Volume 34 Number 26
                 Produced: Sun Mar 11 15:13:09 US/Eastern 2001

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Mishnah Hodu [Tractate Thanksgiving]
         [Matthew P Wiener]
Purim Edition
         [Sam Saal]


by Meish Goldish

The story of Purim is an international tale.

King Achashverosh was Finnish with his disobedient wife Vashti.
"You Congo now!" he ordered her. After she had Ghana way, the king's
messengers went Roman the land to find a new queen.  And India end,
the beautiful Esther won the crown.

Meanwhile, Mordechai sat outside the palace, where the Chile Haman would
Czech up on him daily.

"I Haiti you because you refuse to bow to me!" Haman scolded Mordechai.
"USA very stubborn man. You Jews are such Bahamas! If you keep this up,
Denmark my words! I will have all your people killed!  Just Kuwait and
see, you Turkey! "

Mordechai went into mourning and tore his clothes-a custom known as Korea.
He urged Esther to plead with the king.  The Jews fasted for three
days and grew very Hungary.  Esther approached the king and asked,
'Kenya Belize come to a banquet I've prepared for you and Haman?"
At the feast, she invited her guests to a second banquet to eat Samoa.

The king asked, "Esther, why Jamaica big meal like this? Just tell me what
you want.  Unto half my United Kingdom will I give you."  Esther replied,
"Spain full for me to say this, but Haman is Russian to kill my people."

Haman's loud Wales could be heard as he carried Honduran this scene.
"Oman!" Haman cried bitterly. "Iraq my brains in an effort to destroy
the Jews.  But that sneaky Mordechai - Egypt me! "

Haman and his ten sons were hanged and went immediately to the
Netherlands.  And to Sweden the deal, the Jews were allowed to Polish
off the rest of their foes as well.  "You lost your enemies and Uganda
friend," the king smiled.

And that is why the Purim story Israeli a miracle. God decided to China
light on His chosen people.

So now, let's celebrate!  Forget all your Syria's business and just
he happy!  Serb up some wine and Taiwan on! Happy Purim!!!

Subject: Mishnah Hodu [Tractate Thanksgiving] 

                             Mishnah Hodu
                 Excerpts from Tractate Thanksgiving
          Newly-translated fragments from the Chelm Genizah
                     Copyright 1997, Rick Dinitz

Hodu lAdoshem ki tov.
[(Eating) turkey for (the sake of) Hashem is good.]

                       Perek Heh, Mishnah Aleph

Hodu lAdoshem ki tov -- keitzad.
[Waving turkey (during Hallel) -- how is it done]?

They take the arba minim [four kinds] together -- turkey, cranberry,
corn and squash -- and wave them east, south, west, north, up and

Rabbi Yose says: When (does this apply)?  When everyone in the
congregation has a good sense of humor.

Rabbi Tarfon says: When everyone in the congregation is a good

                        Perek Heh, Mishnah Bet

How much do they wave (what is the minimum)?

Bet Shammai say: Turkey, all of it; cranberry, one kav; corn, one
stalk; squash, one vine.

Bet Hillel say: Turkey, one limb; cranberry, one berry; corn, one
kernel; squash, one squashel.

Rabbi Akiva says: let him wave whatever he has.

                       Perek Heh, Mishnah Gimel

They take them together -- keitzad [how is it done]?

Bet Hillel says: They place them in a basket and wave the basket.

Bet Shammai says: They stuff the three inside the turkey and wave the

Rabbi Yehoshua says: the stuff all four inside a pita, and wave the

Rabbi Akiva says: They eat all four, and wave their bodies.

Rabbi Tarfon says: It is not up you to finish the eating, but neither
are you free to eat nothing -- after all, a person has to eat.

                       Perek Heh, Mishnah Dalet

When do they wave?

Rabbi Shimon says: like a lulav (at the same times when we would wave
a lulav on Sukkot).

Rabbi Yose HaGlili says: Through all of Hallel Hagadol -- on each "ki
l'olam chasdo" (they wave).

Rabbi Akiva says: If so, it how would they digest what they have
eaten?  (That is, waving the body so many times in rapid sequence
after eating a heavy meal is bound to cause trouble.)

They said to him: They do not eat until after the earliest time for
Minchah (which is after Hallel).

Rabbi Yehoshua says: In the Galil I saw that when they sing "Noten
lechem l'chol basar" [God gives bread for all flesh] they eat the
sandwich of turkey in pita.

                    Perek Heh, Mishnah Heh Heh Heh

Until when do they wave?  Chamishi.  [(only on) Thursday;
alternatively, chamesh, for five days].

Shammai says: Me-Hodu ad Kush.  (That is, they continue waving until

Rabbi Eliezer says: When (does this apply)?  Only to the king.
Shene'emar [as it is said]: Melech me-Hodu ad Kush.  Everyone else
waves only for one day, but all eat leftover turkey until it is

Rabbi Shimon says: L'olam [forever] (that is, they never stop waving).
Shene'emar: Hodu lAdoshem ki tov, ki l'olam chasdo.

But the sages say: If he waves it chutz lizmano [beyond the appointed
time], pasul le'echol [it is unfit to eat].

                       Perek Zayin, Mishnah Gimel

What kind of squash?

Rabbi says: Zucchini.

Rabban Gamliel says: En zaken b'Cheshvan [nobody (harvests) zucchini
in (the month of) Cheshvan].

The sages say: Don't read "zucchini" -- but rather "zaken" [an old squash].

