Volume 12 Number 05
                       Produced: Wed Mar  2 21:43:16 1994

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Accentuation in Kriyyat Shema
         [Dr. Jeremy Schiff]
Bathroom facilities in the Temple
         [Sol Stokar]
Language Proficiency and Pronounciation
         [M Stern]
Strangers & Minyan
         [Harry Weiss]
         [Moshe J. Bernstein]


From: <schiff@...> (Dr. Jeremy Schiff)
Date: Mon, 21 Feb 94 13:33:06 +0200
Subject: Accentuation in Kriyyat Shema

There have been a variety of responses to my concern that people who
generically (sp?) misaccent words in kriyyat shema are not fulfilling
their obligation. So let me add a few points.

First, my comments were limited to issue of accentuation, where we do
indeed have a solid masorah as to what is right and what is wrong, at
least for the vast majority of words in the Tanach. This issue is, as
Danny Weiss noted, completely independent of whether you davven with
havarah sefaradit or havarah ashkenazis or whatever else you prefer.

The Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayyim 61/62 I think) quite clearly follows
the psak of the gemara in Brachot (15B? - sorry, but I'm lousy at page
numbers) that a person who makes a minor mistake in a word of kriyyat
shema fulfills his obligation (the issue is a machloket tanaim). The
issue of misaccentuation is not mentioned here, and I don't think it
actually fits into this sugya - most of the errors mentioned explicitly
involve "swallowing" some sound, e.g. saying "becholevavchem" as opposed
to "bechol levavchem".  If you make an error in a word, thereby changing
the meaning, (e.g. saying bechol vavchem) everyone would agree you are
not fulfilling your obligation. What about if you make an error in a
word changing it into pure nonsense? (as opposed to something clearly
recognizable, just not pronounced pristinely - this being the case of
the gemara in brachot - and as opposed to something that has changed
meaning altogether). For example, sometimes kids play a wame where way
wart wevery word with way woubleyou. (Could you understand this? Try
talking like this for a while and see....) Most misaccentuations sound
like such nonsense to a Hebrew speaker. (And this would also be true if
spoken Hebrew today were ashkenazis not sefaradit.)

It's not clear from the Shulchan Aruch that one does fulfil one's
obligation if you misaccent a word. But then there is no indication to
the contrary either. Irrespective of this, the case I suggested was of
someone who misaccents a lot of the time - "BARuch shaim KAVod malCHUto
leOLam VAed". Arguing purely on the basis of the fifth column of the
Shulchan Aruch and the existence of at least some "technical element" in
the mitzva of kriyyat shema (i.e. I can't just sit and think that I
accept the yoke of the Kingdom of Heaven), I would have to say such a
reading is not acceptable.

There is much in the works of modern day gedolim on the issue of
prononciation, but I am unaware of sources relating specifically to the
issue of accentuation. I would appreciate any references anyone is aware
of. The issue of a person who can not pronounce a specific letter
properly (e.g. someone who says a hay instead of a chet) has been raised
- everyone agrees such a person can fulfil the obligation of kriyyat
shema - but I am uncertain as to whether someone who _can_ say chet, and
says hay instead, does fuflil their obligation.

Mark Steiner raises many interesting points in his posting on
prononciation, amongst them a claim (of Professor Bar Asher) that the
practice of saying Hebrew words mil'eil and not milra' dates back to
Talmudic times. I had guessed it was a much more recent phenomenon than
this. Were the local languages Jews were exposed to in Babylonia ones
with large numbers of mil'eil words? If so Mark's claim is perfectly
reasonable. But I then find myself surprised that the issue of
misaccentuation was not raised in the gemara as a possible error people
should be careful about....I guess you have to say either that the
amoraim tolerated misaccentuation, or that the thought of such an error
never crossed their minds.



From: <sol@...> (Sol Stokar)
Date: Tue, 22 Feb 94 06:43:00 -0500
Subject: Bathroom facilities in the Temple

	In M-J, vol. 11, no. 86, Eli Turkel wrote:

>   Similarly, I have never seen any discussion
>  what they did in Second Temple days for bathroom facilities especially since
>  indoor plumbing did not exist in those days. Presumbaly something was also
>  available in these underground passages.

