Volume 44 Number 46
                    Produced: Thu Aug 26 22:32:22 EDT 2004

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Accuracy in Language
         [Micha Berger]
Adding to Birkat HaMazon
         [David Curwin]
Beer and Yayin Nesach (2)
         [Frank Silbermann, Avi Feldblum]
Brit - kvatter/in - nidda issues
modern Assyrian Christians
         [Martin Stern]
Nusah Questions
         [Baruch J. Schwartz]
Singing Voice as part of Tefilah
         [Martin Stern]
Women's singing as problematic during davening
         [Abbi Adest]


From: Micha Berger <micha@...>
Date: Tue, 24 Aug 2004 06:14:51 -0400
Subject: Re: Accuracy in Language

This is a bit off-topic, but...

Yes, it is true that many blacks consider the phrase "call a spade a
spade" to be based on the card suit, and therefore insulting. I agree
that the phrase should be avoided.

That said, it's not the actual history of the idiom. From the FAQ for

> The ancient Greeks said "to call a kneading-trough a kneading-trough".
> This is first recorded in Aristophanes' play _The Clouds_ (423 B.C.),
> and also shows up in Plutarch's _Apophthegms_.

> In the Renaissance, Erasmus confused Plutarch's "kneading-trough"
> (_skape:_) with the Greek word for "digging tool" (_skapeion_), and
> rendered it in Latin as _ligo_. Thence it was translated into English
> in 1542 by Nicholas Udall in his translation of Erasmus's version as
> "to call a spade [...] a spade".

But as I said above, it is more important to avoid giving offence than
whether or not the offence technically should have been taken.  Besides,
I'm sure there are elements who do mean the phrase in the
reverse-misengineered way.

Micha Berger


From: David Curwin <tobyndave@...>
Date: Mon, 23 Aug 2004 21:43:25 +0300
Subject: Adding to Birkat HaMazon

From: Mark Symons <msymons@...>
>It strikes me that medinat yisrael is tantamount to the fulfillment 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".

Back in MJ 32:52, I wrote in regards to this issue:

"Rav Goren recited Birkat HaMazon with some changes. Instead of "hu
yolicheynu komomiut l'artzeinu" (he will lead us upright to our land),
he said "b'artzeinu" (in our land). Also, instead of "she'hinchalta
l'avotaynu eretz chemda" (that you granted our fathers a desirable
land), he said "she'hinchalta l'avotaynu v'lanu" (that you granted our
fathers and us)."

-Dave Curwin


From: Frank Silbermann <fs@...>
Date: Tue, 24 Aug 2004 06:20:05 -0500 (CDT)
Subject: Re: Beer and Yayin Nesach

> [I believe that the issue is not Yayin Nesach ...  but rather
> the Rabbinic level prohibition of Stam Yanum. It is that prohibition
> that could be argued should be extended to beer. Mod.]

Wasn't Stam Yanum instituted as a fence to reduce the danger that
drunken Jewish and non-Jewish men would agree to exchange daughters in

Given that we no longer give away our daughters without their
permission, why on earth would anyone want to extend a law whose purpose
no longer applies?

Shouldn't our humility (in that we do not consider ourselves great
enough in number and wisdom to overturn a law whose purpose no longer
applies) also make us reluctant to impose new burdens?

Frank Silbermann, New Orleans, Louisiana,  <fs@...>

From: Avi Feldblum <feldblum@...>
Date: Tue, 24 Aug 2004 
Subject: Re: Beer and Yayin Nesach

I think it is clear that Stam Yanum was instituted as a device to limit
serious social interactions. I would be interested to see sources that
it is related to the concern that the people will get drunk and we are
worried about that behaviour. If my memory is correct that it was
instituted as a social interaction inhibiter, because all serious social
interaction would involve wine, as there were few other acceptable
drinks at the time, then it is totally unrelated to whether the fathers
"exchanged daughters" with or without permission.

As to the comment about imposing new burdens, it ahs been completely
clear from the discussion that anyone is proposing (and surely I am not
proposing) to impose new burdens. What I am saying, is that from a pure
logical extension of the original decree, it would make sense to extend
it to from wine to beer. That does not mean that we do make that
extension and actually impose that restriction.



