Volume 42 Number 50
                 Produced: Fri Apr 23 18:57:03 US/Eastern 2004

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Bnei Eretz Yisrael keeping one day of yom tov in chu"l
         [Akiva Miller]
An halakhic riddle
         [Akiva Miller]
Music During The Omer.
         [Immanuel Burton]
Original pronunciation of Hebrew
         [Robert Israel]
Prohibition of Benefiting from Chometz
R' Akiva's students and Bar Kochva
         [Aryeh Levine]


From: Akiva Miller <kennethgmiller@...>
Date: Wed, 21 Apr 2004 16:30:55 -0400
Subject: Re: Bnei Eretz Yisrael keeping one day of yom tov in chu"l

David Charlap asked <<< I've also heard this from many sources, but for
the life of me, I have not yet been able to understand why it should be
this way. ... Back when this practice was out of necessity instead of
custom, they certainly wouldn't have behaved this way.  An Israeli
traveling abroad would be just as much in doubt over the date of Rosh
Chodesh as everybody else, and would therefore have to observe both
days.  Similarly, a Jew from another country visiting Israel would not
have any such doubt and would be able to observe only one day. So why
don't we, in our commemoration of that practice, practice it today the
way they must have had to practice it back then? >>>

I too, struggled over this for many many years. About a year and a half
ago, I got my first satisfying answer when I was visiting Stamford,
Connecticut. I may have gotten this from Rabbi Mark Dratch (the rav of
the shul), but I think it was from Rabbi Dave Walk (one of the local

Logically, it ought to have been the way Mr. Charlap describes, and I
understand this to be the view of the Chacham Tzvi. But almost no one
else holds that way. The reason, as it was explained to me, can be found
even in Mr. Charlap's post: first it was from necessity, but then it
became a custom.

Or, as the gemara answers this same question on the bottom of Beitza 4b:
"Hizharu b'minhag avoseichem b'yedchem -- Be careful about your
ancestors custom in your hands."

As I was explained to me in Stamford, we'd have a lot easier time of
following the Chacham Tzvi, if only the gemara had not used the word
"minhag - custom". The gemara could have made its point with other
words, but by using that word, it places this topic into a whole
category of customs which we inherit from our ancestors, and so we take
them with us wherever we go -- whether the custom seems to apply or not
-- unless we move to a new location which has a different custom, and
plan to make that move permanently.

Akiva Miller


From: Akiva Miller <kennethgmiller@...>
Date: Thu, 22 Apr 2004 11:30:18 -0400
Subject: Re: An halakhic riddle

Mark Steiner asked <<< ... Now suppose he makes this error during the
evening prayer of Yom Tov, which falls right after Shabbat.  Where does
he recite the havdalah prayer--in the middle of the (mistaken) atah honen
prayer, with the weekday ata honantanu havadalah formula, or in middle of
the atah behartanu prayer, with the Yom Tov havdalah formula
'vatodi`enu', etc.?  Or perhaps the middle of atah honen with the
'vatodienu' formula? I don't think you will find this one in the Mishnah
Berurah, but who knows? >>> 

I don't think I've seen that in the MB, but, believe it or not, a
similarly rare case *is* raised by the Biur Halacha, 117 "Ad tefilas
hamincha". He asks about a person who is in Maariv on the first day of
Pesach, and found himself saying the weekday prayer. But he got *way*
past "Atah Chonen", and had already started "Barech Alenu" when he
realized his error.

Theoretically, this is the day for dropping "tal umatar", though it
won't be a practical matter until Chol Hamoed. But for this guy, it is a
practical matter now, since he has to finish the bracha. So does he say
"tal umatar" or not? The Biur Halacha says that since the community has
not yet changed over, he should not change yet either, so he continues
to include it.

The Biur Halacha says the same thing if the night for beginning "tal
umatar" in the autumn happens to fall on Shabbos, and someone catches
himself in the middle of Barech Alenu -- since the community has not yet
started it, he shouldn't say it either, even though he would have said
it if it happened to fall on a different day of the week.

