Volume 63 Number 47 
      Produced: Wed, 09 Aug 17 10:08:27 -0400

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

A drifting and aimless people (2)
    [Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz  Martin Stern]
A matter of doubt? (2)
    [Leah S. R. Gordon  Yisrael Medad]
Birchot hashachar 
    [Sammy Finkelman]
Kashrut status of leniencies for those observing stringencies 
    [Orrin Tilevitz]
Tachanun if only the Kallah is present 
    [Yisrael Medad]
The Dweck affair (3)
    [Sammy Finkelman  Leah Gordon  Michael Rogovin]
Why does it say Moshe Kibail Torah MiSinai (and not from Hashem) 
    [Sammy Finkelman]


From: Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz <sabbahillel@...>
Date: Tue, Aug 8,2017 at 05:01 AM
Subject: A drifting and aimless people

Joel Rich wrote (MJ 63#46):

> 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?

This would be those whose "religion" is the political left who do not understand
that they are following an artificial belief that actually contradicts the
ability to live. Seeing the change in the past century in those who have
rejected the Torah, no matter what name they have pretended to call themselves
is sufficient to understand what this means.

Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz

From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Wed, Aug 9,2017 at 10:01 AM
Subject: A drifting and aimless people

Joel Rich alluded (MJ 63#46) to "various streams and substreams of Judaism".
It would be interesting to have criteria for deciding whether any specific
movement was in any meaningful sense a "stream of JUDAISM" rather than an
ideology espoused by people CLAIMING to be JEWS.

Obviously such groups as the 'Jews for J' or the 'Hebrew Messianic Alliance'
would fall outside any reasonable criteria.

However one would want to be as inclusive as possible and not reject, as I
have seen suggested, the Lubavitch movement or, at the least, that faction
that claims that the late Lubavitcher Rebbe is not merely the messiah but is
not really dead but waiting to return to this world in the near future to
complete his mission.

The case of the Reform movement is particularly difficult, especially in
view of the large proportion of its membership that is not halachically
Jewish (in-house converts - 90% female - and their descendants, and
so-called 'patrilineal Jews').

Are any realistic criteria possible at all?

Martin Stern


From: Leah S. R. Gordon <leah@...>
Date: Tue, Aug 8,2017 at 06:01 AM
Subject: A matter of doubt?

Susan Buxfield wrote (MJ 63#46):

> 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.

This highlights yet another way in which my world view is diametrically opposed
to Susan's. I would not have thought of either of those possibilities in
response to Joel's question - rather, it seems to me to describe the extremely
common phenomenon of those who loyally follow a "frum" lifestyle, but have
doubts as to the existence of an all-powerful G-d.  I suspect there are many, if
not a majority, of such people.

Leah S. R. Gordon

From: Yisrael Medad  <yisrael.medad@...>
Date: Tue, Aug 8,2017 at 12:01 PM
Subject: A matter of doubt?

Joel Rich asked (MJ 63#44):

> "Question to all - what percentage of the frum world have no doubts?"

Does he really think any one of the list members can answer that
authoritatively, with even 50% precision? Make that 10% precision?

I doubt that.

Odd that he should even try to ask. Perhaps he should, first of all, define what
he means by 'frum'.

Yisrael Medad



From: Sammy Finkelman <sammy.finkelman@...>
Date: Tue, Aug 8,2017 at 11:01 AM
Subject: Birchot hashachar

Mark Steiner wrote (MJ 63#45):

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

This phraseology is possibly confusing. I think what he must mean to say is that
the sources that have she-asani yisrael are the result of censorship, and that's
not what was there originally.

What needs clarifying is when this censorship happened.


From: Orrin Tilevitz <tilevitzo@...>
Date: Tue, Aug 8,2017 at 12:01 PM
Subject: Kashrut status of leniencies for those observing stringencies

Lenient and stringent positions exist in kashrut, where depending on how one
looks at it, the leniency/stringency is adopted by a minority or majority of
halachic authorities, kashrut agencies, and those who keep kosher. My question
is: if I accept a stringent position, is it permissible for me to eat in the
home of someone else who doesn't (if I can avoid the forbidden food), or must I
treat that home as traif?

I"ll mention four such leniencies/stringencies:

(1) Chalav stam (milk from a kosher animal produced without the presence of a
Jew, or a religiously observant one), at least in the U.S.: R. Moshe Feinstein
permitted its consumption.

