Volume 44 Number 10
                    Produced: Wed Aug 11  7:19:16 EDT 2004

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Homer and the wine red sea
         [Shayna Kravetz]
Mixed Weddings
         [William Friedman]
New Jewish Palm User Forum
         [Shaul Bacher]
Shiva for "Outmarriages" Is based on Error
         [Martin Stern]
Sleeve Length
         [Chana Luntz]


From: Shayna Kravetz <skravetz@...>
Date: Mon, 9 Aug 2004 23:54:22 -0500
Subject: Re: Homer and the wine red sea

Jay Schachter complained:
><I mean, I get it with the rosy-fingered dawn, but what's with the
>wine-red sea?  Since when is the sea red?  I won't be at all surprised
>if, in the afterlife, when we get to ask about such things, we find out
>that the word in Homer that people think means "red" actually means some
>completely different color.>
and Shlomo & Syma Spiro <spiro@...> responded:
>Of course the sea is wine red, in the evening when it reflects the red
>to purple colours of the setting sun. It's most likely the time when
>Homer wrote his poetry.

_Pace_ (or perhaps here I should say b'shlama?) the Spiros' defence of
Homer, the usual translation is not "wine-red" but rather "wine-dark", a
somewhat different proposition.  The questionable word in Greek is a
matter of intensity or tone, not colour as we would usually use it.

Conveniently, this site:
uses the very phrase "wine-dark sea" as its example for searching
(scroll down to the entry dealing with the English Index, about 2/3 of
the way down the page).  If you click on the example, you will be taken
to a page giving you about 15 examples of the use of "wine-dark sea" in
various items of Greek literature including Homer's Odyssey and Iliad.

Kol tuv from
Shayna in Toronto


From: William Friedman <williamf@...>
Date: Mon, 09 Aug 2004 22:54:22 -0400
Subject: Re: Mixed Weddings

Martin Stern wrote:
>As I have written previously, I tend to agree with Ed's analysis but I
>fear William is being somewhat short sighted in his. Intermarriage, by
>and large, is the end of the line in assimilation and, where it is a
>Jewish male who is marrying a non-Jewish female as in the majority of
>cases, there is not even the possibility that future generations may
>return to Judaism. Thus invoking halachic categories of the seriousness
>of sins is really not an appropriate paradigm.

I'm not sure what Martin means by "end of the line"; it's certainly not
necessarily true that by intermarrying the Jewish partner definitely
ends his or her interest in Judaism -- witness the many publications
discussing the blessings of mixed unions, and the fact that often the
result of trying to figure out how to raise kids in such a relationship
results in the Jewish partner exploring Judaism more thoroughly.  (I
knew a Jewish woman whose devoutly Catholic husband encouraged her to
explore Judaism, since he couldn't understand how someone could be so
indifferent to her faith.)  And if by "end of the line" Martin means
that the Jewish line ends (as in the cases of Jewish men and non-Jewish
women that he cites), so what?  It seems to me that such a case is
_best_ of all possible intermarrying worlds, not the worst, since we
needn't worry about outreach to the children.

Finally, I don't understand the causality -- is Martin Stern _really_
implying that the sociological seriousness of the situation renders
halakhic discussion secondary?  That doesn't sound like an Orthodox
approach to me.  The only way I know of to relate to the seriousness of
sins is by examining their halakhic implications.

>His claim that opposition to out-marriage is probably racist is also
>ridiculous since we accept gerim of all races; it is only to marrying
>those who do not convert that we object even if they have three 100%
>Jewish grandparents, the only non-Jewish one being the mother's mother.

I stated that opposition to out-marriage _without_a_religious_basis_ is
probably racist.  I _knew_ my use of the word "racist" would be taken
the wrong way, despite the clarification provided by context.  To
clarify, I did not mean "racist" in the sense of being biased against
those of other skin colors or geographical derivations; instead, I meant
it, as did R' Kahane, as being irrationally biased against non-Jews, as
Sam Groner quite correctly explained, and for which I thank him.

