Volume 43 Number 43
                    Produced: Wed Jul 14 22:07:11 EDT 2004

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Avot transgressing Torah?
Child Determining Kashrut of a Sefer Torah
         [Y. Askotzky (STAM)]
Gender-Segregation (2)
         [Carl Singer, Batya Medad]
Purpose of the "gartel"
Sex Education update
         [Jeanette Friedman Sieradski]
Stripes on Talit
         [David Charlap]
Torah scroll
         [Nathan Lamm]
Torah scroll - wimpel


From: c.halevi <c.halevi@...>
Date: Thu, 8 Jul 2004 23:21:41 -0500
Subject: Avot transgressing Torah?

Shalom, All:

In Braysheet (Genesis) 20:12, Avraham himself tells Avimelech that Sarah
is his father's daughter through a woman other than Avraham's mother.
As Rashi notes there, a half sister is permitted to marry a half brother
only where a *Ben Noah* (Gentile) is involved. I don't recall it being
permitted for a Jew to do so.

Of course, this comment by Rashi about Avraham utilizing the B'nai Noah
heter (dispensation) does present a problem to those who say all our
forefathers observed all the Torah, as all the Aggadot I remember have
Avraham becoming monotheistic at a youthful age, presumably before he
married Sarai (Sarah). Even if he married her before his monotheistic
revelation - and there is no evidence in the Torah on this, AFAIR- once
he became aware of the Torah prohibiting marrying one's half sister
should he not have divorced her?

If anyone wants to say he had Ruakh Ha'kodesh ("Holy Spirit/prophecy")
that Sarah would become our Foremother, and thus he had to remain
married to her, please cite where this can be found.

Yeshaya (Charles Chi) Halevi

[Note: The opinion that the Avot followed the Mitzvot and that the Avot
had the status of B'nei Noach are not mutually exclusive, as far as I
understand. The understanding of the status of the avot as B'nei Noach
vs Yisrael is likely an early disagreement. Mod]


From: Y. Askotzky (STAM) <sofer@...>
Date: Fri, 9 Jul 2004 16:36:59 +0200
Subject: Child Determining Kashrut of a Sefer Torah

 In response to what Y. Askotzky <sofer@...> wrote
  >   One who has thoroughly studied the laws of the letters, such
  >   as from the Mishnas sofrim (Mishna Brura), yet has no or
  >   minimal shimush, practical training, would generally not be
  >   considered an expert to be able decide whether a child may be
  >   asked other than in clear cut cases such as the leg of the
  >   vav being in the middle between a yud and a proper vav and
  >   the like.

Ira L. Jacobson <laser@...>  wrote      
>In other words, we must ask the child's opinion on what the letter is
>only if an expert in the "Laws of Letters" cannot decide.

Correct. What I meant was that only one who is expert enough (some cases
are straight forward while others are not and require greater expertise)
to decide when a letter falls into the category of doubt may decide that
a child be asked. IOW's doubt due to a halachic positions that can go
either way and not doubt due to lack of knowledge/expertise.

> (3) The letter is misformed in a way that makes it look like another
> letter (a vav is so short that it may be mistaken for a yod, or so long
> that it may be mistaken for a final nun, for example).

Clarification: The letter is misformed in a way that MAY make it look...

> The letter is neither a vav or a yud and not that its a vav that looks
> like a yud.
> A child is asked to read the letter *only in type 3 defects*. 

There is another case when a child is asked but not applicable to Torah
reading on shabbos (in practice only for tefillin and mezuzah which must
be written in order and only for the purpose of determining if the
letter can be repaired.

kol tuv,

Yerachmiel Askotzky
certified sofer & examiner
<sofer@...>  www.stam.net  1-888-404-STAM(7826)  718-874-8220


From: Carl Singer <casinger@...>
Date: Fri, 09 Jul 2004 08:38:09 -0400
Subject: Gender-Segregation

    To the mail-jewish community:

    This may be a very sensitive question, but its one I've thought
    about for awhile and it is definitely something that should be

