Volume 64 Number 62 
      Produced: Tue, 12 May 20 16:21:22 -0400

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

An incongruous choice of words? 
    [Martin Stern]
Celebrating in Public places 
    [Alex Heppenheimer]
Street minyanim (2)
    [Alex Heppenheimer  Chana Luntz]
The beracha M'ayn Sheva [Magen Avot] at a street or balcony minyan 
    [David Ziants]


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Wed, Apr 29,2020 at 04:01 AM
Subject: An incongruous choice of words?

I have noticed that there are a few advantages in being unable to daven with a
minyan - in particular that one does not have to rush to keep pace with the
tzibbur and, thereby, can pay more attention to what one is saying. One thing
that struck me was the apparent incongruous choice of words in the second
paragraph of the Shema "Ve'asafta degganecha vetiroshecha veyitzharecha [and you
will gather your grain, wine and oil]" (Deut. 11:14).

While it makes perfect sense to "gather" grain, one does not "gather" wine or
oil but, rather, one gathers grapes and olives which then need further
processing to produce the final product.

Is the Torah's choice of words hinting here to some deeper significance?

Martin Stern


From: Alex Heppenheimer <aheppenh@...>
Date: Fri, Apr 24,2020 at 03:01 PM
Subject: Celebrating in Public places

Dr. Josh Backon (MJ 64#61) wrote, regarding music trucks going around this past
Chol Hamoed, and the concerns about those raised by Immanuel Burton:

> Loud music in public space is prohibited (see: Rema Choshen Mishpat 156:2).

I would assume that Dr. Backon is referring to the last sentence of the Rema
there, that "if they are sick and the noise bothers them, they have the right to
protest [and have the nuisance removed]." However, it must be noted that this
doesn't amount to a blanket prohibition, since not all public spaces have sick
people nearby.

Even under the current circumstances, where that presumption unfortunately is
not as true (may Hashem help all of those who need a refuah shleimah), I would
question whether this is germane, for a few reasons:

1. The Rema there cites the Rivash, and refers back to 155:15, where he quotes
him in reference to someone who has a headache and who is bothered by loud
banging. Now, if they turn up the bass on the music, or it has drum solos in it,
then it might amount to the same thing; but that's hardly necessarily the case.
Anecdotally, my wife tells me that when she has a headache (I, thank G-d,
haven't had one recently enough to recall), any noise bothers her; but whether
that's typical, I don't know. Perhaps Dr. Backon can clarify this, for our
benefit, from a medical point of view.

2. The sick person, it can well be assumed, is bothered by the banging, since it
provides him no benefit (it's his neighbor who gains from being able to perform
his work). Isn't it at least a reasonable possibility that the music, by
contrast, will help cheer him up? (It is of course true that the only way to
know would be to ask each individual patient. But after all, even in the case of
the banging, the way the halachah is formulated appears to be that he may begin
doing so on the assumption that there will be no objection, and must desist only
if there is one.)

3. In the "chatzer" (courtyard) described in these halachos (and their sources
in the second chapter of Bava Basra), indeed the only significant noise might be
the banging, and so the one suffering from the headache has a reasonable
expectation of quiet once that nuisance is removed. In your average big city
nowadays, does that expectation still hold, at least during the daytime hours -
what with car alarms, emergency vehicle sirens, barking dogs, construction work,
etc.? Perhaps, indeed, one who lives in such a city "savur v'kibbel" (has
thereby knowingly accepted) that there will be bothersome noises at times that
he can't do anything about. (Obviously that doesn't mean that people now have
the right to make noise just for the fun of it, but after all in this case these
entertainers had the constructive purpose of simchas Yom Tov in mind, which
therefore might be comparable to the neighbor who wants to do his work.)

