Volume 26 Number 40
                      Produced: Wed May  7  6:57:41 1997

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Books on Jewish Wedding
         [Tszvi Klugerman]
CD Databases
         [Jay Rovner]
Gerim as Rabbis
         [Chana Luntz]
Gerim as Rabbis - any restrictions?
         [Ari Kahn]
Hebrew Letters
         [Yisrael Dubitsky]
Is Charlie Chaplin Jewish
         [Harry Chaim Mehlman]
Judaica Databases
         [Uri J. Schild]
Kos - Masculine or Feminine
         [Peretz Rodman]


From: <Klugerman@...> (Tszvi Klugerman)
Date: Tue, 6 May 1997 01:34:40 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Re: Books on Jewish Wedding

There are 2 books which I have used till they are dog eared. The first to
answer your first request is:
Made In Heaven: A Jewish Wedding Guide
by Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan
Moznaim Publishing Corp.  (last known address (that I have) 4304 12 Ave
Bklyn, NY 11219 
718 438 7680)

Any Jewish Book store should be able to locate this book for you.

The second is a fabulous book called:
Understanding Judaism: The Basics of Creed and Deed
by Rabbi Benjamin Blech
Jason Aronson Publishers   230  Livingston Street   Northvale, NJ 07647

It is available in most Jewish Book stores or from the publisher or any
Border's or Barnes and Nobles on order.

Good Luck and Mazel Tov


From: <jarovner@...> (Jay Rovner)
Date: Mon, 05 May 1997 13:15:09 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Re: CD Databases

seth kadish may want to check out davka's cd-rom classical judaica
library (put out in chicago) it includes several commentaries on Torah
and has ethical and philosophical literature, as well.  the
proof-reading is not perfect, and standard editions rather than
scholarly ones are used (it is far easier to locate a passage in the
bar-ilan version). while B_A has teshuvot, D has jewish thought.
 jay rovner


From: Chana Luntz <heather@...>
Date: Sun, 4 May 1997 14:00:35 +0100
Subject: Gerim as Rabbis

>> From: Aryeh Meir <ameir@...>
>> On another list it was mentioned that a ger who is now a rabbi may not
>> sit on a beit din for the purpose of conversion?  Is this true?
>> It came as a surprise to me as I thought there were no restrictions on
>> gerim past conversion(except for those dealing with cohanim).
>> If it is true can some one explain the halakha in this area?  Are there
>> any other restrictions.
>From Zvi Weiss:
> Reference the Gemara at the beginning of Sanhedrin (among other sources
>-- also at the end of Kiddushin) which discusses the requirement that
>the "Dayan" ("Judge") be "Meyuchas" -- (i.e., of "Jewish Descent")
>menaing that at least the Mother be Jewish...  Hence a Ger can not
>(always) serve as a Judge on a Beit Din...

The Shulchan Aruch reference is Choshen Mishpat siman 7 si'if 1: A bet
din of three of which one of them is a ger are possul to judge a yisroel
unless his mother (Rema: or father [ie his mother was a g'ioret but his
father was a yisroel]) is from yisroel, a ger can judge his fellow ger
even though his mother is not from yisroel.

The Aruch HaShulchan brings down the halacha as follows at the beginning
of Choshen Mishpat Siman 7: "all Israel are kosher to be dayanim and a
ger open brackets, italics *in former days* close brackets and italics
is possul to be a dayan to judge yisroel by force, and this is a gezera
of the Torah as it says "you shall surely appoint for yourself a king
etc from amongst your brothers etc - and comes the tradition that all
positions of authority that you shall appoint should only be from aomnog
your brothers, but to judge his brother the ger is permitted, and with
the will or permission of the ba'alei dinim [parties to the suit] it is
permitted for any ger, and there is no distinction in this between three
dayanim and one dayan of the three ...

What the Aruch HaShulchan is clearly referring to here is another
halacha which is that the baalei dinim are permitted to choose for
themselves a judge even from one who would otherwise be possul to judge
[eg the father of one of the litigants - cf Mishna Sanhedrin 3:2, S.A.
Choshen Mishpat Siman 22].

