Avodah Mailing List

Volume 26: Number 159

Sun, 09 Aug 2009

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Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Message: 1
From: "Jonathan Baker" <jjba...@panix.com>
Date: Thu, 6 Aug 2009 09:56:20 -0400 (EDT)
Re: [Avodah] some halachot of moser

From: Zev Sero <z...@sero.name>
> Daniel Eidensohn wrote:
> > Zev Sero wrote:

> >> Because that's all the Rama says (at the end of se'if 7). 
> >> ... It seems to me just from the Rama's words that this may
> >> be a privilege granted to the victim of an assault, because ein adam
> >> nitpas al tzaaro.

but what is tzaar?  see below.
> > At this point I have presented a number of sources while you keep 
> > responding with "it just seems to me". 
> Because the sources you present are not talking about the same thing
> that the Rama's plain language is talking about.  I'm just taking him
> at his word.  This is what he says, and he doesn't say any more than
> that.  I have *not* claimed that a third party may *not* masser someone
> who has assaulted someone once, but the Rama doesn't say one may, and
> nothing you have presented shows otherwise.

I just read S'if 7, and S'if 12 with the cited Sma.
> >>> *Sema (C.M. 388:30)*:This that the abuser is not reported to the
> >>> secular authorities is only when he is verbally abusive to the
> >>> individual but if he causes financial loss and surely if he beats
> >>> him or causes bodily suffering it is permitted to report him to the
> >>> secular authorities as is stated in the Rema and the Darchei Moshe.

> >> Sorry, you've mistranslated the Sema in several places.  There is
> >> nothing in the Sema about "verbally abusive", or "causes financial
> >> loss".  

> > This is the understanding of the Chasam Sofer (Gittin 7a) and the 
> > Minchas Yitzchok (8:148)- sorry you disagree with them.
> Again, you have simply mistranslated the words.  The Sema's words are
> what they are, and anyone can look at them and see that they are not
> as you have quoted them.   The Chasam Sofer does say this, but not in

Well, I looked in to see what would exorcise two such greats to vehement
opposition, and I gotta say, on my own (weak) reading, you're both right
and you're both wrong.

1) In S'if 7, the Rema does seem to be giving a particular halacha, as
a "yesh omrim," that a victim of physical injury (I don't see any distinction
between singular and habitual injurious behavior, but it does seem to be
physical, rather than emotional/verbal) may go to the secular authorities,
even though the injuring party may suffer greatly at the hands of the 

2) In S'if 12, they are discussing a different case.  The Mechaber seems
to say that if Reuven is moser on Shimon (rather than Reuven being moser
on the community), nobody may moser Reuven in turn.  The Sma narrows the
case considerably, making a diyuk on the Mechaber, who uses the word 

Since tzaar (in terms of nezikin) is something different from
nezek (monetary damage) or rephuah (physical injury), it must be verbal/
emotional abuse (Your mother was a hamster and your father smelled of 
elderberries!).  He relies on the Mechaber's own words in S'if 9 to 
draw that distinction.  It's not nezek begufo (physical) or bemamono
(monetary), it's something else - so it must be emotional abuse.

So the Sma narrows it to: if Reuven was moser Shimon in such a way that
the secular authority only caused emotional damage to Shimon, then nobody
has the right to moser Reuven in turn.

> > Bottom line. You have a concern that there might be a difference
> > between the victim and others. You bring no source to justify this
> > concern
> My source is the Rama himself.  All I have done is quote his exact
> words, and posit a reason for why he *might* mean exactly what he
> says.  To show that he didn't mean it, the burden is on you to show
> him saying the opposite somewhere else.

It does seem to me that the Rema in 7 is talking about a different case
than the Mechaber/Sma in 12.

But there is an exception for the victim in one case, according to the

Let's summarize:

S'if 9 (mechaber):
  it is forbidden to moser Shimon, whether the damage that Shimon
  will suffer is going to be physical, monetary or emotional.

S'if 12 (mechaber as modified by Sma): 
  if Reuven masar the community, the community may moser Reuven.
  if Reuven masar Shimon:
     if Shimon suffered physically or monetarily, others may moser Reuven;
     if Shimon only suffered emotionally, others may not moser Reuven.

