Volume 32 Number 52
                 Produced: Tue Jun 13  6:25:37 US/Eastern 2000

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Bring us up to our land
         [David and Toby Curwin]
Buying Slaves
         [Asher Friedman]
Kashrus of a Siddur
         [Andrew Klafter]
Kosher vs. M'hadrin (2)
         [Danny Skaist, Dovid Oratz]
         [Tzvi Harris]
Nusach Sefard
         [Paul Ginsburg]
Obligations and Limits of Questions
         [Kenneth G Miller]
She'elah and She'ol
         [Mike Gerver]
She'elah vs. Sheol
         [David and Toby Curwin]


From: David and Toby Curwin <curwin@...>
Date: Thu, 8 Jun 2000 14:26:39 +0300
Subject: Bring us up to our land

 Steve McQueen <matnsue@...> wrote:
> While we are on the subject of honesty in prayer, how can those who
> support a change to Nahem say "... and bring us up in joy to our land"
> in Shabbat Musaf?  Has this also not already happened?

I don't know about Shabbat Musaf, but Rav Goren recited Birkat HaMazon
with some changes. Instead of "hu yolicheynu komomiut l'artzeinu" (he
will lead us upright to our land), he said "b'artzeinu" (in our
land). Also, instead of "she'hinchalta l'avotaynu eretz chemda" (that
you granted our fathers a desirable land), he said "she'hinchalta
l'avotaynu v'lanu" (that you granted our fathers and us).

-David Curwin
Kvutzat Yavne, Israel


From: Asher Friedman <asher36@...>
Date: Thu, 08 Jun 2000 02:51:06 GMT
Subject: Buying Slaves

I was wondering what is the halacha regarding buying slaves these
days. Can you "buy" a non-jew than free him/her and they would
automatically be converted? How about a mamzer, would he be able to
"buy" a non jewish woman to marry her?


From: Andrew Klafter <andrew.klafter@...>
Date: Thu, 8 Jun 2000 10:59:09 -0400
Subject: Kashrus of a Siddur

>From: Issie Scarowsky <issie.scarowsky@...>
>I looked in three different luachs - books that outline
>synagogue procedure - and they all indicate that on the first days of
>Sivan (from the 2nd to Shavuot) that although we do not say Tachnun, we
>do say Lamenatseach. Most siddurim I have consulted are consistent with
>this view. However, I noted that the ashkenaz Tikun Meir siddur states
>that on these days we do not recite Lamenatseach.

>My question is how is it that one edition of a siddur can
>provide instructions that seem to be contrary to most other sources?
>What is known about the Tikun Meir siddur? Are its directions based on a
>minority opinion and, if so, whose. Finally, is it possible that the
>directions are in error and, if so, how do we come to trust siddur
>directions in general?

See if your Tikun Meir is Nusach Sephard or Nusach Ashkenaz.  Nusach
Sephard (which is really a collection of many different nusachos, and
not one nusach) involves numerous minor differences from Nusach
Ashkenaz, both in specific wordings of tefilot, order of tehillim in
pesukey d'zimra, additional tehillim in pesukei d'zimra, and variations
in what calender days certain tefillot are omitted or included.

Tachanun, in particular, was treated quite differently from one
community to another in Europe.  Aside from having a very different text
of the actual tachanun prayer, most Chassidic communities (but also some
non-Chassidic, Ashkenaz communities) do not say Lamnatzeach (Psalm 20)
on days when tachanun is omitted.  Even if your siddur is Nusach
Ashkenaz, there was variation from place to place in matters like this,
and it does not constitute an "error".

There is a brief discussion of this by Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi
(the Ba'al HaTanya and editor of the Tehillat HaShem Siddur which
purports to be an authoritative text of the editions to the siddur made
by the Ari Z"L).  On page 60, before Lamnatzeach, the following is
stated: "According to the Sephardic Custum, the following psalm, as well
as Tefilla L'David are omitted on those days when tachanun is not said:
namely, the entire month of Nissan; Pesach Sheni (the 14th of Iyar); Lag
b'Omer, from Rosh Chodesh Sivan through the 12th of that month, i.e. 5
days after Shavuot-for the Shavuot sacrifices could still be offered
during those additional days...."

As far as how we come to trust siddur directions in general, your
question brings to mind Rabbi Chayim Soleveitchik's article "Rupture and
Reconstruction." 75 years ago or more, no one would have ever asked the
question "How do I know if the siddur that may father, my Rav, and
everyone in my community is using is kosher."  In fact, if anyone wrote
a halakhic opinion which was contrary to the community's siddur, the
halakhic opinion would be disregarded as either entirely incorrect, or
at best applicable only to another locale.  Nowadays, people are less
confident about the validity of their own minhagim and need to "check"
whether what they've been taught is "k'hilchasa".

My opinion is that we trust a siddur because it is used by our shul, our
parents, our rav, our teachers, etc.  For ba'alei teshuva who have no
personal mesora to rely upon, one can follow his/her shul rav, rosh
yeshiva, mentor, or the like.

