Volume 39 Number 90
                 Produced: Wed Jun 25  6:34:15 US/Eastern 2003

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Aseret Bnei Haman
         [David Shabtai]
Bit of Trivia
         [Amitai Bin-Nun]
Day Schools in America
         [Binyomin Segal]
Engagement Announcement
         [Ari Trachtenberg]
         [Alexander Seinfeld]
Shalosh Megilot with a berakha?
         [Yehonatan Chipman]
Standing During Lekha Dodi
         [Yehonatan Chipman]
Where do words come from?
         [Mike Gerver]
Request: East Berlin
         [David I. Cohen]


From: David Shabtai <dys6@...>
Date: Mon, 23 Jun 2003 09:17:32 -0400
Subject: Aseret Bnei Haman

From: Meir Possenheimer <meir@...>

> "Another "custom" which IMHO is also based on a misunderstanding, is that
> whereby those listening to the Megillah on Purim say the names of the
> sons of Haman before the Ba'al Koreh. (cf Chaye Odom who decries the
> custom). I can only imagine that when the Ba'al Koreh paused for breath
> in order to read them all in a single breath, the tzibur got the
> mistaken idea that he was waiting for them to read it first as is the
> case with Ish Yehudi, Umordechai yotzo, LaYehudim, etc .........."

I recently heard a "real" reason for this practice in the name of Rav
Chaim Soloveitchik.  By Birkat Cohanim, the priestly blessing, the Torah
says "Amor Lahem" say to them - which the midrash (or gemara, I'm not
sure) explains to mean, say aloud - as an additional element to just
saying.  Therefore, when a Cohen gets up to bless the people, he cannot
just say the bracha and listen to the words of another Cohen - like we
do by kiddush or reading the megillah or the torah (one person reads, we
all listen and it is "as if" we had said it as well) - since this
principle of "shomea k'onneh" - one who listens is like one who says -
only applies to actual reading and words, but not to any additional
trappings contained.  Since birkat cohanim requires the additional
element of "be'kol ram" - aloud - this is more than just speaking and
one Cohen cannot just listen to another, but must say the words aloud as
well.  Similarly, by the names of Haman's children, they must be read in
one breath - not just read, but read in a special way.  As such, in
order for the tzibbur to be as if they had read the words, they must
read them themselves, because to hear them from the person reading is
not enough - since there are special additions to this reading. 

I don't know if R' Chaim said this last part, but some people had
objections to it.

David Shabtai


From: Amitai Bin-Nun <readsscience@...>
Date: Mon, 23 Jun 2003 16:38:40 -0500
Subject: Bit of Trivia

The following question came up in the course of a conversation,and I was 
wondering if anybody knew the answer: What was the earliest use of a 
computer in the service of Judaism/ Jewish Studies? I know that this may be 
vaguely defined, but I would like to see how far back any attempt to utilize 
this modern technology goes. It would be interesting to see how long it took 
before someone in the Jewish community thought of and was actually able to 
add to Jewish tradition using a radically new medium (MJ of course 
representing a particularly admirable and felicitous example).

Amitai Bin-Nun

[To give you some dates for MJ, the list itself dates back to 1986, I
think. Prior to that, I had organized a weekly dvar torah on
net.religion.jewish (the forerunner of soc.culture.jewish) in 1984. So
I'm coming close to 20 years doing Jewish related activities on
line. Avi.]


From: Binyomin Segal <bsegal@...>
Date: Mon, 23 Jun 2003 07:47:03 -0500
Subject: Re: Day Schools in America

Some time ago, I made a generalization:
> it seems pretty well documented that a few charedim developed the
> forerunners of the modern day school in new york c 1890-1940 
> and then made a conscious choice to market it nationwide through torah 
> umesorah.

I was asked for sources, and have really just been a bit lazy in getting
together what I thought might be the best ones. I just finished reading
an excellent source in this regard:

The History and Impact of Torah Umesorah and Hebrew Day Schools in 

It is a 1976 PhD Dissertation (YU) from Doniel Zvi Kramer.

His story is perhaps a bit more nuanced than my simple generalization.
He points out that although Torah Umesorah was started by many that
would be characterized as charedim, much of its success was that it was
able to form a broad consensus of people working together. For example,
the professional head of Torah Umesorah was from Hapoel Mizrachi,
Related to that, he points out that Torah Umesorah worked with lay
people in each community of very varied sorts. As long as the person was
willing to help start a day school, Torah Umesorah would work with them.

(As an aside, this is related to our discussion about conservative and
reform. The rabbinical board of Torah Umesorah had veto power over any
thing they did, and included such greats as Rav Ahron Kutler, Rav Moshe
Feinstein, etc. Yet they did NOT object to working even with
conservative and reform rabbis to start schools, as long as the schools
would be orthodox in its teachings.)

