Volume 42 Number 68
                 Produced: Sat May 15 23:17:40 US/Eastern 2004

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Burial In Alaska in Winter (6)
         [Mike Gerver, Yisrael Medad, David I. Cohen, Jonathan B. Horen,
Tzvi Stein, Yisrael Medad]
Music at Weddings
         [Tzvi Stein]
Pronunciation of Mordechai
         [Russell J Hendel]
Rambam on Har HaBayit
         [Nathan Lamm]
Sheitle and Avoda Zarah (3)
         [Daniel Lowinger, Rachel Swirsky, Avi Feldblum]
Vocalization of Mordechai (2)
         [David Ziants, Jack Gross]


From: <MJGerver@...> (Mike Gerver)
Date: Tue, 11 May 2004 02:52:44 EDT
Subject: Burial In Alaska in Winter

Yisrael Medad asks, in v42n66

      Since October, when digging became next to impossible, many of
      Alaska's dead have been in storage.  Now, families are finally
      able to inter their loved ones in a somber Far North rite of

      Do the Jews of Alaska follow this custom?

I can't say about Alaska, but my father-in-law was niftar this past
February, and was buried in Omaha, Nebraska. The ground was certainly
frozen, and they needed to use some special machine to dig. (During
heavy snowstorms, they do put off funerals for a day or two.) Maybe the
same thing could be done in Alaska, but non-Jews, not having any
requirement to bury people as soon as possible, don't go to the trouble
to do that?  Or maybe the ground is even harder to dig in Alaska in the
winter, and it's not practical even with heavy machinery?

Mike Gerver
Raanana, Israel (where the temperature rarely gets below 45 F in the

From: Yisrael Medad <ybmedad@...>
Date: Tue, 11 May 2004 21:51:49 +0200
Subject: Burial In Alaska in Winter

I received this fact off-list:-

      Vilna at 54.71 N -- I imagine winter burials were a problem in
      many locales in the pale -- perhaps there are some tshuvas on

As Vilna is farther north than the U.S. locale my interlocutor recalled
as having problems with winter burials, his assumption about Vilna and
responsa should be followed up (which I can't do as I do not possess a
Responsum computer program.

Yisrael Medad

From: <bdcohen@...> (David I. Cohen)
Date: Tue, 11 May 2004 10:02:49 -0400
Subject: Burial In Alaska in Winter

In regards to the inability to bury in Alaska in the winter, Yisrael
Medad asked:

"Do the Jews of Alaska follow this custom?  Or do they a) find a way to
bury them in another fashion or b) do they bury them elsewhere outside
the state?  "

Without knowing the answer, I guess that this is similar to the problem
faced by Jews in the New Orleans area, where, because of the extremely
high water table, it is impossible to bury below ground, and all burial,
including Jewish is in above ground crypts or masoleums.

David I. Cohen

From: Jonathan B. Horen <horen@...>
Subject: Re: Burial In Alaska in Winter

A fascinating question!

I was stationed at Fort Richardson, just outside of Anchorage, from
1/72-1/74, and I remember that the first snowfall would be right at the
beginning of October, along with the betting-pools for "Spring Breakup"
(when the rivers unfroze -- generally early May).  I also remember how
lovely it was that the snow covered everything, but come June we spent
*weeks* policing the garbage which had been revealed.

WRT Jewish burials, I'm gonna stay-tuned to MJ for answers/updates.

NB: For Shabbos/Chagim times, we kept those of Seattle, WA, even though
it was two-hours/timezones earlier.

All the best!
J O N A T H A N  B.  H O R E N
Unix Systems Administration

From: Tzvi Stein <Tzvi.Stein@...>
Date: Wed, 12 May 2004 12:11:58 -0400
Subject: Burial In Alaska in Winter

I'm sure this question would have been relevant even hundreds of years
ago, in places like Russia and Poland, so there are probably tshuvas
about it.

However, I was quite surprised to see that it is still an issue, even in
our time.  I was under the impression that nowadays in the winter,
cemeteries could use heavy earth moving equipment to remove the frozen
layer of soil, but apparently that's not the case in the far north.

From: Yisrael Medad <ybmedad@...>
Date: Wed, 12 May 2004 20:47:06 +0200
Subject: Burial In Alaska in Winter

> I'm sure this question would have been relevant...  in places like
> Russia and Poland, so there are probably tshuvas about it.  However, I
> was quite surprised to see that it is still an issue, even in our
> time. I was under the impression that nowadays in the winter,
> cemeteries could use heavy earth moving equipment to remove the frozen
> layer of soil...

