Volume 39 Number 88
                 Produced: Tue Jun 24  8:05:05 US/Eastern 2003

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Ancient Matrilineal/Patrilineal Family Structure (2)
         [Leah S. Gordon, Michael Kahn]
Baruch Hu U'voroch Shemo
         [Yisrael Medad]
Beit Din in Moav
         [Janet Rosenbaum]
Chasash Mechallel Shabbos and Shilach Tzibur
         [Yehuda Landy]
Hebrew/secular calendar
         [David Prins]
Lights and security systems on shabbat
         [Seth Ness]
Midrash and Torah Text
         [David Farkas]
Modern Orthodoxy: definition (Chumras)
         [Sam Saal]
Not blowing out candles
         [Zev Sero]
Shalosh Megilot with a berakha?
         [Yehuda Landy]
Weekday vs Sabbath Blessings for shma
         [Ben Z. Katz]


From: Leah S. Gordon <leah@...>
Date: Thu, 19 Jun 2003 03:29:53 -0700
Subject: Ancient Matrilineal/Patrilineal Family Structure

Ms. Batya Medad wrote:

>ancient times.  I'm certainly no expert, but it's hard to think of a
>single case wherein the husband joins the wife's family and accepts the
>wife's religion, tribe affiliation etc.  (Ishmael went with Haggar

Ms. Medad may not be aware that in nearly the entire southern hemisphere
(South America, Africa, Australia, some parts of Asia), the traditional
family structure is/was matriarchal.  Thus one's primary ties of kinship
would have been to the mother and her brothers, and marriages were
exactly "the husband joins the wife's family...".

(This is not to say that there was any kind of gender equity, and men
were still given almost all of the power.  However, family/tribal
affiliations were matriarchal in many indigenous ancient peoples.)

--Leah (Reingold) Gordon

From: Michael Kahn <mi_kahn@...>
Date: Thu, 19 Jun 2003 11:03:16 -0400
Subject: Re: Ancient Matrilineal/Patrilineal Family Structure

>Today the child is the religion of the mother, but things weren't so
>clear in Biblical times

In college, I've learned otherwise. We were taught that matrilineal
descent regarding legal status has traditionally been the norm because
you always know who a baby's mother is but don't necessarily know who
the father is.  Thus, for example, in slavery, I think it was the
mother's status that determined the status of the baby.

What's interesting is that it is a machlokes (rishonim?, I don't have
sources in front of me, but see the Sifsay Chachomim in Parshas Emor on
the incident of the mvarach Hashem/Shlomis bas Divri incident.) if a
persons Jewish status went by his father or mother BEFORE matan
torah. Reb Dovid Cohen once joked in a drasha that according to those
who hold that before Matan Torah jewish status followed the father, the
Reform who follow patrilineal descent have a mkor in hallacha- except
the Reform are still holding kodem matan Torah.

>There are some rabbis who are experts in Tanach and consider it
>important to take into account what the anthropologists know about
>ancient times.

Could you give an example of such a rabbi?


From: Yisrael Medad <ybmedad@...>
Date: Wed, 18 Jun 2003 20:10:27 +0200
Subject: Baruch Hu U'voroch Shemo

Yisroel Alexander Kerdman wrote about the practice of not saying
"Boruch Hu uvoruch Shemo" in the beginning of Birkas Me'ein Sheva
right after Tefilah on Friday night.

I think we did this about a year and a half ago as my custom, learned
from Rav Pynchas Brener, currently Chief Ashkenazi Rabbi of Venezuela,
but previously at Holliswood (then Center and now) Young Israel in
Queens, is also not to "interrupt" the bracha.  If I recall, Rose
Landowne mentioned that as it is considered a blessing "on behalf" on
the congregation, then one shouldn't intervene but just answer "amen".

Yisrael Medad


From: Janet Rosenbaum <jerosenb@...>
Date: Thu, 19 Jun 2003 10:01:48 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Re: Beit Din in Moav

<Yisyis@...> writes:
> Given the information in Sefer Shoftim, it is hard to visualize a
> society equipped to transfer the wealth of torah knowledge needed to
> educate 3 millenia of G-d fearing Jews.

Perhaps anticipating your question, there is a midrash that during the
time of Devorah, even small children knew the laws of tuma in great
detail.  I have been unable to find the cite.



