Volume 34 Number 29
                 Produced: Tue Mar 13 23:02:28 US/Eastern 2001

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Deceased father's chair
         [Carl Singer]
         [Bob Werman]
Magic Shows
         [Zev Sero]
Mordechai and Esther (9)
         [Mike Gerver, Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz, Ben Katz, Wendy Baker,
Eli Turkel, Richard Alexander, Shaya Potter, Robert Israel,
Prof. Aryeh A. Frimer]
Occupying Deceased Parent's Place
         [Jeremy L Rose]
Tefillah and rigging the system
Throwing Candy at an Aufruf
         [Gershon Dubin]


From: Carl Singer <CARLSINGER@...>
Date: Tue, 13 Mar 2001 20:43:52 EST
Subject: Deceased father's chair

<< My wife's recently deceased father had a specific place and chair
both at the dining table and in the living room of his son's house,
where he lived the last ten years of his life.  What do they, my
brother-in-law and his family, and their guests, do with the "place" and
the chair?>>

Caveat -- I'm not paskening, just reminscing and giving opinions.  

When my Father passed away over 30 years ago, I was told to "take over"
his seat at head of table, etc.  It was a tough transition, but, with
hindsight, beat looking at a now empty chair.

My wife's Grandfather had a designated seat for many decades at the
Spanish Portuguese Synagogue in Manhattan.  After his passing, my
Father-in-Law when visiting would, I believe he used that same seat
(providing someone else wasn't using it.)  --- At the dining table, if
you have designated seats, perhaps an oldest child can take it over.  It
seems unbecoming to keep an "empty" seat -- shrine-like.  --- the
question brings up questions re: makom kevua at a table - I don't know
any halachic ramifications.

Re: favorite livingroom chair -- if it's comfortable, sit and enjoy it
-- and the memories.

Kol Tov
Carl Singer


From: Bob Werman <RWERMAN@...>
Date: Tue,  13 Mar 2001 8:46 +0200
Subject: Kilayim-Derabanan

Can anyone explain kilayim derabanan for me [TB Horayot 11a]?  Thanks.

__Bob Werman


From: Zev Sero <Zev@...>
Date: Tue, 13 Mar 2001 15:34:59 -0500
Subject: Magic Shows

Many years ago, when my father was involved in organising an event at
which a magician was to appear, the Lubavitcher Rebbe ZYA instructed
that the magician should not be Jewish, and referenced the Shulchan
Aruch about the prohibition of `achizat enayim'.  Evidently he held that
this prohibition only applies to Jews.

Zev Sero


From: Mike Gerver <Mike.Gerver@...>
Date: Tue, 13 Mar 2001 08:11:49 +0100
Subject: Mordechai and Esther

Brandon Raff asks, in v34n27,

> I once read a book which said that Ester was another name for the godess
> Venus. It also mentioned Mordechai in this same vein, but I just can't
> remember the details. Can anyone confirm this meaning of Ester, and
> supply the meaning of Mordechai's name. If possible the source of the
> info as well.

Back in 1992, in v5n7, Frank Silbermann asked a similar question about
the connection between Esther and Ishtar, the Babylonian equivalent of
Venus.  He also asked whether the word "Easter" might be related.  My
reply, under the subject heading "Esther, Easter, and Ishtar" in v5n17,
which includes references, should answer Brandon's question as well.
You can read it in the mail-jewish archives at www.shamash.org. My
conclusion was that "Esther" does not come directly from "Ishtar" but
that both of them may have a common etymological origin in an early
borrowing between Indo-European and Semitic.  The original word meant
"star". The word "Easter" has a completely different origin.

As for Mordecai, I have heard the claim that his name comes from the
Babylonian god Marduk, but I don't know how plausible that is.  The
Persians, as Indo-Europeans, would not have been worshipping gods with
Babylonian names, but it is quite likely that people living in the
Persian Empire, including Jews, would have continued using Babylonian
names after the Babylonians were conquered by the Persians.  And it is
quite irrelevant whether Jews gave those Babylonian names Hebrew
meanings.  We have a long history, going back at least as far as Moshe
(a common Egyptian name suffix) and up to the present time (modern
Israeli names like Karen and Ron), of attributing Hebrew meanings to
non-Hebrew names used in the cultures around us.  But whether Marduk was
actually used as a personal name by the Babylonians at that time, and
continued to be used in the Persian period, I don't know.

Mike Gerver
Raanana, Israel

From: Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz <sabbahem@...>
Date: Mon, 12 Mar 2001 23:06:43 -0500
Subject: Re: Mordechai and Esther

The female fertility idol "ishtar" is said to be a source of the name
Esther.  The male idol "marduk" is said to be a source of Mordechai.  I
saw a reference this year in e-mail from Yeshiva Har Etzion.  I think it
was from Rabbi Leibtag's mailing list (but I could be wrong because I do
not have it in front of me).

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: Ben Katz <bkatz@...>
Date: Tue, 13 Mar 2001 10:07:38 -0600 (CST)
Subject: Re: Mordechai and Esther

       Marduk and Ishtar were a well known god and goddess couple in
ancient Persia.  Any of the standard scholarly commentaries on the Bible
can provide lots of information on the derivation of the names (the new
JPS Bible Commentary volume).  BTW, I do not know what Brandon means by
the "Jewish roots of both names" since they are Persian names and since
Esther is specifically said to have a separate Hebrew name (Hadassah),
similar to many Jews today who have 2 names.  That being said, it is
still odd that Jews would take the names of a Persian diety; to my mind
it would be similar to a Jew today being called Chris.

