Volume 36 Number 58
                 Produced: Sun Jun 30 12:44:05 US/Eastern 2002

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Administrivia - Shamash Kosher Restaurant Database Update
         [Avi Feldblum]
Am-Yisrael-Chai, trips to Israel
         [Liz Muschel]
Conditional conversion
         [Eitan Fiorino]
Exception that proves the rule
         [Art Werschulz]
Jewish bookstore in Boro Park going out of business
         [Sammy Finkelman]
omitting Kabalat Shabbat (2)
         [Shimon Lebowitz, Avi Feldblum]
Outer Space
         [Edward Ehrlich]
pro-Eretz Yisrael religious list
         [Binyamin Lemkin]
"Proving" the rule
         [Shimon Lebowitz]
Sharing a Hotel Room
         [Carl Singer]
Shir HaShirim
         [Shayna Kravetz]


From: Avi Feldblum <feldblum@...>
Date: Wed, 26 Jun 2002 23:31:24 -0400
Subject: Administrivia - Shamash Kosher Restaurant Database Update

After many weeks of tweaking and adjusting we have gone live with the
new version of the Shamash Kosher Database. Many changes have been
made to the database as well as to the look and feel. Check it out at
www.shamash.org/kosher The site includes features such as mapquest
links and a short 'printable' view. Also the database is now up to
date. I would like to encourage everyone to bang on the site as much
as you like and report problems to us. Also if you have any
suggestions for future direction please let us know.

Avi Feldblum


From: <LMuschel@...> (Liz Muschel)
Date: Tue, 25 Jun 2002 08:52:50 EDT
Subject: Am-Yisrael-Chai, trips to Israel

Our new non-profit organization am-yisrael-chai.com is writing you to
see whether you are interested in going to Israel in the foreseeable
future, and if you are interested, am-yisrael-chai will attempt to help
you realize that goal. Am-yisrael-chai recognizes that in these times,
people feel more secure going to Israel in an organized group rather
than individually or as a family. Our goal is to: (a) organize groups of
people to go to Israel or (b) if there are not enough people to make a
group on the date that you want to go, we will place you with a group
that is already going at that time.

      We have already established a website: www.am-yisrael-chai.com and
we would like you to look at it to more fully understand what our
organization is about. Please fill out the form which is on the "GET
INVOLVED" section of the Home Page and please send it electronically by
pressing <info@...> In addition to filling out the form,
please send any comments or thoughts you may have via reply e-mail.

      I look forward to hearing from you.
                                                 Mindy Stein


From: Eitan Fiorino <tony.fiorino@...>
Date: Wed, 26 Jun 2002 09:36:46 -0400
Subject: RE: Conditional conversion

>     A possible theoretical basis for conditional conversion might be
> to say that, if the person is seen over the course of time not to
> observe mitzvot, this may be taken as an indication in retrospect that
> the conversion was never valid in the first case.  In other words, the
> conversion is nullified rather than revoked.
>      However, the idea seems very dubious halakhically.  Analogous
> solutions have been proposed for retroactive nullification of marriage
> -- hafka'at kiddushin -- as a solution to the vexing problems of
> marriage, mamzerut, divorce (both recalcitrant husbands and
> non-observant couples who simply don't bother, Reform Jews whose
> movement teaches that it's unnecessary, etc.) that plague modern -day
> Jewry . . .

The question many cases of apparent "retroactive nullification" -
whether of gerut or kiddushin - is really whether the initial
transaction was valid at all.  So there are true cases in which
kiddushin can be "retroactively annulled" when evidence emerges that the
kiddushin was not valid ab initio.

In the case of conversions, kabalat ol malchut shamayim (acceptance of
the Heavenly yoke) is an essential component of the conversion process -
without it, there is no conversion.  It is a halachically accepted
premise that the convert who immediately abandons observance of the
mitzvot can be assumed to have not had proper kabala - thus, in such a
case the conversion is invalid ab initio (though it could appear that
the conversion is retroactively nullified or that it was "conditional"
on future observance).

