Volume 46 Number 03
                    Produced: Tue Nov 30  6:28:58 EST 2004

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

Coming Late to Shul
         [Ari Y. Weintraub, M.D.]
Kashrus of Old Tefillin and new Sefer Torahs
         [Ben Katz]
         [Russell J Hendel]
Rashis Infallability--Rashi introduced CONSISTENCY of Rules
         [Russell J Hendel]
Seating problems
         [Bernard Raab]
         [N Miller]


From: Ari Y. Weintraub, M.D. <aweintra@...>
Date: Sun, 28 Nov 2004 21:47:42 -0500
Subject: RE: Coming Late to Shul

Having followed this thread for several weeks now, I am surprised that
no one has yet raised the issue that I feel to be one of the most
important in this matter - that of chinuch habonim [education of
children. Mod].

What do children think when they see their father, who is not home most
mornings because of the need to be at work on time, coming late every
Shabbos to davening? The impact and silent message of relative values is
inestimable and the long-term ramifications on the children's future
behavior are likely highly detrimental.

Many people on this list have frankly shared personal experiences and
beliefs on this topic. I suspect that the "anti-"latecomers on this list
do not have these people and/or situations in mind. Rather, it is the
person (found in just about every shul I've ever been in) who habitually
comes late, makes jokes about himself and his late behavior
(e.g. someone in my shul recently made a bar mitzvah and upon arriving
in shul at Nishmas came up to the Rav and said "see, I can come
early!"), and spends as much, if not more, time schmoozing than davening
(with apparent disregard for or ignorance of halachically forbidden
times to talk), that is the subject of this discussion. We all do so
much to educate our children, and spend thousands of dollars that we
can't easily afford on tuition, yet all of that effort is overturned
when their impressionable young minds see an apparent disregard for
tefilla b'tzibur b'kavana.

The causes that have been suggested definitely need to be addressed when
they are truly relevant to the problem (e.g. length of davening,
"additions" such as mi sheberachs, drashos, announcements,
etc.). Nevertheless, those of us who are parents need to critically
appraise our own behaviors in light of the message it sends to our
children. Maybe you need to find a different shul or minyan, but "do as
I say, not as I do" is a surefire recipe for failure of your children's

Several years ago, a friend of mine with several daughters proudly told
me that his oldest girl asked if he wore tefillin since she never saw
him wearing them at home as he was very careful to always daven with a
minyan in shul. While each person has his own level of commitment to
tefilla b'tzibur to achieve, we can all strive for more, and we should
let our children see us making that effort. I truly believe that the
chronic, habitual latecomers have not thought at all about the effects
on their children, and hope that my few paragraphs here will be l'toeles

B'kovod hatorah v'lomdeho,

P.S. This concept can be extended to many other issues in our shuls and
communities - e.g. the kavod given to the wealthy person who disrupts
the davening with incessant talking, the "chashuvay hakahal" and their
"kiddush club" during haftoro or the rabbi's drosho, etc.


From: Ben Katz <bkatz@...>
Date: Sun, 28 Nov 2004 16:37:40 -0600
Subject: Re: Kashrus of Old Tefillin and new Sefer Torahs

         HB brings up a good point which I may have mentioned earlier on
MJ.  The same soferim who decide whether the tefillin (etc.) are kosher
or pasul are also those who sell new ones.  There is an obvious conflict
of interest.  I once knew of an individual who could not afford
tefillin.  I had an old spare pair in the house, opened them and showed
the parchments to a friend of mine who is quite particular (and can make
simple corrections himself to a sefer torah) who thought they were fine.
Just to be sure, I brought them to a sofer stam who gave me a similar
answer to that recorded above.  I couldn't in good conscience give the
tefillin to this individual, yet felt somehow that I lost out on the
opportunity to bring someone closer to Judaism.

Ben Z. Katz, M.D.
Children's Memorial Hospital, Division of Infectious Diseases
e-mail: <bkatz@...>


From: Russell J Hendel <rjhendel@...>
Date: Sun, 28 Nov 2004 19:56:39 -0500
Subject: Lateness

A minor and major point on lateness.

First: What is lateness? The main part of the prayer service is the
recitation of the SHMA (the Biblical chapters at Dt06-04 and Dt11 and
Nu15) and the Shmoneh Esray.

