Volume 33 Number 47
                 Produced: Wed Sep  6  6:16:00 US/Eastern 2000

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

7880 (?) Rashis
         [Reuben Rudman]
Accuracy of Molad
         [Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz]
Calandar Changes
         [Daniel M Wells]
Cutting Lettered Cake on Shabbos
         [Chaim Mateh]
Hebrew & Roman Calendars
         [Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz]
Pesach in the Spring
         [Mike Gerver]
Who are today's gedolim?
         [Gilad J. Gevaryahu]


From: Reuben Rudman <rudman@...>
Date: Tue, 05 Sep 2000 10:25:52 -0400
Subject: 7880 (?) Rashis

In MJ Vol 33 #45, you stated that there are "exactly 7800 Rashis".

How can you be sure of an exact number, since there are a number of
Rashis where different manuscripts and published texts disagree as to
whether a particular "Rashi" is a new Dibbur haMaskil ( that is, a new
Rashi) or simply a continuation of the previous Rashi?

We learned (from Rashi) that HaShem said B'chatzos ha'layla (i.e., at
midnight), but when Moshe spoke to Par'oh he said K'chatzos ha'layla
(i.e., about midnight), since exact figures are often impossible to


From: Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz <sabbahillel@...>
Date: Mon, 04 Sep 2000 11:41:54 -0400
Subject: Re: Accuracy of Molad

> From: Alan Rubin <arubin@...>

> I would be grateful for an explanation of the accuracy of our
> tradition for the time between two moladot and how it relates to the
> present calendar.  The possibilities are then that either: There is
> now a difference of at least 3 hours between the calculated and
> observed molad.  or the error is much less than half a second.  or I
> have not understood how the calendar works and some correction is made
> based on actual observation.  Alan Rubin

The NCSY Torah center in Yerushalayim sends out Torah Tidbits each week.
Each month besides sending out the molad to be announced (and a
correction to connect to the clock time), they often include the actual
astronomical time and and indication when witnesses would be able to
actually see the moon.

I am attaching the summary table that was sent out at the beginning of
the year for 5760.  Note The astronomical times.  The Israeli Standard
Time (clock time) is approximately 21 minutes earlier than the announced
molad which is Yerushalayim Standard Time.  That is, 12 noon
Yerushalayim Solar Time is approximately 11:40 AM IST because of the
position of Yerushalayim in the time zone used by the world today.  Of
course, when Israel goes on summer time (add an hour), then add 39
minutes to get the clock time.

Tables do not often come out on email and the web the way they are
so the dates and times are being presented in text format
For each of the 12 months of 5760 (not including Tishrei), you will find
(1) The name of the month
(2) The Molad as announced (leave as is; do not adjust for locale or
daylight savings time)
(3) This same time translated into Israeli clock time (this you can
adjust for local time to make it more meaningful and relevant)
(4) The actual molad, when the Moon is actually between the Earth and
the Sun, in Israeli time. Can be adjusted.

MarCheshvan, SUN  4h  28m  10p, Su/OCT 10, 04:08, SH/OCT 9, 13:35
Kislev, MON  17h  12m  11p, Mo/NOV 8, 16:52, Mo/NOV 8, 05:53
Tevet, WED  5h  56m  12p, We/DEC 8, 05:36, We/DEC 8, 00:32
Shvat, THU  18h  40m  13p, Th/JAN 6, 18:20, Th/JAN 6, 20:13
Adar Rishon, SHA  7h  24m  14p, SH/FEB 5, 07:04, SH/FEB 5, 15:02
Adar Sheni, SUN  20h  8m  15p, Su/MAR 5, 19:48, Mo/MAR 6, 07:16
Nissan, TUE  8h  52m  16p, Tu/APR 4, 09:32 sum., Tu/APR 4, 21:12 sum.
Iyar, WED  21h  36m  17p, We/MAY 3, 22:16 sum., Th/MAY 4, 7:13 sum.
Sivan, FRI  10h  21m  0p, Fr/JUN 2, 11:00 sum., Fr/JUN 2, 15:15 sum.
Tammuz, SHA  23h  5m  1p, SH/JUL 1, 23:44 sum., SH/JUL 1, 22:21 sum.
Menachem Av, MON  11h  49m  2p, Mo/JUL 31, 12:28 sum., Mo/JUL 31, 05:25
Elul, WED  0h  33m  3p, We/AUG 30, 01:12 sum., Tu/AUG 29, 13:19 sum.

