Volume 44 Number 36
                    Produced: Mon Aug 23  4:27:02 EDT 2004

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Adding to Birkat HaMazon
         [Mark Symons]
Dairy Bread
         [David Prins]
Fake marriages
Ktav Ashuri, Again
         [Stan Tenen]
Kxtav Ashuri, Again
         [N Miller]
Matrilineal Descent
         [Ben Katz]
Mock Wedding
         [Caela Kaplowitz]
New Mother Not Leaving House?
         [Ben Katz]
PC Language
         [Yisrael Medad]
What is "chochma"?
         [Ben Katz]


From: Mark Symons <msymons@...>
Date: Fri, 20 Aug 2004 06:40:05 -0700
Subject: Adding to Birkat HaMazon

Ben Katz <bkatz@...> wrote:
> I have seen people add the harachaman for medinat yisrael after the
> one for returning us upright to our land, which makes good contextual
> sense.

It strikes me that medinat yisrael is tantamount to the fulfilment of
the harachaman prayer for returning us upright to our land, so shouldn't
the harachaman for medinat yisrael REPLACE it rather than follow it? Or
PRECEDE it with a re-wording something like "...bless medinat yisrael
... and CONTINUE to lead us upright to our land" or "bless medinat
yisrael ... and (thus) CONSOLIDATE us in our land".

The current version seems a bit contradictory.

Mark Symons
Melbourne Australia


From: David Prins <prins@...>
Date: Fri, 20 Aug 2004 10:03:35 +1000
Subject: Dairy Bread

The New Zealand kashrut authorities seem to sanction milchig bread - see

(The explanation of M = milky; P = parve is at


From: Anonymous2
Date: Thu, 19 Aug 2004 14:24:18
Subject: Re: Fake marriages

An anonymous poster wrote:

>   I am dealing with the issue of a fake marriage of a different kind
> that the one discussed and I would appreciate the groups input. My
> ...

My children were faced with a similar situation last year - they wanted
to apply for financial aid for this year as a married couple, and
therefore had to be "married" at the time of application, the deadline
for which was 3 months before the actual wedding.

They did go through with the "civil union". Let me suggest that if your
daughter does this, that she have it done by a rabbi, who is perfectly
able to be the legal "officiant" at a civil ceremony. In our case, the
rabbi made sure that the "wedding" was as UN-halachic as possible:
nothing was said, nothing exchanged. And a side benefit: to make sure it
was un-halachic, we used women as witnesses, which enabled the kallah to
give honors to some of her friends who otherwise couldn't participate in
the ceremony.

> However, I also have legal issues with this arrangement. Supposed they
> break up before the wedding-they would need a legal divorce and I am
> insisting on a prenup as my daughter is the one who has any real money
> at this point.

This is an issue, and B"H my kids went through with the "real" wedding
and are now (bli ayin hara) living happily ever after. The prenup could
be worded to cover this eventuality, though, although I'd suggest that
you CYLOL (consult your local Orthodox lawyer).

> Also I am afraid that these two young twentysomethings, who have been
> "shomer" till now or so i am told, will jump the gun because they are
> unofficially married.

In the case of my kids, if anything, it made them MORE aware of being
"shomer". I think the fact that they were "married" by a rabbi who
stressed this point did help (at the "ceremony," after saying "I now
pronounce you husband and wife" he said "You may NOT kiss the
bride!"). For the 3 months between this and the actual wedding, they
seemed to me to really be "keeping their distance."

I agree that this is not the optimal situation. But it can work if it
has to.


From: Stan Tenen <meru1@...>
Date: Thu, 19 Aug 2004 11:15:09 -0400
Subject: Ktav Ashuri, Again

Yaakov Kayman, Noyekh Miller, and others, insist that "Ashuris" refers
to Assyria. I find this perplexing.

After all, I'm the person who is considered to be ignorant of Jewish
sources. Yet here, I stand with Jewish sources (R. Nosson Scherman, et
al.). Others, who are more knowledgeable of Jewish sources, are taking
the anti-Torah scholarly perspective for truth. How can this be?

I'm not blindly going along with R. Scherman. I have thirty years of
research with new (old) findings that validate our teachings, and
invalidate the academic scholarly claims and belief system.