                       Perek Zayin, Mishnah Dalet

Cranberry relish and cranberry sauce, kasher [it is fit for waving].
But cranberry juice, cranberry jelly, or cranberry cobbler, pasul [it
is not fit].

Corn soup, popcorn, and caramel corn, kasher.  But cornbread is pasul,
because of the flour.  Corndogs are pasul, because of the dog.
(Presumably this kind of dog lacks either fins or scales.)

Resh Lakish says: With pumpkin pie, kasher.

His son says: My mother would make pareve pumpkin pie for the waving.

                        Perek Yod, Mishnah Vav

Rabban Gamliel says: Squash I understand, but what are turkey,
cranberry and corn?

They said to him: Corn -- I'm all ears.  Cranberry -- don't get bogged
down in such details.  Turkey -- (this refers to an) am haaretz
[unlearned person].

He (Rabban Gamliel) said to them: Whoever cannot explain these three
things has not fulfilled their obligation.

But the sages say: The Torah is a Torah for all times and all lands
(that is, when God will reveal these foods to us, we will know the
halachah for what to do with them).

Kakatuv: v'alchalta, v'savata, uverachta.
[As it is written: You'll eat, and you'll be satisfied, and you'll bless]

 Kol tuv,

Copyright 1997, Rick Dinitz

From: <weemba@...> (Matthew P Wiener)
Newsgroups: soc.culture.jewish
Subject: Late Breaking News

Today's papers sure contained a surprise.  I'd like to thank Rav
Avril Nar for the halakhic information.

From: Sam Saal <ssaal@...>
Date: Fri, 9 Mar 2001 07:05:12 -0800 (PST)
Subject: Purim Edition

Subject: Hermeneutics of the Stop Sign

Suppose you're traveling to work and you see a stop sign. What do you
do? That depends on how you apply exegesis to the sign.

1. An average Jew doesn't bother to read the sign but will stop if the
    car in front of him does.

2. A fundamentalist stops at the sign and waits for it to tell him to go.

3. An Orthodox Jew does one of two things:

    (a) Stops at the stop sign, says "Blessed art thou, O L-rd our G-d,
        King of the universe, who hast given us Thy commandment to stop,"
        waits 3 seconds according to his watch, and then proceeds.

    (b) Takes another route to work that doesn't have a stop sign so that
        he doesn't run the risk of disobeying the halachah.

4. A Haredi ("ultra-Orthodox") does the same thing as the Orthodox Jew,
    except that he waits 10 seconds instead of 3. He also replaces his
    brake lights with 1000-watt searchlights and connects his horn so that
    it is activated whenever he touches the brake pedal.

5. An Orthodox woman concludes that she is not allowed to observe the
    mitzvah of stopping because she is niddah. This is a dilemma, because
    the stop sign is located on her way to the mikvah. She refers the
    problem to her rabbi, who shrugs.

6. A feminist Jewish woman sees this as a sign from the Shekhinah that
    translates roughly, "Enough already..."

7. A Talmudic scholar consults his holy books and finds the following
    comments on the stop sign: "R. Meir says: He who does not stop shall
    not live long. R. Hillel says: Cursed is he who does not count to
    three before proceeding. R. Shimon ben Yehudah says: Why three?
    Because the Holy One, blessed be He, gave us the Law, the Prophets,
    and the Writings. R. ben Yitzhak says: Because of the three 
    patriarchs. R. Yehuda says: Why bless the L-rd at a stop sign? Because
    it says: `Be still, and know that I am G-d.' R. Yehezkel says: When
    Jephthah returned from defeating the Ammonites, the Holy One, blessed
    be He, knew that a donkey would run out of the house and overtake his
    daughter; but Jephthah did not stop at the stop sign, and the donkey
    did not have time to come out. For this reason he saw his daughter
    first and lost her. Thus was he judged for his transgression at the
    stop sign. R. Gamaliel says: R. Hillel, when he was a baby, never
    spoke a word, though his parents tried to teach him by speaking and
    showing him the words on a scroll. One day his father was driving
    through town and did not stop at the sign. Young Hillel called out,
    `Stop, father!' In this way, he began reading and speaking at the same
    time. Thus it is written: `Out of the mouths of babes.' R. ben Yaakov
    says: Where did the stop sign come from? Out of the sky, as it is
    written: `Forever, O L-rd, your word is fixed in the heavens.' R. ben
    Natan says: When were stop signs created? On the fourth day, as it is
    written: `Let them serve as signs.' But R. Yehoshua says: ..."
    [continues for three more pages...]

8. A Breslover Hasid sees the sign and makes hisboddidus [spontaneous
    personal prayer], saying: "Ribono Shel Olam--here I am, traveling on
    the road in Your service, and I am about to face who knows what danger
    at this intersection in my life. So please watch over me and help me
    to get through this stop sign safely." Then, "looking neither to left
    nor right" as Rebbe Nachman advises, he joyfully accepts the
    challenge, remains focused on his goal--even if the car rolls backward
    for a moment--hits the accelerator and forges bravely forward,
    overcoming all obstacles which the yetzer hara [evil inclination]
    might put in his path.

9. A Lubovitcher Hasid stops at the sign and reads it very carefully in
   the light of the Rebbe's teachings. (In former times he would have used
   his cell phone to call Brooklyn and speak to the Rebbe personally for
   advice, but this is no longer possible, may the Rebbe rest in peace.)
   Next, he gets out of the car and sets up a roadside mitzvah-mobile,
   taking this opportunity to ask other Jewish drivers who stop at the
   sign whether they have put on tefillin today (males) or whether they
   light Shabbos candles (females). Having now settled there, he
   steadfastly refuses to give up a single inch of the land he occupies
   until Moshiach comes.

