Volume 37 Number 51
                 Produced: Wed Oct 23  6:49:52 US/Eastern 2002

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Maachal Ben Drosai
         [Ezriel Krumbein]
Source of Cohanim (4)
         [<rubin20@...>, David Waxman, Joshua Hosseinof, Alex
Techum (2)
         [Akiva Miller, Mike Gerver]
Travel on (or close to) Shabbat & Yom Tov
         [Ira L. Jacobson]
Va'yhi or Va'yehiyu
         [Michael Frankel]


From: Ezriel Krumbein <ezsurf@...>
Date: Sun, 20 Oct 2002 16:27:15 -0700
Subject: Re:Maachal Ben Drosai

I believe the definition of maachal Ben Drosai is how edibile is the
food.  The phrase orginated from a badit named Ben Drosai who would not
wait around for his food to completely cook instead eating it a half or
a third cooked.  How you measure a food's edible quotient I am not sure.

Kol Tov


From: <rubin20@...>
Date: Sun, 20 Oct 2002 21:57:28 -0400
Subject: Source of Cohanim

I have gotten a few responses along the line that we are not twelve
tribes but two and a half, so the proportion of cohanim is natural much
higher in the general population. I had thought of mentioning this in my
original post, only to point out how it is a non answer. Firstly, that
is assumeing that when Sancherev exiled the Asseres HaSevatim, there
were no or few Levim and Cohanim amongst them. That is at odd with the
historic position of Cohanim and Leviyim being mixed up amongst the rest
of Klal Yisroel (they didn't have a Nachla for that reason). As proof of
the fact that Cohanim and Leviim were dispersed amongst the rest of Klal
Yisroel, consider that according to this theory there are really three
and a half Shevatim, the third being Shevet Levi, in which case, one out
of every five people should be a Cohain or Levi, something which
obviously isn't true.In addition, even assuming this is right, if we
recalculate only with Yehuda, Binyomin and half menasha, we get a
proportion of .0000396% of the population being Cohanim, still
unexplainable as to how they are now hundreds of times that proportion
now.  I would hazard a guess that the percent of cohainim is closer to
5% amongst Askenazim, and amongst sefardim even higher.

From: David Waxman <yitz99@...>
Date: Sun, 20 Oct 2002 21:38:13 +0200
Subject: Source of Cohanim

To strengthen the kasha, Nadiv and Avihu didn't live to the latter
census and presumably did not procreate.  Anyone know if this is true?

Anyway, I have asked this question myself.  Someone once provided a
drash that says that one who blesses shall be blessed.

On an analytical level, one need not assume that the proportion stay
constant.  If we say that there were 85 generations since Pinchas
(3000/35 years), and that each generation were to have two male
children, then there would be 38685626227668133590597632 (3.8 x 10^25)
Cohanim nowadays.

From: Joshua Hosseinof <jh@...>
Date: Sun, 20 Oct 2002 21:18:09 -0400
Subject: Source of Cohanim

I do recall reading something about the relatively large number of
kohanim in proportion to the numbers of Leviim that one finds, since one
would expect Cohanim to be a much smaller percentage of the jewish
population than leviim, whereas you usually find that they are about
equal or sometimes you find more kohanim than leviim.  Sefer Ezra and
Nehemiah mention many times the big problem of intermarriage that they
faced during that time.  It makes sense that the intermarriage rate
amongst kohanim in those times was much less than amongst the rest of
the Jews - while the temple stood any kohen who did intermarry would
have been disqualified from working in the temple.  The Kohanim might
not have intermarried at all or only a very few of them might have done
so because of the very explicit prohibition in the Torah about a kohen
marrying a "zonah" which would apply to all non-jewish women.  (You
might ask about the prohibition in general against marrying non-jews in
Sefer Devarim - remember that Sefer devarim was lost for a long time and
only found during the time of Ezra).  Another point regarding the
religiosity of the kohanim during that time period is that most of the
neviim came from the Kohanim (Yirmiyahu, Yechezkel, etc) - so if the
kohanim were more religious they were less likely to intermarry.

