Volume 37 Number 46
                 Produced: Tue Oct 22  6:15:37 US/Eastern 2002

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Mei Raglayeem
"Muslim" Tzniut?
         [Emmanuel Ifrah]
Pri translated as "apple" [was "What Was That Fruit?]
         [Mike Gerver]
A Simple Truth (2)
         [Bernard Raab, Zev Sero]
YerushalmiOnline.org - Dvar Hashem me'Yerushalmi Week 1, Eruvin 1
Yet Another Reason for Slcach Lanu on Yom Kippur
         [Russell J Hendel]


From: c.halevi <c.halevi@...>
Date: Wed, 16 Oct 2002 15:11:28 -0500
Subject: Re: Mei Raglayeem

Shalom, All:

        Boy, the interesting things I learn when writing for this list...
        Commenting on how "Mei Raglayeem" (literally, "leg water") refers
to urine in the prohibited ingredient for the k'toret (incense) brought
upon the altar, I wrote that there is no need to seek esoteric
explanations for the Hebrew term "mei raglayeem." I noted: >>Remember:
when the prophets wanted to use a vulgarism in place of the word "male,"
the Nach used the term "mashteen bakeer" -- correctly translated, as I
recall, as "those who urinate against the wall."<<
        Dr. Ben Z. Katz replied >> I don't believe it is the Nach so much
as King David who tended to use this expression. From the context (eg in
the story of Naval) it is used for certain literary purposes and probably
was intended to be at least mildly vulgar.>>
        Actually, I was thinking of Eliyahu HaNavi (Elijah the Prophet)
speaking in the name of God Himself, telling Akhav (Ahab), "Behold, I
will ...cut off from Ahab every one who urinates against the wall"
(Milacheem/Kings I Chapter 21, verse 21). The term "mashteen bakeer" --
"those who urinate against the wall" is an earthy (OK, blunt) rendering
of "male."
        This deliberate vulgarism is also used later in the Nach, in
Kings II Chapter 9. There, one of the sons of the prophets, sent by
Elisha the Prophet used the following language, again speaking in the
name of God: "For the whole house of Ahab shall perish; and I will cut
off from Ahab any who urinates against the wall."
And, of course, as Dr. Katz points out, King David likewise used the
phrase "any who urinates against the wall." It is a down to earth
        Now here's where it gets really interesting. In Milacheem/Kings 2
Chapter 18, verse 27, an Assyrian emissary is taunting the delegation
sent by King Kheezkeeya (Hezekiah), and tells them he won't communicate
in Aramaic, which then was unknown to the average Judean, but will speak
in Hebrew (literally, "Judaic") "...to the people sitting on the wall,
who will eat their own excrement and drink their own urine" (because the
Assyrian siege would leave them without any food or water).
        Although the Nach specifically writes the vulgar terms for their
excrement and their urine, the latter being "shayeenyayhem" in Hebrew,
there is also a parenthesis that tells us to pronounce it as "may
raglayeem," "leg water," which is a euphemism for urine.
        Thus, when it says "mei raglayeem" could have been used in making
the k'toret (incense) but wasn't out of respect to the Bayt Hamikdash
(Temple), the reference was to urine. Urine was known then to have useful
chemical properties which would have been good for making the k'toret
were it not for the fact it was inappropriate for bringing into the
sacred premises.
        A side note to the m-j reader who quoted a different sentence in
my earlier submission on this subject, then replied >>No. Actually "mei
raglayim" was *NOT used.<< -- I never said it was. Please re-read my
original post.

Charles Chi (Yeshaya) Halevi


From: Emmanuel Ifrah <eifrah@...>
Date: Thu, 17 Oct 2002 10:20:08 +0200
Subject: "Muslim" Tzniut?

As a number of people reacted on this topic, I cannot refrain from
quoting a famous book by R. Yossef Chayim of Baghdad (the "Ben Ish
Chay"), who was a major Possek and Mekubal (end of 19th-beginning of
20th century), "Chukey ha-Nashim" (Laws pertaining to Women).  In
chapter 17, he wrote that Jewish women should not go out in the streets
with their face unveiled, nor even take of their "outer veil" and leave
on only a thinner veil to see better something that called their

Even though this is not motivated by purely halachic reasons, it means
that this was the proper way for a Jewish woman to behave at that time
in Baghdad.

We should not react with "cultural ethnocentrism".

