Volume 28 Number 81
                 Produced: Thu Jun 17  9:07:56 US/Eastern 1999

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

         [Avi Feldblum]
2 days yom kippur
         [Joseph Tabory]
Directions of Prayer
         [Abe Brot]
Lengths of Shema and Shemoneh Esrei
         [Alexander Heppenheimer]
         [Seth Kadish]
Pointing to Torah during Hagbah
         [Eliezer Finkelman]
Praying in English
         [Yehuda Poch]
Smason Kosher Cheese from Denmark
         [Rose Landowne]
Speed of davening
         [Moshe Feldman]
Zohar and Halachic Practice
         [h zabari]
Zohar on Tefilin during Chol Hamoed
         [Isaac A Zlochower]


From: Avi Feldblum <mljewish@...>
Date: Thu, 17 Jun 1999 07:43:55 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Administrivia

Hello All,

It looks like I have gotton back into the swing of getting out mail-jewish
on a regular basis, and along with that many of you have gotten fully
engaged in sending material to mail-jewish. Based on prior history, it is
my experience that the point where we start to get serious overload and
people start dropping off the list is at about 15-20 issues per week (e.g. 
about 2-3 issues per day). I'm currently at the 10-15 issues per week
rate, and there are about 10 issues of submitted material in hand. I do
not want to discourage anyone from submitting material, but I will start
excersizing some additional editorial actions to start declining some
material even though it complies with the list submission rules when I
think that either it does not add much above what other posters have
already submitted, I think it is of marginal interest to the list, or may
be too wordy for the amount of information that is delivered. Similar to
past direction, I will usually try and include as many of the short
postings as possible, but I also strongly support the well written and
well informed longer postings, which I think help educate many of us on
diverse topics. 

I am also going to try and make sure I let people know when mail-jewish
will not be going out for a few days (usually due to my being on the road) 
so that you will know that if you stop getting mail-jewish, it likely is
due to some problem with delivery to you. I am aggresively trying to rid
the list of bouncing addresses, and it has been my experience that
sometimes when people change addresses, the old address may work for a
while and forward mail to you while also sending an error message back to
me. My general rule is that I try to contact a bouncing address at least
twice seperated by two days before deleting an address. That gives 4-6
days for a machine to come back up if there was a temporary disruption at
the machine. 

I will be moving from vol 28 to vol 29 in about 20 issues, so I will
resend out the welcome message to everyone then, which also contains the
mail-jewish rules of the road. In the meantime, thanks to all of you who
have welcomed me back to the world of Jewish email!

By the way, is there any mail-jewish reader who lives in Edinburgh,

Avi Feldblum
mail-jewish Moderator


From: Joseph Tabory <taborj@...>
Date: Sun, 13 Jun 1999 18:28:19 -0400
Subject: Re: 2 days yom kippur

The historical evidence for two days yom kippur may be found in my book:
Mo'adei Yisrael bitkufat ha-mishnah ve-hatalmud with a reference to
medieval customs and the Shanghai question on page 282, n. 94. Actually,
the question was not about Shanghai but about the Jews in Japan because the
Hazon Ish claimed that the halakhic international date line ran between
China and Japan while most poskim agreed that it was to the east of Japan,
close to the accepted International date line.


From: Abe Brot <abrot@...>
Date: Wed, 16 Jun 1999 21:39:07 +0200
Subject: Directions of Prayer

If one REALLY wants to pray in the direction of Yerushalaim, there is only one choice -- praying in the "great-circle" dirction between you and Yerushalaim, as was suggested by Yossie Geretz.  If you take out your globe, put one finger on New York,  the other on Yerushalaim, and stretch a string between your fingers.  The line actually goes NORTH of EAST (just like El-Al flies). If you wanted to build a direct route to Yerushalaim and built a tunnel through the earth, the direction would also be NORTH of EAST.  In fact, the great-circle route would always be directly above the tunnel.

This idea takes some getting used to.  In Seattle and LA, the direction of prayer should be nearly due north !!  (Take out your globe again and check it out). Likewise in Honolulu it should be north.

Abe Brot
Petah Tikva


From: Alexander Heppenheimer <Alexander.Heppenheimer@...>
Date: Mon, 14 Jun 1999 10:28:59 -0600
Subject: Lengths of Shema and Shemoneh Esrei

> Zev Sero wrote: 
>* If Sh'ma has 620 words, then at a rate of 2.1 words per sec it should
>  take 300 seconds, or 5 minutes.
>* In which siddur does Sh'ma have 1.5 times as many words as Sh'moneh

Actually, Shema itself, without the berachos, has 248 words (really 245,
but that's why you're supposed to hear the chazzan say "Hashem
Elokeichem Emes"), corresponding to the number of positive mitzvos;
perhaps you were thinking of the 620 letters in the Ten Commandments,
corresponding to the 613 mitzvos plus the 7 Rabbinical mitzvos.

