Volume 65 Number 76 
      Produced: Tue, 23 Aug 22 16:47:21 -0400

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

Is Geirus deOraisa? (3)
    [Martin Stern  Martin Stern  Yisrael Medad]
Makom kavua (3)
    [Martin Stern  Carl Singer  Chana Luntz]
Shabbat Candles and the Blessing 
    [Isaac Balbin]
Waiving Aveilut 
    [Chana Luntz]


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Mon, Aug 22,2022 at 04:17 PM
Subject: Is Geirus deOraisa?

Yisrael Medad wrote (MJ 65#75):

> Martin Stern (MJ 65#74) ... relates to another of my points and writes:
>> There is no command because we are not obligated to convert non-Jews
> Even if we desire to marry such a person?

Might that not constitute a mitzvah haba'ah be'aveirah [a mitzvah based on a
transgression]? While the issur de'oraita (Shem.34:15-16) might only apply to
the seven nations of Cnaan, it is forbidden miderabbanan [rabbinically] to
intermarry with other nations as well - in fact the reason given in the text is
equally applicable to any idolatrous group.

Admittedly, the Torah allows a soldier to acquire a yefat to'ar [a woman
captured in war] (Dev. 21:10-14) but this is seen as likely to have highly
undesirable consequences.

The only problem is when a Jewish person wishes to marry a non-Jew despite this
prohibition. Whether a Beit Din might be able to convert a non-Jew in that
situation is moot and each case has to be examined separately rather than
relying on general rules. Perhaps the underlying principle is that had the
non-Jew wished to convert even if there had not been a potential marriage to a
Jew, the possible marital motivation need not ipso facto disqualify him or her
(provided, of course, that the Jewish partner is shomer Torah vemitzvot [an
observant Jew]).

Martin Stern

From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Mon, Aug 22,2022 at 04:17 PM
Subject: Is Geirus deOraisa?

Yisrael Medad  wrote (MJ 65#75):
> If Martin Stern (MJ 65#74) suggests a reading list, I would add "Conversion to
> Judaism in Tannaitic Halakhah" by Lawrence H. Schiffman and other texts of his
> that are to be found online.

Following on from his attitude to midrash in a previous discussion of the "three
oaths", I am surprised that Yisrael should now bring academic works on midrash
as if being on a similar level as the halachic the works I referenced:

>> One can find a good survey of the various issues regarding gerut in the
>> Chukei Chaim, a weekly sheet distributed in shuls, 252 (Va'eira 5782) and 253
>> (Bo  5782) which one can obtain by email in Hebrew or English from
>> <mail@...>
>> For a more in-depth halachic study of all aspects of gerut see Mishnat Hager
>> by R. Moshe Klein (Machon Mishneh Torah, Yerushalaim 5768)

Martin Stern

From: Yisrael Medad  <yisrael.medad@...>
Date: Mon, Aug 22,2022 at 04:17 PM
Subject: Is Geirus deOraisa?

Sammy Finkelman (MJ 65#75), responding to my raising the issue, first admits that:

> The word 'Ger' may originally have had a different meaning from "convert",
> and indeed means a temporary resident

but then asserts that:

> Geirus is deOraisa (Conversion is a Torah-based issue). because it is
> mentioned in Parshas "Bo" in connection with the Korban Pesach (Shemos 12:48)"

I think a fine reading of that verse simply indicates that a non-Jew could take
part in the Passover Sacrifice while remaining non-Jewish but if he undergoes
mila. There is a second category there: an 'eved' (slave/servant) so obviously
the verse and the ceremony mentioned there are not referring to conversion.
As a following verse states: "no uncircumcised person shall eat thereof".
It doesn't state 'you have to be Jewish to partake', just circumcised. Indeed,
the next verse there, 49, states: "One law shall be to him that is
homeborn/citizen, as well as for the stranger who is living among you."
"Stranger", not a non-Jew who is now converted to Judaism.

If it is Bible-soured, one would think that by then, centuries later, the
conversion process would be mentioned in Ruth and yet in chapter 2 there, no
process noted and moreover, Boaz's servant tells him she "is a Moabitish damsel
that came back with Naomi", not a convert. Indeed, at the end of the previous
chapter we read: "Naomi returned, and Ruth the Moabitess, her daughter-in-law,
with her". She's not Jewish and no ceremony mentioned.

