Volume 33 Number 95
                 Produced: Wed Dec 27  6:45:52 US/Eastern 2000

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Alphabets -- additional thoughts and comments
         [Stan Tenen]
         [Rabbi Reuven P. Bulka]
Compass in the Tefillin Bag
         [Mike Gerver]
Noach and recycling
         [Neal Shapiro]
Respect For, and Adherence To, the Grammatical Forms of Lshon HaQodesh
         [Jay F Shachter]
Shabbat Hagadol
         [Danny Skaist]
Tevat Noach
         [Akiva Wolff]
Tikkun Books
         [Asher Goldstein]


From: Stan Tenen <meru1@...>
Date: Mon, 25 Dec 2000 17:27:46 -0500
Subject: Re: Alphabets -- additional thoughts and comments

Additional thoughts and comments.

>From: Edward Ehrlich <eehrlich@...>
>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)

The Tetragrammaton is indeed commonly written in Canaanite characters on
Dead Sea Scroll documents.  The reason is simple.  Writing the
Tetragrammaton using Meruba Ashuris letters would imply the gestures in
the meditation, to those who were aware of them, when they read the
texts.  If these were study texts, not intended for prayer, that would
be inappropriate.  The Canaanite letters do not have any relationship to
the meditational meaning of the Meruba Ashuris letters.  The Canaanite
and Meruba alphabets differ in the same way as Bible stories differ from
Torah.  The Bible stories do not include the 3 deeper levels of Torah
meaning, because they do not reproduce the sequence of Hebrew letters in

This is similar to the situation with the 2 alphabets.  The Canaanite
letters (and Greek and English letters, etc.) are appropriate for the
Bible, but they're not appropriate for Torah.  If anyone is interested,
I'd be pleased to explain this in detail.

>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.

This is so.  There is also an ancient head-tefillin box with 4
compartments laid out as the 4 fingers of a hand.  My work apparently
uniquely explains this. (I don't know where this tefillin-box is
physically, but it was shown in articles in Herschel Shanks' "Bible
Review" and "Biblical Archeology Review" a few years ago.  Shanks, of
course, is decidedly non-kosher, but the photos I'm sure are
legit. <smile>)

>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.

No, they weren't "more authentic".  They were less holy.  It was not
considered appropriate to put letters that were truly sacred on money,
which is usually truly profane.

Meru Foundation   http://www.meru.org   <meru1@...>


From: Rabbi Reuven P. Bulka <rbulka@...>
Date: Tue, 26 Dec 2000 22:49:09 -0500
Subject: Re: Chanuka

Dear Subscribers,

Hanukkah Sameah to you all.

I know that there is a reflex within the community to say "Hag Sameah"
for Hanukkah, but that is erroneous.

Hag is an appellation for a Torah based holy day, excluding Hanukkah.

The wish of "Hanukkah Sameah" is the most correct expression.

I end as I began. Hanukkah Sameah to you all.

                                    Rabbi Reuven P. Bulka,
                                    Ottawa, Ontario, Canada


From: Mike Gerver <Mike.Gerver@...>
Date: Wed, 27 Dec 2000 10:58:34 +0100
Subject: Compass in the Tefillin Bag

>From Zev Sero, v33n94,

> 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.

There was a shul I used to daven in, where the ark was on a wall facing
northeast. Everyone would daven facing that wall, except for one guy,
who always davened facing due east, 45 degrees away from the direction
everyone else was facing. No one, including me, wanted to say anything
to him, but I think everyone thought it was a little odd.  I'm glad to
hear that there was a halachic basis for what he was doing.

Of course, since this was in the northeastern US, northeast was probably
more closely aligned with a great circle route to Jerusalem than due
east was, but that's another issue.  Many years ago I asked a shayla
about great circle routes, and was told that one should face the
direction one would actually travel in while going to Jerusalem, rather
than a great circle route.

Mike Gerver
Raanana, Israel


From: Neal Shapiro <Neal-Shapiro@...>
Date: Mon, 27 Nov 2000 08:50:25 -0800
Subject: Noach and recycling

One theory might be that the wastes were kept on board and used in
compost.  When properly mixed, there is no awful stench, but a sweet
smell.  Getting oxygen in there is critical.  So daily stirring was
required.  Yes, bugs were attracted but they were responsible for
breaking down the wastes into new soil.  Within a few weeks, the compost
would be ready to use as soil to grow plants for food.

