Volume 63 Number 66 
      Produced: Thu, 07 Dec 17 00:11:05 -0500

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

Declaring Rosh Chodesh the ideal way (was: Simchat Torah on a Friday) 
    [Sammy Finkelman]
Giving an honor in shul to someone who may possibly not be Jewish (2)
    [Susan Buxfield  David Tzohar]
Minhag question (2)
    [Perry Zamek  Rose Landowne]
Pikuach nefesh and stigmatizing gays 
    [Sammy Finkelman]
The appropriate route for the sefer torah 
    [Joel Rich]
Women and Torah Study 
    [Joel Rich]


From: Sammy Finkelman <sammy.finkelman@...>
Date: Tue, Nov 28,2017 at 01:01 PM
Subject: Declaring Rosh Chodesh the ideal way (was: Simchat Torah on a Friday)

Chuck Elnekave wrote (MJ 63#65):

> Martin Stern wrote (MJ 63#64):
>> In any case, when Mashiach comes, bimhera veyameinu, the Sanhedrin will be
>> re-established and we will revert to fixing Rosh Chodesh by observing the New
>> Moon so it may still be possible for Simchat Torah to fall on a Friday even 
>> in Israel.
> Even when the Sanhedrin will be established (G-d willing, soon), 22 Tishrei
> (Shemini Atzeret / Simchat Torah) would still not be on a Friday - the 
> Sanhedrin would not accept testimony which would place Rosh Chodesh Tishrei
> on a Sunday, Wednesday, or Friday, so as not to have Yom Kippur immediately 
> preceded or followed by Shabbat, or Hashana Rabbah on Shabbat.

There is no reason to go back to the practice of declaring Rosh Chodesh (and the
exact dates in the solar year for holidays on the basis of witnesses.

That was probably only done in order to restore the declaration of when the
holidays began to Erfetz Yisroel. During the Babylonian exile, Eretz Yisroel was
almost completely, or even  completely depopulated of Jews, and they were forced
to use the Babylonian months, which is probably how the months acquired their
current names.

Before the Babylonian exile, they probably did not rely on witnesses, because
Dovid knew what day would be Rosh Chodesh in advance:.


And David said unto Jonathan: 'Behold, to-morrow is the new moon, when
I should sit with the king to eat; so let me go, that I may hide
myself in the field unto the third day at even. (Shmuel I 20:5)

And, furthermore, they knew that two days from Rosh Chodesh would be the third
day - that is, they knew there would be only one day Rosh Chodesh and, indeed,
there was only one day Rosh Chodesh that month.

At another point, although this doesn't prove much, in the northern kingdom of
Israel, although they were far from Yerushalayim and could not openly rely on
those there too much, they knew what day was (and logically also what day was
not) Rosh Chodesh:

And he said: Wherefore wilt thou go to him today? it is neither new
moon nor sabbath.' And she said: 'It shall be well. (Melochim II 4:23)

(Horseback riding on Shabbos had not yet been prohibited at that point, so there
was no problem with that on Shabbos, and the techum Shabbos did not apply, as we
can also see it did not in the time of Nehemiah when he complained they were
carrying goods to Yerushaylim with the intention of doing business right after
Shabbos (Nehemiah 13:19-21)

Doing business on Shabbos had been prohibited at that point by the later neviim
but the whole issue of carrying in Reshus Harabbim did not apply. See also
Eruvim 22 where it says there is no reshus harabbim in Eretz Yisroel. Reshus
Harabbim has two different meanings.

If there was a practice (of women let's say) to see the novi or go somewhere on
Rosh Chodesh, they would have to know what day was Rosh Chodesh

The business of having two days Rosh Chodesh in a 30 days month started only in
the time of the second Beis Ha-Mikdash.

The dependence on witnesses - that is waiting for them to come before declaring
the new month - was probably started in order so that people would respect the
Sanhedrin and maybe also so that they could avoid things like Yom Kippur falling
on Sunday - maybe they started avoiding certain dates later than when they
started waiting and relying on witnesses. Yom Kippur on Sunday is a real issue
discussed in the Mishnah, maybe because it still happened at the time when the
Mishnah was first compose (which was before the time of the events of Chanukah -
 Rabbi Yehuda Hanasi only standardized the text)  it could still happen, or
maybe because they just didn't want to alert people that there was some choice
in the matter.

Rabbi Akiva eventually found a posuk that eased the consciences of scholars and
other people in his time.

I think what Hillel II ruled is that a new month could be declared without
witnesses. If it could be declared without witnesses it could also be declared
in advance.

For a long time they probably still continued to announce it in Eretz Yisroel,
maybe a year in advance though, at least until there came a controversy in the
time of Saadia Gaon, the calendar had long been fixed - everyone knew it - but
the  Gaon in Eretz Yosroel, Aaron ben Meir, attempted to change the dates from
what they would otherwise have been.