    It is very simple to have a knee-jerk reaction to the relaxed
    attitude towards coed socialization found in Modern Orthodox circles.
    Speaking strictly from experience in the NY area, it is rare for even
    the children who attend single sex schools such as MTA, Rambam, SKA, and
    TABC to completely eschew coed socialization opportunites (such as NCSY,
    summer camps, interschool extracurriculars, or even the shul lobby on
    Shabbos morning). I certainly understand the visceral reaction of the
    black-hat community which decries these developments as, if not
    intrinsically non-halachic, a clear gateway to forbidden
    activity. However, I wanted to turn the tables and look at the other
    side of the equation.  [This poster goes on to elaborate several
    problems with gender separation.]

Not being a cultural anthropologist -- I cannot speak to the merits of
various forms of schooling and social activities, nor to the results
including the long term impact on marriage, family and society.

What is of interest to me is why various people who are perhaps at
different points along some spectrum of Torah Observant Judaism seem to
spend inordinate energy critiquing others who are at distinctly
different points along that spectrum.  They frequently do so in a
negative manner often citing marginal or spectacular examples to "prove"
their point.

The above posting alleges a "visceral reaction of the black-hat
community" -- (1) what visceral reaction -- why do you think the
black-hat community spends its energy analyzing and reacting to "Modern
Orthodox circles", and (2) what is this "black-hat community" -- is it
Litvish, Chasidish, Hungarian, Polish -- who speaks for this community?
For that matter what is "Modern Orthodox" -- who defines it, those who
are or those who aren't?

There seems to be some benefit to stepping away from one's own situation
and examining the plight of others -- not for purposes of learning, but
for purposes of what I'll call "flight."  Picking on minorities (or
should I say the "unbiased observation of minorities") seems to be good
sport.  The media loves to examine sheitel burning, arranged marriages
and the like -- I, of course, find it fascinating and informative when
the group being observed is foreign to me (say Hindu) -- and loathsome
and grossly inaccurate if the group being observed is my own.

Perhaps looking out the window is less painful then looking in the mirror.

Carl Singer

From: Batya Medad <ybmedad@...>
Date: Fri, 09 Jul 2004 14:22:41 +0200
Subject: Re: Gender-Segregation

Extreme segregation encourages thinking of the opposite sex as sex
objects, rather than human beings.  It creates rigid roles in family
life.  Obviously it fits the natures of some, but isn't halachikly
necessary.  Extreme segregation causes sexual tension, or sometimes

There are many true stories about homosexuality in the British all-male
public schools.

I was once told by someone with halachik and educational training that
separating the kids in elementary school was more justified by the
different intellectual development between the boys and the girls,
rather than halachik reasons.



From: Yakir <yakirhd@...>
Date: Fri, 09 Jul 2004 14:07:48 +0200
Subject: Purpose of the "gartel"

Sorry, but I couldn't resist ...

This seems to have a similar answer to "why do firemen wear red
suspenders ?"  (To keep their pants up)

I always thought that the purpose of the gartel was purely functional,
to keep the Sefer closed.

-- Yakir.


From: <FriedmanJ@...> (Jeanette Friedman Sieradski)
Date: Fri, 9 Jul 2004 08:33:29 EDT
Subject: Re:  Sex Education update

Janet, since I posted that stuff ten years ago--HAS IT BEEN THAT LONG,
FOLKS? some stuff has changed, but only in the last 3 or 4 years. Ohel
is now out in the open because the problem was huge--and they are
attempting to get young children to recognize when they are being
subjected to sexual abuse.

As for socialization, the anonymous post in the last mlj sort of says it
all. You are addressing one of the queens of Trampiness in Beis
Yakkov....never mind that guys were always in our house and my father
wanted me to have "normal" relationships....my teachers and rabbis had
very different ideas--not having normal relationships with the opposite
sex leads to obsessive behavior, lack of self-esteem, childish behavior,
etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc.

the list of abberational and non-normative behavior (not to mention how
do you function in the business world if you can't talk to the opposite
sex without thinking about you know what? How can you possibly be
normal?) can go on and on, and if we are to be a healthy nation of Jews,
we have to make ourselves healthy.

