What are they thinking?

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    I was watching a conservative shabbat service.

    This is ridiculous, I will forget about all the D’rabannans that they transgress and I will forgive them for messing around with the davening.

    Yet how in the world are they going to explain why they have no problem doing D’oraises, such as making havdala shabbos morning? the ‘Rabbi’ lights the Havdala and then dips into the wine.

    Are they only mimicking our religion? or do they really believe that this is the way it has always been?


    Making havdalah shabbos morning? I have never heard of such a thing in a Conservative shul. Wow. That is even more nuts than their “triennial” service.


    In the 1950s, the Conservatives issued a “takanah” cancelling all the marriage restrictions for kohanim. Of course, these are Torah, not rabbinic mitzvos. So while I’ve never heard of a Conservative shul having havdalah on Shabbos morning, I wouldn’t be surprised about it based on the fact that it’s in violation of a d’oraises.


    The Conservative movement, to my knowledge, didn’t mess around too much with Nusach Ashkenaz (which is what their siddur is based on). Traditional nusach hatefillah is something that they actually retained more than many Orthodox, since they actually invest in training qualified cantors.

    I don’t know of any synagogue ever to do havdalah on Shabbat morning. Maybe you were watching an instructional video taped outside of Shabbat? The movement has a teshuva where they don’t allow recording to take place on Shabbat.


    What’s a triennial service?


    Never heard of such a thing, and where did you chance upon such a service?


    Are you talking about the real conservatives at YCT, or those wannabes at JTS?


    Shabbos morning? Maybe they do it at Minchah because most Conservatives hold of a 6-to-6 day instead of sunset-to-sunset (Tzeis). I’ve never heard of Havdalah in the morning either. Then again, a lot of entirely unaffiliated “synagogues” are calling themselves conservative nowadays.


    No such thing as triennial service.

    There was a tradition mentioned in the Yerushalmi that some communities in E”Y would read the Torah in its complete cycle once every three years, not once every year. The early Reform movement adopted this, and the Conservative movement did in the 60s and 70s, when they started to reject halakha wholesale.

    To my knowledge, many Conservative synagogues will still go through the entire sedrah in the course of a week; they just break it up differently (so that a little is being done at Shabbat Shacharit, a little at Mincha, and a little on Monday and Thursday). However, considering everything else they do against halakha, recording a service and doing havdalah in the morning doesn’t surprise me one bit.


    Ok, I think I’ve said that I am a Conservative Jew. Have been all my life, but have become more observant as I have gotten older and wiser.

    I have NEVER seen a Conservative shul (and I have been to many) celebrate Havdalah on Shabbat morning.

    The “triennial” is a concept that I think is ridiculous. Essentially, each Sedrah is broken up into three parts and read over the period of three Shabbatot. So, it takes three years to read the entire Sefer Torah. The “wisdom” behind this is that reading only one-third of the Sedrah will make services faster. To me, that’s baloney. I’ve been to Orthodox Shabbat services both here and in E”Y, and they’re much quicker than at any Conservative shuls I’ve been to.


    2scents -“such as making havdala shabbos morning? the ‘Rabbi’ lights the Havdala and then dips into the wine.”

    Are you sure this was conservative? Sounds more like Reform.

    I know the Reform fast on Yom Kipper and Daven and then around 2PM they make Havdallah and then they go home and eat because the day is over.


    When I was Reform as a kid, nobody ate until after Neilah and Maariv. With triennial, they end up actually completing the Torah in a year, but they end up reading less at Shabbos shachris and more at Mincha, Monday and Thursday shacharis. As someone who began leyning seriously this year, I wish there were a halakhic way to have a triennial cycle, but there is no way to my mind to allow it. Rav Benzion Uziel vigorously opposed it.


    My dad’s boss is a Reform Jew. She said that their shul has a coffee break during the Yom Kippur “services”. She also asked me to be their new Rabbi. I declined stating that I was orthodox and wouldn’t be able to travel the long distance every Shabbat; to which she replied: “don’t worry, we’ll get you an orthodox driver every Shabbat!”


    I taught Judaic studies in a reformed shul for a school year, and I still can’t get over some things I saw. I will say though, that even though they may eat treif and not follow Halacha, Sunday mornings shacharis was packed every week! That is more than I can say for my parents Orthodox school in Westchester. But more seriously, girls wearing teffilin, the principle ( female ) Rabbi. Marisa ( fake first name). At my interview, this ” rabbi” introduced herself. She was wearing a tank top, shorts and yarmulka. I was more confused than I had been in a Long time!


