Volume 42 Number 55
                 Produced: Wed Apr 28 23:10:27 US/Eastern 2004

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Davening in a Room where a Pet may be Present
         [Andrew Sacks]
Days and weeks
         [Saul Mashbaum]
Most ancient Hebrew pronunciation
         [Shmuel Himelstein]
Music During The Omer (4)
         [Harry Zelcer, Shinnar, Meir, Stephen Phillips, Steven
R. Akiva and Bar Kochva (3)
         [Yehuda Landy, c.halevi, Yehuda Landy]
Shirat Ha-Yam minhag (2)
         [Stephen Phillips, Shimon Lebowitz]
v'sabeinu m'tuvah
         [Adam M Charney]


From: Andrew Sacks <raisrael@...>
Date: Wed, 28 Apr 2004 15:48:01 +0200
Subject: Davening in a Room where a Pet may be Present

I would like to know what the sources say about davening in a room where
a pet may be present. I realize that one may daven with a seeing eye dog
in the room.  What about a house trained dog?  A cat?  A bird? Pets are
a rather new phenomena and not like the untrained animals of previous


From: Saul Mashbaum <smash52@...>
Date: Wed, 28 Apr 2004 22:36:41 +0200
Subject: Days and weeks

As we all know, the Torah commands us to count 49 days *and* seven
weeks, between Pesach and Shavuot. The obvious redundancy is explained
in various ways by the m'forshim. Although I have been counting for what
seems to me many, many years, the following just occurred to me: It is
well known that, unlike a day and a year, a week does not correspond to
an astronomic phenomenon. It is simply a period of seven days. On the
face of it, a week consists of seven 24-hour periods, and of course 7
weeks is 49 24-hour periods.  What is the implication of this? Well, if
we are counting in Israel, as the Torah presumably assumes, we start
with "stars out" on motzei Yom Tov. Using Kaluach (here and throughout
this posting) this year this comes out approximately 7:28 pm (for
simplicity, let's assume DST for all of sfira, something which was not
true this year, and take Jerusalem as representative of Israel; the
difference between the cities is small). It would make sense that the
last count would be at 7:28 as well, when 7 24-hour periods end, and
Shavuot should be at 7:28 on the following day.  However, *sunset* on
the last day of sfira is about 7:36! According to almost all opinions,
and the halacha, you cannot count sfira at all at 7:28 when sunset is
7:36; a bracha made at that time is a bracha l'vatala.

Since, however the Torah also commands us to count days, the situation
is different.  A day may well be taken to mean "stars out to stars
out". This is what we have to do 49 times. Thus the count gets a bit
later every night, and on the last night sfira should preferably be done
starting from 8:03. Similarly, Shavuot does not begin until about this
time the following night

The same principle applies in NY, in a somewhat exaggerated form, since
NY is considerably north of Jerusalem. Sfira can be counted from 7:56 pm
on the first day.  Sunset on the last day is about 8:16, considerably
after our 7:56 starting point. On the last day we should wait until at
least 8:49 to count. Shavuot starts about 8:50 the following night.

Thus by commanding us to count days *as well as* weeks, the Torah
ensures that we know when our count ends, and Shavuot begins.

Of course, in the summer hemisphere the situation is completely
different. The Torah is definitely not talking about the SH; the very
starting point is faulty there, since the Torah prescribes that Pesach
be in the spring, and in the SH it is in the fall. But if we apply the
above logic to, say, Sydney, we come up with the following (I assume no
part of sfira is during DST in Sydney; I do not know if this is true):
Sfira starts about 6:06 pm the first night. One might have thought that
one would be obliged wait until this time on the last night as well. But
since we count *days*, stars out to stars out, we can count sfira the
last night as early as 5:23 pm.

Thus "stars out" is the determining time for sfira, bein l'chumra (J'm,
NY), bein l'kula (Sydney). This is what "tisperu chamishim yom" tells

Comments, anyone?

Saul Mashbaum


From: Shmuel Himelstein <himels@...>
Date: Wed, 28 Apr 2004 12:55:40 +0300
Subject: Most ancient Hebrew pronunciation

If we want to date the "ancient pronunciation" of Hebrew by the amount
of differentiation, we should consider the Yemenite pronunciation, which
I believe has different pronunciations for all six of the Beged Kefet
letters, with a Gimmel and Dzhimel, Daled and Thaled and Taf and Thaf.

An excellent guide to the Hebrew pronunciation of the Edot is to be
found in a table in the Encyclopedia Judaica, under "Hebrew Grammar,"
Vol. 8, columns 85-86.

Shmuel Himelstein


From: Harry Zelcer <reliablehealth@...>
Date: Wed, 28 Apr 2004 08:48:59 -0400
Subject: Re: Music During The Omer

In Mishna B'rurah Ohreh Hayim 493, 'Laws Pertaining during the Omer.'
The Ber Heitiv writes: '... it is our minhag to allow even a party that
is not associated with a mitzvah - except that it is our minhag to
forbid excessive joy with dancing and circles.'

It is difficult to interpreted the above as applying to one who is
listening to music on a radio or a similar device.

However, R. Moshe Feinstein, in Igrot Moshe, Yoreh Deah vol. 2, chap.
137, page 231 writes: '...He [the RM"A] who permits one [during the year
to listen to music] when he is not at a party would nevertheless forbid
during the year public gatherings for the sake of excessive joy. If so,
then the minhag that we add [stringencies] in the days of s'fira would
apply even to an individual who is not accustomed to it.'

I am not sure how the above two statements are reconciled. Perhaps they
account for the different minhagim that were mentioned.