I never could understand any of it. If you make something taboo, people
lust for it more. Common sense.


From: David Charlap <shamino@...>
Date: Fri, 09 Jul 2004 10:11:00 -0400
Subject: Re: Stripes on Talit

Martin Stern wrote:
> Rose Landowne wrote:
>> Someone recently told me that in Europe, different areas of
>> population had different stripe traditions, and you could tell
>> where someone was from from the stripe pattern on his talit, sort
>> of like Scottish clan tartans.
> I have never heard of this and very much doubt whether it is true.

This correlation may be true simply by accident without any intent on
the part of the population.

In Scotland, the tartan patterns weren't originally designed as family/
clan/town identifiers.  Each weaver made fabric using the pattern that
he/she liked best.  In towns with only one weaver, you end up with all
fabric sold in the town having the same pattern.  In larger towns with
more than one weaver, you'll find multiple patterns, but the population
would still all be buying fabric with a very limited variety.  In the
absence of major trading between towns, you end up with everybody in the
town wearing the clothes based on the same set of patterns.  Later on,
this got formalized into the system we have today where the patterns
actually have meaning.

It may be the same with talit stripes.  While I've never heard of any
requirement or formalism for any particular pattern, it makes sense that
different towns would wear different patterns.  Each town's weaver has
his/her favorite pattern and smaller towns won't have more than one
weaver.  In the absence of major trading between towns, you'll find that
everybody in a community ends up wearing the same patterns, unique to
that town.

-- David


From: Nathan Lamm <nelamm18@...>
Date: Fri, 9 Jul 2004 05:59:01 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: Torah scroll

Re: Rabbi Yerachmiel Askotzky's questions:

"What is the purpose of the paroches when there already is a set of
doors on the aron kodesh?"

Actually, I think the paroches came first, perhaps as a zecher for the
Mikdash. Shuls from the classical (Greek/Roman) era had open cabinets in
which the sefarim lay flat, with no doors. My shul was "temporary" for
many years, and had an open box with a paroches in front, no doors. And
some shuls have an aron without a paroches (as do all on Tisha B'Av), or
with the paroches inside the doors. The small shul in the
Spanish-Portuguese Synagogue in New York has a very plain-looking aron,
blending with the walls, and the explanation is given is that it's a
rememberance of Marrano days, when a shul couldn't look like one.  Some
shuls open the doors during the whole tefillah, so there's a paroches
inside that stays shut until pesicha. The Aron in the main auditorium in
YU is completely covered with a curtain, as the room is often used for
non-davening purposes. During Davening, the curtain is drawn up on
either side, and there's a paroches and set of doors underneath.

"What is the purpose of the gartel on the Torah?"

I guess it's purely practical- to keep the parchment from falling
down. Sefardi scrolls don't have them, of course. And Germans use a
"vimpel" (often from a bris, with all attendant minhagim), which is so
long it doesn't have to be tied.

"Do you have any short stories from seforim/chassidic sources, etc.,
related to the sefer Torah that the targeted youth group would

Well, there's the oldie but goodie about "cutting the Torah down to
size." Whenever I think of it, I hear Leonard Nimoy's voice telling it.


From: <Phyllostac@...> (Mordechai)
Date: Fri, 9 Jul 2004 12:45:33 EDT
Subject: Torah scroll - wimpel

I wish to suggest that the author not forget to cover the ancient
Ashkenazic minhog (custom) of wrapping the Sefer Torah with a wimpel,
which I believe predates by far the gartel custom of Eastern European
Jews, and persists to this day.

I am not well-informed about it, but I believe that it is a cloth type
of covering, more substantial than a 'gartel', which is often (if not
always nowadays) made from a cloth used in the process of a bris miloh
(circumcision). I have seen hundreds of pages (with illustrations)
dedicated to it in the sefer Shorshei Minhag Ashkenaz (volume two) by
Rav Binyomin Hamburger.



End of Volume 43 Issue 43