Volume 28 Number 52
                 Produced: Fri Feb 19  6:22:48 US/Eastern 1999

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Automatic Flushing Toilets & Shabbat
         [Michael Poppers]
Custom of not studying Torah on Christmas (7)
         [Eli Turkel, Joel Rich, Sheldon Meth, Joshua Hoffman, Israel
Pickholtz, Danny Skaist, A.E.Resnicoff]
Learning to read Hebrew (2)
         [Saul Mashbaum, Chaim Wasserman]
Making Kiddush on Friday Night between 6 and 7
         [Alexander Heppenheimer]
Meaning of Emunah
         [Jay Bailey]
New Email LIst--Rashi Is Simple--Defends all Rashis
         [Russell Hendel]
shir shel yom
         [Joshua Hosseinof]
Whose Enemy?
         [Ezriel Krumbein]


From: Michael Poppers <MPoppers@...>
Date: Thu, 18 Feb 1999 12:28:36 -0500
Subject: Re: Automatic Flushing Toilets & Shabbat

David Kramer wrote:
> If it wasn't for the need to initially break the beam to start the
process (and start a pulsing LED light) I would assume that the flushing
is not a direct result of an action but a Grama--the fact you are no
longer in the beam. <

If you're correct in that some forbidden action occurs when you move to
a urinating position (or when you leave the urinal), and if that action
always occurs when you do so, I would think you couldn't do so under the
axiom of "p'sik raishai" ("if you cut off a chicken's head, will it not
die?").  The same methodology would apply to an automatic sink.

Michael Poppers * Elizabeth, NJ


From: Eli Turkel <turkel@...>
Date: Thu, 18 Feb 1999 13:40:46 +0200 ("IST)
Subject: Custom of not studying Torah on Christmas

Rav Soloveitchik used to say that he is willing to see the Hell he gets
for learning Xmas eve and the heaven someone else gets for playing cards

Eli Turkel

From: Joel Rich <Joelirich@...>
Date: Thu, 18 Feb 1999 08:17:12 EST
Subject: Re: Custom of not studying Torah on Christmas

[A slightly different explanation might be: Mod.] That being seen
congregating in groups on that night might be mistaken as support for
the 'holiday' 

Kol Tuv
Joel Rich

PS ask your LOR but my guess is that its not necessary to be strict and not
learn on that date!

From: Sheldon Meth <SHELDON.Z.METH@...>
Date: Thu, 18 Feb 1999 09:35:53 -0500
Subject: RE: Custom of not studying Torah on Christmas

I once heard it said by an Adom Godol that only those who learn Torah every
single night have the right to refrain from learning Torah on Nittel Nacht.

From: Joshua Hoffman <JoshHoff@...>
Date: Thu, 18 Feb 1999 11:11:01 EST
Subject: Re: Custom of not studying Torah on Christmas

Rabbi Yissochor Frand has a tape on the reasons behinfd the custom of
not learning on Christmas eve, based mostly on an article in Moriah
journal. There is also an unpublished article by Marc Shapiro which
presents an exhaustive, well-documented study of the topic. Shapiro
argues at length against the theory that the custom is based on fear of
atack by anti-Semites, and concludes that the custom is based on
kabbalistic reasons. Rabbi Altusky of Torah Ohr, in a tape from his
Tenach series, connects the two approaches. He says that people were
told by rabbonim not to go to the Beis Hamidrash that night,to avoid
being beaten by drunken Christians. However, because the rabbonim felt
that people would brave that possibility because of their overriding
love for Torah, they gave them kabbalistic reasons for abstaining from

From: Israel Pickholtz <p2o5rock@...>
Date: Thu, 18 Feb 1999 22:01:36 +0200
Subject: Custom of not studying Torah on Christmas

On 18 Feb 99, at 11:34, <mljewish@...> wrote:

> Since the person whose birthday is celebrated that night was Jewish,
> and Torah sources teach us that one's soul-root is strongest on his or her

but its his Gregorian birthday, not his real birthday!

Israel Pickholtz

From: Danny Skaist <danny@...>
Date: Thu, 18 Feb 1999 14:41:00 +0200
Subject: Custom of not studying Torah on Christmas

Most people gave 2 reasons for not learning on xmas.
One being the danger and the second being zchus.  I was taught that the real
reason is in fact danger with the second reason being given to preclude
mesirat nefesh, since people were willing to risk danger for learning.

Nitle is defined as a yiddish acronom for "nisht tor lernen"  "not allowed
to learn.


