Volume 65 Number 72 
      Produced: Thu, 18 Aug 22 04:10:26 -0400

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

Child Convert (2)
    [Micha Berger  Michael Mirsky]
Is a psak forever? 
    [Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz]
Psalm 145:7 zaycher or zecher 
    [Martin Stern]
Shabbat Candles and the Blessing 
    [Chaim Casper]
Tainted money 
    [Martin Stern]
Why do people think it's okay to take any empty seat in shul? (4)
    [Martin Stern  Avraham Friedenberg  Chaim Casper  Stuart Pilichowski]


From: Micha Berger <micha@...>
Date: Tue, Aug 16,2022 at 11:17 AM
Subject: Child Convert

Joel Rich wrote (MJ 65#71):

> A non-Jewish baby boy is adopted by Jewish parents and converted by
> the beit din. As per halacha when he reaches 13 he is asked whether he
> wants to be Jewish...

Lemaaseh, this is not actually what happens. Geirus is deOraisa, and therefore
becoming an adult is a matter of shenei sa'aros, not age. And it's impossible to
ask a question within tokh kedei dibbur of that second hair emerging. (Emerging?
Reaching a minimum shiur as per peiyos?)

Instead, if the geir qatan was living an observant life (plus or minus normal
adolescent and usual human weaknesses) during those months of their life, the
geirus is chal.

Some batei din may make a ceremony out of qabbalas ol mitzvos to solemnize the
event. But halachically, such a question has little merit. And what if the
answer doesn't match the action? According to R Zvi Flaum (who headed the beis
din in my son's case), it can only complicate the issue.

As for what I think is the real question:

> When he later makes up his mind, what is his status at that later time? Does
> it depend whether he decides to be Jewish or not? Is there a retroactive
> impact?

Yes, it is lemafreia. The case in the gemara is a giyores qetana who converted
before 3 years and then marries a kohein while still a qetanah (according to R
Shimon who holds this is allowed). She is allowed to eat terumah, because there
is a chazaqah (or was it a rov?) that she would accept her geirus since that's
the life she is growing up in. But regardless of the chazaqah or rov, you see
that she is Jewish even before qabbalas ol mitzvos as long as the qabbalah
(implicitly) happens.

See the Minchas Chinukh 283, par. "vehinei leshitas haRa"m".

Tir'u baTov!

From: Michael Mirsky <mirskym@...>
Date: Wed, Aug 17,2022 at 06:17 AM
Subject: Child Convert

Joel Rich (MJ 65#71) stated that a child who was converted as a minor is asked
when s/he reaches Bar or Bat Mitzva they are asked whether they want to remain

It is my understanding that in practice they are not asked. We observe their
actions and if they continue to perform mitzvas and follow halacha then they are
deemed to have accepted the conversion.

Michael Mirsky


From: Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz <sabbahillel@...>
Date: Wed, Aug 17,2022 at 06:17 PM
Subject: Is a psak forever?

Joel Rich wrote (MJ 65#71):

> Is a psak forever?
> Example - a pulpit rabbi holds a unique lenient position concerning grama on
> Shabbat. After his retirement, is every future congregant (and Rabbi) bound by
> that leniency? Are members of that congregation bound to inform visitors of
> their utilization of the leniency?

I remember cases in Baltimore in which certain microphones were determined by
the rav of a shul to be mutar. When a new rav came in he paskened that they were
not mutar. He explained (with the old rav present) that this did not mean that
the old rav was wrong. He brought up the gemora in which a similar circumstance
came up and the rav who paskened one way explained that he had learned from his
rabbeim. However, the rav told his son that since the kahal had a consensus the
other way and he was now a yachid, he should now follow the majority decision.

Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Wed, Aug 17,2022 at 05:17 AM
Subject: Psalm 145:7 zaycher or zecher

Joseph Kaplan wrote (MJ 65#71):

> There's been some discussion about the proper pronunciation of zeycher in
> ashrei and Parshat Zachor
> ...
> I posted (MJ 65#68) an email from my brother-in-law, Prof Jordan Penkower
> of Bar Ilan, one of the worlds leading experts on this issue, explaining that
> the only appropriate pronunciation is zeycher. He noted that he wrote an
> extensive academic article in Hebrew proving that zeycher is the only correct
> pronunciation
> ...
> But there's more to the story. After he wrote the article, he asked me to ask
> the baal koreh in my shul, also a well-known major Bible scholar and a friend
> of Jordan's (and me)
> ... 
> (c) how will he layn Parshat Zachor the next year.
> The second scholar's answers were as follows:
> ...
> (c) He will read it with both pronunciations because, he asked rhetorically,
> what does truth have to do with shul minhag?  And that's exactly what he did.

