Volume 45 Number 92
                    Produced: Fri Nov 26  7:15:21 EST 2004

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

Carrying weapons on Shabbos and Yom Tov
         [Gershon Dubin]
Friday night meal
         [Perets Mett]
         [Martin Stern]
Men's only minyanim
         [Carl Singer]
Proper decorem in a Beit Keneses (2)
         [Gershon Dubin, Saul Mashbaum]
Tal U-Matar
         [David Prins]
Tefillin - Mechitza?
         [Carl Singer]
         [Alex Heppenheimer]


From: Gershon Dubin <gershon.dubin@...>
Date: Wed, 24 Nov 2004 19:14:18 GMT
Subject: Carrying weapons on Shabbos and Yom Tov

From: Bill Bernstein <billbernstein@...>

<<Has anyone seen discussions of this or knows of any sources?>>

There is a mishna in Shabbos that forbids **wearing** of arms; the
implication is that there is no prohibition on carrying per se, since it
is done in the manner of wearing, but it is prohibited nonetheless.



From: Perets Mett <p.mett@...>
Date: Wed, 24 Nov 2004 23:23:06 +0000
Subject: Friday night meal

I am quite puzzled by Chana's statement.

During May, June and July (ie most of the summer) the earliest time for
lekht bentshn [candle lighting] in London is after 7pm, so i don't see
how anyone can begin their Friday night meal before 7.30pm - allowing
time for davening maariv and getting home from shul. At the height of
the summer it is quite a bit later. So I am surprised that there is a

But you certainly are under no requirement to leave work early when
sunset is 7.30 or 8 or 9pm. Most shuls in NW London daven at about 7.15
or 7.30 so that kiddush is not before 8.15

In any event, with all the variation in times, how can a host expect a
guest to come on time without saying when 'on time' is?

If I invite a guest for a Friday night meal in the summer without
specifying a time, I ought not be surprised if (when nakht is after 9.30
say) if the guest arrives at 9 or 9.30 or even 10pm. It does not make
sense to expect a guest to come at 'my' time for kiddush unless I tell
the guest what time that is. Then, if the time is not suitable for the
guests, they will say so

Invariably our guests ask where I intend to daven - that way they know
what time to come

Perets Mett

Chana Luntz wrote:

> In London, that can mean having to leave before 2pm in winter.  I
> cannot, however, with any justification to my employers, insist on
> leaving in summer with sufficient time to get to a shabbas meal
> scheduled for 7pm (which would mean leaving on or before 5pm, which
> after all is still before even the secretaries leave at 5.30pm),
> because my host has chosen to bring in shabbas early and his children
> are likely to get fractious.

> That means by definition that either I cannot not accept invitations
> from people who bring in shabbas early, or we have to agree that they
> will start and I will show whenever I show.  I certainly agree that on
> accepting an invitation a person should try and spell all this out to
> one's host (or potential host), but the reverse is also true, a host
> should, in the nicest possible way, explain the constraints on them
> when inviting - ie "we would love to invite you but because our kids
> get fractious waiting if we start eating after 7pm we really can't
> invite guests who can't get there by then."  That way you are offering
> what you are able to offer, and it allows the person with other, very
> different, constraints the ability to accept what they can accept.  Or
> alternatively - "our kids get really fractious if we don't start by
> 7pm, so we start precisely at 7pm, but don't worry, if you come later
> there will be wine and challa for you and food" (and the host plans
> the catering of the meal accordingly).


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Wed, 24 Nov 2004 19:31:57 +0000
Subject: Re: Lateness

on 24/11/04 10:40 am, Chana Luntz at <Chana@...> wrote:

> Just a few random observations on this thread because I think
> that what is often being highlighted here is conflicting
> needs between people:
> 1) Martin Stern writes:
>> When I raised this point, I did not have in mind 'social'
>> invitations but students or other single people who could
>> not make shabbat for themselves.  Though I specified Friday
>> night, the same applies to any Shabbat or Yom Tov meal. We
>> have not infrequently waited about half an hour or more and
>> then started without the guests who may have turned up
>> as we were serving the main course.
> Here is a classic case of conflict of needs between a family
> with children who want to eat early and what are often the
> very different demands on singles.