See also Chapter 2 of Ezra where the number of kohanim returning is
listed as 4289, while the number of leviim is a mere 341 and the rest of
the Jews are 24126 (not counting the netinim).  So in that regard the
percentage of Kohanim out of the total population of Jews was about 15%
( 4289 / (4289+341+24126)).  The Da'at mikra on Ezra 2:40 says that the
number of leviim who returned was so small because they were worried
about Yechezkel's prophecy in Yechezkel 44:10-14 and 48:11.  (See also
Masechet Yevamot 86b and in Tosafot on that page "Mipnei Mah" regarding
how Ezra punished the leviim - so many of the leviim might have been
disqualified which as side effect increased the percentage of kohanim in
the total jewish population)

From: Alex Heppenheimer <aheppenh@...>
Date: Mon, 21 Oct 2002 10:18:31 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: Re: Source of Cohanim

In MJ 37:42, <rubin20@...> asked:

>At the time of Matan Torah, there were 600,000 adult male Jews, and 
>5 Cohanim. That is .0000083%. Today, one out of every twenty five or
>thirty people are cohanim, around 4%-3%, if not even higher. How did 
>Cohanim manage to increase at such an astounding proportion? If 
>there are 21 million Jews today, then the same proportion of Cohanim
>would mean that there are 35 in the entire Klal Yisroel.

There's more to this than meets the eye at first glance, though. In
fact, there was apparently a time when the percentage of Kohanim was
considerably higher.

The listings of Jews who returned to Eretz Yisrael to build the second
Beit HaMikdash (given in Ezra ch. 2 and, with some variations,
Nechemiah ch. 7) yield a figure of 4289 Kohanim (Ezra vv. 36-39,
Nechemiah vv. 39-42) out of a total population of 42360 (Ezra v. 64,
Nechemiah v. 66), or over 10% of the total.

(It's possible, of course, that the Kohanim were overrepresented
relative to the other tribes, given their special role in the Beit
HaMikdash and hence their greater incentive to join in the return.
However, this doesn't seem to have motivated the Levi'im, of whom only
341 (Ezra vv. 40-42) or 360 (Nechemiah vv. 43-45) came. Furthermore,
there were actually 24 divisions of Kohanim, and the Talmud (Taanit
27a-b) specifically notes that only four of those divisions - the four
clans mentioned in these verses - had participated in the return.)

In any case, it would appear from this that the percentage of Kohanim
among the Jewish People grew rapidly during the era covered by the
Tanach - to a high of at least 10%, perhaps even as much as 15-20% -
and has declined since then.

That rapid increase, though, may be more a result of the decrease in
the numbers of other tribes. Specifically: the ten tribes of the
northern kingdom - all except Yehudah, Binyamin, and Levi - represented
almost 80% of the nation at the first census in the desert (Num. ch.
1), but they had declined to about 30% by the time of the return (the
totals for individual clans and cities given in Ezra and Nechemiah
yield only about 30000, and Seder Olam - cited in Rashi to Ezra ibid. -
explains that the remaining 13000 were members of other tribes). This
is because the bulk of the exiled ten tribes assimilated and lost their
Jewish identity (see Yevamot 16b, bottom).

Furthermore, there were relatively few Kohanim living in the northern
kingdom, many if not most of them having migrated south after Yeravam's
reforms deprived them of their privileges as the nation's servants of
Hashem (II Chron. 11:13-14), and hence fewer of them shared the same
fate as the ten tribes.

As for the decline in the numbers of Kohanim since then, one possible
reason might be that Kohanim were overrepresented among the Hellenists
and Sadduccees during the era of the second Beit HaMikdash (cf. II
Maccabees 4:14), and these groups eventually assimilated into the
prevailing non-Jewish culture and were lost to later Jewish history.

Kol tuv,


From: <kennethgmiller@...> (Akiva Miller)
Date: Sun, 20 Oct 2002 17:25:16 -0400
Subject: re: Techum

Aharon Fischman wrote <<< If I recall from Mishnayot Eruvin that one
squares off the border of a town to establish a techum.  Using NYC as an
example of a town, the border within the square would include large
portions of NJ, and make the issue of crossing the George Washington
Bridge on Shabbat moot since both sides could _theoretically_ be in the
same techum. >>>

I recall learning similar things. But...

Gershon Dubin responded <<< No.  Since the GWB is an expanse of greater
than (2 x) 70 amos without houses, this separates the two parts and
renders them separate cities. It is important in considering applications
of eruvin in modern times to realize that municipal borders are
irrelevant; contiguity of housing is what matters.  Thus a "city" could
encompass several towns/counties/states, or, conversely, be made up of
only a portion of the municipally defined city. >>>

Granted that the GWB is far longer than 140 amos, but don't we need to
figure out where the city borders are? If the avenues and streets in
Manhattan went directly North-South and East-West, then the western
border of New York City would indeed be near the eastern shore of the
Hudson River. And then, since New Jersey is more than 140 amos away, it
would be clearly beyond the techum.

