Volume 46 Number 08
                    Produced: Fri Dec  3  4:43:49 EST 2004

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

Carrying a gun on Shabbos
         [Frank Reiss]
Coming Late to Shul
         [Martin Stern]
Cost of Simchas (2)
         [Ari Trachtenberg, Khaya Eisenberg]
Old Tefilin
         [Percy Mett]
Seating Problems
         [Martin Stern]
Tamar and Yehuda
         [David Prins]


From: Frank Reiss <freiss47@...>
Date: Tue, 30 Nov 2004 11:01:52 -0800 (PST)
Subject: Carrying a gun on Shabbos

This reminds me of a neighbor of hours who had been visiting Crown
Heights in the 70's. There the question they asked the Rebbe, was if
those who lived on the outskirts of the community, could carry coins w/
them on Shabbos, in case they were 'jumped', while in Israel the
question pertains to a gun.


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Wed, 01 Dec 2004 14:36:02 +0000
Subject: Re: Coming Late to Shul

on 30/11/04 11:28 am, Ari Y. Weintraub, M.D. <aweintra@...> wrote:

> 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.

Perhaps Ari has hit at the root of the problem: parents who are late for
shul convey the message to their children that davenning is not so
terribly important. These children convey the message to theirs and,
over the generations, it becomes acceptable to come progressively later
until someone in his shul who recently made a bar mitzvah could say,
probably in all honesty, upon arriving in shul at Nishmas "see, I can
come early!" and Russel Hendel can try to justify such behaviour by

> 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
> mood.

I fear Russel is making a serious error in suggesting that these
preliminary passages are of little importance just because some can be
omitted if someone is late. This is only a bediavad (ex post facto)
ruling not a practice that is lekhatchilah (preferable in the first
instance) since we probably all need this 'warming up' before
davenning. In any case it does not apply to minchah or ma'ariv to which
people also come late.

There are two distinct problems which seem to be getting confused: the
acceptability of lateness and the attitude to those who come late. I
would suggest the correct paradigm for our discussion would be my
classes in college, which I have been teaching for almost 40 years.

A particular class would be scheduled to start on the hour and finish
after 50 minutes to allow time for the students to get to their next
one. I would expect all my students to be in their seats at the set time
with their books open ready to start (equivalent to people being in shul
with their siddur open at the appropriate place and, where relevant
their tallit and tefillin on).

However, I appreciate that sometimes classes overrun and some may be a
few minutes late. I therefore structure my teaching so that the first
few minutes are spent on administrative matters such as registering
their attendance, handing out new material etc. (equivalent to birkhot
hashachar/korbanot). I would then review the relevant material from the
previous class which I intended to develop before going on to new work
(equivalent to pesukei dezimra). While it would not be disastrous if a
student came late, it would be progressively harder for him or her to
absorb the new work in that case. Anyone who comes later than that might
well miss some basic material and therefore find the whole presentation
unintelligible. This would be the case even if s/he were late for
entirely justifiable reasons.

There are a whole raft of such reasons which parallel our shul
attendance which I shall list in ascending order of culpability. Any
individual can consider which is nearest to his attitude to davenning
for himself.

The first is someone who is normally punctual and takes an active part
in the class. If he is late and quietly goes to the back of the class
and, at its end, comes to me to explain that his usual train, which
would normally get him in with plenty of time to spare, was cancelled, I
would be inclined to accept his excuse and tell him to go over the work
and, if he has any problem to come to see me in my office. He is a clear
example of an oneis - someone who was constrained by factors beyond his

The second would be as the first except that his usual train only gets
in giving him time to get to class at most a couple of minutes late. If
it is delayed by signalling problems, say, he is then significantly late
for class. I would be sympathetic but not quite as much as in the first
since to some extent he brought it on himself. This is a case of shogeig
karov leoneis - someone who is slightly careless and thereby is affected
by factors beyond his control.

The third is where the student genuinely gets confused and, for example,
thinks that it is a different day when our class starts later. This is
an example of a shogeig - carelessness.

