Volume 28 Number 89
                 Produced: Tue Jun 22 19:14:29 US/Eastern 1999

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

         [Avi Feldblum]
Directions of Prayer (2)
         [Percy Mett, Yosef Gilboa]
Following the Zohar (4)
         [Israel Rubin, Paul Merling, Lon Eisenberg, Warren Burstein]
Mumbling Prayers
         [Norman Tuttle]
Number of verses in the 10 Commandments
         [Alexander Heppenheimer]


From: Avi Feldblum <mljewish@...>
Date: Tue, 22 Jun 1999 18:59:05 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Administrivia

Hello All,

Things are moving along well in cleaning up bounced mail messages from
addresses that have become obsolete over the last year. As that completes,
I will have more time for some individual replies to people who have
emailed me. 

As part of my new policy to let you know in advance when I expect to have
temporary quiet times on mail-jewish, I expect that after getting two
issues out on Wednesday morning, there will probably be no issues until
after Shabbat, and then there will be no messages next week until either
Friday or after shabbat. So the next week and half will be relatively

A word about the status of the queue. There are about 8 issues worth of
material in the queue, with the large majority from the last 4 days. In
general, I try working my way from the older stuff first, but also try and
find topics that go together. So if I do a dikduk issue, I will likely
skip many postings and you may see things that are significantly newer
than something you sent in earlier on some other topic.

Avi Feldblum 
mail-jewish Moderator 


From: Percy Mett <p.mett@...>
Date: Fri, 18 Jun 1999 17:05:41 +03d0
Subject: Re: Directions of Prayer

Abe Brot <abrot@...> writes:
>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

This cannot be correct. Between two points in general on the surface of
a sphere there are TWO great circles. (Riemannian geometry does not obey
the parallel postulate)

>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).

This may be one of the ways; there is also a second way. From New York
the second great circle to Yerusholayim would set off in a SE direction

> 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

No - it wouldn't. A tunnel through the earth would be built according to
Euclidean geometry, and would be in a straight line. There is only one
such shortest tunnel. But it is not entirely clear what you mean by
saying that an overland route is -above- a tunnel. By a fairly
reasonable definition the tunnel would 'mid-way' between the two great
circles; and is probably the direction in which most shuls try to daven!

Perets Mett

From: Yosef Gilboa <bfgilboa@...>
Date: Fri, 18 Jun 1999 15:42:04 +0300
Subject: Re: Directions of Prayer

> Modern maps are oriented to the north.

"Oriented to the North"????? That's an oxymoron if I ever saw one!
"Orient" MEANS East! Might as well say "occidented to the South".

However, the fact that the word "orient" as a verb is taken to mean "get
one's bearings" tells the whole story. We do indeed have a bias to the

Shabbat Shalom.

Yosef Gilboa


From: Israel Rubin <Israel_Rubin@...>
Subject: Re: Following the Zohar

Russel Hendel writes (#76)

> "Take an idea like abstaining from Kiddush during the "reign of Mars"
> (from 6-7 on Friday night). This is a zoharic concept at best and is 
> not found in normative halacha (like the gmarrah, mishnah...).
> "The question I raised is the following: It is well known that 
> sometimes the Zohar says things in symbolic form. It is also well 
> known that the Zohar is a very esoteric book.
> "By contrast there is an explicit Jewish Law (eg Rambam, Idolatry 11)
> that it is Biblically prohibited to decide what activites you are 
> doing based on the position of astral bodies.
> "How then can we risk violating a Biblical law based on a Zohar whose
> meaning may be symbolic?"

Three points:

1) What does "zoharic concept at best" mean? The idea of waiting until 
the seventh hour for Kiddush is brought by the Mogen Avrohom from the 
Tikkuney Shabbos (O.C. 271:1), with no mention of the Zohar. And what 
is "normative halacha (like the gmarrah, mishnah...)"? Can the vast 
amount of halochos not found in Mishnah or Gemara but brought in later 
poskim be dismissed as "not normative halacha"?

2) While it may be true that the Zohar does sometimes say things in 
symbolic form, this should only be applied to a halacha or concept 
that we ourselves are attempting to extract from the Zohar. To say 
that a Zohar is or may be symbolic when the poskim clearly interpreted 
it otherwise, is to say that the poskim failed to understand the 

3) In any event there is no contradiction in this specific case 
between the Mogen Avrohom and the Rambam. The Rambam does not actually 
say "that it is Biblically prohibited to decide what activities you 
are doing based on the position of astral bodies". What he says is 
that it is forbidden to use the influence of their positions to be 
successful in your activities. The examples given are "such and such 
is a good time to plant wheat" and the like. (Even in this there are 
many who permit it, and this Rambam is not brought in Shulchan Aruch.) 
In the case of kiddush, by contrast, the intent is not to use the 
influence of the astrological bodies in one's favor, but merely to 
make kiddush at a time that is most appropriate for doing so.

