Volume 22 Number 25
                       Produced: Wed Nov 29 22:39:25 1995

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Bircas Kohanim, turkey
Birchas Cohanim Minhag
         [Chaim Wasserman]
Celebrating Thanksgiving
         [Janice Gelb]
Haircut at 3
         [Andy Sacks]
On Rabbinical prohibitions
         [Ari Shapiro]
Rabbinical prohibitions
         [Yeshaya Halevi]
Returning food to the oven
         [Hannah Wolfish]
Source for Bircas Kohanim Minhag
         [Carl Sherer]
Tapes of the RAV's shiurim
         [Yoni Mozeson]
Using Christian and Moslem sources in understanding Torah
         [Alan Zaitchik]
         [Jack Stroh]


From: <David_Hollander@...>
Date: Mon, 27 Nov 95 11:21:52 EST
Subject: Bircas Kohanim, turkey

Avi Feldblum writes:
>Today, we have changed the custom, at least in any place I have been 
>at, so that the Cohanim put the tallis over their hands, so I guess 
>now we have "double protection" for the non-Cohanim.

Rav Hillel David, Brooklyn, discussed this issue.  He mentioned that in
his shul some Kohanim cover their hands and some do not.  It goes by the
Kohain's family minhag.  (Since some do not cover the hands, there is a
good reason to be under a tallis, it is not always a "double

Rav Hillel also explained how he knows that some do not cover their
hands -
1. It is forbidden to gaze, not to take a peek.
2. It is only forbidden during Bircas Kohanim, not in the interval
before Sim Shalom. The Kohanim still have their hands raised and may not
turn away from the tzibur until the Shatz begins Sim Shalom.  At that
time however, Bircas Kohanim is over and we are permitted to look.

   Regarding the turkey discussion, I've been told that Rav Yaakov
Kaminecki never ate turkey and his family members follow that and do not
eat turkey anytime, Thanksgiving or all year.


From: <Chaimwass@...> (Chaim Wasserman)
Date: Tue, 28 Nov 1995 16:00:47 -0500
Subject: Birchas Cohanim Minhag

>I was told that a reason to cover one's face (eyes) during Bircas
>Cohanim had to do with the idea of "not knowing" which cohen gave you
>the blessing...
> (all of the cohanim would be blessed with a yasher ko'ach (or thanks).
>Having the children under the talis would then only be training them in this
>idea.  It is also a possible way to keep the children inside the shule and
>Aryeh Blaut

I would love to know the source of this "reason" for the cohanim
covering their HANDS. If this were the case then their faces alone
should have been covered while their hands would be exposed. BTW, there
are some cohanim who do exactly that - hands outside the tallis which
covers their heads and faces.

chaim wasserman


From: <janiceg@...> (Janice Gelb)
Date: Tue, 28 Nov 1995 12:41:03 -0800
Subject: Celebrating Thanksgiving

In mail-jewish vol 22, Jay Novetsky says:
> Several years ago when Rav Riskin was in Teaneck,N.J. over the Thanksgiving
> holiday I asked him my shaila on this "yom tov". [...]  He replied,
> that in his home in Efrat, his children chided him for continuing to
> celebrate Thanksgiving  "with all the trimmings" just as he had in America.
> He told them that there is never a problem with making a special meal (even
> the night before Shabbat) with the intention of focusing our thoughts on
> "Hodu LaShem KiTov, Ki L'olam Chasdoh".

I'd love to know whether this was an intentional or unintentional 
pun on the word "hodu" [turkey] on Rabbi Riskin's part!

Janice Gelb                  | The only connection Sun has with this      
<janiceg@...>   | message is the return address. 


From: <raisrael@...> (Andy Sacks)
Date: Tue, 28 Nov 1995 17:15:51 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Haircut at 3

Does anyone know the origins of the minhag to cut a boy's hair, at the 
age of three, for the first time?

Andy Sacks


From: <m-as4153@...> (Ari Shapiro)
Date: Mon, 27 Nov 95 20:24:54 EST
Subject: On Rabbinical prohibitions

<Here we followed defacto (Aharon Manne language): "if the reason for a
<Rabbinic restriction disappears, then the restriction is no longer
<enforced."  The Halachic process is not monolithic, and for the most
<part no single rule covers all possibilities.

