Volume 63 Number 40 
      Produced: Sun, 16 Jul 17 09:11:19 -0400

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

Correctiing baalei kriah (2)
    [Dr. William Gewirtz  Yisrael Medad]
Grey issues on a ketuba 
    [Orrin Tilevitz]
    [Carl A. Singer]
Paragraphing problem in Pinchas 
    [Martin Stern]
Reading beginning of Parshat Pinchas at end of Parshat Balak 
    [David Ziants]
The Dweck affair (4)
    [Ben Katz, M.D. Bill Bernstein  Susan Buxfield  Martin Stern]
Was there a third Amorite state? (3)
    [Martin Stern  Sammy Finkelman  Ben Katz, M.D.]


From: Dr. William Gewirtz <wgewirtz@...>
Date: Tue, Jul 11,2017 at 05:01 PM
Subject: Correctiing baalei kriah

Joel Rich (MJ 63#39) asked about sources for correcting Baalei Kriah.

While I do not know the answer to his question, here are an anecdote and an
observation which may be relevant.

First, the anecdote. The Rav zt"l interrupted a baal koreh, something he did not
often do. Asked about it he chuckled that, when he did it, there was a chance of
a flawless kiyum; with most other people, it would most often  just be tircha

Second, in addition to the varied criteria used, I have wanted to correct
outrageous errors in trop. My criteria, for example, would be confusing a trop
that is meant as a connector versus one that is a major level separator. Sadly,
this would be a clear tircha detzibura and probably a hopeless matter. Every
Shabbat Chazon, I remind the Gabbai, who is on occasion clueless, to have someone
knowledgeable about trop read the second perek of Eicha. In the hands of many, its
reading is beyond depressing; fortunately, it gets me the honor at times,
something that as I age is increasingly difficult in a large shul.

From: Yisrael Medad  <yisrael.medad@...>
Date: Wed, Jul 12,2017 at 01:01 AM
Subject: Correctiing baalei kriah

In our synagogue, one person is selected to make the corrections. Since we are
Jewish, that never works out properly. And that leads to noise as three other
people shush the (other-than-he) appointed person who corrected the reader.

Yisrael Medad



From: Orrin Tilevitz <tilevitzo@...>
Date: Tue, Jul 11,2017 at 06:01 PM
Subject: Grey issues on a ketuba

Rabbi Teitz notes (MJ 63#39):

> By Rabbinic decree, it is necessary for the wife to be in possession of a
> ketuba in order for the couple to live together

I'm confused. A ketuba documents, or purports to document, the marriage
ceremony. Isn't it true that if the wife is in possession of a ketuba that does
NOT document the marriage ceremony, it isn't her ketuba, so the couple can't
live together? 

For example, let's say the bride's name is Mindel bat Avraham Shlomo, and
instead the ketuba documents a marriage with Mindel bat Yehoshua Shlomo. (This
actually happened -- I've changed the names -- although I don't know yet whether
the participants noticed.) 

Maybe that second bride exists, and maybe she doesn't, but in any event the
ketuba documents a wedding that didn't happen - it's not her name, so how can it
be her ketuba? And if it isn't, how can she continue living with him until the
ketuba is fixed? And wouldn't fixing it require at a minimum the witnesses
re-executing the ketuba?


From: Carl A. Singer <carl.singer@...>
Date: Sun, Jul 16,2017 at 08:01 AM
Subject: Mukzeh

Sometimes the simple gets complicated!

When I arrived in shul Shabbas morning there on the shulchan [a large table,
slightly tilted, without shelves, etc. where we layn] was the tzedukah pushkeh.
(This was in the Bais Medrosh where the Hashkoma minyan davens -- unused Friday
night, so apparently not noticed.)

I took the pushkeh and placed it under the center of the table where it would be
out of sight and beyond getting accidentally kicked by anyone standing at the table.

Later, it was suggested (courteously, not critically) to me that since I was
already moving it, that I could  have put it back to where it belonged -- a
bookshelf along one of the walls.

Comments, please.

Carl A. Singer


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Sun, Jul 16,2017 at 03:01 AM
Subject: Paragraphing problem in Pinchas

On Shabbat Pinchas, I noticed that each tribe's census return (Bam. 26:1-51)was
in a separate closed paragraph (parashah setumah) but the final total (v.51) was
not separated from the last tribe, Naftali. Could this be because it consists of
a similar verse or is there any deeper significance?

This is in contrast to the first census (Bam. 1:20-47) where the final total
does form a separate paragraph (1:44-47). Also, in the latter, each paragraph is
open (parashah petuchah). Can one learn anything from this difference?