Space is required to have numerous mounds of compost, all at different
stages, so the entire level would be needed, as well as ventilation.

So you see, it could work.  Since the earth was covered with water, no
earth available, but by using compost, Noach produced his own soil for
planting.  Everything was reused, as nature does it.  No need to dump
overboard, which would be OK since the wastes were natural and not
toxic, but why waste a valuable resource.

does that help,
Neal Shapiro
Urban Runoff Management Coordinator, Environmental & Public Works Mngt
City of Santa Monica
310.458.8223 ; 310.576.3598 fax
<neal-shapiro@...> ; www.santa-monica.org/environment


From: Jay F Shachter <jay@...>
Date: Mon, 25 Dec 200 20:14:44 -0600 (CST)
Subject: Respect For, and Adherence To, the Grammatical Forms of Lshon HaQodesh

In mail.jewish v33n91, Mark Steiner, for whose erudition and
scholarship I have great respect, disputes the assertion that "lashon
hara`" and "`ayin hara`" are grammatically incorrect forms.  He
presents the following argument:

> 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.

This is well-researched, well-argued, and well-stated, but it is not
to the point, and it is not persuasive.  Mr. Steiner, essentially, is
arguing for the correctness of forms which appear in "lshon xakhamim"
(which is, incidentally, the form in which this term is vocalized in
Xullin 137b).  But there are many incorrect forms -- incorrect by any
standard -- to which lshon xakhamim consistently attests.  One does
not need to look far for examples.  Last night, for example, while
reciting lshon xakhamim, I spoke the words "anaxnu madliqin".  Even Mr
Steiner will agree that this is grammatically incorrect Hebrew, that
the grammatically correct form is "anaxnu madliqim".

(It should not be necessary at this point to digress into a
side-discussion that attempts to define precisely the meaning of the
term "grammatically incorrect".  This term can be precisely defined,
but I doubt that such definitions would be worth the time and effort
that they would consume.  Like the Peano Postulates, it may be useful
to know that the effort has been successfully made to articulate them,
but they are profitably studied only by a minority of intellectuals
who choose to question that which everyone else already knows to be
self-evidently true.)

That a term appears in an ancient and revered literature does not make 
it correct.  "Between you and I" is found in Shakespeare, but it is
grammatically incorrect English.  It is not even a correct expression
of an older form of the language: "between you and me" was the correct
form in the periods prior to Shakespeare, as it is now.  The incorrect 
form may have become temporarily prevalent in Shakespeare's time, or
in the particular dialect that Shakespeare spoke, or in the particular 
dialect he was trying to represent for one of his characters, but it
is not correct English.

To be sure, when a language is augmented by non-native or dialectic
vocabulary, non-native or dialectic grammar may -- on rare occasions
-- adhere to the imported vocabulary.  For example, in English,
adjectives regularly precede nouns, but the adjective "galore" always
follows the noun, presumably because that is the word order in Gaelic.
No such argument can be made about the intrusion of Mishnaic into
standard Hebrew in the phrase "lashon hara`".  The word "lashon"
continues to inflect in the standard way whenever an educated speaker
uses it in the smikhut form (educated speakers being more or less the
only speakers these days who still employ the Semitic smikhut form,
uneducated speakers tending to use the Indo-European "hallashon shel
ha-" form): lshon hammiqra, lshon hammishnah, lshon zakhar, lshon
nqevah, lshon bney adam, et cetera.  It is true that an ancient
literature may be a source of expressions which become household words
(a term which comes from King Henry V), but they never become fully
incorporated into the lexicon until they shed their ancient grammar.
A speaker of English may say, "the lady doth protest too much,
methinks" but he never does so without realizing that he is quoting or
at least paraphrasing a phrase that someone else wrote a long time
ago.  "Lashon hara`" cannot be said to be a proverb in the same sense.

