Volume 63 Number 39 
      Produced: Tue, 11 Jul 17 15:49:09 -0400

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

An overabundance of adjectives 
    [Carl A. Singer]
Correctiing baalei kriah 
    [Joel Rich]
Grey issues on a ketuba (3)
    [Elazar Teitz  Yaakov Shachter  Martin Stern]
Tefillin check 
    [Martin Stern]
The Dweck affair (2)
    [Martin Stern  Susan Kane]
Was there a third Amorite state? 
    [Sammy Finkelman]


From: Carl A. Singer <carl.singer@...>
Date: Fri, Jul 7,2017 at 10:01 AM
Subject: An overabundance of adjectives

It is an indisputable fact that everyone to my left is a liberal and everyone to
my right is a reactionary -- I stand alone on the moral high ground ....

Seriously,  it seems that most individuals and groups (organizations?) need to
express themselves and establish their bona fides. But to the great detriment of
Jewish unity we keep generating adjectives to further fragment Klal Yisroel.

As a youngster I recall that describing someone as "a shaynah Yid" [a beautiful
Jew] was the highest of compliments. It was the umbrella term that incorporated
"erlach" (honest), "frum" (pious), "talmid chuchum" (learned)  and other adjectives.

But then came the adjective mongers -- FFB (From From Birth) -- TEFFB (Torah
Educated From From Birth) to describe individuals.

And then came the onslaught of  organizational groupings: Open Orthodox,
Hareidi, Ultra-Orthodox, Yeshivish, Modern-Orthodox.

Like it or not -- each of these adjectives serves to divide, not unite.

QUESTION:  Is there value to Jewish Unity?

Carl Singer


From: Joel Rich <JRich@...>
Date: Sun, Jul 9,2017 at 12:01 AM
Subject: Correctiing baalei kriah

Do other members' shuls have formal guidelines for correcting baalei kriah [torah Reafder]? : 

If yes, are they from a prior source? Are they consistently applied at all minyanim? By whom?

Joel Rich


From: Elazar Teitz <emteitz@...>
Date: Fri, Jul 7,2017 at 09:01 AM
Subject: Grey issues on a ketuba

In reply to the anonymous poster (MJ 63#38):

A person has the ability to change his name halachically by ceasing to use his
original name, and adopting another one in its stead.  The dropped name is known
as a sheim shenishtakeia," literally "a name that has set."  Once the new name
has become established by its being used exclusively, the birth name no longer
exists, and the new name takes its place.  It is not retroactive, so that a
document written when the first name was still in use remains valid after the
change as well.

In general, there are not too many consequences for a name incorrectly written
in a ketuba.  It is a common misconception that the ketuba is some form of
marriage license.  It is not; it outlines the obligations that the husband
assumes in marriage (to support the wife), and it provides for a payment to her
should he die or divorce her.  It has no bearing whatever on the validity of the
marriage.  By Rabbinic decree, it is necessary for the wife to be in possession
of a ketuba in order for the couple to permitted to live together, but if the
husband gives the wife an amount of money equal to what the ketuba calls for, to
be used for payment should it become due (i.e., if the husband dies or divorces
her), then a physical ketuba is not required.

In light of the above, the parenthetic comment in the original post -- "(unless
G-d forbid we really had a need to invalidate a ketuba)" -- is virtually
meaningless.  In what circumstance would it be necessary to invalidate a ketuba,
and why should we wish that G-d forbid it should happen?

Where the question of correctness of names is crucial is in the case of a
divorce, where the *get* -- the divorce document -- is what effects the divorce.
 If the names therein are incorrect, the document is invalid, and the marriage
remains in effect.  But in this case, too, the concept of sheim shenishtakeia


From: Yaakov Shachter <jay@...>
Date: Sun, Jul 9,2017 at 09:01 PM
Subject: Grey issues on a ketuba

The questions in "Grey issues on a ketuba" (MJ 63#38) betray a lack of knowledge
of Jewish marriage law.  The article, for example, speaks of the possibility of
"invalidating a ketuba" if the ketuba records the wrong names.

"Invalidating a ketuba", whatever that means, would have no effect on the
validity of a marriage.  A Jewish man and woman can get married without knowing
each other's names at all; not knowing your spouse's name does not invalidate
your marriage to him or her, just as not knowing your baker's name does not
invalidate your purchase of a dozen bagels from him.  You can still make quite
clear that these are the bagels you are buying and this is the money you are
buying it with.

The only exception would be if the name you believed your spouse to have were an
essential condition of the marriage.  Thus, if a woman makes it clear that she
only wants to marry a man named Ernest, and she marries someone falsely
believing that that is his name, you could speak of invalidating the marriage if
it turns out that he deceived her and his real name is John (this would be a
complex case, however, and would have to handled by scholars with broader
shoulders than mine, because we have a principle in marriage law that a woman
would rather be married, even to a man who turns out to be not everything she
believed him to be, than to be unmarried; it would be much easier to rule on the
case if it were the man, rather than the woman, who had made the stipulation
regarding the name of his spouse).

