Volume 23 Number 15
                       Produced: Sun Feb 11 16:22:38 1996

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

8 Gates
         [Danny Skaist]
Binyameen vs. Binyamin
         [Gilad J. Gevaryahu]
Kippot, kashrut, and bat mitzvah help
         [Etan Diamond]
Mazal Tov!
         [Shalom Krischer]
Mazel Tov
         [Alina Muchnik]
The Kippa as a Political Statement
         [Roger Kingsley]
Yitro - the prototype of a ger tzedek (fwd)
         [Dov Abramson]


From: DANNY%<ILNCRD@...> (Danny Skaist)
Date: Tue, 6 Feb 96 12:08 IST
Subject: 8 Gates

>Israel Rosenfeld
>West wall (of the Old City):
>    Jaffa Gate - this includes a breach in the wall right next to it
>used by car traffic.  So called because this was the exit for travellers

The "breach" in the wall was once a moat [dry].  It was filled in for
the visit of Kaiser Wilhelm who insisted on entering Jerusalem on his
horse.  This opening is now the reason why the wall of the old city can
not be used as an eruv.

>North wall (west to east):
>    New gate - opened by Jordanian King Hussein in the 60's as a direct
>entrance to the Xian Quarter.

The "new gate" is much older then that.  It was opened by the Turks to
give xian prilgrims a direct route from "Notre Dame" into the old city.
>From 1948 to 1967 "Notre Dame" was in Israel the "New gate" was in
Jordan and the street in between was no mans land.

There are 2 more gates that have been uncovered on the south side.
Huldas gate and the Triple gate.



From: <Gevaryahu@...> (Gilad J. Gevaryahu)
Date: Fri, 2 Feb 1996 09:35:26 -0500
Subject: Binyameen vs. Binyamin

In MJ 23#07 David Hollander writes:

>   Since the Torah spells Binyamin both ways in different places, when I
>named my son, I asked my Rav for the proper spelling of his name.  He
>told me it is determined by the majority of times of the Torah's
>spelling.  He looked into it and told me the proper spelling today is
>Binyamin without a yud preceding the final nun.

The book Nachalat Shiv'ah (1st print 1681) by R. Shmuel ben David
Ha'Levi is the classical book for the determination of name spelling in
Hebrew, predominantly for Ketubot and Gittin. (Another excellent book
for that purpose is Kav ve'Naki)

In Siman 46 R. Shmuel Ha'Levi discusses the proper spelling of names. He
prefers Benjamin to be spelled with two Yods, despite the fact that the
majority of Benjamins in the Torah are spelled with one yod.  He gives a
lengthy discussion for the reasons why Benjamin is the correct spelling.

Nonetheless, I agree with the conclusion that in English we should spell
it Benjamin and not Benjameen, or a short ee sound. (Benjamin is the
endorsed English spelling by Webster and Random House dictionaries). In
the last generation people move back to transliteration and
re-examination of name spellng, and thus Moses reverts back to Moshe;
Jacob back to Yaacov, and likewise Benjamin back to Binyamin. But to be
politically correct, for havorah Ashkenazis it should be Binyomin.

Gilad J. Gevaryahu


From: Etan Diamond <aa725@...>
Date: Tue, 6 Feb 1996 14:50:12 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Kippot, kashrut, and bat mitzvah help

	I need some bibliographic help on a variety of topics.  (I am
planning to go to the library, but one cannot always be sure of finding
everything, even with CD-ROMs, etc.)

Does anyone know of scholarly material written about:

1) kippot (yarmulkas, skull caps, or whatever you might call it):
specifically, the trend to wearing them over the past 2 decades,
sociological implications of knitted vs. velvet vs. leather.  I know in
Sh'ma magazine a few years ago, Bruce Powell published a very funny
"Kipahology"--I have it but no bibliographic info.  Anything else?  (I
know that many people started wearing kipot publicly after the Six Day
War, but is there anything actually written about this beyond a passing
reference in several histories of Orthodoxy?)

2) Is there a history of the UOJCA or of the OU out there?

2a) If you had to cite one or two books on kashruth (for a generally
ignorant audience)--what would they be?

3) Any articles/books on the Orthodox versions of Bat mitzvah?

Thanks to all.

Etan Diamond
Department of History
Carnegie Mellon University


From: Shalom Krischer <PGMSRK@...>
Date: Fri, 09 Feb 96 12:26:14 EST
Subject: Mazal Tov!

Ellen and Shalom Krischer would like to announce the birth of their Bechor
(first born son), Aryeh Yoseph, at 3:25 PM, January 30, 1996, 9 Shevat 5756.


