Volume 45 Number 75
                    Produced: Fri Nov 19  6:27:32 EST 2004

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

Is Saint veneration a Jewish custom? (2)
         [Saul Mashbaum, Shayna Kravetz]
Love (ehov)
         [Yehonatan Chipman]
"Merry Christmas"
         [Leah S. Gordon]
Monday and Thursday (2)
         [David Ziants, Perry Zamek]
         [Perets Mett]
Two Pair Tefillin
         [Mark H. Goldenberg]
Yitzhak's love
         [David Prins]


From: Saul Mashbaum <smash52@...>
Date: Tue, 16 Nov 2004 20:42:03 +0200
Subject: Re: Is Saint veneration a Jewish custom?

Avi Feldblum <feldblum@...> wrote in mail-jewish Vol. 45 #64 Digest

>There is one case in the Gemarah where it talks about a specific Tana
>(I think, but it could have been an Amorah) who reached a state such
>that when he died, there was no Tumah involved.  I remember that there
>is an interesting Malbim about the nature of Tumah and he used that

The Malbim has a long and absolutely brilliant drasha (discourse) on
this subject in the beginning of Parshat Chukat (Bmidbar 19) in the
Torah Ohr section of his commentary. About halfway through the drasha he
quotes at length the description of the gemara of the death of Rabba Bar
Nachmani, BM 86.  When RBBN died, a bat kol (heavenly voice) said "your
body is tahor (pure), and your soul departed from it in purity", which
the Malbim interprets as meaning there was no tuma (ritual impurity)
associated with RBBN's remains. The Malbim explains the philosophical
and religious meaning of this concept in detail.

Thanks to Avi, I revisited an old friend: I read this passage in the
Malbim many years ago, loved it, reread it yesterday, and found that I
still love it. I hope that some mJers will learn this passage.

Saul Mashbaum

[Thanks, Saul, I had "lost" where it was and I think I will reread it
over Shabbat. Avi]

From: Shayna Kravetz <skravetz@...>
Date: Wed, 17 Nov 2004 07:59:00 -0500
Subject: Re: Is Saint veneration a Jewish custom?

My thanks to Gilad J. Gevaryahu who mustered the aggadic sources to show
that we do have a traditional belief that the bodies of tzadiqim do not
transmit tumah.  (Although I confess that, whenever I see proofs like
this, it makes me wonder whether the principle of "ein posqin al
ha-agadah" [One does not found halachic decisions on the basis of
aggadah] is not more honoured in the breach than in the observance!)

I was also contacted offlist with information about the halachic
requirement of "ein kovrin tzadik etzel rasha" [One does not bury a
righteous person next to a wicked person].

This preponderance of evidence suggests that my Yiddishkeit antennae
were off-kilter on this issue.  I had understood that the purpose of the
plain pine box, the simple shrouds, the prescribed procedures in
treating the meit, were all to ensure equality after death regardless of
wealth or status in life.  Apparently, even if this is a general
principle, there appear to be some exceptions.

I am indebted to both gentlemen, as well as to Avi Feldblum for his

Kol tuv from
Shayna in Toronto


From: Yehonatan Chipman <yonarand@...>
Date: Tue, 16 Nov 2004 22:31:43 +0200
Subject: Re:  Love (ehov)

      About "ahavah" and such-like terminology:

     Clearly the word "ahavah" does not refer to romantic love, as we
understand it, but it can also be used to refer to that; or, to put it
better, it subsumes the concept within its definition: it includes
romantic love, spiritual love (i.e., of God), parental love, friendship
(as of David and Jonathan), erotic love, desire, etc., depending on the
context.  Interestingly, Rambam, Hilkhot Teshuvah 10.3 describes the
ideal love for God in terms of the intense love a man may feel for a
woman, which he calls "lovesickness," after a verse in Shir ha-Shirim.
As for "ahavah" as simple lust, see the case of Amonon and Tamar, in 2
Samuel 13, where, after raping the woman he "loves" (who also happens to
be his half-sister; no small problem halakhically), we are told taat
"the hatred with which he hated her was greater than the love he had
felt for her (13:15).

      It is interesting that in Shir ha-Shirim, which on the peshat
level refers to romantic/erotic love, the word most often used for love
is "dodim," and related nounal and adjectival forms, rather than the
root "ohev" or "ahavah" at all.

