Volume 40 Number 27
                 Produced: Tue Jul 29 20:58:03 US/Eastern 2003

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

         [Avi Feldblum]
The Article "The"
         [Michael Rogovin]
The Bronx (4)
         [Eli Turkel, Yisrael Medad, Robert Israel, Michael Kahn]
B'tai din and surrounding issues
         [Robert J. Tolchin]
Conversion in Moav
         [Gershon Rothstein]
Da Banx
         [Robert Tolchin]
More - Little Red wagons
         [Carl Singer]
The Rambam, the Bronx
         [Ilana Goldstein Saks]
The Rebbe and The Bronx
         [Gershon Dubin]


From: Avi Feldblum <mljewish@...>
Date: Tue, 29 Jul 2003 20:50:13 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Administrivia

Interesting, I suspect that the question on "the" Bronx elicited more
replies than almost any other post that I can remember recently. As it is
clearly of great interest, I am forwarding all the responses I received
to the list, even though there is significant redundencies. But I think
this will close that topic.

Avi Feldblum
mail-jewish Moderator


From: Michael Rogovin <rogovin@...>
Date: Tue, 29 Jul 2003 17:09:26 GMT
Subject: Re: The Article "The"

While I cannot comment on the use or lack thereof of the article "the"
in the context of Rashi and Ramban, I can answer this vexing halachic

> From: Yehonatan Chipman > 
>     If I may stretch the tangent a bit further: Despite
> living the first 22 years of my life in New York City, I
> never understood why "the Bronx" always takes the definite
> article, while we don't speak of "The Manhattan" or "The
> Brooklyn"?

The reason is the derivation of the names. Manhattan, an aglicized
corruption of an aboriginal American word for the island. Not sure about
the origin of Brooklyn, but the Bronx (usually called Da Bronx by
natives) comes from Jonas Broncks, who received a deed 500 acres in what
is now the borough in 1639 and purchased more from the local natives.
People traveling there would be "going to visit the Broncks." Describing
the area as "the Broncks" stuck (albeit with different spelling).

Michael Rogovin


From: Eli Turkel <turkel@...>
Date: Tue, 29 Jul 2003 22:47:09 +0300 (IDT)
Subject: The Bronx

It seems that "The Bronx" is actually the official name as distinct from
manhattan, brooklyn etc. I suspect that the reason is because it was
named after the Bronx river.

"By the late 1890s there was strong support in parts of Eastchester,
Pelham, and the village of Wakefield for consolidating with New York
City the area east of the Bronx River, along with Brooklyn, Queens, and
Staten Island.  Most people assumed that high real estate values in
Manhattan would cover the public debt already incurred by the towns and
pay for further public improvements being planned.

After consolidation in 1898 the twenty-third and twenty-fourth wards
became the borough of the Bronx, which with Manhattan remained part of
New York County (the other boroughs were already separate counties).
But the journey from the Bronx to the courts in southern Manhattan was
so long that inhabitants of the Bronx soon petitioned for county
designation.  It was not until 1912, however, that the state legislature
established the County of the Bronx as the sixty-second county in the
state, effective January 1914."

Eli Turkel

From: Yisrael Medad <ybmedad@...>
Date: Tue, 29 Jul 2003 06:58:14 +0200
Subject: The Bronx

As one born in the Bronx, I can only surmise that the definite article
is applied in instances of special importance and uniqueness.

of course, we always said "we're going to the City" instead of Manhattan.

Yisrael Medad

From: Robert Israel <israel@...>
Date: Tue, 29 Jul 2003 00:19:25 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: Re: The Bronx

see <http://www.catskillregionguide.com/articles/article.php?id=77>

In 1639, Jonas Bronck ...  secured a "Grond Brief", a tract of five
hundred acres of land north of the Harlem River and became the first
white settler of that area, which eventually became known as The Bronx.

Why THE Bronx?

