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by Joel Rich

From the YU Beacon.
From the classical sources, it would seem that modern Orthodox schools should have impose at least some restrictions. What are the reasons for the approach of those schools that do not place restrictions on girls singing publicly? Rabbi Haskel Lookstein of Ramaz has said, “the real source is that my father, Rabbi Joseph H. Lookstein, allowed it, and I continue in his policy.” This response does not do too much to help us understand the reasoning. Rabbi Jonathan Kroll from SAR says that SAR’s policy is based on an article by Rabbi Bigman who has five criteria for appropriate singing in public: an appropriate atmosphere, appropriate dress, appropriate musical style, appropriate lyrics, and appropriate body language. Based on this, he says, “According to this approach, there is no problem with those among our daughters who are modest and upstanding to develop a career in singing, even within the general culture, as long as they do not make concessions of the refined foundations of Torah culture, and do not cooperate with the vulgar, commercialized aspects of the culture surrounding us.” This approach seems to go even further than allowing girls to sing in school performances and even opens up the opportunity for a woman to pursue a singing career.

But Rabbi Kroll admitted to me that this is a minority opinion. Despite that, SAR chooses the minority opinion because singing can be an important form of expression for girls. To SAR, it is worth keeping the more lenient view in order to allow girls this form of expression. Additionally, girls in the SAR community do not follow the stricter opinion anyway in their personal lives, so they rationalize that it is not worth trying to enforce it in the school.
Does this inform on your thinking on our recent discussion of Partnership Minyanim?

Questions: A pulpit or a local community member gives a weekday night hour shiur after maariv one night a week. Is it a good idea for either of them to ask people to attend: (i) at other times they see them? (ii) right after maariv, before the shiur? What if the shiur is 10 minutes during Kiddush on Shabbat? Does your answer differ between the Rabbi and a community member?

  • Dr. Sue Gross -Jewish Genetic Health and a Glimpse into the Future

    Good general introduction to genetics and history of mutations followed by what’s likely coming down the pike.
    I would have appreciated more on the rabbinic debate concerning appropriateness of genetic screening and the statement that 25% of population is carriers and thus no stigma involved in being a carrier.
    Shout outs to Dr. Edward Burns – illustrious graduate of MTA class of ’69 and YU ’73 (but does he remember I told him not being a student senator wasn’t worth being upset over?).

  • Rabbi Nosson Rich -Mishna Berura Yomi: Hilchos Shabbos Siman 266-2

    So you are stuck right before Shabbat with your wallet in a public space and you have a donkey a child, a deaf mute, a rabbi, a priest and an imam (ok I added the last 3). What do you do?

  • Rabbi Nosson Rich -Mishna Berura Yomi: Hilchos Shabbos Siman 266-3

    What if you have no one with you? – go a small distance (less than 4 amot) stopping and starting and when you get home, throw it into the outer yard in a non-normal way. Then other restrictions and allowances in case of great loss.

  • Rabbi Nosson Rich -Mishna Berura Yomi: Hilchos Shabbos Siman 266-4

    What if it’s Tfillin you have with you? Then in what case should you just run, run as fast as you can (so no akirah/hanacha).

  • Rabbi Nosson Rich -Mishna Berura Yomi: Hilchos Shabbos Siman 266-5 and 267-1

    Muktzeh (wallet) in hand in house on Shabbat – what do you do? What about in market rules.
    New topic – Friday afternoon mincha timing rules.

  • Rabbi Hershel Schachter =Parsha Shiur – Ki Tisa 5773

    Parshat Parah as a Torah commandment? GRA says must be a misprint, achronim try to understand why it might be a Torah commandment.
    Lots on Kedushat hamikdash and machatzit hashekel.
    Some thoughts on theodicy and (unrelated) yayin mevushal.

  • Rabbi Zev Leff -Earning a Kosher Living

    You have to do hishtadlut (efforts) to make a living but understand that you don’t create or orchestrate the results. It’s all about HKB”H.
    Then a list of segulot (you can use them as icing on the cake) with an explanation of why they might be rationally connected to making a living.

  • Rabbi Ephraim Meth -A Doctor’s Work is never Done: When may Doctors go on Strike or Resign

    Some halachot on ability of workers to leave a job. They are all (in the speaker’s opinion) reflections of basic premises that HKB”H is really in charge so human contracts are somewhat limited, and we have independence, dignity, responsibility and flexibility.
    Dr. may be viewed as “higher level” responsibility (mitzvah nature of healing) and thus a curtailed right to strike.

  • Rav Nissan Kaplan – Chinuch

    Sounds like R’Kaplan was speaking to a group of parents. 70% of chinuch is parental modeling. Sometimes it’s better not to punish but to have both parents together clearly state the rules repeatedly. Be strong, not loud. Talk to your kids and build a relationship. Catch them doing something good. (me – nothing you wouldn’t read in “An Idiot’s Guide to Parenting”)

  • Rabbi Moshe Heinemann-Insights From the Rav

    Review of halachot of chalav yisrael plus R’Moshe’s tshuva. Most interesting is the practical discussion of supervision process and rules (some make me wonder). Specifics and lots of problems regarding cheese, powdered milk, peanut chews, chocolate, bakeries and wine.
    Sounds like water distilled from milk has din of chalav akum (any chemistry is extremely rusty, but I always thought this water would be indistinguishable from tap?)

  • Rabbi Reuven Taragin -Introduction to the Haggadah

    A guide to understanding the Seder.
    Starts with understanding the difference between the mitzvoth of zechirah (remembering leaving Egypt) and sippur (telling the story). Then some history of the Hagadah and its structure going from a simple summary of the events to one more complex. The main point is to make the Seder more experiential and to help all participants to connect to the redemption experience.