Having said all of the above, I believe this particular custom is not 
widely followed because it interferes with another halacha which says 
it is best to make kiddush as early as possible after the start of 
Shabbos. (See the Shulchan Aruch Harav on this.)   

From: Paul Merling <MerlingP@...>
Subject: Following the Zohar

 Russel Hendel wonders why the Chassidic-Rebbi custom of postponing
Kiddush till after 7 P.M. on Friday night is not Biblically prohibited
as Me'o'nein. He quotes Rambam's view that this prohibition includes
acting according to astrological considerations. Those interested can
look in Yoreh Deah (179: 1 and 2 and commentaries) where one can see
that the Rambam's view is not the Halacha. It is also stated there that
Jews have many Minhagim/customs which rely upon the Mazalos/the planets
or constellations. And Minhag Yisrael is Torah.
         The Kiddush custom itself has an excellent lineage. The
Mah'gein Avraham and the Bi'er Heitiv (Orach Chaim 271:1, see also the
comments of the Machtsis Hashekel ) both bring the Minhag and state that
the source of the Minhag is the Teekunei Shabbos. The former also brings
Responsa of Mahril (R.163) as a source.  The Shtrasburger Rav in
Yerushalayim once invited me to a Friday night Seudah. He used this
hiatus after Davening to say the Mishnaiyos of M. Shabbos and to recite
selections from the Zohar.  Obviously this Minhag is not just a
negative, to postpone Kiddush. It is a positive custom to use this time
to prepare spiritually for the first Seudah/festive meal of Shabbos.
         The Mah'gein Avrohom also brings a Yerushalmi which relates
that the custom was to eat the Friday night Seudah an hour or two after
nightfall. In my Shul a Shiur on Chumash and Or Hachaim Hakodosh is
given at that time. Presumably those attending have the permission of
their wives or parents. Shalom Bayis is an essential ingredient for
Shabbos Shalom U'mi'vo'rach.
        The Bi'er Heitiv explains that the forces of evil have sway at
that time. Why should this be so and why is making Kiddush the only
inappropriate thing to do during this perilous time? May I offer a very
tentative guess, and I hope others will respond with their views. There
is an old Yiddish adage, "vee der Kedusheh is gresser, iz der Tumeh
gresser/where the Holiness is greatest, that is where the impurity is
greatest." Shabbos is Hashem's great and holy day, the purpose of
creation, the harbinger of the World To Come. Kad Ayil Shabsa/when the
Shabbos comes, sensitive souls felt the weekday impurities not willing
to relinquish their dominion and even becoming stronger as they
parasitically feed off the great holiness of Shabbos before their own
impending banishment. To proclaim the Shabbos over wine, which gladdens
the heart, and start the Seudah which in reality is the heart of the
Shabbos Avoda/service is a red flag to these forces. Also, Chassidus
teaches that ontological evil, which is ultimately under Hashem's
dominion, rejoices at human dejection and despair. The joy and ecstasy
of the Kiddush and Seudas Shabbos is like poison to it. Therefore as the
Shabbos comes the forces of evil are most powerful and should not be
provoked. Only after their vanishing can we commence our rejoicing.
Awareness of the power of evil and our ability to deal with and check
evil, and also engender holiness (which includes Simcha according to the
Mahril) may be one of the insights gained by practicing this old
Minhag. During the winter months when most of us must rush to get to
Shul and also do all necessary preparations for Shabbos, this Minhag
compels us to prepare ourselves spiritually for the Shabbos Seudah.
        When I was a youngster I do not remember anybody besides
Chassidic Rebus and extremely serious Chassidic Jews observing this
custom. (My father O"BM did not practice this Minhag.) It has become
more popular in recent years. Learning Torah in Shul or with one's
family before eating is a great preparation for feeling the holiness and
joy of the Seudas Shabbos. That has been my experience.
         By the way, Chassidic Rebbes delay their Kiddush for a long
time after nightfall all year round , and even if they make no
Tisch. For others, waiting until 7 P.M. is also done all year round. But
once Friday night Davening ends close to 7 P.M. or later, the custom no
longer has practical consequences. The Machtsis Hashekel I mentioned
above does discuss this issue.

