Volume 24 Number 27
                       Produced: Mon Jun  3  7:18:07 1996

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

613 mitsvot
         [Albert Ozkohen]
613 mitzvot (2)
         [Binyomin Segal, Saul Masbaum]
A bunch of Tzitzit questions
         [Adam Schwartz]
Can a Couch be Shatnez?
         [J. Loewenthal]
Correcting Laining Mistakes
         [Russell Hendel]
Duchaning on Shabbat
         [Rabbi Jeffrey Cohen]
Only Source for 613 Mitzvoth
         [Russell Hendel]
Postal Mail vs. Messenger
         [Robert A. Book]
Shivat Tzion
         [Avraham Husarsky]
Singing during Tefillah
         [Martin N. Penn]
         [Benjamin Cohen]


From: <akohen@...> (Albert Ozkohen)
Date: Sat, 1 Jun 1996 18:26:11 +0300
Subject: 613 mitsvot

I want to give a nice comment from Chabad (although I am not a member of it)
about this subject :

[Note: this is not Chabad specific in any way that I can see as the
source is the Midrash Tanchuma, which the Tanya brings down. Mod.]

[2] The human body contains 248 organs and 365 blood vessels, making
    a total of 613 distinct components, corresponding to the 248
    positive commandments and 365 prohibitions of the Torah (Midrash
    Tanchuma [hakadum], Ki Teitzei; see Tanya, chapters 4 an d 51).

Albert Ozkohen


From: <bsegal@...> (Binyomin Segal)
Date: Wed, 29 May 1996 18:29:02 -0500
Subject: 613 mitzvot

Jonathan Katz asked about the source for 613 mitzvot
 * The simple answer, of course, would be that the number 613 isn't
 * "derived" from anywhere, but merely represents an actual count of the
 * mitzvot. This explanation, however, is lacking. Different rabbis have
 * come up with their own lists of the mitzvot in the Torah. Mitzvot
 * included by some are left out (i.e., not included in the count, not
 * counted as distinct from another mitzvah, etc.) by others. Yet, they all
 * make sure to come up with a final total of 613.
 * The question is: why?
 * There is certainly no source for this in the Torah, although there may
 * be weak hints to it. Is there a source to this from the Talmud?

There is indeed a source in the Talmud. The gemara in Makos (23b) learns it
from the pasuk (dvarim 33:4) "Torah Tzivah Moshe lnu" (Moshe commanded the
Torah to us) - The gemara points out that Torah has a gematria (numerical
value) of 611. Add 2 mitzvos that are direct from Hashem = 613.

Of course there is still a good question inherent in your comments - if you
count all the torah obligations there are more than 613. What is the
difference? It is this question that the Rambam deals with in the beginning
of his count when he delineates "roots" for the counting. ie rules by which
to determine which are counted.


From: <mshalom@...> (Saul Masbaum)
Date: Sun, 02 Jun 1996 10:31:32 EDT
Subject: re: 613 mitzvot

The Talmud in Makkot 23b (at the bottom) states that there are 613
mitzvot in the Torah. This is derived from the verse "Torah tziva lanu
Moshe"; the numerical value of Torah is 611, and the verse is taken to
mean that 611 mitzvot were told to us by Moshe, and 2 (the first 2
commandments) were received directly from the Almighty.

This statement also appears several times in the Midrash Rabba (Trumah,
Korach, Shir Hashirim), the Midrash Tanchuma, and other Midrashim. These
citations are essentially the same as the Talmudic one quoted.

It seems clear to me that 613 mitzvot in the Torah is an oral tradition,
and is derived only homiletically, not literally, from the Biblical
verse.  There are authorities who state expicitly that "gematriot"
(numerical equivalences of words) are only homiletical.

As was pointed out, this oral tradition is accepted virtually
universally by commentators who count the mitzvot.

Saul Masbaum


From: Adam Schwartz <adams@...>
Date: Sun, 2 Jun 1996 16:51:40 +0300
Subject: A bunch of Tzitzit questions

> One tefilin was found in an archeological dig in Israel and the finding
> was published in a book by Prof. Yigal Yadin. 

I remember reading that Yadin also found many Tzitzit with techelet, the
blue or royal purple, strands.  Some were dyed with the real snail stuff
and others were dyed with the phony cheap techelet.

I was curious if these archeological finding were used to verify the
modern day discovery of the Chilazon snail?  or is biological material
from 135 ACE not reliable enough for these purposes?

also, does anyone know where this supposedly famous quote of the
Mordecai (the rishon) regarding tzitzit is??

