Volume 40 Number 96
                 Produced: Mon Oct 27  7:09:22 US/Eastern 2003

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Largest Gathering
         [Carl Singer]
largest (regular) gathering in Jewish world today ?
         [Dani Wassner]
Path Station
         [Carl Singer]
Shidduch Alternatives (2)
         [Richard Schultz, Perry Zamek]
Shmini Atsereth & Simchath Toiroh
         [Perets Mett]
Silver Judaica
         [Steve Almansi]
Simchat Torah
         [Josh Backon]


From: Carl Singer <casinger@...>
Date: Sun, 26 Oct 2003 07:25:23 -0500
Subject: Largest Gathering

The last Siyum HaShas filled Madison Square Garden and many other arenas
(simulataneously) -- it was awesome dude :)

Last year's protest in Washington DC gathered tens of thousands of
people -- even if you don't count those such as my 78 year old Mother
whose bus arrived late and not having protectzia, had to stand outside
the fences for hours in the blazing sun while the VIPs sat on stage.

Carl Singer


From: Dani Wassner <dani@...>
Date: Sun, 26 Oct 2003 14:22:23 +0200
Subject: re: largest (regular) gathering in Jewish world today ?

I suspect that there are other regular and occassional very large

On Shavuot morning (for netz hachama- sunrise- minyanim)and on Yom
Yerushalayim there are always enormous crowds of Jews at the Kotel (I
would guess more than the 40,000 during birkat cohanim).

Speaking "irregularly", there have been demonstrations in Israel
attracting enormous crowds such as the original anti-Oslo protest
outside the PM's office (estimated at up to 400,000 people); the protest
against giving up the Golan in Kikar Rabin (250,000) and the anti-Barak
at Camp David protest in Kikar Rabin (300,000).

All a far cry from the 15,000 at Uman.

I would imagine you get more than 15,000 Jews at the average soccer
match in Israel.


From: Carl Singer <casinger@...>
Date: Sun, 26 Oct 2003 07:45:34 -0500
Subject: Path Station

> The PATH station at the World Trade Center site is scheduled to re-open
> in November.  Does anyone think there may be an issue of Tumas Meis and
> thus would it be a problem for a Kohain to utilize this station?

On the one hand one might address the mechanics of this situation --
akin to issue of driving down a street (such as parts of Passaic Avenue
or Dwasline Road in Clifton, NJ)  with a cemetery on each side, and
possibly overhanging trees.    Or a section of the Garden State Parkway
just south of Route 280 -- which cuts smack dab through the center of a
cemetery (are their overhead signs or bridges from cross streets

On the other hand  You'll pardon me if I sing an old refrain (and
perhaps a bit sharply) -- a Kohain concerned with this should contact
HIS Posek in order to make that determination.   What "anyone thinks" --
brings this into the wrong realm of how halachic matters should be
addressed!  A worse case scenario is some Rebbeim publicly permitting
while some publicly forbid.  Then we can question Plony Cohen when he
gets up to Dichun re: how he gets to work. 

Carl Singer


From: Richard Schultz <schultr@...>
Date: Sun, 26 Oct 2003 15:19:39 +0200
Subject: Shidduch Alternatives

In mail-jewish 40 #92, Leah Gordon writes:

	Suppose a woman gets to be 33, 34, whatever without being married. 
	Wouldn't it be a good idea for her to go ahead and have a baby anyway,
	so that she won't "miss out" on at least that much. . . .  To me, it 
	seems that having a baby on one's own, while difficult, is better than 
	waiting for the elusive Prince Charming and becoming increasingly 
	aggravated with life.  

I think that, perhaps inadvertently, Ms. Gordon has identified the real
issue here, namely, that in contemporary society, for an educated
professional woman, there is no reason to get married, and no incentive
to do so except for peer pressure.  For most of the twentieth century,
middle class women were not expected to join the work force, providing a
strong economic incentive for them to get married.  In addition, in
middle class Western societies, there was a stigma attached to having
children out of wedlock, and women were expected to take care of their
own children, providing a strong social incentive for marriage (at least
for those women who wanted children).

Nowadays, in general, there is no fundamental societal prejudice against
women in the workforce (IMO a good thing), and a larger percentage of
women are obtaining advanced academic training than in previous
generations.  The result of that is that most educated women are
perfectly capable of taking care of themselves -- removing the economic
incentive to get married.

