Volume 28 Number 46
                 Produced: Mon Feb  8 23:10:42 US/Eastern 1999

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Ancestors converted? (2)
         [Rachel Rosencrantz, Chaim Mateh]
Forgiveness in Judaism (2)
         [<Phyllostac@...>, Bill Page]
My Hebrew Dictionary on the Internet
         [Jacob Richman]
Response to Intermarriage (3)
         [Jeanette Friedman, Steven White, Susan Chambre]
Schar Battala
         [Ezriel Krumbein]
Teaching Hebrew to kids
         [Louise Miller]


From: Rachel Rosencrantz <rachelr@...>
Date: Sat, 06 Feb 1999 23:48:49 -0500
Subject: Re: Ancestors converted?

>I only recently learned my mother was Jewish. Her name was Pohlner. Her
>family came from central Europe. She told us just before she died so I
>am currently getting details about her mother's family. (The family know
>nothing about them.)
>When I sought advice to find out if I am Jewish, I was asked if any of
>my mother's family were Christians. Would it make any difference to my
>Jewishness if some converted, say my maternal grandmother or

As long as the matrilinial descent is all Jewish (your mother's mother's
mothers ...etc) then you are Jewish.  Conversion to some religion other
than Judaism does not make a Jew a non-Jew.  Therefore it doesn't matter
if somewhere back there someone converted to some other religion.

A link with more on this can be found at:

(This is actually part way into an online copy of a book on "Who is a Jew"
by Rabbi 
Jacob Immanuel Schochet.)


From: Chaim Mateh <chaimm@...>
Date: Mon, 08 Feb 1999 17:34:47 +0200
Subject: Re: Ancestors converted?

Bill Handley wrote: 
<<When I sought advice to find out if I am Jewish, I was asked if any of my
mother's family were Christians. Would it make any difference to my
Jewishness if some converted, say my maternal grandmother or

It wouldn't make any difference if any of them converted _out_ (from
Judaism to Xtianity), since in essence a Jew can _never_ become a non Jew,
no matter what he does.

I think the issue here is whether your mother's _mother_ was also Jewish.
There are Jews today who think that if their mother is gentile and their
father is Jewish, that they too are Jewish.  This is contrary to Jewish
Law.  The lineage goes through the mother and _only_ through the mother.
What might have happened was that your mother's father was Jewish but her
mother was not, so that she _thought_ she was Jewish because she was told
so, etc, but wasn't.  I would recommend that you consult an Orthodox Rabbi,
and/or perhaps an organization that has experience, such as Ohr Someach or
Aish Hatorah?

Lots of luck in your search for your new found roots and identity!
Kol Tuv,


From: <Phyllostac@...>
Date: Sun, 7 Feb 1999 23:39:46 EST
Subject: Forgiveness in Judaism

I believe that the 'Ribbono shel olam' printed in siddurim before/as
part of krias Shma al hamita is of recent vintage,possibly of hassidic
origin. I stopped saying it,for several reasons,some of which are- 1)one
is not obligated and perhaps it's not wise to unilaterally and
automatically be 'mochel' everyone who has sinned against you every
night-this is perhaps something that great people might do-but I
question prescribing this for all-if people know that they will receive
forgiveness automatically,they might not hesitate to do things that are
injurious to others- 2)it refers to reincarnation,which is rejected by
classical authorities such as Rav Saadia Gaon,as well as by contemporary
authorities such as Rav Aharon Soloveitchik (based on Rav Saadia)-3)If
one is mochel everyone,every night,why do the gemara and shulchan oruch
tell people to appease people they sinned against before Yom Kippur-why
is that necessary?  Also-I feel that too many prayers have been added
over the years to the siddur and 'kol hamosif gorea' (one who
adds,subtracts)-giving people more to say (esp without giving them more
time to do so in) usually adds up to less kavannah (or none?).


From: Bill Page <page@...>
Date: Sun, 07 Feb 1999 10:23:12 -0500
Subject: Re: Forgiveness in Judaism

>  Robert Werman  wrote:
> I wonder if you have ever dealt with the concept of forgiveness in
> Jewish thought.  There appears to be a new layer of thought that seems
> utterly Xian to me, saying, for instance, that King David [Kings I 2]
> really loved Yoav, etc. and meant for Shelomo, by punishing him, to save
> him from punishment in the olam haBo.
> Forgiveness, both seliha and mehila, are God-like attributes and we are
> commanded -- within reason -- to practice these qualities.  We find it
> appearing in tefilla, for example in the introduction to the keriyat
> shema before going to sleep.  My impression is that this is relatively
> recent in origin; am I wrong?

