Volume 26 Number 95
                      Produced: Tue Aug  5  7:23:34 1997

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Bedeken (2)
         [Avraham Reiss, Warren Burstein]
Bedeken, Bedek Habayith, and The Rambam
         [Russell Hendel]
Cheresh (deaf & non-communicating)
         [Stan Tenen]
         [Sheva and Tzadik Vanderhoof]
Eyin Horah & Purchasing things in advance of a baby's birth
         [Ben Rothke]
Literal vs Allegorical Midrash (2)
         [David Charlap, Avi Feldblum]
Origin of the word Badekin [mail-jewish Vol. 26 #91 Digest]
         [Perets Mett]
Sign Language (2)
         [Gershon Klavan, Daniel Israel]
True Gemilat Chessed
         [Shmuel Himelstein]


From: Avraham Reiss <areiss@...>
Date: Mon, 4 Aug 1997 09:04:20 +0300
Subject: Re: Bedeken

The real reason why the veil is lifted before the chupah is to conform
to a simple halacha which instructs the chatan concerning the kalah
"yirena, shema titgane be'enav', i.e. the chatan must see the kalah
before the wedding to insure that she is not repugnant to him.  [There
is here an assumption that possibly, out of tzniut, the chatan has not
yet looked at the kalah.]

From: Warren Burstein <warren@...>
Date: Mon, 04 Aug 1997 12:54:37 +0300
Subject: Re: Bedeken

Joseph Geretz <JGeretz@...> writes:

>The fact that it is the Chosson's responsibility to Badeck his
>Kallah may stem from the fact that it is the Chosson's duty and
>perogative to ensure that he will meet the right girl at the end of the
>aisle, as opposed to the way Yaakov Avinu was tricked by Lavan.

It seems to me that there is time between Badecken and Chuppah to
substitute brides.  If we're concerned about trickery (or at least
recalling Lavan's trickery), why doesn't the Badecken take place under the


From: <rhendel@...> (Russell Hendel)
Date: Mon, 4 Aug 1997 20:37:25 -0400
Subject: Bedeken, Bedek Habayith, and The Rambam

I found the recent discussions on BEDEKEN and its meaning interesting
especially since it contradicts my laymen's (non researched yet)
understanding of BEDEKEN. The following 3 Posookim/Halachas come to my

1) The Rambam in his legal code explicitly states that >>a man should
BODEYK (look over) his future wife to make sure she is ` pleasing to

2) Consistent with that statement are the set of laws governing a man
who wants to divorce his wife after the wedding night because he found
blemishes in her (and during the marriage ceremony he thought he was
getting an unblemished wife). The Rambam (following the Talmud of
course) answers that he probably knew about it since the man's female
relatives could have looked her over in say the Public bathhouses.

Without going into the technicalities of this we see from these two laws
that there is a concept of "investigation" of ones wifes appearance
These Rambam laws occur at the end of Isuth..laws of Wives.

3) The Segolate noun, BEDECK (occuring in Kings) means stress cracks in`
building and is obviously related to the verb BDK to look over. It would
seem from the Biblical example that BEDECK means looking over for
minutae (such as blemishes).

Taking all this together the BEdecken ceremony to me was a symbolic
affirmation that BEFORE VEILING herself the husband looked his wife over
and was satisfied that she pleased him.

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


From: Stan Tenen <meru1@...>
Date: Thu, 31 Jul 1997 09:22:24 -0400
Subject: Re: Cheresh (deaf & non-communicating)

Dear Hanna Gershon,

There is a natural Hebrew sign language.  The "Codes in Torah" actually
line the text up to define a specially shaped tefillin strap, that
naturally fits the human hand.  When worn on the hand, and viewed from
different directions during different gestures, each of the different
Hebrew letters is seen in outline.  The natural meaning of the gesture that
displays each letter corresponds to the common meaning of the name of the
letter.  Pointing to one's mouth produces an outline that looks like a Peh;
Peh means "mouth".  This is similarly true for all the other letters.  

What is most astonishing about this natural hand language is that a naive
person (who knows no sign language and who knows no Hebrew), watching
another person spelling out Hebrew words with these gestures, can often
immediately understand what is being said by virtue of the gestures alone.  

For example, a person moving their hands so as to first see the letter
"gimel" and then the letter "lamed", is forced to outline the shape of a
"basketball" in front of them.  Almost anyone watching knows this gesture
means "round", and that, in fact, is what the Hebrew root Gimel-Lamed means.  

