Avodah Mailing List

Volume 38: Number 19

Sun, 15 Mar 2020

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Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Message: 1
From: Micha Berger
Date: Wed, 11 Mar 2020 16:20:47 -0400
Re: [Avodah] coronavirus

Due to quarantine, a number of people were forced to rely on shitos
that say one is yotzei listening to the megillah via electronic
transmission, such as http://www.yutorah.org/live

R Ari Kahn (of Bar Ilan) came out in favor of such readings, the
mar'eh meqomos for his shiur are available at
AIUI, RAK's primary concern was to reassure people who have no
choice, and to make sure questionable cases don't risk spreading
disease by showing up. So he really presents the case for only
one side.

RGS pointed people to R Daniel Z Feldman's (RIETS) older piece (not
reflecting this year's she'as hadechaq) in Tradition at
which gives both sides of the story.

I tried to lend my megillah to someone so that they could listen to the
above-linked reading at YU and read along from a kosher megillah. But,
my livingroom is being painted, the bookcase where I keep my megillah
was among those boxed up, and someone else beat me to the mitzvah.

In Westchester County, NY, Chabad managed to organize leining for 100
quarantined people by having the baal qeriah read on a deck or porch,
outside an open door or window. But such arrangements are not available
to everyone.

I saw on Facebook the following social concern that I thought was
interesting and valid enough to share here.
R Matthew Nitzanim writes (in part):

    This is why I fear the live-feed Megillah readings. There is no doubt
    that it is the most practical solution to ensure more people hear the
    Megillah, without risking more people catching the virus, and there is
    arguably halachic grounds to allow the practice (even as the debate
    continues), especially under these extenuating circumstances. But
    once virtual readings are normalized, what will Purim look like next
    year? I'm not too worried about no one showing up for Megillah next
    year - we all know it's more fun to boo for Haman and show off our
    costumes with friends around. But what about all those people who are
    alone, boxed out of society? Will the hospital and the rehab center
    call the local yeshiva for volunteers to come visit, or will they
    suffice with arranging a dial-in reading (which will inevitably come
    to be replaced with a recording for those who can't distinguish)? Will
    the readers and merry-makers of years past feel less push to pay
    visits when the mitzvah can be fulfilled electronically? Certainly
    this change wouldn't happen in just one year, but perhaps we are
    setting a precedent that will be taken seriously in years to come.

    Because what's at stake is not merely the obligation to hear
    the Megillah. What is at stake is the future of community and
    interpersonal connection in the age of digital media. Performing
    one of our most communal mitzvot through a screen means radically
    reimagining the very meaning of community, a process that is already
    well underway. Among the Orthodox, the study of Torah, traditionally
    intended to bring people into the same room, is increasingly done
    via recorded shiurim. Elsewhere in the Jewish world, services are
    taped and can be watched from home, and you can even find a dial-in
    Kaddish minyan. And shout out to the various Skype Seudot and Zoom
    Tishes spreading Purim cheer to the quarantined. Each of these is an
    exciting way digital communication can be used to better include those
    would otherwise be left out. But if we aren't careful with the pace
    of development, we will end up creating tools that, although intended
    to increase connection and participation, will further distance and
    disenfranchise those who were already only hoping for a visitor or
    two, and will be left with nothing but a computer screen. What we
    are watching is reminiscent of the Conservative Movement's ruling
    permitting driving on Shabbat -- intended to increase access to
    communal life, but perhaps in the process weakening the physical
    proximity that keeps community alive, with only time to tell whether
    the benefits outweigh the costs. So too with screen talk: appealing
    as it may be in this moment, down the road, we risk harming the very
    deep sense of community that held us together in ancient Persia and
    through the ages to this very day. Maybe this is a moment where we
    would benefit from Halacha being less accommodating of the present,
    and more oppositional and countercultural....

So he recommends making a heqer:

    So be cautious this Purim, not only hygienically, but spiritually
    too. If I had a say, I would encourage those who are doing the holy
    work of reading Megillah by livestream for people in quarantine not
    to say the Brachot, even if they are also reading for themselves, to
    make clear that this is a sub par, temporary fix, and not necessarily
    an ideal, long term change.
And finally, this nice thought is off topic for the thread, but worth

    More importantly, for everyone stuck at home this Purim, please take
    it upon yourself, once your quarantine is LONG SINCE OVER, to pay a
    visit to someone who feels alone for more than two weeks at a time. It
    can be next Purim, or maybe even sooner. Take your experience of being
    homebound, and allow it to be a springboard for being more aware
    of the many, many people who would give anything not to be alone,
    to be greeted by a friendly face with a warm smile, by someone who
    remembered that it's Purim for them too. More than an ecard, or a
    phone call, or a Zoom chat, what they really want to see is you.

qiyum is suboptimal.


Micha Berger                 "'When Adar enters, we increase our joy'
http://www.aishdas.org/asp    'Joy is nothing but Torah.'
Author: Widen Your Tent       'And whoever does more, he is praiseworthy.'"
- https://amzn.to/2JRxnDF                   - Rav Dovid Lifshitz zt"l

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Message: 2
From: Micha Berger
Date: Wed, 11 Mar 2020 16:28:21 -0400
Re: [Avodah] shtarei hedyotot

On Wed, Mar 04, 2020 at 05:35:57PM +0000, Rich, Joel via Avodah wrote:
> This reminded me of tshuvot that explain why we ignore the lifesaving
> priorities in Horiyot based on "it's difficult to abide..."

