Volume 21 Number 45
                       Produced: Wed Sep  6  8:43:35 1995

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

         [Yeshaya Halevi]
Census Counts
         [Sandy Lefkowitz  ext 2097  room 2539A]
Definition of Orthodox
         [Alan Rubin]
Hebrew Versions for Yasher Koach
         [Yechezkel Schatz]
Knots and the Dead
         [Rose Landowne]
Orthodxy and Human Frailty
         [Kenneth Posy]
Shofar Blowing in Elul
         [Anthony Waller]
The Limits of Rebuke
         [Sam Saal]
Yasher Koah
         [Yeshaya Halevi]
Yeyasher Koach
         [Sam Saal]
Yeyasher Kochacho
         [Mordechai Perlman]


From: <CHIHAL@...> (Yeshaya Halevi)
Date: Mon, 4 Sep 1995 21:38:50 -0400
Subject: Akayda

          With Rosh Hashana approaching, here's a thought about why the
Akayda (Binding of Yitzhak) occurred.
         Shortly before the Torah narrates the birth of Yitzhak, God had
promised land and peoplehood to Avraham.  Avraham's response was to ask
for a sign from God, so he would know it was true.
           This request by Avraham introduced doubt into the
relationship between God and Avraham.  Of course, being omniscient, God
knew both the future and also Avraham's true heart.  But Avraham had
tainted himself by doubting.
          Some sages say that because of Avraham's doubt, his
descendants were condemned to slavery in Egypt. And indeed, the Torah
verses where God told Avraham the sign he had asked for are textually
linked to God's statement that Avraham's descendants would have to
endure generations of slavery.
          However, I do not believe that future generations of Jews
would be punished for another man's sin -- even Avraham's.  It is
against the Torah's own teaching to have the children punished for the
sins of the father and vice versa.
         Accordingly, I understand it in this wise.  For his doubt,
Avraham endured the test of the Akayda, which was both a punishment and
a purification.  In this respect he was very akin to a Sota, a married
woman whose suspicious conduct warranted sufficient grounds for her to
be forced to drink a bitter liquid.  (If guilty of adultery, she died.
If innocent, God compensated by rewarding her with beautiful/healthy
          And just as the Sota had to ask herself if her conduct was
indeed so suspicious that her own husband would demand this test
administered by the kohen (priest) in the Temple where sacrifices were
made, so Avraham endured the bitterness of the Binding at a place where,
later, the Temple would be built.  And Avraham too was rewarded, both
with beautiful descendants and the knowledge that his doubts about God
were resolved.


From: <slefkowit@...> (Sandy Lefkowitz  ext 2097  room 2539A)
Date: Tue, 5 Sep 95 21:34:46 EDT
Subject: Census Counts

The Torah lists two census counts-the first in Parshas Bamidbar and the
second in Parshas Pinchas.  Each of the twelve tribes reports a count in
each census.  Thus there are 24 census numbers reported.  A curiosity of
the counts is that all of the 24 reported census numbers end in a zero;
and 22 of the 24 number end in a double zero.

The probability of getting a count like this by random chance is on the
order of 10^(-40), a number that is sufficiently zero so that it is not
reasonable to say it is a coincidence.

So what interpretation do we attach to the preponderance of round
numbers in the census counts?  Does G-d have a preference for round
numbers so that He made a rather considerable interference with nature
to assure round number census counts?  What possible purpose could this
serve?  Do we assume the counts are only approximate?  But if they are
taking a census, why report an approximate number?  And why do two of
the 24 counts not end in a double zero?

Census counts of the Levites are also reported twice and those counts
both end in a triple zero, which adds to the improbability of the other
census counts.  Does any of this make the census counts seem unreliable?

Sandy Lefkowitz


From: <arubin@...> (Alan Rubin)
Date: Tue, 5 Sep 95 20:01 BST-1
Subject: Definition of Orthodox

To my mind much of the discussion about definitions of Orthodoxy have
been somewhat misguided.  Contributors have been suggesting definitions
by philosophy (eg Rambam's 13 principles) or by practice.  I would
suggest that the term Orthodox is one that describes affiliation and is
not very meaningful when applied to an individual.

Part of the problem stems from the fact that Orthodox is an all or
nothing term and cannot be used to describe gradations of behaviour.
The definitions offered might be suitable for words like "frum" or
"Daati" but not Orthodox.

For instance.  A member of an Orthodox shul who keeps halacha but does
not believe in the principle of the Resurrection of the Dead.  The
belief may be unorthodox but does that make the individual unorthodox?

For instance many members of Orthodox shuls, individuals who are
generally scrupulous in keeping Halacha are lax about certain Halachot
such as the covering of hair by married women.  They may well know that
covering hair is demanded by halacha but for whatever reason they
knowingly disregard this Halacha.  Are they not Orthodox?

