Volume 25 Number 52
                      Produced: Tue Dec 24 22:40:15 1996

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

"Correct" Text and Pronunciation in Bireishis 9/29
         [Mechy Frankel]
Chevra Kaddisha
         [Andrea Penkower Rosen]
Churches Nowadays
         [Seth Kadish]
Commentaries on Variant Biblical Readings
         [Russell Hendel]
Donations at Aliyot
         [Daniel Israel]
Shnorring on Shabbat
         [Perry Zamek]


From: Mechy Frankel <FRANKEL@...>
Date: Tue, 17 Dec 1996 21:39:16 +0000 (GMT)
Subject: "Correct" Text and Pronunciation in Bireishis 9/29

In response to the poster who enquired: 
<How does one read the first word of Bereshit (Genesis) 9:29?
In recent years, the Breuer Aram Zova edition has gained authority over
the Koren/Artscroll/Ashkenaz scrolls and there are about 13 differences,
nearly all minor with regard to pronunciation.  However, one difference,
namely this one, relates to actual lettering difference ->

1. Firstly, to address the specific question of Birishis 9/29, the usage
of "Vayihiyu" instead of "Vayihi" is the reading found today in the
Yemenite torahs.  The Breuer edition of the torah miraculously (given
the very complex process through which he reconstructed it) turned out
after the fact to be almost completely identical to the Yemenite text.
(R. Breuer himself claims that it is in fact completely identical, but
this is incorrect, since the Breuer chumash differs from the Yemenite
tradition in a few instances with respect to word separation (in Devarim
32/6, the yemenites generally connect the "hey" of the first word while
Breuer and the rest of the world don't.  R.  Breuer also doesn't follow
the yemenite tradition of writing the name "potiferah" (Bireishis 41/45)
as one word.  there is also a minor difference between R. Breuer and the
yemenites in the arrangement of shiras ha'azinu on the page and in the
representation of the letter "vov" in Bimidbar 25/12 as a "kitu'oh",
partially cut off or not.)

2. As to how to pronounce it while leining - that's pretty much a
no-brainer.  Read it the way its written in your torah (undoubtedly
"vayihi") which is not a "mistake" but reflects the consensus halakhic
position of both the sefardim, and at least for the last few hundred
years also the ashkenazim.  One is not allowed to read from the torah by
heart, i.e. that which isn't there (though for completeness one should
mention that there are important poskim who advised doing just that when
encountering a true mistake).  In all fairness the ashkenazim can no
longer be said to have an independent position on this, since they
essentially have abandoned their own textual tradition and simply accept
the sefardic position in all torah textual matters.  Thus the so called
differences between the ashkenazi and sefardi torahs probably no longer
exist in practice today.  It is of considerable interest to note that
the basic ashkenazi tradition - which the ashkenazim no longer follow -
is identical to the yemenites on this point, i.e."vayihiyu" (see Minchas
Shai's discussion on this in Bir' 9/29) as well as on other points. The
process by which this happened, most likely following the introduction
of a new mikraos gidolos edition which incorporated all the changes
suggested by the enormously influential (in these matters) Minchas Shai
is not real clear to me and I've never run across a compelling
description of how this shift developed.

3.  One should also not mix the Breuer, Artscroll, and Korein in the
same sentence without appreciating that there are a lot of apples and
oranges here.  R. Breuer's work is the result of long painstaking ab
initio reconstruction from the best codices, and probably Korein's is
also, though while Breuer explains his methodology, the Korein does not
and their decisions in a number of instances are both suspect and
impenetrable.  I don't know how the Artscroll was done, but i'm guessing
they would rely to a reasonable extent on secondary sources and halakhic
opinions, i.e. being careful to print the most accurate reconstruction
of the best printed text incorporating the Minchas Shai which has come
to be accepted over the years by poskim and halakhists. (if only by
default - there aren't too many other chakhomim at all who've addressed
these issues. indeed the Minchas Shai's decisions themselves are
rendered in a somewhat academic mode and tone, rather than as a
classical "pisak") While they have produced an attractive and (I hope
but don't know) careful product, it doesn't carry the scholarly weight
of the former. (If anybody out there actually knows how they developed
their torah text, i'd be curious).

