Volume 33 Number 58
                 Produced: Sat Sep 16 21:29:12 US/Eastern 2000

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Hebrew & Roman Calendars
         [Eli Linas]
Kosher fish
         [Chaim Tatel]
         [Mike Gerver]
Parents Walking Down at Weddings (2)
         [Carl Singer, Perets Mett]
Towels and Tzitzit (2)
         [Anthony S Fiorino, Daniel M Wells]
Why we don't wear Tefillin
         [Russell Hendel]


From: Eli Linas <linaseli@...>
Date: Tue, 12 Sep 2000 15:22:04 +0200
Subject: Re: Hebrew & Roman Calendars

Barak Greenfield wrote in part:

>I realize there is a contemporary belief that every piece of scientific or
>historical information mentioned in the gemara is undeniably correct; but I
>wonder whether the gemara itself ever makes that claim.

Like the language I used in another post, this is a real can of worms. I
have checked this topic out a little bit in the past. Here are some things
I found out: Amongst the Rishonim, there is a machlokis on the question of
Chazzal's scientific knowledge. On the one hand, there is Rav Avraham ben
HaRambam, who holds that Chazzal's science was only as good as the science
of the times. On the other hand, there is the Rosh, who hold that their
science is 100% correct. Amongst others, I have spoken to Rav Avraham
Stern, shlitta, who says he has a kabbala from his rabbeim (he learned in
Gateshead, and was also a talmid muvchak of Rav Moshe Aharon Stern, z"l,
and so I assume the Roshei Yeshivah in Gateshead and Rav Moshe Aharon also
held this way) that Chazal's science is good. Rav Noach Weinberg, shlitta
also holds like this. Finally, there is Rav Shlomo Zalman, z"l, who holds
that the ikker de'ah is the latter. His psak actually has practical nafka
minos in halachah. For just one example, take a person whose gums are
bleeding on Shabbos. The gemara says this is sakana nefashos and we can be
m'challel Shabbos for it. However, the doctors nowadays say that it's not.
Nevertheless, we poskin that we can be m'challel Shabbos for bleeding gums.
(See Shimiras Shabbos K'Hilchsah). Rav Shlomo Zalman's opinion can be found
in the sefer Shiras HaGuf v'HaNefesh, by Rav Yosef Yitzcak Lerner, shlitta.
Look in the second edition of the work, where there are some additions
(miluim) in the back. The sefer is divided into two volumes. In addition,
the first volume is divided into two parts: the introduction, which itself
is about 100 pages long, and then the work itself. The introduction is
paginated by regular numbers, the rest by Hebrew. The introduction is
divided into introductions on each chapter in the book. Go to the intro to
the sixth perek, which starts on page 50 and goes to page 55. Then, go to
the back of the second volume, where the additions are, and look for the
addition to this section. There, Rav Shlomo Zalman says explicitly that the
Rosh's de'ah is the ikker one. Rav Shlomo Zalman, of course, was recognized
as one of the greatest contemporary poskim. If someone of his stature
states his opinion on this, it seems to me that that is tantamount to
saying that yes, the gemara itself does make this claim. 
Eli Linas


From: Chaim Tatel <chaimyt@...>
Date: Tue, 12 Sep 2000 06:12:37 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: Kosher fish

Saul Davis wrote: 
Does anyone please know where I can get a list of all the kosher fish.

Please see:
http://www.kosherquest.org/html/meatfish.htm#Kosher Fish

Chaim Tatel


From: Mike Gerver <Mike.Gerver@...>
Date: Mon, 11 Sep 2000 09:17:25 +0200
Subject: Molad

I want to comment on a couple of recent postings. In v33n52, Alan Rubin asks

> Supposing the molad is on Sunday evening at 11pm.  Rosh Chodesh (New
> Moon) as calculated will be on Yom Sheni (Sunday evening and Monday).
> However when could the new moon first be observed?  As I understand it
> the New Moon can only be seen soon after sunset so in this case
> witnesses would not see the new moon until Monday evening in which case
> Rosh Chodesh would be declared on Yom Shlishi, (Monday evening and
> Tuesday).  Does this mean that nowadays, when the calendar is
> calculated, in many cases we celebrate Rosh Chodesh ( and the rest of
> the month ) one day earlier than would have been the case had the
> calendar been set by Bes Din through witnesses.

