Volume 40 Number 04
                 Produced: Mon Jul  7 23:46:56 US/Eastern 2003

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

         [Arthur Kurzweil]
Buying "Minhagei Yisrael"
         [Daniel Alexander]
Clarification: The Making of a Godol
         [Mark Steiner]
Computers and Hebrew etymology
         [Saul Mashbaum]
Converts, captive women and Ruth, redux (2)
         [Elazar M Teitz, W. Baker]
Cut Open Chicken Legs
         [Yosef Gavriel and Shoshanah M. Bechhofer]
Eshet Yefat Toar
         [Yair Horowitz]
Hebrew Websites That Contain Contemporary She'elot u-Teshuvot
         [Yael Levine Katz]
Yeshivat Har Etzion CDs
         [Eli Lansey]


From: Arthur Kurzweil <arthur.kurzweil@...>
Date: Mon, 7 Jul 2003 15:49:02 -0400
Subject: abracadabra

In a new book by Rabbi Aaron Eli Glatt titled "Women of the Talmud", the
author writes:

"...I heard a shiur from HaRav Yissachar Frand shlita, in which he gave a
fascinating etymological derivation for the incantation 'abra cadabra."
Translated into Aramaic, the language of he Gemara, abra cadabra becomes
(from right to left), "aleph/beis/resh/aleph",
"cof/dalet/beis/resh/aleph." Translated, that means "I created as I
spoke," possibly a lame allusion by the magician to the fact that Hashem
created the world from nothingness by simply speaking." (p. 143) 

Arthur Kurzweil


From: Daniel Alexander <jane21267@...>
Date: Mon, 07 Jul 2003 14:41:19 +0000
Subject: Buying "Minhagei Yisrael"

Does anyone have any suggestions of how I could get hold of Prof Daniel
Sperber's multivolume "Minhagei Yisrael" (I think it's published by Ktav
- at least the English excerpts were, if I recall rightly) here in
London? I am quite happy to buy from either the States or Israel and
have it shipped but the last time I did this the shipping cost as much
as the books.

- Daniel Alexander


From: Mark Steiner <ms151@...>
Date: Mon, 7 Jul 2003 12:25:24 -0400
Subject: Clarification: The Making of a Godol

    I would like to issue a clarification concerning a posting of mine
about Reb Nosson Kamenetzky's book, The Making of a Godol.  I wrote that
Reb Nosson told me that Reb Aharon Kotler was "arrogant," a judgment
borne out by the stories he tells about the Roshe Yeshiva of
Kletzk/Lakewood.  Reb Nosson asserts that he never used the word
"arrogant" in our conversation.

    Furthermore, I argued that Reb Aharon's "arrogance" in other
circumstances could be called "steadfastness" a trait without which Reb
Aharon could never have started his yeshiva in materialist America,
against all the pundits including great rabbonim.  Reb Nosson showed me
a passage, destined for a future volume, in which he makes this exact
point!  One can only hope that the next volumes will appear and that Reb
Noosn will not be deterred from doing so.

Mark Steiner


From: Saul Mashbaum <smash52@...>
Date: Sun, 06 Jul 2003 22:33:20 +0300
Subject: Computers and Hebrew etymology

The most recent issue of "B'Sheva" newspaper, published in Israel by
Arutz Sheva, has a very interesting article by Aharon Granovitch about
"HaAcademia L'Lashon HaIvrit" (The Hebrew Language Academy), an academic
institution devoted to the study of the Hebew language, which also deals
with finding Hebrew words for modern terms. The writer pointed out
several times in the course of the article that the major research
project of the academy, which deals with the etymology of the Hebrew
language, has been computer-based since its inception in the 1960's.  So
there you have it, two MJ threads in one article.

I am including the following because I cannot resist the temptation. I
hope most MJers will find it amusing, and those who don't will be
forgiving. It is a true story.

Several years ago I taught a computer course at Michlala (Jerusalem
College for Women). I noted that a certain program had a "bug" in it; to
my surprise, one of the students said she didn't understand the term.  I
told the story, which is probably well known to many readers, that once,
in the early days of computers when programming consisted to a large
extent of building computer circuits, a program which didn't work was
found to be malfunctioning because a moth had entered the computer.
Since then, a program which didn't work was said to have a bug in it.  I
ended my explanation by pointing out that having described the
derivation of the term bug, I had thus given them a lesson in etymology
and entymology simultaneously.

