Volume 42 Number 80
                 Produced: Mon May 24 23:40:45 US/Eastern 2004

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Administrivia - Thanks for pointers in SF
         [Avi Feldblum]
Crustacia and the Square-Root of Two
         [Jack Gross]
Hinduism and Avodah Zarah
         [Martin Stern]
Indian Hair & Dolls?
Kosher Lamp (tm)
         [Tzvi Stein]
Uncovered Hair (formerly Zchut or Curse?)
         [Yisrael Medad]
Vocalization of Mordechai
         [Joshua Hosseinof]
Why they shave heads
         [N Miller]
Wigs (3)
         [Alan Friedenberg, N Miller, Avi Feldblum]
Women's hair
         [Shmuel Carit]
Yemenite and Ashkenaz nusach
         [Mike Gerver]


From: Avi Feldblum <mljewish@...>
Date: Mon, 24 May 2004 23:23:34 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Administrivia - Thanks for pointers in SF

I will try and respond individually to the many of you who sent in
information. But for now, I would just like to thank everyone you
did. The situation resolved itself without the person having to saty
over Shavuot in SF. A friend and member of my community unfortunately
had his brother pass away (I think over Shabbat) and flew out to San
Francisco to help arrange the funeral. At the time of my first email,
the information was not yet public here, hence the vagueness in the
request. It was not clear how long it would take to arrange for the
funeral, so there was concern they would be stuck in SF over
Shavuot. Rather than waiting till erev yom tov to start looking for
accomodations, I wanted to have numbers they could call available. As it
turns out, the funeral was today and they are due back in Allentown
tomorrow early afternoon. Again, for the family I extend my thanks to
the over warm and helpful mail-jewish community.

Avi Feldblum
mail-jewish Moderator


From: Jack Gross <jbgross@...>
Date: Fri, 21 May 2004 18:38:12 -0400
Subject: Crustacia and the Square-Root of Two

Eli Turkel wrote:

> My general attitude was that if R. Akiva, Moshe Rabbenu couldn't have
> known the dots were bugs we dont have any obligations to go
> further. Similarly RMF says our tefiilin don't have to be square then
> the ratio of sqrt(2) to 1.4 since that is the approximation used by
> chazal.

These creatures are 1 to 2 mm in length - plainly visible and
identifiable to the naked eye, if you know what to look for.

I fail to see the relevence of the square-root approximation.


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Sun, 23 May 2004 17:03:33 +0100
Subject: Re: Hinduism and Avodah Zarah

on 23/5/04 4:30 pm, Meylekh Viswanath <pviswanath@...> wrote:

> I want to emphasize that Hinduism is very complex and includes a
> multitude of beliefs and practices that vary from region to region.
> Hence, in trying to find out what is Hinduism, what is Hindu worship,
> etc., one should be very careful -- simply asking a friend who is Hindu
> might be quite misleading.

This was precisely the point I tried to make earlier regarding the parallel
with Greco-Roman paganism. It also ranged from a spiritual Neoplatonism or
intellectual Stoicism to orgiastic cults such as that of Bacchus or mystery
cults like those of Isis or Cybele. The followers of the former would have
looked down on the latter as being only suitable for the lower orders much
in the same way as Anglicans looked down on Methodists in the 18th century
or, lehavdil, Mitnagdim viewed the Chassidic movement. However the rites
practiced in the Greco-Roman temples were considered avodah zarah despite
the more intellectualised positions taken by the various philosophical
schools. I think that there is a very strong similarity between this
situation and current Hinduism. Thus the rituals practiced in Tirupati may
well be avodah zarah mamash even if there are strains in the Hindu tradition
which are not. To use a borrowed expression, Hinduism, like ancient
paganism, is a very broad church. The crucial point is what do the devotees
have in mind when they shave their heads not the sophisticated gloss put on
it by yogi masters.

Incidentally, I noticed when surfing through some Hindu websites that there
is considerable opposition to shaving the head in 'orthodox' Hinduism and
that the Tirupati practice is considered to be a hangover from the
'heretical' Buddhist religion prevalent in South India (and still practiced
in Sri Lanka by the Sinhalese) before the Hindu Counter-reformation.
Buddhist monks routinely shave their heads when they dedicate themselves and
it appears that in this region the practice was so popular that resurgent
Hinduism could not uproot it. Maybe the Sikh custom of never cutting the
hair is derived from this Hindu abhorrence of Buddhism.

