Volume 33 Number 84
                 Produced: Mon Nov 20  6:24:12 US/Eastern 2000

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Can we know >THE< reason for a commandment
         [Esther Zar]
Chicken and Eggs
         [Joseph Tabory]
Jewish month names
         [Chaim Tabasky]
A Life Apart (2)
         [Louise Miller, Paul Shaviv]
Narrow Tallit (2)
         [Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz, Y. Askotzky]
Plural of `tallis'
         [Ben Z. Katz]
Plural of Tallit
         [Yisrael Medad]
Surrogate Mother
         [Nicolas Rebibo]
         [Bernard Katz]


From: Esther Zar <ESTABESTAH@...>
Date: Mon, 20 Nov 2000 00:10:49 EST
Subject: Re: Can we know >THE< reason for a commandment

> One of the texts cited to support this idea is the following: Don't
> say "I don't want to [perform this forbidden act, or to eat this
> forbidden food]."  Rather, say "I want to [peform this forbidden act],
> but my Father In Heaven has decreed upon me [that I may not]." (Toras
> Kohanim, cited by Rashi, Kedhoshim 20:26).  This implications of this
> are profound.  According to the Rebbe, the Rambam is telling us that
> when we give tzedaka, WE SHOULD BE MOTIVATED TO HELP THE POOR, and not
> just to do HaShem's will.

I can't understand why ""I want to [perform this forbidden act], but my
Father In Heaven has decreed upon me [that I may not]" would serve as a
proof that we must know the reason for the act. Rather I would learn
just the opposite.  It is quite bothersome to see one quoting the the
Lubavitcher Rebbe to have said that we should be motivated to help the
poor and not JUST to do Hashem's will.  This idea has been misconstrued
and has been used as a guideline in the more modern/evolving forms of
Judaism.  In my humble opinion, assumption and admiration of the great
Torah scholars who have lit up our paths, what was meant here was that a
mishpat has the power and is supposed to shape your instincts in a
manner which brings one to internalize the mitzvah at the emotional and
intellectual level.  What this means in our particular context is that
the reason serves as a vehicle in steering us in the correct path of
serving G-D with the right emotions, intentions! , values, etc. (see
ktav sofer, parshat noach, "ki hishchit..")  A chok, on the other hand,
is not meant to shape us in that way and therefore has no power in
influencing our innatities.  So to summarize my point - we should be
motivated to help the poor because that is what G-D wants us to learn
from the act of giving tzdakah.  However, with the implanting of this
midah in the person by giving tzdakah, it is inexcusable if he would,
let's say, give charity to the leader of Jews for J.  The need to give
tzdakah is not meant to supersede Hashem's commandment but is rather the
shaping of the human personality.


From: Joseph Tabory <taborj@...>
Date: Sun, 19 Nov 2000 07:58:26 +0200
Subject: Re: Chicken and Eggs

I wonder if this wasn't the way they understood the commandment not to
take the mother and the child in connection with birds (shiluach haken).

Joseph Tabory
Department of Talmud, Bar Ilan University
Ramat Gan, 59200, Israel
(972) 3-5318593
email:  mailto:<taborj@...>


From: Chaim Tabasky <tabaskc@...>
Date: Sun, 19 Nov 2000 11:10:26 +0200
Subject: Re: Jewish month names

> <<Also, speaking of foreign influences, why is it not a halachic problem
> that our calendar uses month names from foreign gods?
> Janet >>
> As I heard it, the month names reflect the "geula" [redemption] .  In
> the torah, the month names are "ha-rishon", "ha-sheni" etc.  counting
> the months from geulat Mitzrayim.  After geulat Bavel the names were
> changed accordingly.  I suspect that the names used during bayit rishon
> (Ziv etc. )were based on "minor" geulot.
> danny
> [I do not understand from your posting why we should name the jewish
> months after babylonian false gods as part of a geulat Bavel
> process. Avi]

The Ramban "Parshat Bo) suggests using Babylonian pagan names to remind
us of the redemption from Galut Bavel. The Meshech Chachmah (Rav Meir
Simchah HaCohen of Dvinsk) explains that the merit of the exodus from
Egypt was that B'nei Yisroel maintained their names, clothing, language,
i.e. they were a distinct cultural entity from the Egyptians, whereas in
Bavel the Jews were culturally assimilated, (see Mishne Torah
hil. Tefilah ch. 1) and the redemption was as a result of religious
fidelity. Therefor the "zecher" (reminder) of that Galut is ton "burden"
us with the Babylonian month names.  The Meshech Chachmah further argues
that the next Galut will end because of both religious and cultural
distinctions Are we ready?



