Volume 36 Number 64
                 Produced: Tue Jul  9  5:08:19 US/Eastern 2002

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Don't go to Hotel
         [Tzadik Vanderhoof]
El Am Talmud
         [Art Werschulz]
An Interesting Gemara: Proving the Rule
         [Solomon Spiro]
Interesting Gemorah - Talmud EL AM
Interesting Gemorah, better than Artscroll? (4)
         [Allen Gerstl, Gil Student, Ben Katz, Shmuel Norin]
Nusach Art Scroll
         [Ira L. Jacobson]
Quotations in Torah
         [Akiva Miller]


From: Tzadik Vanderhoof <tzadikv@...>
Date: Tue, 02 Jul 2002 10:12:57 -0400
Subject: Don't go to Hotel

>One can easily avoid it. Don't go to a hotel on shabbos

I think you are adopting a very incorrect approach ... namely, don't
investigate and find a solution... just avoid the issue by being as
machmir as possible.  I am familiar with this attitude and I disagree
with it strongly.  It completely fails to take into account the
ramifications of being machmir.  I think the "need" to go on vacation
with one's family is entirely legitimate, at least as important as
"kiruv" which you seem to grudgingly admit as acceptable.

Many jobs in the U.S. give very little vacation time... commonly you
have to start over with 1 or 2 weeks whenever you start a new job.  Once
you take into account yomim tovim, precious little (or none) vacation
time is left.  If you eliminate Shabbosim as a possibility, the
logistics may just prevent family vacations entirely for some families.
Are you willing to say that the ramifications of that to family life and
eliminating the relief on the strains that have probably gone on the
relationships all year are totally insignificant, not even worth
investigating the problems of an electronic lock?


From: Art Werschulz <agw@...>
Subject: El Am Talmud

Sammy Finkelman <sammy.finkelman@...> asked for information
about the El Am Talmud.

The El Am project produced thin folios that were suitable for putting
into a three-ring binder.  Only a few folios were produced, consisting
of portions of Berachot, Bava Metzia, and Kiddushin.

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: Solomon Spiro <spiro@...>
Date: Tue, 02 Jul 2002 15:03:20 +0300
Subject: An Interesting Gemara: Proving the Rule

BSD, 22 tammuz

I have a copy of the gemara you refer to.  It was an ambitious
undertaking which ran out of money and ceased. It was called The El Am
Talmud and is a good as you describe.  The text and translation, with
all the superb commentaries, came out in fascicles to which one
subscribed as to a monthly journal. ( I eventually bound them into book
form.) Presumably they did it that way because they did not have the
funds to publish in a single volume.  When they then ran out of money,
the United Synagogues (Conservative)Men's Club Association undertook to
guarantee sales and thus rescue the project.

But then that too ran aground and the whole thing collapsed--haval!
Parts of Berakhot, Qiddushin and Baba Metzia came out.

If you are looking for copies I was told by Rabbi Shmarya of Shmariah
books that he has a copy or copies.

Proving the rule. 

My English professor used the phrase the exception proves the rule all
the time. The connotation was if there is a rule that has no exception
then it is false, for rules are made by men and men are not perfect.

WE have something similar in halakhah If the Sanhedrin voted without
anyone offering an opposing opinion to execute an accused the accused is
freed. ( According to some, the meaning there is that a mistrial is
declared and the case is tried again.)  Sanhedrin 17a


From: E.J.Ehrman <ehrman@...>
Subject: Interesting Gemorah - Talmud EL AM

Your query re 'Interesting Gemorah, better than Artscroll?' was passed
on to me by a cousin in New York, Joseph Lauer.

The Gemara in question was the work of my late husband, Rabbi Dr
A.Ehrman.  It was originally set up as a kind of parallel to the
Steinsalz edition for English readers.

My husband lived to complete Mesechet Berachot, two chapters of Bava
Mezia (Hammaphkid and Hazahav - the latter with Yerushalmi) and the
first 20 'dappim' of Qiddushin.

