Volume 64 Number 59 
      Produced: Sun, 19 Apr 20 15:07:33 -0400

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

    [Joel Rich]
Corona outbreak (2)
    [Michael Rogovin  Martin Stern]
Foeticide (was Corona outbreak) 
    [Martin Stern]
How much matzah are you going to eat at the seder? 
    [Menashe Elyashiv]
Roll your own 
    [Joel Rich]
Street minyanim (was Corona outbreak) (4)
    [Joel Rich  Orrin Tilevitz  Menashe Elyashiv  David Ziants]
The Corona pandemic -  Rav Tzvi Tau's perspective 
    [David Tzohar]


From: Joel Rich <JRich@...>
Date: Tue, Apr 14,2020 at 02:01 AM
Subject: Chassidut

Alex Heppenheimer wrote (MJ 64#58):

> 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).

What I had meant was that there was no direct link to a gadol in the previous
generation. Perhaps I should have made that point clearer.

Be Well



From: Michael Rogovin <michael@...>
Date: Mon, Mar 23,2020 at 11:01 AM
Subject: Corona outbreak

Martin Stern (MJ 64#56) may be correct that there are other approaches to Corona
and peanut allergies, but I think (as a neighbor of an otherwise healthy person
now in the ICU due to Novell Corona, and as a parent of someone with a mild
peanut allergy) that he overstates his case.

There could well be less disruptive approaches, such as a 2-3 week complete
shutdown for everyone at once rather than flattening the curve over several
months with the accompanying economic disruption. But that would take leadership
that is sorely lacking in the US, along with cooperation which is similarly
lacking.  Much of the problem in the US was caused by the patchwork of different
approaches and attempts to isolate a disease after it was already distributed
widely. The total disdain showed by leadership in Washington and by many state
governments has made it much more difficult. Hospitals are already facing severe
shortages of supplies and beds.

As for putting the burden on those with a condition like a peanut allergy, what
Martin is suggesting is that people with a life threatening condition should not
go to malls, use airplanes, go to school, etc. so that others can eat peanuts.
Given the huge number of people with this allergy, one wonders why eating
peanuts is so important that they should be effectively excluded from basic
society. It seems to me a small sacrifice for schools and airlines to go peanut
free. Perhaps for allergies that are rare his argument might be more reasonable,

Michael Rogovin

From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Sun, Apr 19,2020 at 08:01 AM
Subject: Corona outbreak

Though this has no halchic significance, I saw recently that 91% of
Coronavirus fatalities in hospitals in the the UK were among those with at
least one underlying health problem, the majority of whom had two or more.

So only 9% had no health problems but, I assume, that only means they had no
known ones but may well have had, for example, congenital defects that had
not shown, as yet, any symptoms.

As regards those who passed away in nursing homes, and other assisted living
facilities, who were not included in these statistics, I would imagine
almost all would have had some underlying health problem - those in robust
health would probably prefer be live independently. Also, there do not seem
to be a significant number of persons being found dead in their private
residences. So the proportion with a health problem will almost certainly
increase once the government includes non-hospital data. I presume that the
proportions in other countries will be similar.

It would be interesting to know the age distribution of the, at most, 9%
with no known health problems and whether it shows that age per se, as
opposed to the greater incidence of health issues with age, is a major
indicator of susceptibility.

Does anyone have any information?

Martin Stern


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Tue, Apr 14,2020 at 06:01 AM
Subject: Foeticide (was Corona outbreak)

David Ziants wrote (MJ 64#58) in response to my posting (MJ 64#56):

> I don't know the parameters of foeticide with respect to a ben Noach which
> Martin also raised - maybe he can elaborate.

Basically the difference is that, for a ben Noach, it carries the death penalty,
like all infringements of the seven commandments incumbent on a ben Noach,
whereas for a Yisrael, it is a simple prohibition punishable by lashes. This is
based on the exegesis of Rabbi Yishmael (Sanhedrin 57b) of "shofekh dam ha'adam
ba'adam ..." (Gen. 9:6) by reading it as "he who sheds the blood of a person
inside a person ..." and deducing "What is a person in a person? It refers to a
foetus in its mother's womb."

> 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?

