mail-jewish Vol.66 #63 Digest

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Nov 25, 2023, 4:29:39 PM11/25/23
Mail.Jewish Mailing List
Volume 66 Number 63
Produced: Sat, 25 Nov 23 16:29:35 -0500

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

Birchat Cohanim
[Joel Rich]
[Joel Rich]
Is it better to stay at home or to go to shul? (2)
[Martin Stern Stuart Pilichowski]
[Yisrael Medad]
[Martin Stern]
Wishing things were different (2)
[Perry Zamek Stuart Pilichowski]
Younger teenage boy as shatz
[Martin Stern]


From: Joel Rich <>
Date: Wed, Nov 22,2023 at 01:17 PM
Subject: Birchat Cohanim

I found a fascinating insight from the Alei Tamar (Rabbi Yissachar b. Zvi Tamar
1886 - 1982) on the Jerusalem Talmud, Berakhot, chapter 5, halacha 4). He posits
the reason why there is no daily birchat cohanim outside of Israel on the fact
that, in order for the blessing to be given, it must be done with full joy, full
love of the Jewish people, with complete, full intent and equanimity of mind
with the best of voices.

He thus explains a report of a practice in Italy that when the Cohanim went up
to the duchen, only one would say the birchat cohanim (either the greatest of
them or with the one with the best voice.) While this practice seems to be
inconsistent with the Talmud, he posits that its an ancient practice, and they
were so worried that they would not be able to do it right that they selected
only the greatest to say it the others would get credit through him.

The kicker is that over the years it went from being the most qualified cohen to
the one with the best voice. Insert your own commentary here.

Bsorot Tovot

Joel Rich


From: Joel Rich <>
Date: Wed, Nov 22,2023 at 01:17 AM
Subject: Courage?

During a recent talk to gap year students, the speaker praised their courage in
deciding to remain in Israel. I'm sure the language was appreciated by the
students and their parents, but I cannot help but think that it's only
courageous if you take the western liberal view of the primary importance of the
individual. There is, however, a view that we are the eternal people with an
eternal destiny, and we will each be judged on how we play our role in that
destiny. In that case it seems to me that the default decision is to be part of
the Jewish people in the land of Israel, and you would have to find another term
for those who choose to leave.


Bsorot tovot
Joel Rich


From: Martin Stern <>
Date: Sun, Nov 19,2023 at 03:17 PM
Subject: Is it better to stay at home or to go to shul?

Carl Singer wrote (MJ 66#62):

> My friend who sits near me at our M-F shacharis minyan left in the middle of
> davening. He later emailed me explaining that he was feeling ill and began
> coughing and didn't think it a good idea to "spread the wealth" coughing in
> shul. I replied thanking him for his consideration.
> But he seems to be in the minority. Yes, some people have allergies and are
> not contagious, BUT should one go to shul when they are coughing or sneezing?
> I am looking for a halachic / NOT medical response.

If he is contagious, then it would appear to be assur [forbidden] to go to shul,
or any other public gathering, since "adam mu'ad le'olam [a human being is
always deemed to be a forewarned mazik [damager]" (B.K. 3b et al.) and, if he
infects someone else he would be liable for damages.

If it is 'merely' an allergy, he would be permitted to go out in public, though
it might be an act of kindness to reassure people that that is the case.

Martin Stern


From: Stuart Pilichowski <>
Date: Tue, Nov 21,2023 at 12:17 PM
Subject: Is it better to stay at home or to go to shul?

In response to Carl Singer (MJ 66#62):

The best halachic sources are those that rely on pure and simple, good old
fashioned common sense.

If you're sick - stay home.
If you're a little sick - stay home.
If your slight sniffle and raspy, hoarse throat is going to upset the elderly
Mr. Gross or the finicky and irritable Mrs. Schloss - stay home.

This question doesn't even need the wonderful 5th chelek of the Shulchan Aruch.

Stuart Pilichowski

Mevaseret Zion, Israel

Phone 972- 527-222-827


From: Yisrael Medad <>
Date: Sun, Nov 19,2023 at 04:17 PM
Subject: Sakana/sakanta

I see that Rav Eliezer Melamed mentions "sakana seguliyot", referring to evil
spirits and as a Talmudic source notes the Tosefta at Yoma 77B.

Yisrael Medad


From: Martin Stern <>
Date: Sun, Nov 19,2023 at 02:17 PM
Subject: Techeilet

David Tzohar wrote (MJ 66#62):

> Martin Stern (MJ 66#60) said that he doesn't wear techeilet because wearing
> only white is not pasul. But the opposite is also true, that is if one wears
> techilet and it turns out that it is not the true techilet it is not pasul.

I hate to contradict David but my understanding of the sugya in the fourth perek
of Menachot is precisely the contrary - that using a blue dye that is not
techeilet DOES make the tzitzit pasul - otherwise how does he explain the
opposition to the use of kala ilan [a blue dye of vegetable origin, possibly
indigo] which was much cheaper.

While I tend to agree with him that

> the overwhelming scientific and archeological evidence shows that techilet
> extracted from the Murex snail is the true techeilet

I feel that the lack of a reliable mesorah precludes its adoption nowadays,
quite apart from any consideration of possible yuhara [showing off one's
'superior piety'].

Martin Stern


From: Perry Zamek <>
Date: Mon, Nov 20,2023 at 05:17 AM
Subject: Wishing things were different

Joel Rich asked (MJ 66#62):

> Is one permitted to wish the past were different (for self or community) or
> must one believe it was as HKBH wanted and thus the best?

Given that we have free will, and that, for example, the final determination of
halacha is within our hands (i.e. within the power of the rabbis "Lo bashamayim
hi/Torah is not in Heaven), there is perhaps a middle path: we may wish that our
past choices and those of others were different (isn't this the basis for
teshuvah), but at the same time accept that those things which are not in our
hands are the wish of HKBH and gam zo letova/this too is for the best).

With prayers for all of Klal Yisrael, and especially our soldiers and the hostages,

Perry Zamek


From: Stuart Pilichowski <>
Date: Tue, Nov 21,2023 at 01:17 PM
Subject: Wishing things were different

In response to Joel Rich (MJ 66#62):

I believe HKBH wants us to discover and develop a cure for childhood diseases.
And if we don't He's extremely unhappy and the situation is not at all what He

And of course, the same holds true for our handling of the current War
situation. HKBH is extremely unhappy with how our security lapsed when it
shouldn't have.

I have faith that He gives second chances. At least it seems that way to me.

The divine promise: "I will stand with him in trouble"

Stuart Pilichowski

Mevaseret Zion, Israel

Phone 972- 527-222-827


From: Martin Stern <>
Date: Sun, Nov 19,2023 at 04:17 PM
Subject: Younger teenage boy as shatz

Irwin Weiss wrote (MJ 66#62):

> As others have said, it helps to encourage participation by youth and that is
> unquestionably a good thing. When I was a kid, our shul did not have a fancy
> Torah stand, so after Hagba'ah, a young person was called upon to sit in a
> chair on the Bimah and hold the Sefer. Nowadays, we have a fancy stand.

I thought that someone should always hold the Sefer Torah and using a stand,
however fancy it might be, was at best bedieved [not ideal].

> I have felt that holding the Sefer draws one closer to Torah. I'd like to get
> rid of the fancy Torah holding stand, but no one else agrees with me.

I certainly agree.

Martin Stern


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