Volume 37 Number 79
                 Produced: Tue Nov 12  1:22:14 US/Eastern 2002

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Censorship of the Gemara (5)
         [Shmuel Himelstein, Eli Turkel, E. M. Teitz, Avram Montag, Josh
Confiscation of Property by a Teacher
Facing West
         [Emmanuel Ifrah]
Facing Which Way
         [Yisrael and Batya Medad]
The LOST Sefer Torah -- What was really Lost?
         [Russell J Hendel]
         [David Waxman]
The Nusach of the Misheberach
         [Ezriel Krumbein]
Pasukim that begin and end with the first and last letter of your
         [Shaul Bacher]


From: Shmuel Himelstein <himels@...>
Date: Thu, 7 Nov 2002 13:59:45 +0200
Subject: Censorship of the Gemara

I have a little Sefer entitled "Chesronos hashas," which contains those
parts of the Talmud which had been removed by the censors.

An apocryphal story I heard about how this text survived is that the
censors were apostate Jews who had converted out of the faith, because
who else would know what the Talmud means? One of these censors, who was
still a Jew at heart, made a list of all the parts which had been
removed, and then made sure that that list would be passed on from
generation to generation of censors, so as not to forget what to look
for. Thus these parts were preserved for posterity.

Is this a true story? Probably not. But it's a cute example of "Jewish

Shmuel Himelstein

From: Eli Turkel <turkel@...>
Date: Thu, 7 Nov 2002 14:58:03 GMT
Subject: Censorship of the Gemara

<Hi.  After learning Sanhedrin 43a about a week ago, could anyone
provide information on censhorship of the Shas.  Presumably, this was
not a one-time event, and presumably it happened in many places in
the world. How did our censored/edited versions of the Shas become so
accepted that most editions still do not have the censored portions?
How were the original texts maintained and passed on to future
generations? thanks >

Actually your question is more general than censorship. How come the
look of each daf is identical around the world and has the same Rashi
and tosafot on each page.

Obviously this was not the case when is Gemara was handwritten. The
layout of the gemara, each daf and what was put on the right and left
sides were decisions made by some of the early publishers of the Gemara
after the invention of printing. For example, it is well known that what
we call tosafot was actually written by many different baale tosafot and
each meschet or possibly within one meschet may be by different
authors. hence, when we see contradictions between different tosafot we
must be aware that they were possibly written by different authors.

With regard to censorship, actually the uncensored gemara is based on an
edition from Venice that preserved the original. Our current gemaras are
all based on an edition from Vilna which left them out.  Actually it is
not clear if these gemaras were censored by outside authorities or else
they were removed by the publishers themselves to avoid problems.

A serious problem with all gemaras is that the original printers were
not scholars and in some cases were not in Jewish. They printed the
gemara as a money making venture. Of course they had rabbinic
consultants to make technical decisions but we don't always know the
qualifications of these rabbis. Hence, things may appear, or not appear,
in our gemara for strange reasons.

In fact a number of tosafot that are difficult to understand arose
because some poor manuscript was used. Comparison of the printed
tosaphot with tosaphot HaRosh or other manuscripts sometimes will
elucidate a difficult tosaphot.

From: <remt@...> (E. M. Teitz)
Date: Thu, 7 Nov 2002 18:17:35 GMT
Subject: re: Censorship of the Gemara

Regarding censorship of the Talmud, the story (which may be apocryphal)
is told that a rav in Russia, who owned a printing press, approached the
chief censor and told him that his minions were making a laughing stock
of themselves and of censorship, because each one acted based on his own
prejudices (e.g., one was of Greek heritage, and changed every mention
of Yavan [Greece] to Yishmael; another, of Muslim background, did the
reverse, with the result that a siddur was printed which read, "Rabbi
Yavan omeir" (Rabbi Yavan says) instead of "Rabbi Yishmael says").
Further, he complained, the Jews as a result had an inconsistent text.
He suggested that the chief censor give him his list of approved
changes, which the rabbi would print and the censor could then
distribute, as the official version.  The censor liked the idea,
prepared the list, and asked the rabbi to print 300 copies. The rabbi
printed 1000, gave the censor 300, and disseminated the other 700 so
that there should remain a record of what was removed.

The Steinsaltz Shas restored the censored parts to their proper place.

