Volume 38 Number 55
                 Produced: Tue Feb 11  6:30:50 US/Eastern 2003

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Black Tie?
         [Shalom Carmy]
Erasing the name of God
         [Josh Backon]
Female Gedoloth
         [Russell J Hendel]
Good Map showing Sura and Pumpudisa (2)
         [Ben Katz, Frederic H Rosenblatt]
         [Ari Trachtenberg]
Mi sheberach for a Sick Person
         [Baruch J. Schwartz]
Shechiyanu on Shabbat Candles
         [David I. Cohen]
Witnesses to New Moon (was: Elul) (3)
         [Mike Gerver, Zev Sero, Ira L. Jacobson]


From: Shalom Carmy <carmy@...>
Date: Wed, 5 Feb 2003 10:29:53 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Black Tie?

> There is clearly no uniformity (sic) in this practice, since I have seen
> Rabbis wearing tuxedos at the weddings of their own children, when the
> Rebitzen has decided to make it a "black tie" affair. At other
> occasions, when the Rabbi is there in an official or semi-official
> capacity, he will be wearing his rabbinic "uniform". i.e.; black suit
> and black hat. It does not imply disrespect to the ba'alei simcha or any
> reference to (or knowledge of) piano bars!

How much does a tuxedo cost? How much do most rabbanim earn?

The first time I received an unqualified black tie invitation (as
opposed to "suggested" or "preferred") I was somewhat taken aback. It
was certainly not the type of thing my talmid would care about, but I
didn't know her folks and was worried about causing him embarrassment. I
consulted a veteran colleague, who told me these gezerot are not for
rabbanim. Emboldened by his advice, when the groom called me about
arrangements I ventured an offhand comment about the invitation
mentioning a garment that I didn't own and had never experienced
firsthand... He burst into laughter.


From: <BACKON@...> (Josh Backon)
Date: Wed,  5 Feb 2003 15:07 +0200
Subject: Erasing the name of God

   The prohibition of erasing the name of God is discussed in the talmud
   (Shevuot 35a, Sofrim 4:4) and the Shulchan Aruch (YOREH DEAH Hilchot
   Sefer Torah Siman 276:13 in the Rema ["lachen nizharin shelo lichtov
   shem b'iggeret, v'yesh nizharin afilu b'mila 'shalom' shelo ligmor
   ktivato"]. The names that are forbidden to be erased are the 7 names
   of God (in Hebrew). (YD 276:9). Uttering the names of God in the
   vernacular is discussed in the Nimukei Yosef in Nedarim 7b (on the
   *shamta* of Rav Huna).

   There is a difference of opinion regarding the non-Hebrew
   (vernacular) names of God. Those that permit its writing include the
   SHACH YD 179:11 and Chidushei R. Akiva Eiger YD 276:9 ( "v'im ktuvim
   b'sh'ear leshonot dinam k'kinuim"). (See also the Pitchei Tshuva YD
   276 #11 who brings down the interesting question of the Chavot Yair
   106 on someone who writes a vernacular name of God (e.g. 'Gott" in
   German) in Hebrew letters [ktav ashurit]).

   Those that prohibit include the Urim v'Tumim 27:2 and the Netivot
   Hamishpat 27:2 (in Choshen Mishpat).



From: Russell J Hendel <rjhendel@...>
Date: Sun, 2 Feb 2003 23:57:36 -0500
Subject: RE: Female Gedoloth

Just to supplement what Ari said v38n46:

At my Maternal Grandmothers funeral they brought the casket into the
shule and the Rav of the shule opened the hespayd (eulogy) by citing the
code of the Jewish law:

>Just as we bring caskets into synagogues for great men so too do we do
>it for great women<

My grandmother was instrumental in making the local yeshiva what it
was. Hence she was treated like a great man.

It seems to me if we treat women in death like Gedolim we should equally
do so during their lifetime.

The truth of the matter is that Dr Leibowitz greatly encouraged study of
Rashi and other commentators at a time when it wasnt studied.

Indepednent of what she knew, I would judge her by what she did.

As I always do on Mail-Jewish (and life) I would go to the underlying
reason for laws of respect. The reason we respect male Gedolim is so
that we should have role models.

Well obviously, if someone like Nechama single-handedly got everyone to
start reading Rashi then she SHOULD be a role-model to me since that
will increase my learning of Torah.

And in passing, I have lived by this. It is public knowledge that I
spend close to 20 hours a week on a 10 year project to classify all
Rashis across 30 principles---the reason I do this is because I have
used people like Nechama as role models--after all if a mere woman(!?)
can do it maybe I should also.

In short, the issue of perceiving Nechama as a Gedola is really the
issue if we should be doing what she did. I dont see how anyone cannot
call her a Gedolah.

