Volume 38 Number 58
                 Produced: Thu Feb 13  5:28:56 US/Eastern 2003

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

         [Matthew Pearlman]
Female Gedoloth
         [Michael Rogovin]
Halchik reflections on Singles Groups
         [David Cohen]
         [Bob Werman]
         [Mark Steiner]
Rodkinson Talmud
         [Joseph Lauer]
Torah Study and Effort
         [Yehonatan and Randy Chipman]
Witnesses to New Moon (was: Elul)
         [Ira L. Jacobson]


From: Matthew Pearlman <Matthew.Pearlman@...>
Date: Mon, 10 Feb 2003 16:41:48 -0000
Subject: RE: Ellul

Regarding testimony for the new month, Ira Jacobson raised as a problem
"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

In fact the Gemara (Rosh Hashana 20a) includes opinions that go much
further than this.  The most straightforward reading (I hesitate to say
pshat, but it is the way that Rashi understands it) is that not only
could the Sanhedrin ignore the testimony of witnesses who saw the molad;
but it could also cause individuals to give testimony that they had seen
the molad when in fact they had not.

The Rambam rules according to this opinion in the gemara, but has a
novel understanding which does not require anyone to testify about
something they didn't see or vice versa.



From: Michael Rogovin <rogovin@...>
Date: Tue, 11 Feb 2003 09:27:33 -0500
Subject: Re: Female Gedoloth

An aside...

Many years ago while learning in an Israeli Ba'ale T'shuva yeshiva, I
was told that one should stand when a Rav walks into a room and that,
furthermore, one should stand when a Rebbitzin enters a room, l'chvod
haRav. Another student asked if one should stand when a G'dola baTorah,
such as Nechama Leibowitz enters a room. Before the Rabbi could answer,
I amended the question: should one stand for her husband l'chvodah? The
answer, after a brief pause, was that well she was "only" learned in
Torah, not Talmud so he did not need to answer that question.

Since I really believe that people should be shown respect for their
contributions, not those of others, I shrigged off the non-response, but
always remembered the discomfort with a woman scholar who was obviously
a g'dolah in her field of Torah study, but who didn't fit into this
person's worldview of the proper role for women in learning. Of course,
the general disregard for "Torah" learning compared to Talmudic
scholarship in the yeshiva world provided an easy out, though other
posters have pointed out her broader knowledge of Talmud.

It should not matter whether one is male or female, a Jew by birth or a
convert, from a family of ten generations of scholars or of ten
generations of laborers, from the black hat or modern orthodox community
(or maybe, I say maybe, the non-orthodox community under certain limited
circumstances).  What counts (or at least, what should count) is what
you know and how you apply your knowledge in your personal practice and
your scholarship/writing/teaching.

Michael Rogovin


From: David Cohen <david.cohen@...>
Date: Tue, 11 Feb 2003 10:40:45 -0500
Subject: re: Halchik reflections on Singles Groups

>"First of all--even though it is clicheish---it is a violation of a
>Biblical positive commandment -- Love thy neighbor like thyself --- to
>avoid providing opportunities for potential social interaction (IN THE

To consider this a violation of "Love Your neighbor" is patently absurd.
I have never seen it written anywhere that avoiding the provision of
social interaction between men and women is a violation of "Love your
neighbor etc." I actually agree that such provisions should be made
within a community, but I think relating it to the commandment of "Love
yor neighbor" is a deliberate manipulation of the law. It is even more
absurd to state that ultra-orthodox comunities that have a shidduch
system are violating "Love Your neighbor" by not providing areas for
social interactions between men and women.

>"Next, there are several opinions that healing the sick is a fulfillment
>of the commandment to return LOST ARTICLES (since a persons health has
>been "lost" and needs to be returned). It would therefore follow that we
>are Biblically obligated to help people who have lost their mates."

I don't know if the above reaches the level of "megaleh panim batorah
sheloh kahalachah" but I'm not sure how it "follows" from restoring
health that we have the obligation to restore social interaction to
those who have lost their mates.

>"In other words---there are two sides here---there is the
>urge to have very high standards of modesty vs the Biblical obligation
>to help people get married."

to manipulate the text in order to find a biblical commandment that
mandates social interaction between men and women is to turn the
halachah on its head. The above manipulates biblical mandate in order to
directly contradict pirkei avot's famous dictum of "al tarbeh sichah im
ha'isha."  Social interaction may be necessary in order to get married,
but no one ever said it MUST be provided or that the bible MANDATES the
provision of this interaction or the interaction itself.

