Volume 64 Number 58 
      Produced: Mon, 13 Apr 20 16:45:19 -0400

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

    [Alex Heppenheimer]
Corona outbreak 
    [David Ziants]
How much matzah are you going to eat at the seder? 
    [Dr. William Gewirtz]
Piyutim during silent amidah 
    [Martin Stern]
Roll your own 
    [Yisrael Medad]
The Corona pandemic and Divine "MAZAL" 
    [David Tzohar]
The Corona pandemic and Tevilah 
    [David Tzohar]
Using ZOOM for Seder (2)
    [Menashe Elyashiv  David Ziants]


From: Alex Heppenheimer <aheppenh@...>
Date: Tue, Apr 7,2020 at 11:01 PM
Subject: Chassidut

Joel Rich wrote (MJ 64#57):

> A rav visiting a high school spoke to the students concerning acceptable
> approaches to avodat Hashem (worship of HKBH). His major point was that 
> they're all ok as long as they have a gadol (great Rabbi) who supports the
> approach. I wondered to the student whether the rav, who identified with a
> branch of chassidut, felt the irony of making such a statement when chassidut's 
> originator would have failed this test. Thoughts?

How would the Baal Shem Tov "have failed this test"? Was he himself not a gadol?
In addition, from quite early on there were distinguished rabbis who supported
him, such as the Meir Nesivim (R. Meir Margolios, rav of Ostraha).

Kol tuv,


From: David Ziants <dziants@...>
Date: Sun, Mar 22,2020 at 08:01 AM
Subject: Corona outbreak

Martin Stern (MJ 64#56) in his rebuttal to Orrin Tilevitz (MJ 64#55) on his
original posting (MJ 64#54), brought up a number of points:

> In off-line correspondence with Orrin, it appeared that he thought, when I
> referred above to "mass hysteria", I was referring to the political leadership
> and the medical profession. In case anyone else got that impression, I want to
> emphasise that I was referring to the general public.

This brings up the subject of small minyanim either on the street or in the
forecourts of apartment buildings in a religious neighbourhoods in Israel. 

When the edict in Israel was changed from forbidding gatherings of 100 to
forbidding gatherings of 10, there were mixed reactions from some of the people
in my neighbourhood with respect to organizing these for Friday night or Shabbat
morning. This despite Israeli Ministry of Health (MOH) saying they were OK
provided individuals kept 2m apart.

Many of the doctors said that this was not a good idea because mistakes can be
made in maintaining that distance, or there can be too many minyanim that are
too close to each other. It seems that the Rabbanim based their halachic
decisions whether to allow them or whether it was preferable to pray separately
at home - or whether it might even be forbidden to pray outside the house at all
- according to what extent they were persuaded by the doctors - as opposed to
viewing it as hysteria - or just thought that the MOH restrictions were
sufficient without creating further restrictions.

Last Shabbat, I personally did what I felt was correct according to the
statement of the Rav of my shul, so I am obviously not looking for a p'sak. I am
interested, though, on what people on this forum have to say on the matter?

Although I don't know what happened in practice, when it comes to kriat hatorah
it would make sense that the ba'al koreh receives all the aliyot with any
kohanim leaving the room/vicinity when the ba'al koreh is called up and coming
back straight away to complete the minyan before he says barechu. Thus there
need be only one person in front of the sepher torah. Any thoughts?

One of the halachic arguments for not allowing these street minyanim was that
if, unfortunately, a person were a carrier of the virus and didn't know it, so
he was not in self-quarantine, and (chass v'shalom) someone catches it from him
who then dies, the carrier might have had the law of "rodeph" (someone who runs
after someone else to kill them).

So Orrin asked whether the initial approach in the UK, which Martin mentioned,
where more people might die (are dying) but society continues as usual is
permitted under the 7 Noahide laws. I don't know the parameters of foeticide
with respect to a ben Noach which Martin also raised - maybe he can elaborate.
But the question is also to what extent does the law of "rodeph" apply to a ben
Noach? Or is it just what that society's rulers and courts decide?

With respect to the Israeli rulings (and those also of most of the rest of the
world it seems), even if it could just be the one life that is saved by the
"distancing laws" etc., with all the disruption to society it causes, then is
this not a kiddush Hashem (sanctification of G-d's name)?

