Volume 35 Number 6
                 Produced: Fri Jul 13  6:38:41 US/Eastern 2001

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

         [Jacob Sasson]
Nusach Sfard used in Israel vs. Outside
         [Seth & Sheri Kadish]
         [Gerver, Mike (MED)]
Pomegranate seeds query - postcript
Repeating Words
         [Ira L. Jacobson]


From: Jacob Sasson <jacobsasson@...>
Date: Thu, 5 Jul 2001 14:42:29 -0400
Subject: Kedusha

 <Also, what are you supposed to do (e.g., what do you say for the first
 <sentence of kedusha) when the minyan is using a nusach that is not

I dont have the exact source right now but Rav Ovadia Yosef rules that
the main part of the kedusha (the actual devarim shebikdusha) are the
"Kadosh, Kadosh..."  Those are the only parts that must be redited
according to the nusach of the minyan.  Being that Kadosh and Baruch are
the same in every minyan, one should say the first line of the Kedusha
according to his custom. The same thing would apply to the lines in
between the devarim shebikdusha (Leumatam).

Jacob Sasson


From: Seth & Sheri Kadish <skadish@...>
Date: Tue, 3 Jul 2001 17:06:57 +0200
Subject: Nusach Sfard used in Israel vs. Outside

> The thread about tunes reminds me of another question: Why, among modern
> and Centrist Orthodox Ashkenazi people, does nusach sfard seem to be
> more popular in Israel than nusach ashkenaz, while in the US it is the
> other way round? (I can't speak for any other countries.) I have heard 2
> explanations but wonder if anyone can add or elaborate. Or correct me if
> I am wrong. (1) I don't remember this explanation very clearly, but it's
> something about that more Hungarians moved to Israel than to elsewhere
> (2) People picked this up from nusach achid in the Israeli army. This
> doesn't seem so likely to me -- I think the traditions go back farther
> than that.

I want to emphasize that this topic is not really be central to our
Avodat Hashem (serving God), because Hashem, after all, hears sincere
prayer no matter what nosah one uses. Nor is there much halakhic
relevance to which nosah one uses.  We should always keep that in

Nevertheless, even a topic that isn't of central importance may still be
quite fascinating, and this one definately is.  I, like Aliza Berger,
have long been perplexed by this question, and over the course of many
years I have learned many interesting things about it.  Here are a
number of points relevant to the above questions:

1) What Ashkenazic Jews usually call "Nusach Sfard" should, for the sake
of accuracy, be called "Nosah ha-Chasidim."  It is an entirely
Ashkenazic (chasidic) creation, and there is nothing truly sefardic
about it.

2) I've never considered a "Hungarian" angle on this problem, and my
initial thought is that it wouldn't be so relevant, because being a
Hungarian Jew certainly doesn't make you a chasid, or mean that you use
the chasidic nusach.  (E.g. the Chatam Sofer.)

3) The basic Israeli facts are the following: Among religious Jews of
Ashkenazic origin, the vast majority use Nosah Ha-Chasidim (hereafter:
NH, as opposed to NA for the traditional Nosah Ashkenaz).  The only
exception to this is Yerushalayim, where most of those who are *not*
chasidim use NA.  Especially in the Galil in the north (where I live),
NA is nearly extinct.  I never found a single Ashkenazic shul in the
entire Galil that uses NA, with the exception of the religious kibbutzim
(because they were founded by groups of yekkim).

4) The reason for the above appears to be historical: The talmidim of
the Baal Shem Tov made aliya in the late 18th century, and mostly
settled in the north (Tzfat and Tiberias).  Among Ashkenazim, that gave
them the earliest claim to be setting "Minhag Eretz Yisrael" (the Custom
of the Land of Israel).  The Vilna Gaon himself was not successful in
his attempt to come here, but his students arrived in the early 19th
century.  They mostly settled in Yerushalayim, which seems to account
for the fact that the customs of the Gr"a, along with NA, have survived
pretty well in Yerushalayim, but have pretty much disappeared outside of
it.  Today, practically the only NA places one can find *outside* of
Yerushalayim are in non-Zionist Lithuanian yeshivot (especially in Bnei

5) "Nosah Ahid" (Common Prayer-Text) is definately very relevant to this
story.  It was ultimately a failure in the context that it was intended
for (the army), but it had an unforseen result: in schools.  Religious
Zionist schools were faced with ethnically diverse students, and adopted
NH, calling it "Nosah Ahid" in order to placate the different groups.
And then when new communities with new Ashkenazic shuls were built,
people adopted "Nosah Ahid" in them so that their children wouldn't be
confused by a different siddur than what they used in school.  [This, by
the way, resulted in a real injustice to sefardim, who both were and
still are the overwhelming majority of Israel's religious population.
Adopting the most popular Ashkenazic nosah as the "common" nosah for
religious schools was not out of any evil intent, but it definately
resulted from an unconscious Ashkenazic paternalism prevalent in the
religious-Zionist leadership before the 1990s.]

