Volume 66 Number 26 
      Produced: Mon, 19 Dec 22 08:30:41 -0500

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

Aliyah minhag question (5)
    [Martin Stern  Immanuel Burton  Carl Singer  Perets Mett  Chana Luntz]
Another aliyah question (2)
    [Martin Stern  Immanuel Burton]
Ezrat Nashim 
    [Deborah Wenger]
    [Deborah Wenger]


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Thu, Dec 15,2022 at 08:17 AM
Subject: Aliyah minhag question

Yisrael Medad wrote (MJ 66#25):

> I, too, raise the Torah up a bit at the end of the blessing, which I thought,
> in a similar way to the raising of a pen at the selling of chametz, to
> indicate possession.

The raising of a pen at the selling of chametz, is not to indicate possession.
It is to make a kinyan [assertion of ownership - MOD] to strengthen the
appointment of the rav as a sheliach [emissary - MOD] to act on one's behalf to
sell the chametz.

> As for Carl Singer's comment (MJ 66#24):
>> some look away (to their right) while reciting the brochas.
> That's easy. That's where the Gabbaim keep the printed out version of the
> blessings.

That may well be true but the real reason is that nobody should think he is
reading them form the Sefer Torah. This is the reason why Carl

>> keeps the Torah "closed" -- that is rolled up.


>> there are others who I see roll it open.

who turn to the side and / or close their eyes while saying the berachot. They
do this to avoid any delay in starting the reading.

I think that Haim Snider's suggestion (MJ 66#25):

> People who turn their head, in my opinion, do so in order to show that they
> know the brachot and don't have to read them.

is unlikely since it would seem to attribute to them a degree of yuhara [arrogance]

Martin Stern

From: Immanuel Burton <iburton@...>
Date: Sun, Dec 18,2022 at 12:17 PM
Subject: Aliyah minhag question

In response to Yisrael Medad's response (MJ 66#25) to Carl Singer (MJ 66#24):

I think the point isn't so much as looking to one's right where the printed out
version of the blessing is kept, but that, if one keeps the Torah scroll open
while saying the blessings, one looks away from the Torah scroll so that people
won't think that the blessings are written in the Torah scroll itself.

Immanuel Burton.

From: Carl Singer <carl.singer@...>
Date: Sun, Dec 18,2022 at 12:17 PM
Subject: Aliyah minhag question

In response to Yisrael Medad (MJ 66#25):

I may not have been clear enough -- they are not looking down and reading the
brocha -- if that were the case they would be looking to the right through both
of the brochas. They are looking off to the right, away from the Torah.

[But, yes, many shuls have the brochas displayed to the right of the shulchan.]


From: Perets Mett <pmett99@...>
Date: Sun, Dec 18,2022 at 01:17 PM
Subject: Aliyah minhag question

It has been noted that some people turn to one side, or close their eyes, while
saying the brocho before krias hatorah.

There is a fundamental dispute of tannoim in Megilo 32a

R Meir says that after locating the place, one should close the Torah scroll
when saying the prior brocho, so that people should not think that the brochos
are written in the Torah. R Yehuda says one leave the scroll open during the
initial brocho, as people would not assume that the brochos are written in the

The RMO (O Ch 139:4) writes that one should turn to the (left) side when saying
the brocho (as looking into the sefer during the brocho would certainly give the
wrong impression)

The Mishna Bruro writes that a better solution is to keep one's eyes closed

Of course this applies only to those who have the custom to keep the scroll open
during the brocho.

Those who keep the scroll closed do not have this concern

Perets Mett

From: Chana Luntz <Chana@...>
Date: Sun, Dec 18,2022 at 08:17 PM
Subject: Aliyah minhag question

Carl Singer writes (MJ 66#24): 

> some look away (to their right) while reciting the brochas.