S'if 7 Rema at end:
  Some say, if Reuven injured Shimon, Shimon may [as the victim] moser
  Reuven to the authorities, even though Reuven may suffer greatly at 
  the hands of the authorities.

So the Rema's yesh omrim is an execption to the no-mesirah rule in S'if
9, and really has little/nothing to do with the subject matter of S'if
7, which is mostly about getting money back from Reuven which Reuven caused
Shimon to lose through mesirah of Shimon.


  Zev is right in that the Rema provides an exception for the victim of
  physical injury.

  RDE is right in that the Sma talks about emotional vs. monetary vs.
  physical abuse/damage.

  Zev is right in that the Sma is not particularly relevant here, since
  it's talking about permissible revenge-mesirah on someone who has 
  already committed mesirah, either against an individual or the community.

Oddly enough, the Rema provides an exception at the end of 12 which looks 
like it should have been at the end of 7, since it has to do with compensation
for losses because of mesirah.  Maybe the two exceptions somehow got switched?
Perhaps to confuse outsiders who might be reading about mesirah?  That's pure
speculation, though.

Now you can both explain how I'm misreading the whole thing, and the 
carousel will continue to turn...

        name: jon baker              web: http://www.panix.com/~jjbaker
     address: jjba...@panix.com     blog: http://thanbook.blogspot.com

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Message: 2
From: "Rich, Joel" <JR...@sibson.com>
Date: Thu, 6 Aug 2009 12:06:51 -0400
Re: [Avodah] Lecha Dodi


Can anyone supply any information as to how Lecha Dodi became almost
universally adopted a part of the Friday night davening?  Surely there must
have been opposition to this "new innovation" at the time when it was
introduced. Can anyone steer me to some historical sources. or something on
the Internet?

Many thanks in advance.

Yitzchok Levine 

Listen here where R' Kaplan quotes R' Shach as saying it started by R' Alkabetz in one shul (which apparently is allowable) and spread from there?
Joel Rich

Rabbi N Kaplan - Shabbat Davening
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Message: 3
From: Micha Berger <mi...@aishdas.org>
Date: Thu, 6 Aug 2009 12:55:41 -0400
Re: [Avodah] The Gra on Aleinu

On Thu, Aug 06, 2009 at 09:51:48AM -0400, David Riceman wrote:
: RMB made an assertion about WHEN, and it is that I was querying.

I thought I saw the quote from Zechariah at the end of Aleinu in Rashi's
[students'] siddur. BUt now I realize I could only possibly have been
remembering Malkhios. Thanks for picking up on my error.

Tir'u baTov!

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Message: 4
From: Micha Berger <mi...@aishdas.org>
Date: Thu, 6 Aug 2009 16:32:03 -0400
Re: [Avodah] AhS and A Tale of Two Humros

On Wed, Aug 05, 2009 at 10:03:40PM +0000, rabbirichwol...@gmail.com wrote:
: In YD 89:11 AhS seems to accept the premise of the Rema...
: Q: Mah nafshach! Siman 89 has many humros and gzeiros not found in
: the Talmud! Why pick on this one?

I don't know what was done in Litta. Does the assumption that the AhS's
mission to give pesaq as practiced in Litta, with the lomdus that
justifies it satisfy your question? It could simply be that lemaaseh,
this one chumrah didn't take hold in Litvish practice, but the rest of
the list did.

Tir'u baTov!

Micha Berger             Strength does not come from winning. Your
mi...@aishdas.org        struggles develop your strength When you go
http://www.aishdas.org   through hardship and decide not to surrender,
Fax: (270) 514-1507      that is strength.        - Arnold Schwarzenegger

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Message: 5
From: David Riceman <drice...@att.net>
Date: Thu, 06 Aug 2009 14:07:48 -0400
Re: [Avodah] Lecha Dodi

Prof. Levine wrote:
>> Can anyone supply any information as to how Lecha Dodi became almost 
>> universally adopted a part of the Friday night davening?  Surely 
>> there must have been opposition to this "new innovation" at the time 
>> when it was introduced. Can anyone steer me to some historical 
>> sources. or something on the Internet?
Try Professor Reuven Kimmelman's book "Lcha Dodi V'Kabbalat Shabbat".

