Volume 34 Number 09
                 Produced: Sun Jan 14  9:09:45 US/Eastern 2001

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Amoraim and Taanaim
         [Lawrence  Kaplan]
Books - Eastern European Jews
         [Paul Ginsburg]
A humble request
         [Howard M. Berlin]
Krakatoa (2)
         [Akiva Atwood, Avi Feldblum]
Learning out loud with a nigun (melody)
Learning with a Niggun (2)
         [Shmuel Himelstein, Leona Kroll]
>PLACE< meaning >HOLY PLACE< vs >GOD<
         [Russell Hendel]
Purim and (lihavdil) Mardi Gras / Carnival (2)
         [Eli Linas, Mordechai]
Rosh Hashana vs. January 1
         [Wendy Baker]
Wild About Harry
         [Moshe and davida Nugiel]


From: Lawrence  Kaplan <lkapla@...>
Date: Tue, 9 Jan 2001 16:41:42 -0500
Subject: Re: Amoraim and Taanaim

 Eli Turkel requested that anyone who knows of articles about why
Amoraim don't disagree with Taanaim (or similar issues) should please
contact him.  The standard article on the subject is by S. Z. Havlin,
"`Al ha-Hatimah ha-Sifrutit ki-Yesod ha-Halukah li-Tekufot be-Halakhah,"
in *Mehkarim be-Sifrut ha-Talmudit* (Jerusalem, 1993), pp.148-192. I
refer to and discuss Havlin's article as well as various primary and
other secondary sources (some not cited by Havlin) in a lengthy footnote
in my essay, "The Multi-Faceted Legacy of the Rav: A Critical Analysis
of R. Hershel Schachter's *Nefesh ha-Rav*," in BDD (Bekhol Derakhekha
Daehu: Journal of Torah and Scholarship), No.7--Summer, 1998, p. 68,

Lawrence Kaplan


From: Paul Ginsburg <GinsburgP@...>
Date: Mon, 8 Jan 2001 08:43:09 -0500 
Subject: Books - Eastern European Jews

For books on Jews in Eastern Europe
please visit:


Paul Ginsburg
Bethesda, MD


From: Howard M. Berlin <berlin@...>
Date: Sun, 7 Jan 2001 15:25:34 -0500 (EST)
Subject: A humble request


I was not raised in a frum community, but I do not belong to a Reformed,
Conservative, or Reconstructionist shul and my fluency of Hebrew is not
what it should be. However from a variety of sources, I feel my
knowledge of halacha is above average. Until I came across this list, I
really never heard of words like frum or charedi.

I have found this list to be interesting at times but also
frustrating. On occaision, a poster wil use a Hebrew phrase to make
his/her point. Some of these I have learned from the context; some have
been annotated by the list's moderator or by the poster. However, many
words and phrases are not annotated in parentheses or brackets at
all. By becoming familiar with some of these words/phrases, I feel that
I often have a more knowledgeable discussion with my LOR and I think he
appreciates my interst in given halachic issues. Perhaps there is a
fuzzy line as to what words/phrases are "common" and those that are
not. I don't know for sure but I have a feeling that there are a few
others like me who are in the same boat.

I would like to appeal (request?) that those who use Hebrew words take a
second look as to the possiblity of also supplying its meaning for some
of them. I know this possibly might be irritating some to the more
knowledgeable individuals, but for myself (and a few others?) who would
like to improve their level of halacha informally so not to be ignorant,
this would be a great help.

Another reason I make this request is that I feel that there is no
standardization as to the transliteration of Hebrew words and have seen
what I think is the same word (or concept) spelled several different
ways and often the plural form is not grammatically correct. As an
example of the former, "posak" is sometimes written psak, posek, etc (I
assume that that these are all the "same" - i.e. an authoritative
"opinion" or "ruling"). As for the latter, I know the plural of
"hescher" is not "heshers" (as was written in a recent issue) - I guess
it is either something like hersherot or hesherim - I'm not sure as my
level of Hebrew fluency is not that high. However, what I am getting at
in this case is that the plural form just might make the word
unrecognizable to some of us and the meaning of the sentence is perhaps

As Mr. Singer often posts, Kol Tov (good day....)


 /~~\\       ,    , ,                          Dr. Howard M. Berlin, W3HB
|#===||==========#***|                    5-string bluegrass banjo player
 \__//                       You can tune a banjo but you cannot tunafish 


From: Akiva Atwood <atwood@...>
Date: Sun, 7 Jan 2001 19:10:20 +0200
Subject: Krakatoa

> by Robert Body; Yale University Press, 1998.  Brody's chronology makes
> sense in light of a newly published book by David Keys: "Catastrophe".
> Keys' research demonstrates that when Krakatoa exploded in 535 CE, there

Except that Krakatoa exploded on August 27, 1883.