Dates for Rosh Chodesh Benching in 5760 are:
OCT 9, NOV 6, DEC 4, JAN 1, FEB 5, MAR 4, APR 1, APR 29, JUN 3, JUL 1,
JUL 29, AUG 26

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: Daniel M Wells <wells@...>
Date: Tue, 5 Sep 2000 20:03:12 +0300 (IDT)
Subject: Calandar Changes

> From: Danny Skaist <danny@...>
>> I find it hard to believe that someone will take it into his hands to
>> make changes to the established calendar that to all intents and
>> purposes is considered Torah LeMoshe MiSinai.

> I find it hard to believe that someone won't take it into his hands, and
> that others will disagree and that there will be 2 pessachs (and other
> holidays), according to the different calandar views.One will be
> machmir according to the original calandar, and the other will be
> machmar accorning to the pasuk. Others will have keep both out of safek.

As someone quite rightly pointed out that Pesach is NEVER exactly at the
Vernal Equinox and in a leap year approximately 30-40 days later.

Thus the question arises in a conflict of Midoraitas - should the
calendar be changed (and at what point - er how about next year?) to
accomodate the vernal equinox or 'Shev AlTaiseh' (don't do anything) and
not interfere with the MiDoraita calculation.

Obviously with the advent of Maschiah or a qualified Beit Din/Sanedrin
these questions will be answered.



From: Chaim Mateh <chaimm@...>
Date: Mon, 04 Sep 2000 23:40:55 +0200
Subject: Cutting Lettered Cake on Shabbos

In vol 33#41, Sheldon Meth <SHELDON.Z.METH@...> wrote:

<<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 ... 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 Mishna Brura (MB) himself (note 17) brings the Dagel Mervava (DM),
so he was well aware of it.  And even so, the MB says that we can use
the DM's view only if we break the letters with our mouth as we eat.
IOW, the Posek acharon in this instance is the MB, who says not to cut
the letters on the cake, the DM notwithstanding.  Also, Shmiras Shabbos
Kehilchoso also says not to cut the letters.

<<"The Shabbos Kitchen," p. 139, note 4 elaborates on the Dagul
Me'rivavah's reasoning: >>

Who is the author of the above?  Does he merely explain the DM's
reasoning or does he also pasken that one can cut the letters?

Kol Tuv,


From: Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz <sabbahillel@...>
Date: Mon, 04 Sep 2000 12:21:34 -0400
Subject: Re: Hebrew & Roman Calendars

> From: Jonathan Baker <jjbaker@...>
> Eli Linas brings the gemara in Shabbos 75a that praises Israel for its
> knowledge of astronomy, which ability raises us beyond other nations.
> Rambam in Guide 2:11 bemoans our loss of mathematical and astronomical
> ability.  Granted that one needs some fairly sophisticated mathematics
> (by medieval standards) to understand the calendar, what primacy is
> Mr. Linas bemoaning?  The Jews were never innovators.  Our fixed
> calendar postdates the Egyptian discovery of the 19-year cycle by 700+
> years (ca. 400 BCE -> end of Sanhedrin in 325 CE).  The gemara elsewhere
> talks about the Jewish view of the Sun returning during the night above
> the heavens, contrasted with the Gentile view that it returned under the
> earth, and admitted that the Gentile view was more plausible.
> Do you have some concrete evidence of Jewish primacy in mathematics or
> astronomy beyond that of, say, the Greeks (who really innovated most in
> mathematics)?

Many modern commentaries (such as Rabbi Berel Wein and Rabbi Reisman)
point out that the haftora of machar chodesh assumes the knowledge of
precisely when the molad would be and when the witnesses would see the
moon.  Yonasan not only knows that the next day would be Rosh Chodesh,
but that witnesses would not see the new moon in time to make it a one
day Rosh Chodesh.

The implication is that the Bnei Yisrael had the calculations from the
very beginning but it is a gezeiras hakasuv that makes us use witnesses.
The calculations were used to verify that the witnesses knew what they
were testifying to.

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: Mike Gerver <Mike.Gerver@...>
Date: Wed, 6 Sep 2000 07:42:54 +0200 
Subject: Pesach in the Spring

Steven White asks, in v33n43,

> Intuitively, it would make sense that Pesach must fall out on the first
> "15th of a month" that follows the spring equinox.  But of course today,
> in two out of each nineteen years, that is no longer true.  Are we
> actually in violation?
> Does anyone have a good source?

There was never a requirement that Pesach fall on the first full moon
after the vernal equinox.  The Rambam, near the beginning of Perek 4 of
Kiddush Hachodesh in the Mishneh Torah, lists several reasons why the
Sanhedrin would add an extra Adar.  Making Pesach fall after the vernal
equinox ("tekufah") is only one of the reasons. They can also delay
Pesach by adding an extra Adar if it looks like the grain won't be ripe
in time to bring the Omer, or the fruit trees aren't in bloom yet,
etc. So it seems that Pesach has to fall after the vernal equinox, but
necessarily at the earliest opportunity after the vernal equinox, and we
are not in violation today, using a fixed calendar that has drifted
since it was established by Hillel Sheni.

