Volume 43 Number 48
                    Produced: Fri Jul 16  5:39:53 EDT 2004

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

         [Avi Feldblum]
Cryptic Nature Of The Torah
         [Immanuel Burton]
Digital Thermometer on Shabbat
         [Steven White]
Jewish web search engine
         [Jacob Richman]
Kastner transport
         [Ira L. Jacobson]
Meat & Milk
         [Carl Singer]
Mikvah night etc - third post
         [Shimon Lebowitz]
Origin of the Shtreimel
         [Nathan Lamm]
Origin of the Streimel (2)
         [Martin Stern, Perry Zamek]
shva nach at the start of a word? (2)
         [Jack Gross, Ira L. Jacobson]


From: Avi Feldblum <mljewish@...>
Date: Fri, 16 Jul 2004 05:19:31 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Administrivia

Hello All,

I've had a few questions about issue V42n42. It should hopefully have
arrived this morning, out of sequence. It contained some embedded Hebrew
text, and it appears that caused the listserve to reject it. I have
removed the text and resent it out this morning. Note: It may not be the
embedded text, as it has not yet arrived. I will take another look if
you (and I) get this message before the n42 issue.



From: Immanuel Burton <IBURTON@...>
Date: Wed, 14 Jul 2004 12:38:02 +0100
Subject: Cryptic Nature Of The Torah

I have been having a discussion with a friend about the cryptic nature
of the Torah.  The main point we have been trying to understand but so
far not succeeded in doing is why, if the Torah is supposed to be
instructions on how to live our lives, it is so cryptic and doesn't
spell things out clearly.

One particularly good example of this is the law about not slaughtering
a mother cow and its calf on the same day.  This law is given in
Leviticus 22:28, and does not apply to slaughtering a bull and its calf
on the same day, i.e. it only applies to a female animal and its
offspring.  However, the verse in Leviticus is phrased in the masculine!
The Targum there is in the feminine, and Rashi points out that the law
only applies to the mother and its offspring.  A simple reading of this
verse, however, would lead one to conclude that the law does apply to
bulls, whereas in fact it doesn't.

My understanding is that the Oral Law is required in order to interpret
the Written Law, probably because the Written Law cannot give an
exhaustive list of every possible situation that may arise.  However, at
times, the Oral Law seems to contradict what the verse actually says, as
with the above example.

I suppose that the point we have been discussing boils down to two

(1) Why is the Written Law sometimes written in a way such that there is
a clear and obvious meaning, but that meaning is wrong according to
halacha, e.g. not slaughtering a cow and its calf on the same day?

(2) Why is the Written Law sometimes so cryptic, i.e. it's very
difficult to work out what the meaning is and how the law is derived
from the words, e.g. the details of Shabbos or kashrus observance, where
a huge amount of interpretation is needed (and about which there is
considerable disagreement) in order to get from the words to the law?
Surely if the Torah is a set of instructions on how to lead one's life
those instructions should be quite clear and not need a huge amount of

Does anyone have any good answers to these questions?

Immanuel Burton.


From: Steven White <StevenJ81@...>
Date: Tue, 13 Jul 2004 00:23:31 -0400
Subject: Re: Digital Thermometer on Shabbat

In MJ 43:28, Dr. Josh Backon <BACKON@...> writes:

> Use of a digital thermometer is permitted only when there is SAKANA
> (danger) and no other thermometer is available.

This essentially goes unchallenged, and I don't even doubt that poskim
write this in their responsa.  Yet, I wonder if this is really
appropriate.  After all, the "av melacha" (principal category of
Shabbat-forbidden creative activity) is *measuring*, and where
temperature is concerned, there is no doubt that measuring temperature
with an analog mercury thermometer is "k'darko" (the normal way one
performs this melacha), at least at present.  On the other hand, the
way that solid-state digital thermometers work is that the sensor is
connected to a thermocouple, and the microprocessor samples the effect
the temperature has on the thermocouple.  It does this rapidly and
repeatedly until all the calculations converge, and then displays a
temperature.  I would argue that this constitutes a grama (delay), and
may not even be measuring temperature "k'darko."  If, in addition, one
holds that solid-state circuitry not reaching "yad soledet bo" (hot
enough that one would withdraw his/ her hand) is only prohibited
derabbanan--as Rav Auerbach zt"l does--then it would seem that a
digital thermometer might be superior Shabbat approach to a standard
liquid-in-glass-tube thermometer.

