Volume 21 Number 54
                       Produced: Fri Sep 22  0:32:17 1995

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

"Yeshivish" slang
         [Dan Goldish]
Candlelighting in the Sukkah
         [Steve Ganot]
Sunshine cookies
         [Shmuel Himelstein]
Yasher Koah
         [Isaac Balbin]
Zmanim Program
         [Akiva MIller]


From: <Dan_B_Goldish@...> (Dan Goldish)
Date: Fri, 15 Sep 1995 11:28 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: "Yeshivish" slang

 From time to time on this forum, there are often requests to have
certain words or phrases translated into English so they may be
understood by all readers.  Have I got a book for you!  I just came
across "FrumSpeak" by Chaim Weiser, billed as the first dictionary of
"Yeshivish" slang.  The book is entertaining as it is educational,
complete with actual day-to-day examples of proper word usage.  The
author has also included some translations of well known English
classics, such as the Pledge of Allegiance interpreted into "Yeshivish"
as follows: 
"I am meshabed myself, b'li neder, to hold shtark to the
siman of the United States of America and to the medina which is gufa
its tachlis; one festa chevra, b'ezras Hashem, echad ve'yuchid, with
simcha and erlichkeit for the gantza oilam."  Probably is available
everywhere, but I found my copy at the local Israel Bookstore in


From: Steve Ganot <STEVEGAN@...>
Date: Thu, 14 Sep 1995 17:25:57 GMT+0200
Subject: Candlelighting in the Sukkah

Steve White asked if there is an obligation to light candles in the
Sukkah (as opposed to in the home), or if this is simply preferred.

Here's my understanding of the subject:

The mitzvah is to live in a sukkah -- to make the sukkah your home in
every way. We should do this to the extent possible, but of course there
are various legitimate reasons for not spending all of one's time in the
sukkah.  For example, uncomfortable weather (rain, intense heat or cold,
etc.) might send us into our permanent homes.

This being the case, I think it is prefered that we light candles in the
sukkah, but the danger of starting a fire would be a very good reason to
do otherwise.

I'm not aware of any difference between Yom Tov and Shabbat Hol Hamoed
in this regard.

I'm not sure how the fact that women usually light but aren't
obligated to live in the sukkah affects the issue. 

Steve Ganot


From: Shmuel Himelstein <himelstein@...>
Date: Fri, 15 Sep 1995 11:13:43 GMT
Subject: Sunshine cookies

It is interesting that there is a discussion on this forum about who
gives the rabbinic endorserment on Sunshine cookies, because today, at a
local Jerusalem supermarket, I saw a number of Sunshine products, with
the only sign of Kashrut on the label being the non-copyrightable
"K". The Hebrew label which had been pasted on here - as required by law
on all food products - stated (in Hebrew) "Rabbinic endorsement OU" -
i.e., the copyrighted trademark of the Orthodox Union. Past experiences
in Israel have shown that the pasted on label is not necessarily in
keeping with the product labelling in English. Would anyone know whether
the OU is indeed involved in this rabbinic endorsement?

If necessary, please communicate with me directly.

         Shmuel Himelstein
22 Shear Yashuv Street, Jerusalem, Israel
Phone: 972-2-864712; Fax: 972-2-862041
NEW ADDRESS: <himelstein@...>


From: Isaac Balbin <isaac@...>
Date: Thu, 07 Sep 1995 08:22:20 +1000
Subject: Yasher Koah

This topic has been discussed before, and authoritatively at that.
An excellent article was written back then by Mark Steiner, and I think
it is worth re-posting.

On the "yeshivishe" pronunciation of Hebrew
Mark Steiner 

Note: the following note was prepared in consultation with three
outstanding Hebrew linguists. I'm not sure they would want their names
mentioned; I'm only saying this in order to avoid giving an exaggerated
impression of my own expertise. Some of the points, however, are my own

In recent postings, the "yeshivishe" pronunciation of Hebrew has come in
for heavy criticism, to the point where some writers demand that Jews
who pronounce Hebrew that way revise their pronunciation. Of course, the
"yeshivishe" pronunciation is nothing but the Ashkenazic Hebrew reading
tradition.  "Dikduk" was used by the maskilim to undermine this
tradition as "corrupt" and, by implication, the entire tradition of
Yiddishkeit. (The power of language is much greater than people are
willing to admit.) Overreaction by the yeshiva world led to the neglect
and even opposition to the study of Hebrew grammar, a pity--if only
because they have no idea how to answer their critics. [For the
chassidishe reaction, cf. the Introduction to the Bnei Yissosschor
(sic), where the author compares dikduk to the bomos "altars" that were
beloved in the days of the Fathers but rejected in later days.]

The truth is, that the Ashkenazic reading tradition contains many
ancient forms, far superior to their Israeli (or "maskilish")
counterparts. Actually, there are two Ashkenazic reading traditions: one
for the synagogue, where the Torah is read; the other for Hebrew words
embedded in Yiddish ("merged" Hebrew). That is, the same word might have
been spoken differently in shul and in speech.  Remarkably, it is
Yiddish that best preserves the most ancient forms.

