Volume 29 Number 51
                 Produced: Fri Aug 13  6:40:10 US/Eastern 1999

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Ashkenazi Minhag
         [Jay Rovner]
Mikva for single women (2)
         [Aryeh Frimer, Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz]
Mikveh for Unmarrieds
         [Yisrael Medad]
Pshat vs Teitch (translation) (2)
         [Clark, Eli, David and Toby Curwin]
Temple Mount Entrance
         [Yisrael Medad]


From: Jay Rovner <jarovner@...>
Date: Wed, 11 Aug 1999 13:48:36 +0000
Subject: Re: Ashkenazi Minhag

	if memory serves correctly, then avraham grossman (hakhme ashkeanz
ha-rishonim) says that
1. begining in the ninth cent.?, many italian jews emigrated to germany,
among the well educated elite. at this point, italy was not yet under the
hegemony of babylonian geonim. therefore, they brought with them an
devotion to piyyut and piyyut-composition according to palestinian style
(kallir for example), in magic and in mysticism, and midrash (and in
making midrash).
2. r. gershom meor ha-golah, who may well have itialian blood (possibly he
was born there) is the last of ashkenazi greats to rule before the
hegemony of babylonia and the talmud. he is the last to ground his rulings
in original scripture interpretaions and he does not make use of the
bavli. rashi and his teachers were the first to convert to the bavli in a
serious way.
3. the tosafot are the first to try to apply the bavli to their lives in a
wholesale fashion, and spend much enrgy to making local minhag coincide
with the bavli.
(4. one could add that midrahsic works like be-midbar rabbah and the great
compilation yalkut shimoni were produced in christian europe)

	is. ta-shema has an article in which he describes the
halachic situation in germany as very like the overall situation: minhag
was local on a very small scale, and no-one worried that one locale had
different practices than its neighbor because germany (and france) itself
was excedingly decentralized then (10/11 the cent.). in the following
centuries (again the tosafists time coincides), as germany and france
became more centralized, jewish life became more learned in the bavli and
communal leaders insisted upon a more uniform approach based upon the
bavli and the geonim, as interpreted by those scholars.

	jay rovner


From: Aryeh Frimer <Aryeh.Frimer@...>
Date: Thu, 12 Aug 1999 12:08:40 -0400
Subject: Mikva for single women

Gershon Dubin <gershon.dubin@...> asked about the origin of the custom
that unmarried women do not go to the mikva?  Unfortunately, I am in the
galut and away from my library; However it is based on a Teshuva of the
Rivash who indicates that the custom started after the Churban when Taharot
were no longer relevant.  The desire was to upgrade the prohibition of
premarital sex from a Lav (thou Shalt not) to a Issur karet. 

[Non-sourced replies based on prohibition of premarital sex were also
received from Rachel Swirsky <happyduck@...> and also quoting it as
from the Rivash from <JoshHoff@...> Mod.]

From: Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz <sabbahillel@...>
Date: Thu, 12 Aug 1999 23:30:24 -0400
Subject: Re: Mikva for single women

I remember learning some time ago of a medrash (?) which spoke of a
single woman who was grabbed by a bandit who wanted to rape her.  She
told him that she had not yet been to the mikva (and was therefore a
nidda) and he let her go.  I do not know if this actually exists or if
my memory is in error.  However, supposedly, this was the original
source for single women no longer going to the mikvah.

Said the fox to the fish, "Join me ashore" | Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz
 Jews are the fish, Torah is our water | Zovchai Adam, agalim yishakun


From: Yisrael Medad <isrmedia@...>
Date: Thu, 12 Aug 1999 19:45:53 +0300
Subject: Mikveh for Unmarrieds


Ribash, Siman 425
Shulchan Arukh HaRav, Siman 606, S'if 12
Ben-Ish Chai, Year One, Nitzavim, S'if 3
Sdei Chemed, Ma'arachot Yom Kippur, 1:6

* Unmarrieds refers to na'arim, b'tulot and p'nuyot.


