Volume 17 Number 18
                       Produced: Mon Dec 12 22:23:13 1994

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

         [Yosef Bechhofer]
Direction to Face during Prayer
         [Mervyn Doobov]
Incorrect Cantillation (V17n14)
         [Mark Steiner]
Israeli Declaration of Independence
         [Warren Burstein]
Keeping Torah secrets
         [Yaacov Haber]
Mailing List Rules Proposal
         [Shaul Wallach]
Rarest Shmoneh Esrei Twice
         [Arthur Roth]
Science and Mesorah: the Lice Problem and Its Implications
         [M. Shamah]


From: <sbechhof@...> (Yosef Bechhofer)
Date: Sun, 11 Dec 1994 17:08:33 -0600 (CST)
Subject: Re: Clarification

I recently responded to what I perceived as an attack on my "Literalism." 
Part of my defense involved identifying my position with the approaches of 
Ramban, Sefas Emes and other major figures. Partly because the term 
"literalism," as used in the discussion, was not clearly defined, these 
references could be taken to imply that those who were critical of my 
position were being disrespectful to these Gedolim. 

To charge that any Orthodox Jew lacks respect for the Ramban etc., is, of 
course, a  grave and, in this case, improper accusation. This was not my 
intention, and  I apologize publicly for creating such an impression. 

With apologies,
 Yosef Gavriel Bechhofer


From: Mervyn Doobov <mdoobov@...>
Date: Mon, 12 Dec 1994 23:30:35 
Subject: Re: Direction to Face during Prayer

Josh Abelson wrote:

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

I have never heard this suggestion before.  I believe that no-one 
here in Australia observes Shabbat on Sunday.  I don't think 
even the Reform ever did that here.

[The above is the opinion of R' Yehuda Halevi as found in the Kuzari. I
believe that because of this, some members of the European Yeshiva
community that went across Siberia and settled in Western China kept two
days of Shabbat, miSafek - from doubt. I discussed this recently with
Rabbi Busel of RJJ. Mod.]

On the principle of facing Israel, I face roughly West of North-
West when davvening.

Mervyn Doobov


From: Mark Steiner <MARKSA@...>
Date: Sun,  11 Dec 94 22:50 +0200
Subject: Re: Incorrect Cantillation (V17n14)

	Though I agree that the trop signs indicate phrasing and can
disambiguate expressions in the Torah, such as the one that was quoted,
wa-yiqra' beshaym adoshem (although the poster I believe missed the
possible meaning that G-d Almighty was the one who called, an
interpretation given by many rishonim and suggested by the trop), I
doubt whether mistakes in cantillation of this type, even when they
cause incorrect phrasing, must be corrected.  Here's my proof:
	Sukka, 38b: Raba said: one should not say "barukh ha-ba" and
then "be-shaym ha-shem," but rather together: "barukh ha-ba be-shem
hashem" [Blessed be he who comes in the name of the Lord.]...  R. Safra
said, [free translation according to Rashi ad locum], since he intends
to finish the verse anyhow, it doesn't matter.  See also Rashi on this
sugya, who suggests that the mistaken phrasing verges on taking the name
of G-d in vain, and nevertheless...  A similar sugya occurs at Yebamoth
106b, where the Talmud concludes that even where a phrasing turns a
negative into a positive (as in "lo....ava yabmi") in a halitzah
ceremony it needn't be corrected.  (Cf. also Tosafoth, Sukka, ibid.,
'amar rava etc.)
	I write this not because I am in favor of ignorance concerning
the trop, but rather because, as a famous chassidishe rebbe once said,
concerning wolves who jump on the ba`alei qeri'ah, "tzaar baalei-chaim
iz d'oraisa..."


From: <warren@...> (Warren Burstein)
Date: Sun, 11 Dec 1994 13:43:03 GMT
Subject: Re: Israeli Declaration of Independence

In digest <199412081953.AA08078@...> feldblum@cnj.digex.net writes:

>Does anyone have any information or feelings about ammendening the Israeli
>Declaration of Independence to include Hashem's name (G-d) and give thanks
>for His miracles in creating a State of Israel.

As the Declaration of Independence contains no provisions for
amendments, it would seem that it is not possible to amend it.  As it
isn't a law, that's probably just as well.
/|/-\/-\          If two half-slave-half-free people witness an ox
 |__/__/_/        owned in partnership by a Jew and non-Jew gore a Coi
 |warren@         bein hashmashot, in which state are the survivors
/ nysernet.org    buried?


From: Yaacov Haber <haber@...>
Date: Mon, 12 Dec 1994 11:39:08 +1100 (EST)
Subject: Re: Keeping Torah secrets

> >From: <david@...> (David Charlap)
> Stan Tenen <meru1@...> writes
> >Actually, I believe that the whole idea of trying to keep kabbalistic
> >teachings secret is gratuitous.  No one who is not ready to
> >understand kabbalistic concepts will be able to make any sense of
> >them anyway.

