Volume 38 Number 33
                 Produced: Sun Jan 19  6:09:25 US/Eastern 2003

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Becoming a Gadol
         [Russell J Hendel]
Hebrew and English cognates
         [Mike Gerver]
         [Ira L. Jacobson]
A Tzedukkah Portfolio
         [Carl Singer]
Yeshivish use of by
         [Bernard Raab]


From: Russell J Hendel <rjhendel@...>
Date: Sun, 5 Jan 2003 23:02:32 -0500
Subject: RE: Becoming a Gadol

A few issues ago I (boldly) stated that we should publicize that anyone
can become a gadol if they put enough work in.  I suggested that this
would make an appropriate thread.

Since then 3 people have responded. Their insightful comments require me
to modify my position or raise other issues.

1st, Mike Rogovin, v38n11, points out that many Gedolim were well versed
in secular knowledge. Correct!  What I should have said is that everyone
can become a Gadol if they minimize their involvment in the physical
world (The examples Mike gives are Gedolim that were involved in other
areas of knowledge--this does not detract from learning the same way
involvement in physical pleasures does)

2nd, Stan Tenen admonishes against people appointing themselves
Gedolim. True enough. What I meant of course is that ANY person if they
work hard enough can achieve a state where OTHERS will confer the Gadol
status on them. (I did not mean that once people attain all this
knowledge that they should TAKE the Gadol status themselves--but my
point is that people will recognize their efforts).

3rd Jonathan CHipman brings 1 argument and lists 3 prerequisites for
being a Gadol, 2 of which, in his opinion requires luck.

Jonathan claims I used circular logic when I claimed that since
>>"All those who accomplished something really great dedicated
>>themslves singlemindedly and gave up everything else in life" (assuming
>>this to be true, for the argument's sake) therefore
>>"All those who dedicate themslves singlemindedly and give up everything
>>else in life accomplish something really great."
Jonathan claims I inferred a converse (B implies A from A implies B)

Actually however I was using INDUCTIVE reasoning. If all Gedolim have
put in long hours then it is a correct initial inductive step to assume
that this is a law.

FInally Jonathan lists 3 prerequisites for being a Gadol (a) Knowledge
(b) Insight and analytical capability (c) Charisma Jonathan
(incorrectly) claims that KNOWLEDGE can be obtained by hard work but
INSIGHT and CHARISMA require something inborn.

To answer Jonathan I note that the Rambam PROMISES (Laws of Learning)
that those who learn every night (WITHOUT LOSING EVEN ONE NIGHT) will be
rewarded with CHARISMA (Rambam Laws of Learning-- 3:13--the Rambams
exact phrase is A STRING OF KINDNESS which I have translated as

Finally Jonathans statement that INSIGHT requires inborn ability is
derived from Jonathans citation of an English maxim that genius is 99%
perspiration and 1% inspiration. I however dont believe this to be the
Jewish way---Rav Hirsch EXPLICITLY states on Gn41:33 that INSIGHT
naturally emanates as a result of acquisition of knowledge. I therefore
believe there is room for discussion here--- does Judaism in fact
believe in some magical ability that people need to become a Gadol or it
hard work the only ingredient. We might also cite the Talmud---IF A

Looking forward to further discussion on this thread

Russell Jay Hendel; RASHI:http://www.RashiYomi.com/
WEB:   http://groups.yahoo.com/group/RashiYomi_Job/
EMAIL: <RashiYomi_Job-subscribe@...>


From: <MJGerver@...> (Mike Gerver)
Date: Fri, 10 Jan 2003 04:50:35 EST
Subject: Hebrew and English cognates