What the "this" was aside, I didn't think that's why we ignore those
priorities. Rather, it ends up never being halakhah lemaaseh even from
day one.

The mishnah itself says these priorities are "all else being equal". And
all else is never equal. The reisha is just one triage factor among many.

The problem, thus, isn't abiding, but in deciding which mamzer is enough
of a talmid chakham to go ahead of the kohein gadol, or which baal chessed
outranks the innate qedushah of a kohein. Or... Lack of ability to assess,
not lack of emotional constitution to follow through.

Tir'u baTov!

Micha Berger                 Problems are not stop signs,
http://www.aishdas.org/asp   they are guidelines.
Author: Widen Your Tent              - Robert H. Schuller
- https://amzn.to/2JRxnDF

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Message: 3
From: Micha Berger
Date: Wed, 11 Mar 2020 16:53:57 -0400
Re: [Avodah] [TM] Parashat Zachor with Different

On Sat, Mar 07, 2020 at 08:58:20PM -0500, Zev Sero via Avodah wrote:
> On 4/3/20 2:15 pm, Micha Berger via Avodah wrote:
>> But what really struck me was the close. As it also relates to the growing
>> practice of multiple shofar blowings to make sure some are al pi Rashi,
>> some with Brisker shevarim, shevarim-teruh in one breath or two, etc...

> How to distinguish this from the universally accepted practice of blowing 30
> kolot instead of 9, in order to blow the 9 according to three different
> minhagim?

Chazal wanted everyone doing the same thing, but rather than mandate one
definition of the teru'ah to the exclusion of the others, we all do all
three of them.

This innovation breaks from everyone doing the same.

But more than that... Chazal had the power to pasqen and would have
pasqened if they didn't feel this compromise brought more achdus.

Being chosheish for shitas Rashi after centuries of no one (or kim'at no
one) blew according to shitas Rashi is an unwillingness to pasqen. And
an unwillingness to accept that the halachic process can actually say
A is right and B wrong. It's questioning the whole concept of pesaq!

Tir'u baTov!

Micha Berger                 It's never too late
http://www.aishdas.org/asp   to become the person
Author: Widen Your Tent      you might have been.
- https://amzn.to/2JRxnDF                    - George Eliot

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Message: 4
From: Yosef Gavriel Bechhofer
Date: Wed, 11 Mar 2020 16:56:30 -0400
Re: [Avodah] coronavirus

Who referenced, in their analysis, the Gemara in Sukkah about parish or 

On 3/11/2020 4:20 PM, Micha Berger via Avodah wrote:
> Due to quarantine, a number of people were forced to rely on shitos
> that say one is yotzei listening to the megillah via electronic
> transmission, such as http://www.yutorah.org/live

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Message: 5
From: Joseph Kaplan
Date: Wed, 11 Mar 2020 21:28:28 -0400
[Avodah] Parashat Zachor with Different Pronunciations

? For example, I often find popular articles about halacha which will say
something like, "It is questionable whether the halacha is this or that, so
one should ..." I find myself yelling at the page: "It's questionable? So
answer the question!"

?And yet, it is common to find this same idea offered by the Mishne Brurah
and others, not to mention the eponymous Briskers.

?So when is it appropriate and when not? This is too subjective for me to
answer. The individual must ask himself honestly whether it is truly too
difficult to decide which view to pasken like, or whether the "Brisker
chumra" is just a lazy cop-out.

?A second question he should ask himself is whether the question even
*needs* an answer. If it is not a d'Oraisa or even d'Rabbanan issue, then
perhaps there's no real halachic difference between the two possible
answers, and each person should choose for himself which he prefers.?

The amount of sechel in this comment is almost overwhelming. 


Sent from my iPhone

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Message: 6
From: Zev Sero
Date: Thu, 12 Mar 2020 00:26:32 -0400
Re: [Avodah] coronavirus

Perhaps one can add as a snif to "permit" it the Chasam Sofer on Hil' 
Kidush Levana, citing a case during a cholera epidemic in Cracow, when 
the rov of the time found a heter to say kidush levana on the 16th night 
so that people who would not otherwise be able to say it should not get 
depressed and ch"v endanger themselves.

Zev Sero            Wishing everyone a kosher Purim and a happy Pesach
z...@sero.name       Seek Jerusalem's peace; may all who love you prosper

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Message: 7
From: Akiva Miller
Date: Sun, 15 Mar 2020 08:58:07 -0400
[Avodah] House minyanim

On Areivim, the issue was raised that the shuls in Bergen County NJ are now
closed, and the question of "house minyanim" was raised too. I have a
question about house minyanim that I'd like to discuss.

My understanding of Mechaber 55:13 and MB 55:48 is that a proper house
minyan has the Shliach Tzibur and nine other men in one single room. Once
that minyan exists, additional people can be in adjoining rooms, provided
that they can see and hear.

I've often been at house minyanim where fewer people are in the room with
the Shliach Tzibur, and the rest are in an adjoining room. The doorway
between them is so wide that people don't give it a second thought. It
seems to me that even though there is no actual door separating these two
rooms, the fact that there's a mezuzah between them might define them as
distinct rooms for the halacha of establishing a minyan.

I hope I have explained the situation clearly enough. The MB does not seem
to specify the width of the doorway in question, nor did I see any
distinction between a "doorway" and an "open door". I suppose someone could
argue that the problem exists only for standard-width doors which happen to
be open at the moment, and that there's no problem for a living room and
dining room that happen to have a mezuzah between them. Has anyone see any
poskim write about this?

Akiva Miller
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