Volume 34 Number 12
                 Produced: Tue Jan 16  6:02:21 US/Eastern 2001

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

buying Israeli produce outside of Israel during Shmittah year?
         [David A. Schiffmann]
Hunger Strike
         [Mike Gerver]
January 1
         [Danny Skaist]
         [Stan Tenen]
"maqom" as used by Hazal
         [Mark Steiner]
         [Bob Werman]
Rules of BGDKFT (With Reasons)
         [Russell Hendel]
Source Request
         [Eli Linas]
Women and Gemara
         [Gilad J. Gevaryahu]
Women and Gemorra
         [Leona Kroll]


From: David A. Schiffmann <das1002@...>
Date: Sun, 14 Jan 2001 16:55:16 +0000 (GMT)
Subject: buying Israeli produce outside of Israel during Shmittah year?

I would be very grateful if someone could clarify a question I have
regarding produce grown in Israel during the shmittah year ['sabbatical

assuming one accepts the Heter Mechira [permission to sell produce grown
in Israel, through temporary selling of the land to non-Jews], is it
okay during this Shmitta year to buy Israeli produce one finds on sale
outside of Israel, eg Israeli clementimes, avocados, tomatoes, etc.

I'm simply not clear whether it is valid to assume that all such produce
(which I believe goes via the Israeli company, Tnuva?) is okay from the
point of view of Shmitta

(I remember hearing that 'there is on whom to rely' from the point of
view of ma'aser/trumah [a percentage of the crop that needs to be
separated], when it comes to Israeli produce on sale outside of Israel,
as Tnuva deals with all exported produce and ensures that trumah/ma'aser
are taken, and I thought that it might be the same Shmittah issues, but
that is for the timebeing just an assumption on my part).

Many thanks,
David Schiffmann


From: Mike Gerver <Mike.Gerver@...>
Date: Mon, 15 Jan 2001 11:26:20 +0100
Subject: Hunger Strike

Moshe Goldberg asks (v34n11)

> The strikers drink fruit juice
> and hot drinks (coffee, tea) but do not eat any solid food, except
> during Shabbat, when it is forbidden to fast. They have doctors among
> them who provide medical guidance when needed.
> Can anybody on the list provide sources referring to whether it is
> permitted to do such a strike, in view of the prohibition of inflicting
> harm on one's body? Has this question ever been discussed from the
> halachic point of view?

In Mark Azbel's autobiography "Refusenik" he tells about a long hunger
strike he undertook in Moscow, only drinking water and taking vitamins.
Early in the hunger strike, he spoke on the phone to Rav Goren (I think
that's who it was), who was then Chief Rabbi of Israel.  Rav Goren told
him not to fast on Shabbat, but when Azbel explained that his doctors
had told him that it would be very dangerous, after fasting for 6 days,
to suddenly eat a normal diet, Rav Goren quickly changed his mind and
told him to follow the advice of his doctors, and to fast on Shabbat
too.  Indeed, Azbel did get very sick when he first ended the hunger
strike by taking a small amount of carrot juice.  And I've noticed that
I often feel worse after I start eating at the end of Yom Kippur, than I
did before I started eating.  This is especially true if I really
stuffed myself before Yom Kippur.

So, CYLOR, and CYLD! (D=doctor)

Mike Gerver
Raanana, Israel


From: Danny Skaist <danny@...>
Date: Mon, 15 Jan 2001 11:58:18 +0200
Subject: RE: January 1

<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 >>>>

When the Greeks outlawed circumcision, a group of men assembling in the
home af a new born early in the morning was suspect and reported to the
authorities.  So a minhag was started to have a party the nite before
the bris which would last until the early morning (when the bris was
performed).  This was not suspicious in Greek society.  The custom has
remained with us to today.  The Sphardim call it "Brit Yitzchak" and
have it the nite before the brit.  The Ashkanazim moved it to the
Shabbat before the brit and call it a "Shalom Zachar".

I have never been to a shalom zachar or brit yitzchok where there was no
alchohol served, and songs sung, (and divrei torah said).