We had the reverse situation. Since its foundation our shul only read zeycher in
Parshat Zachor with a tzerei but a new rav (who knew not Yosef) was appointed
who wished to introduce the double reading with both tzerei and segol. Should
the congregation have sacrificed truth on the altar of conformism?

Martin Stern


From: Chaim Casper <info@...>
Date: Wed, Aug 17,2022 at 10:17 AM
Subject: Shabbat Candles and the Blessing

Menashe Elyashiv wrote (MJ 65#71):

> As mentioned in previous posts (MJ 65#70), women say the bracha after tevila,
> ...
> However, there are other options.  R.O. Yosef ruled that women say the bracha 
> in the dressing room before tevila.

If my memory serves me correctly, Rav Melekh Schechter, zt"l, (Rav Hershel
Schechter's father) told us in our practical halakhah class back at RIETS (the
yeshiva part of Yeshiva University) that the custom is for the woman to dunk
herself completely in the mikvah. The mikvah lady will then hand her a towel
with which she covers her head. She then makes the brakhah using her arms and
the the water to cover the rest of her body except her head. She then dips
herself twice more and then leaves the mikvah. This way, the brakha is made
"over l'asiatan" (before performing the mitzvah, assuming the mitzvah is
completed after the third dipping). By the way, my wife reported to me that this
is the way the mitzvah was done in mikvahs she visited up and down the US east

Menashe also wrote:

> and the father after the mohel has performed the milah.
> ...
> The Sephardic minhag, excepting Sefad, is that the father says lehachniso
> before the mohel says al ha'mila, and then the father says shehehiyanu.

Ashkenazim do not say shehechiyanu at a brit Milah. Whereas the Rambam holds
that shehechiyanu holds the first time a mitzvah is done (like brit Milah or
like wearing a fancy, expensive piece of clothing), the Ran holds that there
must be an element of simchah to the performance of that mitzvah. The simchah is
somewhat muted at a milah because the baby is crying. How can a parent be truly
happy when they hear their child crying? (By the way, the third view of when to
say shehechiyanu is the view of Tosafot who hold that there must be regularity
to the mitzvah. Think lulav, Hanukkah candles, seder, etc.)

B'virkat Torah,
Chaim Casper
Neve Mikhael, Israel
North Miami Beach, FL


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Wed, Aug 17,2022 at 05:17 AM
Subject: Tainted money

Joel Rich wrote (MJ 65#71):
> I wonder what is the din in the case of inheriting a non-kosher steakhouse. If
> the parent's income is only from that steakhouse and they are giving money to
> the next generation now, is it allowed to take those funds given that they
> know that they are coming from the sale of forbidden items?

As regards the non-kosher steakhouse, they should either close it down or
endeavour to run it under kosher supervision.

However, as regards money earned from it, strictly speaking there is no need to
refuse it since non-kosher steak [neveilah] is not assur behana'ah [prohibited
from any enjoyment] and so its proceeds are permitted. This may be different in
the case that the majority of its earnings come from basar bechalav [forbidden
meat cooked with milk] which is assur behana'ah and then a rav should be
consulted as the rules are quite complex.

Martin Stern


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Wed, Aug 17,2022 at 05:17 AM
Subject: Why do people think it's okay to take any empty seat in shul?

It seems that my posting of a letter from VINnews (MJ 65#70) has provoked quite
a bit of response (MJ 65#71) so I think it is worth summarising the points made
and commenting on them.

Despite its title, it was primarily concerned with what a visitor should do when
coming to a shul rather than how a seatholder should react when finding a
"stranger" in 'his" seat. As Ari Trachtenberg notes:

> Someone who would kick a guest out of a seat is wasting their breath
> davening.   In your own shul, you have a better chance finding an alternate
> seat than the guest, and anyone who would stoop to embarrassing a guest is
> exhibiting the antithesis of chessed.

However, as Carl Singer points out, this might be impossible to avoid because

> if someone sits in someone else's traditional seat, that "someone else" must
> retrieve his tallis, etc. which can be a bit awkward.

