Volume 64 Number 41 
      Produced: Mon, 02 Dec 19 16:23:05 -0500

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

Benefit the deceased ? 
    [Joel Rich]
Jewish burial practice  
    [Joel Rich]
Mourners Kaddish: Should We Be Saying It So Often 
    [Martin Stern]
Rosh haShana Musaf - p'sukim (verses) from TaNaCh 
    [Eric Mack]
Spending money on a mitzvah 
    [Joel Rich]
Tenet of belief 
    [Joel Rich]
What do you do with your lulav after Sukkot? 
    [Chaim Casper]
Whose learning comes first? 
    [Joel Rich]
Why did Chazal accept medical treatments? 
    [Sammy Finkelman]


From: Joel Rich <JRich@...>
Date: Wed, Oct 16,2019 at 06:01 PM
Subject: Benefit the deceased ?

Does an aveil [mourner] who acts as a shatz [prayer leader] benefit the deceased
if the minyan doesn't appreciate his doing so because he's not merutzeh
[acceptable] e.g. because he mispronounces many words, his pace differs from
community norms etc.

Moadim Lsimcha/gmar tov
Joel Rich


From: Joel Rich <JRich@...>
Date: Thu, Oct 10,2019 at 05:01 AM
Subject: Jewish burial practice 

Does anyone have any historical and/or halachic data on when and why Jewish
burial practice changed from the two-staged prodess of allowing the body to
decay and then reburying the bones in catacombs, to the current practice?


Joel Rich


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Mon, Dec 2,2019 at 04:01 PM
Subject: Mourners Kaddish: Should We Be Saying It So Often

A most interesting article by Rabbi Yaakov Hoffman "Mourners Kaddish:
Should We Be Saying It So Often?" appeared recently in The Jewish Press:

The main points he raises are:

> Since reciting Kaddish is a concrete way of honoring a departed loved one,
> mourners are understandably anxious to do so at every possible opportunity. In
> most Ashkenazic congregations, mourners say Kaddish four times during
> Shacharit: after Korbanot, after Mizmor Shir Chanukat HaBayit, after Aleinu,
> and after Shir Shel Yom. Many become upset if they miss even one of these;
> presumably, they assume that with each additional Kaddish, additional benefit
> accrues to the deceaseds neshamah ...
> [However] , it is important to maintain an accurate perspective on it. The
> primary way to honor ones parents posthumously is not by reciting Kaddish per
> se, but by leading the entire service (which obviously includes saying several
> Kaddishim). Saying a separate Kaddish Yatom is a medieval Ashkenazic
> innovation, instituted for the benefit of mourners incapable of serving as a
> shliach tzibbur. Therefore, those who do lead the service as aveilim need not
> recite the additional Mourners Kaddish ...
> The original Mourners Kaddish was the one recited after Aleinu  even today,
people think of this one as the most important ... Why, then, have we added
another Mourners Kaddish after Shir Shel Yom, which immediately follows Aleinu?
Surely reciting two Kaddishim in such close proximity runs afoul of poskims
admonition not to recite superfluous Kaddishim ...
> The answer seems to be as follows: [Originally] Shir Shel Yom was actually not
> recited publicly at all; the Kaddish after Aleinu concluded the service. When
> the custom to recite the daily psalm took hold, mourners said Kaddish after it
>  appropriately, since Kaddish should be the end of davening. However, the
> idea was already entrenched that the main Kaddish Yatom comes right after
> Aleinu, so Kaddish continued to be recited at that point as well ...
> A similar case of two Kaddishim in too-close proximity occurs at the beginning
> of the service. There is no evident reason to recite Kaddish deRabbanan after
> Korbanot and then Kaddish Yatom after Mizmor Shir. This practice apparently
> began as an amalgamation of two different customs  some shuls recited Kaddish
> only after Korbanot and others after Mizmor Shir; eventually people began
> doing both ... It would be much better to recite only one of the two 
> preferably after Mizmor Shir only.
> Unfortunately, many people are under the impression that the Kaddishim at the
> beginning of the service are just as obligatory for mourners as the one(s) at
> the end. I have been in shuls where there was not yet a minyan at the end of
> Korbanot, and mourners insisted that the service be stopped until a 10th man
> arrived so that they could say Kaddish. In light of the above, it should be
> clear that such scrupulousness is entirely unnecessary. In fact, it would be
> a greater merit for the deceaseds soul to refrain from tircha detzibbura
> (burdening the congregation with unnecessary delays).
> To conclude: The mourners Kaddish needs to be recited only once  at the end
> of each service ...  Additional Kaddishim should only be recited in
> congregations where only one person at a time recites Kaddish, since more
> Kaddishim are often required to accommodate all the mourners.