Martin Stern


From: David Ziants <dziants@...>
Date: Sat, Jul 15,2017 at 03:01 PM
Subject: Reading beginning of Parshat Pinchas at end of Parshat Balak

Someone told me that there is a community somewhere in the north of Israel that
in order to finish Parshat Balak on a good note, they have the custom of
finishing off Parshat Balak by reading the beginning of Parshat Pinchas. (I
don't know whether this is on sh'vi'i, maftir or both.)

Has anyone heard of this custom? Is this documented anywhere? Is there a source
for it? If not, does it contravene halacha because it seems to go against the
mesorah, despite that it seems good in the spirit of halacha?

David Ziants
Ma'aleh Adumim, Israel


From: Ben Katz, M.D.<BKatz@...>
Date: Wed, Jul 12,2017 at 11:01 AM
Subject: The Dweck affair

Susan Buxfield wrote (MJ 63#38):

> Martin Stern wrote in the (London) Jewish Chronicle (30 June '17):

>> 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

 Louis Jacobs once (waggishly) said that he believes in Torah from heaven, but
it depends on how you define "Torah", "from" and "heaven".  

From: Bill Bernstein <billbernstein@...>
Date: Wed, Jul 12,2017 at 12:01 PM
Subject: The Dweck affair

I have not seen mentioned (not that I've followed it that closely) in regard to Rabbi Dweck's talk a relevant 
passage from Rabbeinu Yonah's Shaarei Tefilla that I found in the sefer Al HaGeula v'al HaTemura from the 
Satmar Rav zy'a. As he quotes (Ch 3, Section 148) 

"One who praises disgusting deeds or lauds the wicked is himself completely wicked (rasha gomur) and 
desecrates the service of HaShem ... And the pitfalls in honoring the wicked are many and well known, 
because there is in honoring them desecration of the Torah and Divine service. This is a sin which destroys 
from the soul to the flesh."

I have trouble seeing the "upside" of lauding the gay rights movement and making normative what the 
Torah condemns in the strictest fashion. "Compassion" is no excuse for tossing a mitzva d'rabbonon 
(Rabbinic enactment) much less the many MiDoraisa (Torah) commandments involved.

Bill Bernstein
Nashville TN.

From: Susan Buxfield <susan.buxfeld@...>
Date: Sun, Jul 16,2017 at 07:01 AM
Subject: The Dweck affair

Susan Kane (MJ 63#39) wrote:

> 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.

Whenever there is a pressing halachic necessity (such as immediate childbirth on
a Sabbath) of choosing to transgress either an issur d'oraita and issur 
d'rabbanan, then obviously the transgressing an issur d'rabbanan is generally

> 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."

Giving a carte blanche to transgress an issur d'rabbanan has no halachic basis
and, as such, a willing transgressor is denying 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.

Sephardi, One Judaism? What has this to do with the issue at hand? Personal
feelings as to how to apply humanistic values to Orthodox Judaism is a sine qua non.

> 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.

If they have been told privately, then the statement "by rabbis from every
background, across the religious spectrum" appears to lack intellectual honesty?

> But I do deny that he is outside Orthodoxy.

Depends on who decides the definition of Orthodoxy. To many of the current
senior rabbinical figures, including Sephardim (Rabbi Aaron Bassous et al.)
Dweck has  definitely overstepped the red line.

> I see that this particular issur d'rabbanan is very important to you.

All issurei d'rabbanan are important otherwise Orthodox Judaism would collapse.

> 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 there a need to pull down a main pillar of Judaism to save a small group that
will anyway in the end just disintegrate? Is there such a phenomenon as a 3rd
(or even second) generation gay person?

> Do you know how difficult it is to keep shabbat outside the frum community?
> Have you ever tried?

Yes, for almost 30 years.

> Where is your humility in the face of a struggle you know nothing about?

Perhaps these discussions can be kept to the factual. But yes I do know about
the struggles and do try to befriend those that are suffering. To have humility
before the Almighty does not require to have humility before those who are
defying Judaism.

> What exactly would you do if you were a gay, Orthodox man?

To be in gay relationship and claim to be also Orthodox is an oxymoron. As the
famous quote states "you can not have your cake and also eat it".

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

Even the Chofetz Chaim rules that it's permitted to hate a fellow Jew who is
completely aware of a wrongdoing but refuses to retract.

> 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

These are internal rulings that need to be kept in order to remain in that
particular group.

> You obviously have not.

This forum is to discuss rationally and not to challenge credentials.

> 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.

In other words a religious person is not allowed to disagree?