Yisrael Medad


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Mon, Aug 22,2022 at 04:17 PM
Subject: Makom kavua

Joel Rich wrote (MJ 65#75):

> In the RCA Koren siddur, it states:
> lt is appropriate for one to establish a set place within the synagogue where
> one  regularly prays (Makom Kavua), which is considered a significant
> enhancement to one's prayer. Nonetheless, if one comes to synagogue and sees
> that a guest has inadvertently taken one's seat, hospitality and sensitivity
> to the guest's embarrassment should take priority, and one should sit
> elsewhere rather than offend the visitor. This is the case even it one's
> concentration will be significantly diminished by sitting in a different seat.

This is all very good if only sitting in the seat is involved but, where there
is a desk attached in which he keeps his siddur, chumash and tallit, he will
almost inevitably embarrass, or at least disturb, the visitor when he retrieves
his belongings. Is Joel (or rather the RCA) suggesting that he should rather
borrow a shul tallit etc.? I suppose that is possible but it might be more
problematic on weekdays should he keep his tefillin in his desk (something that
is in any case not advisable - remember Kristalnacht)

> The best practice is for the synagoque to have officials who are charged with
> the task of welcoming visitors and guiding them to open seats, so as to avoid
> conflict.

If only this were the universal practice!

Martin Stern

From: Carl Singer <carl.singer@...>
Date: Tue, Aug 23,2022 at 07:17 AM
Subject: Makom kavua

Assuming that the minhag of the shul (or perhaps the individual) is that there
is a makom kavua -- then -- why wrestle with the problem of someone sitting in
someone else's makom kavua -- when one can simply *AVOID* the problem. When one
sees a new face in shul, greet and seat.  (Wow, that rhymes.) If there is a
simcha and an expected influx of guests -- assign an "usher" to help things along.
If you're really compulsive (and I *don't* recommend this) have a small sign at
the entrance:  "please wait to be seated by our usher."

I've found greeting a stranger when they walk into shul to be an uplifting
experience -- sometimes a landsman, sometimes simply a guest passing through
town, etc.

Carl Singer

From: Chana Luntz <Chana@...>
Date: Tue, Aug 23,2022 at 09:17 AM
Subject: Makom kavua

I confess I am slightly surprised by the number of posters who have suggested
that their shuls do not have fixed seats.

The concept of having a fixed place to pray can already be found in Brachot 6b:

"Rav Helbo said in the name of Rav Huna: anyone who fixes the place of his
prayer - the G-d of Abraham will help him. And when he dies, they say of him,
how humble, how pious, from the students of Avraham our father. And from where
do we derive that Avraham our father had a fixed place for payer? As it is
written "and Avraham got up in the morning and went to the place where he had
stood there", and there is no "standing" other than prayer, as it says "and
Pinchas stood and prayed""

And while the Rabbanu Yona and the Kol Bo do not understand this as requiring a
fixed place within a synagogue since all of a synagogue is a place of prayer,
others, based on a Yerushalmi (Perek 4 halacha 4 which requires it specifically
even within a synagogue) do, including the Rosh, and hence so rules the Shulchan
Aruch (Orech Chaim siman 90 si'if 19): 

"One should establish a place for one's prayer and not change it unless there is
a need. And it is not enough to establish a synagogue for oneself in which to
pray, rather one must also have an established place within the established

Now the Magen Avraham (siman 90 si'if katan 34) states "and it seems to me that
within four amot is considered one place that it is not possible to be exact"
which the Yalkut Yosef (Yalkut Yosef Tefila 1 siman 90 makom tefilla ot 30)
calculates as being inside 1.92 metres (while noting that according to the
Chazon Ish it is inside 2.30 metres).   Hence the Yalkut Yosef goes on to say
"And therefore if a guest sits in his makom kavuah [fixed place], he should not
quarrel with him, chalila, but he should try to sit next to his place if it is
possible.  And also if he needs to sit distant from the place, he should not
quarrel because of this." 