There is a point which I perhaps did not make clear in mail-jewish:
these late guests just turned up late. If they had said at the time of
invitation that they could not manage to come at the specified time, we
could either have changed the invitation to lunch or, if they would not
be much delayed, arrange to start a bit later. It strikes me as the
height of rudeness simply to ignore the designated time and come an hour
or more later, because it suited them, without prior warning.

Martin Stern


From: Carl Singer <casinger@...>
Date: Wed, 24 Nov 2004 21:08:11 -0500
Subject: Men's only minyanim

The discussion of men davening behind the mehitzah brings to mind the
following vignettes.

When I worked at Bellcore there was a mincha minyan at work (I worked in
a different location so seldom attended.)  This minyan was held in a
plainly configured meeting room.  One of the women there wanted to daven
mincha with this minyan and the "ballabtim" went to great lengths to
establish a portable mehitzah that they set up each day.  Kudos.

In many shules that I know of there is a smaller room (which goes by
several different names) that is used for the weekday minyanim -- rather
than rattling around in a large room and also to conserve energy, etc.
Some of these rooms have a permanent mechitzah or a portable screen that
can be set up when needed -- others don't and this can be problematic.

Carl Singer


From: Gershon Dubin <gershon.dubin@...>
Date: Wed, 24 Nov 2004 18:46:21 GMT
Subject: Proper decorem in a Beit Keneses

From: Saul Mashbaum <smash52@...>

<<In principle, the kedushah of a beit midrash is greater than that of a
beit knesset. This is stated explicitly by the Rambam, Hilchot Tefilla
11:14, and implicitly by the Mechaber SA OH 153:1.  This is derived from
the gemara Megilla 26b-27a.>>

In principle, yes, in that one can sell a beit kneses to buy a beis
midrash, but not vice versa.

My intent was in context of the discussion, and is illustrated by the
halachos found a little earlier, in O"Ch 151:1;3 that while one may not
eat or sleep in a beis kneses, one may do so in a beis midrash.


From: Saul Mashbaum <smash52@...>
Date: Thu, 25 Nov 2004 21:23:23 +0200
Subject: Re: Proper decorem in a Beit Keneses

It's reasonable to say, as you indicate in this message, that as far as
*decorum* is concerned, a beit knesset has a higher standard than a beit
midrash. Upon reflection, I see that it would have been appropriate to
point this out in my posting.


From: David Prins <prins@...>
Date: Thu, 25 Nov 2004 11:16:42 +1100
Subject: Tal U-Matar

Bernard Katz queried (v45i69) the current practice regarding saying Tal
U-Matar in the Southern Hemisphere.  He referenced a 17th century ruling
for Brazil, that because rain was harmful from December to Pesach (when
Tal U-Matar would be said outside Israel in the Northern Hemisphere),
Tal U-Matar should not be said in Birkat haShanim in Brazil at that

Abe Zayit (v45i80) referred us to an article by Dr Moshe Sokolow at

In his article, Dr Sokolow claims that the 17th century ruling "set the
precedent by which most of the Jews of South America and Australia abide
to this very day".

I cannot speak for South America, but if Dr Sokolow is claiming that the
prevailing practice today in Australia is not to say Tal U-Matar in
Birkat haShanim from December to Pesach, then he is factually incorrect.
The prevailing practice in Australia today is to do the same as in
Northern Hemisphere countries outside Israel.  As I understand it, this
is based on later Poskim who pointed out that whereas in Brazil rain was
said to be harmful at that time and therefore Tal U-Matar should not be
said, this was not the case in Australia, where rain in the (Southern
Hemisphere) summer is not harmful.  Because of this fundamental
difference, the 17th century Brazil ruling was later not applied in


From: Carl Singer <casinger@...>
Date: Wed, 24 Nov 2004 21:00:37 -0500
Subject: Tefillin - Mechitza?

YES.  As Avi correctly points out, he's in the women's section.  But
this is a 6:15 AM weekday minyan.  I don't ever recall a woman davening
there -- but I'm quite sure that this gentlemen would have moved into
the men's section had that been the case.