From: Alina Muchnik <muchnika@...>
Date: Wed, 7 Feb 1996 09:53:53 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Mazel Tov

It is my pleasure to announce that mail-jewish reader (and occasional
contributor) Gedaliah Friedenberg just became engaged to Rachma Ernst of
New City, New York.  Anyone in the Monsey/New City area is invited to
the vort this Sunday (Feb 11) at 1:30pm.

Congratulations can be sent to Gedaliah: <gedaliah@...> Copies will
be given to the kallah as well.  Directions to the vort can also be
obtained from Gedaliah.

Alina Muchnik


From: Roger Kingsley <rogerk@...>
Date: Sat, 03 Feb 96 21:56:41 +0200 (IST)
Subject: The Kippa as a Political Statement

In reply to the question:
> * What sort of kippah will make the least political statement? 

Carl Sherer wrote (in v22#97)
> According to an article in Yediot a few Fridays ago a black knitted
> kippa is "politically neutral".  I don't know how reliable a source
> Yediot is for such matters.

For some reason, I am under the impression that black knitted kippot are
generally associated with the movement called "haredi Zionism" and
supposed to be exemplified by Merkaz HaRav Kook.  Of course, this is
also associated with a generally larger size of kippa, so I suppose that
if the original poster went in for a _small_ black knitted kippa he
might manage to confuse the issue sufficiently.  Otherwise, my wife
suggests that an American baseball cap would do the trick of being
_politically_ neutral.  Failing these, he could just wear what he likes,
and ignore the presumptions of fools.

Roger Kingsley


From: Dov Abramson <svenska@...>
Date: Fri, 2 Feb 1996 14:29:47 +0200 (WET)
Subject: Yitro - the prototype of a ger tzedek (fwd)

"who speaks to him mouth to mouth" should be "
mouth to mouth"

This week's parsha begins with the visit of Yitro, the father-in-law of
Moshe Rabbenu.  I believe that Yitro is presented here as the
prototypical ger tzedek, and all of his actions described in this parsha
are either directly or indirectly related to that role.  While most
would probably accord Rut this title, Yitro lived about 250 years
earlier, and his very name consists of the three letters of Rut's name,
plus a Yud (the first letter in Hashem's name).  Indeed, Yitro and Rut
represent two necessary aspects of the experience of gerim.  Yitro goes
through gyerut as a man, in a very public setting, while Rut, as a
woman, makes her decision in a much more private manner.  It is perhaps
apt to note one other similarity - both have close familial ties to the
Jewish People, even before their formal and completed conversions.

Yitro's pre- and post-conversion acts are detailed in this parsha, which
is called by his name.  This fact, in itself, requires some notice,
since many commentators (including Ibn Ezra) maintain that Yitro arrived
after the giving of the Torah, which, of course is the subject of the
balance of this parsha.  It may very well be necessary for Yitro, as the
prototypical ger tzedek to be present on behalf of all future gerim, at
the moment of matan torah (even if this occurs only in the Torah's
narrative, rather than in actual chronology).  It is, after all, a
well-known tradition that the neshamas of all gerim were present at
Sinai for the matan torah.

Yitro begins by hearing "everything Hashem did for Moshe and Israel, His
people."  A ger must first hear about Judaism.  This first stage is also
indicated by the fact that the parsha begins with the word "va'yishma."
This word often means intensive hearing and listening (cf "Shma
Yisrael").  Indeed, the only daily prayer that is a mitzva is called the
"Shma" and sums up our obligations to Hashem better than anything else.

Intensive hearing, however, is only the start of the process.  The
parsha continues, "Va'yavo Yitro . . .el Moshe."  Yitro takes action.
He seeks out Moshe and the Jewish People who are encamped in a holy
place, "the Mountain of G-d."  As a prospective ger, Yitro seeks to
observe Jews living a life of kedusha and mitzvot, and to learn the ways
of Hashem from them.  A ger needs to seek out a Rav to help him in this
task, and Yitro, the prototypical ger, seeks out the Rav, par
excellance, Moshe Rabbenu, himself.

 Moshe goes out to meet Yitro (va'yetzey Moshe), and welcomes him with
all his abundant Jewish warmth.  This is a lesson to all of us, and
often one we need to learn.  A prospective ger who has heard and who has
travelled to our camp to learn, must be greeted with love and warmth.
The mitzva to "love the ger" does not suddenly spring into operation at
the moment the ger comes out of the mikveh; it should govern our
attitude toward those still engaging in their spiritual journey toward
that point.