    Reform Judaism has been making efforts to become stronger in ritual observance over the past few years, but as a paradigm, the Pittsburgh Platform of 1885 still is followed by many.

    Can you point to something in halakha which says a woman can’t wear tefillin? It certainly didn’t bother Shaul haMelech, or the Rambam, or the Baalei haTosafot.

    An interesting fact: Rabbi Dr. David Ellenson, who is a scholar of repute on topics pertaining to German Neo-Orthodoxy, was raised Orthodox. He says that his father encouraged him to attend HUC and take a Reform pulpit because he’d make much more money in a Reform place than as an Orthodox rabbi. To this day, he is a shomer shabbat and a relativsly observant man.

    HUC-JIR even employs 2 Orthodox professors: Rabbi Dr. Michael Chernick (teaches Talmud at HUC NY, was a student of Rav Soloveitchik, and was involved in Edah) and Lynn Kaye (attended the GPATS program at Stern College, and was formerly at Shearith Israel).


    “To my knowledge, many Conservative synagogues will still go through the entire sedrah in the course of a week; they just break it up differently (so that a little is being done at Shabbat Shacharit, a little at Mincha, and a little on Monday and Thursday).”

    I have never heard of such a system. Even my mother’s Conservative shul, whose rabbi is extremely knowledgeable and considered “right-wing” Conservative, does not have enough members who can lein in order to cover the full sedrah. As it is, they can barely scrape together the triennial leining. Kal v’chomer the less traditional Conservative shuls certainly can’t do it.


    That is the movement’s teshuva on the subject. As with many issues, they don’t even follow their own standards, thus highlighting the lack of halakhic commitment amongst those who go to Conservative synagogues. Hence the fact that many of my teachers and their teachers understand the dangers in encroaching egalitarianism and unchecked feminism; they left their teaching posts at JTS due to reasons such as this (Hakham Faur, Professor Dimitrovsky, R’ Dr. Weiss haLivni, R’ Dr. Novak, etc.)


    RD ” the conservative movement didn’t mess around much with nusach ashkanaz”

    I once came across a conservative siddur and flipping through it I, at first, had the same impression. Untill I reached “ritzai” in Shmonah Esrai.There,they delete two words: ” v’ishey yisroal”. In a footnote in the back of this siddur it is explained that while karbonos were importent at the time of mattan torah in order to assure that there would be no human sacrifice,which was common then, nowdays we have no need for karbanos and we certainly do not look forward to,much less pray for the restoration of, any practice which involves cruelty to animals.So, with the deletion of 2 words, their siddur becomes not only different than our own, but pure apikorsus.(cf the Bais Halavi’s pshat in the raha’s question in the haggadah)


    rd- you said- “thus highlighting the lack of halakhic commitment amongst those who go to Conservative synagogues. …”

    is nt being conservative already indicative of a lack of halachic adherence, specifically because they are apikorsim?


    daf: Not that there is any reason to defend the Conservatives, as it is clear Apikorsus anyway for numerous reasons, but your example is not Apikorsus. That is actually very similar to what it says in the Moreh HaNevuchim.

    And rd, while you don’t respect Tosfos at all, don’t misrepresent their opinions. See Eruvin 96a (I think) where it’s clear that there could be a problem with women wearing Tefillin.


    Sam, I am familiar with the Rambam.While the Rambam often cites “reasons” for mitzvos in moreh nevuchim, it is beyond obvious that he accepts the principle that all mitzvos have countless unfathomable “reasons” behind them and if a particular reason no longer applies the mitzva remains eternally. The apikorses lies in the conservitives’ idea of doing away with mitzvos which they determine to be no longer applicable.


    The Rambam says in MN that animal korbanot were instituted as a concession to pagan influences and people’s tayva towards that back then. Rav Kook thought that in the Messianic era, there would be no animal korbanot.

    For those who hold like the Rambam, Talmudic gezerot are binding even when the reason for then is no longer applicable, whereas the Ryevid feels that such gezerot are no longer binding if the original reason for them is no longer applicable. Tosafot is inclined towards that view, as well.

