Volume 24 Number 40
                       Produced: Wed Jun 12  6:51:19 1996

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

613 Mitzvot
         [Eli Clark]
Acheinu kol Beis Yisrael
         [Russell Benasaraf]
Right wing vs. center
         [Chaim Shapiro]
Shidduch info
         [Sam Saal]
Title with care...
         [Jay and Dena Bailey]
Tzitzit on Normal Clothing
         [Shimon Lebowitz]
Why So Much Detail on Korbanoth In the Torah
         [Russell Hendel]


From: Eli Clark <ECLARK@...>
Date: Tue, 11 Jun 1996 10:36:16 -0400
Subject: 613 Mitzvot

<mshalom@...> (Saul Mashbaum)
>1) In response to Jonathan Katz's question on the source of the
>concept that there are 613 commandments in the Torah, I cited and
>summarized (in volume #24, issue #27) the lone Talmudic source, as did
>Binyomin Segal
>(in a separate and independent posting also included in that issue).
>Each of us cited the information in the Talmudic passage he felt relevant
>to the question at hand.

>Eli Clark prefaced his own response to the question, in issue #29, with
>the comment

>"The discussion in Makkot 23b has not been presented properly by the
>various posters".

>In my opinion, this phraseology is too harsh. Eli Clark is certainly
>welcome describe the Talmudic discussion in greater detail than I did;
>he does not have to denigrate my summary in order to do so.

I would like to publicly apologize for any offense my statement caused.
Certainly, hurting the feelings of others was not my intention.  Indeed,
I mentioned no names precisely in order to avoid offense.  Evidently, my
attempt was not successful.  For this I am deeply sorry.

Of course, the object of my letter was not denigration, but amitah shel
Torah (the truth of Torah).  On that issue, I think it remains critical
to ensure that sources are presented accurately and that misimpressions
be corrected.

>2) Eli Clark's observation that in the Talmudic passage in Makkot
>R. Simlai does not cite any source for his statement that there are 613
>mitzvot, and the "derivation" is attributed to R. Hamnuna, is correct.
>However, in the Midrash Rabba Shmot 33:7, the derivation is attributed
>directly to R. Simlai (in Shir Hashirim Rabba 1:13 it is attributed to other

The text in Makkot 23b dealing with the number of mitzvot has a number
of parallels that Saul does not mention, including: Bamidbar Rabbah
18:21, Tanhuma Korah 12, Pirkei de-Rabbi Eliezer 41, and Yalkut Shimoni
Berakhah 952.  None of these attribute to R. Simlai the derivation of
the number 613 from the numerical value of the word "TORaH."

With respect to Shemot Rabbah, the text states:

R. Simlai expounded: 613 commandments were given to Israel by Moses'
hand, as that is the number [represented by] TORaH.  And if you say:
They are but 611, and where are the [other] two?  Rather, the Rabbis
say: "I am" and "There shall not be" were heard from the mouth of the
Mighty One . . . .

Thus, as Saul notes, R. Simlai is credited with the gematriya.  But R.
Simlai does not cite any pasuk (biblical verse) from which he derives
this gematriya.  Thus, even according to Shemot Rabbah, there is no
biblical source for R. Simlai's derashah (exposition).

In any case, where a midrashic text conflicts with the Gemara, I believe
that we, as religious Jews, would give priority to the version of the
Gemara.  In this case, the Gemara should certainly take precedence,
given that Shemot Rabbah (I and II) is post-Talmudic.  Indeed, the
likeliest conclusion, upon comparison of all the parallel texts, is that
Shemot Rabbah paired a later version of the midrash -- one focusing on
gematriya -- with the name of R. Simlai which was drawn from the Gemara
in Makkot.  That, of course, is a matter of interpretation.




From: Russell Benasaraf <rbenasar@...>
Date: Tue, 11 Jun 1996 13:54:39 +0000
Subject: Acheinu kol Beis Yisrael

Gershon Dubin asks about the Sephardi version of the Hachrezat Rosh
Hodesh (the announcement about Rosh Hodesh said on the Shabbat before
Rosh Hodesh.)

The Hazan says four "Yehi Razon"'s (the same ones the Ashkenazem say on
Monday and Thursday) followed by a paragraph "Mi sha"asa nesem
la-avotanu" which includes the name of the new month as well as the days
it falls out on. The congregation answers Amen to the berochot
(blessings).We do not say the Yehi Razon's on Monday and Thursday.