But Manhattan is *NOT* aligned that way. It is tilted to the NE and SW,
which puts some parts of New Jersey within the square described by
Aharon Fischman. Specifically, Fairview NJ and Cliffside Park NJ are
directly north of the Upper West Side, and directly west of Harlem. Does
this, or does this not, make them *halachically* part of New York City
for the purposes of the techum?

And if it does, then wouldn't the contiguous populated areas --
Palisades Park, Lenonia, Englewood, Teaneck -- all be part of this same
halachic city? We have some highways far wider than 140 amos (measuring
the distance between the closest residences on either side) but if the
highway doesn't go directly East-West or North-South, it wouldn't make
much difference, would it?

I must stress that I am not suggesting that the halacha really is how I
described it above. What I'm really doing is displaying the depths of my
ignorance on this subject, in the hopes that someone can point me
towards a recent sefer which explains how these halachos are applied to
modern urban areas.

Akiva Miller

From: <MJGerver@...> (Mike Gerver)
Date: Sun, 20 Oct 2002 19:34:06 EDT
Subject: Techum

>From Gershon Dubin, v37n44,
> This means that the answer to your second question is yes, the
>  Boston/NY/Washington corridor could be one city.  If it in fact is not,
>  the break points are not likely to be coterminal with the city limits of
>  each city along the way.

I've noticed, while taking the train on this route, that (aside from
rivers) there is no break in the built-up area adjacent to the train
tracks between New Haven and the Delaware River. Some of the built-up
areas are industrial rather than residential, but presumably there are
enough built-up residential areas near the industrial areas (which are
more likely to be located near train tracks) to form a continuous
built-up residential area from New Haven to the New Jersey shore of the
Delaware River.

Since noticing this, I've tried to avoid saying tefillat ha-derech
before passing New Haven when going from New York to Boston, or before
crossing the Delaware River when going from New York to Washington,
since I understand that, le-hatchila, one should say tefillat ha-derech
after leaving the techum. Conversely, I try to remember to say tefillat
ha-derech before getting to New Haven when going from Boston to New
York, and before crossing the Delaware when going from Washington to New
York, and if I forget, I leave out Hashem's name when making the bracha
in tefillat ha-derech, since I may be already within the techum of New
York, my destination.

Is this the right thing to do? Or are the Hudson and East/Harlem Rivers
definitely enough to make Manhattan a separate techum?

Mike Gerver
Raanana, Israel


From: Ira L. Jacobson <laser@...>
Date: Sun, 20 Oct 2002 22:38:34 +0200
Subject: Re: Travel on (or close to) Shabbat & Yom Tov

      about a half hour or so before shkia, knowing we would be stuck
      either way, we called up 2 rabbanim (one of them being my father
      :) ) to pasken what we should do.  they both responded that- as
      long as the driver is not Jewish- we should keep going.

*Two* rabbis?  Hmmmm.
And what would you have done if each gave a different answer?



From: Michael Frankel <michaeljfrankel@...>
Date: Sun, 20 Oct 2002 20:15:20 -0400
Subject: Re: Va'yhi or Va'yehiyu

<<From: Michael Feldstein <mfeldstein@...>
During the last two weeks of Torah readings, I noticed that the text in
describing the life span of various individuals--alternates between
"vay'hi y'mai" and va'yehiyu y'mai".  Grammatically, it's probably more
proper to use the plural, since y'mai is plural.  Is there any rhyme or
reason as to why the singular (va'yehi) is used in some cases and the
plural (va'yehiyu) in other cases?>>

tradition ! - after all these years, can still almost see Topol belting
it out on stage. A more interesting question, to me anyway, is whether
any Ashkenazi sefer torah anywhere is now in use, or has even been
written, incorporating r. breuer's girsoh preferences, one of which
indeed substitutes vayihyu for vayhi at the end of poroshas noach (9:29,
vayihyu ymei noach (sic)- mosad harav kook toras chaim chumosh).

Mechy Frankel			H: (301) 593-3949
<michael.frankel@...>		W: (703) 845-2357


End of Volume 37 Issue 51