From: <nzion@...> (Yehuda Landy)
Date: Thu, 19 Jun 2003 10:15:37 +0300
Subject: Re: Chasash Mechallel Shabbos and Shilach Tzibur

> Couple of things as they relate to the here and now.  Where in halacha
> does it say that a person must be Shomer Shabos to be Shiliach Tzibur?

See hilchos shl'i'ach tzibur OC 53:4-5.

> There is a difference in halacha as to whether a person is Mechallel
> Shabos in a public or non-public manner. As people do not see him
> driving, it would seem that if he is , he is doing so in a matter that
> is non-public.

There is definitely a major difference, but in the case of a shli'ach
tzibur even a bad rumor circulating about him disqualifies him (see
source mantioned above). Doesn't such a case qualify as a bad rumor?
												Yehuda Landy


From: David Prins <dprins@...>
Date: Thu, 19 Jun 2003 15:45:59 +1000
Subject: Hebrew/secular calendar

Reuben Rudman wrote (v39i85):
> On another aspect of "astronomical" observations - we are now in the
> middle of a two-month sequence wherein the numerical values of the Jewish
> and secular months are the same for two consecutive months.  I got to
> wondering how often this occurs and did some checking.  It can only occur
> when the secular month has 30 days and coincides with a Jewish month of
> 30 days, i.e., a full month ending with two days Rosh Chodesh. There are
> only 4 secular months with 30 days and September cannot meet this
> condition as Tishrei never starts as early as Sept. 1 and Elul has only
> 29 days.  So we are left with the following pairs:
> April/May  coinciding with Nissan/Iyar
> June/July with Sivan/Tammuz    and
> November/December with Cheshvan/Kislev
> The last set is very rare as both these Hebrew months can be 29 or 30
> days.  In fact between 1900 and 2050 it occurs only 3 times: 1902, 1978
> and 2027.
> April/May occurs 4 times in this time period: 1919, 1976, 1995 and 2014.
> The current sequence June/July with Sivan /Tammuz occurs 5 times: from
> 1900 to 1964 it did not occur; since then we find: 1965, 1973, 1984,
> 2003, 2049.

Another possibility is that the secular months could be February/March,
in a secular leap-year where February has 29 days and the first of the
two corresponding Hebrew months also has 29 days.  In our current
(Gregorian) secular calendar, this cannot occur.  This is because for 1
February to correspond to the start of a Hebrew month it has to be
Shevat, or Adar I in a Hebrew calendar leap year, and both those Hebrew
months have 30 (not 29) days.

Interestingly, in the previous (Julian) secular calendar, 1 February
could correspond to 1 Adar in a Hebrew calendar non-leap year, when Adar
has 29 days.  Thus, with acknowledgement to Kaluach, I can add to Mr
Rudman's finding by reporting that February/March 1576 apparently
coincided with Adar/Nissan 5336.

David Prins


From: Seth Ness <seth.ness@...>
Date: Thu, 19 Jun 2003 13:22:05 -0400
Subject: Lights and security systems on shabbat


We have just bought our first house and I have to deal with setting up a
timer system for the lights on shabbat, and modifying the security
system so it can work on shabbat.

The options for lights include an X10 home automation system, mechanical
or electronic timers at the main circuit board, or digital timers at
each light switch.

Options for the security system include shunts, bypasses, and delays of
various types.

Can anyone offer opinions or suggestions on all these, or other, options
(including halachic problems? Details or references on precisely how to
implement, and where to find, any of these solutions would also be


Seth L. Ness M.D., Ph.D     
Fellow in Human Genetics, Department of Human Genetics, Mount Sinai School of Medicine 
Phone:212-241-6947, Fax:212-860-3316


From: David Farkas <DavidF@...>
Date: Wed, 18 Jun 2003 12:43:09 -0400
Subject: Midrash and Torah Text

Our Moderator writes as follows:

"While I do not agree with Ben's characterization of this being a
"rampant problem in Orthodox Judaism today", and understand, especially
in adult discussion that it is awkard to try and constantly identify
what is textual and what is midrashic overlay, I do think this is a
major problem in the education of children in Tanach, where there is no
distinction made. I believe it is very important to know what is in the
text, and what is a midrashic statement."

