Volume 43 Number 47
                    Produced: Thu Jul 15  5:15:58 EDT 2004

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Christmas and Xmas (3)
         [Nathan Lamm, Immanuel Burton, Ira L. Jacobson]
Initial consonant clusters
         [Perets Mett]
Meshullachim during Tefilah (2)
         [Harlan Braude, Nathan Lamm]
Origin of the Streimel (4)
         [Shayna Kravetz, Jonathan Baker, Sam Saal, N Miller]
shva nach at the start of a word? (4)
         [Martin Stern, Daniel Werlin, Sammy Finkelman, Sammy Finkelman]
Taking Arba Minim Into Canada.
         [Immanuel Burton]
Website Update: My Hebrew Picture Dictionary
         [Jacob Richman]


From: Nathan Lamm <nelamm18@...>
Date: Mon, 12 Jul 2004 06:33:03 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: RE: Christmas and Xmas

Mark Steiner wrote:

> ...you'll have to say 'nitl,' which is the word used in the poskim.

"Nitl" is short for "Nativity," that is, "The birth [of Jesus]", and a
common name for Christmas in many languages. The English "Noel" is
similarly derived.  The name "Natalie," oddly somewhat popular among
Jews (and used as an English version of "Talie" or even "Nechama"
sometimes) has the same origin.

Let's face it: It's a Christian holiday, so unless we say "December
25th" or "Oso Hayom" (my own invention, as of this moment, related to
"Oso Haish"), we're stuck using Christian terms. It could be worse- in
most languages, the words for "Easter" and "Passover" are identical, and
"Pentecost" (and even "New Year" or "Sabbath") is a perfectly acceptable
name for both a Jewish and non-Jewish holiday.

Nachum Lamm

From: Immanuel Burton <IBURTON@...>
Date: Wed, 14 Jul 2004 08:56:52 +0100
Subject: RE: Christmas and Xmas

> If you don't, therefore, want to say "Christmas," you'll have to say
> "nitl", which is the word used in the poskim.

There is also the name "choggo" (ches, gimmel, aleph), which is a
corruption of the word "chag", meaning a festival.  I've also heard
Easter referred to as Pischah, which is a corruption of Pesach, and
churches referred to as a tiphlah, which is a corruption of tephillah,
meaning prayer.

Immanuel Burton.

From: Ira L. Jacobson <laser@...>
Date: Thu, 15 Jul 2004 09:00:35 +0300
Subject: Re: Christmas and Xmas

Mark Steiner <ms151@...> stated the following:

      The word "Christmas" means "Mass of Christ," later shortened to
      "Christ-Mass." The even shorter form "Xmas" - first used in Europe
      in the 1500s - is derived from the Greek alphabet, in which X is
      the first letter of Christ's name: Xristos, therefore "X-Mass."

      If you don't, therefore, want to say "Christmas," you'll have to
      say "nitl", which is the word used in the poskim.

Nitl is almost certainly derived from the Latin root for birth, while
fanciful popular etymology has been used to relate it to the Hebrew
shoresh NTL.  If you check into that alleged derivation, by the way, you
will see that the inventor confused Xmas with Pas-ha.

In Xmas, the X represents, as you say, a Greek letter.  It is not the
name of any AZ.  It would therefore seem to be halakhically permissible
to say Xmas.

IRA L. JACOBSON         


From: Perets Mett <p.mett@...>
Date: Mon, 12 Jul 2004 18:12:27 +0100
Subject: Initial consonant clusters

Martin Stern wrote:

> Only years later did I realise that this was an example of the way
> Hebrew avoids initial consonantal clusters in words borrowed from
> other languages by prefixing an alef, changing Platon (the accusative
> in Greek of the more familiar nominative form Plato) to Af-laton!  >

Not only Hebrew, but also Yiddish.

Polish loves clusters of two three or four consonants at the beginning
of a word.

The town known in Polish as Mstow is called Amstov in Yiddish, and
Mszczonow becomes Amshinov.

Perets Mett


From: Harlan Braude <hbraude@...>
Date: Mon, 12 Jul 2004 10:31:26 -0400
Subject: RE: Meshullachim during Tefilah

> First, pointedly, ignore them until you're finished.  Then explain
> that they are obviously charlatans, due to their non-halachik
> behavior; therefore, no money.  If someone is really collecting as a
> mitzvah, then he'll quickly learn, if not, then maybe he is a
> charlatan.

Well, I don't think it's really quite that bad. In my neighborhood, most
of the people coming to collect are collecting for themselves, not some
institution. Some of them come with letters for those who only give to
those who can "prove" their worthiness (as if the degrading act of
collecting this way isn't proof enough).

