Volume 63 Number 53 
      Produced: Sat, 19 Aug 17 17:41:43 -0400

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

Birchot hashachar 
    [Menashe Elyashiv]
No Hebrew letter Fey in the Birkat HaMazon 
    [Menashe Elyashiv]
On Celibacy as a "Solution" for Gay Jews (was The Dweck affair) 
    [Leah Gordon]
Praying in the aisle (3)
    [Martin Stern  Perets Mett  Joel Rich]
Reform Jews 
    [Sammy Finkelman]
Responsibility to warn of a sakanah 
    [Carl A. Singer]
The Dweck affair (2)
    [Meir Wise  Leah Gordon]


From: Menashe Elyashiv<menely2@...>
Date: Sat, Aug 19,2017 at 02:01 PM
Subject: Birchot hashachar

In MJ 63#52 Sammy Finkelman wrote:

> The Shulchan Aruch [45 - 46:8] rules like the Rambam, while the Rama
> accepts the opinion of the Ramban. Interestingly, the minhag of Sephardim 
> follows the Rama

The Sepharadim follow in general Maran Shulhan Aruch, however, in matters of
prayers, if the Ari (R. Yishak Luria) holds different, then we follow him. He
holds that every bracha has a Kabbalistic reason beside the simple reason, so
one must say all of them everyday. Even if one stays up all night (of course
asher yasar is said only if needed, and al netilat yadaim only after sleep ) all
are said. 

Also, Maran holds not saying hanotan layaef koah because it is not mentioned in
the Talmud, but the Ari holds yes, and the Sepharadim say it.


From: Menashe Elyashiv <menely2@...>
Date: Sat, Aug 19,2017 at 03:01 PM
Subject: No Hebrew letter Fey in the Birkat HaMazon

In MJ 63#51 Yisrael Medad wrote:
> I was directed to a comment by Rav Yehuda Ashkenazi, author of the Be'air
> Haitev commentary on the Shulchan Arukh, OH 185, dealing with the Grace after
> Meals. He notes there that the final "fey" letter is not to be found in the 
> Birkat HaMazon and that is on purpose so as not to recall the words "shetzef" or
> "ketzef" or "chori af", all terms of anger.

I am not suprised that there is no final fey. In some statistical check letters
freqency, the letters that are vowels hit around 10%, letters that are also
prefixes or suffexes hiit around  5%, others between 1-2%. Final fey & sadeh
only 0.2%.

Try close reading of Shaharit. Almost no final fey. I found ayef, zokef and af.
So it is logical that birkat hamazon does not have a final fey.


From: Leah Gordon <leah@...>
Date: Thu, Aug 17,2017 at 08:01 AM
Subject: On Celibacy as a "Solution" for Gay Jews (was The Dweck affair)

Rabbi Meir Wise wrote (MJ 63#50):

> And yes, my teacher, the late Chief Rabbi, Lord Jakobovits, of blessed memory
> advocated celibacy for those so inclined. He said that if nuns and monks could
> manage it as a way of serving The Lord (in their view) then Jews should be 
> able to desist from such behaviour.
> In fact, he claimed that he had a cure for AIDS! Celibacy before marriage and
> faithfulness within marriage. Condoms were like plasters but not a cure. Not a
> popular view even in the 70s!

I wanted to respond to his suggestion that if an Orthodox Jew discovers that
s/he is exclusively homosexual in orientation, that s/he should take on a life
of celibacy.

The claim that "if if nuns and monks could manage it ... then Jews should be
able to desist from such behaviour" is incorrect on many levels:

1. Catholic celibacy has never been a very workable model, particularly for
men.  There is historical and archaeological evidence (tunnels and infant
skeletons) that priests and nuns have often found each other for sexual liaisons
while supposedly "celibate".

It is also the case that celibacy as a requirement for priests has not always
been required in all times and all places, and indeed married men are still
sometimes accepted to the priesthood (if they are married first). 

There is growing evidence that the preponderance of child-sexual-abuse among
priests is highly correlated to the life of "celibacy" - the jury is still out
on whether the celibacy caused deviant behavior out of desperation, or whether
men with deviant desires were more likely to choose the priesthood as a method
of cancelling out inappropriate urges.

2. The Jewish community does not have the same structures as the Catholic
community.  For a Jew, a life of celibacy is likely to be a life of much loneliness.

