Volume 63 Number 34 
      Produced: Fri, 26 May 17 01:03:21 -0400

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

A Kabbalat Shabbat query 
    [Sammy Finkelman]
A tragic agunah case (3)
    [Martin Stern  Rabbi Meir Wise  Martin Stern]
Forbidden Relationships 
    [Orrin Tilevitz]
Interruptions during Hallel (2)
    [Martin Stern  Martin Stern]
Let There Be Light 
    [Orrin Tilevitz]
Malbish Arumim other than birkat hashachar 
    [Susan Kane]
Misplaced pasuk? 
    [William Gewirtz]
Tearing Kriah at the Kotel 
    [William Gewirtz]


From: Sammy Finkelman <sammy.finkelman@...>
Date: Tue, May 23,2017 at 02:01 PM
Subject: A Kabbalat Shabbat query

Martin Stern wrote (MJ 63#33):

> 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
> ...
> I wonder whether anyone can shed light on this apparent incongruity.

While it is the wrong order for the Psalm of the day, it is the right order
according to the order in the book of Tehillim. Further than that I do not know,
except that probably Ps. 93 isn't said because it is the Psalm for Friday.

Mizmor Shir L'Yom Hashabbat may be said first because it is more important. The
question might be why say a second Psalm? Are they a unit in some way? If you do
say a second Psalm, and what it is isn't too important, it would be logical to
say the next one.


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Mon, May 22,2017 at 02:01 AM
Subject: A tragic agunah case

Frank Silbermann wrote (MJ 63#33):

> 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.
> ...

Similarly Sammy Finkelman wrote (MJ 63#33):

> Nobody will do anything so strong - they just don't administer corporal
> punishment

Frank is absolutely right in his supposition as to my criticism of the
rabbinate's critics. I also realise that the latter would never agree to
such measures, as Sammy observes, which exposes the truth of what I wrote
but which he did not quote:

>> 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.

At present, the Beit Din takes various measures to convince the husband and,
only when these are ineffective, has him put in jail. He is then brought
before the court every six months and asked if he is prepared to co-operate
and, if he refuses, he is returned to prison. Unfortunately, in some rare
cases, the answer to what Sammy Finkelman asks:

> surely there might be a way to reason with this man.

is, I fear, that some people are so stubborn that they would rather die in
prison than release their wives as instructed by Beit Din.

Unfortunately, Frank omitted an important section of my posting:

>> 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 omission created the impression that I was advocating executing the
recalcitrant husband by flogging him to death. On the contrary, like the
death penalty in halachah itself, the whole purpose of makkot mardut
[unlimited flogging for contempt of court] is as a deterrent that,
hopefully, it will not be necessary to carry out in practice, though, in the
extremely rare case where nothing else 'persuades' him to comply, it would,
regrettably, have to be followed through, as I also had written but which
Frank also omitted:

>> 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.

Since he would be asked, both before the commencement of the flogging and
after each lash, whether he was prepared to comply, his death would, in
effect, be his own choice rather than a judicial execution. Though she was
not referring to my suggested course of action I think it demonstrates the
validity of the observation of Mrs Gordetsky's advocate, Prof. Ruth
Halperin-Kaddari, head of Rackman Centre for the Advancement of Women's
Status at Bar-Ilan University, which I also quoted:

>> 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

Martin Stern

From: Rabbi Meir Wise <Meirhwise@...>
Date: Mon, May 22,2017 at 06:01 AM
Subject: A tragic agunah case

I also tend to feel that my colleagues are not working hard enough to solve the
problem of agunot. Even married women are called "bnot yisrael" and every Jewess
should be treated as if she were the rabbi's own daughter.

There are several possible solutions:

1. Pre-nuptial agreement. The Nachalat Shiva suggested this in 1664,

2. Designating divorce witness at the chuppah!

3. Finding a reason to disqualify the witnesses to the original kiddushin,

4. Hafka'at kiddushin [invalidating the kiddushin by retroactively dispossessing
the man of the ring he gave to effect it].

It would appear from the responsa of Rabbi Moshe Feinstein that one of four
conditions must be met in order to declare a marriage invalid for having arisen
in error:

(i) The heretofore-unknown blemish must have existed already at the time of

(ii) The unknown factor only came to the other party's attention after the
marriage had already taken place.

(iii) The previously unknown factor affects the essence of the marital bond
(such as impotence), or is a major defect that makes it impossible to live with
the affected partner (such as mental deficiency)

(iv) The unknown factor is a matter that would seriously vex most people and
deter them from marrying the affected partner had they known about the matter
from the outset.  

It seems to me that withholding a get would come under clause (iv)

As long as a man doesn't give a get he is obliged to support his wife and
children handsomely. This could concentrate his mind if pursued rigorously.

It is not true that the rabbis are doing nothing. Here, in Israel there are many
refusers in jail.

Nevertheless, no solution can solve all the issues. Jewish Marriage is entered
into willingly by both parties and Jewish divorce needs to be the same. If only
people realised that when it is over, it is over.

However, Rav Yisrael Meir Lau claims that there are more agunim (men whose wives
are refusing to receive a get) than agunot. This needs investigation and publicity!

