Volume 28 Number 07
                      Produced: Fri Oct 30  7:49:47 1998

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Bowing during Karate
         [Moshe J. Bernstein]
Bowing in Karate
         [Thierry Dana-Picard]
Bowing in martial arts
         [Steve Scharf]
On The Akedah
Rish Laqish and yishar kohkho
         [Saul Davis]
The Akeidah
         [<Pawshas@...> ]
Y'Yasher Kochacha
         [Joseph Geretz]
Yeshar Chochaco
         [David Jutkowitz]
Yesher Koach
         [Zvi Weiss]
Yishar Kohakho


From: Moshe J. Bernstein <mjbrnstn@...>
Date: Thu, 29 Oct 1998 09:04:55 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Re: Bowing during Karate

Regarding bowing during karate: There is a story which I heard from a
number of fellows at YU who did karate in the old days that the Rov had
been asked what to do about the traditional bowing. the response was,
"tell your teacher that we live in america and we do not bow to one
another!" I wish I knew whether the story is apocryphal or not; it's
surely a good vort. I don't know whether the adjustment which Chaim Sober
made at Torah Dojo was related to this or not. I'll try to remember to ask
him next time I bump into him at YU.

Moshe Bernstein


From: Thierry Dana-Picard <dana@...>
Date: Thu, 29 Oct 1998 14:32:55 +0200 (IST)
Subject: Re: Bowing in Karate

Seth Kadish asked: 

"Does anyone know anything about the issue of bowing for observant Jews
who participate in a karate dojo?  The bowing consists of both knees on
the floor and falling forward with hands and face on the ground.  They
also say something in Japanese (I have no idea what)."

As it is an interesting question (at least for me), I asked my LOR. Here
are some elements of his answer:

Rav Soloveitchik says that there is no avoda zara in that, but that it
is rather silly (I hope my translation fits). Anyway, you can read it in
Nefesh Harav.

In a Japanese book, the author says that he was surprise to hear that
this bowing can embarass somebody on a religious basis. He says this
bowing has no religious meaning, and in Japan everybody bows to
everybody. It's polite.

Moreover there is a Gemara saying that "hishta'havaya" is allowed, as a
mark of respect to somebody else (I forgot to ask where).

Finally, the Rav told me that when he is with other people who do it, he
does this ceremonial (he practices Aikido and teaches it), but when
teaching he does not introduce it.

Shabat Shalom,

Thierry Dana-Picard                                  tel: 972-2-675-12-78
Department of Applied Mathematics                    fax: 972-642-20-75
Jerusalem College of Technology


From: <StevenS667@...> (Steve Scharf)
Date: Thu, 29 Oct 1998 10:19:08 EST
Subject: Re: Bowing in martial arts

The issue of bowing in martial arts is more complex than it appears.

Virtually all martial art forms which originate in oriental cultures
(karate, Tae Kwon Do, Kung Fu, Judo, Aikedo, Hapkido etc) have at least
one bow which is a mutual bow between the instructor (whatever he is
called) and the class.  This is a form of greeting and has no particular
halachik problems.  It is like shaking hands.  Many schools also bow to
something else.  For example, many Tae Kwon Do (Korean martial arts)
schools bow to the Korean flag.  It depends on what the significance of
this flag is.  The Korean flag has the symbol for Ying and Yang on it,
which may have religious significance.  On the other hand, as was
explained to me, in some schools it may only signify respect for the
country of origin.  Many Karate schools (Japanese martial arts) have a
bow while on the knees to a picture of the founder of the style.
According the LOR with whom we consulted, this is forbidden, for obvious
reasons.  Thus, find out the significance of the bow.  If there are
halachik problems, then don't bow.  I have never encountered a problem
(veteran of over 30 years martial arts).  The bow to the instructor
should be done, and presents no halachik issues.

Steve Scharf


From: <sabbahillel@...>
Date: Tue, 27 Oct 1998 22:42:59 -0500
Subject: Re: On The Akedah

On Mon, 26 Oct 1998 23:59:17 -0500 (EST)  Moshe Nugiel
<friars@...> writes:

>	When Hashem orders Avraham to listen to Sarah and to get rid of
>Yishmael, Avraham essentially sends Yishmael and Hagar out to their
>deaths.  If he had wanted them to reach Egypt, or some other safe haven,
>he could have sent them out with many camels and servants and provisions
>to ensure their safe arrival.  Avraham was very rich.  Instead he sends
>them out alone, with a bottle of water.  Just enough provision so that
>they will die somewhere out in the desert.

I have seen a comment that he did not send them out to die, but that the
water he sent them with was symbolic of the fact that Yishmael was not
to be his heir and was not entitled to Avraham's property.