When my husband began on Berachot, he assumed that the reader had no
knowledge of the Gemara and explained everything in great detail, as the
booklets continued, he allowed himself to take more knowledge for
granted. - In Hammaphkid, for instance, he brought in his legal
knowledge (he was a lawyer and a Rabbi).

The commentary was written so that it could be read, as it were,
independently of the actual text. He incorporated here the standard
commentaries, such as Rashi, Tosaphot etc.

The side notes were written by specialists in the field.  You will see
that they are signed with initials. If you look at the back of the
booklet, there should be a list of contributors with their initials -
people like Professor Feliks or Professor Shilo.

I am afraid it is quite difficult to get hold of copies these days.  I
have bought some from the Judaica Book Centre in Jerusalem, 5, Even
Israel St.  I have copies of Hammaphkid, which I reprinted.  I shall be
happy to try to answer any questions that you may have.

Dr Esther J. Ehrman 


From: Allen Gerstl <acgerstl@...>
Date: Tue, 02 Jul 2002 07:35:05 -0400
Subject: Interesting Gemorah, better than Artscroll?

Some of these volumes may still be found in Jewish bookstores.

A fast web search produced the information that only six thin volumes
were published for masechtot Berachot, Kiddushin and Baba Metziah. They
were published (first?) as a series of pamphlets with a looseleaf holder
and then (?) as bound volumes.

Rav Steinsaltz's Gemorahs in their original Aramaic-Hebrew with his
Hebrew commentary, I believe, have many similar features.


From: Gil Student <gil_student@...>
Date: Fri, 05 Jul 2002 14:00:35 -0400
Subject: Re: Interesting Gemorah, better than Artscroll?

I got the following off of the NY Public Library's online catalog 

The Talmud : with English translation and commentary / editor, A. Zvi
Ehrman.  Jerusalem : El-`Am, 1965-<1974>

Issued in fascicles and in bound volumes. Description based on bound
volumes. "Contains ... the full original text ..., an English
translation with a modern commentary, short biographies of Tannaim and
Amoraim ...  halachic notes and Realia (with illustrations where
applicable)"--V. 1, p.  3. Issued also in parts. Includes
bibliographical references.

[1] Berakhoth <pt. 1-3 > -- [2] Qiddushin -- [3] Bava mezi`a

Gil Student

From: Ben Katz <bkatz@...>
Date: Wed, 3 Jul 2002 14:09:39 -0500 (CDT)
Subject: Interesting Gemorah, better than Artscroll?

  Yes.  It is the El Am Talmud, published under the auspices of the
Jewish Theological Seminary.  Rabbi Dr. David Weiss-HaLivni (a talmid of
Saul Lieberman) was one of the editors.  To the best of my knowledge,
they only came out with about 1/2 of kidduhin, 2/3 of berachot and 1/2
of babamezia.  In my opinion, it is the best English
translation/commentary on the talmud that was ever done.  They published
fasicles which were occassionally bound together; some of the fasicles
cover the corresponding chapters in the Talmud Yerushalmi, so the
corresponding material in the bavli and yerushalmi can be studied
side-by-side.  My father used to use them for his shabat afternoon
talmud class in the 70's at the Forest Hills Jewish Center.  I have most
of them.

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; Voicemail and Pager: 3034
e-mail: <bkatz@...>

From: <ENGINEERED@...> (Shmuel Norin)
Date: Tue, 02 Jul 2002 08:18:53 -0400
Subject: Interesting Gemorah, better than Artscroll?

The El Am Talmud was started in the 1970's by the Conservative movement.
They had a number of rabbis from Bar Ilan University actually doing the
translation.  This was done at a time -- pre Steinsaltz -- when the
Orthodox movement was anti translating the Talmud into English.  If I
remember Bruchot and part of Kiddushin were completed before a fire
destroyed their facility.  As far as I know, they never restarted after
the fire.

BTW, I and many others agree with you that it is an excellent traslation
and page layout.