From: A.E.Resnicoff <Resnicoff@...>
Date: Thu, 18 Feb 1999 06:09:23 EST
Subject: Custom of not studying Torah on Christmas

This custom was explained to me in terms of avoiding the possibility
that we were studying in honor of Jesus' birth.  The Professor who
explained the custom said that it is nice to know that, no matter how
far away from tradition a Jew might be, it is likely that he or she at
least observes this one Jewish custom!



From: Saul Mashbaum <mshalom@...>
Date: Thu, 18 Feb 1999 17:25:46 -1300
Subject: Learning to read Hebrew

Here in Israel my kids were taught to read Hebrew the way Louise Miller
described her son's being taught; they learned all the letters (in
kindergarden), and then the vowels and reading itself (in first grade).

The system works very nicely, as far as I can see, for native Hebrew
speakers; my first grader Chagit can now read just about any vowelled
text.  I don't know if there is a reason to teach Hebrew as a second
language differently.

Saul Mashbaum

From: Chaim Wasserman <Chaimwass@...>
Date: Thu, 18 Feb 1999 09:09:03 EST
Subject: Re: Learning to read Hebrew

<< The one thing that I  think is much better, is to teach the Alef Bet in
correct order. In that way you do not have to learn the order of the Alef -Bet
as a separate task. >>

While knowing the alphabet of any language in its correct order is basic
to language acquisition, grouping the letters according to similar
sounds or shapes is clearly a pedagogic plus in allowing the student
quicker acquisition.

To make chareidi pedagogic techniques into a "Torah" smacks of a lack of
sophistication. There is so so much which traditional Torah education
does which, if changed, could save the student much time and much

chaim wasserman 


From: Alexander Heppenheimer <Alexander_Heppenheimer@...>
Date: Tue, 16 Feb 1999 21:59:44 -0800
Subject: Re: Making Kiddush on Friday Night between 6 and 7

Steve Albert <SAlbert@...> wrote:
>Does anyone know the answer
>to this related question: Why does our local time matter?  Specifically,
>does one planet rule over the entire world for an hour, or does each
>rule over 1/24 rotating across the planet?  What about daylight savings
>time, etc. -- it doesn't seem to make sense that the mazolos would be
>affected by legislation here determining time zones and the period for
>daylight savings time -- so why does local clock time matter?

There was a discussion of this on MJ some time ago, in connection with
the determination of the molad, if my memory serves me well. So I'll
engage in a bit of self-plagiarism:

It's not the (arbitrarily determined) local time that matters for
purposes of Kiddush; what matters is local _solar_ time. In other words,
"noon" for this purpose (and, according to R' Moshe Feinstein zt"l, for
other halachic purposes as well) is when the sun crosses the local
meridian. In New York City, this is at 11:56 on the clock (12:56 when
Daylight Savings Time is in effect); in Atlanta, where I live, it's
12:38 (or 1:38); etc.

To find out the correction term for a particular location:

1. Find its longitude and the longitude according to which its time zone is
set (for example, the longitude of Jerusalem is about 35.25 degrees east of
Greenwich, and its time zone is centered on 30 East). Note: Consider
longitudes west of Greenwich as negative;
2. Subtract the first figure from the second (30 - 35.25 = -5.25) - the
result may be either positive or negative;
3. Multiply this by 4 (-5.25 x 4 = -21);
4. Add this number of minutes to 12:00 (12:00 + -21 minutes = 11:39), and
that's the local standard time of local solar noon.

For purposes of Kiddush, then, "6 to 7" is measured from local solar
noon, and, as Rachel Rosencrantz pointed out, in 60-minute hours. So in
New York, for example, it's 5:56 to 6:56 (or 6:56 to 7:56 during the

Kol tuv,


From: Jay Bailey <j@...>
Date: Thu, 18 Feb 1999 12:52:50 +0200
Subject: Re: Meaning of Emunah

David Charlap writes:
"I've always worked under the understanding that "emunah" is a faith that
is grounded in experience...(snip)...We, as Jews, have emuna in God 
because He has proven His ability and desire to sustain us over the 
past millennia, not simply because of a gut feeling or another 
person's say-so."

There's a serious problem with that thinking; if experience was our
basis for emunah you'd have a hard time telling a Holocaust survivor
that he ought to "have faith" and it would be tough to translate
Rambam's statement about believing in the coming of Moshiach, as he
hasn't shown up yet.