Kol tuv, and may this Chodesh Iyar see the fulfillment of its initials "Ani
Hashem Rof'echa,"



From: Alex Heppenheimer <aheppenh@...>
Date: Fri, Apr 24,2020 at 02:01 PM
Subject: Street minyanim

Chana Luntz (MJ 64#61) linked to a deeply thoughtful essay by R. Gidon Rothstein
comparing our current situation of social distancing etc. to nidui. She then

> As R Rothstein mentions, someone who is in nidui cannot be counted towards a
> minyan (inter alia, Shulchan Aruch Orech Chaim siman 55 si'if 12).  If R'
> Rothstein is right, and in fact a correct theological response is that we have
> been menudeh la-Shamayim, those taking part in these Halachically slightly 
> dodgy minyanim would be missing the key point.  If G-d is sending a message 
> saying that we should all be considered in nidui, for whatever reason, then 
> responding to his message by insisting on forming minyanim with ten people in 
> nidui is exactly the wrong response (and presumably likely to exacerbate the 
> problem, which is of course what the doctors are saying).  After all, if 
> someone who is menudeh insisted on trying to join a minyan against the 
> strictures of the Shulchan Aruch, how do you think the Rabbis who had put him 
> in nidui would respond?  

However, that can be countered by the simple fact that nidui la-Shamayim in fact
has different rules (and in fact the Gemara, Moed Katan 15b - part of the sugya
quoted in the essay - says that, indeed it might have other leniencies compared
to regular nidui). In the example that R. Rothstein mentions, of how people
should behave when a drought still continues after the 13 statutory fasts, there
is no suggestion that they shouldn't or needn't pray with a minyan. The Gemara
there says that the Jewish people were considered in nidui la-Shamayim
throughout most of their sojourn in the desert, and yet they were still expected
to gather together to learn from Moshe and for other purposes.

So perhaps we might take it the other way around. It is sadly true, speaking at
least for myself (I have no business speaking for others), that my attitude
towards Hashem and towards devarim shebikedushah needs serious adjustment.
Perhaps, then, Hashem wants to put me in a position where davening takes a real
effort that I've never put in before! Where it's not just walking down the block
to my local comfortably climate-controlled shul with upholstered seats, but
standing outside on my porch in the cold or rain, when I'd instead easily be
able to excuse myself (with solid halachic justification) and just daven in the
comfort of my living room. Where I can't just say "oh well, I missed the minyan
now, there'll be another one in half an hour, so let me first finish what I'm
doing and talk to Hashem later", but have to drop whatever I'm doing and go
right now. (Okay, that last point is rather less meaningful for those who don't
live near a "minyan factory") And so forth.

(In fact, speaking of the Jews in the desert, that last point echoes their
experience, where as soon as Hashem said that it's time to travel, they
immediately did so, even if they had just finished pitching camp. It also
connects with what R. Rothstein writes, further on in the article, about how
many of us would be willing to drop everything and follow a navi's instructions
without question.)

It is of course true, still, that this opportunity can be squandered by then
showing a lack of attention to G-d in other ways, such as by talking or checking
one's cell phone during davening . But that's our type of mesiras nefesh
nowadays, though it's but a pale shadow of the fire and water and other trials
that our ancestors braved to serve Hashem and not to deny Him for even a moment.

Kol tuv,

From: Chana Luntz <Chana@...>
Date: Sun, May 10,2020 at 05:01 PM
Subject: Street minyanim

R Joel Rich writes (MJ 64#61):

> If you want a clear understanding of the technical halachic issues involved in
> forming a minyan in more than one room, listen to Rabbi Chaim Eisenstein: 
> "Porch Minyanim in Israel: A Halakhic Analysis"
> https://www.yutorah.org/lectures/lecture.cfm/952596/rabbi-chaim-eisenstein/por
> ch-minyanim-in-israel-a-halakhic-analysis/
> Bottom line: In emergency circumstances there are opinions to rely on but it's
> probably not close to a generally accepted opinion

What I find particularly fascinating about this issue is that it seems, at least
to me, to highlight fundamental differences between ways of determining halacha,
and illustrates the extent to which the methodology invoked by Rav Ovadiah Yosef
(but which has echoes in the Aruch HaShulchan and other modern Ashkenazi psak),
is in the ascendant, over the methodology of the Mishna Brura.  Because if you
take the classic Rav Ovadiah type approach: - 

Start with the relevant sugyos in the Gemora,

learn the Rishonim,

learn the Beis Yosef, and then use it to understand the Shulchan Aruch.

The mere possibility raised by the Rashba, that seeing one another is
enough to allow joining to a minyan (just as it is generally agreed that it does
for zimun) can then be comfortably dismissed.

