Volume 22 Number 30
                       Produced: Wed Dec  6  1:45:08 1995

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

         [Avi Feldblum]
Abarbanel and Christian Sources - continued.
         [Mechy Frankel]
Birchat Cohanim Minhag (2)
         [Joe Goldstein, Gilad J. Gevaryahu]
Help / Advice in re Funding for Unique Religious School
         [Lawrence Feldman]
non-Jewish Sources
         [Jeffrey Woolf]
Oven Doors on SHabbat
         [Michael J Broyde]
Overzealous correcting of Torah reading
         [Zev Barr]


From: Avi Feldblum <feldblum@...>
Date: Wed, 6 Dec 1995 00:00:58 -0500
Subject: Administrivia

Hello All,

I thought I was used to the level of bounce mail that a list like
mail-jewish can generate, but I was totally unprepared for what just one
machine run amuck can do. Over the last 36 hours, I have received over
300 Meg of mail from this one machine. It has forced me to learn enough
procmail so I can delete the messages before I get them, but I'm still
trying to recover some of the other messages that were real that also
came during this period. I've reduced the 300 Meg to only ( :-) ) 10
Meg, but much of the mail sent during Dec 5 may be in there. I hope to
recover it all by the end of tonight.

For a more positive thought, Chanuka is fast approaching, and I have
traditionally had a Chanuka party for mail-jewish at my house on
Saturday Night of Chanuka. That day does not work for me this year, but
Sunday evening Dec 24th (yes, it is right after Chanuka) looks like a
good date, as most of us do not have to go to work on Dec 25th.

SO, this is the first announcement of the Annual Mail-Jewish Chanuka
Party, Sunday Evening Dec 24 at my house in Highland Park, NJ. Further
detail will appear in the near future. An RSVP is not required, but
would be highly apprecieated, as it will give me an estimate of the
number of people coming.

Avi Feldblum, your slightly tired mail-jewish moderator.


From: Mechy Frankel <FRANKEL@...>
Date: Mon, 04 Dec 1995 15:28:26 +0000 (GMT)
Subject: Abarbanel and Christian Sources - continued.

1. As a follow up on an my earlier post where I referenced the Chacham
Gaon's Ph.D thesis on the influence of the Catholic cleric Tostado on
the form and substance of the Abarbanel's commentary, it has occurred to
me that this source may not be readily available, having disappeared
from most of the bookstore chains, no doubt due to its broad popular

2.  As a public service then, and thanks to my son-in-law Benjamin
Edinger -and Shlomit of course- whose copy I borrowed, I offer up a few
detailed specifics documenting the Abarbanel's respect for (some)
Christian exegetes and, occasionally, for their exegesis: 

a) Milochim 8/11: A source indicating an actual preference for the
Christian exegesis!: "..u'bi'emes ro'eh ani divreihem bazeh misyashivim
mecol divirei shi'ar hachachamim asher nizcarti me'binei ameinu." (..and
truly, I believe their words in this matter are more satisfying than all
the other words (of commentary) offered by the wise of our own nation.."

b) I Shimuel 28/10: A source indicating his respect for Augustine
(incorrectly cited by Gaon as 28/8 if anyone has it): "..mah sheshamati
bishem gadol me'chachimei hanotzirim, augustinah,..("..what I have heard
in the name of one of the great christian scholars, Augustine..), though
he ended up disagreeing with Augustine's take on the subject at hand
(the ba'alas oav incident). see also Bireishis, ch.2, where he
approvingly cites Augustine's "City of God" as agreeing with his take on
the chronological primacy of Hebrew.

c) Miflaos 6/3" Source indicating Abarbanel's respect for Aquinas
"..wisest and greatest of christians.."

d) Mayanei Heyeshua 11/4, source indicating his respect for Niclous De
Lyra, ".. the most excellent commentator among them.."

3.  There are numerous instances were Abarbanel's perush strays from the
Talmudic conclusion or the accepted rabbinical exegesis, e.g. that the
machatzis hashekel was used as an indirect means to count the people (to
avoid the plague implied as punishment), while Abarbanel proposes that
direct people counts were used and no plague is risked (the plague
following David's census is attributed to other reasons, see Ab' to
Shemos 111), similarly he does not believe that the half shekel donation
was required at every census, he believes against the majority Talmudic
opinion that the land was divided by the Israelites according to the
count of those who entered Israel rather than those who left Egypt (bava
basra 117a), he suggests that the punishment decreed for worshipping
false idols was kareis rather than the talmudic conclusion of stoning
(sanhedrin 60b), etc. etc.  In all these cases he seems to follow, or at
least suggestively parallel, the christian Tostado. There are also
numerous instances provided by Gaon where Abarbanel's perush, though not
straying from traditional understandings, seems to closely mimic the
style and language of Tostado's extended latin commentaries.