Sholom Parnes's suggestion that the visitor should

> Try to get to shul a few minutes before the service starts. Certainly, it is
> not acceptable for a guest to arrive at "Oz Yashir" and start looking for help
> in finding a seat.

is not really relevant since the problematic situations tend to arise when the
visitor comes earlier than the "seatholder". By the time the tzibbur has got to
"Oz Yashir", one would hope that most regulars will have arrived so the vacant
seats will be fairly obvious. One cannot blame visitors for being a little later
than regulars since they do not necessarily know how long it takes to get to the
shul. On the other hand, regulars should know and it is not really excusable for
one to come as late as "Oz Yashir" except in emergency situations - and then
proceed to turf out the "squatter".

As David Ziants points out such behaviour can have very serious long term

> At least in the generation of when I grew up in the UK in the 1960s and 1970s,
> I have felt that many youngsters stopped keeping mitzvot, or among those who
> were not from particularly observant families - stopped coming to shul,
> because they were put off when they saw the type of behaviour among
> congregants turfing someone out of their seat.

How to strike a balance between avoiding "embarrassing a guest" and making it
awkward for a "seatholder" retrieve his tallis, siddur, chumash etc. is
difficult. Of course this problem only arises in shuls where people keep such
property on the premises. Otherwise there is only the halachic desideratum of
makom kavua [davening in a fixed place] which can be pushed aside if necessary
should the seat be occupied by someone else. It would appear from the comments
of Yisrael Medad and David Cohen that this is not the general practice in
Israel, so the balance would be different there.

Might I suggest that those who come early regularly should make a point of
welcoming visitors and directing them to seats that are definitely vacant. Carl
Singer should not worry

> what is the appropriate response to someone who is about to sit in someone
> else's seat?
> Should one suggest gently that the individual might wish to move over 1 seat
> because that seat is usually taken and feel like a fool if the usual occupant
> doesn't show up.

Unfortunately, most people will tend to

> ignore it because it is "not my job"
which is the antithesis of the mitzvah of hachnasat orchim [welcoming guests]. 

To summarise, it appears that there are basically two types of shul:

1. those with storage facilities where members keep their siddur etc.

2. those which do not

How one deals with the problem is as Yisrael Medad wrote:

> And the answer is ... it depends on the shul.

Martin Stern

From: Avraham Friedenberg <elshpen@...>
Date: Wed, Aug 17,2022 at 05:17 AM
Subject: Why do people think it's okay to take any empty seat in shul?

We have visited close friends elsewhere in Israel a number of times for
Shabbatot and Chagim. Often times I davened at a shul nearby, and several of
those times I was "requested" to change my seat by various regulars.

One time we visited for a Chag, and I was standing in the back of the shul. A
man came over, welcomed me, and asked me if I had a seat. I said no, and
explained why I was standing in the back. He told me, "I want you to know that
the official policy of the shule is that no one has a permanent seat. Come with
me and I'll find you a seat where nobody will bother you." He took me by the
arm, led me to a seat, and introduced me to the man sitting in the next seat. It
was only a few minutes later that my seatmate told me that the nice man had sat
me down in his own regular place.

Avraham (Alan) Friedenberg
Beersheva, Israel

From: Chaim Casper <info@...>
Date: Wed, Aug 17,2022 at 10:17 AM
Subject: Why do people think it's okay to take any empty seat in shul?

In response to Martin Stern (MJ 65#70):

Rav Efraim Buchwald, the founder of the National Jewish Outreach Center in the
US, has noted, "What are the first five words a [non-Orthodox] visitor hears
when he visits an Orthodox shul?:

"You're sitting in my seat"

B'virkat Torah,
Chaim Casper
Neve Mikhael, Israel
North Miami Beach, FL

From: Stuart Pilichowski <stupillow@...>
Date: Wed, Aug 17,2022 at 10:17 AM
Subject: Why do people think it's okay to take any empty seat in shul?

My small shabbat minyan meets in the all-purpose room of the local public school.
The Rabbi's "seat" wouldn't be recognizable to a first time guest. If the
Rabbi's away for shabbat (or away for the summer) what to do when a guest sits
there? (Besides asking him to give the morning drasha... )

Mevaseret Zion


End of Volume 65 Issue 72