Volume 23 Number 05
                       Produced: Wed Jan 31  0:54:03 1996

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

7 Sivan?
         [Elozor Preil]
         [Moshe Stern]
Dowsing. Theory and Torah
         [Roger Kingsley]
         [Linda Kuzmack]
Let's unravel the tzitzis problem
         [Zale L. Newman]
Moshe's Age and Length of Makot
         [Rabbi Ephraim P Slepoy]
Parat Moshe Rabbenu - Ladybug
         [Michael Shimshoni]
Searching a name
         [Gilad J. Gevaryahu]
Unravelling tzitzis
         [Akiva Miller]
Unravelling tzitzis and the granny knot
         [Louise Miller]
What is reality?
         [Steve White]
Yosef and Binyameen
         [Yeshaya Halevi]


From: <EMPreil@...> (Elozor Preil)
Date: Thu, 25 Jan 1996 10:07:44 -0500
Subject: Re: 7 Sivan?

 Barry Bank writes:

> can anyone provide information about the custom of observing 7 Sivan
>for this purpose?  Origin and rationale of the custom? Why 7 Sivan
>(obviously a day on which Yizkor is recited, but why not one of the
>other Yizkor days)?  Is this custom unique to certain communities? etc.

7 Sivan seems like an odd day for purposes of mourning victims of the Shoah.
 In Chutz La'aretz (outside Israel) it is the second day of Shavuos, and
even though we say Yizkor, it would not be appropriate (or permitted) to
designate it as a day of mourning.  In Israel, it is Isru Chag (day
after the holiday), no Yizjor is said, and yet the day still retains
some of the spirit of the just-completed chag and would therefore again
be inappropriate for designating a special day of mourning or

Elozor Preil


From: Moshe Stern <MSTERN@...>
Date: Mon, 29 Jan 96 09:24:00 CST
Subject: Alcoholism

David Charlap has made some comments on my statement that alcoholism is
a disease.  Actually, abuse of alcohol, a CNS depressant chemical
substance, is almost always, if it affects the person's life in a
negative way, an addictive and pathological circumstances.  A person can
well be an alcoholic and yet drink only once a year.

I am not suggesting, on the other hand, that the alcoholic is free of
responsibility.  S/he should not be condemned for a condition which is
not of choice.  Still they remain responsible for their behaviour.

Professor M. S. Stern                  <204>474-8961 [voice]
Department of Religion                 <MStern@...>
542 Fletcher Argue                     <MStern@...>
Fort Garry Campus                      <204>275-5781 [facsimile]


From: Roger Kingsley <rogerk@...>
Date: Wed, 24 Jan 96 23:39:51 +0200 (IST)
Subject: Re: Dowsing. Theory and Torah

     This is the last subject I thought of tackling, but I cannot pass
up the two notes in v22#92 without comment.  For the record, I am not
naturally disposed to believe in dowsing, pace Prof. Slifkin's
references which I have not seen.

     However, in spite of Jerome Parness' well-placed objections, there
is a long-standing opinion of a specific connection between
quantum-mechanical effects and consciousness.  This goes back to an HBI
(half-baked idea) proposed by Prof. Wigner in the 1950's, and is
enshrined in the paradox called "Wigner's friend".  This is a slightly
more subtle variation of the older and more famous "Schrodinger's cat",
and is based on the fact that the subjective formulation of the
measurement process in the standard Copenhagen formulation of the
quantum theory leaves a physicist with no other option but to describe
his colleague (who makes the observation) as being in several different
states of being at once.  Prof. Wigner's resolution was to propose that
there may be an interaction between consciousness and quantum mechanical
systems.  As far as I know, this remains an HBI, though it will
obviously provide fertile ground for wilder speculation.  BUT, there are
little-understood problems in the basic formulation of the quantum
theory which leave room for this.

   On a more critical point, I would take issue with Robert Kaiser's 
objection that:
>> The Torah specifically *forbids* us from dealing in witchcraft, 
>> necromancy, paranormal activities and the like.  Unless we
>> are under specific command from God to witness a miracle, if we 
>> start believing in supernatural phenomenon we are on dangerous 
>> theological ground.  

     I think that the Torah's prohibition of witchcraft contains three
elements, any one of which can be used (according to the interpretations
of the poskim) to lead to a forbidden act: taking part in practices
belonging to another (possibly idolatrous) set of religious beliefs;
specifically trying to get information by raising spirits; generally,
trying to foretell the future.  I don't think, with all my scepticism,
that dowsing comes under this prohibition.  It may be a mistaken
practice practiced by charlatans; it may have some physical basis that
we don't yet understand.  But I don't think the Torah contains a
specific ruling on this.  We have to behave rationally.  Yes - but that
leaves a lot of room for argument.
     Any comments?

