Volume 43 Number 59
                    Produced: Thu Jul 22  6:10:27 EDT 2004

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Abbreviation mem vav heh
         [Edward Ehrlich]
Aishes Chayel still needs Sleep
         [Jeanette Friedman Sieradski]
Aufruf (3)
         [Michael Poppers, Martin Stern, Joseph Ginzberg]
Aufruf, and Sephardi customs among Ashkenazim
         [Mike Gerver]
Christmas and Xmas
         [Akiva Miller]
Cryptic Nature of the Torah
         [David Riceman]
Rachav the Zonah - further philological speculation
         [Martin Stern]
Some Broader issues in "sex" education
         [Akiva Miller]
Visual Art/Nudes
         [Roger Jefferson]


From: Edward Ehrlich <eehrlich@...>
Date: Tue, 20 Jul 2004 19:05:52 +0300
Subject: Abbreviation mem vav heh

I would like to thank everyone who replied to my question through the
list and privately.

Martin Stern wrote:

>Probably MOreinu Harav. It should really only appear where the person
>was really a rav but nowadays titles have become rather debased and it
>is not uncommon for someone to be called Harav hagaon followed by a
>whole string of honorifics. Personally I disapprove of this, after all
>there is the principle of "gadol meirabban shemo" (Arukh s.v. Abbaye)
>which can be loosely translated that the greatest rabbis do not need
>any title.

The abbreviation "mem vav heh" is found twice on my
great-great-grandmother's grave stone referring to her husband and
father. So possibly the terms were used before the "title inflation"
that Martin refers to had taken place. It has come as an unexpected but
pleasant surprise knowing that there were possibly any rabbis in my

Ed Ehrlich <eehrlich@...>
Jerusalem, Israel


From: <FriedmanJ@...> (Jeanette Friedman Sieradski)
Date: Tue, 20 Jul 2004 10:46:55 EDT
Subject: Re: Aishes Chayel still needs Sleep

      My wife, a working mother to my two small children, often assures
      me that she somehow lives without sleep.  However, this may be one
      of those apocryphal "tales of the tzaddikim" discussed recently

Listen, if your wife goes without sleep, she is eventually going to
crash and crash big time. Sleep deprivation is a major cause of anger,
rage, and brings on all the symptoms of post traumatic stress, which
often leads to divorce. I know, for many years we owned a bakery and got
zero sleep. Life was unadulterated hell and no one functioned properly
for years.

so make sure your wife gets some sleep before she turns into the wicked
witch of the west, no matter what she says.....

jeanette friedman sieradski


From: <MPoppers@...> (Michael Poppers)
Date: Tue, 20 Jul 2004 23:00:26 -0400
Subject: Re: Aufruf

In M-J V43#55, BMedad noted:
> One very makpid yekke said that the halacha is more consistent with the
Sephardi customs. <

And a newly-married man should [also] receive an aliyah on the day of
his chasunah and/or after marrying his intended, but AFAIK German custom
(or at least the custom in K'hal Adath Jeshurun/"Breuer's," a shul which
follows minhag Frankfurt) labels the *pre*-marriage aliyah as the

All the best from

-- Michael Poppers via RIM pager

From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Wed, 21 Jul 2004 07:03:15 +0100
Subject: Re: Aufruf

on 20/7/04 12:14 pm, HB <halfull2@...> wrote:

> If Aufruf is a Yiddish word how long has the Yiddish language been
> around-300/400 years ?- and what was the word for Aufruf prior to that
> time?

The word Yiddish is derived from Juedisch-Deutch, meaning Jewish-German,
which was the vernacular of Jews in the German speaking lands over 1000
years ago, as is clear from where Rashi occasionally refers to Lashon
Ashkenaz. Going further back in time to determine customs and their
names is therefore a rather futile exercise.

Martin Stern

From: Joseph Ginzberg <jgbiz120@...>
Date: Tue, 20 Jul 2004 12:03:37 -0400
Subject: Aufruf

> If so, I wonder when Ashenaz started to make the "oyfruf" before the
> wedding, and why...after all, he's not even a hatan yet.