A river ran through Jonas Bronck's farm, which became known as THE
Bronck's River. Then the area around the river became known as THE
Bronck's; eventually the spelling of the name was changed to THE Bronx
because of euphony and not because there is more than one Bronx. In
fact, it is the only New York State borough using an article in its

Robert Israel                                <israel@...>
Department of Mathematics        http://www.math.ubc.ca/~israel
University of British Columbia
Vancouver, BC, Canada V6T 1Z2

From: Michael Kahn <mi_kahn@...>
Date: Tue, 29 Jul 2003 00:23:13 -0400
Subject: Re: The Bronx

According to anscestry.com

http://www.ancestry.com/library/view/ancmag/762.asp , "The borough of
The Bronx is named for its major geographical feature: the river which
flows though its center. Just as the name of any river includes "the" in
front of it, the borough named after the Bronx River came to be called
The Bronx. (No other borough of New York has a river running through


From: Robert J. Tolchin <tolchin@...>
Date: Thu, 24 Jul 2003 11:37:03 -0400
Subject: B'tai din and surrounding issues

One of the most interesting exams I took in law school was my first year
torts exam. The professor gave us an 15 page synopsis of the plot of the
movie Star Wars, and then asked us to take 8 hours and discuss all tort
issues raised by the facts presented. There's plenty of assaults and
batteries, but also products liability claims when the engines on the
Millennium Falcon failed, defamation claims against the Emperor and
Darth Vader, plenty of trespass claims, a claim against the manufacturer
of the trash compactor for not having a system in place to prevent the
mechanism from being actuated when people were present in the compaction
zone, and perhaps even a negligence claim against R2D2's programmer for
not having provided for a better messaging system than "help me Obi
Wan," and who knows...why not have Luke sue his mother for emotional
distress stemming from her not having told him that his father was Darth

Why am I telling you this?

A recent edition of New York Magazine had a very disturbing story about
the experience of one woman in Bobov who was trying to get a divorce
from her allegedly philandering husband. Here is the link.


This article raises myriad issues for discussion. For example:

1.  The bait din involved had no appellate system. From what I've been
told, in Israel one can appeal the determination of a bait din. But in
the course of representing clients in New York I've been told by one
Rabbi at a bait din that it is forbidden to appeal from a bait din
ruling. Discuss.

2.  The husband claims to have obtained a heter meah rabannim and has
allegedly remarried al pi halacha, leaving his wife without a get.
Discuss. Particularly, should such a heter ever be issued in this

3.  The bait din proceeded without the wife present. The claim is that
she didn't respond to a hazmana. What obligation does the bait din have
to make sure that justice is done, even if for some reason pursuant to
technicalities the would be permitted to proceed in a one sided manner?

4.  Assuming that all the wife's allegations are true, to what extent is
she permitted to discuss the situation with a reporter who is planning
on writing an expose that will bring the rabbis, Bobov, and her husband
into disrepute? Even though it might be lashon hara, does she have an
obligation to make sure that nobody else is victimized by a corrupt

5.  What obligation does a married woman who knows her husband is
philandering have to go to a mivah each month?

6.  She claims her children won't talk to her because of what she has
done to her husband and because she went to secular court for a divorce.
How does this square with kivud av ve-aim?

7.  The biggest question from where I sit: What can be done to create a
system of b'tai din that is fair, just, and in which people can have
confidence? I can't even count the number of times frum clients have
said to me that they'd like to bring their dispute to a bait din, but
they have no confidence in the system because they're sure the other
side has a connection with one of the rabbis of the bait din, such as
being a major contributor to that rabbi's yeshiva, etc. This problem
leads to such chiluli Hashem! We wind up with two frumme yidden in
secular court calling each other's credibility into doubt and making all
who are present--judges, jurors, observers, lawyers--come to the
conclusion that frum Jews are anything but an am kodesh.

These are the big issues I see. People on this list probably see more.
I'd love to see where this goes.

--Bob Tolchin


From: Gershon Rothstein <rothsteing@...>
Date: Thu, 24 Jul 2003 11:38:31 -0400
Subject: Conversion in Moav

Going back to an item in Volume 39, I just happened to come across an
essay in Rabbi Meir Don Plotzky's book Kli Chemda (parshas Beshalach),
that deals with the subject. He bases his essay on the Talmud Yevamos'
statement that Naomi's discussion with Ruth was actually a process of
conversion. So, for example, Naomi told her that it is forbidden to
leave the Tchum (boundary) of the city on the Sabbath and Ruth responded
that wherever you go, I will go. His basic question is why Naomi only
told her about the law of Tchum Shabbos and didn't tell her about the
prohibition of work on the Sabbath.