Rabbi Wise

From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Tue, May 23,2017 at 02:01 AM
Subject: A tragic agunah case

There was an interesting report on Arutz Sheva (23 May) of Rabbinical Court
Chief Rabbi Eliezer Igra's address to the Israeli Bar Association's Eilat
conference on the issue of divorce refusal, which might be relevant to the
current thread on this topic:


> He opened his words by quoting the Rambam, according to whom "whomever the law
> obligates to force him to divorce his wife and he does not want to grant the
> divorce, a Jewish court anywhere, and at any time, beats him until he says 'I
> want to' and we write the get and it is a legitimate get."

And continued

> In cases where the man refuses to grant a get after attempts to bring about
> reconciliation between the couple have failed, there are sanctions that can be
> applied which are halakhically permissible and have entered the Israeli
> lawbooks. These include jail sentences and the confiscation of credit cards,
> but are not always effective.
> ...
> In fact, Maimonides writes that if a person has to divorce, it's a shame to
> keep him in jail, there's only one thing that's useful and I'm telling you
> that it's useful, ask the Shin Bet, maybe their shaking techniques (a
> controversial method of extracting information from terrorists, once used in
> "ticking timebomb" situations when the Shin Bet knows an attack is about to
> take place but lacks necessary information, ed.) are enough. It not only saves
> the woman, it saves the man as well.
> ...

By comparison my suggested procedure (MJ 63#32), criticised in several responses
(MJ 63#33), might be more humane since the man is asked after each lash if he is
willing to give a get and can, therefore, stop it immediately by agreeing!

Martin Stern


From: Orrin Tilevitz <tilevitzo@...>
Date: Mon, May 22,2017 at 11:01 AM
Subject: Forbidden Relationships

Do the laws of arayot [forbidden sexual relations] fundamentally fall into the
category of mitzvot bein adam laMakom [laws between a person and his Creator] or
mitzvot bein adam lachavero [laws between two people] -- or, perhaps, both? 

I have in mind consensual sexual relations where this is no posibility of
illegitimate offspring such as, for example, between two males.


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Mon, May 22,2017 at 02:01 AM
Subject: Interruptions during Hallel

Sammy Finkelman wrote (MJ 63#33):

> 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.

Sammy is absolutely correct and I apologise to readers for this unfortunate

Martin Stern

From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Mon, May 22,2017 at 02:01 AM
Subject: Interruptions during Hallel

Yisrael Medad wrote (MJ 63#33):

> 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.

Would this mean there is a difference between Ashkenazim and Sefardim in
this respect?

Martin Stern


From: Orrin Tilevitz <tilevitzo@...>
Date: Mon, May 22,2017 at 12:01 PM
Subject: Let There Be Light

In a shul lit by electrically-powered fluorescent lights, through inadvertence
the light timer doesn't turn on on Shabbat morning. 

During shacharit, the shul could, with some difficulty, function without the
lights, but not by the time mincha comes.

A non-Jew is found to turn on the lights in a halachically acceptable manner.
May the shul use those same lights at mincha?

I took a quick look at Shemirat Shabbat Kehilchato, which (as I read it)
addresses the case of a "ner" (candle, i.e., fire) and not specifically in the
context of a shul.


From: Susan Kane <adarconsulting@...>
Date: Thu, May 25,2017 at 08:01 PM
Subject: Malbish Arumim other than birkat hashachar

According to the chachamim at Mi Yode'a:


"... Finally, saying Malbish Arumim on new clothing is a separate obligation
based in Yerushalmi Brachot 9:3 and recorded in Shulchan Aruch OC 224:4. The
Mishna Berura there notes that if you put on the new clothing in the morning you
can use your morning blessing to exempt the blessing on the new clothing. The
Kitzur Shulchan Aruch (59:8) reports that "some say" (I don't know who) that
just like a new piece of clothing gets a new Malbish Arumim, so too a new belt
and a new hat get new 'Ozer Yisrael' and 'Oter Yisrael' respectively; however,
he says that since some argue on this, one should wear new belts and hats in the
morning to use the morning blessing on them."

See also:


Susan Kane
Boston, MA


From: William Gewirtz <wgewirtz@...>
Date: Mon, May 15,2017 at 05:01 PM
Subject: Misplaced pasuk?

Martin Stern (MJ 63#32) asked about the (seemingly odd) placement of a  pasuk
about divination at the end of parshat Kedoshim following a call to kedushah?

In addition to the parsha ending in this manner, the beginning of the parsha is
preceded by a set of rather heinous crimes ending the previous parsha, Acharei
Mot.  The explanation is quite simple - in Biblical Hebrew kadosh meant
'separated' not 'holy' as the word eventually evolved. Ramban's explanation -
hevai perushim min ha'arayot - is best understood in this light.

Those wanting a more homiletic and inspiring answer should go to the YU Torah
website and listen to Rav Aron Soloveichik zt"l's shiur entitled "Aspiring to
Kedusha" given in 1966.  


The whole shiur is fascinating; it was his last mussar shmooze before leaving
for HTC in Chicago.  I heard it live 51 years ago and can still quote sections
given the impact it made.  If you do not want to listen to the whole shiur, the
part addressing this question comes up at the start of the shiur.  However, you
will be missing some fascinating insights into the mind of the Rav ztl's younger


From: William Gewirtz <wgewirtz@...>
Date: Mon, May 22,2017 at 11:01 PM
Subject: Tearing Kriah at the Kotel

Carl Singer (MJ 63#33) asked for sources about tearing keriah when visiting the

I suggest he listens to Rabbi Lebowitz at YU Torah (starting at minute 27):



End of Volume 63 Issue 34