Volume 38 Number 15
                 Produced: Wed Dec 25 15:29:26 US/Eastern 2002

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Biblical Slaves who were highly praised
         [Russell J Hendel]
         [Shoshana L. Boublil]
The Making of a Gadol
         [Eitan Fiorino]
Minyan on Airplanes - not
         [Ari Z. Zivotofsky]
Standing for the Choson and Kallah (tachanun)
         [Howard S. Farkas, PhD]
Torah Measurements
         [Ira L. Jacobson]


From: Russell J Hendel <rjhendel@...>
Date: Sun, 22 Dec 2002 23:24:58 -0500
Subject: Biblical Slaves who were highly praised

Yeshaya Halevi asks 
> Come to think of it, is there any other servant in the entire Torah
> who got such a good write-up as Eliezer? (No fair counting Yosef,
> who was only a temporary servant/slave.)

See Joel Richs critique of this in v38n7.

Well, having taught Math at a Black Baptist college for one year I
learned all the politically correct citations about slaves!!

In fact the famous black slave who saved Jeremiah occurs in Jer Chapter
38. Jer39-16 **is** very clear that God approved of this slave.

(I guess this is an example of "learning from all teachers").

There are of course several other famous "slaves".

The Messiah (according to one reading) is referred to as the suffering
slave (Isa52-13).

And of course is Moses is affectionately called Gods slave (Nu12 and
Joshua 1).

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


From: Shoshana L. Boublil <toramada@...>
Date: Tue, 24 Dec 2002 13:07:44 +0200
Subject: Re: Haskamot

> From: Eli Turkel <turkel@...>
> Without addressing the issue haskamot on a sefer do NOT mean that the
> rabbi who gave the haskama read the work or in any way approves what was
> written. The haskama usually says that the author is a nice guy

Years ago I was sure that when a rabbi wrote a Haskama that meant that
he read the book.  Then I saw some that were, about the writer and not
the book.

So, I started reading Haskamot and I must say they are sometimes more
interesting than the book itself.  For example, some years ago a rabbi
aspiring to a senior rabbinical position in Israel published a book with
a haskama of a certain Poseik.

What was interesting was that the Poseik actually trashed the psika in
the book, and showed how wrong it was, giving specific examples.  Yet
the rabbi published his book, without corrections -- and with the
Posek's letter.  I gather he assumed that most people would look at the
signature and take the book seriously, and that they wouldn't bother
reading the actual Haskama.

So, I recommend reading the Haskma and not just assume what it says.

Shoshana L. Boublil


From: Eitan Fiorino <tony.fiorino@...>
Date: Tue, 24 Dec 2002 10:32:54 -0500
Subject: Re: The Making of a Gadol

>[While it can be argued that the posting below oversteps the bounds of
>the list in some of it's details . . . .]

I'm not sure what was in the posting that overstepped the bounds of the
list.  Unless discussing a meaningful (and I'm afraid on-target) critique of
contemporary Orthodoxy is off-limits.  But isn't that one of the things Paul
is complaining about?

[I'll comment at the appropriate point what my concern was. However the
reason I sent it through was because I hoped it would generate
meaningful conversation, which is something Eitan contributes to here. Mod.]

>The whole sorry incident is yet another example of the tendency of
>contemporary Orthodoxy not to tolerate supposed non-conformity in any
>way - in dress, behaviour, thought, writing or anything else. Any
>deviation, real or supposed, from an increasingly - some might say
>impossibly - narrow "norm" results in immediate exclusion.

I think this may overstate the speed and completeness of "exclusion" and
I think it understates the numerous niches within the Orthodox community
in which one can find a "chevra."  It also appears to be a phenomenon of
densely Orthodox areas (eg New York, Israel) in which every sub-group
can find enough like-minded individuals to create a closed, non-communal
attitude.  In my experience it is in the "out of town" communities (in
which communal institutions and sometimes survival depend upon the
mutual interests of Orthodox Jews with divergent approaches) that
differing views and approaches are tolerated or even valued.

>This spiral of intolerance masquerading as piety is making the
>traditional community inacessible to all but a tiny number of
>people. It is pricing Yiddishkeit out of the market, both spiritually
>and - increasingly - even financially. It is also making it deadly
>dull. The title 'Gadol' will surely be fully earned by the first
>rabbinic leader(s) to take a stand against this ultimately
>self-destructive foolishness.