In addition, middle class ethics have developed in the direction of
ceasing to stigmatize women who have children out of wedlock (and the
children themselves as well) -- again, not in and of itself a bad thing.
When this is combined with a return to the traditional pattern in which
upper class women were not expected to take care of their own children,
most of the social incentive for marriage goes away as well.

What is left as an incentive for marriage?  Companionship.  Since there
is no other reason to get married, it can hardly come as a surprise that
so many people would rather wait for a non-existent ideal than give
serious thought to what one can realistically expect out of a
relationship.  Being the curious sort, I used to read occasionally the
Personals section.  What I discovered was that a significant fraction of
the people putting in the ads, of both sexes, tended to put in such
unrealistic expectations that I had to wonder why they thought that the
tall, handsome, extremely wealthy man, or the beautiful, talented woman
being sought would have any reason to be reading personal ads.

This is not meant to be in any sense a personal attack against
Ms. Gordon, who is just expressing the common attitudes of our society.
But I do have to wonder what it means when she suggests that having a
baby on one's own is a better option than "waiting for the elusive
Prince Charming" rather than suggesting that having a realistic attitude
toward long-term relationships is a better option than waiting for the
elusive Prince Charming.  Or Princess Charming, for that matter.

Richard Schultz

From: Perry Zamek <perryza@...>
Date: Sun, 26 Oct 2003 15:25:29 +0200
Subject: Re: Shidduch Alternatives

Anonymous wrote:
><snip> I have also been on the other side of this---seeing a women
>dating a man I KNOW is abusive, etc and the rabbi has forbidden anyone
>from saying anything to the unsuspecting woman.

Immediate response:

Stop! Do not pass Go! Do not wait till the shadchan collects $2000!

If the man has a history of abusive behavior, and the "rabbi" "forbids"
you to tell, it is a MITZVAH to tell - it is Lashon Hara Le-Toelet (with
a positive purpose), and possibly also Pikuach Nefesh. You may certainly
ignore the "rabbi"'s prohibition.

Furthermore, should this women, through the silence of the "rabbi" and
the community, suffer harm (r"l) at the hands of this man, she may be
entitled to sue them for damages. And she may also be entitled to have
the marriage annulled as a Mekach Taut (transaction concluded in error)
[although, unfortunately, it would take a rabbi on the level of Rav
Moshe to rule on such a question].

Perry Zamek


From: Perets Mett <p.mett@...>
Date: Mon, 20 Oct 2003 19:06:31 +0100
Subject: Shmini Atsereth & Simchath Toiroh

On Thursday, October 16, 2003, at 10:33  am, my good friend Martin Stern wrote:

> Artscroll is aimed at Diaspora communities in which, on our calendars,
> Simchat Torah can never fall on Shabbat. Originally it was never
> celebrated in Erets Yisrael which used a three yearly cycle of Torah
> reading and it is only through the influence of immigrating Diaspora
> Jews (many centuries ago) that it has displaced the Torah mandated
> festival of Shmini Atseret which has a completely different tone -
> Kohelet, Geshem and, in many communities, Yizkor. The resulting
> combination has been infelicitous to say the least from my experience.

I take issue with this on two counts

Firstly, the minhog Erets Yisroel among those who read Koheles is to
read it on the Shabbos of Succos, This year it was therefore read read
on the first day of Succoth, which fell on Shabbos. So there is no
relevance of Koheleth to Shmini Atsrereth in minhag Erets Yisroel.

Secondly, the whole 'serious tone' of Shmini Atsereth in chuts lo-orets
(diaspora) is worthy of examination. There is no doubt that Shmini
Atsereth is Zman Simchotheinu (the season of our rejoicing) and , in
fact, it is referred to as 'vehoyitho akh someiach' - rejoicing is the
sole distinguishing mitsvo of this yom tov. So who is to say that the
post-Talmudic institutions of Yizkor and Tefilath Geshem are the
defining characteristics of a day on which the Toiroh mandates simcho

Finally, the division of the post-Succoth Yom Tov into two distinct
phases, Shmini Atsereth and Simchath Toiroh has regrettably allowed, in
a few communities, for the latter to degenerate into a day of quite
inappropriate frivolity and excess which do not really belong to a Yom

The Toiroh mandated festival of Shmini Atsereth is a Festival of
Rejoicing, which Chazal found it proper, in Bovel, to use as the day of
the conclusion of the annual Toiroh reading cycle so as to associate the
Toiro-mandated simcho with the simcho of a siyum of toiroh
shebikhthav. I really do not see in what way the immigrating diaspora
community have displaced a non-existent 'serious' festival of Shmini
Atseteth, other than the fact that the Toiroh reading for Shmini
Atsereth (Aseir T'aseir) has been displaced by the 'immigrant' Toiroh
reading of Vezoith Haberokho.

