Volume 42 Number 53
                 Produced: Wed Apr 28  5:48:18 US/Eastern 2004

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Bnei Eretz Yisrael keeping one day of yom tov in chu"l
         [Bernard Raab]
Music During The Omer (2)
         [<Smwise3@...>, Kenneth G Miller]
Original Pronunciation of Hebrew
R. Akiva and Bar Kochva
Rabbi Akiva's students
         [Shlomo & Syma Spiro]
Sfiras Ho'omer
Shirat Ha-Yam minhag
         [Daniel Werlin]
Wearing a Tallis before Marriage
         [Martin Stern]


From: Bernard Raab <beraab@...>
Date: Tue, 27 Apr 2004 03:24:11 -0400
Subject: Re: Bnei Eretz Yisrael keeping one day of yom tov in chu"l

Akiva Miller:

> 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.

It should be pointed out that the cited gemara refers to the general
requirement of observing two days of YT "chutz l'aretz", and does not
discuss the issue of observance for travellers at all. Also, when it
says "Hizharu b'minhag avoseichem b'yedchem" it is quoting a general
precept without necessarily implying that the issue of two days of YT in
galut is in fact a minhag rather than a halacha. There is no debate or
discussion of the issue in the gemara at that point. To use this passing
reference as a proof of a ruling on the subject of YT sheni is highly
questionable, in my inexpert opinion. Since YT sheni is observed
uniformly without exception in all galut communities of which I am
aware, it would appear to have taken on the mantle of strict halacha
rather than minhag, and, it could be argued, should not "travel with",
as more and more rabbis are now ruling.

b'shalom--Bernie R.


From: <Smwise3@...>
Date: Tue, 27 Apr 2004 07:30:24 EDT
Subject: Re: Music During The Omer

<< Given that, the decision as to whether listening to recorded music
gives one the same level of simcha as hearing a live band, seems to be a
highly subjective one that would differ from person to person.
Personally, I have always listened to recorded music during sefira, but
"your mileage may vary".  For what it's worth, the official view in
Yeshiva University (at least when I was there 20 years ago) was to
permit non-live music, as the school radio station continued to
broadcast during sefira >>

Not specifically to comment on this post, but why should this be an
issue?  I used to think I can't live without listening to music, but I
did.  It seems a relatively easy minhag to follow, easier than say, not
shaving during sefirah.

Any comment on why people feel a need to skirt around the minhag?

S. Wise

From: Kenneth G Miller <kennethgmiller@...>
Date: Tue, 27 Apr 2004 22:48:07 -0400
Subject: Re: Music During The Omer

Elie Rosenfeld wrote <<< the burden of proof would be to show that
non-live (recorded/radio) music *is* included in the ban, since it
obviously did not exist when the sefira customs originally
developed. >>>

How far would you take this? The piano was invented only about 300 years
ago, long after the death of Rabbi Akiva's students, so it did not exist
when the sefira customs originally developed. Can we therefore play a
piano during sefira?

My impression is that the ban is not on specific instruments, but on
*music*, regardless of its source. Why should it matter what kind of
device produces the music?

Also, if I turn on my cd-player and music comes out of it, why wouldn't
you consider that to be "live"? The sound waves are being produced right
now, aren't they? Does electricity have anything to do with it? Suppose
I would up a spring-powered player piano and started it going - would
you consider that to be "recorded music" as well?

Akiva Miller


From: <meirman@...> (Meir)
Date: Tue, 27 Apr 2004 01:47:31 -0400
Subject: Original Pronunciation of Hebrew

>From: Michael Frankel <michaeljfrankel@...>
>Then we also have the linguistic usage clues even in today's language.
>Everybody says yad, yam, k'lal u'f'rat, p'shat,sh'tar - these of course

When I was little, I was taught to say yod and yom (meaning sea), by a
Jew whose last residence in Europe was Danzig, where he was Chief Rabbi
(Reform, I think.  He was Reform in the USA.).  The other words you
list, I didn't learn until much later from others, so I don't know how
he would have pronounced them.

