Volume 40 Number 75
                 Produced: Thu Sep 25  4:51:39 US/Eastern 2003

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Follow Halacha too far
         [Jack Gross]
Indo-European word roots
         [Mike Gerver]
Is the airline food kosher?
         [David Ziants]
R' Hayyim on Taam K'Ikar
         [Tal Benschar]
Ring for groom/men's jewelry
         [David Maslow]
Sephardi Women and Sitting in Sucah
         [Leah Aharoni]
Suit for goods Israelites took leaving Egypt
         [Mike Gerver]
         [Tzvi Briks]
         [Yael Levine Katz]


From: Jack Gross <jbgross@...>
Date: Tue, 23 Sep 2003 22:25:19 -0400
Subject: Re: Follow Halacha too far

<<From: Jeffrey Woolf <woolfj@...>
My rebbe, Rav Gedaliah Felder zt"l, the Av Bet Din of Toronto and a well
known and respected Poseq, once asked me if I thought microscopes and
such should be used to look for bugs. I was still thinking it over when
he pulled down a sefer (I wish I had taken the time to notice which) and
emphatically noted the author's position that 'En LaDayyan ma she-eynav
ro'ot' (literally WYSIWYG).  So much for the magnified tiyomet.>>

Make that "En LaDayyan _ella_ ma she-eynav ro'ot".

But the question was very carefully phrased, and I believe you are
extrapolating the answer "too far" -- beyond the scope Rav Felder

Using a microscope "to look for bugs" is one thing.  Using it to
ascertain whether the blemish you have found with the naked eye is
animal, vegetable or mineral in nature, is quite another.  If it has
(even _microscopic_) legs, you've got a _visible_ sheretz.


From: <MJGerver@...> (Mike Gerver)
Date: Wed, 24 Sep 2003 18:22:29 EDT
Subject: Indo-European word roots

Stan Tenen writes, in v40n71:

      This is a serious question. Is it possible for a Torah-observant
      and believing Jew to accept or even come to terms with the
      so-called Indo-European origin of Western word-roots?

The late Rabbi Dr. Ernest Klein, the author of "Comprehensive
Etymological Dictionary of the English Language," (Elsevier, Amsterdam,
1971), and "Comprehensive Etymological Dictionary of the Hebrew Language
for Readers of English," (Macmillan, New York, 1987) was a
Torah-observant Jew, and also, by the way, a Holocaust survivor whose
wife and only child died at Auschwitz. He was a congregation rabbi in
Europe before the war, and after the war in Toronto for 30 years. These
books are widely considered the most complete and accurate etymological
dictionaries of English and Hebrew respectively. The author makes full
use of the scholarly literature on historical linguistics, including
Indo-European, and also, where appropriate, the classical rabbinic
literature (for example, he quotes Rav Hai Gaon in discussing the
etymology of "shmad" in the Hebrew dictionary). Indeed, he offers a much
more comprehensive list of Indo-European cognates to English words than
any other etymological dictionary, including Tocharian cognates which
other dictionaries rarely cite. He occasionally goes against accepted
scholarly opinion, but always presents a good argument for the positions
he takes.

      I have also read and have been impressed by Isaac Mozeson's "The
      WORD," and in particular, his Introduction.

      So, I'd like to know what rabbinic opinion tells us with regard to
      the Indo-European language hypothesis. Is it accidentally or
      deliberately anti-Torah, as Mozeson presents? Is the
      I.E. hypothesis consistent with our traditional knowledge, or are
      the two views irreconcilable?

I don't think anyone, including Mozeson, would say that there is
something about the idea of Indo-European that is intrinsically opposed
to Torah. What Mozeson is claiming, I think, is that the Indo-European
hypothesis is objectively unsupported by the data, and it is only
believed because linguists are prejudiced. But Mozeson is wrong about
this. The evidence in favor of the Indo-European languages being more
closely related to each other than they are to non-Indo-European
languages such as Hebrew is overwhelming, and Mozeson's own etymological
methods are flawed. See my posting in v38n33, under the subject heading
"Hebrew and English cognates."

Mike Gerver
Raanana, Israel


From: David Ziants <dziants@...>
Date: Wed, 24 Sep 2003 22:57:12 +0200
Subject: Re: Is the airline food kosher?

"Steven White" <StevenJ81@...>wrote:
> ......
> Finally, please keep in mind that while Europeans often don't publish
> hechshers on their product packaging, this does not mean that kosher
> provisions are not available in airports.  Often, a city's organized
> Jewish community publishes lists of food considered kosher by the
> city's rabbinate.
> ......
> I don't know if that particular listing is still valid, but that's an
> item that one can find in almost any Western European airport.