In these days of judges without proper smicha [which was lost at least
fifteen hundred years ago] - the status of judges and what in fact a
judge may judge is somewhat different to that found in the Torah, and
their source of authority is also somewhat different (see the first two
simanim of Choshen Mishpat).  Because of this, many have ruled that
community appointed judges have the status of judges that have been
"chosen by the people", thereby including the litigants, so that in fact
one can force litigants to have their cases judged even by someone who
would be possul to judge from the Torah, so long as such judge has
community support (See the Tur Choshen Mishpat, end of siman 7 " and if
[the community] makes a takana of if there is a custom in the city that
the judges of the city judge even in relation to taxes [which personally
affect them, thus making them possul to judge from the Torah], their
judgement is a judgement just like one who accepts on himself a possul
or a relative to judge, the judgement is a judgement - similarly see
Shulchan Aruch Choshen Mishpat Siman 7 si'if 12, Aruch HaShulchan 7:22).
This may explain the bracketted/italicised words in the Aruch
HaShulchan.  I assume that it is on this basis that various bettei dinim
have included gerim (although you would have to ask them).  The extent
to which a ger can be a dayan would thus seem to be bound up with the
question of the extent of takanot hakahal (which itself is not a simple



From: Ari Kahn <kahnar@...>
Date: Sat, 03 May 1997 21:29:34 +0300
Subject: Gerim as Rabbis - any restrictions?

The Rambam mentions that there is a problem of "Srarah" occupying a
position of power, by a Ger see Rambam Melachim 1:4. Dayan Grossnass
(formally from London) has a Teshuva of a ger being a principle in a
school, an assumed position of power (Lev Aryeh chelek bet siman
21). The logic he utilizes is similar to that of Rav Moshe Feinstein in
his teshuva where he allows a woman to be a "Mashgiach Kasherut"

Ari Kahn


From: Yisrael Dubitsky <DJ8QC@...>
Date: Mon, 5 May 1997 23:59:24 +0200 (IST)
Subject: Hebrew Letters

The recent thread regarding Hebrew letters and affinity to English, etc.
brought to mind a question I have had for a while now regarding the
names of three Hebrew letters.  In gematria they are 10, 100 and 50.
Most of the people I know pronounce these letters as yUd, kUf, nUn but
in academic circles I have noticed a trend to pronounce the first two
anyway as yOd, kOf.  First, why?  This cannot be an Ashkenazic/Sephardic
difference.  Second, why isn't nUn similarly pronounced nOn.  Or is that
related to the Biblical Yehoshu`a's patronymic?

Any ideas?

Yisrael Dubitsky
14 le-mispar bene Yisrael 5757


From: Harry Chaim Mehlman <mehlman@...>
Date: Wed, 7 May 1997 02:36:58 +10
Subject: Is Charlie Chaplin Jewish

According to all his biographies (some of which trace his lineage back to
the Huguenots - French Protestants), Chaplin was not Jewish. His older
half-brother Sydney probably had a Jewish father. No-one is absolutely
sure, since the man never married Chaplin's mother. (No doubt he did not
believe in intermarriage...) That seems to be the sum total of Chaplin's
Jewish family connection. Charlie's father was Charles Chaplin Sr.

Many people mistakenly thought Chaplin was Jewish, especially after "The
Great Dictator" and his other public defenses of the Jews. It is well
known that Chaplin identified strongly with the Jewish people. During 
World War II he stopped denying he was Jewish, since he felt that to do 
that was "playing into the hands of anti-semites". Presumably he meant 
that denial implied shame.


From: <schild@...> (Uri J. Schild)
Date: Mon, 5 May 1997 17:49:39 +0200
Subject: Judaica Databases

 <skadish@...> (Seth Kadish) writes on the subject of Judaica Databases:
>        I'm trying to select a Judaica database to buy, and having a
>hard time making a decision; I hope some mail-jewish readers will be
>able to give some advise about their experiences with the databases
>available on the market.  I've found that it's hard to really understand
>what their advantages and disadvantages are until using them, but you
>usually won't have a chance to use them much until you buy them.....
>        It seems to me that these databases have two main uses: research
>and teaching.  By research, I mean the possibility of surveying a wide
>body of literature (e.g. ALL of extant rabbinic literature, or tens of
>thousands of responsa) for information on a specific topic.  By
>teaching, I mean the preparation of source-sheets for students by using
>the computer to call up the relevant texts and do "cut-and-paste",
>rather than tediously typing in the sources by hand, or photocopying the
>sources and literally cutting and pasting them on paper.
>        For both research and teaching, the two criterion for a good
>database would seem to be quality and content.  Quality means ease of
>use, the power of the search engine, hypertext links, etc.  In terms of
>content, here are some of the things I have thought of looking for, and
>some of what I have been able to find out thus far:
 (here follows a survey of various areas, texts, etc.)