Not only are there no Jewish structures like monasteries or convents, but
furthermore, Jewish people are exhorted to find marriage partners and to create
families, preferably including children - it is a failure of our cultural
expectations for someone to remain alone without a family.

3. The statement by a straight person, who happens to be privileged that his
sexual orientation matches what his culture expects - that someone ELSE should
live a life of loneliness, strikes me as thoughtless if not cruel.

--Leah S. R. Gordon


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Wed, Aug 16,2017 at 02:01 AM
Subject: Praying in the aisle

Yisrael Medad wrote (MJ 63#51):

> I previously mentioned that someone in my synagogue consistently stands in the
> aisle to daven Shmoneh Asreh which interferes with others.

This is a typical case of a bur birshut harabbim [uncouth person in the
public thoroughfare cf Bava Kamma 6a].

If there is no alternative, other mitpallelim who need to go past should
have no qualms about walking in front of him since there is no doubt that
the shechinah {Divine presence] is not in front of him as Chazal say that
HKBH cannot abide gasei ru'ach [arrogant people], whom they compare to
idolators, and R. Hisda says He cannot live in the world together with them
(Sota 4b-5a). 

If necessary, it would appear that one need not even worry about disturbing
his tefillah, which might be compared to a to'eivah [abomination], by
pushing past him.

> I thought of getting the board to charge him an additional 30-50% dues as he
> takes up more space.
> Besides the obvious social aspect, anyone think I have a halachic basis for
> doing so, or not?

I don't think that this is a good idea since it appears to grant some sort
of legitimacy to his actions. On the contrary, he should be told not to
block the aisle and warned  that, if he continues to do so, he will be
moved. If he continues, he should be given a second warning and, if this is
ineffective, the gabbai should arrange for two strong members to physically
pick him up during his Shmoneh Asreh and move him to a suitable place.

Martin Stern

From: Perets Mett <p.mett00@...>
Date: Wed, Aug 16,2017 at 03:01 AM
Subject: Praying in the aisle

In response to Yisrael Medal (MJ 63#51):

It all depends on when he uses the aisle for Shmone Esre

If he uses it at times when others are at a different point of the davening
(prayers), then he is acting improperly and prevents the aisle from being used
as a passageway. In that case it is appropriate for the board to take action. (I
do not agree that he should be cragged for the space, rather that he should be
forbidden from using it)

On the other hand, if he is standing there during the time when the whole
congregation is engaged in the silent Shmone Esre, what is the problem? Why
should he not stand there? In fact many shuls have a layout which prevents
people who are in their place from taking three steps forward before Shmone Esre
and three steps back following it, in which case the aisle is the most correct
place in which to daven.

Perets Mett

From: Joel Rich <JRich@...>
Date: Wed, Aug 16,2017 at 10:01 AM
Subject: Praying in the aisle

In response to Yisrael Medad (MJ #51):

If it interferes with others' kavanah (intent in prayer) there is definitely
"what to discuss" see S"A O"C 98:2

Joel Rich


From: Sammy Finkelman <sammy.finkelman@...>
Date: Fri, Aug 18,2017 at 12:01 PM
Subject: Reform Jews

Martin Stern wrote (MJ 63#52):

> I cannot provide figures on the US Reform movement, though I expect that
> such data exists, but some twenty tears ago I did look at the figures for
> the UK Reform movement (which in reality is more like the US Conservatives -
> the equivalent in the UK of US Reform is called Liberal).
> My findings were published in the Yated Ne'eman (Can British Reform still be
> considered a Jewish movement? 15 Sep.'99).
> http://www.chareidi.org/archives5760/succos/SCereform.htm
> I was surprised by them - like Irwin Weiss, I had previously supposed that
> most Reform adherents were Jewish.
> I based myself on an paper written by a leading Reform clergyman called
> Jonathan Romain published in the Transactions of the Jewish Historical
> Society of England on (volume XXXIII, pp. 249 - 263) based on his Ph.D.
> Thesis from the University of Leicester in 1990 entitled 'The Formation and
> Development of the Rabbinical Court of the Reform Synagogues of Great
> Britain, 1935 - 1965'.
> By comparing the figures Dr Romain provided with the statistics collected by
> the Board of Deputies of British Jews for synagogue marriages, I came to the
> conclusion that "at least 128 of the 160 (80%) marriages recorded under
> Reform auspices could not have taken place in an Orthodox synagogue", mainly
> because the bride was not born Jewish and had converted under Reform
> auspices. 
> ...
> Generally, UK Jewry is more generally affiliated to Orthodoxy than in the
> US, so I would not be surprised if the proportion there was not even higher.