Roger Kingsley


From: Linda Kuzmack <kuzmack@...>
Date: Thu, 25 Jan 1996 23:19:56 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Re: Ladybugs

> May I ask if anyone can shed some light on the derivation of the Hebrew
> for ladybug (ladybird), Parat Moshe Rabbenu.
> The Parat part is semi-logical as Parpar is a butterfly or even parah as
> in milking a flower.  But whence Moshe Rabbenu?
> It is a point that has been bugging me for a long time (pun intended),

To start with, it is a translation of the Yiddish moyshe rabeynus kiele,
'Moshe Rabbenu's little cow'.  Thus, there is no connection with parpar.

The next question, obviously, is where the Yiddish comes from.  There
was a discussion of this on Mendele, the Yiddish Language and Literature
list earlier last year.  The bottom line seems to be as follows:

In pre-Christian times in Europe, ladybugs were named after the local
goddesses.  The Christians christianized this, leading to names such as
the German Marienkaefer, 'Mary's beetle' and the Russian bozh'ya
korovka, 'God's little cow'.  There dozens of names for ladybugs in
various European languages and dialects, generally with a religious
element.  This includes English: who do you suppose the lady is in

The Jews converted these to a Jewish form as moyshe rabeynus kiele.
There are a number a variants also found, including moyshe rabeynus
ferdele, 'Moshe Rabbenu's little horse.'

If you're interested in reading the entire discussion, consult the Mendele
archives, which are searchable on the Web at 
http://sunsite.unc.edu/yiddish/huhem.html.  The discussion includes a 
reference to an entire book (in German) on ladybugs in folklore.

Arnie Kuzmack


From: Zale L. Newman <ce125@...>
Date: Fri, 26 Jan 1996 15:02:34 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Let's unravel the tzitzis problem

I dicussed this universal problem with two chassidishe rabbonim to see 
what the classic approach is and they gave me two ideas as follows:

1)Dip the tzitzis in very hot water and

2)Put a spot of crazy glue at the tip of the tzitzis or on the knot 
itself. A major posek assured me that there is no problem with this.

Zale L. Newman-Toronto                                      cer


From: <BLKK07A@...> (Rabbi Ephraim P Slepoy)
Date: Mon, 29 Jan 1996 23:26:43 EST
Subject: Moshe's Age and Length of Makot

Medrash Rabbah, SHMOS,9,12, as well as Tanchuma on Parashas Vaeira,13,
and a Medrash T'hillim, all bring down a dispute as to whether the
actual plagues lasted 7 days, with 24( or 23) days of warning in
between, or if it was 24 days of plague, with 7 days of warning
preceding it.
   While this does not answer the question, it might be a place to 
    Is it possible that Moshe completed his 79th year, and was at the
very start of his 80th year when he stood before the Pharaoh, and was at
the END of year 120,(about to begin 121), in the desert?


From: Michael Shimshoni <MASH@...>
Date: Thu, 25 Jan 96 09:12:57 +0200
Subject: Parat Moshe Rabbenu - Ladybug

In Volume 22 Number 90 Zev Barr asked:

>May I ask if anyone can shed some light on the derivation of the Hebrew
>for ladybug (ladybird), Parat Moshe Rabbenu.
>The Parat part is semi-logical as Parpar is a butterfly or even parah as
>in milking a flower.  But whence Moshe Rabbenu?

Last November this  problem was discussed in  soc.culture.jewish and I
was one of those who took part  in that discussion.  To keep it short,
for  some reason  which was  not  really explained,  that ladybug  has
"holy" associations in many languages.   In Yiddish it is called God's
little horse, in  Russian it is Bozhja korovka, which  is God's little
cow.  In  English it seems  that the "lady"  in ladybug is  *The" Lady
according to  their religion,  i.e.  Mary.  This  is supported  by the
German  name Marienkaefer,  which  is  Mary's bug.   Thus  it is  less
surprising that  in Hebrew, while  not taking  God's name in  vain for
that purpose, we went to the "second best" and associated the cow with
Moshe Rabbenu :-).

I  consider it  unlikely  that it  has any  connection  with the  word

 Michael Shimshoni


From: <Gevaryahu@...> (Gilad J. Gevaryahu)
Date: Thu, 25 Jan 1996 09:48:19 -0500
Subject: Searching a name

Jack Stroh in MJ22#90 asks:
>My friend's mother recently passed away, and he would like to know if
>anyone could translate the meaning of her name- Etta Maita. Any help would
>be appreciated. Thanks!