A child born on Dec. 25 will have his "Brit Yitzchak" on Dec. 31.  It is
not a "new year" that is being celebrated, but the pre-circumcision



From: Stan Tenen <meru1@...>
Date: Sun, 14 Jan 2001 10:24:37 -0500
Subject: Re: Krakatoa

>From: Avi Feldblum <mljewish@...>
>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
>         http://www.pbs.org/wnet/secrets/flash/catastrophe1_script.html
>         http://www.pbs.org/wnet/secrets/flash/catastrophe2_script.html
>Related issues appear to have been a topic of interest in the
>Antiquities academic list about 2 years ago.

There's no need to depend on PBS for documentation.  The Krakatoa work
was also associated with the Los Alamos National Laboratory.  Their
findings, and Keys' findings, are quite similar and mutually supportive.
I think there's a news release at

If you read Keys' book, you can judge the validity of his methods and
findings for yourself.

But the situation is pretty obvious.  Whether or not it was Krakatoa,
some major catastrophe did wipe civilization globally, at about 535 CE.
It really doesn't matter what the actual cause was -- although the
volcano is the best candidate.  What matters is that we take seriously
what happened to the Savora'im, and why the Geonim who followed
understood that they did not understand as well as their predecessors.

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


From: Mark Steiner <marksa@...>
Date: Sun, 14 Jan 2001 21:47:17 +0200
Subject: Re: "maqom" as used by Hazal

    Concerning the expression "maqom" as used by Hazal:

Russell Hendel is definitely correct that the term maqom in the Torah is
understood by Hazal as referring to the Temple Mount, and through that,
to the Almighty Himself.

The midrash on the verse Russell quotes, Gen 28:11, understands the term
maqom to be a reference to Hashem, shehu meqomo shel `olam [he is the
"place" of the world, but the world is not His place].  At the same
time, Hazal understood the place Yaakov saw the dream to be the place of
the Holy Temple.  Hence, it is reasonable to add another reason to the
expression "hamaqom", referring to Hashem, and say that it is a
euphemism (kinuy) based on the Temple Mount.  This fits into other such
expressions such as hakodesh, ha-`avodah [the temple service], etc.,
which are euphemisms for Hashem.

In the story of the Akeida (binding of Isaac) in Genesis, Gen 22, the
term "hamaqom" [the Place] appears in verse 3, 4, 9, and 14--Hazal
regarded the Place as the Place later designated for the Holy Temple
(cf. verse 14).  Note that the expression hamaqom does not mean the
Mountain, but rather the Place on the Mountain.  (This provides a
beautiful exegesis for the very difficult verse 14: the Place was called
Hashem Yir'eh (an allusion to verse 8; another connection between the
Place and the Almighty), about which it is now said, "It [i.e. the
Place] can be seen on the Mount of Hashem."  (This pshat does not appear
in any of the classical commentaries that I'm familiar with, but I saw
it in the Festschrifft for my wife's grandfather, R. Yaakov Freimann, of
blessed memory.))

In Deut 26:9, we have "He has brought us to this maqom"--Rashi, based on
the Sifrei, comments: this is the Holy Temple.

I think it is not irrelevant that maqam in Arabic means a HOLY place.


From: Bob Werman <RWERMAN@...>
Date: Mon,  15 Jan 2001 12:10 +0200
Subject: Purim??

E. Gibbon in _The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire_ footnotes two
mass massacres allegedly carried out by Jews in the first century CE,
one in Alexandria and one in Crete.  I have attempted to find
confirmation of these events without success.

The pagan nature of Purim as seen by notzrim and anti- notzrim, such as
Gibbon, would seem to be behind this strange sounding attribution.  And
Mardi Gras, l'havdil, is clearly pagan in origin, perhaps explaining the
association in some people's eyes betwee our holiday and the other

__Bob Werman,  Jerusalem.


From: Russell Hendel <rhendel@...>
Date: Sun, 7 Jan 2001 20:16:47 -0500 (EST)
Subject: RE: Rules of BGDKFT (With Reasons)

Joshua Hosseinof in mjV33n97 asks about the reason artscroll has a gimel
degushah in >U'MeiVi GoEl<.

The simple rule (covering most cases) is,as Joshua says, that the Hebrew
letters BGDKFT receives a DAGESH at the beginning of a word.

