Volume 22 Number 37
                       Produced: Mon Dec 11  4:10:39 1995

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Birchat Cohanim Minhag
         [Joe Goldstein]
Kabbalistic Curses
         [Elanit Z. Rothschild]
Kashrut in Consideration of Other Things
Kohanim covering hands
         [Harold Zazula]
Rav Soloveitchik
         [Eli Turkel]
Sefer HaChinuch Mitzva 558
         [Mordechai Perlman]
Tea Lights for Shabbos Chanuka
         [Akiva Miller]


From: Joe Goldstein <JOE-G@...>
Date: Wed, 6 Dec 1995 11:39:00 -0500
Subject: Birchat Cohanim Minhag

Gilad J. Gevaryahu wrote, "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, sincee Rashi's interpretation is as if
the word "lest" had been added to the Mishnah, as in "Lest they look at

   I am sorry, but Rashi did not use preconceived notions when
explaining the Gemmorah! Rashi knew the gemmorah in Chagigah and
Yerushalmi at least as well as you and I do. I repeat there is no change
in customs. Rashi explains the reason in the mishna why one that has
deformed hands or other markings on his hand may not go up to "duchan".
The reason is BECAUSE people *will* look at him. Hence the wording in
the Mishna is very clear. There is no need for the word "lest" this is a
consequence of such a person's going up to "duchan" This is not a
change, or a decree to because we are worried that one will look at the
Kohain. This is a statement of fact!

  Also if one looks at the gemmorah in Chagigah one will not find that
outside of the boundaries of the Bais Hamikdosh one was permitted to
look at the kohanim. The gemmorah was ONLY discussing looking at the
hands of the kohanim in the Bais Hamikdosh because looking at their
hands there was detrimental to one's eyesight! The general topic of
looking at the Kohain's hands was NOT the main topic of discussion

   Furthermore, Tosefos in Chagigah asks on the Rashi in Megillah: How
can Rashi say one may not look at the Kohains hands because the Shechina
is one the Kohains hands? The Gemmorah here says that ONLY applied
during the times of the Bais Hamikdosh. Therefore, Tosefos concludes the
explanation of the Mishna in Meggilah prohibiting looking at the kohains
hands is because of "Hesech Hadass" , not concentrating on the blessing
being given by the kohanim. Tosefos then quotes the Yerushalmi to back
up this reason for not looking. (For those who are interested the TURAY
EVEN in Megillah proves that Rashi WAS explaining the Mishna to refer to
a KOHAIN going up to Duhcan in the Bais Hamikdosh. See it inside for his
full and beautiful explanation)

Therefore, There was no change in custom. No differences in opinion
whether one is allowed or not allowed to look. EVERYONE agrees that one
may not look.

 In Halocho the reason for not looking IS so that one's mind should
remain focused on the Blessing, which according to the explanation of
the Turay Even is the reason EVERYONE agrees to.

  (Once we are on this subject another poster mentioned in the name of a
respected Rov, I do not remember who it was, that one was permitted to
"peek" at the Kohain's hands but not take a "long" look. IMHO it would
seem that either peeking or looking would be prohibted based on these

The comment made by Mr. Gevaryhu that " 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." is
disrespectful at the very least. At most is shows an ignorance and a
lack of appreciation for who RASHI was! The greatest commentators of
Torah Trembled before opposing Rashi's opinion on ANYTHING!



From: <Ezr0th@...> (Elanit Z. Rothschild)
Date: Sun, 10 Dec 1995 18:01:15 -0500
Subject: Kabbalistic Curses

Menachem Glickman wrote in Digest 34:
> The prayer entreats that whoever gives a hand to
> desecrating burial places should have his hand cut off.  This is
> understood idiomatically to mean that the person should be unsuccessful
> in his endeavours to desecrate the graves.  But the anti-religious media
> chose to understand it as a 'Kabbalistic curse'."

How would you explain the "Kabbalistic curse" placed on Rabin, z"l, only
(I think) a week before he was assassinated-
   "and on him, Yitzhak son of Rosa, known as Rabin, we have
permission...to demand from the angels of destruction that they take a
sword to this wicked man...to kill him... for handing over the Land of
Israel to our enemies, the sons of Ishmael."