>are really yod, yom, k'lol, p'shot etc.  but these are not "mistakes"
>but rather are widely assumed to be stubborn linguistic survivors in
>ashkenaz from our s'faradic days.
> ... ...
>As for the notion that Ashkenazim distinguish more vowels means that
>Ashkenazi vowellization is older, this has little to commend itself and
>much to dispute.  For one thing the seven different vowels in the now

The varied vowel sounds (plus tov and sov) is the main reason I have
thought Ashkenazi pronunciation was older, so if you could give more
than "one thing" that is disputable, I would appreciate it.

What it has to commend it is 1) that they would not have needed more
than one symbol if the sounds were the same. 2) Isn't the nikud used by
Sephardim and Ashkenazim almost always the same, even when the sound in
Seph. is the same as that of another ta'am but the sound in Ash. is
different from all other ta'amim?  These two reasons seem like a lot to
me, so why do you say it is little?

>regnant Tiberian pointing system was not the only pointing system
>developed.  Babylonian niqqud had six vowels while the "other"
>Palestinian pointing system had five.  


>Many feel that the Palestinian

I"m not saying they're wrong, but "Many feel" is a statistic, and the
sentence does not give a reason.  I really would like to be convinced,
one way or the other.  Most people seem to agree with you, but I never
hear answers to my questions here.

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


From: c.halevi <c.halevi@...>
Date: Sun, 25 Apr 2004 19:59:47 -0500
Subject: R. Akiva and Bar Kochva

Shalom, All:

It is well known that Rabbi Akiva was a major supporter of Bar Kochva. I
have two questions regarding that:

1. Do any major sages say that the "plague" which killed so many of his
students was really military losses in the fight against Rome?

2. When he and other great rabbis were gathered in Bnei Brak to tell
about the miracles of the Exodus -- i.e., a Seder -- they were so
engrossed all night long that they only adjourned when their (his?)
students informed them the time had come to recite the morning Shma
Yisrael. I have heard that that summons was really a code to inform him
that the Romans were coming to get him because of his support for Bar
Kochva, and he needed to escape. Can anyone confirm this and cite a

Kol Tuv,
Charles Chi (Yeshaya) Halevi


From: Shlomo & Syma Spiro <spiro@...>
Date: Mon, 26 Apr 2004 13:32:15 +0200
Subject: Rabbi Akiva's students

<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 >

I heard from Rav Aaron Katz shlita rosh kollel at Bar Ilan that when he
was a student, yeshiva used to visit the late Rabbi Unterman z''l when
he was chief rabbi, and he told them his interpretation of shelo nahagu
kavod zeh bozeh, that many of them were nationalist supporters of Bar
Kochba and other were against the nationalist program. .  And the two
groups did not respect one another. .  He said this on the basis of Libi
omer may heart tells me.


From: LR <lreich@...>
Date: Mon, 26 Apr 2004 11:35:56 +0100
Subject: Sfiras Ho'omer

Days That Count

If you ever stop to think about it, there are two different forms of
counting. Say there is a heap of oranges on the table and you want to
know the quantity. You pick up the first and say, 'one'; the second and
say, 'two'; until you arrive at a final number. Let us call this
discrete counting. However, if you are planning a car journey and want
to count the mileage, you set the trip odometer at nought. When it
registers the cipher '1', you are aware that you have already travelled
one mile. A little later you know that you have travelled between one
and two miles. This non-discrete counting is really a form of

To which category does Sefiras Ho'Omer belong?  Since we are marking the
passing of days and weeks it should logically be thought of as belonging
to the second category. Why then do we start counting at number one?

