Volume 63 Number 60 
      Produced: Wed, 18 Oct 17 03:36:00 -0400

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

    [Martin Stern]
Censorship (was On Celibacy as a "Solution" for Gay Jews) 
    [Martin Stern]
Chanania Mishael and Azariahu 
    [Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz]
Driving to visit someone on Shabbat (and Yom Tov) 
    [Chaim Casper]
On Celibacy as a "Solution" for Gay Jews (2)
    [Martin Stern  Carl A. Singer]
Prayer leader 
    [Martin Stern]
Simchat Torah on a Friday 
    [Martin Stern]


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Tue, Oct 10,2017 at 09:01 AM
Subject: Censorship

Leah Gordon wrote (MJ 63#59):

> 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.

This may well be the case and I am sure that we all feel sympathy with our gay
and lesbian brothers and sisters on this list who are struggling. That does not,
however, mean we can condone certain Torah-prohibited actions - at most we
should recognise that they have problems which they may find almost incapable of
handling. Insofar as they manage to do so, we should commend them for that.

Martin Stern

From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Tue, Oct 10,2017 at 09:01 AM
Subject: Censorship (was On Celibacy as a "Solution" for Gay Jews)

Leah Gordon wrote (MJ 63#59):

> 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. 

Looking over her previous submissions on this topic, I have not noticed that
Leah advocates the sort of practices gay marriage is supposed to legitimise,
which is the basic thrust of Meir Wise's post. She would not appear to have
suggested honouring such couples - merely to give them the benefit of the doubt
regarding whatever may transpire between them. There is, therefore, no attack on
Leah in it and suppressing it would amount to the censorship regarding which she
herself has registered strong opposition (MJ 63#57).

> 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.
> ...
> 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."

I am sure Rabbi Wise is equally shocked by the tone of these comments, the
suppression of which would no doubt have provoked accusations of censorship. As
Irwin Weiss correctly pointed out (MJ 63#59):

> We sure attack each other on this site.

I would hope that we would try to use less provocative language in future.

Martin Stern

[As this thread now seems to generate more heat than rational discussion, it is
now being terminated - MOD]


From: Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz <sabbahillel@...>
Date: Tue, Oct 10,2017 at 01:01 PM
Subject: Chanania Mishael and Azariahu

There ws a slight ambiguity in what I wrote (MJ 63#59):

> 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.

To make the point clearer, I meant the non-Jews have contempt for anti-religious
Jews even when seeming on the same side as themselves.

Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz


From: Chaim Casper <surfflorist@...>
Date: Tue, Oct 10,2017 at 06:01 PM
Subject: Driving to visit someone on Shabbat (and Yom Tov)

I just read an article by Amy Klein in The Forward that poignantly clarified the
sentiments of the author and many others who are non-observant yet wish to
maintain a close relationship to their dati family.  


Despite approaching the issue from the other side, I must admit I empathize with
her.   I am a late bloomer, becoming religious late in high school and college
but on the other hand, virtually rest of my family is non-observant.   (I did my
family tree once and discovered I have a second cousin whom I have never met who
like me became shomer shabbat at a late age.)    So not only do we lack the
common ground to observe Shabbat together, but regarding Pesah, Rosh Hashannah,
Yom Kippur and Hanukkah observance we are also ships passing in the night (and
that does not include Sukkot, Purim, Shavuot, the fast days and the kadosh
k'doshim, Yom Ha'azma'ut and Yom Y'rushalayim).  

But I am an Ish Halakhah, a man bound by Jewish law.   So what are my options?
My rebbe, shlit"a, used to quote the Lubavitch rav, Rav Shimon Dworkin, zt"l,
their av beit din (halakhic ruler, as opposed to the rebbe, Rabbi Menachem
Schneerson, zt"l, who was the spiritual leader of the Lubavitch community) who
ruled that if you provide a place for your guests to stay and they opt to leave,
the aveira (sin) is their's and not the host's.   And so under that scenario,
one could invite a m'hallel Shabbat b'farhesia (someone who publically violates

I was in shiur (gemara class) when the Rav, Rabbi Joseph D Halevi Soloveitchik,
zt"l, was asked by one of the guys, "Can I invite my non-observant
friends/relatives for a Shabbat dinner?"   The Rav's response was that he did
not know of a valid heter (permissive ruling) by which one can invite a guest
for a Shabbat or Yom Tov dinner if the host knows the guest will drive to or
from the host's home. 

So my question is how does the MJ family deal with parents, siblings, children,
friends and acquaintances who are not shomrei mitzvot (mitzvot observer)?   Do
you invite them for Shabbat and Yom Tov meals?   What heterim or issurim
[permissive or forbidden ruling] and sources can they provide?  Also, please
respond if they'd like to address the issues raised by Amy.   

B'virkat Torah,
Chaim Casper
North Miami Beach, FL


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Tue, Oct 10,2017 at 09:01 AM
Subject: On Celibacy as a "Solution" for Gay Jews

Leah Gordon wrote (MJ 63#59):

> 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?

