Volume 28 Number 99
                 Produced: Thu Jul  8 21:43:27 US/Eastern 1999

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Being Obligated in a Tzedekah without your Consent
         [Alexander Heppenheimer]
Mappik Heh
         [Daniel Katsman]
         [Joseph Geretz]
Nolad, not on Shabbat?
         [David I. Cohen]
Shape of Luchot (5)
         [Alexander Heppenheimer, Stan Tenen, Ira Hammeerman, Immanuel
Burton, Idelle Rudman]
The reason for the lack of obligation on Women for Procreation
         [Russell Hendel]


From: Alexander Heppenheimer <Alexander.Heppenheimer@...>
Date: Mon, 5 Jul 1999 20:34:16 -0600 
Subject: RE: Being Obligated in a Tzedekah without your Consent

Ed Ehrlich wrote:

>I'm not sure that even if someone knowingly
>and verbally agrees to make a monetary pledge through a MiSheberach,
>it's binding according to halakha.  Doesn't there have to be some sort
>of physical act accompanying a verbal pledge to make the pledge binding:
>for instance like the holding of handkerchief while selling one's
>Khametz before Passover?

That's true only as far as acts of commerce between people, such as the
sale of chametz. But the Mishnah (Kiddushin 28b) lays down the rule,
"amiraso lagavoah kimesiraso lehedyot" - a declaration to G-d is the
equivalent of an act of transfer to a human being, in that it
consummates the deal and neither party can renege.

So all vows - which are a matter between a person and Hashem - can be
accomplished by word of mouth only; and the Rambam (Hilchos Mattenos
Aniyim 8:1) states explicitly that a pledge to tzedakah is the same as
any other vow.

[That sound you hear in the background is thousands of Rabbis and
Gabbais exhaling with relief at the fact that they'll be able to collect
on all those Mi SheBeirach and Yizkor pledges, after all.]

Kol tuv y'all,


From: Daniel Katsman <hannah.k@...>
Date: Mon, 05 Jul 1999 23:41:40 +0000
Subject: Re: Mappik Heh

Just a note me-inyana de-yoma a propos of all the recent discussion of
mappik heh: The first aliya of Parshat Mattot contains the highest
concentration of mappik heh's of any paragraph in the Torah.  There are
35 mappik heh's in a span of 12 verses.  Let the reader beware!

(The verse with the most mappik heh's -- 6 -- occurs in Parshat Naso,
Bamidbar 5:27, with regard to the Sotah's punishment.  Evidently she is
not the only one to suffer from the bitter waters.)

Daniel Katsman


From: Joseph Geretz <jgeretz@...>
Date: Mon, 5 Jul 1999 10:05:49 -0400
Subject: Names

Perets Mett wrote:
> The interesting thing about this is that Michl is widely used as a man's
> name! Especially in the combination Yechiel Michl.  (And before anyone
> corrects me - yes, I am aware that Polish Jews pronounce this name as
> Mechl, as indeed they tend to pronounce most chiriks which precede a chof
> or reysh)

Yes, but the comparison of Michal to Michl (or Mechl) is an erroneous
comparison since Michal is Lashon Kodesh (e.g. Michal bas Shaul), while
Michl (or Mechl) is a Yiddishization of the Lashon Kodesh Michael.

 From the Lashon Kodesh form of both names we see that these are two
separate names. Michal is female, while Michael is male.

Kol Tuv,

Yossi Geretz


From: David I. Cohen <BDCOHEN613@...>
Date: Mon, 5 Jul 1999 12:36:27 EDT
Subject: Nolad, not on Shabbat?

I read the Rambam that R. hendel refers to in Vol28 # 93 much
differently.  The Rambam is not saying that there's no muktzeh on
Shabbat. (Otherwise throw out half of Masechet Shabbat). The Nolad that
the rambam is discussing is specifically the egg, and that Nolad only
applies to Yom Tov. An egg laid on Shabbat is obviously muktzeh, since
any raw egg was considered muktzeh because it could not be cooked on
Shabbat. The "chidush" is that even on Yom Tov, when the egg is not
otherwise muktzeh, it is prohibited because of Nolad.
	Fruit fallen off a tree by itself (payrot shenashru) for example is 
also frobidden on Shabbat. Isn't that a type of nolad? 
	If the fax is Nolad, is it only forbidden to read it on Yom Yov, but 
not Shabbat? The gemara clearly states that Yom Tov is the same as Shabbat 
except for food preparation. 
	What about newspapers that were printed on Shabbat or Yom Tov? Can 
they be read on Shabbat or Yom Tov?


