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Volume 02 : Number 001

Tuesday, September 22 1998

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Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Date: Sun, 20 Sep 1998 01:16:55 +0100
From: Chana/Heather Luntz <Chana/Heather@luntz.demon.co.uk>
Re: Women/serara/psak

I have been having some problems posting to the list (which I think,
with the Help of Micha, we have managed to solve), but in the meantime
some of my postings, although they were sent to my correspondant
privately, have kept bouncing.

So although these relate to very old discussions, I thought I would
resend them anyway.

Kasiva v'chasima tova


In message , Avraham (avi) and pnina parnes <avparnes@internet-
zahav.net> writes
>I think that proof for Micha's idea about psak and svara being dependent
>on how a person is approached , can  be found in the sugya of moreh
>halacha befnay rabbo. the Gemara in Eruvin 62b says that Rav Chisda
>would not answer about beyata becutcha while rav Huna was alive.
>Obviously this falls under the category of not being a problem at all
>but Rav Chisda still would not answer it because of horaah - he was
>asked as a competent posek/ Had he been asked as a friend who has more
>knowledge he might have answered.

My understanding of this sugya turns rather on kavod rav than on any
issue of serara (I think this is made clear by the fact that when it was
a case of a potential issur being done, kavod rav was not permitted to
stand in the way of acting).  eg by poskening in front of one's rav, one
might be thought to be implying that the rav does not know the answer,
thus lessening his kavod. 

In any event, I am surprised to see the concept of serara being extended
to women's authority over other women, as I have never heard it cited in
that context.  Besides the fact that there have been leaders of women
all the way back to Miryam haneviya - the entire beis yakov system would
seem to be in trouble if serara was a problem between woman and woman.

After all, I have never had anybody exercise as much authority over me
(bar my parents) as my teachers did at school (albeit as leaders of tens
or twenties or at most hundreds).  They had the power of detention, of
extra homework and a range of other punishments at their disposal and
regulated a whole host of matters (what i wore (the uniform), when I
could eat etc etc).  If women could not exercise authority over other
women, then all the teachers, vice principals and principals of beis
yaakov etc high schools (ie schools in which there are post bas mitzvah
girls) would surely have to be men?

But I doubt that anybody has suggested the halacha as per the Rambam
stretches so far. By analogy to the situation with gerim (who are
permitted to judge other gerim - see eg Shulchan Aruch Choshen mishpat
7:1), I would have thought that the problem of a woman being put in a
position of authority as per the Rambam only applied where some of those
over which she would have authority are men. 

In relation to the wider question of poskening and acceptance by the
people - to elaborate a bit on what has previously been mentioned
regarding psak and authority - the issue is discussed by a number of
Rishonim in the context of Shavuos 29b-30a and Nida 49b-50a.

The issue there is the statement that all who are kosher to give eidus
are kosher to judge - and the problem being that women are not kosher to
give eidus, and hence they are posul to judge (the yerushalmi brings
this explicitly, see Shavuos there).  So how do we explain the fact that
the tanach says that Devorah "shofta es Yisroel".

I would divide the reasons given by the Rishonim into three distinct

a) she didn't in fact judge, but taught the judges the halacha (ie
poskened for them) and they did the judging.  The problem with this
formulation is of course it is not true to the language of the tanach, -
if that is what she did, then why does it use the term shofta
(especially if we are, by using the term, implying that she was
performing an issur).  However this is the first answer given in Tosphos
in Shavuos (as well as the first in Gitten 88b and Baba Kama 16a) and
the second given in Nida. The Tur also gives this explanation (see
Choshen Mishpat 7);

b) al pi hadibur shani.  (This lashon may come from the Yerushalmi in
yoma, I have been unable to find the relevant passage).  Tosphos refer
to this as the second answer in Nida (she judged al pi hadibur).
However, since this answer assumes that what she did was halachically
assur, and given the klal that a Navi is forbidden to do something that
is halachically assur unless it is a horaas sha'a (see eg megila 2b,
Sanhedrin 90a, Yevamos 90b, Rambam Yesodei Hatorah perek 9) we would
have to assume that it was horaas sha'a (similar to the view expressed
by Rav Moshe regarding Shmaya and Avitalyon).  What is more, if you
follow the formulation of the Rambam a Navi is only permitted to uproot
something from the Torah (like Eliyahu on har carmel) if he or she makes
it clear that the permanent halacha stands, but that for this time
something is being uprooted (this is clearly necessary as the trademark
of a navi sheker is one who tells the people to transgress the halacha).
Given that Devorah is known to have been a true naviah, we would expect
to find such a formulation referred to somewhere (certainly by chazal,
in the way they made it clear in relation to Elyahu and har carmel). 

c) mekablim osah alehem.  There are different versions of this, (with
possibly different halachic consequences).