10. A Conservative Jew calls his rabbi and asks whether stopping at this
    sign is required by unanimous ruling of the Commission on Jewish Law
    or if there is a minority position. While waiting for the rabbi's
    answer, he is ticketed by a policeman for obstructing traffic.

11. A secular Jew rejects the sign as a vestige of an archaic and
    outmoded value system with no relevance to the modern world, and
    ignores it completely.

12. A Reform Jew coasts up to the sign while contemplating the question,
    "Do I personally feel commanded to stop?" During his deliberation he
    edges into the intersection and is hit from behind by the secular

13. A Reconstructionist Jew reasons: First, this sign is a legacy of our
    historic civilization and therefore I must honor it. On the other
    hand, since "the past has a vote and not a veto," I must study the
    historic civilization and therefore I must honor it. On the other
    hand, since "the past has a vote and not a veto," I must study the
    issue and decide whether the argument in favor of stopping is
    spiritually, intellectually, and culturally compelling enough to be
    worth perpetuating. If so, I will vote with the past; if not, I will
    veto it. Finally, is there any way that I can revalue the stop sign's
    message so as to remain valid for our own time?

14. A Renewal Movement Jew meditates on whether the stop sign applies
    in all of the kabbalistic Four Worlds [Body-Emotion-Mind-Spirit] or
    only in some of them, and if so, which ones? Must he stop feeling?
    thinking? being? driving? Since he has stopped to breathe and
    meditate on this question, he is quite safe while he does so, barukh

15. A biblical scholar points out that there are a number of stylistic
    differences between the first and second halves of the passage
    "STOP." For example, "ST" contains no enclosed areas and five line
    endings, whereas "OP" contains two enclosed areas and only one line 
    termination He concludes that the first and second parts are the work
    of different authors who probably lived several centuries apart. Later
    scholars determine that the second half is itself actually written by
    two separate authors because of similar stylistic differences between
    the "O" and the "P."

16. Because of difficulties in interpretation, another biblical scholar
    amends the text, changing "T" to "H." "SHOP" is much easier to
    understand in this context than "STOP" because of the multiplicity of
    stores in the area. The textual corruption probably occurred because
    "SHOP" is so similar to "STOP" on the sign several streets back that
    it is a natural mistake for a scribe to make. Thus the sign should be
    interpreted to announce the existence of a commercial district.

17. Yet another biblical scholar notes that the stop sign would fit better
    into another intersection three streets back. Clearly it was moved to
    its present location by a later redactor. He thus interprets the 
    present intersection as though the stop sign were not there.

Subject: Purim Book Reviews


Eli D. Clark

Rabbi Mordy Ignatzkowitz Explains It All for You (Hassagas Gvul
Publishing, 1999), translated and edited by Suri Horowitz-Margareten, 237

Throughout our history, there have been Jews who, confounded by the
crossword puzzle of current events, have stared up at the heavens and
asked, -Why?-  But Hashem, Who has better things to do, does not send the
answers directly.  Instead, in every generation, He blesses us with a
guide who unravels these mysteries for us: The Rambam, the Arizal, the
Besht, the Fonz.

HaRav Mordechai Ignatzkowitz is such a person.  A disciple of the
well-known mystic, R. Azarya Eyd Zomem, R. Mordechai is world-famous for
his lectures, which draw overflow crowds to his 1-BD bedroom apartment -
in Bnei Brak.  His radio show, -Toch Kedey Dibbur,- attracts countless
listeners.  And his tapes are best-sellers from the fast food restaurants
of Flatbush to the basements of Borough Park. Now, for the first time
ever, Rav Mordechai's wisdom is available to the English-speaking world
(provided that the English-speaking world has $24.95 plus tax.  Okay, for
you, no tax.).  R. Mordechai's daughter-in-law has painstakingly
transcribed hundreds of hours of speeches, shiurim, diatribes and
anecdotes and lovingly presented them in fractured English.  The results
are nothing short of wondrous.

War and conflict, evil and wickedness, pain and agony -- synonyms like
these that have plagued man for generations are explained by R.
Mordechai.  In surprisingly simple sentences, he describes how our lives
interconnect, how world events are governed by Hashgochoh, and how to
make a fortune investing in soybean futures.  With a mixture of wit,
warmth and erudition, R. Mordechai shines a halogen light into the
darkness of life.  He illuminates the daily kindnesses of Hashem, the
ever-present touch of the Divine thumb on the deli scale of history. More
importantly, R. Mordechai reminds us what Hashem really wants from us:
dedicating ourselves to Torah living, reaching out to the less fortunate,
wearing felt hats with wide brims.

What makes this work truly memorable is the stories.  R. Mordechai has an
endless trove of moving, relatively truthful stories.  For example, R.
Mordechai tells the heartbreaking tale of a young girl named Sora Miriam,
who loves to ice skate.  When it becomes clear that her skating would
conflict with her responsibilities as a frum girl, she bravely abandons
Yiddishkeit and moves to Utah to train with an Olympic coach. Sora
Miriam, now known as Shana Marie, performs well in her first competition,
only to be bested by a young Asian skater named Mikudesheth Li.  After a
brief modeling career, Sora/Shana realizes her error and returns home,
where her loving parents have waited for her, patiently renting out her
bedroom in her absence.  Happily, she rejoins her family, marries a young
kollelnik named Feuchtwanger, and develops an incredible recipe for
avocado kugel.  As luck would have it, though, Sora's own daughter,
Devoyri, changes her name to Dorothy, marries Steve Hamill, and becomes
the best-known U.S. figure skater of the twentieth century.