This isn't a semantic issue; faith in God has to begin with a
relationship with all that entails, not simply a track record. I'm not
going to get into a thesis on the nature of belief in God but it
certainly has to be rooted in more than experience.

Jay Bailey
Production Manager, The Jerusalem Post
telephone  [972] 2/531-5632 - fax  [972] 2/538-4437
cellular  053/808-577


From: Russell Hendel <rhendel@...>
Subject: New Email LIst--Rashi Is Simple--Defends all Rashis

A new email group, Rashi-Is-Simple, was recently started. Its goal is to
present logical derivations of all 8000 Rashis on Chumash. It defends
each Rashi with principles which can be justified by lists of comparable

The URL for the web site is: HTTP://WWW.SHAMASH.ORG/RASHI/INDEX.HTM.
Some sample defenses are presented below. You can subscribe by writing
the moderator (Myself, <RHendel@...>) or subscribing from the
website or applying thru Shamash. Here are some sample Rashis:

1) Why is Ex 13:5 interpreted as the so called WICKED SON? Because
unlike the others of the 4 SONS, Ex 13:5 "SAYS" his question (ie
satirically) vs ASKING it. Furthermore Ex 13:5 is the question of a
teenage GANG vs that of an INDIVIDUAL

2) Why do Chazal say that Jacob instituted MAARIV (From Gen 28:11)?
Because the verse explicitly states: ...And he PRAYED (PGH) to

3) CHAYIL means SKILLED not STRONG. The WOMAN of VALOR should really be
translated as the SKILLED WIFE (Gen 47:6)

4) Why were Chazal so sure that Reuven did not sleep with Bilhah (Gen
35:22) But rather they say he interchanged Bilhah and Leah's beds?
Because it explicitly says in another verse: ..." Because you played
with your father's bedS".

5) TzTzNeTH = THERMOS (Ex 16:13). A doubly (Tzn Tzn) insulated
(Tnh=Cold) jug.

Russell Jay Hendel; Phd ASA <RHendel@...>
Adjunct Associate Professor of Mathematics and Computer Science
Moderator, Rashi-is-simple


From: Joshua Hosseinof <hosseino@...>
Date: Thu, 18 Feb 1999 12:52:21 -0500 (EST)
Subject: re: shir shel yom

Actually, the Sefardi (Eidot Hamizrach) nusach has a special shir shel yom
for every major and minor holiday, and fast days and a few others.
Briefly, the list is:
Day after Yom Kippur: Tehillim 85
Tzom Gedalya and 10 tevet: Tehillim 83
Chanukah : Tehillim 30  (Mizmor Shir Chanukat Habayit Ledavid)
Purim and Fast of Esther: Tehillim 22
17th Tamuz: Tehillim 79
Tisha Be'av: Al Naharot Bavel (The Machzor doesn't list the number)
House of an Avel: Tehillim 49
Pesach: Tehillim 107
Shavuot: Tehillim 88
Rosh Hashannah: Tehillim 81  (The same one as every Thursday)
Yom Kippur: Tehillim 17, 25, 32, 51, 65, 85, 86, 102, 103, 104
Succot: Tehillim 42 and 43
Shmini Atzeret: Tehillim 12
Rosh Chodesh: Tehillim 104 (Barchi Nafshi)

The non-Yom Tov ones are said immediately after the regular shir shel yom 
at the end of Shacharit.
The ones that are Yom Tov are said both before Arvit and in Shacharit
immediately after Tehillim 91 (Yoshev B'Seter Elyon).
Interestingly, the Sephardi nusach does not have Shir shel yom on shabbat
at the end of Musaf.  The "Mizmor Shir l'yom Hashabbat" is only said
immediately after Baruch She'amar (and also friday night in Kabalat
The ones for Yom Kippur are only said in Shacharit and not before Arvit.
It's difficult to say that they constitute the "shir shel yom" for Yom
Kippur.  My Machazor cites a sefer called Aholei Aharon p. 78 as a source
for saying these particular tehillim on Yom Kippur.  
For an explanation of why all the other tehillim were chosen for their
respective days, look in Keter Shem Tov vol. 1, pp. 98-100


From: Ezriel Krumbein <ezsurf@...>
Subject: Whose Enemy?

Is anyone familiar with the source in nusach Ashkenaz for using either
oyvecha or oyvei amcha in the breacha of lamalshinim?  Is seems that it
may be borrowed from nusha sefard.

Kol Tov


End of Volume 28 Issue 52