One indeed has to be very careful that the list is up to date since
often products and their ingredients change. Sometimes, a local
rabbinate might publish the latest information on a web site, or in the
local Jewish newspapers.

I know that in England, when I go there to visit my family, there are
very few products that are for the general market, and yet have an
explicit hechsher (they have only recently started the American style OU
system, using the logo "LBD", and it seems that it is not as widely
popular as the American).  Thus I make sure that I have the latest
version of the London Bet Din kosher list, and also the updates from
their web site, before I travel.

It is either that, or be very restricted in what one can buy.

In Holland (where my wife's family live), the "Lu'ach" contains the
Kosher list in its appendix, and this is written in Dutch.

David Ziants
Ma'aleh Adumim, Israel


From: Tal Benschar <tbenschar@...>
Date: Wed, 24 Sep 2003 10:12:36 -0400
Subject: R' Hayyim on Taam K'Ikar

[Note: My apologies to non gemara hebrew readers, there are too many
technical hebrew terms here, that to try and translate all the Hebrew
would be awkward. Mod.] 

The R'Chaim on ta'am k'ikar is on the Rambam, Ma'chalos Asuros 15:1.

As I understand it, Rav Soloveichik's chiddush is different: namely that
ta'am k'ikar means simply that in some situations a higher shiur than
rov is required for bittul, NOT that any time there is ta'am there is no
bittul.  (This is similar to the din derabbanan that although min bemino
is battel be rov deoraisa, in some situations a higher shiur is
required.  For example, terumah requires 101, orlah 201, etc.)

The chiddush was used to explain the machlokes between the Remah and the
Shach as to whether Basar Shma Azlinan applies to determining whether
ta'am keikar applies, i.e. whether we are dealing with a situation of
min bemino or min bsheaino mino.  The chiddush explains numerous
machlokesim throughout Yore Deah between the Shach and Rema.


From: David Maslow <maslowd@...>
Date: Wed, 24 Sep 2003 11:49:47 -0400
Subject: Ring for groom/men's jewelry

As an extension of the thread about a groom obtaining a ring to mark his
marital status, what is the status of rings of any type or any jewelry,
for that matter, for men?  It seems that it is forbidden/discouraged for
at least Ashkenazik men even now when many men in our society wear a
variety of rings, bracelets, and necklaces.

David Maslow


From: Leah Aharoni <leah25@...>
Date: Thu, 25 Sep 2003 11:32:41 +0200
Subject: Sephardi Women and Sitting in Sucah

Stephen Phillips wrote

	Apart from the fact that there is no tradition of welcoming
	Ushpizot, women anyway are not obligated to sit in the sukkah (and
	Sefardi women are, in may communities, not permitted to do so).

Could you please provide sources prohibiting Sephardic women to sit in
the Sukkah. As far as I am aware, they may not make a bracha, but I have
never heard of an issur to sit in the Sukkah.

Leah Aharoni


From: <MJGerver@...> (Mike Gerver)
Date: Tue, 23 Sep 2003 19:58:19 EDT
Subject: Suit for goods Israelites took leaving Egypt

Gershon Dubin writes, in v40n69,

      From: Immanuel Burton <IBURTON@...> <<If the
      Bible is to be used as evidence to support the claim for
      compensation for goods taken when we left Egypt, is it also to be
      used as evidence for our claim to the Land Of Israel?>>

      I believe at least one of the articles describing this suit
      (perhaps Rabbi Shafran's) made this point exactly i.e. that the
      plaintiff is shooting himself in the foot.

I think you have it backwards. If I recall, one of the Egyptians
initiating the lawsuit was quoted as saying something to the effect of
"If the Jews are going to use the Bible to defend their claim to Israel,
then by golly, we can use the Bible to sue them!"

But never mind all that, let's look at the merits of the suit. The
question is whether the value of the goods that the Jews took is greater
than or less than the value of their labor when they were slaves. (There
might be some adjustments that should be made, such as subtracting the
cost of their living expenses from the value of their labor, or adding
punitive damages for enslaving them in the first place, but we'll ignore
that for now.) During the 210 years that the Jews were in Egypt, their
numbers went from 70 people to 600,000 adult males, so let's say a
factor of 30,000 increase. Assuming that their growth rate was constant
(it pretty much had to be, if it was so high on average over such a long
time), then the e-folding time was almost exactly 20 years, so the
integrated value of the labor of the adult males over this period was
600,000 times 20 man-years, or 12 million man-years. (The fact that the
Jews weren't enslaved right away is irrelevant, since almost all of that
labor was done in the last few decades.) Counting the women and the
children, maybe they did 40 million man-years of work.