David Riceman

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Message: 6
From: rabbirichwol...@gmail.com
Date: Thu, 6 Aug 2009 18:34:34 +0000
Re: [Avodah] Lecha Dodi

FWIW Lecha Dodi (actually Qabbalas Shabbos) was resisted in Frankfort
for a long time!

The WHY:
I can think of 2
    1- Frankfort resisted changes in general
    2- A lot of "Lurianic" liturgy was resisted

Ironically! The Hedienheim Machzorim have the, entire unabridged Qabbalas
Shabbos on YT,
 Chol hamoed, and
  motza-ei YT
(only bameh madliqin is omitted)

Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

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Message: 7
From: rabbirichwol...@gmail.com
Date: Thu, 6 Aug 2009 19:05:20 +0000
[Avodah] Halachah, Mussar, Qabbalah

This title could trigger an entire book!

My objections to some halacha sefarim is that some have blurred/conflated
halachah with mussar (EG Mishna Brurah) and/or with Qabbalah (EG Ben
Ish Chai)

This in no way means that Mussar and Qabbalah have no value! Aderabbah,
they represent to me the Drash And Sod of Pardes! They are vital for
a holistic Judaism

In the Bavli Halachah and Aggadah is dispersed. However the Yerushalmi
has little Agaddah. I once suggested to R. E. Kanarfogel that Midrash
Rabbah might be the Yerushalmi's "missing Aggadah" in a sense.

So my objection of inserting mussar/qabbalah into Halacha is about
blurred distinctions and conflations. Not about being illegitimate

I once posted "but this is ONLY al pi Midrash". That was a bit careless
of me. What I SHOULD have posted would have been Rashi-like "zehu
midrasho, aval peshuto..."

To my mind Halacha should be more scientifically based - but for hanhagga
(lema'aseh) a mix is good.

I hold on Shabbos it is OK to brew tea in kli shlishi, but I make sense
anyway (so about once a week I make sense! :-)

Plus for hashqafic purposes, Midrash and Mussar is vital.

Under Micha's influence I started learning Tanna devei Eliyahu. I also
started Hovos Levavos partially due to Micha and also due to the influence
of another Rav.

Warning: a Halachic person devoid of any system of religious machshava
could-would C"v lead into "naval birshus Hattorah land". Thus
The recent arrests in NJ -imho - highlight the shortcomings of "head
learning" w/o heart feeling

Also note that
Even though RYDS was not a "ba'al-mussar" in the RYS sense, he was a
Ba'al Machshava and went way beyond the letter of the law.


I suspect that others are not so makpid on these Halachah-mussar
boundaries, that - Bavli-like - the melange is a good thing. I think
it may lead to "undisciplined" pesaq.

Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

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Message: 8
From: "Daniel Israel" <d...@hushmail.com>
Date: Thu, 06 Aug 2009 14:28:34 -0600
Re: [Avodah] Kohen Gadol

On Wed, 05 Aug 2009 22:49:54 -0600 T6...@aol.com wrote:
>  Most likely it never 
>happened, ever in history (like the ben sorrer umoreh), and the 
halacha is  
>actually a lesson to the rest of us about the great importance of 
making sure  
>that a Jew is never left unburied, even in extreme circumstances, 
if there is  
>any possible way to bury him.

Tangential nitpick that doesn't effect your primary point:

The opinion in the Gemara regarding the ben sorer umoreh appears to 
be making an onological claim, namely, that it is intrinsically 
impossible for such a case to happen.  (As I recall there is 
another man d'amar that claims that he actually witnessed such a 

Your case of the meis mitzvah for a Kohen Gadol is highly 
improbable, to the point that your claim it probably never happened 
is reasonably, but there is not intrinsic reason it couldn't 
happen.  The halacha here is not a lesson about something else, we 
actually need to know this halacha in case the case ever does 
occur.  The Gemara is full of cases that are highly unlikely, but 
perfectly possible.  The reason ben sorer umoreh is singled out is 
because of the claim that it actually _can't_ happen.

Daniel M. Israel

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Message: 9
From: Zev Sero <z...@sero.name>
Date: Thu, 06 Aug 2009 09:56:14 -0400
Re: [Avodah] some halachot of moser

Micha Berger wrote:
> On Thu, Aug 06, 2009 at 02:52:38AM -0400, Zev Sero wrote:
> : >Because RYM Epstein is known to do it with "transparent design", as RRW
> :>put it. If it's not patently obvious, then the AhS meant it.
> : Nu, so why do you assume he's not obvious here?  It's certainly obvious
> : to me.
> Because, as is evidenced by the Chasam Sofer and the Minchas Yitzchaq,
> what he wrote is not far from plausible.