"VLo ra'iti minhag zeh bchol eretz ashkenaz".  "and I haven't seen this
custom [purposely putting on a garment of 4 corners so that an
obligation to attach and wear tzitzit actually exists] in the whole land
of ~germany".

if this quote is true, when did people start to wear 4 cornered garments
with tzitzit?

plus, i was curious how day school teachers treat polo shirts today.  In
my day, we were told to cut one corner into a diagonal, cancelling the
chiyuv.  however, one Rav and several of us students thought better to
make the 4 corners even more pronounced by cutting along the slits
another inch or 2 and put tzitzit on the polo shirt itself: which is
what we did.

i thought that was a very positive, authentic, back to the source, way
to deal with a halachic question.  don't negate the chiyuv, just satisfy
it.  it also was a great hands-on way to teach kids.  Just curious what
the approach is in 1996.



From: J. Loewenthal <btgpraha@...>
Date: Mon, 3 Jun 1996 10:04:56 +0200
Subject: Can a Couch be Shatnez?

I am interested in learning the issues of shatnez in furniture. More
specifically, may one own a couch whose cushions are filled with a
cotton/wool blend with a 100% cotton fabric cover? Can one sit on such a
couch belonging to a non-Jew? Any information about this topic would be

J. Loewenthal
Prague, Czech Republic


From: <rhendel@...> (Russell Hendel)
Date: Tue, 28 May 1996 20:12:51 -0400
Subject: Correcting Laining Mistakes

In response to Joseph Wetstein [Vol 24 # 9] I personally was told by
Rabbi Joseph Solveitchick (for whom I occasionally lained) that if one
made a mistake one must repeat the whole possook over.

The rav also used this "whole possook" method on ZAYCHER and ZECHER.

His reasoning was that the Gemarrah states that any possook that moses
didn't divide we can't divide and therefore if you make a mistake in the
middle of a possook and correct only a fragment it looks like you are
just quoting that possook fragment.

My own personal custom in Zaycher and Zecher is to say the whole Posook.

Russell Hendel, rhendel @ mcs . drexel . edu


From: Rabbi Jeffrey Cohen <cohenj@...>
Date: Mon, 3 Jun 1996 18:36:00 +1000
Subject: Duchaning on Shabbat

I belkong to a shule which for years has not duchaned when Yom Tov fell
on Shabbat. On second day Shavuot this year the Rabbi (not a Kohen but a
Habdnik) made an issue of it. He wants to study it before Rosh Hashana
this year as three Yom Tovim fall on Shabbat and he wants duchaning.

I looked in the luach for Shavuot for this year for chutz l'aretz and it
indicated there were many who duchaned and some who do not.

Where I am I do not have access to the T'shuvot data base. I would
appreciate guidance and m'korot.

Jeffrey Cohen
Sydney Jewish Museum - 148 Darlinghurst Road
Darlinghurst NSW 2010, Australia
ph:  [+61-2] 360 7999, fax: [+61-2] 331 4245
e-mail: <cohenj@...>


From: <rhendel@...> (Russell Hendel)
Date: Wed, 29 May 1996 18:39:06 -0400
Subject: Only Source for 613 Mitzvoth

I am responding to [Katz, Vol 24 #20] who asks for the source that there
are Taryag mitzvoth.  I once heard Rabbi Joseph B Soloveitchick discuss
this in a lecture.

The Rav said that the only Talmudic or Midrashic source was a Gemarrah
at the end of Makoth.

The Rav proceeded to explain that just as people 'have mazol' so do
Talmudic statements 'have mazol'.

There are many quotes which occur several times in Talmud or Midrash and
never elaborated on.  On the other hand this obscure one time quote that
there are 613 mitzvoth has produced the very rich literature seeking the
accurate count of "which 613."

I hope this answers the question and inspires further reflection.

Russell Hendel, rhendel @ mcs . drexel . edu


From: Robert A. Book <rbook@...>
Date: Sun, 2 Jun 1996 13:32:14 -0500 (CDT)
Subject: Postal Mail vs. Messenger

Russell Hendel (<rhendel@...>):
> To support this I quote the famous story about the Chafetz Chayim who
> would tear up a stamp when ever a messenger would bring him a letter in
> order not to deprive the Russian government of the revenue they should
> have received (had mail vs a messenger) been used.  Clearly this is
> Lifnim meshurah hadin.

