Volume 33 Number 94
                 Produced: Tue Dec 26 21:58:25 US/Eastern 2000

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

         [Stan Tenen]
Buying Ma'arat Hamachpelah
         [Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz]
Clarifications on Linguistic Matters
         [Mark Steiner]
Compass in the Tefilin Bag
         [Zev Sero]
Hebrew words imported in to Yidish
         [Perets Mett]
Transliterations (2)
         [Saul Davis, Mike Gerver]
Women and Hatzalah
         [Michael Feldstein]


From: Stan Tenen <meru1@...>
Date: Mon, 25 Dec 2000 17:37:51 -0500
Subject: Re: Alephbets

At 01:24 AM 12/25/00 +0000, Ben Katz wrote:
>         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".

I've already responded to this about once a year for the past 10 years.  I 
do my homework, and when I "pontificate" on something I know about, like 
the alphabet, it's from the perspective of already having considered the 
objections to my perspective and having already reviewed the full range of 
Talmud-Torah references.

Here again are excerpts from the Appendix authored by R. Nosson Scherman to 
R. Munk's "Wisdom in the Hebrew Alphabet" (Artscroll).

[The material has already been posted in v33n86 a little over 1 month
ago. Here is a link for those who would like to review it:

Besides these traditional references, I have about 30 years of research 
under my belt now, and my papers have been published in peer-reviewed 
scientific journals.  Those who are interested might have a look at "The 
God of Abraham: A Mathematician's View" at 
<http://www.meru.org/GodofAbe/onegdpix.html> and
"Man Bites Dog" at <http://www.meru.org/manbitesdog.html>.

A new essay, "How to Talk to an Extra-terrestrial" (which has nothing to do 
with ETs, of course <smile>) will be published in the next issue of the 
Noetic Journal.  I can email a draft (sans graphics) to those who ask.

Alternately, those on this list who would like regular updates on this 
research can simply email a request to me at <meru1@...> and I'll add 
your e-address to the mailing list for the Meru eTORUS(tm) Newsletter.  The 
next issue will be sent in a few days (today is Dec. 25), and it includes 
the Abstract, Introduction, and Premise of "How to Talk to an ET".

For those who would like to know "who holds by this," please also contact 
me via email and I will forward to you the on-the-record statements and 
evaluations of scholars, scientists, Jewish scholars, and various 
rabbis.  The remarks of Rabbi Dr. Meir Sendor (Ph.D. Harvard, YU, Brandeis, 
Yale) are particularly helpful.

The bottom line is that my technical research fully confirms the teachings 
of our sages with regard to the special nature of the Rashi-Nachmanides 
rabbinic style of the Meruba Ashuris alphabet system.  My findings are 
consistent with what we know was known in the ancient world, and with the 
teachings of our sages.  But they go well beyond this.  The ultimate test 
of any new idea (or new/old idea) is its usefulness and functionality.  The 
understanding of the alphabet that I propose enables Talmudic and 
kabbalistic texts to be read unambiguously, where they currently are barely 
understandable at all.  There's much more, but it won't fit on mail-jewish. 

Hag sameach Chanukah,
Meru Foundation   http://www.meru.org   <meru1@...>


From: Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz <sabbahillel@...>
Date: Mon, 25 Dec 2000 22:24:10 -0500
Subject: Re: Buying Ma'arat Hamachpelah

> From: Moshe and davida Nugiel <friars@...>
> This year's reading of parshat Chaye Sarah raised the following
> question.  One generally assumes that Avraham's insisting on the legal
> purchase of a familial burial place was a good thing.  I believe that in
> Hevron a sort of extra festive Shabbat is held annually on this parsha.
> However, let us ask the question, why did Avraham, in fact, insist upon
> the "legal" purchase of his burial plot?  The B'nei Het offered to give
> him, as a gift, the use of any area he wanted to bury Sarah.  Avraham
> knew from prophecy that the entire Land of Canaan would belong to his
> family in a few hundred years.  So why buy now, at an exorbitant price,
> that which the Almighty has promised He will give?

