Volume 28 Number 94
                 Produced: Tue Jul  6  6:12:57 US/Eastern 1999

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Direction of Prayer
         [Akiva Miller]
Is Bilam a Rasha?
         [Zev Sero]
Number of verses in the 10 Commandments
         [Michael Poppers]
Tefillin on Chol HaMoed / Lo Sisgodedu
         [Immanuel Burton]
Women and Time-bound Mitzvot
         [Eliyahu Teitz]
Yom Tov Sheini
         [Merling, Paul x23871]


From: Akiva Miller <kgmiller@...>
Date: Wed, 23 Jun 1999 14:39:57 -0400
Subject: re: Direction of Prayer

Several posters have recently discussed which direction we should face
when praying. Many of them say that we should face "Yerushalayim". I
think this is a generalization, and is correct only in Eretz
Yisrael. Elsewhere, we should face not Yerushalayim, but rather we
should face Eretz Yisrael.

Gemara Brachos 30a: "One who stands in Chutz Laaretz (outside Israel)
should direct his heart towards Eretz Yisrael... One who stands in Eretz
Yisrael should direct his heart toward Yerushalayim... One who stands in
Yerushalayim should direct his heart toward the Beis Hamikdash... One
who stands in the Beis Hamikdash should direct his heart toward the
Kodesh Hakadashim... One who stands in the Kodesh Hakadashim should
direct his heart towards the Kapores. One who stands in back of the
Kapores should see himself as if he was in front of the Kapores. It
turns out that one who stands in the east turns his face to the west, in
the west he turns his face to the east, in the south he turns his face
to the north, in the north he turns his face to the south. It ends up
that all Israel are directing their hearts to one place."

The last line shows that as a collective unit, all Israel is centered on
one place. But the first half shows how each individual should implement
that ideal: Each person aims to a place just *one* step higher in

In actual practice, people at the Kotel do NOT face the Kodesh
Hakadashim.  [Or, more accurately, I have not noticed anyone facing the
place where *he* holds the Kodesh Hakadashim to have been.] Rather, as
the gemara instructs, they face straight ahead, towards the Beis

There is a powerful mussar shooze in this, about going one step at a
time, and not biting off more than one can chew. Think about it.

Akiva Miller


From: Zev Sero <zsero@...>
Date: Wed, 23 Jun 1999 15:22:36 -0400
Subject: Re: Is Bilam a Rasha? 

From: Joseph Geretz <jgeretz@...>
> Actually, Balak had no objective reason to fear the B'nei Yisrael who
> were explicitly commanded not to harm the Moabites. See Devarim 2:9
> where Moshe Rabbeinu recounts:
> H-shem said to me: You shall not distress Moab and you shall not provoke
> war with them, for I shall not give you an inheritance from their land,
> for to the children of Lot I have given Ar as an inheritance.

However, as Rashi says, we were allowed to harrass Moav, so how would
Balak have known that we weren't going to take the harrassment further?
Was he to trust our word?  We certainly wouldn't trust another nation in
that position - in fact, it's an open halacha that when a foreign army
threatens a border town of an area with a Jewish population (even in
chutz laaretz), and assures us that they have no designs on the land,
but only want `hay and straw', we are forbidden to trust them, and must
take up arms against them even on Shabbat, `lest the land be open before
them'.  So from his POV he had no choice but to protect himself from us.

> Indeed, just recently
> the Jewish people retreated in front of the Edomites who refused to
> allow them to pass through their land. And although the Jewish nation
> did defeat Sichon and the Amorite nation, this was only *after* Sichon
> agressively attacked the Jewish people first. In fact, prior to the
> attack the Jewish people had *asked permission* to pass through their
> land, a move which would have greatly improved the Amorite economy. The
> refusal and subsequent attack can only be attributed to what we call
> nowadays anti-Semitism.

On the contrary, Sichon and Og were honour-bound to uphold their treaty
with their weaker neighbors, and prevent hostile forces from passing
through to attack them.  After all, that's what they had been taking
money for all those years.

Ari Kahn <kahnar@...> wrote:
> However this is an interesting approach which I
> have heard attributed to the Vilna Gaon regarding Billaam, chazal at
> times used the name Billaam when referring to a different 'prophet' of
> the non-Jews - Jesus. The argument goes, that the Jews afraid of
> censorship, and backlash simply replaced Billaam for Jesus.
>  There are a number of passages which make this thesis extremely
> credible: (emphases added are my own):
>  Sanhedrin 106a Bil'am also the son of Beor, the soothsayer, [did the
> children of Israel slay with the sword]. A soothsayer? But he was a
> prophet!  R. Johanan said: At first he was a prophet, but subsequently a
> soothsayer.  R. Papa observed: This is what men say, "She who was the
> descendant of princes and governors, played the harlot with carpenters.'