From: <dziants@...>
Date: Thu, 24 Aug 2000 14:14:06 +0300
Subject: Brit - kvatter/in - nidda issues

Jack Gross <ibijbgross@...> answered
> My conjecture on the origin of the term:
> The childs mother needs to convey him to the father, but (if the Brit is
> on time) cannot hand anything to him directly.  So a couple (engaged, or
> otherwide able to serve) is designated -- she (die Kvatterin) takes the
> child from the mother, hands the child to her partner (der Kvatter), who
> hands the baby to the father.
  ... snipped ...

If this is one of the reasons why we have middle people in the ceremony,
then this would mean, that the lady who receives the baby from the
mother could not be a nidda if handing him to her husband. (Having a
non-married couple, I assume would be a less of a problem as the laws of
"harchaka" = "distancing" are less strict.)

Would their be a preference in finding a couple to do this where the
wife is obviously pregnant, thus publicly not a nidda? That way one
limits the potential embarrassments when approaching people.

I asked someone a number of years ago, for the brit of my son, and he
said there is an issue *not* to have an expecting couple do this (maybe
kabbalistic). He didn't see the nida possibility an issue for handing
over a baby.

Any ideas on the subject...

David Ziants
Ma'aleh Adumim, Israel


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Tue, 24 Aug 2004 12:08:11 +0100
Subject: Re: modern Assyrian Christians

on 24/8/04 10:45 am, Mark Symons <msymons@...> wrote:

> Martin Stern wrote:
>> The modern Assyrian Christians are in no way connected to the ancient
>> Assyrians but are the remainder of the (if I am not mistaken Nestorian)
>> Christian community of Mesopotamia from pre-Arab times who used Aramaic
>> as their liturgical (and previously spoken) language.
> An interpreter I have worked with who describes himself as Assyrian,
> tells me that they revere the prophet Jonah, and that they observe an
> annual 3-day fast.

This does not prove anything! As Christians they will have been aware of
the Biblical story.

The name Assyrian comes from Ashur which was one of the principle towns
of the ancient Assyrians.

If I am not much mistaken the present-day Assyrians derive from the
Church of Edessa in Northern Mesopotamia and were the predominant
Christian church in Sassanid Persia. They followed Nestorian doctrine
and spread to Central Asia and even China. The present Assyrian church
has, I think, come into communion with Rome, i.e. it is more like a
Uniate Church, so presumably it has abandoned the Nestorian doctrine of
the two natures and taken on the official Nicene creed.

The language of the ancient Assyrians was called Akkadian and is quite
distinct from Aramaic. The term Aramean which had been used previously
for the Aramaic speaking population was dropped by the Christians
because it had acquired the connotation of 'Pagan' as readers will no
doubt recall from various Talmudic references. They therefore called
themselves Syrians and their language Syriac, words derived from the
Assyrians who had long ago disappeared as a distinct group.

The modern Assyrians, I suspect, took their name as a back-formation
derived from the Arabic 'As-Suria' where the 'As' is the definite
article 'Al' modified by the initial letter of 'Suria' which means
'Syria'. They are therefore what we might call Syrian Christians.

Martin Stern


From: Baruch J. Schwartz <schwrtz@...>
Date: Tue, 24 Aug 2004 13:46:29 +0300
Subject: Nusah Questions

I would like to try to respond to Mark Symons'
(<msymons@...>) query regarding nusah (melody) for minha on
Rosh hashana and other related questions.

1. Rosh hashana minha: in principle, the procedure is exactly the same
as for any yomtov minha. Ashre and uva letzion are said as on a weekday
(NOT as on shabbat). This is true whether rosh hashanah occurs on
shabbat or not. In fact, the melody of shabbat minha has no role in this
service whatsoever. Even if it is shabbat, which requires taking the
Torah out of the ark and returning it thereto, all of the accompanying
prayers are said as on a weekday. The rule is: if "atah ehad veshimkha
ehad" etc.  isn't recited, its melody is not present, anywhere.

The kaddish before the amida should conclude (daamiran bealma veimru
amen) in the RH mode. Practice this in advance, because many people get
confused and end in the melody of shalosh regalim instead.