The Chasam Sofer states that Avraham bought the cave for the duration of
the time that remained until the Bnei Yisrael would obtain the land.  He
actually uses the missing vav in the name Efron to state that had Efron
realized what he was doing, he could have gotten an extra 6 shekalim.
>From the Bris bein Hebsarim to Yetzias Mitzrayim was 430 years (based on
the Ramban).  Add another 40 years in the desert and get 470.  Subtract
the 62 years that had already passed and the 400 that Avraham paid for
and we are left with 8.  Since the Jews entered on Pesach (after the
harvest) and Efron had already reaped the harvest of the year in which
Sara died, we are left with 6 years that he could have demanded payment

Rabbi Leibtag, who sends out a weekly parsha sheet from Eretz Yisrael,
(I think that he is involved with Yeshiva Har Etzion as well) points out
that some archeological discoveries have stated that only members of
local clans were legally allowed to own land.  As a result, it is
possible that the 400 shekel was to be "adopted" into Efron's clan so
that he could then be legally allowed to receive the land as a "gift"
and to own it.  He points out that the members of the local council
state that noone would "withhold their gravesites" from Avraham..  In
that case he would not own the land and would not have the right to hand
it to his descendants, nor could he prevent anyone else from burying
their own relatives there.

In any case, since at the time, the land was owned by the local
inhabitents, Avraham would certainly not take someone elses land, just
as he muzzled his flocks so they would not graze on someone else's land.

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: Mark Steiner <marksa@...>
Date: Wed, 27 Dec 2000 03:43:46 +0200
Subject: Re: Clarifications on Linguistic Matters

    On the basis of the Talmud, I wrote that the feminine of bar xxx is
bat xxx in Aramaic.  My brother informs me that though in "Eastern
Aramaic," the feminine of bar xxx is bat xxx, as I wrote, in the Western
Aramaic dialect you would say "berat xxx".  "Bat" is, in any case,
apparently the older form.


From: Zev Sero <Zev@...>
Date: Tue, 26 Dec 2000 19:26:24 -0500
Subject: Re: Compass in the Tefilin Bag

Gilad J. Gevaryahu <Gevaryahu@...> wrote:

> Compass will be justified in an unknown place (desert?), but in
> an established shul, one should daven with the tzibur, even if it
> is not directed in the perfect azimuth.

While this certainly seems to be the universal practise, I wonder what
authority it has.  From the Shulchan Aruch and the commentaries on the
page it would seem that the opposite is true; shuls are advised to put
the ark in the correct direction so that the people will be davening
towards the front and not in some other direction, which implies that if
- as is the case in many shuls - this advice has been ignored, people
should ignore the ark and daven in the correct direction.  I have never
seen anybody doing this, especially when the ark is not even close to
the correct direction, but I have long wondered why.

A countervailing consideration may be the gemara at the beginning of
Berachot, where the concern is expressed that if people daven in
different directions it may give the impression that they are davening
to different gods, ch"v.

Zev Sero


From: Perets Mett <p.mett@...>
Date: Tue, 28 Nov 2000 14:38:48 +0000
Subject: Hebrew words imported in to Yidish

Ben Z. Katz, M.D. wrote:

>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.)

Not at all. Firstly, there are indeed many Polish words in Yiddish, 
and I cannot think of one that is pluralized as in Polish.

In standard Yiddish there are about six ways of forming plurals!  There
is certainly no rule which says that words borrowed from Hebrew
pluralize as in Hebrew.

>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

Not necessarily. In Yiddish the plural of dokter (=doctor in English) is
doktoyrim; no one is going to tell me that this word is derived from

>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

Whatever its origins, the only correct plural for der talis (Masculine
in Yiddish) nowadays is di taleysim.

>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.

That is a terrific theory - but it just isn't like that in Yiddish.
Correct grammar does not come from theories of what 'ought' to be.

Perets Mett


From: Saul Davis <sdavis@...>
Date: Mon, 25 Dec 2000 22:09:25 +0200
Subject: Transliterations

[Although this has been submitted and posted here as part of another
posting last month, I decided to let it go in again, as with the simple
Subject line, it will be easier to find in any index. Mod.]

I think that it would be useful if the official, standard, Israeli
system of transliterating Hebrew into English be used in this forum. It
is simple and avoids confusions - but can look a little strange!!!