I'd like to share a thought. Whenever the kabbalists taught their
disciples they always did so in an ambiguous fashion. The reason for
this is the following. If someone is feeling very inspired about
something they saw or heard, a sunset, a song, a dvar Torah one can
maintain that inspired feeling for many years as long as they don't tell
it to someone else. Once they turn this "feeling" into words they are
taking something spiritual and making it physical. As such it will no
longer have the same affect. (it will continue to have an intellectual
affect but not a spiritual one.) There are things that we are instructed
to physicalize. According to the Baal Ha-Tanya Torah when being learned
must be verbalised or a Bracha can not be said. (The Gra argues).

It is for this reason, among others, that the Kabbalists wrote in a hidden

Rabbi Yaacov Haber, Director Australia Institute for Torah
362a Carlisle St, Balaclava, Victoria 3183, Australia
phone: (613) 527-6156                    
fax:   (613) 527-8034                     Internet:<haber@...>


From: Shaul Wallach <F66204@...>
Date: Sun, 11 Dec 94 22:26:40 IST
Subject: Mailing List Rules Proposal

     In v17n12, Avi proposed a number of rules for Mail-Jewish, as well
as a renewal of the editorial board which was discussed nearly a year
ago (the original proposal appeared in v11n0 and v11n10).

     First of all, I think it is only fair that readers be given full
access to the responses that Avi received on the volume of Mail-Jewish
before having to voice their opinions on the rules he has proposed. It
is important to ascertain, for example, just how many readers object to
the volume in the first place.

     Secondly, for the benefit of those readers who either do not
remember or were not subscribed to the list a year ago, the previous
proposal cited above was addressed not only to regulating the volume
of postings, but also to 2 other issues:

1) Helping Avi with editing the postings for publication

2) Accepting or rejecting postings whose propriety for publication
   according to the groundrules is questionable (eg. because of
   impolite style, questioning the validity of halacha, etc.)

     As a member of the group that discussed the original proposal
for the editorial board, I can reveal that two different proposals
were discussed, but in the end no action was taken as Avi has now
announced. In any further discussion of a possible editorial board
for Mail-Jewish, I feel that the 2 issues mentioned above are no
less important than the actual volume and should be given due weight
in any comprehensive proposal.




From: <rotha@...> (Arthur Roth)
Date: Mon, 12 Dec 1994 12:20:24 -0600
Subject: Rarest Shmoneh Esrei Twice

>From Jerrold Landau (MJ 17:16):
> Michael Rosenberg wonders who many people would have the opportunity in their
> lives to daven the rarest shmone esrei twice.  Anyone who forgot to daven
> mincha on Shabbat,  the sixth day of Chanuka, would have had to daven the
> rarest Shmone Esrei twice.  And they would not have had to wait 95 years!

    I believe this is not quite true.  I think you would get to say all the
unusual things twice EXCEPT Ata Chonantanu (AC).  That would be said only the
first time (the "real" ma'ariv Shmoneh Esrei (SE)).  The second SE (tashlumim
for the missed mincha) would not contain AC. 
    The general rule, as Jerrold's comment indeed implies, is that the two
"copies" of SE said during the same davening because of tashlumim should be
identical.  That is because we use the set of insertions (or lack thereof)
appropriate to the CURRENT day even when "making up" a SE from a previous day. 
For example, it would not be appropriate to say Ya'aleh V'yavo for Rosh Chodesh
once it is no longer Rosh Chodesh, or to omit it once it is already Rosh
Chodesh, or (even more extreme) to say a Shabbat or Yom Tov SE on a weekday or
vice versa.  
    But AC is in a different category.  Its purpose is havdalah and is not
specifically connected to the day at all.  My recollection (from long ago, but
I'm still fairly certain of its accuracy) is that once AC has been said, it 
need not (and should not) be said again.  This applies ANY Saturday night when
Shabbat mincha has been accidentally missed.  It's happened to me on occasion
when I did not wake up from a Shabbat nap as early as I had anticipated.
Curiously, this is different from a seemingly analogous situation where AC 
seems equally inappropriate.  If one has already ended Shabbat before davening
ma'ariv (e.g., by saying "Baruch hamavdil bein kodesh l'chol" or by being 
yotzei on someone else's havdalah), and even if one has already done melachot,
one should still say Ata Chonantanu in ma'ariv.  This is perplexing, since
havdalah has already been satisfied and the additional havdalah seems 
extraneous and perhaps even an inappropriate interruption in SE.  But the
practical difference (compared to the tashlumim situation) seems to be that it
is being said for the FIRST time. 


