Volume 63 Number 71 
      Produced: Sat, 03 Mar 18 14:11:58 -0500

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

Birchat Kohanim 
    [Joel Rich]
Charity solicitations 
    [Carl A. Singer]
Getting Kids Interested in Davening 
    [Leah Gordon]
Gezel Akum (stealing from non-Jew) 
    [Joel Rich]
Going to Shul when not feeling well 
    [Yehuda Wiesen]
Horses in Biblical Times 
    [Yisrael Medad]
Mixing nuschot hatefila 
    [Carl A. Singer]
Reading last line of Psalm 150 twice 
    [Ed Greenberg]
Shetarei hedyotot 
    [Joel Rich]
Succah walls 
    [Sammy Finkelman]
Telling the truth 
    [Irwin Weiss]
Was Rav Soloveichic "Orthoprax"? 
    [Sammy Finkelman]
Who are the "minim"? 
    [David Tzohar]
Zemanim (2)
    [Dr. William Gewirtz  Sammy Finkelman]


From: Joel Rich <JRich@...>
Date: Sat, Feb 24,2018 at 01:01 PM
Subject: Birchat Kohanim

The Mishna Berurah tells us that the reason everyone says the ribbono shel olam
(about dreams) in a Birchat Kohanim outside of Eretz Yisrael on Shalosh Regalim
is because everyone must've had at least one bad dream in the interim. In
Israel, where they duchen every day, the kohanim don't do the long tune on
shalosh regalim (assumedly because they duchen every day so bad dreams can be
covered immediately.) Question: So when do you say the ribbono shel olam in
Israel if you have a bad dream (meaning, when would you have enough time during
Birchat Kohanim to do so)?

Joel Rich


From: Carl A. Singer <carl.singer@...>
Date: Mon, Feb 12,2018 at 04:01 PM
Subject: Charity solicitations

It usually goes like this - a telephone call:  "Doctor Singer, last year you
generously gave us $100, can we count on you again this year?" (Usually a
telephone call -- rarely a letter.)

BUT -- when I check my files (I do keep accurate records) I find one of two

(1) "Last year" was really three months ago, or 

(2) I never have never, ever given to this tzedukah.

I can try to understand the first situation -- bad record keeping - again, the
check cleared three months ago.

The second situation bothers me very much -- after all this is an outright lie.

Comments, please.



From: Leah Gordon <leah@...>
Date: Sat, Feb 24,2018 at 08:01 PM
Subject: Getting Kids Interested in Davening

I wanted to share something that I think our shul does a great job of, which is
getting kids/youth interested in leading davening.  I would recommend some of
our practices to be taken up by any shul that wants this result!

First, you  may remember that one of our Simchat Torah laining stations was
"manned" fully by teenagers, and was a great success.

Then today, my youngest son (age 11) was going to lead the end of Musaf, as he
often does.  But my husband had the idea to see if the 9- and 10-year-old boys
wanted to learn how, and so my son gave them a brief primer and then they stood
right by him as he led.  It had three results that I thought were really positive:

1. My son had a friendly "squad" nearby and he was more confident (loud!) than
ever - for example being brave enough to do all of Aleinu aloud (and the rest of
the congregation cooperated ;) )

2. Those boys got excited about learning to lead

3. I watched some of the 4- and 5-year-old boys who were in the area, and
they seemed a lot more interested in the big boys davening than I ever saw
them be interested when adults are leading.

(I do not intend to address in this post my usual topic of gender, and
though we have a Partnership davening, it happens that all the characters
and positions in this story were male.)

--Leah S. R. Gordon


From: Joel Rich <JRich@...>
Date: Sat, Feb 24,2018 at 01:01 PM
Subject: Gezel Akum (stealing from non-Jew)

I'm studying gezel akum. One question I have is a very simple one on the basic
source found in Sanhedrin 113a. Why does the gemara quote 2 drashot - one by
Rabbi Akiva, a 3rd-generation Tanna, and one by Rav Huna, a 2nd-generation
amora? The Rosh gives a reason for why both drashot might be needed (not overly
satisfying to me) but doesn't address the timing issue.

Joel Rich


From: Yehuda Wiesen <j_forward@...>
Date: Sun, Feb 11,2018 at 10:01 AM
Subject: Going to Shul when not feeling well

Carl A. Singer wrote (MJ 63#70):

> I very much appreciate Dr. Backon's response (MJ 63#69) re; the prohibition of
> going to shule when one has an infectious disease.
> I'm looking towards a broader response -- certainly, it's unlikely that, after
> rolling out of bed, one has checked with their physician and been tested to
> determine if they have an infectious disease, prior to going to Shacharis.
> Of late, folks with coughs and sneezes and running noses seem to be showing up
> at shul.  (And at the office, too - but that's a different situation.) My
> tactical response is to situate myself far from any boxes of tissues.

