Volume 64 Number 30 
      Produced: Fri, 14 Jun 19 04:06:59 -0400

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

Call the midwife 
    [Joel Rich]
Megilat Esther 
    [Sammy Finkelman]
Only One Person Says Mourner's Kaddish? 
    [Martin Stern]
Tzitzit = totality of mitzvot 
    [Martin Stern]
Visiting a Church or a Mosque 
    [Susan Buxfield]
Yoav's father? 
    [Martin Stern]


From: Joel Rich <JRich@...>
Date: Wed, Jun 12,2019 at 12:01 PM
Subject: Call the midwife

Kiddushin 73b states we believe the midwife to tell us which twin came out
first. The Ran on the Rif on Kiddushin 31a states a midwife's credibility is not
"midin" (from the law) but the Rabbis believed her because in the majority of
cases, there's no other way. 

1. How did HKB"H expect this to work prior to the Rabbinic injunction? (this
applies to other examples as well where the halachic gold standard of two
witnesses is relaxed) 

2. Is it related to R'Moshe's (self-knowledge) and "neemanut" (trust).[see
Iggrot Moshe Y"D 1:54]?

Joel Rich


From: Sammy Finkelman <sammy.finkelman@...>
Date: Thu, Jun 6,2019 at 08:01 PM
Subject: Megilat Esther

Joel Rich wrote (MJ 64#28):

> 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?

I read the answer once in some commentary. It's because of Esther 9:29. The
first letter, or the ancillary letters, were composed chiefly by Mordechai
(Esther 8:9) although the king had actually given the authority more to Esther
to write what they wanted  but Mordechai had the signet, and he also gave
instructions, contrary to the open letter, that no booty was to be taken.

In the second letter, that this should be an annual holiday, Esther is mentioned
as the principle author. So it is not unreasonable to think that she was the
driving force behind it. And there may have been some tradition too, as well.

The first letter was a necessity and was composed to get around the fact that
Artaxerxes I was a stickler for the Persian law, that no decree of the king
could be revoked, even by the same king (the law was created as a precaution
against assassination by the grandfather of Cyrus the Great)

The best proofs that Ahasuerus = Artaxerxes I are first, Ezra 4:6 and 4:7, where
Ezra 4:7 is almost a translation of Ezra 4:6 - Ezra realizes he is going to
quote a letter written in Aramaic and he starts over. Ezra 4:6 is not a separate
incident that is not elaborated on.

Secondly, Nehemiah 2:6 where Nehemiah backtracks bit, and this only makes sense
- it is only needed for an explanation if the woman sitting next to the king is

And thirdly, if you assume every unique name is the same name, Artaxerxes I
ruled form India to Ethiopia (Cush really is Sudan though) and Artaxerxes II did
not because Persia had lost control of Egypt. There was yet a third Artaxerxes
who did rule Egypt but his reign was not very long and only a few years before
the conquest by Alexander the Great - this tells you that the last bit of
editing that the book of Esther got was before Alexander the Great and the same
thing is true of Divrei Hayomim - the geneologies are not brought past that.

And yet another thing is the case that it took 3 years for Artaxerxes I to get
settled on his throne. And he also was the last Persian king to use Shushan as a


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Mon, Jun 3,2019 at 10:01 AM
Subject: Only One Person Says Mourner's Kaddish?

Apropos of our ongoing discussion, there was an interesting query to Rav Daniel
Mann in the Ask the Rabbi column of the Eretz Hemdah newsletter for Shabbat
Parashat Naso 5779 entitled "Kaddish Rights According to the Deceased or Mourners?"


The question was only tangential to our thread but the first few paragraphs of
his answer are extremely pertinent:

> Q: I am in the midst of the year of Kaddish/chazanut for a parent. Two 
> brothers have been davening due to shloshim. After they finish shloshim,
> should we have a rotation of three or, considering that our recitations are
> to bring merit for the deceased, should I be chazan half the time? (We will
> not fight over it but would like to do the correct thing.)
> A: Indeed, the most important principle is to avoid machloket on such
> matters, as quarreling is antithetical to the merit one is trying to bring
> to the deceased (Pnei Baruch 34:48).
> The Rama (YD 376:4) rules that it is proper for sons of the deceased to
> bring parents merit by saying Kaddish and being chazan during the 11 months
> after death. Yet, the Shulchan Aruch (OC 53:20) says that the congregation
> may choose another chazan over a mourner if they so desire. A mourners
> absolute right applies only to the Kaddeishim designed for them (Mishna
> Berura 53:60). However, the congregation has a mitzva to allow the mourner
> to be chazan under normal circumstances.
> Those who are not able to be chazan were allotted Kaddeishim to aid them in
> bringing merit to their parents. Halachically preferably and originally
> practiced, one mourner alone recites each Kaddish. To deal with cases of too
> many mourners, the Acharonim arrived at detailed rules of kedimut
> (prioritization). Over the last few hundred years, to ward off quarreling,
> the minhag has spread almost universally to allow multiple people to say
> Kaddish together. Thus, the rules of kedimut are limited now to choice of
> chazan, about which you are asking.
> The earliest source on your question is the Maharam Mintz (Shut 80), accepted
> by the Rama (ibid.), written as part of guidelines to nip potential disputes
> in the bud. He posits that each mourner has equal rights in receiving turns,
> even if his parent is represented in the shul by multiple siblings. The
> Maharam Mintz is clear about the reason. The rights of reciting Kaddish relate
> to the avel, who is acting in fulfillment of the mitzva of kibbud av vaem.
> Although ultimately it benefits the parent, the rights relate to the live
> son(s). 
> ...
> In your case, though, all agree that you should be chazan one third of the
> time.

>From the tenor of Rav Mann's reply, especially his final conclusion, it seems
clear that kaddish is primarily a chiyuv gavra [personal obligation of the sons]
and not a chiyuv cheftza [an obligation triggered by the deceased].

Martin Stern


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Tue, Jun 11,2019 at 07:01 AM
Subject: Tzitzit = totality of mitzvot

The Gemara (Menachot 43b) quotes a beraita that states that the mitzvah of 
tzitzit is eqivalent to all the mitzvot combined based on the verse "...
ure'item oto uzekhartem et kol mitzvot Hashem ... [and you shall look at it and
remember all Hashem's mitzvot]" (Bam. 16:39) on which Rashi comments that this
is based on the fact that the gematria of tzitzit is 600 which together with the
5 knots and 8 strings makes a total of 613, the total number of mitzvot.

While this might appear to be a rather fanciful drush [homiletic
interpretation], it struck me recently that it might actually be hinted to by
the text. The mitzvah of tzitzit is performed by wearing a rectangular garment
with tzitzit attached to each corner, i.e. 4 in total, so one would have
expected the verse to have stated "ure'item otam [them]", in the plural, rather
than "ure'item oto" in the singular. That it uses the singular might indicate
that each tassel individually, rather the complete set which constitutes the
mitzvah, is meant to remind us of all Hashem's mitzvot and it is on this that
Rashi is basing his explanation.

Any comments?

Martin Stern


From: Susan Buxfield <susan.buxfeld@...>
Date: Sun, Jun 2,2019 at 03:01 PM
Subject: Visiting a Church or a Mosque

Martin Stern wrote (MJ 64#26):

> Furthermore, Rabbi Neustadt does not discuss former churches or mosques that are
> no longer used for worship or, for that matter, ancient temples, which were
> certainly used for avodah zarah but have long been abandoned and are now only
> tourist attractions or archaeological sites.

>From Mesechta Avodah Zarah, it is clear that when a goy has desanctified his
avodah zarah, or desanctified the house used for the purpose of avodah zarah, then
there remains no issur in passing by or entering them. The desanctification is
done by breaking or removing them.

However a Jew, or even a Mumar [a Jew who has become a convert to Xtianity],
does not have this halachic ability to desanctify Avodah Zarah


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Mon, Jun 10,2019 at 07:01 PM
Subject: Yoav's father?

My wife has been learning Sefer Shemuel and asked me why Yoav is always referred
to as 'ben Tzeruyah', the son of his mother, Tzeruyah, who was David Hamelekh's
sister, and not as in the case of almost every other person as the son of his
father who seems never to be mentioned.

Two ideas came to mind:

1. She had been kidnapped by non-Jews and raped, resulting in his conception, so
he did not have a halachic father.

2. His father was a relative non-entity whereas his mother was a royal princess
so this was a way to enhance his standing.

I could not find any support for either of these but, in any case, find neither
to be a satisfactory explanation.

Can anyone provide a better one?

Martin Stern


End of Volume 64 Issue 30