From: <MSHAMAH@...> (M. Shamah)
Date: Wed, 07 Dec 1994 00:25:25 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Re: Science and Mesorah: the Lice Problem and Its Implications

Regarding one defense of the Gemara's position that lice don't have eggs
- explaining it to mean lice eggs cannot be seen by the naked eye and
hence have no halakhic import - I raised the objection that lice eggs
can be seen by the naked eye.  Danny Skaist asks (MJ16#82):

>>Are lice eggs ALWAYS visible to the naked eye, immedietly after
being laid?  Or are they laid dehydrated, and colorless until they
absorb liquid (sweat) and expand, change color and become visible?

Mark Steiner (MJ17#1) asked how is it possible any rabbi may think
lice don't have eggs in light of the famous Talmudic passage: "Thou
art He who governs the world from the horns of the wild ox until
the eggs of lice... [meqarnei re-emim `ad beitzei kinnim]."

This topic requires some elaboration.  In Masekhet Shabbat 107b there is
a Tannaitic controversy if it's permitted to kill lice on Shabbat (but
not other insects).  The Gemara explains the lenient view of the Rabbis
as based upon the "fact" that lice do not reproduce through biogenesis
in contrast to other insects; thus they are sufficiently dissimiliar to
those creatures regarding whom the prohibition of killing on Shabbat

The passage cites objections from a memra and a baraita (Talmudic
statements) which apparently state that lice do have eggs.  One of those
statements is the one cited by Mark Steiner quoted above.  In order to
reconcile these statements with the view that lice do not reproduce
through biogenesis, the Gemara rejected their apparently clear meaning
by ascribing a different meaning to the key words.  The words which were
thought to mean lice eggs - betse kinim - were interpreted to be the
name of another species of some small creature (otherwise unattested).

If the Gemara sages thought that lice do have eggs but they are laid
dehydrated and colorless until they absorb sweat etc. and therefore
don't count for the purpose of considering lice living creatures
similiar to those living creatures prohibited to kill on Shabbat, why
reject the simple meaning of the problematic passages?  Merely state
this distinction!  The praise to He who sustains all the world's
creatures is not affected by the kind of eggs lice have if they do
indeed have eggs!  That is one reason Danny's interpretation - and
others along this line - appear incorrect.

Considering that the questioner in the Gemara (Abaye) had thought betse
kinim meant lice eggs, it is far-fetched to explain that the answer
cited a widely-accepted tradition - it is more logical to understand the
answer as generated from the necessity to support a view.  This view is
codified by the Rambam, Hilkhot Shabbat 11:2, and Shulhan Arukh
O.H. 316:9.  Today, that we know lice do indeed have eggs, should we not
consider interpreting the memra and baraita according to their apparent
literal meaning?  The point I originally had made was that not every
concept in our tradition these past centuries is as sacred a principle
as every other; some are not impervious to scientific research.  Great
as our tradition is, we should not attribute to it something that isn't
there, namely, across-the-board infallibility even on matters prone to
scientific proof.

The great Talmudic authority, Rabbi Yishaq Lampronti (1679-1756) wrote
in his encyclopedic work the Pahad Yishaq (under "tseda"), that now that
we know lice have eggs it should be prohibited to kill them on Shabbat,
especially considering that it would only be a case of being stringent
on a Talmudic leniency.  He wrote that if the Talmudic sages would be
familiar with the scientific evidence discovered subsequent to their
time they would undoubtedly modify their ruling.  He cites the Talmudic
discussion (Pesahim 94b, recently discussed here on MJ) concerning
astronomical matters in which the Jewish sages conceded to the
non-Jewish sages as support for his position that the sages, even in
their Talmudic statements, sometimes spoke according to their own
[fallible] study and research.  His position is reminiscent of that of
the Rambam.

The Rambam writes (Guide, Part II Chapter 8): "And you already know that
the opinion of the non-Jewish sages was accepted [by the Talmud] over
that of the Jewish sages in these matters of astronomy, as explicitly
stated `the non-Jewish sages were victorious'.  This is proper, for in
speculative matters none spoke except in accordance with the results of
his study, and therefore one must hold that which is established by

The Pahad Yishaq was told by another great authority that it may be true
that lice have eggs, but perhaps the eggs come into existence through
spontaneous generation.  He responded that their eggs also come about
through biogenesis.  It is noteworthy that the Pahad Yishaq wrote before
the final decisive proof disproving spontaneous generation in living
creatures was put forth by Louis Pasteur in the late 19th century.

(Regarding the halakha, there is room to disagree with the Pahad Yishaq.
If the Tannaim from whom the lenient ruling was derived held like the
baraita and memra according to their apparent meaning, that lice do have
eggs, they never based their decision on spontaneous generation but on
some other reason - whatever it may be.  Thus, the lenient ruling would
stand in any event.)


End of Volume 17 Issue 18