What have they got to do with it?   They do not address the AhS's
point (that the whole din of moser doesn't apply nowadays) at all.
Let's stick to the point: you claim that this pronouncement of the
AHS is different from his other ones in the same vein, because it's
not obviously apologetic and over the top.  I ask you what makes you
find this statement more plausible than his similar statements
that you *admit* are apologetic and not meant to be taken seriously.
How is this statement *less* transparent and over the top than those?

> You're the only one named
> in this thread who finds the pesaq in the SM"A differently, or their
> conclusion illogical.

What has the AhS got to do with the SMA?

> Which is why you're getting repeatedly hit for making bald assertions
> about halakhah that don't fit the sources.

On the contrary, I'm the only one sticking exactly to the sources,
and not mistranslating and misquoting.

Zev Sero                      The trouble with socialism is that you
z...@sero.name                 eventually run out of other people?s money
                                                    - Margaret Thatcher

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Message: 10
From: Zev Sero <z...@sero.name>
Date: Thu, 06 Aug 2009 17:58:54 -0400
Re: [Avodah] Kohen Gadol

Daniel Israel wrote:

> The opinion in the Gemara regarding the ben sorer umoreh appears to 
> be making an onological claim, namely, that it is intrinsically 
> impossible for such a case to happen.  (As I recall there is 
> another man d'amar that claims that he actually witnessed such a 
> case.)

There's nothing inherently impossible about the requirements being
fulfilled, and the gemara doesn't claim that they can't be, just
that they're extremely unlikely -- just like this case.

Zev Sero                      The trouble with socialism is that you
z...@sero.name                 eventually run out of other people?s money
                                                     - Margaret Thatcher

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Message: 11
From: rabbirichwol...@gmail.com
Date: Thu, 6 Aug 2009 21:58:33 +0000
Re: [Avodah] Kohen Gadol

Plz post if you wish:

"Your case of the meis mitzvah for a Kohen Gadol is highly 
improbable, to the point that your claim it probably never happened 
is reasonably, but there is not intrinsic reason it couldn't 
happen.  The halacha here is not a lesson about something else, we 
actually need to know this halacha in case the case ever does 
occur. "

Od quibble :-)

While The case of a cohen gadol and MM is highly remote since
The kohen gadol was somewhat tethered to the miqdash.

However, the case of nazir and MM is very plausible.


Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

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Message: 12
From: Yitzchok Levine <Larry.Lev...@stevens.edu>
Date: Thu, 06 Aug 2009 17:59:14 -0400
[Avodah] RSRH on Devarim 8:3 - a Message for our Times?

The following is from the new translation of 
RSRH's commentary on Chumash.  As I read it, I 
could help but think of the Chillul HaShem that has occurred recently. YL

Devarim 8:3  He had you live in want; He let you 
go hungry, and then He fed you with the manna 
which you did not know and your fathers did not
know, in order to teach you that not on bread 
alone can man live; rather, man can live on 
anything that comes from the mouth of God.

Bread is the joint product of nature and of the intelligence with
which man masters the world. Thus, bread represents the intelligence by
which man, through social cooperation, produces the means of his existence.

But it would be erroneous to believe that this creative human power
is the sole requirement for man?s existence on earth. The prime factor in
man?s sustenance is God?s providence; His generous care is evident in
every morsel of bread with which we sustain yet another moment of our
existence. To forget this would mean to fall prey to a most dangerous
delusion on which our devotion to duty would founder. The concern to
provide for one?s wife and children is in itself such a legitimate motive
for our activities that it could easily cause us to lose sight of all other
considerations, once we persuade ourselves that we and only we ourselves
can provide our own sustenance and that of our dependents. We could
then persuade ourselves that any gain wrested from nature and from our
fellow men will assure our sustenance and that of our dependents regardless
of the means we employ for this purpose. If this is our attitude, then
we will not care whether, in so doing, we observe God?s commandments,
earning our daily bread only by means within the limits shown us by
God, or whether we obtain our sustenance by skillful manipulation without
considering whether God would approve of our methods.

