Volume 64 Number 90 
      Produced: Sun, 07 Feb 21 15:50:31 +0000

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

Interesting Shailah 
    [Carl Singer]
Need for a minyan at chuppas 
    [Martin Stern]
Rav Soloveitchik 
    [Joel Rich]
Spit for roasting Korban Pesach 
    [David Ziants]
Strengthening of palm trees as described in Pesachim 56a. 
    [David Ziants]
Succession Planning? 
    [Joel Rich]
Yaakov's Reaction 
    [Joel Rich]
Zoom and shabbat 
    [Ari Trachtenberg]


From: Carl Singer <carl.singer@...>
Date: Thu, Feb 4,2021 at 08:01 PM
Subject: Interesting Shailah

My wife participates in a Tehillim group on Sunday evenings.  Last Sunday 3 of
our granddaughters (all siblings) were at our house. Each of the three
participated by saying a kepital.

The 10 year old wanted to know what her parent's "tehillim names" were. She
wanted to say tehillim as a prophylactic measure on their behalf -- so they
wouldn't get sick.

We, of course, have prayers for good health -- but an interesting concept:
by-name tehillim as a prophylactic.

Carl A. Singer


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Sun, Feb 7,2021 at 10:01 AM
Subject: Need for a minyan at chuppas

As many may know the UK government has banned all weddings with an attendance of
more than six people, though it allows thirty at funerals. In a letter to a
local Jewish paper, I argued that this was draconian since "with thirty, the
chuppah could be conducted with suitable social distancing in any large
synagogue, let alone in the open-air as are most strictly Orthodox ones
nowadays" and, in any case, "the real problem is the subsequent celebration
where there is a real danger of infection, especially during the dancing which
might have to be abandoned completely".

I noted, somewhat tongue in cheek, that "six people might be possible for a
civil ceremony (the couple, two witnesses and the registrar) but a Jewish
marriage requires a minyan so it is difficult to see how there can be fewer than
11 present (10 men and the bride)". The rationale for the minyan requirement is
Chazal's statement "A bride without berachah is forbidden to her husband like a
niddah who has not immersed" (Mas. Kallah 1) and, as the commentators explain,
this berachah is the birchot nissuin [sheva berachot] which require a minyan. 

An anonymous 'halachic expert' commented:
>> Martin Stern is not correct in his halachic assertions. The opinion that a
>> Jewish wedding is 100 per cent valid from start to end without the recital of
>> sheva berachot is that of Maimonides (Ishut 10:6).
>> This is affirmed and ruled so by Rabbi Yosef Caro in the most authoritative
>> work in codified halachic Judaism, the 16th century Shulchan Aruch (Eben
>> HaEzer 62:4 and again 34:4).
>> It is impossible to claim to be an Orthodox Jew without abiding by either
>> Maimonides or Caro's Shulchan Aruch. If Dr Stern abides by neither, it raises
>> a question as to whether he may may have assumed a different religious
>> affiliation within Judaism.
>> It is worth noting that the 13th Century halachist, the Mordechai (Ben
>> Hillel HaCohen), one of the sources of Caro's Shulchan Aruch, plainly states:
>> Nowhere have we found it written that [the recital of the] blessings hold up
>> the wedding.
>> Therefore, unless he considers the Mordechai a heretic, Dr Stern must now 
>> show where he, in contradiction to the Mordechai, has found such a thing
>> authoritatively written, or else retract his assertion that the sheva 
>> berachot somehow halachically qualify the validity of a Jewish wedding.

