Volume 10 Number 2
                       Produced: Tue Nov 16  0:23:40 1993

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Avraham's Converts (2)
         [Uri Meth, Jonathan Goldstein]
Healing a Non-Jew on Shabbat
         [Warren Burstein]
Shabbat and Yom Kippur (3)
         [David Charlap, Benjamin Svetitsky, Arthur Roth]
Things '31'
         [Adam P. Freedman]
         [Eli Turkel]
Yiddish words of Hebrew origin
         [Arnold Kuzmack]


From: <umeth@...> (Uri Meth)
Date: Fri, 12 Nov 93 9:53:21 EST
Subject: RE: Avraham's Converts

In v9n95 Jonathan Baker asks the question of what happened to all the
converts that were with Avraham.  I recall hearing the following
possible answer while in high school.  I don't recall if this was based
on source in particular or they were just the thoughts of my rebbe a
tthe time, Rabbi Yosef Tendler of Ner Israel.

We know that each of the Avos (forefathers) has attributes attributed to
them.  Avraham is given the attribute of Chessed (kindness), Yitzchak
has Gevurah (strength), and Yaakov has Emes (truth).  Another way of
looking at Yitzchak's attribute is that of Din (judgement).  With the
attribute of Chessed, Avraham was able to attract many people to his way
of life in following Hashem.  However, once Avraham passes on and
Yitzchak takes over, the dominant attribute of Din took over.  Yitzchak
deals with everything in this fashion, is it right or is it wrong.  Many
people who can be attracted to follow Avraham via kindness might have a
very hard time following Yitzchok when the dominating atmosphere is one
of judgement.  Therefore, R' Tendler felt that this sudden shift in the
way they were led cuased a majority of the followers from Avraham to
fall away from Yitzchok and disappear from the scene.

Please note, that this is a recollection of something I heard over 10
years ago.  If I have made any mistakes, or attributed it incorrecly,
they are my mistakes and should in no way be attributed to R' Tendler.

Uri Meth                (215) 674-0200 (voice)
SEMCOR, Inc.            (215) 443-0474 (fax)
65 West Street Road     <umeth@...>
Suite C-100, Warminster, PA 18974

From: <Jonathan.Goldstein@...> (Jonathan Goldstein)
Date: Sun, 14 Nov 93 17:12:26 -0500
Subject: Re: Avraham's Converts

In Volume 9 Number 95 Jonathan Baker (<baker@...>) writes:

> In Bereshit 12:5, Avram is described as traveling with, among others,
> "hanefesh asher asu b'Charan" [the soul(s) which they had made in
> Charan].  The Midrash Rabbah translates this as "the converts which they
> had made in Charan" (loosely).  What happened to these converts?  Did
> they marry in with Avram's descendents?  Did they revert to their old
> ways after Avram died?  Did they go down to Egypt?  Nobody could find a
> hint of their fate, at least in the limited resources at our shul.

According to R. Moshe Yehuda Bernstein (some may know him from Zfat,
he's now working in Sydney) chazal mention that the "souls which Avraham
made" in Haran could have been real humans created by Avraham himself.
This is derived from the tradition that Sefer Yetzira was written by
Avraham; in it are contained instructions on how to create such "souls".

Jonathan Goldstein       <Jonathan.Goldstein@...>       +61 2 339 3683


From: <warren@...> (Warren Burstein)
Date: Sun, 14 Nov 93 18:11:14 -0500
Subject: Re: Healing a Non-Jew on Shabbat

>Regarding healing a Non-Jew, Aiva is a potent argument on Shabbat and is
>strongly maintained by Rav Dr Moshe David Tendler.

I remain puzzled by this halacha.  Could someone attempt to explain it
to me?  Are we afraid that if the Jewish doctor doesn't treat a non-Jew
then a non-Jewish doctor won't treat a Jew, e.g. is Aiva a subset of
Pikuach Nefesh?

 |warren@      But the chef
/ nysernet.org is not concerned at all.


From: <dic5340@...> (David Charlap)
Date: Fri, 12 Nov 93 12:24:28 -0500
Subject: Re: Shabbat and Yom Kippur

<frankel@...> (Mechy Frankel)

>1) ...on theother hand we might consider it less Chamoor in that
>the punishment for violating Yom Kippur is Karet (lit: a "cutting off"
>from the body of Israel) while the penalty for intentionally violating
>Shabbas is Sekilah (death by stoning and implemented by the court, see
>Tractate Megilah 7b, Rambam, Hilchot Shevitat Asiri). ...

I don't think that's really "on the other hand."  It was always my
impression that karet is just as dire (if not worse) that death.

Karet is not excommunication - That is called Cherem, I believe.  Karet
is being "cut off" from Israel in Olam Haba (the world to come).  In
other words, it's your neshama (soul) being forever separated from the
rest of Israel in the afterlife.  A penalty which many would consider
far worse than Skilah, which is merely death in this life.

From: Benjamin Svetitsky <bqs@...>
Date: Fri, 12 Nov 93 14:46:03 -0500
Subject: Shabbat and Yom Kippur

I'd like to clarify a point on the relative holiness of Yom Kippur and
Shabbat.  I believe there is nothing about this question that doesn't
fit into the general picture of which mitzvot supersede which.  YK does
not "doche" Shabbat in the sense, say, that pikuach nefesh does.  It's
just that we have a negative mitzva, namely fasting, which carries the
penalty of karet and therefore supersedes the positive mitzva of oneg
Shabbat (and Kiddush, etc.).  Nothing about YK supersedes any negative
mitzvot of Shabbat, which in themselves carry karet.