The fourth is similar to the third except, on his own admission, his
failure to know the day was at least partly due to overdrinking the
previous night.  This is a shogeig karov lemeizid - carelessness
consequent on a deliberate act.

Finally there is the student who comes in late, if he comes at all, and
pushes past other students to sit down next to one of his friends with
whom he strikes up a conversation which disturbs everybody and then
refuses to stop when asked. This is the meizid - the defiant

While we should, as David Curwin says, judge everyone else lekhaf zechut
- making every possible effort to excuse them, the further down my list
their behaviour comes, the more difficult this is. But that was not
really the point I made originally, namely that the ideal is to be on
time and we should all judge ourselves relative to it rather than find
specious excuses to justify our imperfect behaviour. Whether we can
extend it to someone else is an entirely different matter and would
require our full knowledge of their circumstances which we usually do
not have. The question to ask is "Am I doing the best I can?" not "Why
does he not act properly?"

Martin Stern


From: Ari Trachtenberg <trachten@...>
Date: Wed, 01 Dec 2004 10:04:24 -0500
Subject: Re: Cost of Simchas

 >From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
 >While anyone is entitled to spend as much of their own money on a
 >simchah, perhaps they should consider the effect it has on society as a
 >whole. What do others on mail-jewish think can be done?

Teach your kids that money does not buy happinness.  I have found that
the enjoyment of a simcha is *much* more dependent on the energy of the
people present than on the amount of money spent (my own wedding being a
good example)!


From: <Skyesyx@...> (Khaya Eisenberg)
Date: Tue, 30 Nov 2004 13:51:29 -0500
Subject: Cost of Simchas

I have heard a great deal in recent years about excessive spending by
the affluent and its effects on middle-income families.  Efforts to
address this problem have largely focused on encouraging wealthier
families to streamline their simchas.  What is underemphasized, in my
opinion, is the kin'ah [jealousy] and the unfortunate need to "keep up
with the Joneses" on the part of those who cannot afford to compete.

As Martin Stern points out, "...anyone is entitled to spend as much of
their own money on a simchah."  Truly, it is none of our business how
much one spends on one's simcha.  Instead of limiting those who have
worked hard to earn their money and wish to spend it on a seudas
mitzvah, why don't we concentrate our efforts on helping the "other
half" learn that trying to compete with families of larger income is
both unrealistic and unhealthy, not to mention unnecessary?

We work hard to educate our children and students about tznius
[modesty], lashon hara [evil gossip], and various middos [character
traits].  Wouldn't it be useful to devote some of that time to
encouraging them to work on the trait of jealousy, and to teach them
that you don't need to have everything everyone else has?

We start doing this when they are toddlers, trying to grab toys that
belong to others or household items which are not appropriate for
children.  Why stop there?  Why not continue this lesson, as our
children/students mature and express desires to keep up with expensive
fads, and eventually to have simchas which are financially out of reach?

It is a lot worse, in my opinion, to transgress the tenth commandment
than to spend more than strictly necessary on a simcha.  Why, then, do
our efforts to address the problem target the latter rather than the

Khaya Eisenberg


From: Percy Mett <p.mett@...>
Date: Tue, 30 Nov 2004 22:49:18 +0000
Subject: Old Tefilin

Carl Singer wrote:

> We once thought of giving one of our sons the tephillin that his
> great-grandfather had worn -- the sentimental link is obvious, but when
> we spoke to a sopher we learned that it would be unlikely that a pair
> that old (and used daily for decades) would still be kosher.

It all depends how well they were made in the first instance.

I have my great-grandfather's tefilin, which I wear occasionally (they
are much larger than the tefilin you see nowadays).

My father z"l started to wear the tefilin at his barmitsva, a year or so
after his grandfather died, and continued to wear them for about 40

Some years ago I had them checked by a competent soifer, who pronounced
them to be on very good condition. The tefilin are over 70 years old,
and very likely 100 years old. However, they were written by one of the
top sofrim in Poland.

