Volume 44 Number 67
                    Produced: Wed Sep  8 21:44:00 EDT 2004

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Beer and yayin Nesech (2)
         [Lawrence Myers, Mark Steiner]
Brit - kvatter/in
         [Chana Luntz]
Hareidi press
         [Immanuel Burton]
Is it ribbis?
         [Yossi Berlin]
Name Changes
         [Yisrael & Batya Medad]
Prayer "vs." Learning
         [Yisrael Dubitsky]
Receiving money for Dvar mitzvah on shabbos?
         [Akiva Miller]
What is a language? (2)
         [Frank Silbermann, Bernard Katz]


From: Lawrence Myers <lawrence@...>
Date: Thu, 2 Sep 2004 23:07:22 +0100
Subject: Beer and yayin Nesech

I always understood that the reason that chazal imposed restrictions
only on non-jewish wine, as opposed to beers and spirits etc, was
because there already was an issur on wine that was used for sacramental
purposes (the actual meaning of Yayin Nesech)., which position did not
apply to the other drinks. Thus they could extend the restriction to
wines generally (Stam Yainom) without making a completely new

Lawrence Myers 

From: Mark Steiner <marksa@...>
Date: Mon, 6 Sep 2004 22:14:48 +0300
Subject: RE: Beer and yayin Nesech

	I have not been following carefully the thread on beer etc. as
yayin nesekh, so what I am about to say may be completely off base (I'll
let the Moderator decide) but, unless I am mistaken, there are some
factual errors being propagated in what I did read:

First, some definitions:

Yayin Nesekh: in the Bible, this means wine offered as a libation to
avoda zara (idolatry).  In the Talmud, this term is extended to mean
also wine which has been "touched" by an idol worshiper.  Thus, yayin
nesekh could be regarded as "derabbanan" (rabbinic) as well as
"deorayta" (Biblical) depending on the meaning of the word.  In fact,
the Talmud (a.z. 34a) states explicitly that yayin nesekh is only
derabbanan, showing the shift of meaning.

Stam yaynam: in the Talmud, any wine coming from a non-Jewish source.

All these wines, including stam yaynam, are forbidden to drink or even
to have benefit from it (e.g. by selling it for a profit).  However, the
Rambam, who holds that the Moslems are not idol worshipers, writes that
wine from Moslem sources is not forbidden in benefit, but only forbidden
to drink.  A similar opinion we find in Europe, based on the assumption
that in the Christian religion, which was assumed to be idolatrous,
there is very little "libation"--for example, Rabbenu Tam held (and his
opinion seems normative today) that Christian wine is forbidden to
drink, but not to sell.

The usual interpretation of all this (though it has been challenged
recently by Prof. Haym Soloveitchik in his new book on the subject) is
that non-Jewish wine was forbidden for two reasons: (a) because it might
have been offered as a libation to idolatry; (b) to limit social
interaction.  The Rambam and Rabbenu Tam held that (a) does not apply
today, leaving (b).

As for beer etc., I am not aware of any such prohibition on the beverage
itself.  HOWEVER, there is a general prohibition on participating in
drinking parties with non-Jews.  This is explicit in the Tosefta to
Tractate Avoda Zara, and cited in the Talmud 8a: "Rabbi Ishmael said:
the Jews in the diaspora are guilty of "kosher" idolatry.  How so?  An
idolator who made a party for his son and invited all the Jews in his
town.  Even if they eat their food, and drink their drinks, and hire
their own waiter, the Torah regards them as having eaten from an
idolatrous sacrifice."

We can sum up as follows: there certainly were other drinks than wine in
the Talmudic period ("shekhar"--which means either fermented juice of
dates or, sometimes, beer).  There were no prohibitions on these drinks,
where kosher, from whatever source, but only a prohibition on drinking
them at a (non-Jewish) party.