Now, if r"l there is a dissolution of the marriage, then you have to get the
names right, because the Torah requires that a dissolution of marriage be
effected by a written instrument, and further requires that the instrument be
written specifically by that husband, for specifically that wife.  So
identifying the parties in a get peturin is serious business, and you throw in
all the names by which the parties are known, both Jewish and goyish. 
Marriages, however, do not have to be effected by a written instrument, and a
ketuba is not a written instrument that effects a marriage.  A ketuba is an
assumption of
additional obligations on the part of the man -- none on the part of the woman
-- beyond those required by the Torah, and if a ketuba were to be "invalidated"
all that means is that this couple had violated the Rabbinic prohibition of
living together if the husband has failed to assume those additional
obligations, but it certainly does not mean that the marriage was invalid.

These obligations are assumed unilateraly on the part of the husband. Neither
the wife nor any agent of the wife has any involvement in the signing of the
ketubah (a woman can write her ketuba if she wants to, though this is no great
thing since a woman can even write a get peturin), and that is why you cannot
shoehorn the ketuba into the Anglo-Saxon law of contracts (although there are
many people who would like to, so that the goyishe courts can have control over
Jewish marriages), because no consideration is given for it.

Jay F. ("Yaakov") Shachter
6424 N Whipple St
Chicago IL  60645-4111
(1-773)7613784   landline
(1-410)9964737   GoogleVoice

From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Mon, Jul 10,2017 at 05:01 AM
Subject: Grey issues on a ketuba

In response to the anonymous contributor (MJ 63#38) who wrote:

> My question is theoretical, that if it was found out in the end that his shem
> b'yisrael [Jewish name] that he was given at the time of his brit really was
> Aharon, but at the time he civically changed his name to "Jack", he also
> started presenting his name when receiving aliyot l'torah as "Yaakov" - could
> this be enough to make Yaakov the correct name to go on the ketuba on the
> outset (unless G-d forbid we really had a need to invalidate a ketuba)?

There is never a need to invalidate a ketuba even though sometimes one might
wish to invalidate the marriage itself, for example to release an aguna.
However this is best done by finding a reason why one, or both, the original
witnesses were disqualified - and a fault in the ketuba would not be much
use for this.

Martin Stern


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Fri, Jul 7,2017 at 09:01 AM
Subject: Tefillin check

Carl A. Singer wrote (MJ 63#38):

> Perhaps 35 years ago I thought I'd treat myself to a new pair of tefillin.
> Since I frequently commuted to Wall Street from my home in suburban
> Philadelphia, I went down to the Lower East Side -- where I bought
> them
> Years later when I had my tefillin checked it turns out that the erlach sopher
> [honest scribe] from the Lower East Side had put used / taped together Klaf
> inside the new boxes.
> I don't recall what my Rav said to do about this situation.
> I was much more particular in selecting a sopher for my next pair -although he
> was harder to get to. I went to the son of acquaintances whom I knew were
> impeccable in their midos [character traits].

Many years ago, I had a similar experience. It all goes to show that when
people have a financial interest, they can be dishonest. A similar situation
would be a scrupulously observant proprietor of a kosher restaurant in whose
own home one would have no qualms about eating but who still needs
independent kashrut supervision for his restaurant.

"Money talks even during chazarat hashatz!"

Martin Stern


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Fri, Jul 7,2017 at 08:01 AM
Subject: The Dweck affair

Susan Buxfield wrote (MJ 63#38):

> Martin Stern wrote in the (London) Jewish Chronicle (30 June '17):
> https://www.thejc.com/comment/letters/letters-extra-your-views-on-the-rabbi-dw
> eck-controversy-1.440742
>> The latter (Louis Jacobs) denied some of the fundamental underpinnings of
>> Torah Judaism, whereas Rabbi Dweck "only" used such ambiguous expressions
>> as there were still ways in which two men could express their love for one
>> another
> The use of "only" as implying that ambiguous expressions intimating a
> permissive behavior ("two men could express their love for one another"),
> which to most people is indicative of homosexuality, as not denying some of
> the fundamental underpinnings of Torah Judaism seems to lack intellectual
> credibility.

I beg to differ with Susan on this. Louis Jacobs denied the traditional
concept of Torah min Hashamayim without which the whole of Torah Judaism has
no foundation. Thus it is a fundamental underpinning.

On the other hand, even if Rabbi Dweck had claimed that the Torah permits
homosexual love, as opposed to sexual relations between two males, he would
at most be making a serious error in interpretation but not undermining its
whole structure.

Martin Stern

From: Susan Kane <adarconsulting@...>
Date: Fri, Jul 7,2017 at 02:01 PM
Subject: The Dweck affair

Susan Buxfield (MJ 63#38) discussed "a permissive behavior ... which to most
people in indicative of homosexuality".

As I'm sure readers are aware, anal sex between men is issur d'oraita while
other sexual acts between men are issur d'rabbanan.

It's hard for me to understand the suggestion that some men might violate an
issur d'rabannan in order to avoid violating an issur d'oraita as "denying some
of the fundamental underpinnings of Torah Judaism."