Finally I believe that one of the first sources of hair for sheitels was
that shaved off Catholic nuns when they entered their vocation. Does anyone
know more about this? If true it might be a possible paradigm for how we
look at the Hindu practice.

Martin Stern


From: <Robsussman@...>
Date: Sun, 23 May 2004 07:19:26 EDT
Subject: Indian Hair & Dolls?

At the risk of opening up a whole different can of worms - and upsetting
young girls everywhere - I believe the hair that is used in the American
Girl dolls (and perhaps in other dolls as well) is real human hair.  Has
anyone heard anything about it being a problem?


From: <b1ethh94@...> <b1ethh94@pop6.sympatico.ca>
Date: Fri, 21 May 2004 13:13:58 -0400
Subject: Kosher Lamp (tm)

Stan Tenen said:

<<However, all of this is based on the assumption that it is not mukzeh
to mess with a lamp as long as you don't touch it or move it. When it
comes to halacha, it's time to CYLOR. <smile> >>

This is what bothers me about this product.  Since it's movable, Might
it be muktzeh, especially if it could be easy to turn it off by
accident?  But I suppose it could be compared to a wrist watch if
special effort is needed to turn it on or off (eg. a covered switch).

By the way, I'm an electrical engineer and I would strongly suggest that
it is unsafe to put aluminum foil over light bulbs regardless of whether
the bulb is incandescent (60 W) or the compact fluorescent (13 W).  This
could lead to heat buildup which can lead to failure and/or short
circuit (aside from the risk of the foil contacting part of the socket
which is electrically "hot".)

From: Tzvi Stein <Tzvi.Stein@...>
Subject: KosherLamp(tm)

> From: Heshy Zaback <heshyzaback2@...>
> It's a simple yet elegant alternative to buying a gooseneck lamp that
> you just turn away from your eyes, or hooking up a timer. The fact that
> it's elegant enough to be a table lamp and that it's compact fluorescent
> (cheaper to leave on all Shabbos) are pluses as well. And at $30, it's
> really a reasonable price for a pin-based compact fluorescent
> fixture. It's one of those things where I find myself saying, "Why
> didn't I think of this?"

Well, I actually did think of it years ago. I got the idea from visiting
a family who would leave a light on in their bedroom closet on Shabbos.
When the closet door was open, the bedroom would have quite a bit of
light.  When they closed the closet door, the bedroom would be dark.
That gave me the idea for the lamp.  Unfortunately, I never did anything
about it.


From: Yisrael Medad <ybmedad@...>
Date: Sat, 22 May 2004 23:52:23 +0200
Subject: Uncovered Hair (formerly Zchut or Curse?)

Dick Kleiman <dick@...> wrote:

      The requirement for a woman to cover her hair is derived from the
      parasha of the Sota where the priest uncovers her hair.

Without making any final decisions, this is problematic from a language
point of view.  The Hebrew root in that verse, Bamidbat 5:18 is "para"
(pay-reish-ayin).  Does it mean uncover or perhaps unbind tied up hair?
For example, in the next chapter 6:5, there is a reference to the Nazir
who has let his hair grown wild and the same verb is used there.  Did
the Nazir cover his hair or leave it unbound and wild?  In Sanhedrin
58B, does the women uncover her hair and/or let it go loose in the

Yisrael Medad


From: Joshua Hosseinof <jh@...>
Date: Fri, 21 May 2004 14:08:36 -0400
Subject: Vocalization of Mordechai

I know of several Persian Jews who have the last name Mordechai, but
they pronounce it as Mordochai (as if the vowel under the dalet were
indeed a kamatz chataf).

Additionally, the Tikkun Soferim Ish Matzliach (which follows the Djerba
minhag) has the following footnote for Esther 5:12 and 5:13.  "Our
minhag is to read these two pesukim only the name Mordechai as Mordochai
("sheva kamatz").  This is according to the Lechem Habikkurim 121b.  But
it is not strictly required to pronounce it this way as iis written in
Dikdukei Hateamim p.14, that there is no real source for writing
Mordechai and Mordochai, but rather it is at the discretion of the
scribes" ("Ki im birtzon hasoferim").

Joshua Hosseinof


From: N Miller <nm1921@...>
Date: Sat, 22 May 2004 22:52:18 -0400
Subject: Why they shave heads

According to Jeanette Friedman:

> the balding of women and the advent of sheitel occurred during the
> middle ages, when lords of the manor asserted their droit de seigneur,
> and Jewish women were ordered to shave their heads the night before the
> wedding to make them unattractive to the leige lords.