I am not sure but it would appear to be based on the principle that it is based
on sevarah [logic] which has the force of Torah law and does not require a
textual basis - "Lamah li kera, sevara hu?" (B.K. 46b)

Martin Stern


From: Menashe Elyashiv <menely2@...>
Date: Thu, Apr 16,2020 at 08:01 AM
Subject: How much matzah are you going to eat at the seder?

Dr. William Gewirtz wrote (MJ 64#58):
> 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.
> ...
> I find the story about the Rav ztl measuring his matzoh by grinding it
> completely out of character.
> ...

A Rav once told us that as a talmid yeshiva in pre WW2 he was at gedolay Lita
for the sedarim. They did not weigh the matzah or prepare in advance, they used
common sense and lamdanut to distribute the matzah to the mesubim.


From: Joel Rich <JRich@...>
Date: Tue, Apr 14,2020 at 02:01 AM
Subject: Roll your own

Yisrael Medad wrote (MJ 64#58):
> 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?

Actually he was North American :-)

KT and Be Well

Joel Rich


From: Joel Rich <JRich@...>
Date: Tue, Apr 14,2020 at 02:01 AM
Subject: Street minyanim (was Corona outbreak)

David Ziants wrote (MJ 64#58):

> 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.

A few points in response:

1. Those who view halacha as primarily chukim (positivists?) and so for whom any
clever "work-around/loophole" will do, imho, miss the point by finding ways to
continue exposure by letter of the law.  Remember "sakanta chamura mei'issura
[with regard to danger to life, we're more strict than in ritual issues"

2. I would assume that anyone not obeying the Israeli government rules had
received a psak not to do so, otherwise they would be bound by local law.  I'm
sure those who gave such a psak will explain themselves.  Accepting such a psak is
a separate discussion.

3. Lo plug (we don't differentiate) is a minyan breaking consideration (as well
as the impact on those who don't have minyan availability)

4.Joining in the general suffering of the Jewish people is a well established
principle as well

KT and be well
Joel Rich

From: Orrin Tilevitz <tilevitzo@...>
Date: Tue, Apr 14,2020 at 07:01 AM
Subject: Street minyanim (was Corona outbreak)

David Ziants asked (MJ 64#58), relating to street minyanim that nominally
observe social distancing:

> 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?

I reject the questions and the assumptions on which it is based. I was forwarded
on my cellphone a 5-minute long voicemail message on March 21 from the Chabad
emissary in Beijing, Rabbi Shimon Freundlich. He begins by saying:

"I have received an exorbitant number of calls from people who want to make
minyanim -- is it Ok to do it outside, inside if the room is so big." 

He continues that he isn't a posek, but has consulted with people whom he
believes are competent poskim and what he is saying is daas torah, that in
Beijing 400 people became sick from the virus and 8 died, but not a single
person in the 13 Chabad communities in China and Hong Kong was sickened
- "because they listened".

His voice rising, he continues: 

"What is this insistence on minyanim? Everyone wants to do shtick! One person
with a good immune system catches the virus, passes it on to someone else with a
good immune system, and then -- rachmana litzlan... When it comes to Yom Kippur,
when it comes to Shabbos - they are doiraiso - and we are mechalel them because
of pikuach nefesh. A minyan is derabonon! People say, there won't be krias
hatorah in my neighborhood. Are you willing to put someone's life in danger?  If
you get sick, you go running to the doctors to help save you. The greatest
scientists in the world are telling people to stay away from each other.You
think that you're such a chochom, that you now better than the doctor, the
greatest scientists in the world!"

That voicemail was reported here:


I"d be happy to forward it to list members with a U.S. cellphone number.

R.Freundlich has another speech on youtube explaining the dangers of outdoor
minyanim, here:



From: Menashe Elyashiv <menely2@...>
Date: Thu, Apr 16,2020 at 08:01 AM
Subject: Street minyanim (was Corona outbreak)

In response to David Ziants (MJ 64#58):

After the Israel MOH forbade outside minyanim, balcony minyanim started. I live
in an apartment neighborhood. All have either a back yard or a succah balcony.
Many buildings are built on the hill and are like steps, 3 floors above the
street level and three below. Most do not have a Sefer Torah. In that case the
reader has all the Aliyot. Most LOR hold that this is considered a minyan but
our LOR disagrees.