        I should like to comment on this matter. Please note that I am
affiliated with the Responsa Project at Bar-Ilan University.

        Let me first consider persons who purchase a Judaica CD-ROM because
it looks nice on a shelf or on a table next to the PC. For such persons the
main criteria will be the price and perhaps the design of the box. They
should definitely purchase one of the cheaper products on the market: They
may actually get two CD-ROMs for the price of the CD-ROM issued by the
Responsa Project at Bar-Ilan University. The list of texts included on each
of these CD-ROMs looks as large and impressive as the Bar-Ilan one, though
in somewhat different domains.

        If a person actually wants to use such a CD-ROM the picture is very
different.  Let me elaborate on some of the criteria mentioned by Seth.

(1) The quality of the retrieval program.

        Most off-the-shelf text retrieval programs in the English language
range from acceptable to excellent. However, owing to the complex
morphology of the Hebrew language, it is far more difficult to develop a
retrieval program for Hebrew which would rate higher than acceptable.
Bar-Ilan's program contains a unique linguistic component which can carry
out an automatic analysis of Hebrew words, and group together all
grammatical variants of a given word. Conversely, given some standard form
of a Hebrew word, the module is capable of synthesizing all variants,
including those obtained by adding prefixes, suffixes, infixes, etc.
        If the extent of one's queries is: "Where do I find Moshe and
Aharon in the Tanach?" this is of no importance. But for serious research
work the linguistic capability of the program should not be underestimated.

(2) The quality of the texts.

        A statistically significant random sampling of the Responsa
Project's texts is carried out after proof-reading, and the attained
accuraccy is 99.95% (i.e., less than 5 errors per 10,000 characters). The
accuraccy can be critical: If you query for a word which has been omitted
by mistake or misspelled in the computerized text, you may miss an
important source for your work.

        This aspects also explains the difference in price among the
various products on the market. Bar-Ilan has just now issued version 5 of
its CD-ROM which contains Tosafoth for the Babylonian Talmud. The
proofreading alone took two years and cost $50,000. Another version of the
Tosafoth has been marketed by others for some time, but it contains 40,000
omissions and errors (as estimated by random sampling).  This version was
probably never proofread. There is also a version of the Shulchan Aruch on
the market with at least 100 missing sections (and an unknown number of
short omissions and misspellings).  Some texts with high accuraccy are
found on other CD-ROMs, like the Babylonian Talmud and the Rambam. They are
original Bar-Ilan texts, and they are marketed without our permission
(libel laws do not allow me to go into details). However, the great
majority of other texts have never been proofread, despite assertions
otherwise by the producers. The accuraccy is deplorably low.

        It is an interesting Halachic question whether one may actually
sell, purchase or even possess such erroneous texts. See Shut haRemah,
Siman Yod on this point.

(3) Seth also mentions hypertext, which is a capability depending on both
the software and the texts.

        Version 5 of the Responsa CD-ROM, which has just been released, has
an extensive hypertext capability which will be further extended in future
versions. Other features mentioned by Seth (e.g.Tanach with nikud) will
also be incorporated in future versions.

Dr. Uri J. Schild
Director, Responsa Project
Bar-Ilan University


From: Peretz Rodman <msrita@...>
Date: Tue, 6 May 1997 07:45:06 +0300 (WET)
Subject: Kos - Masculine or Feminine

In MJ V26n35 <empreil@...> (Elozor M Preil) writes:
> Re the word "kos" (cup), my small "milon" (dictionary) has it as
> feminine.  My guess is the mikra source is Tehillim 23: "kosi revayah".

My reading of that passage -- drawing, if I recall correctly, on that
suggested by Prof. Nahum Sarna in a course at Brandeis in '72-'73 -- is
"my cup is satiety [itself]," since _revaya_ is an abstract noun form.
That would invalidate the use of that phrase for determining the gender
of _kos_. I note, however, that the JPS Kethuvim translation committee,
of which Prof. Sarna was a member, translated it as an adjective: "my
drink is abundant."

Peretz Rodman


End of Volume 26 Issue 40