Volume 34 Number 60
                 Produced: Wed May 23  7:29:24 US/Eastern 2001

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Candy tossing
         [Samson Bechhofer]
Jewish Catalog
         [Mike Gerver]
Newton's Cubits
         [Mark Steiner]
Rabbinic Capture of Biblical
         [Barry Best]
Semicha: What is the minimum requirement?
         [Alan Rubin]
Sneezes (2)
         [Ben Z. Katz, Danny Skaist]
The Weekday Amidah in the Cairo Genizah
         [Ben Z. Katz]
Why didn't the Minchas Elozor stay in Yerushalayim for Shavuot? (2)
         [Paul, Judy or Miriam Shaviv, Eli Turkel]
Yom Tov Sheni
         [Bernard Raab]


From: Samson Bechhofer <SBechhof@...>
Date: Mon, 21 May 2001 09:39:56 -0400
Subject: Candy tossing

I presume it will come as no surprise that in certain Shuls where
decorum is the rule (i.e. K'hal Adath Jeshurun a/k/a "Breuer's"), there
is not even so much as a single gumdrop thrown at a Chosson (or anyone


From: Mike Gerver <Mike.Gerver@...>
Date: Tue, 22 May 2001 10:20:32 +0200
Subject: Jewish Catalog

>From Sid Gordon, in v34n45:

> An easy-to-use reference is the original Jewish Catalog (Vol. 1, page
> 51) -- a good reference for a lot of Jewish how-to's (how to choose an
> etrog, how to make a gragger, how to blow a shofar, etc.)  I don't know
> if it's still in print (it's very 1970's) but the original publisher was
> The Jewish Publication Society, and the authors are Richard Siegel,
> Michael Strassfield and Sharon Strassfield.

The name is Strassfeld, not Strassfield.  They were in my class at
Brandeis.  And, I was pleasantly surprised to find, the book is still in
print.  I found it listed in amazon.com, but I wouldn't advise ordering
it or any other book from amazon, unless you like doing business with
people who sell "The Protocols of the Elders of Zion."  Instead, I would
order it from English On-Line Books (www.eolbooks.com), which as a
matter of principle does not sell "The Protocols...," though they do, as
they should, sell scholarly books about "The Protocols..."  You'll also
be saving money that way, since they charge less for "The Jewish
Catalog" than amazon does. I have no connection with either company.
BUT, please note: If you search for it on eolbooks.com, you'll have to
use the exact title "The First Jewish Catalog" (or "The Second Jewish
Catalog" if you want that).  Their search engine isn't smart enough to
come up with it if you search for "The Jewish Catalog." And, they also
have Michael Strassfeld's name mispelled as "Strassfield," though his
wife Sharon's name is given correctly as "Strassfeld."  OK, so they're
not as well organized as amazon, but at least they don't cater to

Mike Gerver
Raanana, Israel


From: Mark Steiner <marksa@...>
Date: Tue, 22 May 2001 15:39:49 +0300
Subject: Newton's Cubits

    A number of people have asked for information about Newton's cubit
('amah), presumably because they have exhausted all the Jewish humras

    Newton wrote a "kuntress" entitled A Dissertation upon the Sacred
Cubit of the Jews, and the Cubits of the several Nations; in which, from
the Dimensions of the greatest Egyptian Pyramid, as taken by
Mr. Greaves, the antient Cubit of Memphis is determined.  It was
translated from the Latin by the same John Greaves and appears in the
"Miscellaneous Works" of Mr. John Greaves. pp. 405-433.  I read Newton's
essay once at the Edelstein Library at the Hebrew University.  And I see
that the Ashmolean Museum library at Oxford also has a copy.

    Newton wrote this "kuntress" about the "sacred cubit" because he
wanted to reconstruct the exact measurements of the First Temple
destroyed by the Babylonians (and also, lehavdil, those of the Great
Pyramid of Giza, which he may have wanted to know to test his theory of
gravitation, according to a speculation I read, but won't go into here).
The Temple was a major project with him since, being the House of God,
it might be the key to the secrets of existence.  Modern scholars, to
whom Newton is a hero, are often embarrassed by Newton's "obssession"
(as distinguished from gravitation, to which he was "dedicated") with
the temple, and of course they couldn't care less about the cubit.  On
the other hand Talmudic Jews, to whom the length of the cubit is a
cardinal fact of their lives, do not consult non-Jewish works.  (Maybe
we can get Artscroll to publish it anonymously with an Overview, of
course, funded by Stone.) Hence the "kuntress" is available only in
libraries.  Newton used the results in writing his masterful work on
ancient history, The Chronology of Ancient Kingdoms Amended, which
contains a diagram of the Bais Hamikdosh done by the master himself.
You can see the diagram at
I don't guarantee by the way, that the figure for the 'amah given on
that website is the one Newton derives; you'll have to look it
up yourself.  Newton's unbelievable brilliance and the breadth of his
knowledge are well represented even in this work on "shiurim."

