Volume 39 Number 78
                 Produced: Wed Jun 11  6:28:30 US/Eastern 2003

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Collections of Jewish Texts on CDROM
         [Meira Welt]
Ethical Behavior and Halacha
         [Yakov Spil]
Good CD Sources
         [Russell J Hendel]
Jewish Superstitions
         [Tzadik Vanderhoof]
Ruth's conversion
         [Shalom Ozarowski]
Tirhat Hatzibbur
         [Baruch J. Schwartz]
Weekday vs Sabbath Blessings for shma
         [Russell J Hendel]


From: Meira Welt <meirawelt@...>
Date: Wed, 11 Jun 2003 03:37:21 +0000
Subject: Collections of Jewish Texts on CDROM

Daniel you might be interested to know that with a new version of the
Bar Ilan CD coming out TES < http://www.jewishsoftware.com > is selling the "old"
one for 450.


From: Yakov Spil <yspil@...>
Date: Tue, 10 Jun 2003 23:05:48 -0400
Subject: Ethical Behavior and Halacha

>There are stories of people from Europe and immigrants to the US early
on in the 20th Century who kept from their children and close
acquaintances all of the chesed they did, or the state of their finances-
to the point that the children thought they were poor all because their
parents knew what to keep quiet about.<

Mr. Burstein responded:

<What value is expressed by giving the impression one is poor when one is
not?  It's one thing to give charity privately, but one isn't allowed to
give away all of one's income, so what did the parents do with the rest
of it?>

The point is tznius.  One not talking about their whole lives with
everybody for all to hear and know.  This is a bit anathema to us today
with all the public mea culpas that are so prevalent.

I am actually taking this point from a shiur I was privileged to hear
from Rav Shlomo Brevda and the point he made after saying this was what
is important to you- you keep PRIVATE, what is not you talk about!
WAIT- did I type that right?  YES!  What people wanted to keep quiet
about was about the most important things to them.  And what they made
conversation about was about topics that were not so meaningful to them.
Rav Brevda said this a Jewish mida.

I would add that I heard from an acquaintance of mine in a town "out of
town" that they had a performer who incorporates in his routine how
relationships and marriages are in the Orthodox world and the values
involved.  My friend told me that a woman came to ask if this performer
was a psychologist.  He said no- he took his material from Jewish
wisdom.  She was quite surprised and impressed.


Yakov Spil


From: Russell J Hendel <rjhendel@...>
Date: Tue, 10 Jun 2003 20:04:14 -0400
Subject: RE: Good CD Sources

Although Daniel asked that he be responded to directly I think this is
of interest to other list members. Two very good cheap CD references are
(1) MTR For FREE-- check out http://www.mechon-mamre.org and (2) The
Davka various CD Roms (http://www.Davka.com). MTR has everything: Both
Talmuds, Tosefta, Rambam, Tnach and a search engine

Russell Jay Hendel; http://www.RashiYomi.com/


From: Tzadik Vanderhoof <tzadikv@...>
Subject: Re: Jewish Superstitions

Has anyone ever heard of these?

- not to make L'Chaim with water
- not to blow out a flame with your breath (wave it in the air instead)
- not to study the laws of mourning unless you, chas v'shalom, need to for 
practical reasons
- saying "chas v'shalom" before any negative event that you would not want, 
chas v'shalom, to become true
- separating living people from the dead, in a list of names, with "l'havdil 
bein chaim l'chaim"
- if you mistakenly do not say say "l'havdil bein chaim l'chaim", or worse, 
say "alav haShalom" for a living person, you can "fix" it by saying "ad Mea 
- not saying prayers out of order, even where halachically permissible
- not to end a conversation on a negative note (if you can't think of 
anything more creative, just saying the word "simchas" suffices)
(This last one I've kind of added to by never turning off a radio or TV if 
the last thing they just said was negative, but I'm the only one I know that 
does that)

My take on these types of superstitions is that they have long traditions 
and are mostly harmless.  I don't see why they would be assur to do.