From: Alexander Heppenheimer <Alexander.Heppenheimer@...>
Date: Mon, 5 Jul 1999 20:56:39 -0600 
Subject: Re: Shape of Luchot

Warren Burstein asked:

>I don't know of any source that the tablets were rounded, but is there one
>that they were not?

One source is the Gemara (Bava Basra 14a) to which R' Teitz
referred. The Gemara discusses there in great detail how the luchos and
several other objects fitted into the aron (Ark), accounting for
literally every cubic inch of space. Had the luchos been any shape other
than rectangular, the Gemara would have mentioned it and discussed what
was done with the resulting space. For that matter, had the extra space
not been needed, the aron might well have been constructed in a shape to
fit the luchos precisely (with two bulges on one end).

Another source is the Midrash (unfortunately, I don't have the source
reference available), which states that the writing on the luchos could
be read equally well on all six sides of each tablet. This implies,
then, that all six sides were equally flat.

Kol tuv y'all,

From: Stan Tenen <meru1@...>
Date: Thu, 08 Jul 1999 08:25:10 -0700
Subject: Re: Shape of Luchot

>>The g'mara, howver, notes that the shape of the tablets was actually a
>>rectangular prism (a 3-dimensional rectangle).  The top of the luchos
>>was actually flat.

I'm traveling and don't have the references at hand but I think it is
necessary to carefully examine the Hebrew that we translate "rectangular
prism."  I'm sure the common translation implies a 3-dimensional
rectangle, but that's not necessarily the only appropriate translation.

The word for "rectangular" comes from the word for four, and refers to
the "four-fold".  Everyone knows that the four-fold in 2-dimensions is a
square or a rectangle, but that's not true in 3-dimensions.  In
3-dimensions, four-fold refers to a tetrahedral prism.  A tetrahedron
has three equilateral triangular faces, and an equilateral triangular
base.  It also has four corners.  For this and _many_ other reasons,
it's likely that the Luchot were actually tetrahedral.

The tetrahedral form is an archetype for a "tent", and it may refer also
to the "tent of meeting."  A wide range of Talmudic and Kabbalistic
sources gain additional depth and meaning when this tetrahedral form --
rather than a presumptive square or rectangular for in 2- or 3-D -- is

If the tetrahedra are arranged "point-down," they then display a flat
(triangular) top.  Descriptions in the "Letter of Aristeas" of temple
furnishings provided by Ptolemy Philadelphus, to encourage the
Septuagint translation, also make most sense when understood as
tetrahedra held point-down.

Meru Foundation   http://www.meru.org   <meru1@...>

From: Ira Hammeerman <ira@...>
Date: Wed, 07 Jul 1999 08:51:04 +0100
Subject: Re: Shape of Luchot

- The Luchot have interestingly become perhaps the most prominant Jewish
symbol, even though it doesn't appear at all in the early synagogue art
and mosaics of Eretz Yisrael. The chief symbols were the Menorah, the
shofar, the lulav, the etrog, the incense pan. Unlike the Menorah and
the other symbols, the Luchot were not seen by the people. They remained
in the Ark, which itself was not in the Second Temple.

- However, a rounded-top rectangular shape was used in the Eretz Yisrael
area for important stone inscriptions. For example, the Misha Tablets
found in Dibon, beyond the Jordon, describing the revolt of Misha
against Israel and his building many cities is displayed in The Louvre,

- The Talmud in describing the Ark of the Law, tells how the broken and
new tablets fit in the Ark and gives their rectangular dimensions.

- Interesting, however, the Midrash (Song of Songs Rabah 5:14,1), refers
to the luchot as "Gelilim", cylinders!

- As far as historians know the first depictions of the Tablets as
round-topped were in early Christian manuscripts and then art (12th
century). Sometimes one tablet is depicted, sometimes two next to each
other, and sometimes as 5 tablets, indicating the 5 books of the torah.

- Frequently the double tablets in these early sources are depicted as
diptychs, a wooden hinged box, with wax on the inside surface, to be
written upon with a stylus: a notebook. The Talmud refers to such a
diptych as a "pinkas".

- In 1277 Jews wore a badge in the rounded-top shape of the tablets.