Even if the notion that we can look to human power alone for our
daily bread will not cause us to stray from the 
paths of duty and righteousness,
it may well lead our thoughts beyond the necessities of the immediate
present, further and further into the remote future, so that we
will come to think that we have not done our duty unless we have assured
the means not only for own future but also for the future of our children
and grandchildren. As a result, the concern for breadwinning will become
an endless race, leaving us neither time nor energy for purely spiritual
and moral concerns.

That is why God led us for forty years in the wilderness. There, in the
absence of all the factors that normally enable man to win his bread
through a combination of natural resources and human energy, He
brought out in sharp relief the one factor which under normal circumstances
is only too easily ignored. Instead of nourishing us with the bread
that bears the stamp of human achievement, He fed us with the manna
allotted by God alone, and He had it come to us day after day, to every soul
in our humble dwellings, in a manner that clearly demonstrated God?s
personal care for every soul, both great and small. Hence, in this course
of preparatory training for our future life, we learned the following basic
truth: Human existence does not depend on bread alone ? i.e., on the
natural and human resources represented by bread. Rather, man can live
by anything that God ordains. Even the bread that he obtains by his own
skill is ordained by God. Therefore, man is not lost if, for the sake of his
allegiance to God, he is compelled to forgo all that can be obtained from
human and natural resources; indeed, man must know that even in the
midst of plenty derived from the resources of man and nature, he still owes
his sustenance solely to God?s special care. (See Commentary, Shemos 16.) 
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Message: 13
From: Ken Bloom <kbl...@gmail.com>
Date: Fri, 07 Aug 2009 10:23:49 -0500
Re: [Avodah] Tzeni'us and gender roles

I marked up your email for my linguistic research (mostly for my own
consumption, but a couple of example sentences may find their way into a
paper I'm writing) because I found it interesting, and also it raised
some issues about the linguistic structure of argumentative text that
the other texts I've been using didn't touch.

Since I have had your email staring me in the face for a week now, I
feel like I should weigh in on the discussion.

On Sun, 2009-07-26 at 23:57 +0100, Chana Luntz wrote:
> > But these are other women for whom we should be asking the very same
> > question. Are we supposed to be reengaging them on these terms, or are
> > they compromised terms? To assume the former is to presuppose the
> > conclusion.
> Yes.  So I will ask you the question - Does/should aseh l'cha rav apply to a
> woman?  
> I think it important to say that I don't think it ever has, historically.
> Before puberty, girls were under the jurisdiction of their fathers, who may
> have had their own rav, but the girl had no particular relationship with
> him. Around puberty she married, and generally had relatively limited
> contact with her husband's rav, to whom the family shialas would be asked,
> via her husband. There may have been some role modelling, via her mother, or
> possibly via other women of the community, but a woman would almost never
> have a direct relationship with a rav, in the aseh l'cha rav sense, unless
> her father or her husband (or both) happened to be a rav.  In fact, having
> anything approaching a real relationship with a rav, in the aseh l'cha rav
> sense, outside of these two situations, would probably have been regarded as
> being a  breach of tznius (in the opposite of pritzus sense).
> We now have a situation where many women, probably most women in the Modern
> Orthodox community, grow up and leave home - often around seventeen
> eighteen, and then don't get married until - well often late twenties to
> thirties.  Even before they leave home, they are not necessarily comfortable
> with channelling any shialas they have through their fathers.

[SNIP a really insightful discussion about girls having crushes on their
high school rebbes.]

> So, given your mussar stance, what do you advise a woman to do?
> - not engage with a rav (and perhaps put on a shelf one's yiddishkeit until
> mr right comes along and makes it all right again)?
> - try and engage with a rav who is liable to come with problematic emotional
> baggage because of the natural dynamic between men and women?
> - try and find a female role model?

You raise some very cogent points about a woman's relationship with a
rav, and I thank you for the insight. I'm going to suggest that the
third option is best (having a female role model), but discuss how this
relates to Mahara"ts further down.

