Volume 10 Number 75
                       Produced: Wed Dec 22  0:17:55 1993

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Aseret B'teves
         [Scott Spiegler]
Berov Am
         [Pinchus Laufer]
Chanuka gelt
         [David Charlap]
Divine Will
         [Eli Turkel]
         [Mike Gerver]
Maoz Tzur Verse
         [Jeff Finger]
Midrash, Apikorsim and Fools
         [David Kaufmann ]
         [Hayim Hendeles]
Pierced Ears
         [Robert J. Tanenbaum]
         [Harry Weiss]


From: <cs015187@...> (Scott Spiegler)
Date: Fri, 17 Dec 93 13:09:02 -0500
Subject: Aseret B'teves

The reason I know that the fast is not pushed off, even though it falls
on erev Shabbos is because of the source of the passuk which states
something like, ' on that day...'. So, we use the mandate of the text to
allow us to not push off the fast. None of the other fasts that I know
off specify the day to that extent. There are other reasons brought
down, but I haven't been able to locate the source.



From: <plaufer@...> (Pinchus Laufer)
Date: Fri, 17 Dec 93 08:59:36 -0500
Subject: Re: Berov Am

A related question to the one of ner chanukah: Kiddush.  Should a single
person make kiddush for a group fulfilling "berov am" or should each
individual (or head of household) make Kiddush?  I must admit that where
I was raised the general tradition was the latter and I never considered
"beRov Am" until I had some guests for a Friday night meal and they
quoted our LOR as saying that a single Kiddush is preferable because of
BeRov am.

Is here any issue of whether the obligation is on the individual versus
on the "house" or group?  (Ner ish U- baiso)?

Just some food for thought



From: <dic5340@...> (David Charlap)
Date: Thu, 16 Dec 93 22:27:58 -0500
Subject: Chanuka gelt

I asked my rabbi about the custom of giving gelt (real money, not
chocolate coins) on Chanuka.  We looked in a number of source books
but the only reason given was that there is a kabbalistic reason.
But the books didn't contain the reason, itself.  It was late that
night, so we didn't bother looking for it in the Zohar.


From: <turkel@...> (Eli Turkel)
Date: Wed, 15 Dec 93 08:52:47 +0200
Subject: Divine Will

     Sara kaplan writes:

>> If G-d is capable of determining if you will live
>> or not, then G-d is capable of knowing if you will step in front of the
>> bullet at that time, and writing you in the book or not in accordance to
>> the way the year will carry out.

    This violates the principle of free will. How to reconcile free will
with God's knowing everything in advance is an old problem dealt with by
Maimonides and many others. However, the bottom line is that each person
has a complete freedom to commit suicide or not go to a doctor etc. and
this is not determined in advance on Rosh Hashana.

Eli Turkel


From: <GERVER@...> (Mike Gerver)
Date: Fri, 17 Dec 1993 1:33:19 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Gematria

Chaim Schild, in v10n51, asks when gematria was first used. Although I
don't have any specific examples earlier than the one he cites, the word
comes from the Greek "geometria", which evidently at one time meant
mathematics in general (including arithmetic), not just geometry. So I
would think that it originated in Hellenistic times, or perhaps around
the time of the compilation of the Gemara, when it was still common to
borrow words from Greek, but not earlier or later than that. A related
question which Dov Shuchatowitz brought up in a discussion some time
ago at shul: When did Jews start using the current system of representing
numbers by Hebrew letters? In Tanach, numbers are always spelled out. The
presently used Hebrew system is essentially the same as the system used
by the Greeks with the Greek alphabet (i.e. alpha = 1, beta = 2,...),
which suggests that this system (together with the word "gematria") was
borrowed from the Greeks. This, or course, need not contradict any ideas
about the significance of gematria in the Torah, since G-d knew that Jews
would adopt this system of numerals in the future. Is there a historian
out there who can comment on this?

Mike Gerver, <gerver@...>


From: <jfinger@...> (Jeff Finger)
Date: Thu, 16 Dec 1993 10:01:53 PST
Subject: Maoz Tzur Verse

Are there any good commentaries on the poem "Maoz Tzur"?

