Volume 32 Number 36
                 Produced: Wed May 31  6:43:31 US/Eastern 2000

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Circumcising non Jewish children (3)
         [Richard Flom, Geoffrey Shisler, Elaine and Robert Sherer]
Dagesh in Aleph
         [Joseph Gilboa]
Female Jewish Slave (3)
         [Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz, Alexander Heppenheimer, Gershon
Out of print book
         [Elaine and Robert Sherer]
Tikun Sofrim
         [Chaim Mateh]
Tish'ah BeAv expression (2)
         [Robert Tolchin, Alexander Heppenheimer]


From: Richard Flom <rflom@...>
Date: Mon, 29 May 2000 13:31:46 -0700
Subject: Circumcising non Jewish children

Well, of course one circumcises a Gentile if it is "al shem gerut".  But
there may still be difficulties.  Some years ago, when I was far less
knowledgeable than I am now (not that I am such a chakham now), I
advised some even less knowledgeable friends, a Jewish couple who were
adopting a Gentile newborn, to have the boy undergo an Orthodox
circumcision and conversion so there would be no question of his
Jewishness later.  A well-known local Orthodox rabbi/mohel, very active,
performed the circumcision with two frum witnesses, and provided the
couple with a certificate which stated that the circumcision had been
performed al shem gerut.  Several months later, when they approached the
rabbi/mohel to complete the conversion at the mikveh, he refused,
because they were not observant and would not commit to becoming
observant.  The problem?  He did not tell them of this up front!  He
performed the circumcision, for a substantial sum of money approaching
double his regular charge for circumcising a Jew, and then told them he
would not assist in the conversion.  Instead of a joyful experience,
they they were confused, angry and hurt.  They determined that observant
Jews and observant Judaism were something they wanted no part of, and
decided that they would not complete the boy's conversion at all.  After
several more months, they had their son undergo tevilah at a
Conservative mikveh, and he has a certificate of conversion from the
local Conservative bet din.

My point is that no mohel should perform a circumcision on a Gentile
unless the mohel (and a rabbi if the mohel is not a rabbi) has fully
advised the family of all of the requirements for conversion so that
they can make an informed decision, and all of the parties can avoid a
chillul hashem.

Richard Flom

From: Geoffrey Shisler <geoffrey@...>
Date: Tue, 30 May 2000 10:08:57 +0100
Subject: Re: Circumcising non Jewish children

>From: Michael Horowitz
>My sister just mentioned to me that she had a "bris" to go to today for
>a gentile female friends son. The father is Jewish, and of course that
>doesn't change the fact the boy is a goy.  

From: Ezriel Krumbein
>He also gave the parents a document with witness signatures attesting
>to the fact that the bris had been performed. 

I practised as a Mohel for about ten years when I lived in London. In
the UK all Mohalim are sanctioned by the London Bet Din.

Firstly, the Bet Din does not permit a Mohel to carry out a circumcision
in a case where the father is Jewish and the mother not and secondly,
they do not permit the Mohel to issue a certificate of Brit to anyone.

 From my experience, I can testify that these are both eminently
sensible and practical safeguards.

I have known people who have produced a 'Brit Certificate' as 'proof'
that a child was Jewish. It is nothing of the sort. It is merely a piece
of advertising for the Mohel, (which, incidentally, the London Bet Din
also forbids). If anyone needs 'proof' that a circumcision has been
carried out there's a much more obvious way of doing it than producing a
fancy piece of paper. And one hardly needs to say that being circumcised
is only an indication that someone 'might' be Jewish. At one time the
percentage of male children born in the USA who were circumcised was
extraordinarily high.

In the UK, Mohalim are permitted to circumcise only those children who
have no discernible Jewish blood in them whatsoever (ie both parents are
non-Jews) or who are 100% Jewish (ie Jewish mother).

In the first case nobody would have the slightest doubt that the
procedure was being done for purely social (or medical) reasons and in
the second, that it was being done for purely religious ones.

Sadly, there were countless times I was contacted to perform a Brit for
a family where the father was Jewish and the mother not. When I asked
them why they wanted a Brit, I was usually told that the parents (or at
least the father) would then feel that the child was 'a bit' Jewish.

Unless the child is going to be brought up as a Jewish child then no
purpose is served in helping to perpetuate the notion that he is no
different from any other Jewish boy. With, or without a foreskin, a
little boy who doesn't have a Jewish mother is still not Jewish, and any
Mohel who does circumcise him is helping the family, and when he grows
up often the child himself, to delude themselves.

