Volume 33 Number 41
                 Produced: Sun Sep  3 11:23:26 US/Eastern 2000

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Cutting Lettered Cake on Shabbos
         [Sheldon Meth]
Halachic wills
         [Moshe Feldman]
Inspiring intro to Judaism book
         [Mike Gerver]
         [Jonathan Baker]
L. D. Schools
         [Frank Silbermann]
Masorah vs. Talmudic Biblical Text
         [Michael and Abby Pitkowsky]
Reading of Tanakh
         [Saul Davis]
Still looking for a parking space
         [Jonathan E. Schiff]
Verses in Shir HaMaalot
         [Sid Gordon]
Women and Tefillin (2)
         [Steven White, Chaim Mateh]
Women and t'fillin: motivations
         [Freda B Birnbaum]


From: Sheldon Meth <SHELDON.Z.METH@...>
Date: Wed, 30 Aug 2000 19:54:46 -0400
Subject: Cutting Lettered Cake on Shabbos

To add to Chaim Mateh's reference (in MJ v33 n31) of the Remah in Orach
Chayim 340:3 and the Mishnah Berura there, Note 17 (also see note 15,
which says this is prohibited only if the letters are made of a material
different from the cake, or if not made with honey water or fruit

See the Sha'arei Teshuva there, Note 1, who cites the Dagul Me'rivavah,
who outright permits this in any case, and says "one who wishes to be
stringent, should be stringent for himself."  "The Shabbos Kitchen,"
p. 139, note 4 elaborates on the Dagul Me'rivavah's reasoning: (1) it is
D'Rabbonon because it is NOT mechika al menas lichtov [erasing for the
purpose of writing]; (2) it is an eino miskaven, psik reisha d'lo ichpat
lei [he does not intend to erase the letters, which, even though
inevitable, he doesn't care about]; and (3) a psik reishah d'lo ichpat
lei in a D'Rabbonon is permissible.


From: Moshe Feldman <MFeldman@...>
Date: Wed, 30 Aug 2000 11:32:41 -0400
Subject: Re: Halachic wills

> From: Lee David Medinets <LDMLaw@...>
> Yes, Steven, I think I can.  As I understand the issue, the problem
> with a conventional will is that it is essentially a shtar sh'chal
> acher missah, that is, a contract that does not take effect until
> after the death of the party who wrote it.  In Halacha, that makes it
> void.  Since it is void, anyone who takes something pursuant to the
> will may be guilty of ganeiva, theft.  There are arguments against
> this, however.  It is a very great mitzvah to do what the deceased
> person has asked (mekayim divrey hamais).
> Moreover, there is always the principal of
> dina demalchusa dina: the law of the land is the law.  
> <snip>

These arguments are dealt with in Judah Dick's article (printed in J of
Halacha & Contemporary Soc.) which is available online at
http://www.jlaw.com/Articles/last_will_and_testament1.html .

He ends the article: "In conclusion, it should be said that it would be
far preferable - and likely be more proper - if a will is prepared in a
manner that meets the strict requirements of halacha, in keeping with
the views of all poskim."

Kol tuv,


From: Mike Gerver <Mike.Gerver@...>
Date: Wed, 30 Aug 2000 15:13:36 +0200
Subject: Inspiring intro to Judaism book

The responses in v33n30 to Josh Hoexter's request in v33n27 did not
include a few of my favorites, so I'll mention them here, even though I
have already e-mailed Josh about them.

1) "On Being a Jew," by James Kugel. This book, explicitly modeled after
the Kuzari, is in the form of a series of dialogs between a Jewish
college student, who believes in G-d but does not know why he should
observe "ritual" mitzvot like kashrut and Shabbat, and an Orthodox
friend of his father's.  Its flavor is quite different from the
similarly titled book by Rabbi Donin, which is more of a how-to manual.
Available from amazon.com.

2) "God in Search of Man," by Abraham Joshua Heschel.  I found this
quite inspiring when I first became interested in becoming observant, 30
years ago. Maybe I'm remembering the title wrong, since it is not listed
on amazon.com, though there are similar titles listed, some of them out
of print.

