Volume 12 Number 57
                       Produced: Thu Apr 14  0:00:36 1994

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Being a Jewish Mommy (2)
         [Susan Slusky, David Charlap]
Reading on Shemoneh Esrei (5)
         [Leonard Oppenheimer, Moshe Waldoks, Freda Birnbaum, Mayer
Danziger, Mechael Kanovsky]
Soap (2)
         [Ezra Rosenfeld, Yitzchok Adlerstein]
Stones on Graves
         [Joey Mosseri]
Stones on Headstones/Knocking before entering
         [Kalman Laudon]


From: <segs@...> (Susan Slusky)
Date: Tue, 12 Apr 94 15:30:47 EDT
Subject: Being a Jewish Mommy

In response to Constance Stillinger's question about when and how we
start introducing our children to Jewish observance:

Babies start absorbing the sounds and sights of Jewish observance very
early. My guess is that Shabbos candles and Havdalah are coded into
synapses pretty early. My kids spent a lot of time in infant seats on
the table watching goings on. They get used to the sound of kiddush and
the look of tefilin.

As far as doing something active with them, teaching Krias Shema comes
pretty early on. Also, including them in food preparation can be done
very early. There's a very good book called (I think) Jewish Children's
Holiday Cookbook with lots of good recipes to connect to various
holidays including Shabbat. Fifteen months might be a bit early, but
certainly by next Tu B'shevat your child would be able to roll stuffed
dates in coconut. And the cholent recipe includes "sealing" the pot by
sticking pie crust dough all around the edges a la play dough. I'm not
convinced it does anything for the cholent, but it might. Not being a
fan of cholent, it's hard for me to tell. The holiday cycle is very
important to toddlers. By the time they're three, anything you
did/cooked for a holiday when they were two has become a family
tradition and may not be tampered with.

Susan Slusky

From: <david@...> (David Charlap)
Date: Tue, 12 Apr 94 11:05:09 -0400
Subject: Re: Being a Jewish Mommy

Constance Stillinger <cas@...> writes:
>    How you sneak your davening in around the demands of your children?

This is a big problem.  For the mommies, they are exempt from most of
the davening, so they don't have to make time.  For the daddies,
they're going to have to find time.  Wake up before the children for
shacharit, mincha during nap-time, and maariv after they go to sleep.
You probably won't be able to get to a minyan with this schedule.


From: <leo@...> (Leonard Oppenheimer)
Date: Tue, 12 Apr 1994 12:52:54 -0400
Subject: Reading on Shemoneh Esrei

> I'm interested in recommendations for reading on the Shemoneh Esrei.
> I am more interested in an analytical approach. I'm especially
> interested in the logic of the overall structure and order of the
> Shemoneh Esrei, including the reasoning behind all of the structural
> variations between weekday, Shabbat, Yom Tov, etc.  Given that the
> Shemoneh Esrei is the central element of our thrice-daily prayer
> service, I feel impelled to gain a deeper understanding of it. Can
> anyone help me on this?

I can recommend four works, though there are so many more that one could
also benefit from:

1) "To Pray as a Jew" - Rabbi Hayim Donin.  A basic book that explains all
the fundamentals about the prayers and their structure.  Though aimed at
beginners, most can gain valuable insights from it.

2) "The World of Prayer" - Rabbi Elie Munk.  Deals with the basic meaning
and structure of prayer on a more sophisticated level, including many
philosophical insights.

3) "The Art of Jewish Prayer" - by Rabbi Yitzchak Kirzner & Lisa Aiken.  An
extremely important and beautiful book, that takes the Shmone Esrei apart,
blessing by blessing and shows how it addresses all of our most basic

4) "The Shmoneh Esrei" by Rabbi S.R. Hirsch, reprinted in Collected Writings
vol. III.  One of Rav Hirsch's most famous essays, he draws an entire
tapestry of Jewish longing and history through a  basic analysis of the
structure of Shmoneh Esrei.

May we all merit to approach our Father in Heaven with greater devotion.