Anyone with an eye to geometry (which sadly excludes almost all
scholars), when examining the published alphabets in the classic
scholarly works such as those of Diringer, Jastrow, et al., can compare
the range of Canaanite and Ashuris letters and alphabets. I have gone to
the trouble of cross-correlating about thirty different examples, all
from scholarly sources.

Now, we can either believe the scholars, or look for ourselves. When
these examples are compared critically, the scholarly opinion
fails. There are multiple examples of letter forms that cannot be
accounted for by orthographic drift. So, the idea of the scholars that
Ashuris evolved from Canaanite is obviously and patently false. Of
course, for those who won't look, this isn't at all obvious.

When the traditional claims with regard to the Ashuris letters are
examined, they check out. And further, if I'm right, and the Ashuris
letters come from hand gestures (and the Canaanite from simplified
pictures of idols), then only the Ashuris letters could be used for
spiritual purposes. Why? Because Talmudic and Kabbalistic teachings
include the idea that the letters are to be visualized or taken into the
mind. Hand-gestures can always be seen in the mind's eye, with little or
no training. But arbitrarily shaped letters cannot be seen, and cannot
be rotated one into the other, as is required.

The facts are right in front of us. When we open the Sh'ma, we hold our
hand over our eyes. This is symbolic for our hand appearing in our
mind's eye, under where we physically place our hand.

Tefillin connects our hand to our arm (our strength), our heart (the
"heart chakra", our feelings), and our minds (we can always see what's
in our hand in our mind). This is exactly what the Sh'ma tells us. We
bind tefillin on our arm, on our heart, and on our mind. And of course,
according to most traditions (though with some variety), we are taught
to see at least some of the letters in the knots and windings of the
tefillin strap.

The material that describes this is not on the Meru website, because we
don't want it to be available to the new-age loonies who have been
heavily plagiarizing and bastardizing these ideas.  (It's a long
story. If you have a strong stomach, click on the links in the
"Plagiarism Notice" at the bottom of the http://www.meru.org home page.)

I can send privately my draft essay on this, "The Arm of God", which
shows the particular geometric connection between the Sh'ma,
"ur-tefillin", and the alphabet, along with many examples of how these
ideas have been copied and abused by other traditions.

I'd like to ask mail-jewish readers if they hold by the teachings of our
sages that Ashuris pre-dates Assyria (whether or not it means
"praiseworthy" or "Assyrian"), or whether they hold with the teachings
of the academic scholars that Torah and the Ashuris alphabet were
written, composed, and edited during the Babylonian exile. Do
mail-jewish readers hold that Torah is only the Bible stories? Or do
they hold that Remez, Drosh, and Sod are also necessary, and that the
letter-text must have preceded the Babylonian exile, even if some of the
targums did not?

This is a serious question. Do we hold -- on mail-jewish -- with our
sages, or with the scholars?

Now, this is not an issue of advances in scientific understanding, which
affects what our sages have to say about the spontaneous generation of
life, and other medieval pseudo-science. Clearly, our sages were
operating from within the limits of scientific knowledge of their
day. Here, we have a different sort of question. This isn't a matter of
scientific knowledge; it's a matter of historical accuracy.

If we hold with the scholars, we need go no further than to dismiss the
teachings of our sages. If we hold with our sages, it's our obligation
to discover how, and why, they taught as they did. This is what my
thirty years of research has been about. I started with the assumption
that both our sages, and the scholars, had something valuable to say,
and then I attempted to sort sense from nonsense. In this case, our
sages make sense, and it can be demonstrated. And the scholars make

Do we hold with the scholars, who claim that Torah, our alphabet, et
al., come from Babylonia? Or do we hold with our sages when it comes to
the historical accuracy of Torah, our alphabet, et al.?



From: N Miller <nm1921@...>
Date: Thu, 19 Aug 2004 13:15:11 -0400
Subject: Re: Kxtav Ashuri, Again

Let's get one thing straight: this is _not_ a dispute between
"anti-Torah" scholars and "Jewish" sources. The vast majority of scholars
are themselves Jewish and not a few of them are observant Jews.  Stan
Tenen apparently believes that calling them bad names proves that he's
right.  Flag-waving and gratuitous slurs are the marks of the

I happen to believe that Judaism and scholarship go hand in hand.  No
one in his right mind would oppose modern medical procedures because they
seem to contradict those mentioned in the Talmud.  No one on this list
has denounced modern genetics or Mike Gerver's clear exposition of things
no Torah sage ever said.  Yet when it comes to the rigorous and exacting
science of linguistics it's open season. 