I responded:

> I looked at his reference to Maimonides (Ishut 10:6) and he is absolutely 
> correct that he holds ”that a Jewish wedding is 100 per cent valid from start 
> to end without the recital of sheva berachot”. However I noted that the 
> comment of the Magid Mishneh (ad loc) seems to imply that, though the nissuin 
> are effective, the couple cannot engage in marital relations until the 
> berachot are recited (at a later date). This would be much the same as the 
> case of a chuppah at which the kallah was a niddah, where marital relations 
> are postponed until after she has immersed in a mikveh. This would seem to 
> tally with what it says in Mas. Kalla "A bride without berachah is forbidden 
> to her husband like a niddah who has not immersed". 
> Why he refers to Shulchan Aruch, Eben HaEzer 34:4, eludes me - it is 
> concerned with birchat erusin which should be said with a minyan but are  
> valid even without one. This would appear to be irrelevant to birchot nissuin
> His reference to the Shulchan Aruch, Eben HaEzer 62:4, appears to be 
> incorrect since, as far as I can see, it only concerns the need for a minyan, 
> and specifies who count to it, to recite sheva berachot and does not touch on 
> whether they are essential. It mentions that, after the festive meal, only 
> the last one, "asher bara ...", is said in the absence of a minyan - as is  
> the custom nowadays. It does not say whether the same is the case under the 
> chuppa. If it were, one might argue that this might be a sufficient beracha to 
> bypass the ruling in Mas. Kalla (above) but this requires further 
> consideration.
> However the Beit Shemuel there (s.k.4) writes "In the absence of ten, one 
> cannot make nissuin as ruled by the Rashba, though the Terumat Hadeshen 
> disagrees - the Beit Yosef (Caro) agrees with the Rashba. The Darkei Moshe 
> (Rema) writes that his words do not seem correct and the (sheva) berachot are 
> not essential though, in the first instance, one should try to have a minyan 
> but, if collecting ten men involves an excessive effort, the chuppah can 
> proceed ex post facto ..."
> This last point seems to be based on his quote from the Mordechai “Nowhere 
> have we found it written that [the recital of the] blessings hold up the 
> wedding.”
> In the handy compendium of marriage laws and customs, Hanissuin Kehilchata 
> (10:49), this point is discussed at length and concludes that a chuppah can 
> only be held without a minyan if there are not ten adult Jews in the 
> 'medinah'. Though medinah is usually translated country, I think it probably 
> here means locality. This would reflect the situation in Central Europe after 
> the Jews were expelled from the towns in the aftermath of the Crusades and 
> the Black Death, and lived mainly in small communities in the villages, often 
> without a minyan.
> This leniency would probably not apply nowadays where communications and 
> transport are much easier and it would be no trouble to assemble a minyan 
> from neighbouring towns if necessary. Though, for example, Darwen [a small
> town about 20 miles north of Manchester] may not have ten adult male Jewish
> residents, it would not take even half an hour to summon sufficient from the
> nearest major community.
> In summation, it would appear that I was technically incorrect to state that 
> it was absolutely essential to have a minyan for nissuin at the time of the 
> chuppah, though, without one, sheva berachot cannot be recited. However it is 
> still not clear that the couple will be allowed to live together until such 
> later date as they can be recited. The analogy of a chuppat niddah cited 
> earlier might be relevant.
> For those who consider premarital cohabitation perfectly acceptable, this 
> must seem an arcane, and irrelevant, discussion but, for strictly Orthodox 
> couples, who would not dream even of being alone before the chuppah, the 
> current government regulations are a great hardship.
> I hope the above satisfies your halachic expert's demand that I "must now show 
> where [I], in contradiction to the Mordechai, [have] found such a thing 
> authoritatively written, ... that the sheva berachot somehow halachically 
> qualify the validity of a Jewish wedding".

Any comments?

Martin Stern


From: Joel Rich <JRich@...>
Date: Wed, Feb 3,2021 at 09:01 AM
Subject: Rav Soloveitchik

Thoughts on the following as applied to Rabbi JB Soloveitchik?

James Gleick-"There are two kinds of geniuses: the 'ordinary' and the
'magicians'. An ordinary genius is a fellow whom you and I would be just as good
as, if we were only many times better. There is no mystery as to how his mind
works. Once we understand what they've done, we feel certain that we, too, could
have done it. It is different with the magicians. Even after we understand what
they have done it is completely dark. Richard Feynman is a magician of the
highest caliber."