I imagine that slaves worked a good 3000 hours a year, at least, so that
is 120 billion man-hours of work. At a nominal wage for unskilled labor
of $5 an hour, that is 600 billion dollars. The cost of gold in the time
of the Talmud was about $2000 an ounce, if unskilled wages are defined
as $5 an hour. I'm not sure what the cost of gold was at the time of the
Exodus, but assuming that the technology for mining gold hadn't changed
too much, and the number of known gold mines hadn't changed too much, it
was probably about the same. Then the labor of the Jewish slaves was
worth about 300 million ounces of gold, or 20 million pounds, or 10
million kilograms, or 10,000 tons.

I forget how much gold the modern Egyptian plaintiffs claim that the
Jews took with them (based on a midrash or some commentary?), but I
don't think it was more than 10,000 tons.

Mike Gerver
Raanana, Israel


From: <Brikspartzuf@...> (Tzvi Briks)
Date: Thu, 25 Sep 2003 00:07:29 EDT
Subject: Re: Taschlich

To David Cohen,

I've heard that taschlich can be said and done past Yom Kippur even up
to an including Hoshana rabba.  I remember doing it in Israel at the
water source near kever Shmuel hanavi on Hoshana rabba since on the
first day and second day of Rosh Hashana the brook had dried up in Ramot
that we used to use.

It would make sense that this is true.  Hoshana Rabba is the Chotam
within the Chotam or impression of the inner seal and we believe that it
is a second Yom Hadin specifically for water in the upcoming year.  The
concept of the Chotam within the Chotam comes from the Shaar Hakavanaot
of Rav Chaim Vital the 'tape recorder' of the AriZal.

Tzvi Briks


From: Yael Levine Katz <ylkpk@...>
Date: Thu, 25 Sep 2003 10:31:16 +0200
Subject: Ushpizot

In March 2003 there was a query on H-Judaic concerning Ushpizot. It
mentioned a so-called "decision" attributed to Rabbi Menahem Azariah of
Fano concerning inviting seven women ushpizot into the sukkah along with
the seven male ushpizin.  Following was my response, which is relevant
also for the present query and reactions:

The notion that kabbalist Rabbi Menahem Azariah of Fano mentions that
the seven prophetesses should be invited into the sukkah as female
ushpizot has been erroneously stated in several popular writings. This
articulation appears in the ritual created by Mayan. An ushpizot ritual
was posted in the past on mayan.org. An expanded form of the ritual may
be presently found at


It is stated there that "While there are different traditions about
which women to invite, one mystical tradition, recorded by a medieval
kabbalist named Menachem Azariah, tells us that we should invite the
seven prophetesses listed in the Talmud as our seven female guests on
Sukkot, paired with the seven male guests. These women, rich and varied
in their stories and characters, are called Sarah, Miriam, Deborah,
Hannah, Avigail, Huldah, and Esther. Each has a story within the Bible,
and each has potential meaning for Jewish women who are searching for
their foremothers."

A shortened version of the initial Mayan ritual appeared in the JOFA
Journal 1, 4 (Fall 1999), where this concept was reiterated. This idea
may be inferred from the entry "Ushpizin" in The Encyclopedia of Jewish
Symbols by Ellen Frankel.

However, Rabbi Menahem Azariah of Fano, in his work Asarah Ma'amarot,
Ma'amar Em Kol Hai, Venice 1597, part two, siman aleph, 54a-c, offers a
correspondence between the seven prophetesses and the seven sefirot, but
does not raise any connection with the ushpizot or even mention these
women as such. An affinity between the concept brought in Fano's work
and the ushpizot appears to be contemporary.

The source in Asarah Ma'amarot itself is not the first to correspond
between the nevi'ot and the sefirot. This connection appears already in
the commentary of Rabbenu Bahye to Exodus 15, 20 (ed. Chavel,
p. 135). It further appears in a host of later sources. For a discussion
of these sources see my article in Da'at 44 (Winter 5760), "Sheva
Nevi'ot ve-Sheva Sefirot -- Iyunim be-Parshanut Kabbalit", pp. 123-130.



End of Volume 40 Issue 75