> As you say:
> > Which path costs us more? Do we lose more by not even trying 
> > to preserve the value of tzni'us, particularly among women who are not
> given as
> > many reasons to violate it? Or do we lose more because there is simply
> > no way to produce a society of female professionals (or women who have
> > such among their friends and role models) who can be kol 
> > qevudah at home?
> But it is not just the society of female professionals.  I knew many many
> secretaries and primary/nursery school and similar teachers who found
> themselves in precisely this bind because they had not yet managed to find
> Mr Right.  And they were dating throughout their twenties and thirties and
> going nowhere in terms of yiddishkeit (IMHO)
> Now, I agree, if your parents arrange shidduchim for you during your year
> post high school, then chances are you go straight from your seminary crush
> to your husband and his rav.  
> > That could very well be. Part of my lack of MO-ness is that I 
> > feel such a community needs correcting, not accomodating. My whole
> take-off on
> > RHS's theme is to justify that conclusion.
> And how do you think best fix this one?  Are you going to push for women to
> get married earlier?  Are you comfortable with the shidduch scene as it
> presents itself in the non MO world?  I confess to my mind it strikes me as
> one of the strongest reasons to be MO - it sounds absolutely and
> unbelievably horrible from beginning to end, and I am so glad that my
> encounters with it were brief and not fundamental to my existence.  And I
> would have thought it was the sort of thing that would have somebody with
> musar bent of mind absolutely fulminating - because there is a level of
> personal degradation that goes on in that process that would seem to run
> completely counter to everything the mussar movement stood and stands for.
> Are you for correcting or accomodating?  

As someone who's been dealing with it for several years now, the
shidduch system is absolutely horrifying. The word shadchan is also
hebrew for stapler, and sometimes I think being physically stapled to
your marriage partner would be a lot less painful than working with a

That said, there are lots of ways to make it less painful without
throwing the whole thing out and leaving people to their own devices.
Training shadchanim to do proper followup, training people to proper
reference checking, how to recognize important issues and unimportant
issues, having rules about how many dates you have to go on before you
can reject someone for stupid reasons. The shadchanim I have to deal
with know lots of girls, but are absolutely horrible at getting people
to look fairly at each other, and smoothing issues that may arise in the
dating process. (I'll vent a long list of issues on Areivim at some
later time.)

I'm a lot better off with the shidduch system than I'd be if I were left
to my own devices, but there are plenty of simple ways that it can be
made better.

> But on the other hand, it does a much better job at getting far more women
> (and men) married off at a much earlier age than the MO method - so if that
> is your goal, then presumably it works (despite the casualties).

If there's one issue in the frum world that's very common (almost
universal, I'm told), but almost universally swept under the rug (much
more so than issues of abuse, etc...) it's shemirat haberit. Anyone who
downplays this issue is deluding themselves. And from that respect,
getting people (particularly men) married earlier is a very important
goal, and we should rearrange a lot of other assumptions we have about
the lifecycle process in this modern world in order to deal with it.

For example, a modern community that teaches secular studies in high
school might construct some kind of vocational program in high school so
that their graduates might find a job parnasah when they graduate. Or YU
and Stern might arrange their course of studies so that people can have
jobs and families at the same time. (Lots of students have jobs at the
same time even in secular colleges so this should not be a big issue.) 

> OK - so lets go from the general to the specific.  I agree that this reality
> of women spending decades on their own is, in MO circles, taken as a given.
> And indeed, it is unquestionably a product of modernity - absolutely never
> happened before the modern era, except for the very few.
> If you do the cheshbon nefesh, what is your view on whether this particular
> societal change is mutar (in the halachic sense)?
> So what is your view - is this aspect of modernity something that needs
> correcting (perhaps towards these communities who tend to marry at 16) or
> something that needs accommodating?

See above.

> The model that has been offered to the world, at least at the present time,
> is of Rav Weiss as the senior rav, and of Sarah Hurwitz as functioning under
> him - or at most along side him.   That seems to be OK to R' Weiss, and it
> seems to be OK to the kehilla.  Would the kehilla be keen to employ her as
> the sole leader of the community?  I don't know.

Here's where I think the issue is. I think R' Weiss is being
disingenuous about how he presents this. He wants to create a woman who
can be the sole leader of a community, and he's not doing it because he
thinks that people can improve their halachic observance that way. 
AISI, R' Weiss wants to build a female pulpit rabbi so that he can show
the world we have gender equality. His constituency is so enamored with
the idea of gender equality that they're willing to pay for this.

