Volume 45 Number 29
                    Produced: Wed Oct 20 22:39:53 EDT 2004

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Aleinu after Minhah & on Yom Kippur
         [Yehonatan Chipman]
Beautiful Theory on Chapter Divisions (2)
         [Stan Tenen, Ben Katz]
Electricity on Shabbos
         [Perets Mett]
How to tell if it is a Leap Year
         [Mike Gerver]
Is there a concept of "psak"?
         [Tzvi Stein]
Learning something new on Shabbat
         [Ben Katz]
         [Yehonatan Chipman]
Writing G-d
         [Steven Oppenheimer]


From: Yehonatan Chipman <yonarand@...>
Date: Tue, 19 Oct 2004 16:35:18 +0200
Subject: Re:  Aleinu after Minhah & on Yom Kippur

Re: Edward Black's question in v45 n09

The omission of Aleinu in Mussaf of Yom Kippur is clearly related to the
idea that, at least theoretically, the prayer of Yom Kippur is meant to
be continuous all day long, even if in fact there is a break between
Musaf and Minhah.  I heard this orally from Rav Soloveitchik ztz"l.
(And by the way, in terms of hashkafah, the idea of Yom Kippur being a
day entirely devoted to avodah is an important one).

A cute story about this: my childhood rabbi, Rav Josiah Derby z"l of
Rego Park, quoted his own father, an impeccably pious Jew, as saying
that he never fasted on Yom Kippur. "Every day I don't eat 'till after I
finish davening, and on Yom Kippur I do the same...."

Second, some old-fashioned Mahzorim (specifically, Mahzor Beit ha-Levi),
contain a note stating that one should try to say "Ein ke'-Eloheinu" and
"Aleinu" privately at the end of Mussaf Yom Kippur, wheenver he can
"sneak" it in (the note suggests doing so while the hazan is singing
"Hayom te'amtzeinu").

There is also a problem with omitting Shir shel yom on Yom Kippur (in
Diaspora Nusah Ashkenaz), which is why some Mahzorim print it right
after Korbanot!

Third, on the other end of the spectrum, I once heard from Reb Shlomo
Carlebach ztz"l (whose 10th yahrzeit, BTW, is coming up next week, on
Shabbat Vayera), that one should say Aleinu whenever leaving a certain
place of prayer.  Thus, he once did a shabbat at the Brandeis campus
(this was back in Winter 1971), and his group davened Shaharit in a
downstairs room of the chapel and only went upstairs for laining, he had
the minyan say Aleinu at that point.  I've never seen this done anywhere
else, even though there are quite a few places which have a substantial
break between Shaharit and Keriat Hatorah (e.g. Ger Hasidim, or certain
Jewish summer camps, which also have breakfast and change locale in

The real question is, why are we so insistent on say Aleinu after Minhah
even when Ma'ariv follows immediately? Logically, it seems superfluoos.
Perhaps becayse uf "lo plug."

Yehonatan Chipamn 


From: Stan Tenen <meru1@...>
Date: Tue, 19 Oct 2004 10:03:16 -0400
Subject: Re: Beautiful Theory on Chapter Divisions

It's important to distinguish different types of cycles.

1) The lunar/solar calendar is hard to reconcile.  This is what mostly
everyone discusses.

2) The cycle of the year, whether lunar or solar, forms a circle, which
is neither exactly lunar nor solar.

There are commentaries that link the number of negative mitzvot, 365, to
the number of days of the solar year.  But Rosh Hashanah may not be
pointing to this.

Standard disclaimer: I don't particularly hold by gematria.

But I do consider the possibility that Chazal might have picked
particular words in particular instances that are directly related to
numbers, where the word picked reflects this.

There are probably grammatical reasons that can explain (whether they're
the real reason or not) why we have Rosh Hashanah, instead of Rosh

"Shanah" has a numerical value of 355.  This is pretty close to the 354
day period.

But "HaShanah" has a value of 360.  This may be significant, because
even though we call it the "new year", Rosh Hashanah may actually more
accurately be called the "Head of the Cycle/Circle".


From: Ben Katz <bkatz@...>
Date: Tue, 19 Oct 2004 09:57:18 -0500
Subject: Re: Beautiful Theory on Chapter Divisions

         Also, in the Noach story, the flood lasts for 1 year and 10
days; rashi points out that this was to make the flood a complete, ie
solar, year.

