Volume 11 Number 20
                       Produced: Mon Jan 10 21:40:12 1994

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Apikorus and Epicureanism
         [Frank Silbermann]
Birkat Hamazon at Seudah Shlishit
         [Gedalyah Berger]
Experiences in Israel: January 1-4, 1994
         [Harold Gellis]
         [Alan Cooper and Tamar Frank]
Haftara sources
         [Richard Rudy]
Message from your Purim Editor
         [Sam Saal]
Retzei and Yaaleh Veyavo
         [Israel Botnick]


From: Frank Silbermann <fs@...>
Date: Thu, 6 Jan 94 08:51:06 -0500
Subject: Apikorus and Epicureanism

In v.11 n.5 Robert Israel writes (slightly edited):

> In the sense of "someone who rejects the authority of the Torah"
> or "someone who disrespects the Sages", I'd have to agree that there
> were (apikorsim) before Hellenistic times.  But the original meaning
> of the word might have been more specific, referring to the Epicurean
> school of philosophy.  Epicureans were rationalists who believed in
> a world of atoms and chance, unaffected by the gods, and an ethics
> based on enlightened self-interest.

Epicureanism (the specific Greek philosophy) seems remarkably similar
to the scientific spirit of our age.  Have any of our philosophers
(Rambam, Ramban, or others) discussed Epicureanism specifically?
In its pure form the philosophy is clearly incompatible with our beliefs
(hence our use of the word to describe heresy in general), but I wonder
whether any rabbi ever tried to relate Judaism with any specific aspects
of Epicureanism.

Frank Silbermann	<fs@...>
Tulane University	New Orleans, Louisiana  USA


From: Gedalyah Berger <gberger@...>
Date: Sun, 9 Jan 94 17:43:05 -0500
Subject: Re: Birkat Hamazon at Seudah Shlishit

> 3.What if you say Birkat Hamazon at Seudah Shlishit on Shabbat after
> Tzeit?Do you say Retzei? (I only know of YES answers to this.)  If
> the next day (Motzaei Shabbat & Sunday) is Rosh Chodesh, do you also
> say Ya'aleh V'yavo?(I know of YES and NO answers to this.)
> Susan Hornstein

You do say Retzei, but there are two different reasons given, with 
interesting nafka minot (practical consequences).  One reason is that 
"aschalta dese`udasa adifa" (the beginning of the meal is more 
important); i.e., since you started on Shabbos, you say Retzei.  The 
other reason is based on tosefes Shabbos (time added on to Shabbos); 
since (up to a point) as long as one does not formally end Shabbos, the 
kedushah of Shabbos extends to a certain degree, you say Retzei because 
it really still is Shabbos.  One nafka mina is the Se`udas Purim: if the 
Retzei halakhah is because of aschalta dese`udasa, then it would apply to 
Purim too and you would say Al Hanissim if your se`udah extended until 
after nightfall; if it's because of tosefes, then you would not say Al 
Hanissim, because there is no halakhah of tosefes Purim.  This is, of 
course, very nogea` lema`aseh (actually relevant for practice), because 
most people, I think, do finish the Se`udas Purim after nightfall. Ask 
your LOR.

Regarding Ya'aleh Veyavo when Rosh Chodesh is on Sunday, I don't know 
that much, but I do know that in my shul they pass around more challah 
right before Birkas Hamazon so that everyone will have a kezayis (the 
amount of bread one must eat in order to be required to say Birkat 
Hamazon) after tzeis hakochavim (halachic nighttime), and then they say 
Ya`aleh Veyavo.

Gedalyah Berger
Yeshiva College / RIETS
Finals are over!!!


From: Harold Gellis <gelyc@...>
Date: Tue, 4 Jan 1994 16:10:34 +0200 (IST)
Subject: Experiences in Israel: January 1-4, 1994

December 31, 1993 - The very first thing one notices when exiting Ben 
Gurion terminal is the unusually warm weather. It is balmy, and almost 
summerlike. It has not really rained in the populated parts of Israel 
this season and several places have begun to institute the prayers for 
drought.  The desert areas however, especially around Ein Gedi, have been 
inundated with floods, making roads impassible. The fact that the rain 
has fallen only on unpopulated areas where it cannot be utilized is a bad 