My generalization is though, I think, still valid. He describes the
vision of Rav Shraga Feivel Mendlowitz as the driving force behind the
creation of an organization dedicated to creating day schools throughout
america. Rav Shraga Feivel can I think be fairly characterized as
chareidi. And he involved many of his students as well.

As for whether schools were created that were not made with Torah
Umesorahs help, Kramer says: "Individual schools might for their own
reasons ascribe their birht to forces other than Torah Umesorah, but
most of them must credit the favorable climate of opinion which Torah
Umesorah helped create."

For those that find the dissertation hard to find, a number of other
books paint a similar (if less scholarly) picture. The artscroll
biography of Reb Shraga Feivel (there is a scholarly biography, also a
dissertation, that paints the same picture). And though he doesn't
develop the idea to the same extent, Schiff in The Jewish Day School in
America concedes that Torah Umesorah was heavily responsible for the
birth of day schools in america.

Hope this is helpful to some, and I apologize for the delay.

binyomin segal


From: Ari Trachtenberg <trachten@...>
Date: Mon, 23 Jun 2003 11:08:23 -0400
Subject: Engagement Announcement

I am very happy for all the recent announcements of engagements, births,
marriages, etc.  It is truly wonderful to hear of such s'machot at this
difficult time in Jewish history.  Nevertheless, I am also concerned
about the list being flooded with announcements from all the readers (I
have some I'd be happy to publicize :-) ... are there guidelines,
established or not, about what kind of announcements are suitable for
the list?

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

[There are no published guidelines. Several years ago, the volume of
Announcements got large enough that I split it off as a seperate mailing
list. If it stays in the range of 1 announcement or request per issue, I
would consider keeping things as they are. As for what is appropriate
and not appropriate, publicizing simcha's sounds good to
me. Announcements of books on Jewish topics from members is also
good. Articles are always welcome to be put or linked to on the
mail-jewish home page and then a short announcement in the list. I'd
prefer to stay away from requests to sell and housing related
announcements. Based on replies to this, I may make up a more formal
policy and add it to the web and welcome message. Mod.]


From: Alexander Seinfeld <aseinfeld@...>
Date: Mon, 23 Jun 2003 16:23:21 -0700
Subject: Re: Kavvana

As a reader of Seth Kadish's temendous book, I highly recommend it.

As a writer, please forgive me for mentioning my new book, The Art of
Amazement: Discover Judaism's Forgotten Spirituality -- a pocket-sized
"handbook" to developing greater kavvana in brachot, kriat Shema, tefila
and general deveikut Hashem. Available at many Jewish bookstores in the
US and Israel and on amazon.com (where you can find more information).
It has been successful as both an outreach and an inreach tool. It now
comes with an audio CD or tape.

Alexander Seinfeld


From: Yehonatan Chipman <yonarand@...>
Date: Mon, 23 Jun 2003 21:30:39 +0300
Subject: Shalosh Megilot with a berakha?

In MJ v39n83, William Friedman asks about the practice, mentioned in the
Koren Mahzor for Shalosh Regalim, to recite a blessing when reading the
megilot from a k'laf.

     The source lies in the practice of the Perushim in Yerushalayim
(descendants of disciples of the Vilna Gaon, who came to Eretz Yisarel
ca. 1810 or 1820), whose custom is pretty authoritative for all
Ashkenazim in Yerushalayim.  Traditionally, their piety and learning are
so venerated that nobody in Yerushalayim would dare suggest that their
minhagim are wrong.

     As for the actual rationale for saying a brakha: There is a
well-known discussion in the gemara, among other places at Shabbat 23a,
in connection with the blessing over Hanukkah candles, in which it is
asked "How can we say 'asher kidshanu' about a Rabbinic commandment?"
The answer given is that the Torah commands us to listen to the words of
the Sages (the actual verse which proves this is either Deut 17:11 or
32:7).  Stretching the point a little bit, one could argue the same
about this.

     The issue itself, with views pro and con, appears in the Shulhan
Arukh in connection with Hilkhot Pesah, Orah Hayyim 490.9, in Ram"a; but
see M.B. #19, and Biur ha-Gera.

     Concerning the earlier discussion about the treatment of the five
megillot as a group: it is interesting that the Midrash Rabbah consists
of ten books: five midrashim on the five books of the Humash, and five
for the five megillot.  This means that the five megillot were seen as a
distinctive grouping by the time this was compiled.  But as that was
only 1000 or 1200 years ago, it doesn't prove very much.

