Volume 24 Number 94
                       Produced: Thu Sep 19 23:41:11 1996

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Living in Chutz La'Aretz
         [Larry London]
Meaning of the word "rabbi"
         [Akiva Miller]
Rosh hashanah/yom ha-zikaron
         [Elhanan Adler]
Talmudic puns
The root "KDSH"
         [Shoshana Frankel]
Writing down the Oral Torah
         [Chana Luntz]


From: Larry London <llondon@...>
Date: Wed, 18 Sep 1996 17:29:24 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Living in Chutz La'Aretz

     The recently posted appeal from one of our brothers in Israel for
an explanation as to why religious American Jews do not make Aliya,
requires a response.  First, it's great to feel wanted.  Roads in Israel
are already crowded and housing costs are out-of-sight, and yet, our
Bnai Brak poster selflessly wants more of us to come.  It's hospitality
like that that has enabled Israel's Jewish population to swell from
600,000 in 1948 to over 5 million today, a figure that no one 25 years
ago would ever have believed possible.  Thank you.
     I imagine it is more true in New York, but what religious Jews here
in Baltimore have done is to bring Israel to these Chesapeake shores.
We live in intensely Jewish neighborhoods where Shabbos is seen and
felt.  We shop in stores and eat in restaurants that are as intensely
Jewish as on any street in Israel.  We have our own religious and Jewish
political structure.  I'm not defending chutz l'aretz, I'm just trying
to explain to our Israeli brothers how a religiou Jews can ride the
subway while reading the Wall Street Journal.  We have turned Friday
night into Shabbos, and in many neighborhoods have turned golus into

     Even in Temple times, Jewish communites resided throughout the
world. That's just the way Jews are.  The blessing of these times is
that we share events with our Israeli brothers as they happpen.  Some
Jews are over the Green Line; some Jews are over the Blue Line.  But our
destinies are linked to the Land, as never before.  We eat Israeli
produce.  We sing Israeli tunes.  Our children study in Israel, and many
are serving in its Armed Forces.  The world is getting smaller, but for
Jews in Baltimore and in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem is still our Capital.
Eventually, many of us will be joining you.

                        Gemar Tov to Klall Yisrael


From: <Keeves@...> (Akiva Miller)
Date: Tue, 10 Sep 1996 22:20:15 -0400
Subject: Meaning of the word "rabbi"

A poster to Mail Jewish recently repeated the oft-given translation of
"rabbi" as "teacher". I beg to differ. While I would certainly agree
that one of the main aspects of being a rabbi is to be a teacher, I do
not think that it accurately connotes the meaning of the *word*.

I am presuming that the English word "rabbi" is derived either directly
from the word "rah-bee" (resh, patach, beis, chirik, yud) as used in the
Talmud, or indirectly from that word via Yiddish. Let us look at some
other words which also use the same resh-beis root:

p'ru UR'VU = be fruitful AND MULTIPLY
L'maan YIRBU y'meichem = so that your days WILL INCREASE
RAV l'hoshia = ABUNDANTLY able to save
acharei RABIM l'hatos = follow after the MULTITUDE
RAV lach sheves = you've sat LONG ENOUGH
y'hay shmay RABA = may His GREAT Name
ratzui L'ROV echav = popular with MOST of his brethren

All of these examples connote an increase or superiority, either of
quantity or of quality. They have nothing to do with teaching. My guess
(I must stress that this is only a guess) is that this title was
designed to clarify the position of the Rav as the great leader of the

I have not been able to come up with a suitable translation, but maybe
it doesn't *need* a translation. Instead of saying that "rabbi" comes
from the word for "teacher", we can just say it comes from the word for

(Footnote: Some may comment that the Hebrew for "great" is not "rav" but
"gadol", and that all my examples are *quantitative*, with only the
Aramaic example ("shmay raba") being a greatness of *quality*. My
*guess* is that, being a Talmudic word, maybe "rabbi" is indeed derived
from Aramaic rather than Hebrew.)


From: Elhanan Adler <ELHANAN@...>
Date: Thu, 19 Sep 1996 7:20:53 +0200 (EET)
Subject: Rosh hashanah/yom ha-zikaron

>From: <rabbi_gabbai@...> (Jeff Fischer)
>There is an argument about blowing Shofar on Shabbos and blowing Shofar
>at all on Rosh HaShana.
> ...
>However, in Parshas Emor, it says Yom Zichron Teruah.  Some people
>interpret this phrase to mean that when Rosh HaShana falls on Shabbos,
we do not blow Shofar and some interpret this as that Rosh HaShana is a
>holiday of remembering the Shofar and not blowing.  What is your opinion
>and is this discussed anywhere in the Gemara or Mishna Brura?