So it is not that there is not a halachic idea to have fixed seats, and that
this is a practice lauded by the Yerushalmi and many rishonim and brought in the
Shulchan Aruch.  It is just that we also have a hierarchy of values. Especially
given that this practice is learnt out of the behaviour of 
Avraham Avinu and that the aim is to become like a student of Avraham Avinu. And
what was Avraham Avinu specifically known for?  His treatment of guests, and
particularly for breaking off from speaking directly to G-d (i.e. davening) in
order to welcome guests.  So it should be clear that given the reason to have a
makom kavua is to be of the students of Avraham Avinu - to then make a scene
about one's seat, rather than seeing a guest sitting in it as an opportunity to
be a true student of Avraham Avinu, would seem to be learning the wrong lesson.
 Rather, someone sitting in one's seat has just identified himself as a guest in
need of welcome even at the expense of one's prayer experience. 




From: Isaac Balbin <isaac@...>
Date: Mon, Aug 22,2022 at 10:17 PM
Subject: Shabbat Candles and the Blessing

Chana Luntz wrote (MJ 65#75):

> it seems to me that maybe you can simply say that when a woman makes the
> blessing after she lights candles, she is, like with netilat yadayim, making
> the blessing during the performance of the mitzvah, or even before the
> performance of the key part of the mitzvah, which is to have a lit candle on
> Shabbat itself.  In which case making the blessing on the candles after
> lighting the candles might not in fact violate the general principle of over
> asiyatan.

Except that Acharonim (later decisors) rule that nowadays it is preferable to
have the electric lights off when lighting Shabbos candles as they make no
impression (light wise) otherwise. Furthermore, when more than one candelabra is
present, it is preferable that it be lit in a different room, for the same
reason. It could be argued, therefore, that in the presence of electrical
lights, the analysis, let alone Bracha, is somewhat moot.


From: Chana Luntz <Chana@...>
Date: Tue, Aug 23,2022 at 04:17 PM
Subject: Waiving Aveilut

Joel Rich wrote (MJ 65#66): 

> There's a difference of opinion as to whether a parent can waive the 
> twelve month aveilut for their child. What are the arguments for doing 
> or not doing so? (From the parent's and the child's point of view)

Can you point me to sources that say that a parent cannot waive the twelve
month aveilut? 

The Shulchan Aruch says (Yoreh Deah Hilchot Aveilut Siman 344 si'if 10) "One who
commands that they should not eulogise him, we listen to him"  and the Rema adds
"but if he commands that they should not conduct themselves on him the seven or
the thirty we do not listen to him (Mehari Weil)".  Rav Ovadiah says (Chazon
Ovadiah Aveilut 1 chapter 17 letter12 page 549),  ruling for Sephardim "one who
commands on his children that they should not mourn on him not the seven and not
the thirty, from the law we should listen to him, but it is good to conduct
himself like the words of the Rema who rules that we do not listen to him, and
there is a reason for the matter.  And in any event during the seven when he is
not being comforted at his place, the mitzvah remains on him to busy himself in
Torah like usual". 

So it would seem that all (i.e. both Sephardim and Ashkenazim) would say that a
parent *can* waive the 12 month mourning period (with the dispute only being
about the shiva and the shloshim).  The understanding being that the 12 month
mourning period is for the honour of the parent, and a parent can waive their
honour (unlike some of the other mourning practices, where the argument is that
at least some of these are for the living and not the dead). 

It is worth reading though the footnote there in the Chazon Ovadiah on why -
even though he holds that the actual halacha is that a parent can waive even the
shiva and the shloshim, it is better not to listen to them (and all the more so,
I would have thought the implication that the parent should not do this).  He
brings kabbalistic understandings, and the teshuvot on why an adoptee or a
convert who was converted by someone should consider mourning them, even though
they have no obligation.  Note in particular that part of the argument that
there is no obligation (against the Rema and Mahari Weil) is from Shulchan Aruch
Yoreh Deah siman 345 si'if 1 that one should not fulfil any of the mitzvot of
mourning for an apostate (except the blessing of the mourner and the shura). 
Aveilut is a mitzvah, as well as a form of comfort, and a father who does this
would seem to be depriving their children of mitzvot, to achieve what? 
Pleasure? Is this desirable in general - leaving aside very specific
circumstances such as the classic one in the teshuva of the Shut Shevut Ya'akov
chelek 2 simon 102 which dealt with a girl who was due to get married the next
day, where the father knew he was dying.  In that circumstance commanding his
daughter not to fulfil the mitzvot of mourning makes perfect sense, but
nullifying the mitzvot of aveilut and putting oneself into the same category as
an apostate, even if one can, I don't think does. 




End of Volume 65 Issue 76