Saul Mashbaum


From: Elazar M Teitz <remt@...>
Date: Mon, 7 Jul 2003 23:15:35 -0400
Subject: Re: Converts, captive women and Ruth, redux

        Much of the comment on this topic, and the conclusions drawn
therefrom, are based on a literal reading of the few verses appearing in
the Torah, with no attention paid to their elucidation in Torah sheb'al
peh [Oral Law].

        The laws, as codified in Rambam (Laws of Kings and their Wars,
chapter 8), based on the Talmud, stipulate that (a) it is prohibited to
have relations and abandon the woman; he must take her home afterwards;
(b) he is permitted to have relations just once during the war, and he
is permitted that act with one woman only; (c) after the thirty-day
process outlined in the Torah, if she accepts Judaism, she must undergo
the normal conversion process, and two months later he may marry her
(unlike other female converts, who must wait three months after
conversion before a Jew may marry her; in this case, the month of
"crying for her father and mother" is counted towards the three months);
(d) if she does not consent to conversion, he may try to convince her
for up to a year, during which she is prohibited to him, and if she
still does not wish to convert, she is free to go; (e) at no time may he
utilize her as a servant or sell her into slavery.

        Given the above, most of the comments made and questions raised
are either irrelevant or incorrect.  There was no quickie conversion for
these "war brides," and no exception to the rule that conversion
requires consent.

        (Parenthetically, for those who read the verses literally, where
does the Torah state that rape is permitted?  The verse reads, "If you
go out to war on your enemy . . . and see among the captives a
good-looking woman and you lust for her, you may take her unto you for a
wife."  It is only from the Oral Law that we learn the permission to
have relations once, and even that permission is a matter of dispute in
the Talmud, with one opinion prohibiting her to him until after the
entire conversion process.)

Elazar M. Teitz

From: W. Baker <wbaker@...>
Date: Mon, 7 Jul 2003 22:07:11 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Re: Converts, captive women and Ruth, redux

I have always assumed that the pshat of the discussion of the procedure
for the captive woman was for her benefit and was to prevent rape.  It
always seems to be one of the more sympathetic to women passages of the
Torah, even for a non-Jewish woman.  It seems also to be an effort to
keep Jewish men from the bestiality of warfare, along with bal tashchit,
and sparing the trees.  These two concepts seem to be trying to set
Jewish behavior above the behavior of those among whom they live and

Wendy Baker


From: Yosef Gavriel and Shoshanah M. Bechhofer
Date: Mon, 07 Jul 2003 22:11:18 -0400
Subject: Cut Open Chicken Legs

>From: Gamoran, Sam <Sgamoran@...>
>A whole Rabbanut chicken in Israel looks much like an Empire chicken in
>the States - neck attached, no feet but no giblets.  The Bada"tz
>chickens all have the drumsticks sliced open as if someone was trying to
>remove a "gid hanashe" (sciatic nerve) as required for kashrut in large
>animals but not applicable to birds and fowl.
>Could someone enlighten me as to why the legs are cut open?

They are probably checking the tzomes ha'giddin - a complicated business, 
since there are sixteen of them, IIRC.

Kol Tuv,
<ygb@...>  or  ygb@yerushalmionline.org
essays, tapes and seforim at: www.aishdas.org;
on-line Yerushalmi shiurim at www.yerushalmionline.org


From: <Ggntor@...> (Yair Horowitz)
Date: Mon, 7 Jul 2003 22:56:43 EDT
Subject: Eshet Yefat Toar

While I admit that I don't have answers to your logical objections to my
answer, it seems as if a number of sources agree with my statement. I
will also present a number of other options.

According to Kiddushin 21b, the Torah grants the soldier the yefat toar
only as the better of two evils. In other words, the Torah prefers the
option of marriage to the possibility that warriors, overcome by the
trauma of battle, will engage in rapacious behavior.

Going along with the raping and pillaging, many commentators (Ibn Ezra,
Rashbam) believe that the soldier already had intercourse with (raped?)
the woman in the heat of the battle.

Rav and shmuel both agree that the nature of this law is "lo dibra Totah
ela k'neged yetzer ha'ra," "the Torah is here making a 'concession,' so
to speak, to human nature. For the soldier's emotions are very raw; he
is after all, in the context of war, being permitted, in fact obligated,
to take human life, a primitive human instinct which the Torah usually
keeps under tight control. Gratification of sexual desire at will,
compared by the Torah in the case of rape to the spilling of blood, is
also held in check by the discipline of the Torah. When one bond is
loosened, he cannot be held to the same degree of self-control with
regard to the other.

