Volume 41 Number 16
                 Produced: Mon Nov 10  6:30:59 US/Eastern 2003

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

ACH=MOST OF || Methodology in Biblical exegesis
         [Russell J Hendel]
Breast self-exam
Changing text of Biblical verses
         [Akiva Miller]
Children in Restaurants
         [Batya Medad]
Frum Jews in College
         [Natan Berry]
Mammography far from foolproof
Minhag to wear long Peyos
         [Gil Student]
Wearing Pants
         [Israel Caspi]


From: Russell J Hendel <rjhendel@...>
Date: Sun, 9 Nov 2003 17:46:34 -0500
Subject: ACH=MOST OF || Methodology in Biblical exegesis

I was really excited about Anonymous's post concerning my thesis that
the Hebrew Biblical word ACH means MOST OF as in USUALLY (most of the
time), PROBABLY (most of the time), FREQUENTLY (Most of the time) or
simply MOST OF. Anonymous allowed me to solve a difficult Rashi that had
been bothering me for 5 years.

First some sources for those who are just tuning in. My article on Pshat
and Derash (URL below) contains the basic idea that ACH means USUALLY
with 3 examples. A basic thesis of my article was that Biblical
translation could be enhanced by using culturally comparable examples in

Like Anonymous I was curious whether this principle applied to all
verses. There are 41-42 Torah instances of ACH---with 17 Rashis on
them. Statistics and examples of translations may be found on the Rashi
website at the 2nd URL below. Allow me now to cite my original 3
examples and the 3 verses that Anonymous considers counter-examples

(1) MOST OF Noach remained in the ark (RASHI: MOST OF Noach but not the
part of him bit off by the lion for serving his dinner late). (2) You
will be happy MOST OF YOM TOV (RASHI: MOST OF Yom Tov, but not on the
first night). (3) Avimelech, after seeing Isaac PLAYING with Rivkah,
whom he claimed was his sister, cynically commented - You claimed she
was your sister, but she is PROBABLY your wife. (4) The following
animals are USUALLY not eaten because they have only one of the signs of
cloven hoofs or chewing the cud (RASHI/SIFRE/RAMBAM--USUALLY Not
eaten....but eg an unkosher pig that was born (in a Jews presence) to a
kosher cow COULD (theoretically) be eaten..similarly a kosher animal
given birth to by a non-kosher animal cannot be eaten).

Upon reviewing Anonymous' examples I found that in most verses ACH
precedes the verb (and hence denotes usually or most of). However in the
following 2 verses ACH precedes the noun and this changes the emphasis
somewhat though the basic idea is the same: (5) USUALLY it is the
Sabbaths that you observe (RASHI: USUALLY...observe Sabbath not the
Temple; So eg you dont construct the Temple on the Sabbath. But the
Sabbath Sacrifice can be brought in the Temple even on Sabbath--thus for
the Sabbath sacrifice we observe the Temple laws not the Sabbath
laws(hence the word USUALLY)). (6) Recall the Jews did not believe that
God could deliver Israel to them. The Jews started to rebel.Joshua and
Calev said God could deliver it. They continued...USUALLY your
rebellions are not against God (TORAH SHLAYMAH(paraphrased): That is: if
you must rebel, rebel against Moses and Aaron not God...most rebellions
in the wilderness were against Moses/Aaron not God)

Note how example 5 sheds light on a complex Rashi-Ramban controversy on
the nuances of Ach.

I could say more but I would like to take up the general question
brought up by Anonymous: If Russell (or anyone) brings forward a new
English translation, then how do we test it? Does one counterexample
refute it? If the example usually works should it be accepted
(especially when the traditional translations in English dont work)? In
my article I ironically point out that the translation ACH=USUALLY is
consistent with Talmudic derash and makes them the simple meaning of the
text while the traditional translation ACH=ONLY is inconsistent with

But is consistency with Derash a criteria for good translation.

I think all these questions sorely deserve a thread Too often I see on
mail-jewish and elsewhere a good idea shot down because of one
counter-example EVEN THOUGH the idea is correct and solves more problems
than it causes. (There was some cynicism in Anonymous' post--->Or does
ACH=USUALLY only work MOST OF THE TIME<. Actually it works all the time
but EVEN if it worked most of the time I think there would be validity
to it).