I agree that the blanket forgiveness (without being asked) of "anyone
who angered or antagonized me or sinned against me" in the introduction
to the bedtime shema is unusual (perhaps unique) in tefilla.  I'm not
sure of the origin of this passage--it's not in some of my older
siddurim.  The Artscroll siddur links the passage to Mishnah Berurah
239:1:9, which states that is meritorious to forgive and the reward for
doing so is long life.  I would not say, however, that even this prayer
expresses anything like the xtian doctrine of "turning the other cheek,"
i.e., forgiving an attacker, and welcoming a further attack.  The
tehillim are filled with pleas that Hashem thwart and punish our
enemies.  And in the concluding prayer following the amidah asks Hashem
to nullify the schemes of those who plot evil against us.  I infer that
it is meritorious to forgive past wrongs, but not ongoing ones.

Bill Page


From: Jacob Richman <jrichman@...>
Date: Sun, 7 Feb 1999 17:40:09 +0200
Subject: My Hebrew Dictionary on the Internet

My Hebrew Dictionary on the Internet

My Hebrew Dictionary is a new English - Hebrew dictionary that
is accessible from all over the world, for free, via the Internet.
The dictionary includes groups of words ranging from fruit and
vegetables to basketball. The computer word list has over 400 
terms including Internet concepts and words.
The address of the site is:

Shavua Tov,
Jacob Richman


From: <FriedmanJ@...> (Jeanette Friedman)
Date: Sun, 7 Feb 1999 11:19:44 EST
Subject: Re: Response to Intermarriage

<<  Did the person rebel?  When we face these terrible
 situations, we must ask ourselves why?  What could we have done
 differently in the past in order not to give off the wrong impression of
 the way I live my life?  What should I do differently in the future to
 make sure that it does not happen again?  Do I look down upon those who
 do not keep halacha the way I keep it?  Do I scorn those who do not keep
 it at all?  Is my house closed to them because they might be a bad
 influence on my family? >>

Kol Hakavod. These are questions I have been asking for a long long time. I
have never gotten good answers, but I hope that things will change if we keep
asking the questions over and over again and teach them to our children and
grandchildren. That's the only way things will change. I will be asking these
questions at the Edah conference, a conference that is taking a step in the
right direction....

Jeanette Friedman

From: <StevenJ81@...> (Steven White)
Date: Mon, 8 Feb 1999 15:09:04 EST
Subject: Re: Response to Intermarriage

In #44, Elanit Rothschild writes:

> The letter of the law might dictate to us that we are not allowed to
>  attend these weddings because of the symolism of the whole occasion.
>  But each individual case deserves individual attention by the certain
>  Rav that can give an answer based on the letter of the law AND the
>  spirit of the law, depending on each situation.  But, in the long run,
>  it is not the gift that matters or the way in which you formally address
>  the couple - what really matters is the way you treat them and others.
>  In these situations, it is the "bein adam l'chavero" that matters the
>  most - and those are REAL important.  One action will have an effect on
>  hundreds of people and on hundreds of lives - which, at the end, will
>  have an effect on the future of all of Klal Yisrael.

I agree 100%; a hearty yasher koach (or whatever (;-) ).

This also ties into a subject that I feel strongly about, which is the
indiscriminate use of written sh'ailot and teshuvot (questions and
answers) instead of personalized p'sak halacha.  Written teshuvot must
necessarily be limited to strict cases, because one is always (in the
short term) safe being strict.  Poskim must be very careful about the
possibility of publishing lenient cases, lest they be used

That having been said, I hear a lot about the prohibition against going
into Conservative or Reform shuls, etc., often based on Rav
Solveitchik's prohibition that one cannot even enter to hear the shofar.
I am in absolutely no position whatsoever to judge the breadth of this
psak, or chas v'shalom to question the Rav whatsoever.  However, does
anyone really know that he *never* ruled leniently in this matter,
especially at times other than for basic tefillot, where mixed seating
may not be a manadatory issue?  Those of us with non-frum families have
to deal with this all the time, and those of you who would counsel us to
be strict ought to live a year in our shoes first.

