Volume 26 Number 01
                      Produced: Tue Feb 11 21:30:35 1997

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

         [Elana  Fine]
AIR DISASTER - a call for fasting and prayer
         [Anthony Waller]
Converting Aron Kodesh to other use
         [Mottel Gutnick]
Prayers for the health of Robert Werman
         [Roy Sacks]
Rashi Script (2)
         [Barry S. Bank, Stan Tenen]
Rav Yoel Sirkis (The Bach)
         [Jonathan Grodzinski]
Tfillas Shov (Meaningless Prayer)
         [Eliyahu Segal]
The 73
         [Chaim Wasserman]
Thou shalt not, umm, commit whatchamacallit
         [Seth Gordon]
Who Breaks Bread and Who Bentches (was Standing/Sitting for Kidd
         [Carl Sherer]


From: Elana  Fine <ef91@...>
Date: Sun, 9 Feb 1997 23:40:00 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Agunahs

Dear mail-jewish readers,

	I just got my GET after seven years it finally happened. I am
free. I would like to thank Rabbi Peretz Steinberg, Rabbi Hershel
Welcher, and Mr. David Graubard for arranging it.

	I would also like to thank SAFA College Organization and
YU/Stern students for putting my rallies together in a days notice. i
would like to thank them for coming to rallies on Erev Shabbos in the
pouring rain.  I would like to single out the following people for their
effort and devotion:
		Dena Aranof (Columbia)
		Elisheva Septimus (Stern)
		Aliza Sperling (Barnard)
		Chaim Motzen (Yeshiva University)
		Gur Berman (Yeshiva University/Columbia)
		Aryeh Bernstein (Columbia)
		Dov Weiss (Yeshiva University)
		Ari Zoldan (Yeshiva University)
		and my kids: Elana (Barnard),
		             Daniella (Israel),
			     Michael (Yeshiva University High School)

And of course I would like to thank Hashem for freeeing me on the same
Parsha as the Eved Ivri (slave who gets freed in the 7th year) This year
I can celebrate Pesach like a free person. This Shabbos was a breath of
fresh air. The communities must help this situation.


The former MRS. Hannah Fine.


From: Anthony Waller <P85014@...>
Date: Wed, 05 Feb 97 19:12:45 IDT
Subject: AIR DISASTER - a call for fasting and prayer

[While the time for this has passed, I still think it is valuable for
this information to included in mail-jewish. Mod.]

  The following is an abridged translation of a fax received from the
office of The Chief Rabbinate of Israel.  (All translation errors are

  The Chief Rabbis of Israel, HaRav Yisrael Meir Lau, and The Rishon
LeZion, HaRav Eliyahu Bakshi Doron held a special meeting as a token of
morning in respect of the Helicopter Disaster in Israel.

  At the meeting it was decided to declare Thursday, February 6, Erev
Rosh Hodesh Adar Aleph, as a fast day and to hold a mass prayer meeting
at the Kotel HaMa'aravi (Western Wall) from 16:00.  It was also decided
to postpone all festivities until after sunset (except for a Brit Mila).
The Rabbis called for residents of the State to light memorial candles
in every house.  At the memorial services at the Minha services the
following psalms should be recited: 13, 20, 121, 130 and 142.  Slihot
(Penitential prayers) for Yom Kippur Katan shold also be recited.

Anthony Waller                   Email:  <p85014@...>
Bar-Ilan University, Israel.     Ph: 972-3-5318784, Fax: 972-3-5344446


From: Mottel Gutnick <MottelG@...>
Date: Tue, 4 Feb 1997 07:21:41 AEDT
Subject: Converting Aron Kodesh to other use

Thanks to those who sent practical solutions as to how this question may
be avoided -- that is whether there would be any halachic problem in
converting a retired ark to a lesser-status or secular use.

I realise that one solution (at least in this case where the question
has been considered in advance) is to purchase or dedicate it "al-tnai",
stipulating that its function as an aron kodesh may be only temporary,
(come to think of it, I wonder whether the concept of "dedicating
something al tnai" is not something of an oxymoron -- any takers?)
however, I was hoping for a more rigorous halachic approach.

Does anyone know whether it has been definitively determined anywhere
that such a tnai is strictly necessary because the ark is, as the term
"aron kodesh" suggests, literally a "holy closet" and hence subject to
the principle of "ma'alin bakodesh velo moridin" (we may promote an
object in terms of the level of holiness attached to its use but not
demote it), or whether it is like old tzitzit which are regarded as
merely a "hefetz shel mitzvah" (an object that was used in the
performance of a mitzvah) which, although it should not be disposed of
in an undignified manner, is nonetheless not intrinsically a holy object
and may be recycled to other uses. In general, what determines whether
an object falls into one category or the other?