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


From: Anonymous
Date: Sun, 9 Nov 2003 17:14:05 -0500
Subject: Breast self-exam

Rise Goldstein writes:
> there is NO convincing scientific evidence that breast self-exam
> reduces breast cancer mortality.  Despite the lack of evidence
> supporting it, health care providers, at least in the U.S., continue to
> "push" self-exam on women as if it were a strongly validated life-saving
> measure.  As well, certain breast cancer survivors continue to offer
> emotionally wrenching testimonials to the same effect.
> (Please note that my remark here is in no way meant, G-d forbid, to
> denigrate the experience of breast cancer survivors.  However, what MAY
> be true in a limited number of individual cases does not necessarily
> translate into appropriate across-the-board recommendations for "good
> practice.")

Dr. Goldstein is right that there is no published evidence that monthly
self-examination reduces mortality. However, as the old chicken-soup
joke goes, "it couldn't hurt."

I am one of those "limited individual cases" where self-examination made
all the difference. My local mikvah has instructions for
self-examination posted in all shower rooms - it's a good reminder to do
the self-exam every month at about the same time of the month. That's
how I found my breast cancer - only a week after I had received a clean
bill of health from my gynecologist and months before my next scheduled
mammogram. It turned out to be a very fast-growing malignancy, but B"H,
because I was diligent in self-examination, I found it when it was still
Stage 1 and my prognosis is good.

I know a number of other women who will tell the same story. I therefore
urge all women to continue self-examination and report any problems, no
matter how small, to their doctors as soon as possible.


From: Akiva Miller <kennethgmiller@...>
Date: Sun, 9 Nov 2003 17:41:01 -0500
Subject: Re: Changing text of Biblical verses

Ben Katz wrote: <<< In the siddur, many pesukim are altered from the
singular to the plural, to make them more appropriate in the
congregational setting. Altering for the feminine to make it more
appropriate for the setting (to me at least) is no different. >>>

I agree, and simply want to point out that a good example of this is the
"Shma Kolenu" section said in Selichos and on Yom Kippur. Not everyone
says all the verses, but of the eight verses which appear in the
Artscroll Yom Kippur Machzor, seven of them are singular in the original
Tanach, but plural in the Machzor. (That's from Amareinu to Kee L'cha
inclusive, for those who want to check.)

Akiva Miller


From: Batya Medad <ybmedad@...>
Date: Sun, 09 Nov 2003 21:55:56 +0200
Subject: Re: Children in Restaurants

>are being to harsh on frum children. Our kids behavior in restaurants is
>certainly no worse and often is often much better that that of their
>gentile and non frum cohorts.

A big difference is the family size.  One or two obnoxious kids with
parents are easier to ignore than the same two parents trying to control
a half a dozen active kids.  Remember that restaurant meals take
longer--ordering, waiting, etc--than a meal at home.  Even the line at
the pizza place can be too long, and the kids can be out of control
before the slices are cool enough to eat.



From: Natan Berry <nberry@...>
Date: Sun, 9 Nov 2003 14:36:41 -0500
Subject: Frum Jews in College

I wanted to share a website with the olam.  I started an online
discussion board for frum Jews in college, where people can share their
views, experience's, questions they get asked from non-Jews, dealing
with pressure from yeshivas/seminaries, etc etc.

The URL is: http://www.topshot.com/phpBB2

Natan Berry
Yahoo! Msgr "aishelrocks"


From: c.halevi <c.halevi@...>
Date: Sun, 9 Nov 2003 13:49:27 -0600
Subject: Mammography far from foolproof

Shalom, All:

Discussing breast self-examination, epidemiologist Rise Goldstein  says
>>there is NO convincing scientific evidence that breast self-exam
reduces breast cancer mortality<< and also states >> Mammography as a
means to lower breast cancer mortality is well supported in the
scientific literature for women ages 50 and older, at least up to about
age 70 or 75 or so<<

I know that there are many false readings with self-exams, but please be
aware there are false readings with mammography too. I speak from family

My wife recently detected a lump that a mammogram said was benign. An
MRI and subsequent needle biopsy proved it was malignant. Because she
caught it before it had metastasisized beyond too many lymph nodes, her
breast cancer prognosis is good.

Do not rely on mammograms alone.

