Volume 43 Number 86
                    Produced: Tue Aug  3 10:40:44 EDT 2004

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Chabad 'outreach' to Frum Jews
         [Leah Perl Shollar]
Gematria (was "Re: Other gematria such as this?")
         [Michael Poppers]
Glimpse of Stocking Plus
         [Bill Bernstein]
An Idolatry Conundrum
Kohen sign
         [Mike Gerver]
Non-cohanim Cohens
         [Elozor Preil]
Sleeve Length (2)
         [Ben Katz, Batya Medad]
Too few Leviim (Levites)
         [Mike Gerver]
Women and pants
         [Nathan Lamm]


From: Leah Perl Shollar <leahperl@...>
Date: Tue, 3 Aug 2004 00:53:21 -0400
Subject: Chabad 'outreach' to Frum Jews

> 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.

This is very distressing to hear.  Whilst we may assume that the
counselor is teaching the benching as he knows it, he should be aware
that not everyone says this lashon.  My family is Lubavitch and we do
NOT say this phrase, which we have discussed with our children, and
explained.  They are in a Lubavitch school that has a mixed student body
of other Ashkenazim, some Sefardim, Edot HaMizrach, and a handful of
non-frum kids.  They know that at some of their friends' houses they
bench, daven, etc., with a different nusach.  We always point out how
beautiful it is that yesh shiv'im panim laTorah [there are 70 faces /
approaches to the Torah. Mod.], and that this is nothing to feel
threatened by.  (With perhaps the exception of some 'meshichist'
practices that we feel cross the line).

L. Shollar


From: <MPoppers@...> (Michael Poppers)
Date: Mon, 2 Aug 2004 17:04:34 -0400
Subject: Re: Gematria (was "Re: Other gematria such as this?")

In M-J V43#78, NLamm replied:
> 1. It's entirely possible- likely, even- that k'sav Ivri was the
> original Hebrew. Hey and Chet look nothing like each other in that
> alphabet.

As was recently noted on another forum, see the last section of
http://www.aishdas.org/toratemet/en_pamphlet9.html.  Also see

> 2. Gematria makes no appearance in Tanach, and little in Shas (compared
> to how widely it's used today). It's very possibly a late introduction
> to Judaism, influenced by Greek practice, hence the Greek name.

We could discuss how Greek words came to be part of Rabbinic Hebrew, but
that discussion is tangential.  For some solid information on the use of
Gematria by CHaZaL, see
given the recent discussion Nachum and I had (mostly in private) re Gen
38, he may also be interested in

> In Sephard Ashurit, a chet has a solid top. In "Ari" Ashuris, a ches is
> a vav and a zayin (the main difference between "Ari" and Ashkenaz
> Ashuris is that most "zayins" in the latter get turned into "vav"s in
> the former).

Which means that ARYL (or his disciples) may have had another explanation
for the derivation quoted by SHimelstein as sourced in TY Shabbos.  I can
live with that :-).

All the best from
Michael Poppers * Elizabeth, NJ


From: <billbernstein@...> (Bill Bernstein)
Date: Mon, 2 Aug 2004 21:34:12 -0500
Subject: Re: Glimpse of Stocking Plus

Prints of period costumes yield some interesting fashion highlights and
suggest that maybe things really arent so bad.  I have found the following
(I hope the links work):
England 17th C.

French dress, late 1700's

1800's Empire style

One thing to note is the plethora of exposed arms, plunging necklines,
open backs etc that maybe wouldn't quite pass muster in most religious
communities.  I realize it is a far cry from exposed midriffs with small
of the back tattoos but it is revealing enough to show that our
ancestors werent any more insulated from skimpy women's clothing than we
are.  The only reason they might have been was simply from living in
ghettoes.  In short, it is almost a trope through mussar literature that
society has deteriorated and the old days were more moral.  I am not
certain how true it is.  

Bill Bernstein 
Nashville TN


From: c.halevi <c.halevi@...>
Date: Mon, 2 Aug 2004 23:11:40 -0500
Subject: An Idolatry Conundrum

Shalom, All:

After Martin Stern quoted Chazal (our Sages, of blessed memory) as
saying >>Nobody serves idolatry except to permit themselves forbidden
sexual activity in public."<< Nachum stated, >>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

I then specified, among other heinous sins, the parents who burned their
poor children in the fiery Moloch idol and the traitor that Mateetyahu
(Mattathias) killed for openly sacrificing to Zeus, thus precipitating
the Maccabean revolt. None of these are sexual, and all were done in

Nachum replied, >>That goes without saying. I was questioning the
translation of having *sexual relations* "openly," as opposed to
brazenly and/or without guilt.<<

I must differ. The idol worshipping cases I cited had nothing to do with
sex, either publicly or in private. The question still remains (at least
to me), how could our Sages have made the statement that "Nobody serves
idolatry except to permit themselves forbidden sexual activity," whether
in public, private, brazenly or otherwise, when sex never entered the
equation in the instances I cited above?

