Volume 37 Number 15
                 Produced: Mon Sep 23  4:20:44 US/Eastern 2002

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

7-day candles
         [David Charlap]
Effects of Printing Press
         [Ben Katz]
The exception proves the rule
         [Sam Saal]
         [Michael Kahn]
         [Stan Tenen]
"Seating for men only" sign (2)
         [Shayna Kravetz, Andrew Klafter]


From: David Charlap <shamino@...>
Date: Tue, 10 Sep 2002 12:19:24 -0400
Subject: Re: 7-day candles

Charles Chi (Yeshaya) Halevi wrote:
>         Regarding the issue of whether people in olden days davened in
> the dark on Shabbat -- when my father and mother died, alav hashalem
> (peace be upon them), I was given candles that burned for 7 consecutive
> days. Ergo, shuls for thousands of years could have had low-tech night
> lights without lighting a fire.

Oil lamps will also burn for several days if the resivoir is large
enough and the wick's length is not too long.  The "modern" oil lamp,
made of glass and brass, with an adjustable wick, has been around for
several hundred years, if not much longer.

One halachic question comes to mind, however.  Is it permitted on
Shabbat to turn the wick-adjustment knob on an oil lamp?  This knob is
used to make the wick longer or shorter, which adjusts the rate that the
oil is burned and the amount of light produced.

I would assume that there's no problem with this on Yom Tov, since
feeding an already-burning fire is permitted.  But this is not permitted
on Shabbat.  I don't know if adjusting a wick is halachicly the same as
adding oil or adding wood to a bonfire.

Presumably, this has been covered in responsa from several generations
ago.  I just don't know what the answer is.

-- David


From: Ben Katz <bkatz@...>
Date: Tue, 10 Sep 2002 07:56:16 -0500 (CDT)
Subject: Re: Effects of Printing Press

>4) If you look carefully, I believe you will find other examples of
>changes instituted by individuals without universal agreement that later
>became widespread, thanks to the help of the printing press - so much
>so, that old ways of doing things became almost totally forgotten. We
>discussed some such cases recently in Mail-Jewish with regard to
>additions to shir shel yom revi'i, shir hama'alos after eating and
>Oleinu. The power of the (printing) press should not be overlooked, nor
>underestimated. Although one perhaps more often hears about that with
>regard to the news industry (e.g. re the situation with Israel, etc.)
>(the expression 'the third [?] estate' is used, IIRC), the same goes for
>the power of the press in other non-news areas / applications, such as
>in religion and prayer.

       The power of the printing press is enormous, as Mordechai states.
R. Karo's shulchan aruch would probably not have become as accepted as
it is if not for the fact that it was written at the dawn of printing
and thousands of copies were circulated.

        It is also a powerful purveyor of errors, as has been discussed.  I
came across a new one this past RH.  We are all familiar with the refrain -
Ve-ata kadosh yoshev tehillot yisrael, el na.  The problem is that the verse
in Psalms (22:4) does not have the last 2 words, which do not make any sense
(You are holy, sitting on the praises of Isreal -- please God?).  Rare
machzorim (eg Goldschmidt) have the last 2 words in brackets.  Birmbaum does
not translate them.  You guessed it -- ArtScroll, of course, does.  The 2
words are probably a rubric from a tefillah that follows in one location
that somehow got added on to the end of the verse by a printer.

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: Sam Saal <ssaal@...>
Date: Tue, 10 Sep 2002 07:32:14 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: re:  The exception proves the rule

Another email list I read has been discussin  this, too:

Q. How did the phrase, "the exception that proves the rule" come about?
Would an exception to some pattern or consistency not prove the need for
a rule, not the existence of one? [Dave Dewhurst, British Columbia]

A. You're right to query the expression. It has caused as much confusion
as any other in the language and is still often argued about. The
misunderstanding has been amplified by well-meaning but incorrect
attempts going back a century to explain it.