It is true, as Steven points out, that if you trace the fixed calendar
back to the fourth century CE, when it was established by Hillel Sheni,
you will find that Pesach sometimes would have fallen a few days before
the vernal equinox then, and this has always struck me as curious.  Only
since about 1000 CE has Pesach always occurred after the vernal equinox,
according to the present fixed calendar.  I wonder whether the present
fixed calendar really was followed continuously, with no exceptions or
adjustments, since the time of Hillel Sheni.  Between the time of Hillel
Sheni and Saadya Gaon (in the 900s CE), the Roshei Galut (Exilarchs) in
Bavel probably had enough prestige in the Jewish communities throughout
the world to make adjustments in the calendar and make them stick.
Saadya Gaon got into a famous fight about this, and won it, though the
issue there was the day of the week of Rosh Hashanah, not whether to add
an extra Adar.  So maybe the Roshei Galut did make occasional exceptions
to the 19-year cycle established by Hillel Sheni, precisely in order to
keep Pesach from drifting too far past the vernal equinox.

After about 1000 CE, the Jewish community in Bavel was no longer
dominant, and there was no single living authority who would have been
accepted by all Jewish communities.  And once the rules of the fixed
calendar were written down by the Rambam, it would have been tough for
anyone to try to make an exception. Also, it was shortly after that, I
think, in the 1200s CE, that Jews started commonly using the present
system of numbering years, since the creation of the world, on
documents. (Before that, they used a calendar going back to Alexander
the Great, I believe, on documents, although people who were scholarly
enough to read books like "Seder Olam" would have known the number of
years since the creation.)  With everyone constantly aware of what year
it was since the creation, it would have been obvious whether an extra
Adar was supposed to be added that year, which also would have made it
difficult to make any exceptions.  This would explain why Pesach has
drifted later and later, relative to the vernal equinox, since about
1000 CE.

Does anyone know of any sources that would support or refute this
theory? In particular, is there any source, before the Mishneh Torah,
which clearly spells out exactly which seven years of the 19 year cycle
are supposed to have an extra Adar, and exactly when the 19 year cycle
begins, relative to a calendar in common use at the time?

Mike Gerver
Raanana, Israel


From: Gilad J. Gevaryahu <Gevaryahu@...>
Date: Mon, 4 Sep 2000 17:21:51 EDT
Subject: Who are today's gedolim?

Freda Birnbaum (MJv33n43) asked an interesting question about <<who are
the generally acknowledged leaders of the generation.>> i.e., gedolei

Since this is a very subjective question, maybe we have to define some
of the characteristics of such a person. I would say that such a person,
who is a married man with a family (this was always the requirement for
a position of a Rav in a congregation), aside from the obvious that he
is shomer Torah umitzvot, must have written substantial amount, so he
could be judged objectively on the quality, understanding and depth of
his writings. If he did not write -- then it is all hearsay, we really
do not know what he thinks. He must show leadership qualities (a lamed
vavnik can never be a gedol hador, since by definition he is a nistar
=hidden), and he is accepted and recognized by both hasidim and
mitnagdim alike as being an authority to rely on. Both of these can be
done, to some extent, by measuring the number of times he is being
quoted in sho"t (needs to be defined) as a source for halacha. The
number of times the sho"t disagrees with him should be subtracted. We
must allow for an adjustment for Sephardic vs. Ashkenazic person. In
short this task is near an impossibility.

The above definition falls short on such a "gadol" who did most of his
writings in non halachic fields (e.g., Tanach), and will exclude the
Gr"a who will fall short in three categories (he wrote little, and the
Chasidim will probably veto him, and he shied away from leadership).

Another method is to find out in a statistical sample, among the
Orthodox, who they believe to be gedol hador, and the first 5 (3, 10,
15, whatever) are gedolei hador. The problem I find with the last
suggestion is that with the modern use of PR, someone might get there
(by advertisement, lobbying, etc.)  and not be a true one by the first
criteria above, so we might have to combine the first and second sets.

I am afraid that in the end each will have his own subjective list and
find objection to some of the names on Yemen's list. As you know, not
all the rabbis who were elected to the position of chief rabbi of Israel
were amongst gedolei hador. If you count gedolei hador by those named as
such in their eulogies, then the list is big.

In short this is a mine field to lead us nowhere. I personally use the
term "gedol hador" most of the time only in past tense, for I feel that
only in the future we'll know the gedolim of the past with historical
perspective.  Some Rabbis I thought years ago to be gedolei hador fell
off my list, they became talmidei chachamim; and I suspect that in the
future I'll change my mind again.

Gilad J. Gevaryahu


End of Volume 33 Issue 47