>[I believe that this is one opinion brought down in the Gemara, but is
>rejected because if this were the source, then we would not blow the
>Shofer on Shabbat even in the Temple (Jerusalem) area. As such, the
>conclusion is that not blowing on Shabbat is a Rabbinic decree. Mod.]

Indeed - this is the conclusion of the Bavli (the same decree of Rabah
prohibiting Shofar, Lulav and Megillah on Shabbat), however the
Yerushalmi sticks with the first opinion. It's interesting that our
liturgy follows the Yerushalmi: we add the word "zikron" on Shabbat only
(Otsar hageonim brings in the name of Rav Hai gaon that, true to the
Bavli conclusion, he said "yom zikhron tru'ah" on all days of the week).

I would like to raise an additional question I came across last week:
where do we first find Rosh ha-shanah referred to as "Yom ha-zikaron". I
have checked all the early texts on the Bar-Ilan responsa CD-ROM and
cannot find the term anywhere in Talmudic period texts - halacha or
agadah. Any ideas?

* Elhanan Adler                   Assistant Director                       *
*                                 University of Haifa Library              *
*                                 Mt. Carmel, Haifa 31905, Israel          *
*                                 Tel.: 972-4-8240535  FAX: 972-4-8249170  *
*                                 Email: <elhanan@...>           *


From: <Sheldon_Rothman@...>
Date: Wed, 18 Sep 96 16:33:59 EST
Subject: Talmudic puns

   In Mail-Jewish volume 24 number 23, Gershon Dubin asks for any
contributions of Talmudic puns. Here's one for you Gershon: In Chullin
18b the Talmud discusses various Amoraic opinions as to the upper limit
for shechitah (kosher slaughtering) in the trachea. R' Shimon ben
Lakish's opinion is the uppermost point mentioned. R' Yochanan exclaimed
concerning this ruling "Giza Giza!", literally, "Too much! Too much!",
that the area R' Shimon ben Lakish deems valid is too extensive.
   The Ritva observes that R'Yochanan and R'Lakish were brothers-in-law,
and seeing how "Giza" also means brother-in-law, that R'Yochanan was in
fact punning, by saying "Giza Giza", or "my brother-in-law has
             Sholom Dov Rothman


From: Shoshana Frankel <shana@...>
Date: Thu, 08 Aug 1996 09:16:29 -0400
Subject: Re: The root "KDSH"

Mr. Cohen wrote:
> In Vol. 24 #69 R. Hendel writes that the Hebrew root word "KDSH"
> connotes intense preparation. I am curious as to his source for that
> translation, as the more common understanding of "KDSH" is to separate
> or to make separate...usually, but not always connting a distinction
> or separateness of a higher spiritual level.

While he is correct that the shoresh (root word) "KDSH" usually denotes
separation, it is also used, as R. Handel mentioned, as a verb meaning
"prepare thoroughly for something holy and awesome." For example, I
recall that one pasuk states "Hiskadshu l'machar" (I think this is
written by Matan Torah, but I don't have a chumash with me to look it
up.) In this case, the pasuk is translated by Rashi as "prepare
thoroughly." The two interpretations of the word are connected: to
separate oneself for spirituality, one must go through intense
preparation and introspection, as Bnei Yisrael did by Matan Torah.


From: Chana Luntz <heather@...>
Date: Tue, 10 Sep 1996 21:09:00 +0100
Subject: Writing down the Oral Torah

In message <199609080307.XAA15756@...>, Akiva Miller writes
>2) How do we define the Oral Torah for this law? Rashi's comments on the
>Megilla are clearly Oral Torah.

I think this is where i disagree with you, and the source of your
problem.  You  go on to say:

>(I would find it difficult to believe that studying it does not
>count as "learing Torah" at all, so it has got to be in one category or
>the other.)

But this is assuming that the Torah sh'bichtav and Torah sh'baal peh
(written and oral Torah) cover the field of the word Torah.  I do not
think that is an accurate assessment of the reality.  There is the
written Torah, there is the oral Torah, and there is a wider category
included in the definition of Torah but which is neither written Torah
or Oral Torah - lets call it divrei Torah.