I've heard this story before and one thing about it has always bothered
me.  If the mail had been used, the Russion government would have
received the revenue (via the stamp) in exchange for performing the
service of delivering the letter.  If they did not perform that service
(but a messenger did) it would seem that they would not be entitled to
that revenue -- Although the messenger would of course be entitled to
charge for the service he or she provided.

So, why is there a need to pay the Russian (or any other) postal service
for a they didn't perform?  It's not like paying taxes, since the
government doesn't require anyone to write letters.  The Chafetz Chayim
lived in a time after the telephone was invented.  Is it known if he
used a telephone?  If so, did he tear up a stamp every time a phone call
saved him the trouble of sending a letter?  Am I required to tear up a
stamp every time I send something by Federal Express or other private
overnight "mail" service?

--Robert Book    <rbook@...>
  University of Chicago


From: <hoozy@...> (Avraham Husarsky)
Date: Sat,  1 Jun 96 20:41:22 msd
Subject: Shivat Tzion

>From: Dave Curwin <6524dcurw@...>
>A book called "Shivat Tzion" is referenced in Rabbi Tzvi Yehuda Kook's
>"Torat Eretz Yisrael" and in Tzvi Glatt's "MeAfar Kumi". It seems
>to be dealing with rabbinic support of the pre-Zionist and Zionist 
>movements. Is anyone familiar with it? Who is its author, and is it
>still in print?

It was written by Rav Tzvi Hirsch Kalischer who was one of the prominent 
rabbanim involved with the Chovevei Zion movement of the late twentieth 
century that was instrumental in setting up the yishuvim of the first 
aliyah such as Mazkeret Batyah.

Name: Avraham Husarsky         
E-mail: <hoozy@...>, ahuz@netvision.net.il


From: Martin N. Penn <74542.346@...>
Date: 02 Jun 96 01:02:01 EDT
Subject: Singing during Tefillah

Lisa Halpern writes:
>I am wondering what the range of opinions on singing during davening is.
>What specifically makes D'veykus more troubling than, say, Galician
>Kedusha, or chazzanut, or any of the various niggunim of Yom Kippur

If the Ba'al Tefillah knows what he's doing there is nothing wrong with
injecting a familiar melody into the davening.  However, Nusach
Ha'Tefillah is also very important, and a good Ba'al Tefillah will know
when D'veykus can be inserted.

>Of course "showmanship" rather than kavannah is inappropriate
>(although I always try to remind myself that the ba'al tefillah's
>niggunim are probably adding to or are an expression of his kavannah,
>even though I am being distracted) but when and what types of singing
>are appropriate?

There is a time and place for everything, including singing during
Tefillah.  Singing to set the mood is appropriate.  For example,
immediately prior to Kedusha on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, we say the
Unesaneh Tokef prayer.  The Chazzan or Ba'al Tefillah is (should be)
trying here to set the mood for the Yom Ha'din, and the traditional
chant captures the essence and meaning better than anything else.

Singing in honor of someone or something is also appropriate.  If there
is a chossan (bridegroom) in the shul on Shabbat morning, I'd be
inclined to sing the Kel Adon of Shacharit to the tune of Od Yishama.
I'd also vary the Lecha Dodi; on the Shabbat before Tisha B'av I'd opt
for Eli Tzion, and on the Shabbat of Chanukah, Maoz Tzur.

I can give other examples, but the point is for the Ba'al Tefillah to
understand his responsibility to the congregation.  He is their shaliach
(messenger) and needs to involve them in the davening.  Singing familiar
as well as traditional chants, at the right times, is the way that a
good Ba'al Tefillah helps everyone improve their kavannah.

Martin Penn


From: Benjamin Cohen <soferim@...>
Date: Mon, 3 Jun 1996 06:41:48 +0000
Subject: Re: Tefillin

Ahron Einhorn wrote> ---
> I am curious to know if there are any tefillin, mezzuzos, or sifrei
> Torah that predate the Bais Yosef and Ari that show which style was used
> before.

There are tefillin that were found at Massada.  The writing was a cross
between sfardi and present day Bais Josef.

Benjamin Cohen, sofer STaM

mezuzot, tefillin, megillot, sifrei torah
Haggadot, ketubot, and other works of custom calligraphy
details available upon request

Har Bracha
D.N. Lev HaShomron 44835 Israel
Telfax: +972-2-997-3413


End of Volume 24 Issue 27