Volume 43 Number 79
                    Produced: Sun Aug  1 21:31:32 EDT 2004

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Alexander as a "Hebrew" name
Alexander as a Jewish name
Dress (2)
         [Carl Singer, Carl Singer]
Higher percentage of Kohanim?
Meshullachim during Tefilah
         [Moshe Goldberg]
         [Nathan Lamm]
Naming not an urban legend
         [Carl Singer]
Touching bread before washing
         [Bill Bernstein]
Turning of an Electrical Oven on Shabbat when Thermostat is Off
         [Daniel Gross]
Wearing a Gartel
         [Carl Singer]


From: <chips@...>
Date: Sun, 1 Aug 2004 16:11:03 -0700
Subject: Re: Alexander as a "Hebrew" name

Yes, Alexander the Great was given the bribe of having boys named after
him. It was one part of multifaceted bribe/thanks.  There does seem to
be some variance of whether it was just Kohanym boys or all boys and for
how long.  Once the name got into the system , it was reused for
non-bribe reasons. For instance, a grandson being given the name of a
grandfather born during that "year".


From: c.halevi <c.halevi@...>
Date: Sun, 1 Aug 2004 17:18:20 -0500
Subject: Alexander as a Jewish name

Shalom, khavereem:

Edward Ehrlich asked >>My Hebrew name is Alexander after my grandfather.
I was told that there is a tradition that as a sign of gratitude towards
Alexander the Great who maintained a friendly attitude towards the Jews,
all male babies born in a particular year in Eretz Yisrael were named
Alexander and the name has since been handed down generation to
generation. Has anybody ever heard of this tradition?<<

Absolulutely true. In fact, the Jewish name "Sender" is derived from


From: Carl Singer <casinger@...>
Date: Sun, 01 Aug 2004 17:28:10 -0400
Subject: Dress

In the computer industry, you are considered odd if you wear a suit but
work as a programmer (T-shirts and jeans are expected).  Indeed, in
interviewing for a job as a technical writer, I was once *made fun of*
for wearing a tie; not a suit, a *tie*.

In many industrial settings clothing is an indicator of rank.  I
remember being on a consulting gig at a manufacturer / repairer of
communications hardware.  Line workers wore poloshirts or button down
shirts with open collars.  The team leaders wore a tie -- albeit with a
patterned shirt like his team -- but ONLY he wore the tie.  Sport Jacket
and Tie was the next rung up the latter.  Suits were for the "suits"

I don't know if there are similar examples in the Torah Observant
community -- but someone change might elicit comment -- someone
switching from slacks & button down shirt to, say, a Bekishe --
similarly, wearing a shtriemel.

One thing that I've noticed is that there is less and less distinction
between vochedik and Shabbos clothing for many men.  It's black suit,
white shirt, black hat 7 days each week.  Clearly one may have a "best"
Shabbos suit, etc. -- but still the distinction is less obvious.

Carl A. Singer

From: Carl Singer <casinger@...>
Date: Sun, 01 Aug 2004 17:19:30 -0400
Subject: Dress

    However, I disagree that people are fools for making some
    conclusions about people based on the clothing they choose to wear.

This is an extreme example: but some years ago a J for J was exposed
because he "looked frum" while at the men's mikveh it was noticed that
his white socks had colored stripes (bands) at the top.

Certainly in a positive vein people can dress in a certain way in an
attempt to emulate someone they admire or to certify their membership
(or desire to have membership) in a given group -- however, looks can be

Again, going back to my Army experience -- when everyone wore the same
uniform, then differences in grooming, uniform preparation, shoe shine
-- stood out to distinguish the person who cared more about how he or
she looked.

Tangentially -- My Mother is a strong advocate of school uniforms such
as she wore as a school girl in Poland - they helped level the playing
field re: wealth.

Carl Singer


From: <rubin20@...>
Date: Sun, 1 Aug 2004 19:44:11 -0400
Subject: Higher percentage of Kohanim?