 R' Shachter in his Sefer Eretz Hatzvi (Siman 19) discusses this
issue. He says the following idea. There is a dispute whether 'Darshinan
taamei dikra' (learning out Halachos from the reason of the Mitzva). We
hold that lo darshinan taamei dikra (we do not learn out halachos from
the reason of the mitzva) however we see from the gemara (San. 21A) that
where the reason is written in the torah itself we do say that darshinan
(we do learn out halachos from the reason). We can say the same about
Rabbinical prohibitions. When the Rabbis made the gezera stam (without
including the reason in the language of the gezera) then just like on a
torah level lo darshinan taamei dikra so too on a Rabbinical level, and
therefore even if the reason is no longer applicable we have to follow
the prohibition.  However, if the reason was included in the gezera then
if the reason no longer applies the prohibition no longer applies. When
did the Rabbis put the reason in the language of the gezera? It could be
that whenever they are Oker davar min hatorah(they are nullifying a
torah law) they had to give the reason in the language of the gezera(see
inside for the proof of this). Therefore whenever the gezera is oker
davar min hatorah if the reason no longer applies the gezera no longer
applies. Based on this R' Shachter explains many cases where we don't
follow the gezera because the reason doesn't apply. One of them is the
following. The Tannaim prohibited putting tzitzis on a linen
garment. The Rosh say that this no longer applies because the reason for
the gezera was because they were afraid people were going to use kla
ilan(a blue die that looked like techeles) but we who have no techeles
the reason doesn't apply. However, why don't we say the gezera applies
even if the reason doesn't? The answer is because this gezera was to be
oker davar min hatorah (that the garment was patur from tzitzis)
therefore if the reason doesn't apply the gezera doesn't apply. See the
piece inside for many more examples. What I have just written is just a
small part of a much longer piece.

Ari Shapiro


From: <CHIHAL@...> (Yeshaya Halevi)
Date: Fri, 24 Nov 1995 13:47:15 -0500
Subject: Re: Rabbinical prohibitions

Shalom, All:
      Nosson Tuttle, Gilad J. Gevaryahu and others have raised
interesting points about Rabbinical prohibitions for which the reason no
longer applies, and if they can be taken out of force only when
nullified by a Beit Din equal or greater than the Beit Din which
originally promulgated the prohibition.
      How does this issue mesh with many things in the Talmud which,
frankly, are superstition?  Are we still forbidden to go out alone on
the nights of Wednesday or the nights of Sabbath, because Igrat the
daughter of Mahalath and her angels of destruction wreak destruction
(Pes. 112b)?  What about the warning of Rabbi Joseph, who said in
Pes. 111b that "The following three things take away a man's sight:
combing one's head while the hair is dry, drinking the drippings [of
wine], and putting on shoes while one's feet are still wet?" Is one
wrong to disregard this ancient medical advice?
       [Come to think of it, are we obligated to believe that "one who
wishes to become aware of demons' existence should take well-sifted
ashes and sprinkle them around his bed. In the morning, he will see
something like the tracks of a cock. He who wishes to see them should
take the afterbirth of a black cat that is the offspring of a black cat
and firstborn of a firstborn; he should parch the afterbirth in fire,
grind it into powder, and put a generous pinch of the mix into his
eyes--then he will see the demons." (Ber.  6a)]
       Sometimes when the Talmud talks about demons, we can say it was a
brilliant attempt to, say, deal with the concept of microscopic bacteria
in an era before microsopes were invented.  Other times, however, even
the most charitable of fair-minded rational people must conclude that
the Talmud does have its share of superstition.
         That being the case, since there can be no Beit Din today
greater than the sages of the Talmud, are we still obligated to follow
those teachings, and to believe as they did?
 <Chihal@...> (Yeshaya Halevi)


From: <Hannah.Wolfish@...> (Hannah Wolfish)
Date: Tue, 28 Nov 95 12:20:30 EST
Subject: Returning food to the oven

 >The leniency is when you put the food in the oven in a special way that
>one does not cook in this fashion.  I believe that the Mishneh B'rurah 
>with the food in upside down, then it is permitted, because no one cooks 
>this way.  This past Shabbat I had special guests and when I wanted them 
>to have the warm turkey and potatoes, I placed them in plate which is 
>never used for cooking, but would be understood by all as for reheating 
>only.  Does anyone cook food by placing it in the lid of roasting pan? 
>No one will get the wrong impression that you are actually cooking.

How do you get around the potential for the oven temperature going down
and therefore turning on the flame?  When I open my oven, if it is at a
point that the flame is not on (I guess it has reached the required
temperature) often the flame will come on - I guess the hot air is let
out and it must heat up again.  I would imagine different ovens work
differently, but I've always seen this as the hitch to using the oven
instead of the bleck.

