Volume 41 Number 93
                 Produced: Thu Jan 22  6:13:32 US/Eastern 2004

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Being Denied Entry To A Shul
         [Immanuel Burton]
Codes Update (was: Torah and other sources of knowledge)
         [Stan Tenen]
Kashrut in the Israeli Army (3)
         [Ari Trachtenberg, <aliw@...>, Ari Trachtenberg]
Shul Dress Code for a Shaliach Tsibbur, and Daveners


From: Immanuel Burton <IBURTON@...>
Date: Mon, 19 Jan 2004 15:48:23 +0000
Subject: RE: Being Denied Entry To A Shul

Further to the responses about my experience of being denied entry to a
Shul, I would like to make the following comments:

> Historically, it has been considered acceptable for the shul's
> officers to throw out disruptive individuals, such as those who are
> talking during the service.

This may be the basis of banning cameras inside a Shul, especially if
there's no-one to stop people from disrupting services by taking

> That's what security guards are for, and in general, when they're on
> the job they're performing the mitzvah of pikuach nefesh.

This is true.  However, does a blanket ban on visitors with bags make
much sense?

> On the other hand, the threat posed by an individual who is doing
> nothing more than carrying a camera, is very different than the threat
> posed by, say, an agitated person with his finger on the trigger of a
> gun.

The tour guide to whom my friend spoke the following day said that not
being allowed to bring cameras inside the Shul during davenning was not
a security issue.  In fact, the armed police guard outside the Shul
didn't object at all to our taking photos of the outside of the Shul and
its surroundings.

> That is a wonderful idea. I hope Mr. Burton suggested it to the people
> of that shul.

I didn't get the chance.  However, I am reminded of a Purim which I
spent in Switzerland a few years ago.  I turned up at the Shul after a
day of sightseeing in the city in question with a rucksack containing my
camera equipment and some food for after the fast.  The security guard
asked me for some ID, so I showed him my passport.  He then went through
my bag more thoroughly than I do when cleaning it for Pesach, and then
let me into the Shul to hear the Megillah.

> At first I thought they didn't want cameras in the shulle out of a
> fear of terrorism. (Terrorists take pictures to help them familiarize
> themselves with the area.) But then I read that they let you in as a
> tourist with your camera. If you were denied entry out of money making
> concerns then its disgraceful.

As the gift shop in the Shul sold postcards of the interior and we were
told by the tour guide that the banning of cameras wasn't a security
issue, I am inclined to believe that we were denied entry out of
money-making concerns.  Besides, with the size of digital cameras
nowadays, it is extremely easy to take photographs surreptitiously.

Given that it is more or less a 100% certainty that tourists will have
cameras, I think that this should be taken into account when people turn
up for davenning.

> Remember Life takes precedence over all else. Davening with a minyan
> pales in comparison to the dangers of just letting anyone go anywhere
> they please.

This is true.  However, does one assume that all visitors are potential
terrorists and deny them entrance to the Shul?  Or does one investigate
the person (and their bags) to see if they are a threat or not?  After
all, photography is a very common hobby.

Anyway, does anyone have an answer to one of my original questions,
namely that of whether a Shul's authorities, once they are satisified
about the security issues, have an obligation to admit someone who wants
to daven with a minyan?

Immanuel Burton.


From: Stan Tenen <meru1@...>
Date: Fri, 16 Jan 2004 10:06:25 -0500
Subject: Codes Update (was: Torah and other sources of knowledge)

>From: Michael Kahn <mi_kahn@...>
>I am not enamored with codes because they are not part of our age-old
>mesorah, except perhaps if you consider the Gorel Hagra as a form of
>codes, but that's another discussion.

It is well to be "not enamored" with Codes.  Here's the latest as I
understand it.'