(2) Non-glatt kosher meat. I believe the Talmud refers to glatt kosher (the
animals lungs have no adhesions) as a stringency, and at least in pre-war Europe
I"m told that glatt kosher meat was uncommon. In the U.S., apparently, glatt is
default standard: if meat is found not glatt, mainstream will have nothing to do
with it. But, hypothetically, what if I satisfy myself that the supervision for
this non-glatt meat is acceptable?

(3) Gelatin from non-kosher animals. No mainstream kashrut agency in the U.S.
will certify it, or any food that contains it, but the Israeli chief rabbinate
will. Its consumption as food was permitted by Chaim Ozer Grodzinski, a
widely-respected scholar in pre-war Vilna.

(4) Cheese made by non-Jews from microbial rennet. The Shulchan Arukh forbids
consumption of gevinat akum (cheese made by non-Jews), and I take it that the
position of the small minority of kashrut agencies (none mainstream) that
certify it is that this gezera (decree) applies only to cheese made with animal
rennet. According to various sources online, R. Soloveitchik would personally
eat such cheese when "kosher" cheese was not available.


From: Yisrael Medad  <yisrael.medad@...>
Date: Wed, Aug 9,2017 at 10:01 AM
Subject: Tachanun if only the Kallah is present

As we all know, the Tachanun prayer is not said in the synagogue if a Chatan is
present during the 7 days of wedding celebration. (Sources: Shulchan Aruch
131:4, Rama, Shulchan Aruch Harav 5, Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 22:7) but what if he
stays home and the Kallah goes to synagogue?

Would we think her "joy" is any less than her husband's?

Or since she is not fully bound to pray her status is less?

Is it the congregation's joy or her's?

The answer I received is that if a Kallah is present at the synagogue, or the
minyan takes place in the home in which she is present, Tachanun is not said in
accordance with the view of those who hold that if a Chatan is present and even
if he does not join in in the minyan, nevertheless, Tachanun is not said.

Oddly, the Net'ai Gavrial suggests that a Chatan pray at home so as to permit
the reciting of Tachanun by the minyan.


Any other opinions?

Yisrael Medad



From: Sammy Finkelman <sammy.finkelman@...>
Date: Tue, Aug 8,2017 at 12:01 PM
Subject: The Dweck affair

I wrote (MJ 63#46):

> Chazal, noted at Avodah Zorah 17b, just a little bit before the mishnah, side
> with social factors, (which however, may have a genetic component)

The reference was incorrect and should have been Shabbos 17b.

The incident took place in the  upper chamber of Hananiah ben Hezekiah, probably
during, or shortly after, the reign of Agrippa I, who ruled Eretz Yisroel 
between procurators. between 41 and 44 CE, when he died.

Hananiah b. Hezekiah ben Garon isn't remembered very well because of the
destruction that took place not long after, but a lot of things happened then.
Beis Shammai and Beis Hillel met in his upper chamber and Beis Hillel was
outvoted and Beis Shammai pushed through 18 decrees. The one I am talking about
they didn't even want to be too explicit about, but they decreed a child of a
non-Jew - by which they meant Greeks - should be considered a zav [sufferer from
a pathological genital discharge].

They also went through a purge of all the Pseudepigrapha, and maybe also other
'irrelevent' books, and they almost eliminated Koheles and Yechezkel. It took a
lot of staying up nights by  Hananiah b. Hezekiah ben Garon to save the book of
Yechezkel from being condemned.

The Dead Sea Scrolls were probably deposited at that time. They are either
Pseudepigrapha or bad copies,  or like the Isaiah scroll, a difficult to use
copy with too many corrections that someone turned over.

They were put in genizah (also called shemos) and preserved because of an
opinion (which we don't hold to now but it was definitely an opinion then) that
anything containing Hashem's name could not be allowed to deteriorate. No copy
of the Megillas Esther was included because it does not include Hashem's name
and so was not considered shemos. So the Dead Sea Scrolls were not any kind of
library, and there was no Dead Sea sect at Qumrun.

From: Leah Gordon <leah@...>
Date: Tue, Aug 8,2017 at 04:01 PM
Subject: The Dweck affair

Sammy Finkelman wrote (MJ 63#46):

> 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)

This bizarre and totally unsubstantiated claim was so strange that I thought
I misinterpreted it, but as he repeated it, I can only assume that he meant
it as written.

His statement is no more sensible than its parallel: When male-female
fraternal twins are straight, it is often with each other.

1. It doesn't make grammatical or sexual sense to refer to being "straight
with each other" or "homosexual (gay?) with each other".