If veiling one's face seems overboard to some of us, going out in the
streets with one's hair uncovered (for women) certainly shocked the Ben
Ish Chay -- whose psakim, however, where not stricken with cultural
ethnocentrism as he ruled that in Europe it was not forbidden to recite
the Shema in front of a woman with her hair uncovered as it is the
"minhag" of non-Jewish European women and one would not generally be
aroused at the mere view of a woman's hair (the Aroch ha-Shulchan ruled

Emmanuel Ifrah


From: <MJGerver@...> (Mike Gerver)
Date: Thu, 17 Oct 2002 13:40:53 EDT
Subject: Pri translated as "apple" [was "What Was That Fruit?]

Bill Bernstein writes in v37n37,

> And as an aside, the common (and incorrect) translation is "apple."  I
>  think that the source for this comes from St. Jerome's Vulgate
>  translation of the Septuagint, where he would translate pri as pomis,
>  which in Latin is normally apple.  My recollection is that John Milton
>  actually uses the word apple, and this is how it came into common usage.

The word "apple" in English used to mean any kind of fruit. This can be
seen in constructions such as "pineapple." My Latin-English dictionary
translates "pomum" as "a fruit of any kind" and "pomus" as "a fruit
tree."  The standard Latin word for "apple" is "malum" with a long
"a". ("Malum" with a short "a" is an unrelated word meaning "evil.") In
modern French, "pomme" means "apple," but it is obvious from
constructions like "pomme de terre" (potato, literally "fruit of the
earth") that not so long ago (potatoes were only introduced to Europe in
the 1500s) it meant any kind of fruit.

Mike Gerver
Raanana, Israel


From: Bernard Raab <beraab@...>
Date: Wed, 16 Oct 2002 19:56:58 -0400
Subject: Re: A Simple Truth

From: Stan Tenen

>The enormous mass of the Sun means that the center of mass of the
Sun-Earth system is either very close to, near-coincident with, or
possibly even inside of, the surface of the Sun (I haven't done any
calculations, but it really doesn't matter which is true).  Thus, the
Sun in fact -- from a "God's Eye View" rotates about a point very close
to its surface, or possibly even within itself, while the Earth rotates
about the same point, very far from itself.<

Well, I thought we had heard the last of this discussion, but apparently
not.  From a "God's Eye View" (if we may be so foolish or arrogant as to
even begin to think this way), the whole "Sun-Earth system" would barely
make the radar screen, it being such a ridiculously miniscule part of
the whole cosmic shebang. Since only God knows where the "true" center
of the universe may be, who are we to say that it is NOT the Earth,
where His people reside!

>It's because of this extraordinary asymmetry that it is "much more true"
to claim that the Earth is rotating about the Sun, than vice-versa.<

In mathematics and in physical science, which is what is involved here,
there is no such thing as "much more true". Something is either true or
it's not, (although we may not always know which it is). In this case,
there is no question: In a 2-body system, if A rotates about B, it is
equally valid to say that B rotates about A. You may regard this as a
mathematical artifice or a "legal fiction" but nevertheless it is
indisputably true.  

Kol Tuv--Bernie R.

From: Zev Sero <zev.sero@...>
Date: Wed, 16 Oct 2002 16:45:04 -0400
Subject: Re: A Simple Truth

Stan Tenen <meru1@...> wrote:
> So, here's the solution to our problem.  The answer depends on our
> point of view, and whether we are "flatlanders" who insist on viewing
> everything as if the Earth were flat and the center of the universe,
> from the perspective of creatures living on the surface of the Earth
> (which means we would think the Sun orbits the Earth), or whether we
> are taking the perspective consistent with the infinitely higher
> overview of the Universe available to Hashem, which makes it clear
> that the Earth is much more accurately described as circling the Sun.

This reflects the common attitude in our culture, that, as the Warner
Siblings put it, `it's a great big universe, and we are really puny'.
That is, in the big picture, in the greater scheme of things, in, as
Stan puts it, the `Gd's Eye View', we are insignificant, and that to
look at things from our own point of view is hopelessly parochial and,
as we say in Yiddish, `klein-keppeldik' (small-headed).

But in fact it is Stan and the others who take this view who are
small-headed.  Because the true `Gd's Eye View' of the universe is that
ME'.  We, here on Earth, are the centre of creation, the people for
whose benefit everything exists in the first place, and around whom
everything revolves, at the very least metaphorically.  Mattan Torah
happened only once in all of space-time, and the entire cosmos was
unstable until *we* said `we will do and hear', and all of creation
breathed a sigh of relief and took on a permanent existence.  Further,
Gd exists throughout the whole world (`there is no place empty of Him'),
but His permanent residence, his home address, is in one specific place,
and it isn't in the centre of a large galaxy, or on some star, but right
here on Earth, on a hilltop in Yerushalayim.  Gd lives on Terra; this is
not just a song title or a metaphor, it is the absolute literal truth.