As for what Stan Tenen calls his findings, I have nothing to say that I
haven't said before.  I await some sign of confirmation or even serious
consideration from independently-recruited mathematicians, semioticians
and linguists. 

Noyekh Miller


From: Ben Katz <bkatz@...>
Date: Thu, 19 Aug 2004 18:44:11 -0500
Subject: Re: Matrilineal Descent

>Akiva Miller:
> >This post makes it sound like matrilineal descent was an invention of
> >the rabbis. In actuality, it was G-d's law in the Torah. See Devarim 7:4
> >and Rashi's explanation there. Or, if you want to go even further back,
> >Gemara Kiddushin 68b.

         I happen to be studying Shadal's chumash commentary, and on
Duet.  7:4 he disagrees with Rashi's interpretation, saying that it is
not the peshat.


From: Caela Kaplowitz <caelak@...>
Date: Thu, 19 Aug 2004 19:01:31 -0400
Subject: RE: Mock Wedding

Anonymous wrote:

>I am dealing with the issue of a fake marriage of a different kind
>that the one discussed and I would appreciate the groups input. My
>daughter is getting married in Jan. '05 and would like to be declared
>independent before that so that she could get more tuition assistance
>which she will not get based upon my income. She wants to get a civil
>marriage at city hall in Sept. 2004 and then get under her future
>husbands health plan and show in other ways that she is financially

Why don't the couple get married in September? They will have to forgo,
perhaps, some of the frills of a wedding in January but, after all, what
are the couple's priorities?

Caela Kaplowitz
Baltimore, MD


From: Ben Katz <bkatz@...>
Date: Thu, 19 Aug 2004 18:44:11 -0500
Subject: Re: New Mother Not Leaving House?

>From: Aliza Berger <alizadov@...>
>A friend of mine recently gave birth. When her baby was about a week
>old, she took him to her workplace (she is a doctor and wanted to weigh
>him there). Some Sephardic people there were astounded. Apparently there
>is a custom for the mother not to go out for 40 days after the birth. Or
>perhaps the custom is for the BABY not to go out? Does anyone know more
>about this?  One question that comes to mind is: Do people who abide by
>this custom always perform the brit in their house?

         From a medical standpoint, it is not a bad idea not to expose a
baby to too many people before about 4-6 weks of age.  That is why, with
my 3 daughters, I waited till ~ 1 mon. to do the simchat bat.

Ben Z. Katz, M.D.
Children's Memorial Hospital, Division of Infectious Diseases
2300 Children's Plaza, Box # 20, Chicago, IL 60614
e-mail: <bkatz@...>


From: Yisrael Medad <ybmedad@...>
Date: Thu, 19 Aug 2004 20:39:07 +0200
Subject: PC Language

regarding this recent thread of Political Correctness and Significant
Others such as this

      >It is my strong opinion that if someone describes his/her own life with
      >certain language ("wife" or "SO" or "partner" or whatever), that it

and this

      society's acceptance of the
      SO/partner/unmarried-partner-of-either-sex relationship is itself
      a Chillul Hashem.  That view is appropriate halachically, but
      there are ways to deal with this that don't magnify the Chilul

just to throw in a bit of reality, recently someone passed away in
Jerusalem and the death notices that were pasted up in all the streets
read at the bottom the list of mourning family members.  It started off
with his children, grandchildren, siblings and extended family and at
the bottom, it read: "chevrato l'chayim" = his life's partner and the
lady's name.

Yisrael Medad


From: Ben Katz <bkatz@...>
Date: Thu, 19 Aug 2004 18:48:05 -0500
Subject: Re: What is "chochma"?

>From: <billbernstein@...> (Bill Bernstein)
>A teshuva in the Binjan Tsion (125) brought up a question.  In Rambam
>h.Rozeach (5:5) he writes that a father who accidentally kills his son
>while teaching him "Torah, chochma, or umnios" is exempt from galus
>(exile).  Torah is fairly obvious.  Umnios is some kind of trade (a
>father's obligation), but what is chochma?  Anyone know of other uses of
>the word in Rambam that might shed some light here?

         I would hazard a guess: Philosophy.

Ben Z. Katz, M.D.


End of Volume 44 Issue 36