>"My response is an explicit Talmudic hypothetical in which an
>ultra-orthodox sees a (naked) woman drowing and hesitates to save her (a
>Biblical obligation) because he feels he might make (or touch)
>inappropriately The Talmud calls such a person a foolish ultra-orthodox."

more deliberate manipulation. the author here compares loss of life to
lack of social interaction. this is almost as bad as the manipulation of
biblical mandate.

to be sure, people can and do get married without a "singles scene." And
they even end up happy! to come and say that the way the we've been
doing it for thousands of years is suddenly a transgression of biblical
commandment and comparable to the one who doesn't save a naked woman
from her death is simply perncious logic at its worst.

David A. Cohen


From: <RWERMAN@...> (Bob Werman)
Date: Tue,  11 Feb 2003 12:36 +0200
Subject: Holanit

I think the discussion on holanit is going astray.  Look at TB Baba
Batra 119b where we find tzadkaniyot, darshaniyot, and xakhmaniyot.

__Bob Werman


From: Mark Steiner <marksa@...>
Date: Tue, 11 Feb 2003 15:22:17 +0200
Subject: Re: Holanith

> > Accordingly, it would be better to use holanith in shul, as is the
> > custom.  Mark Steiner

> Hmmmm....I guess you mean "as is your custom." Query: for men, do you
> say "holan"?

    Two comments on this:

(1) When I say "the custom" I mean what is printed in traditional
siddurim (which have not been "corrected" by self-styled "baalei
didkduk").  I have no custom on the matter since I'm not the gabbai

(2) For men, you do not say "holan" as there is no occurrence of holan
or holanim in Hazal or later rabbinic literature, at least on the
extensive literature found on my CD.  What seems to be the case is that
certain Biblical adjectives which appear also in rabbinic Hebrew get
altered (Aramaicized?) in the feminine gender by adding nun: thus
tsadkanith, hakhmanith (said of the Daughters of Tselofhad, interesting
that nobody mentioned them as "gedolot" batorah--they are referred to as
darshaniyoth also).  The masculine of hakhmanith is of course hakham,
not hakhman, which does not appear anywhere in Hazal.  When you are
looking at such a huge amount of literature there are bound to be
exceptions, e.g. I did find "tsadkan" instead of "tsadik" once in Hazal,
but this is the exception that proves the rule.  I didn't find
"tsadikah" in Hazal, though I did find the expression "tsadikim
vetsadikoth", in which perhaps the latter word reverts back to Biblical
Hebrew because the influence of the masculine tsadikim.

If the above is correct, then the Meiri's distinction (which I cited in
a previous posting) between holah and holanith is incorrect.  Rather the
truth would be (again, if I'm correct) that the only difference between
holah and holanith is chronological, rather than semantic: holah is
Biblical and holanith Rabbinic.  Would anybody on this list dare to
suggest that the Daughters of Tselofhad were "only" hakhmaniyoth and not

A final postscript: in rabbinic Hebrew the "nun" form IS used in certain
masculine nouns, as "darshan," "batlan."  (In "Yerushalmi type" mss.,
the spelling is "dorshan," "botlan".)  My remarks here were about

Mark Steiner


From: Joseph Lauer <josephlauer@...>
Date: Mon, 10 Feb 2003 12:13:58 -0500
Subject: Rodkinson Talmud

    In MJ 38:53, Alan Rubin wrote that he had
>just come across the translation of part of Talmud Bavli
>(Babylonian Talmud) by Rodkinson. There is a translation of Moed and
>Nezikin posted on the site http://www.sacred-texts.com/jud/index.htm
>I was not aware of the existence of this translation. Does anyone have
>any knowledge of this translation, its provenance and standing?

    Although I have not researched the Rodkinson Talmud in depth, I went
through parts of it many years ago and read a bit about it in the
intervening years.  Some of its history and a flavor of some of the
criticisms leveled against it can be gleaned from the few introductory
paragraphs at the "Texts of Judaism" website provided by Alan Rubin (and
thank you for doing so).  As I remember it, though, the major criticism,
aside from its selectivity, was that it was not a very good translation
and conveyor of the Talmud's discussions.

