Volume 8 Number 71
                       Produced: Sat Aug  7 23:48:35 1993

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Counting the Torah in a Minyan
         [David Sherman]
looking for chazzan positions for high holidays
         [Bradley Somer]
Public Prayer
         [Anthony Fiorino]
Suggestions for Jewish Fiction??
         [Todd Litwin]
         [Hillel A. Meyers]
Tanach in Yeshivas
         [Allen Elias]
Torah as the Tenth
         [Michael P. Kramer]


From: <dave@...> (David Sherman)
Date: Fri, 6 Aug 93 12:48:53 -0400
Subject: Re: Counting the Torah in a Minyan

Mark Bell <idela!<bell@...> writes:

> I've encountered the custom of permitting the Torah to be counted as the
> tenth member of a Minyan. All present stand while the Torah is out. Is
> this generally accepted?

Several years ago we stayed over Shabbos with a chassidic Rabbi in the
Catskills (Rabbi Fishbein in White Lake/Kauneonga Lake, NY). He has a
shul attached to his home; in the summer he gets a large crowd. This
was winter; with myself, Rabbi Fishbein, those of his sons who were
over bar-mitzvah age and about 3 others, we had 9. The Rabbi advised
us that a boy who is old enough to understand the davening, holding a
Sefer Torah, could be counted, so with his 9-year-old holding the
sefer Torah we had a minyan. (I don't recall what his 9-year-old did
while we had the Torah on the bimah to layn, but we did layn.)

David Sherman


From: Bradley Somer <somer@...>
Date: Sat, 7 Aug 93 16:40:54 -0400
Subject: looking for chazzan positions for high holidays

If anybody knows of any orthodox shuls that are relatively close to NYC,
that are looking for somebody to be a chazzan/read the torah for Rosh
Hashanna/ Yom Kippur, or to blow shofar, please contact me privately at:
Thanks a lot,
Brad Somer


From: Anthony Fiorino <fiorino@...>
Date: Thu, 5 Aug 93 18:00:27 -0400
Subject: Public Prayer

Aliza Berger stated in her recent posting:

> A man who is taking care of children doesn't have an obligation in
> public prayer.
> ....
> Men aren't dependent on t'filah b'tzibur etc. for their spiritual needs
> either, using the same logic that men aren't obligated in public prayer.
> ....
> Chazal allow for these eventualities by not making public prayer
> obligatory for either gender.

The Rambam in hilchot t'filah (8:1) : ". . . therefore, a person is
*required* to include himself in the tzibur [public - Ed.] and not
pray alone any time he is able to pray with the tzibur." The shulchan
aruch (orach chaim 90) doesn't seem to use the word tzarich (is
required) but does indicate that there is a very strong preference for
davening b'tzibur. Furthermore, one of the ways we learn that women
may not be counted towards a minyan is because they are not obligated
in t'filah b'tzibur (See "Women and minyan" by R. Aryeh Frimer,
Tradition 23(4), 1988). This all indicates that there is in fact a
large gender distinction regarding t'filah b'tzibur, and that men in
fact seem to be obligated in public prayer.

In describing the view which I espoused, Aliza summarized in the
following manner: "Orthodox women do not have a role in public prayers
because our role is in the home." I don't think that this fully
captures the point I was trying to make. I think that the ideal role
of women in the home, or what is an authentic Jewish view on that
subject, is open to considerable debate. (See the symposium on
Orthodoxy which appeared in Tradition about a year ago, and the
subsequent "letters to the editor" which appeared in response in the
most recent issue of Tradition.) I erred in bringing the concept of
"home" into the discussion at all. As I mentioned in my posting, I was
relying on a standard understanding of women's role in Judaism, and
that understanding may not be completely accurate. I was forced to
rely on this understanding because I am unaware of any better one, but
Aliza makes an excellent point, which is that it is unreliable to
speak of a woman's role vis-a-vis the home as a set, agreed-upon
entity; it clearly is not. However, this does leave the issue of
modesty, and though this too certainly is not a completely defined
entity, there are halachic parameters which provide more clarity than
when dealing with the concept of "home."

Finally, I think Aliza distorts the halachic differences between men
and women. She says "The only religious roles that differentiate men
and women, really, are being counted to public prayer . . . and being
witnesses." While I do not know what conclusions can be drawn from it,
and I am now hesitant to adhere to the standard explanation which I
set forth in my previous posting, the fact remains that women are
patur from mitzvot she hazman grama [exempt from (positive)
commandments dependent on time - Ed.]. This doesn't represent a huge
number of mitzvot, but they are some of the more noticible mitzvot. I
don't know what kind of explantory or philosphical framework to build
from that, but that doesn't lessen the extent of the exemption or its
halachic ramifications. She asks "Since the actual differences are so
small, why invent this idea [of role differences] to justify it?" The
differences aren't so small, and the attempt to explain them is an
attempt to understand them. Ultimately, though, Aliza is right -- any
explanation is an invention. But not understanding women's exemption
from mitzvot she hazman grama, or not understanding women's exclusion
from eidut [testifying - Ed.], does not in any way alter those

> I second Janice Gelb's hesitant suggestion, that these religious
> roles may have in fact come about because of societal norms, thus they
> are not necessarily what G-d really wants for all time.

