Volume 36 Number 81
                 Produced: Thu Jul 25  6:35:39 US/Eastern 2002

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

         [Shmuel Ross]
Asking a non-Jew to ask another non-Jew
         [Daniel M Wells]
Beverage for Havdallah on Motzai Shabbat Chazon
         [Shmuel Ross]
Breast Feeding vs Birth Control
         [Russell Jay Hendel]
Don't go to Hotel
         [Jonathan & Randy Chipman]
Geosynchronous Orbits and Shabbat
         [Daniel M Wells]
Segulot come of age
         [Shmuel Himelstein]
Shir Hashirim
         [Bernard Raab]
Unnecessary words in the Torah
         [Russell Jay Hendel]
What have we come to?
         [Shmuel Himelstein]


From: Shmuel Ross <shmuel@...>
Date: Wed, 17 Jul 2002 09:37:13 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Re: ArtScroll/Birnbaum

   Tangental to the ArtScroll, Birnbaum, and Shir HaShirim discussions:

   For the past couple of years, I've been using both the ArtScroll and
Birnbaum machzorim for Rosh HaShana and Yom Kippur, comparing the
translations now and then during some of the piyutim.  It's been
interesting and enlighting, although understanding the latter's
motivations has been perplexing at times.

   On the one hand, Birnbaum seems interested in maintaining the poetic
flavor of the piyutim, while committed to creating a easily-readable
English text.  While I agree that, as the ArtScroll points out, the
piyuttim are "infinitely more than inspired poetry," I also feel that
they're not *less* than that, either, and that the poetic element

   On the other hand, some of Birnbaum's translations veer so far from
the meaning of the text as to constitute entirely new compositions.
Perhaps the most egregious example of this is his translation of Ashamnu
Bagadnu, in which he replaces the twenty-two verbs of the original with
twelve adverbs.  (Somewhat strangely, his note at the bottom of the page
refers to "the numerous terms denoting sins committed with our tongue."
This applies to the original, but not very well to his translation.)

   This rather surprised me when I noticed it, especially considering
that Birnbaum's siddur is the only one I've yet found in which the
translation of "Baruch shaim kavod malchuso l'olam va'ed" makes any
sense.  ("Blessed be the name of his glorious majesty forever and ever,"
not ArtScroll's "Blessed is the Name of His glorious kingdom for all
eternity."  As Birnbaum points out in the introduction, "yehay shemay
rabbah..." is supposed to be the Aramaic translation, but there's no
plausible way of shoehorning ArtScroll's version into it.)

   I suppose the question might be how one translates when contradictory
aims collide.  Is it better to create an English translation that can
stand on its own as a liturgical text, even if that means sacrificing
some of the meaning of the Hebrew or Aramaic original?  Or to hew as
closely as possible to the meaning (whether literal or otherwise) of the
text being translated, without paying much attention to poetic form, and
occasionally lapsing into verbosity?  Or is neither an acceptable

   (As it happens, I feel that whatever gains Birnbaum might have made
in simplifying the text is now offset by the fact that, forty years
later, it's become dated.  The "thees" and "thous" he found to convey "a
more reverent feeling" now just sound dry and dusty.  This is not to say
that his translation wasn't good for its time, but ArtScroll comes much
closer to today's vernacular.  I think the above question is still an
interesting one, though, regardless of its relevance to this particular



From: Daniel M Wells <wells@...>
Date: Wed, 17 Jul 2002 16:05:49 +0300 (IDT)
Subject: Asking a non-Jew to ask another non-Jew

> I remember reading elsewhere that on Shabbas one may ask a gentile to
> ask a second gentile to perform labor on Shabbos.  If so, presumably we
> can ask him because we are only asking him to talk, which is not in
> itself labor.  But that would mean that the rule about causing something
> to happen does not apply.

Asking a gentile to ask a second gentile is a "Shvus de Shvus" which
according to some is allowed.

Others, and I think its a majority opinion hold, even without any form
of asking, it is forbidden to have benefit from him even if he does it
with payment and without request.

What is allowed is if he does say turn on the light purely for his own
and only his own benefit, later you can benefit from that light. But if
you ask a goy to join you in a drink of shnapps in a dark room and he
turns on that light so that you can also drink that would be forbidden.

* +972 8  865-5988                 Home Phone and Fax                    *
* mailto:<wells@...>      Email                                 *
* http://faculty.biu.ac.il/~wells  Webpage                               *


From: Shmuel Ross <shmuel@...>
Date: Wed, 17 Jul 2002 09:41:17 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Re: Beverage for Havdallah on Motzai Shabbat Chazon

> question:   what practice do people have with respect to the beverage they
> use for havdallah on motzai shabbat chazon?