From: Avram Montag <avram.montag@...>
Date: Fri, 8 Nov 2002 14:54:39 +0100 
Subject: Censorship of the Gemara

Moshe Bach raises the question of censorship of the Gemera. First, to
get an idea of what he is talking about, I recommend that everyone
compare the text of page 43a of the Vilna Shas with the Steinsaltz
edition. A large section of text critical of Jesus of Nazereth and his
students appears only in the Steinsaltz text. I wouldn't recommend
quoting this material at any interfaith workshop. (For those without the
Steinsaltz volumes within reach, note that the Bar Ilan Havruta software
uses the Steinsaltz text.)

Chapter 11 of Rabbi Steinsaltz's book, The Essential Talmud (New York,
1976) is a short history of Talmud banning and persecution. Effective
censorship apparently began in the thirteenth century in Western Europe
where the Roman Catholic Church was very powerful. There is also some
description of how the censored versions crept into and corrupted
printed editions. Where the Church did not hold sway (Protestant
countries, and lands under Russian and Turkish rule) , the complete
manuscripts (or manuscripts censored to satisfy other sensibilities)
were preserved.

On the frontispiece of the Steinsaltz volumes, the text is advertised to
be that of the Vilna edition with censored material restored. I do not
know whether he has provided documentation on the manuscripts he
used. At least, it doesn't seem to appear in the Sanhedrin volumes.  On
the other hand, in the Romm Vilna Talmud, information on which
manuscripts (many from various university and seminary libraries) were
used for which tractates appears in the afterward following tractate
Niddah.  This gives the general reader an idea of the scope of extant

Those readers who choose to use the Schottenstein edition will
presumably never know what they are missing.

Avram Montag
GE Medical Systems Israel 
mailto:<avram.montag@...> <mailto:avram.montag@med.ge.com> 

From: <BACKON@...> (Josh Backon)
Date: Thu,  7 Nov 2002 14:02 +0200
Subject: re: Censorship of the Gemara

I won't go into the history of Xtian censorship of the gemara; you could
probably find extensive material on that in www.jewishencyclopedia.com.

You can obtain the sefer CHESRONOT HA'SHAS which has the sections of
gemara and rishonim which were censored. Rishonim censored include;
Rashi, Rosh, Kitzur Piskei haRosh, Peyrush haMishnayot of the Rambam,
the Meharsha !!, a RASH on the mishna in Peah !!, Tosfot, the RAN in
Nedarim, and others.

You can buy this sefer from KEST for a dollar or so at

Josh Backon


From: <rubin20@...>
Date: Thu, 7 Nov 2002 16:44:17 -0500
Subject: Re: Confiscation of Property by a Teacher

In the Artscroll book 'Reb Elchonon", about Reb Elchonon Wasserman Z'TL,
it relates that when he was a talmid in Volozhin, a member of the
administration confiscated his Russian news paper. At the meeting held
to discuss whether he should be expelled, Rav Elchonon insisted on the
return of his newspaper, claiming that the confiscator was a thief for
taking it. However, that story was with a grown up, not a child, and
there is reason to difrenciate.


From: Emmanuel Ifrah <eifrah@...>
Date: Thu, 7 Nov 2002 21:01:24 +0100
Subject: Re: Facing West

Rabbi Chayim David Halevi z"l (former Sefaradic Chief Rabbi of Tel-Aviv)
deals with this question in his responsa "Mayim Chayim", section 14.
His conclusion is that, whatever the place where one is standing, the
custom is to turn westward because the West is the place where the sun

This is the reason given by the Ari z"l in his "Sha'ar ha-kavanot,"
based on the custom of the Sages as depicted in Shabbat 119, and is
quoted by the Tur and Shulchan Aruch (O. Ch. 262:3).

He also confirms that there is no issur to turn westward even if the
"heychal" is placed at the East and one turns his back to the "heychal"
while saying the last paragraph of Lecha Dodi (based on his teshuva in
"Asse Lekha Rav", vol. 6, 54).

