Volume 43 Number 72
                    Produced: Thu Jul 29  5:47:37 EDT 2004

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

The Kohen Sign (3)
         [Fred Dweck, David Shabtai, <rubin20@...>]
nonJewish wedding in the 3 weeks
         [Leah S. Gordon]
         [Orrin Tilevitz]
Spaying female dogs and cats
         [Orrin Tilevitz]
Stripes on the Talis- sources
         [Nathan Lamm]
Teaching about Pinchas and Zimri (2)
         [Bernard Raab, Nathan Lamm]
Varieties of kamats
         [Martin Stern]


From: Fred Dweck <fredd@...>
Date: Mon, 26 Jul 2004 14:01:54 -0700
Subject: The Kohen Sign

Our esteemed moderator wrote:[I note, that as I read Harold's comments,
Fred's response needs to be directed mainly at the GR"A, not at Harold,
as it is the GR"A, assuming the quote is accurate, that choose to only
identify one Ashkenazi family and no Sepharadi family. Mod.]

And therein lies the main problem. What observant Ashkenazic Jew would
dream of questioning the great and holy GR"A? Therefore to the average
Ashkenazi, the ONLY authentic Kohanim are the Rappoport family! With all
due respect to the GR"A a"h, It is the fault of all of the Ashkenazic
rabbis who never encountered a Sephardic community, and therefore wrote
only about their local communities. There began, and perpetuated, the
concept that one doesn't have to take Sephardic communities, rabbis,
customs and halacha into account. This causes us to see ourselves as two
different and separate religions, and therefore to look down on each
other. Can we count how many Torah commandments are transgressed because
of this? Shall we start with: "Ve'ahavta Le'reacha Kamocha?" And go on
from there! As the midrash tells us. Hashem's tefilin has in it: "And
who is like your nation Israel, one nation on the earth." This speaks of
UNITY! We are, therefore, guilty of causing Hashem's tefilin to be
false.  Our punishment is as I said in my original post; "With this kind
of divisiveness we will never see Mashiah." May Hashem have mercy on us,
and open our eyes to the truths and wonders of His Holy Torah!

Fred E. Dweck

From: David Shabtai <david.shabtai@...>
Date: Mon, 26 Jul 2004 11:25:12 -0400
Subject: Re: The Kohen Sign

Firstly, DNA testing will not prove anything regarding Kohanim.  A Kohen
who marries a divorcee or a chalalah - will provide the same DNA to his
offspring as one who has married a 'kosher' woman (the former being an
invalid Kohen and the latter kosher).

Similarly, a female Kohen will be able to give any "Kohen genes" to her
children just as effectively as her male counterpart.  Ultimately,
Kehunah lies in the "genes" of the husband and not the wife.  If I
remember correctly, when the "Kohen gene" was discovered, it was
actually Y-linked - meaning only the males had it, effectively
mitigating this problem.

I recall reading in one of the Meorot HaDaf HaYomi about the siyum on
Masechet Hullin where R' Y.Sh. Eliashiv performed the mitzvah of reishit
ha-gez (giving the first sheerings of the sheep to a Kohen).  This
requires a 'real' verified Kohen and he gave it to R' Levi HaKohen
Rabinovitz (author of Ma'adanei ha-Shulhan).  I am assuming that R'
Eliashiv felt that R' Rabinovitz's kehunah status was absolute.

I also read (in a different issue from the same group) about R' Moshe
Hillel wanting to perform the mitzvah of pidyon peter chamor (redeeming
the first born of a donkey with a sheep) which required a valid Kohen.
Apparantly, he gave the chamor to the Admor from Toldos Avraham Yitzchak
(I think ... it was definitely Toldos something with the names of the
Avot) - assuming again that he felt that his kehunah was absolute.

Fred Dweck wrote:

> I find it interesting, reprehensible and common that only Ashkenazic
> Jews are considered.

I agree with Avi and it is difficult to speak that way about the G"ra
who made this statement originally.

> He speaks of the Rappoport family, but doesn't think to mention the
> Sephardic Tawil family who trace their ancestry back to Eli Hakohen of
> Samuel the Prophet's time.

