Volume 39 Number 91
                 Produced: Fri Jun 27  5:24:04 US/Eastern 2003

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Blowing out a flame
         [Danny Skaist]
Brief Comments
         [Shlomo & Syma Spiro]
Buck the Trend - Halacha and Health
         [Michael Kahn]
Hebrew/secular calendar
         [Art Werschulz]
Not blowing out candles
         [Warren Burstein]
         [Ben Katz]
Where Do Words Come From?
         [Yael Levine Katz]
Where do words come from? (2)
         [Stan Tenen, Shimon Lebowitz]


From: Danny Skaist <danny@...>
Date: Tue, 24 Jun 2003 08:27:03 +0200
Subject: Blowing out a flame

>> I saw this a couple of years ago. If I remember correctly, it is a
>> persons soul is compared to candle as per the pasuk, Ner Elokim Nishmas
>> Adam.

>I, too, have been given this reason since childhood. But it has always
>puzzled me as to why it should be worse to blow out a flame than to
>extinguish it by any other means.

Could it be because the soul was "blown" into man, and until Ya'akov
people would die with a sneeze ?



From: Shlomo & Syma Spiro <spiro@...>
Date: Wed, 25 Jun 2003 18:28:38 +0200
Subject: Brief Comments

BSD, 24 Sivan and June

Regarding the streimel:
I read somewhere that in the middle ages the European governments
demanded that the Jews distinguish themselves by wearing special hats of
animal fur.  ( Something like the yellow patch) In portraits of Jews
painted at the time one can see the peculiar head dress, an example of
which can be seen at the Diaspora Museum in Tel Aviv. So the Jews took
what was to be a sign of degradation and transformed it and elevated it
into an expression of sanctity.

To Mike Gerver
  and anyone else collecting similarities in etymologies,see The Word, 
Isaac E. Mozeson , Shapolsky Publishers , New York 1989, a study of Hebrew 
roots for very many English terms.

Re folding one's talit at the end of shabbat as an expression of love for 
one's wife
It seems to me any fine gesture by a husband at any time can be translated 
into an expression of love if it is so intended. One doesn't have to look 
for roundabout interpretations.


From: Michael Kahn <mi_kahn@...>
Date: Thu, 19 Jun 2003 11:12:27 -0400
Subject: Re: Buck the Trend - Halacha and Health

>This being a halacha-oriented discussion group, the question is, then,
>to whom does halacha defer with regard to medical decisions? A parent
>with little or no medical knowledge vs. a physician? Or doctors at the
>fringe of the medical community vs. a broad consensus? Remember: sakanta
>chamura me'issurah; even if some may be willing to "buck the trend" and
>use umbrellas and bicycles on shabbos, one must be very wary of going
>"bishrirus liba" in deciding not to vaccinate her child.

If a person is willing to buck the trend regarding hallacha but not
health I think it shows that they care more about their health than
their hallacha.  (I'm not accusing you of this. I know you were just
making a point. I'm making a general comment which raises the issue of
whether or not one can follow fringe hallacha akin to your discussing
fringe medicine.)


From: Art Werschulz <agw@...>
Date: Tue, 24 Jun 2003 10:19:35 -0400 (EDT)
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.

The OU's Torah Tidbits page had an interesting discussino of this
topic recently.  See

Art Werschulz 
GCS/M (GAT): d? -p+ c++ l u+(-) e--- m* s n+ h f g+ w+ t++ r- y? 
Internet: <agw@...><a href="http://www.cs.columbia.edu/~agw/">WWW</a>
ATTnet:   Columbia U. (212) 939-7061, Fordham U. (212) 636-6325


From: Warren Burstein <warren@...>
Date: Tue, 24 Jun 2003 15:26:54 +0400
Subject: Re: Not blowing out candles

>From: Zev Sero <zsero@...>
>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.)

Is there a prohibition against inhaling chelev?