January 1, 1994 - shabbos - Signs are posted everywhere. On the twentieth 
day of Tevet, January 3, an emergency gathering will be held at the Kotel 
to protest the government's policy of appeasement which is endangering 
Jews all over Israel.  A huge sign is posted on the walls outside the 
Great Synagogue. It is emergency proclamation calling on Jews worldwide 
to institute a day of prayer. An immense gathering of Jews at the 
Kotel is called for 3:30 p.m. on monday afternoon.  The proclamation is 
signed by fifty rabbonim from the hesder yeshivas and chief rabbinates of 
Israel: Rabbis Kook; Shaar Yoshuv Cohen; Lior; Waldman; Rabinovich; and 
others.  A separate sign from the Badatz rabbinate and the Eidah Charedis 
also proclaims an emergency gathering at the Kotel on Monday at 3:30 
p.m.  This proclamation is signed by Rabbi Elyashev, Shlomo Zalman 
Auerbach, and the Belzer rebbe.  Several signatures are, however, 
prominently absent from this proclamation. 

January 3 - A couple from moshav matityahu who I have just met are 
driving me to the German colony.  They make a turn when suddenly they are 
stopped by a policeman on a motorcycle who happens to be at the corner.  
Apparently, the driver has made an illegal turn.  The policeman issues 
the driver a ticket despite the driver's protestations that his 
infraction was minor.  The driver is an American Oleh with 6 children and 
very poor.  The ticket is for 200 shekels (approximately $75).  The same 
weekend that this happened, 14 people have been killed in traffic 
accidents - a record!

January 4 - The day dawns bright and clear; not a cloud in the sky.  At 
about 3 p.m., I am driving with the rector of the Jerusalem College of 
Technology along Rechov Herzl towards Rechavia. People are streaming 
toward the Kotel in masses. The atmosphere is very tense and it feels 
like erev Yom Kippur.  We park our car near Abu Tor and ascend the steps 
towards the old city. The sky has become cloudy and drops begin to fall.  
Masses of religious Jews - hesder students, high school kids, chasidim - 
are streaming towards the Kotel.  We descend toward the plaza of the 
Kotel. Policemen and soldiers are deployed all over.  Soldiers patrol the 
top of the Kotel. A helicopter hovers overhead.

A voice crackles over the loudspeaker. It is the prayer of tehilim. Tens 
of thousands of Jews have crowded the plaza before the Kotel, are jammed 
along the steps at the entrance to the Kotel plaza, and are massed on the 
rooftops of the buildings of the old quarter.  Suddenly, the heavens open 
up and a there is a torrential rainstorm. It begins to get cold. More 
tehilim! I huddle under my raincoat, drenched. Puddles of muddy water 
form on the stones below me.

At the end of each chapter of Tehilim, a pair of trumpeteers blow their 
trumpets. Is this how it was during the time of the Beis Hamikdash?  
Thousand and tens of thousands of Jews are chanting Shma Yisroel. I feel 
that the shechina is about to be revealed.

The downpoar has stopped. More prayers and mincha. The loudspeaker 
entreats the assembly to accept the yoke of heaven. Maariv!

After two hours, it is done. Masses of Jews attempt to exit via Dung 
Gate.  It is people gridlock! Almost impossible to move as the throngs of 
people attempt to push and rush out of the mass of humanity.  A car 
attempts to weave through the sea of humanity. It contains the Admor of 
Sadegora. An ambulance attempts to pass simultaneously, its sirens wailing.

I make it through the gate but it is impossible to get near the number 1 
bus.  Instead, we walk.  We pass soldiers with machine guns, policemen in 
jeeps, and people of all shapes, stripe, and denominations. There are 
buses from Jerusalem, Bnei Brak, Netanya, Hadera, Ashdod, Chevron, and 
all parts of Israel. We pass a sign draped over a van: Rabin has no 
mandate to abandon Jewish lives.  After an hour of walking, I am back in 
the Kings Hotel.  The experience is unforgettable!

I am staying at the Kings Hotel (02-247-133) room 322 if anyone wants to 
speak with me about Jewish networking.