Hence, there is no meaning to the term "extending" yayin nesekh to other
beverages.  The reason for this is, as the Tosafot suggest, that
although non-Jewish wine was forbidden because of social interaction,
the only beverage that was in fact forbidden was that kind of beverage
(wine) that could have been offered as a libation.  Thus, for example,
boiled wine (mevushal), though drinking it could also lead to social
interaction, was never forbidden, because it was thought to be unfit for
libation, for Gentiles as well as Jews.  Certainly this is true for beer


From: Chana Luntz <chana@...>
Date: Sat, 4 Sep 2004 23:31:24 +0100
Subject: Brit - kvatter/in

Aliza Berger wrote:
>Kvatter/in is a Yiddish word. Is there an equivalent word in Hebrew, or 
>do only Ashkenazim have this custom?

I don't know if this minhag was widespread, but I came across a
reference to the Chida in which he (ie the Chida) described a minhag,
which seemed at least to be the minhag in Salonika (and maybe was wider
spread in the Sephardi world) where there were no kvatterin - but rather
the mother carried the baby into the bris on two pillows, holding on to
the lower one. The husband then took the baby from her by taking the
baby and the upper pillow, and the Chida held that this was an
acceptable minhag, despite the wife being in nida.

As the context of the discussion in which this Chida was brought was the
discussion in Taharat Habayit (siman 12, si'if 6) regarding the halachas
of throwing between husband and wife during nida, whereby Sephardim hold
that it is permitted for a husband and wife to throw something between
them while Ashkenazim hold that it is forbidden, it might suggest that
allowing this double pillow solution might also be a related division,
hence maybe only Ashkenazim needed kvatterin, and hence a word for them
(although this is just a guess, and an extrapolation from one Chida).

Shavua tov
Chana Luntz


From: Immanuel Burton <IBURTON@...>
Date: Fri, 3 Sep 2004 09:18:26 +0100
Subject: RE: Hareidi press

In Mail.Jewish v44n59, Menashe Elyashi wrote:

> In yated only certain circles have Rabbis, no Mizrahi Rabbi is called
> Rabbi.

Not being a reader of Yated, I cannot comment on this.  However, in the
United Kingdom I have seen the Hareidi press refer to the Chief Rabbi as
just Dr Sacks, rather than Rabbi Sacks, or even Rabbi Dr Sacks.
Fortunately this seems to be quite rare these days.

Is refusing to refer to a Rabbi as a Rabbi a gross disrespect?  And do
we not say an "al chait" on Yom Kippur for "zilzul horim u'morim"?

Immanuel Burton.


From: Yossi Berlin <yberlin@...>
Date: Fri, 03 Sep 2004 16:16:06 -0400
Subject: Is it ribbis?

Last month there was a short discussion regarding the issue of ribbis
(interest).  The circumstances discussed related to purchases of goods
or services for which a discount provision was available for immediate
cash payment.

A somewhat simiilar question arises but, in this instance, no purchase
of either a good or service is involved.  Specifically: a common feature
at some synagogues is a building fund.  If the member pays the building
fund immediately, his cost is only $1,000.  But if he elects to pay on a
longer term, say 3 years, he is required to pay three installments of
$400 each, totally $1,200 over the three years, in contrast to the
"discounted" price of $1,000 if cash is forthcoming immediately.

Does this constitute ribbis?  Does the fact we are dealing with a
synagogue have an impact on the issue?  Does the fact that no "goods"
are being sold also effect the issue?


From: Yisrael & Batya Medad <ybmedad@...>
Date: Sun, 05 Sep 2004 02:05:14 +0200
Subject: Name Changes

Just to append a recent story about having name change effected by
immigration clerks, we had a celebration here in Shiloh of a New Zealand
couple marking their 50th wedding anniversary.  They came here eleven
years ago and I always spelled their name Brim but when I saw a copy of
their original wedding invitation, it was spelled Brem.  I asked and was
told that at Ben Gurion airport, when they arrived, the husband said
"Brem" in his Scottish-born and New Zealand-bred accent and out came, to
the clerk's ears, "Brim" And that's just one syllable..

Imagine then Yankelevitch at Ellis Island a hundred years ago or more.