Stan Tenen, in v38n26, quotes approvingly from, and expands upon, Isaac
Mozeson's ideas about cognates between English and Hebrew words,
described in his book "The Word". But there is a good reason why these
ideas are "highly contested by the traditionalists." Briefly, there are
usually well established etymologies for both the Hebrew and English
words that Mozeson claims are related to each other, and in most cases
if you trace back the words in question on the English side and the
Hebrew side, you find the two sets of words diverging in meaning and
sound, so that there is no reason to believe they are related to each
other. To ignore the established etymologies is to ignore evidence from
historic usage and from other languages, evidence that is far more
massive than the correspondences in sound and meaning of the present
English and Hebrew words. Weighing all the evidence, by far the most
reasonable conclusion, in most of these cases, is that the
correspondences in the current meanings and sounds of these words are
just a coincidence. This is true for about 70% of the words Mozeson
lists, based on a quick survey I took several years ago. About another
15% of Mozeson's etymologies are consistent with the established
etymologies, and about 15% are new but plausible, given the established
etymologies. So Mozeson may very well have made useful discoveries, but
he had no way to distinguish them from his many implausible claims. What
I found particularly frustrating in reading Mozeson's "The Word" is that
he often misses a real common origin between English and Hebrew words,
and proposes a spurious one instead, because he largely ignores
established etymologies.

In 1991, I wrote up a critique of "The Word", and will send it to anyone
who is interested. It is 41K long. I wrote it on a Mac, which at least
in those days used Hebrew fonts that are not compatible with the way
Hebrew is handled by Word now. So I would have to fix that, which will
take a while, especially since I have a ton of work to do these days
(real work, the kind you get paid for). But if anyone wants it, I will
send it to them eventually, b'li neder.

I also have been collecting, for many years, examples of English and
Hebrew words which have a common origin, based on eymologies that are
accepted, or at least would be considered plausible, by professional
linguists. That will take even longer to send out to anyone who is
interested, since it is mostly hand written, but if enough people are
interested, maybe that will motivate me to type it up sooner (something
I've been meaning to do for a while).

Mike Gerver
Raanana, Israel


From: Ira L. Jacobson <laser@...>
Date: Fri, 10 Jan 2003 11:03:08 +0200
Subject: Re: Transliterations

>When a fellow student spelled Turkey as Turqey,
>my professor of Middle Eastern studies said that while such a spelling
>is technically correct, it's just never done.

This is hard to understand.  Turkish is written in Latin characters, and
the name of the country in Turkish is Turkiye.  What could possibly be
"technically correct" about transliterating a Turkish "k" to an English
"q", other than to show that "we know better than the Turks" how to
spell the name of their country, and better than the Americans how to
spell the name of a foreign country in English?



From: <CARLSINGER@...> (Carl Singer)
Date: Fri, 10 Jan 2003 08:24:33 EST
Subject: Re: A Tzedukkah Portfolio

      From: Raphi Cohen <raphi@...>
      Carl Singer suggests a tentative portfolio, then adds:
      >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?

      One additional complication is tax refunds. The receipts of some
      organizations (at least in Israel and in Europe, I guess also in
      the U.S.) make the donor entitled to an Income Tax refund. In
      Israel this refund is 35% of the donation, in Europe that rate can
      go up to 50% and 60%. Now, if the donation comes from Maaser
      funds, it is quite fair to reallocate the coming reimbursements to
      Maaser again. The simple fact that some Tzedaka organizations will
      originate a refund, while other organizations (or individuals)
      will not, creates an allocation problem: if I send 100$ to Tzedaka
      A, I will receive back 35$ from Income Tax which I will be able to
      send to Tzedaka B, from which I will receive a refund of 35$ * 35%
      and so on.  At the end of the chain, this generates more than 50%
      additional funds with respect to the original sum. On the other
      hand, sending 100$ to Tzedaka C, which is not recognized for tax
      purposes, will be the end of the story. Which makes some
      organizations more atractive than other. What happens if I REALLY
      want an organization to get some money, but on the other hand I
      know that the same sum would bring 50% more, if spent somewhere
      else? Can I let Income Tax agencies decide for me who is entitled
      to Maaser? Or, alternatively, can I give up this free opportunity
      to increase the benefits of Tzedaka?  What is the right mix?

Dealing only with the numbers.  Halacha, not tax authorities determines
what the basis for giving tzedukah is and similarly what is / is not
tzedukah (for halachik purposes -- NOT tax purposes.)

Forgive me because although I had an accounting minor in B-school it was
over 25 years ago, and it's about 6:00 A.M.

The above discussion subtly points to "after tax income" as the basis
for tzedukah and then considers tax credit as income -- thus making for
what may seem like delightful complications.  Let's ignore tzedukah
which is not (government) tax deductable (perhaps, for example, day
school tuition.)  There is an error in the implication that giving to
such as tzedukah would stop the seemingly endless number chain --
sequence of giving has no consequence, it's only amount that you give.

