Volume 43 Number 95
                    Produced: Thu Aug  5 18:14:14 EDT 2004

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

The Cohen Modal Haplotype
         [Robert Israel]
Congratulations to the 300 olim who made aliyah this week
         [Jacob Richman]
Dropping the Dime
         [Esther Posen]
Gematria/ Ktav Ivri
         [Alan Cooper]
Kohanic "Choice"
         [Andrew Marks]
Kohanim and the Vilna Gaon
         [Gershon Rothstein]
Kohen sign
         [Akiva Miller]
Lubavitcher self-perception
         [Immanuel Burton]
Pants and Psak (2)
         [<Smwise3@...>, Aliza Berger]


From: Robert Israel <israel@...>
Date: Wed, 4 Aug 2004 21:46:28 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: Re: The Cohen Modal Haplotype

In Vol. 43 #88 Ben Katz wrote:

>          Eitan is only correct if there was no subsequent (legal)
> intermarrying between the communities.  For example, if a daughter of
> converted khazars married a cohen (or the daughter of a khazar who
> married a non-priestl) then there would be some intermingling of cohen
> and khazar genes.

But still no mingling of the Y chromosome, which is the issue here.  The
Y chromosome comes only from father to son.  If you have a Y, you're a

>          I have thought about this a lot re the cohen haplotype.  This
> is the only way to account for the fact that there are just as many
> cohen haplotypes among sephardi as ashkenazi Jews.  Ashkenazim look like
> Europeans so we have to be descendents of converts.  For there to be
> Ashkenazi cohanim like me somewhere along the line one of these
> ashkenazi convert offspring had to marry a sephardi cohen.

At least some ashkenazim have at least some ancient Jewish ancestry.
Presumably this includes the male line of most of the cohanim.  Looking
like Europeans might not be a good sign of European ancestry.  I can
think of at least three ways that European looks could confer a
selective advantage, so that over the generations the ashkenazim might
come to resemble their neighbours more, even without any conversion or

1) In northern latitudes, with limited exposure to sunlight,
darker-skinned people are more likely to be deficient in Vitamin D,
especially if they have a poor diet.

2) People with more European looks would find it easier to escape a
pogrom by disguising themselves as Europeans.

3) In some times and places, people with more European looks might be
considered more beautiful/handsome, and thus might be more likely to
marry (or to marry someone who could support more children).

>          i realize i am making some assumptions here and that no one
> really knows where the ashkenazi and sephardi branches of judaism
> originate from.  yet it seems to me that since sephardim look like
> they're from the middle east, that they must be genetically more ancient
> bearers of our sacred religion.

It also could be that some of the sephardim have acquired some genes
from middle eastern non-Jews.

Robert Israel                                <israel@...>
Department of Mathematics        http://www.math.ubc.ca/~israel
University of British Columbia    Vancouver, BC, Canada V6T 1Z2


From: Jacob Richman <jrichman@...>
Subject: Congratulations to the 300 olim who made aliyah this week

Hi Everyone!

Congratulations to the 300 olim who made aliyah this week from the USA.
I posted articles and pictures on my site at:

The 3 new articles include:
- Cleveland Jews feel the pull of Israel
- 300 olim arrive on Nefesh flight 
- "2,000-Year-Old Seeds Planted in the Soil of the Holy Land" 

New pictures are numbered: 46-49

If you do not see August 5, 2004 on the top of the web page, hold the
control key and press the F5 key to refresh your browser.

If you were at the airport (JFK or Ben Gurion) or on the flight and you
took pictures, please send them to me and I will post selected ones.

May the aliyah from the USA grow and bring more Jews back to their
homeland, Eretz Yisrael.

Shabbat Shalom,


From: Esther Posen <eposen@...>
Date: Wed, 4 Aug 2004 23:07:46 -0500
Subject: RE: Dropping the Dime

I found the notion of informing authorities that someone was building an
illegal basement rather appalling.  Most basements are illegal because
of tax codes not fire or electrical regulations.  If my neighbor was
beating their child perhaps to the point of endangerment, I might be
caught in a real quandary although speaking to their Rabbi or my Rabbi
would be my first mode of attack even in that situation unless I thought
the situation required immediate intervention.  I would also advise
anonymous to examine their motive.  Does he like these people?  Does he
agree with their general lifestyle?  Are they getting on his nerves in
some way?  If the answer is yes, the concern about fire may be an

Esther Posen


From: Alan Cooper <amcooper@...>
Date: Thu, 05 Aug 2004 09:15:14 -0400
Subject: Re: Gematria/ Ktav Ivri

>From: Nathan Lamm <nelamm18@...>
>--- Stan Tenen <meru1@...> wrote:
> > rules that the correct one is the third, which denies that Jews ever
> > used Ksav Ivri.  This ruling is based on Scriptural and Talmudic
> > proofs and, finally, on the number of Tannaim and Amoraim associated
> > with it.
>This is simply wrong. There are many artifacts from the era of the First
>Bayit written in Ktav Ivri. A seal of Baruch ben Neriyah himself has
>been found, and it's in Ktav Ivri.