Perets Mett


From: Steve Almansi <sdante@...>
Date: Wed, 22 Oct 2003 14:11:09 -0300
Subject: Silver Judaica

Dear Sir:

I need some information.  We have in our family, a seemingly unique
silver object for which we would like to understand it's significance.
It is not in a wonderful state of repair but does have a legible
inscribed familial inscription to Avroham Almansi, perhaps my great
paternal grandfather, whose Italian name was Abramo and who was born
approximately in 1850 as my grandfather was born in 1877. It in some way
it might be noteworthy in some way that my family, on my father's
paternal side, is from the town of Almansa in Spain and the aleph and
the lamed in the inscription are joined together in some archaic
calligraphic manner. Later, from the XV century the family lived in the
town of Scandiano in Italy.

It is quite possible that the object was "put together" from several
disparate pieces since the gauge of the silver elements appears to be
different in different areas.  It basically has the appearance of
tripartite petals which enclose a pistilate bowl.  The top is perforated
as in the manner of a havdalah with lateral candlesticks, however, the
inscription not bearing the family name on the remaining two "petals"
has seemingly nothing to do with the termination of the Sabbath.

Instead the inscription is from the Book of Joshua chapter five verse
two, "Make thee knives of flint, and circumcise again the children of
Israel the second time. (Soncino).  While I am sure that there is some
Talmudic text dealing with the reiteration of again and again.  Do you
know of either a Talmudic or midrashic reference to this quotation? I
wonder if that text with its repetition may point to some clue in the
meaning of the object's text.  The actual inscription is v'mol et b'nai
Yisarel, with seemingly an extra vav in the beginning which is not part
of the actual text. The Soncino translational notes indicates that "they
were collectively circumcised before their departure from Egypt."
Another note (V:9), perhaps, importantly in this object's case, is the
possibility that the practice of circumcision had been neglected while
in Egypt and perhaps this is reflective in great-grandfather's case.

In any case, I would appreciate the your evaluation of text on this
object or if you are unable to provide me with possible explanation,
could you point me to someone who might have an idea about this object.

Sincerely yours,

Steve Almansi

[Four jpeg's of the object were sent in as well. Anyone who would like
to view the jpeg's can contact either the message submitter or
myself. Both high res picture (1.2Meg) as well as low res picture
(<100K) were included. Mod.]


From: <BACKON@...> (Josh Backon)
Date: Sun, 26 Oct 2003 14:07:02 +0200 (IST)
Subject: Simchat Torah

Simchat Torah is first mentioned in the book "HaChilukim she'bein anshei
Mizrach u'bnei eretz Yisrael"[the differences (in customs) between those
in Babylonia and those in Israel] which came out around 650
CE. Basically, the custom among those in Babylonia was to finish the
readings of the Torah in an annual cycle whereas that of those in Israel
was a triennial (3 year) [actually, 3.5 year] cycle. See gemara in
Megilla 29b and Massechet Sofrim 16:10.

The custom of completing the reading of the Torah on Simchat Torah is
mentioned in a braita in Megilla 31a "l'machar korin V'Zoht haBracha".

By the end of the geonic era, the day of Simchat Torah had a number of
names: "Yom haSefer", "Yom haSiyum" and also "Simchat Torah" (the last
mentioned in RIT'Z Giat p. 118; Siddur RASHI p. 228, Machzor Vitri
p. 256). The Sefer haManhig (early 12th C) in Hilchot Chag 59 mentions
the custom as does the SHU"T haRashba hameyuchasot l"Ramban 260.

The custom of then starting the reading with Sefer B'reshit is mentioned
by the Avudarham in Tfilot Sukkot and in the Sefer haManhig p. 55.

Dr. Josh Backon


End of Volume 40 Issue 96