A physician once told me to stay 5+ feet from anyone who is coughing and sneezing.



From: Yisrael Medad  <yisrael.medad@...>
Date: Sun, Feb 11,2018 at 09:01 AM
Subject: Horses in Biblical Times

Sammy Finkelstein (MJ 63#70) may be correct that I misunderstood him when he
wrote "ORDINARY PEOPLE" and "NORMALLY". Nevertheless, in Genesis 49:17 we read:

"Dan shall be a serpent in the way, a horned snake in the path, that bites the
horse's heels".

The question is obvious: would an illustration of a situation be applied when
ordinary people normally would not be that aware of a horse? 

Or, can we assume that being in Egypt, they were? Possibly. And yes, almost all
references to horses are in the framework of either an army or royalty.

Or, another question: when did "Biblical times" end?

Shall we ever know?
Yisrael Medad


From: Carl A. Singer <carl.singer@...>
Date: Sun, Feb 11,2018 at 08:01 AM
Subject: Mixing nuschot hatefila

Joel Rich's posting re MIXED nuschot (MJ 63#70) reminded me of a story I heard
some 40 years ago re: MULTIPLE nuschaos

There was a shul where by consensus the nusach used was simply that of whoever
was the ba'al tephila at that instant. The reason being these were all *alteh
Yidden* / survivors from many different parts of Europe and many different
traditions. Thus each got to remember and keep alive the davening of their youth.

Carl Singer


From: Ed Greenberg <edg@...>
Date: Thu, Feb 15,2018 at 09:01 AM
Subject: Reading last line of Psalm 150 twice

Does anybody know why we read the last line of Psalm 150 (Kol Ha'n'shma) twice
when in davening, even though it only appears once in the actual Psalm?


Ed Greenberg
Glens Falls, NY USA


From: Joel Rich <JRich@...>
Date: Sat, Feb 17,2018 at 03:01 PM
Subject: Shetarei hedyotot

On the topic of shetarei hedyotot [ordinary documents prohibited to be read on
shabbat], I wonder why the reading of newspaper advertisements on Shabbat is
rarely addressed (I'm thinking specifically of all the weekly divrei torah

If there is no general exemption, is this just a case of mutav sheyihiyu
shoggegin velo meizidin [better they should sin unknowingly than brazenly]? 

My suspicion (and that's all it is so I am really wondering if anyone has clarified
this) is that like a number of gezeirot [rabbinic promulgations] that according
to the algorithm should not be able to be undone, common practice has recognized
the reality that perhaps their application today is less clear?  Any insights
into current rabbinic thinking would be very much appreciated.

Joel Rich


From: Sammy Finkelman <sammy.finkelman@...>
Date: Thu, Feb 15,2018 at 08:01 PM
Subject: Succah walls

There is something that looks just wrong about halacha in William Helmreich's
book "Wake Up,  Wake Up, To Do the Work of the Creator" (Harper and Row, 1962)

On page 38 he wrote (describing what his family used to do approximately in the
late 1950s):

"By law the succah had to have at least three new walls while the fourth could
consist of a wall that was already standing."

To my knowledge, this is not exactly the halacha. My understanding is that all
that needs to be done is the schach needs to be lifted up and dropped again.
That gives it the status of a new succah. I asked around and there are number of
well known more or permanent succahs that people remember.

So where does William Helmreich get this from? Could there be some different
version of halacha they followed that said this? Was there a minority opinion?


From: Irwin Weiss <irwin@...>
Date: Thu, Mar 1,2018 at 09:01 AM
Subject: Telling the truth

Further to the comments of Joel Rich (MJ 63#70) and Bill Bernstein (MJ 63#69):

In this weeks Parsha (Ki Tissa), the text describes the making of the Eigel
(Golden Calf).  But then, when Moshe returns to the encampment with the first
Luchot (tablets) he sees the Eigel and confronts Aaron. Aaron tells a lie. Aaron
says that the Israelites tossed their jewels into a fire and, poof, out came the
Eigel.  This is generally felt to be an attempt to promote peace, so this lie
was permissible.

Though the Torah does tell us not to lie, as reflected in Bill Bernstein's post,
the Torah is full of incidents of lying.  Abraham passing Sarah off as his
sister; Yaakov dressing his arms with animal skins to dupe his father into
giving him the birthright; the whole Rachel vs. Leah as a wife for Yaakov; and
there are many other examples.

I like these Talmud points:
1) Rabbi Yehoshua once stayed at a certain inn. The hostess served beans on the
first and second day and he ate them. On the third day, she burned the beans and
he did not eat them. When she asked him why he did not eat the beans, he
politely told her that he had already eaten.