> From: Shmuel Himelstein <himels@...>
> Since a number of posters have speculated about why there seems to be a
> disproprionately high percentage of Kohanim, let me thrown in another
> speculation:

> Maybe the fact that a person is a Kohen was considered by Jews to be
> some type of Yichus, and as a result Kohanim were more likely to marry
> into better-established families. And of course, such families were able
> to better withstand disease (they could afford doctors, medicine, etc.)
> and were better-nourished and less susceptible to such factors as
> malnutrition, etc.

 In v43n71, Nathan Lamm pointed out:

> Then again, the numbers never seem right among Ashkenazim
> either. Kohanim account for higher than expected percentages all over,
> and there seem to be an equal or lesser number of Leviim than kohanim,
> which seems wrong on the face of it.

It does not escape the attention of any thoughtful person that there is
a larger proportion of kohanim among our people today than there was in
the time of Aharon.  There are three obvious explanation, and another
one which is less obvious.

1. Men have claimed to be kohanim who were not.
2. Non-kohanim have assimilated in larger numbers than kohanim.
3. Non-kohanim have died in larger numbers than kohanim.

All these explanations are plausible.  Kohanim may have been wealthier
than non-kohanim, because other people gave them food, and wool, and
money, and on top of that they were free to earn a living as artisans or
professionals.  And if kohanim were wealthier than non-kohanim, it would
account for all three of the phenomena enumerated above.

Here is another possible explanation.  It is entirely speculative, but
then, so are the three explanations proposed above.

Assume for simplicity a sexually-reproducing population with replacement
fertility, such that every individual produces an average of two
offspring (this means that every fertile adult produces an average of
slightly more than two offspring).  Now suppose that the tendency to
produce heterozygotic (i.e., male) offspring is genetic, and suppose
further that it is carried by the heterozygotic (i.e., the Y)

Now suppose that Aharan had a genetically-carried tendency to produce
more fertile male than fertile female offspring.  Even a very slight
tendency -- e.g., 50.1% boys, 49.9% girls, too slight to be measured or
noticed -- would produce, over time, a steadily rising proportion of
kohanim in the population, as the priesthood is inherited from one's
father, not from one's mother.  In fact, because we are dealing with
discrete and not continuous phenomena, it would be expected that, within
a finite amount of time, the population would become 100% kohanim.  And
all without invoking any of the first three explanations.

Since I wrote a lot a bought this subject before, I can't let this pass
without comment. Why these posters think that Cohamine lived
longer/better than other Jews is astounding. Tosfos in a few places says
that Cohanim were poorer than average, as they had no portion in the
land. (This he explains is the reason for all the talk of 'Cohanim
helping in the Grannery', they had to work for others.) (Note this is
1000% true of Leveim, which explains all the peskim and Gemaras a bought
being kind to leveim-they had no land and were poor) In addition I
believe there is Gemara which states that Cohanim generely died young,
as they were not careful enough with the Kedusahs hamikdash. More
importantly, even if all that these posters wrote were true, that would
not explain how cohanim went from .000005% (3 out of 600,000 at the time
of the midbar) to 5% today. This means they increased at a rate of
hundred of time faster than everybody else. Given that there are only
200 generations maximum from the Dor Hamidbar until today (3300 years @
20 years a generation is only 165 generations) these explanations just
won't fly. I have seen in print that the Sefer HaChassidim wrote that in
the times of the Geonim, a few hundred years prior to his times, only
one in 300 Cohanim was legit. I have not been able to find that
inside. Any Cohanim who want to flame me, please first explain how
Cohanim have increased in such a dramatic proportion :-)


From: <rubin20@...>
Date: Sun, 1 Aug 2004 19:48:51 -0400
Subject: Re: Kohanim

Mr. Lamm further 
> > Perhaps- just perhaps- if some [kohanim] had already married women who
> > would otherwise be forbidden to them, there might be some wriggle
> > room.

> This is more than a "just perhaps".  It is the black-letter law.  For
> example, whereas a kohen who marries a convert must divorce her, a kohen
> who marries the daughter of two converts is permitted to stay married to
> her, even though the marriage was a forbidden one before the

In the case of this Rav, I would assume that since the source/proof of
there being Cohanim was weak, they were given a choice of weather to act
as Cohanim or not.