I counted the number of words in Shema, from Yotzer Ohr to Ga'al
Yisrael, using both the Tehillas Hashem (Chabad) siddur - because that's
the one from which I daven - and the text of the Rambam (using the
Mechon Mamre online edition), end of Sefer Ahavah. I count 942 words in
Tehillas Hashem, and 891 words according to the Rambam's version; at a
rate of 2.1 wps, these would take, respectively, 7'28" and 7'4".

It's of course possible that the Rambam's figure of six minutes is not
meant to be exact - in fact, the expression he uses is "about one-tenth
of an hour," which would surely allow for an extra minute. On the other
hand, if it is exact, then that would require a rate of about 2.5 wps -
contrary to Russell Hendel's assertion.

As for Shemoneh Esrei: I count 626 words in Tehillas Hashem, 563 in the
Rambam (assuming it's the winter) - and each of these is indeed roughly
2/3 the number of words in that version's Shema. (I'm guessing that the
reason why this seems so contrary to common sense is that Shemoneh Esrei
does take up far more space in the siddur, because of all of the
additions for special occasions, plus Kedushah and Modim DeRabbanan.)
The length of time for Shemoneh Esrei, using the 2.1 wps figure, would
be 4'58" or 4'28" respectively; using the higher figure of 2.5 wps, the
respective times would be 4'10" and 3'45".


From: Seth Kadish <skadish@...>
Date: Tue, 15 Jun 1999 21:52:54 +0300
Subject: Pinkies

Rick Turkel wrote:
>	When I lived in Beit Hakerem (Jerusalem) some thirty years ago,
>we would occasionally daven at the Yemenite shul in the neighborhood.
>There, _everyone_ (women included) would extend their right pinkies
>toward the sefer torah when it was raised for hagbaha after the leyning
>(torah reading).  Back then, that was the only place I ever saw this
>practice, so I find it somewhat amusing that so many American Jews have
>become Teymanim (Yemenites) over the past thirty years.  :-) 

Is it possible there is some confusion here?  From what I've seen, Temanim,
like sefaradim, do hagba *before* keriat ha-Torah.  And temanim don't
actually raise the sefer, but lift out some of the parchment from the case
with a cloth.

We've always had the impression that sefaradim imported the pinkie pointing
from Ashkenazim, and not vice-versa.  We haven't seen many temanim do this.

BTW we've seen this "pinkie" question discussed on other mailing lists too,
and I don't think anyone was able to really figure out where it comes from!

Seth & Sheri Kadish
Karmiel, Israel


From: Eliezer Finkelman <Finkelmans@...>
Date: Mon, 14 Jun 1999 20:16:02 EDT
Subject: Re: Pointing to Torah during Hagbah

Rick Turkel gives a Yemenite source for the custom of pointing at the Sefer 
Torah when a congregant holds it aloft.   This seems sound to me.  His 
explanation for why the custom has spread from the Yemenites (and perhaps 
other Mizrahi Jews) to the Ashkenzim, "it's a nice custom," also seems 
convincing.  I think it looks pretty.  And it follows the logic of "Vzot 
HaTorah" = THIS is the Torah.  Our rabbis loved to identify the person who 
does the pointing whenever we have the word Zeh or Zot.  I enjoy watching 
many people in our largely Ashkenazic shul follow this elegant custom, except 
for one person.  When the person assigned to Gelilah stands at a distance, 
holding one hand towards the Torah, I wish that he would instead stand right 
next to the Torah, with both hands extended around it, "spotting" to make 
sure that the sacred scroll does not get dropped.

Eliezer Finkelman


From: Yehuda Poch <yehudap@...>
Date: Tue, 15 Jun 1999 16:43:12 +0300
Subject: Re: Praying in English

I can't remember the exact citation, but when I was in Chofetz Chaim eleven
years ago, my chavrusa brought to my attention the sefer "On Wings of
Prayer" written in English.  That sefer states the opinion that if one does
not understand Hebrew, prayer SHOULD (not CAN) be done in one's native tongue.