In my view a Mohel who performs a 'Brit' for a child with a Jewish
father and a non-Jewish mother will frequently find himself guilty of
transgressing the injunction 'Lifnei iver lo titen michshol' - 'You must
not put a stumbling block before the blind.'

Rabbi Geoffrey Shisler
Bournemouth (Orthodox) Hebrew Congregation

From: Elaine and Robert Sherer <ERSherer@...>
Date: Mon, 29 May 2000 10:22:16 EDT
Subject: Re: Circumcising non Jewish children

    To me, this fraud perpetrated on the child himself as well as his
parents is the worst of it. The current secretary of defense (Mr. Cohen)
was also born to the non-Jewish wife of a Jew, and thought for the first
twelve years of his life that he was Jewish and was accepted by the
other Jewish kids in his home town in Maine as one of them. It was only
when it came to planning a Bar Mitzvah (like his friends) that the local
rabbi set him straight and told him he was not Jewish. It was a fraud on
the boy, and a traumatic experience.  In the case described here, it is
a fraud on the family and a chilul Hashem on the part of the mohel, who
certainly knows better, even if the parents don't. I think any mohel who
does such a thing should be boycotted by the Jewish community.


From: Joseph Gilboa <bfgilboa@...>
Date: Mon, 29 May 2000 15:59:55 +0300
Subject: Re: Dagesh in Aleph

> From: Deborah Wenger <dwenger@...>
> A question arose this past Shabbat about a word in parshat Emor, 23:17:
> the word "taviu" in many - but not all - chumashim has a dagesh in the
> aleph. Most of the chumashim that have the dagesh in the aleph also have
> a marginal note "aleph degusha," obviously pointing out that this is an
> anomaly.
> My questions: (1) Why is there a dagesh in the aleph in some chumashim,
> but not all? (2) Does anyone know which is correct, and why? (3) Is the
> word supposed to be read in a different manner from a word with a
> "regular" aleph (and is the trop different)? (4) Is there any commentary
> or midrash about why the aleph is treated this way?

According to my friend, Dr Tzvi Betzer of Bar Ilan University, the
dagesh in the alef of tavi'u is there to emphasize the correct
syllabification of the word: NOT "taviyu" (as one would tend to read
this word if he were careless) but tavi-'u where the consonantal value
of the 'alef is cleanly preserved.  There is another similar case in
Bereshit. I assume that the dagesh is missing in poorly printed humashim
which, unfortunately, abound. All too frequently, a "helpful" editor
with no appreciation of the masora takes it upon himself to "clean up"
such "grammatical errors". After all, didn't we all learn in first grade
that 'aleph NEVER has a dagesh? ("Well hardly ever" in the immortal
words of G&S).

Yosef Gilboa


From: Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz <sabbahillel@...>
Date: Mon, 29 May 2000 22:05:23 -0400
Subject: Re: Female Jewish Slave

> From: Moshe Nugiel <friars@...>
> At our Shabbat table this afternoon, in connection with a discussion of
> slaves being freed at the Yovel, my daughter brought up the topic of
> young girls being sold into slavery by their fathers.  She wanted to
> know why it is that only girls are sold, and not boys.  I answered that
> I wasn't sure, but that I would try to look up an answer.  Having spent
> significant time this motza'i Shabbat looking through texts, I'm still
> not sure why this discrepancy should exist.  Granted that such a sale
> only takes place under the most dire of economic collapse, why should a
> family which is blessed by having only boys starve to death, while their
> luckier neighbors, who have girls, are able to weahter the storm?  On a
> more serious note, we certainly accept that men and women have different
> kinds of ways in their service of the Almighty, and that these
> differences are reflected in the halacha.  How do I explain to my wife
> and four daughters (ages 5-11), the nature of the difference between a
> man's service and a woman's service which this halacha reveals?

I should point out that the father would be able to sell himself as a
slave for the seven years and the master would have to support the
family.  The circumstances of "selling" the daughter as a female slave
are unique in that the daughter is expected to marry the "master" or the
"master's" son when she comes of age.  Since the family with sons would
be able to use the work of the sons to provide income, the problems of
the family with daughters would not apply.  Additionally, since the
daughter is to marry into the family, the master (father of the groom or
the groom himself) would not humiliate the father of the bride by making
him into a slave.  This way, the family survives but the father of the
bride avoids that humiliation (of being sold to his daughter's father in
law or husband).

This is just a short set of the logic involved why such a halacha would
apply to the daughter and not the family with sons.

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: Alexander Heppenheimer <aheppenh@...>
Date: 30 May 2000 08:34:04 -0700
Subject: Re: Female Jewish Slave

I would imagine that the Sefer HaChinuch says something on the subject,
but I don't have one handy. So the following is my best guess.

