Volume 42 Number 61
                 Produced: Wed May  5  6:27:18 US/Eastern 2004

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Bnei Brak Seder
         [Yisrael Medad]
Davening with Pets--The IDEA vs TECHNICALITIES
         [Russell J Hendel]
         [Batya Medad]
Music during Sefira
         [Ira Bauman]
R. Akiva and Bar Kochva
         [Ben Katz]
R. Akiva's group at the Mokom Mikdash
Rabbi Akiba's age at death
         [Gilad J. Gevaryahu]
Sources for R. Akiva's age
Soviet Jewry / and Rabbis
         [Yisrael Medad]


From: Yisrael Medad <ybmedad@...>
Date: Tue, 04 May 2004 22:12:14 +0200
Subject: Bnei Brak Seder

In Sulam, the political-cultural monthly published by Dr. Israel Eldad,
Amram Kehati published an article on the Bnei Brak Seder and its
connection with the planning for the outbreak of Rabbi Akiba's revolt.

It appears in Vol. 6 No. 12, Nissan 1955, pgs. 6-7.

He quotes from the Tikunei Hazohar (Hakdama, P. 10B and 4B) in which the
phrase "I am as if I am 70 years old" is seen to be referring to the end
of the Exile, like in the case with the First Temple.

His suggestion is that the seder and the discussion about the Reading of
Shema were a cover for a planning of the revolt and the appointment of
its leaders.

Yisrael Medad


From: Russell J Hendel <rjhendel@...>
Date: Mon, 3 May 2004 20:01:41 -0400
Subject: RE: Davening with Pets--The IDEA vs TECHNICALITIES

This discussion on davening(saying shma) in front of a dog motivates
emphasizing the underlying idea of the law.

Curiously most rishonim consider there to be a Biblical prohibition
against "Seeing nakedness"--the source being Dt23-15. However the Rambam
does not consider this a SEPARATE prohibition(He considers Dt23-15 as a
law applying to military situations)

The Rambam of course acknowledges the prohibition of reciting the shma
before excrement and nudity.  But the source of this prohibition does
not seem to be Dt23-15 (which is not in interpreted this way in his book
of commandments and is not listed in the intro to the laws of shma as
being one of the determinant Biblical commandments).

Rather the Rambam seems to derive the prohibitions of saying shma when
foul odor is present etc as being derived from the opening verse of the
translation of the Talmud explains this nicely: The word SHMA has a
connotation of LISTEN (or ENTENDRE in French) and therefore has a
requirement of understanding.

Since UNDERSTANDING requires a clear mind, therefore anything intensely
distracting -- nudity, excrement, foul odor -- makes it rabinically
prohibited to say the shma.

Having stated the GENERAL requirement we can now focus on the DETAILS by
which technical halacha enriches this idea.  One example might be the
distinction between 10-16 exposed square inches of certain parts of a
womans body vs less. Similarly halahcha may allow people to say the shma
even though a neighbor woman is singing.

However, and this is my point, in all these cases, the halachah is
simply required advice that explains the basic principle. It follows
that if a halachah allows recital but you individually cannot
concentrate then you are prohibited (Since there is a Biblical
requirement of LISTENING to what you say). One has no right to take the
Rabbinic "measurements" of distraction and contradict ones own
psychological reality!

Now we can analyze the dog situation. Is it for example your own dog,
that you always have around even when you do work which requires
concentration? Is the dog not barking? Is the dog free from foul
smelling odor? In such a case one can rely on a
heter(permissability). But if your mind is constantly on the dog
(because no one else is watching him) then it should be prohibited.

I think such an approach to Jewish law to be proper even though it leads
to more stringencies since I am requiring an inner harmony of BOTH the
observer and the technical law

Russell Jay Hendel; http://www.Rashiyomi.com/


From: Batya Medad <ybmedad@...>
Date: Tue, 04 May 2004 19:37:03 +0200
Subject: Re: JDL and SSSJ

      recent posting, Birnbaum is given credit for the organization of
      the American Jewish community in support of Russian Jewry in the
      Stalin and post Stalin times.  Some mention is made of R. Meir
      Kahane z'l and the JDL in bringing the topic of Russian Jewry to
      the headlines.  But I

JDL started later.  SSSJ and Yaakov's work predated JDL.  We ran clever,
gimmicky demonstrations, non-violent and no arrests, and we got
headlines and pictures in the papers.  Yes, I was there.