The last line of the added last verse,

        "D'khe admon b'tzel tzalmon hakem ro'im shiv'a"

has me confused. This stanza seems to be about the present galut
[diaspora]. According to Siddur Rinat Yisrael, "Admon" [the red one] is
Esav, and "ro'im shiv'a" [seven shepherds] refers to a pasuk from Micah
5, "hakimonu alav shiv'a ro'im" [place us upon him as seven shepherds].
So, I assume the verse must be speaking of the time of living without
difficulties from Esav, but I think I am missing something. What's the
"tzalmon" ["tzelem" is an "image"] about? And is Esav all non-Jews, or
is it referring to a particular group?

The Yaakov Emden "Siddur Beis Yaakov" had no commentary, but it had
a very different last line:

       "M'khe pesha ve'gam risha, hakem lanu ro'eh shiv'a."

Strange. Are we perhaps seeing the hand of the censor?

-- Itzhak "Jeff" Finger --


From: David Kaufmann  <david@...>
Date: Sat, 18 Dec 93 22:34:38 -0500
Subject: Re: Midrash, Apikorsim and Fools

The quote about midrash, apikorsim and fools has, I think, been
misapplied. I believe the statement was by the Kotzker Rebbe about the
Baal Shem Tov and went something like this:
"Anyone who believes that all the stories about the Baal Shem Tov
actually happened is a fool; but anyone who believes they couldn't
have happened is an apikores."

I will try to locate a more exact quote and a source.

David Kaufmann INTERNET:	<david@...>


From: Hayim Hendeles <hayim@...>
Date: Thu, 16 Dec 93 17:33:36 -0800
Subject: Re: Midrashim

Regarding the meaning of some of the more "unusual" Midrashim, in the
beginning of one the Art Scroll's, they mention the following story,
which is worth repeating.

Some years ago, in Russia, the Czar wished to censor the Midrashim
based on slanderous reports he had heard about it - especially some
of the "unusual" stories found in the Midrash.

One Rabbi was given the opportunity to defend the Midrash, and he told
the following to the Czar:

"You have the opportunity to wipe out all of Russian Jewry, if you
so chose. All you would have to do is sign your name on a royal
decree, and that would mean the end of Russian Jewry. 

A contemporary poet might write that with a "drop of ink, the Czar has
destroyed all the Russian Jews". And to an observer at the time, the
plain meaning of these words is quite obvious. However, imagine
1000 years down the road, somebody reading how a drop of ink killed
millions of people. To such an observer, these words would be meaningless,
and even ridiculous. "

And so it is with Midrashim. If we understood the language and the
background, the meaning of the Midrash would be quite clear. It is only
because we are so far removed from the authors, that we often do not
understand the plain meaning of these words.

Hayim Hendeles


From: <btanenb@...> (Robert J. Tanenbaum)
Date: Tue, 14 Dec 93 10:51:08 EST
Subject: Re: Pierced Ears

Warren Burstein asks, "How do we learn that men are prohibited from
piercing their ears even though women are permitted?"

The Torah give two prohibitions:
1. Women may not wear "beged ish" (men's clothing)
2. Men may not wear "simlat isha" (women's dress)

The Rabbis noticed the difference in language and stated that women are
only prohibited from wearing specifically male designated garments, but
men are prohibited from the entire female manner of adornment, not just
specific female garments.

The various halacha seforim apply this principle and prohibit men from
wearing ANY jewelry, preening in front of a mirror, and styling their
hair.  Since the observant community just barely tolerates a man wearing
a simple gold ring -- I think it is obvious that piercing an ear for
jewelry is only for women. If a man wanted to poke a hole in his ear for
nothing ?!  I'm sure the rabbis would discourage useless ear piercing,
too !!  :^)

Ezra Bob Tanenbaum	1016 Central Ave	Highland Park, NJ 08904
home: (908)819-7533	work: (212)450-5735
email: <btanenb@...>


From: Harry Weiss <73132.2266@...>
Date: 18 Dec 93 23:25:56 EST
Subject: Yeshivot

Despite what I have been reading in MJ, there are Yeshivot in the United
States which have outstanding program in both the Limudei Kodesh and
secular subjects.  These institutions are not limited to the New York
area or the East Coast.  My older son graduated from, and my younger son
is current a student of Valley Torah High School in North Hollywood,
California.  They provide an excellent Torah and secular education.  Our
Rabbi sends his son to the High School at Hebrew Theological College in
Skokie, IL and is also very satisfied.

I am sure that are many other MJers out there who are also very pleased
with the education their children are receiving.  Lets give our Yeshivot
the credit they deserve.



End of Volume 10 Issue 75