Enhancing R. Mordechai's inspiring stories are beautiful color
illustrations and a handsome, faux leather binding.  Available with or
without an accompanying CD (featuring Peggy Lee), the book is an ideal
Bar or Bas Mitzvah gift and is sure to please everyone in the family with
a fourth grade reading level or below.


A Summary of New and Noteworthy Jewish Fiction and Non-Fiction

Problems with Contemporary Halakhists Volume III.  A nationally
recognized authority on Jewish law analyzes a host of contemporary
halakhic issues including: employing a gentile to brush one's teeth on
Shabbat, living next door to a house with a television antenna, and the
required height for a mechitzah at one's Shabbat table.  Also discussed:
whether someone seen eating broccoli remains kasher le-edut, and the
halakhic considerations that apply to the purchase of a sport utility
vehicle.  In a special appendix, the author lucidly describes the process
of pesak, demonstrating the need for objectivity and sensitivity and
explaining why his own rulings are inevitably correct.

The New Jewish Way in Dating and Marriage.  A practical guide to the
contemporary search for a shidduch.  Features a letter written by a
prominent Gadol on choosing a mate: -The Eternal Question: Yichus or Hard
Assets?-  In-depth chapters describe how to build a gold-plated resume,
manufacture a stellar family tree, and touch up old wedding photos. 
Practical sections include nineteen arguments why kollel is essential to
the survival of Am Yisroel, fashion hints, and a comprehensive glossary
of yiddishisms (-Mastering Yeshivonics-). Chapters for parents include
twenty-five intimidating questions on sugyos in Menachos and tips on
accessing the credit and tax records of prospective in-laws.

Shver Jordan.  In this futuristic novel, a legendary basketball player
becomes a rosh yeshivah.  His charisma quickly wins him a substantial
following, until someone realizes that he cannot read Aramaic and thinks
-Tosfos- is a brand of linoleum.  As the yeshivah's fortunes start to
sink, a loyal student suggests a benefit concert.  All of the superstars
of Jewish music agree to perform, with their beards.  A new song,
-Rappin' with the Rogotchover- is introduced and goes on to become a
wedding and bar mitzvah standard.  The successful concert saves the
yeshivah, but Rav Jordan decides to return to sports, moves to Milan and
joins a basketball team sponsored by Ragu.

The Real Halakhic Man.  A stunning reevaluation of the life and thought
of Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik.  Based on unconfirmed rumors, the author
reveals that the Rav mistakenly wandered into the University of Berlin
while searching for a bakery that sold yoshon bagels.  Not wanting to
offend the university personnel, the Rav politely agreed to enroll as a
student for six years and write a dissertation on neo-Kantian philosophy.
 This reluctance to offend others was a hallmark of the Rav's patient and
gentle personality.  For instance, prior to establishing the Maimonides
School in Boston, a prospective parent asked the Rav if the school would
be co-ed.  The Rav (who naturally never considered the option), assumed
the questioner said -ka-ed,- i.e., like a witness testifying to the emes
of Torah, and said, -Yes.-  Rather than risk embarrassing a fellow Jew,
the Rav permitted the school to teach boys and girls together.

Another revelation relates to the Rav's involvement with Mizrachi as
honorary president of Religious Zionists of America.  The author explains
that the Rav's affiliation did not signify agreement with religious
Zionist ideology, but a subtle strategy to persuade Mizrachi to merge
with Agudath Israel or, at least, change its name to -Rejecters of
Zionism of America.-  Indeed, for most of his life the Rav chose not to
travel to Israel in silent protest of the existence of a secular Israeli
government.  Interestingly, in the 1970's, the Rav planned a late
November visit to the Holy Land, but missed his flight when his
Thanksgiving dinner ran late.

A Man in Shul.  This satirical novel follows the vain attempts of a
Southern Jew to find a shul in which he can daven undisturbed by talk of
sports scores and stock prices.  In one memorable episode, he feigns
deafness; but the talkative neighbor, instead of falling silent,
initiates a conversation with another person, in which he loudly comments
on the hero's bad haircut, ugly tie and unattractive wife.  A few
chapters later, the protagonist is dragged against his will to a -kiddush
club- by an amiable surgeon who cheerfully insists, -We need a minyan to
drink bourbon.-  In the unrealistic conclusion, the hero finds a quiet
Young Israel in Queens.

The Toaster in Jewish Law.  A long overdue study of the halakhic issues
relating to the electric toaster, complete with 73 color illustrations.
Written by a respected member of an obscure kollel, the book analyzes the
prohibitions of using a toaster on Shabbos, the procedures for kashering
a toaster and cleaning it for Pesach, and recommendations for using a
toaster to bake matzoh, heat the kitchen or dry wet laundry. Separate
sections discuss the toaster/oven and how to make toast in the wilderness
with a hanger, dental floss, and a can of hairspray.

