Volume 64 Number 28 
      Produced: Sun, 02 Jun 19 09:16:43 -0400

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

Bechukotai problem 
    [Martin Stern]
Megilat Esther 
    [Joel Rich]
Only One Person Says Mourner's Kaddish? 
    [Orrin Tilevitz]
Visiting a Church or a Mosque (3)
    [Martin Stern  Dr. Josh Backon  Martin Stern]


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Sun, Jun 2,2019 at 09:01 AM
Subject: Bechukotai problem

I have always been puzzled by the conclusion of Bechukotai. I can understand why
the Torah might not want to conclude Vayikra with the curses in the Tokhekha
(Lev. 26) but the last three verses (44-46) are more of a reassurance of Divine
mercy which would seem to mitigate this.

Why is specifically the parashah of Arachin (Lev. 27), which might more
logically have fitted in better earlier, 'tagged on' after it?

Any explanation?

Martin stern


From: Joel Rich <JRich@...>
Date: Tue, May 28,2019 at 06:01 PM
Subject: Megilat Esther

Any thoughts on why the Talmud places the request for Megilat Esther to be part
of Tanach in the mouth of Esther rather than that of Mordechai or Chazal?

Joel Rich


From: Orrin Tilevitz <tilevitzo@...>
Date: Sun, May 26,2019 at 05:01 PM
Subject: Only One Person Says Mourner's Kaddish?

Thank you to all of you who responded to my query in MJ 64#25:

I wrote:

>> The practice set down in the Shulchan Arukh is for a single person to say the
>> mourner's kaddish, and a hierarchy (with rotation) among those obligated to
>> say it if there is more than one.

Martin Stern responded (MJ 64#26): 

> This hierarchy is not in the Shulchan Arukh itself since Rav Yosef Karo was a
> Sefardi whose practice had always been for all mourners to say kaddish 
> together while only among Ashkenazim was the practice as Orrin describes. A 
> full listing of the hierarchy in allocating kaddeishim is to be found in the 
> Kitzur Shulchan Arukh (26) - I presume that Orrin is referring to that.

The primary source for allocating kaddishim, with one person saying it at a
time, is in the ReMa to Shulchan Arukh Yoreh Deah 376 and the commentaries
thereon. The Kitzur Shulchan Arukh, is not a primary source; the Hagaot HaReMa
are found in nearly every edition of the Shulchan Arukh,and it was to that which
I was referring. The Shulchan Arukh itself doesn't even mention kaddish, at
least not there.

The other primary source is the ReMa's commentary on Shulchan Arukh Orach Chaim
132 and the various commentaries thereon.

I continued:

>> How is a person who is not technically obligated in kaddish handled? The most
>> common example is someone saying kaddish for a close relative other than a
>> parent who had left no children whose aveilut terminated after sheloshim [30
>> days of mourning].  Is he (we won't even address women saying kaddish) out 
>> of luck?

The answer seems to be yes. That seems to me to be the wrong answer if, as
various sources explain the reason for kaddish is to keep the deceased soul out
of gehinom, which I deliberately don't translate. Why should a deceased who
leaves a living son (or perhaps grandson) be better off in this regard than one
who doesn't? (I am not happy with Martin's answer that any requirement is
fulfilled by the would-be kaddish sayer not saying kaddish.)

During an unconscionably long musaf this shabbat I had time for research and
thinking, and arrived at a couple of possible solutions, at least in some cases.

Solution 1. In a shul (historically German) I attend periodically the gabbai
invariably says kaddish while staring at a loose-leaf notebook. I'm sure it's a
list of this very old shul's members whose yahrzeit is on that day. In shuls
that follow the old Ashkenaz minhag, is the designated kaddish sayer (or, better
better yet, the shatz) given, or could he be given, a list of all those for whom
kaddish is to be said?

Solution 2. Assume that Yaakov is saying kaddish either for 

(a) his mother-in-law because his wife, Leah, has no brothers, or 

(b) for Leah herself because he and Leah's only child is a daughter, Dinah.

Women have the same obligation to say kaddish for their parents as men although
they generally are discouraged, or are to be discouraged, from doing so. (Havot
Yair, quoted in one of the commentaries on YD 376) 

Is Yaakov saying kaddish for 

(a) his mother-in-law/wife (in which case he has no obligation beyond 7 or 30
days for his wife, if that long) or 

(b) in place of his daughter, as her representative? 

Would it help if his wife/daughter paid him to say kaddish? According to the
Shaarei Teshuva on OC 132, a paid kaddish sayer has the same status as a close
relative obligated to say it.


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Sun, May 26,2019 at 08:01 AM
Subject: Visiting a Church or a Mosque

Carl Singer wrote (MJ 64#27):

> Martin Stern wrote (MJ 64#26):

>> ... 
>> Furthermore, Rabbi Neustadt does not discuss former churches or mosques that
>> are no longer used for worship ...
> In an off-line discussion Martin mentioned that it was quite common in the
> nineteenth and early twentieth centuries in the UK for small communities, with
> little available cash, to buy disused non-conformist chapels and convert them
> into shuls.
> In my experience in Cleveland, Ohio, the opposite occurred -- as the Jewish
> community moved to the suburbs, synagogues were sold to church congregations.
> As a result many Christian churches have blue and white awnings and stained
> glass windows adorned with Mogen Dovids.

