Volume 43 Number 81
                    Produced: Mon Aug  2  8:13:05 EDT 2004

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Inviting deceased relatives to a simcha
Kohanim (2)
         [Chana Luntz, Nathan Lamm]
The Kohen Sign (2)
         [Chana Luntz, Kenneth G Miller]
large Kohen population
Minhag Lubavitch (2)
         [Joseph Ginzberg, Avi Feldblum]
My approach to Alarm clocks on Shabbath
         [Russell J Hendel]


From: Wechsler <wechsler@...>
Date: Fri, 30 Jul 2004 18:27:14 +0200
Subject: Re: Inviting deceased relatives to a simcha

Ephie Tabory wrote-:

"Of course I replaced the invitation, and added a stone of my own. And
my heartfelt congratulations to the couple, and my admiration for a
family that obviously felt so close to do such a thing."

On the other hand when I suggested to my Brother and Sister-in-law in
England that they put an invitation to their daughters wedding on
"Saba's" grave in Bushey Cemetry they respectfully declined with the
argument that unfortunately there are somewhat unscrupulous persons who
might read the invitation and break in to the house while the family is
at the simcha. I have heard of this happening in Israel as well, hence
some people hire a "shomer bayit" whilst the whole family is away.

Jack Wechsler


From: Chana Luntz <chana@...>
Date: Sat, 31 Jul 2004 23:27:12 +0100
Subject: Kohanim

>-Mr. Dweck says that a third of a Sephardic synagogue will be kohanim.
>There is something not quite right here. Unless Sephardim have
>historically been heavily kohanim (I know some communities, like
>Tunisian Jews, were), I don't see how more than 10% can be. (Kohanim
>were a small portion of one of twelve tribes.)

Yes, but 10 of the tribes were lost, and we are all (except possibly the
Ethiopians) descended from the remaining. However, while the Cohanim and
the Leviim were theoretically dispersed in the various cities of the
Leviim throughout Israel, the Cohanim in particular were likely to be
mostly in Jerusalem or nearby, because of their more involved Beis
Hamikdash duties, and hence when the kingdoms split, likely to have
chosen to live within Yehuda, not Israel, and hence not have been lost.

The usual focus is not on why are there so many Cohanim, as the
percentages seem about right, but why are their so few Leviim.  The
explanation for that is usually given that the Leviim refused to come
back from Bavel at the time of Ezra (remember Ezra was so upset with
this that he fined the Leviim, and took away their special portions and
gave them to the Cohanim, who did come).  However, while that may have
been the situation at the time of Ezra, why did they not stay in the
community in Bavel, and ultimately spread to the worldwide Jewish
population at a later time?  Unless what was really going on was not
just that they refused to come back from Bavel, but that they refused to
come back because they were in fact assimilating.

Shavua tov

From: Nathan Lamm <nelamm18@...>
Date: Sun, 1 Aug 2004 10:07:01 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: Re: Kohanim

--- Chana Luntz <chana@...> wrote:

> Yes, but 10 of the tribes were lost, and we are all (except possibly
> the Ethiopians) descended from the remaining.

A few points:

Exactly how many tribes we are descended from today is open to
question. The Southern Kingdom consisted of three tribes (don't forget
Shimon), and the Northern of nine. In addition, it's likely there were
members of the "Northern" tribes living in the south, particularly from
neighboring Dan or Reuven.

Sefer Melachim states exactly where the Northern tribes were exiled to-
northern Mesopotamia- and that's pretty much where the Southern tribes
went as well. It's quite likely the two groups simply mixed back
together, with the Southerners perhaps overwhelming them.

Sefer Ezra contains hints that at least representatives of all twelve
tribes returned when the second Bayis was built. The Gemara contains one
opinion that Yirmiyahu brought the Northern tribes back when Yoshiyahu
was in power, Assyria having long since fallen.