Hannah Wolfish


From: <adina@...> (Carl Sherer)
Date: Tue, 28 Nov 95 21:28:35 IST
Subject: Source for Bircas Kohanim Minhag

 From some of the responses I got to my original question (Vol.22 #16) I
see that it wasn't clear enough.  So let me re-pose it.

It is accepted halacha that one does not look at the Kohanim's hands
during Bircas Kohanim because the shchina rests above their hands.  In
order to prevent people from looking at the Kohanim's hands, in most
shuls (in every shul I've ever been in but I hesitate to make an
absolute statement) the Kohanim keep their hands under their taleisim.
In addition, the non-Kohanim look down at the ground during Bircas
Kohanim.  In my experience, most non-Kohanim also put their taleisim
over their heads, but they generally do not cover their eyes.

I have observed the minhag (and someone wrote me off line with a source
from the Keter Shem Tov that this is the minhag of Egyptian Jewry but
that the Keter Shem Tov could not find a reason for it) that some people
put their taleisim over their heads *entirely* and put their children
under the talis with them.  I have even seen people do this with sons
who are over Bar Mitzva age (neither of mine are yet).  I have never
been in a place where everyone did this.

Somewhere along the line I picked up this minhag - probably as a way to
keep the kids quiet, still and facing the right way during Bircas
Kohanim.  When we lived in the States it was a Yom Tov treat - the kids
would come to shul to "go under Abba's talis".  Living in Yerushalayim
this has become much more frequent.  I'm not sure where I picked up this
minhag - hence the question.  It was (and is) not my father's minhag.
My father-in-law was, until recently, the Rav of a Persian shul and it's
conceivable that I could have gotten it there, but I don't remember if
everyone - or even a large number of people - did it there.  My daughter
(who is old enough to sit upstairs) assures me that in the Litvish
Yeshivish place in which I presently daven on Shabbos, I am the only one
who puts his children (those who sit with me) under his talis.

And so my question is, is there a source for this minhag (other than the
Keter Shem Tov who, from what the person who wrote me privately said,
reaches the conclusion that it cannot be proved from anywhere)?  Or is
it, as Rabbi Wasserman implied in his post, simply superstition?

I hope that at least the question is now clearer.

-- Carl Sherer
	Adina and Carl Sherer
		You can reach us both at:


From: <YONI_MOZESON@...> (Yoni Mozeson)
Date: Wed, 29 Nov 1995 19:03:07 -0500
Subject: Tapes of the RAV's shiurim

I have a collection of tapes of the Rav's Torah in English which I
cherish dearly. They're mostly Yeirtzeit and RCA conventions and I
purchased them from Rabbi Nordlicht in Queens. I am constantly seeking
more. And ones of better sound quality. I also worry that until someone
converts these tapes to DAT they will constantly lose quality. An
neighbor of mine who is an engineer told me that when your copy a
cassette, both the original and the copy lose quality.  Does anyone know
a source for more of these tapes? Has anyone converted any to DAT? Does
anyone know if the Rav's shiurim that he gave for many years At
Maimonides School are being released by the family? I'm at

Yoni Mozeson


From: Alan Zaitchik <ZAITCHIK%<INCDV1@...>
Date: Wed, 29 Nov 1995 20:30:36 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Using Christian and Moslem sources in understanding Torah

 I have been following the recent postings on Abarbanel and his use of
non Jewish sources in understanding Torah, and some MJers' dismay or
perplexity about all this.
 Let me refer them to Torah UMada by Rabbi Norman Lamm, esp pages 22-23
and notes 9-11 ad loc. In brief, Rabbi Lamm brings down the well
attested story of how Rav Hai Gaon asked R. Masliah to go ask the
"Catholic of the Christians" what he knew about a difficult pasuk in
Tehilim which Rav Hai Gaon was struggling with. Rabbi Lamm also mentions
Shmuel Hanagid's using Arabic sources (both poetry as well as the Koran)
to "prove a Talmudic point". (I am not sure what this means.) Also, see
note 9 where he quotes R. Moshe Ibn Ezra's defense of his using the
Koran to understand Tanach.
 Is it not a measure of how insular some of us want to be, that we find
this "shocking" ?


From: <jackst@...> (Jack Stroh)
Date: Sun, 26 Nov 1995 07:13:45 -0500
Subject: Yirmiahu

I have 2 questions from Yirmiahu-
1. Why does the navi (and Yechezkal) refer to the King of Bavel as
Nevuchadnetzar sometimes and Nevuchadretzar at others?
2. In Yirmiahu 31:18 he says that in the times of the Moshiach, Kohanim
will give Olah, Minchah, and Zevach. What do those who say that there
won't be sacrifices in those times say about this?


End of Volume 22 Issue 25