Etta is coming from Henrietta or possibly from Esther via Esti via Ettie
Maita is coming from Mathilda or Matilda.

If the source is Henrietta then it is the feminin equivalent of the male
Henry which comes from German with the meaing of home and kingdom.  If
the source is Esther then it comes from the godess Ishtar

Mathilda/Matilda has its origin in French Mateld or Italian Matelde. I
cannot locate the meaning. Matida was queen of England 1141, the
daughter of Henry I.

Since somehow both names are connected to regality and kingdom, I would
suggest the Hebrew Malka (queen) as the Hebrew equivallent.

Gilad J. Gevaryahu


From: <Keeves@...> (Akiva Miller)
Date: Sat, 27 Jan 1996 21:22:21 -0500
Subject: Re: Unravelling tzitzis

My solution is to tie a tiny knot at the far end of each string. The halacha
prescribe an minimum length for tzitzis, and tzitzis should be remeasured
occasionally because they often shrink in washing. Anyway, I don't remember
where I heard it, but the knot and any extra length must be EXcluded from
this measuring.


From: <miller@...> (Louise Miller)
Date: Fri, 26 Jan 96 10:13:51 PST
Subject: Unravelling tzitzis and the granny knot

The granny knot is an incorrectly tied square knot.

"Right over left then left over right makes a knot handy, dandy and

Louise Miller (who was a Girl Scout....)


From: <StevenJ81@...> (Steve White)
Date: Fri, 26 Jan 1996 13:20:30 -0500
Subject: What is reality?

In #96, David Olesker writes:
>Yet the "comfort" provided by his book is about as real as that
>provided by Prozac, and for similar reasons -- it isn't a reflection of

Actually, the reality is that many people's depression is organic in
nature, and Prozac, appropriately prescribed, is a completely legitimate
refuah (cure) for it.

Steve White


From: <CHIHAL@...> (Yeshaya Halevi)
Date: Thu, 18 Jan 1996 17:44:02 -0500
Subject: Re: Yosef and Binyameen

Shalom, All:
        Regarding the question asked by Arthur Roth, <<a rationale as to
why Yosef's brothers would believe that Yosef would think that the
person they presented as Binyameen really was Binyameen and not an
imposter>>, Robert A.  Book (<rbook@...>) expressed
dissatisfaction with my idea that <<The easy answer is that Yosef kept
Shimon as a hostage until they brought Binyameen.  Thus, Shimon, could
be used/tricked to pick Binyameen out of a lineup, al la time-honored
police practice.>>
           Book argues that <<anticipating this, the brothers could
arrange, prior to leaving, for Shimon to look for a signal, which the
imposter would give in the lineup.  Or, the imposter could be a servant
in the household of Yaakov known to Shimon in advance.>>
           However, in any police lineup, the identifier sees the people
lined up, but they don't see him or her.  Thus, no signal could be
passed.  Secondly, Yosef had months to interrogate the captive Shimon as
to what Binyameen looked like, and know in advance if he was getting
            Furthermore, as I previously noted, (a) Yosef counted on the
family resemblance because they shared a father and mother, and Yosef
knew what he himself looked like when he was younger; and/or (b) Yosef
was counting on ruah hakodesh, the Divine spirit.
            Mr. Book asks, <<Answer (a) implicitly assumes that Yosef
had a mirror (and a good memory).  Does anyone know if mirrors existed
at that time?>> According to my encyclopedia "The familiar hand mirror,
or looking-glass, has been known from ancient times.  The earliest
mirrors were crudely fashioned by polishing disks of metal such as
bronze."  To which I add, the _earliest_ mirrors were clear reflections
in ponds.  There is no reason to suppose anybody never looked at
themselves.  And certainly there is every reason to suppose the astute
Yosef had a good memory.
           Lastly, I fear Mr. Book misundestands my remark that maybe <<Yosef
was counting on ruah hakodesh, the Divine spirit>> to help him identify his
younger brother.  Mr. Book asks, <<... the original question relates to the
brothers.  How would they know that he had access to the ruach hakodesh?
 They didn't even know he was Yosef!>> But my reply regarding ruah
hakodesh was clearly directed in response to Mr. Roth's asking, <<In
fact, he (Yosef) might not have known the difference anyway, because {of
the long separation.}>> I proposed that Yosef could have counted on ruah
hakodesh, the Divine spirit, to back up his memory, even if it was
dimmed by the long separation.
     Yeshaya Halevi (<Chihal@...>)


End of Volume 23 Issue 5