A Groom on the Torah-reading before the wedding is a "chiyuv" for an
aliyah, IIRC, according to the standard rules of preferences for aliyot.

Yossi Ginzberg


From: <MJGerver@...> (Mike Gerver)
Date: Tue, 20 Jul 2004 16:51:46 EDT
Subject: Aufruf, and Sephardi customs among Ashkenazim

Batya Medad writes, in v43n55,

      I don't know if Shiloh is the exception (it is exceptional is many
      ways) but here many Ashkenazi families, who are strict on other
      Ashkenaz customs, are following the Sephardi custom.  Shabbat
      Sheva brachot is the one celebrated, not the previous Shabbat.

I don't think it's limited to Shiloh. I just got a wedding invitation
from Ashkenazi friends in Rehovot, with the other parents also Ashkenazi
judging from their last name, and it says the Aufruf is being held on
the Shabbat after the wedding. It may be limited to Israel, though. I
don't remember ever coming across this custom among Ashkenazim in the
United States.

Actually there are a number of Sephardi customs that seem to be
widespread among Ashkenazim in Israel, and not just customs which have
been officially adopted by Ashkenazim in Israel, such as not saying
"Baruch Hashem le-olam..." when davening maariv. Just today, when I was
having lunch, I noticed that a colleague at work, an Orthodox Ashkenazi,
was eating chicken. (I am writing this near the beginning of the nine
days.) When I asked him about it, he said "The Sephardim only stop
eating meat during the week of Tisha B'Av," and somewhat sheepishly
added, "It was left over from Shabbat, and would have spoiled if I
didn't eat it now." Also, I know a couple of Ashkenazi families in
Israel (both Masorti, however), who eat kitniyot on Pesach. Saul Singer
wrote an editorial in the Jerusalem Post advocating that for Ashkenazim,
which drew an angry letter or two.

Mike Gerver
Raanana, Israel


From: Akiva Miller <kennethgmiller@...>
Date: Tue, 20 Jul 2004 09:33:24 -0400
Subject: Re: Christmas and Xmas

In MJ 43:47, three posters explained that "nitl" is of undoubtedly
Christian origin even though it is the name of that day in Yiddish. I
suspect that their point was that because "nitl" is of non-Jewish
origin,there's no reason to prefer it over "Christmas".

But my understanding is that the preference for "nitl" is based on the
idea that the word "Christmas" includes the name of their
god. Therefore, one can avoid having that name pass through his lips, by
using the name "nitl".

Akiva Miller


From: David Riceman <driceman@...>
Date: Tue, 20 Jul 2004 10:03:53 -0400
Subject: Re: 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.

R. David Cohen discusses this at some length (and somewhat obscurely) in
his book Kol HaNevuah (especially the introduction and the first
maamar).  He claims that the style is a reflection of an underlying
philosophy.  For an analogous argument (in a different context) you
might want to look at Michael Oakshott's essay "Rationalism in

David Riceman


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Tue, 20 Jul 2004 16:36:30 +0100
Subject: Re: Rachav the Zonah - further philological speculation

There have been several objections to the translation of 'zonah' as
'innkeeper' so I think it is valuable to outline the probable semantic
development of the word (all of which must have taken place before the
Torah as we know it was given).

The original meaning is, as I said originally in mail-jewish Vol. 43#52,
derived from the root ZON meaning 'feed', which is also the source of
the word mezonot for sustaining foodstuffs. I originally wrote 'provide'
but, on consideration, I think this is more accurate and also fits my
thesis better; it is also the primary meaning of ZON according to Radak
in his Sefer haSherashim.

1.  An innkeeper is someone who provides board and lodging
i.e. literally 'feeds' visitors, which is more akin to this root than
any other meaning.

2.  It was then transferred as a metaphor for a prostitute who
euphemistically 'feeds' a sexual need.

3.  Its adaptation as a technical term in hilchot issurei kehunah is
probably later and reflects the fact that prostitutes would have been
the majority of such zonot since they would not have been able to
guarantee that none of their clients were not halachically forbidden to
them (e.g.  non-Jews).

