Volume 44 Number 30
                    Produced: Thu Aug 19 22:09:43 EDT 2004

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Changing Names: Why the Kotzker Rebbe Did It
         [Perets Mett]
Cryptic Torah
         [Nathan Lamm]
Font Size in Siddurim
         [Bernard J. Sussman]
Hijacking of Language (3)
         [Nathan Lamm, Shayna Kravetz, Avi Feldblum]
Name changes
         [Nathan Lamm]
non-Jews at a Seder (5)
         [Elozor Teitz, Eliezer Wenger, Harry Weiss, Mark Symons, Chaim
G Steinmetz]
Repressed Memory
         [Naomi Graetz]
Siddur Layout
         [Nathan Lamm]
         [Perets Mett]
white South Africans
         [Leah Perl Shollar]


From: Perets Mett <p.mett@...>
Date: Wed, 18 Aug 2004 18:29:17 +0100
Subject: Changing Names: Why the Kotzker Rebbe Did It

Charles Chi (Yeshaya) Halevi wrote:

> Various people have been speculating why a famous rabbi would change
> his name. I recall that some years ago the family of the Kotzker Rebbe
> told me he changed his name from "Halpern" to "Morgenstern" because he
> was wanted by the anti-Semitic Russian authorities under the "Halpern"
> name.

Now this one ***IS*** an urban legend. It has been published in books
and gets repeated from time to time, but there is absolutely no hard
evidence for it.

The Kotsker Rebbe's father and his brothers all used the name
MORGENSTERN - so why do people think that the Kotsker Rebbe himself
originally used a different surname?

Perets Mett


From: Nathan Lamm <nelamm18@...>
Date: Wed, 18 Aug 2004 06:31:05 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: Re: Cryptic Torah

Immanuel Burton wonders how differences between Rashi and Rabbenu Tam
tefillin could have arisen, among other issues.

Remember that here, and elsewhere, what we practice may not have been
MiSinai (or more correctly, MiArvot Moav). The parshiyot may have been
slightly different (including the Aseret Hadibrot, for example), and
only resolved into the four that we have today much later.
Alternatively, there may have been no set order, so the issue didn't
exist until later.

Also, there have been great gaps in our history when many if not most
people simply didn't keep these laws.  It seems the history of the First
Bayit era is more of breaches in Judaism than adherence to it, for
example.  And it also seems that there were periods when, for example,
many people simply did not wear tefillin at all. So it makes sense that
details were forgotten, or differences arose.

Nachum Lamm


From: Bernard J. Sussman <sussmanbern@...>
Subject: re: Font Size in Siddurim

   Not on point, but there was a practice in siddurim to print the
Kiddish Levana in really large type - because this prayer was supposed
to read out of doors at night and therefore in very dim light.  As a
result, setting something in boldface or large type was called "Kiddish
Levana type".

   My recollection is that Philip Birnbaum made a point of having his
siddur set entirely in just one size type throughout.  A more recent
Hebrew siddur (printed in Brooklyn) uses three different fonts, but all
the same type, to distinguish between Biblical verses, Talmudic
quotations, and post-Talmudic material.

   Bernard J. Sussman


From: Nathan Lamm <nelamm18@...>
Date: Wed, 18 Aug 2004 06:25:26 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: Re: Hijacking of Language

Bill Bernstein writes:

>Agudah publications consistently eschew the use of gay
>or even homosexual in favor of "what the Torah describes as 'toeivah.'"
>Does this viliify homosexuality?  Yes, of course it does.  And that is
>the point of using such language.

This is already a bit of a surrender: If something is a toeivah, call it
that. Using the phrase "what the Torah describes as..." is, as I see it,
an attempt to shield oneself from criticism as being "insensitive":
"Don't blame me, the Torah says it!"

Nachum Lamm

From: Shayna Kravetz <skravetz@...>
Date: Wed, 18 Aug 2004 10:17:47 -0500
Subject: Re: Hijacking of Language

Not being much of a reader of Agudah publications <g>, I was unaware of
this practice.  If Bill is referring to publications in English, I can't
think why the word homosexual is not used -- unless it is to avoid the
whole idea of what this word means.  "To'eivah" is used to describe a
number of sins in the Torah, not just this one, and so I think its use
as a synonym for homosexual activities muddies the meaning.
"Homosexual" is the correct term in English and is not supportive in the
way that "gay" and "queer" have become.  Of course, all three used to be
pejorative in common speech, but no longer.