It is crucial, too, to distinguish between Biblical Hebrew and Rabbinic
Hebrew.  ("Biblical language is one thing, Rabbinic language [leshon
xakhamim] another," as the gemara says in Eruvin.)  Many of the
"mistakes" the Maskilim thought they had discovered in the Ashkenazic
reading tradition were the result of trying to correct Rabbinic Hebrew
on the basis of Biblical grammar, which is equivalent to correcting
modern English on the basis of Chaucer, or maybe Shakespeare.

What I'm saying is that the criticism of the "yeshivishe" pronunciation
of Hebrew often is ignorant of the best work in contemporary Hebrew
linguistics: that of Yalon, Kutscher, Yeivin, Bar-Asher, Bergruen, and
my own brother.

I will illustrate this point with the very examples that were posted as
"mistakes" in the "yeshivishe" pronunciation.

Take, for example, the Yiddish expression rov "Rabbi". The YU expression
"the rov," used to denote Rabbi Soloveitchik, of blessed memory, is of
course Yiddish; i.e. it is a word from (what else?) Rabbinic Hebrew
(though the Rabbis saw it in the Torah: because in the verse lo ta`aneh
`al riv the word riv is spelled without a yod, they midrashically
interpreted it as though it were vocalised rav). Vocalised fragments of
the Mishnah found in the Geniza show that the word "horov" (e.g. in
Avoth 1:3) is vocalised with a kometz, just as in the YU expression.  In
fact, the expression "horov" is similar to other like words even in
Biblical Hebrew: har - hohor, par - hapor. Thus the expression "the rov"
is not only not to be corrected, it should be adopted, and in any case

One reader feels apologetic about using the "yeshivishe" pronunciation
"rebbe" of the word resh-beth-yod He need not apologie; the Kaufmann
Codex of the Mishna and others attest to the vocalisation "rebbe"
THOUSANDS of times. I might add, that there is no need for yeshivaleit
to leave the "beth medrash" and enter the "beth midrash" since the best
ancient manuscripts endorse this "mistake" also.  (This goes also for
yeshivishe pronunciations like meqax umemkar.) If the boys at Lakewood
are mispronouncing Hebrew, so were the Tannaim.

We are told that there are two "approved" ways to read the expression
(I'm using x for het) "yod-yod- shin-resh koxakha," namely "yeyasher
koaxakha" and "yiyshar koaxakha." In either case the stress of the first
word is milra`, i.e. yeyaSHER or yiySHAR.

First, let's look at the spelling and vocalisation of the word.

The fact is, that the (ancient) expression yod-yod-shin-resh koax
appears in the Talmud, Shabbat 87a, quoted by the last Rashi on the
Torah, where G-d praises Moses, for breaking the Tablets, with those
words. There we find a play on words: `asher shibarta "the tablets you
broke" is interpreted Midrashically `yod-yod-shin-resh' koxakh
sheshibarto. (I am vocalising koxakh as in Mishnaic Hebrew.) If R. Akiba
Eger (Gilyon Hashas ad. loc.) is correct, and he clearly is, then the
Midrash is based on substituting yod for aleph in `asher, in which case
the expression is "yasher koxach," i.e.  "straighten your power," an
imperative.  The fact that there are two yods in the word is irrelevant,
since in the orthography of Rabbinic Hebrew, two yods often are used
for one.

The word aleph-yod-yod-shin-resh (with the word koax understood) occurs
in the Yerushalmi Shevi`it 4:3, with the same congratulatory meaning,
where it is also an imperative, albeit an Aramaic one (also here the two
yods are used for one).  In the Bavli Gittin (34a) we find the word
aleph-shin-vav-resh (also without the word koax) with a similar
meaning. In fact it is possible that the derash asher/ yasher is based
on the fact that they are different spellings of the same word, as aleph
and yod alternate. They are certainly related words, see Isaiah 1 "ashru
xamotz." (Of course, the midrash reads the word asher as with a patax,
rather than the Massoretic hataf patax--that's why it's "only" a
midrash.) There is even a possibility that "yasher koax(akha)" means
STRENGTHEN your power, for this reason. I have consulted linguists and
the matter is by no means simple-- but the pronunciation "yasher
koax(akh)" is undoubtedly an ancient one. (If I learn more on this
particular problem I'll write again, bli neder.)