In the course of time, the second meaning became the commonest and,
effectively drove out the first, while the third was restricted to
technical halachic discourse as opposed to everyday speech.

This was so much so that it was considered as if the word came from the
root ZNH meaning 'go astray' either after false gods or random sexual
partners (Redak ad loc.). In this sense zonah would refer to a woman who
went astray, not necessarily a prostitute, as the word zenut meaning
extra-marital sex - not necessarily commercialised - would indicate.

Finally the word kedeishah comes from the same root as kadosh and means
'set aside' or 'dedicated', the latter to holiness and the former to
prostitution. Thus a kedeishah was a definite prostitute whereas a zonah
was a woman of possibly loose morals.

Martin Stern


From: Akiva Miller <kennethgmiller@...>
Date: Tue, 20 Jul 2004 10:30:15 -0400
Subject: Re: Some Broader issues in "sex" education

In MJ 43:54, Matthew Pearlman wrote about when his 5-year-old learned
about Pinchas:

<<< I then asked her why he killed them (not necessarily expecting an
answer) but she certainly had one - "because Zimri married Cozbi and she
was not Jewish". Now, I know the story is very difficult to teach 5 year
olds, and I have no idea what I would have taught her, but it does raise
certain questions, like what will she say next to some of our many
relations who have married out? >>>

I think that is a great answer, and I don't know why you consider it
problematic. I admit that Zimri and Cozbi probably did not actually have
any sort of formal wedding ceremony, so one could argue that there is a
misrepresentation of Torah here. But I would disagree. This is not a
"dumbing down" of the Torah, it is a translation of mature concepts into
preschool language.

But I don't think that the poster is bothered by the translation, but by
the idea that Zimri's punishment was so severe, and how can we relate it
to our situation.

I think that the bottom line is that marrying a non-Jew *is* a terrible

My wife and I have given the same answer to our kids, and we have never
had a problem. That might be because we are careful to explain to our
kids how our generation is different than Zimri's, and how they are
different than their cousins.

We tell them that they (like Zimri) have the fortunate privilege of
growing up in a Torah environment, and of learning about HaShem and
learning about mitzvos. We tell them that their parents grew up with
only basic familiarity with Torah, and didn't appreciate how important
it is, but that in our teens we were blessed with meeting certain people
who were able to steer us back to where we ought to be. The other people
in our family weren't so lucky. Some of them observe more mitzvos, some
observe fewer, and some have even married non-Jews. That's a terrible
thing, we tell our kids, but it doesn't mean that they're bad people.
Zimri knew what Torah was, and he threw it away, and deserved what he
got; our relatives simply don't know any better, and that is very sad.

My wife and I have found this approach effective in several ways. One,
they don't see their relatives -- or non-frum people in general -- as
being bad, merely as lacking a proper exposure to Torah. Two, they
appreciate and admire their relatives for whichever mitzvos they do take
care to do. Three, they understand the expectation that they're expected
to continue through life as a shomer mitzvos, because they don't have
the excuse of being uneducated.

Akiva Miller


From: Roger Jefferson <rogerjefferson1975@...>
Date: Tue, 20 Jul 2004 19:28:49 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: re: Visual Art/Nudes

As further proof to my previous contention that to view nudes for a
purpose other than eroticism would be permissable, I have found another

The Rambam in his commentary to the Mishna in Sanhedrin to the 7th perek
has a very long discussion regarding all the laws relating to illicit
relationships and the like.  At the beginging of that discussion he says
explictly that if one were to look at an unmarried women for the purpose
of just enjoying her beauty it is permissable (p. 122 in the Kapach
edition)(though to be fair he does say that tzeniout may counsel against

However, it is clear that viewing a woman's body or beauty is not an
absolute prohbition and therefore the comparison to reading about Avodah
Zorah for an alternative purpose can be applied to the nudes.

Roger Jefferson


End of Volume 43 Issue 59