       I would add here that Judaism does not necessarily have a concept
of romantic love, and certainly does not see exclusive love, in the
sense of an overpowering emotion, as the basis for monogamous marriage.
(In fact, the concept of romantic love, promulgated day and night by
popular culture of TV, movies, fiction, etc., may well have caused more
mischief than good, by creating unrealistic expectations, and may even
be indirectly responsible for the epidemic of divorce in today's
society.)  Monogamy is based on an halakhic and ethical commitment: the
Torah forbids a woman to have a sexual connection with more than one
man, and a man is similarly proscribed rabbinically (Takkanat Rabbenu
Gershom).  Marital fidelity is an ethical commitment the partners make
to one naother, not an outcome of a particular emotional connection. If
there us a deep, unique emotional connection, what we call finding ones
"soul mate," that's wonderful, and it can change the whole qualty and
feel of ones life, but it is not seen as constitutuve of marriage.
Monogamy is thus defined in terms of acts, not feelings; human beings
are capable of loving many different people, on many different levels,
of both their own and the opposite sex.  But the Torah, as well as
something called derekh erez, decency, or civiilzation, require that one
learn to control the physical expression of this feeling.  Hence, the
word ahavah is not unique to sexual-emotional love.

    Someone asked about what word might be used to designate "liking" or
"affection."  In contemporary Hebrew, the word used for that is "haviv"
or "le-havev." "Ani hovev oto me'od" simply means "I like him a lot."

    This word also has biblical roots: it appears exactly once in the
Tanakh, in a verse familiar from Simhat Torah: Deut 33:3: "af hovev amim
kol kedoshav beraglekha..."  Also, according to Brown Driver & Brigg's
monumental Biblical Lexicon, the word "hobo" in Job 31:33, meaning "his
bosom," is from the same root.  Hazal speak of "havivut ha-mitzvah," the
endearment or holding precious of the mitzvut, as in the case of the
pious men of old in Yerushalayim who used to carry the lulav around all
day long on Sukkot, because it was so precious to them.

     Yehonatan Chipman


From: Leah S. Gordon <leah@...>
Date: Tue, 16 Nov 2004 18:07:01 -0800
Subject: re: "Merry Christmas"

WRT the recent thread on whether/how to wish "non-Jews" a "Merry
Christmas" or not--

First, please be sure that you are wishing only *Christians* a "Merry
Christmas".  Surely all of us know, better than anyone, that it is
offensive to be wished a merry xmas when we don't celebrate it!  Not all
"non-Jews" are Christians!!  There may be a small set of nonChristians
who celebrate Christmas, but it is by no means universal among e.g.
Moslems, Hindus, Wiccans, Atheists, etc.

Second, is it really necessary to be greeting people about this much
over-hyped holiday here in the US anyway?  I spend so much time/effort
trying to educate my nonJewish friends about what a pain it is to have
people assuming it is my 'holiday season' or that Chanukah = Christmas
etc.  I am distressed that now even m.j types are planning to enhance
the ubiquitous annoyingness that is December....

If someone says "Merry Christmas" or "Happy Holidays" or any other
variant to me, I say something like, "Hi" (in a friendly way), because I
will not get caught up in it.  I cringe to read someone on m.j pondering
whether someone celebrates Christmas or Chanukah or Kwanzaa and in the
process ignoring the larger question of why people are expected to
choose one of those three in the first place, or if they're really

I suppose if one knows someone well enough to discuss personal plans,
then it might be ok to say, "I hope you have a lovely Christmas with
your family" or somesuch.  But to the general practice of December
greetings, I say "Bah!  Humbug!"

--Leah S. R. Gordon


From: David Ziants <dziants@...>
Date: Wed, 17 Nov 2004 15:45:19 +0200
Subject: Re: Monday and Thursday

The rationalle I have learnt for these days being of rachamim, is that
these are the days the villagers came to the market (cf first mishna in
Mesechet Megilla). Then the Torah was read and the Bet Din sat. When
the Bet Din Shel Mata (earthly bet din) sits so does the B.D. shel
Ma'ala (heavenly BD). Thus we want to do more to invoke G-d's mercy on
these days of the week.