Ben Tzion Katz 

From: Wendy Baker <wbaker@...>
Date: Tue, 13 Mar 2001 11:20:43 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Re: Mordechai and Esther

I believe (read it somewhere and don't have the source) that esther or
Ester is a verion of Astarte, who was a middleeastern fertility goddess,
as Venus was for the romans (Aphrodite for the Greeks) I guess it show
the degree of assimilation among the Persian Jews at that time.

Wendy Baker

From: Eli Turkel <Eli.Turkel@...>
Date: Tue, 13 Mar 2001 11:04:25 +0100
Subject: Mordechai and Esther

   In Berlin there is a museum with the Ishtar gate that was in
Babylonia at the time of Nevuchadnezzar. There is also an inscription
from Nevudchazzar to the god Marduk. These idols continued into Persian
times. Hence, the assumption that Esther and Mordecai are connected
Ishtar and Marduk.

Eli Turkel 

From: Richard Alexander <JAlexan186@...>
Date: Tue, 13 Mar 2001 16:50:20 EST
Subject: Mordechai and Esther

In regard to Brandon Raff's question in Vol. 34, No. 27, regarding the
origin of the names Mordechai and Esther: If I remember right, the name
Mordechai comes from 'Marduk', the name of the Babylonian god of war,
while Esther comes from 'Ishtar', the name of the Babylonian goddess of
love (not the movie by Elaine May).

Richard Alexander

From: Shaya Potter <spotter@...>
Date: Mon, 12 Mar 2001 22:58:27 -0500
Subject: Re: Mordechai and Esther

I believe that would be Esther would be from Ishtar, and Mordechai would
be from Marduk.  Both Babylonian deities.  I believe that this (as well
as the custom of Alexander) form part of the basis for R' Moshe's
teshuva that there's requirement in halacha for having a "jewish name",
aka there's no such thing as a halachik jewish name.

The question that is usually asked afterwards is, what about the medrash
we all learnt, that one of the reasons the jews merited to leave Egypt
was because they didn't change their names, and how does this fit
in. I'll leave that to others to answer. :)

From: Robert Israel <israel@...>
Date: Mon, 12 Mar 2001 22:28:18 -0800 (PST)
Subject: Re: Mordechai and Esther

The names Esther and Mordechai are very similar to Ishtar, the
Babylonian goddess of fertility and sexual love (similar to the
Canaanite goddess Ashtoreth or Astarte, and analogous to the Greek
Aphrodite and Roman Venus), and Marduk, the chief god of Babylon.

Robert Israel                                <israel@...>
Department of Mathematics        http://www.math.ubc.ca/~israel
University of British Columbia
Vancouver, BC, Canada V6T 1Z2

From: Prof. Aryeh A. Frimer <frimea@...>
Date: Tue, 13 Mar 2001 08:42:00 +0200
Subject: Mordechai and Esther

Mordechai was Esther's Cousin - not uncle; as it is written "ki hi bat
dodo" - "for she was the daughter of his uncle".  Esther was the
daughter of Avigayil who was the uncle of Mordechai - hence they were


From: Jeremy L Rose <jeremy@...>
Date: Tue, 13 Mar 2001 11:06:03 +0000
Subject: Occupying Deceased Parent's Place

I was at a Shiva some years ago where Rav Jakobovits zt"l mentioned (in
the name of his father) that whereas during one's parents' lifetime it
is not permitted to take their place, once they have entered the Olom
Ho'Emess, it is one's *duty* to take their place.  He was talking on
that occasion more about Hashkofoh but also literally.

I do make a point of sitting in my father's (tz"l) seat when I davven in
his old shul and of using "his" chair for Shabbos and YomTov.

Hope this helps.

Jeremy L Rose                                             Tel:  +44 1727 832288
Communication Systems Limited                             Fax:  +44 1727 810194


From: Mordechai <Phyllostac@...>
Date: Tue, 13 Mar 2001 11:15:21 EST
Subject: Tefillah and rigging the system

<< From: Chaim Shapiro <Dagoobster@...>
 I have often heard that if a person needs something, and prays for
 someone else who needs the same thing before praying for himself, his
 prayers will be answered first.

 That is fine.  But what does that mean?  Can a person use this as a
 better method to get his prayers answered, thinking that I will pray for
 Sholom so that my tefillah will be answered? >>

Firstly, it should be stated that this teaching comes from Talmud Bavli
Bava Kama 92a and is brought in Rashi on Bireishis 22:1 (thanks to my
Cd-daf for the citations).

I am reminded of the story re someone who was complaining that he didn't
get respect. He said ' we are taught that kol haboreiach min hakovod
kovod boreiach acharav vichol harodeif achar hakovod kovod boreiach
mimenu (whoever runs away from kovod [honor], honor pursues him and
whoever pursues honor, honor runs away from [eludes] him)' - and being
that I am always running away from honor, why doesn't it pursue me? The
answer that was given to him was that he was not pursued by honor
because he kept on looking back ['over his shoulder'] while running away
from honor (presumably meaning that his running from honor was lacking
in sincerity and / or completeness).

Perhaps we can say a similar thing here. 

If the reason someone who prays for a friend gets answered first is
because doing that shows selflessness and putting someone else first,
which deserves a reward (going to the head of the line), perhaps if it
is done with a calculating and less than altruistic intention, it would
not work, as with honor. However, if the reason is otherwise, perhaps it
might still ' work ' - at least somewhat.....



From: Gershon Dubin <gershon.dubin@...>
Date: Mon, 12 Mar 2001 23:51:11 -0500
Subject: Throwing Candy at an Aufruf

From: Martin Himmel <Martyhh10@...>
<<Does anyone know the source of the custom of throwing candy at an

        Gemara Berachos 50b "We throw toasted grain and nuts toward the
kala as a good omen".  Also, BTW, the source for throwing rice at a
wedding (originally a Jewish custom which the gentiles borrowed).



End of Volume 34 Issue 29