Volume 45 Number 76
                    Produced: Fri Nov 19  6:34:19 EST 2004

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

Beautiful Story
         [Andy Goldfinger]
Chanuka - Oil vs Candles
         [Akiva Miller]
Gift-giving to non-Jews
         [Francine Glazer]
lateness to Shul - symptoms, root causes and suggestions
Monday and Thursday
         [David Ziants]
Saying Thank You
         [Joel Rich]
Tfiliin and mirrors
         [Akiva Miller]
To Turn the Other Cheek
         [Stan Tenen]


From: Andy Goldfinger <Andy.Goldfinger@...>
Date: Thu, 18 Nov 2004 08:05:22 -0500
Subject: Beautiful Story

Just a rather charming little thing that happened in our community

A sign appeared on the bulletin board of the shul where I doven week
days.  It simply said:

"Need Tzedakah," followed by a name and phone number.

A number of people called offering to provide help.  The person who
answered was very grateful and gracious, but explained that he was the
one who wanted to give tzedakah and was looking for people he could

Mi K'Amcha Yisroel ...


From: Akiva Miller <kennethgmiller@...>
Date: Wed, 17 Nov 2004 10:07:06 -0500
Subject: Re: Chanuka - Oil vs Candles

In MJ 45:65, Brandon Raff asked <<< I personally use olive oil because as
I understand it the miracle of Chanuka commemorates the miracle of the
olive oil in the menorah and not necessarily the light that the flame
gives off. Thus my question, where does the custom of using candles come
from. >>>

This is discussed in the Shulchan Aruch, at the beginning of Orach Chaim
673: "All oils and wicks are kosher for the Chanukah lights, and even
when the oil is not drawn up the wick well, or the light does not hang
well from the wick." The Rama comments: "However, olive oil is most
preferred. If olive oil is not available, it is a mitzvah to use an oil
whose light is pure and clean. In these countries, the custom is to
light wax candles, for their light is as clear as oil." And the Mishna
Brurah 4 says, "Even so, there's more of a mitzvah to use oil than wax
candles, because the miracle was done with oil."

Still, the question can be asked, why are candles allowed? In fact, why
are oils other than olive oil allowed?

If the rabbis were concerned for places where olive oil would not be
available, so they allowed other substances, does this mean that
although their preference was for olive oil, any sort of flame would be
aceptable?  Or did they have some other logic in mind?

As it was taught to me (but I can't remember by whom), the requirement
of the rabbis was the the miracle does not absolutely have to be
commemorated with olive oil, but it does absolutely have to be
commemorated with some sort of liquid fuel which travels up a wick and
is burned. This occurs in a candle, because the wax near the wick is
first melted, and then travels up the wick to be burned at the
fire. This is in sharp contrast to sticks of wood or coal or paper,
which are not valid for Chanukah, even if nothing else were
available. And that is why the rabbis do not allow gas lights or
electric lights to be used for this mitzvah. (Such lights might be used
for decorative purposes, like any other sort of non-mitzvah holiday

The above explanation is that of Levushei Mordechai 3:59 (as quoted in
Shaarim Metzuyanim B'Halacha 139:5 and in Mitzvas Ner Ish Ubeiso
footnote 7:18), and Kaf Hachayim 673:19.

Akiva Miller


From: Francine Glazer <fglazer@...>
Date: Wed, 17 Nov 2004 10:26:45 -0500
Subject: Gift-giving to non-Jews

Bernard Raab writes:

"A more troublesome aspect of this holiday, in my opinion, is the
"minhag" of gift-giving. When I worked in a large office the secretaries
and support staff all expected gifts. Buying these gifts requires active
participation in the holiday, and this always disturbed me. One year I
quietly rebelled and just ignored the "minhag". This generated so much
lashon hara about me that I vowed never to repeat my rebellion. In the
end I realized (rationalized?) that the giving of gifts carries no
religious message whatsoever in our days, and in this spirit I gave and,
I am quite certain, they received."

Rav Frand addresses this issue in one of his tapes (Vayishlach, 1998 or
1999, titled "Nittelnacht").  As best as I can recall (any errors are
mine, not his!), he states that giving a gift to a non-Jew around the
time of their holiday is permissible given the following:

1) it is preferable to give the gift in advance of their holiday and not
   on the day itself;

2) we make the assumption that it is highly unlikely that the non-Jew
   will take the gift and immediately go to their church and use it as
   an offering for avodah zarah (idolatry);

3) we are giving the gift for the purpose of darchei sholom (peaceful

4) we have a vested interest in giving the gift - he cites as an example
   that he gives a bottle of liquor to his car mechanic each year, in
   the hope that his car will be fixed promptly and well.

Fran Glazer


From: <Phyllostac@...> (Mordechai)
Date: Wed, 17 Nov 2004 16:11:31 EST
Subject: lateness to Shul - symptoms, root causes and suggestions

I have been reading the postings on this topic with interest.

I am surprised and disappointed though, that people have not addressed
another, very important angle of this issue - namely that chronic
lateness to Shul is a symptom of a deeper and very serious problem -
namely that many people have no or little 'geshmak' (enjoyment,
fulfillment) in davening.

Instead of focusing on latecoming alone, why don't we ask ourselves why
these people are always coming late ? Perhaps our divine services (at
least many of them) are in need of serious overhaul, and, while they
haven't stopped coming entirely, they don't think much of them, and
therefore minimize their time spent at them by coming late (and/or
leaving early/quickly) ? What can we do to make them more meaningful?