>From what the poster writes, the Torah reading days were fixed
first. Because the Jews gathered together in the towns, these became
market days. Is this correct or is it the other way around, and the
maximal three day interval came to support what was already common
practice due to bussiness logistics ?

David Ziants
Ma'aleh Adumim, Israel

From: Perry Zamek <perryza@...>
Date: Wed, 17 Nov 2004 17:00:05 +0200
Subject: Re: Re: Monday and Thursday

David Ziants wrote:
[See above]

Moshe established the Torah reading schedule when Bnei Yisrael were in
the desert. I doubt that the three-day pattern reflected business
logistics of the time. After all, the three-day pattern only makes sense
if we assume a Torah reading on Shabbat, which certainly didn't exist in
the time of the Avot.

Perry Zamek


From: Perets Mett <p.mett@...>
Date: Tue, 16 Nov 2004 22:35:47 +0000
Subject: Tachanun

Martin Stern wrote:
> on 16/11/04 3:58 am, Samuel P Groner <spg28@...> wrote:
>> In many, many shuls I've encountered, if mincha shemone esrei runs
>> until
>> a few minutes after sunset, tachanun will be omitted, and the chazan
>> will go straight into kaddish after his repitition of shemone esrei.
> This seems to be a chassidic custom and one of the points on which the

There are various minhogim among chasidim. In Belz, for example.
tachanun is habitually said at mincho (except for specific dates listed
in their sidur). Likewise for Chabad.  On the other hand, in Ger, for
example, tachanun is never said at mincho.

At my local beis hamedrash (loosely based on Vizhnitser nusach), the
early minyonim (which daven before shkio) do say tachanun, but the last
minyon (after shkio) does not. I do not know what the official
Vizhnitser custom is.

Perets Mett


From: <GOLDDDS@...> (Mark H. Goldenberg)
Date: Tue, 16 Nov 2004 21:12:55 EST
Subject: Two Pair Tefillin

    Today I witnessed something in Shul that I have never seen before.
Three visitors to our minyan came to Shacharis and each wore two pairs
of tefillin simultaneously, both Shel Rosh and Shel Yad.  When we asked
them about their minhag, they said that they wear Rashi and Rabeinu Tam
tefillin, and they wear them together.  They suggested that is the
proper way, and everyone should put tefillin on in that fashion.  Has
anyone seen this practice before?

Mark H. Goldenberg DDS


From: David Prins <prins@...>
Date: Wed, 17 Nov 2004 18:28:22 +1100
Subject: Yitzhak's love

"A Simple Jew" (v45i58) queried Bereishit 27:4 in Parashat Toldot where
it seemed that Yitzhak loved meat.  Batya Medad (v45i61) responded:
"What Yitzchak loves is that his son prepares food for him, kibud av."
Sara Eisen (v45i63) gave an excellent analysis of love in Yitzhak's life
and concluded: "Clearly, "ka'asher ahavti" does not refer to the meat
per se; rather, to the sacrifice that was made for him."

The views of Batya and Sara are supported by, among others, Seforno, who
makes it clear that the whole purpose of the command to Esav was so that
Esav would perform a good deed (kibud av - honouring his father) and
merit a blessing (and not so that Yitzhak gets a good meal), and Rashi
who analyses the words of 27:3 to show that Yitzhak's main concern is
the manner in which the meat is obtained - slaughtered correctly, and
not stolen (and not the taste of the final meat dish itself).

However, Adereth (v45i65) claimed:

>I think this explanation is almost certainly incorrect, as can be seen
>from Rivka's statement to Ya'akov later (27:9) "v'e'ese osom mataamim
>l'ovicho ka'asher oheyv".
>See Rashi on the spot - it's the taste that Yitzchok likes/loves.

That's not how I read the Rashi.  Rashi on 27:9 is trying to address the
difficulty of how Yaakov is going to get away with serving Yitzhak the
meat of domestic goat kids, when Esav was requested to provide the meat
of wild deer.  Rashi explains that the two have similar taste, and hence
Yaakov can get away with this.

Indeed when Yitzhak eats he shows no sign of noticing that he is eating
a different meat.  His only concern is regarding the identity of the son
before him.  Yitzhak is not a meat connoisseur.  His concern and love is
only for his children, and the meat is only the means by which love is

David Prins


End of Volume 45 Issue 75