Gershon, I hope this helps you.

Russell (Reuven) Benasaraf
American Society of Corporate Secretaries
521 Fifth Avenue, 32 Floor - New York, NY 10175


From: Chaim Shapiro <ucshapir@...>
Date: Tue, 11 Jun 1996 13:06:01 -0500 (CDT)
Subject: Right wing vs. center

	I've made an interesting observation in my five + years
attending College.  Before I begin please note, I am in no way claiming
that the following is represenative of segments of Orthodox Judaism.
These are my observations only, and are not scientific at all.
	I've never had a car, I always took the bus to and from school.
The bus stop near my school is right next to stop light, and all cars
have a good look at who may be in the bus shelter.  Kimball Av. heading
North takes one right into the middle of the Chicago Jewish community of
West rogers Park.  Interestingly, in all my time at Northeastern, a
person with a black hat and beard NEVER stopped to offer me a ride!  It
could be freezing sub zero weather,( I always dressed in such a way that
my Kippa was easily appearant) storming, late at night, whatever.  Not
once in five years.
	On the other hand, orthodox jews dressed in the more modern way,
almost always stopped.  Even on the nicest of days.  I've had situations
where cars passed me by, and circled around the block with the driver
commenting, that he thought he saw a Kippa.
	I will admit, that I am more of the modern type, and I dress the
standard College fare, T-shirt, jeans with a book bag slung over my
shoulder.  But, I am clean cut and well trimmed, and I hardly believe
that anyone would be afraid to pick me up.
	Why such a disparity?  I am at almost a complete loss.  I will
never forget one below zero night where a frum person drove by at about
10:00 PM and stopped at the light.  I was shivering and a little more
bold than usual, so I pointed towards the direction which he was going.
He looked at me, then averted his eyes and drove on.  I ended up waiting
at least another 30-45 Minutes in the cold. 
 Chaim Shapiro


From: Sam Saal <saal@...>
Date: Thu, 6 Jun 1996 11:30:01 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: re: Shidduch info

Chanie Wolicki (<crew_esq@...>) writes:

>    Recent posts dealt with GIVING shidduch information. A related topic
>is how to RECEIVE such info. The listener has to realize that whoever is

I've been very interested in this discussion because I've had to
describe friends for shiduchim. As a technical writer, I have
experience describing things carefully and as unambiguously as
possible for a given audience. I believe this has helped me in this
important task (even though I can't claim credit for successful

The most important thing is to pay attention to the listener. If you
sense misunderstanding, reconsider the terms you just used and expand
on them carefully.

This sort of care is what I hope people use when describing me. Yes, I
too am still looking for my Bashert (and, as was a previous poster, am
open to being set up).

Sam Saal      <saal@...>
Vayiphtach HaShem et Pea haAtone


From: <jaydena@...> (Jay and Dena Bailey)
Date: Mon, 10 Jun 1996 21:17:55 +0100
Subject: Title with care...

Alan Davidson wrote:
"The Chofetz Chaim compiled a book of Mitzvos which are relevant today.
This is available in Hebrew-English from Feldheim."

Can you imagine what would have happened if he had published the other
half of the set? "The Mitzvot Which Are Irrelevant Today" would have put
him in Cherem!

Jay, Dena & Micha Bailey
Rechov Rimon 40/1 <> PO Box 1076 <> Efrat, Israel
Phone/Fax: 02/9931903 <> E-mail:<jaydena@...>
J at Work (Jerusalem Post):   972/ 2-315-653
cellular phone: 050/858-013


From: Shimon Lebowitz <lebowitz@...>
Date: Mon, 10 Jun 1996 11:42:47 +0300
Subject: Tzitzit on Normal Clothing

 Adam Schwartz <adams@...> mentioned his polo shirt:
> 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.

i dont know about 96, but in 73, when i was a soldier in sinai, we were
brought various supplies from the us army, and one of the things i was
*given* was a rain poncho.  (note 'given', contrary to normal army
practice, of 'signing' for each item, these were unpacked from us army
crates and just tossed out at the troops, saying 'here, take these!').

these ponchos were a rubberized (or somehow coated) material, a square
of 4 or 5 feet on a side, with a hooded hole and drawstring in the
center. (it also had snaps on the sides so it could be attached to
another, and used as a pup tent.)