Er, wasn't the carpenter her husband, and therefore the one person
with whom she definitely *didn't* `play the harlot'?

But more importantly, if they were really talking about Jesus and not
Bil'am, why should they be puzzled by contraditions from a pasuk
that is definitely talking about the historical Bil'am?

> 106b A certain 'min' said to R. Hanina: Have you heard how old Bil'am
> was?  He replied: It is not actually stated, but since it is written,
> 'Bloody and deceitful men shall not live out half their days,' [it
> follows that] he was thirty-three or thirty-four years old. He rejoined:
> You have said correctly; I personally have seen Bil'am's Chronicle, in
> which it is stated, 'Bil'am the lame was thirty years old when Pinhas
> the Robber killed him.'

The Christian tradition is that Jesus was 33 when he was killed, but
that's a minor quibble, since this `min' may have had a different
tradition.  It is interesting, however, if R Chanina *was* talking
about Jesus, that he hit upon the same answer as current Xian tradition,
and not the one that the `min' had, and perhaps we can even take this
as a validation of the current Xian tradition, assuming that we first
establish that R Chanina wasn't actually talking about the real Bil'am.


From: Michael Poppers <MPoppers@...>
Date: Wed, 23 Jun 1999 12:49:13 -0400
Subject: Re: Number of verses in the 10 Commandments

Perry Zamek, in MJ 28#92, wrote:
 > Prof. Breuer, in an article analyzing the Ta'am Elyon (the
cantillation/trop used for the Aseret Hadibrot in public reading),
suggests that the version used in most places for the first two dibrot
is wrong, and he suggests an alternative that splits these two dibrot
into two verses: 1) Anochi... 2) Lo yihyeh.  The trop he suggest for
Anochi is what is usually printed as the Ta'am Tachton....Also, in some
copies of the Koren Chumash, where the Ta'am Elyon is printed separately
after the chumash text, there is a footnote saying that Rav Wolf
Heidenheim (if I understand the rashei teivot correctly) would read the
first dibur in the ta'am tachton -- making him read exactly the same way
as Prof. Breuer suggests. <

AFAIK, the Roedelheim-print chumashim (and tikkunim for ba'alei k'riah)
do not distinguish two sets of t'omim until "Lo yih'yeh," so it's likely
that you correctly understood the Koren footnote.  I merited being the
ba'al koraih at the Elizabeth, NJ Elmora Hills Minyan on the first day
of Sh'vuos (first time laining the Aseres HaDibros!) and did *not*
follow this reading, as the "minhag ha'mokom" is not that way (and I
didn't want others to violate the sixth dibbur by stoning me :-).

Michael Poppers * Elizabeth, NJ


From: Immanuel Burton <iburton@...>
Date: Wed, 23 Jun 1999 17:11:00 +0100
Subject: Tefillin on Chol HaMoed / Lo Sisgodedu

It seems that my original question of what the justification for taking
off one's tefillin before Hallel on Chol Ha'Moed Pesach seems to have
changed into a discussion on Lo Sisgodedu!  (I still haven't found a
convincing argument for why tefillin should be taken off before Hallel
on Pesach.)

I have discussed this with several colleagues, and the general consensus
of opinion seems to be as follows: Putting on one's tefillin on Chol
Ha'Moed in Shul in Israel is probably prohbited under the Lo Sisgodedu
rule as the minhag in Israel is for no-one to wear tefillin.  However,
in Shuls where the minhag is for some to wear tefillin and for some
people not to wear tefillin, the issue doesn't arise, as everyone is
keeping to the agreed minhag of having mixed minhogim.

However, in the Shul where I davenned on Pesach, everyone took theirs
off before Hallel, and I was the only one to keep them on till Musaf.
This lead me to the following bizarre logic: The Shul where I was
davenning is a member of the United Synagogue [of Great Britain].  The
Singer's Siddur (which is the "official" Siddur of the United Synagogue)
states that one removes one's tefillin on Pesach before Musaf.
Furthermore, Dayan Lerner states in his publication The Minhag Of The
United Synagogue that tefillin are removed before Musaf on Pesach.  The
question is - what is the minhag of the Shul?  Is it what everyone
davenning was doing, or is it what is stated in the official
documentation of the Shul?  If the latter, then I was the only one
following the minhag of the Shul!

As I mentioned in my original posting, there are many examples of mixed
minhogim being practiced.  The most striking and everyday one is whether
one wears a tallis.  In the Shul where I daven, there is a mixture of
people wearing a tallis and those who aren't, because it is agreed that
everyone may keep their family's minhag.  My family minhag is to wait
until marriage, and since I am not yet married I do not wear a tallis.
However, on occasion I daven in a shul where the minhag is for all
congregants to wear a tallis, so when I daven there I wear one.

