Volume 41 Number 27
                 Produced: Tue Nov 25  6:58:41 US/Eastern 2003

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

The Business of the Chofetz Chaim
         [Bill Bernstein]
Child Abuse, Reporting Abuse
         [Andrew Klafter]
Chofetz Chaim and "bars"
         [Tzadik Vanderhoof]
Good Manners
         [Carl Singer]
Knowledge of the Surname Color Law of Germany
         [Robert Israel]
Men in pants (3)
         [Israel Caspi, Carl Singer, Jonathan B. Horen]
The Steipler Gaon and shatnez
         [Joshua Kay]
         [Eric W Mack]


From: Bill Bernstein <bbernst@...>
Date: Sun, 23 Nov 2003 11:07:55 -0600
Subject: Re: The Business of the Chofetz Chaim

<< Do you have any more information about the kind of bars the
      Chofetz Chaim would frequent?

Yes, his own.  That was his business and his wife ran it.>>

I'll probably be the 37th person to point out that Chofetz Chaim ran a
grocery or more likely general store in Radin.  I am told on some
authority that non-Jews liked to patronage the store because they knew
they would never be cheated there.

Bill Bernstein
Nashville TN

[Some of the other 36 include: 
      Perets Mett <p.mett@...>
      Michael Kahn <mi_kahn@...>
The other 34 who were planning to write in can consider that their name
      is here.     Mod.]


From: Andrew Klafter <aklafter@...>
Date: Tue, 25 Nov 2003 02:00:51 -0500
Subject: Child Abuse, Reporting Abuse

> From: <Dagoobster@...> (Chaim Shapiro)
> But what if one only suspects abuse?  How quick should they be to report
> it?  Should they speak to the Shul Rav first?  Should they go to the
> authorities even when they are not sure as to the veracity of their
> suspicion?

> My thoughts are simple.  This is a life and death issue.  While it may
> be nice to take some time to investigate or to speak to the Rav, that
> time may mean life or death for the child(ren).

        Here is my practical advice.  I am a physician, and therefore I
am a "mandatory reporter" for suspected child neglect and abuse.  This
means that I have a legal obligation (in the State of Ohio, where I am
licensed to practice medicine) to call the Department of Human Services
(DHS) when I have reasonable suspicion of child abuse or neglect.  I
have done this many times.  Fortunately, I have not (yet) had to call
about a family in my religious community.

        As a general rule, I would recommend that people who suspect
child abuse DO contact leaders in the community, such as the shul rav,
the principal of the day school, and possible the child's teacher.  I do
not, however, recommend "asking" the rav to "posken" on what you should
do, because this is not really a halakhic question--it is more of a
strategic question about how to best protect the child's interest or
best determine whether abuse is occurring.  Rather, INFORM the
rav/principal that you have a suspicion of abuse, and that you are
seriously considering an intervention to protect the child and you would
like to know if they have any additional information which may support
or ameliorate your suspicions.  Undue caution about the laws of loshon
hora in such cases is extremely inappropriate and would actually be
disastrously negligent; any rav or principal worth his weight in salt
will realize this.  If, after approaching a rav about this issue, you
are given a lecture on loshon hora or rechilus, then please find a new

        In many cases you may discover that the child or parent, or
family is already seeing a therapist.  It would generally be wise to
call the therapist and to voice your concerns.  The therapist will not
be allowed to reveal anything to you, and might not even confirm whether
such-and-such a patient is actually in treatment.  However, the
therapist can listen to anything you wish to tell them and can then use
that information in whatever way he/she thinks is in the patient's best
interests.  Therapists will have more knowledge than you about the signs
and symptoms of abuse/neglect, and will be more experienced in reporting
it to the authorities.

        Finally, if there are mental health professionals in your
religious community, you can approach them for some advice.  They will
no doubt be reluctant to make any formal pronouncements on whether, in
fact, abuse is occurring or whether there is a case of major mental
illness in one of the parents based on your report of the facts since
they have not performed their own diagnostic evaluation However, they
will have some practical guidance about what other information is
important to know, or how to refer the family for help.

        In cases where a child is obviously being abused, rachmona
latzalan, I recommend that you call your Child Protective Services,
Department of Human Services, or analogous agency, and inform your Rav
and school Principal about what you are doing.  In some cities the
Jewish Family Service is a good resource.  Finally, don't let the
following caution stop you, but you must expect to permanently sever
your relationship with the parents when they learn that you taken this

        Hu yevarech es ha-ne'arim!