Moshe tells (Va'yisaper Moshe) Yitro of everything that happened up to
his point.  In other words, even though Yitro had already "heard," Moshe
"tells."  Moshe tells Yitro not only the great things that Hashem has
done for Israel, but the hardships Israel had encountered.  As any Rav
teaching a ger, Moshe Rabbenu explains that Yiddishkeit is not a bowl of
cherries.  There are, and will be, difficulties.  He "draws close with
one hand, while pushing away with the other."  Thus, Yitro is given the
knowledge necessary to make a well-informed choice, and during the
process, Moshe tests the depth of Yitro's commitment.  Unlike other
religions (L'havdil) which require only a simple ("I believe"),
Yiddishkeit demands that a convert make his or her choice with "all your
heart" (the heart was generally thought to be the seat of intellect)
"all your soul (emotions) and all your resources (every aspect of
life)."  This requires a long and often difficult journey of mental and
spiritual education.

Yitro passes the test.  Shmot 18:9 begins with the difficult phrase
"Va'yichad Yitro"- Yitro rejoiced.  Rashi mentions in this context that
Yitro's rejoicing was not complete, since he identifies somewhat with
the Egyptians.  The Or HaChaim, however, feels that the word "va'yichad"
indicates a sensation of complete physical joy, and is of Armaic origin.
While this can be discussed, the Hebrew root Yud, Chet, Dalet indicates
something far more basic - the idea of unity.

Yitro fully identifies with the Jewish People.  He becomes one with us,
and therefore one OF us.  This is the acid test of gyerut: whether the
ger sincerely views himself as a full member of the Jewish People, and
understands and feels that as such, he is bound by the yoke of the
mitzvot as if he had stood there at Sinai for the matan torah.  This
final step of changing one's identity from a non-Jew interested in (or
even enamored of) Judaism, to a Jew, is the final step in the journey
toward gyerut for every ger tzedek.  This is a true affirmation of
ahavat Yisrael, and many prospective gerim have failed to make this
tranformation, since, despite their love of Judaism, they could not feel
enough love of Jews to become Jews themselves.

Yitro expresses his new identity as a member of the Jewish People before
his Rav, and the elders of Israel, who can be seen as acting in the role
of a Bet Din convened to recognize his conversion.

As a Jew, Yitro makes his first bracha "Baruch Hashem ahser hitzeel
etchem" Blessed is Hashem who saved you from the hand of Egypt and
Pharoah, and then offers an "olah" (a burnt elevation offering) to
Hashem, just as all gerim would do in the days of the Bet haMikdash, and
just as all present gerim will be required to do when the Bet haMikdash
is rebuilt (bimhayra h'yamenu).  In addition, he offers many z'vachim
(feast offerings) which all those assembled enjoy - in effect he gives a
major kiddush to celebrate his conversion.

But Yitro's role as the prototypical ger is far from over.  The very
next day - his first full day as a Jew - Yitro shows that he regards
himself as a full member of the Jewish People, and, as such, required to
direct his efforts to help the entire kehilla.  He watches Moshe judge
the people, and then suggests the formation of "lower courts" to ease
Moshe's task.  Moshe would henceforth only judge major cases, and those
requiring him to set precedent, while the other courts would have the
very valuable experience of applying Torah law to the more routine
cases.  This provided the very real training which would enccourage the
growth of Torah scholarship and halachic decision-making from that time
to the present.

Yitro, a man of great wisdom, and a spiritual seeker, applied his vast
experience to the improvement of the situation of k'lal Yisrael.  The
well-reasoned suggestion of the newest Jew is readily accepted by the
leader of the people - the servant of Hashem, with whom Hashem speaks
"mouth to mouth in a clear vision."  Throughout the ages, gerim, and
descendants of gerim have given our people many of its greatest thinkers
and innovators.  Rabbi Akiva, for example, is the descendant of gerim.
His torah learning was so great, that the Gemara relates a story in
which Moshe Rabbenu asks Hashem the purpose of the crowns on torah
letters, as is told that these are to support the torah learning of
Rabbi Akiva.  Even today, gerim often acquire learning, and insight far
above that of the average Jew by birth.

Finally, Yitro goes home to tell his relatives and friends about
Judaism.  Like almost all gerim, Yitro must face myriad questions,
difficulties, scorn and even hate from those who once were his closest
associates.  This is a difficult task, indeed.  A ger often must deal
with his or her associates from before gyerut.  Yitro, as the
prototypical ger, succeeds here as well.  Yitro returns with his whole
family who also become Jews (Ramban).

May the story of Yitro inspire us to unity in serving Hashem, and a true 
ahavat Yisrael encompassing all Jews, whether they are Jewish by birth or 
by choice.

Dov (Larry) Abramson
Meitar, Israel 


End of Volume 23 Issue 15