- Not long after the symbol appeared in Christian sources it began to
appear in Jewish illuminated manuscripts, such as the famous "birds'
head" Hagada. Then it quickly became a prominent symbol in the
synagogue, particularly above the Ark. (Maybe the Jews wanted their
symbol, in the place similar to where the Christians put their own
symbol.) And the symbol spread to synagogue architecture throughout the

-Goodenough in his comprehensive books, "Jewish Symbols in Greco-Roman
Period" mentions that the rounded top rectangles do not appear at all as
the Luchot in old sources, but it is used to represent the Ark of the
Covenant in Dura and the Torah shrine on coins (e.g. Bar Kochba coins),
graves and synagogues. The shape represents a door with the traditional
shell shape above the door as can be seen in some old shuls in the
Galilee. (E.g. Bar'am)

- My personal suggestion is that what was once a representation of the
Ark or the Doors of Temple, became transformed to represent the

- I have been told that Harav Shomer on an Israel radio program many
years ago suggested that the rounded top shape was used, davka, even
though it was known from the Talmud that the shape was rectangular,
because of the prohibition of making things in the same shape as the
object that was in the Temple.

- I was told that Chabad makes a point of depicting the Luchot as
rectangular in their shuls. Is this true?

A good source on the art history is "Aseret Hadibrot Be'Reei Hadorot",
editor Ben-Tsion Segel, Magnes Press. Especially the article by Gad-Ben
Ami Tsarfati, "Luchot Habrit K'semel Yehudit" . The book has been
translated into English.

Ira Hammeerman

From: Immanuel Burton <iburton@...>
Date: Mon, 5 Jul 1999 13:25:00 +0100
Subject: Re: Shape of Luchot

I have heard on several occasions that the source for the Luchot having
rounded tops is a painting by Michaelangelo.  The Gemara does indeed say
that the Luchot are cuboid, though I don't know the reference.

While on the subject, I also understand that the idea that Jews have
horns is also down to Michaelangelo, as his depiction of Moshe shows him
with horns - obviously a slight misunderstanding of the description of
Moshe's face shining with rays of light.

 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: Idelle Rudman <rudmani@...>
Date: Thu, 8 Jul 1999 14:21:39 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Re: Shape of Luchot

There is an excellent article on just this topic in the latest issue of
Jewish Action, written by Ari Zivitovsky.

My own interest in this issue was piqued by a visit to the Italian
Museum (actually a functioning shul) on Rehov Hillel in Jslm.  I was
there on a weekday, when a class of art students was brought in by an
instructor.  She was discussing the different periods of art as
expressed in the beautiful aronot kodesh that were originally in
synagogues in various Italian towns.  She pointed out the different
periods, e.g Baroque, Rnaissance, etc.  She mentioned the shape of the
lukhot, and that Misrad ha-Datot, the Israeli Ministry of Religion, sent
out a directive discouraging the use of such a representation of the
lukhot.  However, she pointed out the difficulty in changing that
representation, as it is so much used and familiar, and that it is part
of the symbol of the B'nei Akiva movement.

Is there is a source, such as Daniel Sperber in Minhagei Yisroel, which
addresses the issue.

Idelle Rudman, MLS, MA, Librarian		    tel: 212-213-2230 x 119
Judaica Librarian				    fax: 212-683-3281
Touro College, Women's Division
160 Lexington Avenue, New York, NY  10016


From: Russell Hendel <rhendel@...>
Date: Sun, 27 Jun 1999 16:13:43 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: RE: The reason for the lack of obligation on Women for Procreation

A short point on the "women exempt from procreation issue"(v28n85, n28n86
Louise Miller, Yoseph Bechoffer, Eli Clark). The official reason women
are exempt from Procreation is because the Biblical verse explicitly says
"Be fruitful and multiply, fill the earth, and conquer it" (Gen 1:28)--
The talmud in Yevamoth 65b says "Whoever has the capacity to "conquer it"
has the obligation to "be fruitful" while those who cannot conquer aren't
obligated to be fruitful".

The idea is that besides giving birth to children we must provide them
with food and shelter (which in the verse is referred to as conquering).
Since it is the nature of the man to conquer it is him which is obligated

There is an opposite view in the Talmud that since the plural is used
"Be fruitful (plural) and multiply (Plural)" both men and women are
obligated. A standard procedure in such cases is to decide the law in
accordance with the anonymous opinion cited (the other opinion (that both
are obligated) is stated in the name of a specific tanna).

Russell Jay Hendel;Phd ASA; <rhendel@...>
Moderator Rashi Is Simple; http://www.shamash.org/rashi/


End of Volume 28 Issue 99