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: Perets Mett <p.mett@...>
Date: Tue, 19 Oct 2004 22:30:49 +0100
Subject: Electricity on Shabbos

Carl singer wrote:

> re: #2 Where does this end.  OK - use a generator on Shabbos so as not
> to use the municipality's electric system (which may have Jews working
> on Shabbos) -- but what of the light bulbs, etc.  Where is the line to
> be drawn -- go back to sitting in the dark and cold on Shabbos

I don't think that is the rationale at all.  The light bulb is already
made by the time you buy it, so if you can't find one guaranteed to be
made on a weekday you might settle for it. (For all I know maybe no
light bulbs are made by Jews on Shabbos anyway)

The electricity issue is one of a different order. To keep the grid
running, Jews work on Shabbos. So, as a consumer of electricity on
Shabbos I am a cause of a Jew working - now, this Shabbos. It seems to
me to be perfectly legitimate to desist from using such electricity on

Perets Mett
(who does use the electricty of Chevrat Hachashmal on Shabbos)


From: <MJGerver@...> (Mike Gerver)
Date: Tue, 19 Oct 2004 17:10:34 EDT
Subject: Re: How to tell if it is a Leap Year

There's a very simple way to figure out, in any given year, whether it
is going to be a leap year. I used it this Rosh Chodesh Marcheshvan, on
the fly in the middle of davening musaf, to figure out whether to say
ul'chaparat pasha, and this isn't the first year that I've done that.
Everyone should know how to do this.

1) Subtract 11 days from the date of the Rosh Hashana that just
occurred, which should still be fresh in your mind if it is Rosh Chodesh
Marcheshvan, and in any case is 29 days before the present date if you
are doing this on Rosh Chodesh Marcheshvan.

2) If the date you get is well after September 5, then it is not a leap

3) If the date you get is well before September 5, then it is a leap

4) If the date you get is within a day or two of September 5, which is
the case this year, then see whether the current year (i.e. the current
Hebrew year, or the next secular year) is a multiple of 19 years after
1948 (5708) and 1967 (5727). It's easy to remember that those years were
leap years, because, for example, Yom Ha-Atzmaut came out on May 15 in
1948, which is unusually late, and Yom Yerushalayim came out on June 4,
or sometime around then, in 1967, which is unusually late. So if the
current year is a multiple of 19 years after 1948 (5708) and 1967
(5727), then it is a leap year. That's the case, for example, this year,
which is 5765, exactly three 19-year cycles after 5708, or two 19-year
cycles after 5727. (In the secular calendar, you would use 2005, of
course, not 2004.)

4) If the date you get is within a day or two of September 5, and it is
NOT a multiple of 19 years after 1948 and 1967, then it is not a

Mike Gerver
Raanana, Israel


From: Tzvi Stein <Tzvi.Stein@...>
Subject: Is there a concept of "psak"?

> From: Ari Trachtenberg <trachten@...>
> I would argue, rather controversially, that there really is no such
> concept of 'psak' any more.

I've often wondered about the halachic status of a "psak" given by a
rabbi who you never asked.  For example, it is quite common in Israel
for a group of people to go to a "gadol" (great rabbi) and complain
about some situation or other and ask the gadol to give a psak about it.
If the gadol gives the psak the group wanted, the group then goes and
prints up posters which they plaster on the walls saying that
such-and-such gadol (or group of gadolim, if the group is more
ambitious) give a psak that such-and-such is assur.  (Curiously, I've
never seen this done regarding a psak that such-and-such is *muttar*)

If I see such a poster, or hear about it, does that make me obligated to
follow it?

Here's a concrete example I remember.  There is an obligation to take
maaser (tithes) from fruit grown in Israel.  Since much of the fruit
sold in Israel is grown there, maaser is a major halachic issue there.
There was a big fruit store in a certain town, which had a hechsher.
That means the mashgiach (kosher supervisor) came in every day and took
maaser from all the fruit shipped to the store.  The store's customers
thus did not have to worry about maaser, since it had already been taken
by the mashgiach.