Yehuda Poch


From: Rose Landowne <ROSELANDOW@...>
Date: Tue, 15 Jun 1999 08:26:57 EDT
Subject: Re: Smason Kosher Cheese from Denmark

To add to the original question a more specific one: We have available
here a "kosher" cheese (Brie or Camembert) from Denmark, but the
hechsher specifies that it was made from unsupervised milk.  (I think
the company is Samson, if anyone happens to know of them.)  Does anyone
know anything about govenment regulation of milk in Denmark?
Steve Albert >>

I know Herman Samson here in New York, who is related to the Samson cheese 
family in Denmark. Specifically, what should I ask him?
Rose Landowne


From: Moshe Feldman <moshefeldman@...>
Date: 15 Jun 99 15:53:00 EDT
Subject: Speed of davening

Russel Hendel wrote:
<< As to the SPEED of
davening many people are suprised to learn that there have been business
studies on the idea rate at which to speak when making a business
presentation. The ideal speed is 2.1 words a second; using the number of
words in Shma you get 6 minutes for Shma the exact speed suggested by
the Rambam in Shma 1:11. Thus the primary part of davening---Shma and
Shmoneh Esray---should ideally take 10 minutes (not a difficult task).>>

The question is why the speed of business presentations should have any
relevance to the speed of davening.  The purpose of speaking slowly at
such presentations is to ensure that the *listener* is able to digest
the information.  However, God understands us at all speeds.  I would
think that speed of davening should be geared to the one davening--how
can that person have the best kavannah and also not mispronounce words.

Some people are able to think quickly.  In "Nefesh HaRav" Rav Hershel
Shachter quotes Rav Soloveitchik about why he and his grandfather,
R. Chaim, davened quickly.  Someone asked R. Chaim: doesn't it say that
one should daven like one counts his money (i.e, very slowly and
carefully).  R. Chaim replied: I count money quickly too!

Other people obtain the most kavannah when they daven very slowly.
R. Aryeh Kaplan (I believe in his Guide to Jewish Meditation) suggests
that one spend a couple of seconds per word of Shmoneh Esrei and treat
it like a mantra (drawing out the words) while having kavanah about the
deeper meaning of each word.

Kol tuv,


From: h zabari <zbozoz@...>
Date: Mon, 14 Jun 1999 11:35:21 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: Re: Zohar and Halachic Practice

> I'm no kabbalist by any stretch of the imagination, but see the Mishna
> Brura 25:11(42) at the end, where he quotes the Knesses HaGedola (R.
> Chaim Benvenisti, 17th cent.), who gives guidelines in psak of the
> relative weightings of Kabbala/Zohar and Gemara/poskim, as follows:
>         1. If the Zohar and Gemara disagree, we follow the Gemara.
>         2. If the Zohar is more strict on a matter than the Gemara, we
> should follow the Zohar.
>         3. If the Zohar says something that is not mentioned in the
> Gemara, then one should follow the Zohar, although we don't force 
> someone to do so.
>         4. If the matter is subject to disagreement among the poskim,
> then we do what the Zohar says on the matter.

Why then are there those who do not make the Bracha over washing of the
hands prior to the Netila. The  Zohar clearly states one should and the
custom that some have of making the Beracha post the Netila is purley
Midevil and not Talmudic? 

I'm pretty aware of the answers that I may get to this already. The
statement was just something to think about.


From: Isaac A Zlochower <zlochoia@...>
Date: Mon, 14 Jun 1999 22:12:26 -0400
Subject: Zohar on Tefilin during Chol Hamoed

I will leave it to the scholars to discuss the provenance of the Zohar
Chodosh that puts a blanket ban on wearing Tefilin on Chol Hamoed.  I
only wish to point out that the Ashkenasi custom to put on Tefilin on
those days goes back at least to the late period of the Tosafot circle
which includes R' Meir of Rottenburg, R' Asher ("Rosh"), and R'
Mordechai.  R' Moshe Isserles ("Rema"), who lived after the publication
of the Zohar, followed the Ashkenasi minhag and not the view of the
Zohar Chodosh or R' Yosef Karo.  The advent of the Chassidic movement
produced a rift in Ashkenasi practices which was also reflected in the
question of wearing tefilin on chol hamoed.  The chassidic practice was
to treat chol hamoed as Yom Tov which included not working and not
putting on tefilin.  That practice is still consistent with the "Rosh"
who connects the issue of wearing tefilin on chol hamoed with working on
those days. It would be presumptuous, however, to argue for the
abolition of the Ashkenasi custom based on the view of the Zohar

Yitzchok Zlochower


End of Volume 28 Issue 81