From: <Shalomoz@...> (Shalom Ozarowski)
Date: Tue, 10 Jun 2003 17:32:46 EDT
Subject: Re: Ruth's conversion

> This makes a lot of sense to me, but I do have one difficulty with it:
> What kind of Beis Din was there in Moav?

>  I received a couple of postings that as written I was uncomfortable
>  posting directly to the list, so I am taking the liberty of summerizing
>  what I believe is the main point behind the submissions.

avi makes an interesting connection of the ruth gerut issue to the
machloket rishonim over torah shebaal peh; was that in fact what other
posters had in mind at all?

i would add a textual point: [mefarshim may indeed discuss this on the
spot though i havent checked into it yet]- in perek 4 the megilla
describes how boaz specifically convenes the ziknei ha'ir (city elders)
as well as a minyan of 'asarah anashim' at the city gates for the geula
ceremony.  chazal clearly saw this as noteworthy since a braita in
ketuvot 7a uses this pasuk as a source for requiring a minyan for sheva
brachot.  so if ruth's "conversion," whenever it was, involved a beit
din why wouldnt the text have told us about it?  [this is not a 'proof'
that there was no 'beis din' or the like, rather a question to that
end.]  in addition, the megilla's text can support both midrash/rashi &
ibn ezra/zohar chadash's approaches even though their underlying
assumptions or problems were different.

actually, another related example would be the status of 'yibum' in the
sefer.  the terminology is used repeatedly, but it does not seem to
refer to what we would consider halachic yibum with its defined rules.
rather it seems to include a social or cultural aspect also: a brother
gets 1st dibs at marrying his widowed sister in law because he is the
closest relative, implying that if the brother cannot/doesnt marry the
almana then the NEXT CLOSEST relative could marry her - which, in the
case of the megilla, was boaz of course (who had already seen potential
in her middot & befriended her, contrary to others in beit lechem who
probably avoided her b/c she was from moav etc).  so this plays out at
least twice in the megilla: 

1) when naomi is returning with ruth & orpah to eretz yehuda, she tells
them not to stay with her because she has no chance of having more sons
who can marry them.  so rashi on the spot, with rabbinic/midrashic
tradition, has to grapple his way through the halachic issue of an
unborn brother-in-law (who cant have a good yibum according to halacha)
while if you drop that premise then the problem is not compelling.

2) before and at the time of the actual geula (prakim 3 & 4), boaz gives
the goel precedence since hes the closer relative ("v'gam yesh go'el
karov mimeni" 3:12) and at first the goel agrees to do it- since he
assumes it only means buying back ("redeeming") elimelech's
property/"nachalah" but when boaz tells him marrying ruth is a
condition, he changes his mind, presumably because shes moabite ("pen
ashchit et nachalati") and lets boaz do the geula and marry her.  so
here we find very similar language to the torahs mitzvah of yibum (in
parshat ki teitzei) but the ceremony- including marrying ruth- is really
the "geula" of parshat behar.  so we see its not exactly yibum even
though it accomplishes a similar goal ("l'hakim shem hamet").  it very
closely resembles the story of yehuda & tamar (breishit 38), where the
same langauage is used (also the progression of events and strange
actions on the part of tamar match those of ruth) and the ramban there
says they used to do "non-halachic" yibum also as the general idea was
part of the culture (also look in the daas mikra's intro to ruth).

its also noteworthy, on the other hand, that many details in the megilla
confirm the 'frumkeit' and halacha observance- even from our modern
perspective- in beit lechem: ruth collects leket in the field, the geula
ceremony itself (& using the shoe was their minhag for kinyan), their
constant invoking of Shem Hashem, moavi v'lo moavit of course, etc etc.
i havent read it but i was told (by my tanach professor in YU, r. hayyim
angel) that a great article related to this topic is "Levirate and
Agnate Marriage in Rabbinic and Cognate Literature." JQR 60 (1970)
275-329, by r. dr samuel belkin z"l.

the question of the history of "moavi v'lo moavit" and whether they knew
about the halacah then seems to be even more complicated.

kol tuv,
shalom ozarowski


From: Baruch J. Schwartz <schwrtz@...>
Date: Wed, 14 May 2003 14:13:35 +0200
Subject: Tirhat Hatzibbur

I am tired of reading that slow davening is somehow more desirable than
fast davening, that the people who daven more slowly are more serious,
have more kavanah, are worthy of emulation by the community and are
setting an example we all wish we could follow, that it's a shame we
can't daven more slowly on weekdays and we would if we didn't have to go
to work, that slow davening is a "nice, leisurely pace", that rabbis are
"supposed" to take more time to say the Shema and Amida so that people
learn how we are "supposed" to daven, etc., etc.

