Volume 64 Number 63 
      Produced: Thu, 21 May 20 10:49:43 -0400

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

An incongruous choice of words? 
    [Irwin Weiss]
Celebrating in Public places 
    [Immanuel Burton]
Filling a grave with a hoe 
    [Avraham Friedenberg]
Minyanim not in accordance with government rules 
    [Joel Rich]
Some more incongruous choices of words? 
    [Martin Stern]
Street minyanim (2)
    [Chana Luntz  Martin Stern]


From: Irwin Weiss <irwin@...>
Date: Wed, May 13,2020 at 01:01 PM
Subject: An incongruous choice of words?

Martin Stern wrote (MJ 64#62):

> One thing which 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.

Well, I am not a Hebrew scholar by any means, but it seems to me this is
probably idiomatic. I mean, the land doesn't really flow with milk and honey,
does it?
Irwin Weiss
Baltimore, MD, USA


From: Immanuel Burton <iburton@...>
Date: Fri, May 15,2020 at 01:01 PM
Subject: Celebrating in Public places

Alex Heppenheimer wrote (MJ 64#62):

> 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.
> ...
> 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?

But that is exactly the point. How does anyone who decides that the
neighbourhood needs to be cheered up know that the music they play loudly is to
everyone's taste, let alone whether everyone wants it? And from my point of
view, who is HE to fill MY home with HIS music without MY consent?

If you knew of someone who was ill and you thought you'd make a meal for them to
cheer them up, would you just make whatever you want, or would you first find
out whether the person has any food allergies, intolerances or just dislikes, or
would you superimpose your likes on them?

I feel that there are actually 3 areas that pertain to the matter of celebrating
in public. Points to consider:

(1) Derech Eretz.

a.  Does everyone want it?

b.  Am I going to adversely affect anyone by playing loud music without any
prior announcement?

c.  How do I know that what I want to play at a wake-the-dead volume is to
everyone's taste?

d.  If someone approaches me and tells me that what I'm doing is making them ill
or causing severe anxiety, should I cease and desist?

e.  Before doing anything prominent in public, should I consider all angles, or
just assume that what I want is what everyone wants?

(2) Secular law.

The city where I live has noise by-laws that actually prohibit amplified sound
in public spaces. I presume that a parade organised by the municipal authorities
is exempt from this. One particular group that I saw in the street had a truck
towing a trailer, with a musician standing in the back of the truck and
musicians standing in the trailer, both of which are against the law with
regards to conveying unrestrained passengers.

(3) Halachah.

As pointed out by Alex, the Rema on Choshen Mishpat 156:2 says, "If they are
sick and the noise bothers them, they have the right to protest [and have the
nuisance removed]". Whether or not one should find out beforehand whether there
are sick people nearby who could be affected, does this place an obligation on
one to cease and desist once one has been told that what one is doing is
affecting someone with decreased sound tolerance?

Alex continued:

> 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.

Given that there are by-laws prohibiting amplified sound in public, I would say
that there is no acceptance whatsoever of what is unlawful noise. I can't object
to construction noise from my neighbour during the week, but I certainly can on
a Sunday. And if one were to argue about societal norms, then given that I have
yet to hear members of the church two blocks away from me who often have musical
services parading through the street with hymns playing loudly, or Beethoven
aficionados treating everyone to a classical music concert, I would say that
driving around playing music loudly at arbitrary times is not a societal norm,
and therefore not something that one could be deemed to have accepted by living
in a city.

Alex further wrote:

> 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.

Again, the people who decide that music in the street has the constructive
purpose of simchas Yom Tov are treading down the dangerous path that good
intentions lead to. Shouldn't one first determine whether it's something that
people want? On one occasion recently I could hear the music quite clearly in my
home when the musicians were some 5 blocks away (I determined this after the
fact), and the noise persisted for some time - shouldn't one consider whether
there are people trying to work, rest, put children to bed, etc? Wouldn't a more
appropriate approach be to somehow provide the music online or in some 
other way that does not impose one's tastes in music on all and sundry, and
which would give those people who don't want it or can't tolerate it a way to
opt out?

When it comes to environmental sensitivities, bear in mind the well-known
halachah that if one person in a room feels cold then the window should be
closed regardless of how the other people feel. I believe this applies only in
the winter or when it is normally cold, but it does show how when it comes to
environmental sensitivities a minority of 1 trumps the majority. And, as I
explained above, playing music loudly in the streets is not a societal norm.

For those who are interested, I would encourage them to research decreased sound
tolerance and a condition called misophonia so that they can understand what
this particular environmental sensitivity is. We are well aware of peanut
allergies and how people can be affected by flashing or strobing lights, but as
someone who has a decreased sound tolerance I have found that people tend not to
believe that there is such a thing, and I would very much like to spread
knowledge that such a condition exists.

Immanuel Burton.


From: Avraham Friedenberg <elshpen@...>
Date: Wed, May 13,2020 at 01:01 PM
Subject: Filling a grave with a hoe

I attended a levaya at the Eretz Hachaim cemetery outside Beit Shemesh a few
weeks before the COVID-19 restrictions. When it came time to fill the grave,
there were no shovels; instead, there were several hoe-like tools, and the earth
was pulled into the grave. Is there some kind of minhag that hoes should be used
instead of shovels?

Thank you. Wishing good health to all.

