Volume 17 Number 72
                       Produced: Wed Jan  4 20:41:11 1995

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Are Brit M'ilah's [circumcisions] covered by insurance companies
         [Barry Siegel]
Bat Mitzvah, etc
         [Menachem & Elianah Weiner]
Daas Torah
         [Zvi Weiss]
Hebrew in ancient days
         [Stan Tenen]
Isaac Newton - Stan Tenen
         [Ralph Zwier]
Name of Tu B'shvat
         [Eliyahu Teitz]
         [Ben Yudkin]
Security Cameras and Sensor Lights
         [Seth Ness]
Sounds of Language
         [Finley Shapiro]
Tefilah in Hebrew
         [Gilad J. Gevaryahu]


From: Barry Siegel <sieg@...>
Date: Tue, 3 Jan 95 16:40:15 EST
Subject: Are Brit M'ilah's [circumcisions] covered by insurance companies

I'm trying to get some information on whether anyone has been reimbursed
for circumcisions done by a Mohel.  The insurance company who administers
our health plan would only "cover" a circumcision  when done by 
an "authorized provider" [doctor].   I asked them, what if the same procedure
was done by a Mohel [or Rabbi] would it be covered and they replied -no.

I'd like to inquire of anyone else's experience with getting an insurance
company to cover the Brit Milah. I recognize that a Mohel would charge more
than a doctor, but at least part of the Brit Milah should be covered.
I have also heard of cases where the Mohel is also a doctor.

Also, has anyone heard of anyone successfully challenging the insurance
carriers on this one??

I am requesting this info on behalf of the newly formed
AT&T Employees Jewish Resource Group.

We are considering petitioning the insurance company, but are in the 
preliminary information gathering stage right now.

Barry Siegel
Vice President of AT&T Employees Jewish Resource Group.
Barry Siegel  HR 2B-028 (908)615-2928 windmill!sieg OR <sieg@...>


From: <weiner@...> (Menachem & Elianah Weiner)
Date: Wed, 4 Jan 95 12:35:48 EST
Subject: Bat Mitzvah, etc

I have been following this discussion with some interest.  Apparently,
when my mother was young, as soon as a woman was 12 and had her first
cycle (and waited at least 12 days, I assume) she went off to the
mikvah for the first time.  This seems to be a better time to have a
celebration since family purity is mostly a woman's mitzvah.  It shows
her commitment to observing the Mitzvot.  A few cycles delay could be
done in order to plan the occassion properly.  Hmmm.  Actually, that
wouldn't help, would it?  

Anyway, my wife and I think that an all women "Ritual Pool Party" in
Orthodox circles would be a better alternative to a Bat Mitzvah.  I
know, usually women do not go to the Mikvah until just before marriage,
but they certainly used to go from puberty on.  Any thoughts?

-Menachem & Elianah Weiner (Liane and Merril)


From: Zvi Weiss <weissz@...>
Date: Wed, 4 Jan 1995 12:30:07 -0500
Subject: Daas Torah

Binyomin Segal states that the cherem that the "women's seminary" received
was -- as I understand it -- because the Seminary did not follow the
"established Beit Din".
I still do not understand.  If the Seminary DID consult a Posek, this posek 
presumably understood the situation re the Batei Dinim and would not advise
anyone to do something so blatant.  Also, I believe that by the time the
matter at hand developed, there was no longer any single Beit Din in the
The fact that Machon Lev was accepted shows that -- apparently -- it is
possible to have "an independant Beit Din" (as Mr. Segal notes).  Thus, it
again appears to be NOT a case "straight from the Gemara" as Mr. Segal puts
it but rather one group imposing ITS p'sak upon everyone else.
It would seem to have been far more proper for a given Beit Din to simply 
issue a P'sak that a given school (or a given school's "derech") is not
suitable for a particular community -- i.e., the community of that Beit Din
and that THEREFORE members of that community are not to attend.  The notion
of Cherem strikes me as the religious equivalent of attacking someone
with brass knuckles.



From: Stan Tenen <meru1@...>
Date: Tue, 3 Jan 1995 00:04:02 -0800
Subject: Hebrew in ancient days

I guess I was not clear enough in my earlier posting.  There is no doubt
that Torah Hebrew was known and well understood by at least those in a
leadership position who were in Egypt and, similarly, Torah Hebrew must
have been known by the Levites, Kohanim and the educated leadership of
the tribes, etc. throughout Jewish history.  I am looking for specific
references that tell us what spoken languages wer in common, commercial,
and secular usage during the time from Moshe to Solomon and from Solomon
until the Babylonian exile.  We know that after the exile Targunim were
used to instruct those who were unfamiliar with Torah Hebrew.  (Why use
Targunim if everyone understands Torah Hebrew?)  But what did the
general population speak and/or write from Moshe to Solomon, and from
Solomon until the exile, in their non-religious dealings?  Were we
always familiar with the local languages?  Did the average Israelite in
Egypt, in Sinai, in Jerusalem at the time of Solomon, in Judah and
Israel after the breakup (but before the exile) speak Egyptian,
Canaanite/Phoenician, Aramaic, etc.?  Hebrew has relatively few words
compared to some modern languages.  Were other ancient languages as
compact or were they relatively word-rich like modern English?  Did
Israelites use foreign words when none were available in Torah Hebrew?