I think Leah's comparison is not completely accurate. One of the purposes of
marriage is to permit sexual relations between the spouses, subject to the
restrictions imposed by, inter alia, the laws of niddah. Because of the privacy
regarding mikveh attendance, there is no way an outsider can know that any
particular couple are not abiding by the latter. So we have to assume that they
do unless we have evidence to the contrary.

Where both parties to the 'marriage' are of the same gender, sexual relations
are prohibited either by the Torah as capital offences or rabbinic decree.
Though it is possible that the relationship is entirely asexual, the general
tenor of the public discussion suggests that this is not so in the vast majority
of cases and same-sex couples do not pretend otherwise. Therefore the prima
facie assumption must be that the couple are indulging in illicit activities and
the only point at issue is whether they are transgressing a de'oraita or derabbanan.

Martin Stern

From: Carl A. Singer <carl.singer@...>
Date: Tue, Oct 10,2017 at 10:01 AM
Subject: On Celibacy as a "Solution" for Gay Jews

Just 2 general comments:

Acts / opinions which are done / spoken in public, perhaps even flaunted, have a
different "value" from those done / spoken in private.

We suffer (I use the word advisedly) from an issue which I dub "communication
legitimacy". We should remember that we are a minority within the larger Jewish
community and certainly within the general (non-Jewish) community.  Few if any
will preface their viewpoint with a caveat that they do not speak for ALL Jews.
This applies to Kashruth, Shabbos, Intermarriage, LGBT ...  Anyone can speak /
tweet in the name of 'the Jews' -- if they add a title like "Rabbi" or "Doctor"
they are perceived as having even greater legitimacy which may be unwarranted. 

Carl Singer


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Tue, Oct 10,2017 at 09:01 AM
Subject: Prayer leader

Joel Rich wrote (MJ 63#49):

> 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.

Unfortunately this is an all too common phenomenon, much to be deprecated, but
found throughout the Orthodox world, not just among charedim. Still, it is
preferable to where two (or more) men 'fight' over their 'right' to lead the
prayers or, perhaps not quite so objectionably, split the tzibbur so that each
can exercise it (or more likely satisfy themselves).

> 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).

"Im ein gedi'im ein tayashim [if there are no young kids there will not be any
adult goats]" (Yer. San. et al)

It is better that youngsters should learn early to daven at the amud [act as
prayer leader]. If not, when they become aveilim r"l and take it for the first
time they will be embarrassed by their inability to function properly. Also it
is easier to point out to them any minor mistakes than to do so to someone who
has been making them for many years and will resent such 'correction'.

Martin Stern


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Sun, Oct 15,2017 at 08:01 AM
Subject: Simchat Torah on a Friday

Since Simchat Torah fell (in chutz la'aretz) on a Friday, I would have hoped
that the davenning would have finished a bit earlier than in other years to
allow time for people to have their Yom Tov se'udah and still have
sufficient appetite for their Friday night one. However I noticed that many
shuls seem not to have finished much before 3 p.m. (Shabbat came in at about
6 p.m.) which struck me as not being particularly sensible (I went to an early
minyan which finished at about 11 but that would not have suited many people).

There would seem to be two ways that this could have been avoided:

1. Curtail the time for the hakafot which, in my opinion, are usually
excessively drawn out but that might not be popular with most people.

2. Find some way to reduce the time spent on calling up every male present (if
females also were given aliyot, the problem would be compounded!). 

In one shul I attended, they made a point of calling up a specifically honoured
cohen 'im kol hacohanim', at which point all the cohanim would ascend the bimah,
the named cohen would recite the berachot (being motsi the others as shomei'a
ke'onei). The same procedure was then used for the levi'im. If this were
extended to giving shelishi to a specific honouree 'im kol ba'alei battim',
revi'i to a specific honouree 'im kol habachurim' and, finally, chamishi to a
specific honouree 'im kol hane'arim', followed by Chatan Torah and Chatan
Bereishit. While this would solve the short Friday problem, there is no reason
why it could not be used every year - if the shul so desired, it could auction
off these five honours which would have some significance. 

The current practice tends to reduce the kedushat Beit Hakenesset by leading to
members to sit around nashing and engaging in idle chatter - the larger the shul
the worse the problem. This is not a recent problem, having been noted by Samuel
Pepys in his diary entry for Wednesday 14 October 1663 recording his visit that
evening to the then recently established synagogue of the Spanish and Portuguese
Jews in London (nowadays, in contrast, a model of decorum and formality)


"But, Lord! to see the disorder, laughing, sporting, and no attention, but
confusion in all their service, more like brutes than people knowing the true
God, would make a man forswear ever seeing them more and indeed I never did see
so much, or could have imagined there had been any religion in the whole world
so absurdly performed as this."

Adopting this suggestion would solve it and a considerable amount of bittul
zeman would be avoided.

Any comments?

Martin Stern


End of Volume 63 Issue 60