[The beginning of the above paragraph, along with the end of this
paragraph in the original posting (not quoted) is where my concern
lay. If the focus is that we are committed members of halachic Judaism,
and we want to discuss from that perspective tendencies that we think /
feel / believe are harmful to our community, that is something that I
support discussing (although there are a large number of our fellow
readers who probably disagree with me there). However, if the focus is
that because of X Y or Z, one has decided to leave the halachic
community, then I think the dangers of the conversation may outway the
benefits of the conversation. Exactly where Paul's submission was
relative to the above distinction is what I had considered in putting it
in the issue and including my comments. It was not as cleanly defined
when it occured, but I have taken this oppertunity to better delineate
what was more a gut reaction as I did the editing. I assume that this
comment will likely generate some fair amount of discussion as well. Mod.] 

We are a generation with tremendous learning and probably the highest
level of Ortho-praxis in history, yet we are plagued by an utter void in
rabbinic leadership (in all segments of Orthodoxy, in my opinion).
While I too worry about what often appears to me to be Orthodoxy's
current self-destructive path, I am comforted knowing that this kind of
intra-communal strife has been a feature of Jewish existence pretty much
forever (funny what can be comforting when things look bleak).  It is
not clear to me that the current Balkanization of Orthodoxy is any worse
than assorted other intra-communal conflicts that observant Jewry has
faced in modern and pre-modern times.

I do wonder what hakadosh baruch hu "thinks" of the mess we have made,
and of our inability to have a serious communal cheshbon hanefesh about



From: Ari Z. Zivotofsky <zivotoa@...>
Date: Tue, 24 Dec 2002 10:39:07 +0200
Subject: Minyan on Airplanes - not

I have learned that hearsay is a poor source.

These types of claims have been circulating for a while.  Several years
ago the Rosh Kollel in Silver Spring, Rabbi Lopiansky, reported that he
too had heard that Rav Lichtenstein said not to daven with a minyan ion
an airplane. He then met Rav Aharon Lichtenstein on a plane and Rav
Lichtenstein absolutely denied it.

After reading this posting I decided to check it out again. Last night I
spoke to two of his sons, Rav Moshe Lichtenstein and Rav Meir
Lichtenstein. Neither ever heard their father make such a claim, they
are unaware of such a position, and both have traveled with him and he
davened with a minyan on the plane. They stated that he prefers to
arrange to daven on the ground and then when davening on the plane he
endeavors to act like a mensch as he does at all times. So of course it
is not right to block other people's access to the bathrooms. that does
not mean one should not daven with a minyan; just be considerate.

Regarding the report in the name of Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach I cannot
comment.  But I would be suspicious of that claim as well.

[An fitting submission as I look to head toward my flight. Mod.]


From: Howard S. Farkas, PhD <h-farkas@...>
Date: Tue, 24 Dec 2002 09:17:22 -0600
Subject: Re: Standing for the Choson and Kallah (tachanun)

Ari writes:
> BTW, the minhag in most places I've been is that tachanun is not said
> _on the day of the chuppah_ in the presence of the chosson. I was
> recently in a shul where the much-respected mora d'asra (a widely
> accepted posek) told the baal tefilla to skip tachanun in the presence
> of a chosson whose chuppa would be after tzais hakochavim that day.

I know this sounds like one of those apocryphal stories about the Rav,
but I heard it from another much-respected mora d'asra who was very
close to him.  The mora d'asra told the ba'al tefilah to say tachanun in
the presence of someone whose chuppa would be held that night. He quoted
the Rav, whom he heard say in the same situation, "Yes, tonight he may
be a melech, but right now he is merely a candidate!"

[Just a quick note, that having studied with the Rov for 3 years, I can
hear the exact way he would have said the above line in my head as I
read it. Mod.]

Howard Farkas


From: <Ggntor@...>
Date: Mon, 23 Dec 2002 23:57:29 EST
Subject: Torah Measurements

To answer your question in both ways it can be understood, first, the
Talmud (Bava Batra 14) dictates that the height of a Sefer Torah should
(l'Chatchilah) equal its circumference when rolled. The Talmud (namely
Rebbi) then states that "If writing on Gevil (untanned hide), six
Tefachim (high); if using Klaf, (the part of the hide closer to the hair
when the hide is cut into two layers, it is thinner than Gevil) I do not

On to the measurements part. (Note that there are many measurements you did 
not mention)

