mail-jewish Vol.66 #42 Digest

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Jun 12, 2023, 4:05:30 PM6/12/23
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Volume 66 Number 42
Produced: Mon, 12 Jun 23 16:05:28 -0400

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

Bishul Nokhri -- Retraction
[Frank Silbermann]
Nusach hatfila reversed
[Martin Stern]
Shavuot Second Day on Shabbat in Chutz La'Aretz (2)
[Ari Trachtenberg Stephen Phillips]
Shoa (2)
[Yisrael Medad Martin Stern]
The location of a Dvar Torah on Shabbat morning
[Avi Feldblum]


From: Frank Silbermann <>
Date: Thu, Jun 8,2023 at 07:17 PM
Subject: Bishul Nokhri -- Retraction

Joseph Kaplan wrote (MJ 66#41):

> The discussion of bishul nochri morphed into a discussion of the need to be
> careful in describing which laws apply to all non-Jews and which laws apply
> only to idolaters. In this discussion, we were first told that a Jew is not
> allowed to keep extra change mistakenly given to him by a non-Jewish
> shopkeeper who is not an idolater. Rather, the Jew is obliged to return the
> extra money. The poster then retracted that statement, told us that a Jew is
> allowed to keep the extra change even if the non-Jew is not an idolater, and
> apologized for the error.
> As I read this, I thought of Hillel's dictum that what is hateful to you do
> not do to your fellow. This is the whole Torah, the rest is explanation. Go
> and learn. Am I to learn from the retraction that it is not hateful to Jewish
> shopkeepers when customers knowingly keep extra change accidentally given to
> them? Or am I to learn that in this type of economic exchange, we do not
> consider non-Jewish non-idolaters our fellows and its okay to do hateful
> things to them? Or, since both of those alternatives make me uneasy, am I
> missing something?

Probably likewise with regard to finding a lost object. It also concerned me
but this is the way I have come to understand it:

First we should note that the Torah encompasses more than Halacha. Therefore,
the law need not express Hillel's dictum. But given Hillel's dictum, how do we
explain the Halacha?

I explain it this way:

We are to consider Halacha to be God's law and command that we are to obey
regardless of personal advantage, convenience, or situation (barring danger to
life, or at least having a "more important" halacha at risk.)

But if it were halacha to return a lost object to a gentile or extra change
returned to a shopkeeper given by mistake, we would be obligated to do this even
if we were living in a very wicked gentile culture in which none of the gentiles
did this, particularly not for the benefit of Jews -- and when Jews were
suffering great poverty. The Rabbis would be unwise to impose this on Jewry
in such circumstances, and therefore did not make it halacha.

However, absent such oppressive circumstances, returning a gentile's object we
found is most certainly the right thing to do, and likewise alerting the shop
clerk that too much change had been returned.

All the more so if we are living in a gentile society in which it is the custom
of gentiles to return lost objects or extra change given by mistake, lest it be
said that gentile customs are more righteous than ours.

(I recall a rabbi expressing this principle on some issue, though I cannot
recall the specific issue. Maybe it had to do with the marriage between gentile
siblings who both converted to Judaism. Halacha technically allows it, because
their former family relations are not officially recognized in halacha, but as
it is the custom among most gentiles to forbid incest, we do not permit them
to marry each other. Someone may correct me if I remembered this wrong.)

Frank Silbermann
Memphis, Tennessee


From: Martin Stern <>
Date: Mon, Jun 12,2023 at 03:17 PM
Subject: Nusach hatfila reversed

Carl Singer wrote (MJ 66#41):

> It seems to me that one should say kaddish in the format of the synagogue
> where they are davening.

This would seem to be obvious.

> If one is uncomfortable or incapable of saying kaddish accordingly, then one
> should try to do so quietly

I am not sure that this is really an option since the main point of kaddish is
to prompt the communal response "Amein, yehei shemeih rabba mevorach ..." and if
it is said quietly this cannot happen.

> Clearly, if one is the only one saying kaddish, this can be challenging.

One would not be any worse than the unfortunate individuals who have never come
to shul previously and cannot say kaddish fluently (or daven, for that matter)
according to any nusach.

Martin Stern


From: Ari Trachtenberg <>
Date: Fri, Jun 9,2023 at 10:17 AM
Subject: Shavuot Second Day on Shabbat in Chutz La'Aretz

Menashe Elyashiv wrote (MJ 66#40):

> Rambam wrote that even Shavuot is two days because Hazal did not make
> differences between holidays [meshum lo plug]. Hatam Sofer wrote that therefore
> Shavuot is not a sefeka deyoma, but is like 2 days Rosh Hashana, which are like
> one long day [yama arikhta]

Another issue that occurred to me is that by the Hatam Sofers interpretation,
Israelis would have to hold two days of Shavuot as well (like they do with Rosh



From: Stephen Phillips <>
Date: Fri, Jun 9,2023 at 10:17 AM
Subject: Shavuot Second Day on Shabbat in Chutz La'Aretz

Ari Trachtenberg wrote (MJ 66#41):

> Menashe Elyashiv wrote (MJ 66#40):

>> Rambam wrote that even Shavuot is two days because Hazal did not make
>> differences between holidays [meshum lo plug]. Hatam Sofer wrote that
>> therefore Shavuot is not a sefeka deyoma, but is like 2 days Rosh
>> Hashana, which are like one long day [yama arikhta] ...

