Volume 65 Number 62 
      Produced: Wed, 20 Jul 22 16:01:14 -0400

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

Ba'al Peor and Balfour 
    [Yisrael Medad]
Etiquette to sifrei kodesh  (was Tallit resting on top of a siddur tep 
    [Martin Stern]
Israelis Don't Turn Up for Reserve Duty, and the Consequences 
    [Prof. L. Levine]
    [Martin Stern]
Punishment for the wicked 
    [Micha Berger]
Respect (was Abortion) 
    [Joseph Kaplan]
Tallit resting on top of a siddur tephilla (2)
    [Martin Stern  David Ziants]
Women poskim (was Observant Jews) 
    [David Tzohar]


From: Yisrael Medad  <yisrael.medad@...>
Date: Tue, Jul 19,2022 at 02:17 AM
Subject: Ba'al Peor and Balfour

Yitzchok Levine (MJ 65#60) denigrates a mitzva, one which is specifically noted
multiple times throughout the Torah as well as all of Tanach. He quotes one
Rabbi who seems to make up the idea that the idolatrous act at Ba'al Peor, which
is a practice of defecating on an idol, is somehow related to the "matter of the
restriction against adding mitzvos", itself, a restriction recorded elsewhere in
the Torah (and therefore there is no reason to make up a theory that Ba'al Peor
is connected to the restriction against adding mitzvos). There were and are
hundreds of Rabbis who saw the Balfour Declaration as akin to the Declaration of
Cyrus, one viewed quite positively in Tanach.

In fact, to be generous for the sake of Rav Schwab, I would suggest Levine
misunderstands him, for Schwab refers to the "ma'apilim", which has nothing to do
with the mitzva of living and settling Eretz Yisrael although, honestly, Rav
Schwab does attempt to link it to his anti-Zionism. 

But I would humbly suggest Schwab permits his anti-Zionism and his reference to
the Three Oaths to overcome rational thought, not to mention the silly
comparison between "Balfour" and "Ba'al Peor". After all, imagine someone
suggesting that "schwab" could be compared to "swab".

Yisrael Medad


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Wed, Jul 20,2022 at 06:17 AM
Subject: Etiquette to sifrei kodesh  (was Tallit resting on top of a siddur tep

Leah Gordon wrote (MJ 65#59):

> I learned the same thing, and I have also been in positions where I saw fellow
> Jews be disrespectful in terms of physical etiquette to sifrei kodesh.  I was
> appalled once to see a visibly Orthodox Jew sit down on the edge of a table on
> which there was a chumash.  I thought there were rules against both sitting on
> tables and sitting on surfaces with sifrei kodesh.

While this "visibly Orthodox Jew" would appear to have been acting incorrectly,
there are a couple of mitigating circumstances that Leah should have considered
before being "appalled":

1.  He may not have noticed the chumash if it were at some distance

2.  The only table on which one may not sit is a table from which one eats
because of "shulchan domeh lemizbei'ach [a dining table is compared to the altar]"

In any case, we have a mitzvah of "dan lekhaf zekhut [judging others in the most
favourable light]" and here there are two reasons to do so.

Martin Stern


From: Prof. L. Levine <llevine@...>
Date: Tue, Jul 19,2022 at 01:17 PM
Subject: Israelis Don't Turn Up for Reserve Duty, and the Consequences

Haim Snyder wrote (MJ 65#61):

> Yitzchok Levine (MJ 65#60) quotes an article from Haaretz which says "A mere 4
> percent of the eligible population continues to serve in the Israeli army 
> reserves."
> From this, he leaps to the following conclusion, "Apparently, it is not just
> boys learning in chareidi yeshivas who do not serve in the IDF."
> From which I gather that, despite being a Professor, he doesn't understand the
> difference between reserve duty and service in the regular army. Please note 
> the "continues to serve" in the above quote. These people put in their 3
> years in the IDF, doing whatever they were assigned to do. To compare them to
> those who refuse, in many cases, to even report to the induction center to
> formally receive their exemption from service and certainly don't wear an IDF
> uniform at all is insulting to them and defies reality.
> Reserve duty, at least when I was in the reserves, consists of 2 weeks of 
> active service unless called up for a specific mission. By the way, the IDF
> knows how to contact these people and will do so if it has an operational
> need for them.
> I request that Professor Levine apologize to the people he maligned by his
> malicious comparison with those who refuse to serve and defend their country 
> at all.