(And for the record I disagree with Nechama on certain approaches to
Rashi...I dont judge her by her erudition but I judge her on her

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


From: Ben Katz <bkatz@...>
Date: Wed, 5 Feb 2003 11:03:21 -0600 (CST)
Subject: Re: Good Map showing Sura and Pumpudisa

>From: Michael Kahn <mi_kahn@...>
>Does anyone know of a good map of present day Iraq showing where Sura
>Pumpudisa exists? If you know of such a map online it would be even
>better.  Also, if anyone knows of reliable websites dealing with
>Talmudic history I'd appreciate hearing about it.  Thirdly, what do we
>mean by calling our Gemara Talmud Bavli since many amorayim where in
>Eretz Yisroel such as Reb Yochanan for example?  Also, when the Gemara
>discusses things without using names, (a shaklah vtarya of a stam
>gemara) where did this take place? Is there any rule for this? Or could
>it have taken place in any of the Babylonian yeshivas?  I'm trying to
>make heads and tails out of the talmudic period historicly.

I recall seeing some good maps in Encyclopedia Judaica (try checking
articles on Talmud or Babylonia)
I believe the Bavli is called that because it was EDITED in Bavel
The origin of the shakla vetarya of the gemara is debated.  The "yeshivish"
answer is that it was put in by Ravina and Rav Ashi, the traditional editors
of the gemara.  However, in Egeret Rav Sherira Gaon, the Gaon specifically
says that all of the gemara in the first daf of Kiddushin (which is all
stam) was saboreic in origin (the saboraim followed the amoraim in bavel).
Many moderns, including Rabbi Dr. David Weiss HaLivni, feel that this means
that all stam gemara is from the saboreic period (although he seems to call
them stamaim).  Much info can be gleaned from DWH's Mishna Midrash and Gemara.  
Ben Z. Katz, M.D.
Children's Memorial Hospital, Division of Infectious Diseases
2300 Children's Plaza, Box # 20, Chicago, IL 60614
Ph. 773-880-4187, Fax 773-880-8226, Voicemail and Pager: 3034
e-mail: <bkatz@...>

From: Frederic H Rosenblatt <fredr@...>
Date: Wed, 05 Feb 2003 09:27:44 -0800
Subject: Re: Good Map showing Sura and Pumpudisa

R' Aryeh Carmel's Siyata de Gemara("Aiding Talmud Study") has a map of
Amoraic Bavel with a transparent overlay of modern Iraq.  There is also
a timeline of Tannaim and Amoraim, both in Bavel and in Eretz Yisrael.


From: Ari Trachtenberg <trachten@...>
Date: Wed, 05 Feb 2003 10:34:15 -0500
Subject: Re: Hashem

 >From: Shayna Kravetz:
 >Some years ago I predicted to my son that one day we will see the use of
 >"Kashem" for Hashem. It seems to be happening!

I have seen some religious text use daled-apostrophe instead of
heh-apostrophe.  If I'm not mistaken, the intent is to be one step
removed from "hashem".

Ari Trachtenberg,                                      Boston University
http://people.bu.edu/trachten                    mailto:<trachten@...>


From: Baruch J. Schwartz <schwrtz@...>
Date: Wed, 5 Feb 2003 21:02:46 +0200
Subject: Mi sheberach for a Sick Person

Regarding the inclusion of the matriarchs in the Mi Sheberach prayer,
HLSesq notes that "None of the standard siddur texts I have access to
has this formulation" and asks, "Does anyone know whether there is an
early version that lists the matriarchs? Second: If not, why?"

First let me say that in our shul we do say the names of the matriarchs
too, which seems like the sensitive, inclusive, correct thing to do. But
though I support and uphold the policy, it is technically flawed. True,
"The invocation of the matriarchs is generally viewed as a plea for
mercy, in the same way that the use of the sick person's mother's name
is a plea for mercy." But rhe Mi Sheberach prayer doesn't say "may a
speedy recovery be granted in the merit of our matriarchs Sarah,
Rebecca, etc.". Rather, it is a request that He who blessed our
forefathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob also bless so-and-so. The basis of
the plea "May He who blessed X bless Y" is the fact that God blessed
X. Regarding Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, this fact is indeed reported in
the Torah. It is however not reported that he blessed the four
matriarchs. He did bless Sarah (Genesis 17:16), but nowhere can I see
that He blessed Rebecca, Rachel and Leah. Thus, strictly speaking, to
say "May He who blessed Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel and Leah etc." is
problematic, and might even border on falsehood in prayer. But I suppose
by implication, or by loose interpretation of the term "bless," it could
be argued that God's providential care of Rebecca, Leah and Rachel, and
in particular the fact that he heard their prayers and granted them
children, amounts to a form of "blessing". Still I wonder if stretching
it so far beyond the obvious intent of those who formulated this prayer
is such a great idea. And by the way: the addition of the names "and
Moses, Aaron, David and Solomon" is similarly problematic--David and
Solomon are arguable, but where is it reported that God "blessed" Moses
and Aaron?