But I really don't know how to apply these precedents to our case. There
seems to be considerable weight given to the idea that the whole
community begins saying "tal umatar" at the same time, and that they all
stop saying it at the same time. And that's a very different criterion
than whether the time is an appropriate one or not.

Which way do we view "Atah Chonantanu"? Do we say that the time is
appropriate, so this individual *should* say it? Or do we say that since
the community is not saying it, neither should he, despite the fact that
he is in the middle of Atah Chonen which they aren't saying either. Mr.
Steiner's third idea -- inserting Vatodienu (which the community *is*
saying) into Atah Chonen -- sounds bizarre, but might actually be the
best option.

Akiva Miller


From: Immanuel Burton <IBURTON@...>
Date: Wed, 21 Apr 2004 16:03:42 +0100
Subject: Music During The Omer.

I recently attended a shiur about the various customs concerning which
part of the Omer is observed as a mourning period.  At the end of the
shiur someone asked what the custom is with regards to listening to
music, and the answer given was that there are two customs:

(1) A total ban on listening to all music during the period of the Omer
that one observes as a mourning period.

(2) A ban only on public entertainment during the mourning period that
one is observing.  According to this custom, attending a concert would
not be permitted, but listening to music at home or in one's car and so
on would be permitted.

Does anyone have a source for this second custom?

Immanuel Burton.


From: Robert Israel <israel@...>
Date: Tue, 20 Apr 2004 15:28:56 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: Re: Original pronunciation of Hebrew

This is from my son Hillel.

Mechy Frankel wrote:

> spoken languages evolve, else we would still be speaking in s'faradit
> accents as did card carrying Ashkenazim like Rashi and his
> generation.

Why stop at Rashi, do you not think that the spoken language evolved
before it reached HIM?

I will add just a few points, since to encompass the entire subject
would take a very long time.

The Hebrew alphabet is consonants only. Whether you accept the Talmud's
statement that the two tablets were written in the "Assyrian" script
(kethav ashuri), or assume that the script's name means what it says and
before that time things were written in what we now call "Paleo-Hebrew"
or "kethav `ivri" (see http://www.crowndiamond.org/cd/torah.html), 22
distinct consonants were always integral to the Hebrew language.

 From various passages in the Talmud we see that an inability to make
audible distinctions between consonants (such as aleph/`ayin, heh/`heth,
qoph/kaph) was a sign of inferiority. Even though, in those days,
variations in consonant pronunciation WERE known, they were known as
mistakes, not valid alternatives.

This being the case, the _consonant_ pronunciation of certain groups of
sepharadim who know how to distinguish between the different letters, or
the yemenite _consonant_ pronunciation with two corrections (Gimmel not
Djimmel, and Qoph not Goph) is assumed to be closest to the "original",
or should we say Mosaic pronunciation (or would you call Abrahamic
Hebrew 'original'? Or Adamic?).  The various Ashkenazi modes of
pronunciation are the furthest from the original.  (The ability or
inability to distinguish between the dotted and undotted b,g,d,k,p,t
letters is of less significance since this never has a phonemic
application - saying "vayith" instead of "bayith" doesn't change the
meaning of the word. On the other hand, the Ashkenazi erroneous equation
of the undotted "thau" with the sound of the "samekh" DOES lead to a
change in meaning - continue the meaning of the Ashkenazi pronunciation
of the phrase "hayom _harath_ `olam" - instead of saying "today is the
_birth_ ("harath") of the world", they say "today is the _destruction_
("haras") of the world!"  A sepharadic mispronunciation of the same word
- "harat" - does not change the meaning.)

As for the vowels, however, the story is more complicated, for there is
no written representation for vowels in classical Hebrew.  The symbols
we use today for the vowels was _invented_ by the Tiberian "Masoretes",
in the time of the Gaonim, shortly before the time of R' Saadyah.  Those
symbols were created to represent the sounds used in Tiberias in _their_
time; it's no indication of the Mosaic pronunciation, of which we know
practically nothing.  Also, even during their time, parallel systems
existed, the most famous (after the Tiberian) being the Babylonian one,
which made no distinction (written or verbal) between patah and segol -
as the Yemenites still do today, in their pronunciation.