1) There are no codes in Torah.  There are equal-interval letter-skip
patterns.  The equal-interval letter-skip patterns are real, but they do
not carry any coded or encoded meaning, and certainly no prophetic
meaning.  If you would like to see a good statistical analysis of why
this is so, you might want to have a look at "Who Wrote the Bible
Codes," by Randall Ingermanson.  (It's less than $10 at Amazon.)
Ingermanson is a believing Christian, and much to his disappointment, he
was able to prove (to my satisfaction) that the letter-patterns do not
carry meaning, and that includes the search for Jewish, Christian, and
prophetic interests.  Ingermanson has been in ongoing discussion and
debate with a number of Torah Jews involved in codes research (some of
whom may be reading mail-jewish, and who may want to speak up for

2) The equal-interval letter-skip patterns that really are in the
letter-text of Torah are easily explained.  We have two sources of
explanation and they converge on the same meaning.

    A) The most common form of coding in the ancient middle-east (and
confirmed by Spartan Greek usage) was based on the use of a "scytale".
A scytale is a cylinder, around which a strap is wound.  (Just like a
tefillin strap on an arm.)  The sender would write the message across
the windings, and then fill in the rest of the strap with gibberish.
When the cylinder is removed, it's impossible (to easily) discern the
original message.  The recipient, having prior knowledge of the diameter
of the cylinder, merely re-wraps the ribbon, and reads the
originally-intended message written across the windings.

    The result of this standard coding process is that the intended
message appears at equal-interval letter-skips, based on the
circumference of the cylinder.  If the cylinder is, say, 50 letters
around, then the message will appear -- quite naturally -- at intervals
of 50 letters.  (Sometimes a non-uniform cylinder -- perhaps a special
scepter of varying circumference -- might be used. Then, an
identically-shaped and sized "sacred scepter" would be needed to un-wrap
the message.)

   B) The first word of B'reshit is usually taken to be based on the
root "Rosh," meaning "head".  But in fact, there is an equally valid
root, "Reshet" -- Resh-Shin-Tov -- and it refers to a "woven network".
Thus, B'reshit would mean "By means of a woven network".  To see why
this would be significant for the text in its entirety, have a look at

    So, B'reshit is telling us "up-front" that it is [formed] "by means
of a woven network".

The idea here is that B'reshit is in fact structured as a "woven
textile" at the letter-level, "under" the pshat text meaning at the word

And, we have the possibility of this "textile" existing before Matan
Torah in the story of Jacob's ketonot passim, incorrectly translated
"Coat of Many Colors".  Actually, a "ketonot" is a tubular-like tunic,
and "passim" does not mean "colors", but rather, "stripes" or "bands".
I'm suggesting that the ketonot passim carried the woven letter-text of
Torah (perhaps only in part) even before Moshe received all of Torah and
its proper meaning.

If the letter-text of B'reshit was originally a woven textile "net",
then it would be natural for regular features of this net to show up at
equal intervals.  Do we have evidence of this?  Yes.  When the letters
of the letter-text of B'reshit are paired, an intriguing and meaningful
geometric form is created (woven) as what is now called a "torus knot".
Now, the odd thing about this _particular_ torus knot, specified by
"re-weaving" the letter-text of B'reshit, is that it is just like a
scytale (cylinder) with a circumference of 49 or 50 letters.  49 and/or
50 (depending on how you count) is the predominant equal-interval
letter-skip pattern in Torah.

So, this is the simple explanation.  When it tells us in Exodus that our
ancestors needed to know how to brocade and embroider and weave in order
to build the Tabernacle, this is a reference to the "weave" of the text,
to the ketonot passim, and to the declaration at the beginning of
B'reshit that [Torah is] "by means of a woven network".

If anyone would like to know more about this, or see examples of it,
please ask.

Bottom line: There is no prophecy in the "codes".  The equal-interval
letter-skip patterns are a natural result of Torah (at least in parts)
having the structure of a "woven textile" or torus knot.  The proof:
When Torah is "written on the hairs of the beard of Zer Anpin," as the
Kabbalists claim it should be, the letters that occur at equal interval
skips of 49 or 50 form concentric bands that are as bold and clear as
stripes on a Navajo rug.

The letter-skip patterns thus function as "alignment boundaries" for the
text, in order that at some future date, we will be able to re-weave it,
and understand the significance of the weave.  ---But that's another
story. <smile>

Be well.


