Volume 63 Number 58 
      Produced: Wed, 27 Sep 17 01:07:37 -0400

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

Censorship (was On Celibacy as a "Solution" for Gay Jews) 
    [Martin Stern]
Does Shemittah Cancel A Defaulted Loan? 
    [Martin Stern]
Kiddush Levana on Motz'ai Tisha b'Av 
    [Martin Stern]
Mazal Tov 
    [Martin Stern]
    [Carl A. Singer]
On Celibacy as a "Solution" for Gay Jews (2)
    [Meir Wise  Bill Bernstein]
Passion? (2)
    [Frank Silbermann  Yisrael Medad]
Ve-ir ha'Elohim mushpelet ad sheol tachtiyah 
    [Joel Rich]


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Tue, Sep 26,2017 at 09:01 AM
Subject: Censorship (was On Celibacy as a "Solution" for Gay Jews)

Leah Gordon wrote (MJ 63#57):

> ...
> Even in this tiny Orthodox corner of the internet, we have heard first-hand
> accounts of how gay and lesbian Jews are struggling and in some cases, coming
> to harm from themselves or others.  We have heard from one of our members (a
> woman) who was married off to a gay closeted Orthodox man, with disastrous
> results that still impact her today.
> If this is the case even on MJ, which is highly censored and totally excludes
> the majority of the Jewish world, then imagine what a huge issue this is for
> the world at large.
> ...

Wearing my moderator hat, I can assure Leah that her claim that MJ is "highly
censored" is untrue. As long as submissions do not actively advocate against
halachah, as opposed to suggesting consideration of minority opinions that are
generally not customary practice, or on which halachah has no authoritative
position, we do not refuse to allow them to be put forward. We have allowed
highly problematic points of view that have generated considerable opposition.

As for her assertion that MJ "totally excludes the majority of the Jewish
world", I assure her that this is not a deliberate policy on our part, but
rather a result of the reality that the majority of Jews are not connected to
the beauty of our tradition, often due to sociological influences or abridged
Jewish education. It is precisely the hope of us, as moderators, that
mail-jewish will provide an inclusive, intellectually honest and non-judgmental
environment for as many Jews as possible to discuss our tradition within the
limits of halachah.

Martin Stern


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Tue, Sep 19,2017 at 04:01 AM
Subject: Does Shemittah Cancel A Defaulted Loan?

Immanuel Burton wrote (MJ 63#57):

> ...
> A loan is cancelled at the end of the Shemittah year (every 7 years), and the
> borrower then has no obligation to repay the loan. Not only that, but the
> lender can't even claim repayment unless the lender follows the 'pruzbul'
> procedure ...

This is not strictly correct. Shemittah prevents the lender from pressing
the borrower to repay his debt but does not FORBID the latter to do so. 

As he points out:

> There is a Torah obligation to repay loans when they become due. Failure to do
> so is a breach of the negative commandment not to oppress one's fellow - "lo
> sa'ashoak ess ray'acho" - do not oppress your fellow (Leviticus 19:13).

If he chooses to repay it after shemittah, the lender should remind him that it
is cancelled by it and his repayment is a voluntary act.

The basis for the pruzbul is that it transfers the debt from the lender to
the Beit Din which makes the lender its agent. Since the prohibition on
pressing for repayment only applies to the lender PERSONALLY, he can then
claim the repayment in his new status as a 'court bailiff'.

Martin Stern


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Tue, Sep 19,2017 at 05:01 AM
Subject: Kiddush Levana on Motz'ai Tisha b'Av

Joel Rich wrote (MJ 63#57):

> Is it a common practice to say Kiddush Levana on Motzai (evening after
> completion of) Tisha B'av even though one is still fasting in order to be sure
> to have a minyan?

AFAIK this is incorrect. One should first eat and put on one's regular shoes
(and washes one's hands completely, something omitted in the morning) since
Kiddush Levanah is meant to be a joyful act (which is why it is ideally
performed on Motz'ai Shabbat when one is still dressed in one's Shabbat
clothes). Having a minyan is preferred but not essential. Perhaps the shul
should provide some light refreshments so that the minyan can remain.

Martin Stern


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Tue, Sep 26,2017 at 04:01 AM
Subject: Mazal Tov

Lawrence Myers wrote (MJ 63#57):
> Mazal Tov to our moderator, Martin Stern, on the marriage of his granddaughter
> Na'ama Wigman, in Israel.

Many thanks for his congratulations (and those from others off-line). This morning
another of our granddaughters, Shevi Bengio, had a baby boy.

May I wish all MJ subscribers a gemar chatimah tovah and may they all see only
simchas in their families in the coming year(s).

Martin Stern


From: Carl A. Singer <carl.singer@...>
Date: Tue, Sep 19,2017 at 10:01 AM
Subject: Nusach

Martin Stern (MJ 63#55) wrote:

> In his Ask the Rabbi column for Shabbat Parashat Ki Teitzei 5777 on the
> Hemdat Hayamim website, Rav Daniel Mann, author of "Living the Halachic
> Process" discusses some new-fangled 'customs' that are appearing.
> http://www.eretzhemdah.org/newsletterArticle.asp?lang=en&pageid=&cat=7&newsl
> etter=2613&article=7252
>> Here are a few examples of such practices that are new, picking up steam, or
>> expanding to new communities: Breaking up a minyan so two aveilim can be
>> chazan; a chazan using his own nusach in a shul with a set different nusach;
>> asking for haftara semi-regularly during the year of aveilut; minyanim in
>> which people come late, daven at their own speed without skipping, and 
>> thereby there is a questionable quorum for Shemoneh Esrei and chazarat
>> hashatz.

