Volume 21 Number 01
                       Produced: Mon Aug 14  2:51:42 1995

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

"Reading" the Torah vs. B'al Peh
         [Elozor Preil]
Errors by Sofrim
         [Arthur Roth]
         [Stan Tenen]
People in Toll Booths vs. Machines
         [Jeanette Friedman]
         [Ari Belenkiy]
Protocols of the Elders of Zion (2)
         [Shmuel Himelstein (n), Steve Wildstrom]
Unusual Berachot (2)
         [Abraham Lebowitz, Carolyn Lanzkron]
Unusual Berakhoth [Blessings] (2)
         [Lon Eisenberg, Joshua Hosseinof]


From: <EMPreil@...> (Elozor Preil)
Date: Fri, 11 Aug 1995 01:53:43 -0400
Subject: Re: "Reading" the Torah vs. B'al Peh

Just a thought, not claiming any sources: There is a principle in
halacha known as "toch k'dei dibbur" - that if a person makes a mistake
in speech (such as saying the wrong bracha) and immediately corrects
himself, it is considered to be one continuous action, as if it was said
correctly all along.  Might it not be reasonable to posit that the same
rule could apply to reading - i.e., if the reader says the words "toch
k'dei dibbur" of seeing them, this would be considered as one continuous

Furthermore, I can demonstrate how long this is - for the Gemara equates
"toch k'dei dibbur" with "k'dei hiluch arba amos" - the amount of time
it would take to walk 4 amos (cubits), around 6-8 feet.  How long is
that? Well, the poskim debate how long it takes to walk a "mil" - 2000
amos.  The range is 18 - 24 minutes.  Thus, even if we assume the
shortest time (18 minutes), that comes to 1080 seconds (18 X 60).
Divide that by 500 (the ratio of 2000 - 4) and we get 2.16 seconds.


From: <rotha@...> (Arthur Roth)
Date: Fri, 11 Aug 1995 09:46:47 -0500
Subject: Errors by Sofrim

>From Aliza Berger:
> once, though, I did say "etz" instead of "ilan" or some such

    When a ba'al korei has an occasional mental lapse, this sort of
thing can happen.  I have twice in my life been appalled to find (while
leining) that a SOFER had done the same sort of thing when WRITING the
words, which I find much less excusable.  In one case, the sefer Torah
was found to say "vayomru eilav" when it was supposed to say "vayomru
lo" (near the beginning of Balak).  In the second case, the words were
"ha'olah" and "ha'ayil", though I don't remember which of these was the
correct one in that particular pasuk and which was the one that actually
appeared.  As in Aliza's case, these were instances of substituting a
word with the same (or at least similar) meaning that makes perfect
sense in the context of the rest of the pasuk.  The first case was
especially disturbing because the two words do not have the same number
of letters.  It's my understanding (can someone confirm?) that a sofer
needs to count letters upon completing each section (not sure how big a
"section" is in this context) as a partial check on the correctness of
what he has written.
    While on this topic, I will mention another sofer's error that has
nothing to do with word substitution, and which I consider even worse.
I once found an occurrence of the name of Hashem in which the vav was
written as a yud, making it appear as yihyeh.  It was obvious that this
was the way it had been written originally and not just a case where the
bottom of a vav had deteriorated and disappeared over time.  The writing
of the sheim should be undertaken with fear and trepidation, and very
SPECIAL care should be given to writing it correctly.  Some sofrim have
told me that they follow an opinion which requires them to recite
"l'sheim kedushat hasheim" OUT LOUD ON EACH AND EVERY OCCURRENCE before
writing the sheim.  The requirement to write each occurrence with the
kavanah for a sheim kodesh is halachah, and lack of such kavanah
invalidates the sefer Torah (though how would we ever find out?), but
not everyone is as strict about requiring an explicit verbal declaration
of this kavanah each and every time.
    I have also found a case of an incorrect letter substituted for
another one ("vaneifen" was written with a lamed instead of the nun
sofit) and a case of two letters interchanged ("yenazeik" instead of
"yezaneik").  These errors, though still serious, are ones which I find
far more excusable.  All of us are fallible.  What really appalled me
about the first three errors was the apparent violation in each case of
PROCEDURE designed to prevent such errors in the first place (i.e., not
writing from memory, doing the required counting of letters, and adding
extra precautions for Hashem's name).