By the Grace of Hashem.  A riveting, true-life story detailing the
miraculous rescue of a middle-aged mother of five from a riot at
Loehmann's.  On March 9, 1989, a fight broke out in the petites section
between two women over a marked-down Donna Karan business suit.  This
sparked a melee that spread throughout the mall.  One hundred twelve
people were taken to the hospital and twenty-four others converted to
Buddhism.  In the end, criminal charges were filed, but only against a
nine-year old boy who witnessed the entire riot, videotaped it and
broadcast the film on a cable television channel operated by his older
brother from a high school locker.  The author, who had gone shopping for
an engagement dress for her daughter (still single, but very warm and
outgoing!), avoided injury by climbing through an air duct into the
ventilation system of the building.  Wedged in by her purse, she was
stuck for four days, subsisting on breath mints and a weeks-old
tangerine.  Finally, she was discovered by a well-meaning cat burglar who
drove her back to her home in time to catch a re-run of the evening news
from 1973.  Her husband, a Chassidisher rebbe, had despaired of seeing
his beloved wife again, so he moved the family to Sacramento and opened
up a combination kosher pizza shop and shtiebel, called -Fress and

Tzaddik in a Peltz: Exorbitant Wealth as the Path to Shomayim.  This
groundbreaking work persuasively argues that Hashem wants all of us to
own a six-bedroom house in Lawrence with a pool.  The author, a
well-known stock broker and letz, provides a historical overview
describing a long list of wealthy tzaddikim from Avraham Avinu to the
Reichmans.  He notes that the Hebrew word for wealth, osher (with an
ayin) is almost identical to the Hebrew word for happiness, osher (with
an alef) and the Hebrew word for uprightness, yosher.  An extensive
halakhic section cites numerous Gedolim who praise material
gratification, self-indulgence and the mindless acquisition of property.
In an innovative passage, he explains that the statement of Chazal,
-Marbeh nechasim, marbeh da'agah -- One who increases possessions,
increases worry,- actually means that when you acquire possessions, it
increases your neighbor's worry, because he now has to go out and buy
something better.  Chapters include: -Evading Meshulochim -- Delay,
Denial and Ducking Out of Sight,- -Is the World Ready for Designer
Tefillin?- and -The Six Figure Wedding: Because You're Worth It.-

Fatterstill Halls.  A novel set in a girls' seminary in Israel, this
absorbing story follows a diverse group of twenty-nine American girls who
come to Israel with a combined total of 847 pairs of shoes and spend a
year learning about life, Torah and the guilty pleasures of Bamba dipped
in chocolate spread.  By striking coincidence, all but two of the girls
are named Aviva.  They develop a close relationship with their madrichah,
a twenty-four year old named Chaviva, who keeps telling the girls that,
before making a decision, they should ask themselves, -Think: what would
the Maharal have done?-  In the middle of the year, Chaviva gets engaged,
but her parents oppose the match because her fiance's name is Ido. 
During the novel's climax, Aviva, the intellectual of the group, has a
spiritual experience at the Kotel and decides to make aliyah, unless she
first meets a nice guy from Englewood who has been accepted to Columbia
Law School.

Conversations with G-d, Book 3.  A long-time confidante of the
Lubavitcher Rebbe looks back on his weekly meetings with the King

Nu?  I'm Tired of Waiting!  A well-known Orthodox feminist shares her
hopes, fears and frustrations over a lifetime of struggle to transform
Orthodoxy into Conservative Judaism.  Speaking of her ambition to be an
Orthodox rabbi, she writes, -I've always dreamed of standing and begging
the congregation for silence in shul or watching my baal ha-batim fall
asleep during my derashah.-  She writes of her reverence for tradition
and her desire to undermine it.  In a stirring passage, she speaks of
following in the footsteps of her heroines: Joan of Arc, George Eliot and
Aunt Sadie.  (In 1963, Aunt Sadie walked out on Uncle Myron for writing a
poem about her entitled, -Servile Sadie, My Favorite Lady.-) Looking to
the future, the author predicts that the laws of taharat ha-mishpachah
will be updated, such that all married women will be required to make a
monthly visit to the manicurist.

Katz in the Sheitel.  The light-hearted story of Elana Katz, a young
corporate lawyer in New York who heaves her briefcase into the Hudson
River and becomes a full-time sheitelmacher.  She soon discovers an
untapped market for European virgin human hair sheitlach and popularizes
a new wig design modeled after Marilyn Monroe's hairstyle called the
-Rollin' Rebbitzen.-  The style is an instant smash, and Elana opens
salons in Brooklyn, Bnei Brak and Baton Rouge.  With the help of her
husband, a computer programmer, they launch the Kimchis Kollel, dedicated
exclusively to the study of Gemara Sotah.  Years, but not months, pass. 
At the suggestion of a prominent Gadol, the sheitel business is sold to
Merrill Lynch which merges it with a company that sells flavored seltzer
on the Internet.  Without a business to run, Elana retires and dedicates
herself full-time to criticizing the housekeeping skills of her

Triumph of Destiny of Survival.  A sweeping history of the Jewish people
told from the perspective of a twenty-seven year old accountant named
Kasriel.  Skipping back and forth between centuries, weaving midrashim,
limericks and legends into each story, the book spins an entertaining
though fictitious narrative, starting from Adam ha-Rishon and concluding
with the 1974 laying of the cornerstone of Young Israel of Avenue J.
Highlights include a retelling of the Bilam story from the perspective of
the donkey and an eyewitness account of the Golem of Prague tackling an
anti-Semite and removing most of his cardiovascular system.  Sadly, the
author does engage in historical revisionism, arguing that R. Shimshon
Raphael Hirsch spoke Mandarin Chinese and claiming that the Mesillas
Yesharim was written by the author's father-in-law.  Lavishly
illustrated, the book includes a reproduction of the invitation to the
wedding of R. Saadia Gaon and a photograph of the Vilna Gaon's tefillin

Subject: The Medrash of Jack and the Beanstalk; A Purim Commentary
MIME-Version: 1.0

The midrash of Jack and the Beanstalk, as most people know it, is first
brought down in the siddur of the Achim Grimm. However, recent studies
done in the Copenhagen Geniza have found some partial manuscripts of the
midrash, dating its source to R. Haim Yehudi Bar-Anders (known by his
`goyish' name of Hans Christian Anderson).