Had Hagar not gotten lost, and Yishmael not gotten sick there would have
been no problem.  Indeed, once Hashem "opened her eyes", we see that she
was actually at an oasis with water.  This can be seen by the fact that
Yishmael grew up, married and became the progenitor of a large family. 
The medrashim also deal with the fact that he continued to stay in toch
with his father (as is the fact that he allowed his daughter to marry
Yitzchak's son and that he aknowledged Yitzchak as the heir at Avrohom's

>	 In asking Avraham to kill Yitzchak, God is seeing whether or
>not the previous killings had been done totally for His sake.  Avraham
>passes his final test.  He demonstrates that his first priority is
>service to Hashem. 

As shown by the fact that when he is told to stop, he stops immediately.

Zovchei Adam, agolim yishakun


From: Saul Davis <sdavis@...>
Date: Thu, 29 Oct 1998 23:19:20 +0200 (IST)
Subject: Rish Laqish and yishar kohkho

Paul Merling wrote on 26/10/98:
"May I conjecture that the Yesher Koach goes back to a time when Yesher
Koach meant something like the Sephardic Chazak (Be strengthened.) In other
words that one may have been weakened or harmed ... by contact with the Holy
while not being worthy of such closeness."

I attempted to disprove this conjecture as I though that yishar kohkho,
even in the context of someone who was just called to the Torah or
performed any mitsvah, means no more than "thank you" or "well
done". And I wrote on 27/10/98:
"...I know of only one classical source for the phrase and that is in
Gemorah Bava Bathra 14b. There Rish Laqish explains the phrase verse in
Devarim 10:2, "that you broke", to mean that Hkb"h (= G-d) insinuates to
Moshe "yishar kohakha" that you broke the tablets of the Ten Commandments.
Rashi there explains that Moshe broke the tablets on his own initiative and
G-d agreed with him and praised him for it.... 
 ... I am fairly sure there is no esoteric or mystical meaning to the phrase
and it simply means what I have written above. (Coming in contact with holy
should not dull strength - the opposite is true.) The phrase could and is
used in non-holy situation as "thanks" or "well done"...."

Hershy Stauber and Moshe Rappoport quoted haza"l's statement, "Torah
mateshes kocho shel odom", and explained that the Torah can weakens us,
thus we bless the person who was called to the Torah to increase his
strength (see Sanhedrin 26b).

Rashi on Bava Matsiah 84a explains that the reason that a person who
accepted the Torah after being a strong bandit suddenly and miraculously
became weak is that "he accepted the Torah and his strength was
weakened" (ie exactly as Hersy and Moshe said). The reason I find this
so interesting is that the bandit who lost his strength was none other
than Rish Laqish - the same rabbi who used the phrase "yishar kohakha"
in a Torah context. I think that that is ironical but not at all
coincidental. Paul is correct.  Rish Laqish personally understood the
importance of the blessing "yishar kohakha".

Saul Davis
Beer-Sheva, Israel


From: <Pawshas@...> 
Date: Wed, 28 Oct 1998 14:18:44 EST
Subject: Re: The Akeidah

In a message dated 98-10-27 00:03:24 EST, Moshe Nugiel wrote:
> 	 In asking Avraham to kill Yitzchak, God is seeing whether or
>  not the previous killings had been done totally for His sake.  Avraham
>  passes his final test.  He demonstrates that his first priority is
>  service to Hashem.  In passing through this trial, Avraham grows and
>  achieves his final growth.  He learns that all human life is precious,

Your argument was compelling until this point. You showed that Avraham
was experienced in taking life for a proper motive. However, you lose me
here, for two reasons:
  1. Can anyone possibly think that Avraham would have failed such a
test, that he would have killed Yitzchak, knowing that HaShem has told
him not to?  You aren't talking about him distrusting the Malach; you
are talking about him directly breaking an order, to kill Yitzchak!
   2. Does Avraham's willingness to take human life for a Divine goal
mean that he doesn't know the value of human life? I am hard-pressed to
believe this idea.



From: Joseph Geretz <jgeretz@...>
Subject: Y'Yasher Kochacha

Paul Merling wrote:

> people give a Yesher Koach to those who get an Aliye or open the Ark
> or get Hagbe or Gilela.  my heart tells me that the custom of the
> large synagogues is not very old, and that it came out of a
> misunderstanding. ...
> I would like to be
> shown to be mistaken.  Minhag Israel is Torah and is holy.

I emphatically agree with the last statement. Especially where we find
an almost universally accepted practice among almost all congregations.
In such cases, I would rather propose an explanation (even if
unverifiable) to validate the practice rather than to invalidate the
practice as a baseless custom. As you say, Minhag B'Yisrael is holy.