From: Moshe Goldberg <mgold@...>
Date: Sun, 1 Aug 2004 13:32:52 +0300 (IDT)
Subject: RE: Meshullachim during Tefilah

I remember being very favorably impressed during a visit to Melbourne
about eight years ago. The Mizrahi synagogue had signs at the entrance,
something like: "We welcome all solicitors of charity, but only after
'Ashrei' (the second time -- near the end of the prayers) in order not
to disturb our devotions." As far as I remember, people came in asking
for donations only near the end, as requested.

Perhaps other synagogues would like to make a similar rule.

   Moshe Goldberg


From: Nathan Lamm <nelamm18@...>
Date: Sun, 1 Aug 2004 18:04:55 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: Names

Edward Ehrlich writes:

"I can't be certain about this particular case but
apparently most of the stories about name changes at
Ellis Island are urban legends."

Likely true. But once, sitting with three friends- all of us descended
from Eastern European immigrants- we discovered that none of us four
have the same names as our families had had in Europe. In no case was
the change imposed, if I recall correctly- in my case, for example,
there were legal reasons, and often people chose simpler names.

Nachum Lamm (originally: Kupferman)


From: Carl Singer <casinger@...>
Date: Sun, 01 Aug 2004 18:48:25 -0400
Subject: Naming not an urban legend

    I can't be certain about this particular case but apparently most of the
    stories about name changes at Ellis Island are urban legends. They had
    translators there (one of them was Fiorello LaGuardia who later became
    mayor) who were quite comfortable in Yiddish and other European
    languages and were able to accurately record the immigrants' names.

Not an urban legend.  My wife's grandfather was one of three brothers
who came via Ellis Island.  One became Bocher (the family name) One
Backer and the third, her grandfather, choose "levin" as he was a levy
and they were having trouble transliterating his name.  I have cousins
whose long polish name (that began with an "L") ended up as Levine --
and they were not levys.

I am sure that there are many other instances.

I'm sure there are many instances.  The old joke in the multi-ethnic
neighborhood that I grew up in was that To New York -- To N.Y.  -- was
on the luggage of many Italians who thus were named TONY.

Carl Singer


From: <billbernstein@...> (Bill Bernstein)
Date: Sun, 1 Aug 2004 17:29:12 -0500
Subject: Touching bread before washing

My recollection from SA 158 and the Mishna Brura on it is that the hands
will only confer a 3rd degree of tumah but this is only so for trumah,
not for chullin, which is not subject to a third-degree level of tumah.
The MB mentions two reasons for washing: the one so that the institution
of kohanim washing before eating trumah not be forgotten and the other
is strictly for cleanliness.

Bill Bernstein
Nashville TN


From: Daniel Gross <gross@...>
Date: Sun, 01 Aug 2004 16:46:13 -0400
Subject: Turning of an Electrical Oven on Shabbat when Thermostat is Off


Lately, the following question occurred to met:

Our oven in the kitchen has a little orange light indicator, showing
when the heating elements are turned on or off. Would it be permitted to
turn off (i.e. turn the ovens knob to zero) on shabbat when the
termostat has turned off the heating elements ie. disconnected the oven
heating elements from its electicity source . Is turning off an oven,
whose termostat has switched it of, similar to extending the
shabbat-clock -- to keep the lights on or off for longer?

appreciating any comments,



From: Carl Singer <casinger@...>
Date: Sun, 01 Aug 2004 17:35:38 -0400
Subject: Wearing a Gartel

While we're on the subject of dress -- can anyone enlighten me about the
various minhagin related to wearing a gartel.  And the various styles?
One thing I notice -- and perhaps it has more to do with the specific
individual involved -- some people seem to quietly slip into their
gartel -- other seem to make a big production -- perhaps I can say the
same about how people put on their tallis.

One person I know, very pious young man, wears a gartel under his suit
jacket, atop his shirt.  In essence making this a private wearing rather
than a public one.

Carl A. Singer


End of Volume 43 Issue 79