David Ziants


From: Dr. William Gewirtz <wgewirtz@...>
Date: Tue, Apr 7,2020 at 11:01 AM
Subject: How much matzah are you going to eat at the seder?

Chaim Casper wrote (MJ 64#57):

> Much has been said about and written about the size of an olive [k'zayit], 
> which of course is important to us as it determines how much matzah one 
> should eat at the seder.
> I heard about the Rav, Rabbi Joseph D Halevi Soloveitchik, zt"l, and his 
> family grinding a piece of matzah so that they could accurately measure the 
> volume of the matzah so they could determine how much much of a piece of 
> matzah needs to be eaten in order to eat the volume of a k'zayit.
> Rabbi Dr Natan Slifkin has researched how the size of a k'zayit has grown
> through the years and the resultant increase in the amount of matzah one must
> eat in order to fulfill the mitzvah of eating Matzah at the seder:
> https://www.biblicalnaturalhistory.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/TheEvolution
> OfTtheOlive.pdf
> Any comments?

I find the story about the Rav ztl measuring his matzoh by grinding it
completely out of character.

In any case, R. Slifkin's history of shiurim that you reference is, as best as I
can tell, largely based on an article by Rav Haim Benish, who has written
multiple seforim on both zemanim and shiurim. For anyone yet more interested,
the volumes of Techumin around 14, contain two interesting articles.

My second grandson's brit was on Chol Hamoed Pesach. I was sitting next to Rav
Schechter, whose wife's father, Rav Schapiro ztl, was responsible for one of Rav
Shkop's seforim. Rav Schechter told me that his FIL used to say seriously and
jokingly, that in addition to being a Gaon Atzum, Rav Shkop was also a Baal
Mofais [a miracle worker]: at his seder 5 people ate from one matzoh. Based on
one of the Techumin articles that approximation for an olive, though larger than
an actual olive, is well supported in the halakhic literature.

For those intrigued by this topic, there are two independent disputes, one on
the size of an olive and one on the size of a reviit (based onthe size of an
egg). For those who like/dislike matzoh/wine find a major halakhic personality
(of the fourpossible options) to follow! Here my mind and body conflict. While I
think that the smallest shiurim for both are preferable, I consume more than the
largest shiur!!


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Tue, Apr 7,2020 at 02:01 PM
Subject: Piyutim during silent amidah

Orrin Tilevitz wrote (MJ 64#57):

> Is it permissible for an individual reciting the silent amidah to insert
> piyutim that the shaliach tzibur would ordinarily recite in the repetition
> during these times (when the repetition and therefore piyutim are being
> recited in few places worldwide)?

The insertion of piyutim in chazarat hashatz is itself a matter of dispute. It
would appear that they were originally composed in Eretz Yisrael during the
Byzantine persecutions, especially from the time of Justinian, when the
government tried to suppress Judaism by banning the teaching what it referred to
as "Deuterosis" - the Greek translation of Mishnah, but in which it included
Midrash - i.e. anything other than the plain text of Scripture. The paytanim
included such Rabbinic exegesis in their poetic compositions but, to avoid
government spies [minim/malshinim] realising this, had to use obscure allusions
which they would simply not understand but would remind the more learned Jews of
the topics.

Unfortunately, most people nowadays simply do not have the necessary background
and have no idea what the piyutim are all about, as is clear from the way they
get mangled in most congregations. 

Because of the problem of hefsek [interruption], the Babylonian Geonim were
strongly opposed to their insertion and tried to have them suppressed. The
Sefardim tended to follow their lead and stopped inserting them. This may have
been partly due to the links of the Babylonian Jewish leadership with the Muslim
rulers of the Caliphate.

The Minhag of Eretz Yisrael was still to say them. It influenced the Romaniot
minhag of the Byzantine Jews in the Balkans and Asia Minor which remained beyond
the political jurisdiction of the Geonim in present day Iraq. From there it
spread to Byzantine Southern Italy and thence to rest of Italy - Minhag Italiki
or Roma. Towards the end of the Dark Ages, members of the Kalonymos family
(unsurprisingly a Greek word meaning "Good name", equivalent of the Hebrew name
Shem tov) from Lucca in North Italy moved to Ashkenaz [Northern France/Germany]
where they were responsible for the establishing and flowering of Ashkenazi
learning. Many of them were accomplished paytanim so the inclusion of piyutim
became established in the Ashkenazi tradition.