  • Rabbi E Zohn-How Death Gives Meaning to Life

    Learn that human life is of infinite value in this “world of action” where our actions reverberate through eternity (ours as individuals). Then a discussion of end of life issues and comparison of religious and secular approaches to such issues. Always ask a Rabbi (me – but don’t necessarily expect black and white actionable answers).

  • Rabbi Moshe Taragin -Dividing Torah Study Time

    Various ways to understand why the mishnaic formula of spending learning time 1/3 = Tanach; 1/3 = Mishna; 1/3 = Gemara, seems not to be implemented in practice (it’s not them, it’s us).

  • Rabbi Michael Rosensweig -The Interaction of Din and Shalom

    Introduction to theories of law (Round I – Judge O.W. Holmes vs. Rabbi J.B. Soloveitchik) then demonstration of how Jewish civil law has flexibility yet is as much an emanation of God’s will as is ritual law.

  • Rabbi Aryeh Lebowitz -Ten Minute Non-Halacha – Glatt Kosher Fruit and Fish

    Technical definitions of glatt kosher on an Ashkenazi and Sfardi basis (of course, now it just means super-duper kosher). Would’ve been nice to hear why major kashrut organizations will now only certify glatt vs. regular kosher?!?!

  • Rabbi Netanel Wiederblank-The Purpose of Mitzvos

    You have to start with understanding why HKB”H created the world (for us or for him?). Then on to the approaches of the Rambam (rational) vs. Maharal (Kabbalah). Taamei mitzvoth as a generic approach – is a rational or kabbalistic approach more practical in explaining the world of mitzvoth.

  • Rabbi Zvi Sobolofsky-Rabbinic Decrees that Are For a Limited Time

    Explaining the basis of two-day Rosh Hashana even during Temple times which leads into a discussion of davar shebiminyan (once a proclamation is made, it requires another court to undo). Question – do you need a formal action of a court if there’s a time limit built into the proclamation?).
    One issue is when can’t you make a permanent takanah? (perhaps when it’s social legislation you can’t, only when it’s protective of a Torah mitzvah?).

  • Rabbi Aryeh Lebowitz -Ten Minute Non-Halacha – People With Tattoos Cannot Be Buried in Jewish Cemeteries

    A general summary of tattoo issues. So where did the urban legend start that if you’re tattooed you can’t be buried in a Jewish cemetery? Maybe from gemara which implies people of “differing” levels of sin are not buried together? (remind me to sell you a frummometer) Also, discussion of cremation (more on this would be appreciated – why did some poskim pick this as the (single?) “sin” that could get you excluded? This would help me better understand meta halachic thinking).

  • About Joel Rich

    Joel Rich is a frequent wannabee cyberspace lecturer on various Torah topics. A Yerushalmi formerly temporarily living in West Orange, NJ, his former employer and the Social Security administration support his Torah listening habits. He is a recovering consulting actuary.


    1. I spoke to R’M Karasik, while there was an issue of women predidents, R’ YBS told him he would have to quit if it came to that, but R’MK would be able to talk them out of it. He did. He later decided upon a career change but not due to that issue.

    2. Is the issue with women singing or with men listening?

    3. r’hg
      which shiur are you referring to?

    4. R’ joel – the article in the beacon

      SAR principal on kol isha

      “Does this inform on your thinking on our recent discussion of Partnership Minyanim?”
      why should it?

    5. R’ Ruvie,
      R’ Kroll’s halachic thought process makes it sound a bdieved (although when I reread it, I’m not sure if the “rationalize” was from him or from the writer). R’ Lookstein’s approach is very interesting in its own right.

    6. R’ Joel – i was going to add that the last two lines seems to be the writer’s analysis and not R’ Kroll. its ambiguous – but i think its the writer’s view not R’ Kroll – but that is why i reference R’ Harcsztark article on kol isha to show clearly that its not bedievad but a balancing of values.

    7. R’ Ruvie,
      Which of course leads me back to who gets to decide the value balance (actually I think R’HS has made the same point-it’s just he will disagrteewith ” a certain rabbi in Riverdale” on who gets to make that call depending on the issue)

    8. The first two links for Rav Schachter are dead. Does anyone know what happened to those shiurim?

    9. R’ Joel – what happened to Rav Schachter’s links? (1st 2)

    10. R’ Levi,
      Sorry, I don’t know – I went to YUTORAH and don’t see them when I browsed R’HS. I hope I don’t get accused of doing a besamim rosh summary 🙂

    11. R’ Joel – your descriptions of those 2 shiurim sounded very interesting. Is there another way I could access them?

    12. R’ Levi,
      You might try going to YUTORAH and filling out the contact form and asking them. I don’t think it was anyplace else.

    13. I was talking about your SAR discussion at the top.

    14. R’ Joel – Maybe they were taken down for being too politically incorrect 🙂

    15. R’HG,
      I assume the latter

    16. R’ Joel:

      That’s what I thought. Which (I think I read this somewhere, maybe) would mean that a singing career could be less problematic than allowing singing in a religious school, wouldn’t it?

    17. r’HG,
      Not being a stumbling block would seem to still be an issue as well as the general “do the right thing”/tzniut… macro issues (fortunately I am not a posei :-))

    18. r’ Levi,
      That is certainly one possible explanation, of course there’s also the bill cosby ” a man came in through the window” explanation as well 🙂

    19. R’ Joel:

      Yes, but in terms of stumbling block, I suppose becoming a real star (who people would specifically want to listen to) would be an issue, but would filling a role – like singing in a musical, where anyone who would hear the woman would be hearing another woman had the Jewish one never applied for the job – be a violation?

    20. Shades of Gray

      “R’ Joel – Maybe they were taken down for being too politically incorrect :)”

      I don’t blame them, seeing that the Forward has an interest in his Shiurim 🙂

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