These days it is often used sweepingly to justify an inconsistency.
Those who use it seem to be saying that the existence of a case that
doesn't follow a rule proves that the rule applies in all other cases
and so is generally correct, notwithstanding the exception. This is
nonsense, because the logical implication of finding that something
doesn't follow a rule is that there must be something wrong with the
rule. As the old maxim has it, you need find only one white crow to
disprove the rule that all crows are black.

It has often been suggested in reference works that "prove" here is
really being used in the sense of "test" (as it does in terms like
"proving ground" or "the proof of the pudding is in the eating", or in
the printer's proof, which is a test page run off to see that all is
correct with the typesetting). It is said that the real idea behind the
saying is that the presence of what looks like an exception tests
whether a rule is really valid or not. If you cannot reconcile the
supposed exception with the rule, there must indeed be something wrong
with the rule. The expression is indeed used in this sense, but that's
not where it comes from or what it strictly means.

The problem with that attempted explanation is that those putting it
forward have picked on the wrong word to challenge. It's not a false
sense of "proof" that causes the problem, but "exception". We think of
it as meaning some case that doesn't follow the rule, whereas the
original sense was of someone or something that is being granted
permission not to follow a rule that otherwise applies. The true origin
of the phrase lies in a medieval Latin legal principle: "exceptio probat
regulam in casibus non exceptis", which may be translated as "the
exception confirms the rule in the cases not excepted".

Let us say that you drive down a street somewhere and find a notice
which says "Parking prohibited on Sundays". You may reasonably infer
from this that parking is allowed on the other six days of the week. A
sign on a museum door which says "Entry free today" leads logically to
the implication that entry is not free on other days (unless it's a
marketing ploy like the never-ending sales that some stores have, but
let's not get sidetracked). H W Fowler gave an example from his wartime
experience: "Special leave is given for men to be out of barracks
tonight until 11pm", which implies a rule that in other cases men must
be in barracks before that time. So, in its strict sense, the principle
is arguing that the existence of an allowed exception to a rule
reaffirms the existence of the rule.

Despite the number of reference books which carefully explain the origin
and true meaning of the expression, it is unlikely that it will ever be
restored to strict correctness. The usual rule in lexicography is that
sayings progress towards corruption and decay, never the reverse. Unless
this one proves to be an exception ...
World Wide Words is copyright (c) Michael Quinion 2002.  All rights
reserved. The Words Web site is at <http://www.worldwidewords.org>.
You may reproduce this newsletter in whole or in part in other free
media online provided that you include this note and the copyright
notice above. Reproduction in print media or on Web sites requires prior
permission: contact <TheEditor@...>.

Sam Saal         <ssaal@...>
Vayiphtach HaShem et Pea haAtone


From: Michael Kahn <mi_kahn@...>
Date: Thu, 12 Sep 2002 00:16:22 -0400
Subject: Re: Mendelssohn

>Mendelssohn may have advocated
>for the full participation of Jews in secular society, but to blame the
>haskala on him (even in part) is absurd (let's not even get into the
>question of the uniformity and level of halachic observance prior to >the
>haskala).  Moreover, Eastern European Orthodoxy, which viewed the >German
>model of Orthodoxy with suspicion (and thus was probably not influenced
>even slightly by Mendelssohn) had to fight its own battle against the
>haskala (not to mention against secular Zionism and socialism).

To defend my pinning the haskalah on Mendelsohn I can only quote an
email from a respected professor of Jewish history in the college I
attend (incidentally as a history major) "A case can be made that
Mendelssohn was the founder of the Haskalah movement, though many will
argue that he was its inspiration but not its founder in a direct sense.
(There was, of course, no formal "founding" of this movement.)  He was
not the founder of the Reform movement, though some of the trends that
he represented played a role in the process leading to that movement."