Lenny Oppenheimer

From: <WALDOKS@...> (Moshe Waldoks)
Date: Tue, 12 Apr 1994 11:27:39 -0400
Subject: Reading on Shemoneh Esrei

Re: Shemoneh esreh. In a recent festschrift for Rabbi Zalman Schachter
(THE WORLD OF PRAYER, Jason Aronson, 1993) there are two wonderful articles
on the Amidah and its meaning. Moshe Waldoks

From: Freda Birnbaum <FBBIRNBA@...>
Date: Tue, 12 Apr 1994 07:40:52 -0400
Subject: Reading on Shemoneh Esrei

I don't have them in front of me, but you might want to look at Elie
Munk's _World of Prayer_ (both volumes), Donin's _To Pray as a Jew_,
B.S.  Jacobson's fantastic stuff: _The Sabbath Service_, _The Weekday
Siddur_, _Meditations on the Siddur_.  I think Samson Raphael Hirsch has
a small essay on it also but I'm not sure if it's available as a
stand-alone book, I think I saw it as a pamphlet some years ago.
Jacobson goes in and out of print, grab it when you can.  I think it IS
currently in print.  Don't let the unimpressive typography fool you,
it's a gold mine.  Munk and Donin are now available in paperback.

Freda Birnbaum, <fbbirnbaum@...>
"Call on God, but row away from the rocks"

From: diverdan!<mayer@...> (Mayer Danziger)
Date: 13 Apr 94 20:14:56 GMT
Subject: Reading on Shemoneh Esrei

For a discuusion on why there are 18/19 berachot in Shmoneh Esrai see 
Berakhot 28b. For a discussion on the sequence of the berachot see
Megilah 17b. Hope this helps.

Mayer Danziger 

From: <KANOVSKY@...> (Mechael Kanovsky)
Date: Wed, 13 Apr 1994 20:18:49 -0400
Subject: Re: Reading on Shemoneh Esrei

The order of the brachot is explained in the begining of the third perek
in tractate megilah. I can recomend some books in hebrew especialy R'
Baruch Epstiens' (the one who wrote the torah temimah and other books)
called "Baruch she'amar al hatifilah. I hope this is of help mechael


From: Ezra Rosenfeld <zomet@...>
Date: Tue, 12 Apr 1994 12:43:57 +0300 (IDT)
Subject: Re: Soap

I spoke to Dr. Ephraim Zuroff, the head of the Wiesenthal Center in
Yerushalayim this morning. He confirmed what Eitan had written. I
remember seeing exhibits in Yad Vashem but Dr.  Zuroff said that this is
one of those stories which, over the years, have turned out to be myths.

From: Yitzchok Adlerstein <ny000594@...>
Date: Mon, 11 Apr 94 22:24:46 -0800
Subject: Soap

Aaron Breitbart, Senior Research Associate at the Simon Wiesenthal 
Center, reports the following:  

There are legitimately conflicting views.  The "recipe" for making soap 
was introduced at the Nuremberg trials, which lends credence to the view 
that the Nazis (yemach shemam) did manufacture it.  On the other hand, 
some scholars have their doubts.

Aaron believes that both may be correct.  They began making it, but found 
the project unattractive economically, and so dropped it. 


From: <JMOSSERI@...> (Joey Mosseri)
Date: Tue, 12 Apr 1994 00:49:03 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Stones on Graves

Lon Eisenberg asks about the custom of placing stones upon the gravestones.
We all do it but is it right?

I looked into this question about a year ago and it's not as simple as it

   Firstly it should be known  that the custom of placing something upon the
grave is originally mentioned in ELIYAH RABAH (the end of chapter 224) in
the name of MAHARSHA"L  in his sermons , where he says, that you rip out
some grass and place it upon the tombstone, for the sake of honoring the
deceased and to show that you were there. And this is mentioned in the later
sources, such as BAER HETEB, KAF HAHAYIM, and GESHER HAYIM (volume 1 page
311). And concerning the placing of grass we have found this mentioned in
SHOULHAN 'AROUKH  YOREH DE'AH (CHAPTER 376 NUMBER 4) that you pull up dirt
and grass and toss it behind your backs. And see BE-ER HAGOLAH AND BIOURE
HAGER"A. Also see MAHZOR VITRI volume 1(page 247 the end of chapter 279 and
280 and in the notes), also see ME-AH SHE'ARIM (Hilkhot Abel page 43).
And in any case we do not lay dirt or stones upon the grave.
But nowadays the custom is only to place a stone upon the grave.
What are the origins of this custom???