Perhaps this is the basis of the suggestion put forth by the Haifa beit

-Eitan Fiorino
Equity Research Analyst - Biotechnology
Citigroup Asset Management, 100 First Stamford Place, Stamford, CT 06902
Phone: (203) 961-6238, Fax: (203) 602-6045


From: Art Werschulz <agw@...>
Subject: Re: Exception that proves the rule


The term "proof" still has the meaning of "test" in the English
language.  A few instances:

(1) Brewers talk about "proofing" the yeast.  (Do bakers use this

(2) The Aberdeen Proving Ground, in Harford County, Maryland, does
    design and testing of ordnance material for the US Army. 

(3) Authors often receive "proof copy" of typeset material, that they
    are supposed to check for mistakes.

(4) Photographers often prepare "proof sheets" of photos.

Art Werschulz (8-{)}   "Metaphors be with you."  -- bumper sticker
GCS/M (GAT): d? -p+ c++ l u+(-) e--- m* s n+ h f g+ w+ t++ r- y? 
Internet: <agw@...><a href="http://www.cs.columbia.edu/~agw/">WWW</a>
ATTnet:   Columbia U. (212) 939-7061, Fordham U. (212) 636-6325


From: Sammy Finkelman <sammy.finkelman@...>
Date: Sun, 27 Jun 02 00:40:00 -0400
Subject: Jewish bookstore in Boro Park going out of business

I found out by accident this week that there is a Jewish Seforim store,
that sells used Seforim, that I never knew about, that is going out of
business, although maybe not too quickly. This is Pinter's Seforim store
at 4408 14th Avenue. It is open every weekday from about 12 noon (could
be earlier) till 8 and till 3 on Friday, I was told. It has a lot of all
Hebrew books, and some rare books and also some English language books,
although not nearly as many as Frankel's. Very very many books are now
$5. A few items are less. I bought a Soncino Ketuboth (Hebrew/Aramaic
and facing English) for $1 and a Kiddushin for $3.  (There were quite a
few Ketuboth so that is why I guess it was marked $1. In Frankel's that
would sell for $4.95 or perhaps 9.95 At the one day sale May 26 where I
got the Ehrman Qiddushin Gemorahs like that were sold to me for $6.00)

The way I found out about Frankel's (4904 16th Avenue) is because about
three years ago I read an old message from 1994 on the mail-jewish
archives. Frankel's is still going strong and also has a lending library
and does bookbinding. It now has a website with very few books but
probably contact information http:\\www.usedjudaica.com. Since that
store was mentioned here I figured Pinters should too, especially
because some people might be looking for Seforim.


From: Shimon Lebowitz <shimonl@...>
Date: Wed, 26 Jun 2002 08:51:06 +0300
Subject: omitting Kabalat Shabbat

>  I have been at two different learned Litvishe homes (of rashei
> yeshivah!)  who in fact ended Birkat Hamazon with "umikol tuv al
> yehasreinu."  (I also once davened with the minyan of Brisker
> grandchildren in Ge'ulah, who totally omitted Kabbalat Shabbat!)

I saw this once myself. sometime in the 70s I spent a shabbat with
relatives in Bnei-Berak, and my cousin/host, who learnt in Kolel
Chazon-Ish, took me there for davening. The minyan, which included the
Steipler zt"l, totally skipped Kabalat Shabbat, to my great surprise.

Is this a common litvak custom? Are there known sources for it?


From: Avi Feldblum <mljewish@...>
Date: Wed, 26 Jun 2002 05:21:19 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Re: omitting Kabalat Shabbat

On Wed, 26 Jun 2002, Shimon Lebowitz wrote:
> Is this a common litvak custom? Are there known sources for it [omitting
> Kabalat Shabbat]?

I would ask the opposite question. What halachik based (as opposed to
Kabbalistic based) sources are there for saying it? What sources are
there for Kabalat Shabat prior to the students of the Ari?

Avi Feldblum


From: Edward Ehrlich <eehrlich@...>
Date: Thu, 27 Jun 2002 07:24:31 +0200
Subject: Outer Space

David Charlap <shamino@...> wrote:

>These are all real questions that will have to be worked out eventually. 
>  We already have routine Earth-orbit space shuttle misions.  We will 
>soon have routine missions to the ISS.  I think it won't be long before

>we begin working towards a permanent Mars colony.  And I don't think 
>banning Jews from all these places, or suspending all time/calendar- 
>based halachot are viable options.