Emmanuel Ifrah


From: Yisrael and Batya Medad <ybmedad@...>
Date: Fri, 08 Nov 2002 00:05:53 +0200
Subject: Facing Which Way

Here's the summary on the issue from Ishay Yisrael, Chapt. 36, Para. 15,
note 31 on the words "and turn their faces in the direction of West":
1.   See Mishna Brurah Reish-Samech-Bet S.K. 10 - face west
2.   See Arukh HaShulchan, op. cit., S.K. 5, - face the entrance
3.   See Responsa Az Nidberu, Vol. II, #6, - the entrance should be in
the west
4.   But if you pray facing south, you turn to the north but if the
entrance is not in the north, you turn yourself slightly towards the entrance
5.   The Responsa of Rav Feinstein, Igrot Moshe, OH, III, 45, notes that
even if the entrance is not in the west, you still face west
6.   The Kaf HeChayim, Reish-Samech-Bet, SK 32 that you face west where
the sun is setting
7.   The Responsa B'tzel HaChochma, III, #65, urges that one step outside
the synagogue altogether when welcoming the Shabbat but if not, then
face the entrance and see on this Revavot Efrayim, I, 285.

I think there's a schule in Paris which is set up very awkwardly too for
this maneuver.

Yisrael Medad


From: Russell J Hendel <rjhendel@...>
Date: Sun, 3 Nov 2002 21:33:00 -0500
Subject: RE: The LOST Sefer Torah -- What was really Lost?

Zev Sero in v37n61 responding to Joshua Hosseinof states

Joshua Hosseinof <jh@...> wrote:
> remember that Sefer devarim was lost for a long time and only found
> during the time of Ezra
Eh?  I know that some commentators believe that the whole Torah was lost
during the reigns of Menashe and Amon, and was rediscovered in the 18th
year of Yoshiahu's reign.  But I've never heard it suggested that any
part of the Torah was found during Ezra's time.

Just for the record: The Sefer Torah was NEVER lost. Indeed, it always
resided in the Temple in the HOly of Holies. Rather the statement IT WAS
LOST means that people were not reading it (till one day a Priest
pointed out that the sufferings of the Jewish people were predicted at
the end of Leviticus/Dt as a punishment for sins)

What Ezra did was renew and extend the Rabbinic obligations of weekly
torah reading so that there should never again be a period in Jewish
history when the Torah was unknown.

If there is a statement someplace that DEVARIM was lost it probably
refers to the 7-year cycle of reading DEVARIM in Jerusalem--perhaps that
7 year reading was lost and then renewed. (In passing Joshua retracted
his statement about Devarim being lost and Zev suggested that they found
Moshe rabaynus original Torah. I believe however that the explanation I
suggested is also simple and reasonable--it is similar to the Alexs
explanation in v37n60))

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


From: David Waxman <yitz99@...>
Date: Thu, 07 Nov 2002 16:38:33 -0800
Subject: Re:  Naitz

> >Which is better - davening at Naitz HaChama without a minyan or
> >davening not at Naitz with a minyan?

> according to the shulchan aruch,davening vateken without a
> minyan is superior

As far as I remember, this answer is correct. However, circumstances
might warrant a response from the local Rav.  When I was in yeshiva,
some of us would learn before the 7:00 AM minyan.  In the winter, this
coincided with sunrise.  Thus, we asked if we should daven neitz without
the minyan.  The Rosh Yeshiva responded that it was preferable to daven
with the minyan. My assumption is that he didn't want weaken the main


From: Ezriel Krumbein <ezsurf@...>
Date: Thu, 7 Nov 2002 13:06:31 -0800
Subject: The Nusach of the Misheberach

I am looking for there reason for including Moshe, Aharon, Dovid and
Shlomo in the misheberach for cholim. There seem to be many variations
on this. Why for the misheberach for an aliyah are only the avos
included?  Why do some for a sick woman include Sara, Rifka, Rachel and
Leah?  It seems that the Sephardim include Moshe, Aharon, Dovid and
Shlomo in a general misheberach for the tzibur after reading the Torah
on Shabbos.  And Artscroll includes Moshe, Aharon, Dovid and Shlomo in
the misheberach for BHA"B.

Kol Tov


From: Shaul Bacher <sbacher@...>
Date: Thu, 7 Nov 2002 19:56:31 +0200
Subject: Pasukim that begin and end with the first and last letter of your


Does anybody have a good source to find the pesukim one recites at the
end of Shmoneh Esrei that begin that refer to ones name.

Please dont send me to the artscroll siddur as I need a source for names
not mentioned in the artscroll.

Shaul Bacher


End of Volume 37 Issue 79