A person gesturing like a traffic officer indicating that motorists should
proceed towards them, would see the typical traffic-officer gesture of
pulling one's hands towards one's belly and one's chest, repeatedly, with
the generally accepted meaning of "come towards me".  They would also, if
they knew Hebrew, and if they were wearing this tefillin strap, see the
sequence of Hebrew lettes, Bet-Aleph (come), Lamed-Yod (to me).  

Of course, not every word is as easy to understand -- these are
illustrative examples.  

You can learn more about this for yourself from our website,
http://www.meru.org , where you will find a table that shows the gestures,
and many illustrations of the tefillin hand model and its significance.

This is not some occult or kooky finding.  I've been working with a number
of well-known Kabbalists and talmudic scholars, as well as linguists,
mathematicians, and various other interested scholars.  (Anthropologists
usually go for this; linguists usually choke and run away. <friendly smile>)

Stan Tenen
Director of Research,
Meru Foundation


From: Sheva and Tzadik Vanderhoof <stvhoof@...>
Date: Thu, 31 Jul 1997 22:44:17 +0300
Subject: Re: Deaf-mute

With regards to the question of how a deaf -mute could get married, if
they cannot say "harei at" (or in the case of the kallah, cannot hear
it), perhaps in this case, it would be permitted to use the methods of
"shtar" (document) or "biah" (marital relations) as a method of marriage
instead of "kesef" (money or ring).  Presumably these other 2 methods do
not require an act of speach or listenting.  Although the custom is
definitely to use the "kesef" method, the other 2 methods are still
valid by Torah law, and presumably the Rabbis would permit them in a
case where there was no other possibility of the person getting married.


From: Ben Rothke <BRothke@...>
Date: Sat, 5 Jul 1997 23:58:49 -0400
Subject: Eyin Horah & Purchasing things in advance of a baby's birth

There is a prevalent minhag of not purchasing specific for a baby in
advance of its birth, due to the eyin hora (Evil Eye).

Is this a real minhag that has a basis in halacha and what exactly is
the eyin hora?

When is comes to a simcha such as a bar mitzvah or chasuna, preperations
are done months (and years, in the case of nesuin/erusin ( engagement &
betrothal) in the times of the gemorah) in advance.  No one would
suggest that perparing for a chausna in advance is an eyin hora.  So
what is unique about a baby?  Why should the preperations commence only
after the baby's birth?

It seems to me that not doing certain preperations shows a lack of
emunah Why should HaShem cause a bad outcome (via the eyin hora) to
occur simply because items were purchased in advance of the baby's


From: David Charlap <david@...>
Date: Mon, 04 Aug 97 10:49:52 -0400
Subject: RE: Literal vs Allegorical Midrash

Saul Newman <Saul.Z.Newman@...> writes:
>How do we know which Midrash is allegory and which is fact?  If Kafa
>aleihem hahar gegigit( G-d's placing Mt Sinai over the Jews heads,lest
>they not accept the Torah) is allegory, as is Moses' height of 20 amot,
>how do I know which Midrash, which fills in the details of the story,
>really happened? Or is the answer just we don't know and it doesn't

This is one of the big reasons why it is imperitive to learn Torah
she'b'al peh (the Oral Torah) with a rabbi, or at least a learned

It is important to know which ones are literal and which ones aren't.
It is also important to learn the proper lessons from midrashim, many of
which are not at all obvious.  We do know which are which, but this
information is part of our oral tradition.  Some commentaries may
mention the status (allegorical or literal) of some midrashim, but I
don't think there is a single source for all of them.  If you learn with
a rabbi, however, he will know (or will know where to look to find out.)

From: Avi Feldblum <feldblum@...>
Date: Tue, 5 Aug 1997 06:35:48 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: RE: Literal vs Allegorical Midrash

David Charlap writes:
> It is important to know which ones are literal and which ones aren't.
> It is also important to learn the proper lessons from midrashim, many of
> which are not at all obvious.  We do know which are which, but this
> information is part of our oral tradition.  

If by the above you mean that for each and every midrash, there is a
clear and acceptance tradition as to whether it is to be taken as
literal or allegorical, I would take great exception to that. I think it
is easy to show that just within the group of the major Reshonim on
Torah, dealing with midrashim on Torah, there is quite a difference of
opinion on many of these issues. 

