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Volume 28: Number 170

Mon, 22 Aug 2011

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Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Message: 1
From: Esther and Aryeh Frimer <frim...@zahav.net.il>
Date: Sun, 21 Aug 2011 11:31:00 +0300
[Avodah] shelo asani isha continued

In continuation of my previous post, I should note that for radical
feminists, there is much more at stake in this benediction than just its
formulation. Despite the fact, that all Jews share the same level of
kedushat Yisrael (Jewish sanctity), Jewish law, nevertheless, distinguishes
between the obligations of kohanim (priestly clan), leviyim (Levites) and
yisraelim (other Israelites), as well as between males and females. (See:
R. Saul F. Berman, ?The Status of Women in Halakhic Judaism,? Tradition,
14:2 (Fall 1973), pp. 5-29.) This lack of identity between the religious
obligations of men and women leads us to the inescapable conclusion that
Judaism is most definitely not egalitarian. And this is the crux of the

Women?s exemption from mitsvot asei she-ha-zeman gramman?about which there
is no dispute - is derived in the Oral Law (Kiddushin 34a) through the use
of the hermeneutical principles. Maimonides (Commentary to Mishna,
Kiddushin 1:7) posits that this exemption is rooted in ancient oral
tradition. In either case this exemption is deemed to be biblical in
origin. The bottom line, then, is that halakhic Judaism maintains that God
Himself ordained and commanded non-identical roles for men and women. This
clearly does not sit well with many feminists. Indeed, Judith Plaskow
believes that this is ?a profound injustice of the Torah itself in
discriminating between men and women.? (Judith Plaskow, ?The Right Question
is Theological,? in Susannah Heschel, ed., On Being a Jewish Feminist: A
Reader (New York: Schocken, 1995), pp. 231-232; cited by Tamar Ross, note
8, supra, p. 118)

For those whose highest commitment is to halakha, this lack of identity in
religious roles is a resounding rejection of certain basic feminist values.
It suggests that the Torah?s set of priorities is not always consonant with
those of modern day radical feminism. All this comes through loud and clear
in ?she-lo asani isha? and is the fundamental reason that feminists have
battled for a more egalitarian language ? like she-asani yisrael for males
and she-asani yisraelit for females. The latter communicates nothing about
the different levels of mitsva obligations of men and women?which is the
whole purpose, content and intent of the berakha, as is clear from the
Tosefta and the Yerushalmi cited in the previous post. Using a language for
these bendictions that does not emphasize the difference in religious roles
is, to my mind, not only contrary to the intent of Hazal and halakhically
wrong, but also theologically incorrect and misleading.

KT    Aryeh

Prof. Aryeh A. Frimer
Chemistry Dept., Bar-Ilan University
Ramat Gan 52900, ISRAEL
E-mail (office): Aryeh.Fri...@biu.ac.il or Fri...@biu.ac.il

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Message: 2
From: Esther and Aryeh Frimer <frim...@zahav.net.il>
Date: Sun, 21 Aug 2011 09:30:05 +0300
Re: [Avodah] shelo asani isha

Dear R. YGB
    I would like to make it clear that there is no doubt as to the
    authenticity of the text of the benediction she-lo asani isha?since it
    appears thrice in Rabbinic literature: in the Tosefta, the Talmud Bavli
    and the Yerushalmi.[1] Both the Tosefta and the Yerushalmi make it
    clear that the benediction is related strictly to men?s greater
    obligation in commandments. As is well known, women are generally freed
    from mitsvot asei she-ha-zeman gramman (time-determined positive
    commandments), which include, inter alia: sukka, lulav, shofar,
    tefillin and tsitsit.[2] Reams have been written to explain the import
    of these benedictions and why they are in the negative.[3] I would
    like, however, to cite the comments of R. Reuven Margaliyyot,[4] which
    I personally find very satisfying.
?A woman is not punished if she does not fulfill time-determined positive
commandments, and her share in the World to Come is like that of a man.
Hence, there might well be room for a male Jew to think that it might have
been better had he been born a woman, for then he would have been freed
from the yoke of these commandments. Hence, [the Rabbis] established that
each male should make a daily declaration that these mitsvot are not a

A similar approach appears in the writings of the 18th Century Talmudist R. Samuel Eidels (Maharsha) who writes:[5] 

?[A male makes this benediction because the role] of a man and a woman are
each lenient on the one hand and stringent on the other. For if they are
righteous, the reward of the male is greater, because he is commanded in
more mitsvot than a woman. However, if they are not righteous, the man's
punishment is greater than a woman's.

