Volume 64 Number 53 
      Produced: Sun, 08 Mar 20 05:39:21 -0400

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

Alternatives to traditional hagbaha 
    [Orrin Tilevitz]
Corona outbreak - hearing megilla by someone in isolation 
    [David Ziants]
Money from the wall 
    [Sholom Parnes]
Times Change, Circumstances Change, Halachah Changes 
    [Dr. William Gewirtz]


From: Orrin Tilevitz <tilevitzo@...>
Date: Mon, Mar 2,2020 at 07:01 PM
Subject: Alternatives to traditional hagbaha

Yisrael Medad writes (MJ 64#52) regarding a passage from Tr. Soferim:

> Of course the synagogue architecture and interior design facilitated that
> seating arrangement but the uniqueness is that women were mentioned as expected
> to be in synagogue and special attention was required so they see it.
> As for the seating all around on three sides (and have we all seen the 
> pictures of these synagogues?), I would have expected a comment like "was there 
> a mechitzah at all there?"

A Wikipedia article says that Tr. Soferim dates from the 8th century CE. I
remember reading about a synagogue in Israel of about that vintage whose ruins
still exist and which shows no evidence of separate woman and men's sections.
The Conservative responsum on mechitzot asserts that this means women and men
davened in shul together. I remember reading an Orthodox discussion that cites
the same shul as evidence that women didn't go to shul. I would be curious where
this passage from Tr. Soferim fits in.


From: David Ziants <dziants@...>
Date: Thu, Mar 5,2020 at 05:01 PM
Subject: Corona outbreak - hearing megilla by someone in isolation

Because of the Corona outbreak, someone asked on a local social forum about
what the shuls were doing on Purim and about the hearing of the megilla by
people who were obliged to spend two weeks in isolation at home. Although I am
far from being a rav of any sorts, I took on myself to summarize a number of
solutions (as well as give the response "wear masks lol"). I copy this summary
here, making a few minor adjustments and also mentioning the source references
that I have. Most of these remarks are from the perspective of living in Israel.
Of course, comments or other ideas are welcome:-

1) Shuls and minyanim operate normally (at least so far in Israel), although I
have already heard of one big shul in the USA which has had to suspend operation.

2) For people who recently entered Israel from any country that is not
specifically black-listed, and are told to keep away from gatherings of 100
people or more - should find a shul or minyan that is likely to have less than
100 people.

3) For people who entered Israel from a black-listed country and have to stay in
isolation, I have found out a number of possibilities with respect to megilla
reading, but there might be more (primarily from a response published by Eretz
Chemda institute: 


and a letter from the Israeli Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi, Rav David Lau, see


Although I cannot yet find the letter online - these were both sent by a local
shul where I live):-

a) Try and arrange for someone to read the megilla from parchment for you and
your family where the quarantined family are inside their house and the reader
is at a safe distance outside, according to the parameters set by the health
authorities. For example, in the corridor or by the window if the apartment is
on ground or first floor. Especially, this might be viable in a community where
there are not too many people/families in this situation. Many communities have
men who are willing to volunteer for this.

b) If one has a kosher megilla, one can follow along with a recording reading
oneself a verse or part of a verse at a time after hearing the recording
thereof. (On page sent out by David Lau, he suggests that it is possible to
borrow a megilla that is wrapped in transparent plastic/nylon and - unlike Torah
reading - one can fulfil ones obligation by reading through the nylon.)

c) There are authorities who permit, under extreme circumstances (like this) to
fulfil ones obligation by listening to a live broadcast via electronic means,
for example over the Internet or over the telephone. One can answer amen to the
berachot but should not recite the berachot oneself. See the following sources
for the halachic issues that are given on Eretz Chemda response of this option
(better to look at original page to see what aspect each source reference refers

Responsa Minchat Shlomo 1:9 (and Chazon Ish in footnotes); 

Responsa Yechaveh Daat 3:54; 

Responsa Minchat Elazar 2:72, 

Responsa Minchat Yitzchak 3:38,16, and others. 

Responsa Bemareh Habazak 1:26 and also Responsa Bemareh Habazak 5:62 concerning
a microphone. 

Responsa Igrot Moshe OC 2:108, OC 4:91; 

Responsa Tzitz Eliezer 8:11; 

and it says that they understand that Rabbi Herschel Schachter rules similary
for those asking in the United States.

(I remember hearing a shiur about this, maybe a year or two ago, and was told
the few seconds delay of the electronic voice reaching the hearer is not
considered significant.)

Israel Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi David Lau does not accept this option, as he says
sound that is heard to fulfil the mizva of megilla has to be an original voice
and not electronically produced.

d) (Assuming no other choice), I read somewhere else that one should just read
megillat esther from a tanach and not say the beracha.

In a private reading without a minyan, one does not say the beracha after the
megilla reading.

David Ziants

From: Sholom Parnes <sholomjparnes@...>
Date: Tue, Mar 3,2020 at 05:01 AM
Subject: Money from the wall

Menashe Elyashiv wrote (MJ 64#51):

> I was at automatic cash machine. I tried to use it but the screen showed "take
> the bills". After waiting, 500 shekel came out. Nobody waiting there could
> remember who was the guy before me who had apparently thought that machine was
> not working and left without taking his money.
> I did not make a regular hashevat aveyda, hanging up notes. I entered the bank
> and told the cashier what happened and when, and left the money with her.
> Assuming that this is the best way, as she will try to find the loser, was 
> that correct to do?
> If nobody comes to retrieve it, who receives the money?

I do not know how this works elsewhere but in Israel the ATM machines are
programmed to swallow any money left at the ATM after having been forgotten
there for X minutes. The money is then redeposited to the account from
which it was withdrawn.

Sholom J Parnes
Hamelech David 65/3
Efrat 90435 ISRAEL


From: Dr. William Gewirtz <wgewirtz@...>
Date: Mon, Mar 2,2020 at 08:01 PM
Subject: Times Change, Circumstances Change, Halachah Changes

Orrin Tilevitz wrote (MJ 64#51):

> In MJ 64#50, William Gewirtz gives, as an example of a halacha that has 
> changed for non-scientific reasons, sitting in the sukkah on Shemini Attzeret
> (outside of Israel). In prior discussions of this topic, I have given the
> same example, and been corrected: the halacha has not changed, and to the
> extent that practice has changed, it has the status of minhag lo kehalacha,
> even if it can be justified (as per the Arukh Hashulchan). And then there are
> people like the rabbi of my shul who insist, on the strength of some midrash
> somewhere, that the halacha has always been that we do NOT sit in the sukkah on
> Shemini Atzeret, the gemara (and all the poskim) to the contrary
> notwithstanding.

I thank Orrin Tilevitz for his comment. I expressed myself colloquially when I
should have been more precise. Halakhic principles are assumed to be unchanging;
how those principles are applied in practice depends on the actual and changing
circumstance. Thus, halakhic practice and the relevant situation often both
change, albeit not necessarily at the same speed.

Not sitting in the sukkah on Shemini haAtzeret is strongly implied by a careful
reading of the text of the primary sugya (Sukkah 46b-47a). That conclusion is
often overlooked because of the final phrase - the law is that we sit and do not
make a berakha, which is likely a later interpolation (and change) probably
introduced by Rav Yehudai Gaon.

The text clearly favors Rabbi Yochanon over Rav, which is also how we normally
pasken. The text of the ikka deamri also reads better than the first
alternative, which again aligns with psak. Taken in combination, Rabbi Yochanon
in the ikka deamri did not sit in the sukkah on Shemini haAtzeret.


End of Volume 64 Issue 53