Here is a fascinating new study suggesting Atheists are less open-minded
than religious people


> We do not have a Pope because we do not believe that halachic rulings can be
> divorced from the people they effect.

Is there a source for this statement?

The main halachic rulings were decided by the Anshei Knesset HaGedola for ALL of
Israel. Minor amendments were then instituted later for both the Ashkenazi
community and for the Sephardi community. But none of these altered
significantly the original halacha.

From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Sun, Jul 16,2017 at 08:01 AM
Subject: The Dweck affair

In response to the recent correspondence on this topic:

Nobody can deny that the Torah proscribes all male homosexual activities,
though one can always assume, as I do, that when two males (or females)
share accommodation are only doing so in order to share its exorbitant cost,
and treat the individuals accordingly - provided they do not expect others
to be aware of, and approve, their different intention. This is the
traditional principle of "dan lechaf zechut [judge everyone favourably]".
Others might misread the 'chaf' of 'zechut' as a 'nun' to make it mean
"judge everyone as being promiscuous" - but this is contrary to the Torah's

However, while one might argue for treating homosexuals, as individuals,
sympathetically, those who publicise their "alternative lifestyle" have only
themselves to blame for any stigmatisation they suffer. This does not, of
course, justify refusing them jobs, let alone physically assaulting them.

The way the current LGBT campaign to legitimise such activities in the UK is
developing is quite well expressed in the following joke:

At the kiddush put on to celebrate his 90th birthday, great grandfather
Chaim seemed a bit withdrawn so his friend Moishe asked him what was
bothering him. 

"Well", he said, "I am seriously thinking of emigrating".

This created quite a stir and, before long, quite a crowd had gathered round
them, all wanting to know why he wanted to uproot himself at such an
advanced age, to which he replied:

"It's all this gay business. The Torah calls it an abomination, and
prescribes the death penalty.

"In this country, the law was not quite as severe but it used to be punished
with a long prison term.

"Then the law was changed to legalise it 'between consenting adults in
private' - but it was still frowned upon.

"Gradually public opinion changed and it came to be tolerated, but now it's
actually encouraged and anyone who raises any objection is branded a
'homophobic bigot'.

"The way things are going, I want to get out before they make it

Many a true word has been said in jest!

Martin Stern


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Tue, Jul 11,2017 at 05:01 PM
Subject: Was there a third Amorite state?

Sammy Finkelman wrote (MJ 63#39):

> 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.

I must apologise for not having expressed myself clearly enough. My question was
regarding the number of Amorite states in Transjordan since the Torah seems
always to refer only to the Benei Yisrael conquering the TWO Amorite kings in
Transjordan, Sichon and Og.

Martin Stern

From: Sammy Finkelman <sammy.finkelman@...>
Date: Tue, Jul 11,2017 at 05:01 PM
Subject: Was there a third Amorite state?

Further to my recent submision (MJ 63339):

It is not generally known that Jerusalem was once ruled by the Amori


"Therefore the five kings of the Amorites, the king of Jerusalem, the king of
Hebron, the king of Jarmuth, the king of Lachish, the king of Eglon, gathered
themselves together, and went up, they and all their hosts, and encamped against
Gibeon, and made war against it.." (Yehoshua 10:5)  

The Amori were one of the seven (Cnaani) nations, (though like the Chiti their
base was elsewhere.)

But there was peace (although maybe not a formal peace treaty) with them in the
days of Shmuel.


"And the cities which the Philistines had taken from Israel were restored to
Israel, from Ekron even unto Gath; and the border thereof did Israel deliver out
of the hand of the Philistines. And there was peace between Israel and the
Amorites." (I Shemuel 7:14)

The exact Hebrew of the last part of that posuk is "Vayehi Shalom Bein Yisroel
Oo-vein Ha-Amori."

The next Posuk is: "Vayishpot Shmuel Es Yisroel Kol Yemei Chayov. [And Samuel
judged Israel all the days of his life.]" (I Shemuel 7:15)

This verse, and its location, can only mean this was all according to halachah
The prohibition after all is only on making a "bris", which would entail
recognizing their Avodah Zorah and, maybe, other practices.

From: Ben Katz, M.D.<BKatz@...>
Date: Wed, Jul 12,2017 at 05:01 PM
Subject: Was there a third Amorite state?

Sammy Finkelman wrote (MJ 63#39):

> 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.

It is not clear at all that Amrophel is a distortion of the name Hammurabi.
See discussions in any modern Biblical commentary, such as the Anchor Bible
(Speiser) or the JPS Torah Commentary (Sarna).


End of Volume 63 Issue 40