Nachum Klafter, MD
Assistant Professor of Clinical Psychiatry
University of Cincinnati


From: Tzadik Vanderhoof <tzadikv@...>
Date: Sun, 23 Nov 2003 21:26:32 -0500
Subject: Chofetz Chaim and "bars"

>>Finally let me cite a well known story. The Chafetz Chaiim once walked
>>into a bar.

>Do you have any more information about the kind of bars the Chofetz
>Chaim would frequent?

Most likely the Chofetz Chaim was traveling, and it was what we would
more accurately call a "tavern", a sort of combination bar, restaurant
and crude hotel. In many places along "the road" in Europe in those
days, a place of that sort was the only option for travelers to sleep
and eat.  Also keep in mind that Jews did even more traveling for
parnassa in that era than they do now, and thus it was considered
acceptable for Jews to go into places like that, out of sheer necessity.

We have to be careful about judging people in previous eras according to
anachronistic standards.... kind of like getting angry at your parents
for not putting you in a "child safety seat" during the 60s.


From: Carl Singer <casinger@...>
Date: Sun, 23 Nov 2003 13:36:57 -0500
Subject: Good Manners

I have resigned myself to the fact that although (every) shule Rabbi in
my town and the Roshei Yeshiva are always courteous, friendly and polite
to me, that many balabtim -- especially the younger ones (twenty /
thirty something) including teenaged Yeshiva Bocherim are in great
portion rude or ill mannered.  To wit, they don't reply to Good Shabbos
-- often looking away as you approach; they push in line at stores, they
double park, they don't hold doors open for older folks, etc.

I've discussed this with others -- and many share similar observations.
Some say it's the "Brooklyn influence" or the new generation is too
self-centered -- but that's of no comfort.

Rather than list myriad examples -- I'm wondering if others might
suggest halachically acceptable solution paths.

For those of you who don't get the Jewish Press, below is my letter on
this subject that was published recently in the Jewish Press.  I
"defanged" it so it was more likley to be published:


What has happened to Midots?

It seems that some of our yungeleit are not learning Torah principles
bayn Adom l'chaverot (between man & his fellow man.) -- or simply good
Midots.  Certainly the majority of b'nai Torah are well mannered --
reflecting their upbringing and their education -- but those who aren't
are becoming a nuisance and an embarrassment to klal Yisroel.  As a
minority or perhaps a minority within a minority it behooves us as
parents and as educators to address this situation head on rather than
sweep it under the rug.

The incident that triggered this letter took place in Cleveland this
past week.  My dear Mother, nearly 80 years old 'biz 120, found a cell
phone on the street. She took the trouble to locate and contact the
owner.  The young adult who retrieved the phone didn't even say "thank
you."  My Mother called me to ask how a young man with a black hat,
payos, a "Layngeh Mantel" (a kaputeh) could be so rude.  He could have
said "thank you" to her in English, Yiddish, Hebrew, Polish, Russian,
Ukranian, German, or Uzbek --and she would have understood.  However,
she cannot understand his silence.  For that matter, I cannot either.

Shame on us all for tolerating such behavior within our communities.


Carl Singer


From: Anonymous
Date: Sun, 23 Nov 2003 22:45:32
Subject: Kantonist

My great-grandfather was a Kantonist. Remarkably, immediately after his
release, he resumed a fully observant life-style.  Family tradition has
it that although for obvious reasons my great-grandfather was an
unlearned man, the Rov of his city Brisk, the famous Beit Ha-levi, would
stand up in his honor when he entered the room.



From: Robert Israel <israel@...>
Date: Sun, 23 Nov 2003 12:39:16 -0800 (PST)
Subject: Re: Knowledge of the Surname Color Law of Germany

I think the professor was making a little joke.  This story is complete
fantasy, with no factual basis.
For some information on Jewish surnames, you might consult
<http://www.jewishgen.org/InfoFiles/faq.html#Names> and

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

> From: Marilyn Tomsky <jtomsky@...>
> I've long been interested in how to recognize a Jewish surname and the
> origins of Jewish surnames, a Jewish professor (long since retired) of
> mine once told me, that Germany had created a law which divided the
> country into color districts and all those in the Jewish districts were
> forced to take surnames bearing that district's color - like "Green,"
> "Blum" or "Blu" (means blue), "Schwartz" or "Black," "Gold," "Silver,"
> "Roth" (means red), "Weiss" (means white) and such with their
> variations.  Does anyone know the name of this law?  The date?  Anything
> about it and where it can be found - book titles?  Many surnames were
> also German words.  Stein means stone.  In America many Jews
> Americanized their German names.