My contention is that opposing intermarriage in a way that one does not
oppose chillul Shabbat is hypocritical if one takes halakhic categories

Shayna Kravetz simply misreads the flow of the thread.  My opposition is
not to Martin Stern's contention that he would not attend an
intermarriage, it was to his contention that he would not invite an
intermarried person (or at least, that person's SO) to a simcha.  The
question of whether to attend an intermarriage is a complex one; even
the RA forbids attendance at an intermarriage under penalty of



From: Shaul Bacher <sbacher@...>
Date: Tue, 10 Aug 2004 17:43:20 +0200
Subject: New Jewish Palm User Forum

New Jewish Palm User Forum

If you are interested in joining a Jewish Palm User forum you are
welcome to subscribe by sending an email or logging onto the web
site. Details below

Kol Tuv
Michoel Chaikin

To subscribe, send an email to <jewishpalm-subscribe@...>
or visit http://groups.yahoo.com/group/jewishpalm/


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Tue, 10 Aug 2004 08:57:47 +0100
Subject: Re: Shiva for "Outmarriages" Is based on Error

on 10/8/04 2:44 am, Yeshaya (Charles Chi) Halevi <c.halevi@...>

> A couple of m-j posters have raised the recurring issue of those who
> sit Shiva for children who marry non-Jews. From what I've read on the
> subject, they are basing their action upon error.

Since I raised this topic, I feel that the debate has gone completely
off-course. My original comment was that at one time people did sit
shiva for children who married non-Jews (which is no longer done in any
circles as far as I am aware). The point I was making was not whether
this was halachically justified, or even desirable, as most posters seem
to have misunderstood me, merely that outmarriage was viewed with such
horror that parents considered that child to be effectively dead.

In present circumstances, when most outmarriages reflect a lack of
appreciation of the importance of one's Jewish heritage, this no longer
is the case, especially where the parents commitment is itself less than
100%.  This is illustrated by the story of the Jewish boy who brings
home his non-Jewish intended wife to find to his great surprise that his
parents are devastated. When they tell him that, as Jews, they object to
it, his response is "But this is the first time you have asked me to do
anything specifically Jewish."

The very fact that there can be a debate as to whether one should attend
such a wedding shows how far we have moved from this instinctive
recoil. I believe that in many Reform congregations, an applicant for a
'rabbinic' post is asked if he will officiate at such unions (without
even the pretence of their so-called conversions) and, if not, he (or
she) is rejected.

The question we should be discussing, in my opinion, is whether this
change in attitude is desirable and whether concern for the feelings of
the Jewish partner overrides the undoubted undesirability of such

Martin Stern


From: Chana Luntz <chana@...>
Date: Mon, 9 Aug 2004 23:10:11 +0100
Subject: Sleeve Length

In message <004b01c47cbd$e0baacd0$0300a8c0@i0u6h6>, David Oratz 
<dovid@...> writes
>> But then there is the issue of erva and the saying of the Shma.  If a
>> person cannot say the Shma in front of a person showing a tefach, then
>> it does not seem right that one can generally go out showing that much
>> (after all, who knows who might be saying the Shma out there in the
>> marketplace).  But if it is good enough for matters of kedusha
>> l'chatchila, for which we generally have higher standards, the logic
>> goes, surely it ought to be good enough for ordinarly basar v'dam [human
>> beings]. Especially as it is one step above the basic parameter set by
>> the mishna/gemora/shulchan aruch which will bring to divorce.
>Now wait a minute. We are starting with circular reasoning here. The TEFACH
>requirement for SHMA is stated explicitly regarding "places that are
>normally covered." It applies to ZROA if and only if the ZROA is considered
>a "Place that is normally covered." I f so, then the entiire ZROA should
>"normally be covered," and if not then NO part of the Zroa need be covered!
>Furthermore, the logic as explained by the commentaries to the Shulchan
>Aruch (including Mishnah Brurah) is that distraction comes into play only
>regarding a tefach , and not for less -- even if it should be covered.
>Certainly not "if its good enough for Shama it's good enough for ordinary

I knew when I wrote the paragraph above that I was skating very quickly
over a very complex discussion, but the post had gone on long enough
already discussing the gemora in Ketubos, which was the main thrust of
your original argument, and to have dealt with this issue properly would
require a post to be that much longer.