To answer this, he proposes that before Machlon and Kilyon married the
Moabite women, they became Gere Toshav. To become a Ger Toshav, it is
necessary to accept the 7 Noahide commandments. According to Rabbi
Plotzky this also includes keeping the Sabbath since this is equated to
Idolatry which is one of the 7 Naohide commandments (see the essay for
the sources). By doing this, the brothers removed the prohibition of "Lo
Sischaten bom" which prevents marrying non-Jewish wives. Thus the women
were still non-Jews but they were performing some of the Jewish
commandments in the Ger Toshav status.

It now follows that Ruth still required conversion to become a
full-fledged Jewess and Naomi didn't have to tell Ruth about keeping
Shabbat in the conversion process because she had long been doing that.
She had only to be told of the additional Shabbat mitzva of Tchum

There is a lot more in the essay, especially in the end where he
discusses the role of a women in Judaism. This alone could be the basis
of a new thread of discussion. I recommend reading the entire essay if
it is available to you.

B'birkas Shalom,



From: Robert Tolchin <tolchin@...>
Date: Mon, 28 Jul 2003 20:32:54 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Da Banx

I have heard two explanations for the usage "the Bronx." One is that it
refers to the Bronx River. The other is that it refers to Jonas Bronk,
the original Dutch patroon of the area. His lands were known, presumably
first in Dutch and later in English, as The Bronks' Lands (believe me,
this makes sense in Dutch, which has grammar like Yiddish).

By the way, Brooklyn (named after a place in Holland by the same name)
is actually Kings County, which obviously was originally The King's


From: Carl Singer <csngr@...>
Date: Sun, 27 Jul 2003 17:19:13 -0400
Subject: More - Little Red wagons

>From: Jack Hollander <JackHollander@...>
> I have been waiting for someone to further comment seriously on Carl
> Singer's query about the Little Red Wagon.  When our fair city
> established its Eruv less than one year ago, we carried enough shule
> provisions on Shabbat ( pretzles, siddurim, coats, toys etc.) for every
> contingency in bags.  I eyed the shopping trolly as a possible
> convenience.  Without a LOR immediately available, I did the next best
> thing, asked my good wife (AM'Ve).  Her answer was: "You dare !"

It is, indeed a serious question.  We have (socially acceptable) ways of
doing things and, conversely, socially unacceptable (but in all
likelyhood halachically conformant) ways of doing things -- a few more

1  -- Carry a Tallis Bag to shule -- SA (Socially Acceptable)
   -- Carry your Tallis to shule in a briefcase or backpack -- i.e., be seen 
going to shule carrying a briefcase or wearing a backpack  --  NA  (Not 

2  -- Put candy or a juice snack in your Tallis Bag (for your small child) -- 
   -- Carry this candy / juice openly in its original packaging -- NA

3  -- Carry a small pack of Tissues to shule - SA
   -- Carry a purse to shule for your tissues -- NA   (except in some "Yechie", 
German Jewish communities where it's common practice, for women to have a 
"Sabbos Purse.")

Similarly, although I can't think of any glaring examples off hand, but
there probably a few socially acceptable ways of doing things that are
NOT hlachically conformant

  one that comes to mind is related to work done on Shabbos that is in
preparation for Chol, for example, cleaning up after Seudat Schlichis
while it is still Shabbos.  This may not be the best example (and I'm
not paskening) but it's worth considering.

Carl Singer


From: Ilana Goldstein Saks <lonnie@...>
Date: Tue, 29 Jul 2003 09:29:30 +0200
Subject: The Rambam, the Bronx

While I don't have an answer to "why 'the Rambam' but not 'the Rashi'" I
do know know why 'the Bronx' (since you asked): Apparantly the area now
known as the Bronx was once the property of the Bronk family so people
would say they were going to 'the Bronks'.

If this at all sheds light on the Rambam or the Rebbe as well - ma tov.

Ilana Goldstein Saks
(originally from the Bronx)


From: Gershon Dubin <gershon.dubin@...>
Date: Tue, 29 Jul 2003 00:36:39 -0400
Subject: The Rebbe and The Bronx

It was named after Jonas Bronck.  When visiting them, one went to "the
Bronck's" as one would go to "the Chipmans".



End of Volume 40 Issue 27