2) The Rabbis taught: How does one praise a bride?  Beit Shammai says: We praise
the bride as she is. Beit Hillel says: We say that she is a beautiful and
graceful bride. The School of Shammai said to the School of Hillel: If she was
lame, does one say about her that she is a graceful bride? Because, says
Shammai, the Torah said (Exodus 23:7): "Distance yourself from a false matter".
The School of Hillel said to the School of Shammai: According to your opinion,
if someone made an inferior purchase in the marketplace, should one praise it or
deprecate it in his eyes. Surely, one should praise it. From here [the latter
statement of the Hillel School] the Sages said: A person's disposition should
always be pleasant with people.

These are further examples of white lies which are said to be appropriate.

Irwin  Weiss


From: Sammy Finkelman <sammy.finkelman@...>
Date: Thu, Feb 15,2018 at 05:01 PM
Subject: Was Rav Soloveichic "Orthoprax"?

I wrote (MJ 63#70):

> David Tzohar wrote (MJ 63#68):
>> According to this Maiseh the Rov's wife AH did not wear a kisui rosh [head
>> covering] and when asked about it he answered "So what should I do - divorce
>> her?)
> I think I read this story that he answered it is not grounds for divorce, told
> about another Rabbi.

That was an anonymous Rabbi described, I think, as of Lithuanian background.

I've been looking into this and think there is a big misunderstanding here as to
the purpose of the Kalseh Shafir [basket] mentioned in the Gemara and what it
was. It was not worn on the head.


From: David Tzohar <davidtzohar@...>
Date: Tue, Feb 13,2018 at 07:01 AM
Subject: Who are the "minim"?

Three times a day in the amidah we ask Hashem to destroy the "minim". This is
actually the nineteenth bracha composed by Shmuel Hakatan against the first
Christians who considered themselves Jewish but were 'Chassidim' of Jesus yemach
shemo. It would seem that the present day parallel is to those who call
themselves "Jews for Jesus" or "Messianic Jews". 

I would have thought that this might have included all Jewish atheists and those
who do not accept the oral law but rabbinic sources usually refer to the latter
as "apikorsim" rather than "minim". So what is the distinction between minim and
apikorsim and how does this apply to present-day groups?

Any Ideas?

David Tzohar 
Armon Ha Netziv 


From: Dr. William Gewirtz <wgewirtz@...>
Date: Sun, Feb 11,2018 at 10:01 AM
Subject: Zemanim

Sammy Finkelman writes (MJ 63#70):

> We get that also with other shiuirum. This all happens because people ask
> questions. With zemanim it was not possible to be anything but approximate 
> until the invention of good clocks and watches.

The implication that clocks enhanced precision is correct. However, to equate
precision with accuracy is at best an assumption, and very much a false one at
that. Clocks often caused poskim to rely on time even when in conflict with
observation and approximation which, with the invention of clocks, were often
less emphasized given their intrinsic imprecision. Several significant errors
crept into pesak as a result; some persist to the modern day. 

Interestingly, many were explicitly not used to produce leniency, a fortunate
occurrence. However, I know of one Orthodox shul with a well know rabbinic
leader that does use an error in pesak as a basis/rationale for leniency; to
this day the shul publishes a zeman that arguably comes close to a biblical
level violation if followed. I hope within the next year to finally finish 2
lengthy monographs on zemanim where this, though hardly a focus, is made clear.
(I am opposed to giving exhaustive lists of poskim who may have made a
particular error; with only one exception, I normally provide only one name.)

Let me add that beyond clocks, depression angles, popularized by Rav Yechial
Michel Tukatzinsky and first mentioned in halakha by Rav Dovid Tzvi Hoffman and
by one who created some zemanim on behalf of Rav Naftali Tzvi Berlin, are a boon
to the halakha. (If anyone knows of other 19th century poskim who were aware of
or used depression angles, please let me know.) 

According to several knowledgeable modern poskim, depression angles, used
properly, can precisely and accurately, capture the notion of the level of
darkness/light that is critical to many halakhot.

From: Sammy Finkelman <sammy.finkelman@...>
Date: Tue, Feb 13,2018 at 05:01 PM
Subject: Zemanim

I wrote (MJ 63#70):

> Ever since the time of the Gemorah, and maybe before, there has been a trend to
> try to convert what can be called analog Halacha to what can be called digital
> Halacha.
> We get that also with other shiurim

Maybe this can be better expressed - another example, which, maybe brings out my
point better, is tying knots on Shabbos.

The real halacha has to do with how permanent the knot is - only permanent knots
are forbidden . This has tended to be reformulated as "types of knots" though
the actual halachah depends on how long the knot will last. (Some knots seem to
be considered intrinsically non-permanent)

To avoid such problematical situations, Ashkenazi Sifrei Torah are not usually
bound together with a cord that is tied, but instead a hook and fastener, or
velcro is used. (Sephardi Sefer Torahs are encased completely differently.


End of Volume 63 Issue 71