Volume 43 Number 61
                    Produced: Fri Jul 23  5:07:26 EDT 2004

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

A bracha in any language is a bracha
         [Ken Bloom]
Brachot or Tefila with no Printed Text (2)
         [Janice Gelb, Carl Singer]
DNA Testing
Forty Year Rule
         [Yisrael Medad]
The major Guidelines for Prayers/Blessings in Hebrew vs Other language
         [Russell Jay Hendel]
Origin of the "shtreimel"
         [N Miller]
Other gematria such as this?
         [Shmuel Himelstein]
Polsih Rabbinical Posiitions
         [Joseph Ginzberg]
Spaying female dogs and cats
         [Chaim Tabasky]


From: Ken Bloom <kabloom@...>
Date: Wed, 21 Jul 2004 08:50:16 -0700
Subject: A bracha in any language is a bracha

One who makes a bracha is required lechatchila to say the words of the
blessing as written in the siddur. Bediavad, however, one is required to
say a blessing that expresses all of the intentions required for that
blessing, although not necessarily with the same wording. For example,
one sufficiently fulfills the intention for the first 6 words of a
blessing (Baruch atah Hashem Elokeinu melech haolam), even if one were
to omit the word Elokeinu, because the intention that needs to be
expressed here is God's name, and that has been fulfilled with Hashem.

However, for longer blessings, the list of intentions is long and not
necessarily obvious to us if we have forgotten the blessing. For
example, the 2nd blessing of birkat hamazon has many phrases, each
corresponding to a specific intention, and I would not be able to
remember all of them if I forgot the blessing itself.

Along these lines, I once asked "If Moshe Rabeinu composed the first
bracha of Birkat Hamazon, did he compose the Sepharadi version or the
Ashkenazi version?" I was given the answer that Moshe Rabeinu determined
what intentions needed to be expressed in the blessing, and that both
the Ashkenazi version and the Sepharadi express those intentions.

So, yes, it's OK to make a blessing expressing the intentions of the
blessing you have forgotten, *but* you have to express *all* of those


From: Janice Gelb <j_gelb@...>
Date: Wed, 21 Jul 2004 12:41:33 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: Re: Brachot or Tefila with no Printed Text

Carl Singer <casinger@...>

> I recently received a wallet sized card with various Brochas (in Hebrew 
> and in English)  for special occasions (such as seeing a rainbow.)  
> It was printed in memory of Mikey Butler, ztl, and bears the title 
> "Thank G-d, Day by Glorious Day" --
> I am trying to determine where / how they can be obtained.

According to the memorial page for Mikey at
http://www.mitzvahformikey.org/update/update031004.htm, these cards were
done by an NCSY acquaintance of his named Devora Dickstein. There was no
contact or order information listed. Mikey Butler himself was a young
man who died in January of this year after a lifelong battle with cystic

-- Janice

From: Carl Singer <casinger@...>
Date: Wed, 21 Jul 2004 15:49:36 -0400
Subject: Re: Brachot or Tefila with no Printed Text

Thank you.

Yes, I am aware.  Devora is a neighbor of mine who made Aliyah.  One of
my sons, Moishe Berl, runs the Mitzvah for Mikey website.  He and Mikey
were fast friends from the day they first met at Y.U.

Currently some of those involved are trying to develop a viable
distribution system.  Ideally, an address where people could send in a
Self Addressed Stamped Envelope (SASE) and a voluntary donation -- and
get a card in return.

I spoke w/ Avi Feldblum last night -- because I mistakenly thought that
the distribution had been worked out -- unfortunately, it hasn't as yet.
I promise to post when it has.



From: HB <halfull2@...>
Date: Wed, 21 Jul 2004 12:02:26 -0400
Subject: DNA Testing

The NY Times on July 21, 2004 carried a major article on DNA testing
that is available before conception, after conception, and continuing
all the way through newborn testing.  I understand the unlimited
consequences and problems this may create but I am interested only in
the following.

If a couple has DNA testing done pre or post conception amd the results
are "Bad" may they abort a baby during the first 40 days after
conception without violating Halacha?


