Volume 41 Number 99
                 Produced: Tue Jan 27  6:25:23 US/Eastern 2004


Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Adding to Store of Knowledge
         [Stan Tenen]
Custom to settle disputes before Tefilah
         [Michael Kahn]
Divine Names in the zemiros
         [Mark Steiner]
Jews in Naval Academy
         [Tzvi Stein]
Murder
         [Jack Gross]
Naval Academy chapel
         [D. Vernon]
Order of Service on Ta'anit
         [Jack Gross]
Praying Loudly (2)
         [Martin Stern, Carl Singer]
Translations
         [o7532]
Tuxedos
         [Dr. Howard Berlin]


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From: Stan Tenen <meru1@...>
Date: Mon, 26 Jan 2004 10:05:31 -0500
Subject: Re: Adding to Store of Knowledge

>From: Shalom Carmy <carmy@...>
>This is a coherent, logical presentation. My impression is that in the
>sciences and math, where novel contribution is measurable, a PhD
>requires precisely that. I know brilliant mathematicians driven to
>distraction by the fear that someone would solve their problem before
>them and all their work would be for nought.
>
>In other areas original work is also the standard. In practice, most
>PhDs I am familiar with have not made any such contribution. One can
>only imagine that PhDs who do not devote themselves to academe, but get
>the degree for other purposes, are less anxious to make an original
>contribution. Often, one suspects, the supervising professors and
>institutions have rahamanut and let the candidates through.
>
>There is serious discussion about an alternate degree for people who are
>qualified to teach at colleges and universities but not interested in
>pursuing research. There is also discussion about standards for people
>who have original contributions (artists, writers and thinkers) but not
>in standard academic form.
>
>William James' "The PhD Octopus" was an early anticipation of this
>problem.

I agree wholeheartedly with Shalom Carmy.  To put it a bit more bluntly, 
when a scientist or engineer makes a mistake, we know about it because 
unless the engineering is correct, the metaphoric airplane won't fly.  In 
other words, in the technical and scientific world, there are performance 
standards that keep the researchers honest.

However, in non-technical scholarship, there is no "bottom line".  One gets 
ahead by telling one's mentors what they want to hear, which is basically 
an extension and confirmation of the world-view and work of the 
mentor.  Thus, scholarship rapidly drifts away from reality because there 
is no way to see if it "works", and because what's acceptable is based on 
fad, style, and pecking order.

The two approaches need each other -- particularly when it comes to 
Torah.  Science without feeling can easily become cold.  Scholarship 
without precision can easily become perverse.  For my "take" on this, and 
why it's important to Torah, have a look at "Scientists and Wordsmiths" at 
<http://www.meru.org/science.html>.

Be well.

Best,
Stan
Meru Foundation   http://www.meru.org   <meru1@...>
POB 503, Sharon, MA 02067 USA   Voice: 781-784-8902  eFax: 253-663-9273

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From: Michael Kahn <mi_kahn@...>
Date: Sun, 25 Jan 2004 20:38:19 -0500
Subject: RE: Custom to settle disputes before Tefilah

>It was the custom in many shules for someone to go up and clap on the
>Bimah before Barchu Any outstanding disputes in the shule were settled
>BEFORE Barchu so that the congregation could pray in piece.

There was also a practice in the Middle Ages where a person could hold
up krias hatora until the community addressed their grievance. (I'm not
sure what type of grievances qualified.) I know of one instance in
America many years ago where a woman entered the mens side and held up
krias hatora until the community committed themselves to fix the town's
mikva.

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From: Mark Steiner <marksa@...>
Date: Mon, 26 Jan 2004 14:17:07 +0200
Subject: RE: Divine Names in the zemiros

	I am having a hard time with the logic of avoiding reading the
Divine Names in the zemiros.  After all, the authors of these poems
included some of the greatest of the rishonim--and they saw fit to write
these Names.  (In the song "tzur mishelo" if you don't read the name
a-d-n-y in every verse, you spoil the rhyme, put there by the author
z"l.  I won't enter the question, by the way, whether the zemer tzur
mishelo, which is a poetic rendering of the Grace after meals, makes it
impossible afterwards to recite the Grace itself--this is a different
question entirely, and it is not clear to me that one can avoid that
question by not reading the Divine Names.)  There is no difference
between reading these poems at the table, and reading the other piyyutim
they wrote during the synagogue service.  I would be embarrassed to
think of myself as "frummer" than Reb Baruch of Mayence, Reb Shimon
Hagadol, Reb Yehuda Halevi, Reb Yisrael Najara (Rav of the Gaza Strip
hundreds of years ago) etc. etc.