Now I know that all sorts of frum people are often very surprised when
it is pointed out to them that by learning Rashi on Chumash in Beis
Yaakov, the girls are often learning Torah she baal peh! Even so, I
don't think anybody would say categorically, as you have done that
Rashi's comments on ... are clearly Oral Torah. Rather the most that
would usually be said is that Rashi on Chumash brings a lot of Oral
Torah - but, for example, when Rashi is explaining the meaning of a
particular word by bringing various psukim from throughout Tanach to
illustrate ways in which the root of that word has been used, I don't
think that can be described as either written or oral Torah - it is just
divrei Torah.

What in my view is oral Torah - well the daf yomi is in CHullin at the
moment, so lets take an example from there - There are five distinct
different ways of poselling a shchita given by the Mishnayos in Chullin.
Now, if you did not know the Mishna, there is no way you could have
worked out these five ways, there is no way you could have been
mechadesh them, the *only* way to know about these five ways is to learn
them from your teacher (or from the Mishna). Shchita is an obvious case,
because nothing at all is given in the written Torah as to what it
involves - but take shabbas - you need to have a tradition that the 39
melachos are learnt out from the work done in the Mishkan - without such
a tradition, who would know that that was the place to look? It is these
items that constitute the Oral Torah, the aspects of Torah which are
only currently accessible to us due to the existance of the Talmud, and
which - even if we were on the level of the Tanaim, Amoraim or Rishonim,
we would not be able to deduce on our own without its help.  For that
reason, I would say that much of what Rashi says on Megilla is not Oral
Torah per se (some may possibly be, because some of it may be material
he heard from his teachers and without which neither he nor anybody else
could not have understood the Talmud), but while Rashi may have had
access to understandings that were still completely orally transmitted,
We do not, and that is a major and fundamental difference.  Thus none of
the Torah thoughts that are published today, in my view, would fall into
category of Oral Torah per se.  They may be explanations 'about' the
Torah she baal peh, and which help those of us on a lesser level get a
better understanding of what the Torah she baal peh really means, but
they do not change the fact that the Torah she baal peh is out there, in
the public written domain - and accessable to all in a written form.

> But what about the Megilla itself, with
>no commentary, or for that matter, *any* book from Tanach after the
>first five?  Are they considered to be the Written Torah or the Oral

That is of course an interesting question (see for example Megilla 7a on
the subject of Megilla specifically and which books are metame et
hayadim (make the hands ritually impure) in general)

>9) How far-reaching is our permission to write down the Oral Torah? It
>does not seem to be restricted in any way. It is not limited to sages,
>rabbis, teachers, or anyone. Even those on the most beginning levels of
>learning, can get on the Internet and post an interesting thing they
>heard from their rabbi. This is what's happening, but is it allowed?

Yes, but I do not think any of this comes into the definition of Oral
Torah.  Whatever Torah thought you and I come up with (or even some
Rabbi comes up with) is a dvar Torah, and within the spectrum of the
definition of Torah (and certain halachos apply to it -eg not thinking
about it/taking it into the bathroom), but this is a far cry from an
oral tradition that has been handed down to us from generation to
generation from Moshe at Sinai, and which could not be deduced
otherwise.  It is that oral tradition that is called the Oral Torah, and
once it was written down, that was it, it cannot be "unwritten".  But
that makes it only a once off violation -not a continuing one - although
one with significant future consequences.  The further publishing and
printing that we now do is only a reproduction of what was originally
done.  If theoretically there existed an item of the Oral tradition,
handed down from Moshe at Sinai from generation to generation, but which
did not get written down in the Mishna and Gemorra, it then presumeably
would be under the same ban and could not be written down.  But there is
no such tradition.

>You don't have to be such a big shot any more, to post articles to the
>Internet, or write a column in a Jewish newspaper, or publish a
>magazine, or even print a book. (I should know - almost 20 years ago, a
>friend and I wrote and printed our own pamphlet, with our own money, and
>distributed it ourselves to the bookstores of Mea Shearim.) And I really
>wonder if anyone asks himself: Is this stuff important enough to set
>aside a Torah law for?

If you understand the definition of Torah to be much wider than the sum
of Torah she baal peh and Torah she bichtav  then there is no problem.




End of Volume 24 Issue 94