4.  This all leads one to connect to a much broader and troubling issue,
one which has appeared in various contexts in many other places.  What
is the proper halakhic position when the basis of the original decision
is definitively shown to be in error.  Today's question of the
"vayihiyu" vs "vayihi" is yet another interesting example.  There can be
not the slightest doubt that we ashkenazim lein, and write in our torahs
today "vayihi", in accordance with the decision of the Minchas Shai, who
followed the sefardic tradition in this case.  On the other hand there
is no doubt that what the Minchas Shai was trying to accomplish - as he
very explicitly explains on his very first page - is a reconstruction of
the famous Ben Asher text which the Rambam says he relied on, but which
the Minchas Shai clearly had no access to.  It is also abundantly clear
today from various lines of evidence evidently unavailable to the
Minchas Shai in his day, that the original Ben Asher reading here was in
fact "vayihiyu" precisely as the Yemenite text today, and the now
abandoned ashkenazi position of old. (in general there is little doubt
that the yemenite text overall conforms most closely to Ben Asher than
our ashkenazi-sefardi torahs in current use, thus pitzuoh-dacoh with an
aleph not a hey and various other chaser-maleh. there are some word
separation and parsha designation differences between yemenites and BA
however).  There could hardly be a more clearly logical case, given the
minchas shai's expressed objective, for the ashkenazic poskim to change
their torahs around, but I could probably count on the fingers of one
hand with five fingers left over, the number of people who expect that
to happen, which is to say long acceptance and traditional practice
count and perhaps halakhic truth here is more associated with process,
rather than the vagaries of now irrelevant historical details.

5.  There are many other differences between both torah scrolls and
printed chumashim out there today (separate from the issue of true
printer's errors).  For those with a taste for such arcana, most - but
in retrospect not all -of these were summarized in mail-jewish Vol 24

Mechy Frankel				W: (703) 325-1277
<frankel@...>			H: (301) 593-3949


From: Andrea Penkower Rosen <apr@...>
Date: Mon, 23 Dec 1996 21:24:19 -0400
Subject: Chevra Kaddisha 

As a member of the Chevra Kaddisha of Lincoln Square Synagogue, I  would
very much appreciate hearing from members of other chevras on the following

l.  We have been told that the danger of infection from hepatitis is much
greater than the danger of infection from the AIDS virus.  Most of our
members have already been vaccinated for hapatitis but not all.  Do you
advise or require all your members to take the hepatitis vaccination?
     BTW, are you aware that after the first 3 initial injections, it is
necessary to receive a booster injection?

2.  In order to combat infection, we have been advised to use bleach.  Do
you wash the tahara table with a bleach solution before and after each
tahara?   Do you use bleach in the tisha kavim?  If you do use bleach, what
do you do to improve air circulation within the tahara room so the chevra
members dont suffocate?

3.  In order to combat infection, we have been advised to wear double
gloves, gowns, head coverings, shoe coverings, goggles and masks over the
mouth and nose.  Do you follow all of these protections?
Until now we have not been using the masks and goggles.  We find it very
difficult to wear the masks and goggles as the masks get fogged and both
interfere with vision and breathing.

     Have you considered wearing the masks and goggles, only when you have
specifically been warned that there is a danger of infection?  We have been
concerned with the issue of kavod ha-meyt (respect for the deceased) as it
applies to making a differentiation between one tahara and another.  Of
course, we will consult with our Rabbi for a final decision but we are
interested in learning about the solutions adopted by other chevrot.

Andrea Penkower Rosen


From: <skadish@...> (Seth Kadish)
Date: Sun, 22 Dec 1996 18:19:34 GMT
Subject: Churches Nowadays

Most of us are at least familiar with the halakhic prohibition on
entering churches and its sources in the poskim.  I was recently asked
about a specific aspect of the problem, an aspect I had thought about in
the past but never managed to find any serious discussion of, namely:
How do changes in theology and the structure of churches impact on this
issur?  The question really has two parts:
        1) Christianity has, for quite some time, encompassed a wide
range of views, from popular notions of Roman Catholicism (which would
presumably be the trinitarian views that the halakha frowns upon) to
Unitarianism.  American Southern Baptists take pure monotheism so
seriously that they have no symbols whatsoever in their churches, not
even a crucifix!  To what extent, if at all, can these differences
affect theoretical or practical halakha?
        2) Theology, even in the Catholic church, has gone through great
changes.  To what extent are these changes halakhically relevant?
        I am most interested in any sheelot uteshuvot that may exist on
this topic, or relevant hashkafic points.  Personally, I have found next
to nothing on this.  The information is for theoretical consideration,
not practice.

Seth Kadish
Rehov Hartuv 4/3, Netanya, Israel


From: <rhendel@...> (Russell Hendel)
Date: Wed, 18 Dec 1996 11:55:49 -0500
Subject: Commentaries on Variant Biblical Readings

Akiva Miller (V25n44) writes
>>Isn't is ironic? The margins of every Gemara are packed with loads of 
>>variant readings to help the student be sure of reading the gemarrah
>>correctly. ... The vast majority of Chumashim offer absolutely no
>>information about their sources and decisions....

