Volume 9 Number 26
                       Produced: Mon Sep 20 20:05:58 1993

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Agendas and Halacha
         [Jonathan Baker]
Birth Customs
         [Aliza Berger]
Jewish fiction
         [Benjamin Svetitsky]
Jews in Indiana?
         [Henry Abramson]
Measurements of the Noda bi-yehudah
         [Elhanan Adler]
Moshiach; Why Do We Care?
         [David Clinton]
Perfume in Synagogues
         [Daniel Faigin]
R' Rakeffet's lectures on the Rav
         [Laurel Bauer]
Rogatchaver Gaon
         [Chaim Schild]
Women and agendas
         [Michelle K. Gross]


From: <baker@...> (Jonathan Baker)
Date: Tue, 14 Sep 93 21:19:32 -0400
Subject: Re: Agendas and Halacha

I feel I must take issue with Hayim Hendeles' post regarding the custom
of women not having tefilla groups.

First, it is necessary to draw a distinction between "a custom not to"
and "no custom to".  Where there is a custom not to do something,
certainly Hayim is right, "minhag Yisrael ke-din" (the custom of Israel
is like law).  For example, the custom not to eat kitniyot on Pesach is
tantamount to a law for Ashkenazim.  And these customs are perpetuated
as a heritage from parent to child.

On the other hand, when one becomes a ba'al teshuvah, it is generally
after an interruption (hefsek) in religious observance in hir family.
After such a hefsek, the customs that might have applied in that family,
depending on where they had come from, no longer apply, since a custom
is passed from parent to child, and the person's parents had no such
customs.  In such a case, a person can generally take on any custom
which is recognized as legitimate.  For example, if one became a ba'al
teshuvah, one is not obligated to follow the customs of his ancestors.
One could, perhaps, choose any of the legitimate waiting periods between
meat and dairy (1, 3 or 6 hours), as there was no binding custom to wait
at all in hir family.

Thus, just because there were no women's tefilla groups of the nature of
the Women's Tefillah Network affiliates during the past 2000 years does
not necessarily indicate that there was a custom not to hold such
groups.  It could indicate that there was no custom to hold or not to
hold such groups.

Second, a point which probably negates my entire first argument: there
have been women's communal prayer groups for decades, if not centuries.
Think about women's schools, at any level, from elementary to
post-college.  Do not the women in such schools get together every
morning to daven?  They may not read Torah, but otherwise, they are
public prayer for women.  So there already is a custom for women to get
together to pray.  Perhaps the Torah-reading is a slight variation, but
variations have developed in the nuschaot (orders) of prayers over the
centuries, and who is to say that one or the other is more correct?

	Jonathan Baker


From: <A_BERGER@...> (Aliza Berger)
Date: Mon, 20 Sep 1993 17:03:34 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Birth Customs

>Our format happened to fulfill a number of alternate needs for my wife.
>First, she has a family tradition that the first venture out of the
>house after childbirth should be to hear kiddusha at Shul.  

>Danny Wildman

I heard of something similar for the first time a couple of weeks ago,
when I encountered a woman in shul on a weekday afternoon to whom people
were wishing mazal tov on her new baby.  She told me that it was a
Hungarian or German custom (she wasn't sure which) for a woman not to be 
alone in the house with the new baby until she had heard kedusha. In
fact, she had been getting people to "babysit" her in the meantime.

My version would not imply that the woman has to leave the house - a minyan
could come to her.  In Danny's version, the emphasis is on leaving the
Anyone have more info on the origin of this custom?                    

Aliza Berger


From: Benjamin Svetitsky <bqs@...>
Date: Wed, 15 Sep 93 14:38:06 -0400
Subject: Jewish fiction

There was a hiatus in my m.j. reading, so I may well have missed
messages which may render the following redundant.  But in what I saw
before and after the gap, I am surprised that nobody mentioned _Shmuel
Yosef Agnon_ as a great writer of Jewish fiction.  His writings are full
of love of Torah and of the traditional life.  And they are definitely
great fiction, the Nobel Prize notwithstanding.  If you only read
English, they are worth a try; but if you can read the Hebrew, you must
do so, since his language is taken lock stock and barrel from the
classical literature and is full of understated allusions.

Another great Jewish writer of Jewish fiction is the Italian, Primo
Levi.  I recently read "If Not Now, When?", a novel of the partisans in
Poland during World War II.  Levi, a native of Turin, was an inmate of
Auschwitz, and the Holocaust overshadows his writings; nonetheless, he
offers a wide window on aspects of Jewish life in this century.  I think
Levi is essentially Italian-Jewish in his makeup: He comes from a Jewish
society that is so assimilated, in such a tolerant country, that they
come out of the far end of assimilation into un-self-conscious assertion
of Jewish identity.  I got this image from various book reviews, and
from a charming book called Dialogo, in which Levi interviews the
Italian-Jewish physicist Tullio Regge (also a native of Turin).  Which
brings me to a request for information about Jewish society in Italy --
is it really as I have described?