> This is very interesting ... but how does it not run afoul of:

> (i) "lo tosiph" - the prohibition of adding to the mitzvot

> (ii) the Torah obligation of week days that are obviated

I believe that what the Hatam Sofer meant was that Hazal, due to the principle
of "lo plug", made a gezerah d'Rabbanan that there should be a second day of
Shavuot. I'd be interested to see the Hatam Sofer in its original, as I'm not
clear how this second day of Shavuot can be compared to Rosh Hashana.

Kol Tuv.

Stephen Phillips


From: Yisrael Medad <>
Date: Fri, Jun 9,2023 at 06:17 AM
Subject: Shoa

Joseph Kaplan (MJ 66#41) replied to Joel Rich who asked (MJ 66#40):

>> A recent article made the case that the shoah was sui generis in Jewish
>> history. Would you agree or disagree? (more of interest to me "why?")
> I would agree. My reason is scale.

I would too but ... how to judge scale?

How many Jews were there at the end of the 11th century when many thousands of
Jews were killed by the crusaders?

How many Jews were there in the middle of the 14th century when many thousands
of Jews were killed in the anti-Jewish pogroms during the Black Death pandemic?

How many Jews were there in the 2nd century when tens of thousands were killed
at the end of the Bar Kokhba revolt?

Yisrael Medad


From: Martin Stern <>
Date: Mon, Jun 12,2023 at 03:17 PM
Subject: Shoa

Joseph Kaplan wrote (MJ 66#41):

> In response to Joel Rich (MJ 66#40):
> Let me add one other point why I think the Shoa was sui generis. In none of
> the other tragedies perpetrated against the Jews did a government seek to
> annihilate the Jewish people. ... But the Nazi government had only one goal:
> complete annihilation. Period. That was their goal with no recourse other
> than the Allies defeating that government as, thank God, they did.

This was one of their main objectives. In fact it was such a high priority that,
towards the end of the war, scarce railway rolling stock was diverted from
sending much needed military supplies to the front line to be used to transport
Jews to Auschwitz for annihilation. This madness contributed to their final defeat.

Martin Stern


From: Avi Feldblum <>
Date: Sun, Jun 11,2023 at 12:17 PM
Subject: The location of a Dvar Torah on Shabbat morning

Hello all. First a call out to many of you who still recognize me from many
years moderating this group. It is good to see many known names here.

I am currently part of a lay led congregation and one consequence of that is
that any member can request a change to practice, and if the change is viewed as
halachically permitted, then we structure the change request under the categories:

i. Proposed Change,

ii. Reason for the Change,

iii. Relevant Context

and take it to the full congregation for discussion and vote.

I am coming to this group to get information and feedback on the relevant
context for this change. In particular, I would be interested in any shul /
kehilla that currently has the Dvar Torah / Rabbi's Sermon after Musaf instead
of between returning the Sefer Torah to the Aron and starting Musaf. Any
relevant sources or discussion on this topic would be appreciated.

i. Proposed Change: Move Dvar Torah to after Musaf and Kaddish Shalem

The current place where we have the Dvar Torah is following returning the Sefer
Torah to the Aaron / Ark and before the Chazan saying the Chatzi (Half) kadish
before starting Musaf.

The proposal is to move the Dvar Torah to after the Kaddish Shalem (Full
Kaddish) after the Chazan completed the Mussaf repetition of the Amidah, before
we start Ein Kelokainu

ii. Reason for the Change:

While there is no halachic issue of having an interruption to Tefilah between
the returning of the Torah and the Kaddish for Musaf, it is an interruption to
the flow of the Tefilah. Having this following the Kaddish ending Musaf is a
more natural location for an interruption to the Tefilah for doing a Dvar Torah
/ Sermon

iii. Relevant Context:

[The below is based on my memory from a Scholar in Residence lecture I attended
many years ago, but I do not have any specific sources to back this up] The
historical location for a drasha in shuls was most likely following the
completion of all tefilah. That is still the practice in some small chassiddish
stiebels where Kiddush is a sit down event, and the dvar torah / drasha is given
during Kiddush. The current location of having the Dvar Torah / Sermon in the
middle of the tefilah was an innovation of the German Reform movement, as one of
many actions to make synagogue practice look more like classic Church practice
in Germany. A number of Orthodox shuls have the Dvar Torah / Sermon following
Musaf, when the core Tefilah is completed.

Avi Feldblum


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