Many members of Orthodox synagogues do not keep halacha and only go to
shul twice a year.  They are not frum, but they might argue that they
are Orthodox.

In my opinion Orthodox is not a term for describing individuals.  One
can describe them as being frum or daati or by comparative degrees of
frumkeit.  To me Orthodox is a negative definition, meaning not Reform
or Conservative and it describes the affiliation of a person or movement
but not an individual's beliefs or practice.

I wonder if this confusion of the use of the word is a particularly
American one.  In the United States it may be possible to find a
synagogue for any particular variation of belief or practice.  Because
there is so much gradation in synagogues it becomes more difficult to
even classify by affiliation.

Looking at use of the word "Orthodox" in conversation, I rarely use or
hear the term used to describe the behaviour of individuals.  I hear "X
is frum" or "X is religious" but the statement "X is Orthodox" I find is
only used in conversation with or by non-Jews and is particularly

Alan Rubin  <arubin@...>


From: Yechezkel Schatz <lpschatz@...>
Date: 5 Sep 1995 09:46:10 +0200
Subject: Hebrew Versions for Yasher Koach

Aleeza Berger pointed out that the expression yasher koach can be
considered Yiddish, and therefore Hebrew grammar does not apply to it.
I can accept that.
 Here in Israel I'm used to hearing two common Hebrew versions, which do
of course adhere to Hebrew grammar.  One is: Yishar Koach or Kochacha
(future of binyan kal. koach, strength, being the subject).  Another
equivalent expression is common amongst Sephardim: Khazak uVaruch.


From: <ROSELANDOW@...> (Rose Landowne)
Date: Tue, 5 Sep 1995 08:39:35 -0400
Subject: Knots and the Dead

>"A set of tachrichim (shrouds) that are put on a deceased consists of
>various places that knots must be tied.  These knots are double tied to
>look like the letter Shin.  There is a belt (Gartel) around the waste
>(over the coat) and smaller belts around the sleeves which are also
>similarly tied.
>The above is all correct for male deceased. My knowledge of this is not
>from Sforim but participation on Chevra Kadisha.  Therefore, I do not
>know about shrouds for women."

Women's tachrichim have many places where they are "tied", but the ties
are all done with slip knots which are non-permanent, as is the Shin
knot on the gartel.

Rose Landowne


From: Kenneth Posy <kenneth.posy@...>
Date: Mon, 4 Sep 1995 23:02:54 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Orthodxy and Human Frailty

Mr. White responds to my comments about orthodxy:
> >With allowance for human frailty: this is an all or nothing lifestyle.
> But it's this last point that makes definitions so difficult at all.
> Let's suppose this "frum" guy who steals a million dollars did it one
> time because he had an opportunity, and he then regrets it and makes
> restitution, and spends the rest of his life in agonized teshuva for it.
> Is he frum?  I'd say yes.  And according to Rambam, if he never gets
> another chance to steal a million dollars, he may never get a chance to
> do teshuva gemura (complete teshuva), and may therefore have some mark
> against him for the rest of his life.  So that's his penalty, but on the
> whole I'd say he's frum.

I would like to point out that that is what I meant by saying "with
allowance for human frailty". Everyone makes mistakes, and sometime
forgets or gives into the yetzer hara, and does something wrong. But
when someone says-"I know that this is wrong and I will do it anyway,
and enjoy it" that person is no longer "orthodox"
	The distinction that I am making is basically the one the gemara
in chullin (4a-6a) deals with. It makes a distinction between a "mumar
l'dvar echad" (a heretic for one thing) whether he denies for
"satisfaction" of to "anger" The first person is still considered a good
jew (which in the gemara means orthodox) the second one is not.

> But let's be honest.  I'm willing to be that most of us have something
> that we know the halacha doesn't allow that we do anyway, not to be
> rebellious, but just because of human frailty.  Talking in shul during
> davening (to use one recent mj thread) is probably a good example for
> a lot of people.

I must respectfully disagree. I thing that that is a *good* example of
human frailty. We know we shouldn't talk in shul, but we have a strong
urge to say something, and we give in. Social interaction is a basic
human trait. During kedusha, or the other "more important parts" of
davening, there is no talking, because the importance of the moment is
felt much more, and the urge is less.

> Who wants a term caused by a schism.  We should be working during this
> month of Elul to _remove_ boundaries and work toward the reunification
> of k'lal yisrael; let's never draw boundaries to exclude people.

	Obviously, I humbly agree with Mr. White. However, I would point
out that the term "kedusha" often is used to mean "seperate". While we
should work to include the sinners of Klal Yisrael in the Jewish nation,
we should also remember that it is important to mantain the kedusha of
the halachic lifestyle, as well as a degree of sepreation. There are
halchic boundries for what people are considered "frum" and "not frum"
(The Rambam includes these in Hilshos T'shuva) and while we should not
exclude any Jew from clal yisrael if we can avoid it, we must remain
aware of the formal guidelines in this issue.