This demographic change also occurred in the UK. I remember a problem
arising with one quite large shul in such an area in Manchester which wished
to sell its building to a Muslim group who intended to use it as a mosque.
The Minchat Yitzchak, then Av Beit Din of Manchester, ruled that it should
be done indirectly by first selling it to a private individual who could
then resell it to the Muslims. I don't know whether the same would have
applied to sales to Christian groups or the fact that Islam is generally
considered not to be avodah zarah was the basis for his leniency.

> Also, recent articles ... contain pictures an abandoned church (empty since
> 1995) that was converted into stylish office space. But as one can see from
> them there are several visual symbols of the building's heritage.
> The question is whether a Jew is allowed to work, or even enter, the premises,
> or rent office space in it.

Interestingly, there was a Congregationalist Church in what is now the
predominantly strictly Orthodox area of Broughton Park in Greater Manchester
which closed down many years ago because its members had moved away. As it
was a 'listed building', it could not be demolished so it was converted into
apartments, and town houses were built in its grounds. Because of its
location, these were snapped up by strictly Orthodox Jews who, presumably,
had asked whether it was permissible to live in a former church. Possibly
this, and my earlier observation that Carl quoted, show that, indeed, such
non-conformist churches, which usually do not contain statuary or
crucifixes, are treated more leniently in halachah than other ones. If so,
it would seem that the same would apply where they have been converted into
business premises.

Martin Stern

From: Dr. Josh Backon <backon@...>
Date: Sun, May 26,2019 at 11:01 AM
Subject: Visiting a Church or a Mosque

In view of the current discussion, it may be useful to resubmit my post 
"Entering a church" (MJ 59#15) from September, 2010 on the subject.


[for ease of reference, we are copying it verbatim below - MOD]

As much as I can commiserate with the tragedies of non-Jewish friends, it is
strictly forbidden by halacha to even enter a church. See: TZITZ ELIEZER XIV 91
who not only prohibits entering a church but also a mosque. See also YECHAVEH

The subject is also discussed in the Minchat Chinuch 213.

The source of the biblical prohibition is *meshamshei avoda zara* [things used
for idolatry - MOD] (Talmud Avoda Zara 37b in the Chidushei haRamban). See also
Rambam in his Peyrush Hamishnayot to Avodah Zara 1:1. One is prohibited from
even to come 4 *amot* [6 feet) near a church (see commentators on the gemara in
Avoda Zara 17a). In addition to the above, there is also a prohibition of
*mar'it ayin* [giving the appearance of doing something prohibited - MOD] where
one would assume the person is participating in a church service. One is
biblically prohibited from any benefit whatsoever from *meshamshei avoda zara*.

To reiterate: it is a biblical prohibition of at least 1 (if not 3 items) to so
much as enter a church, even if not in use for services. Needless to say,
participating in a Xtian service even passively is categorically prohibited.

There is 1 lenient position (in Asei Lecha Rav) that permits entering an *empty*
church that hasn't been used for services for many years (e.g. a museum). And
even that is on a need for one's livelihood (e.g. a student of architecture or
art history).

Josh Backon

From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Sun, Jun 2,2019 at 09:01 AM
Subject: Visiting a Church or a Mosque

Yisrael Medad wrote (MJ 64#27):
> In response to Martin Stern (MJ 64#26):
> a) I can absolutely see no reason to include mosques in the category.

I agree that mosques cannot be considered houses of 'idol worship' and the only
reservation about entering them might be because they are places of 'alien
worship' in the literal sense of the phrase 'avodah zarah'.
> b) I am no that sure whether today in 2019 "the vast majority of the poskim
> agree that Christianity is considered avodah zarah". And I am aware that there
> are poskim who oppose such a definition as "idolators" especially for
> Protestants.

It would seem that "the vast majority of the poskim" consider the Christian
doctrine of the Trinity as being under the category of shituf - associating for
worship some other power together with the Almighty. The point at dispute is
whether this is permissible for non-Jews, in which case Christianity is not
considered idolatrous for them. However AFAIK,"the vast majority of the poskim
agree that Christianity is considered avodah zarah" for Jews for whom shituf is
not permitted.

Therefore, a case could be made to exempt Unitarian churches which might be more
similar to mosques but to extend this to other Protestant denominations is more
> c) Similarly, I don't think a reasonable case could be made for considering
> "churches are ... houses of idol worship ...".

This would depend on how one views the practice in some Christian denominations
of kneeling in prayer in front of statues or icons which would seem, prima
facie, to be one (or possibly two) of the six forbidden forms of idol worship
specified in the Mishnah (San. 7:6).

Martin Stern


End of Volume 64 Issue 28