    Those who want to rely on Newton halakha lemayseh should be warned
that he explicitly ruled that the "kuntress" should used only lehumra
(joke), and also that the inches he's talking about might have gotten
smaller over the generations.  Note, too, that he's talking about the
"sacred" cubit and that even in the Bais Hamikdosh, different cubits
were used for different purposes

(Cf. Mishnah Kelim 17:10, BT Menahot 97, Ez 43:13).


From: Barry Best <barry.h.best@...>
Date: Fri, 18 May 2001 12:31:35 -0400
Subject: RE: Rabbinic Capture of Biblical

Not a great example, but, if one betrothed a woman using chometz, late
in the morning erev pesach (when chometz is only prohibited
rabbinically), they are not betrothed.  I believe there is a general
principal: all who betroth, must do so in a manner consistent with the
edicts of the rabbis.

Also, I'm not sure if reclining on pesach is a torah law, but if you ate
your matzoh and were not reclining, you must eat it again reclining.


From: Alan Rubin <arubin@...>
Date: Mon, 21 May 2001 18:23 +0100 (BST)
Subject: Semicha: What is the minimum requirement?

Anyone subscribed to the Shema Yisroel Daf Yomi email lists may be aware
that they are now starting a Semicha program via the Internet. This
involves shiurim which are posted out by email with the facility to ask
questions and take revision tests. There is supposed to be a final test
in Jerusalem before awarding the Semicha.

My question is not concerned with opinions on this enterprise in general
but having looked at this Semicha curriculum my curiosity has been
aroused as to what is considered the minimum necessary learning to
achieve Semicha.

The Shema Yisroel curriculum is Simonim 69 to 111 of Yorah Deah,
including laws of koshering meat, milk and meat, mixtures. Simonim 1 -
69 are not included. I do not know what the final test involves, whether
there will be any testing of other parts of Shulchan Aruch (Code of
Halacha) or indeed whether any references are being taken up ( I would
like to reassure my Rav, who reads this list, that it is not my
intention to take this course).

What do other Semichas require? I have heard mention of the first 100
Simanim of Yorah Deah. Is knowledge of Yorah Deah in particular that
important for a Rabbi anyway? Are there reputable Semichas which do not
have this emphasis on Yorah Deah? Must all candidates for Semicha have
the intellectual capacity for this? Is Semicha so variable that one
would have to investigate further before putting trust in anyone
possessing the title Rabbi?

Alan Rubin


From: Ben Z. Katz <bkatz@...>
Date: Sun, 20 May 2001 20:13:48 -0500
Subject: Re: Sneezes

>From: William J Scherman <zscherman@...>
>There is a Midrash --don't ask me where-- that until Yaakov Avinu asked
>for illness, people died with a sneeze: they'd be otherwise healthy
>until the fatal moment.  This is why we say "bless you" to this day!

	This, of course, even if documented, does not explain the custom
in the non-Jewish world, and serves to reinforce my point that saying
"bless you" when someone sneezes (which I incidentally refuse to do on
principle) is based on an outmoded (at best) concept of danger from the

From: Danny Skaist <danny@...>
Date: Mon, 21 May 2001 10:08:54 +0200
Subject: RE: Sneezes

It's also why you pull your ear after a sneeze.  To see if you are still



From: Ben Z. Katz <bkatz@...>
Date: Sun, 20 May 2001 20:13:48 -0500
Subject: Re: The Weekday Amidah in the Cairo Genizah

>From: Joseph Tabory <taborj@...>
>I would like to announce the publication of a new book, The Weekday Amidah
>in the Cairo Genizah by Yechezkel Luger. This book, a revised and updated
>version of his doctoral dissertation, is a critical presentation of the
>text of the amidah based on over 70 genizah mss. It gives a broad picture
>of the versions of the amidah and the variant readings used by worshippers
>of the period. Further information may be had by writing to me off-list.

I would like to add that a genizah version of the amidah is available in
the "Minhag ami: My Peolpe's Prayerbook, Traditional Prayers, Modern
Commentaries" series, volume 2.  Jewish Lights Publishing, Woodstock,
Vermont.  1998.