	The zemiros are not just praise of the Almighty, but also of the
sabbath day itself.  By singing them we are enhancing the honor of the
sabbath (kvod shabbos), a Rabbinical commandment.  The Rambam writes
(hilkhot shabbat 29:1) that it is a Biblical Commandment to praise the
sabbath, when it arrives, and when it leaves.  This is called "kiddush"
and "havdalah." I speculate that the zemiros are a form of extending the
mitzvah of kiddush in an (admittedly) nonobligatory way.  As such, they
fail of their purpose if we downgrade them by failure to read the Divine
Names which the rishonim put there to be read.

	As for verses of the Torah, Reb Moshe Feinstein z"l in a
responsum once wrote that if we don't read the Divine Name in a verse,
we are falsifying the verse, since substituting a euphemism like
"Hashem" introduces a foreign element into the verse, and in effect
breaks it up into two pieces (one before the Name and one after),
neither of which is a verse.

	This does not mean one should sing verses like "ana hashem
hoshia na", since there is a severe warning in the Talmud about reducing
the verses of the Torah to songs (zemer--the Talmud refers directly to
Shir Hashirim, but Rashi and others assert that the same applies to any
verse).  It follows, therefore, that a verse should not be sung at all
unless there is a good reason to do so, and when there is a good reason
to do so, the Name in the verse should be read (except of course for the
Tetragrammaton) as written, to avoid the verse being mutilated.  What a
"good reason" is, I will leave to those qualified to render halakhic
decisions.

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From: Tzvi Stein <Tzvi.Stein@...>
Date: Mon, 26 Jan 2004 09:24:04 -0500
Subject: Re: Jews in Naval Academy

I think the Naval Academy has come a long way in being more welcoming to
Jews.  I remember reading an article where they mentioned that not too
long ago, Sunday was the day of worship, period.  The Jewish midshipmen
were allowed to leave the Academy grounds to go to a synagogue in
Annapolis, but only on Sunday.

----------------------------------------------------------------------

From: Jack Gross <ibijbgross2@...>
Date: Sun, 25 Jan 2004 21:41:49 -0500
Subject: RE: Murder

This all hinges on whether "v'ratzach goel hadam es harotzeach, ein lo
dam" conveys an _obligation_ on the goel to dispatch the murderer when
he strays from the city of refuge, or simply _exempts_ him from
punishment if he does so.  (If the latter, v'ratzach indeed means
murder.)  Anyone more familiar with makkos care to chime in?

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From: D. Vernon <ck872@...>
Date: Mon, 26 Jan 2004 09:21:58 -0500
Subject: Re: Naval Academy chapel

>  I had a tour of the Naval Academy,
> arranged by some Jewish group, that took us to the small semi-interfaith
> "chapel".  That is, it served Jews and xians, but not at the same time
> and it did so by mounting the podium etc. up front on a big lazy susan.
> The whole thing rotated and one side looked Jewish, the other side
> didn't.  I thought the whole idea was pretty funny.  Is there any
> problem for me or the other Jews entering that?

Only if not American.....Actually, as described, it seems endearingly &
authentically, even quintessentially, American.

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From: Jack Gross <ibijbgross2@...>
Date: Sun, 25 Jan 2004 21:41:32 -0500
Subject: Re: Order of Service on Ta'anit

>Selichos were originally part of the sixth b'racha of Tefilla (or
>perhaps _replaced_ the normal nasach thereof: the "S'lach lanu ..."
>intro line replacing the usual "S'lach lanu" that opens the beracha, and
>"v'al y'akkev chet v'avon..." [omitted from current editions] leading
>into the chasima).  When the practice developed to omit s'lichos from
>the body of Tefilla, they were given the next available slot.

>Could he give us sources?

See Tur O.C. 566, and Shulchan Aruch O.C. 566:4, and Mishna Brurah s.k.
17.  I find it clear from the Shulchan Aruch that (a) the practice to
insert Selichos in t'filla (chazaras hashatz) was originally widespread,
if not universal, and (b) the later practice was to append them
_directly_ after the t'filla -- presumably because they essentially
"belong" in the t'filla.

It is also clear from 566:7, and M.B. there (as well as from the
phrasing of many selichos) that they were originally recited just by the
shatz.