The other parts of the service such as the recitation of verses of
praise and the sacrificial texts are prepatory and place us in the right

According to the code of Jewish law if one comes to synagogue and the
congregation is beginning the recitation of the SHMA then the proper
procedure is to join them (and not start from the beginning)

Such a person--who comes late for the prepatory measures but on time for
the main prayers-- should not be called a latecomer. This person is
prayer WITH THE CONGREGATION on the important matters.

A second point is on the INTENTION subthread.  The truth of the matter
is that ANYTHING you repeat will become habitual and therefore will lose
the amount of intention you give to it.

A simple way to counteract this dwindling intention, is to introduce NEW
items into the prayer.

The Rambam at least (Chapter 1 of prayer) is very clear that the
BLESSINGS we state in the SHMONEH ESRAY--blessings/supplications for
GENERAL AREAS. Ideally each person should add things relevant from
his/her own life.

Here is an example: I gave a lecture once for an AISH group...it was on
prayer...after mentioning the idea in the last paragraph (that the
blessings are GENERAL AREAS) I gave an exercise....I suggested that
people had behavior problems with their children and asked them which
blessing this should be mentioned in.

Some mentioned UNDERSTANDING...since you have to pray to UNDERSTAND the
children; other mention FORGIVENESS since you have to pray to FORGIVE
them. Other answers were given also.

There was a very positive answer in that room after I finished...there
was an atmosphere of INTENTION and interest.

I believe that the above remedy---adding things to blessings based on
our own life---is the ONLY way to deal with the intention
issue. (Artscroll does have potential additions for people who are
sick...  but SICKNESS is 1 of the 12 supplication areas).

Someone once mentioned to me that the ARUCH HASHULCHAN (A major legal
source) frowns on unknowledgeable people adding their own things. My
response to this is that just as the Prayer books have set formulae for
SICKNESS it would be appropriate for the Rabbinic leaders of the day to
create similar prayers for a) ones vocation b) for school needs/tests c)
for people who feel guilty and need forgiveness.

At any rate I believe this is the direction we have to search in. One
person cited Rav Moshe that no-one has INTENTION these days. I really
think this is the wrong attitude...if you are taking a test and pray for
a good grade then you have the "right" intention.

In response to this comment of Rav Moshe I am reminded of the folklore
story about the Rabbi who was sick...  the whole town prayed for him and
he got better. When asked whos prayers were most efficacious in getting
him better he said: 'The town drunk.' When asked why the Rabbi
explained: 'Because we had a fast...and therefore he was very sincere
when he asked that I get better since he couldnt keep up with his habit'

There is alot of truth in this story.

Russell Jay Hendel; http://www.Rashiyomi.com/


From: Russell J Hendel <rjhendel@...>
Date: Sun, 28 Nov 2004 19:57:09 -0500
Subject: RE: Rashis Infallability--Rashi introduced CONSISTENCY of Rules

RE: The postings on Rashi and his infallability.

The position of my Rashi email list (http://www.Rashiyomi.com) is not
that Rashi was infallable or not, not that Rashi had Divine inspiration
or not, but rather that every Rashi comment can be backed up by a LIST

In other words, Rashi-s contribution (in contrast to some of his peers)
was to emphasize those midrashim (homilies) which could be defended by
lists of comparable examples.

Perhaps the example brought down: Gn28-05--where Rashi says that he
doesnt know why it says 'Rebecca--the mother of Yaakov and Esauv'.

It is easy to answer this: Based on an essay of Rav Hirsch--RAISE THE
LAD ACCORDING TO HIS WAY-- I would simply say that Rebecca treated each
child --Yaakov and Esauv---according to what that child needed (Rav
Hirsch in his essay criticizes Isaac for trying to make Yeshiva people
out of both Jacob and Esauv--this ignored Esauvs need for the outdoors
and the life of the hunt...Rav Hirsch 'blaims' Esauvs corruption later
in life on his upbringing).

I think this idea is obvious...but I dont think Rashi is unaware of
it. Rather Rashi cannot back this idea up with a LIST of comparable
examples. That is, it is very rare for genealogy to be given by
MOTHER--therefore Rashi say 'I dont know'--not to indicate that he had
no ideas but rather that he had no 'lists to back up the ideas'.