From: Israel Caspi <icaspi@...>
Subject: Men in pants

Carl Singer writes:

"...I believe that since in our society (ordinary) men's pants are
pretty much common dress that they and those who wear them are pretty
much taken for granted by others.  I imagine of a man today wore a full
length toga it might be noticed and perhaps lead to other feelings."

This is exactly the argument for women to wear pants (i.e., that doing
so has become -- or is in the process of becoming -- such "common dress
[for women] that they and those who wear them are pretty much taken for
granted by others."

Those who argue against would counter that even if times have changed,
we Jews should not yield to those modern practices which violate the
demands of halachah/tradition/modesty.  For those who hold this way, we
are back to my original question: who says that men wearing pants is

--I. Caspi

From: Carl Singer <casinger@...>
Subject: Re: Men in pants

Yes - but, times and cultures change.  "Acceptable" clothing for both
men and women today within most Jewish society is significantly
different that that worn, say 1,000 or 2,000 or 5,000 years ago.  Are
their historians who can tell us what Sarah, Rifka, Rochel & Leah wore,
Or Miriam or Ruth?

NOTE: I am not attempting to draw any conclusions from the above

Carl Singer

From: Jonathan B. Horen <horen@...>
Subject: Re: Men in pants

> From: Carl Singer <casinger@...>
> Speaking with no psych background (beyond Psychology 101, circa 1965 or
> so) I believe that since in our society (ordinary) men's pants are
> pretty much common dress that they and those who wear them are pretty
> much taken for granted by others.  I imagine of a man today wore a full
> length toga it might be noticed and perhaps lead to other feelings.

Or, lehavdil, men in tights -- as in the ballet, or high-school/college
wrestlers; although, "Robin Hood: Men in Tights" -- as in Rennaissance
fairs -- might be equally applicable (no offense intended to Mel Brooks,
or anyone whose family name is "Teitz").


From: Joshua Kay <jkay@...>
Date: Tue, 25 Nov 2003 14:31:10 +1100
Subject: The Steipler Gaon and shatnez

<<Just to add to this, there is a famous story about The Steipler when he
went to meet his bashert, the sister of the The Chazzon Ish.  This was a
rabbi who used to learn for a number of hours and only then would take
care of "little life details" like eating and sleeping.  H was looking
for a shidduch and would only go dating during his non-learning hours.
So the shidduch was arranged that he would learn for his 18 hours, and
sleep on the train.  He got on the train and discovered that the seats
were shatnez and stood the entire way thus getting no sleep.  He fell
asleep on the shidduch.  (By the way, the Chazzon Ish, hearing the
story, begged his sister to go ouot with him again... and they all lived
happily ever after.>>

In the version which I heard, the Steipler Gaon was uncertain whether
the seats in the train contained shatnez, but nevetheless refrained from
sitting on them. Also, the Steipler did not fall asleep during the
shidduch, but lay down to sleep upon arrival at his destination, only to
be woken with news that his date was ready to meet him. He went to meet
her even though he had already said birchas hamapil (and had not slept),
relying on the Chayei Adam that birchas hamapil is a daily brocho,
regardless of whether one actually sleeps. However, I was not there, so
your version might be correct.

Dov Kay


From: Eric W Mack <ewm44118@...>
Date: Sun, 23 Nov 2003 20:05:31 -0500
Subject: Re: Surnames

  ------ Forwarded from a Jewish genealogy e-list ------
On 2003.11.20, Henry Schwartz <henry@...> wrote:

> When did surnames start being used?  By which year? Also, I have
> seen names like Horowitz being used before surnames were given.

Before 1785 surnames were not compulsory in Eastern Europe.

In 1785 Jews living in Galicia, then part of the Austrian Empire were
required to take surnames.

In Poland and Russia this requirement came into force variously between
1810 and 1825.

Thus most Jews in Eastern Europe had no surnames before the dates given

The exceptions were the notable families such as HOROWITZ, EPSTEIN,

In Western Europe surnames have been in use for much longer - about
a thousand years.

Perets Mett


End of Volume 41 Issue 27