   Personally, I use beer.  Which seems appropriate for the theme of the
Nine Days, as I dislike the stuff.  (That's not actually the reason I
use it, though, just to clarify.)



From: Russell Jay Hendel
Date: Sun, 14 Jul 2002 02:56:06 -0400
Subject: RE: Breast Feeding vs Birth Control

In v36 n62 Tzadik Vanderhoof heard a report that "a certain rabbi
forbids breast feeding longer than 6 months, because it prevents
conception." This was properly answered by Frank Silberman in
v36n68. Just wanted to add a conceptual point.

There is a Midrash that Adam and Eve >went to bed as 2 and got up as
6<. I once saw an explanation that before the expulsion from Gan Eden,
birth was an intrinsic part of the marital act and part of the expulsion
punishment was the separation of the process of birth and conception.

We can couple this idea with Franks idea that the >mother breast feeds
to help her infant and provide its needs<.

Legally there is no verse in the torah that prohibits birth
control. Rather there are verses requiring people to produce
children. Thus I would rephrase Franks observation by stating that
raising the child is an intrinsic part of the birth process.  To put it
another way, the Biblical requirement of procreation does not just refer
to the moment of birth.

This idea -- that a process may intrinsically require maintenance
actions -- occurs in other areas of law. For example, if I tied up my
dog and left a minor to watch it then I am nevertheless responsible for
damages that the dog does. The Talmudic reason is that >tieing up the
dog only adequately protects it at that instant-- the dog however will
loosen the tie and a minor is inadequate to MAINTAIN THE WATCH over the

In summary: a) watching an animal INCLUDES maintenance, (b) giving birth
to a child INCLUDES raising/feeding it (c) the love in the act of
procreation (originally) INCLUDED the affection and feelings of
gestation and conception.

Russell Jay Hendel; http://www.RashiYomi.com


From: Jonathan & Randy Chipman <yonarand@...>
Date: Wed, 17 Jul 2002 15:55:26 +0300
Subject: Re: Don't go to Hotel

Re the suggestion that one not go to hotels at all over Shabbat so as to
avoid problems with magnetic cards & electronically operated locks (in
v36n64 and earlier):

I'd like to point out that people do not only stay at hotels for
vacations, but that there is a significant group of professionals and
business people who need to travel to all sorts of far-flung places in
connction with their work.  Sometimes these trips may take them away
from their homes for an entire week or more, and to places where there
is no local Jewish community and/or no real alternative to staying in a

    Yehonatan Chipman, Jerusalem


From: Daniel M Wells <wells@...>
Date: Wed, 17 Jul 2002 16:21:01 +0300 (IDT)
Subject: Geosynchronous Orbits and Shabbat

|         It's very logical to believe that a space station (as opposed to
| shuttles such as Challenger) could be geosynchronous. That being the
| case, what's the consensus here? Should/must an astronaut observe
| Shabbat one day per week?  The same day as the terrestrial point over
| which s/he hovers? Or does s/he do what some say is halacha for
| Antarctica, and pick any city's Shabbat?

> Space station crew do have time off - nobody can work all the time -
> although I don't know if they have full days off.  I don't see why it
> shouldn't be possible to arrange the Jewish astronaut's schedule to have
> 24 hours off once a week, as long as the total amount of working time is
> the same.

One of the basic principles of the Jewish Calendar is that the Jewish
day is 24 hours and that Israel celebrates the Sabbath BEFORE all the
rest of the world (except for a few places to the east of Israel up to
the Dateline).

IMHO, if an astronaut sees sunrise sunset sunrise within less than 24
hours, then the second sunrise is really the same day as the first


From: Shmuel Himelstein <himels@...>
Date: Wed, 17 Jul 2002 16:29:45 +0400
Subject: Segulot come of age

Today, while walking around in the Malcha shopping center in Jerusalem,
I saw a sign at one of the internal booths offering for sale: "Ancient
Segulot written on kosher parchment." It seems that nowadays even the
Kabbalah has commercial value.

