Volume 41 Number 35
                 Produced: Thu Dec  4  7:18:17 US/Eastern 2003

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Good manner
         [Leah Aharoni]
Shaatnez in Rugs
         [Leah Aharoni]
Standing for bride and groom
         [Gershon Dubin]
Tal U Mattar (3)
         [Jack Gross, David Maslow, Abie Zayit]
Tal U'Matar
         [Irwin Weiss]
         [Akiva Miller]
Techelet and 613 nm
         [Jonathan Katz]
Top coats over kittels under the chuppah (5)
         [Joshua Kay, Boruch Merzel, Neil Normand, Rachel Swirsky, Avi
Two more points about Tal U'Matar
         [Michael Appel]


From: Leah Aharoni <leah25@...>
Date: Wed, 03 Dec 2003 11:56:43 +0200
Subject: Good manner

I think everyone is in agreement that people who devote themselves to
rigorous Torah study are "special." The problem starts when some of them
begin thinking of themselves as "special" and even act "special."

Ramhal in Mesilat Yesharim (Shaar HaAnava) compares a wise man to a bull
who is pulling a plow. Although a person has gained wisdom; he should
not think highly of himself; since this is his only purpose in
life. There is a wide gap between the respect that should be accorded to
people who learn Torah; and the sense of entitlement (as Carl had put
it) of certain individual yeshiva and kollel students.

Leah Aharoni
English/Hebrew/Russian Translator
Telefax 972-2-9971146, Mobile 972-56-852571
Email <leah25@...>


From: Leah Aharoni <leah25@...>
Date: Wed, 03 Dec 2003 11:06:20 +0200
Subject: Shaatnez in Rugs

We tested our rugs and found shaatnez in two of them, a Chinese and a
Persian. I don't know when the question was put to the Williamsburg
shaatnez lab, but may be things have changed since then.

Leah Aharoni


From: Gershon Dubin <gershon.dubin@...>
Date: Wed, 3 Dec 2003 19:10:58 GMT
Subject: Standing for bride and groom

From: Elazar M Teitz <remt@...>

<<Obviously, the standing for bikkurim bringers was not extended to
mitzvos in general>>

Rav Yaakov Kamenecki disagrees.  He suggested that the reason for
standing at "vyvarech David"-standing for the people who gave tzedaka at
that point, and he personally stood (although he was not physically able
to dance) while dancing for choson and kallah was taking place, citing
this as the reason.  Not sure if he had other applications for this
principle as well.



From: Jack Gross <ibijbgross@...>
Date: Tue, 2 Dec 2003 07:45:13 -0500
Subject: Re: Tal U Mattar

> From: Joshua Hosseinof <jh@...>
> In other words, the halacha for Tal U Matar outside of Israel is still
> tied to the Julian Calendar.

I recall seeing a not-so-old Eastern European siddur, perhaps from the
1880's, whose instructions to start saying Sheilat Matar on November 22
included: "V'simancha: *B'cha* Y'varech Yisrael Leimor'" (Beit + Kaff =

From: David Maslow <maslowd@...>
Date: Tue, 2 Dec 2003 14:58:26 -0500 
Subject: Tal U Mattar

Joshua Hosseinof explained the date for starting the recitation of Tal U

>we start Tal U Mattar 60 days after "Tekufat Tishrei," the autumn equinox.
>So September 21 + 60 days gives you November 21st.  Add 10 days for the
>conversion from the Julian Calendar to the Gregorian Calendar..."

Can someone please explain why the change in calendars and adjustment of
dates should affect the count of 60 days after the equinox?

 IMHO, 60 days is 60 days, and if we were in the Julian calendar, the
equinox would be 10 days later in that calendar.  The earth did not move
ahead 10 days in relation to the sun just because we changed calendars.

David E. Maslow

From: <oliveoil@...> (Abie Zayit)
Date: Tue, 2 Dec 2003 22:08:13 +0000
Subject: Tal U Mattar

Some years back Dr. Moshe Sokolow wrote an excellent article on the
subject for use in day schools, entitled

"What is So Holy about the 4th (or 5th or 6th) of December?  Some
Insights into the Interplay between the Calendar and the Liturgy".