Well, one main reason I raised the topic is because here in Shiloh,
where I live, we have graves already prepared and then they are covered
over with cinder building blocks so there is no need to spend hours
digging them out, especially as here the soil is very rocky.

Why cannot that be done in other places or is there a custom not to?

Yisrael Medad


From: Tzvi Stein <Tzvi.Stein@...>
Date: Wed, 12 May 2004 12:05:49 -0400
Subject: Re: Music at Weddings

> From: <FriedmanJ@...> (Jeanette Friedman)
> Reb Moishe came to my wedding. He never said a word to anyone around me
> or to my father or to anyone else about not having or listening to
> music.

Well, that makes sense... Rav Moshe's psak certainly did not include
music at weddings!  It only concerned music listened to for pleasure,
not in connection with a mitzva, i.e. listening to music tapes in your

Also, I'm sure even if he would meet you in your house and you had on a
music tape, he would not rebuke you.  He would recognize that there are
perfectly valid opinions that hold that it it mutar.  Just because a rav
holds a certain way does not automatically imply that he rebukes
everyone who does differently.


From: Russell J Hendel <rjhendel@...>
Date: Wed, 12 May 2004 22:50:15 -0400
Subject: RE: Pronunciation of Mordechai

Jeremy raises the issue of the two vocalizations of Mordechai A) Chataf
Kamatz under the daleth vs B)Shva under the daleth.

Actually this is discussed by the commentary that deals with
pronunciation and written texts--the Minchat Shai (In good editions of
the Tanach you can find it in font 6 in back-- but it is really an
important commentary--and yes, you can learn midrash and other ideas
from it).

Getting back to Mordechai the Minchat Shai suggests using a Chataf
Kamatz (otherwise known as a Kamatz Koton) when the cantillation is
pausal (that is you stop--for example Zakef, End verse, Ethnach etc). On
connective cantillations one uses the shva.

This is analogous to say, saying MitzRoyim (Kamatz) at the end of a
verse but MitzRayim (patach) in the middle of a verse except not on an

The general rule of thumb is that non-accented syllables are given more
weight when you pause-- hence the kamatz vs patach shva. On the other
hand in the middle of the verse when you are on the go you use a
"quicker" vocalization.

I assume the above principle can apply to Ruth.

(I am writing from memory--I forget whether the kamatz-shva distinction
for Mordechai applies to ALL pausal cantillations vs connective or just
to the more serious pausal cantillations such as Zakef but not
pashthah. This can be checked in the actual Minchat Shai--at any rate
the basic idea of "beautifying" a pausal cantillation with a "longer"
vocalization explains this and other phenomena.)

Russell Jay Hendel;


From: Nathan Lamm <nelamm18@...>
Date: Thu, 13 May 2004 06:09:29 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: Rambam on Har HaBayit

Yisrael Medad points out the original Arabic name of Jerusalem was Bet
Al-Makdass. He's quite correct; it was that detail I had heard and
forgotten, conflating it in my mind with the modern Arabic name for the
Har HaBayit. Incidentally, the modern Arabic name for the city as a
whole, Al-Quds, is an abbreviated form of this original name.

This raises an interesting question about the Rambam's letter: Was it
written in Arabic and then translated into Hebrew by someone who didn't
know the Arabic name of Jerusalem, and thus placed the Rambam in the
[site of the] "Beit HaMikdash" itself, while he never actually went
there? I don't have a volume with the original letter that might explain

Furthermore, would the Rambam use the Arabic name even when writing in
Arabic? I suppose I might conceivably write "Jerusalem" if writing a
letter in English, but "Bayt Al-Maqdas" is much further off. I know in
government documents, Yerushalayim is called "Urshalayim-Al Quds" in
Arabic (see, for example, http://www.jerusalem.muni.il). Did this usage
exist in the Middle Ages? What does the Rambam call Jerusalem (there it
is) in his Arabic (or Judeo-Arabic) writings?