The Rema writes in Shulchan Aruch Orech Chaim Hilchot kriat Sefer Torah siman
139 si'if 4:

"At the time of blessing the first blessing he turns his face to the side, that
it should not seem like he blesses from the Torah (Kol Bo), and it seems to me
that he should face to the left side".  And the Magen Avraham explains that the
left side is the right side of HKBH like that which is written in siman 123. 
However the Aruch HaShulchan Orech Chaim siman 139 si'if 13 writes (after
quoting the Rema and Magen Avraham) that he does not understand the similarity
[i.e. to siman 123] that "there he is in prayer and it is as if he is standing
before the King.  But in general right is more important and it seems to me that
the reason is because the one who reads stands to his left like is known and
therefore he turns to him and I see that they are accustomed that the last
blessing he turns his face to the right side, and it is correct but there are
those of the great ones that question on the essence of this law [goes on to
quote and discuss the Taz who didn't like this] and then notes an alternative
minhag to "look outside the sefer torah and not in the text" - but, not actually
turn their face away.

> I don't know the basis, but the minhag I learned from my Father, ztl, and
> from watching others was to hold both aytzim when reciting the brocha and to
> lift the near end an inch or two when reciting the word "Torah" in the
> brochas. Also, I keep the Torah "closed" -- that is rolled up.   There are
> others who I see roll it open.

The Shulchan Aruch Orech Chaim Hilchot kriat sefer Torah siman 139 si'if 11
writes: "One who reads in the Torah needs to grasp the sefer Torah at the
time of the blessing".  Then see the various commentators discussing various
customs about how to do this (e.g. see the Aruch Hashulchan in siman 139
si'if 13 and 14 who discusses a number of the options), as well as discussions
going back to the rishonim and gemara about open versus closed at various points
centred around this siman. 




From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Thu, Dec 15,2022 at 12:17 PM
Subject: Another aliyah question

Carl Singer wrote (MJ 66#25):

> My practice is that when I have an aliyah, after the Ba'al Kriah points to the
> spot in the Torah where the reading will begin, to kiss my talis' tzitzis and
> then touch it to the OUTSIDE of the scroll.  As I recall a reason for this
> practice is to minimize any potential damage to the writing.
> I've seen two other approaches:   Some make a point of touching the writing,
> itself, with their tzitzis -- which worries me as it may damage the writing.
> Also, a few I see dangle the tzitzis over the spot and gently touching the
> tzitzis to the writing.

My practice is to touch one of the tzitziyot on the blank parchment next to the
point indicated by the Ba'al Kriah (also to minimise any potential damage to the

Martin Stern

From: Immanuel Burton <iburton@...>
Date: Sun, Dec 18,2022 at 04:17 PM
Subject: Another aliyah question

In response to Carl Singer (MJ 66#25):

Rabbi Yerachmiel Askotzky in his book Tefillin And Mezuzos (Targum Press, 2003)
writes on page 269:

"The Torah reader should not put the yad (pointer) on the klaf itself. Instead,
he should hold the pointer slightly above the Sefer Torah to prevent if from
scratching the letters. One called to the Torah should not touch his tallis or
the gartel (belt of the Torah) to the actual writing but to the margin at the
beginning of the line."

I remember being taught that the person called to the Torah should touch his
tzitzit to the first word of the portion being read before saying the opening
blessing, and then touch his tzitzit to the last word of the portion before
saying the closing blessing. After reading the above, I changed what I do.

Immanuel Burton.


From: Deborah Wenger <debwenger@...>
Date: Sun, Dec 18,2022 at 11:17 AM
Subject: Ezrat Nashim

Chaim Casper wrote (MJ 65#25): 

> Back in the late 1970s, a female friend went on a cross country trip during a
> year she was saying kaddish for her father. (I do not want to discuss the 
> issue of whether a daughter can/should say kaddish). She told me that in a 
> number of Orthodox synagogues she went into, she would be confronted by a man 
> who was upset that she was davening in the Ezrat Nashim. After all, women 
> don't or shouldn't come to weekday minyanim. As a result, that man (and there 
> were numerous such men) who came to think of the Ezrat Nashim as their makom 
> kavua (permanent davening place), a place where women should not enter. 
> So, I ask you, the reader: Are things different nowadays, almost 50 years
> later?

