Volume 38 Number 43
                 Produced: Mon Jan 27  5:03:16 US/Eastern 2003

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Baby Naming
         [David Shabtai]
Community Tzedakah Needs of Holocaust survivors
         [Jeanette Friedman]
Gedolot Torah
         [Yael Levine Katz]
Infant mortality
         [Robert J. Tolchin]
Names of the Months (2)
         [Robert Israel, Michael Frankel]
Naming Babies
         [Andy Levy-Stevenson]
Sefardi sefer torah
         [Joel Rich]
Talmudic source for Governmental Charity
         [Michael Kahn]
Woman Gadol
         [Gil Student]
Women Gedole Torah (2)
         [Edward Ehrlich, Freda B Birnbaum]


From: David Shabtai <dys6@...>
Date: Thu, 23 Jan 2003 09:12:24 -0500
Subject: Baby Naming

For a lot of sources regarding which parent has first priority in
deciding names and which names are appropriate etc.  See Yalkut Yosef -
Hilchot Kibud Av Va'Em Volume 2, where R. Yitzchak Yosef discusses many
of these issues (I was actually quite surprised to find out that there
are so many acharonim [that he cites] that discuss these topics.


From: <FriedmanJ@...> (Jeanette Friedman)
Date: Thu, 23 Jan 2003 09:19:29 EST
Subject: Re: Community Tzedakah Needs of Holocaust survivors

      This is not meant as an attack on Chaim or anyone else who
      believes as he does about these matters, but what should be the
      response when communities *don't* properly care for their own with
      dignity and respect? I've seen it happen all too often.

At this moment, there is a realization among descendants of Holocaust
survivors that the issues discussed by Chaim and about chessed
organizations is going to have to be expanded to include the special
needs of Holocaust survivors in various communities, especially those
where they fall through the cracks. And because the survivors are not
all observant, this becomes vital in preventing them from dying in dire
poverty and without dignity.

In NY the state matches funds from the Conference on Material Claims
Against Germany (the claims conference) when they are distributed or
used by Jewish Family Services and other organizations that serve
survivors in their areas. They do not match funds in Florida and in
other states. Also, with some survivors, being registered on government
lists is anathema, so they fall through the cracks.

That is why the new internet consortium of descendants will be asking
everyone to check out survivors in their communities, to make sure that
their needs are being met, one way or the other.

The Claims Conference is not a panacea. They do the best they can with
what they have, but as much as everyone thinks they have, the money is
finite, will not last forever, and is being stretched as much as

Impoverished and ill, lonely and sole survivors in different communities
need to be sought out by local shuls, organizations and people, and they
need to be cared for, so that in their last days, they could at least
die with dignity on clean sheets.

I am not attacking the claims conference at all. I understand how they
work, how they got their money and what they are trying to do with it.

But there will never be enough money to take care of the remaining
800,000 survivors world wide. First priority is FSU, where food packages
for basic subsistence are sent out every 8 weeks; to Israel, where old
age homes and assisted living centers are being built with claims
conference money (Israel has the largest survivor population followed by
Brooklyn NY, followed by Miami, with Brooklyn needing the most help
because those survivors basically cut themselves off from the rest of
the "mainstream" Jewish community and incorporated their own little
ghettos where they did not have access to the information they needed in
order to apply for funding,

P.S. The claims conference works constantly to change the narrow,
restrictive guidelines imposed by the Germans for eligibility. It is a
constant battle.

Jeanette Friedman


From: Yael Levine Katz <ylkpk@...>
Date: Thu, 23 Jan 2003 14:17:12 +0200
Subject: Gedolot Torah

I would first like to clarify concerning Russell Jay Hendel's post that
the tradition in Megillah that there were seven prophetesses is one
opinion only. This source is based upon Seder Olam Rabbah, chapter 21,
which enumerates ten, including also the Matriarchs. In Shir ha-Shirim
Rabbah 4, 11, it is stated in the name of R. Berekhiah, that just as
there were sixty myriads of prophets, likewise there were sixty myriads
of prophetesses. In various sources additional women were considered to
be prophetesses, such as Hagar and Bat Sheva.