6) The upshot of all of this is paradoxical: Non-Chasidic Ashkenazic
Jews are the *only* immigrants to Israel who, once they immigrate, are
told that many of their age-old customs are not "the Custom of the Land
of Israel."  Religious immigrants from all other lands, from Yemen to
Kurdistan, from Persia to Georgia, from Iraq to Tunisia - they all kept
their communities' customs in Israel, and built synagogues using those
customs and their own nosah, even if their customs or nosah had never
been "the Custom of the Land of Israel."  But among Ashkenazic Jews -
any customs not those of the chasidim or the Vilna Gaon have been wiped
out.  (The classic examples being Tefillin on Chol ha-Moed without a
berakha, or "Barukh Hashem Le-Olam" in Maariv.)  I personally find this
to be very sad.

7) Finally, among Sefardim, Rav Ovadia Yosef has tried to create a
unified system of custom and psak for all eastern Jews, basing his own
"Custom of the Land of Israel" on Rav Yosef Karo, even when the age-old
customs of North African Jews or Yemenites differ from the Shulhan
Arukh.  If he succeeds, then sefardim may find themselves asking these
very same questions in a generation or two.  As far as "what to do" when
you are in a shul with a different custom than your own?  Rav Moshe
Feinstein zt"l paskened that whatever you say out loud (especially
things like kedusha) should be said in the nosah of the community.

Seth (Avi) Kadish
Karmiel, Israel


From: Gerver, Mike (MED) <Mike.Gerver@...>
Date: Wed, 4 Jul 2001 14:45:57 +0200 
Subject: Orthodoxy

Ed Ehrlich writes, in v34n98,

> The expression
> "Ultra-Orthodox" has been fading out of use over the last few years to
> be replaced by "Haradei".  Maybe it's time to replace "Orthodox" with
> "Observant" in English or "Shomeir Mitzvot" in Hebrew.
> [snip]
> one of my dreams is that the words "Orthodox, Conservative and Reform"
> would suddenly dissappear.  Their use has created unnecessary divisions
> within the Jewish people by causing discussions within the Jewish world
> to concentrate on the labels and not more substancive issues.

Orthodox, Conservative, and Reform are useful sociological categories,
describing such things as what kind of shul people go to, and whether
they can eat at each other's houses.  They are not at all useful, IMHO,
as descriptions of the internal state of people's souls, and the extent
to which they are good people in the eyes of G-d.  And I don't just mean
that "non-observant" Jews get off the hook because they are ignorant,
i.e. the "tinok she-nishba" factor.  I mean much more than that.  In a
sociological sense, Orthodoxy is defined by the observance of a certain
narrow range of mitzvot, such as saying shmoneh esreh three times a day,
buying meat from a kosher butcher, refraining from driving and turning
on lights on Shabbat, etc.  If you said that a certain person, who was
convicted of tax fraud, is Orthodox, everyone would understand what you
meant, and no one would think it was a contradiction in terms.  But Jews
who are not Orthodox in this sociological sense may very well observe
other mitzvot more effectively than many Orthodox Jews, and these other
mitzvot may very well be more important in the eyes of G-d.  For
examples, see my posting on "Hilchos Kiruv Rechokim" in v34n78.  So I
have a problem with Ed's suggestion of using "observant" in the same
sense that we now use "Orthodox."  I have gotten into trouble using
"observant" in that sense when talking with non-Orthodox friends.

Although Ed was talking about how we, as Jews, label each other, a
related issue is how the outside world, particularly the media, label
Jews.  The Boston Globe, during the many years I lived in Boston, never
seemed to use the word "Orthodox" in regard to Jews without putting the
prefix "ultra" before it.  By "ultra-Orthodox" they generally meant not
what we would call "Haredi," but what we could call simply "Orthodox."
The Jewish Advocate, published in Boston, was criticized some years ago
for using the term "ultra-Orthodox," in an offensive way.  So, they made
a policy decision to use "fervently Orthodox" instead.  But they simply
started using "fervently Orthodox" in the same sneering way that they
used to use "ultra-Orthodox."