However, even in it, there was a residual unease with inserting them in chazarat
hashatz so they were introduced by the reshut [request for permission]

"Misod chachamim unevonim umilemed da'at mevinim eftechah fi betefillah
uvetachanunim, lechalot ulechanein pi Melech malchei melachim va'Adonei adonim
[Invoking the esoteric doctrines of the wise and the teachings of those with
expert understanding, I open my mouth in prayer and supplication to beseach and
plead before the King of king of kings and Lord of lords]"

In view of this, it would appear not to be correct for individuals to recite
them as part of their silent amidah.
> Does it make a difference if the piyut would have been recited only during the
> first three blessings (which are in some cases recited aloud together with the
> congregation as the so-called "hoiche kedushah"), e.g., the prayer for dew on
> Passover, or the middle blessings as well (e.g. the mussaf piyutim for Parshat
> Shekalim and Parshat Hachodesh)?

Hoiche kedushah is only appropriate when time is lacking and is irrelevant to
this discussion.

I think, though I have not seen this mentioned in the literature, that the
reason that the mussaf piyutim [shivata] do not generally include this
introductory reshut is because they rely on it having already been invoked at

> If the answer is normally "no", would it be different on Rosh Hashana or Yom
> Kippur?

There is no reason to differentiate.

> And if the individual may insert these piyutim, may he recite that part of the
> amidah aloud? (The silent amidah is normally to be recited, well, silently, so
> as not to call too much attention to oneself)?

Since inserting them is not appropriate outside chazarat hashatz, this obviously
should not be done. If an individual wants to say piyutim, the appropriate mode
would be to read them after having finished davenning. This has the added
advantage that he or she can take as much time as necessary and refer to the
various commentaries available without being under pressure to keep up with the

Martin Stern


From: Yisrael Medad  <yisrael.medad@...>
Date: Tue, Apr 7,2020 at 11:01 AM
Subject: Roll your own

Joel Rich describes an event in MJ 64#57 whereby `An oleh one Thursday
morning insisted on reading his own aliyah.`

Was he Yemenite? North African?

Yisrael Medad


From: David Tzohar <davidtzohar@...>
Date: Fri, Apr 10,2020 at 10:01 AM
Subject: The Corona pandemic and Divine "MAZAL"

IN a recent shiur on the Machon Meir website (Arutz Meir) Rav Uri Sherky SHLIT'A
quoted the RaMCHAL ZTZ'L who brought a passage from the Zohar HaKadosh saying
that there are two types of divine providence: one based on SACHAR VaONESH
(reward and punishment) and one base on "mazal". In the Talmud mazal (literelly
star or planet) is similar to astrology. 

The Zohar however says that mazal is the Divine Will working to achieve its
goals of tikkun olam and geulah above and beyond any actions of humans - good or
bad - therefore ignoring reward and punishment (and of course negating any
astrological forces). 

Thus he explains the destruction of the second Temple and the failure of the Bar
Cochba revolt even though those generations were full of great holy Rabbis like
the asarah harugei malchut, including Rabi Akiva who was the spiritual leader of
the Bar Cochba revolt. And this "mazal" explains the 2,000 year exile when the
great majority of Jewry was devout (or anusim) culminating in the shoah on the
one hand and the redemption of modern Zionism on the other, even though modern
Zionism was led by secular and even heretical forces.

Rav Sherky went on to explain that this can help us to explain one of the most
distressing aspects of the corona plague - the fact that it has hit the
religious and charedi community particularly hard - four leading Chabad rabbis
ZTZL gone and LHBHL the Satmer Rebbi, Rav Tzvi Tau (RY of Har HaMOR) and other
leading rabbis infected and seriously ill May Hashem grant them a speedy and
full recovery.

It is beyond our understanding why Hashem has decided to reveal Himself through
"HANHAGAT HAMAZAL" but we must believe that He is there even BeHASTARA BeTOCH
HAHASTARA. Just as R Akiva saw in the destruction of the Temple a sign of the
future redemption we believe that there will be a great light at the end of this

R Elimelech MiLizhantz said "Et Tzara Hi LiYaakov UMIMENA YIVASHEYA (It is a
time of tragedy for Yaakov, but WITHIN it there is salvation)". TZARA has the
same letters as Tzohar and Retzeh. It is the will (RATZON) of Hashem that within
this tragedy (TZARA) there is a Tzohar (aperture, window) through which the
light of redemption will shine.