The version cited here is the Grimm version, except in the section about
the cow, which is based on the most complete Bar-Anders manuscript.

Summary of the text:
Jack lives alone with his mother [1] in an anonymous village [2]. The
village had three treasures, some gold coins, a golden harp which sings
and a goose which laid golden eggs. These treasures were stolen by an
evil giant.

Jack and his mother have only their old cow to support them [3]. When
the cow stops giving milk, Jack's mother tells Jack that they must sell
the cow. Jack goes off to sell the cow, and meets an unidentified
farmer [4], who offers Jack some magic beans in exchange for the cow
[5]. Jack makes the switch, takes the beans and goes home to his

Jack's furious mother takes the beans and hurls them out the window to
the ground [6]. She sends Jack to bed without any supper.

The next morning, Jack arises, looks out the window, and sees a giant
beanstalk where the beans had landed. Jack climbs up the beanstalk, and
comes to a land where he is dwarfed by everything [7]. In the distance
Jack spies a castle. He goes off in the direction of the castle, hoping
to find breakfast.  Arriving at the castle, Jack knocks on the door,
and is greeted by the giant's wife [8], who tells him to hide since her
husband eats little boys. Suddenly, we are treated to a chorus of
"Fe-Fi-Fo-Fum I smell the blood of an Englishman [10]" as the giant [9]
storms onto the scene. The giant's wife calms him, and tells him to go
and play with his gold toys. The giant goes, counts his coins, commands
the goose to lay a golden egg, and has the golden harp sing him to
sleep [10].

Jack comes out of hiding, recognizes his villages treasures, steals one
of them [11], and returns, down the beanstalk to his village. He
returns the treasures to the villagers.

This is repeated on each of the subsequent nights, until all of the
treasures are restored to their rightful owners. The giant then pursues
Jack down the beanstalk, but Jack pulls out a conveniently placed axe,
and chops down the stalk, hurling the giant to his untimely end [12].

1. Jack and his mother live alone - note that there is no father. This
is symbolic of the exile of the Jack, Jacob, Jewish people from their
Father in Heaven, while the nurturing mother, the Shechina follows the
Jewish people in their wanderings.

2. The anonymous village which had lost its treasures is symbolic of
the destroyed city of Jerusalem, which has lost the splendor and glory
of ancient days, rendering it just another city. No more would the half
shekel (the coins) be donated by the Jewish people to maintain the
Temple.  No more would the leviim sing their psalms (the harp). No more
would the Cohanim bring bird and other offerings (the goose). All these
treasures were stolen by enemies of Israel, represented by the evil
giant, the might of the nations against the diminutive Jewish People.

3. An old cow to support them which stops giving milk - the people,
realizing the emptiness of their lives without the destroyed Jerusalem,
realizing that their golden calves no longer sustain them, finally to
do tshuva, renouncing their ways. They attempt to rid themselves of
their evil ways.

4. This is the most cryptic character in the entire story. Generally,
one supposes that an such a character is either an angel, or is
Pinchas. In this case, there is no reason to suppose that.

5. Jack attempts to take the easy way out. His repentance is, as yet,
only partial.

6. This is reminiscent of Moshe Rabenu's hurling the tablets to the
ground. There the people were as yet unrepentant. Jack's mother, the
Schina, is indicating to Jack that partial repentance is not

7. Jack goes off into exile, in search of the path of repentance. He is
dwarfed by the nations.

8. One scholar identifies the giant's wife represents the righteous
among the nations, who attempts to hide Jack from the evil giant.
Another scholar, who had a variant manuscript (the Copenhagen geniza
texts do not shed any light on this) points out that she still pushes
Jack into the oven to hide, a clear indication of passive
anti-Semitism. Perhaps due to her ambiguous nature, when the giant is
ultimately killed, we do not hear of any reward or punishment for the
giant's wife. Indeed, her entire identity is purely "the giant's
wife"-by reference to the enemy of the Jews.

9. We find the giant living in a state of moral decrepitude. His
marriage is a sham at best, as we see that he and his wife do not even
share common purpose-one eats little boys, another shields them. He
indicates to Jack, that no matter what nationality he is pretending to
be, ("I smell the blood of an Englishman"), he is still a hated Jew
(the giant's wife makes it clear that he eats boys, not Englishman).
The giant's wife is only able to calm the giant from his fury by
reminding him that the temple is still in ruins, and its remains are
merely toys to him.

10. The giant, not even realizing how precious these treasures are
falls asleep on them.

11. Upon catching a glimpse of what he has lost, Jack is suddenly
stirred to a higher level of repentance. Attaining that level, Jack
brings back one of the missing treasures to Jerusalem. Nonetheless,
Jack must continue this process over a series of nights, attaining
higher and higher levels of repentance, and restoring the Jewish people
and Jerusalem to higher and higher levels of their former glory.