Yes, these questions will eventually come up and this is a very
interesting discussion, but I hope that the poskei halakha are not
rushing to judgment on this.  For instance, while we know the length of
the day and seasons on Mars to great accuracy, we have little idea what
a permanent Mars colony would be like.  Making a halakhic ruling on a
future Lunar or Mars colony with such incomplete information might set
precedents that are inconsistent with the reality of such a future

Space stations are now a reality, so not only are Halakhic questions
being raised regarding them, but a rabbi can now gather enough
information to answer such questions.  But is it really necessary to
issue rulings on future space colonies well before they exist and when
so little is know about them?

Ed Ehrlich - SkyWatch - The Astronomical Alarm
Jerusalem, Israel


From: Binyamin Lemkin <docben10@...>
Date: Thu, 27 Jun 2002 00:21:12 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: pro-Eretz Yisrael religious list

Anyone interested in joining the religious, pro-Eretz Yisrael
Ohaveieretzyisrael list please e-mail me at <docben10@...>

                     -Binyamin Lemkin


From: Shimon Lebowitz <shimonl@...>
Date: Wed, 26 Jun 2002 08:52:13 +0300
Subject: Re: "Proving" the rule

> The old meaning of "prove" means "test," and if you
> find an older English language Torah you'll see that the verse referring to
> the Akayda (binding) of Yeetzkhak (Isaac) says "And it came to pass after
> these things that the Lord did prove Abraham." Of course the meaning here is
> "test."

My yiddish is not so good, so please pardon any misspelling here...  For
many years I had trouble remembering or understanding a yiddish phrase
my mother uses when hearing about someone's personal tragedy: "zohl mir
nisht gepruft vorren".  (I guess some of the readers would prefer that
be spelled 'gepreeft'). :-)

I only managed to get it to stick in my memory, when it hit me one day
that 'gepruft' referred to exactly that sense of "prove" in English:
"May we not be proven (tested)" with such a 'nisayon' as so-and-so went



From: <CARLSINGER@...> (Carl Singer)
Date: Tue, 25 Jun 2002 08:26:38 EDT
Subject: Re: Sharing a Hotel Room

      This feeling was reinforced by the story about the guy who shared
      a hotel room with another man, who cowed him into not opening the
      lock from inside, even though after examination it was quite clear
      to him that it was purely mechanical and unrelated to the magnetic
      card used to get into the room, which obviously worked

I didn't want to get into this aspect before -- the writer of the
original note was carefully gender inspecific re: his hotel roomate.
But either way it's problematic -- I recall that there are issues about
two adult males sleeping together in a room -- or am I heating up the

Kol Tov
Carl SInger


From: Shayna Kravetz <skravetz@...>
Date: Tue, 25 Jun 2002 13:54:04 -0500
Subject: Re: Shir HaShirim

>     Rashi says there that the allegorical meaning is the pshat. So your
>instinct is good, just not your pshat.

But this is exactly my problem in understanding this approach. Pshat
means the plain, literal meaning of the text, yes? For example, the
yizkor prayer refers to 'takhat kanfei ha-shechinah". The pshat here is,
"beneath the wings of the divine presence." Do we think that God has
wings? Obviously not; the metaphoric meaning of shelter and protection
is what is meant. But the pshat is 'wings' and to disregard that is to
lose the flavour of the metaphor and to reduce the intimacy and power of
the prayer. Every single word we ever use to describe God - except for
the divine names - is, of necessity, a metaphor. (Which, by the way, is
one of the reasons why I write "God" in full and with no dash.)

Of course, the balance between the literal meaning of a piece of text in
another language and its 'true' meaning is an ongoing debate in every
line of every translation. Sometimes one must abandon the literal
meaning in favour of translating for the intended meaning. I can't
imagine what a French or Spanish reader would think of a literal
translation of such phrases as "spill the beans" or "let the cat out of
the bag", instead of the intended meaning of "tell a secret". But when a
text does have a literal meaning that does make sense when translated,
as Shir ha-Shirim does, I can see no reasonable argument for abandoning
the original meaning wholesale.

I think that it is a sign of disrespect for one's readers to try to
protect them from the struggle to make the link that the text demands
between physical, earthly love and the divine love God gives to
Israel. The astonishing and daring inclusion of Shir Ha-Shirim in the
Tanach demands that we pay attention.

Kol tuv.


End of Volume 36 Issue 58