Shmuel Himelstein


From: Bernard Raab <beraab@...>
Date: Wed, 17 Jul 2002 17:59:39 -0400
Subject: Shir Hashirim

As the fellow who started this discussion by (not so) innocently asking
if there was anyone else out there who is incensed at the Artscroll
"translation" of Shir Hashirim (11 June 2002), I have been really
gratified, and not at all surprised, by the quality of the
submissions. However, Andrew Klafter's thoughtful and insightful essay
on the subject (MJ 36/69) really hit the nail on the head
IMHO. Moreover, he was the only one who suggested what I have suspected
all along to be the true motive of the Artscroll editors:

From: Klafter, Andrew   Date: Wed, 10 Jul 2002
"So, why the special treatment of Shir HaShirim?  Apparently breasts and
deep kisses are just too hot for Artscroll to handle.  They feel that
we, the Jewish readership of their books, might develop sinful, lustful
fantasies if we read a literal translation.  My argument is that Shlomo
HaMelech wasn't concerned about this, so why do we need to be FRUMMER
than Shlomo Ha Melech.  It is an untenable position to claim that Jews
that know Hebrew are less succeptible to sinful fantasies than those who
don't know Hebrew.  I don't know who Artscroll thinks it is fooling."

I suspect they think they are protecting our youth rather than fooling
anyone. The right-wing orthodox (or "black-hat") world has gone to
ever-stricter separation of the sexes in communal life. Rather than
hiding sexuality, I think this type of behavior actually emphasizes it
and leads to more and more frequent, and probably more unhealthy,
fantasizing. Hence a lessening of our ability to "handle" the dynamite
of Shir Hashirim. Just another example of unintended and unwelcome
consequences of "righteous" action.


From: Russell Jay Hendel
Date: Sun, 14 Jul 2002 02:54:17 -0400
Subject: RE: Unnecessary words in the Torah

Ben Katz in v36n67 responds to the statement
>A basic principle of Torah study is that the Torah does not have any
>unnecessary words (or letters).

Ben states that
>This is an incorrect premise.  Many rishonim (esp. Ibn Ezra)
realized that, especially in poetic texts there is parallelism for no
other reason other than the beauty of the language. <<

I just wanted to add that EVEN if every extra word had a meaning,
nevetheless repeated words have DIFFERENT meanings in differnet
contexts. Thus the issue is no longer WHETHER an extra word indicates
some new inference..rather the issue are the rules that govern

In the space of an email let me give you a small example: The Rashi
website reviewed several dozen Rashis on REPEATED words/phrases in Jan
2001. (They can be found in the url on bottom).(A similar comment was
made by Ozarowski in the same issue--but as will be seen below I am
adding to his response by covering legal as well as poetic passages)

Sometimes repeated words indicate ENDEARMENT and CLOSENESS (eg.
repetition of names Gn22-11a, Gn46-02a or repetition of censuses
Ex01-01a, or simply the colloquial >You are beautiful,dear, you are
beautiful< (Shir Hashirim Rabbah on Songs04-01).

But sometimes repeated words indicate emphasis on unusual or border line
cases (Eg Nu17-28a >All who come NEAR NEAR to the temple will die<--
RASHI: Even if he came near non-willfully as in a crowded place where he
was pushed).

Furthermore the Torah very often speaks >using an example style in a
conversational manner without being precise<. My favorite example is
Dt25-04 >Dont muzzle an ox while it is threshing< --- but this law does
not apply AS WRITTEN--it is rather generalized to include ANY ANIMAL,
ANY STOPPING ACTIVITY and ANY ANIMAL WORD (So why didnt the Torah simply
say that >Dont stop an animal from eating while it is doing its worK<).

The fact that the Torah spoke USING EVERYDAY EXAMPLES is accepted by all
Rishonim (e.g. Rambam Monetary Torts 1:1 and similarly Rashi interpret
Ex21-35, the laws of torts of OX, to apply to ANY ANIMAL).

To recap: The fundamental issue is >what style rules apply to a verse?
How does one recognize these style rules? How does one apply these style
rules?).  (For a summary of 30 skill competencies which govern all
Midrash halacha see the 2nd url below)

Russell Jay Hendel; http://www.RashiYomi.com/doubl-14.htm,


From: Shmuel Himelstein <himels@...>
Date: Wed, 17 Jul 2002 16:27:08 +0400
Subject: What have we come to?

I went into a baguette store in Me'ah She'arim today. It has two small
tables, with 2-3 chairs each. As I waited for the person before me to
have his order made up, I noticed a sign conspicuously posted above the
two little tables: "Seating for men only." That remove any appetite I
might have had for buying in the store, and I left it.

My question: where is there any place in Yiddishkeit (at least the
Yiddishkeit I grew up in) for such blatant discrimination against Jewish
women? Whatever happened to "B'Tzelem Elokim bara OTAM" (and not only
the males of the species or the faith)?

Shmuel Himelstein


End of Volume 36 Issue 81