These scholars note that one who has greater obligation has greater
potential for reward, but also for greater possible punishment should he or
she not do as required. Thus, a man who doesn?t put on tefillin or sit in
the Sukka is punished for bittul aseh?for not fulfilling the positive
commandment he was bidden to obey. Hence, the Rabbis ordained that each
day, each of us acknowledge that, mutatis mutandis, the Creator could have
made us a non-Jew, or a slave, or a woman with fewer obligations, but also
fewer risks. Yet, the Almighty chose not to. By reciting the daily identity
berakhot ?sheLo asani goy; sheLo asani aved; sheLo asani isha? each of us
accepts upon ourselves the spiritual/religious role that we have been
given. The ?she-lo? is to be understood as ?Who has not,? a sober
acknowledgement and acceptance of a spiritual role, not a celebrative
?because He has not.? 

	    R. Nissim Alpert suggests a insightful rationale as to why
	    these berakhot are formulated in the negative. Hazal wanted to
	    communicate to us that the Creator only gives us the
	    opportunity - He defines who we are not; it is up to us to
	    define who we are and maximize our positive potential.[6]
	    Interestingly, the same idea appears in the writings of 19th
	    century R. Zadok haKohen.[7]

And the reason one should not recite "who has made me an Israelite" is that
man functions with freedom of choice, and one can be called an Israelite
only if he chooses properly. And who can be sure that he/she will chose
correctly? Hence, we can only recite the benedictions "who has not made me
a non-Jew or a slave." But, nevertheless, one has the choice to chose
[whether to do these mitsvot] because he is not a non-Jew or a slave. The
same is true for "who has not made me a woman" ? it is in his choice to
fulfill or not fulfill those mitsvot that stem from men's greater mitsva

Many have waved this all off as ?apologetics?.	I guess one man?s
apologetics is another?s honest explanation. The only authoritative
guideline is the one given us by the Tosefta and the Yerushalmi?namely,
that this bendiction relates to the fewer number of specific mitsvot in
which women are obligated. Prof. Sperber has chosen to interpret the
berakha in a way which creates a problem and casts aspersions on Hazal. To
my mind, it is far better to understand it so no problem begins! 

In light of all the above, your response: "R' Meir means that a person to
whom these berachos are relevant must recite the relevant ones." Is exactly
right!	Hence,	the following statement is quite a stretch (dahuk beYoter).

"Relevance for this kind of brachah includes feeling the sense of hoda'ah
it implies."  The Berakhot are not Triumphal thanks - more like the
acknowledgement of Barukh Dayan haEmet!

    beKhavod Rav


[2]. See: Mishna Kiddushin 1:7; Tosefta Kiddushin 1:10; Talmud Kiddushin 29a, and Kiddushin 33b and ff. 

[3]. ?Birkot haShahar,? Encyclopedia Talmudit, IV, p. 371ff; Joseph Tabory,
?The Benediction of Self-Identity and The Changing Status of Women and of
Orthodoxy,? Kenishta, 1 (2001), pp. 107-138.

[4]. R. Reuven Margaliot, Nitsotsei Or, Menahot 43b, s.v. Rabbi Meir Omer. 

[5]. R. Samuel Eliezer Eidels, Maharsha Hiddushei Aggadot, Menahot 43b. See
also Chabakuk Elisha, ?Shelo Asani Isha,? A Simple Jew Blog, September 12,
2008, available online at: http://tinyurl.com/343e2g5.

[6]. R. Joel Rich, personal communication (January 2011); see also comments to http://tinyurl.com/6l3ojup. 

[7]. R. Zaddok haKohen Rabinowitz of Lublin, Pri Tsaddik, vaYikra, Parashat Emor, sec. 7, s.v. ?veAhar kakh.? 

----- Original Message ----- 
  From: Yosef Gavriel Bechhofer 
  To: Esther and Aryeh Frimer 
  Cc: avo...@lists.aishdas.org 
  Sent: Sunday, August 21, 2011 8:56 AM
  Subject: Re: shelo asani isha

  The adam gives it away: A woman is included in adam, yet cannot recite
  one of these berachos. A slave is included in adam, yet cannot recite one
  of these berachos. A ger tzedek is included in adam, yet cannot recite
  one of these berachos. R' Meir means that a person to whom these berachos
  are relevant must recite the relevant ones. Relevance for this kind of
  brachah includes feeling the sense of hoda'ah it implies.