Heshy Gellis


From: Alan Cooper and Tamar Frank <ACOOPER@...>
Date: Tue, 4 Jan 94 10:31:03 -0500
Subject: Gematria

Mechy Frankel's fine posting on gematria raised the level of the
discussion considerably.  There is, in fact, no absolute consensus among
scholars concerning the origin of the word.  Bacher derived it from
grammateus, which is simply the Greek equivalent of Latin notarius
("stenographer"), the basis for the term notariqon.  On the other hand,
Shaul Lieberman derived gematria from geometria, and this interp-
retation was supported in the article in Tarbiz that Mechy mentioned in
passing, by S. Sambursky, Tarbiz 45 (1975/6) 268-71; also in English, in
Journal of Jewish Studies 29 (1978) 35-38.  The most important recent
development in the scholarly study of gematria has been the recognition
of how ancient the practice was.  (There is some truth to the view of a
previous poster that the Greek name was applied to a hermeneutic
technique that long predated that name.)  Those who do not shun such
material would enjoy and profit from the brilliant article by Stephen J.
Lieberman z"l, "A Mesopotamian Background for the So-Called Aggadic
'Measures' of Biblical Hermeneutics?" Hebrew Union College Annual 58
(1987) 157-225.  See also Jeffrey H. Tigay, "An Early Technique of
Aggadic Exegesis," in H. Tadmor and M. Weinfeld (eds.), History,
Historiography, and Interpretation (Jerusalem: Magnes, 1984) 169-189.

With good wishes,
Alan Cooper


From: Richard Rudy <r101564@...>
Date: Thu, 6 Jan 1994 14:41:03 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Haftara sources

As a new (brand new) subscriber, I would first like to briefly note my
amazement and excitement at the exchanges I've read so far.  First the
Tora Shebikhtav, then the writing down of the Tora Shebe'al Peh and now
the advent of the Tora Elektronika! :-)

My request is as follows: I currently prepare a weekly class, which I also
fax to several friends, on the weekly Haftara, its association to the
Parasha and related topics.

I am on the hunt for interesting source material for use in research and
preparation.  I currently consult the following: Hazon HaMiqra (Jacobson),
Rashi, Radaq, Malbim, Ibn Ezra, R. Mendel Hirsch, Da'at Miqra, The
Literary Guide to the Bible, The Anchor Bible and various yalqutey Midrash.

If anyone can suggest some interesting Mefarshim who comment specifically
on the Haftara or, if not , then on the Nebiim as a whole, I would be most

Also, if anyone can direct me to resources available through the
Interenet, that would be great as well.

thank you in advance.

Richard Rudy
212 967 5300 x251


From: Sam Saal <SSAAL@...>
Date: Mon, 10 Jan 94 11:46:38 -0500
Subject: Message from your Purim Editor

How many sons did Haman have?
Between 11 and 19. In the Megilla we learn that 10 were hung. In Maoz Tzur 
we sing that "rov banav", i.e., most of them were hung. That means that 10 
is most of, but not all of, Haman's sons.

It is now just about halfway between Chanukah and Purim and I thought that 
might be both a good chronological transition as well as an 
introduction/reminder.  As you already know, I volunteered to be the Purim 
editor for mail.jewish.  I am accepting submissions of Purim Torah and other 
humorous pieces.

I'm also looking for people to collaborate on a Purim Spiel for this year. 
 In the past, I've collected netnews or mail.jewish articles  on what I 
considered humorous or ironic topics and have turned them into mini-plays. 
So far, I've done one on the ultimate egg cream and one on why Hamentaschen 
have four corners, both of which should be available in the mail.jewish 
archives.  This year the topic relates to M&Ms, clearly a controversial 
issue, and could use some help.  If you'd like to participate in writing it, 
send me email.

Purim is just around the corner so get those cards and letters in quickly.

Sam Saal


From: <icb@...> (Israel Botnick)
Date: Fri, 7 Jan 94 11:13:24 EST
Subject: Retzei and Yaaleh Veyavo

In vol. 10 # 5 Susan Hornstein asked about saying retzei when Seudah
Shlishit goes into the night. This topic is discussed in Shulcan aruch
OC chapter 188. Basically the rule is that when deciding what to add into
Birkat Hamazon we always follow the beginning of the meal. Therefore even
if sunday is Rosh Chodesh (and shabbat isnt) we say only retzei. The
magen avraham adds however, that if a kezais [olives worth] of
bread is eaten after sunset, then both retzei and yaaleh veyavo need to
be said. Since it would be contradictory to say both, he says to say
only yaaleh veyavo and not retzei. (this is  a short synopsis of the MA.
He gives a detailed reason of why to choose yaaleh veyavo over retzei).
The best thing in this case is not to eat any bread after sunset.

As far as "Ata Chonantanu", it is supposed to be part of the first prayer
after shabbat even if one said baruch hamavdil or havdala. It can even be
said sunday morning (if one forgot maariv on motzei shabbat and is making
it up on sunday morning).

Israel Botnick


End of Volume 11 Issue 20