As explained by the Rambam in Perek 7 of Kiddush Hachodesh in the
Mishneh Torah, Rosh Chodesh Tishrei (the first day of Rosh Hashanah) is
on the same day as the molad, unless it falls after 12:00 noon, in which
case it is put off until the next day.  It may be put off further, in
order to avoid having it fall on Sunday, Wednesday, or Friday, and in
certain situations where not putting it off would result in the length
of the year differing from the standard length by more than one
day. Rosh Chodesh for the other months is not calculated separately
based on the molad for that month, but depends only on when the previous
and following Rosh Hashanah fall.

It's true that this often results in Rosh Chodesh falling earlier than
it would have at the time when witnesses were used to establish Rosh
Chodesh.  But there is no way to avoid that in a fixed calendar.  Even
if you calculated, for each month, exactly when the new moon would first
be visible from Israel, how can you predict, centuries in advance, when
it would be cloudy?

What you can do in a fixed calendar is make sure that the new moon is
never visible before Rosh Chodesh.  And I think that the rules of the
fixed calendar do that, or come very close to doing that, without
putting off Rosh Chodesh any longer than necessary. Whether this
statement is exactly true would involve a complicated calculation, and
there's a limit to have much time even I am willing to put into these
things. It's complicated because the time from one new moon to the next
is not exactly the same every month.  The molad is based on the mean
time, but the actual time (the ibbur) varies, due to the eccentricity of
the earth's orbit around the sun, at least, and I suppose there may also
be periodic variations in the sidereal period of the moon which are not
negligible.  Furthermore, the earliest time of visibility of the new
moon at a given latitude depends on the declination of both the moon and
the sun, which vary with different periods. And the time between Rosh
Chodesh and the molad varies depending on the month, and on which day of
the week the previous and following Rosh Hashanah fall, and on whether
it is a leap year.

If anyone wants to do this calculation, and see how close Hillel Sheni
came to an ideal fixed calendar, a good place to start would be one of
the later chapters of Kiddush Hachodesh in the Mishneh Torah, where the
Rambam calculates the earliest time the moon would be visible, taking
into account the variations in the period from one new moon to the next,
and the declination of the moon and the sun. This is done in English,
with Arabic numerals rather than spelling out the numbers, in "Rabbinic
Mathematics and Astronomy," by W. H. Feldman (I think that's the author,
the book is on my lift, so I can't look it up now).

In v33n53, Yisrael Medad quotes Prof. Ely Merzbach as saying

> "The difference today between the astronomical mean conjunction and the
> Hazal Molad is two hours (and not three hours), and the reason of these
> two hours is that the Hebraic calendar was done by Hillel Hasheni at the
> year 359. That means 1650 years ago, and the difference between the two
> values of the average lunar month is approximatively 0.38 seconds."

This is true, but only in an average sense over the last 1650 years. For
the reasons given in my posting in v33n39, the difference between the
actual synodic month and the synodic month according to the fixed Hebrew
calendar is not constant, but is steadily increasing. There was no
discrepancy at all in about 300 BCE, since the value used by Hillel
Sheni, and by Ptolemy, was based on lunar eclipse observations between
about 700 BCE and 100 CE. At the time of Hillel Sheni, the discrepancy
was about 0.17 seconds, and now it is about 0.59 seconds, so the average
discrepancy between the time of Hillel Sheni and the present time is
about 0.38 seconds, as Prof. Merzbach says.  (To be honest, I don't
really know the numbers to the nearest hundredth of a second, I'm just
taking numbers which give an average of 0.38 seconds, and linearly
extrapolate to zero in 300 BCE.)

Mike Gerver


From: Carl Singer <CARLSINGER@...>
Date: Sun, 10 Sep 2000 19:27:28 EDT
Subject: Re: Parents Walking Down at Weddings

<<      The peshara (compromise) we came up with was for us to walk four
 abreast - the wife of that couple, my daughter, myself and the husband.
 I felt a little put out because it seemed to me as though I was tagging
 along with them, but it was far better than (a) insisting on getting my
 way and violating a minhag that was important to them, or (b) walking
 behind them and _really_ looking like a "fifth wheel."

    Incidentally, the happily married couple has a beautiful
 eight-month-old baby boy, my first grandchild, b`"h.

    Kol tuv.
 Rick Turkel   >>

Mazel Tov on becoming a grandparent.