From: Stan Tenen <meru1@...>
Date: Fri, 11 Aug 1995 05:46:36 -0700
Subject: Laining/Reading

If Torah as originally given included only the sequence of letters, then
it seems logical that it is the letters that must be "imaged in the
mind" as the words are "read."  Based on my research into the nature of
the Hebrew letters, I have come to believe that it is possible that the
sequence of letters in Torah is in fact the basis of meditational
exercises used by our prophets.

Each letter can be seen to be a particular view of a human hand (from
the perspective of the person whose hand it is), or of a specially
modeled Tefillin ribbon bound on the hand, making a particular gesture.
Hand gestures can always be seen in the mind's eye.  Thus a sequence of
letters in Torah would/could specify a sequence of "pointing directions
in the mind".  Now an image of even our own hand (or of the Tefillin-
hand) might become understood as an idol, so it is important that the
sequence of mental images of the letters in Torah be taken as a learning
aid only.  It is the meaning of each gesture that is significant.
(Torah is not made of letter-things.)  Each gesture represents a
particular feeling or feeling state and it is the sequence of these
feeling states that constitutes the meditation.  (If you do not like the
word meditation, consider the sequence of letters to represent the
sequence of feelings that Moshe experienced from HaShem on Horeb-Sinai.)

This is not kabbalah, nor is it esoteric.  It is everyday experience.
When we read Torah from a Torah scroll, even when we are not aware of
what is happening, our minds are taken on an internal tour.  This
contributes to the special feeling we get when we read from a Torah
scroll that we do not get when we read from a printed chumash.  (Is
there anyone who has not had this special feeling?  Is this feeling due
only to our reverence for the Torah and to our appreciation of the
effort of the person who actually wrote it for us?)

This special feeling is a taste of the meditative experience of a
prophet; it may be a touch of Rabbi Akiva's PaRDeS meditation.

I am not one who believes in Torah because I believe in magic.  I see
Torah as containing - and actually being - a science of consciousness.
Halachic Judaism is, in my opinion, the one and only proper vessel
necessary to protect and perpetuate the science of consciousness in
Torah.  Halacha (in the general and in the specific sense) tells us to
read from Torah as we see it in front of our eyes.  From my perspective,
this means that there is a sound ("scientific", if you will,) reason for
this requirement.  Just as in the everyday - real - world, "form follows
function".  This means that one can often deduce the "form" from the
"function" and/or the "function" from the "form."  This is why I expect
to find a functional reason for our form of reading Torah.  I am not
certain that the solution I suggest above is necessarily correct (nor
the only possible correct meaning), but I am suggesting the it would
enhance Jewish learning for us to pursue this sort of investigation IN
ADDITION to the citation of conventional Talmudic references.  This is
one means by which we might recover teachings now lost to us, and it
also might help us to understand the reasoning of our sages in teaching
us the Halacha we have.



From: <FriedmanJ@...> (Jeanette Friedman)
Date: Fri, 11 Aug 1995 07:39:50 -0400
Subject: People in Toll Booths vs. Machines

The person who said that you should go to a toll booth with a live
person in it was the Chofetz Chaim who said it in Europe. He said to do
it because a human being is more important than a box to throw money
into, and that you have to show the person derech eretz.  I learned that
in Beis Yakov, when I was a kid, way back in the '50s. It was so
interesting, it stuck.


From: <belenkiy@...> (Ari Belenkiy)
Date: Fri, 11 Aug 1995 00:41:43 -0700
Subject: Procreation.

From: Art Kamlet (JD#83)
<Be Fruitful was also given to Jacob specifically.

I have problem with the last statement.
 The 4th rule of Rabbi Ishmael "klal ufrat" says that if a general rule
is limited by specification it is applied only to this specific case.

And if you say that such a specification should immediately follow a
general rule then why did Hashem waste His words at the second time?

Ari Belenkiy


From: Shmuel Himelstein (n) <himelstein@...>
Date: Fri, 11 Aug 1995 10:58:11 GMT
Subject: Protocols of the Elders of Zion

Chaim Wasserman asked about where to find this "document" (for want of a
better term). While I don't have access to it, I do have an excellent
article from the February 1967 issue of _History Today_, an English
magazine with a very high reputation in the field, addressed to laymen.
The article (pp. 81-88) is an excellent expose of the origins and use to
which this forgery has been put. If anyone needs/wants it let me know,
and I'll try to have it photostated and sent out.