Actually there are 2 excellent commentaries on Textual minutae. 
 1) MESORAH GEDOLAH and KETANAH: This is a rather technical commentary
printed in very small font and listed in many Chumasim. It gives lists
of similar or contrasting Posookim from which one can infer correct
texts. The MESORAH itself is technical; the Minchath Shai is semi

2) MINCHATH SHAI: This is an actual Bibilical Commentary which quotes
Mesorahs and/or variant texts and tries to arrive at correct readings.
Very often however it skillfully uses Midrashim to defend correct

For example: There are 4 people who were called by citing their name twice:

...And (the angel) said Abraham, Abraham (Gen 22:11), And (God) said
Yaakov, Yaakov(Gen 46,2), ...and (God) said Moses Moses(Ex 3:4), ...and
(God) called Shmuel, Shmuel (Sam 1:3:10)

The Mesorah lists these 4 times so that we shouldn't err into thinking
that the repeated name is a "typo". The Mesorah also discusses the pause
sign between the two names (a vertical line in the text which I have
indicated with a comma in the above citations). The pause sign however
occurs only for Abraham, Yaakov and Shmuel but not for Moses.

The Minchath Shai on Ex 3:4 cites several Midrashim and a Zohar to
"explain" the absence of the Pause sign for "Moses Moses": "Moses'
prophecy never ceased (= paused) hence there is no pause sign; the other
3 however were ordinary prophets who eventually ceased having

This example gives a flavor for the type of information guarded by the
Mesorah, how it is guarded as well as how a technical domain can flower
into Midrashic insights. Unfortunately, I must agree with Akiva that it
is "ironic" that even many Mikraoth Gedoloth editions lack the Michath

As a Baal Koray I warmly recommend it.  I have spent many Friday nights
enjoyably reading the Minchath Shai and discovering how technical points
which I must memorize are connected with elegant Midrashic ideas.

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


From: Daniel Israel <daniel@...>
Date: Mon, 23 Dec 1996 21:18:04 -0700
Subject: Donations at Aliyot

	The question is, should a shul be soliciting funds outright from
	it's own members who have pledged to give money _somewhere_ (not
	necessarily to the shul)?

At my shul the misheberach is always phrased as "tzedakah l'Beis
Knesset."  This makes it clear that the person _should_ be giving to the
shul.  AFAIK, we have no system for following up on such pledges, so I
am not sure if this will help you.

Daniel M. Israel		I am not the sort of person that goes to bed
<daniel@...>	at night thinking, "Gee, I wonder what I can
University of Arizona		do to make life difficult for systems
Tucson, AZ			administrators." -Eric Allman, author:sendmail


From: Perry Zamek <jerusalem@...>
Date: Sun, 22 Dec 1996 20:07:00 +0200
Subject: Shnorring on Shabbat

Joseph Greenberg in v25n49 discussed the collection of pledges made in a
"Mi she-Berach" on Shabbat.

OTTOMH (off the top of my head !), I seem to recall a teshuva of Rav
Moshe Feinstein (zecher tzaddik livracha) that these pledges are not
legally enforceable, since, in many cases, people are "pressured" (my
term) to pledge, to avoid embarassment.

If I may add: In some shules the gabbai will make a "Mi she-Berach",
even without being asked; in others a "pledge" for "matanah" has a
standard value (determined by the shule board). The shule will
subsequently send out an account for the "sum" pledged, and will
consider this as an enforceable debt. The end result is that people
avoid having aliyot in that type of shul, since it may impose an unfair
financial burden on them.

IMHO, the appropriate practice would be the following:
 a. The gabbai should make a "mi she-berach" in all cases, and only
include a pledge for the shule (or charity in general) if specifically
asked to do so (verbally or by hand signal).
 b. If the shule allows pledges for charity in general, then the
reminder letter should be worded in terms of offering an appropriate way
to redeem the pledge. (And, of course, something along the lines of "If
you have already sent a contribution, please accept our thanks and
disregard this reminder").
 c. In no case should the shule's financial books reflect an income item
until the payment is received, since the pledge may not be enforceable.

Perry Zamek   | A Jew should hold his head high. 
Peretz ben    | "Even in poverty a Hebrew is a prince... 
Avraham       |       Crowned with David's Crown" -- Jabotinsky


End of Volume 25 Issue 52