Volume 11 Number 59
                       Produced: Wed Feb  2 18:26:30 1994

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Halachic Yarmulkas
         [Danny Skaist]
Jews Around the World
         [Gena Rotstein]
Orthodox Shul Decorum
         [Robert J. Tanenbaum]
Yaakov and Leah
         [Mayer Danziger]
         [Yacov Barber]
Yosef and his Father
         [Zimbalist David]


From: DANNY%<ILNCRD@...> (Danny Skaist)
Date: Tue, 1 Feb 94 08:07:42 -0500
Subject: Halachic Yarmulkas

>Zev Farkas, PE                                :)
>is there any halachic basis for a yarmulka having to be of a certain size,
>color, shape, thickness, texture, opacity, or number of layers?

All yarmulkas without "height" have been ossured [forbidden] by the godolin
of the previous generation.  When the issur was made, the only kind
available  were the large black skull caps.

So in point of fact, only the large black skull caps were ever the subject
of a general rabbinical issur.  :-)

See any picture of any godol in a yarmulka to see what the only halachicly
authorized yarmulka looks like.  They all wear the same kind, and it is not
by accident.



From: Gena Rotstein <JSF@...>
Date: Tue, 1 Feb 94  17:18:07 EST
Subject: Jews Around the World

Hello.  I am a student at York University in Toronto and I am the
chairperson for the multi cultural week that the Jewish student
federation is participating in.  The theme that I have picked for out
display is Jews around the world and I am looking for information that
could be sent to on this subject.

Each day for four days we will be addressing a different group of Jews.
Feb. 7 is North American Jews looking at all three sects of Judaism, but
specifically at the term of Jewish Continuity and Assimilation. Feb. 8
is on "exotic" Jews.  By this I mean, Jews in Australia, their origins
(how they got there), Caribean, and S.E. Asia. Feb. 9 has yet to be
determined, and finally the Feb. 10 is a look at Jews in Israel.
Specifically the Ashkinazic and Sphardic Differences And The Aliyoth.

I have signed onto the UJA bullitin and they are compiling some stuff
for me, but I also was hoping that someone on MJ could send some info or
suggest other ideas.

Thank you.  Perhaps I will hear from some of you shortly.



From: <btanenb@...> (Robert J. Tanenbaum)
Date: Mon, 31 Jan 94 11:11:56 EST
Subject: Orthodox Shul Decorum

Regarding the discussion about Kiddush clubs and Orthodox Shul Decorum:

One of the major complaints that the early Reform movement made against
the Orthodox davening was that the decorum in shul was perceived by
them to be less desirable than the decorum in German churches.
Many of their reforms --- moving the bima from the middle to the front,
facing the congregation during Torah readings, ushers, choirs ---
were designed to make shul decorum more like the German churches.

The consequences of their changes have remained to this day, with Reform
and Conservative congregations having more regimented style of service
than Orthodox. It should be noted that Orthodox congregations which still
maintain the German traditions show this more regimented style service
while maintaining Orthodox standards of synagogue structure.
It should also be noted that a certain "free spirit" seems to be spreading
from Orthodox services into some Conservative services - especially those
with large active youth groups.

As a personal opinion I think that when they moved from a middle bima
to a forward bima, and from "loose" decorum to regimented decorum they
lost much of the sense of personal davening -- each individual standing
alone in front of HaKadosh Baruch Hu alongside fellow daveners -- and
created a more "theatrical show-piece" environment with all the action
occurring up front "on stage" with occaisional group "sing-alongs".
This is not to say that individual members of Conservative or Reform
congregations do not experience personal communion with HaKadosh Baruch Hu.

Neither does it excuse Orthodox shul-goers who talk or walk around during
davening. To be Melamed Zchut (i.e. find merit) with those individuals,
at the very least they feel so personally comfortable in shul and with
HaShem that they feel free to "let it all hangout" during davening.

An aside about Kiddush clubs. Let's say that an individual really does
feel physically burdened by waiting until after the speech and after musaf
to say kiddush and have a bite to eat. Which of the following would be
most preferable:
1. eat a hearty breakfast before davening and then daven fully with the
2. daven quickly alone, both shachris and musaf, and then eat - perhaps
   going to shul to hear the Torah reading and Kedusha with the congregation.
3. doing like the "kiddush clubs" - davening shachris with the congregation.
   Taking a short break to eat and say kiddush -- then returning to the

I prefer #1 for myself - since I often get a headache and irritated, which
can lead to worse aveiros bain-adam-ladam (person to person) than the aveiro
bain-adam-l'makom (person to G-d) of eating before davening.

A cursory reading of halachic sources would seem to prefer #2 or #3,
which would provide support for individuals privately behaving like 
"kiddush clubs". What I find distasteful about the kiddush clubs is the
exuberant sense of comradery at avoiding some section of davening
which seems to pervade these events. While comradery among Jews is to
be encouraged - in this case I would prefer that these individuals satisfied
their personal needs privately and discretely.

Comments ?