Tosphos uses the lashon above, although qualifies it with "mipnei
hashechina" - ie the people accepted her upon them because of the
shechina (see eg Shavuos).  What is not totally clear from this
formulation is whether this is a form of al pi dibur shani (ie maybe the
fact of the Shechina's presence meant that the usual halacha was
waived), or alternatively that it is halachically mutar in this form,
and the reference to the shechina is merely to explain what prompted the
people to do accept her.

Perhaps the more interesting versions of this type of reason is given in
the Rashba and the Ramban.

The Rashba writes (on daf 30 in Shevuos) after discussing the fact that
women cannot judge; and then asking the question about Devorah - it is
possible to say that she did not mamash judge rather she conducted
herself like a judge that judges Israel, and even though it says in the
Sifre you shall appoint for yourself a king and not a queen, there she
was not appointed, rather they acted like din malka, and they acted
according to her word, or possibly she was a judge and judged and they
accepted her in the way that a person can accept one of his relatives [
this is clearly a reference to the Mishna in Sanhedrin (24a) which
allows litigants to chose a judge that would otherwise be possel (eg a
close relative) if they both agree (in English law we would call this

Not dissimilarly the Ramban writes on the same daf in Shevuos: the
explanation (for she judged yisroel) is that they acted (nohagin) one
with the other according to her words and advice k'din malka, even
though it says in the Sifre appoint for yourself a king and not a queen
nohagin hayu ba k'din malka or ei nami  mekablin hayu divreiha

It is not clear to me whether the Ramban is, in his last formulation,
also refering to the halacha in Sanhedrin, or is referring to a wider
version of the same concept.

Some of these formulations have been cited in connection with the
situation in Israel eg vis a vis Golda Meir.  In some ways an elected
prime minister is relatively easy to fit within the above, in that the
people have clearly spoken in "accepting her upon them", and, as she
remains subject to further elections and being thrown out at the whim of
the people, the argument that she is merely a servant, and not a master
is easier to justify. Female Supreme Court justices (of which there are
a number) are somewhat harder, but again the argument is advanced that
the people have accepted them upon them, as part of the general system
(of course, not everybody accepts this, - although in recent years it
has become a not uncommon sight for petitions to be launched by the
charedi/dati portions of society to the Supreme Court - eg over Bar Ilan
street, with the knowledge that some of the judges will be female - of
course, in those cases, especially where it is the charedi community
launching the action, one can argue that it is a specific request for

Interestingly though, this argument that the real master in modern
societies is "we the people", leads directly to one of the most
fascinating (IMHO) halachic issues of recent times - that is, the
halachic permissability of women voting.  Especially if you see the
people as the real masters, and the elected functionaries as the
servants, then some of the arguments against women voting appear more
cogent.  What makes the issue about women voting particularly
interesting is the fact that just about all the charedi gedolim, and
additionally Rav Kook, came out very strongly against it at the
beginning of the State.  Thus those frum women who do in fact vote are
forced to rely on the positions of people such as Rav Uzziel (Sephardi,
not usually cited as an authority for Ashkenazi charedim or the dati
leumi) and the Sridei Eish (who was against it on social grounds, but
held that there were no *halachic* objections) (and of course what might
be considered the left wing of the dati leumi camp, Rav Hertzog, Rav
Amiel etc). I have often thought that if Meretz knew something about
halacha they would publicise the "anti vote" teshuvas in the hope of
halving the frum vote.  I don't suppose they would succeed, but I would
be fascinated to know on what basis such an argument would be rejected.