An exception states that >The DAGESH is omitted if the word follows
another word with (i) a connective cantillation and (ii)this preceding
word ends in A,H,V,Y< The reason for the exception is that the preceding
connective word makes the 2 words perceived as one word and therefore
the GIMEL no longer >begins< a new word. As a simple example the proper
pronunciation for a baal koray is >And God spoke to< followed by >Moe
SheL Laymor<. The ending HEY creates a connection and therefore the
LAMED is repeated (Made Degushah)

A further exception to this exception occurs if (ii-a) the preceding
word ends in a MAPIQ H, (ii-b) the preceding word ends in a MAPIQ-V,...
The reason for this exception is that the MAPIQ ends the preceding word
and destroys the liason which was the reason for dropping the dagesh in
the first place.

Now that we know both the rules and the reasons we can easily see that
in the phrase >MayVie Goel< that (1) the aleph is redundant (2) and the
phrase in effect is >May Vi Go El< which should therefore be read as
>May Vig Go El<. As indicated the purpose of this liason is to smoothen
pronunciation and not make it sound awkward.

Russell Jay Hendel; Phd ASA <RHendel@...>
Dept of Math; Towson Univ
Moderator Rashi is Simple


From: Eli Linas <linaseli@...>
Date: Mon, 15 Jan 2001 16:03:42 +0200
Subject: Source Request

Anyone have a source for the expression: "u'teshu'as (or "teshu'as)
Hashem k'heref eyin"? I searched the Torah CD Library, and looked in the
m'chlol, with no success. Anyone have Bar-Ilan, or any other resources
they could check? Thanks a lot.

Eli Linas


From: Gilad J. Gevaryahu <Gevaryahu@...>
Date: Mon, 15 Jan 2001 10:06:14 EST
Subject: Women and Gemara

Alexis Rosoff (v34n11) asks about the current prohibition against girls
being taught Talmud in school. The current prohibition is based on a
teshuva by Rabbi Moshe Feinstein "Igrot Moshe," but other prominent
rabbis disagree.  >From my experience it appears that hareidi schools do
not teach Talmud to the girls, and modern Orthodox schools do
sometimes. Considering that even the opening of the Beth Jacob schools
for girls by Sara Schnirer (1st one in Cracow, 1917) was in and of
itself a revolution in the hareidi communities girl's education, we did
indeed come a long way.

A less know case is that the daughter of Shmuel ben Eli Gaon in Babylon
who was "bekia" (=fluently conversant) in Bible and in Talmud, and
taught the boys Bible, as is told by Rabbeinu Petahiya from
Renzburg. (Quoted from _Sidrei Hinuch_ by S.D. Goitein [Jerusalem, 1962,
p. 64] and his source was: S. Assaf _Mekorot letoldot ha-hinukh
be-Israel_, 3:1, 1924-1954). Throughout history there were other women
who knew Talmud, and I doubt that all these women taught themselves, so
my guess is that individual women were taught Talmud all along. What I
don't know if these cases were initiated by the women or by their

Gilad J. Gevaryahu


From: Leona Kroll <leona_kroll@...>
Date: Mon, 15 Jan 2001 23:24:35 -0800 (PST)
Subject: Women and Gemorra

Strictly speaking, there was never a "ban" on women learning Gemorra, as
evidenced by the fact that many pious women throughout the ages
(including Rashi's daughters) were learned in Gemorra. The ban is on a
women being osek (occupied intensively) in Gemorra, as this would affect
her das (one level of knowledge, the level which serves as a conduit
between intellect and emotion) in a way that is unhealthy for a woman
(whereas for a man it affects his das in a way that is positive and
healthy). In other words, a woman can learn Gemorra in the same way that
she learns other things- she can strive to be familiar with it as a
source of halakha and also for the aggadic portions, the ethical
lessons, and the history. However, a woman wouldn't sit and learn
Gemorra the way that a Rav or a kollel man learns Gemorra nor would that
ever be her goal.

One of the leaders in our generation who encouraged women to learn
Gemorra and directed the schools in his community to introduce Gemorra
for women is the Lubavitcher Rebbe.

For a more in-depth look at this issue, you could read "And All Your
Children Shall Be Learned" from Aaronson publishers. You could also
write to the rabbis at www.chabad.org.

If you are in NYC, try talking to one of the teachers at the Jewish
Renaissance Center, especially Rebbitzin Esther W. (i forget her last
name).Or, you could also contact their website- i don't know their
address off hand.

Good luck!


End of Volume 34 Issue 12