Volume 40 Number 06
                 Produced: Thu Jul 10  5:12:34 US/Eastern 2003

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

         [Avi Feldblum]
Beracha on dessert
         [Frank Silbermann]
Big Mitzvah
         [Bernard Raab]
Blessings: Fruit-Vegetables vs Meat-Fish
         [Russell J Hendel]
Buying Minhagei Yisrael
         [Jonathan Baker]
Converts, captive women and Ruth, redux (2)
         [Frank Silbermann, Batya Medad]
Letting Mother go = Symbolic affirmation of Motherhood
         [Russell J Hendel]
Publicizing tzedakah
         [Russell Levy]
Sefirat HaOmer - Weeks
         [Yisrael Medad]
Strength of a Kohen
         [Yisrael Medad]
A Third approach to teaching Homily (Midrash)
         [Russell J Hendel]


From: Avi Feldblum <mljewish@...>
Date: Thu, 10 Jul 2003 05:01:48 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Administrivia

Hello All,

I was contacted by one list member that a submission they had sent in was
rejected because the list software did not recognize them as a valid
subscriber. If this has happened to other members of the list, my
apologies. I have gone back in and re-configured the list so that
submissions will not be rejected because of differences between the way
your email address is on the subscriber list and on the your incoming

In addition, if you are making a choice between sending it to
<mail-jewish@...> and mljewish@shamash.org, please send it to
mljewish, as that makes the creating of the issue a little easier.

Avi Feldblum
mail-jewish Moderator


From: Frank Silbermann <fs@...>
Date: Mon, 7 Jul 2003 23:01:23 -0500 (CDT)
Subject:  Beracha on dessert

We had a rabbi (RCA) who taught us that the Ha'Motzi covers the rest of
the meal.  While teaching at the small community Day School, my wife was
criticized (by a Chabad women) for not having the children do a separate
blessing over dessert.

My wife went back to our rabbi for clarification.  He confirmed it
explicitly -- no extra blessing is needed over dessert.  So my wife
asked him to speak to the woman who criticized her.  The woman referred
our rabbi to the Chabad rabbi.

We asked our rabbi what the conclusion was.  He said, "I cited a number
of sources supporting my position and he cited a number of sources
supporting his position.  It's an honest makhlokhis."

(I.e., there is disagreement among the halachic authorities.)

Frank Silbermann
New Orleans, Louisiana


From: Bernard Raab <beraab@...>
Date: Sun, 06 Jul 2003 01:41:14 -0400
Subject: Big Mitzvah

Bernard Raab wrote:
  >>I think he was onto something in his suggestion, but I think this pair
  >>is a better fit to the idea of "easy and hard" than to "major and
  >>minor", and here is where I depart from the usual explanation: I suggest
  >>that honor of father and mother is "easy" in the sense that it is
  >>natural and universal, whereas the concept of shooing away a mother bird
  >>in order to take the eggs or chicks is most unnatural and unique. It may
  >>seem "easy" but have you done it yet? I strongly suspect that many
  >>tzadikim live their entire lives without ever performing this mitzvah.

Ari Trachtenberg responds:
>Is the mitzva to go around looking for mother birds to shoo, or rather
>if you are in the situation where you want the eggs, first shoo the
>bird.  My feeling is that the mitzva is based on the situation, not the
>person, so that looking around for mother birds to shoo might (?) even
>be an avera of tsa'ar ba'alei chayim (causing sorrow to animals).

I realize that this mitzvah is hard to reconcile with the aveira of
tsa'ar ba'alei chayim but that does not give us license to ignore the
clear pshat of the Torah text. The full text reads: "If you happen upon
a bird's nest on the road or in any tree or on the earth, and the mother
is sitting on the chicks or the eggs, do not take the mother with the
offspring (according to Rashi and the Targum). Send away (Shaleach
t'shalach) the mother and take the offspring for yourself, that it shall
be good with you and your days prolonged." (D'varim 22/6,7) It does NOT
say: "If you desire the eggs or chicks...", and a moment's reflection
will reveal that such a clause would render the entire mitzvah trivial
and hardly deserving of such a lofty and rare reward. Is it even
possible to take the eggs or the chicks from a nest without first
shooing away the mother bird which is sitting on them? Of course not.
If we insist on placing our own gloss on this mysterious mitzvah, (and
why not?)  it might be saying: "If you come upon a bird's nest and you
decide you want to take the mother bird, this is forbidden. Shoo away
the mother bird and take the chicks or eggs instead."  Now, this is far
from a trivial or "easy"mitzvah. It might be making a profound
philosohical distinction between actual life and potential life, and
instructing us to act on this distinction.