In fact, there is a brief discussion of the bathroom facilities in the
Temple in the Mishna, the Talmud and Maimonides' code. The first Mishna
of Tractate "Tamid" [1] discusses the procedure for a priest who became
ritually impure (due to a seminal emission) during the night. There was
a tunnel, originating in the "Beit HaMoked" [2] that decended, via a
circular staircase and lit by torches, that reached an area under the
Temple [3] where there was a ritual bath and a bathroom [4]. The Mishna

	"He (the priest) then reached the room of the ritual bath, and
the room contained a bonfire (for heat) and a "respectable bathroom".
And this was its "respectability": if he found it (i.e. the door)
locked, he knew that someone was inside; it he found the door open, he
was assured that the bathroom was free."

This bathroom is also the subject of a brief discussion in the
Palestinian Talmud [5] and Maimonides' code Yad HaHazaqa [6].


[1] This tractate discusses all the details of the Temple services. It
can be found in the standard Vilna edition of the "Shas" (Talmud) after
tractates "Me'illa" and "Kinnim" on page 26a.

[2] This was a room located within the northern wall of the Temple
court. The room contained a large fire which the priests used to warm
their bare feet.

[3] The Mishna uses the phrase "beneath the Bira". Pseudo-Rashi to
Tamid, ibid.  explains that this can either mean the Temple itself or
another area on the Temple mount called Bira. c.f. the argument of R.
Yohanan and Reish Laqish in T.B. Yoma 2a.

[4] Some commentators to Tamid conclude from this that a "Ba'al Qeri" (a
person who has become ritually impure due to a seminal emission) must
first use the bathroom before purifying himself in the ritual bath.
Yahin U'Boaz (Tamid, ibid.)  sees this as a precedent for Rama's
requirement that a "nidda" also use the bathroom before immersing
herself in the the ritual bath.

[5] T.P. Pesahim 7,12 (56a).

[6] Maimonides, Hil. Beit HaBehira, 5,11.

Dr. Saul Stokar
Phone: (972)-4-579-217			Phone: (972)-9-914-637
Fax: (972)-4-575-593
e-mail: <sol@...>


From: <MSTERN@...> (M Stern)
Date: Wed, 23 Feb 94 17:34:00 PST
Subject: Language Proficiency and Pronounciation

Many of the postings which have come through during February have dealt with 
issues of pronunciation and language proficiency.  Many of these have, I 
suspect, dealt with the questions as a matter of morality.  There are enough 
ways in which we have become judgemental and invited disaster.  Where there 
are halakhic concerns, these must be dealt with in the appropriate manner of 
p'saq.  Conceptually, however, there are other issues that can be considered 
as a matter of public policy.

It would be appropriate, I think, to realize that Hebrew is a living
language and that it should (or, at least, can still) be lashon hakodesh
[the holy tongue].  It can only be that if it is a vessel filled with
the cultural content of holy people.  Language is a container of its
people's culture.  In some circles Hebrew has been filled with alien
forms and alien content because its speakers have become alienated from
traditional culture.  Israeli literature has developed lines which are
modern, Western and secular.  A response to this is found in the
dedication (in Israel, of course, and abroad) to the use of Hebrew as
the language of learning and expression.  That language is most
efficiently delivered in its living form - spoken, modern Hebrew.

In our community, however, those of us who were so inclined found it
difficult to do that without sacrificing content.  The teachers with
solid credentials of learning and commitment WHO WERE WILLING TO COME
INTO THE PRAIRIE EXILE were often products of those yeshivot who
generally neglect Hebrew language skills.  We could have Hebrew speakers
or Torah models.  The institutions chose substance over form.  I still
agree with the choice but very unhappily.  It requires so much wasted
effort to overcome inadequate knowledge of the language in learning.

What I am advocating is that Hebrew (modern standard) should be our
instructional language.  That must be matched by a serious commitment
from our institutions and rabbinic/educational professionals to serve
ALL Jewish communities.  One should show sensitivity for the orphans
amongst us.

