Volume 65 Number 91 
      Produced: Sun, 25 Sep 22 08:17:52 -0400

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

Another selichot question (2)
    [Martin Stern  Joel Rich]
Civil marriage in Israel 
    [Martin Stern]
    [Martin Stern]
Tefillin for selichot? 
    [Martin Stern]
What is D'Oraita? (2)
    [Sammy Finkelman  Martin Stern]


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Thu, Sep 22,2022 at 07:17 AM
Subject: Another selichot question

Sammy Finkelman wrote (MJ 65#90):

> In our shul it has been the practice for decades to schedule the first
> Selichos for Saturday night at 10 p.m., with the Chazan for Rosh Hashonah and
> Yom Kippur being the Chazan. The reason I heard was not so much that people
> couldn't stay up late, but that it was not possible to get a minyan for
> 1 a.m., so they moved it to 10 pm.

Having selichot at 'midnight' on the first Motsa'ei Shabbat seems to be a
long-standing minhag but, as I wrote previously, it was often midnight by the
clock, ignoring DST. Sammy is almost certainly correct that it has been pushed
back to 10 p.m. because of the difficulty in getting a minyan together at that
late hour.

In fact, there has been a worrying development recently where these selichot
performances have been accompanied by instrumental music, something that has
been decried this year by several leading rabbis.

The trouble with this minhag of having such a choral evensong is that people
come to it as to a concert and not a prayer service. Most of them (certainly the
ladies but, I suspect, quite a large number of the men as well) do not come to
the remaining selichot services. Surely this is a complete perversion of the
purpose of the selichot!

Wishing all readers of (and contributors to) Mail Jewish a ketivah vechatimah
tovah (for Ashkenazim) and tizku leshanim rabbot (for Sefardim)

Martin Stern

From: Joel Rich <joelirarich@...>
Date: Thu, Sep 22,2022 at 09:17 AM
Subject: Another selichot question

David Ziants wrote (MJ 65#90):

> 1) As some people have already posted here, the proper time of selichot is
> before dawn in the early hours of the morning. In my opinion, this would also
> explain why, when people say selichot later in the morning, before shacharit
> many still do not wear tallit and tephillin (the first question to which I
> already gave feedback).

How does that explain it - a memory of the proper approach? But if slichot is a
prayer, why not dress appropriately.

> ...
> 4) So, the shul announced that there would be a 10:30pm option in the shul
> courtyard (provided it doesn't disturb the neighbours) - and the Rav said that
> this is preferable than option 3 - despite it supposed to be only an emergency
> option according to ruling of Rav Moshe Feinstein (as others have already 
> quoted on this thread). The interpretation of "emergency" is becoming lenient.

R Moshe says it's only if the community would otherwise not say slichot.  Hard
to understand on a halachic basis why these have proliferated (though
sociologically ...)



From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Sun, Sep 25,2022 at 07:17 AM
Subject: Civil marriage in Israel

Chaim Casper wrote (MJ 65#84):

> We have been talking about conversion starting with MJ 65#73 and before that,
> the conversation was about Child Converts (starting with MJ 65#71). Martin in
> MJ 65#81 redirected the conversation to Civil Marriage in Israel. Martin
> raised some serious, practical questions about Civil Marriage in Israel. When
> I read his post, I immediately thought of asking Rabbi Seth Farber whose
> organization, ITIM, deals with these practical questions every day to offer
> his perspective.

I have now carefully read Rabbi Ferber's comments. He first states:

> Israel is today grappling with a singular situation in which there are at
> least two legal definitions of who is a Jew.
> One definition relates to citizenship under Israel's law of Return. One can
> make aliya as a Jew only if one has a Jewish grandparent or if one converted
> in a recognized community, as long as no parent or grandparent has converted
> away from Judaism.
> A second definition relates to the ability to get married, which is under the
> jurisdiction of the chief rabbinate.
> Because of these two definitions, there are at present approximately 480,000
> people in Israel classified (in the population registry) as lacking religion
> (or chasrei dat).
> ...

This is a very fair description of the problem facing these immigrants. However
he notes that

> The overwhelming majority of these immigrants (and their children) are not
> observant, and most of them don't see strict halachic observance in their
> immediate future.

Actually they don't see ANY halachic observance as part of their lifesyle,
though they might partake in some Jewish practices as part of their national
identity (but not in any way as relgiously mandated), which is at the root of
the problem facing Israel. Basically the problem is caused by the secular
Zionist concept of who is a Jew as opposed to the classic halachic one (though
it is not restricted to the former but is a consequence of the latter's
replacement, in many people's perception, by the ideas of the Enlightenment, in
particular the centrality of the individual leading to the abandonment of any
importance attached to collective bodies). He then dismisses my suggestion of
having a carefully controlled form of civil marriage (and perhaps more
importantly divorce) out of hand:

> ...
> what is the weight of not addressing the situation (for example, by enabling
> civil marriage, which would create "as someone noted" two classes of Jews).

Unfortunately civil marriage will NOT create two classes of Jews - that is the
actual current situation created by Israel's Law of Return. He continues:

> Many mainstream poskim [halakhic legal deciders] ... felt that at certain
> times, lack of full observance was not a reason to question a conversion. But
> more importantly, the standard position regarding the conversion of children 
> is one that does not demand kabalat ol mitzvot [acceptance of doing the
> mitzvot] ...