Finally, all these arguments apply to languages of all kinds.  But
Hebrew is more than just some randomly chosen language.  Hebrew is
Lshon Haqqodesh.  The Torah was given in Hebrew, and presumably there
was some reason for that.  Hundreds of years before the Torah was
given, God brought Avraham from his proto-Aramaic-speaking native land
into the land of Canaan, where his family would absorb the language of
the Hebrew-speaking Canaanites.  I can only assume that there must
have been a reason for that.

Every language, by its vocabulary, its idioms, and even its grammar,
both conveys to its hearers and induces among its speakers a
worldview, a set of values, a moral structure, and a readiness to
apprehend certain truths about the universe.  Since Mr Steiner is
apparently fond of Yiddish, let me give an example which he will
appreciate.  An English-speaking mother who wants her child to be
well-behaved will say, "be good".  A French mother will say "sois
sage" which means, "be wise".  A German mother will say "sei still"
which means "be quiet".  But a Yiddish-speaking mother will say "zaa a
mensh" which means "be a human being".  A Yiddish-speaking mother, in
other words, says: "I am only asking you to be what you intrinsically
are -- you are, by nature, good; I am asking you only to live up to
your nature".  Who can deny the profound messages that these different
languages convey?

One does not need to be a mystic, or pathologically fond of sentences
with the word "topology" in them, to perceive a greater awareness of
life in a language like Hebrew that has two genders, than in a
language like Russian which has three, or a language like English
which has none.  I could multiply examples endlessly, but then it
would be heblang rather than mail-jewish to which this article
belonged, and I am sure you get my point.  Unfortunately, when we
speak the language of the goyim as a native does, when we think in
their vocabulary and with their grammar, we perforce adopt their
attitudes and values, to the vitiation of our own.

			Jay F. ("Yaakov") Shachter
			6424 N Whipple St
			Chicago IL  60645-4111


From: Danny Skaist <danny@...>
Date: Wed, 27 Dec 2000 10:32:52 +0200
Subject: Shabbat Hagadol

<<pasuq). Personally I would have preferred "Wearva" which is the first
word - as are "Nahamu" and "Shuva" - and I still need to explain why
"hagadol" was chosen and not the more obvious "Wearva".
Saul Davis >>

Not every minhag is to read "Wearva" on Shabbat Hagadol.  Chabad only
reads it when shabbat hagadol is erev pessach.  There are probably other
minhagim like that.  So I doubt if shabbat hagadol is named after a
quote from the haftora.



From: Akiva Wolff <wolff@...>
Date: Thu, 30 Nov 2000 17:04:50 +0200
Subject: Tevat Noach

 Shalom Mordechai,

 A friend and coworker forwarded me you email on the "sewage system on
 Noah's ark". I have also given some thought to the matter - it bothered
 me that apparently the food and the wastes were stored in the same place
 - not something I would find very appetizing. It occurs to me (though I
 have yet to find any reference to this in the sources - if you do, I
 would appreciate hearing it), that the ark was essentially what would
 today be termed a "biosphere" a closed system where everything cycles
 and recycles. Since all of the humans and animals ate plant food, and
 since animal wastes break down into the soil into plant food, it would
 seem reasonable to say that the "food" at the bottom of the ark was
 living plants and trees and that the people and animals ate these plants
 and nourished them with their own wastes. Note also that while humans
 and animals breathe oxygen and exhale carbon dioxide, the plants do just
 the opposite.

 I'm actually writing an article on this now, and hoping to find sources
 to back it up.

 Your feedback and comments are welcomed,

 Akiva Wolff


From: Asher Goldstein <mzieashr@...>
Date: Wed, 13 Dec 2000 10:59:35 +0200
Subject: Tikkun Books

This query, taken from another list, comes from: "Bryna S. Fischer"

 What is the title of a tikkun [book containing Torah script
side-by-side with regular print, vowelized and with "cantorial"
notations, and used as an aid in preparation for reading from a Torah
scroll]? In other words, are all of them called "Tikkun L'Korim"? For
reference, mine is published by Ktav.

A. M. Goldstein
Editor, FOCUS
University of Haifa
Tel. 972-4-8240104


End of Volume 33 Issue 95