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


From: diverdan!<mayer@...> (Mayer Danziger)
Date: 31 Jan 94 18:56:03 GMT
Subject: Yaakov and Leah

Marc Shapiro writes in vol. 11 no. 47:
	For those who are interested in solving these types of problems
based on peshat, how about developing some answers on Jacob and Leah,
i.  e. how was she able to spend the entire night with him without him
knowing. My own approach is as follows: Jacob was drunk. There are a
number of proofs to support this, the major one being that the only
other time in Torah the phrase bekhirah and tseirah (older and younger)
is used is with the two daughters of Lot in a context of drinking, thus
hinting at the fact that our passage also refers to drinking. Note also
that the root of mishteh is related to drinking and the commentators
explain that the major part of a mishteh is wine. There are other
proofs but they are of less importance.

I would like to raise a number of objections to this post.  There are a
number of bible commentators who are considered strict literalists -
e.g. Ibn Ezra, Rashbam, etc. They genarally will not deviate from the
literal pshat of the verse. Other commentators (Rashi, Ramban) combine
pshat with drush or other means of explanation.  None of the
commentators (literalist or otherwise) suggest Yaakov's being drunk.
I don't see anywhere in the text where Yaakov is referred to as a
drunk.  There might have been a mishta going on, but that doesnt prove
Yaakov was drunk. The posuk's use of "bechira and tzeira" is, IMHO,
purely coincedental and not  a proof to anything. I think, one can safely
say that the text itself sheds no light on this question.

I would much prefer to use Rashi's quote of the Gemorah in Megilah 13b
to explain Yaakov's actions. The Gemorah says that Yaakov and Rachel
had agreed upon three signs with which Rachel would signal Yaakov with.
Rachel realized what her father (Laban) intended to sneak Leah into
Yaakov's tent and Leah would be discovered and terribly embarassed.  To
spare Leah this horrible fate, Rachel gave Leah the agreed upon three
signs and therefore Yaakov thought he was with Rachel.

If we don't have a literal explanation (pshat) of Yaakov's actions, then
why not take the high road (Rachel's exemplary self-sacrifice ) vs.
the low road (Yaakov's drunkenness)? Let us not forget some relevant
facts:  Yaakov was a man in his 80's, had spent 14 years learning by
Shem v'Ever, was the grandson of Avrohom and the son of Yitzchak, and
was about to embark on his divinely promised mission of nation
building. Is it likely that Yaakov would approach his wedding night in
a drunken stupor, not realizing who he was with? Chas v'Shalom!!!

Mayer Danziger      <mzd@...>


From: <barbery@...> (Yacov Barber)
Date: Tue, Feb 01 21:50:12 1994
Subject: Yarmulka

>since the kind of yarmulka (kippa, scullcap) a person wears has become a
>political badge, it made me wonder:
>is there any halachic basis for a yarmulka having to be of a certain size,
>color, shape, thickness, texture, opacity, or number of layers?
Concerning the size of the yarmulka R' Shlome Kluger {in his Shalos
V'Thuvos HAleph lecho shlomo sect.3 writes} that if one walks 4 cubits in
the street the entire top of one's head needs to be covered. If one walks
less than 4 cubits it is sufficient to cover only part of the head. Reb
Moshe in O.C. vol.1 writes that R' Kluger would agree that it would be
sufficient to cover the  majority of ones head {based on the rule that
"Ruboi K'kuloi" Which in our context means that if one covers the majority
of the head it is as if one covered the whole head}. Reb Moshe concludes
that if one wants to be stringent acc. to R' Kluger one may, however he
himself feels that as long as one's head can be said be "covered" it is
Concerning the number of layers,In Imrei Pinchas Hasholom {R' Pinchas
Mikoritz} it is written that acc. to Kaboloh one should have to coverings
coresponding to two levels of intellect. R' Yohoshua of Belz once said that
Yarmulka has the same letters of Yira Elokim, and the 2 coverings
correspond to the 2 levels of fear of Hashem. The Lubavitcher Rebbe Shlita
{may he have a speedily and complete recovery} writes in Igrois Kodesh
{vol. 10 p. 394} that one can bring a source to the custom of wearing 2
head coverings {Chulin 138.} from the fact that the Cohen Gadol would wear
a woollen Yarmulka under the Priestly hat.

Rabbi Yacov Barber
South Caulfield Hebrew Congregation
Phone: +613 576 9225
Fax: +613 528 5980


From: Zimbalist David <MDZIMBAL@...>
Date: Fri, 28 Jan 94 18:35:40 -0500
Subject: RE: Yosef and his Father

In mj v11n47, Uri Schild writes:

>And the final exclamation:
>	I'm Yosef. Is my father alive?

>is very much in context. Please recall: Yehuda tries to convince Yosef,
>that the father (Yakov) will die, if his son Binyamin doesn't return.
>Yosef, remembering his own pleas to spare him for his father's sake,
>reveals himself: "I'm Yosef. And my father's still alive? Did he love me
>less, than Binyamin?  Why didn't you apply these nice and correct
>arguments in my case back then?"
>And his brothers couldn't answer, because of SHAME...

Actually, you are arguing for the "conspiracy" understanding.  Up until
Yehudah spills the beans about Yaakov's state, Yosef does NOT know if his
father was in cahoots with his brothers.  As soon as Yehudah says that 
Yaakov understands Yosef's fate to have been "tarof, taraf" (torn up),
Yosef realizes that Yaakov was not part of a conspiracy.  He immediately
reveals himself and (in your own argument) rebukes his brothers for
not having considered what selling him would do to Yaakov.

I think this is one of the strengths of the "conspiracy" argument -
it is entirely within the context (i.e. pshat!)

David Zimbalist


End of Volume 11 Issue 59