From: Yisrael Medad <ybmedad@...>
Date: Wed, 21 Jul 2004 22:05:15 +0200
Subject: Re: Forty Year Rule

Andrew Marks wrote:

      I'm not sure how you drew the conclusion that it {i.e., the ban of
      Zohar study] was tied to sexual mores

If I am not mistaken, the Cherem was a direct result of emissaries of
the Bet Din peeking through the windows to observe the licentious
behavior that was taking place within.  Until they had this proof, they
were unaware of how the Zohar was being manipulated - not as an
intellectual, philosophical foundation for "minut" or other ideological
splits but for prohibited sexual mores.  And, again, I am pretty sure
the 30 year rule already existed but the Cherem raised it to 40 due to
the behavior of the Frankists.

Yisrael Medad


From: Russell Jay Hendel <rjhendel@...>
Date: Wed, 21 Jul 2004 14:41:40 GMT
Subject: The major Guidelines for Prayers/Blessings in Hebrew vs Other language

Both Simon and Caela (v43n56) call for more halachic discussion on
prayers/blessings in other languages. I present here both sources and
major guidelines. Some of Joels remarks can be defended. Carl's question
(v43n56) on what you do when you have forgotten should also be answered.

At http://www.RashiYomi.com/dt20-02c.htm I bring a dozen Biblical
commandments which require recital. Based on the Rashis i show that (a)
if the bible just says SAY then ANY language MAY be used (b) if the
Bible says SAY AND USES EMPHASIS then only Hebrew may be used. Reviewing
the 14 examples shows that by and large PERSONAL COMMANDMENTS can be
said in any language while COMMUNAL RECITATIONS must be said in Hebrew.

Halachic discussion occurs in Rambam Shma Chapter 2. However the Soncino
talmud in its translation of tractate Beracoth points out that SHMA in
hebrew is like ENTENDRE in French--it connotes both listening and
UNDERSTANDING. It would follow that recital of Shma in English is
PREFERABLE but only if you dont know Hebrew.

There are several other obvious commandments where UNDERSTANDING
suggests preference of your own language (e.g. COUNTING the omer or
RECTIAL of the PAssover Narrative (Haggadah)). Simon's point that Hebrew
is preferable is true WHEN YOU SPEAK HEBREW (As you then capture all
nuances of the Hebrew words)

The Rambam seems to send a mixed message in Prayer Chapter 1:1-4. He
does emphasize that "prayer is personal supplication about your needs"
Hence since it is personal your own language is preferable.  But the
Rambam points out that broken language and diverse dialects led to
formulation of a uniform Hebrew template (But it appears to me that this
template is only for people who dont know how to pray in their own
language). The Rambam is very clear that the formulated Shmoneh Esray
contain chapter headings and preferably each person should DEVELOP them
when praying.

The halachic rules for blessings are found in Shma Chapter 1: To be a
blessing you MUST use the TEMPLATE formulated by the Great Assembly
http://www.Rashiyomi.com/gn21-33b.htm I contrast the 4 verses where
Abraham blessed God and thru their alignment try and show that the
actual blessing template was formulated by Abraham in Gn21-33.

It follows legally, that a blessing can be said in any language PROVIDED
the template is followed (with this modification we can accept what Joel
said). Again the requirement of PERSONAL UNDERSTANDING seems to suggest
a preference for your native language (PROVIDED you dont speak Hebrew).

In passing I point out that we have prayers in other languages like the
BRICH SHMAY. I know synogogue Rabbis who actually read this entire
passage in English during each Shabbath service while the ark was

Finally we have Carl's question: What do you do when you dont remember
the blessing. This is covered in the code of jewish law: If you forget
what blessing you need for food you can always fulfill your requirement
THRU YOUR DECREE; if you forget what blessing you need for scents you
can always fulfill your requirement by stating: BLESSED ARE YOU GOD LORD

If you forget the benching you should at least VERBALLY THANK GOD (to
fulfill your Biblical obligation ---but you dont fulfill the Rabinnic
obligations of the 4 instituted blessings).

I believe the issues and examples covered above (Understanding,
personal, communal: Brich Shmay, Counting Omer, Hagaddah, Shma, Shmoneh
Esray) as well as the lists from the 2 Rashi sources should greatly
clarify this issue.

Russell Jay Hendel; http://www.Rashiyomi.com/


From: N Miller <nmiller@...>
Date: Wed, 21 Jul 2004 11:10:19 -0400
Subject: Re: Origin of the "shtreimel"

Yossi Ginzberg writes:

> It's hard to imagine some any Rebbe just starting something as
> radically new as copying a certain style (especially mimicing
> non-Jewish Lords), and especially if you consider that they all
> embraced this simultaneously - Are you suggestiing that there was a
> conference about this at the Rebbes union?