Yeshaya (Charles Chi) Halevi


From: <MJGerver@...> (Mike Gerver)
Date: Mon, 2 Aug 2004 19:25:46 EDT
Subject: Kohen sign

Regarding the "Cohen Modal Haplotype," you wouldn't expect it to be
found only in kohanim in any case. These genes (actually multiply
repeating sequences of junk DNA) develop mutations (an increase or a
decrease in the number of repeats) about once every 1500 years. So
Aharon's Y chromosome haplotype would be shared by most men who had a
common paternal line ancestor with Aharon within about 1500 years before
him.  This includes not just kohanim, but all of the sons of Yaakov, as
well as Esav, Ishmael, Lot, Moab, Ammon, and, for all we know, many
ancestors of the Southern and Central Italians, Hungarians, Iraqi Kurds,
and Armenians. In the case of the Lembas though, the simplest
explanation is that they are indeed, as they claim, descended from Jews
who migrated from Yemen about 1000 years ago.

Regarding the number of kohanim-- If kohanim only made up one in 100,000
Jews at the time of the Exodus, and have now risen to about one in 10,
this can be explained if the relative number of kohanim has increased by
roughly 10% in each generation between then and now. There are lots of
reasons why kohanim might enjoy such a selective advantage. For roughly
the first 1500 years of that period (until the last ashes of the parah
adumah were used up, and kohanim could no longer eat trumah), they had a
guaranteed income, which could provide their families with better
nutrition, leading to a higher fertility rate and a lower child
mortality rate, and/or allow them to attract more healthy and attractive
(and, on average, more fertile) wives. Even after they could no longer
eat trumah, being a kohen would still have given them a certain social
status, which might confer the same advantages.

Mike Gerver
Raanana, Israel


From: <EMPreil@...> (Elozor Preil)
Date: Mon, 2 Aug 2004 23:57:36 EDT
Subject: Re: Non-cohanim Cohens

      Are there any other non-priestly Cohens out there who spell it

Rav Dovid Cohen of Kehillas G'vul Ya'avetz spells his name
kuf-alef-hay-nun. And of course, there's ex-Yankee and Met David Cone,
but I have no idea how he spells his name in Hebrew.

Kol tuv,
Elozor Preil


From: Ben Katz <bkatz@...>
Date: Mon, 02 Aug 2004 18:29:02 -0500
Subject: Re: Sleeve Length

>From: Immanuel Burton <IBURTON@...>
>Does the phrase "e.g. loose pants instead of tight jeans" imply that in
>some societies it it permissable for Jewish women to wear
>trousers/pants?  I was under the impression that trousers/pants are
>never permitted for women to wear, regardless of the standards of the
>society in which they are living.

 I don't know what societies you are familiar with but in many 
modern orthodox communities women wear (shudder) loose pants.

>If women are required to dress one degree more modestly than women in
>general society, is there nonetheless a cut-off point?  For example, one
>sometimes sees pictures of African villages in which people are not
>wearing very much at all, and the women don't seem to have any problem
>going around topless.  Would that mean that in such a society a Jewish
>woman could get away with a bikini?

 As has been answered many times before on this list, there is of course
a minimum standard of ervah.

From: Batya Medad <ybmedad@...>
Date: Tue, 03 Aug 2004 06:55:41 +0200
Subject: Re: Sleeve Length

> Does the phrase "e.g. loose pants instead of tight jeans" imply that in
> some societies it it permissable for Jewish women to wear
> trousers/pants?

True, it has become acceptable in our area, acceptable though not
universal.  When my daughters were in Ulpanat Ofra (girls hs) there were
halachik discussions.  Now all sorts of "pants" with/without long tunics
are worn, frequently by married women in hats/scarves. There's also some
sort of skirt-pants combo.  "Women's clothes" come in all sorts of


ps  For those wondering, I stick to classic dresses and skirts.


From: <MJGerver@...> (Mike Gerver)
Date: Mon, 2 Aug 2004 18:33:27 EDT
Subject: Too few Leviim (Levites)

Bob Werman writes, in v43n83,

      More disturbing is the genetic evidence among Ashkenazi Levis [the
      Sephardic study is not done yet].  A common gene has been found,
      passed on maternally [mitochondrial DNA].  But -- unlike the
      Cohanic gene, 2500 to 3000 years old -- it appears to be only 1000
      years old.  Moreover, unlike the Cohanic gene -- with an origin in
      the Middle East -- the origin of the Levite gene is in the area of
      the Asiatic Republics of the former USSR.  Current speculation is
      that these Levites [the majority of Ashkenazi Levis] may have
      arisen from 3-4 people in that area, perhaps Kuzharim.

I also heard this, at a talk given last year at the Jewish Family
Research Association meeting in Raanana. But the gene in question is, of
course, on the Y chromosome, and passed down on the paternal line, not
on the maternal line.

Mike Gerver
Raanana, Israel


From: Nathan Lamm <nelamm18@...>
Date: Mon, 2 Aug 2004 15:12:08 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: Women and pants

Immanuel Burton states that he was under the impression that pants are
always assur for women.

This is not neccessarily true- if the pants are not particularly
revealing, there is quite likely no issue of tzniut. And if they're cut
for a woman, then there's very likely (in 2004) no issue of beged
ish/isha. Obviously, there are those who would disagree, but there are
opinions on both sides.

Also remember that men have only been wearing pants (as we know them)
for a couple of centuries.

As for the question of Africa, bear in mind that women there who go
about topless are not at all being immodest: Their societies simply have
vastly different standards than ours. So it's comparing apples and
oranges to wonder how much more modest a Jewish woman must be than
that. However, I imagine that even with the minimal clothes in the
Western World of today (and this season), many would agree that the
standard of modesty is much higher.

Nachum Lamm


End of Volume 43 Issue 86