My apologies for breaking into the middle of a conversation, so to speak, but I
would like to comment on one point:

>> a chazan using his own nusach in a shul with a set different nusach

With a slight twist -- in the late 1970's early 80's I lived in suburban
Philadelphia and was a member of Lower Merion Synagogue. Rabbi Abraham Levene
was the Rav (he was the grandson of Reb Aryeh Levin.) Rabbi Levene related to me
that when his father, himself an esteemed shul rav, retired from New Jersey to
Israel, he led a congregation mostly of older "survivors" from throughout
Europe.  The minhag of that shul was that the chazan used the nusach of his

I must admit that my eyes are watering as I think of this and also as I try
to remember the davening of my youth.

Carl A. Singer, Ph.D., Colonel, U.S. Army Retired


From: Meir Wise <Meirhwise@...>
Date: Tue, Sep 19,2017 at 02:01 AM
Subject: On Celibacy as a "Solution" for Gay Jews

In response to Leah Gordon (MJ 63#57):

Anybody who advocates gay "marriage" is shamelessly attacking the Torah and Judaism.

In the light of what is written Rabbeinu Yonah's Shaarei Tefilla (Ch 3, Section

"One who praises disgusting deeds or lauds the wicked is himself completely
wicked (rasha gamur) 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 call on them to desist and repent before Yom Kippur

Gemar Chasimah Tovah

Rabbi Wise

From: Bill Bernstein <billbernstein@...>
Date: Tue, Sep 19,2017 at 11:01 AM
Subject: On Celibacy as a "Solution" for Gay Jews

Leah Gordon (MJ 63#57) has a long post where she, inter alia, excoriates the
list for lack of "compassion" on the homosexual issue. Among her claims is that
some people are "even more machmir" on

> (1) giving our fellow Jew the benefit of the doubt; and 
> (2) not standing idly by our fellow Jew when s/he is suffering; and 
> (3) minding our own business about other people's sex lives.

These are bizarre claims. While not suspecting a fellow Jew of wrongdoing is
certainly a mitzva we are dealing with people who are forthright about their
activities and inclinations. There is no need to suspect something which is
openly admitted. Further I do not know what Ms Gordon's version of "compassion"
looks like. Is it

1. Don't ask - Don't tell, 

2. Look the other way,

3. Full acceptance of the "gay lifestyle"

or something else?

I do know it is not compassionate -- the very opposite in fact -- to encourage
someone to engage in behavior which is sinful and which separates a Jew from his
Creator. There is also a rabbinic prohibition to be "mesayeh le'overei aveirah"
(encouraging sin). 

No one is necessarily responsible for his inclinations. He is responsible,
however, for his actions unless they are simply a case of onus (due to force

Since many homosexuals have been celibate it is obviously possible, in the
abstract, to abstain from such activities. Indulging and satisfying desires is
not a Jewish measure of happiness - serving HaShem and doing His commandments is.

Bill Bernstein
Nashville TN.


From: Frank Silbermann <frank_silbermann@...>
Date: Tue, Sep 19,2017 at 09:01 AM
Subject: Passion?

Joel Rich wrote (MJ 63#57):

> As we approach the High Holy Days I was thinking about Modern Orthodoxy
> - are the rank and file passionate about their religion? Anecdotally it seems
> to me not, so I was wondering if they are not, is it that they are passionate
> about something else or just not passionate in general?

I once met a Hassid whom others referred to as "Rabbi Flume" because he was
passionate about roller-coasters and amusement park flume rides. He traveled the
country (the world?) to experience all of them.

I associate this kind of passion with people who are on the autistic spectrum,
as I suspect was the case there.  "Special interests" of such people can be
quite diverse, and this is part of the tragedy of high functioning autism -- not
only do they fail to connect with neuro-typicals, but the special interests of
other people on the spectrum also usually fail to coincide.

Frank Silbermann
Memphis, Tennessee

From: Yisrael Medad  <yisrael.medad@...>
Date: Tue, Sep 19,2017 at 03:01 PM
Subject: Passion?

For at least a second time that I recall recently, Joel Rich asks a question
that cannot be answered:

> I was thinking about Modern Orthodoxy - are the rank and file passionate about
> their religion?

That is a polling question, of literally millions. How can it be answered? I am
literally asking: how? by what method? has there been a reliable poll published

Another problem is: What is "passionate"? Is putting out a lot of money for an
ethrog, being passionate?

Yisrael Medad



From: Joel Rich <JRich@...>
Date: Tue, Sep 19,2017 at 05:01 AM
Subject: Ve-ir ha'Elohim mushpelet ad sheol tachtiyah

David E Cohen wrote (MJ 63#57):

> Dr, Ben Katz (MJ 63#52) brought up the line "ve-ir ha'elohim mushpelet ad 
> sheol tachtiyah" -- "the City of God is degraded to the uttermost depths" -- in
> the selicha "Ezkerah Elohim veEhemayah."
> I have long felt that this particular stanza is a unique case of something
> that is problematic to say nowadays, *even* according to the viewpoint of
> those who would generally prefer to keep original texts intact and
> reinterpret references to a destroyed Jerusalem as referring to the
> spiritually desolate state in which Jerusalem remains so long as the Temple
> has not been rebuilt.
> ...
> So today, when despite the pronounced absence of the Temple and the Shechina,
> Jerusalem is b"h a built-up, modern, thriving city, I think it's hard to
> reinterpret this verse in a way that is still relevant.

For a Hebrew shiur on the subject of changing this type of text including R'
Lichtenstein's position:

Rabbi Jonathan Ziring - '" 3

Joel Rich


End of Volume 63 Issue 58