Volume 63 Number 46 
      Produced: Tue, 08 Aug 17 01:50:19 -0400

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

A drifting and aimless people 
    [Joel Rich]
A matter of doubt? 
    [Susan Buxfield]
Birchot hashachar (2)
    [Joel Rich  Ben Katz, M.D.]
Parashat Hatamid on Tisha B'Av morning (2)
    [Haim Snyder  Menashe Elyashiv]
Responsibility to warn of a sakanah (2)
    [Joel Rich  Martin Stern]
The Dweck affair (3)
    [Keith Bierman  Martin Stern  Sammy Finkelman]


From: Joel Rich <JRich@...>
Date: Thu, Aug 3,2017 at 09:01 AM
Subject: A drifting and aimless people

Senator Ben Sasse wrote in his "The Vanishing American" that adult Americans
"are a drifting and aimless people - awash in material goods and yet spiritually
aching for meaning."

What percentage of the various streams and substreams of Judaism is he
describing as well? How many fit the first description but are not empty and
aching and want to know why?

Joel Rich


From: Susan Buxfield <susan.buxfeld@...>
Date: Thu, Aug 3,2017 at 02:01 AM
Subject: A matter of doubt?

Joel Rich (MJ 63#44) wrote:

> In "Religion Within Reason" by Steven Cahn wrote: 
> "To have faith is to put aside any doubts, and doing so is sometimes 
> beneficial, because doubt may be counter productive . . . To describe someone
> as a person of faith suggests that the individual is strong-willed, fearless,
> and unwavering." 
> Question to all - what percentage of the frum world have no doubts? How many
> don't think about it at all?

There is a basic difference between those who doubt whether the frum lifestyle
is for them but don't reject the divine ethos and those who philosophically
doubt that there is a divine entity that created the world and as a follow-on
requires the observance of divine commands.

Whether a large-scale poll would accurately measure such a percentage is
presumably a matter of contention.


From: Joel Rich <JRich@...>
Date: Thu, Aug 3,2017 at 09:01 AM
Subject: Birchot hashachar

Mark Steiner wrote (MJ 63#45):

> It is clear that the sources that have she-asani yisrael have been censored.  

I'll use this as an excuse to repeat an insight from R' Nissan Alpert Z"L in
whose shiur I once took up space.  R"Alpert asked why do we say shelo asani goy
rather than sheasani Yisrael?  Because HKB"H only gives us the opportunity to be
deserving of the appellation Yisrael, it's up to us to deserve it (make ourselves)

Joel Rich

From: Ben Katz, M.D.<BKatz@...>
Date: Mon, Aug 7,2017 at 12:01 PM
Subject: Birchot hashachar

Susan Buxfield wrote (MJ 63#45):

> Ben Katz, M.D. (MJ 63#44) wrote:
>> ... 
>> I also don't thank God for rooster's cunning. I know I will lose my haredi
>> credentials with this post!
> Haredi? Not even orthodox credentials.
> Denying what has been fixed by the Anshei Knesset Hagedola is pure heresy. The
> non-orthodox pick and choose their orthoprax "mitzvot"

I knew I shouldn't have added that last sentence!  Now I know how Rabbi Dr
Soloveitchik felt after adding the last line to his classic article Rupture and
Reconstruction :-)

Seriously, I will address some of the pertinent issues raised below.  I will not
respond to ad hominem comments.

I am indebted (yet again) to the learned Dr Steiner (MJ 63#45) for his
scholarship re the textual history of the (non?)beracha sheasani yisrael.  I was
not aware of this, and thus may have to modify my position.  That being said, I
am curious where Dr Steiner feels the text came from?

In a more general sense, concern over the berachah shelo asani isha is not new.
 There were discussions about this berachah already a century ago in the
Hildeshiemer yeshivah.

On a personal note, if one takes davening seriously one should not say things
that are false.  For example, I say an alternate version of Nachem on Tisha B'Av
(and there are at least 2 such versions penned by Orthodox rabbis of which I am
aware, and even Rav Lichetenstein parted ways with his illustrious FIL in
suggesting to skip one of the sentences in the current version).  There are also
a few phrases in Ne'ilah as well as in the Mon/Thurs Tachanun that talk about
Jerusalem not being under our control or being a garbage heap that to me are at
least being kofer tov if not actual falsehoods.  (BTW this is why some on the
right do not want to have kavanat ha-tefillah classes, because they are afraid -
believe it or not - that if people actually understood what they were saying
that they may not say it.)