My conjecture that the "S'lach lanu" before and "V'al y'akev" after the
s'lichos were recited (or were designed to be recited) in place of the
usual nusach is just that - conjecture.  But from Siddur Rav Saadia Gaon
it is clear that total rephrasing of the standard b'rachos for special
occasions was once commonplace.

----------------------------------------------------------------------

From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Mon, 26 Jan 2004 13:00:13 +0000
Subject: Re: Praying Loudly

on 26/1/04  <chips@...> wrote:
> Hello? where did you get that rule from? No one should daven
> loudly AT ALL , and especially not at a minyan. OK, what halachic
> decisor of the past 400 years has ruled in writing that you can?

As regards Shema one is supposed to say it so that one's ears hear what
one's mouth utters  but not necessarily the ears of one's neighbour. It
is only with regard to shemonei esrei that there is a definite
prohibition on others hearing what one says.

Martin Stern

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From: Carl Singer <casinger@...>
Date: Mon, 26 Jan 2004 08:11:30 -0500
Subject: Re: Praying Loudly

>>  Yes, no one should daven so loudly as to disturb others. 
>Hello? where did you get that rule from? No one should daven loudly AT
>ALL , and especially not at a minyan.

(A) "Hello?" ?  This is a fine twisting of words -- is the writer in
agreement or disagreement?  The issue that I addressed was disturbing
others in the context of group davening, if the writer wishes to extend
this to a discussion of davening loudly, stam,  say when davening alone,
then that's a separate topic. 

>> Are you going to go over to that guy and tell him?  
> How about putting up a sign?	

Putting up signs in shule not only disturbs the decor but also demeans
the sanctity of the sanctuary.  "Post no Bills" doesn't apply only to
construction sites.  I can see it now, a plethora of signs -- "No
davening loudly" "No talking" "Please sit in your own seat." "Children
are to be supervised at all times" ....  Would you put up signs on your
living room wall?  Signs tend to have little or no effect except,
perhaps, for the cathartic impact on the sign "putter" who thinks they
he or she has actually accomplished something towards resolving an
issue.

Carl Singer

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From: o7532 <o7532@...>
Date: Sun, 25 Jan 2004 23:19:15 -0500
Subject: Translations

Are modern translations of the tanach by christians and by non-observant
jews permitted to be read at all and are they permitted to be used as
the translation in reviewing the weekly portion.  Many of them such as
the jps translation appear to provide a significantly more accurate and
idiomatic translation than those of observant publishing houses, and
seem to enhance understanding.  Does that matter.  Does anyone discuss
this either in general or with reference to specific translations.
Thank you.

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From: Dr. Howard Berlin <w3hb@...>
Date: Mon, 26 Jan 2004 04:23:45 -0800 (PST)
Subject: Re: Tuxedos

> From: Carl Singer <casinger@...>
> Go to the Spanish Portuguese synagogue in Manhattan on Shabbos or Yom
> Tov and you'll see top hats, donned l'kovod Shabbos.  As a tailor's son,
> I'll claim that a well made / properly fitting tux is no less
> comfortable than a suit.

I assume you are referring to Shearith Israel on 70th Street. I went
there a little more than a year ago (just before the completion of the
renovation of the main sanctuary) for Friday night and Saturday morning
services, temporarily being held in the basement. Neither Rabbi Angel
(the son), the Cantor, or Gabbai, or those having aliyot wore top hats
or tuxedos. Those having aliyot wore white Panama hats, because it was
then Summer. I also wore my white Panama hat for Shabbat services. It
goes well with my bow tie and suspenders that I always wear and the cane
that I have to walk with.

Although I am an Ashkenazi, I belong to both an Ashkenazi shul here in
Wilmington, Delaware and the Spanish-Portuguese shul (Mikveh Israel) in
Philadelphia because I like some of the minhagim and nusah from both - I
wear my white Panama or black hat in my Ashkenazi shul for Shabbat but I
don't say "adoshem imachem/torat Moshe emet" or bow when I have an
aliyah there.

Since I always attend Rosh Hashanah and (Yom) Kippur services at my
Ashkenazic shul (where I am the 3rd generation of one of its founding
members), I was told by one Sephardi member (who also belongs to both
synagogues and he occasionally fills in as 'minister' when Rabbi
Gabbai is away) that for the High Holidays, tuxedos and top hats are
worn at Mikveh Israel.

Kol tov...

Dr. Howard M. Berlin, W3HB

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End of Volume 41 Issue 99