mail-jewish Vol.66 #61 Digest

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Nov 6, 2023, 4:28:09 PM11/6/23
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Volume 66 Number 61
Produced: Mon, 06 Nov 23 16:28:06 -0500

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

Set Theory And The Existence Of God (was Proof of God's Existence?)
[Yaakov Shachter]
[Micha Berger]
When may the shatz begin?
[Yisrael Medad]
Younger teenage boy as shatz (5)
[Micha Berger Allan Engel Martin Stern David Ziants Menashe Elyashiv]


From: Yaakov Shachter <>
Date: Mon, Nov 6,2023 at 01:17 AM
Subject: Set Theory And The Existence Of God (was Proof of God's Existence?)

Ari Trachtenberg wrote (MJ 66#60):

> ...
> In my view, God's existence is axiomatic and independent of human
> reasoning, much like the axiom of choice or the generalized
> continuum hypothesis.
> You choose on which side of the fence you'd like to live your life,
> and that determines everything else about it.

I think you're wrong. The axiom of choice and the generalized continuum
hypothesis are indeterminate because they are about things that don't exist.
There are no infinities, and there are no infinitesimals. Nothing in the real
world is infinitely big, nothing is infinitely small, nothing has lasted for an
infinite amount of time, nothing is instantaneous. You take some axioms which
correctly describe finite sets, which exist, and you apply them to infinite
sets, which don't exist, and you discover that when applied to infinite sets
these axioms are consistent with the truth of some other proposition, and you
discover that they are also consistent with the untruth of that same
proposition, but those propositions are about things that don't exist anyway, so
it doesn't matter.

You are saying that the existence of God, and the nonexistence of God, are
equally consistent with human experience, so you decide which one you want to
believe in, and then follow where that choice leads you. That is not the same
thing as choosing propositions about nonexistent infinite sets, because human
experience, unlike infinite sets, does, in fact, exist.

This notion that belief in God is a choice, is a Christian notion, and I think
you have been influenced by Christian thinking. You don't say the kind of credo
qua absurdum est that Christians say, but nonetheless you say that it's up to
you to make an entirely autonomous and unconstrained choice about whether God
exists. That's not something that any Jew in the pre-Christian era ever said.
The only reason Christians say it is that Christianity does insist that you
believe some preposterous things that are utterly inconsistent with human
experience. Judaism doesn't. We don't have faith that God exists, we know that
He does, as much as we can know anything.

Jay F. ("Yaakov") Shachter
6424 North Whipple Street
Chicago IL 60645-4111

(1-773)7613784 landline
(1-410)9964737 GoogleVoice


From: Micha Berger <>
Date: Sun, Nov 5,2023 at 08:17 PM
Subject: Tashlich

Joel Rich wrote (MJ 66#57):

> Any sources on why the practice is to do it specifically after mincha (on
> the first day of rosh hashana)? Why is it preferred to do it outside the
> city?

The earliest source I could find on either of these is MA 583:5. He refers you
to SA 592:2. The best I can guess is that it's a zerizim maqdimin as possible
for Tashlich without delaying Teqi'as Shofar (the topic of siman 592.)

But I have no hint as to why the preference for outside the city.

> How common is it to actually cast food into the water?.

It's an old minhag. (But not capital-M Minhag) The Maharil already objects to
it. And the Maharil is also our first written recording of Tashlich altogether!

Via the Ari, it reached Sepharadim as well.

RAZ Zivitofsky in

cites John Phefferkorn (1469-1521) describing people shaking the breadcrumbs
out of their pockets to throw to the fish, saying "Now we throw our sins to
you [the fish]."

When I led Yamim Noraim services in the Orthodox shul a"h in Fall River MA, the
minyan took such feeding the fish for granted. However, back in the Kew Gardens
Hills of my childhood, the rabbinate had managed to end the practice back in the
early 70s.

Tir'u baTov!

Micha Berger


From: Yisrael Medad <>
Date: Mon, Nov 6,2023 at 05:17 AM
Subject: When may the shatz begin?

In my experience, starting the Amida Repetition always seems to have an effect
on people to hurry up and finish by Kedusha.

Yisrael Medad


From: Micha Berger <>
Date: Wed, Nov 1,2023 at 05:17 PM
Subject: Younger teenage boy as shatz

Joel Rich wrote (MJ 66#60):

> I have noticed that in a number of chareidi shuls that I attend from time
> to time there seems to be a practice that if there is no chiyuv, a younger
> teenage boy goes up as shatz. I was wondering as to the halachic
> underpinnings of this practice given the Shulchan Aruch 53:4 writes:
> "Hence, the chazan must be an upright, highly regarded, humble, amiable
> person, who has a pleasant voice and is accustomed to reading the Torah,
> Neviim and Ketuvim."