Not just in the First Temple period.  The "Hebrew" script either
persisted or was revived by the Hasmoneans, who used it on their coinage
(second-first centuries BCE).  More to the point, portions of Torah
scrolls in that script were found among the Dead Sea Scrolls, most
famously a Leviticus scroll from Qumran Cave 11.  See D. N. Freedman and
K. A.  Mathews, The Paleo-Hebrew Leviticus Scroll (American Schools of
Oriental Research, 1985).

Alan Cooper 


From: Andrew Marks <machmir@...>
Subject: Re: Kohanic "Choice"

After some thinking, I came up with a way that one might be able to
choose to be a cohen.  If there was a limited amount of evidence that
one is a cohen, and the poskim are split over whether or not it is
sufficient, might one then be able to choose which posek to follow, or
would one be forced to adopt the chumras of being a cohen (no grushas,
cemetaries, etc.) and the chumras of being a common yisroel (no trumah,
etc.)?  Any thoughts?



From: Gershon Rothstein <mocdeg@...>
Date: Wed, 4 Aug 2004 23:02:57 -0400
Subject: Kohanim and the Vilna Gaon

Mike Gerver wrote:
> This statement of the Vilna Gaon appears in a book called Ruach Eliahu,
> on page 65 (samekh-he), in a chapter titled "Eidut Ne'emanah." The book
> was edited by Rabbi Eliahu Moshe Bloch, and published by Balshon
> Printing and Linotyping, in Brooklyn, NY, in 1953-54. I don't have the
> book, though I noted the exact reference in a family history I wrote up
> of my Rappoport relatives. Maybe someone can look it up and see exactly
> what the Vilna Gaon does say.

I looked up the quote in the stated location and this is a rough
translation (rough because I am not too good at translating) of what it

He was a bechor and he redeemed himself with six rubles and with a
beracha, and he gave it to the Kohen as an irreversible gift that can
never be returned, because his father had redeemed him according to
customary practice [and the Gra felt that he had not fulfilled the torah
requirement. GR] So, it says in the book Maaseh Rav. And in the book
Aliyos Eliyahu he writes, "I heard the reason because of a
question of Yichus of the Kohanim of his time, therefore he redeemed
himself from many Kohanim. And specifically, I heard that he redeemed
himself from the rabbi, R' Meir Hakohen Rappaport, because his
family members were reputed to be Yechusei Kehunah."

If this is the quote Mr. Gerver is referring to, and I think it is
because it is in the right book and on the right page, then it says
absolutely nothing about the Rappaports being the only Kohanim
Meyuchsim. It does not say that he stopped his practice after giving the
pidyon to R' Meir Rappaport. It only says that he especially gave a
pidyon to R' Meir because he had a reputation (muchzakim) for being a
true Kohen.

I think that many e-mails could have been avoided and some (much?) ill
will could have been avoided too if the quote had been accurately
reported. I know that it sometimes difficult to quote accurately because
of unavailability of the text, but surely there is some lesson to be
learned here.

With respect to all participants,



From: Akiva Miller <kennethgmiller@...>
Date: Wed, 4 Aug 2004 20:44:09 -0400
Subject: Re: Kohen sign

Mike Gerver wrote <<< 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. >>>

Another idea: Perhaps kohanim have been more resistant to assimilation?
Of course we do know kohanim who have gone off, unfortunately, but if
they married our even just a little less than the rest, then after a
long time, the difference could accumulate with interest.

Akiva Miller


From: <Phyllostac@...> (Mordechai)
Date: Thu, 5 Aug 2004 03:06:50 EDT
Subject: Lubavitcher self-perception

>From: <Joelirich@...> (Joel Rich)
>  .............It was explained to me a number of years ago by a
> Lubavitch Rabbi that Lubavitch is "the crown jewel" of judaism and so if
> someone is not PRACTICING a firmly established minhag, they should
> practice Lubavitch as everyone will eventually...... >>

It sounds correct to me. Some time ago I was told that Lubavitchers have
terms for other (non-Lubavitch) Hassidim which reflect this. While they
refer to themselves as Chaba"d (acronym standing for chochmo - binah -
daas - high categories in the sefirotic order), they refer to other
Hassidim as Chaga"s (acronym for chesed - gevoroh - tiferes - lower
categories in that order). If they hold even other types of Hassidism to
be lower than them, I think one can safely assume that those Jews who do
not accept Hassidism at all, are certainly not viewed too highly by

[I'm not as convinced that Chaba"d vs Chaga"s is simply the higher vs
lower in the sefirotic order. From my not so detailed knowledge / memory
it was more on what aspects of Chassidus the groups focus on. If someone
is more knowledgeable on this, I would appreciate a reply. Mod.]