As for pronunciation, a survey of the sources (from the Tanakh to the
Acharonim) must convince one that the language developed variants
throughout.  Pronunciation tends to become normative WITHIN a community
and in a specific time frame.  Meaning changes are significant only
where there is divergence from the normative determined by place and
time.  Such relativism is the price of working with a living language.

Hag Purim Sameach


From: <harry.weiss@...> (Harry Weiss)
Date: Thu, 24 Feb 94 17:54:27 
Subject: Strangers & Minyan

In MJ V11#86 Malcolm Issacs discusses strangers and Minyan.  As a
retired Gabai, I had the opportunity to check into the issues raised.
The instructions I received were to rely on what the visitor told us
unless we had legitimate reason to question him.  If a person said they
were Jewish we trusted him.  The gemara says (I am on the road working
on my laptop and do not have my Shas handy for a cite, by I think it is
somewhere in Kiddushin.)  that one who questions other people's lineage
is of doubtful lineage himself.  (There was one case in which we were
burnt, but the rule still applies.)

We also accept individual statements that they are a Kohen or a Levy.
We did have several cases where the people who claimed to be Levys were
not.  Both cases were people who had almost no Jewish background but
became interested in an Orthodox Congregation.

Obviously it is important to check a person's yichus prior to a more
important and binding type of situation such as for marriage or for
using a Kohen for a Pidyon Haben.  (In a non Orthodox congregation in
our town there was a man who though he was a Kohen for many years as did
his father, but later found out that he was not.  There were numerous
boys where he was the Kohen at their Pidyon.)

Another interesting point regarding Aliyot to visitors is where the
visitor is a non Orthodox Rabbi.  Our LOR said to use the title Reb not
Rav.  There is also the question of an aliyah to a Kohen who is married
to a convert. (Our LOR ruled that in the case of a non Orthodox
conversion he could receive the Kohen aliyah since he was not really
married since she was not really Jewish, a rare advantage of a non
Halachic conversion.)

There are numerous type of situations that can arise, requiring the
Rabbi to make an instant Psak with time for research.

Happy Purim   Harry


From: Moshe J. Bernstein <mjbrnstn@...>
Date: Fri, 25 Feb 94 11:58:15 -0500
Subject: Re: Truth

My chavrusa of many years ago, Eli Turkel, suggests that I have
oversimplified the issue of truth overriding opinions. There certainly
can be debates on how to resolve truth, and he cites the medieval
dispute between Menahem and Dunash as an example.  Of course, there may
be debates, but it is unlikely that both sides are true. I was concerned
with achieving as close a proximity to truth on any given issue as
possible, and the only point at issue is, for example, whether M's
method or D's is better.  What does not matter is whether some
individual, gadol or otherwise, can assert truth by virtue of ipse
dixit.  Whether ArtScroll or Rabbi Berel Wein choose to arbitrate truth
on the basis of the source of a given statement or idea is irrelevant.
We may have more information on issues of language than Rashi did, and I
believe it is forbidden for us not to use it.  We may have more
information on historical data than what was available to the rishonim,
and that may mean that we simply know more than they do.  To deny overt,
or even covert, evidence because it comes from a source we do not like
or because it makes a rishon "wrong" is probably asur, although i'm not
certain what the lav is! Rabbi Wein's books have serious deficiencies
_as history_ for the very reason, among others, that he is unwilling to
grapple with the tough issues like the analytical opinions of
nonjewish/nonreligious scholars regarding jewish history, although he is
willing to deny legend as history.  The same is true of the commentary
on the Torah attributed to Rabbi Yehudah heHasid.  I've actually spoken
to two talmidei hakhamim who say that it is indisputably by him. One of
them was actually the source of some of the material which was shown to
R. Moshe z.l. before he wrote the teshuvah, and he said to me that if he
had been given an hour with R. Moshe, he could have convinced him of the
authentic ascription!  But the issue, once again, is does the gadol have
the right to claim that his assertion of the meaning of a word or of
historical reality is true.  I submit that he does not, and that we must
allow the kind of evidence which may not enter into the evaluative
process followed by the gadol to sway us to reject his opinion in
matters of fairly objective fact.

moshe bernstein


End of Volume 12 Issue 5