Volume 17 Number 17
                       Produced: Sun Dec 11 15:39:35 1994

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Direction to Face during Prayer
         [Josh Abelson]
Hebrew Guide to the Internet
         [Joseph Steinberg]
         [Mark Rayman]
Music Today
         [Jeremy Nussbaum]
         [Aleeza Esther Berger]
Qamatz: the long and the short of it
         [Mark Rayman]
Yaakov & Yisrael
         [Pinchas Roth]


From: <JOABELSON@...> (Josh Abelson)
Date: Wed, 07 Dec 1994 08:51:49 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Re: Direction to Face during Prayer

On Mon, 5 Dec 1994, Michael Shimshoni wrote:

> Martin (Moishe) Friederwitzer asked:
> >This week in Halacha Yomit we are going to learn about the Halachos of
> >facing towards the land of Israel during Shemona Esrei. How far West does
> >one have to be in order to face West. If one was in Hawaii does one face
> >East or West? I am not planning any trips but was curious. Thanks
> Without taking any trips either but just looking at a globe I see that
> Honolulu's latitude is about 158W while Jerusalem's is 35.5E.  This
> would indicate that while in Honolulu one should turn west rather than
> east for the shorter route to Jerusalem.  Actually, as we are living
> on something like a sphere, one should really turn in Honolulu almost
> towards north for the shortest ("great circle") route.  I am unaware
> if such  considerations are used, and if those praying in, say, Los
> Angeles turn north east.

A few years ago I was talking to a LOR about Shabbat in Hong Kong.  He 
told me that some people claim that Shabbat can not start any earlier 
than 6 hours before it does in Jerusalem, and that in places like Japan, 
Eastern Australia, Hong Kong, etc, Shabbat should actually occur on 

This would seem to support Michael's belief about which direction we 
should face.  Can anyone offer any further help on this matter?


From: Joseph Steinberg <steinber@...>
Date: Tue, 6 Dec 1994 13:55:27 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Hebrew Guide to the Internet


** A Hebrew guide to the Internet is available at:
	Host: tamar.cc.biu.ac.il
	Directory: /pub/internet_doc
	Filename:  free_jump.ps
	      or:  free_jump.ps.Z    (compressed)

          Jews-News: The International Digest of Jewish News

Jews-News, The International Digest of Jewish News, is published 2-3 times
per week with the goal of keeping people all over the world -- in Israel
and throughout the Diaspora -- informed about current events affecting
Jews and Jewish life throughout the world. 

In addition to providing regular news digests, 'News Flash'es are sent out
when any incident of major importance occurs (e.g., the signing of the
Israel-Jordan accords, the burning of Sydney's Central Synagogue, etc.). 

Jews-News welcomes its subscribers to submit news briefs for publication.
Notices of upcoming events can also be submitted. 

Jews-News is moderated by Joseph (Yosi) Steinberg who can be contacted at

** All news that you wish to submit should be sent to the above address **

To subscribe to Jews-News simply send email to: 
with the first line of the message body (not the Subject: line) stating:
subscribe jews-news Your_Full_First_Name Your_Full_Last_Name
(If you need help subscribing please feel free to contact

Enjoy Jews-News!!!


From: <mrayman@...> (Mark Rayman)
Date: Fri, 9 Dec 94 08:28:30 EST
Subject: Kamatz

An interesting example related to Mark Steiner's question as to whether
the distinction between shva na and nach can change the meaning of a word.

In zecharia 9:2, the word chawkh'ma (she aquired wisdom) appears.

This is not the same word as chawkhma which means wisdom.

And since Mark Streiner does not believe in the distinction between
qamatz qoton and gadol he must agree that the only distinction between
these two words is the shva under the the khaf (or is it khof? :-).

Mori verabi, Moshe Berstein reminded me of this one.

Moshe Rayman


From: <jeremy@...> (Jeremy Nussbaum)
Date: Wed, 7 Dec 94 11:38:59 EST
Subject: Re: Music Today

> >From: Eli Feldblum <feldblum@...>
> 	In Talmud Megilla, page 7a, it says you cannot party like the
> non-jews or listen to music.  Rashi says you can not listen during meals,
> Tosfot says you cannot have an excess of music and Ramban says you can
> not listen at all.  Does anyone know any reasons why there can be jewish
> bands or why you can listen to the radio all day?

[P.S., as someone pointed out to Eli, he got the wrong mesechta, the
correct reference it Gittin 7a, not Megilla 7a. Avi for Eli]

Well, the question might also be raised about other prescriptions for
remembering the Mikdash, like not completely painting a house, or not
setting a table completely.  WRT music, live music for a very long
time was a true luxury, available only to the wealthy who could
maintain an orchestra.  Listening to recordings and the radio just
don't compare to the experience of a live performance and hence do not
in general have the same strictures as live performances.  I will
leave the general issue of e.g. a Jewish symphony orchestra and
painting the entire house for others to respond to.

Jeremy Nussbaum (<jeremy@...>)


From: Aleeza Esther Berger <aeb21@...>
Date: Fri, 9 Dec 1994 00:35:20 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Pronounciation

How to emphasize the consonantal value of "mapik-heh" when there is no 
vowel under the heh, and no convenient syllable preceding?  For example, 
2 weeks ago in the parasha, there was the word "almenutah" - which I 
would pronounce by sort of placing the vowel from the "t"(tav) under the 
last heh, and pronouncing  the last syllable as if there were an aleph 
with a patah under it before the heh .  But what about a short word like 
"lah"? If you follow this procedure the word sounds like it has 2 
syllables.  sorry Drs. Bernstein, Steiner etc.  for the non-technical 
language.  It's been a while since my Biblical Hebrew course.