     A brief biography of Michael Levi [Frumkin] Rodkinson (1845-1904)
can be found at 14 Encyclopedia Judaica 218, which notes that "[i]n his
later years he devoted himself to translating the Talmud into English.
The value of this translation, printed in two editions, lies only in the
fact that it is a pioneering effort."  The encyclopedia's discussion of
translations of the Babylonian Talmud (15 EJ at 768) states, "... the
first attempt at what purported to be an English translation was an
unscholarly abridgement in 20 volumes (1896-1903) by M. L. Rodkinson."
Rodkinson is very briefly mentioned in the Jewish Encyclopedia from the
early 1900s at the end of the entry devoted to his brother, FRUMKIN,
ISRAEL DOB (BAR) ("His brother Michael Levi, who assumed the name
Rodkinson, has published translations of portions of the Talmud in New
York.").  See

    In light of the existence of modern, in-depth English translations
of the Talmud, such as the Soncino Talmud, the Talmud El-Am (which,
unfortunately, only published portions of a few tractates), the
Steinsalz Talmud (not yet complete), and the ArtScroll Talmud (nearing
completion), it is unlikely that reliance on the Rodkinson Talmud would
be recommended.

    Be well!
    Joseph I. Lauer
    Brooklyn, New York


From: Yehonatan and Randy Chipman <yonarand@...>
Date: Sun, 09 Feb 2003 22:15:42 +0200
Subject: Re: Torah Study and Effort

In MJv38n47, Michael Kahn wrote (among other things):

<<I think the gemara says (not sure where) that one who is unsuccessful
in his learning after 5 years (aino roeh siman bracha) will never be
succesfull.( I'm not sure I understand what the Gemara's point
is. Should such a person stop learning?)>>

I believe that the gemara's point there is not that a peson should stop
learning totally, but was more concerned with what might be called the
"admissions policy" for the Beit Midrash.

Bet Hillel and Bet Shammai argued whether the Bait Midrash should be
open to all.  Should one only accept a "talmid hagun," i.e, "a
respectable / decent student" (Beit Shammai), or everyone (Bet Hillel).
But even according to Bet Hillel, one who does not see blessing in his
learning after five years, should stop learning AS HIS MAIN OCCUPATION.
Quite simply, they both recognized that there are some people who are
just plain not as bright as others, and are not cut out for "book
learning."  (see my posting about the "gadol" controversy and my answer
to Russell's remarks.)

     I don't know whether there was public financial support for certain
students in those days like there is now, but this idea could certainly
be applied to today's situation.

     Whatever one's views may be about the Haredi world's approach, in
which a large-part of the population is learning full-time, being
supprted by parents, wives, the state, etc., there are certainly some
people in the yeshiva system who shoudn't be enjoying these benefits --
people who are milling water, whose bodies are in the Beit Midarsh, but
whose minds are not, and whom no number of Mussar shmusim will help.  It
was that sort of person our gemara was referring to.

    Yehonatan Chipman


From: Ira L. Jacobson <laser@...>
Date: Tue, 11 Feb 2003 15:46:56 +0200
Subject: Re: Witnesses to New Moon (was: Elul)

Mike Gerver, of Ra`anana (Israel) stated:

>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.

Regardless of this conclusion, I had asked a somewhat different question, 
to wit,
 >  What would be the credibility of a court that chose to disregard
 >  evidence to suit its own purposes?

I didn't ask what the credibility of a court would be if it did not HEAR
testimony.  I asked about hearing testimony and rejecting it _for the
judges' own purposes_.

In fact, I clarified later that, "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."

If you state that "they do not hear testimony from witnesses at all,"
then you have not answered my question.  And of course, no one is
compelling you to do so.

But, as the Rambam states, in such a case the judges _knew_ that it was
not even theoretically possible to sight the moon, they would not [waste
their time and] hear testimony, since, "If witnesses came, they would
know that they are false witnesses, or that clouds appeared to them in a
form resembling the moon, but it was not the real moon."  (Translation
from Moznaim Publishing Corporation, Maimonides Mishneh Torah, Hilchot
Kiddush HaChodesh, by Rabbi Eliyahu Touger.)

>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.

I think that this is similar to what I was questioning.

Eli Lansey suggested that I
>Look at Mishnayot Rosh haShanah 4:4

Thanks for the reference.  I did look at that mishna, but I didn't
notice anything that answers my question.  Assuming that you are using
the same numbering as in the Qehati edition.



End of Volume 38 Issue 58