Hazarat hasha"tz begins in the weekday mode. Stop for people to say
zochrenu and mi khamokha, repeat these in the weekday mode, and
continue.  Melody changes to the RH mode at the end of kedusha (yimlokh
etc.) and continues in the RH mode until the end of hazarat
hasha"tz. Avinu malkenu as at shaharit.

The kaddish following minha reverts to the weekday mode. It is not a
"sung" kaddish as at shaharit and musaf. The logic is: the full kaddish
is "sung" in one of its many elaborate renditions, each appropropriate
to the particular occasion, when the immediately preceding hazarat
hasha"tz has been augmented by the recitation of piyyutim (or the like,
such as hakafot on simchat torah). Alenu as well--weekday mode.

It is evident from the above that this procedure is precisely the same
as that used at minha for yom tov on any of the shalosh regalim, whether
yom tov occurs on Shabbat or not--the only difference being that
wherever the RH mode pops up on rosh hashana, the SR one obviously pops
up on the shalosh regalim.

2. Regarding shabbat minha: it seems that by now the distinctive melody
of Shabbat minha has been allowed to spread to ashre, uva letzion, the
kaddish before the leyning, and the prayers surrounding the removal and
return of the Torah. Be that as it may, in hazarat hasha"tz it is
correct to begin in the weekday mode and to switch to the melody of
shabbat minha at the end of the kedusha, and to continue thus until the
conclusion of hazarat hasha"tz and tzidkatcha tzedek. After that, the
full kaddish and alenu are said in the weekday mode. The use of the mode
for "atah ehad veshimkha ehad" etc. for avot, gevurot and kedusha is an
error (although pointing this out to adults is usually hopeless).

3. The same is true for musaf on rosh hodesh and hol hamoed (other than
Shabbat of course): begin in the weekday mode, and switch at the end of
kedusha; return to the weekday mode after concluding hazarat hasha"tz.

In Ashkenaz nusah as practiced fairly widely today, it may be simplest
just to remember the following rule. There are basically three ways of
beginning hazarat hashat"z. (1) Whenever the simple kedusha is said, the
weekday melody is used, period. (2) When one of the elongated kedushot
is said, i.e. shabbat and yomtov shaharit and musaf, the shabbat
shaharit melody is used. (3) When the hazarat hasha"tz includes piyyutim
(RH shaharit and musaf, YK shaharit, musaf, minha and neilah, and tal
and geshem for those who incorporate them in hazarat hasha"tz), the
specialized melodies for the appropriate occasions are used. (But those
who recite piyyutim on 4 parashayyot and on yomtov mornings will perhaps
find this rule-of-thumb less useful. )

Baruch J. Schwartz
(just returned to)


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Tue, 24 Aug 2004 11:52:48 +0100
Subject: Re: Singing Voice as part of Tefilah

on 24/8/04 10:45 am, Leah S. Gordon <leah@...> wrote:

> To me, this begs the question--how in the world could a woman hide her
> singing voice while she is davening (and presumably singing)??

She should make sure that men cannot hear her, which means she should
either not sing (as opposed to recite - the only prohibition is the
singing voice) the davening in a place where there are men. There is a
suggested hetter by the Seridei HaEsh that in certain circumstances
(e.g. singing zemirot), men and women singing together does not come
under the prohibition but, as not everyone accepts this, a woman should
not rely on it where it might cause offence. After all, just as one
should not impose one's chumras on other people, one should also not
impose one's kullas.

Martin Stern


From: Abbi Adest <abbishapiro@...>
Date: Tue, 24 Aug 2004 13:57:26 +0300
Subject: Women's singing as problematic during davening

<<To me, this begs the question--how in the world could a woman hide her
singing voice while she is davening (and presumably singing)??  And if
this is not what is meant, then could it be that the sources are
considering only men davening, but both genders dressing to facilitate

Leah, this is why many charedi shuls (and I've seen this in actual
shteiblach with ezrat nashim) have signs asking women not to sing during
davening and have "shushing" shomrim to make sure they comply.

Abbi Adest


End of Volume 44 Issue 46