Akiva Atwood, POB 27515
Jerusalem, Israel 91274  

From: Avi Feldblum <mljewish@...>
Date: Sun, 7 Jan 2001 12:45:49 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Re: Krakatoa

The 1883 explosion is well documented, the 530 explosion appears to be a
new proposal by David Keys.

Catastrophe was also a PBS special, and the transcript is available on the
web at


Related issues appear to have been a topic of interest in the
Antiquities academic list about 2 years ago.

Avi Feldblum


From: Mordechai <Phyllostac@...>
Date: Fri, 12 Jan 2001 01:00:50 EST
Subject: Learning out loud with a nigun (melody)

<< From: Josh Backon <BACKON@...>
 See Pirkei Avot 6:6 on *arichat sefatayim*. The MAHARAL in Derech Chaim
 6th Perek indicates that learning by reciting out loud "mo'il l'havanat
 ha'davar heitev" (greatly benefits learning).  >>

I want to say that while learning out loud may be a general eitza tovah
(beneficial practice for many people in many cases, e.g. when studying
certain texts), it might not be always so for all people. Sometimes
people may need quiet - especially perhaps when working on new, original

Also, the definition of 'out loud' is not precisely delineated. Some
people seem to take a maximalist interpretation of it and their 'out
loud' is 'bikol ram' (in a high / loud voice) while others take a
minimalist (not much above a whisper) approach that is less grating on
their vocal cords and neighbors.

I think that people should be careful not to learn too loudly (I have
sometimes observed people doing so) if it might be bothering
others. They should ask / try to otherwise ascertain if they are
disturbing any neighbors, so as not to violate any 'bein adam
lachaveiro' (man to man) prohibition on proper behavior. If you don't
like someone speaking or studying loudly next to you, be careful about
inflicting it on others, as it can be injurious to their concentration,



From: Shmuel Himelstein <shmuelh@...>
Date: Sun, 7 Jan 2001 19:25:17 +0200 
Subject: Learning with a Niggun

My father, o.b.m., who was a Shul choir director his whole life (first
in Warsaw and then in South Africa), once told me that the melody of
George Gershwin's "Summertime" sounds just like a Niggun to be used in
learning, with the last line of the melody ("so hush little baby ...")
the perfect "Teirutz" (answer) to the Gemara's "Kushy'a" (question).

Try it, and see how it fits.

Shmuel Himelstein

From: Leona Kroll <leona_kroll@...>
Date: Sun, 7 Jan 2001 22:44:00 -0800 (PST)
Subject: Learning with a Niggun

There are several schools in Jerusalem that learn with a nigun, and the
result is that most students memorize all of TaNaKh by the end of
elementary school. They also retain quite a few Rashis this way, and it
seems to really help their comprehension of Torah. My friend's seven
year old goes to such a school and he has soundly defeated opponents 4
times his age in Shabbos table Torah debates.

Another bonus, for those of us who live near such a school, is that our
children- long before they are old enough for school- are surrounded by
the words of TaNaKh as the students' singing pours out the windows of
their school : )!


From: Russell Hendel <rhendel@...>
Date: Sun, 7 Jan 2001 20:15:36 -0500 (EST)
Subject: RE: >PLACE< meaning >HOLY PLACE< vs >GOD<

Mark Steiner in v33n97 writes

>the Almighty.  (The Biblical expression "hakadosh" referring to Hashem
was transformed into "Hakodesh" in MH, and it so appears in the Sifra
hundreds of times (in the Vatican Codex, the earliest surviving rabbinic
ms.) in the expression hakodesh barukh hu and in the kaddish "kudsha
[not kadisha] brikh hu".  The term "kodesh" may be a reference to the
beit hamikdash, (in the spirit of Hanukkah and recent current events
concerning Har Habayit) since there are a number of ways Hazal referred
to Hashem using references to the Har Habayit and Mikdash, as Abba
Bendavid hypothesizes in his wonderful book on lashon xakhamim.)<

What a wonderful coincidence. I just recently explained the very
difficult Rashi on Gn28-11a .Gn28-11 states >And Jacob bumped into THE
PLACE and he stayed over there ..and he took from the stones of THE
PLACE< Rashi comments that the phrase >THE PLACE< refers either to the
TEMPLE MOUNT or GOD Himself (and the hebrew >PGA< means >PRAYED< not
bumped into).