Now this really seems to be a strange custom. Let's check out what our
Rabbi's said in MASEKHET 'EDOUYOT (chapter 5 mishnah 6): "But whom did they
excommunicate? It was El'azar Ben Hanokh, because he disputed concerning the
cleanness of the hands; and when he died the court sent and laid a stone
upon his coffin; whence we learn that if any man be excommunicated, and dies
while under his excommunication, they put a stone on his coffin."
Also see MASEKHET SEMAHOT (chapter 5 law 11):"An excommunicated person that
died, this person is worthy of stonning; not that they placed a heap of
rocks upon him, rather a messanger of the bet din carries a stone and places
it upon his coffin , in order to fulfil; the missvah of stoning."
 From this it seams pretty clear that by placing a stone upon the deceaseds
grave it can be a source of great embarrassment and disgrace.
But one can say that since nowadays we do not have the sanhedrin and the law
of stoning is not applicable , we don't have to worry about suspecting this.
And it also can be that when they were originally just placing grass upon
the graves they may have also put on some small pebbles so that the grass
wouldn't blow away.

Another point on this subject that would be very applicable to those buried
in Israel is found the YEROUSHALMI (KILAYIM chapter 9 end of law 3):"since
they arrived in Israel you uproot a bulk of grass and place it upon the
coffin as it is written (Deuteronomy 32:43) VEKHIPER ADMATO 'AMMO  and make
atonement for his land and people."
Therefore it seems to me that in Israel you should definitely place only
grass (and some earth over it so it won't blow away) upon the tomstone.

Recently in Israel the book SIFTE SADIQIM by the famed kabalist Rabbi
Souliman Mousafi was published. And in it on page 22 his son writes: When
you go to pray at the grave it is the custom to place a stone on the
tombstone , and when you finish praying and are getting ready to leave the
custom is to remove the stone. And there are those who have the custom to
leave the stone on the grave and they are mostly from the Ashkenazic
communities. And accordind to the opinion of my father (the late Rabbi
Souliman Mousafi) in the name of the kabalists, it is very important to make
sure that you remove the stone when leaving the grave. The reason being such;
When you place the stone upon the grave it is signifying that you are
inviting the spark of the soul to come down and sit upon it like a chair.
And when you leave you must remove it to let the soul know that it is time
for it to return to its place, and it wouldn't be nice for you leave the
gravesite while the soul is still sitting upon the grave. And even if you
want to say that the soul knows to depart it's not proper to leave an empty
seat upon the grave(due to other kabalistic reasons), rather you must remove
it. Moreover his son goes on to say that his father used to always tell his
congregants that when they go to the cemetary they should remove any stones
that they find upon the tombstones.

Like I said in my opening sentances ; Mr. Eisenberg asked an interesting
question and this is what I've been able to come up with. It doesn't seem
like its quite a simple issue as people may think.
I'd be most interested to get your feedback on this issue either privatly or
here on Mailjewish.
Joey Mosseri (<jmosseri@...>)


From: <klaudon@...> (Kalman Laudon)
Date: Tue, 12 Apr 94 10:28:22 EDT
Subject: Stones on Headstones/Knocking before entering

I have had the zechus to be standing next to the Lubavitcher Rebbe shlita
(may Hashem grant him an immediate and complete recovery) when he entered
the ohel of his sainted father-in-law, the previous Rebbe, the Rayatz (Rav
Yosef Yitzchok Schneersohn zt"l), on Erev Rosh Hashona, 5749.

The Rebbe paused before opening the door, gave three short knocks, and 
then entered the ohel.  The Rebbe knocked and entered quickly, as if
giving an expectant occupant perfunctory notice of his arrival.

I have heard that this is a custom among older chassidim.  It certainly fits
in with other actions we show in respect for the dead, such as tucking in
our tzitzis upon entering a bais olam, so as not to embarrass those present
who are no longer able to perform the mitzvos in this world.  It makes us
aware, or keeps us aware, that the spiritual worlds do indeed exist, and 
are closely linked to ours, the lowest of worlds.

Even though I am not an older chassid (to say the least!  :+)), I have taken
on this custom myself, and knock whenever entering an ohel or kever.  If a
sainted person such as the Rebbe shlita, knocks when entering the presence
of a tzaddik (his shvere), how much more so should an ordinary person such
as myself, knock out of respect when entering such a place!

And finally, visitors to the ohel of the Rayatz also leave stones upon the
headstone as well.

Kalman Laudon


End of Volume 12 Issue 57