> Now this is in itself interesting.  You seem quite open to the reality that
> shialas are being asked and answered by women.  RTK admitted that she does
> it all the time.  She is not the only one who gets put in this position.
> The difference between me, and I think, a lot of other women, is that I tend
> to feel I am woefully inadequate to answer a lot of these shialas (I would
> never put my head above a parapet about whether an individual should
> postpone surgery or not, for example) - especially since (here we go back to
> the beginning) -  I don't have a good relationship with a rav directly, and
> the one set of questions I *really* can't ask my husband's rav via my
> husband, relate to shialas that women try and ask me, especially when they
> ask me because they do not want to go to a rav, for one reason or another.  
> But basically it seems to be that we are comfortable with the current
> arrangement, where women tend not to have relationships with rabbaim
> directly, where they tend to ask other women, but the women they ask tend
> not to have anything like the training one would give as part of a basic
> smicha programme, - well just in terms of the complexity of it all.  And we
> mix up people like Nechama Leibovitz - who were wonderful tanach teachers,
> but were not known for knowing an awful lot about halacha, and Rn Jungreis,
> - a great mussarist etc, but ditto - none of whom have cut their teeth on
> yoreh deah and orech chaim - and we think this lack of quality control is
> just fine and dandy (or we keep telling the askers to go off and ask a rav,
> which they won't- but maybe we should have some thundering from the pulpit
> on this - except that they don't come to shul in time to hear the thundering
> from the pulpit, not being very engaged by shul in the first place).  And
> the people asking the questions don't have the knowledge to know the
> difference (believe me, they don't).  And you end up being faced with either
> letting them muddle through on their level of knowledge of, eg hilchos
> shabbas (which can be woeful), or your knowledge of hilchos shabbas (neither
> of which is anything like near the level one ought to have to posken but in
> the land of the blind etc etc).

We've conflated a lot of roles in to the title of Rabbi: someone who
does kiruv, someone who teaches in schools, someone who speaks from a
pulipt, someone who presides at lifecycle events, someone who writes
STA"M, someone who does hashgacha at giant food plants, someone who
gives good mussar and chizuk, someone who answers simple she'elot,
someone who answers complicated she'elot that haven't been answered
before. And these she'elot come in several different areas of halacha:
Orach Chayim, Yoreh Deah (Kashrut), Niddah, Dinei Mamonot.

If you look at R' Michael Broyde's article in the Jewish press
(http://www.jewishpress.com/pageroute.do/40150/) he points out something
very interesting "In England, different members of the clergy (not all
of whom even have semicha) go by distinctly different titles, reflecting
different roles: reverend, minister, rabbi, and dayan; maybe that is a
fine idea worth importing to America." I agree, even if we aren't adding
women to the mix, that clarifying people's expertise through their
titles would help people to know the right address for a particular

(Of course, alternatively the issue is with the proliferation of rabbis
-- we've cheapened the role and watered down the education -- and what
we really want in a rabbi is to have someone who's learned for a lot
longer and has both the breadth and depth of learning to really
versatile and fill many of these roles. In that case, getting semicha
should be a lot more than answering questions on the Shach and the Taz
on Yoreh Deah.)

Adding women to the mix, creating training for women so they can "answer
simple she'elot in area X of halacha" probably would help with this
problem. We've done it with niddah, and we call them Yoatzot. From what
I hear on Avodah/Areivim, it goes a long way towards improving halachic
observence, and it sounds like it's working well. If you do that, then
people can recognize R"n Jungreis and Nechama Leibowitz for their
strengths, and not for all-around halachic expertise.

> No idea whether maharats will help deal with this mess - and whether they
> should

They probably won't deal with this mess, because they're trying to solve
the wrong problem.


Go to top.

Message: 14
From: Yitzchok Levine <Larry.Lev...@stevens.edu>
Date: Sun, 09 Aug 2009 06:33:07 -0400
[Avodah] A Key to the System of Birkas HaMitzvos

Rabbi Samson Rafael Hirsch gives some brilliant insights into Birkas 
HaMazon and brochos in general in his commentary on

Devarim 8:10   When you eat and are satisfied, then bless God, your 
God, for the good land that He has given you.

Rav Hirsch concludes his commentary on this Pasuk by writing, "We 
believe that we have thus found a key to the system of Birkas HaMitzvos."

I have posted this commentary at 

Yitzchok Levine 
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