12. Ultimately, the repentance of the Jewish people is perfected, and
the Jews are able to defeat their enemies. The messianic age is then
ushered in.

Happy Purim.

Subject: Messiah delayed

Messiah Delay Expected  - Y2K problem cited:  Disappointing news out of
Jerusalem today - delay predicted in the coming of the Messiah. A
spokesman for God blamed software problems arising from Y2K bug as the
source of the delay.

Recently, Heaven has been preparing for a launch of the Messianic Era.
In a bit of bad luck, the selected time, Tishrei 5761, is also 2000 CE,
and subject to the infamous Y2K problem. "We just didn't realize how
pervasive this problem was" God said yesterday. "We thought Y2K was
just a Gematriah thing. Who knew?"

The Y2K bug brought down three of Heaven's main servers and God's
personal laptop during a full-up dress rehearsal simulation of the
anticipated Messianic times. Heaven's spokesman would not discuss the
servers for security reasons, but did mention that God uses an IBM
ThinkPad, running Microsoft WorldPerfect 7 under Windows NT. Requests
for comment from Microsoft went unanswered. "These computers are really
a mixed blessing," God said. "I don't like to say it, but you know,
`Darned if you do, darned if you don't.'"

Heaven is waiting for a software patch from Microsoft to resolve the
problem. The spokesman for Heaven said Microsoft would not promise a
date for the fix.  "I can tell you for a fact that Bill Gates is not
the Messiah," God commented. "But as of now, he's the only one who can
bring him."

For more continuing coverage of the issue, check out the website:

About the Software, WorldPerfect 7: Many people are surprised to hear
Heaven falling prey to the Y2K problem, but far more of them are
surprised to hear that computers are even relevant "upstairs." Years
ago Heaven converted from standard paper-based systems to computers.
The following are excepts from a recent interview with God on this
topic: "We had our first machine years ago. The hardware was big and
the programs slow, but we could see that World Processing was the way
to go."In the olden days, you only had to track 613 mitzvot per Jew. No
big deal. Now with all those Rabbinical decrees, minhagim,
chumrahs,etc., you really need the computer. "Our first piece of
software was the spreadsheet, MitzvaCalc - you know, for the Das
operating system. But now of course we're much more sophisticated. We
use the fully integrated world processor,WorldPerfect 7.

"Before computers, Rosh Hashanah to Yom Kippur was a nightmare around
here - so much to keep track of. Between all the Teshuvah,Tefillah and
Tzedakah, the "I'm sorry for this and that", it was impossible to keep
up. It would take us till Hoshana Rabbah just to count up all the
points and close the books. Nowadays it all happens in real time. By
Motzei Yom Kippur we have a printout in hand how many live, how many
die, who by fire, who by water, etc. Not a bad system...."

Subject: Tractate Aufruf

The following was published on the HUCALUM List by Dr. Allen Podet:
We've had a rush of Auf-Ruf's recently .  In order to properly deal
with the sticky question of the CANDY TOSS, this recently discovered
section from   TRACTATE AUFRUF  was used as the authority:

(2:1) We distribute the candies when the person for shishi is called to
the Torah.  Beis Shammai says: when achron is called up.  (from the
Gemara: when do they distribute at shishi?  Surely not when the chosson
is called up for shishi!  Rather, this describes a case in which the
chosson is called for maftir)

(2:2) Originally they used to throw hard candies, but when they caused
harm to the gabboim, the rabbis enacted that they should only throw
Fruit Chews.(Rambam, in Hilchos Simchat v'Seudot, notes that many have
the custom not to throw red Fruit Chews during Elul "because of the

(2:3) Originally they would bring the candies in baskets of silver and
gold.  But when Mrs. Schapiro complained that the wedding was costing
enough already, they brought [the candies] in [baskets of] wicker.

(2:4)We may not violate the Sabbath to bring the candies.  But the
following do override [the Sabbath]: the passing, the throwing, the
recovery, the unwrapping and the eating.  R' Kasha says: we may unwrap
only if we don't tear letters [on the wrappers].  R' Varnishkes says:
if we don't tear "Sunkist" and [the] OU [symbol].

(3:1) The children pass in the aisles and distribute the candies.  How
do they distribute them?  They go from row to row, giving a handful of
candies to the person seated on the aisle, saying "Take and throw, take
and throw."  The handful of each child is according to his size.

(3:2) It is prohibited to eat the candies before throwing them.  But R'
Kreppel permits it.

(from the Gemara:  But if he eats his candies, he cannot throw them!
R' Kreppel was discussing a case in which he was given more than one
candy: such a person may eat as long as he keeps one for the throwing.

And what is the brachah for the Fruit Chews?  "Shehakol," the words of
the Sages.  "Borei p'ri ha-eitz," the words of R' Ploni.  "Are you
kidding?," ask the sages.  And R' Yankel says, "over the beige ones, we
do not make a brachah, because they are a curse."  But a baraisa says
"over the beige ones, we do not make a brachah, because they are not
even food."  Why do we worry if they are a curse if they are not even
food [in the first place]?  R' Schmaltz says it is because of the end
of the baraisa: "R'Blinchiki says: we make borei meenay besomim,
because they smell."  R'Yankel means to say that we do not make even
this brachah, because they smell like a curse.)

(3:3) If he wants throw candies he has brought with him in his tallis
bag, R' Kreppel permits [them to be thrown].  R' Varnishkes prohibits

The Sages praised those who added [candies] to the throwing.  The
gabboim only praised if they [the candies] were not hard.