From: Louise Miller <daniel@...>
Date: Sun, 19 Nov 2000 10:51:04 -0800
Subject: A Life Apart

I saw the film at a day school dinner a few years ago.  I thought there
were some parts that were downright offensive.  The worst was a scene
with a female hospital chaplain rabbi, who professed to be confused and
hurt that a chassidic family asked her not to come to talk to their
child who was in her hospital, because they didn't want to "confuse"
him.  I thought the chaplain came off as whiny and immature, but a
friend who saw the film with us thought that the family came off as cold
and rigid.  Either way, I need to be careful because one of my neighbors
was involved with the creation of the film, so don't anyone tell him,

Louise Miller
(no, I won't say where I live - you all know anyway)

From: Paul Shaviv <shaviv@...>
Date: Sun, 19 Nov 2000 10:28:48 -0500
Subject: A Life Apart

Just a note on the video 'A Life Apart', mentioned in a recent
submission. We have used this video at CHAT (Community Hebrew Academy of
Toronto - G9-G12, 1,240 students) at several levels, and I have used it
personally in teaching. It really is excellent - giving a fair and
balanced view of contemporary Hassidic life, raising several questions
about the Hassidic community, and also showing some beautiful and
unusual footage-- my own favourites are sequences of the late Bobover
Rebbe z"l dancing at his granddaughter's wedding. Highly recommended.

Paul Shaviv, Toronto.


From: Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz <sabbahillel@...>
Date: Sun, 19 Nov 2000 09:59:35 -0500
Subject: Re: Narrow Tallit

> From: Rachel Swirsky <yu211366@...>
> >It is my understanding, without confirming it in the Mishna Brura, that
> >the narrow tallesim that only rest on the shoulders is not halachically
> >acceptable as the majority of the back must be covered.
> I was under the impression that there is nothing halachik about a talit
> one way or the other.  I thought that it was just a very strong minhag.
> Can someone plese give me the halachick sources?

The fact that we wear a tallit katan or a tallis gadol (and the various
minhagim associated with them) is indeed a minhag.  That is, since we no
longer have garments that require tzitzis, we deliberately (by minhag)
wear a garment that does require (halachically) tzitzis.  The question
being brought up was if the narrow tallis gadol (being worn by minhag)
is considered a beged (garment) halachically and would therefore require
tzitzis.  If it is not, then the bracha being made is a bracha levatalla
(wasted blessing).

Indeed, note the difference between the two brachos.  The tallit katan
uses the bracha "al mitzvas tzitzis".  The tallit gadol uses the bracha
"lehisateiph batztzis" (to wrap oneself in the tzitzis).  Thus, even if
the narrow tallis does require tzitzis, the bracha used may be wrong.

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: Y. Askotzky <sofer@...>
Date: Sun, 19 Nov 2000 09:54:51 +0200
Subject: Narrow Tallit

>>I was under the impression that there is nothing halachik about a talit
one way or the other.  I thought that it was just a very strong minhag.
Can someone plese give me the halachick sources?<<

All the halachic sources from the Talmud, Tur, Shulchan Aruch through
modern day poskim discuss the rabbinic laws of tallis under the heading
of Hilchos Tzitzis! If one wears a tallis, which is a 4 cornered
garment, then he becomes obligated by Torah law (in most cases) to wear
tzitzit on it. The question was whether a narrow tallis suffices as a
tallis to fulfill the rabbinic obligation. (and would such a tallis be
considered a beged to require tzitzis)

Rabbi Yerachmiel Askotzky, certified sofer and examiner
<sofer@...>   www.stam.net   1-888-404-STAM(7826)


From: Ben Z. Katz <bkatz@...>
Date: Sun, 19 Nov 2000 21:09:23 -0600
Subject: Re: Plural of `tallis'

>From: Zev Sero <Zev@...>
>Dani Wassner wrote:
>>Interesting how so many people use the word "tallasim" or
>>"tallesim"-  The correct word is "tallitot" or "tallisos"
>>in an ashkenazik pronouciation.  "Tallit" is feminine.
>The Hebrew plural is `Talitot' (or `talisos').  The Yiddish plural is
>`Taleisim'.  It is just as incorrect to say `talisos' in Yiddish as it
>would be to say `talitim' in Hebrew.
>Ditto for `shabatot'/`shabosim', `bnei mitzvah'/`barmitzvahs',
>`shaatnez'/`shatnes', `terefah' (Hebrew for a specific type of forbidden
>food) / `treif' (Yiddish for all forbidden food), etc.