From: Ari Trachtenberg <trachten@...>
Date: Mon, 19 Jan 2004 11:24:53 -0500
Subject: Kashrut in the Israeli Army

My cousing is not dati and served in Lebanon during his army service.
He likes to recall an incident in which he was placed in the brig for
accidentally washing meat utensils with dairy equipment.  I doubt that
this is an isolated incident at a large base, as people would have
believe.  I suspect that it is kashrut's sensitivity to any infraction
(i.e. any treifing of a pan will render all food cooked in it treif)
that exacerbates the occasional mistake.

Ari Trachtenberg,                                      Boston University
http://people.bu.edu/trachten                    mailto:<trachten@...>

From: <aliw@...>
Date: Sun, 18 Jan 2004 20:53:33 +0200
Subject: Re: Kashrut in the Israeli Army

On the one hand, having spent almost 25 years in miluim, I have to 
agree with :
"Sorry, but as someone who served in the IDF, both initial service and
miluim, I strongly disagree with this. I would go as far as saying that
anyone who blindly assumes that food in the IDF is always kosher is
fooling themselves." 41/87

But on the other hand, serving in the IDF is a zechut, and you learn how
to make do, to keep your standards high and encourage the others around
you by example, and it becomes a matter of pride.  And if that means
sometimes going hungry (and being granted the opportunity to be Mekadesh
Shem Shamayim when the chevra around you understand that you'd rather
not eat than eat what you think is not "b'seder"), that's ok, too.  Who
wouldn't go on a trip to Europe for a few weeks (especially 20 or 30
years ago, when Kosher food was much harder to come by) and make do with
canned tuna and soup powder. Why not on miluim ?

So it was with great pain that I read:
"Please don't get me started on I.D.F. Kashruth.  The entire lack of
kashruth, glatt or otherwise, was a major factor in making me leave
Israel for good."(also 41/87)

(but I do have to say that Israel Caspi's picture was painted quite a 
bit blacker than reality)

From: Ari Trachtenberg <trachten@...>
Date: Mon, 19 Jan 2004 11:17:40 -0500
Subject: Kashrut in the Israeli Army

 >From: Israel Caspi <icaspi@...>
 >Due to "Vitamin P" at the father's disposal, he gets his
 >son assigned to the Army Rabbinate (yes, they lie about the son's
 >commitment to sh'mirat mitzvot) and the latter becomes a mashgiach
 >kashrut at some military installation.  He wears his kippah while on
 >duty but, since he is no longer personally committed to mitzvot (and
 >even if he were, he lacks the learning to be an effective mashgiach
 >kashrut) you can imagine the level of kashrut observance under his

How is this different from a non-combat setting in which a mashgiach
turns a blind eye to serious kashrut problems in a kitchen, or a rav
machshir who is negligently unavailable for kashrut issues?

Ultimately, you have no way of ensuring any type of behavior by another,
which is why the halacha is, as I understand it, that you can take
testimony from a single (observant - and you have to give the benefit of
the doubt unless you have direct proof to the contrary) Jew for kashrut
purposes.  If the mashgiach chooses to lie/cheat/poison you, it is
between him and his maker; the avera [transgression] is not yours.

Kol tuv,
Ari Trachtenberg,                                      Boston University
http://people.bu.edu/trachten                    mailto:<trachten@...>


From: <meirman@...> (Meir)
Date: Mon, 19 Jan 2004 23:41:02 -0500
Subject: Shul Dress Code for a Shaliach Tsibbur, and Daveners

>From: Batya Medad <ybmedad@...>>
>In our circles, the males don't always wear suits at weddings, and that
>includes the chatan.
>Proper dress is very subjective and according to cultures.  This seems
>to be a subject for differentiating between mitzvah, halacha, minhag and

I'm sure I'm not in your circle (grin) but when I started going to daily
services, I wore a jacket and tie, whether I was coming from work or not
(50-50).  Other than the rabbi, I was often the only one who did so,
including the Shaliach.  (They wore slacks and a sport shirt, and shoes
or sneakers, thereabouts.) Especially since there were a lot of people
in the congregation more observant than I, it somehow seemed wrong to
dress like the rabbi.  And I stopped.

<meirman@...>  Baltimore, MD, USA


End of Volume 41 Issue 93