    Regarding women and tefillin: Tosafot there suggest that women are incapable of maintaining a guf naki. This wasn’t a concern to Rambam, who simply allows a woman to partake of any mitzvah she desires, even if she’s not commanded to do so. Nor did it seem to have been of concern to Hazal in their allowing Michal to wear tefillin. My one caveat would be that women who engage in wrapping tefillin should not say the berakha. I have a friend who composed alternative texts for women to use when wrapping tefillin and putting on tallet and tzitzit. The same friend also composed very appropriate texts for calling people up to the Torah minus a minyan (while this is intended for WPG’s, I have made use of it in contexts where there was a sefer torah and no minyan on yom tov mornings and some shabbatot where I lein, as we sometimes can’t get a minyan).

    Tosafot cites guf naki, which later rabbis cite as a reason why men don’t wear tefillin all day long, ironically.

    I’m not big on labels. Judaism is either halakhic or it isn’t. Denominations don’t lead us to a place of greater halakhic observance, as their are many things contra halakha that are done in the Orthodox world. The problem with Conservative is that they singlehandedly decided to assume that they have authority to permit what goes against Oral Torah Judaism, and subsequently, they have a huge dearth of committed membership. Anyone who was traditional and part of JTS is now generally accepted in the MO camp, such as Rabbi Alan Yuter, or Rabbi David Weiss haLivni.


    reb doniel, I don’t see how WPG’s accomplish anything. What is the point of these groups, as there is no minyan, and no real tefillah betzibbur.


    “Nor did it seem to have been of concern to Hazal in their allowing Michal to wear tefillin. “

    The Gemara in Eiruvin says that Michal wore Tefillin, but the Rabbis did not object. Clearly the implication is that there is usually something objectionable about that (be it guf naki or whatever). To make it sound like it’s a free for all is incorrect.


    The Talmud indicates that the logic here behind the sages not objecting is that it is a woman’s right to do a mitzvah which she is not commanded to do. I don’t see where guf naki is inherent anywhere in that gemara.

    The Hagahot Maimoniyot says that Bavli says that Hakhamim did not object to women who performed Mitzvot such as Tefilin and Aliyah l’Regel, and that he heard that we protest only where there is concern for transgression, such as with hullin be zarah or ervah.

    My understanding of Tosafot is like this: Rashi says that if it were Zeman Gerama, hakhamim would have protested due to Bal Tosif. The Ri disagrees. R. Yehudah holds that Ein Nashim Somchot Reshut, and he holds that Hilni ha’Malkah used to sit in a Sukah with her sons (Sukah 2b)! However, perhaps she sat due to her sons, so it does not look like Bal Tosif. Alternatively, Rava holds that not at the time of the Mitzvah, one transgresses Bal Tosif only with intent. A woman is exempt, so it is considered not at the time of the Mitzvah. However, this is difficult. Rather, the one who holds that it is Zeman Gerama forbids women because they are not careful enough to have a clean body like Tefillin requires. Olat Re’iyah looks like Hullin ba’Azarah, or entering the Azharah without need. Blowing a Shofar is a Melakha mi de Rabbanan.

    Ran (Rosh HaShanah 9b) says that we’re not concerned for shevut or baal tosif by women doing MASZG.



    MDG: I think it’s pretty clear from the Gemara and Rishonim there not like you’re M’dayek. The Gemara is assuming that if they didn’t protest Michal it’s because it’s okay for women to do.


    “I don’t see how WPG’s accomplish anything. What is the point of these groups, as there is no minyan, and no real tefillah betzibbur.”

    I don’t see how a woman davening beyechida accomplishes anything. What is the point of her davening alone, as there is no minyan, and no real tefillah betzibbur.

    I think we can all agree that men and women alike are chayav in prayer. Men can form a minyan and women can join a minyan. But even without a minyan, Hashem hears every individual’s prayer. When we assemble and daven together, we strengthen and inspire each other, and the quality of our prayers are immeasurably increased. This is true of a minyan, but it is also true of a group of nine men or a group of women.


    Rav Haim David haLevi paskens explicitly that women are equally hayyav in all three tefillot. R’ Moshe Salmon, author of the Teshuvot Netiv Moshe (he lived in Austria-Hungary in the late 19th century) even suggested women should count for a minyan, since he believed that counting for a minyan is a function of hiyyuv.

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