Apropos of the last point, I wrote in an essay "Kaddish Yatom  The Orphans
Kaddish" included in my book "A Time to Speak":

> the essence of Kaddish is to evoke the response of the congregation [Amein,
> yehei shemeih rabba ...], not the recital of the words as such. Thus, the
> usual situation in many shuls today, where several mourners race each other
> and, as a result, none can be heard, is clearly incorrect since it precludes
> this response.
> Perhaps this situation came about as follows. There were originally two modes
> of recitation of Kaddish. Among Ashkenazim, it would be said by one mourner
> only, who would go to the front of the shul to do so. When several mourners
> were present, the various Kaddeishim would be shared, each mourner saying one.
> Among Sefardim, on the other hand, the mourners would recite it together in
> unison so that each word was audible to everyone. Problems would arise among
> Ashkenazim when the number of mourners exceeded the number of available
> Kaddeishim ... [so] there was a tendency for disputes to arise and some later
> authorities ... recommended the adoption of the Sefardi mode. The Kitzur
> Shulchan Aruch points out that leading a life of Torah and mitzvot is a
> greater honor to the departed than the recital of Kaddish and such disputes
> are, on the contrary, a source of disgrace. Thus ... most Ashkenazim
> eventually adopted the Sefardi mode of recitation ...
> Among Sefardim, it is customary for all prayers to be said aloud in unison,
> whereas among Ashkenazim, each individual would pray at his own speed,
> oblivious of all around [and] the resulting situation was one of noise and
> disorder [so that the] Kaddish, where the essence is the congregational
> response, [this] was disastrous ... We should try to remedy it so that the
> Orphans Kaddish should once more be a praise of the Almighty recited by an
> orphan, and not itself be an orphan whose call nobody can answer.

Any comments?

Martin Stern


From: Eric Mack <ewm44118@...>
Date: Wed, Oct 2,2019 at 07:01 AM
Subject: Rosh haShana Musaf - p'sukim (verses) from TaNaCh

While davening Musaf on first day Rosh Hashana, I realized something odd about
the ten p'sukim (verses) that are cited during each of three sections in Musaf:
Malchiyot (kingship), Zichronot (remembrance) and Shofarot (Shofar blasts)
(credit to ArtScroll for those translations).

Many of us are aware that three of the p'sukim cited in each of those three
sections are from Chumash (the Five Books of Moses), three are from N'vi'im (the
Prophets) and three are from K'tuvim (the Writings); the tenth in each section
is, once again, from the Chumash.  What dawned on me during davening is that the
verses are not in the order I would have expected: while the first three are
from Chumash, the second three are from K'tuvim and the third three are from

Since N'vi'im precede K'tuvim in our Bibles, I would expect the order to be
Chumash, N'vi'im and, then, K'tuvim.

Any insights on why this particular order was adopted by those who composed our

Wishing all a g'mar hatima tova (sealing of a good inscription for the new year).

Eric Mack, Jerusalem


From: Joel Rich <JRich@...>
Date: Tue, Nov 12,2019 at 04:01 PM
Subject: Spending money on a mitzvah

The Chavot Yair (252) was asked by a talmid chacham (TC) about the following
circumstances: The TC's cousin vowed to provide the TC with weekly wine for
kiddush. The TC would rather use his own wine as he doesn't want to have a
freebie with which to do a mitzvah (see 2 Samuel 24:24) He fears however it
would be stealing to use the provided wine as the cousin would not have given it
to him if he knew he wasn't using it for kiddush.

