Volume 33 Number 91
                 Produced: Sun Dec 24 20:24:09 US/Eastern 2000

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

         [Ben Z. Katz]
         [Edward Ehrlich]
Birkat Hashanim
         [Shlomo Zwickler]
Clarifications on Linguistic Matters
         [Mark Steiner]
Full Defective spellings--Clarification of Controversy
         [Russell Hendel]
         [Carl M. Sherer]
Plural of Bar
         [Shimon Lebowitz]
R. Yacov Shimshon of Shepetovka - Tiberias cemetery
         [Paul Ginsburg]
Yiddish Plurals
         [Carl Singer]
Yiddish spelling of Hebrew words
         [Mike Gerver]


From: Ben Z. Katz <bkatz@...>
Date: Tue, 21 Nov 2000 00:54:20 -0600
Subject: Re: Alephbets

>From: Stan Tenen <meru1@...>
>Subject: Alephbets
>[Slightly edited by Mod.]
>Dear Mike Gerver and Janet Rosenbaum,
>Mike,  your outline is essentially correct _as the standard story goes_.
>However, it's really not correct.  The Canaanite/Phoenician style
>letters could never have been used for Torah scrolls, because they are
>essentially all simplifications of Egyptian hieroglyphics representing
>pagan deities.
>The Meruba/Ashuris alphabet was _always_ used for Torah scrolls, and it
>existed alongside Canaanite, going back to at least before the sojourn
>in Egypt.
>Also, contrary to the scholarly belief, there was no orthographic drift
>from Canaanite to Meruba Ashuris.  

	I am not sure what basis Mr. Tenen has for these statements.
However, they contradict the rabbinic statement that the Torah was
originally given in the ancient script and then translated to ketav
ashuri AND the archeological evidence that he dismisses as being from
"another sect".  (One cannot win with such an argument.  An ancient find
that is exactly the same as what we have today is haled as proof that
the tradition is accurate; an ancient find that differs from what we
have today is said to be from a different sect, without any allowance
for historical change.)

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: Edward Ehrlich <eehrlich@...>
Date: Wed, 22 Nov 2000 07:09:53 +0200
Subject: Alphabets

David Charlap <shamino@...> wrote:

> Roger & Naomi Kingsley wrote:
> > Since he mentions the Dead Sea scrolls - it may be of interest to
> > note that one of the psalm scrolls on display is clearly written in a
> > modern script, but with the Tetragrammaton everywhere in the archaic
> > phoenician letters.  Presumably this was a conscious archaism on the
> > part of a scribe who felt that made it more "correct" - which implies
> > a conscious awareness of a transition.  I have not noticed this in
> > any of the other scrolls on display.
> Your conclusion does not necessarily follow.
> Yes, this does imply that the scribe made a conscious decision.  But we
> do not know the reason for his decision.  Nor do we know if his decision
> was halachicly kosher.  (material ommitted)

1) There is a tefiliin fragment displayed at the Shrine Of The Book,
which also has the the Tetagrammaton written in Phoenician letters while
the rest of text is written in modern script.

2) Many of the coins during the period of the Bar Kokhva rebellion used
Phoenician letters because apparently it was thought that they were more
"authentic" at the time.

Ed Ehrlich <eehrlich@...>
Jerusalem, Israel


From: Shlomo Zwickler <zwickler@...>
Date: Mon, 27 Nov 2000 13:33:54 +0200
Subject: Birkat Hashanim

> We start reciting Vetayn Tal UMatar livracha on Monday night, December 4
>       Could someone from the MJ community tell me exactly on what day
>       and in which service, we are to start saying "v'tain tal umatar
>       lebrachah" in our amidah?

It should be noted that Vetayn Tal UMatar Livracha is said from the 7th
day of Heshvan in Eretz Yisrael.

Shlomo Zwickler
Kochav Hashachar, Israel (Chelm)


From: Mark Steiner <marksa@...>
Date: Mon, 27 Nov 2000 14:25:30 +0200
Subject: Re: Clarifications on Linguistic Matters

    I have already requested participants in this list to exercise
caution in expressing their opinion on linguistic matters before they
have checked the facts.  Yet in the one issue, two participants have
stated dogmatic opinions on matters which are at least questionable.
Before sending what follows here, I checked my own facts with a linguist
who won the Israel Prize.

One participant writes

 Similarly, "lashon" and "`ayin" are both feminine
> nouns, thus no one who has received a minimal Jewish education would
> ever say "lashon hara`" or "`ayin hara`", since, clearly, the smikhut
> form of the noun must be used.

