garment.

The Otzer Dinim U'Minhagim has an entry about clothing, and (if I've understood
it correctly) says that the blessing of Malbish Arumim is a general blessing of
thanks to Hashem for the provision of clothing.  The requirement to thank Hashem
is tied to Genesis 28:20, where Jacob makes a vow based on being given bread to
eat and clothing to wear.

Rav Shimon Schwab (quoted in 'Rav Schwab on Prayer', published by ArtScroll)
similarly says that Malbish Arumim is a blessing of thanks for the concept of
clothing, but ties it to Hashem making clothes for Adam and Chavah.  The
requirement for thanks is on account of clothing being a distinguishing
characteristic between Man and animals.

Based on these ideas, I would suggest that the blessing of she'hechiyanu on new
clothing is recited because of the joy one gets from having a NEW garment, as
opposed to the blessing of Malbish Arumim which is recited as an expression of
thanks for clothing in general.

The rubric that David Ziants reported (MJ 63#26) to say Malbish Arumim on new
clothes may therefore just be a mistake.  I'm still intrigued as to why just
that rubric seems to be written in what appears to be an obscure Scots dialect.

Immanuel Burton.


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Wed, May 17,2017 at 05:01 AM
Subject: Piyutim

While most Ashkenazim nowadays only say piyutim [poetic insertions in the
liturgy] on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, and only a few others also recite the
kerovot [poetic insertions in chazarat hashatz] on the Regalim and Arba'
Parshiot, there were once a large number of them for the birchot kriat shema
on many Shabbatot throughout the year. AFAIK these latter are said only by,
at most, 2 or 3 congregations in the UK and, probably, a similar proportion

During Sefirah, Minhag Polen [the East European liturgical tradition] has
quite a rich repertoire of 5 piyutim on each Shabbat - usually a Yotser
[insertion at the beginning of Yotser Or], Ofan [insertion in the middle of
the berachah at the Kedushah deYotzer] , Ahavah [insertion towards
the end of Ahavah Rabbah], Zulat [insertion near the beginning of Emet
Veyatziv] and Ge'ulah [insertion towards the end of Emet Veyatziv].

They tend to be written in a rather obscure language with many allusions to
phrases from Nach and Midrashim, and often contain unusual words. I have
recently been looking through them and I must admit that I really do not
understand what they mean. While Rabbi Rosenwasser has written a
comprehensive commentary, HaShir vehaShevach, elucidating those of the West
European liturgical tradition, its selection of piyutim differs, and I found
the notes in Baer's Avodat Yisrael siddur too brief to be much help.

One thing I did notice was that the Ahavah seems in each case to be written
in the form of a conversation between HKBH and Am Yisrael.

On the second Shabbat, however, the Ahavah is missing but there is a Me'orah
[insertion towards the end of Yotser Or], written in the same style, in its

One possibility that occurred to me was that this Shabbat would always be
the first one in Iyar when the main massacres during the Crusades took
place. I wondered if there could be some connection between this and the
swopped position of the piyut but I could not think of any reason why this
should be so.

Alternatively, there might have been an error introduced by some copyist in
the days before printing which simply got 'stuck'.

Does anyone have any information on this?

Martin Stern


From: Carl A. Singer <carl.singer@...>
Date: Mon, May 15,2017 at 05:01 PM
Subject: Tearing Kriah at the Kotel

I've heard several opinions as to whether one should tear Kriah at the Kotel

Can anyone please cite sources?

Carl Singer


From: Isaac Balbin <isaac@...>
Date: Mon, May 15,2017 at 07:01 AM
Subject: Tefillin on Chol Hamoed

Mark Symons wrote (MJ 63#32):

> 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.

As the Rav (Soloveitchik) said, archeology can show lots of things but they
aren't necessarily the whole truth.


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Mon, May 15,2017 at 02:01 AM
Subject: The perils of Modern Hebrew

Ben Katz wrote  (MJ 63#32):

> 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.

I find this difficult to accept for two reasons:

1. It is far worse to indulge in pagan cultic practices than in mere casual sex
even for payment

2. The term 'kedeishah' is used by Yehudah himself, when enquiring after the
woman concerned, in order to pay her her fee

Martin Stern


End of Volume 63 Issue 33