Let's say you make $100 and you have a flat government tax rate of 20%
(for easy calculation) and that you itemize and thus can deduct you
(all) charitable donations -- let's forget about caps, limits,
penalties, etc.

In the simple case, ignoring the tax consequence.  You allocate 10% =
$10 for tzedukah.  (Period.)

In an alternate case, based on the premise that you should (only?) give
to tzedukah from your after tax income.  Your After Tax Income is: $80.
You allocate $8 (net) for tzedukah.  But you feel that the numbers don't
come out right -- that is you need to somehow increase your tzedukah to
reflect the tax benefit of giving tzedukah.

Consider this treatment.

Simplistically.  Your income tax statement would read.

Without Tzedukah:

$100 gross income.
$  20 tax paid.
$ 80 after tax income.            

And you give $8 or $10 to tzedukah  (let's say $8 for this discussion)

With Tzedukah:
$  100.00  gross income
                      $  8  deduction for tzedukah -->  $92 taxable
$   18.40   tax paid             (20% of $92)
    $81.60  after tax income

But now you are troubled that $8 is not 10% of $81.60, so you haven't
really given 10% of your after tax income to tzedukah.

Given the premise that you want the numbers to reconcile.  SO simply
solve an equation as follows: (I'm exploding all steps so this may seem
a bit more comlicated than it really is.)

Gross Income -  [  ( Gross Income - Tzekdah)  * Tax Rate) ] = Net Income
and              Net Income * 10% = Tzedukah

i.e. your after tax income time 10% equals your tzedukah contribution.
X is the percentage of your gross income that you "should" give to

Where $100 is your gross income and .20 is your tax rate.
($100 -  ($100 - X) * .2 )  *  0.10 = X

       $100 -  $20 + .2X  =  10 X
                    $80 - .2X = 10 X
                            $80 =  9.8 X
                              8.16  = X             (8.1632...)

Resulting tax calculation:

$  100.00  gross income
                      $  8.16  deduction for tzedukah -->  $91.84 taxable
$   18.37   tax paid          (20%  $91.84)
    $81.63  after tax income   

$81.63 times 10 %  =  $8.16         (there's a bit of round off, of

In general for a tax rate R  the percentage to allocate to tzedukah (if
you accept the above premise of after-tax income as basis for tzedukah,

              X =  ((1-R) * 100)  /  (10 - R)             


R =  10% -->  90 / 9.9 =  9.09
       20% -->  80 / 9.8 =  8.16
       30% -->  70 / 9.7 =  7.22

In all cases a percentage greater than simply using 1 minus your tax

Note, of course:   0% -->  100 / 10 =  10% !!!

None of the above addresses three fundamental questions:

1 - What income is the basis for calculating required tzeduka
contribution.  In other words are their sources of income that should be
included / excluded.  Example -- receipt of a taxable gift.  A tax
rebate from a previous year ....

2 - What contributions count as being tzeduka.  Examples: day school
tuition, "save the whales", synagogue.

3 - What is the appropriate interval (tax year?) for making this
calculation and giving to tzedukah.  Should it be Jewish Year, Tax Year,
Monthly, weekly, etc.

Carl Singer


From: Bernard Raab <beraab@...>
Date: Fri, 10 Jan 2003 14:23:48 -0500
Subject: Re: Yeshivish use of by

Russell J Hendel writes:

> The Rashi-is-Simple email group is currently reviewing 1% of all
> Biblical Rashis that deal with the preposition AYIN LAMED This
> preposition can mean ON (usual meaning),WITH, BESIDES, AT THE TIME OF,
> FOR, TO, NEAR(See the urls below). The RashiYomi grammar page
> (http://www.Rashiyomi.com/grammar.htm) has a similar list of several
> dozen Rashis on the half dozen meanings of EL (which can mean TO, ON,
> etc).
> Thus these Yeshivish students are simply echoing their knowledge of the 

I beg to differ. They are echoing their Rebbe'im who use the word "by"
as if it were the Yiddish (and German) word "bei", whiuch carries
multiple prepositional meanings which do NOT obtain in English.


End of Volume 38 Issue 33