From: <bdcohen@...> (David I. Cohen)
Date: Wed, 05 Feb 2003 11:31:16 -0500
Subject: Shechiyanu on Shabbat Candles

In Volume 38 #50, Leah S. Gordon writes that she has taken it upon
herself to recite the blessing of "shehecheyanu" upon her adding candles
to her Friday night lighting upon the birth of a new child. She bases
this upon a logical a fortiori argument that if one recites shehecheyanu
on wearing a new garment, one should certainly do so for the birth of a

I can only hope that Ms. Gordon conferred with her Rav before reciting
the blessing, as recitation of blessings "in vain" (bracha l'vatala) is
a serious halchic violation, and one should not decide on their own when
a bracha should be added to the accepted blessing cannon.

David I. Cohen


From: <MJGerver@...> (Mike Gerver)
Date: Wed, 5 Feb 2003 15:41:18 EST
Subject: Witnesses to New Moon (was: Elul)

Ira L. Jacobson asks, in v38n52, regarding the Sanhedrin forcing the month of 
Av to be 30 days:

> That sounds to me as though they are imputing to the Sanhedrin the will
>  to ignore the testimony of the witnesses who came to report seeing the
>  molad.  This raises several questions:
>  1.      Is this the way you think a court should treat evidence?
>  2.      Did such a thing ever happen?
>  3       What would be the credibility of a court that chose to disregard 
>  evidence to suit its own purposes?

The Rambam, in Kiddush HaChodesh (in the Mishneh Torah), perek 1,
halacha 6, says that the Beit Din calculates whether the new moon should
be visible on the 30th day of the previous month, and if they calculate
that it shouldn't be visible, then they do not hear testimony from
witnesses at all. So they do have the right, and even the obligation, to
ignore evidence in some circumstances. He also seems to be saying, in
perek 5, that Rosh Chodesh is by definition whenever the Beit Din says
it is (as long as it is either 29 or 30 days from the previous Rosh
Chodesh), so there is no issue of the Beit Din misleading people as to
when Rosh Chodesh "really" is, if they refuse to hear testimony.

But I don't know whether forcing Av to be 30 days, to make sure Elul is
29 days and Rosh Chodesh Tishrei is only one day, is considered a proper
reason for the Beit Din not to hear testimony.

Mike Gerver
Raanana, Israel

From: Zev Sero <Zev.Sero@...>
Date: Wed, 5 Feb 2003 14:45:58 -0700 
Subject: Re: Witnesses to New Moon (was: Elul)

It is black-letter law that the Beth Din does indeed have the power and
the right to ignore witnesses in order to set Rosh Chodesh when they
want it.  See Rosh Hashana 25a - `atem, afilu mezidin'.

Zev Sero

From: Ira L. Jacobson <laser@...>
Date: Thu, 06 Feb 2003 09:50:52 +0200
Subject: Re: Witnesses to New Moon (was: Elul)

Zev Sero suggested that the bet din
> >> They could increase the chances tremendously by making sure that Av had
> >> 30 days.  This ought to ensure that the Tishri moon would be visible,
> >> barring bad weather,

I then wondered:
> > That sounds to me as though they are imputing to the Sanhedrin the will
> > to ignore the testimony of the witnesses who came to report seeing the
> > molad.

In which I meant that the witnesses came after 29 days and gave
testimony that stood up under questioning. And then the bet din, for
whatever reason, could not disqualify the testimony for objective
reasons, but nevertheless chose to ignore the testimony.  I then stated:

>This raises several questions:
> > 1.  Is this the way you think a court should treat evidence?
> > 2.  Did such a thing ever happen?
> > 3   What would be the credibility of a court that chose to disregard
> >     evidence to suit its own purposes?

To which Zev Sero replied:
>It is black-letter law that the Beth Din does indeed have the power and
>the right to ignore witnesses in order to set Rosh Chodesh when they want
>it.  See Rosh Hashana 25a  - `atem, afilu mezidin'.

I reviewed the gemara there and learned that even if the bet din
errs--even intentionally--then Rosh Hodesh is as they have decreed,
since the determination of Rosh Hodesh--and thus the festivals--depends
on the bet din only.  (The famous otam/atem clarification.)

I still have not found in the gemara the permission for the bet din to
ignore the witnesses' testimony.

I find that Rabban Gamliel said a eulogy for Ben Zaza's mother, thus
indicating that a certain day was not Rosh Hodesh, since even
theoretically it could not have been.  The skies were cloudy; the bet
din considered declaring Rosh Hodesh, but did not do so for the reason
brought by Rabban Gamliel regarding the theoretical impossibility.  This
is not a demonstration of the bet din's decision to ignore any
testimony, but rather their rejection of testimony that was false. The
Mishna on that page does indeed refer to rejection of the testimony of
false witnesses.

Did I miss something in the gemara?



End of Volume 38 Issue 55