R. Avi seems to tie the last two sentences together, as if it was a
problem that children are unaware what is in the text and what isn't.  I
disagree.  If children are to be captivated at all by Torah, and if they
are to love Torah and think and dream about Torah as only a child can,
they must be taught the Midrashim as Jews have traditionally been taught
them for hundreds of years. Thus, Og was indeed a giant thousands of
feet tall, Adam was indeed folded by God to fit into his grave, Yakov
was indeed surrounded by quarrelling rocks that merged into one to
support his head.  If we wish to hook the child when he is young, as we
must, he must be encouraged to see the Biblical figures as larger than
life, and imagine his ancestors in this light. For pedagogic purposes,
it is important that our forefathers be seen as more than ordinary men.

Certainly it is important to comprehend the difference between pshat and
drash. But that should be done when the child is holder, and more
sophisticated, and better able to grasp the significance of drash. Lest
one say that all the child's illusions will be shattered, and he will
reject his upbringing as being based upon lies, I will tell you that
generations of parents continue to teach their kids about the tooth
fairy or Santa Claus, with no signs that their children reject ALL
parental teachings as subsequently tainted, following their realization
that these people don't exist. Many of the readers of this list serve
were taught midrash as though it were real when they were young, and are
still good Jews today, having learned that what they were taught as
youngsters was not necessarily historical truth. ( I speak carefully, as
we don't always know which midrashim are allegorical and which are meant
as historical, another problem).  Future generations should not be
denied the opportunity to dream about Torah as most of us did.

I conclude with one observation. The ability to see clearly the
difference between pshat and drash is not for everybody.  It seems to me
that in schools where Tanach is taught to children with a determined
push to emphasize drash, the dropout level from religious life, upon
reaching college age, is much higher than the old fashioned schools that
teach it the old fashioned way. Surely there are other factors that
contribute to this, assuming I am right. But this IS one of the
factors. Not everybody is such an intellectual that he can appreciate
these distinctions( pshat /drash), and schools should not be organized
under the principle that the pupils are the intellectuals the organizers
are. This is no way impacts upon the high standards a school can expect
- intellectualism and intelligence are two different things.

David Farkas
Cleveland, Ohio


From: Sam Saal <ssaal@...>
Date: Thu, 19 Jun 2003 09:16:59 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: Re: Modern Orthodoxy: definition (Chumras)

Allen Gerstl wrote about a particular type of chumra a used an interesting

> ... I believe that the latter view is based upon speculation that
> there is a (Platonic-style) absolute halacha.

I wonder if the Chief Rabbi of England's lecture (advertised in
mail.jewish some time ago) are relevant. See

I found them fascinating.

Sam Saal


From: Zev Sero <zsero@...>
Date: Wed, 18 Jun 2003 14:02:11 -0400
Subject: Not blowing out candles

I was taught that this custom arose in the days of tallow candles, and
the reason was to avoid the possibility of inhaling drops or vapour.
(Chelev is an issur karet, much worse than ordinary treif.)

Zev Sero


From: <nzion@...> (Yehuda Landy)
Date: Thu, 19 Jun 2003 10:15:37 +0300
Subject: Re: Shalosh Megilot with a berakha?

	See Shulchan Oruch OC 490:8, and the Mishnah Berurah 19. In a
nutshell, it is a machalokes between the Taz and Mogen Avraham, while
the Mishnah Berurah concudes that if one recites a brocha while lainging
from a parchment megilah, we do not protest.

	The general ashkenaz custom in Eretz Yisroel is to recite a
brocha when laining from parchment. In chutz lo'oretz it is different.
													Yehuda Landy


From: Ben Z. Katz <bkatz@...>
Date: Wed, 18 Jun 2003 23:05:33 -0500
Subject: Re: Weekday vs Sabbath Blessings for shma

>From: Leah Aharoni <leah25@...>
>Ben Katz wrote:
>> There are at least 2 berachot which are almost universally said with
>> shem and malchut that are post-Talmudic: lehadlik ner shel shabat
>> (geonic) and sheasani kirtzono (according to abudraham [14th cent.]
>> "recently introduced").
>"Almost universally" excludes the overwhelming majority of Sephardi
>women who say "sheasani kertzono" WITHOUT shem umalchut.

	I meant among ashkenazim.  i apologize.  (one ashkenazi
exception i am aware of is that of jacob emden - in his sidur [newly
available with an english translation] he says to leave out shem and

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


End of Volume 39 Issue 88