I read many times in the secular papers (Dear Abby) about interfering
parents and obstinate children (depends on who're writing the letter.)
I may eat my words as my children get married, etc. -- but I'm caught
between the concept attributed in a recent Mail Jewish to Reb Yaakov ztl
-- essentially, it's not worth fighting over; and the principle of not
being a doormat due to someone's assertiveness, etc.

Kol Tov
Carl Singer

From: Perets Mett <p.mett@...>
Date: Tue, 12 Sep 2000 11:48:20 +0100
Subject: Re: Parents Walking Down at Weddings

Rick Turkel <rturkel@...> asked:

>	Last year my daughter married a seventh-generation Yerushalmi
>from a very frum family, and I ran into a problem because of a local
>custom I'd never encountered before.  Their minhag is that each of the
>wedding participants walk to the chupa attended by a married couple, the

Not a "local custom", but a very widespread one mentioned in most of the
books of minhogim about weddings. This custom is that shoshvinus
requires a couple, and many interpret this to mean a married couple-even
where they do not walk together , because two men bring the choson in and
two women bring the kallo. Those who are not makpid about a married
couple allow divorced parents to act in this capacity (although others
feel that this not a good simon for a marriage) or a father and

In one case I know, a divorced couple acted as shoshvinin ("interfirers"
in Yidish) for their first child's marriage. when their next child got
married, with a different mesader kidushin who was not happy with this
arrangement, the married sibling and her husband brought the
about-to-be-weds in to the chupo.

My sister-in-law passed away before any of her children married. For her
daughter's wedding, her parents (the grandparents of kallo) acted for
her side. At her son's wedding the married daughter and her husband did
the honours. My widowed brother-in-law did not feel in any way belittled
by this.

Of course expectation has a lot to do with it. If you know that the
custom is for married couples to be the ones who perform the bringing in
there is less to be put out about than if you are not aware of such a



From: Anthony S Fiorino <fiorino_anthony@...>
Date: Tue, 12 Sep 2000 08:27:53 -0400
Subject: Towels and Tzitzit

> It is quite common (I think) to wear a towel as a wrap,
> on the way back from bathing, etc. Doesnt this require
> that the towel have tzitzit attached, as it is a true
> 4-cornered garment?

Because a towel is not a "garment" - meaning, it is not an article of
clothing, but rather a tool for drying water off the body - it does not
require tzitzit.

Eitan Fiorino

From: Daniel M Wells <wells@...>
Date: Tue, 12 Sep 2000 15:30:11 +0300 (IDT)
Subject: Towels and Tzitzit

Only actual 4 cornered clothing requires zizit. The MB mentions that bed
sheets are also patur. For the same reason a 4 cornered bag carried on
the back etc is also patur.



From: Russell Hendel <rhendel@...>
Date: Mon, 11 Sep 2000 22:40:18 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: RE: Why we don't wear Tefillin

 Chaiim Mateh v33n41 writes about why we do not wear tefillin

>>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>>>

I find this reasoning strange and not fully accurate.

1) The **biblical mitzvah** is to "wear tefillin" period. Obviously you
take them off for Bodily functions and this is a rabbinic commandment of
showing respect. But it would not make sense to totally abrogate the
Biblical commandment for the sake of the rabbinic commandment of
'respect for holy objects'.

2) As Chaiim himself notes in ancient days they wore them all day
despite the fact that they might occasionally pass intestinal gas. (In
passing, a person on a healthy diet can avoid ever passing intestinal

3) I have heard that the reason we dont wear tefillin arose during the
Roman persecution (Just as eg we did not study Torah openly or delayed
saying shma till the Mosaf Kedushah when the Roman spys left the

Personally, if say, I know that I am spending a whole Sunday studying
(eg answering a backlog of Mail-Jewishes) then I will not hesitate to
wear Tefillin (in my house) and during such times I will eat light
snacks (to the best of my knowledge and belief there is no real
prohibition against eating in tefillin if your mind is still on Torah).

Finally I once heard from Rabbi Saul Berman (in passing) "If wearing
Tefillin all day were reinstituted perhaps the higher awareness of
Kedusha would help curtail some of the violations of business ethics in
the Jewish community"

Russell Jay Hendel; Phd ASA; Dept of Math Towson University
Moderator Rashi is SImple
Surfing the Talmudic Sea


End of Volume 33 Issue 58