The problem with claiming that these roles came about through societal
norms is that it ignores the evidence of the Torah. Chazal built
halachot (in all areas) upon systems legislated by the Torah, and it
is clear that by looking only at the text of the Torah, one sees legal
distinctions between the sexes. Is the next step to argue these legal
distinctions are due to societal norms as well?

> Again, falling back on "men and women have different roles, therefore..."
> (in this case, "they feel things differently") just leads to a pack of
> troubles, such as what to do about a man who prefers to pray privately and
> what to do about a woman who prefers to attend shul regularly. As the
> halakha stands, these ARE options, and people don't need to feel that
> there is something wrong with them because they don't fit some role.

While I say "kol hakavod" ["all due respect", "congratulations" - Ed.]
to any women who wishes to attend shul regularly, I do not, can not,
say the same thing to a man who chooses to daven privately. I cannot
say "I daven with more kavanah [intention, devotion - Ed.] at home
than with a minyan, therefore I will daven at home." In this case, the
halachah simply expects different things from men and women with
regard to communal prayer. I say this not to minimize the kium
[fulfillment - Ed.] involved in a woman davening b'tzibur, but only to
emphasize that, as far as communal prayer goes, there is a definite
halachic difference between men and women in the level of obligation.
Insisting otherwise does not change this. I suggested that the *fact*
of this halachic difference, together with chazal's dictate that
Jewish women be modest (and I'll drop the reference to "home" from my
proposal), perhaps indicates what might be appropriate and
innappropriate forms of women's spiritual expression.

Eitan Fiorino


From: <litwin@...> (Todd Litwin)
Date: Sat, 7 Aug 93 16:41:02 -0400
Subject: Suggestions for Jewish Fiction??

Probably the best book that I've read in this category is Milton
Steinberg's "As a Driven Leaf." It takes a fictional look at Elisha ben
Abuya, who is mentioned a few times in the Talmud, was a contemporary of
Rabbi Akiva, and is thought to have become an apostate from Judaism.
Steinberg, by his own admission, takes plenty of liberties with our
understanding of Elisha, but manages to build a compelling story. I
highly recommend it.

	Todd Litwin


From: hillelm%<dublin@...> (Hillel A. Meyers)
Date: Fri, 6 Aug 93 10:11:14 -0400
Subject: Sunrise/Sunset

> Can anyone suggest a place where we might find out how the halachic
> times differ from the astronomical times, and how this difference can
> be computed?

    One of the most complete books in English dealing with Halachic
Times is a book entitled "Jewish Chrononomy" by Leo Levi. It was
written in the '60 and has been out of print. Professor Levi recently
wrote another book I believe called Halachic Times that is a revision
to his previous work. I believe he is on the staff at Machon Lev and
you could reach him there.

    On the comic side, why is it that even though we have such a
strong halachic mesora that deals with calendars and time that there
is still a concept of "Jewish Time".



From: Allen Elias <100274.346@...>
Date: 06 Aug 93 10:01:12 EDT
Subject: Tanach in Yeshivas

In mail-jewish (Vol. 8, No. 61), Sam Goldish writes:

> Rabbi Feitman went on to explain how many of the talmidim had
>virtually no grounding in Tanach per se, but that the Tanach they knew
>came from learning the p'sukim cited in Talmud, so that when a posuk
>from Tanach was cited, they would say: "Oh, we learned that in Mesechta
>such-and-such, daf so-and-so."

I do not know how common the practices at Rabbi Feitman's yeshiva are.
All the yeshivas I attended have daily shiurim [lessons - Ed.] in
Tanach. Also most yeshiva students should be familiar with Chumash and
Rashi (shnaim mikra echad targum) [reading the weekly portion, each
verse twice in Hebrew and once in Targum - Ed.] which they review
every week. If you add all the megilas and haftorohs reviewed every
year this would not be a bad minimal level of Tanach knowledge.


From: <mpkramer@...> (Michael P. Kramer)
Date: Fri, 6 Aug 1993 16:42:21 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: Torah as the Tenth

RE: the recent remarks concerning counting the Torah in a minyan.  Is
it related to the minhag of counting a boy of 12 (or is is 12 1/2) in a
minyan, provided he holds a chumash?  Any comments on sources and/or
variations will be welcome.

Michael P. Kramer
UC Davis  


End of Volume 8 Issue 71