4.  There is considerable question has to how much these things were
simply "in the air" and whether lack ot attribution must be thought of
as deliberate.  Abarbanel has been accused of copying most of questions
with which he prefaces his various chapters from Christian sources. It
is also well known for example that the Abarbanel was accused of
plagiarism (of the Akeidas Yitzchak) because of perceived similarities
in their commentaries, indeed this charge was leveled against Abarbanel
by no less than R. Meier, the son of R. Yitchak Arama, who thought these
were stolen from his father.  Another variation of this charge had
Abarbanel, who was basically filthy rich, buying the commentary to the
torah from the impoverished R. Yitzchak and publishing them under his
own name.  Ironically, the Akeidas Yitzchak has in turn been accused of
plagiarizing from Avraham Bibago, as was also Abarbanel for that
matter. It should immediately be said that most scholarship have
rejected these charges completely, pointing to the significant
differences as well as the similarities - but nevertheless, it seems
something "was in the air" and the zeitgeist included a common
intellectual heritage of which many partook.

5. A final note on the name Abarbanel. There seems little consistency in
the spelling in the transliterated literature and there are numerous
other versions, including Abravanel, Abrabanel,.....  all of which
variations seem quite ancient.  While the Judaica, e.g., is quite
emphatic that "Abarbanel" is clearly an incorrect form, I make no
apologies for using it since it seems to be the form preferred by Don
Yitzchak's son Don Judah Abarbanel and I figure he's entitled (-very-
minor pun there). Those interested in more name background might check
Appendix A to Netanyahu's (yup, Bibi's dad) biography of Abarbanel
(actually Netanyahu prefers Abravanel because of the preponderance of
this form in latin transliterations).

Mechy Frankel			W: (703) 325-1277
<frankel@...>			H: (301) 593-3949


From: Joe Goldstein <JOE-G@...>
Date: Mon, 4 Dec 1995 12:50:15 -0500
Subject: Birchat Cohanim Minhag

 Mr. Gilad J. Gevaryahu writes "The Mishnah (Megila 4:7) states that a
cohen who has blemish hands may not lift his hands (participate in the
blessing service) because the people look at him. This appears also in
the Tosefta (Megila 3:17). However, in Yerushalmi (Megila 32:2 ;Chp.
4:8). Rabbi Yosa said that one may not look at the Cohanim while they
are blessing Israel.."

 Based on this he ASSUMES : " These sources suggest that at early point
(Mishnah & Tosefta) it was customary to look at the cohanim and their
hands while blessing, but that it was changed later (Yerushalmi)."

   IMHO this is incorrect, and I think that Rashi is clear in explaining
the Gemmorah this way. The Gemmorah does not mean that one is permitted
to look at the hands of the Kohanim during Birchas Kohanim. What the
Gemmorah means is that when a Kohain who has markings on his hand goes
up to give the blessing people will invariably look at his hands, even
though they are not permitted to look at them. That is why the Gemoorah
continues and says that if a person's hands are colored from Dye and
that is a prevalent profession in town, OR everyone in his town is used
to seeing this kohain with "marked hands" then he may go up and bless
everyone since they will not be tempted to look at him.

I hope this clear up any misunderstanding.


From: <Gevaryahu@...> (Gilad J. Gevaryahu)
Date: Mon, 4 Dec 1995 23:24:45 -0500
Subject: Birchat Cohanim Minhag

Joe Goldstein questioned the logic of my suggestion that at first
(Mishnah & Tosefta time) it was customary to look at the cohanim while
blessing, but that it was changed later (Yerushalmi time).

Rashi & Bartenura interpret the Mishnah according to their understanding
of the Gemara Bavli & Yerushalmi, which were written at a time when it
was already the custom not to look at the cohanim while blessing. The
Gemara and the Tosafot in Hagiga (16a) hint that it was in Beit
Hamikdash that it was not permitted to look at the Cohanim while
blessing since the holy name was used, while in gevulin (outside Beit
Ha'mikdash/Jerusalem) it was permitted.