The commentaries to Exodus 21:7 (Rashbam, Ramban, Sforno) seem to be
saying, if I understand them correctly, that the ultimate purpose of
this sale is that the buyer, or his son, should marry the girl. (Notice
that, of the five verses in this section, three talk about marrying her
and the obligations that this entails. Only if they fail to do so, then
"he should redeem her" (verse 8), or "she goes out free" (verse 11) -
but that's not the ideal situation.)

In other words, fundamentally, the father is (in a roundabout way)
marrying off his daughter, which is something that halachah empowers him
to do, under any circumstances (sociological considerations - such as
have been recently discussed on MJ, in connection with people abusing
this power - aside), until she physically matures. (The difference is
just that he's allowed to do it this way - by selling her - only in case
of dire poverty.)

By contrast, the chances of a boy being bought by an unmarried woman (a
rich widow?) are not very good - so inevitably, he would end up working
rather than marrying. (Although I suppose that, in theory, he could end
up marrying the boss' daughter, a la Horatio Alger. :) And, in any case,
a minor boy can't contract a valid marriage, and neither can his father
do so on his behalf.

Now, why the difference, that a young boy can't marry but a young girl
can? Beats me.

Kol tuv y'all,

From: Gershon Dubin <gershon.dubin@...>
Date: Wed, 31 May 2000 01:00:20 -0400
Subject: Female Jewish Slave

	I believe the answer which is given is related to yi'ud.  This
is the expectation that either the master or one of his sons would marry
the maid.  It is therefore an advantage in enabling a poor girl to marry
someone without the usual dowry, etc.



From: Elaine and Robert Sherer <ERSherer@...>
Date: Mon, 29 May 2000 10:38:49 EDT
Subject: Re: Out of print book

Stew Gottlieb asks where he could find "The Rav Speaks." Try the Israel
Book Shop, 410 Harvard Street, Brookline MA 02446 telephone (617)
566-7113 0r 566-8255


From: Chaim Mateh <chaimm@...>
Date: Sun, 28 May 2000 23:25:41 +0300
Subject: Re: Tikun Sofrim

Moshe Rudner <mosherudner@...> wrote:

<< when the angels leave Avraham (Genesis 18:22), G-d is still there being
as he had not yet left since "Vayera", but the Passuk says that Avraham
still stood before G-d. Rashi explains that "Tikun Sofrim Hu Ze" to say the
more respectable, "And Abraham was still standing before G-d" rather than
the reverse. In some editions, Rashi goes on to say, "Asher Hufchuhu
Zichronam LiVracha Lichtov Ken" which seems to very clearly say that Chazal
changed the actual text.>>

In all the different Chumashim that I checked, the words "Asher Hufchuhu
Z"L Lichtov Ken" are in parenthesis, which means that whether they are
really Rashi's words, is suspect.  The source for this Rashi is Medrash:
either Bereishis Rabbah 49:7 or Shmoss Rabbah 41:4.  In both Medrashim,
no explanation of "tikun sofrim" is given.

Does any Rashi expert (Russel?) have an old or accurate Rashi wherein the
above words are yes or not in parentheses?

Kol Tuv,


From: Robert Tolchin <tolchin@...>
Date: Tue, 30 May 2000 20:20:33 -0400
Subject: Tish'ah BeAv expression

Yes. In my wife's family the expression "it will happen next tisha b'av"
is used to mean that something is unlikely or els likely to be long

For example, consider the following dialogue:

"The contractor said he's coming to finish the bathroom soon," said Marna to
her husband Bob.
"Yeah, next tisha b'av," Bob retorted sarcastically as he continued reading
his evening paper.

--Bob Tolchin

From: Alexander Heppenheimer <aheppenh@...>
Date: 29 May 2000 11:15:59 -0700
Subject: Re: Tish'ah BeAv expression

In MJ 32:33, Ephraim Dardashti <EDardashti@...> wrote:

> The Jews of Iran have an expression that is used to express that the
> odds of something happening are nil.  The expression says: "Such and
> such a thing will happen on Tish'a b AV."  I am curious if any other
> parts of our diaspora have a similar expression tied in to Tish'a b Av.

My grandmother (may she live many more years), whose family came from
Aleppo, uses a similar Syrian expression, "Yom Ekhah ambil `aser," which
means (I think) "when Tish'ah BeAv ('the day of Ekhah') comes out on the
tenth of the month."

Kol tuv y'all,


End of Volume 32 Issue 36