Aliza Berger


From: <mrayman@...> (Mark Rayman)
Date: Tue, 6 Dec 94 07:55:21 EST
Subject: Qamatz: the long and the short of it

Mark Steiner writes:

>     Dikduk is not Massorah, but a theory of Massorah, a grammar.  It
>can therefore be stated unequivocally that any dikduk that gives two
>sound values (qualities) to the symbol qamatz is anti-Massoretic, just
>as any scientific theory that makes wrong predictions should be revised
>or thrown out.

What about the two sounds for the shva?  I now some manuscripts used the
xataf patax instaead, but for those that don't, is this also "anti masoretic"?

What about dagesh kal and hazak (and mapik for that matter).  In some cases
it is not obvious at all (e. g. vi'a'eda Bam)?

And there are numerous te'amim (trup) that share the same symbol and yet
have different sounds and/or functions.  (I believe that there are many
different "munax" all sharing the same symbol (legarmeh, before mahpakh, etc.)

The system works, but one still may need to use his brains a little to
understand it.

Also dikduk does not ascribe sounds.  It points out a conceptual basis for
understanding the language.

>     The vowel shift from holam to qamatz (e.g. the two forms of the
>word for "all" kol/kawl) certainly occurs in the Massorah, but does not
>prove that that qamatz should be pronounced like a xolam, as in the
>Sefardic tradition (which is non-Massoretic but ancient).

This vowel shift is what led the "ba'ale diqduq" to theorize that the masoretic
symbol qamatz serves two functions.  Sometimes it is itself, and sometimes
it is used as a shortened holam.  Whether we call this a qamatz koton or
something else is semantic.

I agree that they should be pronounced the same.

Massorah is a set of symbols whose function is to record the correct
reading of the torah.  The ba'aley masora were not interested (so much)
in conceptual grammatical theory, they were interseted in tradition.

The ba'aley masora formulated rules, but they are mostly rules of thumb, or
'lists' (e.g. this form occurs only three times in the Bible ...).

The ba'aley dikduk tried to derive a conceptual theory of the hebrew language
as it appears in Tanach.  So, if they point out that a kamatz serves two
functions, it is not anti-massoretic.  The massora wasn't interested in this
distinction, because it made no practical difference.  But the overwhelming
evidence from the massora does indicate that the qamatz does 'grammatically'
serve to functions, hence the 'dikduk' distinction.

As with science, not every dikduk theory holds for every case.  Every rule
has an exception.  Even pure 'massorites' will agree that there are forms
which cannot be explained.  Dikduk points out trends in the massorah and
tries to explain them.  However the Ribbono shel 'olam or the navi is not
beholden to these trends.  Hashem, or the Navi may have had an overidding non
dikduk reason to deviate from the norm (see minhat shai on the word "batim").
or the dikduk theory may be incomplete.  But it does help us to understand
the language.

As for the *inherently* long or short vowels, again, for the massora this is
irrelevent.  The ba'aley dikduk noticed that syllables containing patax segol
etc. where almost always closed, while syllables containg holam qamatz tzeire
are alomost never closed.  This lead to the grammatical distinction of
t'nuah gedola and ketana.  The two qamatzes theorized above also
fits in to this distinction.  Which came first?  I don't know.  Ask the
chicken and the egg :-).  There are exceptions, so if a better theory comes
along, I'll be the first to buy it.  But exceptions don't neccisarily disprove
the rule, as above.  

I mostly agree with Mark Steiner.  I just don't see why we have to reject
dikduk from a massoretic point of view.  They serve two different
functions, and can live together in peace.

Mark "Moshe" Rayman


From: Pinchas Roth <roth@...>
Date: Sun, 11 Dec 94 22:09:00 PST
Subject: Yaakov & Yisrael

I was in Yeshivat Har Etzion on Parshat Vayishlach. On Friday night, Rav
Lichtenstein Shlita spoke about the two accounts of Yaakov's being renamed-
by the Ish and by Hashem, and also about Avraham's name being changed.
Rav L. said that Avram symbolizes the local cults which existed at that time,
where each area had its own god. Avram was simply the representative of
Aram's god. His being renamed Avraham was supposed to be a negation of that
conception, to replace it with radical universalist monotheism. Someone who
calls Avraham Avram is denying that cardinal article of faith.
Yaakov symbolizes the attributes of humility and simpleness - VeYaakov Ish
Tam. Yisrael symbolizes power and strength - Ki Sarita. The mysterious person
Yaakov wrestled with is identified as Eisav's angel. When Yaakov overpowered
him, he had to concede that he had lost, but he was only willing to concede
defeat in his own court- that of strength- Al Charbecha Tichyeh. He wanted
Yaakov to abandon his gentleness and simplicity and to become something new
and powerful. That is why, in his blessing to Yaakov, one finds that he was
completely erasing the name Yaakov. But that was not what Hashem
wanted.Hashem doesn't replace Yaakov with Yisrael. There are two opinions in
the Gemara as to what exactly He did do- one is that Yisrael was Ikar(the
principal name) and Yaakov was Tafel(less important). The other is that
Yaakov remained and Yisrael was simply an addition (perhaps only a semantic
difference). Anyway the point is that the identity of Am Yisrael must include
both these elements- Tmimut(simpleness) and Cochanut(power, strength). There
have been those (like some secular Zionists-Achad Haam for example) who have
tried to erase the first and there have been those (I think Rav L. referred
to certain American-Jewish secularists) who have tried to erase the second.
But the true way is a balance of the two.
I only wrote a summary that Motzaei Shabbat and I don't even have that here,
so I can't be sure I got it all right, but I think that was it, more or less.
Pinchas Roth   <roth@...>


End of Volume 17 Issue 17