The language in the Mishnah also lends itself better to this idea, since
Rashi's interpretation is as if the word "lest"had been added to the
Mishnah, as in "Lest they look at him." Rashi was not a historian of the
halachic process, and correctly writes the end interpretation of his
time; I'm discussing the stages of the halachic development.

Gilad J. Gevaryahu


From: Lawrence Feldman <larryf@...>
Date: Mon,  4 Dec 95 19:00:09 PST
Subject: Help / Advice in re Funding for Unique Religious School

B'nai Chayil, a religious junior high / high school in Jerusalem for boys 
suffering from hyperactivity, ADD (attention deficit disorder) and simliar 
learning problems, is experiencing cash-flow difficulties, and as matters now 
stand, may not be able to open a seventh-grade class next fall. The school is 
unique in that it restores the confidence and self-image for boys who have 
often been misfits and outcasts in the regular religious school system, and 
prepares them for the matriculation exams required for college entrance -- 
turning boys who might otherwise become problems for Israeli society into 
productive members of the religious community. This special school, which by 
its very nature requires a large staff to provide the personal attention that 
these boys badly need, receives inadequate government support. I would 
greatly appreciate advice on how to help this school obtain funding through 
charitable foundations or private donations.


Lawrence Feldman - <larryf@...>


From: Jeffrey Woolf <jwoolf@...>
Date: Tue, 5 Dec 1995 00:38:49 +0300 (IST)
Subject: non-Jewish Sources

The citation of non-Jewish sources for both corroborative or polemical
purposes goes back to (at least) Tannaitic times. Consider the
discussion (Pesachin 54) over the structure of the universe between the
Rabbis and the Sages representing the position espoused by the
astronomer Ptolemy.  There is no reason not to. See (among others):
Rashbam on Lo Tirzach; Introduction to Hibbur HaTeshuvah of the Meiri;
and others.

					Jeff Woolf


From: Michael J Broyde <relmb@...>
Date: Mon, 4 Dec 1995 14:19:41 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Oven Doors on SHabbat

One of the writers, when discussing the case of opening the door of an
oven notes that this is a grama, and that based on this develpes certain
leinincies.  This analysis is not fully correct.  Opening an oven door
is only problematic in cases where the gas or electric is not on at the
time that the door is opened.  If the heating unit is on, then opening
the over door merely causes the heating unit to stay on longer; that is
not a grama, but is a completely permissible activity.  (What you are
doing is indirectly causing a malacha that is already running to run
	In a case where the heating unit is not on, when one opens the
over door one is hastening the heating unit to go on in the future.
This most likily is a grama, as the action is indirect.  (Although not
all accept that, as this action is certain, and some limit grama to
indirect and uncertain.)  More significantly, the action is completely
lo nicha lai (of no benifit), and thus is a combination of grama and
pesik resha delo necha lay, which nearly all poskim think is
 For more on this, see volume 23 of the Journal of halacha and
contemprary Society, which has an article on Modern technology and
Sabbath activity which provides sources for this note.
 Michael Broyde


From: <zevbarr@...> (Zev Barr)
Date: Tue, 5 Dec 1995 03:05:44 +1100
Subject: Overzealous correcting of Torah reading

I am seeking advice for an occasional problem that I am sure is not
unique to our Minyan, the perennial problem of overzealous correcting of
the Baale Kria.

I am not talking about designated Parshiot such as Zachor, the 4
Parshiot etc or about obvious mistakes of words and letters.  I am also
not talking about pronunciation that changes meaning such as VAYAVO
(cholam) instead of VAYAVEH (tzereh) or vice versa.

My question is whether one should correct 

1. Grammatical pronunciation such as kamatz katan eg. VAYAGOR, VAYAKOM
2. Altered vowel which does not change meaning etc eg., LECHEM instead of
LACHEM at an etnachta or vice versa.  Further  examples are Beyom (shva)
instead of bayom (patach) and Machaneh(segol) instead of Machaneh (tzereh).
3. An accent or pronunciation which would be acceptable in one shule but not
in another,  Galizia/Sphardit/Ashkenazit/Brooklyn/Australian etc.,  eg.
VAYAREM (segol) instead of VAYARAM (kamatz).  Examples abound.
4. Very slight differences which may be enunciated by a bal koreh in haste,
such as rounding off the end of the word and which do not throw the word in

And of course we must remember the underlying inyan of not
disturbing/interrupting the kriah by unnecessarily calling out
"corrections" thereby making the "cure" worse than the disease.

Any contribution would be appreciated,

PS. Reminder - from Tuesday night to say veten tal umatar.


End of Volume 22 Issue 30