The Agudah usage may be disguised censorship at work, I fear.  Rather
than accurately describe a sexual issue when discussing it in a halachic
context, a Hebrew term is used on the basis of "ha-meivin yavin" [One
who understands will understand].  Certainly, I think tzniut should
guide our speech but when it does become necessary to discuss sexual
issues, we should not bury the meaning of what we try to say beneath
euphemisms that may mislead or obscure.

Kol tuv and chodesh tov
Shayna in Toronto

From: Avi Feldblum <feldblum@...>
Date: Thu, 19 Aug 2004 21:47:26 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Re: Hijacking of Language

I would like to point out that what the Torah describes as Toeivah are a
number of specific acts (which include some aspects of Kashrut, by the
way) and in the case under discussion, specific homosexual
activities. The Torah does not say that a person who is "gay" or lesbian
or homosexual is a toeivah. In particular, there is a small but still
sizeable group of frum Jews who are homosexual and acknowledge
themselves as such, and remain committed to Halacha.

Avi Feldblum


From: Nathan Lamm <nelamm18@...>
Date: Wed, 18 Aug 2004 07:14:42 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: Name changes

I've heard that Rav Aharon Kotler changed his name when he came to
America because, while it's a common enough name, it can easily be
mispronounced into something less, well, palatable in English. Does
anyone know if this is true?

Nachum Lamm


From: Elozor Teitz <remt@...>
Date: Wed, 18 Aug 2004 12:09:52 GMT
Subject: Re: non-Jews at a Seder

Other than the problem of the non-Jew touching the wine (which is no
problem if the wine is m'vushal), there is nothing halachically wrong in
having a non-Jew at a seder, provided that it is Friday night.  One is
not permitted to invite a non-Jew to a Yom Tov meal on a day when
cooking, etc., is permitted, lest something be heated expressly for the
non-Jew. Cooking on Yom Tov is permitted only for the sake of a Jew.
Only on Shabbos, when all cooking is prohibited, is it permitted to
invite a non-Jew to a Yom Tov meal.


From: Eliezer Wenger <ewenger@...>
Date: Wed, 18 Aug 2004 09:46:14 -0400
Subject: non-Jews at a Seder

There are also many Halachic problems with inviting non-Jews to any Yom
Tov meal which do not exist when inviting them for Shabbos meals. See
Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 98:36 for starters.

Eliezer Wenger

From: Harry Weiss <hjweiss@...>
Date: Wed, 18 Aug 2004 17:28:45 -0700 (GMT-07:00)
Subject: Re: non-Jews at a Seder

A bigger issue and more relevant this time of the year is the
prohibition of inviting non Jews for any Yom Tov meal other than

An interesting side issue would be regarding those non Jews stuying for
geirus (consversion).

To: <mail-jewish@...>
From: Mark Symons <msymons@...>
Subject: non-Jews at a Seder

Yes, but didn't "Erev Rav" (a "mixed multitude") ie non-jews, accompany
them on their exodus?

Mark Symons
Melbourne, Australia

From: Chaim G Steinmetz <cgsteinmetz@...>
Date: Wed, 18 Aug 2004 15:32:11 -0400
Subject: non-Jews at a Seder

There is an issue inviting non-Jews to a Yom Tov meal - see Shulchan
Aruch OH 512 for details.

Chaim Gershon Steinmetz


From: <graetz@...> (Naomi Graetz)
Date: Wed, 18 Aug 2004 16:35:42 +0530
Subject: Repressed Memory

