Volume 35 Number 8
                 Produced: Sun Jul 15  9:53:41 US/Eastern 2001

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

         [Shalom Carmy]
Divine trigraphs
         [Shimon Lebowitz]
The Flood
         [Shalom Carmy]
Islam and Idolatry
         [Emmanuel Ifrah]
Islam, idolatry,etc
         [Leona Kroll]
Loshen HaKoydesh
         [Ben Z. Katz]
Mysteries of the Bible
         [Tobias Robison]
Nusach Sfard used in Israel vs. Outside
         [Ben Z. Katz]
OJ,CJ,RJ labels
         [Chaim Mateh]
         [Joseph Bachman]
Repetition of words -- what is the chazan's function?
         [Tobias Robison]
Why does the Torah request "meitav haaretz" payment?
         [Daniel Cohn]


From: Shalom Carmy <carmy@...>
Date: Tue, 10 Jul 2001 00:32:24 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Allah

Allah simply is the Arabic word for G-d. Islam is monotheistic without
the "theological peculiarities" found in Christianity which complicate a
Jewish analysis of Christianity.

As someone here observed, Ran Sanhedrin 60-61 notes Islamic elements
that smack of idolatry, primarily with reference to Muhammad.  Ran
likewise (if I recall correctly, it's not at hand) expresses tehse
concerns regarding Christian adoration of statues, Mary and so on, which
are not treated as divine.

Some years ago, by the way, a high school rebbi who thought himself
quite clever informed his students that Muslems believed in the divinity
of Muhammad and that it was forbidden to refer to the then heavyweight
champion of the world as Muhammad Ali, since that meant "Muhammad is my
god." It fell to me to inform the fellow that Arabic, like Hebrew,
distinguished between ayin and aleph. "Ali" was a proper noun,
corresponding to "Eli" in Hebrew, as in Eli haKohen. (Judging from the
way this was received, one wonders whether his Hebrew was rustier than
my Arabic...)


From: Shimon Lebowitz <shimonl@...>
Date: Thu, 5 Jul 2001 01:53:09 +0300
Subject: Divine trigraphs

> which the author translates as "G@d".
> While I'm at it, you'll notice the typographic convention that I used
> a moment ago for writing the English version of the Deity's name.
> <snip>  Its advantage over the usual variant, which uses a hyphen, 
> is that hyperactive word wrapping mechanisms won't do a line break 
> after the second character in the trigraph. 

On the other hand, my hyperactive email client assumed G@d was an email
address, and hilighted and colored it as such. :-)

[and how do you know it isn't His email address? :-) Mod]

Shimon Lebowitz                           mailto:<shimonl@...>
Jerusalem, Israel         PGP: members.xoom.com/shimonl/pubkey.htm


From: Shalom Carmy <carmy@...>
Date: Mon, 2 Jul 2001 23:09:22 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: The Flood

> The only way to do this in a serious way is to use some form of an
> allegorical/non-literal approach.

Not the ONLY way. For the next two sentences offer a non-allegorical

  We know that other ancient near eastern
> societies speak of a flood.  Therefore, there was a dramatic flood in the
> ancient near east that the Bible puts to use to teach a lesson, or as the
> Rambam says "...the story of the flood ... [was] recounted in order to
> bring proof for the following correct opinion: verily, that there is a
> reward for the righteous; verily there is a God that judgeth on the earth"
> (Guide, Book 3, chapter 50, Pines translation, p. 640).  I know
> that this approach will not be to the liking of many on this list, but


From: Emmanuel Ifrah <eifrah@...>
Date: Tue, 10 Jul 2001 12:52:13 +0200
Subject: Re: Islam and Idolatry

For those interested, the complete text of the Rambam's responsum about
Islam and idolatry is posted at the following address:


From: Leona Kroll <leona_kroll@...>
Date: Mon, 9 Jul 2001 23:51:58 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: Islam, idolatry,etc

Two points on the subject:

1. this discussion started with a question regarding whether a shochet
could say "Allah Akbar" before slaughtering. Most religious Muslims hold
(and i belive that they have a written source for this from the days of
"the Madman", as the Rambam called him) that when Halal meat is
unavailable it is okay to eat Kosher meat, because it is known that Jews
bless G-d before slaughtering an animal. My point/question is- since
they acknowledge that we do praise G-d before shchita and since saying
"Allah Akbar" is redundent if you have said/will say "Blessed are You,
Ruler of the Universe, who commanded us" etc (really- it includes and
goes beyond the idea of 'G-d is great'- i'm wondering how the question
of whether or not to say 'Allah Akbar" came up.

2. We can't assume too much homogenity among people who claim to follow
one religion or another. Some Muslims are not idolators, but some
branches could be.  Same with Christianity. Also, you have to realize
that most people who belong to a mosgue or a church follow the
corresponding religion in a vague way and even centuries ago- not
everyone really KNEW what their church/mosgue leaders believed or
taught. We are blessed, among other things, with a strong tradition of
learning and examing our faith while they have a long history of secrecy
and of mixing local folkways/religions with the broader system (example-
most Catholic Saints are really recycled pagan dieties). I write this as
someone who grew up in the church and briefly explored Islam before
committing to Judaism. There are idolators in both groups. Time
constraints don't permit my going into more detail right now, but I
think that one difference is this: in Islam the system is not idolatry
but some followers are. In Christianity most followers are not idolators
but the system is idolatrous (most followers reject the bulk of church
teachings or simly don't know them).


From: Ben Z. Katz <bkatz@...>
Date: Fri, 06 Jul 2001 03:26:29 -0500
Subject: Re: Loshen HaKoydesh

>2) Loshen HaKoydesh is defined by its grammar and vocabulary-not its
>pronunciation.  Loshen HaKoydesh is no longer a spoken language.
>.....it is inappropriate to call an authentic regional accent "incorrect."

