Volume 38 Number 17
                 Produced: Sat Jan  4 20:54:25 US/Eastern 2003

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

         [Avi Feldblum]
Food Kitchens and Govt
         [Chaim Shapiro]
Mah Yofis -- A Reconsideration
         [Baruch J. Schwartz]
Rambam and Bashert
         [Neil Normand]
The Rambam on Kollel
         [Michael Kahn]
Same Words in Nach with different spellings
         [Ira L. Jacobson]
Synagogue charters / Shul constitutions
         [Rela Mintz Geffen]
Tachanun and a Groom
         [Jeff Fischer]
Tzedakka during Pesukkei D'zimra
         [Andrew Klafter]
A Tzedukkah Portfolio
         [Carl Singer]
         [Steven White]


From: Avi Feldblum <mljewish@...>
Date: Sat, 4 Jan 2003 20:17:46 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Administrivia

Hello All,

We are back from our too short trip to Israel, and mail-jewish should now
return to it's normal status of going out.

Avi Feldblum
mail-jewish Moderator


From: <Dagoobster@...> (Chaim Shapiro)
Date: Tue, 24 Dec 2002 18:01:14 EST
Subject: Food Kitchens and Govt

> Not to get into the politics, per se.  But if government taxes me to
> build & maintain the infrastructure (mechanisms) to "care for the
> downtrodden" then I have expectations as to the effectiveness of the
> government programs for which I am paying.  The community can do a good
> job given the proper leadership, motivation and resources.  It's not
> "either-or".
> Carl Singer

Maybe so.  But the issue still remains that the government will never be
able to provide for these individuals as well as the local institutions
can.  I claim the last 40 years of history proves this.  This is why I
am a big supporter of limited faith based initiative programs.  The
Government monies can be used to allow us to handle the problem.  In
other words, almost by definition, government programs to solve the
problem WILL be inefficient and lacking

Chaim Shapiro


From: Baruch J. Schwartz <schwrtz@...>
Date: Wed, 25 Dec 2002 11:08:51 +0200
Subject: Mah Yofis -- A Reconsideration

Thanks to Fred Friedman for referring us to the website
containing Arthur G. Sapper's article about the zemer "Mah Yofis",
including his recording of the melody he has recovered and his plea to
reinstate the singing of this zemer on Shabbat.

Having looked at the site and listened to the recording, I have one
footnore and one comment:

1. A much more scholarly treatment of the topic can be found in a
magnificent article by the late Professor Chone Shmerok of the Hebrew
University entitled "Majufes--A Key Concept in the Polish-Jewish
Relations" which appeared in Hebrew in Tarbiz 63 (5754), 119-133. (An
interesting and important comment on a point missed by Shmerok was added
by Yosef Ofer in the same volume, p. 597). Shmerok investigates, among
other things, the reason for the zemer's having gone into disuse, and
even disappearing from some prayer books in recent generations --
worthwhile reading!

2. Both the original poster (<Phyllostac@...> [Mordechai]) and Fred
Friedman, along with Sapper on his website, seem to take it for granted
that we should strive for this zemer to be learned, rehabilitated and
reinstated.  (Sapper: "Anti-Semitic taunts are a poor reason to lose a
piece of Jewish culture"). With all due respect, I would like to suggest
that the opposite might be just as worthy of consideration. Perhaps, in
proper deference to our ancestors for whom this zemer became not an
expression of oneg shabbat but a recurring nightmare, it might be just
as respectful to refrain from singing it. Maybe, by singing it, we taunt
them ourelves, ignoring their suffering and continuing our Shabbat
pleasures as though their humiliation meant nothing to us? If so, a more
poignant way of keeping alive this "piece of Jewish culture" might be by
preserving Mah Yofis in the breach rather than in the practice. If we
leave it in the siddur and benchers, but point to it and explain to
children and guests that this zemer used to be sung but isn't any more,
and why, that too might be an appropriate way to respect our ancestors.

Baruch Schwartz


From: Neil Normand <NormandN@...>
Date: Wed, 25 Dec 2002 00:10:47 -0500
Subject: Rambam and Bashert

I would like to point out that in the eighth perek of Shemona Perakim
and in a Tshuva to Rav Ovadia the Convert(page 237 in volume 1 of
R.Shelat's Igrot HaRambam, perhaps this is the same one referred to by
the Lubavitcher Rebbe), the Rambam explicitly rejects the notion of
'basheret', that one is so to speak predestined to marry their future
mate. It is the Rambam in the same passage of Shemona perakim who uses
the argument that marriage is a mitzva and therefore entails one's own
free will to perform. Everyone says that Pru U'rvu is a mitzva, and
nowadays the only way to perform that mitzva is via marriage, so even if
you hold that marriage per se is not a mitzva, the Rambam's argument
would apply by pru U'rvu.