Certainly when ranged against the straightforward reading of the Gemora in
Eruvin (that all participants must be together in one place, or at least the
second place must be subservient and connected to the first, such as an
antechamber to a main room) and the way the Gemora in Pesachim is understood by
a majority of the Rishonim.

But, if your way of learning halacha is to start with the Shulchan Aruch, and
then learn the classic Ashkenazi commentators on it, particularly those right
there on the page such as the Magen Avraham, followed by the Pri Megadim and the
Pri Chadash, you will end up with a very different perspective.

Because the Magen Avraham brings the logic of the Rashba as the explanation of
the Shulchan Aruch, and not just as a possibility, from there it flows down in
the classic way into the Mishna Brura.

In Eastern Europe, where texts of Rishonim were presumably often hard to come
by, and the Magen Avraham and the Taz and similar so often appear to have been
the key window into the Rishonic world, used to determine psak at least for
Ashkenazim. So it is not that surprising that the views of the Magen Avraham,
followed by the Pri Megadim and Pri Chadash and then the Mishna Brura, would
form the basis of a position that, at least in a non-ideal scenario, would allow
mere seeing being used as the joining mechanism for a minyan.

That, I think, is how they so often used to do it in der haim.  And it is very
interesting as to how the various poskim have ruled on the subject here, and
what it says about their derech halimud [way of learning halacha]

Kind regards



From: David Ziants <dziants@...>
Date: Sun, May 10,2020 at 07:01 PM
Subject: The beracha M'ayn Sheva [Magen Avot] at a street or balcony minyan

In my posting in MJ 64#59, on point 4 I mention without details the issue of the
beracha M'ayn Sheva [Magen Avot] at a street or balcony minyan.

During the days we were confined to balconies, I could davern from my balcony
with the minyan from the balconies on the other side of the road. Now things are
more flexible, I can go to the minyan organized by my building and the one next
door, or, when this minyan does not take place, other street minyanim round about. 

I have seen that some minyanim say Magen Avot Friday night and some do not.
Basically it depends on who happens to live in the relevant building, etc. and
there are many men with semicha around who can make a decision. If it is not 
said, then the congregation say vay'chulu and then the sha"tz says immediately
kaddish titkabal.

The halachic work Ishai Yisrael (Rav Avraham Yeshaya Papoiper) gives a number of
parameters with regards to not saying "m'ayn sheva", depending on the type of
non-permanent minyan (36:35-36:38/p364-366).

The two main parameters are:-

1) Is this a permanent minyan?

2) Is there a sepher torah?

Also a third parameter, which could specifically relate to our scenario 
(36:38/p366) :-

3) If the whole congregation (or the majority) moved to pray in another place, 
(like in the city square) and not in the shul - they need to say the beracha
M'ayn Sheva even though the place is not fixed for prayer. (My translation and I
hope I express this correctly here)  

A footnote says this can apply also if no sepher tora.

Parameter 2 doesn't apply in Jerusalem because of the inherent sanctity of the
city, and it is considered as if there is a sepher tora present even if there
isn't one there.

Parameter 2 is "no" to us because those minyanim that will have access to a
sepher tora for shacharit the next day, would not have it outside on Friday
night, but only bring it out at the time of k'riat hatora from the apartment
that is looking after it, or from the shul if it is a minyan next to a shul and
have had permission from the shul to use it.

None of the minyanim really see themselves as permanent (parameter 1) - but
could a minyan that continues week after week, and in some cases day after day,
until the shuls are allowed to operate be considered in this case as permanent?
(Ishai Yisrael brings this as issue in foot note 97 with various possibilities
but I could not find a definite answer.)

With regards to parameter 3, our scenario does not quite match this because, in
most cases, not everyone comes from one specific shul. Typically a building or
street minyan is comprised of people who, under normal circumstances, go to
different shuls (and might never go to the shul of some of his neighbours). So
is this still relevant?

The rationale of having this extra b'racha is because of late-comers (in the
times of the Gemara the shuls were outside the built up area and it was
dangerous to come home alone), but it is very difficult for me to understand how
the issue of permanency affects this rationale. Can anyone explain this better?

For example if it is a minyan next to one's house, where there is no danger,
what was ever the relevance of there being a sepher tora or not?

Are there any other rationales for M'ayn Sheva, that can be supported by the
parameters with regards to when it is, or not said?



End of Volume 64 Issue 62