From: Ben Katz <bkatz@...>
Date: Mon, 23 Jun 2003 12:41:46 -0500
Subject: Re: Superstition

>From: Stephen Phillips <stephenp@...>
> > From: Eli Turkel <turkel@...>
> > > I've heard of this one. Our Rov will not blow out candles as,
> > > apparently, the sound of the blowing creates "Mazikim" [damaging
> > > forces]. That's definitely not superstition.

> > Saying its not superstition doesn't mean it isn't.  Rambam definitely
> > wouldn't agree.  What makes something superstition or not?

>Superstition is an irrational belief arising from ignorance or fear. If
>there is good reason for avoiding something (as I have suggested is the
>case here) then I would submit that it is not superstition.

         I guess it depends what you mean by irrational.  Saying something 
has a reason does not mean that the reason is not irrational.  Mazikim are 
an irrational belief and thus the above action is superstitious.


From: Yael Levine Katz <ylkpk@...>
Date: Wed, 25 Jun 2003 14:13:40 +0200
Subject: Where Do Words Come From?

I would refer those interested in the topic of possible affinities between
English and Hebrew words to the work of Isaac E. Mozeson, The Word: The
Dictionary That Reveals the Hebrew Source of English, New York: Shapolsky,


From: Stan Tenen <meru1@...>
Date: Mon, 23 Jun 2003 12:14:44 -0400
Subject: Where do words come from?

On the face of it, Tobias Robison's "Where do words come from?" would
seem to be reasonable. But actually, for reasons most people don't
remember or don't consider, it can't be.

Regardless of the merits of current linguistic hypotheses -- the
Indo-European language theories and several alternatives -- none of
these is appropriate to Torah Hebrew, and in fact they are all
antithetical to Torah Hebrew, Torah tradition, and halacha.

Here is what Isaac Mozeson has to say in the Introduction to his English
root-dictionary based on Hebrew roots, called "The WORD", about the
development of modern linguistics:

>"The new linguists never bothered to scientifically disprove the 
>time-honored belief in the primacy of Hebrew, because, like most 
>scientists and atheists, they worked from deep religious convictions.  [. 
>. .] Accepted into the Indo-Aryan axis of languages were Balto-Slavic, 
>Celtic, classical Greek and Latin-with all their alleged offspring-and 
>even Indo-Iranian.  [. . .] The linguists developed a theoretical, 
>prototype language that could even claim Sanskrit as a child. And so, for 
>the past several decades Western historical linguists have been the proud 
>Dr. Frankenstein ceators of a proto "Indo-European" language that 
>curiously favors the Germanic element.  Who would research Hebrew as the 
>root language when even the Ph.D's in Semitics hung Hebrew out on a limb 
>called West Semitic? Nobody uncovered a clay tablet of Proto-Semitic, but 
>surely, the argument went, Hebrew evolved from older more cumbersome 
>languages. [. . .]
>"The logic was consistent with Bible criticism. If the Babylonians and 
>other peoples (including American Indians) all have a flood myth, then the 
>Biblical flood must also be a myth borrowed from an older source (or a 
>coincidental contrivance invented to explain a natural phenomenon.) [. . .]

(Mozeson's complete Introduction to "The WORD" can be read at 

So, whether or not ordinary linguistic theories apply to ordinary
languages, they don't apply to Hebrew. Even more problematic is the fact
that these ordinary linguistic theories are the main foundation of the
anti-Torah Documentary Hypothesis, and School of Higher Criticism,
neither of which would make sense if Hebrew were not an ordinary

Torah Hebrew roots are sentences, formed by the word-name meanings of
each of their letters. This is not true of any other language. (Remnants
of this permeate all of the languages derived from and related to Torah

It is well known that the names of animals mentioned in Torah consist of
letter-sequences that describe some special feature by which the animal
is known or is to be known.