Here I also disagree.  The trope tells you how words are accented.  Any
"regional" system which accents differently (at least when reading the
Torah) is wrong.  Also, it seems to me, that if the regional accent can be
traced to influences from the vernacular (e.g., which syllable is
accented), that should also be evidence that the regional accent is wrong.

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: Tobias Robison <trobison@...>
Date: Mon, 09 Jul 2001 17:01:22 -0400
Subject: Mysteries of the Bible

David Kaufmann <kaufmann@...> wrote:

> There's a website - Mysteries of the Bible - which purports to reconcile
> archaeology and Torah. Has anyone looked at it? Any thoughts?

The website is http://www.biblemysteries.com. There seems to be a mix of
archeology and wishful thinking there. For an example of the latter, in
a discussion about the four rivers mentioned in the description of the
garden of Eden, the website author is excited that "we had obtained a
startling satellite image of a configuration of rivers which seemed to
fit the [bible] description much better than any other theory so far
- there is no attribution for the satellite image (its provenance and
what the false coloring implies), which any serious scholar would
- the author is selectively oblivious that geographical features like
the location and existence of rivers have changed in 5,000+ years (other
web pages at the site recognize this), so that the satellite image
cannot be assumed to be relevant.

Tobias D. Robison


From: Ben Z. Katz <bkatz@...>
Date: Fri, 06 Jul 2001 03:23:25 -0500
Subject: Re: Nusach Sfard used in Israel vs. Outside

>From: Aliza Berger <aliza@...>
>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 think you are correct.  I always thought the reason nusach sefarad is
more common in Israel is becasue is because the earliest modern olim were
talmidim of the GRA who brought his nusach, which is more similar to nusach
sefarad than nusach ashkenaz.

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: Chaim Mateh <chaim-m@...>
Date: Fri, 06 Jul 2001 11:15:36 +0300
Subject: OJ,CJ,RJ labels

In vol 34, #98, Edward Ehrlich <eehrlich@...> wrote:

<<Maybe it's time to replace "Orthodox" with "Observant" in English or
"Shomeir Mitzvot" in Hebrew.  .....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.>>

Nice idea.  However, if Orthodox will be referred to as "observant",
what would Conservative and Reform be referred to?  After all, at least
theoretically, a Conservatice or Reform Jew could also be "observant" --
observant of the theology (be it CJ or RJ) that he adheres to.

Kol Tuv,
Visit Beit Chatam's website at:


From: Joseph Bachman <jbachman@...>
Date: Fri, 6 Jul 2001 10:26:03 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Orthodox

>The word orthodox means a strict adherance to a certain belief or dogma
>and is a poor choice to label traditional Judaism with its emphasis on
>practice and not dogma.  Relatively few articles on this list, for
>instance, are dedicated to the question of what a Jew should BELIEVE,
>compared to the many on what a Jew should DO.  

However, the community commonly referred to as "Orthodox" does
increasingly place emphasis on the concept of "Torah m'Sinai" (and a
version that includes the Oral Torah and the halachic opinions of the
"Orthodox" rabbis as an integral part of the Torah given at Sinai.)  The
other streams of Judaism have somewhat different beliefs about Torah
from Sinai (not that they oppose the concept, they simply have a
different understanding about what it means) and whose rabbinical
opinions are authoritative.

These differences in belief aren't accepted by the "Orthodox" community,
which thus insists on a "strict adherence to certain beliefs," and so
the use of the term "Orthodox" is probably not too far off-base.

As to the fact that beliefs aren't discussed on this list, that's
probabaly because the participants are self-selected and hold fairly
traditional, or "Orthodox" beliefs.  The standards of moderation may
also help set the tone.

[I'll try to find some time to reply in more detail, but one of the
fundimental reason's for the original creation of this list was to get
away from debates about the validity of "Orthodox" vs "Conservative"
etc. I have no plans to change that. If there is a discussion about the
range of beliefs that are within the bounds of Halachic Judaism, I am
open to carrying that discussion. Mod.]

>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.

This would be a slap in the face at thoe Jews who are "observant" by the
standards of the other streams of Judaism. 


>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.

The labels won't disappear becuase of the serious differences in beliefs
and practices among these streams of Judaism.  The discussions and
disagreements _do_ concentrate on substantive issues, and labels are
necessary to know who stands for what.

Shabbat Shalom,


From: Tobias Robison <trobison@...>
Date: Mon, 09 Jul 2001 17:52:25 -0400
Subject: Re:  Repetition of words -- what is the chazan's function?

I would like to inject a very basic question into the discussion of the
repetition of words by the person leading a prayer service:
Drawing from halachic sources, please explain what that person is doing,
who stands in front of the congregation and leads the service. How do
our sages explain how this person contributes to the correct practice of
congregational prayer, and to everyone's individual prayer?
Halachically, what is at stake if the leader of the service does the
correct thing or fails to do the correct thing? What is at stake if the
leader does the correct thing particularly well or just adequately? Does
making value judgments about the quality of the Shaliach Tzibbur have a
halachic basis?

- Tobias D. Robison


From: Daniel Cohn <dcohn@...>
Date: Mon, 9 Jul 2001 21:28:25 -0300
Subject: Why does the Torah request "meitav haaretz" payment?

Can anyone offer an explanation on why does the Torah request a person
to compensate damage in "meitav haaretz" (the best of his land) when
payment is made by means of a piece of land? That is, if the damage is
worth $100, paying 100 sq. mts. of land worth $1/sq. mt. looks the same
as paying 10 sq. mts. of land worth $10/sq. mt., doesn't it?

Daniel Cohn


End of Volume 35 Issue 8