Other opinions in the Gemara are that the Northern tribes will never
come back- that is, they assimilated away- or that they will return some
day in the future.  This latter opinion does not neccesarily mean that
they're living in some mythical kingdom beyond the "Sambatyon River,"
but that they may even be long-dispersed groups of Jews, most of which
the main body of Jewry has known about all along- Yemenites, Caucausian
and Central Asian Jews, Indian and Chinese Jews, and, more recently
"found," Ethiopian Jews and other African and Asian groups and tribes.
The Samaritans of today, by the way, claim to descend from the Northern
tribes (they used to be much more numerous before being massacred during
the Arab invasions); while the "Kutim" of Tanach and Talmud are imported
and converted foreigners, it's not unlikely that remnants of the
Northern tribes (at least) remained as well.  However, to get back to
the point: Let's assume for a moment that all Yisraelim today are
descended from two tribes, Yehudah and Binyamin. Levi had three sons.
One, Kehath, had four. One of those, Amram, had two sons. The Kohanim
all come from one of those. Work out the numbers, and Kohanim should
account for 1% of all Jews. Even allowing for much of Levi disappearing
in the North- and Melachim seems to imply that most moved south after
the split- that seems far too little.

I have no doubt that most Kohanim today are authentic.  (According to
halakha if not history and genetics, every single one is.) So there must
be numerous factors as to why they're so much more numerous than we
would expect- perhaps every possibility posted to this list, and more,
are correct.  

Nachum Lamm


From: Chana Luntz <chana@...>
Date: Sat, 31 Jul 2004 23:04:38 +0100
Subject: Re: The Kohen Sign

In message <20040729.071831.1935.131835@...>, Gershon 
Dubin <gershon.dubin@...> writes

><<Anyhow, my husband was supposed to ask the Rabbi when they all came back
>for mincha how a connection to Eli HaCohen fitted with the evidence that
>such families are not dying young, but I don't think he ever did (he
>never reported it back to me) - so maybe somebody with Tawil/Dwek family
>connections can answer the question.>>
>Perhaps their esek with Torah and Gemilus Chasadim mitigated the 
>decree, as described in the Gemara WRT Abaye and Rava.

I thought of that, but the thing is the gemora (for those who want to
find it, it is Rosh Hashana 18a) describes Rava living to the age of 40
because of his connection with Torah, and Abaya living to the age of 50
because of his connection with both Torah and gimilus chassadim.

So if indeed member's of my husband's uncle's family are from Eli, you
would need to say that, in order for them to be living to a ripe old age
(and remember my husband's uncle is in his 80s), they would presumably
need to be greater in Torah and gimilus chassadim than Rava and Abaya!

Note also in that gemora, they describe a family that was descended from
the house of Eli and where all the men were dying at 18, and Rabbi
Yochanan suggested they cleave to Torah and they lived longer, but no
suggestion that they lived to what we would consider a ripe old age.

There is an alternative brought in the discussion in Sanhedrin 14a on
the subject, where the matter is presented as a machlokus, with one view
saying that the reference is indeed literally to old age (which would
seem to be the position assumed in the gemora in Rosh Hashana quoted
above) and another view that it relates to not having smicha which Rashi
explains by saying they won't ever have the torah of old age which would
make them fit for the Sanhedrin.  However, I am not sure that helps
matters (especially as I believe there were some renowned Rabbis Dwek),
and we still have the problem vis a vis Abaya and Rava mentioned above.

Shavua tov

From: Kenneth G Miller <kennethgmiller@...>
Date: Sun, 1 Aug 2004 00:17:32 -0400
Subject: re: The Kohen Sign

In MJ 43:72, Fred Dweck wrote <<< 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. >>>

I feel that it can be unfair to judge the people of one culture by the
standards of another culture. We might like to think that we -- being
faithful Jews -- are of the same, or at least similar, culture as the
Gr"a. But we would be dishonest if we denied that the people around us
have trained us to be more inclusive and aware of groups other than our

What I'm trying to say is that <<< the Ashkenazic rabbis who never
encountered a Sephardic community, and therefore wrote only about their
local communities >>> did not do so from a lack of caring about other
communities. Rather, the normal thing was to write only for local

I can empathize very strongly with what Mr. Dweck is writing. I feel it
every time someone refers to America as a "Christian" country, or when
they play certain music in December. The members of one group are often
insensitive to how what they say is perceived by other groups. I believe
this is NOT anything malicious. We're just the victims of the other
guy's ethnocentricity.

Personally, I thank G-d that I live in a time and place which has made
me sensitive to this idea, and when I speak and write, I try to be aware
of how others might interpret my words.

But it was not always like this.

Let's not pounce on the Gr'a for ignoring the Sepharadim. Let's allow
him the excuse of "Out of sight, out of mind." Instead, let's pounce on
just about *all* the Sages for ignoring the women!