    Yehonatan Chipman, Yerushalayim


From: Yehonatan Chipman <yonarand@...>
Date: Mon, 23 Jun 2003 21:46:02 +0300
Subject: Re:  Standing During Lekha Dodi

In mj v39n81, Russell Hendel wrote: )

<<With regard to reciting Lechah Dodi standing let me add just one other
minor point which has not been brought up yet.  The Rav (Soloveitchick)
once mentioned that all commandment blessings should be done standing
(eg the blessings on Shofar Megillah Omer etc).  Similarly the positive
commandments should be done standing (eg Shofar, Sefirah etc).  Recall
that Biblically a person can fulfill the commandment of REMEMBERING THE
SHABBATH by simply mentioning the Shabbath.  In that vein, Lechah Dodi
is the Biblical way of fulfilling REMEMBERING THE SHABBATH (which eg
women who have not prayed fulfill by saying/hearning Kiddush).
Therefore, Lechah Dodi should be said standing since it is a fulfillment
of a Biblical commandment.>>

     I once heard a shiur given by Rav Lichtenstein here in Israel in
memory of the Rav (I think the occasion was the first Yahrzeit). The
theme was the Rav's method of interrelating halakha and thought, and
Kabbalat Shabbat was brought as an illustration.  He said that the whole
series of actions performed to receive the Shabbat are analogous to the
laws of Shemonah Esreh, because both involve "Kabbalat Pnei Hashekhinah"
-- receiving / honoring the Divine Presence.

     He specifically mentioned Rambam, Hillkhot Shabbat 30.2: "And [on
Shabbat eve] one wraps oneself in tzitzit and sits with serious demeanor
awaiting the face of the Shabbat, as if he is going to out to greet a
king.  And the early Sages would gather their students on Erev Shabbat
and wrap themselves [in their fringed garments] and say 'Let us go out
and greet Shabbat the king.'"  (Note how Shabbat is here called a king,
and not a queen!  Otherwise, this looks very much like a precursor of
Lekha Dodi as we know it.  This law is based on Shabbat 119a.  there,
'though Rav Haninna calls Shabbat a king, Rav Yannai calls her a bride!)

    Interestingly, this law is classified by Rambam, not under the
rubric of remembering the Shabbat, but that of honoring the Shabbat.

    A second question about this theory: It seems to me that one could
easily find all sorts of positive commandments that are not necessarily
performed in a standing posture.  A prime example: Keriat Shema, which
davka is recited done in whatever posture you find yourself, and it's
forbidden to change.  More to the point: those, such as the Rav, who
belong to the Litvishe tradition, make Kiddush on Friday night ( which
is of course a fulfillment of "Zakhor et yom hashabbat lekadsho" --
remembering the Shabbat) -- in a SEATED POSTURE.

    Also, one must take into account the fact that there are many
communities that sit throughout Lekha Dodi (except for the last verse),
including among them gedolei Torah ve-yirat shamayim.

     The Rav, though, consistent with his understanding, stood
throughout Kabbalat Shabbat, not only for Lekha Dodi, but from Lekhu
Nerannah on.

   Yehonatan Chipman


From: <MJGerver@...> (Mike Gerver)
Date: Mon, 23 Jun 2003 18:55:33 EDT
Subject: Where do words come from?

Regarding Tobias Robison's posting on this topic in v39n87--

1) No one is suggesting that gentile comes from Yenta, or from Juanita.
The question is whether Yenta comes from Juanita or from gentile. It
seems quite clear that gentile comes from Latin gens, and that Juanita
is a feminine diminutive of Juan, which comes from Hebrew Yochanan.

2) Ernest Klein's Comprehensive Etymological Dictionary of the Hebrew
Language for English Speakers lists kuntres as coming from Latin
commentarius. Rabbi Klein zt"l was a careful and knowledgeable scholar
of historical linguistics, so I'm sure that the evidence for this, if
not air tight, is at least based on much more than "sounding clever or

It is true, though, that there are lots of etymologies that sound very
plausible but aren't true. I've been collecting these for years, in both
English and Hebrew, and have a list of over 40 of them. Some examples of
pairs of words that are NOT etymologically related even though most
people would assume they are: isle and island; gold and gelt; gory and
"to gore;" afraid and fright; coward and "to cow;" Hawaiian kahuna
(which means a priest in the native Hawaiian religion) and Hebrew kohen;
shmad meaning "destroy" and shmad meaning "convert to Christianity."

Mike Gerver
Raanana, Israel


From: <bdcohen@...> (David I. Cohen)
Date: Mon, 23 Jun 2003 16:30:30 -0400
Subject: Request: East Berlin

Does anyone have any current information on Orthodox Jewish life in East
Berlin, Germany. Specifically, availability of kosher food, location of
any minyanim etc.

Please respond directly to me off list.
David I. Cohen


End of Volume 39 Issue 90