Volume 13 Number 54
                       Produced: Mon Jun 13  8:39:08 1994

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Calendar Changes for Observance
         [Steve Wildstrom]
Flat Earth - More On
         [Yitzchok Adlerstein]
Hebrew: The first language
         [Chaim Stepelman]
Language of Berachot
         [Moishe Kimelman]
Lekhah Dodi
         [Harry Weiss]
         [Barry Freundel]
Pesach in Winter?
         [Michael Shimshoni]
         [Yosef Bechhofer]
Question about Bar Mitzvah: A Few Days Before 13?
         [Mark Bell]
September 24 Bar/Bat Mitzvahs
         ["Jeffrey A. Freedman"]
The Earth was Always Round
         [Jonathan Katz]


From: Steve Wildstrom <swild@...>
Date: Sun, 05 Jun 94 14:30:41 EST
Subject: Calendar Changes for Observance

In MJ 13:48, <JPREICHEL@...> (Jules Reichel) complains that he
has frequently run into opposition from "liberal Jews" in effort to win
calendar changes for observance. I think he means "nonobservant" rather
than liberal in either a political or a religious sense. In Fairfax
County, Va., for example, the entire Jewish community (mostly
Reform-Conservative) has fought, with apparent success, against a plan
to start the school year the day after Labor Day this fall. That's their
normal starting date, but it's Rosh Hashanah this year. In Montgomery
County, Md., the Washington-area jurisdiction with the largest Jewish
population and a large population of liberals, Jewish and otherwise,
schools have long been closed on Yom Kippur and the first day of Rosh


From: Yitzchok Adlerstein <ny000594@...>
Date: Sun, 05 Jun 94 00:31:07 -0800
Subject: Flat Earth - More On

The Yerushalmi in Avodah Zarah says the world is shaped as a "kadur"
(ball, globe); Moreh Nevuchim 1:36 doesn't think too highly of the flat
earth view.


From: <stepelma@...> (Chaim Stepelman)
Date: Sun, 5 Jun 1994 17:41:01 -0400
Subject: Hebrew: The first language

After a discussion with a couple of friends as to whether Hebrew (Lashon
HaKodesh) was the first language ever spoken, we concluded with the
	The reason that Hebrew is called lashon hakodesh (the holy
language) is that it is the language in which Hashem speaks.  Thus when
He spoke to Adam harishon, my friends and I concluded, He spoke in
Hebrew (lashon hakodesh) and Adam replied in Hebrew as well.  Hebrew,
therefore, being the first language to be spoken by man, concluded our

But some of us are still not satisfied.  What we accomplished was the
ability to make a very persuasive argument which would tend the skeptic
to side in our direction.  We did not PROVE that Hebrew was the first
language spoken by man!

What my friends and I lack is the knowledge to follow up on our
discussion.  A few problems we face are:
 -Did we come to any faulty conclusions?
	(ie: maybe Hashem did NOT speak to Adam in Hebrew - after all,
He is probably multi-lingual right? :) - thereby Adam's response did not
have to be in Hebrew either)
 -Maybe there is an explicit PROOF somewhere to help us out.  Or maybe
some rishon or achron mentions the topic at hand in a p'shat somewhere.
(the statement by a rishon or achron that Hebrew is the first language
might serve as proof enough for me and my friends.)

-Chaim Stepelman
 YUHS '94


From: Moishe Kimelman <kimel@...>
Date: Mon, 6 Jun 1994 14:26:48 +1000 (EST)
Subject: Language of Berachot

Eli Turkel writes:
> >2. There is a major discussion among Rishonim and Acharonim when one uses
> >   the active (le-) or the passive (al) in a "berachat ha-mitzvah"
> >(blessing over a mitzvah) . Does anyone know of a discussion of when 
> >"al mitzvat" is used in a passive berachah.
> >    Some examples:
> >    al mitzvat tefillin, al mitzvat tzizit, al mitzvat eruv
> >    but
> >    al ha-shechita, al ha-tevilah, al mikrah megilla, al achilat matzah,
To which David Charlap replied:
> It seems obvious to me.  The first ones "al mitzvat ..." all have a
> noun for the "..." part.  The second ones "al ..." all have a verb for
> the "..." part.
> You aren't blessing God for the t'filin, the tzitzit, or the eruv -
> you're blessing him for the mitzva of using these objects.
> On the other hand, for the latter bunch, you are blessing God for the
> actions themselves.