Mottel Gutnick, Melbourne Australia.


From: Roy Sacks <rsacks@...>
Date: Sun, 9 Feb 1997 14:50:20 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Prayers for the health of Robert Werman

Dr Robert Werman is scheduled to undergo a very serious procedure to
clear a blockage in a major artery in his heart. Bob as he likes to be
called is a poet, author, physician, professor, scientist and Jerusalem
resident.  Professor Werman and his wife Golda have opened their home
and hearts to countless guests and visitors with unmatched warmth and
affection. While visting family in the NYC/NJ area a complication in his
condition has been uncovered that requires immediate attention before he
can return home to Jerusalem.
  Your prayers on behalf of Reuven ben Rushha, his full recovery and the
success of the procedure scheduled for 2/10/97 3Adar1 will give strength
to his family. In addition with the help on Hashem after a successful
procedure he will be able to return home to Jerusalem and enjoy the
fruits of our homeland with his beautiful family.

[Bob is a long-time member of the mail-jewish family, and on behalf of
all of us I pray that he has a Refuah Shelamah. Mod.]


From: <bsbank@...> (Barry S. Bank)
Date: Mon, 03 Feb 1997 06:32:28 EST
Subject: Re: Rashi Script

>From: <JUDAHMOSHE@...> (Marc Rosenbloom)
>I was recently asked when was the script we associate with rashi first
>used in sefarim? In fact did rashi create this typeface?

Not only did Rashi not use "Rashi script," he never saw it!  What we
call Rashi script was designed by the printer who set the type for the
first (or one of the first) editions of the Chumash w/Rashi -- published
4+ centuries after Rashi lived. (Rashi lived in the middle of the 11th
century whereas printing in western Europe came into currency after 1440
when Gutenberg "invented" movable type.)  The printer's purpose was to
make a visual distinction between the text and Rashi's commentary on it.

From: Stan Tenen <meru1@...>
Date: Mon, 03 Feb 1997 09:38:16 -0500
Subject: Re: Rashi Script

A question was recently asked with regard to the creation of the Rashi
"typeface".  Rashi is not a typeface; it is a style of Meruba Ashuris.
It was widely used in various forms by Rashi and Nachmanides, and many
others, in the medieval period in Spain.

A careful examination of Meruba Ashuris, Rashi-Nachmanides, and various
forms of Aramaic lettering, modern script, and associated alphabets,
leads to a startling conclusion.  It appears that the Rashi-Nachmanides
style of rabbinic script Meruba Ashuris letters actually pre-dates the
Ashuris Meruba Torah-scroll letters described in painstaking detail in
Mishnas Sofrim. The Rashi letters are actually older, and more closely
resemble second-temple lettering, than does the more stylized and modern
version in Mishnas Sofrim.

Why, then, if the Rashi letters are older and perhaps more authentic,
should we have Mishnas Sofrim?  The answer is simple.  The Rashi letters
can be mis-read.  They are very fluid.  They do not have square corners.
This means that a nun, a kaf, or even a vav, could look very similar.
They could, G-d forbid, be mistaken or misread if a Torah scroll was
written using them.  Thus, our sages were compelled to straighten and
stiffen the Rashi-Nachmanides forms, so that they could never be
mistaken, one for the other.

So what I am saying is that the Rashi Nachmanides letters were in all
likelihood closer to what Moshe originally brought down than our current
Torah-scroll letters, as defined by Mishnas Sofrim.  However, the
Mishnas Sofrim letters must be used, because they are entrusted with the
task of maintaining the integrity of Torah.  Rashi may be more
spiritual, but Mishnas Sofrim is more precise in conveying meaning in
our time.

How do I know this?  I have spent the last 30 years studying it.  When I
present my research that demonstrates how a specially shaped
tefillin-strap can generate the shapes of all of the Hebrew letters, I
am often challenged to explain why the letters formed by the
tefillin-strap almost exactly resemble Nachmanides' handwriting, while
they do not as closely resemble (in a few cases) Mishnas Sofrim letters,
which we all know to be holy.  At the time of Rashi and Nachmanides, it
was still known that a specially-shaped tefillin strap could generate
the letters.  That's what justified the use of this alphabet by our
sages.  Now that we have lost this knowledge, the mixture of alphabets
is explained by various stories and rationalizations which discredit our
sages because they are no more than "apologia".

A careful study of Hebrew alphabets can be very spiritually rewarding.  I
recommend it.