Still, we've accepted the Tiberian text (Ben-Asher's Massora) of the
Tanakh as our "Authorized version" - both in consonants, in vocals, and
in the Masoretic notes, so it makes sense that we'd try to pronounce it
the way they indicated it should be pronounced as well.

With respect to the pronunciation of the vowels, the popular Ashkenazi
pronunciation is the farthest from the Tiberian of all (aside from the
"Hasidic" pronunciation, which is so blatantly erroneous it doesn't even
deserve consideration), for although it _seems_ to distinguish better
between the different vowel symbols, in actuality it commits the
cardinal sin of using consonants for vowel sounds, effectively adding
letters to words - adding a yod [j] after every `sere so that "sephEr"
[sefEr] becomes "seyphEr" [sejfer], and adding a yod (or, in the US, a
waw) after every `holam so that "torah" becomes "toyrah" [tojra] or
"towrah".  Someone reading Torah with an Ashkenazi pronunciation ISN'T
reading what is written - b.r.e.sh.y.t is written, and they read
b.r.e.y.sh.y.s - as if there were a yod with a shwa after the aleph.
Equating a `sere with a segol, a qamas with a patah and so on is a lot
less consequencial.  Ibn Ezra wrote that in his time, only the Tiberians
knew how to properly pronounce a qamas. (The proper pronounciation of
the qamas is approximately the sound of the 'o' in "proper" or
"approximately", using a western-Canadian (or standard broadcast)
English dialect.)  There are some sepharadim who do make these
distinctions properly, and have different sounds for all ten vowel

Mike Gerver wrote:

> If all you are talking about is the stress patterns, then I agree with

Well, in general Sepharadim are a lot better than Ashkenazim about
mil`el and mira` (i.e. pronouncing "Torah" - "toRAH" and not "TOrah").
However, at least when singing, they have a tendency to pronounce words
that should be mil`el as milra` (think about a popular tune for the
introductory piyut to qedushah - "naqdishakh wena`arisakh... sarphe
_qoDESH_" instead of "QOdesh".)  Also, they tend to pronounce a shewa
na` way too long, like a segol, when a shewa na` is NOT supposed to
constitute a syllable (the word "neshamah" has TWO syllables -
nesha/mah, but they'll pronounce it as three - ne/sha/mah). It's
probably better to have the shewa omitted altogether than to have it
pronounced like a segol.

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


From: <Smwise3@...>
Date: Wed, 21 Apr 2004 06:51:26 EDT
Subject: Re: Prohibition of Benefiting from Chometz 

Every year, I spend Pesach in Eretz Yisroel, and every year I forget to
ask this question.

On the 8th Day of Pesach (and the 2d Day, when this isn't a problem), I
need to walk a half hour to a Yom Tov Sheni minyan.  Along the way I
pass two major commercial bakeries.  While of course it is no problem on
the 2d Day of Yom Tov, but on the last day, when for Bnai Eretz Yisroel
chometz is permitted, the bakeries are working full time and the aroma
of chometz wafts through the air.

Of course, I can't stop breathing, but I do wonder whether the aroma of
freshly baked chometz is considered a prohibition of benefiting from
chometz on Pesach.  And if it is, is the prohibition less because the
8th Day is mi-derabanan?



From: Aryeh Levine <aryehdl@...>
Date: Thu, 22 Apr 2004 20:42:09 -0400
Subject: R' Akiva's students and Bar Kochva

Everyone is familiar with the gemara that says why R' Akiva's 12,000
pairs of students died.  As to how they died, all the gemara says is
that they died 'bemitah ra'ah' (Yevamot 62b).  I vaguely remember seeing
a Gaon who says that they died by the sword, and IIRC the implication of
the person showing this to me was that they died in the Bar Kochva
rebellion.  Does anyone know where, if at all, this appears in the
writings of the geonim?  I know that Rav Eliezer Melamed has a similar
interpretation in his Pninei Halacha (found online here
http://www.yeshiva.org.il/midrash/shiur.asp?id=301 in the second
paragraph), where he expands upon the idea, but he brings no source.
Kol Tuv, Aryeh Levine


End of Volume 42 Issue 50