Volume 8 Number 3

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Computer as Sofer
         [Elhanan Adler]
         [Bob Werman]
Obvious may no longer be Obvious
         [Zev Farkas]
State of Israel
         [Larry Israel]
Tinok Shenishba
         [Anthony Fiorino]
Women's Prayer Groups
         [Aliza Berger]


From: <ELHANAN@...> (Elhanan Adler)
Date: Mon, 28 Jun 93 23:53:17 -0400
Subject: Computer as Sofer

Further to the topic of who can write a get:

Quite a few years ago I heard the question raised whether a get could be
computer-written using a plotter (which would be physically similar to
writing, rather than a printer).

This question was referred by a friend to a halakhic authority who
specializes in technological questions (since it was years ago, and
informal, I would rather not use his name).

His answer was that *in principle* it should be valid - assuming someone
turned on or held down a switch (similar to the way we apply "kavanah"
[human intent] to machine matzos). Furthermore - he said in theory it
should be possible to write a Megillat Ester this way as well. He balked
at anything containing "shemot".

* Elhanan Adler                   University of Haifa Library              *
*                                 Tel.: 972-4-240535  FAX: 972-4-257753    *
* Israeli U. DECNET:      HAIFAL::ELHANAN                                  *
* Internet/ILAN:          <ELHANAN@...>                          *


From: <RWERMAN@...> (Bob Werman)
Date: Tue, 29 Jun 93 06:38:16 -0400
Subject: Mipnay-Hakavod

In mail.jewish Vol. 7 #109 Digest, Eitan Fiorino writes:

>Thanks for bringing this up again; I had meant to comment then forgot.
>The relevant gemara is in megila (around daf 12 or 14), where it says that
>(from memory) "all are qualified to be called up to the Torah, including
>women and minors.  This was forbidden because of kavod hatzibbur."  In Rav
>Hershel Schachter's hesped for the Rav for the Rabbinic alumni of RIETS,
>he mentioned that the explanation of this gemara is that kriat hatorah is
>talmud torah b'rabbim, and all are equally able to fill this chiuv.

Is kavod hatzibbur something the tzibbur has the right to relinquish?

For example, could my congregation, all men, decide that we are m'vater
ve-moHel on our kavod in this matter and therefore women are allowed to
have aliyot?

If this were all that modern women desired to make them feel more
welcome in the framework of Orthodoxy and the vitur [giving up our
right] were forthcoming, a lot of problems could be solved.  If there is
such a possibility, I would suggest one such congregation be available
in every major Jewish concentration, much like the erei miklat [Cities
of Refuge].

__Bob Werman    <rwerman@...>    rwerman@vms.huji.ac.il


From: Zev Farkas <farkas@...>
Date: Tue, 29 Jun 93 00:50:29 -0400
Subject: Obvious may no longer be Obvious

in a recent post (sorry, i don't recall names or exact details) someone
mentions that when a newly married young man asked a rav about exactly how
much hair his wife was permitted to have outside her head-covering, the
response was that he refused to be bothered with such trivial questions. 
this sort of response is recorded in several places, including the gemara,
where a question whose answer should have been obvious to the questioner
is answered with nothing more than a derisive look.  this sometimes leads
to problems later on, when, beavosainu harabim (due to the multitude of
our sins), the answer is no longer so clear.  

in this particular case, it is not clear if it is OBVIOUS that ALL of a
woman's hair must be covered, or is it OBVIOUS that ANY covering of the
hair is sufficient.  or is the correct answer somewhere in between, which
should be OBVIOUS.    :)

the point i'm trying to make is that poskim must be careful in their
assumptions about what is obvious to us, and those of succeeding generations.

ps:  the picnic was really nice, and i enjoyed meeting avi and the rest of
the mail-jewish crowd.  

Zev Farkas, PE                                :)
<farkas@...>       718 829 5278


From: Larry Israel <VSLARRY@...>
Date: Tue, 29 Jun 93 12:15:24 +0300
Subject: Re: State of Israel

Just a question for curiosity - Do the people who reject giving away part
of Eretz Yisroel to achieve peace, based on the impermissibility of doing
so, also reject the permissibility of selling part of Eretz Yisroel to
Gentiles during the Shmitta year?


From: Anthony Fiorino <fiorino@...>
Date: Mon, 28 Jun 93 13:09:41 -0400
Subject: Tinok Shenishba

>From Danny Wolf:

> I don't think an atheist can make brachot or prayer since those acts are
> bereft of any element of avodat hashem.  That is my opinion only and
> although I am thoroughly convinced of it, I have no sources of proof for it.