The SA is talking about hiring a Chazan on a permanent basis. Not an ad-hoc
Shatz the gabbai has to find.

But that only says it's mutar. Doesn't the din for hiring a Chazan indicate that
anyone else would be sub-optimal for a one-time sha"tz?

But there are two counteveiling concerns:

First, we need someone who can grow up comfortable taking the amud for when he
is a zaqein veragil [adult and fluent].

Second, we need teens to feel like they belong and are tied into the shul. Makes
sure more of them grow up to be shomerei Torah uMitzvos, anavim, etc...

(I am not sure why you mention Chareidi shuls in particular. Sephardim go
further, and will put a qatan up for Pesuqei deZimra, Qabbalas Shabbos, and some
eidos -- even Maariv.)

Tir'u baTov!

Micha Berger


From: Allan Engel <>
Date: Wed, Nov 1,2023 at 05:17 PM
Subject: Younger teenage boy as shatz

In response to Joel Rich (MJ 66#60):

You will struggle to find anyone who is accustomed to reading the Ketuvim.


From: Martin Stern <>
Date: Sun, Nov 5,2023 at 06:17 AM
Subject: Younger teenage boy as shatz

In response to Joel Rich (MJ 66#60):

In many shuls, they have a rule that a bachur [unmarried man] may not act as
sheliach tzibbur. In the absence of an aveil or someone with yahrzeit, it is
often difficult to find anyone willing to take on this role. Where there is no
gabbai present, this can cause delays so I encouraged such younger teenage boys
to take on the role as shatz. Sometimes, people complained that it was not
befitting for them to lead the tzibbur to which I responded "In that case you
go!". Usually that was sufficient to silence their objection.

In any case, I think this restrictive custom is ill-advised since "Im ein
gediyim ein teyashim [If there are no kids, i.e. young goats, there will not be
any adult goats]" (Yer. San. 10:2 et al.). Its consequence is the embarrassing
situation faced by those, lo aleinu, who find themselves bereaved of a parent
and have to lead the prayers for the fist time and have never previously done it.

Martin Stern


From: David Ziants <>
Date: Sun, Nov 5,2023 at 07:17 PM
Subject: Younger teenage boy as shatz

Joel Rich (MJ 66#60) asked concerning a younger teenage boy going up as shatz
[prayer leader] in charedi shuls when no chiyuv [someone who is mourner in the
first 11 months and thus has priority], and quotes Shulchan Aruch 53:4 . I give
a URL:

I will give my answer first, then I expand on this. It is to engage the
youngsters in being an active part of the shul when they can.

Before I detail my answer, I want to point a small nuance (and I sometimes joke
at this when the wrong language is used in my Ashkenazi shul). In general, it is
correct that the Sephardim "go up" - because in these shuls the shatz's position
is on the bima [raised platform in the middle of the shul], but it should be
noted that in Ashkenazi shuls "hoo yoreid lifnai taiva" - "he goes down to in
front of the amud [prayer stand]" at the front of the shul. An exception that I
can think of is the (Orthodox) United Synagogue of England (who modelled many of
their practices from the Sephardim who were in England before the Ashkenazim
came, another example is the seating arrangement of the seats/pews around the
bima rather than all facing forward). The same might be true in some other
Modern Orthodox Ashkenazi shuls in different parts of the world. This is,
though, not likely true in chareidi Ashkenazi shuls anywhere else, although I
have seen some chassidic stiebels (prayer rooms) where the amud is further back.

Sorry for the digression, now to expand on my take on his question.

In the non-chareidi shules I tend to go to, it is the same and youngsters are
often given priority when there is no chiyuv. Also the same on chol hamo'ed
[middle days of Sukkot and Pesach], when an aveil should not be shatz. As I
already mentioned, I think that the reason is basically that the congregation
want to engage the youngsters in being an active part of the shul when they can.
An exception would be Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur where the halacha explicitly
says that a preference should be given to a married person who has a good voice.
Also with this, a youth minyan would by its nature not follow this, because
everyone is likely to be single.

When one reads clause 53:10 in the Shulchan Aruch - which mentions seeing in a
good light the places that allow pre-barmitzva boys to lead arvit [the evening
service] - although he seems to imply that this is not the ideal and the Rema
says that this can only be done in a place that already has this custom. Yet,
this alrady implies a level of flexibility with regards to the issue of who can
be shatz, also if this is not the ideal mentioned in 53:4 .

I have a question now: Does allowing a pre-barmitzva boy also include barchu and
kaddish? If so, what is the earlier source that the Shulchan Aruch allows this?

David Ziants


From: Menashe Elyashiv <>
Date: Mon, Nov 6,2023 at 01:17 AM
Subject: Younger teenage boy as shatz

As noted, this has become popular. Our LOR allows only for Arvit, which is not
really a public prayer.


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