From: Lon Eisenberg <eisenbrg@...>
Date: Thu, 17 Jun 1999 09:47:02 -0400
Subject: RE: Following the Zohar

This is a very good point.  I would say that it is even problematic (at
a lower level) in that it contradicts the halakha (clearly rabbinic)
that one should say qiddush Friday night as soon as possible when
arriving home.

From: Warren Burstein <warren@...>
Date: Tue, 22 Jun 1999 14:34:52
Subject: Re: Following the Zohar

Russell Hendel writes:
> By contrast there is an explicit Jewish Law (eg Rambam, Idolatry 11)
> that it is Biblically prohibited to decide what activites you are doing
> based on the position of astral bodies.

A very literal reading might only prohibit astrology based on the actual
position of a heavenly body.  The connection made between hours and bodies
doesn't relate to the position of the bodies.  I don't find this reasoning
very convincing myself, but perhaps it might be of use to someone.

Zvi Weiss writes:

> The Gemara at the end of Masechet Shabbat specifically raises issues
>regarding the "danger" of doing actions during the reign of Mars.(129b).
>Therefore, it appears to be incorrect to state that this is a "zoharic
>concept at best".  Note that the Gemara only permits this because of
>"Shomer Peta'im Hashem..."
>According to the Gemara, this does NOT appear to be a "mystical
>astral matter" -- but a well-accepted concern about the danger when "Mars"
>is "reigning". 

Perhaps it's worth noting that the action referred to in the above is
bloodletting, and that while some days are considered dangerous because
of the hours in which Mars reigns, others are considered dangerous
because the Heavenly Court meets on those days.  Perhaps the categories
"well-accepted concerns" and "mystical astral matters" intersect.

What interests me if these "well accepted concerns" can be demonstrated
to be grounded in reality.  Bloodletting is still used in the treatment
of hemochromatosis so it might be possible to find data on this.

Would anyone *today* recommend that blood donations be restricted to
particular days of the week?


From: Norman Tuttle <TUTTLE@...>
Date: Thu, 17 Jun 1999 10:15:09 -0400
Subject: RE: Mumbling Prayers

Relevant to the multiple postings on mumbling prayers, of course it
shows lack of Kavana ("intent/concentration").  Even if we hold that
Mitzvos Ein Tzrichos Kavana (commandments don't need concentration) in
general, for the Shma we do need it (and it would surely make the
Mitzvos count more if we used it for the rest of the prayers as well).
The following poster must certainly have been joking when he made this

>However far be it from me to toss out a good scientific study. On Shabbath
>it is required to be CALM an RELAXED. Therefore those coming home from
>synagogue should mumble the kiddush (to place them in the proper mood!)
>(In particular they should not delay the Kiddush with extensive

Kiddush on Friday night includes a declaration that Hashem is the
creator of the heavens and earth.  If anything I would say that this
type of statement requires Kavana/concentration (and does not exclude
Halachicly-correct Chazanus).  Especially if the reciter is attempting
to allow other listeners to fulfill the Mitzvah of Kiddush through
listening, he would be required to do so in a way by which others could
hear what he was saying (hopefully the words of Kiddush).


From: Alexander Heppenheimer <Alexander.Heppenheimer@...>
Date: Fri, 18 Jun 1999 09:05:47 -0600
Subject: Re: Number of verses in the 10 Commandments

> Russell Hendel asks about the custom to read the 10 Commandments as 10
> verses:
>But...this goes against the established principle that we have no
>right to make into sentences verses that Moses did not make into

My understanding is that in this case, there are actually two different
Mesorahs of how to divide the 10 Commandments into pesukim. (Actually,
there are three: one that divides them into 13 pesukim, as found in our
standard Chumashim, and which we follow in private reading; another,
which divides them into 9 pesukim (combining the first two
Commandments), which is the standard one used in public Torah reading;
and a third, which separates the first two Commandments, yielding 10
pesukim - a custom not commonly found anymore, as far as I know.)

There is plenty of precedent for varying traditions in the division of
the pesukim: the Gemara (Kiddushin 30a) gives as an example Shemos 19:9,
which in Babylonia was considered one pasuk (as we have it), but in
Eretz Yisrael was split into three pesukim. In fact, considering that
the Gemara there gives the number of verses in the Torah as 5888, while
we have 5846, there must be quite a few such differences in Mesorah
throughout the Chumash.

Kol tuv y'all,


End of Volume 28 Issue 89