I may be misinterpreting what was meant by the above, but here goes:

But the question remains -- how does one define an atheist in today's
world?  When a person says "I don't believe in G-d" today, it may mean
something radically different than when such a statement was said in the
middle ages.  A person who is _really_ an atheist would halachically be
considered a heretic, and would be excluded from minyan, touching
wine, etc.  But again, modern day "atheists" are often (usually) raised in
an environment that practically excludes belief in G-d.  And one can
even be raised in a "religious" environment and turn out this way -- there
are varieties of Judaism in which an absence of belief in G-d is not
m'akeiv anything at all.

In terms of brachot or prayer, if a person who claims to be an atheist
wants to engage in such activities, should we stop him/her?  I wouldn't
want to be yotzei with such a person when they make a bracha, but a desire
to participate in a bracha or prayer indicates that perhaps in this
person, there is still a connection to Judaism and G-d.  Should we protest
against the "atheist" Jew who wishes to have his/her sons circumcised,
given that this mitzvah-act will contain no element of avodat Hashem?  It
seems to me that we should think very carefully before excluding any Jew
from participation in any Jewish act or mitzvah, since shemirat mitzvot often
proves to be a "way back" for many baalei t'shuva.  Rav Hershel Schachter
mentioned that the Rav once stopped davening to explain duchening to a
non-observant kohein who was in shul, so that he might participate in
birkat kohanim.  One must weigh the value of excluding such a person from
such an act against the potential value of including such a person in the act.

In his article "Loving and Hating Jews as Halachic Categories" (In
Jewish Tradition and the Non-Traditional Jew, ed. R. J.J. Schacter), R. N.
Lamm ennumerates 4 reasons why the laws of heretics should not apply to
non-believers of our day.  For the discussion and sources of these 4
reasons, consult the article:

1. They are "coerced" by the zeitgeist.

2. One is classified as a heretic only after rejecting halachically valid
rebuke, and most Rishonim hold that it is not possible to deliver valid
rebuke in out time.

3. Heresy today is most often not a positive rejection of Jewish
principles or faith but rather a lack of conviction or belief; at one
time, lack of observance was an act designed to sever oneself from klal
yisrael, while today, this is clearly not the case.

4. Heresy as a halachic category is only applicable when the majority of
Jews are observant.

BTW, there is an article by R. N. Lamm on non-religious kohanim -- "May a
Transgressing kohein perform birkat kohanim?" in HaDarom 10, Elul 5719
(1959) p95-103.

Eitan Fiorino


From: <A_BERGER@...> (Aliza Berger)
Date: Mon, 28 Jun 93 22:04:34 -0400
Subject: Women's Prayer Groups

A question was raised recently about the recitation of birhot ha-
Torah (blessings before and after Torah reading) at women's prayer

At my women's tefilah service, we follow the psak of Rabbi Avi
Weiss, as follows:
We do not recite "barchu".
"Asher bachar banu" is not recited in psukei de-zimra [actually, in
birchot ha-shachar - the blessings of the morning. psukei de-zimra
begins with Baruch She-amar. Mod.]; if a woman
is called to the Torah, she recites it before the Torah is read,
otherwise she says it later.  So, in practice, most of the women
are saying it later.
"Asher natan lanu" is recited after the portion is read.

The halakhic analysis is contained in Rabbi Weiss' "Women at
Prayer", pp. 80-83. 

The main point that seemed to concern the posters was that reciting
Ahava Raba is Torah study, so how can one postpone "asher bachar
banu" until after saying Ahava Raba?, so I will address that point.

[More accurately, the concern that was raised is that the Gemarah states
that if one did not say the beracha on Torah Study in the morning, and
one has already said Shema with it's berachot, then one does not say the
beracha on Torah Study because the blessing of Ahava Rabba acts as the
beracha on Torah Study. R. Weiss' response below addresses that concern.

This is a quote from "Woman at Prayer": 
"Be'ur ha-Gra and Eliyahu Rabba (quoted in Mishnah Berurah to
Shulhan Arukh, Orah Hayyim 47:17) state that the recitation of
Keri'at Shma is a function of prayer and not of learning Torah. 
Mishnah Berurah (ibid. 47:15) points out that Ahavah Rabbah is
meant to introduct the keriat shma as a prayer and not as Torah
learning.  It is best for women to wish to recite the blessing
asher bahar at the Torah to omit the morning Torah blessings and
recite Ahavah Rabbah with the intention of not fulfilling the
obligation of reciting the Birkot haTorah.  See Peri Megadim
(quoted in Biur Halakhah to Shulkhan Aruch, Orah Hayyim 47, s.v.
poteret), who states that someone who recites Ahavah Rabbah without
the intention of fulfilling his Torah blessing obligation is still
obligated to recite the Torah blessings."
     The permission to recite "asher natan lanu" is that it may be
recited by an individual after he or she learns from a Torah scroll
(based on Masekhet Soferim 13:8).  The reading of the Torah at a
women's prayer group falls under the category of "learning Torah"
(that is why we are allowed to do it in the first place at the
women's tefilah).

Aliza Berger


End of Volume 8 Issue 3