Here are the letters in order of the alaf-beth:
The interesting ones are:
H for the heth, clearly ch is not the right sound and cannot be used, better
that a non Hebrew speaker says a h sound than a ch for the heth. KH is used
for the khaf. Unfortunately H is also used for the hay. The best is to write
the heth as an h with a dot under it (but computers do not allow for that).
W for the waw (OK the vav), which is the correct pronunciation (as Yemenites
say it) and differentiates from the veth.
O for the oyin to differentiate from A for the alef.
TS is closer in sound to the tsade, although TZ is also good. Z is used for
the zayin.
Q and not k is used for the quf for 2 reasons: to differentiate it from the
kaf and because the order of the letters in English is almost the same as in
Hebrew, oyin pay tsade quf resh shin tof = o p q r s t, so that quf is in
the same position as the English q.
TH is the correct pronunciation of the non-dageshed taf. This is how
Yemenites pronounce it and thus at least the non-dageshed taf is
differentiated from the t which is used for the tet.
One should use j for the non-dageshed "jimmel" and dh for the non-dageshed
"daleth" but this is too radical for me.

Vowels should be used naturally as they sound. Of course either an o or an a
can be used for the qamets if you want Ashqenazi or Sefardi pronunciation
respectively. Letters with a dagesh in should be doubled.

Any meqaweh sheatem tishtamshu belo. Hen niroth muzaroth aval hen yother
tovoth waqaloth mehaothiyoth hangliyoth haregiloth.

Qol Tuv

Saul Davis
Beer-Sheva, Israel

From: Mike Gerver <Mike.Gerver@...>
Date: Tue, 28 Nov 2000 10:01:54 +0100
Subject: Transliterations

Saul Davis's suggestions (v33n88) for standard transliterations of
Hebrew make sense for the most part, but I disagree with a couple of

1) Using "a" and "o" for aleph and ayin seems like it would lead to
great confusion, since "a" and "o" are vowels, and are already used for
transliterating Hebrew vowels.  Why not use an apostrophe (or closing
single quote) for 'aleph, and an opening single quote for `ayin?  I
think this is fairly standard among linguists.

2) It's a shame not to be able to distinguish between "he" and "heth"
because "h" is used for both of them.  Some people use "x" for "heth"
because it is not used for any other Hebrew letter, though that is
confusing to people who don't know that convention, and might think that
the "x" is pronounced like in English.  I think that using "ch" for
"heth" is the best solution, although Saul rejects this because people
might think it is pronounced like "ch" in English. But most people with
even a little knowledge about Hebrew know that "ch" is often used to
transliterate a guttural fricative, and is not supposed to be pronounced
like English "ch."  Hebrew words which sound like English "ch" are
usually transliterated "tsh" reflecting their Hebrew spelling.  The only
likely confusion would be in transliterating Hebrew words which are
themselves borrowed from English and other languages, with an English
"ch" sound transliterated into Hebrew as tzadhe followed by a prime
sign. For example, "chips."  Although such words occur fairly often in
modern Hebrew, especially in advertisements, they are not likely to be
used very often in mail-jewish.

Mike Gerver
Raanana, Israel


From: Michael Feldstein <MIKE38CT@...>
Date: Tue, 26 Dec 2000 20:50:35 EST
Subject: Women and Hatzalah

A friend of mine--an observant single woman in Israel who is an EMT--is
moving to the States, and expressed interest in volunteering for
Hatzalah.  However, I believe that Hatzalah does not allow women to
volunteer in their organization.

Can someone confirm that this is true?  If so, what is the reasoning?
Tznius issues?  The fact that many women find it more difficult to leave
the house in an emergency?  Or perhaps it's not a rule...and the
organization simply has never had any requests from female volunteers.

Actually, it would seem that from the standpoint of making a patient
feel comfortable, a female would be even more comfortable with another
female during a time of emergency (rather than with a male volunteer).

If there are any Hatzolah volunteers on this board who could enlighten
me on this subject, I would appreciate it.  Thanks.

Michael Feldstein
Stamford, CT


End of Volume 33 Issue 94