and Alan Friedenberg wrote:
>heard a hashkafa shiur at YU about 23 years ago (I believe it was given by 
>a Rabbi Weiss, but I can't be sure).  He pointed out that the Torah singles 
>out the reward for these two mitzvos becuase they are the easiest (shooing 
>away a mother bird is fairly effortless) and the
>hardest (properly honoring parents requires patience, time, and money,
>among other things) mitzvos to do.  Thus, this shows that all the other
>mitzvos in the Torah are equal, because there is no reward given.

As I said, here is where I depart from the usual explanations. Honoring
one's parents is easy because it is natural. People all over the world
do it, even those who never heard of the Torah. Moreover, the gemarah
tells us that one can be yotze (fulfill) this mitzvah by seeing to ones
parents basic needs for shelter and food in their old age, something
which only the most reprobate offspring fail to do.

As for the "bird mitzvah" see above.
b'shalom--Bernie R.


From: Russell J Hendel <rjhendel@...>
Date: Sun, 13 Jul 2003 21:17:04 -0400
Subject: Blessings: Fruit-Vegetables vs Meat-Fish

Gil (v40n1) discusses blessings so I thought I would ask a question I
heard in my college days but have not yet found an answer to.

Why is it that for fruits and vegetables, Jewish law differentiates and
has two separate Blessing classes while for the physiologically more
complex meat-fish-eggs class Jewish law lumps everything together

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


From: Jonathan Baker <jjbaker@...>
Date: Mon, 7 Jul 2003 23:55:24 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Buying Minhagei Yisrael

From: Daniel Alexander <jane21267@...>

> Does anyone have any suggestions of how I could get hold of Prof Daniel
> Sperber's multivolume "Minhagei Yisrael" 

It's 7 volumes so far (Vol 7 just came out).  It's published by Mossad
Harav Kook.  As for postage, that's just the way it is, governed by
postal treaties between Britain & Israel.  It costs me an arm & a leg to
get stuff from amazon.uk, less when I order from Israel via Ebay vendors
or what have you.  Maybe if you have a relationship with an Ebay dealer
you can get them to send it to you; they're a lot cheaper in Israel
($6-7 a volume 5 years ago, vs. $13-15 in US stores), or try dbook.co.il
or steimatzky.co.il, or pomeranzbooks.com (give them a call if they
don't have it on their website).

   - jon baker    <jjbaker@...>     <http://www.panix.com/~jjbaker> -


From: Frank Silbermann <fs@...>
Date: Mon, 7 Jul 2003 22:53:09 -0500 (CDT)
Subject:  Converts, captive women and Ruth, redux

Were any of King David's wives war captives?

Frank Silbermann
New Orleans, Louisiana

From: Batya Medad <ybmedad@...>
Date: Tue, 08 Jul 2003 07:20:13 +0200
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

Yes, to teach/remind/reinforce to men that there will be consequences to
their actions, so they shouldn't act/rape impulsively.  If you don't
want her as a wife--hands off; imagine her as bald--would you still want
her!  etc.



From: Russell J Hendel <rjhendel@...>
Date: Sun, 13 Jul 2003 21:18:00 -0400
Subject: Letting Mother go = Symbolic affirmation of Motherhood

In dicsussing the command to let the mother go when taking the young
(v40n1-Ari) I recall Rav Hirschs symbolic explanation:

A person is about to take the eggs....The mother of the eggs is so to
speak an innocent bystander...she is doing her job of mothering.

So the Bible spares her life (instead of letting her be taken with the
eggs). Rav Hirsch concludes that this commandment is a symbolic
affirmation of the value of Motherhood (and that is why the promise of
living long is mentioned for both the commandments of honoring ones
parents and letting the mother bird go)

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


From: Russell Levy <russlevy@...>
Date: Tue, 08 Jul 2003 09:42:23 -0400
Subject: Publicizing tzedakah

On the issue of publicizing the giving of tzedakah, which was discussed
last month:

I just want to point out--on Eruvin 86a, there is a small discussion in
the gemara about giving kavod to rich people, because they do a lot of
chesed. This could be the basis for putting up plaques, etc.