I find the comments of "Anonymous" to be extremely dangerous. He or she
claims to be "a professional with some expertise in relevant fields" but
does not say what fields and why h/she hides her/his identity. What
concerns her/him "is the reference to an adult 'discover[ing] that they
[...] were abused as a child.'" Anonymous writes "that adults who were
themselves abused as children overwhelmingly *do* remember all or part
of what happened to them." S/he then downplays cases of recovery of
"repressed" memories in therapy. Now it is true that there have been
some cases of repressed memories being false, the majority of cases are
not. There is also a very strong lobby of people who are totally against
the use of repressed memories, who refer to them as "false memories", in
the courtroom. I am concerned about her/his encouraging the victim of
abuse to be silent. Most victims do stay silent, and it is a very brave
action on their part to speak up and confront their abuser. There is no
reason not to believe the victim. It is unreported abuse that is the
norm, not otherwise. Anonymous, by using phrase like "jumping on the
bandwagon of belief", makes clear that he is very suspicious of
victims. Finally, his/her advice that the client should get on and "cope
with life issues, including putting the past in the past and leaving it
there" is very unfair if the client needs to confront her abuser and
stop repressing her past in order to live healthily in the
present. Anonymous puts down the permanent trauma that the victim has
suffered from the abuse by alleging that "Abuse *doesn't* have to be a
permanent trauma" and "that many abuse survivors *are* resilient and
manage not to have the trauma cast permanent shadows over their entire
lives...[and] that abuse does not have to destroy its survivors for
life..." Would the anonymous writer agree that this is true of a
holocaust survivor or a prisoner of war. There are hospitals full of all
sorts of victims of abuse who have been destroyed for life by
abusers/perpetrators of all kinds. It takes enormous strength to move
on, and one of the first steps are to remember and then to confront the
abuser. It is far "easier" to repress, not allow the memories to surface
and let the abuser get away with his crime.

Naomi Graetz, Author of Silence is Deadly: Judaism Confronts Wifebeating (1998)


From: Nathan Lamm <nelamm18@...>
Date: Wed, 18 Aug 2004 07:07:37 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: Siddur Layout

Just a note that the Artscroll Siddur's first edition made you turn the
page in the middle of tachanunl the second edition corrected this, I
assume for the obvious reason.

Nachum Lamm


From: Perets Mett <p.mett@...>
Date: Wed, 18 Aug 2004 17:32:40 +0100
Subject: Tefilin

Immanuel Burton wrote:

> Another thought that occured to me on the subject of the cryptic
> nature of the Torah concerns different customs regarding Torah
> obligations, for example tephillin.  Some people wear tephillin on
> Chol Ha'moed, and some don't (and on Chol Ha'Moed Pesach there are
> even different customs as to when during davenning to take them off).
> Now then, surely on the very first Chol Ha'Moed after the Torah was
> given they would have known whether to put tephillin on or not, so
> where did the differing customs as to whether to put them on or not
> come from?  As a bi-annual event it is unlikely that the practice
> would have been forgotten through lack of observance,

That is a very pertinent point. How did the knowledge about
wearing/not-wearing tefilin on chol hamoeid get forgotten?

May I suggest the following:

Tosfos on Shabbos 49a discusses the reason for laxity in wearing of
tefilin (in general). The details there need not concern us, but it is
apparent from that Tosfos that there were periods in Jewish history when
most Jews did not wear tefilin daily. Therefore there may have been
extended periods during which tefilin were not worn widely, resulting in
confusion as to whether tefilin should be worn on chol hamoieid.

An alternative (possible) explanation - my own idea, with no sources -
is that while originally tefilin were worn daily and all day, it was
always considered 'voluntary' to wear tefilin on chol hamoeid.

> as with what has happened with the blue dye for tzitzit.  And where
> does the different order of the parshiot between Rashi and Rabbenu Tam
> tephillin come from if the order was given at Sinai?

I have seen this discussed although I cannot locate the source at
present.  Originally both versions - Rashi & Rabeinu Tam - were
considered valid, and you could choose which ones to wear. After the
period of Rashi and R. Tam, the opinion of the former predominated and
normative halokho accepted that a brokho should be made on Rashi tefilin

Perets Mett


From: Leah Perl Shollar <leahperl@...>
Date: Wed, 18 Aug 2004 13:15:11 -0400
Subject: white South Africans

> I know white South Africans who are now US citizens - no one calls
> them African Americans because they are white!

Actually, friends I know qualified for a special mortgage rate being
"African-Americans" although they were Causcasian; the form did not ask
for race.  The assumption that African American = black was implicit.
In any case, they were authentically "African-American".

L. Shollar


End of Volume 44 Issue 30