2. Please will Sammy provide any reference whatsoever of a connection
between incest and homosexuality

3. The VAST majority of incest cases, and indeed of sexual assault in general,
consist of abuse by adult straight men (90% or more in what I've read, most
recently in material put out by the APA). Of these cases, girls are five times
more likely to be abused than boys, but even in cases where boys are abused, it
is nearly always a straight man doing the abusing, which comes from a
demonstration of power, not of sexuality. Aside from a strange, well-publicized
question in Slate's "Ask Prudie," there are vanishingly few cases of sibling
"consensual" incest.

Sammy continued, describing hormonal effects on sexuality as "hand-waving". This
is not the case. Hormonal effects are well-documented. The existence of people
who do not trust or understand science, does not detract from its fundamental
truth. Very few people could explain a solar eclipse five hundred years ago, and
might have thought it was "hand-waving" if one said, "it's because of
astronomical forces." Nevertheless, the science was, and is, there.

As for his claim that "one's choices during puberty" lead to gay or straight
sexual identity, this is also false. Gay and lesbian children report knowing
from very early ages that they are attracted to their own gender.

There has not yet been a reported case of someone who knew s/he was straight,
and was "converted" to being gay/lesbian. The closest truth to this myth is the
temporary acquisition of homoerotic behavior in single-sex environments, e.g.
prison or pirate ships.

(In this context, those who really worry about kids "turning gay" would do
well to rethink strictly sex-segregated youth groups and school systems.)

Leah S. R. Gordon

From: Michael Rogovin <michael@...>
Date: Tue, Aug 8,2017 at 06:01 PM
Subject: The Dweck affair

Well we have drifted quite off the topic. The issue (I thought) was how to deal
with a couple in a non-halachicly accepted/recognized relationship as members of
the orthodox community. 

I gave (MJ 63#43) 5 common examples of relationships that would be troubling
from a halachic point of view, but accepted either legally or socially in
today's civil society (plus one unusual one that is rejected by both but for
which the secular arguments against it are weak):

> Doni and Tal seek to join Congregation Baruchim Haba'im, a modern orthodox 
> shul.
> ...
> Does it matter if the relationship is:
> a. unmarried, cohabiting
> b. civilly married but not halachicly (no chupah, or married non-orthodox)
> c. one or both was previously married and did not give or receive a get
> d. they are in polyamorous relationship(s)
> e. one (or each) is not halachicly Jewish or Jewish at all
> f. they are a same sex couple

I then listed 8 possible responses, ranging from complete rejection
to complete acceptance with several options in between. The question for
some participants in the discussion seems to revolve around how much the
couple seeks acceptance of their relationship. 

If they are civilly married, they will have the same last name. If they are
listed together as a household with children, I suppose one could assume they
are siblings and just look the other way, but they act like a couple in all
other respects. And everyone knows. 

This seems like a dilemma: either one does the humanitarian thing and accepts
them so that they and their children live as much of an observant lifestyle as
possible within a community that will support them as needed. 

Or we reject them, partially or fully, and say that we cannot accept them as a
prohibited couple. Maybe as individuals (with the same address and last names
and children) if we are willing to go that far. Or maybe not at all. If your
shul has not yet had to deal with this, it will.

And I know of several shuls that are already dealing with transgender
individuals, in one case of a child. Folks, the modern orthodox community
cannot escape these issues. We have to decide what to do, whether as policy
or on a case by case basis (it seem to me, for example, that other than
complete rejection, there are less issues for MtF than FtM transgender).

Michael Rogovin


From: Sammy Finkelman <sammy.finkelman@...>
Date: Tue, Aug 8,2017 at 12:01 PM
Subject: Why does it say Moshe Kibail Torah MiSinai (and not from Hashem)

Somebody asked me this a few weeks ago, and I did a little thinking. I realized
that even that part of Pirkei Avos was not composed by Rabbi Yehuda Hanasi but
is older. This is what I told him:

While we often hear that the Mishnah originally was not written down, the rule
actually was that it could not be *communicated* in writing, meaning people
wrote down what they heard, but they never showed it to anyone else. TAfterwards
they destroyed it.  (We see an example of how it was written in Berachos in the
story about how Rabban Gamliel was removed temporarily from his post as Nasi in

If it was going to be destroyed it could not include Hashem's name, and almost
every Mishnah avoids doing that, That's why we only have the ends of the
berachos in the Mishnah. So that's why this form of lashon [language] is used.

The person I spoke to thought that was a very good explanation.  He already knew
very well about it being capable of being copied so long as it was destroyed.
(The explanation here is a bit longer than what I said.)


End of Volume 63 Issue 47