It is now available on-line at:

Abie Zayit


From: Irwin Weiss <irwin@...>
Date: Tue, 2 Dec 2003 08:23:30 -0500
Subject: Tal U'Matar

Another interesting anomaly (sort of) is that while December 21 or 20 is
the day with the fewest hours of daylight, (sometimes referred to as
"the shortest day") the sun sets earliest on December 4 or 5 or 6 (and
this is the day we change the text of the davenning).  If you look at
your luach you will see that licht benchen ( candle lighting time) for
Shabbat gets earlier and earlier as you approach December 5, when it is
the earliest.  It is slightly later on December 12.  The time of the
sunset has something to do with the tilt of the earth.

Therefore, while in general we follow a lunar calendar, in this
particular instance the ritual is in accord with solar events.

Irwin E. Weiss, Esq.
Suite 307, 920 Providence Rd, Baltimore, MD 21286
410-821-5435 ext. 111, fax: 410-821-8060


From: Akiva Miller <kennethgmiller@...>
Date: Tue, 2 Dec 2003 12:39:18 -0500
Subject: Re: Techelet

Mike Gerver wrote <<< if techelet really does have its absorption peak
at 613 nm, this would prove that the metric system is in some sense a
halachically preferred system of measurement, with a special kedusha
lacking in the English system. >>>

I've heard similar things said regarding the size of a revi'is, which
(according to the position of Rav Avraham Chaim Naeh) is 86 cc or about
3 ounces. The gematria of "cos" (like a kiddush cup, which must hold at
least a revi'is) is 86.

(Which is *not* so say that I personally subscribe to the idea that the
metric system has more kedusha than the English system. There could well
be some interesting coincidences for the English system too. I just
haven't heard them yet. Oh, by the way: The various opinions put the
length of a "mil" as more or less a kilometer, and nowhere near as long
as a mile.)

Akiva Miller


From: Jonathan Katz <jkatz@...>
Date: Tue, 2 Dec 2003 12:34:12 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Techelet and 613 nm

I was so shocked by Mike Gerver's remark that techelet has an absorption
peak at 613 nm that I had to check it out for myself (and yes, I
understand that the meter and derived units are entirely arbitrary but I
still found this to be quite a coincidence). Nathan Lamm kindly refered
me to what seems to be the original source of this statement [1].

Unfortunately, as best as I can tell, upon further investigation the
coincidence is not as surprising as it may seem at first glance. (I will
freely note that I only investigated the matter for a few minutes, so if
someone can correct me I would appreciate it.)

I was unable to locate the reference [2] cited by [1]. However, I did
locate another reference which listed absorption peaks of various indigo
compounds [3]. According to that source (cf. Table 2 of [3]), indigo
itself has an absorption peak at 605 nm. On the other hand, there are a
number of brominated version of indigo with an absorption peak at 613
nm.  However, there are 18 entires in Table 2 of [3], each corresponding
to different brominated compounds (sometimes in different solvents), and
the absorption peak changes for each one (ranging from 585 nm to 621
nm).  Thus, it is not at all surprising that one or more of these
compounds would "happen" to have a peak at 613 nm. In any case, it seems
that techelet (which I believe is indigo) does NOT have a peak at 613

I still find it interesting that techelet is blue, which "happens" to
absorb in the range of 613 nm. But this is much less surprising than the
statement that it absorbs at EXACTLY 613 nm.

[1] http://www.tekhelet.com/tidbit14.htm
[2] J. Wouters and A. Verhecken, JSDC vol. 107, July/August 1991.
[3] http://www.mdpi.org/molecules/papers/60900736.pdf


From: Joshua Kay <jkay@...>
Date: Wed, 03 Dec 2003 15:52:14 +1100
Subject: Top coats over kittels under the chuppah

I recall seeing in the name of one of the Gerrer Rebbes (possibly the
S'fas Emes) that the dark coat is worn over the kittel to resemble black
fire on white fire, similarly to the way in which Torah was given. I am
sure that other reasons are also offered.

Kol tuv,
Dov Kay 

From: <BoJoM@...> (Boruch Merzel)
Date: Wed, 3 Dec 2003 16:38:49 EST
Subject: Re: Top coats over kittels under the chuppah

You might be interested in knowing that until some 35 years ago almost
all Chasanim who wore Kittels would do so either under a top coat or
under the formal suit, tucking the Kittel into his trousers, during the
Chupa.  Most considered it to be a private and personal matter.

Since the Kittel was worn mainly by Chasanim from Chasidishe background
and rarely by a Chasan from a "Litvishe " Yeshiva, it was quite common,
at a Chasidishe wedding, to see the Chasan walking down the aisle (
indoors or outdoors) in a light top coat.  One understood, then, that he
was wearing a Kittel under his coat.