You do not even have to go to Midrash for that. There is a story told in
the beginning of chapter 18 of Beraishit. In the story, there are three
individuals that came to Avraham? Can you definitively identify which of
the following three statements are true?

1) The three individuals were Angels 
2) The three individuals were human prophets
3) The entire story did not actually occur in physical space

For extra credit identify the source(s) for each of the above ( :-) )

Avi Feldblum


From: Perets Mett <p.mett@...>
Date: Mon, 4 Aug 1997 11:20:47 +0100
Subject: Re: Origin of the word Badekin [mail-jewish Vol. 26 #91 Digest]

Jonathan Katz <frisch1@...> wrote:
 >Is anyone aware of the origin of the word "Badekin"? ("Badekin" is the
>ritual at a wedding where the groom lifts the veil of the bride to "check"
>that he is in fact marrying the correct person).
>I had always thought that the word came from the Hebrew verb root
>bet-daled-kuf (meaning "to check") but someone recently told me that the
>word in fact comes from the Yiddish/German word "Bedek" meaning a veil
>or a covering.
>Can anyone clear this up?

badekn is a yiddish word in common usage. It means 'covering' or
'covering up'.

The minhag of badekn a kale has changed over the years. In former times
it signified the covering of the kale's head (often with a cloth used to
cover the sefer torah). Nowadays the most widespread minhag that I am
aware of is that the kale sits in in the kale chair with her face
uncovered. The khosn and other members of the wedding party (the sources
mention chasuvey ho'ir - the important members of the community) then
come to the kale and the khosn covers the kale's face - usually with the
veil which she has been wearing swept back.

Perets Mett


From: Gershon Klavan <klavan@...>
Date: Thu, 31 Jul 1997 10:29:04 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Sign Language

With regard to all of the recent postings about sign language, let's just
tighten up the scenario and get down to the root question.

Is sign language considered halachic speech?
Primary area of concern:  (leaving out the issue of whether a Cheireish is
a bar daat or not)  Can Beit Din accept signed testimony or does Eidut
require physical speech?  Has the Rabbanut in Israel come out with any
Teshuvot on the matter?

The only issue that may not revolve around this point is signing before
Hamotzi because the problem with speech there is one of Hesech Hadaat -
which is why one may talk to ask someone to get a knife or salt etc...

Gershon Klavan

From: Daniel Israel <daniel@...>
Date: Thu, 31 Jul 1997 17:26:24 -0700
Subject: Re: Sign Language

Chaim Shapiro wrote:
>  If, on the other hand, the reason a charesh has his status is becuase
>he has a deficiency, that being that he can not hear or speak, then I
>would argue his halachick status remains.  For, althoguh signing is a
>method of communication, I do not believe it is a form of speech.  Think
>of it this way, Is one allowed to use sign language during tekias
>shofar, or after having washed?  I would think so Spech then, from a
>halchick perspective is based on sounds that come from the mouth and
>nothing else.

I asked this sheila and was told that if one is fluent in sign language,
then it is a hefsik [interuption] between washing and motzi.  However,
if one is not fluent in sign language, but is merely gesturing, then it
is not forbidden.

OTOH, the issue here is hefsik, and speech is forbidden because it is a
hefsik, so the parallel to the case of a charesh may not carry through.

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: Shmuel Himelstein <himelstein@...>
Date: Mon Aug 04 09:39:10 1997
Subject: True Gemilat Chessed

My son and daughter-in-law were forced to stay in the Hadassah Ein Karem
(Jerusalem) hospital for last Shabbat, with a sick child who is B"H
getting better. They mentioned to me that there is a service whereby
everyone staying with a patient for Shabbat is served all three Shabbat
meals free of charge, due to the donation of funds by a number of
benefactors to pay for all these meals. The patients themselves
obviously receive food from the hospital. The free food service is
available to anyone who wants it - no questions asked.

The financial donations, while of major importance, would be valueless
if there had been no one to take care of arranging for and distributing
the food, and there is one family that takes care of this every Shabbat
and Yom Tov.

As I understand it, the family that takes care of the distribution has
to undertake to do so for a full year, including every single Shabbat
and Yom Tov. What is most remarkable is that - as I understand it -
there is a waiting list years in advance of those who wish to take this
obligation upon themselves for a full year.

Shmuel Himelstein


End of Volume 26 Issue 95