Chana/Heather Luntz

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Date: Sat, 19 Sep 1998 21:40:47 -0500 (CDT)
From: "Shoshanah M. & Yosef G. Bechhofer" <sbechhof@casbah.acns.nwu.edu>
Methodology of Psak/Techeles

Along the lines of the methodology of psak issue, the techeles I wear is
Ra'abd, i.e., onw complete string folded in two. This is mainly because in
researching the issue of wearing techeles I came to the conclusion that
one shoul wear techeles, but then just bought what they sold me, and they
were selling at the time, mostly, Ra'abd techeles.

Since then R' Herschel Schachter has said that Ashkenazim should follow
the RT shitta of two complete strings folded. I was under the imprerssion
that the Radzhiner himslef had paskened like the Ra'abd, but have become
aware that the actual psak he rendered was like the Rambam: half a string. 

Basically, this is a mess that ties into what Chana Luntz just mentioned
about two shittos (or more!) that collide, and also into how we approach
Rishonim - i.e, are we bound geographically to this very day as R'
Schachter contends, or not.

I am hoping someone here has researched the issue, and would appreciate


Yosef Gavriel Bechhofer
Cong. Bais Tefila, 3555 W. Peterson Ave., Chicago, IL, 60659
ygb@aishdas.org, http://www.aishdas.org/baistefila

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Date: Sat, 19 Sep 1998 23:48:29 -0400 (EDT)
From: micha@aishdas.org (Micha Berger)
Re: Methodology of Psak/Techeles

R' YGB writes:
: Since then R' Herschel Schachter has said that Ashkenazim should follow
: the RT shitta of two complete strings folded. I was under the imprerssion
: that the Radzhiner himslef had paskened like the Ra'abd, but have become
: aware that the actual psak he rendered was like the Rambam: half a string.

I wear Rambam set, tied according to the Radziner's adaptation of the Ba'al
HaTanya's method.

My reasoning for following the Rambam are:

1- Although Ashkenazim ought follow the Ba'alei HaTosfos (as R' Herschel
Schachter) says, I already broke my minhag numerous times to follow the Gr"a.
(Actually, as far as I can tell, the Berger minhag for the past four
generations was to follow the shittah we understand, over the one we
inherited. And one thing about minhagei haGra -- they all come with
explanations as to why the Gra chose to rule uniquely.)

The Gaon was convinced that only one string should be blue -- "p'sil
techeiles" is in the singular. He was unsure whether it should be 1 of 4
(Ra'avad) or 1 of 8 (Rambam).

2- Hirsch, in Collected Writings III, explains tzitzis in a very complete way
-- but only if the eighth string is the only blue one.

3- Until R' Heschel Schachter, the Radziner was the only acharon to paskin on
the issue l'halachah.

I tie like the Radziner also for three reasons:

A- It allows one to stay with an already existing minhag for tying tzitzis, in
use with many Chassidim, and still keeps the 7,8,11,13 used by Ashkenazim.
By using the Ba'al HaTanya's definition of chulios (groupings of three,
according to most opinions), minimal damage is done to Ashkenazi custom.

B- I like the parallelism between 7,8,11,13 of the tzitzis, and the groups of
m'lachos of Shabbos. The "arabaim chaseir achat"-ness is reinforced by the 13
groups of three formed by the chulios -- like the makkos.

C- Same as #3, above.


Micha Berger (973) 916-0287    Help free Yehuda Katz, held by Syria 5926 days!
micha@aishdas.org                         (11-Jun-82 - 19-Sep-98)
For a mitzvah is a lamp, and the Torah its light.
http://www.aishdas.org -- Orthodox Judaism: Torah, Avodah, Chessed

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Date: Sun, 20 Sep 1998 13:41:24 +0100
From: Chana/Heather Luntz <Chana/Heather@luntz.demon.co.uk>
Re: Aloi ReGel

This post raises a couple of questions that have been bothering me for
quite a long time (or at least since we did Nida with the last cycle of
the daf yomi) - I am hoping that the current daf yomi masechta,
pesachim,will help me with these, but I haven't found any answers yet
(to explain, I started with Baba Metzia in the last cycle, so have been
through Zvachim, Menachos and Nida without having been through

In message , Mendel <Moled@compuserve.com> writes
>Thanks for mentioning the point about Simcha - eating the Korbon Shalomim. 
>That woman or man have the Mitzvah of women eating Shalomim in the Bais
>I have a few problems with this;
>        1) Does this mean that the whole family including nursing mothers
>went to Yerushaliem for all the Yomim Tovim?
>        2) If there is a Mitzvah of eating Shalomim every day in the Bais
>Hamikdosh the men will have to separate from their wives in order not to
>have a problem of Tavul Yom, for the whole Yom Tov.
>        3) What Simcha is there only eating meat but not being allowed
>normal martial relationships the whole Yom Tov?