I feel that with Lo Sisgodedu, the line has to be drawn somewhere.  If
one is not allowed to have two Botei Din in the same town which will
rule differently, then how does one reconcile differences between
Ashkenazim and Sefardim (e.g. with kitnios)?  And how is different
kashrus licensing authorities in the same town justified?

 Immanuel M. Burton                     |    Tel: +44 (0)20-8802 9736 x0250
 Systems Administrator                  |    Fax: +44 (0)20-8802 9774
 Better Properties Limited              | 
 129 Stamford Hill, London N16 5TW, UK  |  Email: <iburton@...>


From: <Dagoobster@...>
Date: Wed, 23 Jun 1999 13:11:43 EDT
Subject: Vegetarinaism

	It has become very popular for many Americans to become
vegetarian.  There are many reasons for that decision.  One is for
health reasons, lowering cholesterol, etc., Another is the belief that
killing animals for food is immoral and cruel.
	It is that second explanation that I find troublesome.  Aren't
Jews who become vegetarian solely for that reason (without any health or
destruction of Bais Hamikdash considerations) saying in essence that
they disagree with Hashem and the Torah?  The Torah does not consider
eating animals which are slaughtered properly immoral. 

[Indeed, it is my understanding that it is not consistant with Halacha
to espouse a belief (as you put it above) that one is not "allowed" to
kill animals for meat. The practice of not eating meat for various
reasons, whether health or destruction of Bais Hamikdash considerations
would not be a problem. Mod.]



From: Eliyahu Teitz <EDTeitz@...>
Date: Wed, 23 Jun 1999 12:13:16 EDT
Subject: Re: Women and Time-bound Mitzvot

<< Another problem with this theory is the principle that "One who
 is commanded to perform a mitzva and does so gets a greater reward than
 one who does a mitzva act voluntarily". If the exemption of women from
 certain mitzvot is based solely on sociological considerations, then the
 halachic system is cheating them. However, if (as I posted earlier) the
 distinction is based on the halacha's purpose in helping humans become
 more "Kadosh", or God-like, then, we can see that men need the greater
 reward, to get them to a place where women are inherently. >>

Then women are still cheated.  Just because they are on a higher plane
means that they shouldn't get rewarded for performing mitzvos?  They
should be obligated as well, and gain even higher levels.

<< The commandment of procreation was given before woman was created.
Thus, it is commonly assumed that women are not obligated by this
mitzva, despite the fact that it is NOT a time-bound commandment. >>

I seem to remember that any mitzva written in the Torah before the
recounting of the story of Har Sinai is not binding unless repeated
afterwards.  I think the issue is dealt with in the discussion of the
mitzva of gid hanasheh.  If so, then the fact that the first time the
mitzva appears is before creation of woman is totally insignificant in
regard to who is obligated.

Eliyahu Teitz
Jewish Educational Center, Elizabeth, NJ


From: Merling, Paul x23871 <MerlingP@...>
Date: Wed, 23 Jun 1999 14:47:25 -0400
Subject: RE:Yom Tov Sheini

    With all due respect to Rabbi Freundel, he writes as though Yom Tov
Sheini is a burden, while in fact it is a great joy. Erets Yisrael has
many Maalos, but this is not one of them. It is said in the name of the
Imrei Emes (The Gerer Rebbe who was niftar/passed away in Yerushalayim
during the 1948 War of Liberation)that he loved living in Erets Yisrael
but he missed Yom Tov Sheini.
     The Shulchan Aruch Harav (o"ch)in I believe the 4th ?? Siman
(second version) talks about the special holiness which comes to Chuts
Laarets/the Diaspora during Yom Tov Sheini. I also remember a Midrash
(maybe someone remembers where) which talks about Israel complaining
that there are not enough holidays and Hashem telling them that he will
give them the Yom Tov Sheini.
     Even the Tsidukim/Sadducees loved 2 days of Shabaton/ritual
rest. In their argument with Reb Yochanan Ben Zakai (I believe in
Menachos) they claimed that Shavuos should always fall on Sunday as that
would give Klal Yisrael a 2 day rest.
      Ratsa Hahadosh Baruch Hu Lizakot es Yisrael, Lifeechach Hirbe
Lahem Torah Umitsvot/ Hashem wanted Israel to have much merit, He
therefore gave them much Torah and Mitsvos.
       The Kad Hakemach writes that the Simcha/joy while doing a Mitsva
is greater than the Mitsva itself. (See also the introduction to the
Igle Tal, where he talks about the necessity of Simcha while studying
        In conclusion, the added day of Yomtov in the Diaspora is an
occasion for imbibing special holiness and for increasing our joy.


End of Volume 28 Issue 94