By contrast 'genealogy by sibling' occurs a few times in the Bible. Thus
the Bible describes Naamah as the sister of Tuval Kayin, Machlath as the
sister of Nevayoth and Elisheva as the sister of Nachson (See Ex06-23,
Gn28-09, Gn04-22). In each case Rashi connects this unusual genealogy
with marriage (in 2 of the 3 cases Rashi states the brother was the
matchmaker--- see http://www.Rashiyomi.com/gn04-22b.htm which links to
other sources---possible counterexamples to this are discussed there

I believe this idea---that Rashi commented on CONSISTENT principles that
could be backed by LISTS--can help to explain the many unique features
of his commentary.

Russell Jay Hendel; http://www.Rashiyomi.com/


From: Bernard Raab <beraab@...>
Date: Sun, 28 Nov 2004 21:26:11 -0500
Subject: Seating problems

Many years ago someone asked me: What is the phrase most heard in an
orthodox shul? The answer was : "You are in my seat." As someone who had
been the object of this complaint once or twice, I determined never to
use this phrase or one like it. I know how disconcerting it is when
someone is sitting in your seat and how strange it feels to daven in
another seat, but your obligation to your makom kavua needs to be
balanced against the severe prohibition against embarrassing your fellow
man in public. Most of the time it is a visitor who has found your seat
accidentally and is unlikely to return again anytime soon. One time it
was a young teen who regularly sat in front of me but decided one
shabbat when he arrived before me that he preferred my seat
instead. Obviously he was not aware of the inyon, and since his parents
were not shul-goers there was noone to instruct him. Considering his age
and status I was sorely tempted to "pull rank" and ask him to move. But
then my "policy" intruded, and my admiration for the derech he had
chosen without parental encouragement led me to hold my tongue.

I will admit that I was surprised to find how uncomfortable I felt
sitting in a seat not my own, but nevertheless I waited until shul was
over before speaking to him privately, and of course he apologized and
never sat in my seat again. After this incident I renewed my
determination never to use the dreaded phrase, and, with G-d's help, I
never will.

Incidentally, I understand that regular church-goers have the same
issue.  They rely on church ushers to maintain order in the seats.

b'shalom--Bernie R.


From: N Miller <nmiller@...>
Date: Sun, 28 Nov 2004 16:49:48 -0500
Subject: Re: Translation

This thread deals with two questions: the reliance by some O.
translators on Rashi as the last word, and Rashi as a translator,
specifically his take on tohu v'bohu.  The discussion Alex Heppenheimer
and I have been having deals with the second question.  If one of us
proves right, in itself a fantasy where Jews are concerned, the first
question remains unaffected.  Long live pilpul.

A.H. writes:

>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.

Two basic derivations?  I count one.  Ibn Ezra wisely looks to an
earlier translation, one made a millenium before and therefore providing
a valuable clue as to the meaning of the words in question.  Rashi does
no such thing: he relies on a shoresh that _may_ have been found in
Biblical Hebrew, that _may_ not be too much of a stretch, etc.  That's
not speculative?

>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.

This is what you might call swinging the er hyle for the fences.  First,
I have strong reservations about any attempt at psyching out an author's
intentions, especially one about whom we know nothing. Second, the
matter of "needless duplication".  Tohu v'bohu are, as A.H. surely
knows, a hendiadys, a figure of speech common in Tanakh, and in no other
case that I've looked at does Rashi exhibit this tendency.

So why did Rashi go for THH instead of relying on Targum Onkelos or
Saadya?  We will probably never know.  Presumably he didn't know Greek
for otherwise he could have gone to a Jewish source even older than
Onkelos, i.e. the Septuagint, which defined the term as invisible/not to
be seen and unwrought (aoratis kai akataskeuastos), although I suppose
that by 1100 CE the Septuagint was seen exclusively as a Christian

If I may be allowed a wild surmise : the nearest I can come to accepting
Rashi's "astonishment" is by construing it thusly: "tohu v' bohu, chaos
and formlessness, but when I say chaos I mean CHAOS, the kind that would
knock your socks off if you could see it--which of course you can't".  I
don't expect anyone to agree with me on this one.

Noyekh Miller


End of Volume 46 Issue 3