Ben Z. Katz, M.D.
Children's Memorial Hospital, Division of Infectious Diseases
2300 Children's Plaza, Box # 20, Chicago, IL 60614
Ph 773-880-4187, Fax 773-880-8226


From: Paul, Judy or Miriam Shaviv <shaviv@...>
Date: Sun, 20 May 2001 20:14:46 -0400
Subject: Why didn't the Minchas Elozor stay in Yerushalayim for Shavuot?

I have in front of me the sefer 'Masaot Yerushalayim', which is the
record of Reb Chaim Elozor Shapira ztzl's journey to Yerushalayim in
1930 (5690).  It was written by his gabbai, R. Moshe Goldstein Hy"d, and
published in Munkacz in 1931. I have no knowledge of the Yiddish
translation referred to by an earlier contributor.  It is, by the way, a
treasure of a book.

In the 'Diary of the first day" (paragraph 16, p.73), he recounts that
in the course of the first meeting between the Minchas Elozor and the
'Sabba Kadisha', Chacham Shlomo Eliezer Alfandary, ztz'l, the Minchas
Elozor ztz'l explains that he does not want ot be in Yerushalayim for
Shavuot, because he does not wish to contravene the psak of the Hacham
Zvi, who paskens that a 'ben chutz laaretz' in Eretz Yisrael need only
keep one day yomtov. The text refers to the Minchas Elozor's long
teshuvah on the subject, which in the 1970 reprint (and possibly in
earlier editions) appears on pp.364-370.

In this long teshuvah, the Minchas Elozor explaind several reasons why
he does not wish to stay in Yerushalayim over Shavuot,. Briefly, he
argues that there is support for the view that even in Eretz Yisrael,
after the Hurban, Yomtov Sheni should be observed, although recognising
that that is not the practice. Alluding to additional Kabbalistic
reasons, it is clear that he did not wish to be in a situation where the
psak was not clear ("since there is no source in the Gemara or in Hazal"
that deals with the problems of travellers between Israel and the
Diaspora - in either direction).

There is a brief refernce to not being comfortable in observing Yom Tov
Sheni "when the shops are open, and the 'hand is writing'"; and there is
a rather strange story of a 'certain great Rav in Yerushalayim', who
visited a house where a minyan of men were observing Yom Tov Sheni. He
was wearing weekday clothes ("even though ... many inYerushalayim go on
the Second Day in Shabbat and Yom Tov clothes in honour of Isru CHag,
and in honour of their brethren in the 'Golah' "). However, his
criticism is very clearly that this certain 'Great Rav' entered right
into the house of this minyan, in the middle of their Yom Tov meal, and
disturbed their 'kedushas Yom Tov'.

All of this is very different indeed from the suggestion that

"He also writes that even the Jews of Israel should
> dress like it is Yom Tov on Yom Tov Sheini in deference to
> the Jews of the diaspora who are celebrating that day as Yom
> Tov.

 so, calm down everyone !

Paul Shaviv, Toronto

From: Eli Turkel <Eli.Turkel@...>
Date: Tue, 22 May 2001 15:29:48 +0200
Subject: Why didn't the Minchas Elozor stay in Yerushalayim for Shavuot?

      In this long teshuvah, the Minchas Elozor explaind several
      reasons why he does not wish to stay in Yerushalayim over
      Shavuot,. Briefly, he argues that there is support for the
      view that even in Eretz Yisrael, after the Hurban, Yomtov
      Sheni should be observed, although recognising that that is
      not the practice. 

I would be interested in learning more about his reasoning that yomtov
should be kept for 2 days in Israel after the churban. The only reason I
have ever heard was the Brisker Rav based on the Rambam that only in
places that the messengers arrived does one keep 1 day and that
now-a-days we don't know where the messengers came.

Eli Turkel


From: Bernard Raab <beraab@...>
Date: Fri, 18 May 2001 15:04:06 -0400
Subject: Re: Yom Tov Sheni

>I find the Michas Eliezer's opinion quite strange that native Israelis
>should change their habits in deference to a custom of visitors who are
>keeping their non-Israeli custom.
>Eli Turkel

My Rav points out a subtle but I think important point:

The observance of 2 days of Yom Tov in Galut is really not a "custom" or
"minhag", which usually denotes a practice which was voluntarily
accepted differently by different groups of Jews. This is rather a
hallachah which was accepted as such by ALL JEWS in Galut, as well as by
all Jews in Eretz Yisrael. This is not a minhag in our classic
understanding of that term.  This is a hallachah the observance of which
is geographically determined.  Thus while it is usually recommended that
one observe one's own customs wherever one may be, following this
prescription for Yom Tov sheni has led to the difficulties we now
face. I feel certain that in time this will be self-correcting.


End of Volume 34 Issue 60