I have some even more fundamental questions:

1) How about the Cohen Gadol, who is in the beis hamikdash and eating
korbanas all the time? (I understand if you are talking about a mishmar
of cohanim who come one week a year, so they abstain for a week,  - but
the Cohen Gadol?).  But there is more -  we know that the loshen hora
that Miriam and Aharon spoke about Moshe related to the fact that Moshe
was separated from his wife (in contrast to themselves).  That means
that Aharon *was* with his wife on a regular basis.  Aharon was the
Cohen Gadol in the Beis Hamikdash - how about the t'vul yom problem?  

2) While for men the problem only extends for one day, for women it is
three days after marital relations.  That means that if women are eating
the korban shlamim, then there needs to have been abstenance for three
days before, not just one.

3) Women are also chayav in the korban pesach, and not bringing it is
chayav kares - how about having relations three days before that so you
put yourself in a situation in which you cannot bring it?  It would seem
that the halacha would require that there must be abstenance three days
before that.  

4)But, if you think about it, how many women are actually going to be
bringing the korban pesach in any case?  For unmarried women, even if
you are only keeping to the minimum d'orisa period and then going to
mikvah, one quarter of women are going to be in nida at any given time.
So fine, you say, they bring on Pesach sheni. Well, if you are a woman
with a normal cycle, if you are in nida during Pesach rishon, you are
going to also be in nida on pesach sheni.  Secondly, there is a long
period after the birth of a child when a woman cannot bring and eat
korbanos - large numbers of married women will be within those periods
and therefore cannot offer the korban pesach, not to mention a shlamim
etc.  And thirdly there is the point referred to above that if she is
not in nida, there is the three days period after marital relations.

[As an aside, this is why I have always assumed that the idea of eating
all your chullin as if it was kodesh was a feminist plot to make sure
that men did all the cooking.  After all, a woman cannot keep this
chumra - as she would starve to death one week a month even when single,
and it is even more difficult when married.  I still haven't quite
worked out how the man achieves it if he is married, but a t'vul yom is
a much lower level of tumah than nida or yoledes, so it is probably
manageable.  Still, it unquestionably means that either the man finds
some old crone or pre bas mitzvah girl to cook for him, or he cooks

Now *if* we held that women counted in the tally of whether or not the
majority of people were tameh, then what one would say is that, with
this number of women almost certainly tameh, it would not be difficult
for the majority of people to be tameh, and therefore the korban pesach
(assuming it is a korban tzibbur) could be brought b'tuma, and then
everything would be OK (I am assuming, and I could be wrong about this,
that the tuma referred to in the majority test is wider than tumas
meis).  But my understanding is that we do not posken like Rabbi Yose
and therefore women are not included in this tally.  So assuming the
majority of men are tahor (and if women are keeping what women keep
today, ie two weeks of abstention then close to 50 percent of married
men will not have the problem mentioned above (although there may be
other problems)) you are likely to have just over your majority tahor -
but you may well still have nearly 50% in the position you discuss.

Another pointer to muddy the waters: the gemorra, in discussing the
three day wait at Har Sinai, seems to suggest this was an unusual
occurance, not something that people did as a matter of course every
erev pesach (at least, and maybe every chag).  In addition, I understood
the need to specifically mandate the separation by matan torah so as to
overide the normal onah obligations of the average man.

As I mentioned, I have been hoping for a while that pesachim will
provide some answers, so I may have more to contribute on this topic in
the next couple of months, but at the moment I am quite stuck.