From: Clark, Eli <clarke@...>
Date: Tue, 10 Aug 1999 13:05:00 -0400
Subject: Pshat vs Teitch (translation)

Joseph Geretz <jgeretz@...> writes:

>It must be accepted that many many parts of Torah SheBichsav simply
>cannot be understood without being explained by Torah SheB'al
>Peh. Therefore, when reading the written Torah we must *always* look to
>the commentators for guidance as to whether the translation is
>sufficient for us to gain proper understanding, or whether the
>translation must be modified in the context of the explanation from the
>Oral Torah in order for us to gain a correct understanding.

I strongly disagree with this presentation.  For one thing, it confuses
several important categories that should be kept separate: one is the
distinction between Torah she-be-`al peh (Oral Law) and biblical
commentary; another is the distinction between literal meaning and
interpretation.  You refer also to the "proper" or "correct"
understanding, as if there is only one such understanding, a very
dubious notion, in my opinion.

Most of the classic biblical commentators, including Rashi, Ramban and
(his student) R. Bahya, assume that a verse may have several layers of
meaning.  They will present one or more interpretations of Hazal (the
Rabbis), as well as the "peshat," or literal translation.  (In the case
of Ramban, he often disagrees with Ibn Ezra regarding what the "peshat"
is.)  Ramban and R. Bahya sometimes also present a kabbalistic meaning.
All of these commentators assume that these different meanings co-exist.
 None assume that the explanation of Hazal imposes the single "correct"
understanding.  In fact, Rashi will often present two conflicting
explanations, both of them based on rabbinic midrash.  And Ibn Ezra and
Rashbam frequently offer interpretations that conflict with the Oral Law
(i.e., midrash halakhah).

Indeed, Hazal themselves write of the innumerable meanings one can find
in every biblical verse; they compare the various interpretations that
each verse throws off -- ke-patish yefitzetz sela -- as the hammer
splinters the rock.

<discussion of rashi on "eye for an eye" deleted>

>The *translation* of the words is
>superficial and runs contrary to the intent of the Pasuk.

I disagree.  The translation of the phrase "ayin tahat ayin" (=an eye
for an eye) is no more superficial than any other literal translation.
What our rabbis teach us is that we implement the rule of the verse, not
literally, but by requiring monetary compensation.  This does not change
the literal meaning of the words.  Indeed, your discussion raises a more
fundamental question: why didn't the Torah simply write "money for an
eye," if that were its intent?  One explanation, which I heard from my
rebbe, R. Amital (suggested by others as well), is that the Torah is
teaching us that the villain in question deserves to lose his eye,
though the bet din (Jewish court) requires monetary payment instead.

>Another indication that meaning is more important than translation is
>the fact that Targum Onkelos (ostensibly a translation) routinely
>introduces explanations which sometimes even run counter to the
>superficial translation of the Pasuk.

It is true that Onkelos sometimes engages in interpretation.   For
example, Onkelos routinely modifies his translation to eliminate
anthropomorphisms in the biblical text.  But I do not see how this
indicates that "meaning is more important than translation."  It simply
indicates that Onkelos did not restrict himself to the former.  Nor do
Onkelos' non-literal interpretations necessarily foreclose the
possibility of a more literal interpretation.

>All of this adds up to the fact that the translation of a Pasuk is only
>meaningful if there is no Oral Torah which modifies the meaning from the
>pure translation. Since we are not well versed in the tradition of Oral
>Torah we must in all cases look to the commentators in order to verify
>the correct meaning of each Pasuk and cannot rely on simple translation.
>Obviously, if there is no modifying Oral Law, then the simple
>translation is also the correct meaning.

Again, I disagree with this completely.  We regularly find traditional
commentators offering alternative interpretations to that of the Oral
Law.  And we often find these same commentators disagreeing among
themselves regarding the "literal" translation.  Our job is not to find
the one "correct" meaning, but to understand and appreciate the
innumerable depths of meaning in every biblical verse.

Derosh ve-kabbel sakhar (interpret and receive your reward)!

Kol tuv,

Eli Clark

From: David and Toby Curwin <curwin@...>
Date: Tue, 10 Aug 1999 21:48:22 +0300
Subject: RE: Pshat vs Teitch (translation) 

Joseph Geretz <jgeretz@...> wrote: 
> It must be accepted that many many parts of Torah SheBichsav simply
> cannot be understood without being explained by Torah SheB'al
> Peh. 