We have a Sephardic Jew of Iraninan extraction who davens with us (in a
shteeble I might add). When his father is with us for Shabbos or Yom Tov
we get to witness an interesting minhag. After the son finishes his
bracha after his Aliya, the father places his hands on the son's head
and bentches him with Birchas Kohanim (although they are not Kohanim).
This custom originates from Birchas Yaakov. Just prior to Birchas
Yaakov, the Shechina left Yaakov and he was worried that he might not be
able to bentch his sons becuase perhaps one among them was not faithful.
To affirm their faith, the B'nei Yaakov recited Shema Yisrael etc. in
unison. The Shechina returned to Yaakov and he immediately bentched his
sons (see Pesachim 56a). So too, as each son affirms his faith in H-shem
and His Torah (via the Aliya process), each father bentches his son just
like Yaakov bentched his sons after they affirmed their faith in H-shem.
This custom was explained to me as being prevalent among certain
segments of the Sephardic Iranian community. Our Askenazi custom of
Y'Yasher Kochacha (which is also a blessing) could be explained as being
rooted in the same custom.

Another way this could be explained is similar to the Y'Yasher Kochacha
which is extended to the Shliach Tzibbur as a simple courtesy toward one
who has extended an effort on behalf of the Tzibbur. Just like the
Shliach Tzibbur leads the congregation so too, one who is Oleh, leads
the congregation in Borchu, and obviously, the one who opens the Aron,
or raises the Torah (Hagba) or wraps the Torah (G'lila) has exerted
himself on behalf of the congregation and certainly deserves the
blessing of Y'Yasher Kochacha.

A third way in which this could be explained is with the principle that
Torah weakens a person physically. (I forget the location of the Gemara
but this is mentioned in connection with Reish Lakish's commitment to a
life of learning. Immediately his strength became weakened.) Therefore,
after someone exerts himself on behalf of the Torah (e.g. Aliya, Psicha,
Hagba, Glila) we wish them YeYasher Kochacha, may your strength

Based on these three explanations, I don't think we need to link the
Y'Yasher Kochacha response to the Mi Shebeirach and there is certainly
reason to extend the Y'Yasher Kochacha even to one who has not made a Mi

Although I cannot document these explanations as being authoritative, I
think there is enough rational explanation to validate the custom of
Y'Yasher Kochacha as a legitimate Minhag BeYisrael.

YeYasher Kochacha!

Yossi Geretz


From: David Jutkowitz <etzdavid@...>
Date: Wed, 28 Oct 1998 18:45:21 +0200
Subject: Re: Yeshar Chochaco

Saul Davis writes

> I know of only one classical source for the phrase and that is in
> Gemorah Bava Bathra 14b. There Rish Lakish explains the phrase verse in
> Devarim 10:2, "that you broke", to mean that Hkb"h (= G-d) insinuates to
> Moshe "yishar kohakha" that you broke the tablets of the Ten
> Commandments.

A quick check with "Project Ha'Shut" reveals three additional uses of
the phrase "yasher chochaco" 1. Yevamot 122b. 2. Shemot Rabah (Parsha
1). 3. Shemot Rabah (Parsha 20)

David Jutkowitz


From: Zvi Weiss <weissz@...>
Date: Wed, 28 Oct 1998 10:26:54 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Re: Yesher Koach

 I believe that "Yesher Koach" is actually a contraction of "Yeyasher
Kochacha".  The Gemara notes that "Torah Mateshes Kocha shel Adam" --
the Torah "weakens" one (as soon as the "Strong" Resh Lakish agreed to
dedicate himself to Torah, the gemara states that he becamse
significantly weaker).  Therefore, since one has just gotten an Aliyah
and "been involved with" Torah.  The well-wisher states that this person
should "get his strength back".
 The full sephardic "drill" is that the well-wisher states "Chazak Baruch
Tihyeh" and the other fellow responds "Chazak Ve'ematz".



From: <Pawshas@...>
Date: Wed, 28 Oct 1998 14:26:25 EST
Subject: Re: Yishar Kohakho

An alternate reading is Yud-Yud-Shin-Reish, which is the one that
appears in numerous locations in Gemara. I believe it is actually
"Yiyasher," as it is in Mishlei 3:5, implying to be straightened.  I
agree with you on the implications of the words. A more common form from
the Gemara itself was a simply "Yeyasher," appearing in several
places. The one that springs to mind is a Talmudic compliment,
"Yeyasher, veChein Amar R' Yochanan." "Congratualations (to use the
vernacular), and R' Yochanan said this, too."



End of Volume 28 Issue 7