The Gemara in Sukkah 30b recounts a dispute between Rav Kahana and the
Sages about the what type of haddassim are considered acceptable to
fulfill the mitzva of the 4 Species on Sukkot.  The sages require that
three leaves come out of each shoot.  Rav Kahana was more lenient and
also accepted an inferior type of haddassim where the shoots alternated
with 1 leaf and 2 leaves ("Chad V'Trei").  The Gemara goes on to tell
about a student of Rav Kahana, Rabbi Acha the Son of Rava, who went out
of his way to use the more lenient type of haddassim "Keivan d'nafka
m'pumei d'Rav Kahana" ("Because [this ruling] came from the mouth of Rav

In other words, the fact that his Rebbe allowed this type of hadassim
made it all the more special for him, and he was more motivated to be
connected with his Rebbe than to search for the machmir option.  I think
that the principle in this story is very relevant to contemporary
questions about minhag, chumra, shita, etc.  I truly believe that if we
had more reverence for the mesora, and the variations in mesora
throughout the Jewish world, the Orthodox community could become less
divisive and more tolerant.

-Nachum Klafter


From: Danny Skaist <danny@...>
Date: Sun, 11 Jun 2000 11:42:48 +0200
Subject: RE: Kosher vs. M'hadrin

From: Anonymous
 << There is a story of a man who came to a shtetl and asked the rov about
the shechita.  The rov said he was the shochet, and the man said that
was good enough for him.  The rov then asked him for a sizeable loan,
and the man said "I'd like to give you the money, but I don't know you".
The rov then asked him, " You wouldn't lend me money because you don't
know me, but yet you would eat my shechita?  You don't even know if I
know what a chalef (special knife used for slaughtering) looks like!  Is
your money worth so much to you (and your neshomo worth so little) that
you are so careful about it, but so careless about your soul?"  >>>

A single witness is sufficient for "forbidden" matters, but not for
money matters. [Ed achad ne'eman b'issurim]

Please inform the "R" rabbi that my neshomo is on his head, because I
will take his word for what is kosher.


From: Dovid Oratz <dovid@...>
Date: Wed, 7 Jun 2000 09:41:02 +0200
Subject: Re: Kosher vs. M'hadrin

I very much enjoyed "anonymous' " clear reasonable explanation of the
issue. Several years back when one of the most prominent Rabbis of the
chief Rabbinate (I leave him nameless since I did not request his
permission to quote him) was the chief Rabbi of a city, I wanted to buy
gelatin that was under his hechsher. I called him up and the following
is an accurate translation of the conversation, (including the royal

ME: I was wondering about the hechsher on Ardi Gelatin. Is it gelatin
from Kosher animals? 
RABBI: The hechsher is based on the famous heter of the Achiezer [Rabbi
Chaim Ozer Grodzinski]. 
ME: Yes, but does that mean it comes from unkosher animals?
RABBI: We told you. the hechsher is based ...
ME: But many [including most of the standard hechsherim of 
America] do not accept that heter.
RABBI: Shall we tell you the truth? We don't eat it. You'll ask: If we
won't eat it why do we give a hechsher on it? We'll tell you how
hechsherim work in Israel. The CEO of Ardi comes to us and asks us for a
hechsher. We ask him for the source of the gelatin. He says that it
comes from two factories, one in Spain and one in Belgium. Then he shows
us the local Hechsherim. We thought we had an easy job and we told him
that we did not know those Rabbis. The next day, he is back with two
letters from Rabbis who work in the Chief Rabbinate saying, "Rabbi so
and so's G-d fearingness is even greater than his wisdom..." -- we don't
have to tell you the standard language of these letters. Now according
to the law, if a product from abroad has a hechsher from a Rabbi and
that Rabbi is known by Rabbis in the Chief Rabbinate, we MUST give the
product a hechsher -- but that doesn't mean that we have to eat it! By
the way, Ardi imports only about 20% of that gelatin.  The rest is
imported by [a major candy producer]. We hope we haven't ruined your

I think that this conversation, which predates the Mehadrin hechsherim,
clearly shows the need for a mehadrin hechsher!

Dovid Oratz

PS I have no idea if Ardi even imports gelatin today and if it does,
whether the situation is the same. This is just a translation of a
conversation that took place years ago (the same goes for the candy


From: Tzvi Harris <ltharris@...>
Date: Sun, 11 Jun 2000 10:37:05 +0300
Subject: Mehadrin

Mehadrin takes on different meanings in various settings.

The rav of a community here in Israel visited a number of shechita
plants in Israel.  He told me that although the same company may produce
chickens in two different bags, one marked "kasher" and the second
marked "kasher l'mehadrin", usually, there is no difference between the
two.  There was a plant that closed down ("Off Yerushalayim" outside Bet
Shemesh) that did have a number of chumrot on the mehadrin chickens that
they didn't have for the regular chickens.