In a similar way, our Beis Medrosh (Beis Yisochor Dov of NW London) has
the seifer torah commissioned by the Tsemach Tsadik (Rabbi Mendil Hager,
the first Vizhnitser Rebbe) about 130 years ago. The klaf is in good
condition and the ksav is very clear. It was obviously written to the
highest standards.

Perets Mett


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Mon, 29 Nov 2004 14:28:02 +0000
Subject: Re: Seating Problems

on 29/11/04 11:36 am,  Bill Bernstein <billbernstein@...> wrote:

> Martin's and Avi's posts on this topic hit a raw spot with me.  When I
> first moved to Philadelphia from N.C. it was on a Thursday.  I ended up
> davvening Friday night at one shul (to remain nameless), my very first
> experience in the city as a newcomer.  I arrived early/on time and chose
> a seat that I thought would be about as inconspicuous as possible.
> Along comes an older gentleman and I thought he was coming over to greet
> a newcomer, maybe invite him for something, etc.  No, his first words
> were "you're in someone else's seat and you should move."
> I can still feel the hurt and embarassment 20 years later.  Since then,
> even though I generally have had a makom kavua in any shul I have been
> in, when a visitor takes my seat I prefer to be maavir al midosai and
> not say anything.  Somehow I feel the bein odom l'chaveiro aspect
> outweighs any benefit of making someone else move.

I am very sorry that Bill should have had such an unfortunate
experience. Of course the gentleman in question should have been more
tactful. In the circumstances, he should first have greeted him, made
some enquiry as to who he was, where he was from and whether he was
fixed up over shabbat. Only then could he have shown him to a vacant
seat in a positive manner rather than the entirely negative approach
Bill recalls.

However, what Bill do if he came to shul one weekday morning and found
someone in his place where his tallit and tefillin were kept. Surely he
could not avoid disturbing the visitor in such circumstances. Or would
he consider that it would be better not to put on tefillin that day?

Martin Stern


From: David Prins <prins@...>
Date: Wed, 1 Dec 2004 09:59:16 +1100
Subject: Tamar and Yehuda

Akiva Miller asked (v46i02) why Tamar does not tell Yehuda that she is
pregnant by him before others notice that she is pregnant.  Akiva
suggested (with reservations/doubts) that maybe Tamar did not
immediately realise she was pregnant.

It seems to me that Tamar's actions are deliberate.  There is a fair bit
of "measure for measure" [mida ke-neged mida] in this narrative, and
hints to previous poor performance, possibly with the aim of inspiration
to Teshuva (repentance).  First there is the re-use of the term "ha-ker
na" (do you recognise) (37:32 - used by the brothers to Yosef; 38:25 -
in the message sent from Tamar to Yehuda) and the actual recognition in
the following verses in each case.

In the text, no-one tells Yaakov directly what has happened to Yosef -
evidence is "sent" [see below], "ha-ker na" is asked, recognition
occurs, and Yaakov then makes a statement.  Similarly, no-one tells
Yehuda directly what happened to Tamar.  Instead, again, evidence is
sent, "haker na" is asked, recognition occurs, and Yehuda then makes a

Within the story of Tamar and Yehuda in Ch38 itself:

1. Yehuda is no hurry to communicate directly to Tamar his real
intentions re withholding Shelah (v11); Tamar is in no hurry to
communicate directly to Yehuda that she is pregnant.

2. "It was told to Yehuda (va-yugad li-Yehuda)" (v24) balances "It was
told to Tamar (va-yugad le-Tamar)" (v13).  The "telling to Tamar" leads
consequentially to the "telling to Yehuda".

3. There are multiple instances of "sending" (root shin-lamed-chet).
Yehuda offers to send to Tamar (v17); he attempts the send (v20); and
states that he attempted to send (v23).  Tamar then sends to him (v25).
This also parallels the sending to Yaakov of Yosef's coat (37:32)
[discussed above].

I am sure there is more that I have not mentioned.  Nothing is
accidental in this text.  It is a rich text, and all actions are


End of Volume 46 Issue 8