From: Susan Buxfield <susan.buxfeld@...>
Date: Sun, Nov 26,2017 at 03:01 PM
Subject: Giving an honor in shul to someone who may possibly not be Jewish

Except for aliyot which have halachic requirements as to who can ascend and who
can utter the blessings, all the rest of the "honors" while not halachically
forbidden could dishonor and de-sanctify the congregation who are purportedly
required to maintain an aura of Kedusha in the House of the Almighty.

For that reason even fully Orthodox women are prevented from participation,
inclusive of aliyot.


From: David Tzohar <davidtzohar@...>
Date: Mon, Nov 27,2017 at 07:01 AM
Subject: Giving an honor in shul to someone who may possibly not be Jewish

This begs the question of "who is Jewish". Only children of Jewish mothers? Or
do we include children of Jewish fathers? Zera Yisrael considered by some in
Israel (Rav Avsalem and others) as a new type of "ger toshav` so as to include
tens of thousands of immigrants from the former USSR.

Another question is whether Reform and Conservative "gerim" are Jewish? We
recently had a question in our shul (Young Israel of Armon HaNetziv) about an
immigrant from Ghana with Conservative "giyur". The gabbai asked our posek (Rav
Yizchak Tachover) if he could be given an aliya. He paskened only peticha,
gelila or hagbaha. It seems that halachically the possibilities are restricted.

David Tzohar


From: Perry Zamek <perryza@...>
Date: Sat, Nov 25,2017 at 05:01 PM
Subject: Minhag question

Irwin Weiss wrote (MJ 63#65):

> What is the source for the minhag that a kallah and chatan do not see each
> other for a day or a few days immediately prior to the wedding? Is this an
> unnecessary and made up minhag?

The issue of chatan and kallah not seeing each other for some days prior to the
wedding has been discussed on MJ in the past. A quick search of my MJ archive
brought me to this link:


Kol tuv,

Perry Zamek

E: <perryza@...> 
W: perryzamek.com

From: Rose Landowne <Roselandow@...>
Date: Sat, Nov 25,2017 at 07:01 PM
Subject: Minhag question

In response to Irwin Weiss (MJ 63#65):

I've heard two answers to this. One says it's a non-Jewish custom which has come
into our practice wrongly. Another says it's in fear that seeing each other may
cause "ayin hara". 


From: Sammy Finkelman <sammy.finkelman@...>
Date: Tue, Nov 28,2017 at 01:01 PM
Subject: Pikuach nefesh and stigmatizing gays

Yitzchak Scott-Thoennes wrote (MJ 63#64):

> Some research shows
> "there is a shorter life expectancy of approximately 12 years (95% C.I.: 4-20
> years) for sexual minorities living in high-prejudice communities".
> https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3818511/
> What should our reaction to this finding be, as individuals and institutions?

Redouble efforts to teach children, particularly boys, that it is wrong, and
warn them about reduced life expectancy before puberty, unless you think it is
already pre-determined by the 4th or the 5th grade. Warning students will also
have the effect of warning teachers and warning them against teachers who should
attempt something of that nature.

There is also some evidence that left handers have a shorter life expectancy


although that is disputed


and that one we know we can't change, and if we did it maybe wouldn't change
this effect.

That example of differences is often used by homosexual rights proponents but at
least no one denies that it usuaully reflects an injury.


From: Joel Rich <JRich@...>
Date: Sun, Nov 26,2017 at 01:01 AM
Subject: The appropriate route for the sefer torah

This is from the Avodah website but may be worthy for discussion on Mail Jewish:

> R' Aviner: Bringing the Torah to People to Kiss
> Q: Is it permissible to bring the Sefer Torah in the Shul towards people who
> want to kiss it?
> A: No. This is a disgrace to the Sefer Torah. They should approach the Sefer
> Torah. Piskei Teshuvot 134:6.

I have been to more than a few shuls that particularly on Shabbat take the long
road - any ideas on who they are relying on? (not to mention those who lower the
sefer torah so the kids can kiss it too)

Joel Rich


From: Joel Rich <JRich@...>
Date: Mon, Dec 4,2017 at 01:01 AM
Subject: Women and Torah Study

My comment to a recent post on Lehrhaus on women and intensive talmud study:

Is encouraging intensive study of Talmud for women a community priority or is
the priority to make such study available for those who choose to avail
themselves of the opportunity? Especially if the former, where does it stand in
relation to other community priorities and how does the answer differ from study
for men?

IMHO these questions have not been sufficiently addressed.

Does my concern resonate at all?

Joel Rich


End of Volume 63 Issue 66