And so our perspective is His perspective.  Our frame of reference *is*
privileged.  And it is therefore entirely proper to describe the
universe from that privileged frame of reference, the true `Gd's Eye
View', even if it for mathematical convenience we sometimes use other
frames of reference in calculations.

And rather than singing `it's a big universe and we're not', we should
sing `it's a big universe and it's ours'.

Zev Sero


From: yerushalmi-announce <admin@...>
Date: Thu, 17 Oct 2002 14:09:23 -0400
Subject: YerushalmiOnline.org - Dvar Hashem me'Yerushalmi Week 1, Eruvin 1

B'ezras Hashem each week we shall post (on Erev Shabbos) a brief insight
or interpretation pertaining to the coming week's Daf Yomi Yerushalmi
(from Friday to Friday). Please do not hesitate to respond and comment!

Since next Friday, 19 Marcheshvan, 25 October, is the first day of
Eruvin, our first Dvar Hashem me'Yerushalmi is from Eruvin, 1b:

The halacha of "karpaf" requires that any area to be enclosed by an eruv
that is a Beis Se'asayim (5000 square amos, the shiur of the chatzer in
the Mishkan, from whence most parameters of Meleches Shabbos are
derived) or greater, must be mukkaf l'dira, i.e., it must be enclosed
for the express purpose of habitation, not enclosed merely by
happenstance of natural growth. For example, if the foliage of a tree or
several trees droop down to the ground in the form of a "wall," that
enclosure forms a "natural" eruv. If, however, the trees grow to
encompass a Beis Se'asayim, even if the foliage forms a wall, it cannot
serve as the enclosure of the area, as it is not mukkaf l'dira.

Similarly, natural riverbanks or cliffs cannot comprise an eruv of an
area large than a Besi Se'asayim unless some portion of their
circumference is artificial.

The Yerushalmi here goes further. In discussing the parameters of the
rectification required at the entrance to a mavui - an alley that is
enclosed on three sides, but open on its fourth side to a reshus
ho'rabbim - which Chazal decreed to require either a vertical post or
horizontal beam (lechi or korah), the Yerushalmi rules that a grapevine
or gourd tree can only serve as a lechi or korah for an area under the
size of a Beis Se'asayim. If the area is larger, then despite the fact
that three of its sides are enclosed by man-made walls, the lechi or
korah must also be man-made, i.e., mukkaf l'dira (see R' Chaim Kanievski
shlita's Biur!

This is very interesting in and of itself, but, even more so, because in
a classic four-sided eruv, only a small portion of the enclosure need be
artificial. Yet here, even though the vast majority of the enclosure is
artificial, this does not suffice! Clearly, the Yerushalmi regards the
lechi or korah as a separate category unto itself with its own specific
parameters. So far as I know, this severity of the Yerushalmi is not
brought down l'halacha.

Kol Tuv,


From: Russell J Hendel <rjhendel@...>
Date: Sun, 13 Oct 2002 17:03:23 -0400
Subject: Yet Another Reason for Slcach Lanu on Yom Kippur

David Waxman, Michael, Menashe etc (v37n32) Smeth(V37n30)
Michael,Shmuel,Dov,Yeshaya(v37n29), Harland & Emanuel (v37n27) discuss
the reasons for saying slach lanu on maariv yom kippur. I answered this
a few years ago (either here on Mail Jewish or in the email group Torah
Forum) (At any rate I will add more information this time.)

Following the Rambam, Chapter 1 of Prayer, there are TWO reasons for
prayer---a) a summary of our needs b) to commemorate the temple

Rav Hirsch explains b), in his essay SHMONEH ESRAY--each sacrifice organ
corresponds to some blessing in the SHMONEH ESRAY. For example the HEAD
of the lamb was offered first and this corresponds to the 1st middle
blessing--GIVE US UNDERSTANDING The STOMACH of the LAMB was offered 6th
and this corresponds to the 6th middle blessing--GIVE US FOOD &
WORK. Full details are available in that essay which has been translated
into English

So quite simply the posting questioned that we Do NOT have a NEED to ask
for FORGIVENESS (and hence we should not say that in the Shmoneh
Esray). But the DAILY OFFERING was still offered in the temple with ALL
ORGANS and the ORGAN corresponding to the blessing FORGIVE US was
offered. Hence we say the blessing to commemorate the Temple practice.

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


End of Volume 37 Issue 46