Etzba - between 1.9 and 2.5 cm. (Na'eh 2 cm.; Chazon Ish 2.4 cm)
Tefach - between 8 and 9.6 cm.
Ama - (measurement given for the "Ama Beinonit - standard ama") 6 tfachim, or 
48 to 57.6 cm.
Etzba Merubaat (square fingerbreadth) - 4 sq. cm according to Na'eh and 5.76 
sq. cm. according to Chazon Ish.
Tefach Meruba - (square handbreadth) - 64 sq. cm. or 92.16 sq. cm.
Ama Merubaat - (square cubit) - 2.304 sq. cm. or 3,318 sq. cm.
Kikar - approximately 27 kg.
Shekel - half a Selah or 2 Dinarim. A Dinar is 1/100th of a Litra. 
Eifa - (dry measure) - 1/20th of a Kor, or 3 seah. A seah is 144 eggs.
Hin - 72 eggs or Twelve Log
Asirit - I believe you are referring to the Asiron, otherwise known as an 
Omer. This is one tenth of an Eifah.
Kav - 24 eggs
Log - Six eggs
Kezayit - opinions range from 15 cc. to 50 cc. due to a Talmudic disagreement 
over its proportion to the Beitza (1/2 to >1/3).
Kotevet - hmm... larger than a Kezayit but smallet than a Kebeitza. 

So almost all of this boils down to a Beitza. Volume is frequently
measured in Midot Midbaryot (wilderness units), which were increased
during the Second Temple Period to Midot Yerushalmiyot (Jerusalem Units)
and later increased to Midot Tziporyot (Tzipori Units).

Wilderness Beitza = 2 x 2 x 1.8 Etzbaot = 57.6 cc. or 2 fl. oz. (Na'eh); 99.5 
cc. or 3/5 fl.oz. (Chazon Ish)
Jerusalem Beitza = 20% larger than Wilderness Beitza) 
Tzipori Beitza = 20% larger than Jerusalem Beitza.

I hope I answered your question thoroughly enough. If you need any more
information feel free to email me and I'll gladly look it up.

-Yair Horowitz


From: Ira L. Jacobson <laser@...>
Date: Tue, 24 Dec 2002 12:56:53 +0200
Subject: Re: Transliterations

>The original poster is using a transliteration scheme that attempts to
>represent each letter of the alef-beit as a single letter of the
>[English] alphabet.

Yes, an honourable intention.  However, it suffers from two faults: lack
of intuitive recognition, and ignoring standard conventions.

A standard convention is that of the Hebrew Language Academy in
Jerusalem.  While each of us could set up his or her own system of
transliteration, this would be totally undesirable and would lead to
utter chaos.  Not to mention the objection of "Mi samkha."  Why reinvent
the wheel, and why be so presumptuous as to think that we can do a
better job than the experts?

[Just a quick note on standards for Transliteration. To the extent that
there is an "official" transliteration standard for mail-jewish, the one
I "choose" many years ago is the one in the introduction of the
Encyclopedia Judaica. However, at the same time, I decided that I would
not impose any given standard, so members are free to chose what they
want. I tried to look up the one Ira mentions, but was not able to find
any link to it on the web. Ira, could you post the link if you have it?

When we are transliterating Hebrew words into English, the normal reader
would expect that the words are pronounced in accordance with their
sounds in English.  Thus a "c" would be expected to have the sound of
either a "k" or an "s".  But not the sound of "ts". Only one who is
familiar with the intrigues of various Slavic languages would guess the

Similarly, anyone encountering an "x" in a transliteration would expect
the pronunciation to be "ks" and certainly not any sort of guttural.

OTOH, although using "q" for qof may look strange, its pronunciation
cannot be mistaken.

This past Shabbat I was using a siddur with a Russian translation,
including certain transliterated prayers.  How interesting to see "x"
used for both khof and het.  It reminded me of MailJewish <g>.

>If you have a mathematical bent, you can think of
>this encoding as an injection [a one-to-one mapping, for those who don't
>like Bourbaki-like terminology] from the set of letters of the alef-beit
>into the set of letters of the [English] alphabet.

Precisely.  The siddur I was using had "H" for our "N", "Y" for our "U"
and "C" for our "S".  I also do not recommend adopting these
conventions, although they make sense in and of themselves.

>Under this encoding, "tzadi" maps to "c" and "het" (or "chet" with the
>"ch" as in the Scottish "Loch") maps to "x".  Of course, the proper way
>of writing these two Hebrew letters under this encoding would be "cadi"
>and "xet".

That reminds me of two things.  Harpo Marx reported that when he visited
Russia, the newspapers wrote his name as Xapno Mapc (IIRC), which he
pronounced exapno mapcase.

And the old observation that "ghoti" actually spells fish.

Sure, just what we needed for clarity.

>AIUI, the point of this is that one can look at the transliterated word
>and unambiguously determine the Hebrew letters of which the word

Especially samekh and sin, tet and tav, tav and sav, gimmel and jimmel,
`ayin and 'alef, vav and vet. <g>



End of Volume 38 Issue 15