No, the opposite. Because UK Jewry is more generally affiliated to Orthodoxy  if
a marriage could be performed under Orthodox auspices it most likely would be;
but that's not the case in the United States where more people are comfortable
with the Reform and Conservative movements. Or don't even know the significance
of having a non-Halachic ceremony - that no Jewish wedding took place at all then.

In the UK, because there is a Chief Rabbi, they would know.

Also marriages only tells you about the youngest generation.

> The data used refers to over 50 years ago and, with each succeeding
> generation, this proportion will obviously increase since the Reform will
> treat the children of such couples as Jewish for purposes of reporting
> statistics.

That means marriages that may appear to be ones that could have been done under
Orthodox auspices really could not have been done, but also with succeeding
generations people drift away.


From: Carl A. Singer <carl.singer@...>
Date: Thu, Aug 17,2017 at 05:01 AM
Subject: Responsibility to warn of a sakanah

[Owing to an editing error, this submission appeared in a garbled version in
MJ 63#51 - we apologise to Carl for this - MOD]

Irwin Weiss wrote (MJ 63#45):
> Carl Singer wrote (MJ 63#44):
>> My community has many two-family homes some of which have illegal
>> basement apartments. These basement apartments are deemed illegal because >>
they have only a single exit and thus are hazardous.
> While Carl says to ignore issues of dina demalchuta dina (the law of the land
> is the law), I cannot help but point to the Maryland case of Pittway v.
> Collins which you can access at:
> http://caselaw.findlaw.com/md-court-of-appeals/1302927.html
> There were two other factors there:
> 1) The basement had no windows (windows could function as an exit)
> 2) The smoke alarm was AC powered with no battery back-up so that it was not
> working during a blackout in which candles were used. Such a smoke detector
> may in turn possibly have been installed because of the fact that electrical
> work was done without a permit. Or maybe it would not have been used as a
> bedroom without electrical outlets.
> Not everything deemed a safety hazard by government really is, at least not
> the kind of hazard Rabbi Moshe Feinstein would consider it mandatory to avoid.
> Fire escapes used to be considered essential - but almost no new buildings
> in New York City have been built with them since 1968. People don't use them
> (and don't know how to) and now they have other ideas.

The reason I'm ignoring dina demalchuta is to FOCUS on *Sakanah*. A
discussion of the legalities would be interesting, but tangential to my
concerns and previous MJ discussions of dina demalchuta have gone all over
the grid.

For example, although zoning regulations vary among the local  jurisdictions
(cities / counties) the majority require a second method of egress from any
basement used as a bedroom, such as an "egress window" -- of certain
specifications as required. (This is a window with a deep window well and
built-in stairs/ladder. Search online for 'egress window" to see examples.)

There are many examples of sakanah that we often ignore until, has
v'hallila,a tragedy occurs.

Five examples:

1 Parents with mini-vans letting children out on the street (rather than
curb) side of the vehicle.

2 Children riding bicycles without helmets.

3 Talking / Texting while driving

4 Not using seat belts and proper car seats

5 Children on electric mini-bikes riding in traffic

Just to pick on #2 above, when our children were of school age my wife >>>
and I started a helmet campaign. We purchased helmets of various sizes so
students could be properly fitted, and we then placed a bulk order (parents
paying) to get a discount. Our school adopted a no-helmet / no-bike rule.
Students were not allowed to ride their bikes to school if they weren't
wearing helmets.

Carl Singer


From: Meir Wise <Meirhwise@...>
Date: Wed, Aug 16,2017 at 04:01 AM
Subject: The Dweck affair

In response to Sammy Finkelman, Keith Bierman et al, the "cure" for all
"disorders" is the study of the Torah and the keeping of its mitzvot.

Once a troubled student came to Dayan Abramsky zatz"l (my rebbe's rebbe) in the
East End of London with a problem. He claimed that he could not desist.

Dayan Abramsky asked him if he had studied that week's parasha with Rashi. He
had not. Let's look at it together said the Dayan.

