Volume 43 Number 62
                    Produced: Fri Jul 23  5:15:43 EDT 2004

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Brachot Issues
         [Kenneth G Miller]
Origin of Chassidic Garb
         [N Miller]
         [Arnie Kuzmack]
Rachav the Zonah (2)
         [Eli Linas, Shimon Lebowitz]
Rachav the Zonah - further philological speculation
         [Stuart Feldhamer]
Studying Avoda Zara
         [Tzvi Stein]
The teaching of mistakes and failures
         [Caela Kaplowitz]
The two women who came to Shlomo
         [David Prins]
Visual Art (2)
         [Yisrael Medad, <chips@...>]
Visual Arts/Nudes
         [Y. Askotzky (STAM)]


From: Kenneth G Miller <kennethgmiller@...>
Date: Thu, 22 Jul 2004 14:31:14 -0400
Subject: Re: Brachot Issues

In MJ 43:60, Martin Stern wrote <<< There is a principle that one should
not change the traditional formulation of berachot. "matbeia shetav'u
chachamim" but this would only apply to the Hebrew text. Perhaps, in
such circumstances, one would do better to extemporise in one's native
language, including the main ideas, rather than end up saying a
corrupted version of the Hebrew. What do others think? >>>

Yes, there is a rule not to change the "matbeia shetav'u chachamim", the
"format which the sages established".

On the other hand, we do have permission to translate the prayer into
another language. Regarding this permission, the Mishnah Brurah 63:3
writes: "... This is the letter of the law, but to do this mitzva in the
choicest manner, it should be specifically in Hebrew... But the
Acharonim write that nowadays, even by the letter of the law one should
be careful not to say it in any language other than Hebrew, because
there are many words which we don't know how to translate well..."

Based on this, it seems to me that while the "letter of the law" doesn't
care much about one's choice of which language to use, but it cares very
much about the meaning and the content of the words he chooses.

If so, then the rule against changing the "matbeia shetav'u chachamim"
would apply to all languages. To take one example, in order to be a
valid bracha, one must mention the idea the HaShem is the King. This
would apply no matter which language one uses. Call Him the "Melech" or
the "King", it doesn't matter; but if you leave it out entirely, then
what you've said is not a bracha. Similarly, many specific brachos have
critital ideas which one is required to mention.

(As an aside, I must point out that if one is totally stuck and doesn't
remember even a translation of the bracha, I'd agree that it's probably
better to guess and say some sort of heartfelt prayer than to say
nothing at all. We should just realize that such a prayer is in a
different category than one which is merely "less than optimal".)

Akiva Miller


From: <pitab@...>
Date: Thu, 22 Jul 2004 09:13:03 -0400
Subject: kedeisha

>Nachum Lamm recently wrote in m-j that >>"Kedeisha" (or a masculine
>equivalent) implies a prostitute used for religious purposes....

>Nachum is correct that a k'daysha is a temple prostitute.

According to Prof. Mayer Gruber of BGU "kedeisha" is not a temple
prostitute, not among the Israelites nor among the Canaanites.  He
performed an extensive analysis of ancient near eastern literature and
the Tanakh and finds that the previously accepted opinion is false.

His article can be found in his book:
-The Motherhood of God and Other Studies. Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1992.
or the original article in:
"The Hebrew qedesah and her Canaanite and Akkadian Cognates," 
Ugarit Forschungen 18 (1986), 133-148.


From: N Miller <nm1921@...>
Date: Thu, 22 Jul 2004 11:57:16 -0400
Subject: Re: Origin of Chassidic Garb

Caela Kaplowitz writes:

> I'm wondering if the wearing of the garb of the nobleman (if that's
> what it is) has to do more, in this case, with not dressing like
> non-Jews. We're commanded not to follow the ways of the other nations
> (Vayikra 18:3-4). Can anyone attest to this garb being adopted *after*
> it was no longer common for noblemen to wear it? Then the Chassidim
> would be wearing, so to speak, an archaic garment which would clearly
> set them off from the non-Jews around them since the garment styles
> would have changed.