Best wishes. 
Heshey Zelcer

From: Shinnar, Meir <Meir.Shinnar@...>
Date: Wed, 28 Apr 2004 09:56:50 -0400
Subject: Music During The Omer

WRT to music during sefira:

The minhag that I heard in the name of RYBS was that the minhage avelut
of sfira paralleled those during the 12 months of avelut (rather than
shloshim or shiva).  During that time, what was prohibited was simchat
mre'im - parties with friends (with some expectation of reciprocity) -
music was only prohibited during such a simcha, not intrinsically.
(IMHO, this makes sense as well given the sociological role of music in
the past - where it was rare and during a simcha, rather than the
continuous availability we have today)This applied both during the 12
months and sfira. 

Meir Shinnar

From: Stephen Phillips <admin@...>
Date: Wed, 28 Apr 2004 11:37:36 +0100
Subject: Re: Music During The Omer

> From: <Smwise3@...>
> 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?

If it's forbidden by the Minhag, then it's forbidden. If it's permitted,
however, then why do you want to add a prohibition?

Stephen Phillips

From: Steven Oppenheimer <oppy49@...>
Date: Wed, 28 Apr 2004 18:08:27 -0400
Subject: Re: Music During The Omer

Rabbi Chaim Pinchas Scheinberg permitted listening to classical music in
private.  He permitted this music because people listen to it for
relaxation and not for simcha reasons.  He said that in his opinion it
is definitely (vadai muttar) permitted to listen to this music during

Rabbi Henoch Leibowitz (Rosh Yeshiva of Chofetz Chaim in N.Y.) said in
the name of Rabbi Rosen that it is only music in a public gathering that
is associated with dancing that is prohibited during sefira.  Music
listened to in private is permitted.

These responsa are brought in Shu"t Divrei Chachamim by Rabbi Aryeh

I would like to point out, however, that the sefira period is a somber
time for many reasons and should not be taken lightly.  A conscious
effort should be made to minimize simcha during this time period and
reflect upon the tragedies that occurred during this period.  Perhaps
our collective efforts will bring about the final redemption, and we
shall all be able to hear the beautiful music of the rebuilt Beit

Steven Oppenheimer, DDS


From: <nzion@...> (Yehuda Landy)
Date: Wed, 28 Apr 2004 11:54:31 +0200
Subject: Re: R. Akiva and Bar Kochva

> From: c.halevi <c.halevi@...>
> 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
> source?

It is close to impossible that Rabbi Elazar ben Azaryah was alive 50
years after the churban.

From: c.halevi <c.halevi@...>
Date: Wed, 28 Apr 2004 12:43:16 -0500
Subject: R. Akiva and Bar Kochva

Shalom, All:

Some interesting sources -- and simple calendar math -- disagree with
nzion. See
azar%20b.%20Azaryah where it notes he accompanied R. Akiva to Rome. It
also says >>Eleazar ...often rejected Akiba's opinions...<<  and it
appears he did so as a contemporary. 

As for the math: the khurban (destruction of the Second Temple) occurred
in 70 C.E. If Rabbi Elazar ben Azaryah was 10-20 at the time, he surely
could have been alive later.

Yeshaya (Charles Chi) Halevi

From: <nzion@...> (Yehuda Landy)
Date: Thu, 29 Apr 2004 00:15:56 +0200
Subject: Re: R. Akiva and Bar Kochva

	You may be right regarding R' Elazar ben Azaryah, but with
regard to Rabbi Eliezer and R Yehoshua it is unlikely. They were the
Rabbeim of R' Akiva. Taking into account that Rabbi Akivah was 120 at
the time, were his Rabbeim still alive?

					Yehuda Landy


From: Stephen Phillips <admin@...>
Date: Wed, 28 Apr 2004 11:41:14 +0100
Subject: Re: Shirat Ha-Yam minhag

> From: Daniel Werlin <Daniel.Werlin@...>
> 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)?

Yes. In our Shul in Kingsbury, North West London, the Rav requires the
Kehillah to chant the verses first and then afterwards the Ba'al Koreh
chants them.

Kol Tuv.
Stephen Phillips

From: Shimon Lebowitz <shimonl@...>
Date: Wed, 28 Apr 2004 19:02:05 +0200
Subject: Re: Shirat Ha-Yam minhag

> 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)?

I learnt that the Hallel Hagadol (Tehillim 136) is read responsively at
the Seder - the leader saying the first half of each pasuk, and the
entire group chiming in for the "chorus". (Sorry, I don't remember any
written source).

We just did this a few weeks ago. :-)

Shimon Lebowitz                     mailto:<shimonl@...>
Jerusalem, Israel                   mailto:<shimonl@...>


From: Adam M Charney <adam@...>
Date: Wed, 28 Apr 2004 12:28:15 -0500
Subject: v'sabeinu m'tuvah

Among the variants in text in Ashkenazic siddurim is that of
mituvecha/mituvah in the barech alainu bracha in the daily shmoneh
esreh.  Siddur Vilna notes that the mituvah language is the girsa of the
Gra and specifically refers to the tuv of eretz Yisrael.  If the focus
of the prayer is on Eretz Yisrael, I have wondered about the implicit
contradiction in the structure of the prayer - we are praying for EY,
but we shift our language of v'sain bracha/ v'sain tal u'matar levracha
based on the agricultural cycle in chutz laaretz.  One explanation is
that while the prayer primarily refers to EY, since it is including
secondarily chutz laaeretz we follow the agricultural schedule of chutz
laaretz.  For one thing, that explanation makes no sense - that a
secondary level meaning dictate the language of the prayer and for
another, I don't recall seeing the Gra ever asserting that chutz laaretz
is included in the bracha.

It would seem to me then that in theory the girsa of the Gaon should
require the switch of v'sain tal language at the same time that it is
added in EY, rather than in December.  Any thoughts?



End of Volume 42 Issue 55