In most of these cases, these people are sharing a ride (which they pay
for out of the pooled funds) and they have to hit the synagogues in each
town while the minyanim are in session. To paraphrase: if they snooze,
they lose.

While some of them may have had good Jewish educations, most of them
haven't and either can't tell by looking at a person in what part of the
service they are engaged or they don't know what the rules are.

Sure, I've had people come up to me while I was in the middle of
shemonah esrei and they were clearly insulted that I ignored them. I
felt bad for them, because I really didn't want to stiff them,
considering that this may be their only source of income.

When an uncomfortable situation arises I try to keep in mind how much
worse I'd feel were our roles reversed, r"l.

From: Nathan Lamm <nelamm18@...>
Date: Mon, 12 Jul 2004 06:38:34 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: Re: Meshullachim during Tefilah

Carl Singer wrote:
> Some shules have a gabbai tzedukah (or the Rabbi) who disburses funds
> to meshullachim and thus keeps them from soliciting the individual
> daveners. I think this is rare today.

This is the practice in my shul, Baruch Hashem. There may be "new"
meshulachim who are unused to this, but fortunately, the first person
they encounter, davening by the door, is an older gentleman who's
outspoken in pursuit of kavod hatzibur and, unlike most of us, is fluent
in Yiddish (most of the meshulachim are Yiddish-speakers), and he sets
them straight, sending them to the bima and gabbai.

Nachum Lamm


From: Shayna Kravetz <skravetz@...>
Date: Mon, 12 Jul 2004 08:15:00 -0500
Subject: Re: Origin of the Streimel

After Tobias Robison <trobison@...> asked:
>> Can anyone refer us to images of ancient Polish dress that actually show
>> hats resembling a streimel? I'm curious because I've browsed dozens of
>> web pages devoted to historic Polish dress - obviously not the final
>> authority on this matter - without seeing similar hats.
<Phyllostac@...> (Mordechai) replied:>
>IIRC, I hearing Rabbi Berel Wein on a tape once say that he saw a hat
>worn by 'Peter the Great', Czar of Russia, at a museum (Hermitage ?) and
>that it was similar to a streimel.

This website, although directed to historical re-enactors, seems to be very
comprehensive with numerous period illustrations of Polish men in various
military and social stations.

A related page --
http://www.kismeta.com/diGrasse/polish_costume_jan_matejki.htm -- has
illustrations of secular and Jewish costumes of the period but these
were not drawn contemporary to the period, as far as I can tell.
However, the gentleman on the far right of the first picture would seem
to be what Tobias is looking for.

(By the way, the man fifth from the left in the picture further down
labelled "Priests and Bishops" appears -- to my untutored eye -- to be
wearing the chazzan's hat discussed in another set of posts.)

Kol tuv.
Shayna in Toronto

From: Jonathan Baker <jjbaker@...>
Date: Mon, 12 Jul 2004 09:20:48 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Origin of the Streimel

> From: Tobias Robison <trobison@...>
"Sarnoff.com"?  You're working for RCA now?

> Can anyone refer us to images of ancient Polish dress that actually show
> hats resembling a streimel? I'm curious because I've browsed dozens of
> web pages devoted to historic Polish dress - obviously not the final
> authority on this matter - without seeing similar hats.

Maybe it's not Polish, but Hungarian?  The usual pictures of Attila the
Hun show him wearing a hat much like a streimel - cloth/leather dome,
big fur edge.

   - jon baker    <jjbaker@...>     <http://www.panix.com/~jjbaker> -

From: Sam Saal <ssaal@...>
Date: Wed, 14 Jul 2004 07:45:18 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: re: Origin of the Streimel

I don't remember where I learned it, but my understanding of the origin
of the streimel was different. I learned that Jews in some area were
required to wear a particular fur-lined hat. The Jews complied, but
turned it inside-out, probably to avoid issues of dresing like non-Jews.

OTOH, the clothing of various chassidic sects, according to my uncle,
Rabbi Rackovsky z"l, matches the clothing of the Rav who founded the
sect, and was, in turn, that of the local nobles of the time and place.

Sam Saal

From: N Miller <nm1921@...>
Date: Mon, 12 Jul 2004 15:25:32 -0400
Subject: Origin of the Streimel

Mordechai writes:

> I suspect that some research into the etymology of the word streimel
> (and other words, such as spodik, kapoteh, bekeshe, etc.) would also
> shed some light.