That seems a lot farther than any other historical record we have -
which seemingly would put such accuracy into doubt.  That is even before
Bayit Rishon, meaning this is not a question as to the accuracy of
records kept in Allepo, but throughout both Batei Mikdash and both
hurbanot.  Similarly strange it the limitation back to Eli - why not
back to Ya'akov Avinu at that point?  I don't mean to denegrate a
tradition in any way, but sometimes they must be subject to analysis.


> that close to a third of the synagogue gets up for Bircat Kohanim;
> which, by the way, is preformed daily!

I am not a statistician, but something seems very strange about that

> To the best of my knowledge their families never had slaves that they
> freed, who might have pretended to be Kohanim.

With all due respect, I doubt you have slave records from the time of
Bayit Rishon and even the later periods.  Therefore, the concern of
freed slaves is still valid.  If you want to trace back to Eli HaKohen
you have to consider all of the pros and cons of doing so.

> If Mr. Greenberg is doing research--as is indicated by his
> signature--I would be happy, as a Dweck, to submit to his testing.

Like I mentioned above, such testing cannot be definitive.

David Shabtai

From: <rubin20@...>
Date: Mon, 26 Jul 2004 15:45:28 -0400
Subject: Re: The Kohen Sign

> I note, that as I read Harold's comments, Fred's response needs to be
> directed mainly at the GR"A, not at Harold, as it is the GR"A,
> assuming the quote is accurate, that choose to only identify one
> Ashkenazi family and no Sepharadi family. Mod.

I don't think there is reason to get so hot under the collar. The GRA
merely was referring to Cohanim which he was aware of as being certfird
Cohanim. He wasn't invalidating all the Cohanim in the world


From: Leah S. Gordon <leah@...>
Date: Tue, 27 Jul 2004 14:41:07 -0700
Subject: nonJewish wedding in the 3 weeks

I am interested in thoughts/sources about the permissibility/parameters
of attending a nonJewish wedding (two nonJews marrying each other)
during the "3 weeks" i.e. the time of mourning preceding 9 Av.

This is a theoretical question for me, but one I thought of because some
nonJewish acquaintances got married last weekend (I was not invited :)

Thank you,
 Leah S. R. Gordon


From: Orrin Tilevitz <tilevitzo@...>
Date: Mon, 26 Jul 2004 08:31:53 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: Roshei/Rashei

<[referring to the general rule of closed, unaccented syllable]This is
certainly true but the converse that a kamats that appears in any other
kind of syllable is ipso facto a kamats gadol is not. Where other rules
of grammar force one to shorten a long vowel, then a cholam is replaced
by a kamats katan.>

I think what you mean is a chataf kamatz.  As a later posting indicated,
a closed/unaccented syllable is a necessary and sufficient condition for
a kamatz kattan.

<In any case, the kamats here is a shortening of the cholam of the word
'rosh' and it seems highly implausible that a long 'o' sound can be
shortened to a long 'a' sound.>

Nice mnemonic, but it doesn't always work.

And simply for the record, my earlier posting stating that Rinat Yisrael
and an unidentified tikun print a kamatz kattan under the reish in
rashei was an obvious error which fortunately most readers appeared to
recognize as such.


From: Orrin Tilevitz <tilevitzo@...>
Date: Mon, 26 Jul 2004 08:36:05 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: Spaying female dogs and cats

When I had a male cat (which I understand presents fewer problems), I
used to sell the cat and its food to a goy for pesach.  I was told that
at this time I could have a non-Jewish vet neuter the animal.


From: Nathan Lamm <nelamm18@...>
Date: Mon, 26 Jul 2004 10:31:59 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: Stripes on the Talis- sources

While the tekhelet is the most likely origin of the stripes on the
tallit, Yossi Ginzburg, in mentioning this, says "without violating the
Rabbinical enactment of Tzitzis now being allowed to be only white."

I'm not so sure this is true- I believe that Tzitzis may be any color,
white being preferable (when there's no tekhelet, of course). The gemara
condemns those who wear fake tekhelet, but it means those who sell it as
real, or those who wear it to save money. Using the wrong dye by mistake
is not a problem, and nor would another color, I believe.