What now of the stress? Is it yashSHEIR [dagesh] koax (as has been
suggested) or YASHsher koax? (I'll abbreviate the expression y. k.) In
the light of the above, we have to distinguish between Biblical and
Rabbinic Hebrew. Let's begin with Biblical Hebrew-- suppose, therefore,
the expression is treated as a Biblical one for the purpose of
grammar. Then, according to well established rules, the expression
y. k. could appear in the Massora as two words joined together by a
maqaf, yashsher-koax. In that case, the stress on the syllable "sher" is
cancelled, the tzeire of yashsheir turns into a segol (compare
dibbeir-dibber plus maqqaf) and the word is vocalized as one word, with
only one stress: yashsherKOax, exactly as they say in yeshiva. This
would not happen if the word koax were koxakha or koxekh, but there is
really no need for these pronouns, since the entire word koxakh is often
missing in the sources, as I stated above.

OK, you'll say, but what of the thousands of incorrect "yeshivishe"
readings in which the stress is put on the "wrong" syllable: "Omar Rovo"
instead of "oMAR Rovo" etc. Here we are not, of course, speaking of the
reading of the Torah, where all agree the stress must be placed
according to the Massorah--and in Litvishe yeshivos it mostly is, in my
experience. The context seems to be, using Hebrew words in English--or
perhaps reading texts such as the Mishna and Talmud in the besmedrash.

Here I have permission to cite Professor Moshe Bar-Asher, recipient of
the Israel Prize in Hebrew linguistics, who brought to my attention
something known to all leading linguists [but any misunderstandings are
my own responsibility]: in Rabbinic Hebrew there was a shift in the
stress from milra` [ultimate stress] to mil'eil [penultimate stress]
which is well documented in the Hebrew and Aramaic of the Babylonian
Amoraim. Thus, it is likely that Rovo (or maybe Abaye) himself said Omar
rovo and not oMAR rovo!! There is even a possibility that this shift
occurred in the Mishnaic period and is itself responsible for some of
the differences between Biblical and Rabbinic Hebrew. Yiddish preserves
this ancient form (Bar-Asher, by the way, is a Moroccan Jew!). The
reading of the siddur in shul, however, could have been influenced by
Biblical grammar, so that the same Hebrew word pronounced mil`eil in
Yiddish could have been pronounced milra` in shul. But contrary to what
you might think, it is not the Hebrew that was "corrupted" by Yiddish,
itself a "corrupted" by whatever European language; it was the Yiddish
that preserved the ancient reading tradition.

 Incidentally, even the chassidishe reading tradition "booreekh atoo,"
consid- ered corrupt and comical even by the yeshivishe world--and
beneath contempt by all others--contains ancient readings, but I will
not expand on this.

The bottom line is, that the "yeshivishe"/ Yiddish reading tradition has
been proved to preserve ancient readings so often that there is a heavy
burden of proof on those who would change it.  (They have their own
"agenda.") On the other hand, it is a disgrace that the yeshiva world
neglects as an important an area of Torah as Hebrew grammar-- leaving it
to their critics. The late Rav Yaakov Kaminetzkly, z"l, was an exception
to the rule: Bar-Asher told me that Reb Yaakov rediscovered on his own
some of the basic insights of the modern Hebrew linguistics mentioned

 From the liturgical point of view, the Israeli pronunciation of Hebrew
(mistakenly called "havarah sefaradit"--though Sefardim call it the
"havarah Ashkenazit") is the worst possible and should be avoided. It
contains the "mistakes" of the Ashkenazic tradition and the Sefardic
tradition, being the lowest common denominator. For example, it makes no
distinction between kometz and patax, so that the sacred Name `ado-noy
is pronounced as though it were the profane `adonay "lords", which is
why is also why both Rav Kook z"l and the Hazon Ish z"l insisted on the
use of the Ashkenazic pronunciation in davening--for Ashkenazim. (This
is a far greater error than stressing the "wrong" syllable, since
incorrect stress only rarely produces an actual change of meaning.) It
also confounds tzeireh with segol. At the same time, it inherits the
Ashkenazic practice of confusing `aleph and `ayin, xet and khof, vet and
vov, kaf and qoof.  These mistakes are in direct contravention of the
Talmud and Codes, particu- larly the first two mistakes, but I rarely
hear those who criticise the yeshivishe pronunciation adhere to these
distinctions in their own prayers.


From: <Keeves@...> (Akiva MIller)
Date: Sun, 17 Sep 1995 05:53:36 -0400
Subject: Zmanim Program

If anyone wants to write their own zmanim program, I suggest the
following as a starting point: Sky & Telescope Magazine, August 94, page
84, published a program written in a generic Basic, which accurately
calculates sunrise and sunset anywhere on earth, for any day of any
year. (A followup article appeared on page 84 of the March 95 issue.)

Many libraries carry this magazine, but it will be easier and more
accurate if you download it from their WWW page: Go to
http://www.skypub.com and then go to "Sky OnLine", and then to the
"Astronomical Computing" section, where you can download the file
"sunup.bas". I do suggest read the article at the library for additional
info which is not included online, such as comments about the
accuracy. Important notes: Enter west longitude as a negative (e.g.,
NYC=-74); for the Time Zone question, EDT=4, EST=5.


End of Volume 21 Issue 54