PS:  For more on the alphabet, check our website-in-progress:


From: <JGrodz@...> (Jonathan Grodzinski)
Date: Tue, 4 Feb 1997 19:53:00 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Rav Yoel Sirkis (The Bach)

I know that there are other sites where one can research genealogy, but
the recent mention of one of my supposed ancestors prompts me to ask if
anyone can help with my research.

My great great grandfather was Rav Reuven Fink (1830-1901) author of the
Tnuvas Yehudah (also involved in the great controversy surrounding the
Ohrlsdorf cemetry in Hamburg).

His wife was Frimet (Phillipina) Bach. She had a brother Moshe Aharon
Bach.  They were both descended from THE Bach, but noone can tell me

Can any subscriber help me establish the connection.

Jonathan Grodzinski


From: Eliyahu Segal <segaleli@...>
Date: Tue, 4 Feb 1997 11:56:58 +0200 (IST)
Subject: Re: Tfillas Shov (Meaningless Prayer)

> From: Mark J. Feldman <MFeldman@...>
> I believe that a relevant source to this issue is Bava Metziah 42a,
> which states that one may pray regarding something that is hidden from
> the eye ("samui min ha-ayin"), and gives an example of one who goes to
> measure his grain.  So long as he hasn't measured it, he may pray that a
> blessing exist in the pile of grain, since at that point the exact
> amount of grain is hidden from the eye.
> Michtav MeEliyahu vol 1 (nes v'teva).  In contrast, if something has
> occurred in the past, Hashem will not go back in time and change history
> (e.g., convert a girl into a boy).  (There are exceptions: Leah's prayer
> to turn her son into Dinah.)

Leah was praying, as you said above, for something "samui min 
ha-ayin"(hidden from the eye) so why is that an exeption?



From: <Chaimwass@...> (Chaim Wasserman)
Date: Tue, 11 Feb 1997 17:37:44 -0500 (EST)
Subject: The 73

Are there 73 couples who are in a position to join in having a child to
replace one of those who were lost in the tragic crash?

Can souls - people - be "replaced"? What''s there to talk about -
certainly not. But numbers do count for something most especially in
Israel. Perhaps that is what chazal meant when they referred to a
circumstance which they called "yado shel yisrael takifah" (when the
leverage of Jews is supreme). In Israel in the forseeable future
diplomatic and geo-political facts will be created and sustained by the
leverage of numbers. Imagine if there were 500,000 Jews living in Judea,
Samaria, Golan and Gaza. Wouldn't the scenario have been somewhat

It is several decades now that I have been telling my young student
annually that should they want to respond to the Holocaust that they
consider with their spouse or future-spouse "replacing" just one of the
million or more children who were exterminated by the nazis.

chaim wasserman  


From: Seth Gordon <sethg@...>
Date: Tue, 4 Feb 1997 04:42:00 -0500
Subject: Thou shalt not, umm, commit whatchamacallit

    [Jonathan Abrams:]
    ...when someone kills someone accidentally it is NOT murder but yet
    it is still forbidden under the commandment "Lo Tirtzach"....

    [Alan Cooper:]
    The second table of the "Ten
    Commandments [dibberot]" does not comprise "laws" as such, but
    statements of the basic principles that underlie the Torah's

I'm confused by these remarks. Rashi s.v. Exodus 20:13 says that the
commandments in this verse are dealing with capital crimes, and
accidental homicide isn't a capital crime.

Seth Gordon 


From: Carl Sherer <sherer@...>
Date: Mon, 3 Feb 1997 08:07:32 +0200
Subject: Who Breaks Bread and Who Bentches (was Standing/Sitting for Kidd

Shoshana L. Boublil writes:
> In my husband's family (Lybian originally) they have a custom
> "Ore'ach Mekadesh Ve'Ba'al Habayit Botze'ah" - The guest makes
> Kiddush and the host makes the blessing on the bread.  (I don't know
> the source!)

If anyone else has the source I'd be interested in hearing it, because
to me it sounds like a corruption of the Gemara.  (Not that I am trying
chas v'shalom to ridicule a minhag (custom).  It is well known that
"minhag Yisrael din hoo" (a custom of Israel has the status of law) and
therefore it may not be ridiculed).  The Gemara in Brachos 46a states in
the name of Rav Shimon bar Yochai:

"The master of the house breaks bread so that he will break generously,
the guest leads the bentching so that he will bless the host." (The
Gemara then goes on to give the blessing with which the guest should
bless the host).

-- Carl Sherer

Thank you for davening for our son, 
Baruch Yosef ben Adina Batya. Please 
keep him in mind for a healthy, long life. 

Carl and Adina Sherer


End of Volume 26 Issue 1