Those dreadful 'middle ages'!  There are a number of things wrong with
this explanation.  First, Jews were not vassals and hence were not bound
to their liege (sic) lords. Second, there are no references to this
practice in the voluminous Jewish record that I know of (though I am
prepared to be corrected).  Third, the 'droit du seigneur' is regarded
by most historians to be a myth, nisht geshtoygn un nisht gefloygn.

Noyekh Miller 


From: Alan Friedenberg <elshpen@...>
Date: Mon, 24 May 2004 04:58:13 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: Wigs

As part of the never-ending discussions about wigs at the Shabbos table
the last few weeks, a question came up about "auto-donation."  Would a
frum woman be allowed to cut off her hair, have it made into a shaitel,
and then wear it?


From: N Miller <nm1921@...>
Date: Sat, 22 May 2004 23:14:24 -0400
Subject: Wigs

Elana Geiger writes:

"It is not immodest to cover hair with hair because the issue is that a
married woman's hair not be worn, not that someone else's hair not be
worn as a cover for her own hair.  The reason for hair covering is not
to avoid attracting other men, it seems that it is just to cover the
hair.  That's it.  Yes, it is deemed "immodest", but this is a different
than other parts of a woman's body which must be covered.  The idea that
hair is immodest after one is married, but not before, is strange unto
itself, so I think there is more here than meets the eye anyway."


But the idea that hair is immodest only after marriage isn't strange at
all if we consider that a Jewish woman once married is the property of
her husband and that public modesty is required of her that is not
required of girls.  This is one way or the other a quite common practice
throughout the Mediterranean basin and beyond.

But the shaytl constitutes and end-run around the older practice.  It is
of quite recent vintage (mid-18th century) and reflects perhaps a change
in the status of upper-class urban Jewish women who then as now wanted
to look and dress like princesses.

On this reading the wearing of a wig, shaytl or peruk violates the
spirit of the traditional emphasis on modesty.  On the other hand it
implicitly rejects the notion of the woman as sexual property and should
perhaps be supported.  I take no sides in the matter.

Noyekh Miller

From: Avi Feldblum <feldblum@...>
Date: Mon, 24 May 2004 23:30:49 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Re: Wigs

On Sat, 22 May 2004, N Miller wrote:

> But the idea that hair is immodest only after marriage isn't strange
> at all if we consider that a Jewish woman once married is the property
> of her husband and that public modesty is required of her that is not
> required of girls.

I believe that this is not a correct understanding of the Talmudic stance
on marriage. The woman is NOT considered property of her husband, and I
think the idea that there might be different requirements of modesty for
married and unmarried is not tied to the concept of property.

Avi Feldblum


From: Shmuel Carit <cshmuel@...>
Date: Sun, 23 May 2004 10:51:52 +0000
Subject: Women's hair

If an unmarried woman grows her hair long and then marries, may she cut
her hair and use that hair to fashion a wig for herself?




From: <MJGerver@...> (Mike Gerver)
Date: Sat, 22 May 2004 17:33:10 EDT
Subject: Yemenite and Ashkenaz nusach

I davened at a Temani (Yemenite) shul this past Shabbat, and noticed
that, in addition to pronouncing kametz similar to the way Ashkenazim
do, Temanim say several things in their davening that are also found in
nusach Ashkenaz, but not in nusach Sephard or the Sephardi nusach.

1) At the end of the kedusha, both Temanim and Ashkenazim say "le-dor
va-dor nagid gadlecha..."

2) Both say "Ba-meh madlikin" on Friday night.

3) In the weekday maariv, after the second bracha following the shma,
and before the shmoneh esreh, Ashkenazim recite a number of pesukim,
starting with "Baruch ha-shem le-olam, amen ve-amen..." and ending with
a third bracha. Temanim do not have the third bracha, but do recite a
number of extra pesukim before the second bracha, including some of the
same pesukim that Ashkenazim say after the second bracha.

Does anyone know the historical reason for this similarity between
Temani and Ashkenazi nusach? I don't think either of them could have
borrowed these things from each other, so I suppose they must have both
borrowed them from the same place. Perhaps nusach Ashkenaz and nusach
Teman both derived from Eretz Yisrael, while the Sephardi nusach derived
from Bavel?

Mike Gerver
Raanana, Israel


End of Volume 42 Issue 80