I highly recommend the book 'Kavvana : directing the heart in Jewish
prayer' by Seth Kadish, who discusses various issues related to making
tefilla more meaningful. Also, shiurim in / study of peirush hamilim
('iyun tefilloh') can help as well. Boruch Hashem today there are quite
a few fine seforim on tefilloh and siddurim with peirushim. Another
aspect of the problem is that often davening is too rushed, as if it is
just a burden to finish as quickly as possible. I just recently read a
fine piece of writing on the great importance of davening in a relaxed
and measured fashion in the newly published cheilek (volume IV) of the
sefer 'Shorshei Minhag Ashkenaz', by Rav Binyomin Hamburger. He brings
many citations and sources showing how this has been traditional
practice over generations in various places. Unfortunately, now we live
in a fast-paced world, where things are often rushed, and this has
seeped into the davening in many places too. Davening fast may get one
home faster, but it makes the time spent in davening less (if at all)
meaningful and pleasurable. It's like minimizing the time spent in
something unpleasant instead of trying to transform the experience into
something meaningful and possibly even enjoyable. While in the short run
it may seem like a good idea, in the long run it is shortsighted.



From: David Ziants <dziants@...>
Date: Wed, 17 Nov 2004 19:28:37 +0200
Subject: Re: Monday and Thursday

> 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.

What you say makes sence for the primary need for Monday and Thursday
public Torah reading. I retract what I suggested about supporting common
practice.This does not rule out the possibilty that Moshe Rabbeinu
foresaw the need, when B'nei Yisrael would eventually be settled in the
Land, that there would be the need for "market days" so that the People
could trade provisions on the optimum days of the week:
1) for Shabbat on Thursday
2) for rest of week on Monday
And of course these days were also set as Bet Din days.

David Ziants
Ma'aleh Adumim, Israel


From: <Joelirich@...> (Joel Rich)
Date: Thu, 18 Nov 2004 08:07:04 EST
Subject: Re: Saying Thank You

        A "ma'aseh rav" on this one: I once brought mishloah manot to
      Rav Soloveitchik ztz"l, and he said thank you. Implying, at the
      very least, that it is not forbidden, and quote possibly proper,
      in terms of derekh eretz, to thank someone who has performed a
      mitzvah from which you benefit.

The Rav was quoted as saying something along the lines of - if we didn't
say thank you to others we'd end up not saying thank you to HKB"H
(question was why if everything is from HKB"H do we bother thanking the
intermediaries). My guess is the Rav would feel it particularly ironic
that some feel there might be a need for a mattir (permission) to say
thank you.

Joel Rich


From: Akiva Miller <kennethgmiller@...>
Date: Wed, 17 Nov 2004 09:20:16 -0500
Subject: re: Tfiliin and mirrors

Recently, several poskim have been quoted as saying that beged isha
still applies to mirrors, even today when it is very common among men.

Does anyone know how those poskim adjust their hair, beards, or ties,
without using a mirror? Whenever I see photos of gedolim, they generally
appear very well groomed. Maybe their wives dress them? Do they avoid
looking at the mirror in the washroom?

In MJ 45:61, Natan Kahan wrote that Rabbi Eliezer Judah Waldenburg is
among the poskim who hold this way. Anyone know of an on-line photo of

My guess is that most poskim and gedolim *do* use mirrors to dress, and
the minority who don't use mirrors are the same ones whose beards look
scraggly and unkempt, and I just never made the connection before.

Akiva Miller


From: Stan Tenen <meru1@...>
Date: Wed, 17 Nov 2004 08:44:59 -0500
Subject: To Turn the Other Cheek

It may be of interest to m-j readers to consider how, even though the
words often stay the same, concepts from hundreds or thousands of years
ago sometimes do not.  In some quarters in Judaism, it's near-heretical
to suggest that understandings of Chazal we have today might have been
different than the understanding and meaning at the time. But rather
than get into a debate about how this may affect us, which is certain to
be contentious, perhaps this example from the Christian tradition will
serve as an adequate example of how something essential can still be
180-degrees out of phase from what people think it is.

Most people, and most Christians too, believe that "to turn the other
cheek" means to accept a blow from someone else on the cheek, and then
not to respond in turn, but rather to offer up the other cheek.  This is
taken to mean that a person should be passive, even in the face of

But the meaning could well be reversed.  In the ancient world, "turning
the other cheek" could have implied getting one's fighting right arm in
position to strike a counter-blow.  "To turn the other cheek" does not
advocate passivity in the face of aggression, but rather, the "aikido"
of taking a breath/pause, firming up one's posture, and then (if it's
still necessary), being able to strike an effective blow on the
opponent.  This is, of course, the opposite of the current
understanding. (For a slightly less extreme, but similar analysis, go to
http://www.futurenet.org/article.asp?id=485 , about five paragraphs down
the page.)

We should be open to, and on the alert for, similar "inversions" in our
understanding of our teachings.  These things happen.  And when they do
-- when there is ambiguity, confusion, or inversion -- there is also
dissension and "Bar Khamsization", and as often as not, backwards
meaning replaces the intended meaning.  If anyone dares, I'd certainly
be curious to hear of some _possible_ candidates for this problem in
Torah Judaism, and/or arguments as to why -- if people believe this --
this effect does not occur in Judaism.  (Obviously, I'm guessing it does
occur, but I'd certainly like to hear all of the arguments otherwise.)



End of Volume 45 Issue 76