So, if something is completely against my ethos, I will not say it.  I
understand the reason why I am thankful that I am a man may be valid berachah,
but certainly saying it in the negative to modern ears is insensitive at best. 
(One of the reasons they recalled the book 'My Uncle the Netziv' from Lakewood
is because Baruch Epstein stated that his aunt would complain how men whom she
could outlearn would shrei [scream] in shul shelo asani isha.)  After 120 years,
if God questions me, even if He says I was wrong, I know He will understand that
my intention was honorable.   Whether God considers me Orthodox or not is of no
concern to me, as long as He realizes I did my best to be observant.


From: Haim Snyder <haimsny@...>
Date: Thu, Aug 3,2017 at 09:01 AM
Subject: Parashat Hatamid on Tisha B'Av morning

Baruch J. Schwartz (MJ 63#44) wrote:

> I have been using Rev. Abraham Rosenfelds Seder Kinot HaShalem for Tisha B'Av
> (London 1965) since it appeared, and I have always been very appreciative of 
> the tremendous amount of thought, learning and meticulous care that was 
> invested in this excellent and oft-reprinted volume.
> This morning, for the first time, I noticed that the Parashat Hatamid (Num
> 28:1-8, with or without Lev 1:11) that we say every morning at the beginning 
> of the seder korbanot is missing from the Shaharit service in this book.
> ...
> From everything I ever read or learned, I was positive that Parashat Hatamid 
> is said on Tisha BAv in the morning, and I haven't found anything even 
> remotely suggesting the contrary. 
I agree with Baruch's concern re the omission of Parshat Hatamid. I quote from
"Kinot Mesoret HaRav" which says on p. 98 (Offerings)

"Our sages held that, in the absence of the Temple, studying the laws of
sacrifices is the equivalent of offering them. Hence, the following texts. 

"In general, there are different customs as to how many passages are to be said
[on Tisha b'Av], and one should follow the custom of one's congregation. The
minimum requirement is to say the verses relating to The Daily Sacrifice below."
Haim Shalom Snyder

From: Menashe Elyashiv <menashe.elyashiv@...>
Date: Thu, Aug 3,2017 at 11:01 AM
Subject: Parashat Hatamid on Tisha B'Av morning

In response to Baruch J. Schwartz (MJ 63#44):

It seems that the rule of what not to say on Tisha B'av is:

No tahanun (although the Rambam holds yes, and so the Yemanities do say it)

Anything and everything before the kinot is said. After kinot say only the
required - ashrei; kedusha desidra & aleynu

So it seems that seder korbanot should have been printed.

BTW, the sefardi minhag yerushalim is to change (almost) nothing. Shahrit is
said with tallit and tefilin, no tahanun, then Torah reading, haftora, from
ashrei to the end of aleynu as usual, skipping the verse va'ani zot briti as
skipped in an avel house. After that, tallit and tefillin are removed and kinot
are said. Minha as usual without tallit and tefillin. This minhag has spread to
many places in Israel (like our beit kenneset)


From: Joel Rich <JRich@...>
Date: Thu, Aug 3,2017 at 09:01 AM
Subject: Responsibility to warn of a sakanah

Irwin Weiss wrote (MJ 63#45):

> Duty comes from several sources.  There is halachic duty, moral duty, and
> legal duty.  There may be a variation in the duties depending on which one we
> are considering.

This is a very important point. In my humble opinion one of the challenges of
the 3 weeks et al. is that we get very hung up on the micro-issues (e.g. what
kind of music might be acceptable) and not enough with the overarching message
"not just missing the temple but, more importantly, the close relationship with

Having said that, my guess is that an honest conversation with rabbinic
leadership would be very interesting. If I had to guess there are very few who
would say it is permissible (although I believe there might be some who would
accept) but the more general response would probably be we have bigger fish to
fry. Unfortunately when a negative result occurs the community will be up in
arms for a short period of time and then go back to the status quo unless there
is a strong push to change it. This is just social dynamics in any community -
the cost is considered worth bearing (for an extreme example see " The Ones Who
Walk Away from Omelas"

Joel Rich

From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Thu, Aug 3,2017 at 06:01 PM
Subject: Responsibility to warn of a sakanah

Susan Buxfield wrote (MJ 63#45):

> Carl Singer (MJ 63#44) wrote:
>> These basement apartments are deemed illegal because they have only a single
>> exit and thus are hazardous. What is the obligation to warn of this sakanah
> A distinction should be drawn between a potential and immediate sakanah. To be
> a Malshin (informer) is generally forbidden. And if you are so concerned
> perhaps scout the whole city for violations.