    As a matter of fact, the expression `ayin hara` appears in Avot
2:11, where it is vocalized exactly that way in ancient mss. of the
Mishnah.  In Mishnaic Hebrew, the smikhut form for `ayin is also `ayin.
Same for yayin nesekh, another "mistake" which appears many times in the
Mishnah Avoda Zara.  Same for lashon--the smikhut form for lashon in
Mishnaic Hebrew is the same--lashon.  At least this is the case in
authoritative mss. such as the Kaufmann Codex.

    Incidentally, this is another case in which Yiddish preserves
ancient, though non Masoretic, forms ("loshn horeh", "ayin horeh").
Other forms preserved by Yiddish are "rebbe" and "medrash" both of which
are "incorrect" Biblical Hebrew but are attested in Mishnaic Hebrew.

    Another participant writes with utter assurance

> The term "bar" in smikhut is used in Hebrew to
> refer to a person to whom the following noun is an appropriate category.
> Thus, "bar daat" (a sensible person), "bar mazal" (a lucky person), "bar
> hatzlakhah" (a successful person), "bar mitzvah" (a person to whom the
> category of mitzvah is applicable).  In this usage, the plural is
> "barei", and the feminine forms are "barat" and "barot".

    This is simply not true (as I double checked, as above).  The term
bar is Aramaic for Hebrew "ben".  Both of these terms function the same
way, for example, ben mavet means a person to whom death is applicable,
just as bar mitzvah means a person to whom the category of mitzvah is
applicable.  The plural of ben mavet (in Biblical Hebrew) is given by
replacing ben with the plural smikhut form of ben, which is bnei.  So
the only question is what is the parallel Aramaic form of Hebrew "bnei".
And the answer, unfortunately is "bnei".  So we have ben/bar and
bnei/bnei.  And the plural of bar mitzvah happens to be bnei mitzvah.
(One might even expect bnei mitzvot, as in batei knessiot, the Mishnaic
form which pluralizes both somekh and nismakh.)


From: Russell Hendel <rhendel@...>
Date: Sun, 26 Nov 2000 21:26:02 -0500 (EST)
Subject: RE: Full Defective spellings--Clarification of Controversy

Ben Katz continues the thread on FULL-DEFECTIVE spellings. Interestingly
his responses shed light on WHY there are controversies in this area.
Ben makes 2 points in V33n79. Allow me to answer them.

First we had been discussing the change in spelling in 2S22-51 vs
Ps18-51. I contended that 2S22-51 refers to God as "The TOWER of
salvation of our King". By contrast in Psalms, which is written for all
of human history the verse is made into a prayer "May he MAKE A TOWER
(or MAKE GREAT) the salvations of our king." Thus the underlying
conjectured distinction is between a NOUN, TOWER, (Completed object) and
VERB (the incompleted activity of making towers or making great). Such
NOUN-VERB distinctions are common in law and poetry.

Ben responded that >The word TOWER does not occur in the Bible<. Both
Ben and I agree that the word MIGDOL occurs in Ez29:10 and Ez30:6
however we disagree on its semantic function. According to Ben, MIGDOL
is a proper noun. According to me MIGDOL is an ADJECTIVE meaning TOWER OF

But in fact RADACK in the book of roots explicitly says that "MIGDOL is
an adjective". Similarly the construction of Ez29:10 reads "I will
destroy Egypts haughtiness from the TOWER of Sevaynay to the BORDER of
KUSH". In fact Ibn Shoshan in his adjective templates lists the form
MIGDOL as form 98. Furthermore, Ben must concede that even if MIGDOL
SEVAYNAY was a proper name it would be extremely reasonable that the
place was named after the ARMY TOWER there.

I believe the above analysis sheds light on WHY there are controversies
on spelling issues. Finally I note that Ben finally concedes that
>>When there is a single unifying explanation (as with the
tetragrammaton) I have no problem<<

But this is exactly the controversy here. I brought about 6 Rashis (see
the url) below that a defectively spelled noun means that the
object(noun) is possibly defective--not all of it need be there. So
"Place mezuzoth on your DORPOSTS (defectively spelled) " implies that it
is sufficient to place on ONE doorpost; "Sit in a Sucah(defectively
spelled)" means it is sufficient if the Succah has 2-3 walls. In other
words I, Rav Hirsch, Rashi and Chazal are claiming exactly what Ben is
admitting is his criteria "There is a unifying theme to defectively
spelled words".

Russell Jay Hendel; phd Asa
Dept of Math; Towson Univ
Moderator Rashi is SImple
http://www.RashiYomi.Com/fd-12.htm   POSTING ON FULL-DEFECTIVE SPELLINGS


From: Carl M. Sherer <cmsherer@...>
Date: Mon, 27 Nov 2000 13:06:29 +0200
Subject: Matzeva

Eli Turkel writes:

> > My wife attended a funeral yesterday and the Orthodox rabbi who
> > officiated refused to come to the cemetery, because it has flat bronze
> > markers, instead of matzeivos.  My wife and I have never heard of this.
> I am not sure exactly what this is. However, in Israel, matzeivot are
> usually flat lying down and not upright, though they are from stone and
> not bronze.