I'll do the easy ones.  shtrayml comes direct from the MHG Streimel
(stripe or strip).

bekeshe is from the Polish bekiesza (cape, mantle).

zhupitse is from the Polish zupan.

kapote (no superfluous aitches please) has its counterpart in the French
capote, a.  A long shaggy cloak or overcoat with a hood, worn by
soldiers, sailors, travellers, etc.  b. A long mantle reaching to the
feet, worn by women.  (OED)

Noyekh Miller


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Mon, 12 Jul 2004 14:01:16 +0100
Subject: Re: shva nach at the start of a word?

on 12/7/04 8:20 am, mail-jewish Vol. 43 #40 Digest had 7 postings on the
problem of a shva nach at the start of the word shtayim and its
grammatical variants.

While it is difficult to add much to the exhaustive discussion, there is
one amusing point to consider. The word "two" in the feminine construct
is shtei with an initial sheva nach, whereas the word for "drink!" is
sheteih with an initial sheva na'. Since the final heh is not sounded,
this is the only difference in their pronunciation.

Next time members sing "Yom zeh mechubad" they might ponder, after
eating fatty foods, what are the two sweets!

Martin Stern

From: Daniel Werlin <Daniel.Werlin@...>
Date: Mon, 12 Jul 2004 08:30:21 -0400
Subject: shva nach at the start of a word?

Two sources re pronouncing shtayim:

Yeivin, Israel - Introduction to the Tiberian Masorah - paragraph #377
Jacobson, Joshua - Chanting the Hebrew Bible - page 309, see also note
52 where he refers to Gesenius' Hebrew Grammar 97b note 1 in support of
the contention that the word was orginally "eshtayim".

Dan Werlin

From: Sammy Finkelman <sammy.finkelman@...>
Date: Sun, 13 Jul 04 10:46:00 -0400
Subject: Re: shva nach at the start of a word?

> It is "AN exception", or "THE exception"?  Meaning, are there other
> words in Hebrew that have this strange characteristic, or is this word
> unique in the whole language?

At first I thought this was a stam pusheteh question, but it looks like
it is not so pushet that "stam" is a Hebrew word! And then what about

The explanation for Shtaim being pronounced as two sylabbles could be
the same as for some other words, like Pshat, Srush, Shema (sometimes
when used as a name or term, pronounced "shma" - and maybe it started to
happen only in the Talmudic era, when many people spoke other languages
besides Hebrew.

From: Sammy Finkelman <sammy.finkelman@...>
Date: Sun, 13 Jul 04 11:23:00 -0400
Subject: Re: shva nach at the start of a word?

Another word is  "shtar"

We pronounce all kinds of words now starting witha shva nach. Telling us
that the Tiberian Baaleh mesorah pronounced shtaim that way isn't really
telling us anything about how old that is because that's already well
into the Gaonic period and not that much before the Rishonim. Of course
there still is the problem as to how exactly it was pronounced when the
Beis Hamoikdosh stood (they used to use that word during the nYom Kippur
Avodah and we say this on Yom Kippur) and earlier. I think it could have
been a dotted Tuf because a shiun followed by a undotted one,
pronoubnced like a "s" is hard to pronounce, and other words shhow
differeent kinds of pronounciation changes when a suf and a shim come
together near the start of a word, even reversals of letter order as in


From: Immanuel Burton <IBURTON@...>
Date: Tue, 13 Jul 2004 09:36:53 +0100
Subject: Taking Arba Minim Into Canada.

All being well I will be travelling to Canada (Toronto) for Succos.  I
have heard that there are restrictions in bringing fresh fruit into the
United States, which makes taking a set of Arba Minim (Four Species)
into the United States problematic on account of the esrog.

Does Canada have the same restrictions vis-a-vis bringing in fresh fruit
which will make taking a set of Arba Minim difficult?

Immanuel Burton.


From: Jacob Richman <jrichman@...>
Date: Wed, 14 Jul 2004 11:58:22 +0200
Subject: Website Update: My Hebrew Picture Dictionary

Hi Everyone!

I have just completed a large update to the website:
My Hebrew Picture Dictionary


I added 180 new pictures and translations to the site and I added an
alphabetical index to make it easier to go directly to any of the 360
pictures and translations.

My Hebrew Picture Dictionary is a free, online, resource to learn Hebrew
(or English) words in a fun way. Each word in the dictionary has an
English and Hebrew translation and transliteration and a photograph of
the item. The interface is simple and both kids and adults will find
this educational website entertaining and useful.

Your feedback and suggestions are always welcome.

Please forward this message to other teachers, parents and students so
they may benefit from this educational site.

Jacob Richman


End of Volume 43 Issue 47