This prohibition is waived where potential pikuach nefesh is concerned and
those who put others' lives at risk should definitely be denounced to the

However I fail to understand Susan's last point - one does not have to
assume that the problem is more prevalent and actively search out further
cases. That might be the duty of the public authorities, or investigative
journalists, but is not incumbent on private individuals (unless they have
some reason to suspect a specific case).

Martin Stern


From: Keith Bierman <khbkhb@...>
Date: Thu, Aug 3,2017 at 12:01 PM
Subject: The Dweck affair

Daniel Cohn wrote (MJ 63#45):

> Leah Gordon wrote (MJ 63#44):

>> Sexual orientation is an inborn inclination, according to our scientific
>> understanding.

> This is at best misleading. Science is still undecided on this. See:
> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sexual_orientation

When I was a student, my Talmud Rav had a "side job" running a mental health
program for children (he had a Ph.D. in the area). He once pointed out that
Halacha might define something as a "disease", thus resulting in improper
behaviors being "onnes [compulsive behavior]", where science (du jour) had
determined otherwise.  Whether sexual orientation is learned, innate or some
combination (as determined by science of the day), I would submit that treating
it halacically as a disease, thus treating the individuals as subject to onnes
provides the best compromise for an otherwise observant member of the community.

However, I would *not* suggest then that folks work on "cures" - those programs
seem ill advised at best; but that's not a fit topic for MJ.

Keith Bierman
303 997 2749

From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Thu, Aug 3,2017 at 06:01 PM
Subject: The Dweck affair

Daniel Cohn wrote (MJ 63#45):
> Leah Gordon wrote (MJ 63#44):
>> Sexual orientation is an inborn inclination, according to our scientific
>> understanding.
> This is at best misleading. Science is still undecided on this.
> ...
> From an hashkafic point of view, I don't see how it can be argued that the
> Torah will forbid a behavior that is "inborn" in certain people.

Therefore, if the Torah forbids certain behaviours, it must be possible,
though perhaps difficult, for those who have an inborn inclination to
practice them to control themselves and abstain from actualising their
urges. I don't see any fundamental difference in principle between those who
have strong desires for intimacy with those of the same gender as themselves
and those who are overwhelmed by the desire to acquire other people's
possessions (probably a larger proportion of humanity!).

Martin Stern

From: Sammy Finkelman <sammy.finkelman@...>
Date: Mon, Aug 7,2017 at 05:01 PM
Subject: The Dweck affair

In response to Daniel Cohn (MJ 63#45): 

>From an hashkafic point of view, I don't see how it can be argued that the Torah
will forbid a behavior that is "inborn" in certain people.

That's what the Rambam says - there are no such mitzos.

I think what we are losing sight of is the distiction between

1) A behavior that is inborn


2) A behavior that cannot be changed (readily anyway)

The current philosophy which people believe in, not because there is any basis
for it, but because it is convenient to believe that, is that sexual orientation
is not acquired, but also not inherited.

This does not leave too many possibilities, and whatever they have is - what do
they say - "a combination of genetic, hormonal, and social factors" . A
combination means no factor alone can explain - i.e. identical twins don't have
the same sexual orientation but have a higher probability (when they are both
homosexuals, it's often with each other)

In actuality it probably is the result of choices made during puberty which is,
I guess consistent  with, and probably the same thing, as social factors
(because if it was already determined, you would not need it as a factor)

You can't it is, say, genetic because identical twins don't necessarily have the
same sexual orientation (and when they are both homosexuals, it's often with
each other) You can say it is a factor because they have a higher probability -
but this is the probablility of something going wrong or being possible to make
it go wrong.

Hormonal factors are just handwaving, and probably based on a connection to
birth order, so if it is birth order, it can't be genetic, so they assume hormones.

Chazal, noted at Avodah Zorah 17b, just a little bit before the mishnah, side
with social factors, (which however, may have a genetic component)  and they
made a decree because of the possibility that boys could be made into
homosexuals.  This decree was made only because of experience.


End of Volume 63 Issue 46