The Feynman Algorithm:

Write down the problem.
Think real hard.
Write down the solution.

The Feynman algorithm was facetiously suggested by Murray Gell-Mann, a colleague
of Feynman, in a New York Times interview.

Joel Rich


From: David Ziants <dziants@...>
Date: Thu, Feb 4,2021 at 11:01 AM
Subject: Spit for roasting Korban Pesach

In Daf Yomi, have just started chapter 7 of Mesechet Pesachim, and the first
Mishneh talks about on how the Korban Pesach should be roasted. The Mishneh says
only a branch from a pomegranate tree can be used for a spit and not from
another tree nor from metal. The Gemara explains:-

1) Metal conducts the heat so the roasting would be partially from the heat of
the metal skewer and not fully from the fire.

2) Branches from trees other from the pomegranate can have moisture and so there
might be a little bit of boiling from this moisture and therefore would not be
fully cooked by roasting.

With today's advances in material production, would it be permitted to use a
skewer made of artificial material that does not conduct heat more than wood nor
has any moisture issues? Maybe it is even better than a pomegranate tree branch,
which is the only option of the Mishneh?

This, is really a general question in halacha. To what extent does our tradition
allow us leeway when there is an explicit rule with reason given for this
explicit rule, yet we might have an alternate possibility that seems just as
good when examining the intent of the law?

David Ziants


From: David Ziants <dziants@...>
Date: Sat, Jan 16,2021 at 06:01 PM
Subject: Strengthening of palm trees as described in Pesachim 56a.

I am writing this while I am listening to a daf yomi shiur Pesachim 56a from an
online forum. The mishnah describes a permitted "harkava" (grafting) procedure
(end of Pesachim 55b) on dekalim (palm trees), and the gemarah on 56a gives two 
possibilities of what this is:-

1) Mixing together some sort of a medicinal concoction and, after making a hole
in the tree, pouring it into the hole which strengthened this tree (but weakened
the neighbouring trees).

2) Strengthening the tree by intertwining weak branches and strong branches

(The context is that the chachamim did not raise objection to this being done on
erev Pesach, similar to chol hamo'ed, when most forms of labour are not allowed.
Not raising objection in this case does not neccessarily mean they agreeed to
this being done on erev Pesach.) 

Option 2 seems to be a procedure that is also done today, but if I am mistaken
am happy to hear.

Regarding option 1, does anyone know whether there is any modern scientific
basis for the concoction that is being described and which seemed to work in the
days of the mishnah? Are today's fertilizers similar to this?

Hope that everyone is in good health and coping with the various lockdowns
whether in Israel or in the various diasporas.

David Ziants


From: Joel Rich <JRich@...>
Date: Tue, Jan 26,2021 at 11:01 PM
Subject: Succession Planning?

Why didn't Yeshoshua ask HKB"H (or do so himself) to appoint a successor as his
teacher Moshe Rabbeinu had done?

Joel Rich


From: Joel Rich <JRich@...>
Date: Tue, Jan 26,2021 at 11:01 PM
Subject: Yaakov's Reaction

Any explanation why, when the brothers reported back from Egypt, Yaakov's first
response was why did they tell the viceroy they were family and had a brother?
What was the value at that point?

Joel Rich


From: Ari Trachtenberg <trachten@...>
Date: Mon, Jan 11,2021 at 12:01 AM
Subject: Zoom and shabbat

What do people do about Zoom meetings where one of the participants is a Jew
participating on Shabbat (e.g. in Israel Friday evening, while I am in Boston
on Friday morning).

One the one hand, there is the potential problem of benefiting from the work of
a Jew on shabbat (although I'm not entirely clear on what aspects of the Zoom
call would actually be considered Shabbat work).  On the other hand is the
practical problem of policing who and where the various Zoom participants might
be, much less gracefully bowing out of a meeting, if you find out that one of
them is operating on Shabbat.

I suppose a similar problem occurred before Zoom if one would get a phone call
from abroad.  What do people think?


End of Volume 64 Issue 90