Well, back in the '80s, when I was in aveilut for my mother a"h, the MO shul I
went to didn't even allow women to say kaddish. That shul had a split women's
section, one on either side of the men's section. It was the shul "tradition"
that during the week, men occupied one of the women's sections and women were
"allowed" to use the other.

Fast-forward about 25 years, and I was davening in a shul that had a small
"chapel" for weekday minyanim, with about 2 rows for women in the back. One day
I came to a morning minyan to find a man davening there, claiming it was his
"makom kavua" (set space), and he refused to let me in. The rabbi had to
literally carry him out.

Now I daven in a much more welcoming MO shul. Pre-COVID, the weekday minyan met
in a small space but with a well-defined women's section - and it had a sign on
the mechitza indicating that this section was reserved for women, and no men
were permitted to daven there. And everyone held to that. I do think that
BECAUSE this shul was so welcoming to women, it did have women who davened there
during the week. (Post-COVID, we use the main shul every day, and there are no
issues since there's plenty of space for both men and women.) 

Meanwhile, about a year ago, the rebbetzin of my shul was in aveilut, but
couldn't always get to our shul's morning minyan because she had to get her kids
off to school, so she tried a later minyan at another shul, and a number of her
friends accompanied her. This shul had a large space but said it was carving out
a "masked-only" space (for men) in the women's section. When we got there, we
discovered that in actuality, a small space had been "carved out" of the women's
section - for the women! And there were more women davening there than men in
their space. So the next morning we came in a bit early and rearranged the
mechitza to give the women back their ezrat nashim and left a small space for
the few masked men who wanted it. 

Wishing everyone a happy Chanukah and joy in your own spaces! 

Deborah Wenger



From: Deborah Wenger <debwenger@...>
Date: Sun, Dec 18,2022 at 11:17 AM
Subject: Kaddish

Martin Stern wrote (MJ 66#25):

> Stuart Pilichowski wrote (MJ 66#23):
>> ...
>> Nowadays, people observing rituals get gold stars in my book. If for whatever
>> personal reasons one decides, to your chagrin, not to observe I don't label
>> them negatively, by using terminology such as not legitimate. 
>> ...
> For someone who comes to shul regularly, saying kaddish fits into the general
> pattern of davening but I find the incessant interruptions irritating. If they
> would restrict themselves to one kaddish at the end after Aleinu, I would
> have no problem. I have enough difficulty keeping up with the pace and have to
> start early and get ahead in order to be able to reach shemoneh esrei with
> the tzibbur. Somebody getting up to say kaddish just disturbs my kavannah. In
> almost all shuls, where several say it together, there is no need for the
> extra kaddeishim at the beginning of shacharit to give more aveilim an
> opportunity to say at least one kaddish, so they could well be dropped.
> However I suspect that this would raise howls of protest from those who only
> come to shul to say it. 

Martin, I'm sorry you feel that way. But as Stuart wrote, for some people this
is their only connection to "that old-time religion" and it's what's keeping
them in the fold - and more power to them.

A number of years ago I was visiting a cousin who was proudly "off the derech"
but quietly admitted to me that during aveilut for his parents (who, sadly, died
within two weeks of each other) he went to shul to say kaddish for them every
day, and he continued to say kaddish on their yahrzeits until he died.

And I wonder how you'd feel about something I encountered one day last week -
there's a developmentally disabled man who's a regular in our shul who had
yahrzeit for his mother, and wanted to say kaddish at ma'ariv. He can read
Hebrew and did get through all the recitations, slowly and occasionally assisted
by another man, but he did it. I was saying kaddish for a yahrzeit that night,
and the other aveilim and I went slowly to accommodate him. I thought this was a
tremendous kiddush Hashem.

Chanukah sameach,

Deborah Wenger



End of Volume 66 Issue 26