Isn't this begging the question?  Why don't we say al hanachat t'fillin, 
al levishat tzitzit, al asiyat eiruv?

Conversely why don't we say al mitzvat megillah, al mitzvat matzah, al 
mitzvat shechitah?

Moishe Kimelman


From: <harry.weiss@...> (Harry Weiss)
Date: Sun, 05 Jun 94 08:35:45 
Subject: Lekhah Dodi

In MJ 13#44 Joey Mosseri quotes the Ben Ish Chai regarding Kabbalat
Shabbat.  There are a few interesting points in that Parsha (Vayera year

The Chacham Yosef Chaim says that Kabbalat Shabbat should be recited in
a field and if no field is available it should be recited in the

Halacha 5 notes that Lechah Dodi is not mentioned by the Ari Zal because
it was composed by Rabbi Shlomo Elkovetz and its recitation is not
mandatory, but Boey Chalah etc. is mentioned in the Gemara (Shabbat 119)
and required.


From: <Dialectic@...> (Barry Freundel)
Date: Sun, 5 Jun 1994 13:36:34 -0400
Subject: Re: Lesbianism

In response to Doug Behrman souces on Lesbianism include SHMUEl's
restriction of his daughters in the way you describe Shabbat 65a and the
suggestion that women who engage in one type of Lesbian behaviour may
not marry cohanim ibid and Yebamoth 76a. If there is a clear prohibition
it is not in Gemara but in Midrash Halacha Sifra Aharei Mot Parshata 8
as an example of Uvehukotahem lo teileichu (You shall not walk in the
ways of the peoples of Egypt and Cannan) which the Midrash understands
as including the marrying of women to women.  The codes treat these
sources in different ways as to what the prohibition is and how it is


From: Michael Shimshoni <MASH@...>
Date: Mon, 06 Jun 94 10:52:30 +0300
Subject: Re: Pesach in Winter?

Recently David Curwin wondered:

>Over the past few years, I have occasionally heard reference to the
>following problem: Apparently, at some point in the future (I have heard
>30 or 40 years) Pesach will fall in the winter (i.e. before March 21).
>This will create a serious halachic problem, because the Tora obligates
>us to celebrate Pesach in the spring. I have heard that this was
>presented by Moshe Weiss of Bar Ilan. Has anyone heard or read anything
>about this? And if it is true, how in the world will the varied groups
>in observant Judaism (let alone Reform and Conservative) come to any
>sort of agreement?

I  think that  David Curwin  got  it the  wrong way  around.  As  time
progresses Pesach will  be LATER and LATER.  Never in  the future will
it fall  before March 26.   The next two time  that Pesach will  be on
March 26 will be in 5773 (2013) and 5849 (2089).  After 5849 no Pesach
will fall  on or before March  26.  In the very  distant future Pesach
will fall  after June21,  i.e. in  Summer.  The  first time  this will
happen will be in the year 18875 (15115 C.E.).  So, Od Hazon lemo'ed.

 Michael Shimshoni


From: <YOSEF_BECHHOFER@...> (Yosef Bechhofer)
Date: Sun, 5 Jun 1994 16:49:16 -0400
Subject: Poskim

Gedalya Berger comments on my refusal to deal with the status of the
Poskim mentioned. I continue to refuse. He is right. We don't rank
Poskim, certainly not in public, except when absolutely necessary, and
here it is not, because, I said , Reb Shlomo Zalman's preeminence is not
a question.

He then asks, basically, what mandates that one goes to the greatest
Posek, why not suffice, indeed, with one's LOR. Indeed, under normal
circumstances, one can, but this is not a normal circumstance. One of
the greatest Poskim in Klal Yisroel hs explicitly banned, to the best of
my understanding, PA systems on Shabbos, and therefore his opinion must
be taken into account. Besides the halachic issue of a Gadol B'Yisroel
having the halacha of "Rabbo Muvhak" (the primary teacher) of all
Israel, this is also a public policy Halachic issue, and public policy
in Halacha must be decided by the greatest Halachic leaders.