From: David Ziants <dziants@...>
Date: Sun, Apr 19,2020 at 12:01 PM
Subject: Street minyanim (was Corona outbreak)

On MJ 64#58 I brought up the subject of street minyanim. By the time my
submission was published, the Israeli government had already imposed more
extreme measures both over Pesach and a bit after, completely forbidding street
minyanim. The only remaining possibility of joining a minyan in a proper way
rather than answer a minyan in real time over Zoom (which also has "worth"
according to many poskim although not as tephilla b'tzibur), was through what
has been termed "minyanai mirpasot" [balcony minyanim where each family unit
stands on its private balcony and there are enough people within ear-shot and
sight to make up a minyan].

This brings up a host of halachic questions:-

1) I live the other side of the road to the closest such minyan to me, but can
usually hear very clearly and also see some of the people. A local Rav had
already published locally that such a person cannot be one of the 10, but he is
included in the congregation and has tefilla b'tzibur.

2) For a minyan that has a sepher torah (the minyan that I joined didn't want
one because the Rav of its organizer did not allow it, but some of the other
minyanim in the neighbourhood were allowed) - how are people called up? Since
the sepher cannot be moved from balcony to balcony, they would likely have no
choice but to call up father and son consecutively. Should they not call them by
"name"? Alternatively, the ba'al koreh receives all the aliyot (preferred method
for most street minyanim).

3) Sometimes one can hear a minyan a bit further away, but cannot see the people
- those who allow zoom no doubt would allow one to answer to that minyan if one
is in a place that one can interrupt - but is one obligated to answer if one
hears and one is waiting for amida repetition etc at ones own minyan?

4) Should Magen Avot be omitted on Friday night?

I am sure that there are more questions but now that the Israeli Cabinet has 
authorised street minyanim with up to 19 people - but people are still being 
encouraged to join on from their balconies where possible - they have become
more academic than practical. May they remain just that - halachah velo le
ma'aseh - in the future! 

David Ziants


From: David Tzohar <davidtzohar@...>
Date: Tue, Apr 14,2020 at 07:01 AM
Subject: The Corona pandemic -  Rav Tzvi Tau's perspective

In a recent television address Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said that he
had visited "an important national-religious Rabbi who explained to him that the
corona pandemic can be understood through the vort of R'Elimelech MiLizhantz who
said "et tzara hi liya'akov uMIMENA Yivashaya"(it is a time of tragedy for
Ya"akov but from WITHIN it will come salvation). The PM understood this to mean
that even though we see much tragedy, we also see an opportunity to improve
society through helping each other (Veahavta Lireiacha camocha) and supporting
the government in its efforts to contain and in the end overcome the pandemic.

The "Rabbinic personality" was Rav Tzvi Tau SHLITA, Nasi Yeshivat Har HaMor and
the spiritual leader of the MAMLACHTI [statist] trend of the National-Religious
Yeshivot who emphasize the view of Rav Kook ZTZL who said "The State of Israel
is MeRKaVaT Shechinat HaShem" and his son R'Tvi Yehuda ZTZL who said that we are
"BeMITZIATA DeGeULa" (in the MIDST of Redemption).

Rav Tau who contracted corona, (may HaShem grant him a complete recovery)
published a statement from his sickbed in the hospital. He wrote that HaShem
released the corona virus to punish the post-modern world which praises and
empowers "ShTiYa VeToeiva [perversion and abomination]" by which he meant LGBT
(DTz). HaShem created a Beast (the corona virus) in response to the bestiality
of post-modern society - MiDah KiNeGeD MiDaH.

This of course begs the question of why so many religious people and even
leading rabbis (such as he himself) have been struck down. His answer is that
their sin was they were guilty of not having sufficiently denounced this
phenomenon (HoCHiaCH ToCHiaCH) because it is seen to be not "politically
correct" to do so.

For a different outlook on this question see my post, The corona pandemic and
Divine "MAZAL" (MJ 64#58).

David Yitzchak Tzohar
Machon Meir


End of Volume 64 Issue 59