Yisrael Medad


From: Yisrael Dubitsky <Yidubitsky@...>
Date: Fri, 03 Sep 2004 12:08:06 -0400
Subject: Re: Prayer "vs." Learning

For those interested, in the soon to be released next Orthodox Forum
volume, R. Dr. Y. Elman (H' be-rahamav yirap'ehu refu'ah shelemah
bi-meherah) has an article on the different values assigned to prayer
and study in Hazal.



From: Akiva Miller <kennethgmiller@...>
Date: Fri, 3 Sep 2004 13:58:16 GMT
Subject: re: Receiving money for Dvar mitzvah on shabbos?

Daniel Lowinger asked <<< My Rabbi once taught me a song that goes -
"ain't goin to work on Saturday" Why is it then that the Rabbis,
chazzanim, Balei Koreh and people making kiddushim are the ones that
actually do work on Saturday and benefit monetarily from work performed?

It is important to distinguish between the things which the Torah
forbade on Shabbos, and the extras that have been added to it.

The basic Torah-level prohibitions include things like cooking, sewing,
writing, and lighting fires. Many things were added to this, and for
various reasons. For example, most - but not all - business activities
were forbidden because they might lead to writing.

Another category would be things which seem like they ought to be
forbidden but really are not forbidden at all. I would put "employment"
in this category. If one has committed himself to do a certain task on a
regular basis, and must show up there and do it, we might think that
this is forbidden on Shabbos, but once I point out that he is doing this
unpaid, as a volunteer, then it becomes clear that the problem is not
the working, but the getting paid.

Because business and employment are merely in this secondary category,
allowed by the Torah but forbidden by the rabbis, those same rabbis
allowed certain exceptions. The examples given above (and another very
common one would be babysitting) can usually be done without violating
any prohibition except for the fact that one is getting paid for
it. There are many details, but the main one is that the prohibition
applies only if one gets paid specifically for his Shabbos work. But if
one is paid for a longer period of time (which includes both Shabbos and
non-Shabbos work) or if one is paid for a project (some of which was
done on Shabbos and some not on Shabbos), then he can get paid for the
whole thing.

I'll be happy to supply sources for this if anyone wants.

Akiva Miller


From: Frank Silbermann <fs@...>
Date: Thu, 2 Sep 2004 20:55:40 -0500 (CDT)
Subject: What is a language?

<meirman@...> (Meir) in V44 N59:
> Why is it when words are used in English with different spellings or
> pronunciations from the original language, we say they are "from French"
> or "derived from German" etc., but when the destination language is
> Yiddish, so many people, including Jews, say that the word is a
> corruption of the foreign word?
> Why is it so many people, especially Jews, say that Yiddish is not a
> language but a dialect of German but no one says French or Spanish or
> Italian is a dialect of Latin?

In general (though I am sure there are exceptions), a dialect becomes a
language when it becomes the official tongue of a sovereign government
that has an army.  At least, that's what a linguist once told me.

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

From: Bernard Katz <bkatz@...>
Date: Wed, 8 Sep 2004 15:36:17 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Re: What is a language?

  Re: Language

  Commenting on what constitues a language, Ben Katz says:

    No one would say that French and Latin are the same language
    because they are not mutually understandable.  Yet there are some
    mutually understandable languages (eg the scandinavian languages)
    that are considered seperate languages.  Most people would argue
    that Yiddish is distinct enough (alphabet, some hebrew, polish and
    russian) to merit its being considered a seperate language, yet it
    is mutually intelligible with german speakers.

  In fact, I don't think that there is a significant linguistic
  distinction between what constitutes a dialect and what constitutes
  a language; the distinction is largely social and political. As the
  great Yiddish linguist Max Weinreich once put the matter, "A shprakh
  iz a diyalekt mit an armey un a flot" ("A language is a dialect with
  an army and navy"). 

  This quip occurs in a 1945 Yiddish article by Weinreich, "Der Yivo
  un di problemen fun undzer tsayt" ("YIVO and the problems of our
  time"). Weinreich, attributing the formulation to a young man who
  attended one of his lectures, thought that it summed up the social
  fate of Yiddish. 

  Bernard Katz
  Department of Philosophy
  University of Toronto


End of Volume 44 Issue 67