Of course, I have learned the halacha as Arnie Kuzmack
<Arnie@...> suggests in 43:34:  Any time we are concerned enough
about a fever to think about taking a temperature on Shabbat, that in
and of itself triggers at least safek sakana (a possibility of danger),
so that any thermometer ought to be acceptable.  I'd ask Dr. Backon if
that is not correct.

As an aside, it's fascinating to contemplate that fifty years from now,
it might be that our descendents will never have heard of a
glass-in-tube thermometer.  (Slide rule, anyone?)  Then maybe digital
thermometers will have become "k'darko." 

Steven White
Highland Park, NJ


From: Jacob Richman <jrichman@...>
Date: Thu, 15 Jul 2004 12:19:25 +0200
Subject: re: Jewish web search engine


> What I would like to see is a Jewish web search engine, that would
> search only reliable Jewish sites.

Over the years I have gathered Jewish related sites on a section of my

There are also other Jewish related directories and search engines
listed at:

Shabbat Shalom,


From: Ira L. Jacobson <laser@...>
Date: Thu, 15 Jul 2004 09:08:53 +0300
Subject: Re: Kastner transport

<FriedmanJ@...> (Jeanette Friedman Sieradski) stated the following:

      Ben Hecht's book leaves a lot to be desired, historically.
      For a real comprehensive history you also have to read
      Feingold and Morse, Kranzler and Wyman.

I understand the references to be to the following:

Feingold, Henry L. "The Politics of Rescue: The Roosevelt Administration
and the Holocaust, 1938-1945." New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University
Press, 1970.

Feingold, Henry L. "Zion in America: The Jewish Experience from Colonial
Times to the Present." New York: Hippocrene Books, 1974.

Morse, Arthur D. "While Six Million Died: A Chronicle of American
Apathy." New York: Overlook Press, 1967.

Kranzler, David. "Thy Brothers Blood: The Orthodox Jewish Response
During the Holocaust." Brooklyn, NY: Mesorah Publications, 1987.

Wyman, David S. "The Abandonment of the Jews: America and the Holocaust,
1941-1945." New York: Pantheon, 1984.

Wyman, David S. ed. "America and the Holocaust: A Thirteen-Volume Set
Documenting the Acclaimed Book the Abandonment of the Jews." New York:
Garland Pub., 1989-1991.

Wyman, David S. "Paper Walls: America and the Refugee Crisis,
1938-1941."  Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1968.

      The definitive and most correct historian on all of this is

I wonder how one decides which is most accurate.  Does the reputation of
the publishing house come into the equation?

IRA L. JACOBSON         


From: Carl Singer <casinger@...>
Date: Thu, 15 Jul 2004 07:40:21 -0400
Subject: Meat & Milk

Another poster wrote:

>> The Torah prohibition (D'oraisah) is COOKING meat and milk together.
>> (common translation, "Thou shalt not seethe a kid in its mother's milk.)

>This statement is incomplete. 

I've received (too) many off-list comments re: the above.

"COOKING" was emphasized as it is the text -- and was in response to the
following posting that said "Eating" (which is derived)

> the only Torah prohibition is to eat meat and milk together. 
> One should not confuse relatively recent chumras with basic halachic
> requirements. 

To repeat the reminder that if you're cooking in a treif environment
it's not enough to (obviously) not eat  the food. 

Carl Singer


From: Shimon Lebowitz <shimonl@...>
Date: Thu, 15 Jul 2004 15:43:26 +0200
Subject: Re: Mikvah night etc - third post

In reading Chana's detailed posting on this subject, I noticed one point
that seemed a bit strange.

> Now a) one cannot guarantee that one will conceive
> children on any given night (even if, statistically it can be shown that
> more women are more likely to conceive on the date of completion of her
> count than any other it is still fundamentally a matter for HKBH); 

Was the custom described already in the gemara "afilu .. yoshvot shiv`a
nekiyim" already practiced in Yehoshua's time, before `Am Yisrael even
first entered Eretz Yisrael???