Ben Svetitsky    temporarily in galut, <bqs@...>


From: Henry Abramson <ABRAMSON@...>
Date: Mon, 20 Sep 93 15:34:17 -0400
Subject: Jews in Indiana?

My wife and I are considering a move to Indiana, specifically Bloomington
or Indianapolis.  We would really appreciate some information on Jewish
life in these towns.  Please reply directly.


Henry Abramson


From: <ELHANAN@...> (Elhanan Adler)
Date: Sun, 19 Sep 93 01:37:10 -0400
Subject: Measurements of the Noda bi-yehudah

In m-j 9/13 I quoted the Hazon Ish as saying:

> *However*, halakhic authorities have the
> authority to standardize these measurements - and having done so,
> whatever they have chosen as being a standard olive, egg or finger width
> is binding.
> Therefore he held by the Noda bi-Yehuda's calculations *le-humrah*
> but never le-kulah.

Frank Silbermann subsequently asked:

>Why is the Hazon Ish's rejection of the lenient standardized measurements
>any less a rejection of the Noda bi-Yehuda's authority to standardize
>than rejection of his stringent measurements?

Over the long holiday weekend (3 days straight is rare in Israel) I had
a chance to recheck my sources - The Hazon Ish does indeed say as quoted,
but the Noda bi-yehudah himself said that his larger shiur was to be used
only le-humrah (practically speaking - he was discussing the minimum amount
of flour in dough to require taking hallah - he states specifically that
one should take hallah from the smaller amount, but say the brakhah only from
his le-humrah measurement - i.e. hallah from about 1.2 kg, brakhah from about
2.25  kg).

The idea of using the larger shiurim only le-humra is therefore that of the
Noda bi-yehudah and the Hazon Ish was simply continuing it - as well as
trying to answer those who felt it was inaccurate.

The idea of taking the more stringent opinion in all directions is,
of course, a much broader topic which I believe has been discussed in
m-j in the past.

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


From: <ai917@...> (David Clinton)
Date: Sun, 19 Sep 93 17:12:00 EDT
Subject: Moshiach; Why Do We Care?

To Andy Goldfinger

>I have not been able to think of any halachic reason why we
>should be able to accurately identify who the Moshiach is.  Yet, I feel
>there must be such a "nafka minah" since the Rambam has taken the
>trouble to give us a "halacha" on which to base the identification.
>Does anyone have an answer to this question?

Well, I can think of one obvious "nafka minah" (consequence):  how else
would the leaders of a generation know if "this" is the real thing?  And
especially according to the Rambam, who's approach to the times of the
Moshiach is so "un-supernatural" (eg. nature will remain largely as it
is today) will it be necessary to find identifying marks.  Since the
coming of Moshiach might not be so obvious - we'll need all the help we
can get.

David Clinton


From: <faigin@...> (Daniel Faigin)
Date: Mon, 20 Sep 93 13:03:22 -0400
Subject: Perfume in Synagogues

My Rabbi, who reads both mail.jewish and mail.liberal-judaism through my
bringing him printed output, has asked me to post the following question:

Is anyone aware of synagogue policies, practices, or halachic precedents
regarding restrictions on the use of perfume in a synagogue? There are many
individuals who have medical sensitivities to perfume, and he would like to
see if there is experience or justification for instituting restrictions.

Thanks in advance for any comments,



From: Laurel Bauer <BAUER@...>
Date: Thu, 09 Sep 1993 18:01:11 -0400
Subject: R' Rakeffet's lectures on the Rav

Mail-Jewish vol8 #38 consists of lectures 2 and 3 in a "series of six lectures 
on The Teachings of Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik" by R' Rakeffet.  I seem to 
have missed the other four lectures - or perhaps they were never posted?  Does 
anyone know?


From: SCHILD%<GAIA@...> (Chaim Schild)
Date: Sun, 19 Sep 93 15:53:30 -0400
Subject: Rogatchaver Gaon


Who was the Rogatchaver Gaon....Rabbi Yosef Rosen ? Lineage ? Teachings ?
Any books in print on him or his teachings ??

Chaim Schild


From: <mgross@...> (Michelle K. Gross)
Date: Tue, 14 Sep 93 20:34:57 -0400
Subject: Re: Women and agendas

Here is some evidence that women's prayer as a group has received
recognition in the past:
	My mother's cousin has her mother's circa 1908 Yiddish/Hebrew prayer 
	book.  The top of each page contains tehunoth (supplications) in 
	Yiddish addressed to the Matriarchs.

Here's some evidence that women's prayer as a group receives recognition today:
	The Lubavitcher Rebbe and his followers have helped women in some
	US cities to start monthly Tehillim (psalms) groups. These receive
	support from the wider Orthodox community.



End of Volume 9 Issue 26