However, I suspected that would not be enough, so here goes with a bit

The tefach requirement vis a vis the Shema is indeed stated explicitly
(in Shulchan Aruch Orech Chayim 75:1) regarding places that are normally

Thus, in theory based on this Shulchan Aruch, it would be open to one to
conclude that places that are not normally covered are fine, and that in
societies like ours where arms and legs are not normally covered that
would include areas like the arms and legs.

However, this is not the only source, and in fact not the key source for
the issue under discussion here.  Because on the same daf of gemora on
which the source regarding a tefach of an isha being erva is brought
down (Brachos 24a) the gemora also brings down a statement that the shok
(most usually translated as the thigh) of a woman is erva.  And while
the Shulchan Aruch does not bring this din, it is brought in the Tur,
and the Taz, and the Bach, and I would assume everybody would regard it
as halacha.

But within this discussion of the shok of a woman being erva, there is
quite some discussion and differences of opinion.  There are those who
hold that the reference to the shok is because while in general you only
need a tefach for erva, since there are greater hirhurim [improper
thoughts] by the shok, even less than a tefach is erva (eg Bach, Taz).
On the other hand, there are those who disagree and say the reason that
it is brought separately is because in a man the shok is not erva, iso
you might otherwise have assumed the same about a woman, but in fact n a
woman it is (eg Rashba beshem haRavid)

So you can see that those who hold that for the shok (however that is
defined) there is an absolute standard and even less than a tefach is
erva, and has to be covered certainly have on whom to rely, but you can
also see from this that in places where the custom is not to cover the
shok, those uncovering up to a tefach also have on whom to rely.

Now as to the meaning of the term shok, there is a fair amount of
disagreement.  There are those who hold it means the whole leg (possibly
including the feet), and those who hold it means only the thigh.  And
there are those who hold that it also includes the arms (in some cases
based on the position that the term shok is used to describe both the
thigh of an animal and the upper part of the forelimbs) .  Others
however seem to treat arms separately (for example, the Kaf Hachaim
brings two opinions on the subject, the one which says that the arms
fall into the category which differs from place to place dependant on
the customs regarding covering, and one who brings that arms are like
everywhere else, that showing a tefach is forbidden, but without any
reference to shok.)

So, where does that leave paskening on that matter.  Certainly those who
hold that nothing of the upper arms and thighs may be shown have on whom
to rely, as do those who hold that nothing of the arms or legs may be

But, in order to hold that a tefach of the upper arms need to be covered
in societies where they are normally uncovered, you need first to hold
that the din for zroa is the same as for shok however you get there
(which is one uncertainty) and secondly that the din is like those who
hold for shok that less than a tefach is erva.  That is a double
uncertainty, and even if you hold all of this is d'orisa (most likely),
and even if you are uncertain, with a safek safeka (double leniency) you
can generally go leniently.  But for more than a tefach, you only have
one leniency and so people are more likely to rule to be machmir
[strict] as they may also be on the thighs themselves.

And don't forget in this case (unlike the case of the wife and saying
shma) we really are talking about serious tircha (additional effort).
In the case of the wife and Shma, it is not such a big problem to say to
your wife "Please cover up, I need to say Shma", or if she is asleep,
cover her with a blanket or step out of the room.

But in the case we are talking about we may well be talking about
serious tircha.  Not if you live in Boro Park or Bnei Brak, where every
shop sells clothes which cover the arm.  But if you are forced to shop
in mainstream shops, it is hard enough to find clothing that has sleeves
at all and no plunging neckline.  And even if one can find such
clothing, they may be a fair bit more expensive.  And certainly if no
mainstream clothes can be found due to the fashion that year, and
clothes have to be handmade, there is both tircha and additional cost.

Now tircha and additional cost are not relevant considerations if we are
talking about pure halacha.  The fact that treif meat is easy to find
and much cheaper than kosher meat does not mean I can buy treif meat.
But, when we are talking about something where the din is not so clear,
and where it may just be a hidur, or a chumra, or a nice to have, we
generally do not require people to expend enormous effort and
significant cost.

Kind Regards
Chana Luntz


End of Volume 44 Issue 10