Truthfully, however, I think that many groups see their derech as being
more correct than others - not only Lubavitchers. Perhaps it is more of
an issue with Lubavitchers as they are more into proselytizing.



From: Immanuel Burton <IBURTON@...>
Date: Thu, 5 Aug 2004 14:28:45 +0100
Subject: RE: Meshullachim.

In MJ v43n92, Harlan Braude asked the following about my posting
concerning a meshullach who presented me with an expired certificate:

> Anyway, I'd say you were right. However, I would add that had you
> elected to hand this fellow money despite all that you had seen, I
> don't think you would have violated any issurim, either. Is that a
> contradictory stance? I don't think so.

I may indeed not have violated any issurim had I contributed, but I
think that to have made a contribution would only have encouraged him to
continue with his fraudulent use of the certificate.

> The way I see it, he obviously needs money or he wouldn't subject
> himself to the humiliating task of collecting door to door.

There are people who make their living this way, and I doubt that
professional con-men see their actions as humiliating.  I think that
once someone puts himself under the suspicion of cheating by presenting
an expired certificate they lose any benefit of the doubt about the
legitimacy of their collection.

> Although you were probably not inclined to believe this person after
> discovering the expiration date, did he offer any explanation for what
> he did?

He did, as it happens.  He said that the certificate with a year-old
expiry date was left over from a previous collection visit, and that he
hadn't got a new certificate as he'd only arrived in London that very
day.  It just so happens that last night I saw a notice in Shul from the
Vaad saying that any meshullach who presents an expired certificate, or
who says that he hasn't got a valid certificate because he's only
arrived in London that day or because it's taking too long should be
treated with caution.

> Well, what would the Vaad do?
>  1. Withhold a certificate from this fellow? But, he's already
> without a valid certificate.
>  2. Stop issuing certificates altogether? Now, a whole slew of honest
> people will suffer.
>  3. Post a letter and photo at community synagogues saying 'be on the
>  look
> out for...'? Not likely, and even if they did it would be relatively
> ineffective.
>  4. Call the police? <groan>...I'm thinking Pandora's box!
>  5. Empathize and admit there's not much they can do. I suspect this
> is the most likely response.

Option 1 is indeed rather ineffectual, though they may never grant him a
certificate again, whatever good that will do.  I doubt they will stop
issuing certificates altogether, but option 3 sort of happens as the
notice I saw last night in Shul also named two individuals to whom one
should not contribute.  Calling the police may have Halachic problems of
informing on a fellow Jew, and would probably be more hassle than it's
worth in any case.

One suggestion I have made to the Vaad is that the certificates be
redesigned slightly so that the expiry date is not tucked away in the
top corner where it's easy to cover with one's hand, but that it should
be more central.

Immanuel Burton.


From: <Smwise3@...>
Date: Wed, 4 Aug 2004 21:06:33 EDT
Subject: Re: Pants and Psak

      Aliza Berger wrote:

      > This point underlay the psak I received from Orthodox Rabbi Charles
      > Sheer, Hillel rabbi at Columbia University. He said (I am paraphrasing
      > here) that women are required to dress one degree more modestly than
      > women in general society, e.g. loose pants instead of tight jeans,
      > short sleeves instead of sleeveless.

      The above shows the dangers of taking a psak that one has received
      personally and trying to extrapolate that rabbi Sheer will give
      the same psak to a different person in different circumstances. If
      Rabbi Sheer had published his psak as a written tshuva, then one
      could judge based on the circumstances presented whether one could
      extrapolate (that is, one's posek could).

      David I. Cohen

I agree with what David Cohen writes, but I ask Ms. Berger, did Rabbi
Sheer really gave those examples?  Who is the model of "women in general
society," those who dress the least modest? Not all non-Jewish women go
in tight jeans, sleeveless and bare midriffs--why pick the most extreme
example when setting a standard.  I look around my office in the middle
of the summer and no woman is dressed in such extremes.


From: Aliza Berger <alizadov@...>
Date: Thu, 05 Aug 2004 13:57:57 +0200
Subject: Pants and Psak

David Cohen wrote:

<The above shows the dangers of taking a psak that one has received
personally and trying to extrapolate that rabbi Sheer will give the same
psak to a different person in different circumstances. >

Perhaps my use of the word "psak" was misleading and I should have
written "the halacha is..." This was definitely not a personal psak that
depended on my circumstances. This (loose pants, short sleeves) was the
same thing Rabbi Sheer would have told anyone living among general

This also responds to the points made by Martin Stern.

Sincerely, Aliza
Aliza Berger, PhD - Director
English Editing: editing-proofreading.com
Statistics Consulting: statistics-help.com


End of Volume 43 Issue 95