In Devarim 31:14 we have the parasha of the Eishet Yefat To"ar, the beautiful
captive. Rashi says an amazing thing: "The Torah spoke about the Yetzer Hara,
for if the Holy One, blessed be He, had not permitted her, he would have married
her illicitly."

Dear M-J readers, think about this carefully. Where else does the Torah "give
in" to human frailty? Nowhere. Not murder, not theft, not homosexuality,
bestiality or incest.

Hence, the Dayan  concluded that ALL other inclinations, cravings, disorders
etc. can be conquered. The case of the Eishet Yefat Toar is the exception that
proves the rule.

The Torah explicitly forbids homosexuality and for anybody, including "rabbis"
of any denomination to say otherwise, is a denial of Torah.

With blessings

Rabbi Meir Wise

From: Leah Gordon <leah@...>
Date: Wed, Aug 16,2017 at 09:01 AM
Subject: The Dweck affair

Sammy Finkelman wrote (MJ 63#51):

> That halachah mighty not agree with the science du jour would sound
> correct. After all, it's just dogma, for instance, to insist that a desire to
> rape,  like Jane Alpert reported Sam Melville had, is not a sexual
> orientation, and pedophilia probably also belongs in the same category. An
> intolerable sexual orientation, but a sexual orientation nevertheless, and
> not something driven by a desire to exercise power over people, and not
> something people can easily stop doing on occasions when the opportunity 
> arises. Although some stopped, like former House Speaker Denis Hastert.

Again I find myself appalled at Sammy's assertions.  Rape is absolutely driven by
a desire to exert power, as opposed to sexuality, even "deviant" sexuality.  The
four most powerful pieces of evidence in the literature to this point are:

1. Recorded statements of rapists during their rapes, about exerting power, e.g.
"you deserve this, bitch; next time you won't tell me what to do" vs. those of,
for example, some pedophiles, who are ALSO creepy but say things like, "you're
so sexy" to their young victims.  Of course, there are those who are both
rapists and pedophiles!

2. The use of rape as a deliberate war crime to subjugate another people.

3. Records of "almost" acquaintance rape, in which when a woman starts to cry or
says, "No," the boy loses his erection even if he is very upset about the loss
of an opportunity for sex.  He is not aroused by a sad/desperate/unwilling
woman, in contrast with rapists, who are precisely going for that result due to
power imbalance.

4. The disproportionate number of "powerless" women who are raped in society,
including women in wheelchairs, homeless women, etc.

Maybe it would help Sammy understand the situation to consider that recent
(non-rape) case of teenagers who beat up a homeless man.  This is the kind of
perverse power play that motivates rapists.  I am sorry on behalf of humanity
that there is such ugliness, but there it is.

> It makes a great deal of difference how it is acquired - if it is voluntary or
> not. Here we are talking about arayos whuch fall into the category of ya'ahog
> v'al ya'avor.  Remember the age of responsibility for mitzvos is puberty and 
> the Torah forbids doing these things, not more than 50 times in a lifetime,
> but even one time.  But still, people maybe weren't warned of the 
> consequences of sexual experimentation. They could get stuck with whatever
> they do.

1. No educated person believes that sexual orientation is voluntary.  Even the
antiquated opinions that you have expressed on this list, i.e. that a
gay/lesbian orientation is obtained during childhood, does not posit that a
person chooses his/her orientation.   If you think that someone would choose a
same-sex orientation, please provide 

(a) a motive; 

(b) a putative biological pathway, 

(c) an example of someone choosing successfully to be straight.

2. "They could get stuck with whatever they do" - please supply any evidence for
this.  It strikes me as absurd.  Do you really believe that whoever a person
first has sex with, they will imprint like a duckling? In the secular world,
teeenagers are widely known to try all sorts of sexual activities.  I am in this
world daily as a science teacher in a public school.  I have never in my life
heard of sexual imprinting as you describe.  I have never heard of it among
teenagers, and I have never read about it in any scientific source.

3. For that matter, most gay/lesbian students I have known, are the most
abstemious among their peers, because they're often quiet and shy about their
desires, and certainly are not fooling around with anyone.

Where is Sammy getting his sources, or his ideas on how the world works
sexually?  It would help us on this list to know what sources say such things.

Leah S. R. Gordon


End of Volume 63 Issue 53