Concerning the general question of the lack of women as gedolot Torah
(this, I believe, is the correct term), various reasons may be
attributed to this situation.  Agnon in his essay "Hohmat Nashim", which
has to do with a learned women who was ridiculed by men in the Bet
Midrash, puts, inter alia, in her mouth the notion that if women
themselves in previous generations had written halakhic works, there
would have been no room for the men to have so acted. Agnon does,
however, mention, that divrei Torah are brought down in various works in
the name of women . Admittedly, there was no incentive on the part of
women to produce such a work.  Nevertheless, there is scanty evidence
concerning the existence of such works. I discuss these issues at
greater length in two forthcoming publications.



From: Robert J. Tolchin <tolchin@...>
Date: Thu, 23 Jan 2003 11:33:08 -0500
Subject: Infant mortality

Jonathan Katz writes that "when the custom of not buying items in
advance began, complications during childbirth were more common than

While it is certainly true that infant mortality has decreased
tremendously in the last hundred years, it still happens. People don't
seem to be aware of it until it happens to them, then people come out of
the woodwork with similar stories.

When my wife miscarried her first pregnancy, we were devastated. We had
already told people she was pregnant, bought maternity clothes she
didn't need yet, and we'd started talking about names. During subsequent
pregnancies (we have two daughters) my wife felt funny each time she
wore those clothes, and the names we had discussed and liked during that
first pregnancy now feel off limits. Had we started to set up a nursery,
it would have been horrible.

After the miscarriage, we were quite surprised to learn how many people
we know had problems with pregnancy. First trimester miscarriages are
extremely common. But beyond that, in this day and age, among people who
live in New York and receive top notch medical care, we know three
couples who had second or third trimester miscarriages (one miscarriage
was of twins), one couple who had a baby die of sudden infant death
syndrome, and a client of mine who lost both his pregnant wife and baby
son as a result of pregnancy complications.

The point I'm making is that though we'd like to feel that these things
don't happen anymore, they do.


From: Robert Israel <israel@...>
Date: Wed, 22 Jan 2003 21:56:01 -0800 (PST)
Subject: Re: Names of the Months

Bernard (Chaim) Freedman wrote:

>The Torah does not name the months of the jewish calendar. The names we
>have given our months are derived from the Babalonian, which are based
>on the Babalonian dieties or g-ds. So isn't the names we assign to our
>months a form of forbidden avodah zorah? Similarly, the civil names
>January, February, etc are based on Greek mythological g-ds, so isn't
>this also avodah zorah? Has there ever been any thought to giving our
>months truly authentic Jewish names?

Why stop there?  There are also the English names of the days, the
planets, cities such as Athens, Mazda cars, Apollo computers, Nike
shoes, Mickey's dog Pluto, words such as "martial" and "jovial", etc.
For that matter, there's shamash.org: Shamash was the Babylonian sun

The topic has been addressed here before: see volume 33 numbers 79, 80,
81 and 84.  I think the consensus is that there's no problem, especially
since these gods aren't generally worshipped nowadays.

Robert Israel                                <israel@...>
Department of Mathematics        http://www.math.ubc.ca/~israel
University of British Columbia
Vancouver, BC, Canada V6T 1Z2

From: Michael Frankel <michaeljfrankel@...>
Date: Thu, 23 Jan 2003 09:07:41 -0500
Subject: Re: Names of the Months

> Has there ever been any thought to giving our months truly authentic
> Jewish names? 
> Bernard (Chaim) Freedman>>

Actually we do know ancient Hebrew names for four of the months.  (a
good tanach trivia question).  Aviv (nisan), Bul (marcheshvon), Ziv
(iyyor ), and Ho'Aisonim (tishrei),

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


From: Andy Levy-Stevenson <andy_twrr@...>
Date: Fri, 24 Jan 2003 12:03:54 -0800 (PST)
Subject: RE: Naming Babies

<In the case of not setting up a nursery ahead of time, the explanation
I have heard is that this is for psychological reasons: imagine how
horrible it would be for a mother and father who have set up a nursery
in advance to return home if something goes wrong during delivery.>

This has happened to two families of my close personal acquaintance in
two diferent Midwestern communities.  In one case it was their first
pregnancy, in the other it followed several healthy chidren.