Nachum Lamm


From: Bernard Raab <beraab@...>
Date: Mon, 26 Jul 2004 14:44:41 -0400
Subject: Teaching about Pinchas and Zimri

From: Martin Stern

>There has been a considerable discussion on this matter but nobody has
>seen fit to point out that the main reason why Pinchas acted as he did
>was because Zimri and Cozbi were doing something in public as an act of
>rebellion against HaShem. If one emphasises this aspect, one need not
>describe their act in any detail, let alone call it marrying, to
children of 5. Surely this is the best >approach for people of all ages.

 I see at least 2 problems with this explanation:

 1. This occurred in the midst of a plague brought by Hashem against
    those who were already (in essence) rebelling against him. If
    punishment was called for why wouldn't Hashem bring it directly, as
    he does so often in the Torah?
 2. In retrospect Gd appears to approve Pinchas' act completely, but
    there is no suggestion that Pinchas was given navuah or otherwise
    appointed by Gd to do this deed for Him prospectively.  Unless you
    are prepared to claim this, you are still teaching a very dangerous
    lesson to children of all ages (as they say in the circus).

In fact, Rashi suggests that Zimri did this very public act of
licentiousness in order to "take the heat" (my phrase; not Rashi's) for
his tribe, who were being decimated by the plague for co-habiting with
the daughters of Midian. Zimri, as the prince of Shimon, responded to
their cry for help: "We are sentenced to death and you do
nothing?"(Rashi). Although Zimri's response was rash in the extreme (who
were his advisors?), it did have the intended effect of stopping the
plague. Clearly, there are layers of meaning here which defy the simple
explanations that might satisfy (or puzzle) a 5-year-old.

b'shalom--Bernie R.

From: Nathan Lamm <nelamm18@...>
Date: Mon, 26 Jul 2004 09:02:15 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: Re: Teaching about Pinchas and Zimri

Martin Stern quotes Chazal as saying "Nobody serves idolatry except to
permit themselves forbidden sexual activity in public." I'd heard this,
but I wonder about the last word. Is it "b'farhesya?" If so, wouldn't
"brazenly" or "without guilt" be a better translation than "in public?"
After all, even Zimri seemed not to be actually doing the act in public,
but in his tent.

Nachum Lamm


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Mon, 26 Jul 2004 17:41:51 +0100
Subject: Re: Varieties of kamats

on 26/7/04 10:54 am, <BoJoM@...> (Boruch Merzel) wrote:

> Fortunately, for us Ashkenazim it makes little difference.  Kamatz
> katan or Kamatz gadol, either way we pronounce the word Roshei.

This may be a relatively recent phenomenon. It would appear from the
rhymes in many Ashkenazi piyyutim that the kamats gadol was pronounced
as a long 'a', not dissimilar to the patach, in the mediaeval period
and, therefore differed from the kamats katan. The best known example is
in Tsur mishelo where even the Shem is made to rhyme with 'emunai' but
there are numerous others.

By comparing Yiddish words with their High German equivalents, it is
clear that a fairly systematic sound shift from long 'a' to short 'o'
occurred at some point, e.g. Yiddish 'Mogd', a girl, and German
'Magd'. Comparison with other Germanic languages which separated earlier
shows that it is the Yiddish that has changed rather than the German. It
seems likely that the Yiddish sound shift 'dragged' the corresponding
pronunciation of Hebrew vowels, a not uncommon phenomenon with secondary

This is quite apart from the fact that the Tiberian vocalisation system
which we use today probably reflected the pronunciation of Hebrew in
Galilee at the time in which the two forms of kamats had more or less
coalesced. In this it differed from the Babylonian (Sephardi) and, in
view of the above, also the Ashkenazi ones. For more details see
Weinberg's discussion in Essays on Hebrew, chapter 8, The Qamats Qatan
structures (Scholars Press, Atlanta, 1993).

A similar coalescence of the 'samekh' and 'sin', and the 'vet' and 'vav'
had also occurred, as is evident from Kalir's piyyutim, but the
consonantal structure was already long fixed. In any case, variant
dialects have been recognised in Hebrew since biblical times, as is
evidenced by the 'shibbolet' / 'sibbolet' test in Judges 12,6.

Martin Stern


End of Volume 43 Issue 72