In conclusion, I am inclined to agree with Ed's dream that labels like
Orthodox, Conservative, and Reform would just disappear, or at least
that people would understand the limitations in how they should be used.
But trying to substitute other labels ("observant," "shomer mitzvot,"
"fervently Orthodox," "haredi") for the existing labels will do nothing
to solve the problem of misusing these labels.

Mike Gerver
Raanana, Israel


From: Mordechai <Phyllostac@...>
Date: Wed, 4 Jul 2001 21:10:00 EDT
Subject: Pomegranate seeds query - postcript

I thank those who responded to my recent query here re the number of
seeds in a pomegranate in Jewish tradition.

Since I posted the query some more information on the subject has come
to my attention through discussions offline, as well as research and
thinking about the matter.

I think it is of interest, so would like to share it with the
Mail-Jewish community.

It was pointed out to me that if the Tamudic reference to 'the empty
ones of Israel being moleih mitzvos kirimon (full of mitzvos as a
pomegranate is full of seeds)' is the basis for the belief that a
pomegranate has 613 seeds as the number of mitzvos, that might imply
that a Pomegranate actually has less than 613 seeds - because it could
be presumed that one of the 'empty ones of Israel' has less than the
full complement of mitzvos to his credit.

Additionally, it was pointed out to me that no individual Jew has 613
mitzvos that they have done - because some mitzvos only apply to some
(and not all) Jews (e.g. only to Kohanim, Leviyyim or Yisroeilim) and
some mitzvos are only applicable in the time of the Beis Hamikdosh
(Temple in Jerusalem) this was so - because some mitzvas only apply to
Kohanim, leviyim, etc. - kal vachomer (a fortiori) today, when we have
no functioning Beis Hamikdosh and mitzvos connected with the Mikdosh
don't apply....

 From a botanical / pomological (pomology - science of fruit) angle - I
think the number of seeds might be dependent on the degree of
pollination and limited by number of flowers (?)

A sefer I looked into by a Rav Yisroel Machpotz (part of a set of three
volumes entitled Alfei [?] Yisroel - with volumes on plants and animals
in Torah teachings) cites the Malbi"m from Shir Hashirim 8 : 2 as saying
just that there are some pomegranates that contain 613 seeds (not that
all Pomegranates contain 613 seeds).

It is relevant to note that other common fruits have nowhere near the
number of seeds as pomegranates - except perhaps the fig (?) (of fruits
of Eretz Yisroel and perhaps fruits if the world as well - esp. tree

Someone mentioned to me some type of a story with regard to the GR"A
having found a pomegranate from Italy with 613 seeds. Is anyone familiar
with such a tale?

Anyway, summing up, it seems that some people may have confused the
symbolism of the possibility of a pomegranate having 613 seeds on
occasion into a belief that all pomegranates have 613 seeds. Perhaps it
has persisted and spread, due to it not being tested often - perhaps due
to the difficulty and patience necessary to count hundreds of small,
slippery seeds which can stain people and clothing in the process, in
our busy world.



From: Ira L. Jacobson <laser@...>
Date: Wed, 04 Jul 2001 14:16:34 +0300
Subject: Re: Repeating Words

Baruch Schwartz wrote in mail-jewish Vol. 34 #81 Digest:

>However, the author takes pains to mention (citing Orah Neeman 53:22)
>that the shat"z must in no circumstances change the traditional melody of
>the prayers, reminding us of the story of the Maharil who attributed
>the untimely death of his daughter one year to the fact that at the
>beginning of that year he had made the mistake of changing the
>traditional melody of one of the selichot.

First, I wish to question whether any other halakhic authority draws
similar conclusions about the cause-and-effect relationship of melody
changing bringing about death.  Has anyone information about this?

Unless we have the Divine ability of attributing punishments to the acts
that caused them, we might have a bit more humility that to assume such

I would like to present the possibility, ignoring my previous objection,
that perhaps the unfortunate death was due not so much to changing the
melody, but to adopting a melody that involved the repetition of words.
In other words, not the medium but the message.

Has anyone details of the before-and after melodies, the repetition or
non-repetition of words, or the reference to this incident in the
writings of the Maharil?



End of Volume 35 Issue 6