Later on, trucks started coming into town regularly, selling fruit off
the back, at prices below that of the fruit store.  The customers of the
truck would be obligated to take their own maaser.  Taking maaser is
really not difficult... there are many step-by-step sheets and books
I've seen.  (It's about as difficult as making an "eruv tavshilin"
[merging of cooking] on Erev Yom Tov, if you're familiar with that.)

However, soon after the trucks started coming, posters went up saying a
prominent rabbi in the town ruled that buying from the trucks was assur,
and that you had to buy from the fruit store.  The reason given was that
you may not take maaser correctly.

I wondered at the time... suppose I know that I can take maaser
correctly.  Am I obligated to follow the "psak"?


From: Ben Katz <bkatz@...>
Date: Tue, 19 Oct 2004 10:13:37 -0500
Subject: Re: Learning something new on Shabbat

> > This is actually advice
> > brought down in Jewish law: One should preferably not study new material
> > on sabbath but rather review the weeks learning.
>I've never heard of this before.  Is there a source where I could find
>more on it?

         I have heard this too.  I don't have a source, but will comment
that for someone like me who underlines and writes comments as he reads,
it is very difficult for me to learn on shabat.  I actually learn much
more during the week and try to review on shabat, but usually i just
forge ahead and stop when there is too much that i will need to "get
back to" when shabat is over.

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: Yehonatan Chipman <yonarand@...>
Date: Tue, 19 Oct 2004 16:51:53 +0200
Subject: Re: Songs

In  v45 n23, Martin stern commented about Aveinu Malkeinu that:  

<<[The maggid of Dubnow] He does not say it is inappropriate to sing it
but explains why we say it quietly unlike all the other ones which are
said aloud by the chazan and repeated by the congregation, which was the
original Minhag Ashkenaz and is still the practice of those originating
from Germany.  Unfortunately the custom arose in Eastern Europe to say
only a few of those in the middle in this manner.>>

There is an interesting custom in Eretz Yisrael to recite all of Avinu
Malkinu line by line at Neilah of Yom Kippur. This is so because Neilah
is said much earlier here than in the Diaspora, because they try to
complete all of Hazarat ha-Shatz of Neilah before sundown, so that the
kohanim may dukhan. Sometimes they literally rush through the Selihot in
order to get to dukhaning on time.  Then, since there is over 20 minutes
left 'till the conclusion of Neilah with Tekiat Shofar and the "Shemot,"
they say Avinu Malkinu as slowly as possible.

In Yeshivat Har Etzion I saw an interesting custom related to this same
problem: they sing "Hayom Te'amtzeinu" at Neilah.  Although this appears
in some manuscripts of the Mahzor, and is brought by Goldschmidt in his
comprehensive Mahzor, I've never seen this actually done anywhere else.

Incidentally, I don't know where the insistence about not saying Birkat
Kohanim after sundown comes from.  I haven't been able to find it in
standard halakha sefarim (Rambam or Shulhan Arukh) in the obvious
places.  I assume the reason is by way of analogy with the Avodat
Hamikdash (i.e., hakravat korbonat, etc.) , which stopped at
sundown. Maharil davka allows dukhaning till full nightfall (meaning
that they said Birkat Kohanim at Neilah in medieval Ashkenaz, unlike
contemporary practice!).  I'd appreciate it if anyone can give me a
source for this.

    Yehonatan Chipman


From: Steven Oppenheimer <oppy49@...>
Date: Tue, 19 Oct 2004 19:37:41 -0400
Subject: Writing G-d

Nathan Lamm writes:
> "I recall being told, by an eyewitness (probably my father, who was in
> his shiur, but I'll have to ask again) of an incident in which Rav Yosef
> Dov Soloveitchik wrote "God" on the blackboard and erased it, to prove
> the point that English names are not a "shem."

The Rav's position is recorded in Rabbi Schachter's "Nefesh HaRav" where
he relates that while the Rav's father Rav Moshe, z"l was very makpid
(careful) regarding the name "G-d", to the point that he took American
money out of his pocket when he went to the bathroom (if G-d was written
on it) - the Rav felt that G-d is not a name but rather an allusion to
G-d's name and it was the height of ignorance to write "G-d".  The
Achiezer (Rav Chaim Ozer Grodzinsky, z"l, 1863-1940) felt it was proper
to write G-d with a dash.

Steven Oppenheimer, DDS


End of Volume 45 Issue 29