It is possible that there are certain mitzvot of this kind in the Torah
i.e. mitzvot whose moral standing is under question despite the Torah
presenting them as standard Halakha. When Rashi talks about Mitzvat
Eshet Yefat Toar in Devarim 21:10, he tells us that this is a non-ideal
mitzva - "dibra Torah k'ngged Yetzer Hara" - that it is a mitzva which
"allows" for human failure.

The Zohar seems to agree with Rashi about the non-ideal nature of this
mitzva. One explanation of why the Jewish soldier must wait before
converting and marrying this captive is so that his desire for her may
wane. It is hoped that he will lose interest on account of her weeping,
shorn hair, long nails, and plain garb.

On the same note: "The beautiful captive woman (eishet yefat toar) is
immediately followed by the wayward and rebellious son (ben sorer
umoreh), to teach you that he who marries the first will beget the
second" (Sanhedrin 107a). Uncontrollable lust leads to uncontrollable

Also see the gemara in Chullin (109b) where Yalta tells her husband Rav
Nahman. "Kol Deasar Lan Rahmana, Shara Lan Kevateilk - For everything
that the Torah forbids us, it permits us an equivalent." One of her
examples is that while the Torah forbids marriage to a non-Jew, it
permits marriage to the Ayshet Yefat Toar - the non-Jewish woman taken
captive in war." Just another take on things.

The Rambam explicitly permits the soldier his passion on the battlefield
(Hilchot Melachim 8:2). Preceding this halacha is the Rambam's striking
definition of a soldier's role (ibid. 7:15): "And as [the soldier]
engages in battle, he should know that he is waging war for the sake of
yichud Hashem and he should not think of his wife and children and he
should turn his attention from everything to [concentrate on] the war
and [he should feel] that the blood of the entire Jewish people is on
his throat. Following this charge to the soldier, the Rambam states that
troops, upon entering enemy territory, may eat otherwise forbidden
foods, including neveilot and treifot, if they cannot obtain kosher
rations. They may also drink yayin nesech. The next halacha in the
Rambam is that of the yefat toar - that is, "if his desire overpowers

As emerges from the Rambam's charge to the soldier, the Rambam seems
primarily concerned that a soldier concentrate on fighting his battles.
The Torah suspends its dietary laws to minimize the distraction that
would accompany a search for kosher food. Similarly, yefat toar is not a
sanction on the part of the Torah for a lustful affair, but rather a
means of keeping the troops focused on waging the war and not allowing
them to become distracted by a beautiful captive.

-Yair Horowitz

(The above sources were compiled from various books and websites)


From: Yael Levine Katz <ylkpk@...>
Date: Mon, 07 Jul 2003 19:51:56 +0200
Subject: Hebrew Websites That Contain Contemporary She'elot u-Teshuvot

I am interested in URLs of Israeli websites that contain contemporary
she'elot u-teshuvot. I am aware of the extensive number of teshuvot on
moreshet.co.il. I am also familiar with kipa.co.il
I wonder if list members are aware of any additional such sites or could
refer me to a site that lists sites of this type.



From: Eli Lansey <elansey@...>
Date: Sun, 6 Jul 2003 23:00:15 +0300 (IDT)
Subject: Yeshivat Har Etzion CDs

	We are currently offering a set of CD-ROMs containing audio
recordings of shiurim (Torah lectures) delivered over the course of the
past two years at Yeshivat Har Etzion ("Gush").  These recordings are in
MP3 format (which can be listened to on most computers with CD-ROM
drives and MP3 CD players [many new Discmen]).

While these CD-ROMs were originally intended for students and alumni of
Yeshivat Har Etzion, we are now pleased to be able to offer them to the
general public as well.

There is a wide range of recording, including series of shiurim on
topics in Gemara, Tanach, Halacha, Machshava (Jewish thought), along
with a collection of sichot (discourses) on holidays, mussar (ethical)
topics, as well as contemporary issues.  A full list of topics, each
shiur labelled with its lecturer and language, can be found at:
http://gushcds.netfirms.com/cdchart.html, and a detailed (interim) list
can be found at

The cost of each CD-ROM is $3.95, excluding shipping.  All CD-ROMs not
picked up in Yeshivat Har Etzion must be shipped (at slight additional
cost).  Please note that no financial benefit is being derived either by
the Yeshiva or by anyone involved with the YHE CD Project (other than
the company duplicating the CDs, and the postal service).

Orders can be placed securely with a credit card via 'PayPal' at
http://gushcds.netfirms.com The deadline for internet orders is August

For more information feel free to contact us at <elansey@...> or
by phone at +972 53-967-835

Eli Lansey.


End of Volume 40 Issue 4