For example, "Pil" for "elephant" literally means "Mouth-Hand-Learning"
(Pe-Yud-Lamed). And, of course, elephants use their mouth-hands (that
is, their trunks) to work and learn, just as we use our mouths and hands

"Sus" is a horse. Samek-Vav-Samek is "To sustain and sustain", or "to
sustain doing sustenance". A horse is known because it carries us on its
back (sustains us), and because it pulls our ploughs, and thus provides
us with sustenance and support. This is the meaning of Samek-Vav-Samek,

The same is true for all Torah Hebrew roots. Also, unlike modern
languages which are noun-based, Hebrew is a "rheomode language," which
means it's verb-based. Hebrew is not concerned with "things" primarily
("things" can always become idols), but rather, with processes, and in
particular, processes of self-organization, growth, and decay --

As Mozeson and others have pointed out, theories that letters carry
individual meaning were prevalent in the mid-1800's, and roundly refuted
and rejected throughout academia because no credible examples could be
provided. Likewise, the idea that letter-shapes carry particular
meaning, or are based on articulations of the mouth or body, were also
widely proposed, roundly refuted, and seemingly permanently rejected.

Once letters are stripped of intrinsic meaning and their shapes
considered arbitrary, then Hebrew is reduced to an ordinary language,
and presumptions based on this mistake then allow for the anti-Torah
edifices of the Documentary Hypothesis and the School of Higher
Criticism, which find Torah to be no more than a humanly-written and
edited self-promoting storybook.  (My thesis that the letter shapes and
meanings derive from _meaningful_ hand-gestures _is_ a plausible example
and response.)

Once we (the halachic community and Torah scholars) also buy into the
standard linguistic and paleographic theories, we leave ourselves open
to distortions in our own understanding of the fundamental root-words in
Torah Judaism, and this leads to additional misunderstanding and damage.

As I've pointed out, "segulah", as in "Am Segulah," ordinarily
translated "chosen [people]", is a source of braggadocio on the part of
some Jews, and a source of jealousy towards Jews on the part of
others. But "segulah" only means "chosen" in a very particular way. It's
not the noun-state of permanently being "chosen", but rather, the
process of learning to choose well, which is open to all.

Gimel=action or relationship
Lamed=learning and studying

Segulah means "to sustain the action of learning", which leads to our
being able to make good decisions. We are not the static "chosen"
people, we are instead a light unto the nations, intended to demonstrate
the benefits of sustained learning, which leads to our being the
"well-choosing" people.

None of this is clever craft or coincidence. Torah Hebrew was given to
us this way. Torah Hebrew is not related to Canaanite vernacular, though
the vernacular may have derived from it (as may have many other related
Semitic and Greek language groups).

The Sod level of Torah, the foundation level, is dependent on the
individual meaning of letters, and the acronym/sentence meaning of Torah
Hebrew roots. This is why there are equal-interval letter-skip patterns
in Torah (and not because of some prophetic mishmosh proposed by
prophet/profit-seeking "pop" authors).

And because the Hebrew letters are based on a natural universal and
extraordinarily elegant set of meanings, the use of Hebrew to decode the
intrinsic meaning of non-Hebrew roots -- even neologisms, such as "okay"
-- is also possible, and _possibly_ meaningful.

"O", of course, is short for the vowel-sound represented by our letter
Vav.  Vav means "to do".

"Kay", of course, is Kaf, and Kaf means "to hold" (what the palm of a
hand does). "Okay" means "to agree with," because it means "[I] do-hold"
on to or with something, as in "who holds by this". The "y" at the end
of "okay" is the possessive Yud meaning "I" or "my". Okay? <smile>

The affirmative "Ken" is consistent with this. The Kaf refers to
holding, and the final Nun to continuing [to do so]. In Hebrew, Ken is
"yes". In English, it's "can", as in "can do", and "ken" as in

Be well.

Meru Foundation  http://www.meru.org   <meru1@...>

From: Shimon Lebowitz <shimonl@...>
Date: Wed, 25 Jun 2003 15:49:43 +0200
Subject: Re: Where do words come from?

> 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."

This sounds amazing. I don't know if we want the list 'cluttered' with a
lot of learned etymological studies, but do you think you could post a
simple little table of the examples you just gave?

Something like:
isle - from .......
island - from ......

That example, gold/gelt, and shmadX2 really surprised me.

Shimon Lebowitz                     mailto:<shimonl@...>
Jerusalem, Israel                   mailto:<shimonl@...>


End of Volume 39 Issue 91