(3:4) When do they throw?  After he finishes reading from the Torah.
These are the words of R' Kasha.  But R' Varnishkes says after he

(from the Gemara: After which blessing [does R' Varnishkes say we
throw]?  Surely not after the blessing of "asher bachar banu," for the
throwing would separate between the blessing and the reading [from
theTorah].  And if you would say after the blessing after the Prophets,
no one would be paying attention any longer and the chazzan would be
pelted when he begins "Yekum purkan" and woke everyone up.  Rather, R'
Varnishkes says we throw after the chosson finishes the berachah of
"asher natan lanu.")

(3:5) How do they throw?  Overhand, with the right hand, but if he
threw with the left hand, he has fulfilled his obligation.  If he threw
underhand, it is as if he hasn't thrown. (there is a lengthy and
unresolved debate in the Gemara (15a - 76b) about whether a left-handed
person should throw with his left, or right, hand.)

(3:6) Originally, they would leave the candies where they were, but
when the janitors complained, they sent the children to pick up the
candies.  There are those who say it is a segulah for [finding a good]
shidduch to collect many candies.  But Mrs. Shapiro says it is a
segulah for going to the dentist.


Subject:  Halachah Mi-Disney

While Disney World does maintain daily minyanim throughout the park,
many poskim have declared it forbidden to pray with them.

They proclaim that mice cannot serve as shlichei tzibbur, and it is
well known that this practice is common at Disney synagogues. However,
the chancellor of Disney World has ruled that mice are acceptable as
agents, as long as they have taken upon themselves the obligations of
daily tfilah. Mishlei states that there are no atheists in mouseholes.

Furthermore, on Shabbat, dwarves receive all seven aliyot.  Dwarves
reading from the Torah damages k'vod hatzibbur, even if all of the women
are asleep (or rather, even if they appear to be dead, after swallowing
a restrictive psak).

(Incidentally, Sleepy maintains that he is a kohen, based on family
tradition passed from father to son since the days of Aharon.  Other
dwarves recall that Sleepy is a descendant of Honi M'agel, and hence
cannot be a kohen -- but this is circular reasoning.)

However, even those who permit aliyot for dwarves forbid them to serve
as shlichei tzibbur.  Apparently, dwarves are incapable of reciting
the prayers properly, as they always whistle through their avodah --
even Grumpy!  Someone who hears this whistling and responds "Amen"
is not yotze.

Disney synagogues also count mermaids in a minyan, in an obvious end-run
around the age-old regulations to keep women barefoot.  Since mermaids
have no feet, they (technically) cannot stand for the Amidah, even though
they remain shoeless.  Yesh raglayim ladavar.

Heaping scandal upon scandal, mermaids, crickets, mice and ducks all sit
on the same side of the mechitzah with wooden boys -- clearly violating
the prohibition against kilayim.

Sometimes after a tough day working the crowds through a steamy Florida
afternoon, many of the regulars prefer to daven at home over a stiff

To ensure a minyan for Minchah, the Disney rabbis even count singing
tableware and kitchen implements.  Although this pushes the halachic
envelope, each piece can cite a klal [general principle] whereby it must
be included in the minyan:

The spoon counsels us "dan chaf b'zchut"
        [judge a spoon with merit].

The knife cites "sakin b'adam shelo b'fanav"
        [a knife (serves) in (stead of) a person
         when (a person is) not present].

The candlesticks remind us that "ner mitzvah, v'Torah or"
        [a candle (can do any) mitzvah,
         but the Torah is only leather].

The goblet intones "kos yayin malei k'virkat Adoshem"
        [a full cup of wine is equivalent to blessing Hashem].

The frying pan sings "laKel yeratzu k'minchah al machavat"
        [to Hashem it is as pleasing as Minchah davened by a pan].

The teacup refrains "sefel tov l'chol oseihem"
        [a cup is as good as anyone (who) does (it for) them].

The wine bottle chides "al tistakel b'kankan, elah b'ma sheyesh bo"
        [don't look at the bottle, rather see what's inside it].

The clock chimes in "tfilah mitzvah shehazman grama"
        [prayer is a mitzvah that time begins].

Several others declare "va'ani tefilati"
        [I am my prayer].

Still others quote R' Hillel:
        "b'makom she'ayn anashim hishtadel lihiyiot ish"
        [In a place where there aren't (enough) men,
         strive to be a man].

Several of the most stringent authorities complain that Disney World
is open on Shabbat, so all Disney characters who are union members
are prohibited from serving in public synagogue roles because they are
mechalelei Shabbat b'fantasia.  Lenient sources justify their work as
melachah she-aynah tzricha l'Goofy.  R' Bambi says "hakol kasher l'tzvi"
[anything to make a buck].

This Purim Torah is codified in the sefer Iyunei Achbarim v'Anashim
[Of Mice and Men] of R' Don Yitzchak Abarvazel.  R' Abarvazel was an
ancestor of the Katchke Rebbe.  To properly grasp the full depth of his
insights, one must be at least 40 years old and have raised children --
and even then, it is advantageous to first fulfill the mitzvah of ad lo
yada yada yada.

M-I-C (See you in costume.)
K-E-Y (Why?  Because it's Purim!)
 - from the diary of Michoel b. Velvel of Anaheim

Subject: Re: The rooster's wisdom (was: Biblical Humor)

Q: How do we know that pious do not need a special prayerbook (mahzor) for
the high holydays?

A: Kakatuv "ki ein mahsor lireav"!


End of Volume 34 Issue 26