It seems to me that there is a difference between Torah Hebrew and any
style of Hebrew used for common communication.  Except possibly for some
Mishnot that exhibit letter level patterning, only Torah has this
feature.  Ordinary Hebrew, even if it were to use the same vocabulary
and grammar as Torah, would not have letter level patterning.  Aside
from letter level patterning, is there any other distinction between the
Hebrew (or Canaanite/Phoenician/Egyptian or Aramaic) used for ordinary
speech and writing and Torah Hebrew?  Do we know, for example, that the
Canaanites did not copy Hebrew?  If they did,how would their "Hebrew" be
different from what we have come to know as Canaanite?  Could they tell
the difference; could we tell the difference; would Canaanite be
whatever Canaanites spoke and Hebrew whatever Israelites spoke _by
definition_ - or are there known distinctions?  Again, I am asking about
common language used for common purposes.  I am not asking if Israelites
knew Torah Hebrew.  I am looking for specific references to the use of
vernacular language.

Thanks for all comments,


From: Ralph Zwier <zwierr@...>
Date: Tue, 3 Jan 1995 06:11:05 
Subject: Isaac Newton - Stan Tenen

In respones to Stan Tenen's request:

"The coming of age in the Milky Way" by Timothy Ferris (ISBN 0 09 
980050 0) VINTAGE 1988 on Page 104 he writes:

'When John Maynard Keynes purchased a trunk full of [ NEWTONS 
MANUSCRIPTS ] papers at auction 
he was startled to find that it was full of notes on alchemy, 
biblical prophecy and the reconstruction from Hebraic (sic) texts of 
the floor plan of the "temple of Jerusalem" (sic), which Newton took 
to be "an emblem of the system of the world"'

For more information on this see J.M. Keynes, "Newton, the Man" (The 
Royal Society Newton Tercentenary Celebrations, Cambridge University 
Press, 1947,) p. 27

Ralph S Zwier
Double Z Computer, Prahran, VIC Australia       Voice +61-3-521-2188
<zwierr@...>                        Fax   +61-3-521-3945


From: <EDTeitz@...> (Eliyahu Teitz)
Date: Wed, 4 Jan 1995 13:50:45 -0500
Subject: Name of Tu B'shvat

i think the date of the holiday is used as its name because there was a
disagreement in the mishna as to whether the rosh ha-shana la'ilanot was the
first or fifteenth of sh'vat. so as a way to remember which day we celebrate
we simply call the holiday by its date.

eliyahu teitz


From: <oujac@...> (Ben Yudkin)
Date: Mon, 02 Jan 1995 13:30:17 +0000
Subject: Pronunciation

Eli Turkel writes:
>      Tenen asks about speaking Hebrew during first Temple days. I am a
> little confused by the question. If we don't assume this then all the books
> of the prophets are translations from their original words. Similarly, we
> would have to assume that David sang his songs in some other language and
> what we have in Samuel and in tehillim are translations.

IMH understanding, the question was asked with reference to
pronunciation of spoken Hebrew.  Therefore, the point was whether spoken
Hebrew was used as the vernacular during this historical period.  The
question of whether written Hebrew was used prophetically or
liturgically is a slightly different one.  In a similar vein lehavdil,
scientists/medics/philosophers until only two or three centuries ago
would have written in Latin, and the Latin texts of their works would be
the originals; yet for ordinary conversation they would have used their
native language and we wouldn't place much reliance on the
'authenticity' of their spoken Latin pronunciation.



From: Seth Ness <ness@...>
Date: Wed, 4 Jan 1995 12:02:24 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Security Cameras and Sensor Lights

i believe the two situations are completely different.
With the motion sensor turning on a light, a circuit is being closed and a
light is being turned on.

with the video camera, no circuits are being opened or closed. I can't
think of any issur of shabbat that is in fact being violated.

Seth L. Ness                         Ness Gadol Hayah Sham


From: Finley Shapiro <Finley_Shapiro@...>
Date: 4 Jan 1995 16:57:59 U
Subject: Sounds of Language

Joseph Steinberg wrote:
> Remember, Hebrew began in the ancient Near-East and is a Semitic language
> like Arabic. It should sound a lot more like Arabic than (like) French,
> English, or German.

This may depend on how one quantifies how much one language "sounds like"
another.  Consider how different the following closely related languages sound,
at least to an untrained ear.

1)  European Spanish and European Portuguese (Brazilian Portuguese is said to
sound more like Spanish than like European Portuguese.)

2)  Swedish, Norwegian, and Danish

Finley Shapiro


From: <Gevaryahu@...> (Gilad J. Gevaryahu)
Date: Wed, 4 Jan 1995 16:46:56 -0500
Subject: Tefilah in Hebrew

Joseph Steinberg in (MJ17#69) writes:

>There is no one correct way to read -- and G-d undestands them all. 
>For conversation modern Hebrew prevails. 

>For tefillah -- the bottom line is that a person should speak in a way 
>in which he understands the words -- that is far most important... as 
>without understanding what you are saying, Tefillah is pretty much 

I agree, but I do not suggest to start davenning in English, but rather
teach the Hebrew language to Jews. The suggestion (of davening in the
vernacular) has certainly many mekorot.

The tefilah in Caesaria was held in Greek (Mishnah Sota 7:1; Yer. Sota
7:1), including "Shema Yisrael", even in Beit Hamikdash Greek was used
(Mishnah Sekalim 3:2; Parah 1:3) and at least at some point in time
Aramaic and Greek were the vernacular in Israel. Note that the was a
general prohibition to study Greek culture, but not the Greek language.

A good discussion on this subject can be found in Rabbi S. Goren, Moadei
Israel (1993) pp.152-157.

Gilad J. Gevaryahu


End of Volume 17 Issue 72