i took mine back to kerem beyavne and showed it to the posek there,
R. Dov Eliezerov, Shlit"a, who confirmed that it was 'shti-va-erev'
(woven) material, and DID need tzitzit, so he suggested rounding a
corner too.

instead, i punched holes, and wore it with tzitzit (and a brocho of
lehit'atef!!). because i wore it outside in the rain, and didnt want the
tzitzit ruined, i also sewed on each corner, patches of denim to tuck
the tzitzit into.

the reason i also mention the fact that the poncho was given, was that i
never inquired as to the halacha if i had not owned the garment. is
military supply, signed for, considered a 'beged sha`ul' (borrowed) and
therefore exempt from tzitzit, or does my 'achrayut' (personal
responsability) make it mine to require them? (i am just rambling in
thought here... dont i have achrayut for ANY borrowed garment?)  i guess
this would be a qustion for a posek who deals in military matters. :-)


Shimon Lebowitz                   Bitnet:   LEBOWITZ@HUJIVMS
VM System Programmer              internet: <lebowitz@...>
Israel Police National HQ.        IBMMAIL:  I1060211
Jerusalem, Israel                 phone:    +972 2 309-877  fax: 309-308


From: <rhendel@...> (Russell Hendel)
Date: Thu, 6 Jun 1996 19:53:18 -0400
Subject: Why So Much Detail on Korbanoth In the Torah

It was Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch who fully answered this question. 

I shall try in 20-40 lines to state his general thesis, defend it, and 
give some pithy examples.

Rav Hirsch basically states that the Korbanoth are symbolic commandments
which translate into fundamental principals of psychology and social
interaction.  *If* we accept this thesis then we no longer have a
question: It makes sense for a book of morals to devote so much time to
questions of human personality and social interaction.

Some people object to Rav Hirsch's symbolic methods: They are totally
unaware that Rav Hirsch himself wrote a beautiful, deep and profound 100
page essay "Grundlinien einer Judischen symbolic" which is translated
(excellently) in Breuer's Timeless Torah.  It is Rav Hirsch himself (not
his opponents) who asks such fundamental questions as: (i) Are we
allowed to interpret divine commandments symbolically, (ii) are we ever
obligated to so interpret them, (iii) even if we are suppose to
interpret them symbolically how do we go about that.

I promised 20-50 lines so let me give a few simple but forceful
examples: The torah herself explicitly declares 4 mitzvoth to be
symbolic (Milah, Shabbath, Tefillin, and Pesach Mitzrayim).  It uses the
word OTH and *forces* us to understand these mitzvoth in a symbolic

What is a symbol (OTH)?: "The use of one object or proceedure to remind
someone of other objects or proceedures( a common definition)."  Hence
concludes Rav Hirsch if the Torah tells us to wear Tzitzith and
*thereby* remember Gods commandments then we are *forced* (by the Torah
herself) to interpret the Tzitizh not as an end but as a symbolic means
to think of something else.

Rav Hirsch goes into details on the 3 classes of commandments we must
interpret symbolically and *how* we are to interpret them (if there is a
request I will be happy to summarize this profound but difficult to read

Getting back to korbanoth let me give one example of how korbanoth
discuss personality: The Olah (=go up) offering of the ordinary person
has the blood (= personality or soul) thrown only to the *half way mark*
of the altar (...if you want to go up in life remember that you are
still only half there with many deficiencies -- don't get to high, see
reality).  On the other hand the Olah(=go up) offering of the poor
person has the blood squeezed on *top* of the altar ( a poor person
needs encouragement when he wishes to go up and improve...hence we
remind of the high level he is already at--we tell him his
accomplishments...an ordinary person when he wants to go up however
needs caution so we instead tell him that he is only at the half way

Whether one agrees with this or not it is clear that the Torah when
interpreted symbolically gives specific recommendations for specific
people in specific circumstances (thus a person who wants to improve is
reminded of his accomplishements if he is poor and cautioned about his
inachievements if he is ordinary).

I would be happy to give further elaboration if their is MJ interest
(maybe we could start a Korban MJ).  I *strongly* recommend Rav Hirsch's
essay in Eternal torah along with his beautiful commentary on Ex 25-Lev
19.  I hope I have conveyed a glimpse of the mamoth defensive work that
he undertook.

"study the torah, turn in it , turn in it...indeed all is in it"

Russell Hendel, Ph.d ASA,  rhendel @ mcs . drexel . edu


End of Volume 24 Issue 40