3) "The Informed Soul," by Rabbi Dr. Dovid Gottlieb. I think that's the
title, it's not listed in amazon.com, and I can't check the title now,
since the book is on my lift, which won't arrive in Israel for another
two or three weeks (and may not get unpacked for a long time after
that).  However, there is a similar book by the same author, "Living Up
to the Truth," available for viewing, downloading, and non-commercial
distribution, on the Ohr Sameyach web page
(http://www.ohr.org.il/special/books/gott/truth.htm).  This book is
obviously written by a former philosophy professor, a very good one, and
it systematically builds up a rational case for believing in Torah
Judaism.  In principle, no one should become frum for any other reasons
than the ones given in this book, but in practice I doubt whether a
single person has ever become frum only because of arguments like these.
People need personal role models, they need to be invited for Shabbos
and fed cholent.  Especially after reading Cynthia Tenen's comments in
v33n30 about how Blu Greenberg's book might answer Josh's friend's real
question, I doubt if Rabbi Gottlieb's books are right for Josh's friend,
unless she is very philosophically minded.  Still, they might form a
useful compliment to some of the other books that have been recommended
(and to cholent), for the right person-- someone who would be
embarrassed to become frum ONLY as a result of being fed cholent.

Mike Gerver
Raanana, Israel


From: Jonathan Baker <jjbaker@...>
Date: Wed, 30 Aug 2000 00:45:01 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Kafrisin

Noyech Miller asks about kafrisin being variously translated as Cyprian
wine or capers.

The Hirsch Siddur leaves the formulation of the incense untranslated,
because we don't know the translations of all the nouns.  I guess that
includes "yein kafrisin".

Jastrow holds that it is caper-wine, but cites Rashi holding otherwise
with the Cypriots.  He cites close to a dozen places where it is capers.

Another weird one is "kanbos".  In Kilayim it is cannabis (hemp) in two
places, but elsewhere it has been rendered "cinnabar".

    Jonathan Baker
      Web page update: new divrei torah. <http://www.panix.com/~jjbaker>


From: Frank Silbermann <fs@...>
Date: Wed, 30 Aug 2000 10:34:46 -0500 (CDT)
Subject:  L. D. Schools

A few posts back someone wrote:
>> I have seen Yeshiva students act in a detestable manner toward
>> children with disabilities, simply because of their disabilities.
>> It is a sad state of affairs.

What age were the children?

It seems to me that respect for custom and community standards in things
not explicitly codified in law is based on a natural, and probably
essential, human tendency towards conformity, and the importance of
conformity is probably most effectively taught during early childhood.

As a child matures he learns to distinguish between nonconformity which
is willful versus that which is involuntary.  Refusal to obey the
teacher, or the wearing of one's hair contrary to fashion would be
examples of willful nonconformity; involuntary nonconformity would
include characteristics such as facial disfigurement or the inability to
walk.  We hope that school will teach children to distinguish between
slackers versus the handicapped even as it teaches them to distinguish
between the letters raish and dahled.  During the process of learning
children will err, to the pain of children afflicted with handicaps,
unfortunately.  But if wisdom came naturally to Jewish children we
wouldn't need Jewish schools in the first place.

Frank Silbermann
New Orleans, Louisiana


From: Michael and Abby Pitkowsky <pitab@...>
Date: Wed, 30 Aug 2000 20:47:24 +0200
Subject: Masorah vs. Talmudic Biblical Text

Recently Prof. Sid Z. Leiman published an excellent article on the
contradictions between the Masoritic text and the halakhah found in the
Talmud.  The article is "Masorah and Halakhah: A Study in Conflict" and
is found in the book _Tehillah le-Moshe: Biblical and Judaic Studies in
Honor of Moshe Greenberg_ published by Eisenbrauns: Winona Lake,
Indiana, 1997.  Since the book is probably not available to most I'll do
an injustice by summarizing a very interesting article and say that
Prof. Leiman documents the triumph of the Masoritic text over the
halachah and suggests a number of reasons, one being the scribal guilds
of the medival period (a theory put first suggested by
Prof. Y. Ta-Shma).  Other areas for further study are the impact of
numerous "Masoretic-Halakhic treatises", the printing press and the


From: Saul Davis <sdavis@...>
Date: Wed, 30 Aug 2000 22:15:46 +0300
Subject: Reading of Tanakh

Thanks to Gilad J. Gevaryahu for pointing out that there are parshiyoth
petuhoth and stumoth (open and closed paragraphs) in the tanakh. The
word "petuhoth" is missing from my post!


From: Jonathan E. Schiff <Jschiff139@...>
Date: Wed, 30 Aug 2000 21:42:32 EDT
Subject: Re: Still looking for a parking space

<< 've heard arguments left and right re: using the parking lot of store
 A, when purchasing from store B.