Steven White

From: <Smchambre@...> (Susan Chambre)
Date: Sun, 7 Feb 1999 21:26:33 EST
Subject: Response to Intermarriage

Elanit Rothschild's passioned comments about dealing with intermarried
relatives has a point but I would like to briefly share from my own

I faced the dilemma of what to do about attending a relative's wedding and
sought the counsel of my LOR at that time. He suggested that I tell my cousin
that I didn't approve of what she was doing but that I did care about her and
would attend the dinner but not the ceremony.This mixed message may in fact
have been worse than staying away.

The schedule was delayed and we arrived in the middle of a ceremony with a
Cantor and a christian clergyman. We  had no where to go so we uncomfortably
stood in the back of the room. We sat at the dinner and ate nothing but a
salad since there was no food for us despite the fact that we'd requested it. 

We have not had anything to do with this couple since the day they married. I
gave my cousin a gift, and don't think I ever got a thank you note. My cousin
and her husband were invited to two of our simchas and they never came (of
course they lived too far away). They turned us down without congratulationing

Despite an attempt to equivocate and try to be tolerant and pluralistic, we
have no contact with this intermarried couple.

So, to me the moral of the story is that it's hard to bluff these things. When
one disapproves of intermarriage --- which to me is rather impossible if
you're Orthodox --  that fact is apparent whether or not one says it and
whether or not one tries to finesse it.  

Susan Chambre


From: Ezriel Krumbein <ezsurf@...>
Date: Sun, 07 Feb 1999 21:11:42 -0800
Subject: Schar Battala

> From: Russell Hendel <rhendel@...>
> Subject: Rabbis, Contracts, Doctors, Scar Battala
> So these two questions still stand: a) what is the definition of
> "minimum wage" and b) why can a Rabbi take a standing contract to
> receive "money for being idle" If anyone has ideas it would be
> appreciated.

First to answer question a) I do not think that scar battala is minimum
wage.  see Choshen Mishpat 265 with reguard to lost time due taking care
of a lost item. There it seems the definition is how much would a person
be willing to earn less to not have to go to work.  This is based on
their current salary.  There is also a question if they are entitled to
collect payment for the effort of handling the lost item.  Interestingly
there is a caviat that the rescuer may make a deal with the owner that
he will only handle the lost item if he gets his full pay.

Also see Choshen Mishpat 420 15-17 where a case of damages is discussed.
The definition of scar battala there is also based on the persons
profession.  If they are a skilled highly paid woirker then the damage
payment will be greater.

As to the true definition of minimum wage; I believe the gemara
formulates it as the payment for one who is watching a field. 
this job has the least skill therefore the lowest salary.  See Baba Kama
83b and 85b.

As to question b) see the Kesef Mishna Hilchos on Talmud Torah Chapter 3
Law 10; also see Igros Moshe YD2 116 and YD3 82.  Rav Moshe based on the
summary I am reading says the ability for a Dayan to be paid is based on
'Eis lasos LHashem'.  There is a good summary of the sources in Shaarei
Talmud Torah by Yehuda Levi pages 253-260.

However based on the answer to question a it would seem that a Rabbi can
enter into an agreement to take more than allowed based on the
willingness of the congregation to pay. Also, the prohibition, is I
believe is based on paying for Torah today's Rabbi spends alot of time
as a social worker, an organizer and a fund raiser etc.  Payment for all
of these extra activities should not fall in the prohibition of taking
money for Talmud Torah.

Kol Tov 


From: Louise Miller <daniel@...>
Date: Mon, 8 Feb 1999 16:00:07 -0800
Subject: Teaching Hebrew to kids

I'm a first-time kindergarten parent, and I'm watching my son trying
to learn to read for the first time.  Besides the obvious difficulties
in learning English left-to-right, and Hebrew right-to-left, I've noticed
a big difference in the way I was taught and the way he's being taught.

When I was a kid, we were taught a letter or two, and then all the vowels.
I've taught Hebrew to kids his age, and to adults in the wonderful National
Jewish Outreach courses, and we always did vowels right away!

He's being taught all the letters, and they will not start vowels until
they know their letters cold.  For the record, he is a native English speaker
and knows little Hebrew besides some memorized brachot and tfila, and what
they've done in school.

(I also was not taught to read in ANY language until I was in 1st grade,
but that's a different day's discussion.)

Do all schools do this now, and does it make a difference?

Any kindergarten teachers/parents out there who can enlighten me?

Thanks in advance,
hshM's ymmoM

PS He mirror writes bi-lingually, too.  Took me a minute to figure out why
he wrote "Hashem" at the top of all his Hebrew papers...


End of Volume 28 Issue 46