The Rambam in the aforementioned tshuva proves that 'basheret' is wrong
from pesukim in chumash where the Kohen relieves those people that are
exempt from battle(Devarim 20:6-7). One category of people is a person
that got engaged to his wife but did not complete the marriage , he
should go home, lest he die in battle and another man marry her. So
clearly the torah conceived of such a notion that one could marry
someone other than he initially intended. The Rambam asks rhetorically,
could a rational person doubt the possibility that Shimon marries
Reuven's bethrothed after Reuven dies in battle, after it is explicitly
stated in the Torah?!(Also, we hold that one is allowed to get engaged
and have an engagement party during sefira, based on the principle of
Shema Yekadmenu Acher, lest someone else get engaged to that . Clearly,
poskim were not relying on a simplistic notion of basheret that no one
else could get engaged to that person's basheret.)  Yet seemingly
contradicting this is the Gemara in Sotah 2a that 40 days prior to the
birth of a child a bat kol cries out and matches people up.  The Rambam
then lays down a principle. When a posuk in Chumash says one thing and a
Chazal, literally understood, says the opposite, the means to resolve
the conflict is to retain the simple understanding of the posuk and
conclude that the Chazal must mean something other than its literal
meaning.  The Rambam posits that what Chazal mean is that the reward for
performing certain mitzvot is finding an appropriate mate. For those
individuals, G-d will grant them a reward by matching them with the most
appropriate mate.  I also encourage you to read the fifth perek of
hilchot Teshuva and the Rambam's extensive treatment of Bechira Chofshis
to see why he cannot conceive of the simplistic notion of 'basheret'.



From: Michael Kahn <mi_kahn@...>
Date: Tue, 24 Dec 2002 19:10:22 -0500
Subject: Re: The Rambam on Kollel

When i wrote:
>However, I'm wondering if our writting of Torah Shebaal Peh
>(Oral Law) would be considered bdieved, since it too is a ais laasos.

I should have pointed out that this idea is not my own. I saw it raised
by Rav Breuer in the back of a biography on him in which he writes in
defence of hircshian Torah im Derech Eretz even if it was an aproach
based it ais laasos which some have argued.


From: Ira L. Jacobson <laser@...>
Date: Tue, 24 Dec 2002 12:58:04 +0200
Subject: Re: Same Words in Nach with different spellings

>I am wondering if anyone has an idea as to why "Hadad" is spelled in two
>different ways in the very same pasuk, once "Hadad" and once "Adad" -
>even if in Hebrew alef, hey, ayin can be interchangeable, isnt it more
>than a bit strange to change the spelling, [especially of a NAME which
>would logically seem to defy kri and ktiv and such issues], intra-
>pasuk!? [the pasuk is in Melachim I, 11/17.]

The Radaq, a grammarian of repute, states that the letters 'alef, heh,
vav and yod are interchanged, as in Yishai (with a yod) and Ishai (with
an 'alef), as in I Chronicles 2:13.  (He does not mention `ayin,
although our correspondent does.)

WADR, this example seems a bit inappropriate as an example of
interchanging letters, since Ishai is spelled as Yishai, but with an
'alef _added_ at the beginning.

Are there examples that seem better?



From: <Rela1@...> (Rela Mintz Geffen)
Date: Wed, 25 Dec 2002 08:09:17 EST
Subject: Re: Synagogue charters / Shul constitutions

For analytic essays and a selection of the texts of synagogue charters
and other constitutional documents of American Jewry see the book A
Double Bond: Constitutional Documents of American Jewry edited by Daniel
Elazar, Jonathan Sarna and Rela G. Monson published by University Press
of America in 1992.

Dr. Rela Mintz Geffen, President - Baltimore Hebrew University
5800 Park Heights Avenue, Baltimore, MD 21215
Ph: 410-578-6916, Fax: 410-578-6981
E-mail: <rela1@...>


From: Jeff Fischer <abagabai@...>
Date: Tue, 24 Dec 2002 23:38:09 -0500
Subject: RE: Tachanun and a Groom

On the morning of my wedding, when I was at shul for Shacharis, they did not
say Tachanun.