I certainly do not recall any Chasan (years ago) donning on a Kittel
under the Chupah as is the custom today (even among those from not very
Frum background.)

Boruch Merzel

From: Neil Normand <NormandN@...>
Date: Wed, 3 Dec 2003 13:14:22 -0500
Subject: RE: Top coats over kittels under the chuppah

At the risk of being irreverent, I personally find the entire Kittel and
overcoat over Kittel business unnecessary. Perhaps I'm incorrect but it
is found nowhere in the Shas, Rambam or Shulchan Aruch for a Chatan to
wear a Kittel, let alone an overcoat.  Does anyone know whether 30-50
years ago, in the Yeshivish world, Chatanim were wearing Kittels?  My
gut instinct is no. It doesn't look normal.  A Chatan should look well
dressed and happy at his wedding.  Instead of adding layer upon layer of
piety, why can't a Chatan simply walk down the isle with a nice
suit/tuxedo and a smile on his face?!

From: <swirskyr@...> (Rachel Swirsky)
Date: Tue, 2 Dec 2003 23:07:08 -0500
Subject: RE: Top coats over kittels under the chuppah

> Immanuel Burton <IBURTON@...> wrote
> An explanation once offered to me for why a groom who wears a kittel
> also wears an overcoat to cover it is that since the bride dresses in
> white and a kittel is also white, he covers his kittel so as not to
> detract from the bride's glory.

However the bride wearing white is a much more recent innovation than the
groom wearing a kittle.

Rachel Swirsky

From: Avi Feldblum <mljewish@...>
Date: Thu, 4 Dec 2003 06:12:53 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Re: Top coats over kittels under the chuppah

On Wed, 3 Dec 2003, Normand, Neil wrote:
> Does anyone know whether 30-50 years ago, in the Yeshivish world,
> Chatanim were wearing Kittels? My gut instinct is no.

I went and looked at the wedding album from my fathers z"l wedding. That
was about 50 years ago. He walked down wearing a tux or some similar
outfit with a top hat, but then under the Chupa, he put on a kittel
(with no overcoat or anything over the kittel). From a minhag
standpoint, my father is from the Lita Yeshiva world, my mother from the
Polish Chassidish word (Sambor Rebbe / Strijer Rov). So the custom is
likely quite a bit older than 50 years.

Avi Feldblum


From: Michael Appel <myappel@...>
Date: Tue, 2 Dec 2003 09:57:05 -0800 (PST)
Subject: Two more points about Tal U'Matar

From: Elazar M Teitz <remt@...>
> ... The second exception is in the December immediately preceding the
> secular leap year.  Each year, the equinox is six hours later in the
> day than the previous year, because the year's length is a quarter-day
> more than a whole number of days.  Having accumulated three
> quarter-days, the time of the equinox is after more than half the day
> has passed, and thus the start of Tal Umatar is delayed one day, to
> December 5th's ma'ariv.
> ...
> (Prior to 1900, the date was December3. Since 1900 was not a civil leap
> year, it changed to December 4.

There are two things to add to this, which might be worth mentioning.

Firstly, it is not that the time of the equinox is after more than half
the day has passed. It is actually already on the next day(at least
according to the view that the year is 365.25 days long).

Consider this: 

In 2002, the tekufah was on Oct. 7 at 3PM (Jerusalem time, which is the
basis of the calculations). This corresponded to 1 MarCheshvan. The
sixtieth day (inclusive) was 30 Kislev which began on December 4th at

This year (2003) the tekufah was on Oct. 7 at 9PM.  While Oct.7 during
the day was 11 Tishrei, by 9PM, it was already 12 Tishrei. The 60th day
will be 11 Kislev which begins on December 5th at night. Thus, those who
are outside of Israel begin saying V'Ten Tal U'Matar at the beginning of
the day (Maariv) of the 60th day following whatever Hebrew date the
tekufah fell on.

Secondly, the rule for shifting to the next day (Dec.  4th to Dec. 5th
in this century) is not exactly related to the civil leap year. (After
all, as Rabbi Teitz said, 1900 was not a leap year, we shifted from
Dec.3 to Dec. 4th, and stayed there since there was no civil leap year
to correct the shift). You could say that we shift to the next day on
the Gregorian Calendar, in years preceding years divisble by 4. And if
there is no extra day in that upcoming year, the shift remains.

Michael Appel


End of Volume 41 Issue 35