Volume 63 Number 59 
      Produced: Tue, 10 Oct 17 08:44:23 -0400

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

Birds as Sukkah Decorations 
    [David Olivestone]
    [Leah Gordon]
Chananiah Mishael and Azariah 
    [Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz]
Future impact of  deeds  
    [Joel Rich]
Mutual infighting on mail jewish 
    [Irwin Weiss]
Naming Right? 
    [Joel Rich]
On Celibacy as a "Solution" for Gay Jews (3)
    [Martin Stern  Leah Gordon  Leah Gordon]
Prayer leader 
    [Joel Rich]


From: David Olivestone <david@...>
Date: Tue, Oct 3,2017 at 04:01 PM
Subject: Birds as Sukkah Decorations

Does anyone know or can suggest a theory as to why birds are so often a feature
of noyyei sukkah (sukkah decorations)? The only possible reference I have seen
suggested is Isaiah 31:5: "As birds hover, so will the Lord of Hosts protect
Jerusalem...", but that doesn't seem like a solid enough basis for something so

David Olivestone


From: Leah Gordon <leah@...>
Date: Tue, Oct 10,2017 at 07:01 AM
Subject: Censorship

Martin Stern wrote (MJ 63#58):
> 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.

Thank you for this clarification. I'm glad to know that you only censor when 
needed. ;) 
My point stands that MJ is fairly cloistered and that *EVEN SO* we have gay and
lesbian brothers and sisters on this list who are struggling. All the more so,
is this the case in the wider world.


From: Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz <sabbahillel@...>
Date: Wed, Oct 4,2017 at 03:01 PM
Subject: Chananiah Mishael and Azariah

Sanhedrin daf 93 a (Art Scroll 93a2) discusses the fate of Chananiah, Mishael
and Azariah after they were saved from the furnace.

Rebbi Eliezer (Tanna) and Rav (Amora) say they died from ayin hara. This means
that the anguish of those who failed the test caused a reaction of anger towards
the three who actually passed the test. This is what we see nowadays in those
who resent the fact that "orthodox" Jews actually follow the Torah and Hashem as
well as those who push the BDS and anti-semitic and anti-Israel agenda while
claiming to be "Jewish". This is like what Rabbi Akiva said about his attitude
towards talmidei chachamim (scholars) when he was still an am ha'aretz (ignorant).

Rebbi Yehoshua (Tanna) and Shmuel (Amora) say "they drowned in spittle" (as
explained in note 15). Earlier the daf explains that when the three came out of
the furnace unharmed, the goyim spat on Bnei Yisrael, asking them how could they
have bowed to the idol when they have such a powerful God. This shows the
reaction of those not subject to the test when seeing people fail it. The
humiliation of this was felt by the three of them because they felt it as if it
was their own humiliation and injury. Nowadays, it is like those who have
contempt for the non-religious and anti-religious Jews.

The chachamim (Tannaim) and Rav Yochanan (Amora) say that they went to Eretz
Yisrael, married, and raised their families. This is from the viewpoint of the
heroes themselves. They did not regard themselves as having done anything
extraordinary, but just did what they were required to do. As a result, they
continued their lives in the same way, raising their children to continue in the
same way. This is like the bracha Hashem gave Avraham when he said that Avraham
would continue and teach his children how to live. It is why the Bnei Yisrael at
Sinai are described as everyone who would be born in the future being treated as
having accepted the Torah. It is the way the "orthodox" built frum communities
after World War II and are continuing in our current day.

Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz


From: Joel Rich <JRich@...>
Date: Fri, Sep 29,2017 at 10:01 AM
Subject: Future impact of  deeds 

In one of his shiurim, R'Reisman questioned a common (my) understanding of how
those who are no longer with us could be judged based on the future impact of
their deeds on an ongoing basis. 

The specific example was two individuals (A & B) separately caused two other
individuals (C & D, who were totally equivalent) to become religious. C dies a
day later, while D lives a long, productive, and fruitful life. Does it make
sense that A gets more credit (schar) than B?

My answer is no, but this does not refute the basic premise. The schar is based
on the % of their potential that C & D actualized - only HKB"H knows that, so, in
this case in fact, A might even get more credit than B. So, if you are C or D,
you still must work hard to actualize all your potential to maximize A's or B's
reward (as in when a child says kaddish, etc.)  


Joel Rich


From: Irwin Weiss <irwin@...>
Date: Thu, Sep 28,2017 at 07:01 AM
Subject: Mutual infighting on mail jewish

We sure attack each other on this site.  Some differences are just differences
of opinion. For sure, various people in various places have differing customs
... Some of us daven with nusach Sephard, others with other nusachim.  Some
won't eat meat until 6 hours after milk, some 3.  I suppose some people don't
eat meat at all. (Leah Gordon posted that she doesn't eat herring!) On at least
a good number of things there is room for understanding and flexibility. For
example, Dr. Carl Singer has noted a shul where the chazzan could use the nusach
of his youth.