I would ask Haim to please look at


There it says:

"A decade later, here we are, with reality knocking on the nation's door. In
2005, 77% of Jewish men served in the IDF, a figure that dropped to 69% in 2019.
The percentage of women serving in 2005 was 59%, dropping to 56% in 2019.

"If this trend is not stopped, in a few years we will find ourselves in a
reality in which the number of conscripts will not be sufficient to meet the
country's security needs. As well, the resilience and unity of Israeli society
will sustain significant damage. The people's army will turn into half the
people's army."

In light of this, I think that it is he who should apologized to me for accusing
me of maligning anyone!

Professor Yitzchok Levine


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Sun, Jul 17,2022 at 09:17 AM
Subject: Nochriot

Having recently learned Yevamot in the Daf Yomi cycle, it struck me that there
were many references to marriages with 'nochriot'. In context, these refer to
women other than the categories previously mentioned in the discussion, such as
sisters, co-wives etc. 

There are groups that seem to accept marriages with non-Jews - I suppose they
may have been misled by this term, thinking that it referred to non-Jewish women
in general, as is its more usual usage. 

That sort of argument would be similar to the way they quote classical texts
completely out of context to support their ideas. However, I have not as yet
seen any claims that intermarriage is justified in rabbinic tradition, though
this may be more a reflection of their lack of Talmudic erudition than a
willingness to do so.

Martin Stern


From: Micha Berger <micha@...>
Date: Mon, Jul 18,2022 at 02:17 PM
Subject: Punishment for the wicked

Joel Rich wrote (MJ 65#52):

> Perhaps others on MJ can help me think this through? 
> The Rambam in hilchot tshuva (8:1) seems to imply that the punishment for the
> wicked is that they will cease to exist - meaning to me that they will not
> participate in the world to come. If this is so, it seems to me that Pascal's
> wager seems less of a challenge. ...

First, there aren't too many if any shitos in which fear of eternal punishment
is realistic. After all, the list of people in Sanhedrin 10:1 who have no
cheileq le'olam haba are heretics not likely to embrace any traditional
hashkafah. And mishnah 2 adds all of 7 people; mishnah 3 -- Noach's generation,
the 5 cities around Sodom & Amora, the generation that left Mitzrayim (!). And
mishnah 4 is back to heretics (like mishnah 1), the residents of an ir hanidachas.

All in all, it seems that it's someone who doesn't believe there is an olam haba
or a Dayan who doesn't get there. So, they're not worried. Or, someone you don't
have to worry about because they lived millennia ago.

So, whether this mishnah here is discussing who gets revived (Bartenura, or the
Ramban's take on "olam haba") or who gets reward in the post-death existence
(whether that reward is in opposition to punishment or to cessation), normal
people have some portion of reward. Eternal torment is for exceptional cases.
(Again, most of whom wouldn't be worried about it.)

Second, I think more people are more afraid of not existing than of existing in

Tir'u baTov!

Micha Berger
Author: Widen Your Tent 
- https://amzn.to/2JRxnDF


From: Joseph Kaplan <penkap@...>
Date: Sun, Jul 17,2022 at 05:17 PM
Subject: Respect (was Abortion)

Stuart Wise wrote (MJ 65#59):

> I guess I figured most of the people who posted here were observant Jews but,
> based on some of the comments advocating or defending it, I get the impression
> that it contains a far-left liberal group. I was always under impression that
> Orthodox Jews value life but to read what these people write, who totally ignore
> the baby growing inside the mother's womb, I guess I may have been wrong. 

There have certainly been a lot of strong disagreements in recent issues of MJ
about abortion and related issues. But accusations that some who have presented
arguments are far left liberal and therefore are not observant Jews and do not
value life is really beyond the pale. 

Abortion is a very complex issue as is US constitutional law. And even more
complex is how they do and how they should interact with each other. I'm happy
to debate and discuss issues regarding abortion and Roe and Dobbs as I have been
doing. But only with those who respect me as I respect them even if I
strenuously disagree with their arguments. 



From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Tue, Jul 19,2022 at 06:17 AM
Subject: Tallit resting on top of a siddur tephilla

Perry Zamek wrote (MJ 65#60):

> Martin Stern wrote (MJ 65#59):
>> While I do not recollect any ruling regarding putting a tallit on top of a
>> siddur, there is a problem with putting it on top of one's tefillin, which
>> might be a more helpful place to look, though tefillin are tashmishei
>> kedushah [inherently sanctified] whereas a siddur is only tashmishei mitzvah
>> [something only used for mitzvah purposes].
> If Martin is referring to placing one's tallit on top of tefillin, I would
> differ: In my tallit bag, the tallit is on top of the tefillin, so that it is
> the first thing I take out, in order to put it on before the tefillin (tadir
> veshe'eino tadir, tadir kodem [that which is more frequently used i.e. tallit,
> all seven days of the week, takes precedence over that which is less
> frequently used, i.e. tefillin, six days a week).