I didn't ask the professor permission to quote him so I have omitted his 


From: Stan Tenen <meru1@...>
Date: Thu, 12 Sep 2002 09:51:27 -0400
Subject: Prove/Test <smile>

I quote, exactly, from page 59, lower left, of the October 2002 issue of 
Consumer Reports magazine, from instructions that appeared on a box that 
held an appliance made in China.

"In order that the article has minced could be perfectly cut, Knocked 
Vigorously on the bud Superior hand Opened.  The most or less great number 
of knocks determines the fineness of cup.  The rotation of knives is made 
automatically and regularly.  For the cleaning, to pull the inferior bell 
and to release the recipient Superior.  Well to rinse the machine, if 
possible to the running water. Re-assembly in Senses inverts. All parts 
metallic are executed in a materials has the test of the rust."

My best guess is that this is a description of a "vegi-matic" type food 
chopper.  What's interesting is how a "dictionary translation" can lead one 
so astray, and what caught my eye in particular was the use of the word 
"test".  The instructions say, "executed in a materials has the test of the 
rust."  Here, "test of the rust" clearly means "rust-proof".

I'm submitting this because we routinely work from texts written hundreds 
of years ago, and we need to be careful to remember how "literal 
translations" can confuse meaning.  The "prove vs. test" question came up 
earlier, and this is another example.

Good Shabbos, and an easy fast for Yom Kippur.

Meru Foundation   http://www.meru.org   <meru1@...>


From: Shayna Kravetz <skravetz@...>
Date: Tue, 10 Sep 2002 11:56:42 -0400
Subject: Re: "Seating for men only" sign

Chaim (<chaim-m@...>) writes about the "Seating for men only" sign
>It occured to me, as a limud zchus in chodesh Elul, that perhaps the
>intent was to minimize, as much as possible, women congregating at the
>tables they would be seated at, in view and ear-shot of men customers.
>IOW, if the women aren't permitted to sit in the Pizza shop, then they
>would presumably buy the food and leave, without creating the social
>event (talking, laughing, etc) that usually occurs at a meal.

While I applaud Chaim's effort to be melamed zchus in this situation, I
don't understand his reasoning. Is he saying that the social interaction
between women at a meal is something that should be prevented? If so, on
what does he base this position? I have never seen it said that one must
gobble one's meal in dead silence, bentsch, and leave
post-haste. Indeed, a necessary concomitant of making a berachah over
food is the enjoyment of it which is why (for example), when we drink
water as an aid to taking medication, we don't make a b'rachah over the
water, as I understand it.

Or is it that he feels that the women socializing creates a problem if
it occurs within view and ear-shot of men? If so, perhaps the solution
for Chaim and those who agree with him would be to have a mehitzah or
separate but equitably divided hours of service for the two sexes. (I
personally am miles away from seeing either of those as a solution; I
would instead perceive those as another kind of problem in terms of
k'vod ha-bri'ot, as indeed the original sign was, to me.)

G'mar khatimah tovah.


From: Andrew Klafter <KLAFTEAB@...>
Date: Wed, 11 Sep 2002 10:54:37 -0400
Subject: RE: "Seating for men only" sign

Give me a break.  It is embarrassing that an Orthodox Jewish
establishment would completely exclude women.  This means that a man
cannot take his family out to eat there.  It means that a mother and
daughter who wish to eat a meal together or two female friends who wish
to spend some time together are not welcome in such an establishment.
Your logic would also justify excluding women from the use of public
transportation, excluding women from opening back accounts "lest the
inevitable chatter and laughter which occurs while waiting on line at
the back occur in view an earshot of men," etc.  The ritual requirements
of the beis hakenneses should not be misapplied to pizzerias and buses.

I think your "limud z'chus" is out of place.  I am not apolagetic or
ashamed of the fact that our holy Torah and halacha separate the sexes.
Exclusion, which is NOT required by the halakha, is totally different
than separation.

Nachum Klafter
University of Cincinnati


End of Volume 37 Issue 15