I was trained to look for the simplest (aka most elegant) explanation
and above all not to fish for evidence specifically calculated to prove
one's hypothesis.  What's worse, Caela Kaplowitz's hunch omits from the
picture the clothing worn by Ashkenazic Jews before and during the
emergence of Hasidism in the late 18th C.: are we to assume that they
did _not_ follow the precept cited and that it was only the Hasidim who
were truly observant?

Why is it so difficult to accept the simple notion that, with the best
will in the world, a minority group whose members interact on a daily
basis with the majority is likely to be profoundly affected in numerous
ways?  Why, for instance, is this discussion not being conducted in,
say, pre-Israeli Hebrew?  Why does every frum Jewish male wear trousers?
Add your own examples.

Noyekh Miller


From: Arnie Kuzmack <Arnie@...>
Date: Thu, 22 Jul 2004 07:28:39 -0400
Subject: Rachav

There has been a lot of back-and-forth on MJ on whether Rachav was a
prostitute, but nobody has cited the Gemara in Zevachim 116a-b, which
clearly supports the reading that she _was_ a prostitute.

The Gemara asks (Soncino translation):

"Rahab the harlot too said to Joshua's messengers [spies]: For we have
heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea. Why is, 'neither
was there spirit in them any more written in the first text, whereas in
the second it says, 'neither did there remain [stand] any more spirit in
any man'?"

[Note: This refers to the fact that the text of Joshua 2:11 reads "v'lo
kamah od ruach b'ish mipneichem", literally "no man's spirit rose up
before you".]

The Gemara responds:

"[She meant that] they even lost their virility. And how did she know
this? - Because, as a master said, There was no prince or ruler who had
not possessed Rahab the harlot."

If this is not explicit enough, Rashi explains, "ever l'tashmish lo
akshu v'hi shehayta yodaat badavar amrah l'shulchei yehoshua b'lashon
ze" [which I don't know how to translate in polite language].


From: Eli Linas <linaseli@...>
Date: Tue, 20 Jul 2004 22:13:47 +0200
Subject: Re: Rachav the Zonah

>on 20/7/04 1:27 am, Nachum Lamm <nelamm18@...> wrote:
> > Martin Stern points out that in Rachav's case, "zonah" may mean
> > "innkeeper."
>The point I was trying to make was that it was not necessary to
>translate 'zonah' as 'prostitute' and in the case of Rachav there was a
>tradition that she was not one.

Please cite this tradition, as it is clear from the Gemora (Ta'anis 5b,
Megillah 15a, and especially Zevachim 116b) that she was indeed a zonah
in the way we popularly understand the term.

Eli Linas

From: Shimon Lebowitz <shimonl@...>
Date: Thu, 22 Jul 2004 10:50:01 +0300
Subject: Re: Rachav the Zonah

Shayna Kravetz <skravetz@...> wrote:

> RaDaK finesses the Targum to suggest that, while the Aramaic does
> indeed mean "innkeeper", what the Targum really meant, in the cases of
> both Mrs. Gil'ad and Rakhav, was someone who was available to the
> public -- a concept that bridges both meanings.

I think the Radak is simply attempting to bring the targum back into
line with what is the obvious meaning of the word, by explaining that
the Aramaic is a euphemistic version of the same idea.

Martin Stern <md.stern@...> said:

> The point I was trying to make was that it was not necessary to
> translate 'zonah' as 'prostitute' and in the case of Rachav there was
> a tradition that she was not one. Undoubtedly it sometimes has this
> meaning but, unlike modern Hebrew usage, this was not its primary
> significance.

Again, I disagree. Did Ya`akov's sons object to their sister being
treated like an innkeeper? The prohibition of a kohen marrying a zonah
certainly looks like the exception, and it also is meant as an extended
meaning, based on the idea that prostitutes do not only associate with
those permitted to them.

I also vaguely remember that haza"l themselves associate Rachav with
sexuality, to the point of saying that simply saying her name could
cause an emission. That sure sounds to me like a more desirable
professional qualification of a prostitute than of an innkeeper!