The general rule, as discussed in the first chapter of Yevamot: a
positive mitzva supersedes a negative one (example: tzitzit superseding
sha'atnez) unless the latter carries karet.  But you have to be careful,
because there are many examples where this rule is overriden explicitly
by the Torah.

Ben Svetitsky      <bqs@...>

From: <rotha@...> (Arthur Roth)
Date: Fri, 12 Nov 93 11:10:40 -0500
Subject: Shabbat and Yom Kippur

    The fact that we fast if Y"K falls on Shabbat was used by Mechy
Frankel (MJ 9:96) as one possible argument for saying that Y"K is holier
than Shabbat.  (He then also gives an argument to the contrary and
arrives at no conclusion.)
    The reason why fasting is generally prohibited on Shabbat is that
fasting is usually a sign of sadness or mourning that is not in keeping
with the spirit of Shabbat.  Fasting on Y"K, on the other hand, is not a
sign of sadness at all.  The way it was explained to me, on Y"K we feel
what is almost exhilaration from achieving an incredible closeness to
HKB"H that we can't even come close to on other days of the year.
Therefore, we don't want to "interrupt" this exhilaration to indulge in
anything so mundane as eating (or anointing oneself or marital
relations, etc.)  Thus the reason for fasting on Y"K is perfectly in
keeping with the spirit of Shabbat as a covenant between G-d and the
Jewish people to bring them closer together.  Taken in this light,
fasting on Y"K cannot really be said to be "doche Shabbat" in the sense
of superseding it; this fast actually works hand in hand with Shabbat to
help ENHANCE its purpose, and hence does not come under the usual
prohibition in the first place.
    Others have pointed out that Y"K has only 6 olim to the Torah while
Shabbat has 7.  There was some recent discussion in MJ about whether the
larger number of olim was instituted because Shabbat is holier or
whether Shabbat is holier because of the higher number of olim.  This is
of definite academic interest, but Shabbat comes out holier either way.
(Can someone supply the source for the fact that a holier day always has
a greater number of olim than a less holy day?  I remember that this is
stated very unequivocally somewhere but don't remember exactly where.)
By the above reasoning, the fact that we fast when Y"K falls on Shabbat
is NOT a good argument against the contention that Shabbat is indeed

Arthur Roth


From: <APF@...> (Adam P. Freedman)
Date: Mon, 15 Nov 1993 14:06:54 -0800 (PST)
Subject: Things '31'

An esteemed, and sometimes a bit eccentric, colleague of mine has been
collecting data on colloquial uses of and historical references to the
number thirty-one (31).  He has asked various friends and acquaintances
of his who speak over 15 languagues in all, and has obtained 'non-
negative' responses so far in Arabic, English, French, Italian, Parsee,
and Turkish. Unfortunately, many of these "31" references are sexual in
nature.  A question I had from my discussion with him was whether the
number 31 ever appears in either Tanach or in Talmudic literature.

Can anyone with either a concordance or by electronic means scan the
early Hebrew and Aramaic texts for references or expressions containing
the number 31?  Thanks

Adam Freedman
M/S 238-332
Jet Propulsion Lab/Caltech, Pasadena, CA 91109


From: <turkel@...> (Eli Turkel)
Date: Mon, 15 Nov 93 15:46:46 +0200
Subject: Tradition

     For anyone interested the most recent issue of Tradition (just came
out) is devoted to rabbinic authority (I happen to have an article
appearing there).

Eli Turkel


From: <lkuzmack@...> (Arnold Kuzmack)
Date: Thu, 11 Nov 93 19:27:33 -0500
Subject: Yiddish words of Hebrew origin

In v9n85, Ben Sevitsky asks:

> Regarding the funny pronunciations of Hebrew words in Yiddish, I would
> like to know which of the following is correct:
> 1) They are mispronounciations of Hebrew words, much as one might
> use a French word in English speech and mispronounce it, or
> 2) They are real Yiddish words, cognate to the Hebrew words, derived
> from corruptions thereof and incorporated into Yiddish.
> I'm not sure what the linguistic difference between the two cases is,
> and I'd appreciate a linguist's opinion.

As Ben suspects, these are not the appropriate linguistic categories.  I
would say that the Yiddish words of Hebrew origin are borrowings.  They
are fully part of the language and are the usual way of referring to
things, e.g., [khasene] 'wedding', [yontev] 'holiday', [lemoshl] 'for
instance', etc.  Their pronunciation has been integrated into the
Yiddish sound system system.  This is similar, for example, to the
English 'rendezvous', where the nasal vowel [en] becomes a vowel
followed by the consonant [n], or the English 'glasnost', where the 'l',
'a', 'o' and 't' sounds are very different from their Russian originals
and the English word would probably not be recognized by a Russian

I would distinguish borrowing from cognates, which include words in two
languages that have a common origin, with neither borrowed from the
other, such as English 'water' and German 'Wasser'.

The case of Yiddish is more complex than many others, since Hebrew
borrowings are so common that they have unique grammatical
constructions, such as plurals using [-im] and verbs formed from the
Hebrew participle plus [zayn].  Hebrew has also influenced Yiddish

Arnold Kuzmack
<lkuzmack@...> (my wife's Internet account)


End of Volume 10 Issue 2