The Chavot Yair provides a detailed analysis of whether such a condition is
truly binding [the whole less than 100% free and clear sale topic is an
interesting one - is it not a sale if the condition isn't met or is there a
separate obligation]. What caught my eye however was his endorsement of the TC's
preference to pay for his own kiddush even if the wine wasn't as good! It's not
based on the passage from Samuel [I suspect since that case was a purchase from
a non-ben brit) but rather because "tefei hiddur v'dikduk mitzvah havi im koneh
ladavar mikiso delo havi misitca d'chinam demistra milta yesh lanu od rayah
meihazohar" (it's more of a beautification and scrupulousness in mitzvoth if he
buys it himself so it's not free and even though this is clearly logical, we
have a proof from the zohar.]

My question is why is this so clearly logical? The usual "hiddur" is in the
mitzvah itself, which in this case would be accomplished with the better,
donated, wine. In addition, the TC would now have funds to secure additional
mitzvoth (e.g. tzedakah).

My meta-guess would've been soneih matanot yichyeh (it's better not to take
gifts) but that would require not taking the donated wine at all - which didn't
seem up for grabs. Any thoughts other than behavioral economics? (we value our
own things more)

Joel Rich


From: Joel Rich <JRich@...>
Date: Wed, Sep 18,2019 at 02:01 AM
Subject: Tenet of belief

I saw someone's post elsewhere:

> A tenet of our belief is that the Torah is unchanging; the oft-repeated adage,
> 'we do not adapt the Torah to the times, we adapt the times to the Torah' is
> our creed.

I replied:

Perhaps your next piece might be on how this tenet is being reflected in an age
of rampant materialism and focus on the rights of the individual (as opposed to
communal obligation)

Any comments?

Joel Rich


From: Chaim Casper <info@...>
Date: Thu, Nov 21,2019 at 04:01 PM
Subject: What do you do with your lulav after Sukkot?

What do you do with your lulav after Sukkot?

I saw (though I don't remember where) the follow options in the following order:

1) Leave it by your front door so that as you go in and out of your home, you
will be reminded to do mitzvot just as you did the mitzvah of lulav & etrog

2) Leave it by your bed as a segulah (preventative measure) against nightmares

3) Use it in making the matzah you eat at the seder

4) Burn it with the hametz on erev Pesah.

Prior to reading this, I had only heard of #4.   Does anyone have any other
options?   What is the most preferred option?

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


From: Joel Rich <JRich@...>
Date: Wed, Sep 11,2019 at 05:01 AM
Subject: Whose learning comes first?

I'd be interested in approximate statistics from communal Rabbis in the Daat
Torah community to the question:

How many questions (per 100 family units with marriageable age children) do they
get from working fathers whose children are in the shidduch process regarding
what is the appropriate trade off of their working more hours/delaying retiring
(at the cost of their own learning) in order that their son/son-in-law be able
to continue full time learning for x years?

Joel Rich


From: Sammy Finkelman <sammy.finkelman@...>
Date: Fri, Sep 20,2019 at 06:01 PM
Subject: Why did Chazal accept medical treatments?

Joel Rich wrote (MJ 64#40):

> Clarke's first law states that any sufficiently advanced technology is
> indistinguishable from magic. 
> If so, how did Chazal accept any medical treatments from non-halachic sources
> since no one knew how these treatments actually worked (and in the end they 
> didn't)?

I would have thought that Chazal assumed they worked but then I realised they
even  decreed that you're not allowed to make a medicine on Shabbos so that
seems to be based on the idea that, mostly, they didn't work, otherwise it would
be pikuach nefesh in some cases.

But I also have the impression that they even, or some of them, assumed that
some amulets worked and there is a difference in halacha depending upon whether
they worked or not.

I quickly found this: https://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/amulet

Putting out fires mostly didn't work either in those days.


End of Volume 64 Issue 41