R David Yitzchak Tzohar 
Machon Meir 


From: David Tzohar <davidtzohar@...>
Date: Fri, Apr 10,2020 at 09:01 AM
Subject: The Corona pandemic and Tevilah

A leading Rabbi of the Moroccan community Chaim Amsalem came out with a psak,
saying that women who have trouble getting to the mikvah because of the corona
lockdown can immerse themselves in a bathtub or swimming pool that contains at
least 330 liters of water and this would purify them of nidda and they would be
permitted to their husbands.

He emphasized that this is permitted only BeSHAAT HADeCHAK (times of extenuating
circumstances). He said this is based on the daat yachid of Rav Mashash (former
chief rabbi of the Moroccan community of France and later chief Sefardi rabbi of
Jerusalem) who paskend that tap water is not the MAYIM SHEUVIM of the Talmud and

He was roundly denounced by poskim both Charedi and National Religious who
pointed out that Rav Kook ZTZL came out very strongly against the possibility of
ritual purification anywhere except a kosher mikvah filled with 40 SEAH of
rainwater. He even discouraged immersion in the ocean/rivers or springs unless
no mikvah could be found {MA'AMRE RE'AYA)
R David Yitzchak Tzohar  
Machon Meir 


From: Menashe Elyashiv <menely2@...>
Date: Tue, Apr 7,2020 at 04:01 PM
Subject: Using ZOOM for Seder

The Rabbis who issued the pesak are not known to be leading poskim. One is a
local Rabbi in Netanya the others are even less well known. Almost all poskim
hold like R. S.Z. Auerbach on electricity.

Of course it will be hard to have a very small seder but that seems to be what
HKBH wants this year

From: David Ziants <dziants@...>
Date: Mon, Apr 13,2020 at 04:01 PM
Subject: Using ZOOM for Seder

In MJ 64#57, I started a discussion concerning a public p'sak given by a group
of Western Sephardi Rabbanim (as they describe themselves) that allows a family
to set up ZOOM before Yom Tov so that a family member who is not allowed to join
because of social distancing measures imposed due to the Coronavirus, can join
in on the Seder remotely.

One of the questions I asked in my posting was whether there were any Ashkenazi
Rabbanim who allow this on a one-off basis. Over first day chag, I was looking
at the book of references "Hachashmal b'halacha", published NIssan 5738 (1978)
by "Machon mada'i technologi l'bayot halacha" [Institute for Science and
Halacha, Jerusalem], and found a reference that relates to a similar situation -
but obviously much older technology.

The reference (quoted on page 167 of the book) is a responsum given in the
collection Yerushat P'laita - chapter 10 - given by Rav Neta Shlomo Schlissel
(the Av Bet Din of Munkatsh). In principle he permits (on a weekday) fulfilling
one's obligation through telephone concerning Shophar, Kiddush, Hallel, Megilla,
Bar'chu and Kedusha, provided the person who makes the beracha is a "Yisrael
kasher" ["kosher Jew" however one defines that] . There is also a reference on
the page before in the book to Yerushat P'laita - chapter 6 - given by Rav
Shalom Wieder (Av Bet Din Neredhaus) that forbids because it is not a natural voice.

So, concerning Shabbat and Yom Tov, according to Rav Neta Shlomo Schlissel, in
principle it is forbidden to make a sound heard over the telephone, so one
should not do kiddush on Shabbat and shophar on Yom Tov. But, "b'sha'at had'chak
v' tzorech gadol" [a degree of urgency and great need - maybe the scenario we
are talking about now], when it is impossible in another way but by telephone,
it is possible to ladoon l'hakel [discuss leniency], provided all actions are
requested to a non-Jew who has to pass on the request to another non-Jew
(telephone timer automation was no doubt not possible at that time). This Rav,
in the responsum, then makes it very clear that a local rav has to decide on
these matters on his own accord and he is only bringing this as a "possibility"
and he does not want anyone to rely on him here.

I hope I have captured correctly the essence of the few paragraphs here, and 
I transliterated a few of the Hebrew phrases as any translation attempt 
might lose this essence.

Chag Same'ach
David Ziants


End of Volume 64 Issue 58