As to the cites in the Yad: I'm quite certain I saw this interpretation
of the Rambam's words, perhaps by linkage to other sections. I'll have
to check the sources (both for this and the letter) again and will

Nachum Lamm


From: Daniel Lowinger <Daniel.Lowinger@...>
Subject: Sheitle and Avoda Zarah

I noticed a thread that was started in 1997 regarding Sheitels made from
Indian hair. Over the last day, women have been taking off their
sheitels and replacing them with hats because they are unsure whether
they contain Indian hair or not. The problem with Indian hair is that
Indians have a religious ritual of shaving their heads and donating the
hair to their gods in a temple, sort of a korban(sacrifice). This is
done when they have recovered from an illness, overcome something major,
had a baby, or anything else for which they would want to bring a
"sacrifice" to the gods. The hair used to be destroyed, until the
Indians realized that there is a huge business in this. The issue at
hand is that it is forbidden to gain pleasure from or even use something
that was part of idol-worshipping...as is the Indian hair. The question
is, how do we know which wigs are kosher or not? It is going to be a
costly exercise to replace them....

Daniel Lowinger

From: Rachel Swirsky <swirskyr@...>
Date: Wed, 12 May 2004 22:06:31 -0500
Subject: Sheitle and Avoda Zarah

I have been hearing a lot lately about Sheitles being considered Avoda
Zarah... something about women in India are cutting their hair as a form
of sacrifice and that sheitle makers are buying it from the temples.
Today I heard that Rav Eliyashav has given a psak that ALL sheitles are
ossur possible including even synthetic ones.  To me the whole thing
sounds ridiculous.

1) If we are going to say that hair from India is Avoda Zarah, then
should we not just say hair from India is a problem?

2) Seems if this was a real psak from such a gadol it would have been a
lot more publicized.

3) Seems to me that a psak of this magnitude that would effect so many
people would need to be made made upon careful consideration by a group
of Rabbanim from different areas of Judaism... especially when it is
going to effect so many people's liveyhoods.

4) How would synthetic or European (generally the more expensive)
sheitles play in to this?

What are other poeoples thoughts or does anyone know anything concret
about this whole mishugas?

Rachel Swirsky

From: Avi Feldblum <mljewish@...>
Date: Thu, 13 May 2004 00:02:15 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Re: Sheitle and Avoda Zarah

On Wed, 12 May 2004, Rachel Swirsky wrote:

> What are other poeoples thoughts or does anyone know anything concret about
> this whole mishugas?

See, for example this article from the Wall Street Journal:
Julia Angwin - The Wall Street Journal, 21 August 2003

TIRUPATI, India -- For two months, Pushpa's husband was ill with a high
fever. When he finally recovered, she traveled 10 hours by bus to a temple
here in southern India to thank Lord Vishnu in the best way she knew: by
shaving her head.

Pushpa, who declined to give her last name, had her 32-inch locks cut off
by a temple barber, a gesture intended to thank the deity for good
fortune. The hair itself headed in a more secular direction: to an auction
where hair brokers bid for it. Some strands bought at auction are made
into hair extensions, which are sold to Western women for as much as
$3,000 for a full head of hair.

etc. --------

What you clearly have here is the hair being given to the Temple as a
religious action by the women. If Hinduism is Avoda Zarah, (idol worship)
then it would seem likely that the hair should be assur be'hanauh -
forbidden to have any benefit from. You should now have the standard set
of rules to deal with in regard to how to act when you do not know if the
wig is using this hair etc, but it is clear to me that this concern is
real and not an "urban legand" type of issue

Avi Feldblum
mail-jewish Moderator


From: David Ziants <dziants@...>
Date: Fri, 14 May 2004 01:20:46 +0300
Subject: Vocalization of Mordechai

From: Jeremy Nussbaum <jeremynuss@...>
> ... Snipped...  This is the case as well with
> Mordechai in megilat Esther, with a chataf kometz under the dalet.
> Again, why is this so, and how should it be pronounced?

I paid careful attention, at the Megilla readings last Purim, to the way
Mordechai was pronounced, and this was always read "Mordochai" with a
chataf kametz, as the vowel pointing indicates.

Being a name that has Persian roots, I can understand why the
vocalisation is not according to Hebrew grammar where the chataf vowels
generally belong under the guttural letters.

I guess, the reason why "Mordechai" with a sheva became the accepted
day-to-day Hebrew pronunciation, was to become grammatically easier.

A subject close to my heart as this is the official name of my two year
old son... (although we call him Motti most of the time).

David Ziants
Ma'aleh Adumim, Israel

From: Jack Gross <ibijbgross2@...>
Date: Fri, 14 May 2004 15:44:59 -0400
Subject: Re: Vocalization of Mordechai

R. Mordechai Breuer discusses this in appendices to his editions of

It simply indicates that the schwa is not silent, and is to be
pronounced as the reader would pronounce a schwa (na`).


End of Volume 42 Issue 68