Not being a Platonist I find it very risky to accept or reject an idea
on the grounds that it's "hard to imagine".  If there are paintings in
existence showing Polish kings wearing shtraymlekh I prefer that
evidence to my (or Yossi Ginzberg's) imagination.  Moreover, I know of
no evidence that all rebbeim started wearing them "simultaneously".

 > the entire concept of Chassidus is to a large extent based on the
 > preservation of old customs and styles.

Were that the case there would have been no difference in dress between
hasidim and misnagdim. But the available evidence points in the opposite
direction. Does Y.G. suggest that the gorgeous white satin knee breeches
and buckled shoes were worn by, say, Rashi or Rambam?  Or that Reb
Borekhl got the habit of driving a chariot with 4 or 6 white horses from
Yankev Ovinu?  I possess photographs of the last two Lubavitcher
rebbeim, one in a Russian-style shtrayml, the other in his famous
fedora.  So much for old customs and styles.

Noyekh Miller


From: Shmuel Himelstein <himels@...>
Date: Thu, 22 Jul 2004 10:46:09 +0300
Subject: Other gematria such as this?

In the Yerushalmi, Shabbat 34b in the edition I have, there is an
interesting gematria. The Talmud there finds a hint at the 39 categories
of work forbidden on Shabbat from the word "eileh" in Shemot 35:1, by
taking the gematria as follows: Alef is 1; Lamed is 30, and Chet is 8,
for a total of 39. How about the fact that the last letter is a Heh and
not a Chet? The Talmud says that the two letters are interchangeable as
they are close to one another.

Shmuel Himelstein


From: Joseph Ginzberg <jgbiz120@...>
Date: Wed, 21 Jul 2004 09:09:30 -0400
Subject: Polsih Rabbinical Posiitions

>As the Polish kingdom declined and became corrupt, rabbinical positions
>in many cities came to be sold off to the highest bidder, and these
>individuals preferred to show off their acumen in Torah dialectics
>rather than "waste" their time on devotional prayer; their power -
>backed by the local landowner from whom they had bought their position

Can you supply a source for this?

It's a radical concept, mirroring the situation at the time of Jesus,
but sounds odd to me.  Did the Polish lords actually sell these types of
positions? In the responsa literature I have seen many questions about
them selling rights to make liquor, run inns, deal in wood, etc., but
never anything about them being involved in selling rabbinical
positions.  Also, of course, the logic that one who had to buy a
position would be fluent in pilpul but not be a "davener" requires a
suspension of disbelief.  This sounds to me like an apologia from some
Chassidic "source", trying to do away with the issue of intense learning
vs. heartfelt prayer.

Joseph Ginzberg


From: Chaim Tabasky <tabafkc@...>
Date: Wed, 21 Jul 2004 22:34:52 +0200
Subject: Spaying female dogs and cats

Though I have no house pets, many friends and neighbors do, and the
issue of neutering bothers many.  Neutering a male animal (or human) by
operation is a Torah prohibition, tne same act to a female is a Rabbinic
prohibition according to the vast majority of poskim. A notable
exception, the Gra, opines that neutering females is a Torah
prohibition, while the Taz, at the other end holds there is no specific
prohibition except the general category of "tza'ar ba'alei chaim" -
causing pain to animals.

The bottom line is that a Rabbinic prohibition, if carried out through
the agency (I don't mean technical shlichut, just asking or hiring him
to do it) of a non Jew, (please leave Shabbat out of this rule) will be
allowed when there is "tzorech gadol" great need.

I have asked some Poskim about this. Rav Yaakov Ariel, of Ramat Gan,
does not consider having a house pet a great need, while Rav Ariel
Holland of Nokdim (teaches in Tekoa kollel and MaTaN, I consider him an
excellent halachic scholar) feels that clearly if one has a pet, spaying
is a huge tzorech, and should be allowed (using a non Jewish vet. Rav
Ariel saw raising animals for research purposes as a great need and
would allow spaying for that purpose.

Has anyone on the list asked about this issue. What were the responses?
Does it depend of the acceptability of owning pets in your community?



End of Volume 43 Issue 61