Avraham (Alan) Friedenberg
Be'er Sheva, Israel


From: Joel Rich <JRich@...>
Date: Thu, May 21,2020 at 04:01 AM
Subject: Minyanim not in accordance with government rules

I'd love to have an intelligent discussion on the underlying philosophy of those
who continued to make minyanim not in accordance with government rules. It
strikes me that they fall into four categories:

1. Those who view halacha as primarily chukim (positivists?) and so any clever
"workaround/loophole" will do. IMHO they miss the point by finding ways to continue
exposure by sticking to the letter of the law and ignoring its underlying motive
- sakanta chamura mei'issura [we are more strict when it comes to matters of
danger than with ritual prohibitions]

2. Those who received a psak not to do so, otherwise they would be bound by
local law.  I'm sure that those who gave such a psak will be able to explain
themselves. Accepting such a psak is a separate discussion.

3. Those who hold Lo plug [we don't differentiate] is a minyan breaking
consideration (as well as taking into account the impact on those who don't have
minyan availability)

4. Those who view joining in the general suffering of the Jewish people is a
well established principle as well.

So what is appropriate if one finds oneself in such a minyan?  Leave? Give
tochecha ... ?

Joel Rich


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Sun, May 17,2020 at 05:01 AM
Subject: Some more incongruous choices of words?

Taking advantage of the current lockdown in having more time to think about our
davenning, I noticed a couple of incongruous wordings in Pesukei dezimra on Shabbat:

1. "af ein-yesh-ruach befihem" (Ps.135:17)

Surely ein [there is not] contradicts yesh [there is] and the meaning would be
the same if the latter were omitted.

2. In Ps. 136, surely verses 17 and 18 should come after verses 19 and 20. AFAIK
there were no 'kings' defeated, apart from the king of Arad (Num. 21:1-3),
before the defeat of Sichon and Og, let alone any whose lands became part of the
heritage of the Jewish people.

Any explnation?

Martin Stern


From: Chana Luntz <Chana@...>
Date: Tue, May 12,2020 at 07:01 PM
Subject: Street minyanim

Alex Heppenheimer wrote (MJ 64#62):

> 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 observed:
>> 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).

I don't think it is clear from the Gemora that a nidui lashamayim certainly has
different rules. Abaya raises both possibilities, that perhaps a nidui
la-Shamayim has more leniencies [specifically in connection with marital
relations], and perhaps it has more stringencies [specifically in connection
with wrapping the head]. The Gemora appears to conclude that the matter was in
doubt.  So it does not appear to be clear, in conclusion, whether a nidui
lashamayim has more leniencies, more stringencies or is the same as a regular
nidui.  At most one can say that one would need to look at the question on a
case by case basis.

> 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.

The Gemora in Moed Katan 15b he quotes specifically says that a regular nidui
can teach, and others can learn from the menudeh lashamayim.  So, applying the
general nidui rules, Moshe teaching and others learning was fine, and we would
not expect anything different.

So what was the impact of the Jews being considered nidui lashamayim in the
desert?  The Gemara in Ta'anis 30b makes it clear that during this period, i.e.
while the Jewish people were waiting for the sinful generation to die -  "lo
haya dibur im Moshe" - Hashem did not speak to Moshe, there was no Divine
communication.  That certain actions can only be taken in a minyan [devarim
sheb'kedusha] is generally understood to be a rabbinic construct, based on
v'nikdashti b'toch bnei Yisrael (Megilla 23b) ie based on the verse 'I will be
sanctified in the midst of the children of Israel' (Vayikra 22:32), [see the
Ran's comment there that this is not a Torah derivation but, rather, an asmachta
[support] used by the Rabbis].  It is also linked to the understanding (Brachos
6a) that the Divine presence only rests on a group when there are ten free adult
male Jews.  And yet we see in the desert that for the period when the Jewish
people were nidui lashamayim, HaShem was not fully present even to Moshe, the
most righteous among them, and certainly did not rest amongst such people.  It
therefore would seem logically to follow that HaShem would not be present in a
minyan made up of people who are in nidui lashamayim, and hence any
sanctification of the Divine name in the midst of bnei Yisrael would fail and,
therefore, be a bracha l'vatala [a blessing in vain].

The situation regarding the 13 statutory fasts would point in this direction
as well.  Along with the 13 fasts were gatherings to daven, in a minyan.  That
is clear from the description of what took place (See Ta'anit 12b).  And yet all
these gatherings and davenings failed, HaShem had no mercy, even though the
Gemora in Brachos 8a says that HaShem does not despise the prayers of the
multitude. And yet here, having prayed in multitude HaShem despised it, and did
not  bring rain.  So what happens?  Two things.  Firstly the people are
considered to be nidui lashamayim, and secondly there were to be no more of
these fasts and gatherings (and the gemora there specifically links fasting with
gathering via a pasuk).  Clearly because there is no point continuing to pray
and fast as a community.  But what is to continue is that only the yechidim, the
individuals, continue to fast, with the community silent and taking no more
action.  Surely because HaShem is not in the presence of the gathering of this
multitude, they are menudeh lashamayim, but individuals, praying as individuals,
might still have some chance.

So while I do understand his wish to take it the other way around, and the
musar that he would like to be learnt from that, it seems to me that the
sources better support the other position - that those who are nudui lashamayim
cannot sanctify HaShem in the midst of the children of Israel, because HaShem
refuses to be there with them, and hence devarim shebekedusha are inappropriate.



From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Thu, May 21,2020 at 06:01 AM
Subject: Street minyanim

Most 'Street minyanim' seem to operate by neighbours standing in their front
gardens within sight of each other but I have noticed that some, in quiet
residential streets, are actually davening on the street itself, generally on
the part reserved for pedestrians. They are thereby obstructing their right of
way and, probably a more serious problem, forcing them onto where motor vehicles
pass through with the associated dangers.

Is this behaviour halachically permitted or should one remonstrate with them
and ask them to leave the public domain and stay in their private property?

Martin Stern


End of Volume 64 Issue 63