As another poster pointed out, the markers referred to be the original
poster were likely small and flush to the ground, while those in Eretz
Yisrael cover more of the kever. I would add that the coverings in Eretz
Yisrael also stand above the ground enough so that one is unlikely to
accidentally step on or over them.

Carl M. Sherer
mailto:<cmsherer@...> or mailto:sherer@actcom.co.il
Please daven and learn for a Refuah Shleima for my son, Baruch Yosef ben
Adina Batya among the sick of Israel.  Thank you very much.


From: Shimon Lebowitz <shimonl@...>
Date: Mon, 27 Nov 2000 16:26:33 +0300
Subject: Re: Plural of Bar

I am well aware of the 'bar' being an inclusion in a category, and never
considered myself, or my sons to be 'children of mitzvot'.  However, I
have always heard careful speakers of Hebrew use 'bnei', and not only
for bnei-mitzvah.  the other categories as well, e.g. bnei daat, bnei
mazal, bnei onshin, bnei chiyuv etc.

Could you please supply some substantiation for the claim that these are
more correctly 'barei daat' etc?


Shimon Lebowitz                           mailto:<shimonl@...>
Jerusalem, Israel         PGP: members.xoom.com/shimonl/pubkey.htm


From: Paul Ginsburg <GinsburgP@...>
Date: Mon, 27 Nov 2000 08:10:07 -0500
Subject: R. Yacov Shimshon of Shepetovka - Tiberias cemetery

I have recently added a page to my website concerning
the great Hasidic master, Rabbi Yacov Shimshon of Shepetovka:

R. Yacov Shimshon of Shepetovka is buried in the old cemetery
in Tiberias, Israel.  

Would anyone volunteer to photograph his gravesite in Tiberias
in order that it could be posted to this website?

Thank you in advance for your help!

Paul W. Ginsburg
Sudilkov Online Landsmanshaft
Bethesda, Maryland


From: Carl Singer <CARLSINGER@...>
Date: Mon, 27 Nov 2000 07:36:42 EST
Subject: Re: Yiddish Plurals

<<  The term "bar" in smikhut is used in Hebrew to
 refer to a person to whom the following noun is an appropriate category.
 Thus, "bar daat" (a sensible person), "bar mazal" (a lucky person), "bar
 hatzlakhah" (a successful person), "bar mitzvah" (a person to whom the
 category of mitzvah is applicable).  In this usage, the plural is
 "barei", and the feminine forms are "barat" and "barot".  >>

And what's so wrong with "Bar Mitzvahs" -- putting the plural on the
wrong word?  As in "my son's in 8th grade and he's gone to many Bar
Mitzvahs."  or Bar Mitzvah Burcherim -- avoiding the issue all together
and distinguishing between the "event" and the "participant"

Kol Tov
Carl Singer


From: Mike Gerver <Mike.Gerver@...>
Date: Mon, 27 Nov 2000 13:51:53 +0100
Subject: Yiddish spelling of Hebrew words

In v33n89, Arnie Kuzmack says

> Also, AFAIK, phonetic spelling of words of Hebrew origin was only done
> systematically in the Soviet Union for ideological reasons.  There are a
> few exceptions: "balabos" was frequently spelled phonetically, though
> its plural is "balebatim".

In 1988, when we were planning a headstone for my grandmother a"h, we
noticed that on her ketuba her Jewish name Osna was spelled
aleph-tav-nun-ayin. I had always assumed that "Osna" was a variant on
the Hebrew "Osnat" and should be spelled aleph-samekh-nun-he, but I
started to wonder whether there was a different origin to the name, and
some significance to the odd spelling on the ketuba.  I wrote to Zachary
Baker, who was (and may still be) the librarian at YIVO, asking him
about this.  He told me that there was no standardized spelling in
Yiddish before YIVO published their first dictionary in 1936, and that
there was no significance to the unusual spelling on the ketuba.

Since I doubt if there would be any ideological reason to misspell
Hebrew words at the Brooklyn Jewish Center in 1922, where my grandmother
was married, it seems that this practice was not limited to the Soviet
Union, although I guess it could not be called "systematic" in the case
of my grandmother's ketuba.  Or maybe I was mistaken, and "Osna" does
not come from the Hebrew "Osnat" after all?

Mike Gerver
Raanana, Israel


End of Volume 33 Issue 91