From: <Yisyis@...> (Ira Bauman)
Date: Mon, 3 May 2004 21:58:09 EDT
Subject: Re: Music during Sefira

I read the reaction to the ban on music during the sefirah and I have my
own feelings about it.  As a Jew, I am always aware of the tragic
episodes where we suffered great losses of lives.  Two churbans,
Hadrianic massacres, Crusades, the Black Death, Chmelnitzki, pogroms,
lastly the Shoah and countless others.  They have no specific halachic
commemorations other than the collective Tisha B'av and other fasts. The
exception is the Sefirah.  We spend about 10% of our lives in Aveilut
for an event which, although horribly tragic, pales in comparison to one
week in Auschwitz.  The reason Rabbi Akiva's students merit this
commemoration is the timing of their demise.  It traumatized a
generation that was standardizing Jewish practices for the next two
millenia.  1850 or so years later it is hard to maintain a sad face for
thirty some days and feel the trauma of that one particular event for so

Ira Bauman


From: Ben Katz <bkatz@...>
Date: Tue, 04 May 2004 10:28:11 -0500
Subject: Re: R. Akiva and Bar Kochva

>From: David Eisen <davide@...>
>Following up on Yeshaya's question below, I would greatly appreciate if
>the forum could also answer some or all of the following questions for a
>shiur that I intend to give Shavuot night:
>A.  During what decade did the famous Seder in Bnei Beraq take place?

         There is no Talmudic source for this story.  In fact, it is the
only part of the classical hagadah text (ie not counting the songs at
the end) that has no such source.  So I think this question is
unanswerable in any authoritative way.

>G.      Was the Mekhilta written before the Mishna?

         Most scholars believe that because the tanaitic midrashim
follow the pesukim that they preceded the quasi-topical and generally
unattributed collection of the mishnah.


From: <chips@...>
Date: Mon, 03 May 2004 19:57:05 -0700
Subject: Re: R. Akiva's group at the Mokom Mikdash

> the important point for me is not his age but rather the fact that he
> actually was standing on/in the Temple esplanade.  In other words,
> after the Temple's destruction, it was permitted to enter the Temple
> Mount area, at least to some certain portions which would support all
> the other sources and interpretations that are more lenient in the
> attitude whether or not one can today enter sections of what we call
> Har Habayit but which actually are not to be identified as the
> sacred/sanctified portion of the courtyards.

	There is an important difference. At that time the structure was
still in place. The Romans did not plow the site until much, much later
- decades after BarKochba.



From: <Gevaryahu@...> (Gilad J. Gevaryahu)
Date: Tue, 4 May 2004 10:04:20 EDT
Subject: Rabbi Akiba's age at death

Some people quoted the Sifrei #357 [In yeshivot circles they incorrectly
name this book Sifri] as a proof that Rabbi Akiba lived to 120
years. This is a Midrashic material, not historical reality. This
Midrash is trying to make Hillel the elder, Yochnan Ben-Zakai and Rabbi
Akiba equal to Moses, and therefore all lived to a ripe utopic age of
120. Dr. B. Z. Bacher who researched this said "ubli safek ha-misparim
ha-ele einam meduyakim" [=these numbers are without a doubt not
accurate] (Otzar Israel, Vol. Viii, s.v. Akiba). In a sense this is a
literary devise. The idea that Akiba equal Moses appears several times
in Rabbinic sources, Menachot 29b; Yalkut Shimoni, Isa. 42, Remez 452.

Gilad J. Gevaryahu


From: c.halevi <c.halevi@...>
Date: Mon, 3 May 2004 22:39:02 -0500
Subject: Sources for R. Akiva's age

Shalom, All:

Regarding Rabbi Akiva's age (80s vs. 120, when murdered by the Romans),
Avi Feldblum noted that >>I think it is clear that the Sifri is closer
to a primary source than a modern encyclopedia, so the burden of proof
would be on the position that is identifying a different life span -
what is their source?<<

The JewishEncyclopedia.com was written some 100 years ago, so I can't
ask them. Nor have I the wherewithall to ask the authors of the article
in the more modern Encyclopedia Judaica, assuming they're still
alive. BUT:

Does anyone doubt Hadrian was Ceasar when R. Akiva died? Hadrian died in
138 C.E. Assuming R. Akiva was born ca. 40-50 (see documentation below),
that does put him in his 80s.

As for said documentation -- which I know not everybody will accept --
see http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/view.jsp?artid=1033&letter=A where
it says, in part:


Parentage and Youth.