I point out that Rashi changed the usual word of place because of the
(i)>REPETITION< (PLACE PLACE) a principle of the Malbim and (ii) because
of the definite article >THE<. However the explanation still appears
unnatural. I therefore found an obscure Radack which I was able to
explain using the concept that references to >GOD< may be references to
the >THE PLACE OF HOLINESS (TEMPLE)<.eg >Praised be God from HIS PLACE
OF HOLINESS< (Ex03-12), >The PLACE OF HOLINESS is for the God of
old<(Dt33-27), >Salvation will come from another PLACE (THE
TEMPLE)<(Es03-12). In light of these, the translation >And he PRAYED by
the Temple Mount ..and took from the stones of the Temple Mount<
(gn28-11a) appears natural. For further details see the URL below

Russell Jay Hendel; <RHendel@...>;
Dept of Math;
Moderator Rashi is SImple
http://www.RashiYomi.Com/gn47-02a.htm   (All lower caps)


From: Eli Linas <linaseli@...>
Date: Sun, 07 Jan 2001 20:54:52 +0200
Subject: Purim and (lihavdil) Mardi Gras / Carnival

>Mike Gerver <Mike.Gerver@...>:
>Actually, I have heard that many of the customs of Mardi Gras
>derive from Purim, and perhaps vice versa.

Chas V'Shalom on the second part of this statement!

Eli Linas

From: Mordechai <Phyllostac@...>
Date: Mon, 8 Jan 2001 02:47:35 EST
Subject: Purim and (lihavdil) Mardi Gras / Carnival

re the recent posts on 'Purim and Mardi Gras' (or 'Carnival') -

Professor Daniel Sperber in his recent multi volume work 'minhagei
Yisroel' discusses possible influences of carnival / mardi gras on
Purim. However, lihavdil bein hatamei uvein hatahor, let's not go
overboard in this direction....though there may have been some
influences, Purim is still totally different and uniquely Jewish! This
reminds me of some uneducated people making inane comments such as
'Purim is the Jewish Halloween' (G-d forbid! - Halloween has pagan roots
and Purim holy ones) - because some people wear costumes on it. One
cannot and should not jump to conclusions based on (very) superficial
similarities. Also, let us keep in mind, that if, on occasion, some
Jewish practices are adopted from / influenced by outside sources, they
first must be transformed and made Jewish under guidance of our sages,
similar to the purification process required when a vessel that must be
purified and / or made kosher is acquired.



From: Wendy Baker <wbaker@...>
Date: Mon, 8 Jan 2001 11:12:10 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Re: Rosh Hashana vs. January 1

> << From: Chaim Shapiro <Dagoobster@...>
>  Every year I hear it at least once.  Look how Jews celebrate their New
>  Year Vs the non Jewish world.  Ours is a day of reflection, theirs is
>  partying, drugs and drinking.

In many Protestant groups there is a "Watch Night" solomn service at the
church on New Year's Eve.  From what I gather, it is a service of
reflection over the past year and resolution to do better in the coming
year.  In addition, we do have the New Year's resolutions so often
laughed at.  I would not be surprised to find that the Watch Night
service was in some ways modelled on Rosh Hashanah.

Wendy Baker


From: Moshe and davida Nugiel <friars@...>
Date: Mon, 08 Jan 2001 09:57:16 +0200
Subject: Wild About Harry

I don't think that Harry Potter is good for the Jews.  My understanding
is that HP is some sort of wizard or witch, and that he is the hero of
these books.  The Torah is quite clear that all forms of witchcraft are
forbidden.  How is it, then, that these books are being tolerated, nay
bolstered, by the shomer mitzvot community?

The most recent, and flagrant, manifestation of this phenomenon (that
which prompted this letter) was seeing HP (flying on his broomstick)
prominently displayed in the window of a local bookstore which sells
sifre kodesh.  I called the owner:
Me:  I noticed you have HP in your window.
Owner:  (Apologetically)  Sorry, but we only have Volume 1 in stock...
M:  No, you don't understand, I'm concerned that the book extols
witchcraft, which is assur d'orita.
O: Well, since we know that witchcraft really doesn't exist, it's just a
M:  If witchcraft didn't exist, the Torah wouldn't outlaw it.
O:  Well, the frum people buy it...
End of conversation.

I am disturbed that in my daughter's Beit Yaakov, the teacher assumed
she had read HP, and that book reports and projects about HP are
accepted.  I am concerned that local rabbis and members of the community
who are machmir on most issues read HP to their children as a bedtime
story.  I am unhappy to see on Purim the kids dressing up as witches and
goblins, and that at the local Purim carnival a HP booth was set up. I
am perplexed that this phenomenon is not condemned from every pulpit in
the Jewish world. I am worried that this is an early manifestation of an
insidious undermining of our living our lives l'shame shemiyam.


Moshe Nugiel
Beit Shemesh


End of Volume 34 Issue 9