Betzalel Posy


From: Anthony Waller <P85014@...>
Date: Tue, 05 Sep 95 14:36:44 IST
Subject: Re: Shofar Blowing in Elul

 Shmuel Himelstein (n) <himelstein@...> asked regarding
 Shofar blowing in Elul:

> While my Shul's custom (and possibly the more accepted one) is to
> start on the 2nd day of Rosh Chodesh, I find a difficulty in this.
> Elul is invariably 29 days long. If we add these 29 days to the 10
> days of Tishrei up to and including Yom Kippur, that gives 39 days.
> As Moshe went up to Sinai for 40 days, shouldn't the universal custom
> logically be to begin blowing the Shofar on the 1st day of Rosh Chodesh
> - i.e., where Yom Kippur will be the 40th day from the beginning of the
> blowing of the Shofar?

  The rav of our shule (synagogue) - Rav Ya'akov Verhaftig, spoke about
this a couple of weeks ago.  He brought various opinions, and I'm sorry
that I don't remember in the name of whom.  One answer is that in that
year of Moshe Rabbeinu's ascent on Mount Sinai, the month of Elul was 30
days.  So we start blowing on the day Moshe ascended - 1 Elul, even
though nowadays we only have 39 days from 1 Elul to Yom Kippur.

  And may the merit of Moshe Rabbeinu's pleading for Bnei Yisrael in
that first "Elul Zman" help all of Klal Yisrael in this latest Elul
Zman, and may Hashem avenge the blood of the latest victim of terror
this morning in Ma'ale Michmas - a 26 year old Oleh from England whose
pregnant wife was also badly injured.

Anthony Waller                   Email:  <p85014@...>
Bar-Ilan University, Israel.     Ph: 972-3-5318784, Fax: 972-3-5344446


From: Sam Saal <saal@...>
Date: Mon, 4 Sep 1995 10:29:37 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: The Limits of Rebuke

Eli Turkel got me thinking about this issue when he wrote in another
thread (mail.jewish V21#40): American Jews and Israel

>It is generally agreed among achronim that no one in our
>generation can give proper admonition (tochacha). As the Talmud
>says the immediate response is "fix yourself before you complain
>about others". Those who complain about the situation in Israel
>should do something constructive and not stay in exile and save
>the land of Israel until the last Israeli.

What are the limits of this consensus? Can we, for example:

Condemn using an known "inferior" Kashrut hashgacha?
How about an admited gay couple living together?
How about an intermarriage?

I'm not looking for the condemnation, nor even the reason why we know
these are wrong. I'm looking for a discussion on _whether_ we can rebuke
these people's activities based on the limits of who can rebuke and when
it is appropriate (or inappropriate) to do so.

Sam Saal       <saal@...>
Vayiphtach HaShem et Peah haAtone


From: <CHIHAL@...> (Yeshaya Halevi)
Date: Mon, 4 Sep 1995 00:30:25 -0400
Subject: Yasher Koah

        So far I've seen debate on whether "yasher koach" or "yeyasher koach"
is correct.  Has anyone asked if the original form may have been "yi-asher
koah-cha," i.e. "may your strength be enriched?"
   <Chihal@...> (Yeshaya Halevi)


From: Sam Saal <saal@...>
Date: Tue, 5 Sep 1995 08:18:26 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Re: Yeyasher Koach

>From: Barry Siegel <sieg@...>
> I was very recently surprised to find out that the words "Yasher Koach"
> are not correct.  Yasher Koach is what one male says to the other after
> doing a Mitzva (like getting an Aliya, Leading the Davening etc..)

I could very well be wrong, but I always thought "Yasher Koach" was a
contraction of "yihyeh ashir b'koach" ("May you be rich in
strength"). In thinking about it, I see the grammar problems with this
Hebrew. On the other hand, I also remember something about it meaning
"may you go from strength to strength."

Sam Saal       <saal@...>
Vayiphtach HaShem et Peah haAtone


From: Mordechai Perlman <aw004@...>
Date: Tue, 5 Sep 1995 04:56:28 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Yeyasher Kochacho

> From: Aleeza Esther Berger <aeb21@...>
> BTW I find inaccurate Barry Siegel's assumption that yasher koach is
> what one male says to another.  I say it and it gets said to me.

     I don't know about the Yiddish terms, (i remeber my Rosh Yeshiva
using a very short form of it, "shkoi'yich").  Now what Aleeza Esther
says about Yasher Koach to females.  I don't see any thing wrong
grammatically.  But with Yeyasher Kochacho, this would apply only apply
towards males, as YeYasher Kocheych would apply towards females.

K'sivo Vachasimo Toivo
L'alter L'chayim Toivim Ulsholoim,
                                  Mordechai Perlman


End of Volume 21 Issue 45