The Sefer Hachinuch (273/307) and others pose another difficulty as
follows.  Since the Sefirah signifies the spiritual ascent from the
defilement of Mitzrayim to Kabbolos Hatorah, why does the Torah delay
the start of the counting until the second day of Pesach? The answer
given by the Chinuch, namely that we are too busy with other important
Mitzvos on the first day of Pesach, does, I humbly suggest, leave the
door open for additional suggestions.

I would like to present a novel idea, which is only put forward as a
proposed Peshuto shel Mikro without any halachic implications. (See
e.g. Rashbam, Bereshis 37:2). My thesis is that the above two problems
cancel each other out!  Let me explain.

The Torah really want us to start counting for the 15th Nisan, the first
day of Pesach. But it is nonsensical to count and say, "Today is nil
days of the Omer". We are therefore instructed to start counting from
the beginning of the second day of Pesach. We then say "Hayom Yom
Echod", meaning that one day has passed. We continue in this manner
until we reach the count of forty-nine, at which point seven complete
week have elapsed since the beginning of Pesach.  Yet, the Torah want us
to wait one more day before celebrating Shevuos in order to complete
fifty days.

Bearing all this in mind gives us a new insight into the Pesukim in Emor
(Vayikro 23: 15 &16). "Usfartem Lochem Memochras Hashabbos Meyom
Heviachem es Omer Hatnufoh, Sheva Shabbosois Temimos Tihyenoh. Ad
Memochras Hashabbos Hashvi'is Tisperu Chamishim Yom ..".  "And you shall
count for yourselves from the morrow after the day of rest, from the day
that you brought the sheaf of the waving, seven weeks shall there be
complete. Until the morrow after the seventh week you shall count fifty
days ..."

Does the Torah want us to count forty-nine days or fifty? What does
Temimos (complete) mean?  Rashi brings the interpretation of Chazal as
well as his own Peshat, one that involves a word inversion.

My paraphrase is that the verbal count is one of forty-nine days. It is
from the 16th of Nisan and is Temimoh, i.e. it denotes completed
days. However, the virtual count is one of fifty days, from Yetzias
Mitzroyim to Shevuos. The two Pesukim complement each other.


From: Daniel Werlin <Daniel.Werlin@...>
Date: Tue, 27 Apr 2004 13:56:22 -0400
Subject: Shirat Ha-Yam minhag

When we read Shirat Ha-Yam, most minhagim specify that certain verses
are to be chanted according to a special, two-part nusach.
Additionally, on many occasions I have heard the kahal chime in along
with the reader for the second half of the nusach.

This would seem to violate the principle that we can only listen to a
single Torah reader at a time (first mentioned, I believe, in Rosh
ha-Shanah 27a).  In accordance with this principle, the special verses
in the reading for a fast day are recited first by the kahal and then
repeated by the reader.  But they are not read together.

Has anyone witnessed Shirat Ha-Yam read in this way? (Or other sorts of
responsive reading?)  Any idea why it would be permissible (and if there
is a source anywhere)?

A friend suggested to me that just as it is permitted for multiple
people to read Megillah simultaneously because the kahal likes listening
to the Megillah and will pay attention (also R"H 27a), perhaps this
applies to Shirat Ha-Yam, as well.  Surely it is a section of the
chumash that people like to listen to!  [I like this answer, but I think
it does not hold up as the four special verses of Megillah are read
first by the kahal and then by the reader--not simultaneously.]

Dan Werlin


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Tue, 27 Apr 2004 15:07:24 +0100
Subject: Re: Wearing a Tallis before Marriage

on 27/4/04 11:42 am, Simon <simon.wanderer@...> wrote:

> Interestingly, the book associated this idea with German tradition,
> whereas I understand that Germans are one of few the groups who *do*
> wear a Tallis before marriage.

We Jews of German origin are not one of the few groups who wear a tallis
before marriage. The custom is widespread also amongst sefrdim and other
oriental groups. It is only the East European Ashkenazim who do not,
probably because of the poverty in that region.

Martin Stern


End of Volume 42 Issue 53