There is nothing "better" about davening slowly. Certainly God can hear
what we are saying at any speed; to say that He cannot is heresy. And to
say that the worshiper gets more spiritual enjoyment out of it is
subjective in the extreme (some do, and some don't). Even for those for
whom this is true, it is rather irreverent, since davening is not for
the enjoyment, spiritual or otherwise, of those doing it (that would
make it self-worship) but rather for the sanctification of God.

True, there are some mitzvot that can be done "better" if more time is
spent on them, but I don't think davening is one of them. Daven a bit
quicker, and drive more slowly to work. Daven a bit quicker, and spend
more time learning. With ceremonial mitzvot, more time is not an
indication of quality. In fact, I believe that whenever the length of
time is a factor in the performance of such a mitzvah, it is a _maximum_
amount of time that must not be exceeded (i.e. eating of matzah)--never
is there a minimum. And of course there are numerous mitzvot whose
performance is held to be more praiseworthy if done with "zerizut"--as
soon as possible, as efficiently and as promptly as possible.

Please don't think that I am implying that the true measure of the worth
of one's davening is in the kavanah and that all the externals are
irrelevant. I do not mean this at all. Because in fact there are
external, formal ways to enhance the quality of davening. But spending
more time on it does not seem to be one of them. Rather, as with all of
the mitzvot, it is the adherence to the particulars of the halachic
requirements and to the dictates of minhag that counts. To invest our
best efforts in the precision and beauty of the davening and leyning,
and to strive--as individuals and as a congregation--for serious,
rigorous maintenance of the laws and customs pertaining to them and to
the shul: _these_ are the ways that the halachah has provided for us to
bring about a greater and more acceptable sanctification of God's
name. How much time should we spend on it each day? As long as it
takes. Definitely not less. But just as certainly, not more.

There are many mitzvot to perform all day long. Those who complete the
daily prayer service promptly, even speedily, but with proper intent and
with the devout attention to detail and precision that the laws of
tefilla require of us, and then go off to do the rest of the day's
mitzvot, are by no means deserving of any criticism, nor should they
feel inferior in any way. Certainly no one is qualified to question
their piety or kavanah on the basis of how many minutes they spend
saying Shema. In fact, such people may be able to find time for more
mitzvot than those who daven slower. I say: daven a bit quicker, and
spend more time with your kids. Daven quicker, and spend more time
helping around the house. Spend less time in shul and more visiting the

Some rabbis readily acknowledge this to be true and find the "custom" of
prolonging their own Shema and Amida, and making the congregation wait
for them to finish, laughable at the very least. Rabbis who have
abolished this practice: more power to you!

Baruch J. Schwartz


From: Russell J Hendel <rjhendel@...>
Date: Tue, 10 Jun 2003 20:05:07 -0400
Subject: RE: Weekday vs Sabbath Blessings for shma

MDStern (v39n72) brings up the 2 blessing liturgies we have for the
Shma: Weekday and Shabbath.

A few years ago I tried to find a source for the Shabbath liturgy.

My concern? Well there is a known regulation that we cannot change any
Blessing introduced by the sages of the great assembly. Now the Amidah
blessings were made by the great assembly sages in a different

But BOTH the weekday and Shabbath shma blessings seem to be the same. It
"appears" as if someone added the "kayl adon" poem (the same way many
poems have been added). This would be a change in the blessings

Does anyone have any historical evidence on when these changes were
first introduced (or some talmudic reference that the great assembly
sages instituted the different form).

I have other concerns but for the moment let me just ask for sources.

Russell Jay Hendel; http://www.RashiYomi.com/


End of Volume 39 Issue 78