         Shmuel Himelstein
22 Shear Yashuv Street, Jerusalem, Israel
Phone: 972-2-864712; Fax: 972-2-862041
<himelstein@...> (JerOne, not Jer-L)

From: Steve Wildstrom <swild@...>
Date: Fri, 11 Aug 95 10:12:41 est
Subject: Protocols of the Elders of Zion

You ask:

> The April 1995 edition of Readers Digest carried a full article about 
> "The Protocols of the Elders of Zion" a century old anti-semitic 
> diatribe that is currently circulating worldwide. I also learned that 
> the entire text is available on WWW or elsewhere in Internet. Can 
> someone assist me with locating the Protocols? What I need is a 
> walk-me-through step=by-step so that I can assign the search to 
> students of modern Jewish history?

The procedure is very simple using the Web. Go to
http:\\www.lycos.com. Enter "protocol elders zion" (without the quote
marks) as the search string and set minimum search terms to 3. You'll
quickly get a list of gopher and ftp sites which contain the libel in
all it's glory. The text runs about 250k bytes.


From: <aileb@...> (Abraham Lebowitz)
Date: Sun, 13 Aug 1995 21:45:25 +0300
Subject: Unusual Berachot

     In his posting 'Subject: Unusual Berachot', dated Thu, 10 Aug 1995,
Joshua Hosseinoff refers to the bracha Borei Shemen 'Arev (which as
apparently for Persimmon oil and something called Paliton). Folyaton, in
Latin 'foliatum' (in Greek it also begins with the letter phi) is a
fragrant oil or ointment possibly prepared from a mixture of spice
plants (Steinsaltz on Sanhedrin 108a) or from spikenard, Nardostchys
jalamansi (Jastrow p. 1141). The reference to persimmon oil is due to
the incorrect identification of 'shemen afarsemon' as persimmon oil. In
all probability the persimmon, which is not native to the Middle East,
was not known there. 'Afarsemon' is a variant of 'balsamum' f->b, r->l,
m->n are common shifts, the gum of Commiphora opobalsamum. Steinsalz (on
Berachot 43a) identifies this with the tsori, the nataf me-atzei

     As to the little used berachot: 'Oseh ma'aseh bereshit' is recited
upon seeing lightning (as is 'shekocho ugevurat male olam' upon hearing
thunder).  They are anything but disused during the rainy season in
Israel. I had occasion to recite 'meshaneh haberiot' just last week upon
seeing a midget. To sum up: I would say that I do not believe that
berachot have fallen into disuse, rather there are many berachot which
are intended for circumstances which do not occur frequently. A person
who has no occasion to visit a cemetary does not say the 'tziduk hadin',
who never leaves the U.S. can not say 'She'asah et Hayam Hagadol, etc.

Abe & Shelley Lebowitz			<aileb@...>

From: <clkl@...> (Carolyn Lanzkron)
Date: Fri, 11 Aug 1995 09:37:19 -0400
Subject: re: Unusual Berachot

Is "She'asah et Hayam Hagadol" only said upon seeing the Mediterranean, or 
for all oceans?



From: Lon Eisenberg <eisenbrg@...>
Date: Sun, 13 Aug 1995 11:34:42 +0000
Subject: Unusual Berakhoth [Blessings]

Joshua Hosseinoff mentioned (v20#98) 5 different berakhoth for the
spices (of Habhdalah).  I am fairly certain (I think it's discussed in
the Mishnah Berurah, which I do not currently have in front of me), that
we always say "bore' minei besamim" (this is similar to "shehakol" for
food, fine, at least bedi `avad [after the fact] for any spice) for
Habhdalah, even when using spices that should really get one of the
other blessings Joshuah mentioned.
 This is to avoid confusion, since many people particiaptate in
Habhdalah and could think that the correct blessing is one of the
"unusual" ones being used.
 Of course, when smelling spices outside Habhdalah, it is best to make
the "most correct" blessing, depending on the source of the spice.

As far as the blessing "she`asah et hayam hagadol", I believe there is a
dispute as to which sea is "hayam hagadol", the Mediterranean or the
Atlantic.  I think to make this blessing, therefore, you must be at

Lon Eisenberg   Motorola Israel, Ltd.  Phone:+972 3 5659578 Fax:+972 3 5658205

From: Joshua Hosseinof <hosseino@...>
Date: Sun, 13 Aug 1995 10:37:51 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Re: Unusual Berakhoth [Blessings]

Sephardim at havdalah (from which I based my observations) will say the
bracha for besamim that is appropriate for what they are using, and even
occasion say two or three of the different besamim brachot if different
types of spices are available (such as mint that is growing in the
backyard which has the bracha for grass-type spices).  

Josh Hosseinof


End of Volume 21 Issue 1