In Sephardi communities, by and large, there is only one Judaism and it must be
flexible enough, compassionate enough, and spacious enough to encompass *all*
Jews, including men who in previous generations might have married very
unfortunate women.

I do not deny that Rabbi Dweck is a yachid in his willingness to say out loud
what many gay men have been told privately by rabbis from every background,
across the religious spectrum.  But I do deny that he is outside Orthodoxy.

It is rare if not unknown for a Sephardi to say "if people are going to do X,
let them go to the Reform (and not sully our pure, Torah-observant community of
people who are exactly like us.").

In contrast, this is the basic and knee jerk response of most Ashkenazim to
anything they don't like.  If you don't like X, you have no place here, go away.

This is not, in my opinion, a correct Jewish response to any issue. Whatever
happens to Am Yisrael is the business of our leaders.  If people are doing X, it
demands a halachic and compassionate response.  A system that needs the Reform
movement as a dumping ground for its undesirables has already failed.

If you are so able to manage this question, what is your response?  I see that
this particular issur d'rabbanan is very important to you.  Is it more important
than frum boys who commit suicide?  Is it more important than men marrying women
when they have no desire for them?  Is it better to violate this issur
d'rabbanan or to violate shabbat?  (Do you know how difficult it is to keep
shabbat outside the frum community?  Have you ever tried?) Sexuality is not like
going without cream in your coffee because cholov yisroel is not available. 
Where is your humility in the face of a struggle you know nothing about?  What
exactly would you do if you were a gay, Orthodox man?

Lack of compassion for a fellow Jew is an issur d'oraita.  Assuming the worst of
a fellow Jew -- issur d'oraita.

We have authentic halachic rulings against Zionism that are still in force among
large groups of Am Yisrael.  We have authentic halachic rulings against women
driving without permission from their Rebbe.  We have authentic halachic rulings
against speaking English instead of Yiddish, against using the internet, against
going to the movies, against reading secular books.  Are you saying that all of
the Chassidishe groups are outside Torah Judaism?  By what right do you ignore
these authentic halachic rulings of gedolei Yisrael?

We have many communities where anyone who appears to "support even a slight
deviance from such authentic halachic rulings" is dealt with very severely.  And
those communities also have exactly the rates of silent desperation that one
might expect.  I know, because I have talked to their refugees.  You obviously
have not.

Before you use the Torah as a weapon against those with whom you disagree,
remember that it can be used against you just as easily.  We should all be
humble in the face of things we do not personally experience.

It is possible to look at a halachic ruling you do not understand and to respond
with curiosity.  It is possible to ask a question of the rabbi himself rather
than to denounce him publicly.  The British Orthodox community may be
spiritually great but it is not that large.  I dare say anyone who wishes to
meet with Rabbi Dweck privately could get on his calendar.

True gedolim do not rule on matters before they have come to understand them.
Our sages sought scientific knowledge and they also sought a deep understanding
of the people they served.  When they needed to rule negatively, they often
looked for another way to meet the need, to sweeten their ruling, so that the
Torah would be bearable for that individual or for that community.  Much of this
compassion and deep connection between a rabbi and *all* of his people has been
lost in the modern era and we are the poorer for it.

We do not have a Pope because we do not believe that halachic rulings can be
divorced from the people they effect.  We have community rabbis because each
community is different.  The rulings of Rabbi Dweck may differ from your Rav's
rulings but that does not make them non-Orthodox.

Susan Kane
Boston, MA


From: Sammy Finkelman <sammy.finkelman@...>
Date: Tue, Jul 11,2017 at 03:01 PM
Subject: Was there a third Amorite state?

In reply to Martin Stern (MJ 63#38):

Not only was there a third Amorite state, there were many others and not all of
them that near Eretz Yisroel. Also in Eretz Yisroel  Joshua defeated many of
their kings.

References to them have been encountered in other places. Hammurabi (a distorted
rendition of the name Amrophel) was one of them.

While it may not really be completely accurate, especially with regard to the
dates, here is an article that summarizes it:



"The Amorites (/mrats/; Sumerian ''... MAR.TU; Akkadian Tidnum or Amurrm;
Egyptian Amar; Hebrew  "mr; Ancient Greek: -) were an ancient Semitic-speaking
people[1] from Syria who also occupied large parts of southern Mesopotamia from
the 21st century BC to the end of the 17th century BC, where they established
several prominent city states in existing locations, notably Babylon, which was
raised from a small administrative town to an independent state and a major
city. The term Amurru in Akkadian and Sumerian texts refers to both them and to
their principal deity."

The name Amori is entirely a foreign names like the name "Greek" (who called
themselves Hellenes) It's what others called them and the name stems from the
name of their deity.

They were called several different kinds of names, but Amori is the name in
Hebrew and very similiar to the name in Egyptian. It was, perhaps, a general
name that got applied to all kinds of different or semi-different people,who,
however, all spoke nearly the same or a similar language.

The kingdom of Sichon with the capital at Cheshbon was a very recent addition to
Amori territory that happened during the forty years in the desert, but it was
not what was originally the main center. They may have been defeated or chased
out of their former territory.


End of Volume 63 Issue 39