When you daven the amidah this Yom Kippur, which is upon us shortly (or already
happened depending on when this is published), read carefully the words VaYe'asu
Chulam Aguda Achat Laasot Retzoncha Blevav Shalem. (Let us all come together as
one unified entity, to do Hashem's will with a complete heart). Why Levav when
the word for heart is Lev?  Why the extra letter/syllable? Because each of us
has competing inclinations. A Yetzer Hatov and a Yetzer Hara. (Good inclination,
evil inclination).  And, each of us has different views on different things. I
personally find that my own view of things varies sometimes from day to day.

Gmar Tov to all

Irwin Weiss
Baltimore, MD


From: Joel Rich <JRich@...>
Date: Wed, Sep 27,2017 at 10:01 AM
Subject: Naming Right?

Please take a shot at reconciling this statement with current practice, and what
HKB"H wants from us:

Rama Y"D 249:13 (my free translation) - In any event one shouldn't glorify
oneself with the charity he gives, not only won't he receive reward but he is
even punished and in any event one who dedicates an item to charity is permitted
to write his name on it to be a memorial for (to?) him and it is worthy to do so
(Taz - so the community cannot switch its use).

Joel Rich


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Wed, Sep 27,2017 at 07:01 AM
Subject: On Celibacy as a "Solution" for Gay Jews

Bill Bernstein wrote (MJ 63#58):

> 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.

I think that Bill has hit the nail on its head. We are not talking about
homosexuals who act discreetly but those who demand that their behaviour be
acknowledged publicly as a "legitimate alternative lifestyle" and that
denying their right to "marry someone of the same gender" is an infringement
of their "human rights". These are quite clearly against the Torah and
though one might treat the former compassionately, there seems no way that
the latters' demands can be sanctioned. As Bill continues:

> 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?

As far as I can tell, the only course of action that the Torah could allow
is the first, though the second might just be possible where the persons
concerned do not flaunt their behaviour.
> 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).

Where they will not listen to any admonition the Torah does not require us
to give any but that does not mean we should condone Torah-prohibited
> 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
> majeure). 

This is the fundamental point. There is no obligation to entrap homosexuals
as was at one time the practice of many police forces but they are entitled
to act against "indecency in a public place" whether the participants are of
different genders or the same.
> 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.

Everyone has to face the challenges of their personal yetser hara
[inclination]. For some it is financial improprieties for others sexual -
homosexuality is no different.

Martin Stern

From: Leah Gordon <leah@...>
Date: Tue, Oct 10,2017 at 07:01 AM
Subject: On Celibacy as a "Solution" for Gay Jews

Meir Wise wrote (MJ 67#58):
> 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 148):
> "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

I'm surprised this level of attack was permitted on our list. Nevertheless,
I hope that, if Meir is actually a congregational rabbi, that he revise his
style of pastoral counseling on this topic, and perhaps question why he reacts
so strongly in this area.
As for his quote, it would be somewhat circular logic to say, "don't be wicked
and I know you are being wicked because here is a quote saying people are wicked
and I'm applying it to what I think about you"
I've been called a heretic and worse on MJ in the past, and I may again be in
the  future. I just want people to know on the record that I don't think it is
OK to denounce/defame whole categories of Jews without giving them the benefit
of the doubt.
I understand that he is a rabbi (and whenever he is particularly angry, his
first name disappears into his title in his signature on MJ) - I am a science
teacher. And  although "ha-meivin yavin" loses nearly all of its punch in the
age of google, here's a quote for him: "And yet it moves."

From: Leah Gordon <leah@...>
Date: Tue, Oct 10,2017 at 07:01 AM
Subject: On Celibacy as a "Solution" for Gay Jews

In response to Bill Bernstein (MJ 63#58):

One thing that I would certainly characterize as a lack of compassion is the
idea that a happily married person would declare that someone else should be
celibate for life. This has actually been discussed a lot on MJ in previous
years with regard to single people (a discussion I don't believe I was part of).

Am I encouraging straight people to engage in sinful behavior by recognizing
their marriages? Even though we know that the vast majority of straight Jewish
couples are not fulfilling traditional Torah views on things like mikvah?


From: Joel Rich <JRich@...>
Date: Mon, Oct 9,2017 at 02:01 PM
Subject: Prayer leader

I note the following practices at a chareidi shul in Ramat Beit Shemesh which
has multiple minyanim: At the appointed starting time for each minyan, there is
often not a "volunteer" to lead the services. The amount of time that it takes
to start varies as everyone looks at each other trying to influence someone to
start. If there is a young bar mitzvah boy, he is often "sent" for mincha/maariv
(apparently there is no official gabbai). I'm not sure what the community
thinking is, perhaps humility to avoid the amud (prayer leading), but I'm struck
by the amount of bittul zeman (wasted time) caused and wonder how this trade-off
was decided upon. I also wonder about why the practice of sending youngsters up
developed given the Shulchan Aruch's  priorities for a chazzan (e.g. learned).


Joel Rich


End of Volume 63 Issue 59