 What I have personally found most troubling is attempts to muter this
 halachikly, that is find halachik reasoning that it is not prohibited. >>

I believe there are two intertwined issues.  One is whether or not
parking in lot A to purchase from store B is "theft" which a previous
poster (I forgot to thank) answered in great detail.  The other question
concerns the more general ethical issues involved.  One problem--I am an
attorney and tend to approach terms such as "theft" as words d'art (or
something like that) so I suppose the issues get sidetracked.  I do
think your point is well-taken.  But sometimes it is a good idea to
define our terms.  Otherwise we fall into the trap of many political
columnists who can't resist writing broadsides about how the government
commits the crime of theft every time it collects a tax.

Jonathan E. Schiff


From: Sid Gordon <sid.gordon@...>
Date: Wed, 30 Aug 2000 19:08:32 +0300
Subject: re: Verses in Shir HaMaalot

>Does anyone know when and how the paragraph "Tehillat HaShem..." began
>to be said immediately after "Shir HaMa'alot~ is said before Birchat
>HaMazon? They are not connected in Tehillim...

I recently came across a possible answer to this question in a book
called "Rite and Reason" ny Rabbi Shmuel Gelbard.  He says it is an
Ashkenazic custom and the the four verses correspond to the four
blessings in the Birkat HaMazon.  The first verse "and all flesh shall
bless His Holy Name" corresponds to "He gives bread to all flesh" which
appears in the first blessing.  The second verse ("and we shall bless
Y-ah") corresponds to "and we shall give thanks to You" in the second
blessing.  The third verse "For His lovingkindness is forever"
corresponds to "That we shall not be shamed, that we shall not be
embarrassed unto eternity".  The fourth verse "Who shall speak the
powers of God, who shall declare all of His praise", corresponds to the
praises in the fourth blessing, "Our King, our Mighty One, our Creator,
our Redeemer."

Well, some of it may seem a little forced, but I thought it was as good
an explanation as any.



From: Steven White <StevenJ81@...>
Date: Wed, 30 Aug 2000 17:56:30 EDT
Subject: Women and Tefillin

I heard a little bit of a different take on this.  What I heard is not
so much that we cannot keep our *thoughts* pure enough to wear tefillin
all day long, but that because we all have the status of being tamei
that we should not wear tefillin (containing the four-letter Name) all
day long.  Because of this, given that women are not obligated to wear
tefillin, women should not expose tefillin to unnecessary tumah.  (This
is tumat met, not tumat niddah, as I heard it.)  And men only wear
tefillin long enough to daven.

On the other hand, if this argument is valid, then why should *anyone*
be allowed to touch a Sefer Torah more than absolutely necessary to get
through a Torah reading?

Steven White

From: Chaim Mateh <chaimm@...>
Date: Wed, 30 Aug 2000 20:50:39 +0300
Subject: Women and Tefillin

In vol33#34, Barry Best <barry.h.best@...> wrote:
<<We are supposed to keep in a proper frame of mind when wearing t'fillin
(they have a higher level of holiness than tzitzis or a kipah or other
things we wear), we should not wear them when distracted by idle (or worse)

AFAIK, we need also guf noki (clean body) when wearing Tfillin, which
means that even passing gas is considered guf not noki.  Since we cannot
prevent such things for long periods of time (how they did it in days
gone by, I dunno), the time of Tfillin wearing was restricted to the
short period of morning davening.  Women, by nature, have other bodily
activities that may lead to guf not noki, and thus even the short time
of morning davening is not appropriate for them to wear Tfillin.

Since men are _required_ to wear Tfillin, they take the risk of guf not
noki during the short period of morning davening.  Since women are not
_required_ to wear Tfillin, there is no need to take that risk.

Kol Tuv,


From: Freda B Birnbaum <fbb6@...>
Date: Wed, 30 Aug 2000 14:01:41 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Women and t'fillin: motivations

In MJ v33n34, Barry Best comments:
> Women, who are not obligated to wear
> t'fillin would be in the same camp as men who wanted to wear them all
> day - it is a bit presumptuous; it implicitly sends the message, "I
> can keep my mind focused on holy thoughts better than you can".

Your statements up to your conclusion are correct; however, it is a
dangerous business to assume that we understand someone's motivations
simply from observing their behavior; and it is my strong hunch that
davka those frum women who do put on tefillin (outside of the
Conservative movement) are extremely careful to do so in private.
They're not showing off to anyone; they are engaging in a relationship
with Gd which is irrelevant to anyone's observation.

Freda Birnbaum, <fbb6@...>
"Call on God, but row away from the rocks"


End of Volume 33 Issue 41