According to the Torah law, a woman should be immersing on the 7th night
from the *beginning* of her period, rather than the (at the earliest)
12th, as practiced today. This would be a bit early for any chance of
conception, wouldn't it?



From: Nathan Lamm <nelamm18@...>
Date: Thu, 15 Jul 2004 06:33:23 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: Re: Origin of the Shtreimel

Actually, the "crowns" of many Eastern European (Russia, Georgia,
Bulgaria, etc.) monarchs and other nobles were, in fact, round fur hats,
often with a cross and/or jewels added. These were worn right into
modern times, until the dissolution of those monarchies, and many are on
exhibit in museums.

I always saw the fact that they were worn even in the modern period,
when these kings and queens mixed and married with royalty who wore more
conventional crowns as a statement that these Orthodox monarchs were
"different" somehow, from a colder climate, perhaps, with more
"barbaric" origins.

These were, it should be pointed out, the "official" crowns, worn at
coronations and so on. For more "everyday" purposes, more conventional
metal and jeweled crowns may have been worn.


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Thu, 15 Jul 2004 11:59:26 +0100
Subject: Re: Origin of the Streimel

on 15/7/04 10:15 am, Jonathan Baker <jjbaker@...> wrote:

> 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.

The Huns were a Turkic people who temporarily terrorised Europe in the
early 5th century from their base in Pannonia (the present Hungarian
plain) after which they more or less disappeared, being absorbed into
later nomadic groups such as the Avars. The Magyars, who were a
Finno-Ugric speaking people, settled in the same area about 400 years
later and because of this coincidence were called Hungarians, the two
peoples, however, have no other connection.

Martin Stern

From: Perry Zamek <perryza@...>
Date: Thu, 15 Jul 2004 12:32:50 +0200
Subject: Re: Origin of the Streimel

Meir wrote:
>The only page I found that _ shows him wearing a hat looks like this:
>(_) or check this url:
>It's in color and looks a lot like a streimel to me, and maybe it is not
>Peter but Menshikov who is wearing it, and it was painted by a 9 year
>old boy.  Judge for yourselves.

I think the hat being worn by the figure on the right was a tricorne,
which was popular in the 18th century. The middle part is the rounded
crown, the left and right parts (slightly darker in color) are the
up-folded brims (the third brim would be folded upward at the back).

Perry Zamek


From: Jack Gross <ibijbgross@...>
Date: Tue, 13 Jul 2004 06:53:55 -0400
Subject: Re: shva nach at the start of a word?

> From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
> ...
> If I am not much mistaken shtayim (and for that matter its grammatical
> variants shnayim etc.) is an exception to this general rule banning
> consonantal clusters.

The expection has limitations: It applies only when the word occurs
without a prefix.  With a prefix letter, ShTaYiM reverts to normal

With most prefices, the Shin is rafa (closing the syllable) and the shva
is silent ...

 Vav: Ush-tei (Gen. 19:30)
 Bet: Bish-tei (ib. 31:41)
 Lamed: Lish-tey (Ex. 26:19)

 ...while in the sole instance where it appears with a Mem prefix, the
Shin is geminated (degusha), and hence the shva is sounded (na') and the
Tav is rafa: Mish-sh'-thei (Judges 16:28).

(Consult your local concordance.)

From: Ira L. Jacobson <laser@...>
Date: Thu, 15 Jul 2004 13:12:32 +0300
Subject: Re: shva nach at the start of a word?

Sammy Finkelman <sammy.finkelman@...> stated the following:

      I think it could have been a dotted Tuf because a shiun
      followed by a undotted one, pronounced like a "s" is hard to

Interesting is that we have another word with precisely the same
letters: sheva-shin hiriq-tav-rafa yod, pronounced sheti or shesi, as in
shesi va`erev (warp and woof).  It's not so hard to pronounce.  And the
fact that it exists makes your explanation a bit forced, it seems to me.

      and other words show 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 Hitztadak.

That is indeed a rule, so that shin peh resh in hitpa`el becomes
hishtaper.  And samekh peh resh in hitpa`el becomes histaper.

IRA L. JACOBSON         


End of Volume 43 Issue 48