Is this another "misunderstanding" by the "anti-religious" media?  I
don't think there is any "idiomatic" way of explaining this curse to
mean non other than death.  When a tefilla is repeated that was
originally composed by a Mekubal, in means, IMHO, exactly what it was
originally written for.  If they wanted to say something else, then they
would have found a different tefilla to say.  Words have strong meaning.
The point of tefilla is not for Hashem to read between the lines.
Wishing for someone to be unsuccessful in there work and wishing for
someone's hands to be cut off are two, majorly different things.  Words
can get you in trouble if you don't think before you speak.

Elanit Z. Rothschild   :-)


From: crp_chips <chips@...>
Date: Wed, 6 Dec 1995 22:32:36 -0800
Subject: Kashrut in Consideration of Other Things

]From: Debra Fran Baker <dfbaker@...>
]The second question regards kashrut and smooth-top cooktops.  These are
]electric stoves with the elements under a smooth glass surface.  Can 
]such stoves be kashered? ...  My mother, who does not keep kosher, has
]such a cooktop, and I'm wondering if her rather heroic efforts to 
]provide us with a kosher Thanksgiving (she bought all-new pots, for 
]example, and is keeping them just for us) was sabotaged.

   I have a reputation of being picky where I eat due to kashrus. In
circumstances similar to that above, i've got no problems eating. I feel
that any Rabbinic 'chumras' being followed are overshadowed by the ill
will generated. And I'm not one of these "everyone should love one
another people" :) :) :) Seriously, the problems made defeat the end
result of what the Rabbonim wanted , in regards to 'kiddoshim tehiyu'.
  Now if the food being served was meat under a hashgacha i didn't trust
or american cheese that i wouldn't eat at home - different story.  


From: Harold Zazula <nl9qc@...>
Date: Thu, 7 Dec 1995 01:17:23 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Kohanim covering hands

Shmuel Himelstein writes:
>As to covering hands, I was taught (by my father?) that during the
>Priestly Blessing the Shechina (Divine Presence) rests on the kohanim's
>hands. That is why a) the kohanim cover their hands with a tallit, so
>that the congregation can't see their hands, and b) why the kohanim 
>themselves keep their eyes closed throughout the Priestly Blessing. As
>to those places where the kohanim have their hands outside the tallit, I
>understand that the congregation would then be required to keep their
>eyes closed during the blessing.

As a Kohen whose father is one of the few people that keeps his hands
outside the tallis, I went to the Mishnah B'rurah for some help on this
issue. Here is what I found (please let me know if I've made any errors
in my understanding of the text)...

According to the Mishnah B'rurah, the Shechina only rested on the hands
of the Kohanim during the time of the Beis Hamikdash. Nowadays, the
requirement of the congregation not to look at the Kohanim or their
hands is in order to avoid hesach hada'as (absence of mind). This
pertains to prolonged looks. However, it is customary not to take even
quick looks, in rememberance of the Beis Hamikdash. The Rama adds that
the Kohanim, too, should not look at their hands (because of hesach
hada'as) and therefore it was customary for the Kohanim to cover their
faces and keep their hands outside the tallis (according to the Mishnah
B'rurah, in those places the congregation would cover their faces) and
in some places to cover their hands as well, so that the congregation
shouldn't see their hands. (see Shulchan Aruch siman 128, s'if 23 and
related M.B.)

As far as blemishes are concerned, the Shulchan Aruch states that in
those places where the custom was for the Kohanim to cover their faces
(and hands, Rama),a Kohen with blemishes on hands or face may
duchen. The Mishnah B'rurah adds that if this was not the custom of the
place, but an individual wanted to cover his face and hands in order to
hide his blemishes, even if the rest of the Kohanim are willing to do
the same for the sake of consistency, it is not allowed. (see Shulchan
Aruch, siman 128, s'if 31 and related M.B.)

Personally, I've found that it is possible to drape the tallis over
one's hands in such a way that neither the Kohen nor the congregation
can see them. Anyone have this custom?