Akiba ben Joseph, who is usually called simply Akiba, was of
comparatively humble parentage (Yer. Ber. iv. 7d, Bab. ibid. 27b). A
misunderstanding of the expression "Zekut Abot" (Ber. l.c.), joined to a
tradition concerning Sisera, captain of the army of Hazor (GiŠĻ≠. 57b,
Sanh. 96b), is the source of another tradition (Nissim Gaon to
Ber. l.c.), which makes Akiba a descendant of Sisera. Of the romantic
story of Akiba's marriage with the daughter of the wealthy Jerusalemite,
Kalba Sabu'a, whose shepherd he is said to have been (see Akiba ben
Joseph in Legend), only this is true, that Akiba was a shepherd
(Yeb. 86b; compare ibid. 16a). His wife's name was Rachel
(Ab. R. N. ed. Schechter, vi. 29), and she was the daughter of an
entirely unknown man named Joshua, who is specifically mentioned
(Yad. iii. 5) as Akiba's father-in-law. She stood loyally by her husband
during that critical period of his life in which Akiba, thitherto the
mortal enemy of the rabbis, an out-and-out 'am ha-areŠļ^” (ignoramus)
(Pes. 49b), decided to place himself at the feet of those previously
detested men. A reliable tradition (Ab. R. N. l.c.) narrates that Akiba
at the age of forty, and when he was the father of a numerous family
dependent upon him, eagerly attended the academy of his native town,
Lydda, presided over by Eliezer ben Hyrcanus. The fact that Eliezer was
his first teacher, and the only one whom Akiba later designates as
"rabbi," is of importance in settling the date of Akiba's birth. It is
known that in 95-96 Akiba had already attained great prominence (Grätz,
"Gesch. d. Juden," 2d ed., iv. 121), and, further, that he studied for
thirteen years before becoming a teacher himself (Ab. R. N. l.c.). Thus
the beginning of his years of study would fall about 75-80. Earlier than
this, Johanan ben Zakkai was living; and Eliezer, being his pupil, would
have been held of no authority in Johanan's lifetime. Consequently, if
we accept the tradition that Akiba was forty when beginning the study of
the Law, he must have been born about 40-50. Besides Eliezer, Akiba had
other teachers‚^ņ^‘principally Joshua ben Hananiah (Ab. R. N. l.c.) and
Nahum of Gimzo (Hag. 12a). With Rabban Gamaliel II., whom he met later,
he was upon a footing of equality. In a certain sense, ŠĻ¨arphon was
considered as one of Akiba's masters (Ket. 84b); but the pupil outranked
his teacher, and ŠĻ¨arphon became one of Akiba's greatest admirers
(Sifre, Num. 75). Akiba probably remained in Lydda (R. H. i. 6), as long
as Eliezer dwelt there,and then removed his own school to Bene BeraŠł≤,
five Roman miles from Jaffa (Sanh. 32b; Tosef., Shab. iii. [iv.]
3). Akiba also lived for some time at Ziphron (Num. xxxiv. 9), the
modern Zafr√Ęn (Z. P. V. viii. 28), near Hamath (see Sifre, Num. iv.,
and the parallel passages quoted in the Talmudical dictionaries of Levy
and Jastrow). For another identification of the place, and other forms
of its name, see Neubauer, "Géographie," p. 391, and Jastrow, l.c.


From: Yisrael Medad <ybmedad@...>
Date: Tue, 04 May 2004 22:45:44 +0200
Subject: Soviet Jewry / and Rabbis

      Irwin Weiss <irwin@...> wrote: In the early spring of
      1970, there was a massive sit in on the street in front of the
      Soviet Embassy.  800 or so persons were arrested for blocking
      traffic, including me.

actually, it was in 1971.  My mother and aunt were arrested there and
bailed out by Bernie Deutsch.

      I think that all of the efforts, from the behind the scenes
      efforts of Chabad and the Rebbe and the mainstream efforts of
      Birnbaum, and the more radical efforts worked together
      synergistically, and actually achieved the goal.  In that sense,
      it was K'lal Yisrael, working together.

major historical error.  the main opponents of an activist struggle were
the Rebbe and Rabbi E. Teitz.  they tried to halt anything "public",
demos, petitions, rallies, etc.  No talk of emmigration.  No targeting
Russian officials.

      Shlomo Spiro <spiro@...> wrote on JDL

      In the elaborate article in Azure about Yakov Birnbaum...I believe
      the article scants the Rabbi's contribution by dwelling on some of
      the unfortunate negative occurrences.  Regrettable as they are,
      and they were surely because of a lack of control by the rabbi,
      all told it was mainly after the JDL came on the scene that
      something moved to relieve the plight of Russian Jewry both by the
      Jewish community and the general public.

Rabbi Kahane was a major figure, true.  But "lack of control"?  Sorry.
During the period of 1968-1970, I met with him constantly to coordinate,
to the extent I could, activities between JDL and Betar.  At times, it
was weekly meetings for months on end.  He was a careful planner.  Even
the most illegal of actions received his approval.  I have personal,
first-hand knowledge.

As an aside, he tried to have the early SSSJ demo in 1964 participants
show up in tallitot to stress the religious aspect.

Yisrael Medad


End of Volume 42 Issue 61