Shimon Lebowitz                           mailto:<shimonl@...>
Jerusalem, Israel            PGP: http://www.poboxes.com/shimonpgp


From: Stuart Feldhamer <Stuart.Feldhamer@...>
Date: Thu, 22 Jul 2004 10:06:56 -0400
Subject: Re: Rachav the Zonah - further philological speculation

From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
> *snip*
> 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).

What do you mean it was adapted later? Isn't the term used in this way
in the Torah?



From: Tzvi Stein <Tzvi.Stein@...>
Date: Wed, 21 Jul 2004 20:15:48 -0400
Subject: RE: Studying Avoda Zara

>I think heads of Sanhedrin were permitted to study avoda zara so that
>they might know how to identify, and kill, someone who was ovad avoda
>zara. But otherwise, I know of no instance when one may study avoda

I do... Rabbi Dunner just recently conducted extensive studies into
Hinduism, including a visit to a Hidnu temple, in order to research the
sheitel issue.


From: Caela Kaplowitz <caelak@...>
Date: Thu, 22 Jul 2004 08:14:31 -0400
Subject: The teaching of mistakes and failures

Michael Rogovin wrote:
"My response to my child, that the avot were great people, but they were
people and they made mistakes (Jacob's deception led to his being
deceived later) brought protests from others."

I think that Jews must be one of the few (and perhaps the only) nations
that writes of its mistakes, failures (particularly in battle) and
stupidities. I believe that all these stories can be taught to young
children with the statement that the Torah is teaching us a lesson from
every word, both what to do and what *not* to do.

When I teach Chumash and Parsha (regardless of the grade) I make a clear
line between Pshat and Midrash. Of course, It is easier for my 5th
graders to to make this distinction than it was for my lower elementary
age students (K-2).

Caela Kaplowitz
Baltimore, MD


From: David Prins <prins@...>
Date: Thu, 22 Jul 2004 09:50:29 +1000
Subject: The two women who came to Shlomo

In response to Martin Stern's question (v43i57), requesting the source
of an explanation to this story (haftarat Miketz) that relates to yibum
and chalitza, see Rabbi Mordechai Kornfeld's article at


Also: R. Yitzchak Etshalom's article at


where that explanation is restated, and another interesting explanation
is also suggested.


From: Yisrael Medad <ybmedad@...>
Date: Wed, 21 Jul 2004 22:08:52 +0200
Subject: Visual Art

In 1964-65, we had to take an Art Appreciation course at YU.  There were
a few nudes involved.  I passed the course.

Yisrael Medad

From: <chips@...>
Date: Wed, 21 Jul 2004 21:56:36 -0700
Subject: Re: Visual Art

> I'll be honest. In my college you are required to take an art class,
> with nude paintings and all. And I sat through it.

Ooo-OOo, I have a story about that.

I went to Brooklyn College night school during that brief period of time
when the Big 3 Yeshivas allowed guys to go there and most of the female
seminary went to that night school as well. One of my courses was Art
History & Appreciation. It actually was pretty good during the school
year. In the last class of instruction we were going over a piece of
still art featuring various fruits and he made reference to a sexual
part of the anatomy involving one of the items.  He then commented that
this was the 1st time he had done so all year, which was quite opposite
from the norm, but this was just so 'obvious' that he made the comment
to connect the dots. He then volunteered that the reason he refrained
from making such comments all year was that when he saw in the first
class how many religious seminary students there were in his class (for
some reason, that semester there were a few Islamic Religious students
as well) he figured he would have to give the class in a different way
than he had always done.

After the class one of the Yeshiva guys asked him how he liked giving
lectures without invoking and involving sexual overtones and the teacher
that he liked doing it much more than he thought and that it was a good
challenge for him.  (but he did intend on going back the next semester.)



From: Y. Askotzky (STAM) <sofer@...>
Date: Thu, 22 Jul 2004 13:37:37 +0200
Subject: Visual Arts/Nudes

Does the Rambam state that you may view an immodestly clad, unmarried
women for her beauty? Besides, tachlis, how many men (in our weaker
generation) are able to look at a woman's beauty without the slightest
risk of awakening some passion?

Citing potential sources as possible basis for a halachic opinion is
theoretical for the layman so using the term proof is a bit strong.

kol tuv,

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


End of Volume 43 Issue 62