Harold Zazula


From: Eli Turkel <turkel@...>
Date: Mon, 11 Dec 1995 10:43:27 +0200
Subject: Rav Soloveitchik

1.  I have made some minor corrections and additions to the archive
files on Rav Soloveitchik, rav_bibliography.txt and
rav_biography.txt. If anyone has any comments I would be glad to include

2.  If anyone knows where Lawrence Kaplan can be reached I would greatly
appreciate it. He has many articles and translations of Rav
Soloveitchik's work that I am not aware of.

3.  I am presently (slowly) indexing the works of Rav Soloveitchik and
his students to places in the Talmud and Rambam. If anyone knows of
other such projects I would greatly be interested.
    If anyone can contact Rav H. Schacter to get articles that he has
written on Rav Soloveitchik (outside of Nefesh HaRav and the Mesorah
magazine) I would be glad to include them in my indexing.

4.  In the latest issue of Or Hamizrach Rav Schacter has some divrei
Torah from Rav Soloveitchik. One story is particularly interesting in
light of some recent discussion on mail.jewish. Enclosed is my rough

     The Lubavitcher Rebbe would warn his hassidim that adopting
children entailed severe restrictions in terms of "yichud" of the
parents with the adopted children. One set of Chabad parents in Boston
came to Rav Soloveitchik trying to get a more lenient position. Rav
Soloveitchik objected to the question because the couple never came to
him with other questions and were obviously "psak shopping".
    In a second case a Chabad couple came from Brooklyn because they had
no children after 10 years of marriage. Rav Soloveitchik said that his
heter for problems with yichud were only as a last resort (shaat
ha-dechat) and advised that they should try for another year and then
contact him again to see what can be done. After several months the wife
became pregnant and had a son and requested Rav Soloveitchik to be the
sandaek. He declined because of ill health and that it took all his
strength just to teach his shiur in New York.

Eli Turkel


From: Mordechai Perlman <aw004@...>
Date: Fri, 1 Dec 1995 04:44:21 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Sefer HaChinuch Mitzva 558

	The Chinuch mentions in his opening line to make sure that the
hatred towards a seducer of Jews to idols, must always remain with us.

Question:  Does this apply to Jews for Yeshu missionaries? 

					Mordechai Perlman


From: <Keeves@...> (Akiva Miller)
Date: Sun, 10 Dec 1995 09:33:13 -0500
Subject: Tea Lights for Shabbos Chanuka

Last year, I returned home from shul on the Friday night of Chanukah to
find that every single one of the large Shabbos candles lit by my
children and guests (I lit oil) had melted from the intense heat, and
had gone out long before the minimum requirement had been reached. I
asked the MJ readership for ideas, and here are some of the ideas people
sent me, in highly abridged form:

The minimum requirement is only one candle, so use one Shabbos candle
and the rest can be regular Chanukah candles. From: jm8o+@andrew.cmu.edu
(Jan David Meisler)

Long thin candles designed expressly to burn long enough on the Friday
night of Channukah are available. From: <stepelma@...>
(Deborah J.  Stepelman)

In Israel, one can buy extra long but thin Chanuka candles.  The trick
is to use tall and thin. From: <gamoran@...> (Sam Gamoran)

In the past, I have used a piece of foil with far-spaced candles in a
line...  In a pinch this year... we included within the customary number
of Channukah candles one Shabbat candle.  From: <mgross@...>
(Michelle Kraiman Gross)

I had tried the above ideas in previous years without much success, and
I am happy for those who were more successful than I. I found the long
thin candles to bend over and fall. The following two posters have
supplied what appears to be a foolproof idea:

I have successfully used the small "tea candles" available for
travel. They are self contained in small aluminum carriers and I find
they burn very neatly.  From: <kramer@...> (David

Tea Lights. About half-inch-high and quarter-sized base, these last
several hours.  They come in little metal holders.  From:
<levene@...> (Robert A. Levene)

Tea lights are great. Even in the heat of the other candles, the wax
will melt but stay in the metal container, and last just as long as it
usually does. Thank you all for your ideas. From: Akiva Miller


End of Volume 22 Issue 37