It was as a result of their experiences that I refused to have ANY baby
"stuff" in the house prior to the birth (we did order things, but held
delivery until after the birth).

Not superstition, simply emotional self-protection. I still can't get
over the image of a couple returning from the hospital alone, and then
walking into the beautifully decorated & equipped nursery.

In the interest of not completely terrifying any to-be-parents on the
list, it should be pointed out that the incidence of these horrors is
exceedingly small.

Andy Levy-Stevenson


From: <Joelirich@...> (Joel Rich)
Date: Thu, 23 Jan 2003 17:33:55 -0500
Subject: Re: Sefardi sefer torah

Can a ben ashkenaz(ashkenazic Jew) be yotzeh lchatchilah (or
bdeieved)[get credit for} kriat hatorah {reading the torah}from a
sefardi sefer(which has a few differences)?  Can he get an aliyah and
make a bracha?

Joel Rich


From: Michael Kahn <mi_kahn@...>
Date: Thu, 23 Jan 2003 13:59:32 -0500
Subject: Re: Talmudic source for Governmental Charity

The Gemara in Baba Basra first perek speaks of the "Tamchui" which was a
food collection for the poor to which all the people in the town had to
contribute too. This is clearly an example of a governmental, albeit of
the local form, charity.


From: Gil Student <gil_student@...>
Date: Thu, 23 Jan 2003 14:18:28 -0500
Subject: RE: Woman Gadol

David Cohen wrote:
>I too would certainly agree with the characterization of Nechama
>Leibowitz as a gedola.

I do not see why a woman cannot become a gedolah ba-Torah but I question
whether being a brilliant expert in Tanach is sufficient to being called
a gadol/gedolah ba-Torah.  I would think that the term is reserved from
those who are masters of ALL AREAS of Torah.

Gil Student


From: Edward Ehrlich <eehrlich@...>
Date: Thu, 23 Jan 2003 09:41:41 +0200
Subject: Women Gedole Torah

Solomon Spiro wrote:
>But this should not surprise us, because there are other areas in life,
>science and art where there is a paucity of great woman. Not because
>they are theoretically not capable, but that nature seems to have
>decreed it so.
>There are very very few great woman musical composers. There are very
>very few great woman playwrights, or great mathematicians or great
>architects or great astronomers.  There are very very few great woman
>chefs. We could also add military leaders-- Jean of Arc excepted.

The same thing can be said about male Ashkenazi Jews until the time of
the Emancipation.  It was obviously not "nature that decreed" Ashkenazi
Jews were unable to excel in Mathematics and Astronomy unlike their
Sephardi counterparts such as Ibn Ezra.

There are differences in the mental processes of men and women, but we
should take great care in assuming how these differences may or may not
limit our daughters from excelling in any field whether Torah,
mathematics, astronomy or being a great chef.

Ed Ehrlich <eehrlich@...>
Jerusalem, Israel

From: Freda B Birnbaum <fbb6@...>
Date: Thu, 23 Jan 2003 12:14:23 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Women Gedole Torah

In Vol. 38 #38, the claim was made

> Theoretically, there should be no reason why a woman cannot be a gedolah
> batorah.  [...]
> But it seems that nature (or heaven?) also has a hand in the selection
> of gedolim. Except for a few such as Nehama Leibovitch z''l in our day,
> and a few women cited by aharonim of previous generations, our torah
> tradition was and is formed by men.
> But this should not surprise us, because there are other areas in life,
> science and art where there is a paucity of great woman. Not because
> they are theoretically not capable, but that nature seems to have
> decreed it so.

Isn't it more that the male-managed system has decreed it so?  Certainly
there may well be trends in who is good at what, but that should not have
to turn into a decree that this MUST be so, and exclude people from areas
of endeavor where they might excel.  If you don't let women into yeshivos,
they are not generally going to become scholars.

In fact, if you need to decree it, then clearly it ISN'T nature but
someone's human preference, as there would be no need to make decrees if
it came naturally.

Freda Birnbaum, <fbb6@...>
"Call on God, but row away from the rocks"


End of Volume 38 Issue 43