Carl A. Singer, Ph.D.
See my web site:  www.mo-b.net/cas


From: Alex Heppenheimer <aheppenh@...>
Date: Wed, 24 Nov 2004 15:39:17 -0800 (PST)
Subject: Re: Translations

In MJ 45:88, Noyekh Miller responded to a posting of mine (and
I'd like to thank him for the kind words):

>> I don't currently have access to the supercommentaries on
>> Rashi, but I would suggest that he chose the rendering "tohu =
>> astonishment" for its simplicity: it avoids the duplication of
>> "tohu" and "bohu" being near-synonyms, and it doesn't require
>> the introduction of Aristotelian philosophical concepts
>> regarding matter and form.
> Questions.  If tohu and bohu are near-synonyms, how does it
> "simplify" matters to distort the plain meaning of the text by
> translating a noun as an adjective, where the translation is
> the result of what some call speculative etymology?  (And what
> happened to the connective v'?)

They're near-synonyms only according to one possible explanation,
though. The point I was getting at (and my apologies for being unclear)
is that Rashi had available to him several possible understandings of
the word "tohu," and so we have to try and reconstruct what made him
choose one rather than the other. (This is similar to how the Gemara
will often cite a dispute between two or more Sages, and then analyze
their opinions: "Why doesn't X hold like Y?")

To begin with, then, we find the commentaries giving two basic
derivations of the word "tohu": from a root meaning "emptiness" (Ibn
Ezra following Targum), or from a root meaning "to think deeply"
(Ramban). [I'm not sure I understand what's any more "speculative" about
this latter possibility: the root THH, with this meaning, is often found
in Rabbinic Hebrew, so it's not that much of a stretch to assume that it
was present (though unattested) in Biblical Hebrew too. It may even be,
as per an explanation that Ibn Ezra cites but rejects on grammatical
grounds, that the Biblical word "tehom" (abyss) is related to this root
as well; the common meaning would then be the idea of depth.]

Perhaps, then, Rashi started by eliminating the explanation "tohu =
empty," on the grounds that this would create needless duplication in
the verse. This leaves the etymology "tohu < THH," which in turn yields
two possible interpretations, "material (=hyle) about which one would
have to think deeply what to call it" (thus Ramban), or "astonishment."
Possibly Rashi preferred the latter because of the difficulty in
reconciling the idea of an "earth" (which, presumably, has a form) being
made up of unformed hyle; or perhaps it was for simplicity's sake.

A parenthetical note in Rashi - I don't know whether it's from Rashi
himself or from an anonymous copyist - explains that according to this
explanation, the vav of "va-vohu" is to be understood as though it were
a bet; a parallel example is the verse (Isaiah 48:16), "G-d has sent me
and His spirit (ve-rucho)," which R' Saadyah Gaon, cited by Radak there,
indeed explains as meaning "with His spirit" (be-rucho). Based on this,
then, the phrase "tohu va-vohu" can be translated literally as
"emptiness that causes astonishment." [In my previous post I suggested
the translation "astonishingly empty," but that incorrectly makes both
words into adjectives; Rashi seems to translate both words as nouns -
note that his Old French translation of "tohu" is a noun form.] For
stylistic reasons, this phrase can then be shortened to "astonishing
emptiness" (where one noun becomes an adjective).

> As for avoiding Aristotle, I wasn't aware that it has been decided to
> do so; I rather suspect that the people at Artscroll will be
> astonished (tohu?) when they learn how hip they are.  In any event, I
> don't understand how one does an end-run around Aristotle by
> translating only bohu.

Actually, I was referring to Rashi, not Artscroll. I don't know whether
Rashi had any specific objections to explaining the Torah using
Aristotelian philosophy (was it even known to anyone in 11th-century
northern France?), but my point was that the average person could not be
expected to be familiar with the term "hyle," or with the distinction
between matter and form; this may have been one of Rashi's
considerations in his choice of explanations, once he had established
(by elimination, as above) that the root of the word "tohu" is THH.

Kol tuv,


End of Volume 45 Issue 92