True but a better way to avoid this problem is to have the tallit bag on one
side or, as I do, pick up the tallit bag with the tefillin bag in it, hold the
tallit and, with my hand over outside of the tallit bag, slide the tallit from
under the tefillin bag.
> Were I to have the tefillin on top, and bypass them to take the tallit, I
> would be transgressing the principle of "ein ma'avirin al hamitzvot [not to
> pass over (or skip over) one mitzvah in order to do another]". Indeed, the
> halacha is that, should one take out the tefillin first, he should put them on
> and then put on the tallit.

I am not sure whether this would apply if the tefillin were in their bag.

Martin Stern

From: David Ziants <dziants@...>
Date: Tue, Jul 19,2022 at 10:17 AM
Subject: Tallit resting on top of a siddur tephilla

Thank you for all your responses concerning this, and am relieved to hear that
others also learned this "halacha" in their or their children's younger days -
so it obviously was not a misunderstanding on my part.

Chana Luntz's translation (MJ 65#59) from the Kaf haChaim (which I still need to
look up) seems to support this ruling as there is brought a possibility that
putting one's tephillin on one's siddur might be problematic if one holds that a
siddur having a greater level of kedusha as tephillin (I guess that is because
tephillin is tashmishai mitzva and not tashmishai kedusha - but this does not
resonate with me because if one drops tephillin one is expected to fast). Or
maybe, it is talking about letting the straps of ones tephillin rest on a
siddur, which makes more sense.

I forgot to mention in my original posting, that my rav explained to me that the
reason why the halacha codifiers who relate to this, only talk about sepharim on
top of sepharim and not mundane article on top of sepharim, because only with a
sepher of lower kedusha on top of a sepher with higher kedusha - one is making
an incorrect statement about the relative kedushot and that is what is
disrespectful. This is neither relevant for mundane objects nor objects like a

After this discussion, I still feel uncomfortable in seeing something (e.g. a
watch) resting on top of a siddur or chumash, etc - but maybe I should be less
zealous in wanting to "correct" this.

BTW, Leah Gordon (MJ 65#59) mentioned about sitting on the same surface (e.g. a
bench) as sifray kodesh. Unlike the subject being discussed, this is well
codified in halacha - although I agree that it seems that many people are not
careful about this. Sometimes, a chumash might be placed on the bench so it is
resting vertically rather than flat down, which might be a limmud zekhut.

David Ziants


From: David Tzohar <davidtzohar@...>
Date: Wed, Jul 20,2022 at 10:17 AM
Subject: Women poskim (was Observant Jews)

Chana Luntz (MJ 65#61) brings two sources (Sefer HaChinuch and Birkei Yosef)
which mention women who are wise and are worthy to pasken halacha. First of all
I believe that this is a minority view in halacha, the vast majority agreeing
with the dissenting opinion of the Rambam which Chana mentioned. Also the
sources she brought only relate to the theoretical possibility of women being

I am unaware of any mention in the Shas, Rishonim and Acharonim of women who
participated in halachic discourse, not to mention psika. The examples of D'vora
haneviya and perhaps the "Moid of Ludmir" who was accepted as a chassidic Rebbe
in the 19th century Ukraine are the exceptions that prove the rule. They had
ruach hakodesh and although D'vorah was a prophetess and a judge, she was not a
posek. There are wise women in the Talmud such as Bruria the wife of Rabi Meir
but again she is no posek.

I think that the best example to follow is davka B'not Tzlofchad. They were not
kalei da'at, they knew what questions to ask and most importantly they accepted
unconditionally and with humility the psak even though it meant that they were
limited to only marrying their cousins. They didn't want to be called rabbanit or
maharat or whatever. They wanted the Torah Truth.

BTW I am sure that R'Tzuriel's daughters say birkat hatorah. They are Bais
Ya'akov graduates and are well versed in many Torah subjects, but they leave
psikat halacha to their father (and now their husbands) as is right and proper.

Kol Tuv
R'David Yitzchak Tzohar


End of Volume 65 Issue 62