From: Andrew Klafter <aklafter@...>
Date: Wed, 25 Dec 2002 16:40:27 -0500
Subject: Tzedakka during Pesukkei D'zimra

>  Rav Yaakov Kamentzky TZ"L explains that there was a custom (still
>  practiced) to collect tzedoka during this time because of the line
>  V'hosher V'hacoved Me'lifonecha (Wealth and honor come from You). We
>  stand up in honor of the Gabbai Tzedokah (collector of the charity) who
>  is performing an important mitzva

I was told by the Rav of my shul here in Cincinnati that the relevant
phrase is "..ve'ata moshel bakol" (same verse, immediately follows the
words cited above).  It seems to be imply a different emphasis in the
principles of tzedaka.  Is it to acknowledge that all wealth comes from
G-d (implied in previous posting), or is it because G-d really owns
everything in the first place (implied by my our local Rav's

-Nachum Klafter


From: <CARLSINGER@...> (Carl Singer)
Date: Wed, 25 Dec 2002 10:25:15 EST
Subject: A Tzedukkah Portfolio

The questions re: tzedukkah to a panhandler has, to me, opened up a
pandora's box for how to best allocate my tzedukah funds.

Rather than considering a reactive "do I, must I, respond to a request"
as in the previous case from a panhandler, let's go forward and (try to)
plan our tzedukkah.  I imagine many people try to plan their tzedukkah
in order to meaninfully & properly give.

In addition to previous question re: who I am obligated to give to --
consider the following.

I earn X dollars (for sake of simplicity I have fixed income, not
commission, bonus, etc.)  and thus give 10% of X to tzedukkah.  Let's
say this is a fixed amount, $100.

1 - let's forget about complications such as "is school tution
tzedukkah" -- my simplified question is how to I properly allocate my
$100 tzedukkah.

2 - let's say that I can a priori carefully plan my contributions.  That
is all requesters are lined up before me with their needs.  (Should I do

How do I best allocate that $100?  Considering that this $100 is a
limited resource, a dollar given to Plony A is one less dollar available
to Plony B.

Let's consider the following potential recipients:

1 - my shule
2 - the mikveh in my town
3 - a fund for poor people in my town
4 - the school that my children go to (beyond tuition)
5 - other schools in my town
6 - yeshivas in my town
7 - national organizations (OU, Agudah, etc.)
8 - national Jewish charities (Jewish Cancer Research?)
9 - national non-Jewish charities (muscular distrophy association)
10 - needy individuals who come to my door (from my town)
11 - needy individuals who come to my door (from other communities, by
the carload)
12 - (commissioned) charity solicitors who come to my door (from other
           communities) on behalf of various organizations
12 - out of town day schools - to which I have no link
13 - out of town yeshivas - to which I have no link
14 - funds for poor people in other communities / countries
15 - charities unknown to me that send me 4-color brochures / raffle
tickets, etc.

The list of categories could go on --

I see a dual problem. 

First that of scarce resources:

Every dollar I give to, say #15, is one dollar less available to say #1.
I can't really plan who's going to come to my door - what if I've run
out of my $100 and the doorbell rings when I don't even have a single
dollar left.  If I've planned my tzedukkah, am I exempt from giving the
$101st dollar?

Second one of attitude:

I have grown suspicious of certain solicitations and this must certainly
have a negative impact on my attitude when I give to charity.

Any thoughts?
Carl Singer


From: <StevenJ81@...> (Steven White)
Date: Wed, 25 Dec 2002 12:31:15 EST
Subject: Re: Yeshivish

In MJ 38:11, Tzadik Vanderhoof <tzadikv@...> writes:
> The one thing I CAN'T STAND about Yeshivish is when people use the
> pronoun "by" for just about every other pronoun ("at", "with", "for",
> etc.)!  They even do it to non-Jews causing very puzzled reactions. >

Since Yeshivish (adj. form of proper noun?) is based on English, I think
most Yeshivish speakers think they are saying or hearing "by."  However,
I think the word they are actually saying is "bei," a German word via
Yiddish to Yeshivish.  "Bei" doesn't translate all that well into
English; it means about the same as French "chez," which means something
close to, but not quite, "at," "with," or "for."

All of which should not suggest that I can stand "by/bei" any more than
Tzadik Vanderhoof does.

Steven White
Highland Park, NJ


End of Volume 38 Issue 17