On the other hand there are differences between the different hechsherim
(kashrut providers)- some split the chickens before kashering, some
check the tzomet hagidin (a part of the leg where a number of ligaments
(?) join together), and thoroughness of the mashgichim.  (About ten
years ago we approached Rav Shaul Yisrael zt"l with a chicken question.
When he heard the chicken was "Off Yerushalayim", he told us that we
don't have to show him the questionable bone, because the hechsher is so

In the Jerusalem Rabbinate there are differences between the regular
hechsher and the mehadrin hechsher, as someone already mentioned.

Bottom line is, every use of the word has to be checked to discover what
it means.

Tzvi Harris
Talmon, Israel
Halacha Yomit for Day Schools http://www.torah.net/sites/halachayomit/


From: Paul Ginsburg <GinsburgP@...>
Date: Thu, 8 Jun 2000 07:54:31 -0400 
Subject: Nusach Sefard

Does anyone know where I can find out about the history of Nusach
Sefard, used by Hasidim?

(English material is preferred)

Paul Ginsburg
Bethesda, MD


From: Kenneth G Miller <kennethgmiller@...>
Date: Wed, 07 Jun 2000 22:10:26 EDT
Subject: re: Obligations and Limits of Questions

In MJ 32:47, Chaim Vogt-Moykopf raises some very interesing questions.

<<< why [do] she'elah and she'ola have the same shoresh? (At least I
believe so. The only difference I see is the cholam chaser). The word
she'ola (as Shin, Alef, Lamed, Heh) is used 5 times in the Chumash and
only in the sense of 'grave'. She'elah as 'question' doesn't exist at all
(It's interesting that I couldn't find a counterpart for 'question').>>>

These two words certainly do seem to have the same three letter root,
Shin Alef Lamed. I have no idea what the connection between them is, but
I'll work on it. My concordance does not show the noun "she'elah" as
appearing in the Chumash proper, but it does appear in Judges 8:24, and
Kings I 2:16 and 2:20, and other forms of that noun also appear

What is very important, though, is that although the noun "question"
does not appear in the Chumash, the *verb* "to ask" does appear many
times in many forms. Twenty-six times, according to my first glance
through the concordance. Arguably, the most famous of them might be Ex
13:14, "When you child will ask you...", referring to the questions of
the Seder night.

I must admit, though, that this verb is used in at least two distinct
senses: One can ask for information, and one can ask for objects. The
first asks a "question" (which Chaim would like to see appear as a
noun).  The second can often be translated as "borrowing", such as in
Ex. 12:35, when we "borrowed" silver items from the slavemasters prior
to the Exodus. (A particularly ambiguous case appears in Deut 10:12, but
we can discuss that at another time...)

<<< What are we allowed and what are we not allowed to question? ... We
know how important it is to be curious in Judaism, to ask questions, to
doubt, to be critical. But where are the limits according to Halacha? >>>

I would like to say that there are actually no limits at all. I would
like to say that honest intellectual inquiry is totally open, and that
Judaism welcomes all questions. But a friend of mine used to quote his
father as saying that "Some people have such open minds that their
brains fall out."

Judaism does welcome all questions (as far as I know) but Halacha also
understands that there are certain dangers when learning certain
subjects, especially in certain situations. A good starting place to
learn where Halacha places the limits would the the Mishna, Chagigah
2:1, with as many commentaries as you can.

Akiva Miller


From: Mike Gerver <MJGerver@...>
Date: Thu, 8 Jun 2000 04:00:55 EDT
Subject: She'elah and She'ol

Chaim Vogt-Moykopf asks, in v32n47, why she'elah (question) and she'ol
(grave) have the same shoresh.  It's not clear that they do.  It often
happens in Hebrew that two different shoreshim, with completely
unrelated meanings, have the same spelling. In some cases, one of them
may have been borrowed from Aramaic or another language.  In other
cases, perhaps they were originally the same shoresh, but the second
meaning developed such a long time ago that there is no way to tell now
how it was connected to the first meaning.

A useful reference for these kinds of questions is Brown, Driver and
Briggs, "A Hebrew and English Lexicon of the Old Testament."  They list
words by shoresh, and say what the connection in meaning is when two
words have the same shoresh, and they give the theories of various
etymologists in those cases where it is not clear whether two words have
the same shoresh or not.  In the case of she'elah and she'ol, they are
listed under the same shoresh, and they give various far-fetched
theories (e.g. the grave is a place that necromancers ask questions of),
but state that the connection is dubious, and that most scholars do not
think it is possible to say whether the two words are related.

Mike Gerver


From: David and Toby Curwin <curwin@...>
Date: Thu, 8 Jun 2000 14:46:24 +0300
Subject: She'elah vs. Sheol

According to Rabbi Klein in A Comprehensive Etymological Dictionary of
the Hebrew Language, "she'elah" meaning question was a post-biblical
development.  In the biblical sense, "she'elah" was a request or
petition. He writes that "sheol" is of uncertain etymology.

-David Curwin
Kvutzat Yavne, Israel


End of Volume 32 Issue 52