This may well be true in individual cases but it is much less clear whether it
can be extended to a general principle, as he states:

> Our approach, which now has the backing of more than 70 rabbis from mostly
> religious Zionist circles, sees the kibbutz galuyot [diaspora] as a factor in
> driving the conversion issue, ...

This introduction of external ideological concepts is the basic objection to his
organisation's policy and why

> Today, ironically, the Israeli rabbinate doesn't formally recognize ITIM-GKH
> conversions (although a few have passed through the national bet din). 

I therefore disagree with him that

> This is a sad statement regarding our generation's priorities.

It is true that

> The traditional approach was that batei din [Jewish religious courts of law]
> respected each other. 

However this was where there were no external (government) pressures applied to
produce their rulings (akin to the rabbanim mita'am [government appointed rabbis
appointed by the Tsarist regime to supervise Jewish communities]). So it is not
clear that one can invoke the principle:

> More importantly, with all the challenges facing our people, would one say
> that Rav Chaim Ozer or Rav Moshe Feinstein are worth relying upon b'sha'at
> hadchak [times of emergency]?

IMHO this problem has been caused by the secular Israeli authorities and it is
up to them to solve it within their own parameters - not by pressuring the
rabbinic leaders to bend halachah to fit their worldview. 

And that is best done by some carefully constructed form of civil marriage and

Martin Stern


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Sun, Sep 25,2022 at 07:17 AM
Subject: Proteksia

Joel Rich wrote (MJ 65#90):

> Your thoughts on the halachic appropriateness of this post which was on a
> community list?
> "A good friend had a bad fall, and was approved to get into xxxx rehab after
> her surgery - but needs to wait for an available bed. Does anyone have
> proteksia - someone who might be able to make this happen ASAP?"
> Let's assume that this rehab has a waiting list, receives government funding
> and has a standard protocol for allocating new beds to new clients.

It strikes me that it was most inappropriate. Using proteksia (or anything else
for that matter) to jump queues would seem to be geneivah [theft] and publishing
such a request would be mesayei'a le'ovrei aveirah [helping evil doers] if not
setting up a michshol lifnei iver [stumbling block in front of the blind].

Martin Stern


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Sun, Sep 25,2022 at 07:17 AM
Subject: Tefillin for selichot?

Perets Mett wrote (MJ 65#88):

> In response to Martin Stern (MJ 65#86):
> I have an even better question:
> If the tsibur gathers for selichos at a time when one may daven Shachris, how
> do they justify delaying Shachris until after selichos?
> Not only because todir kodem (the more frequent mitsvah takes precedence) but
> also because Shachris is obligatory whereas selichos is a custom.

One possibility is that they may be starting after misheyakir [the earliest time
for tefillin], when one MAY daven shacharit, but before haneits hachammah
[sunrise] which is the ideal time for it. In that case the principle of tadir
kodem might not yet apply.

Martin Stern


From: Sammy Finkelman <sammy.finkelman@...>
Date: Thu, Sep 22,2022 at 12:17 PM
Subject: What is D'Oraita?

Yisrael Medad wrote (MJ 65#90):

> Chana Luntz asked (MJ 65#89) for a source for an "other opinion" I noted.
> Here, at Chabad:
> "The biblical commandments are the 613 mitzvot explicitly or implicitly
> contained in the Five Books of Moses. The rabbinical commandments are the laws
> instituted by sages throughout the generations."

This is the classic definition. While we might have differences with Chabad in
various places, they shouldn't differ here and would give the basic definition.

This is not actually the "other opinion" which Yisrael Medad wrote in MJ 65#88
where he stated that:

>> a d'oraita ordinance is written in the Torah whereas a d'rabbanan ordinance
>> is provided by rabbinical sages based on their understanding of a Torah
>> source, whether explicit, or halacha Moshe mi-Sinai or otherwise (sevara).
>> The source is always the Written Torah (and in a few cases, in Nevi'im) but
>> one is very explicit and the other is derived by Talmudic sages or others.

That's the distinction between Torah Sheb'chsav (written Torah) and Torah
shebe'al peh (oral Torah) not whether a halachah is d'oraita or d'rabbanan.

The definition from the Chabad web site is not inconsistent or different from
what Chana Luntz wrote (MJ 65#87) that (D'Oraita)

>>> b) it is used to mean, across Rabbinic literature, something sourced in
>>>  either the Oral Torah or the Written Torah (or both).

which is everything.

That is a poor definition.

What needs to be defined here, I think, is what is d'rabbanan and what is
D'Oraita, which matters in exigent circumstances.

Can Yisrael please provide a source specifically for HIS "other opinions".

From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Thu, Sep 22,2022 at 03:17 PM
Subject: What is D'Oraita?

In response to Yisrael Medad (MJ 65#90):

It seems to me that the Chabad definition includes much more than what Yisrael
wished to include in D'Oraita. In particular, it includes all those details that
Chazal 'claim' are 'implied' in the Biblical text (implicitly as opposed to
explicitly). In particular, it includes the rules of giyur [conversion] that he
seemed to be claiming were an invention of much later rabbis since HE could not
find any explicit reference to them in the written Torah.

> I trust Chabad passes her perception of "classic Orthodox sources" and that
> she halt her attempts to place Orthodox Jews out of the fold.

I would not use the term "classic Orthodox sources" for Chabad and suspect that
neither would Chana Luntz. This is not to claim Chabad are not Orthodox but
merely that they are secondary, rather than "classic" sources and what she
wanted was some earlier authoratitive source.

Martin Stern


End of Volume 65 Issue 91