>Kol Tuv

Shana tova

Chana/Heather Luntz

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Date: Tue, 22 Sep 1998 22:29:51 +0100
From: Chana/Heather Luntz <Chana/Heather@luntz.demon.co.uk>
Bracha L'vatala

In message , Daniel Eidensohn <yadmoshe@netmedia.net.il> writes
>Mishna Berura 215 (19) states that Beracha L'vatala applies also to non Hebrew
>names."...if one pronounces the non Hebrew name l'vatala i.e. not in the manner 
>praise and thanksgiving it is also prohibited"
>                             Daniel Eidensohn

I found an interesting discussion that would seem somewhat relevant to
this question centering around Yoreh Deah siman 179 si'if 8.  The issue
here is using the Torah to heal, as a kind of kishuf - and the
prohibition is brought there of spitting on a wound and after that
saying over it psukim from the Torah (and if one does so, one loses
one's chelek in olam haba!).  And the Rema brings " yesh omrim that all
this is only assur when he reads pesukim in lashon hakodesh but in
lashon la'az, not" in the name of Rashi in the name of his Rebbe (the
actual Rashi is Sanhedrin 101a d'h ub'rokek.  The actual Rashi says that
there are people who spit afterwards, and say the pesukim in loshon
la'az, and  say the Shem in loshen la'az and his Rebbe permitted it as
there isn't an issur unless one spits first and says the Shem over the
spit and furthermore it is only assur in loshen kodesh, but in loshen
la'az, not).

Now the Bach in Yoreh Deah there brings this Rashi in surprise, ie how
could Rashi and his Rebbe say such a thing, given that in shabbat 40
with regard to speaking divrei torah in the bathroom Abbaya brings
explicitly that you can speak divrei chol in lashon kodesh there, but
not divrei kodesh in lashon chol, and therefore the Bach holds that what
is assur in loshen kodesh is also assur in loshen chol.

Now the Shach in turn expresses surprise on the Bach - because how could
he push away the opinion of Rashi and his Rebbe with matters that don't
concern this inyan at all, because divrei kodesh deals with the inyan of
kedusha like hora'ah or what d'var torah is assur to say in lashon chol,
but hashem in lashon hakodesh that is a shem but in loshen chol it isn't
a shem at all and behold it is permitted to erase a shem that is written
in loshen chol like "gott" in loshen Ashkenaz or "bog(?)" in loshen
Polin and Russia and similar to this.  [He then goes on to say that one
should be careful about such things in any case where it is possible,
but where it is not possible, it is not possible].

Of course all this does seem to be in contradiction to the idea that one
can be yotzei brochas in loshen la'az (Orech Chaim 306:4) even though
one of the requirements for a brocha is that it have shem and malchus
(Orech Chaim 314:1).  The source for the position in Orech Chaim 306:4 -
apppears to be from Birchas Hamazon (which is explicitly permitted in
the mishna Sotah 32a and from the explanation given in the gemorra in
33a) - see eg the Beis Yosef on Orech Chaim 306 there - and from Brochas
40b.  It is interesting that the Aruch HaShulchan takes the view that
being able to say brochas in loshen chol is only true if one does not
understand lashon kodesh (Orech Chaim 185:1 - he writes on Birchas
Hamazon, but specifically refers you back to this discussion in the
appropriate place regarding brochas (but there is a note that Rashi does
not appear to hold like this, as there, on Sotah 33a, he says "the text
did not fix a loshon")).

I suppose one form of resolution would be something like the brochas
that you find in some English translations which say "Blessed are you "
and then put in the name Hashem as we pronounce it when saying the
brocha in Hebrew- but one doesn't get that impression from the gemorra
in Brochas 40b or the Rambam in Hilchos Brochas perek 1 halacha 6.

But in any event, this would seem mean that the Shach is in
contradiction to the Chai Adam that YGB referred to (without my having
seen the Chay Adam inside).


In message , Moshe Koppel <koppel@netvision.net.il> writes
> Berachah levatalah is compared to shvuas
>shav (Hil. Berachos 1:15) which is assur also with a kinuy (Hil. Shvuos
>2:2). Since God's names in other languages are considered kinuyim (Hil.
>Sanhedrin 26:3), R. Akiva Eiger says that berachah levatalah is assur also
>in other languages. This would also apply to mekalel which is assur with a
>kinuy (Hil. Sanhedrin, ibid.) but not to HSSL (see above) or to saying a
>name of God in the bathroom which is also not assur with a kinuy (Hil.
>Krias Shema, ibid.).

This would also not seem consonent with the view of the Shach.


Don't know how much further that takes us, but I thought it was

Gmar tov


Chana/Heather Luntz

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