Yeshaya (Charles Chi) Halevi


From: Gil Student <gil_student@...>
Date: Sun, 9 Nov 2003 20:18:57 -0500
Subject: Re: Re: Minhag to wear long Peyos

Dovid wrote:
>where did the minhag to wear long peyos hanging ones, come from?

R' Yosef Qafih in his Ketavim, vol. 3 p. 1424 traces the custom back to
the First Temple era, although I find that claim hard to believe.

>if someone started to wear such peyos for some time and decided to stop
>does he need atoras nedarim.

This is unclear to me.  I see no reason why it should even be a hanhagah
tovah, which would mean that there is no need for hataras nedarim.  But
ask your posek for halachah le-ma'aseh.

Gil Student


From: Israel Caspi <icaspi@...>
Subject: Wearing Pants

A number of writers, like Chaim Tatel, responded to my question about
the modesty of pants for men by pointing out that "Hashem commanded
Kohanim to wear pants in the mishkan specifically for this reason.  See
Shemos 28:42-44: 'And thou shalt make them linen breeches to cover the
flesh of their nakedness; from the loins even unto the thighs
[yereichaim] they shall reach...'"

These linen breeches (mich-n'say bahd), as the verse itself says,
reached only down to the thigh.  So, at best they are shorts.  And when
considering that these shorts were worn under a tunic and a robe, they
are in fact underpants, their function being to modestly cover the
Kohen's "nakedness" even if viewed from below.  Otherwise these breeches
would not be seen at all.

Several male writers responded to the question I asked about whether,
from a woman's point of view, pants are a more modest type of clothing
then the old fashioned robe (which was the original attire for men).
They quoted what they thought women think or what others had written
about what women would think.  But no women wrote in to express their
thoughts.  So we are still left with men speaking for women.

On the subject of woman wearing slacks, mail-jewish readers may find
Rabbi J. David Bleich's review, in one of his books on Contemporary
Halachah (I think Volume II), to be of interest.  He even refers to one
source which mentions the uncondemned fashion of the Jewish women of
that time to wear a kind of harem pants.

Also of interest on this subject is the following, quoted from: "Women
and Mitzvot (Book II - Modesty)" by Rabbi Eliakim G. Elinson, with an
approbation from the [then] Chief Rabbi of Israel, Rabbi Ovadia Yossef);
published by The World Zionist Organization, Department of Religious
Education in the Diaspora, Jerusalem, 5741 (1981):

"Our rabbinical leaders agree that, in practice, this fashion [women
wearing slacks] should be discouraged.  But they disagree as to whether
or not there is a formal violation of the halachah.  According to some
rabbis, a woman who wears slacks is violating a Torah prohibition which
is covered by the prohibition regarding "Masculine Objects On Women and
Men Wearing Women's Garments." But it is difficult to support this
opinion using the principles delineated above and it seems that these
rabbis are basing their opinion on other than formal halachic
considerations.  Rather, it is an expression of their aversion to the
social phenomena and tendencies which it reflects.  Indeed, it is the
opinion of the majority of rabbinical leaders that women are not barred
from wearing slacks because of the prohibition regarding "Masculine
Objects On Women and Men Wearing Women's Garments." And this conclusion
is based on three considerations:

A. There is a substantial difference in the cut of women's and men's
trousers (it may be that this consideration does not apply to jeans);

B. The practice [of women wearing slacks] has become common and is
widely accepted (it may be that this consideration does not apply to
more traditional groups which have resisted the breakdown of their
standards in this sphere, i.e., to the extent that they can be
considered to be self-contained "localities");

C.  Women who wear slacks do not not necessarily intend to emulate men;
often they wear slacks for reasons other than fashion or appearance
(this applies especially to work clothes, when dressing for hikes, for
sports activities or during cold weather).

In any event, some of our rabbinic leaders take exception to the
phenomenon of Jewish women wearing slacks and have called on them to
stop this practice.  Their opinion is based on considerations of
modesty.  In particular, they focus on the physical aspect - slacks
accentuate the legs and other areas of the body.  But this evaluation
seems to be overly subjective and dependant upon the cut of the slacks.
Moreover, the same objections can validly be leveled at other articles
of women's clothing, not just slacks."


End of Volume 41 Issue 16