From: Yisrael Medad <ybmedad@...>
Date: Sat, 05 Jul 2003 22:49:21 +0200
Subject: Sefirat HaOmer - Weeks

Further to the discussion of last month or so, I wish to point out that
the Rambam, in Seder Avodah, Hilchot T'midin u'Musafin, 7:22, writes:-

"it is a positive commandment to count seven complete weeks...and
a commandment to count the days with the weeks".

 From this it would seem that the major element of the counting is the
weeks and the days are secondary.  As I have not seen the Beit Levy
'inside', if this is a basis for his reasoning, I excuse being

Yisrael Medad


From: Yisrael Medad <ybmedad@...>
Date: Sat, 05 Jul 2003 22:54:55 +0200
Subject: Strength of a Kohen

I guess a Kohen had to possess physical strength out of the ordinary.

The Rambam, in Seder Avodah, Hilchot T'midin u'Musafin, 8:11, notes that
the sacrifice of the two wave loafs is accompanied by two lambs and the
Kohen had to "wave" them too, which was a four-fold act: out, in; up,

Yisrael Medad


From: Russell J Hendel <rjhendel@...>
Date: Sun, 6 Jul 2003 21:15:47 -0400
Subject: A Third approach to teaching Homily (Midrash)

Batya (v40n2) writes about teaching that Og was 100 feet tall

>If you want to "captivate" a child's mind, please respect his/her
>intelligence.  Otherwise the Bible will join "The Three Bears," Hans
>Cristian Anderson and other fairy tales.  In Israel the Barkai teaching
>method is gaining support.  Children are first taught pshat and find it
>fascinating, and this fascination lasts a life-time.  Medrashim and
>meforshim are added gradually and later to help explain what is unclear.

I partially agree with Batya. You definitely turn people off if you tell
them fairy tales.

But you EQUALLY turn people off if you act like words have no nuances
and these nuances arent an INTRINSIC part of the SIMPLE MEANING of the
Biblical text. And to take Batyas theme--children love it if you treat
them like adults and act like the Bible is whispering nuances to them.

Why dont I suffice with one outrageous example (which I taught to a 7
year old as Pshat!!!!). Rashi (Gn01-21a) states on the Biblical verse --
which will be consumed by the righteous in the next world

To show this Rashi consistent with the simple meaning, I turned to my 7
year old and asked him to make a list of words that denote Gods Creating
in Genesis 1. He cheerfully did this-- the list had such words as LET

I asked him if he noticed anything peculiar. He immediately pointed to
the word CREATED which occured only twice in Gn01--for the creation of
man and for the creation of the BIG ANIMALS!! I then explained to him
that because the Bible used the word CREATE it implied something
spiritual and important (and he smiled and nodded).(See the url below on
the Rashi website for more details)

My point? There are TWO aspects to the simple meaning of Gn01-21: (a)
TANINIM means BIG ANIMALS, not Leviathan (b) CREATE has a nuance of
something very important (as DEFINED by the context of usage in Gn01). A
person who calls (a) simple meaning but ignores (b) is being

I stimulated this childs mind--he became aware that you cant just look
at words but you must look at context---the context may hint at
something that is not explicit.

And lets face it, isnt it part of the joy of life when a) listening to a
political leader speak b) when watching a movie or TV show when c)
discussing some friends divorce or sickness---isnt it part of the joy of
conversation to "hear the nuances" as if they were said.

So no, I cant fully agree with Batya or the Barkai method: Midrash is
not something for the unclear; it is not something that comes afterward;
it is an intrinsic part of the text and life and to deprive a child of
these nuances is no different than feeding him fairytales.

I realize this is a strong position but I do feel strongly about it.  I
think Batya has hit a nerve that has not yet been dicsussed on mail
jewish--not just the THEORIES of Pshat(Simple meaning) and Derash
(Homily) but the EMOTIONAL EFFECTS of the Pshat and Derash on people
(does it turn them on or off).

So I would like to see a long thread where we discuss not only
theories but reality also.

Russell Jay Hendel; http://www.RashiYomi.com/dt07-07b.htm


End of Volume 40 Issue 6