Why *must* it be accepted? I respectfully disagree. I believe that there
is significance to the plain meaning (pshat) of the Written Torah. But the
Oral Torah also has importance, which is critical when it comes to halacha.
I think this approach is taken by most of the commentators, who search
for the "true" pshat, even though chazal have determined what the torah
she'ba'al peh says.

>Therefore, when reading the written Torah we must *always* look to
> the commentators for guidance 

Again, which commentators? We can find dozens of commentaries on almost
every verse, some of whom are closer to pshat and some who are closer to
drash. And even the ones who claim to be representing pshat disagree
with one another.

> For when Rashi explains Ayin Tachas Ayin as 'one who blinds the eye of
> his friend must reimburse him the monetary equivalence of his diminished
> value in the marketplace' this is not a novel interpretation on Rashi's
> part.  Rather, Rashi is simply stating the Oral Law which was given
> concurrently with the Written Law in order to give us the correct
> understanding of the Pasuk. The *translation* of the words is
> superficial and runs contrary to the intent of the Pasuk.

Again, see my previous post about ayin tachat ayin. If you look at Ibn
Ezra and Ramban, you can see why they feel that the *translation* of the
words is *not* superficial.

> Another indication that meaning is more important than translation is
> the fact that Targum Onkelos (ostensibly a translation) routinely
> introduces explanations which sometimes even run counter to the
> superficial translation of the Pasuk.
> Bamidbar 12:1 - Ki Isha Cushis Lakach
> The translation would read: Since he had married a Cushite (black)
> woman.  Targum explains: Since he had divorced his beautiful wife.

And yet there are different interpretations. See Ibn Ezra, Rashbam and Targum
Yonatan. Which one is Pshat?

> (These are just two samples of many many instances where Targum deviates
> from the *translation* and instead focuses in on delivering the
> *meaning* of the words.)

I can give many examples of where Targum deviates from the meaning of
the words as determined by chazal in the halacha. (The list is from the
book Targum Onkelos, by Prof. Dov Rappel, pgs 122-126). See for example
the Targum to Shmot 23:1, 23:2, Vayikra 2:4, Devarim 1:16, 17:8, etc.

-David Curwin
Kvutzat Yavne, Israel


From: Yisrael Medad <isrmedia@...>
Date: Thu, 12 Aug 1999 19:41:28 +0300
Subject: Temple Mount Entrance

Re Cheryl Maryles' submission on immersion prior to entrance:
 I reread the relevant 'halacha l'maaseh' section in "El Har HaMor",
pgs.  146-151, and another guide, "Aliyah l'Har Habayit Bazman Hazeh".
 But before proceeding, in connection with Cheryl's third point below, I
agree that the Chief Rabbinate has consistently sought to prohibit
entrance to any portion of the current Temple Mount compound which of
course is not contiguous with the 500 cubit square Halachic Har Habayit
(which is a matter for another posting).  I have a personal heter from
Rav David Chelouche, author of Responsa Bnei Ami and for the past 29
years have conferred with those who are "meikel" including Rav Shlomo
Goren z"l, Rav Yehuda Getz z"l, Rav Moshe Tzvi Segel z"l and l'havdil,
Rav Mordechai Eliyahu, Rav She'ar Yashuv-Cohen shlita and many more.  My
discussion, in line with the list's guidelines, is intellectual and
theoretical.  Any action is on one's own responsibility after taking
proper rabbinical advice.

>First of all you have to deal with issues of tevul yom
>which means an immersion must be done a day before you do to the har

T'vul yom is the day of the ascent - before the setting of the sun.  By
the way, t'vilah on Shabbat is permitted for entrance (no squeezing of

>second of all, most people don't check for chatzizas when they
>immerse for yom kippur, something they would do before going to har
>habyit, the immersion would be closer to a women immersing for niddah.

correct. men should be as strict as their wives on dinei chatzitzah.

>Finally, it's a moot point since gedolai yisroel have said that it is
>improper to go to the har habyit in any case. 

to be fair, they outright prohibit it.  but, for example, Rav Elezer
Waldman received special dispensation as a member of the Knesset's
committee on Internal Affairs to ascend to check on Moslem infractions
of the status quo.  MK Dov Shilansky received too a special permission
from Rav Goren back in 1986.  the question of security forces entering
is another matter.

Yisrael Medad


End of Volume 29 Issue 51