Shmuel Norin


From: Ira L. Jacobson <laser@...>
Date: Tue, 02 Jul 2002 11:16:10 +0300
Subject: Re: Nusach Art Scroll

Sam Saal <ssaal@...> expressed the following thought:

>I grew up using Birnbaum and other siddurim. I like that Art Scroll is
>more explicit than Birnbaum

In this context, I wonder what one who grew up with the Birnbaum siddur,
with its hiddushim (such as adding "Elokeynu vEloyei avoseinu" before
"qadsheynu" on Yomtov silent devotion, or saying "honah" rather than
"honi'ah" in Shabbat grace) is required to say or do when he prays in a
synagogue that uses a different prayerbook.

In other words, did the Birnbaum text become that person's minhag and he
is therefore required to continue using it, or is it perhaps regarded as
a minhag tau'oos?  Or is it actually the authentic text that all Jews
should be using?

Or perhaps he needs a hatoras nedorim?



From: <kennethgmiller@...> (Akiva Miller)
Date: Tue, 2 Jul 2002 00:33:11 -0400
Subject: re: Quotations in Torah

Sanford Lefkowitz asked <<< A basic principle of Torah study is that the
Torah does not have any unnecessary words (or letters). Does this also
apply to text inside quotation marks ... would we say that people like
Balak or Pharaoh are also speaking with perfect efficiency and that every
word they say has meaning? Could it be that G-d edited what they said? If
so, are all quotes edited? >>>

It is my feeling that at least some quotes in the Torah are not
*exactly* what the person said, but are (as Mr. Lefkowitz put it) G-d's
edited version of what they said. I have two ways to demonstrate that
some quotes *are* edited, and I welcome comments regarding them.

My first demonstration is: There are many cases where a conversation
appears in the Torah, and the Midrash offers an expanded version of that
conversation. How do we reconcile the two versions? One way to reconcile
them is that it took place exactly as recorded in the Torah, but the
words were full of nuances, subtleties, and other layers of meaning with
the Midrash merely spoonfeeds to us. I prefer to suspect that the
Midrash version is closer to what actually happened, and the G-d edited
it so that one particular version of it appeared in the Torah.

My second demonstration is longer. To keep it short, I have a few side
comments which will appear after it.

When Yosef was Viceroy of Egypt, he had many conversations with his
brothers. The Torah (Gen. 42:23) explicitly says that there was an
interpreter translating between Yosef and the brothers, and Rashi
explains that he spoke Egyptian while they spoke Hebrew. Yet as recorded
in the Torah, the entire conversation is in Hebrew! It is my belief (*1)
that in general there is no such thing as a perfect translation. (*2)
Not even HaShem, I believe, could make a perfect translation of a
conversation. (*3) Therefore, the Hebrew version of what Yosef said in
these conversations is not an exact transcription of what he said, but
it is G-d's edited version of what he said. (*4)

*1: This is all my own personal opinion. I'd be very interested in
hearing opposing arguments.
*2: A perfect translation might exist in limited cases, like a list of
numbers, perhaps. But I can't imagine one for an extended conversation
*3: This is not due to any lack of ability on His part, G-d forbid, but
because the languages are different and the *languages* are unable to
provide an exact translation. It's like asking HaShem to draw a
seven-sided triangle. The problem is not that He can't draw it, but that
such a triangle can't be drawn. (That's my answer for the old "rock so
heavy He can't lift it" riddle, too.)
*4. One could say that the Torah does give us the exact Hebrew words
which Yosef's interpreter told to the brothers. Still, I maintain that
the Torah says "Yosef said", and it's what the interpreter said. It's not
what *Yosef* said.

Now that I have demonstrated that certain quotes have been edited
(namely Yosef speaking to his brothers), then it seems to me that we
have lost any presumed guarantee that any other pasuk is
unedited. (Certainly, some might be unedited. We just don't know which.)
That conclusion is vaguely disquieting to me, but it should not
be. Whether a person actually said certain words or not is quite
irrelevant to how I run my life. What *is* relevant is that HaShem wants
me to run my life *as* *if* that person said those particular words.

(Hmmm... that is very similar to how I feel about dinosaurs. I could not
care less whether dinosaurs *actually* roamed the earth so many years
ago. But it seems that HaShem wants us to act and do research *as* *if*
they roamed the earth, whether they really did or not.)

Akiva Miller


End of Volume 36 Issue 64