  On 8/21/2011 12:02 AM, Esther and Aryeh Frimer wrote: 
	R. Yosef Gavriel Bechhofer writes (Aug 18th 2011): "In theory, I
	have no problem with the elimination of Shelo asani ishah. It is a
	birchas hodo'oh, if you don't feel thankful, don't say it."  

	However, how do you resolve the Talmud's statement in Menahot 43b:
	"Haya Rabbi Meir omer (Rabbi Meir was wont to say): Hayav adam
	levarekh shalosh berakhot bekhol yom (One is obligated to recite
	three benedictions daily) ... shelo asani isha." 

    Prof. Aryeh A. Frimer
    Chemistry Dept., Bar-Ilan University
    Ramat Gan 52900, ISRAEL
    E-mail (office): Aryeh.Fri...@biu.ac.il or Fri...@biu.ac.il

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Message: 3
From: T6...@aol.com
Date: Sun, 21 Aug 2011 13:02:22 EDT
Re: [Avodah] See-Through Challah Cover

From: Doron Beckerman <beck...@gmail.com>
>> But RYBS  held that the main reason for covering the Challah was not 
Yireh Hapas  Boshto, but "Ki Heichi D'Teisi Seudasah Beyikra DeShabasa".
Meaning, one  cannot start the Seudah before Kiddush, so the foods, if 
on the table,  must be covered so as to begin the Seudah by uncovering the
foods.  The  other two -reasons  Shelo Yireh and Zecher LaMan - he thought
were  Aggadic. According to that, it should be sufficient to have a
see-through  cover. But he held that one should cover ALL the food on the
table, not just  the Challah. [Nefesh Harav page 158]. <<

This explains something my father was makpid on,  and that I  absorbed 
unthinkingly, by osmosis:  he was makpid not to have any food on  the table 
(other than the covered challos of course) when he made kiddush.   No salads, 
gefilte fish, nothing.  I thought it was an esthetic preference  -- that the 
table doesn't look formal enough, honorable enough, for kiddush, if  there's 
all kinds of stuff all over the table.  But I now realize what must  have 
been his real reason!  (He was a student of RYBS, I don't know if he  learned 
this from him or from other sources.)
I similarly saw other things in my home that I only realized years later -- 
 and only by reading Avodah! -- had a halachic basis to them.  E.g., that 
he  himself picked up the phone on Shabbos to call the doctor when my  little 
brother got sick -- rather than ask anyone else in the house to make the  
call ("the most chashuv person present....").  And another example, he  
invariably pointed to the becher on the table just before making kiddush and  
said to me, "Shvenk ois."  ("Rinse out.")  I always wondered why he  was so 
concerned that the becher be clean, did he think it got dusty while he  was in 
shul?  As I said, I learned that there was a reason years later, I  think 
from Avodah.  Now I have my own personal Shabbos minhag, which is to  say to 
my kids each week, "Zeide always used to say 'Shvenk ois.' " 

--Toby Katz



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Message: 4
From: Meir Rabi <meir...@gmail.com>
Date: Mon, 22 Aug 2011 03:23:26 +1000
[Avodah] Interlocking the Fingers

The Piskei Tshuvos (95:5) brings that Arizal was makpid ....
Rav Chaim Palagi writes that one should stop his wife or children ....

view this video of Rav Eliashiv http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5dKkwC2YiOw
Rav Shach zt"l at the Shiva of R. Dr. Aaron Greenbaum zt"l sat talking to
the Avielim for 10 - 15 minutes, with his fingers
interlocked most of the time.

So we are headed to where angels fear to tread
Why do people think that the PTeshuvos and R Ch Palagi are sources for
Halacha when they are documenting customs that have no foundation in our
traditional authentic Halachic sources?

I can hear people saying, "Whatever"

there is something not right about the way we define Halacha and even
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Message: 5
From: "Prof. Levine" <llev...@stevens.edu>
Date: Sun, 21 Aug 2011 17:57:31 -0400
[Avodah] See-Through Challah Cover

At 11:18 AM 8/21/2011, R. Micha wrote:
>There is a R' Yisrael Salanter story about this in Tenuas haMussar
>vol I. Rather than translate it myself, here is RSRiskin's version.
>You'll see I was just repeating RYS's point

Did you find this story in Tenuas haMussar, and, if yes, where?  I 
ask because (1) R. Riskin does not give a source, and (2) at one time 
I sent out a daily email message with selections from the translation 
of this sefer that is called The Mussar Movement, Volume I Parts 1 
and 2.  I checked what I sent out and this story is not in any of the 
messages.  I am pretty sure that I covered both books.