Pick a sefer, any sefer. The older the better. Pick a halacha, any
halacha. Does it tell you whether this halacha is for everyone, or if it
is only for the men? If you're a woman, you often have to dig pretty
deep until you find whether or not that chapter includes you or not. My
proof lies in the many seforim written in recent years which were
written to fill this need.

Okay, I was being a little sarcastic two paragraphs ago. No, we should
*not* pounce on the Sages, G-d forbid! But then, how *should* we
understand their gendercentricity? I don't know. Maybe with pity, but
that doesn't sound right either.

Let's just not judge them at all. We don't live in the same times that
they lived. We live in the global village; they lived in real villages.
Let's just leave it at that.

Akiva Miller


From: <chips@...>
Date: Fri, 30 Jul 2004 15:01:55 -0700
Subject: Re: large Kohen population

This has come up before (don't know when because when i try to search
the archive i get an error message of "You don't have permission to
access /cgi-bin/webglimpse/usr/local/etc/httpd/htdocs/mj_ht_arch/glimpse on this
server."), and the plain and simple facts are that only a small portion
of Israel made it through the Babylonian destruction and of those the
Kohanym were a quite significant amount.

[Note: There appears to be an issue with the mail-jewish search engine
on the web page. I will let you know when it is resolved. Mod.]


From: Joseph Ginzberg <jgbiz120@...>
Date: Fri, 30 Jul 2004 11:28:30 -0400
Subject: Minhag Lubavitch

     3) The Lubavitcher Rebbe believes that it is appropriate for all
      women and girls over three to light Shabbos candles. This appeal
      was always directed at non-religious people, with no established
      4) The folks who were induced to daven Nusach Ari in general were
      those who did not have a strongly established minhag for tefillah
      (that they were congnizant of). There are Kabbalistic reasons to
      eschew Nusach Ashkenaz for Sephard; likewise Sephard for
      Ari. Many/most of my Iranian Chabad friends daven Nusach Sephard
      (citing their minhag as the reason);

I claim no expertise at Chabad doctrine, but in practice I can tell you
that I strongly resented my daughter, at the time a student at Shulamith
in Flatbush, coming home with a tin candlestick from kindergarten and
wanting to light, contrary to my own familys minhag.  For
non-Brooklynites, Shulamith is 99.9% girls from orthodox homes, and
about 98% non-chabad.

Similarly, my 8-year-old son happened to have a Chabad counselor in a
non-Chabad day camp a few years ago, and one weekend day I heard him
saying in the Birkat Hamazon "and bless the rebbe King Moshiach" in
Hebrew, taught to the entire bunk by said counselor.

Yossi Ginzberg

From: Avi Feldblum <feldblum@...>
Date: Mon, 2 Aug 2004 07:59:00 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Re: Minhag Lubavitch

I think it is important to distinguish between what a movement does in
it's official capacity, and what individual members of the movement due,
that may not be in accordance to what the official policy is, and may
reflect poorly on the movement.

In my opinion, I see this in both Lubavitch and Agudah situations, and I'm
sure it is true in modern Orthodox and non-Chabad Chassidus as well. The
critical element in how often one is aware of this, depends on how often
you have someone from one of these circles as a teacher / leader of a
group of kids that are mainly not from that movement. Due to Chabad's
focus on outreach, I think it is most common to have this situation with
Chabad. We also have this situation with Aguda / Lakewood Yeshiva style
teachers teaching in modern Orthodox schools. I think it is less common
for a modern Orthodox teacher to be employed by a Chareidi cheder.

I strongly believe that someone in a leadership type position of young
children should exercise as much caution as possible to not give a message
different from the position of the institution they are participating in.
They should focus any attempts to "convince" others to adults of the
group. However, that does not mean they need to compromise their own
positions. At times, that can be a fine line to walk.

Avi Feldblum


From: Russell J Hendel <rjhendel@...>
Date: Sun, 1 Aug 2004 00:01:37 -0400
Subject: My approach to Alarm clocks on Shabbath

This answers Glenn Farbers question in v43n73.

I set my alarm clock BEFORE SHABBATH.  But I PLACE the alarm clock on a
Then, when the alarm starks ringing on Shabbath I cover it with the
blanket and a pillow.
When I go to sleep I remove the pillow and uncover the clock.
Works well...it does muffle the sound and doesnt disturb people

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


End of Volume 43 Issue 81