Of course, Reb Shlomo Zalman's psak is not binding - it is just logical
and proper to follow his psak,and at the very least, to get his opinion.

Finally, yes, of course this applies even l'kulla. Why wouldn't it? I
follow, for instance, the psak of Rav Ruderman zt"l allowing powdered
non-Chalav Yisrael milk even though others have disallowed its use.


From: <markb@...> (Mark Bell)
Date: Sun, 5 Jun 94 23:41:21 PDT
Subject: Question about Bar Mitzvah: A Few Days Before 13?

I have been told that one wants a son to become Bar Mitzvah as soon as
possible after the 13th birthday, as reckoned on the Jewish calendar.
Can anyone speak to the halachic basis for this?  Specifically, what
provision might be made for a boy who wants to become Bar Mitzvah on the
Shabbat five days before his 13th birthday?  Is the custom of exactly 13
years, and no less, a recent one?  What about a boy whose grasp of his
religion is advanced for his years?

Thank you.  Mark Bell, Applications Engineer, IDE  <markb@...>

[Notes for responses: 1) What does it mean to "become Bar Mitzvah", and
when does that happen? 2) What of the activities that we associate with
"Bar Mitzvah" require a "Bar Mitzvah" and which can be done by a child a
few days before he reaches the age of 13, e.g. reading the Torah,
reading the Haftorah, leading the davening? Note that the 13th
birthday refers to birthday according to Hebrew calendar, which can be a
few weeks different from english/secular one. Mod.]


From: "Jeffrey A. Freedman" <jfreedmn@...>
Date: Sun, 5 Jun 1994 10:04:35 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: September 24 Bar/Bat Mitzvahs

Our son Benjamin is working on a project for his September 24 Bar
Mitzvah.  The idea is to try to relate the feeling that he is sharing
his celebration with other Bar/Bat Mitzvahs that same day (Chol Hamoed

We would very much appreciate your contacting your congregations'
offices and advising whether any other students will be celebrating
their Bar/Bat Mitzvahs that day. Please send me their name and
city/state only. We do not intend to contact them, only use their name
as an illustration.

Your responses would be very much appreciated.

Todah Rabah.


From: Jonathan Katz <frisch1@...>
Date: Sun, 05 Jun 94 14:25:53 EDT
Subject: The Earth was Always Round

In reference to the post by Eliyahu Zukierman, in which he stated his
belief that it was general knowledge that the Earth was round at the
time of Matan Torah. I hate to nitpick, but:

>there is a Klal (rule) that the further away from the Relevation at Sinai
> the scope of knowledge is less.

First of all, this rule only applies to matters of Torah and halacha; it
was never inetended to refer to other disciplines, including the
sciences.  Second, do you really mean that the scope of knowledeg is
less? The way I always saw it was that our mental capacity was less:
thus, we cannot contradict the halachic statements of previous
generations. According to your view, though, as a general rule we
*forget* the statements made by previous generations!

>The Tosefot on 41a beginning 'k'Kadur' states...
 The important point to realize, I believe, is that Tosafot is
explaining the halacha according to the knowledge which he had at that
time...that does not necessarily mean that the Rabbis in the gemara knew
that the Earth was round.

 >citing the Talmud Yerushalmi that Alexander the Great rose to the
sky...  The mention of this in the Talmud is an agaddah, a story or a
historical fact.  Thus, the mention ot this in the gemara does not prove
that the generation of Matan Torah knew that the Earth was round. The
generation of the gemara (at least the Rabbis) probably did know that
the Earth was round; but this should not be surprising since the Greeks
knew that centuries earlier!

 >He also mentioned that they had telescopes, complicated machinery and more.
I'd really like to see a source for this before I accept it.

Jonathan Katz
410 Memorial Drive - Room 251B
Cambridge, MA 02139


End of Volume 13 Issue 54