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Message: 6
From: Harvey Benton <harvw...@yahoo.com>
Date: Sun, 21 Aug 2011 13:40:58 -0700 (PDT)
[Avodah] onaas devarim??

even if on some deeper level, we are better than (or more fortunate than) some of the people
that we make brachot about, why would we 1. say it out loud? (onaas devarim) and 2. codify it for
others to continue to say it out loud (so that others continue to commit the aviera of onaas devarim).....
unless, we hold (as perhaps we should on a deepeer level) that the chachamim knew what they were
doing (and us) in a later generation, weren't on their level of understanding..... and thus can't comment.....??
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Message: 7
From: "Prof. Levine" <llev...@stevens.edu>
Date: Mon, 22 Aug 2011 08:24:43 -0400
[Avodah] Walking Between Two Little Women

 From http://revach.net/article.php?id=4128  [Note: I believe that 
the title should be Walking Between Two Young Girls]

Shevet HaKehosi: Walking Between Two Little Women

The gemara says that a person should not walk between two women.  If 
he does, it is Kasheh L'Shikcha.  Does this mean even little girls?

The Shevet HaKehosi (2:325) brings from the Maharam Chalava that any 
Takana regarding women where the Lashon of "Nashim" is used, is 
specifically talking about women and not children.  He also brings 
for the Lev Eliyahu in the name of the Alter of Kelm that this takana 
is only for married women and not single women, although others disagree.

The Shevet HaKehosi reasons that since we do not know the reason for 
this takana we should not extend it beyond its literal meaning, and 
only Nashim are included.  With regard to non-Jewish women he says 
that the Maharsham was Misupak.

Lastly, he says brings from the Ben Ish Chai that if the women are 
more than four amos apart there is no problem.

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Message: 8
From: "Prof. Levine" <llev...@stevens.edu>
Date: Mon, 22 Aug 2011 08:40:12 -0400
[Avodah] Fighting To Be Chazan?

 From http://revach.net/article.php?id=2684

Parshas Re'eh: Fighting To Be Chazan?

  "Lo Sisgodidu" The simple meaning of the pasuk is that one should 
not make scrapes in his body when mourning over a dead person. The 
Gemara also learns from these words - "Lo Saasu Agudos Agudos; Do not 
make Klal Yisrael into many different groups by having Divergent 
Halachic Practices. What is the connection between the simple 
meaning, which concerns mourning, and the Drash, which has to do with 
the unity of Klal Yisrael?

Some say pshat that we find that when it comes to Availus each person 
tries to show that he is in greater mourning than another person. 
This can  bring us to Machlokes; when for example 2 people want to 
Daven for the Amud, or when 2 people have Yahrtzeit and each one 
feels that his Availus is more important. For this reason we connect 
the 2 Limudim of the pasuk "Lo Sisgodidu". When mourning, do not 
cause separation and Machlokes in Klal Yisroel. This can also be the 
reason why concerning Availus we go according to the Maikel - in 
order to lessen strife and Machlokes among the Jewish nation.

Although I am sure that the above writer did not have this in mind 
when he wrote, "Do not make Klal Yisrael into many different groups 
by having Divergent Halachic Practices."  to me this brings to mind 
the practice that seems to have become increasingly common today of 
making more than one minyan if there are two or more chiyuvim.  How 
do those who do this reconcile this practice with the principle 
of  B'rov Am Hadras Melech?

I have seen the following in a Shteibel not far from me. Given that 
some have the custom to daven Maariv on Motzie Shabbos if they have 
yahrtzeit during the following week,  it can turn out that at times 
there are as many as 10 different minyanim for Maariv Motzie 
Shabbos.  Furthermore, more than one of them will be conducted in the 
same room!

Again, I have to ask, "What is the justification and basis for this?"

Let me add the following personal story.  When I was an avel I always 
davened for the Amud on Motzie Shabbos in a minyan that met in a 
separate area that was closed off from the main shul area by a 
movable partition.  One Motzie Shabbos as I stepped up to the Amud to 
daven, a fellow said to me, "I have Yahrtzeit."  I, of 
course,  stepped  back and indicated that he should daven for the 
Amud.  After Aleinu I began to say kaddish and this fellow did 
not.  After concluding kaddish, I said to him, "You did not say 
kaddish!"  He replied, "I have Yahrtzeit during the week."  I looked 
at him incredulously and said, "You bumped me for that?  I am a 
chiyuv that certainly takes precedence over you!"  He had no answer.

Yitzchok Levine 
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