Mr Sero is not completely correct, and neither were some of the other
posters in this regard.  In standard (academic) Yiddish as it is used
today, any imported word follows the rules of the language from which it
is borrowed.  It was not uncommon 100 years ago to spell "shabbos" in
Yiddish as follows :shin aleph beis ayin samach.  This is no longer
done.  I believe plurals remain as they were in the original language as
well.  (This would be similar to pluralizing index as indices in
English, which used to be the preferred plural, rather than indexes,
which is more common today.  And this does not just apply to Hebrew;
there are many Polish words in Yiddish.)

The more fundamental point, however, is that adding "im" to the end of a
word is not how one makes a plural in Yiddish (or German, whence it was
derived).  The reason "im" was added by Yiddish speakers is because
their Hebrew was poor; nevertheless they were trying to make a Hebrew
plural (they just used the wrong gender).  Thus, to say that "talaisim"
is correct in Yiddish is probably a mistake, since it was an attempt to
pluralize a Hebrew word using Hebrew endings, albeit incorrectly.  Had
the Yiddish speakers added a Yiddish (or German) plural ending (like
indexes adds an English ending to a foreign word) perhaps one could
argue that that word (shabbosen perhaps, like frauen for frau) would be
proper Yiddish.  And by the way, there is another correct Hebrew plural
for talit: taliyot (you can look it up)

Ben Z. Katz, M.D.
Children's Memorial Hospital, Division of Infectious Diseases
2300 Children's Plaza, Box # 20, Chicago, IL 60614
Ph 773-880-4187, Fax 773-880-8226


From: Yisrael Medad <isrmedia@...>
Date: Mon, 20 Nov 2000 00:37:11 +0200
Subject: Plural of Tallit

Mark Steiner <marksa@...> correctly quotes the Mishna in
Zovim 4:5,7 which uses as the plural "talliyot".

The Mishna in Pe'ah 4:3 reads "u'pirash talito aleha" (and he spread his
tallit over it) which could lead one to say that if the singular of
tallit becomes "tallito" - his tallit, it is not illogical that the
plural is tallitot.  Which is what most dictionaries quote, and even say
"tallitim" (but there's no source given for that one in my dictionary).


From: Nicolas Rebibo <info@...>
Date: Sun, 19 Nov 2000 17:51:34 +0100
Subject: Surrogate Mother

I am looking for some references dealing with the status of baby born
from a surrogate mother (non jewish surrogate mother and jewish
"biological parents").

Nicolas Rebibo


From: Bernard Katz <bkatz@...>
Date: Sun, 19 Nov 2000 16:34:48 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Re: Tallit

  Michael Savitz asks why, given that 'tallit' is feminine, we 

    refer to a "tallit gadol" and a "tallit katan"?  I have never
    heard of a "tallit gedola" or a "tallit ketana." Is this one of
    the rare exceptions, like "bayit"? 

 I've wondered about this as well. One possibility is that these terms
 were re-imported into Hebrew from Yiddish, i.e., they are Yiddish
 constructions that were absorbed into Hebrew. This would be
 consistent with the observation that Yiddish treats 'tallit' as
 masculine. Nevertheless this seems a doubtful explanation, for
 Sephardim also use these phrases. Another possibility is that these
 phrases are ellipses or contractions for the likes of 'tallit shel
 katan' and 'tallit shel gadol'. I should emphasize that this is pure
 speculation on my part. 

 By the way, a similar (apparent) anomoly occurs with the word
 'Shabbat', which is also feminine: we refer to the Shabbat preceding
 Pesach as 'Shabbat HaGadol'. My speculation in this case is that the
 phrase derives from the occurrence of 'hagadol' in the last verse of
 the haftarah recited that day. 

    Bernard  Katz,
    University of Toronto


End of Volume 33 Issue 84