Volume 46 Number 15
                    Produced: Sat Dec 11 16:44:12 EST 2004

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

Brit - Mother Drinking Wine (4)
         [Mona and Ygal Berdugo, Yisrael Medad, Leah S. Gordon, Menashe
Checking Tephillin
         [Martin Stern]
kol Yisrael areivim zeh bazeh
         [Ari Trachtenberg]
         [Perets Mett]
Nittel (2)
         [Martin Stern, Ira L. Jacobson]
Yahrzeit of the Rambam (5)
         [Alex Heppenheimer, Bernard Katz, David Cohen, Joshua
Hosseinof, Ari Trachtenberg]


From: Mona and Ygal Berdugo <yignmona@...>
Date: Tue, 07 Dec 2004 10:49:32 +0200
Subject: Re: Brit - Mother Drinking Wine

At my son's brit 2 1/2 weeks ago I sat in the back as far away from the
"action" as I could get and the cup of wine (actually, grape juice) was
passed to me to drink.  I don't remember what happened at my other son's
brit almost 8 years ago but I assume the same thing since it was the
same mohel.  However, I do remember that at the first brit I was given
the opportunity to say birkat hagomel, but this time around it seemed to
slip my husband's and the mohel's minds and I had to remind them before
it was too late.

Mona Farkas Berdugo

From: Yisrael Medad <ybmedad@...>
Date: Sun, 05 Dec 2004 23:16:55 +0200
Subject: Brit - Mother Drinking Wine

Gil Student wrote, in response to Alizah Berger's query as to the mother
drinking the wine used for the post-Brit Milah bracha/naming:
"I've never seen it done and I'm not sure how it could be done, since
according to the Rama (YD 285:11) the mother is not supposed to enter
the men's section of the shul"

Maybe the cup went from the men's section to the women's section?  After
all, the baby goes in and out, why not a cup - it's not that heavy, the
cup, I mean.

Yisrael Medad

From: Leah S. Gordon <leah@...>
Date: Sun, 05 Dec 2004 13:54:13 -0800
Subject: Brit - Mother Drinking Wine

Aliza Berger wrote:
>In your community, how common is it for the mother to
>drink from the wine at her son's brit?

Gil Student answered:
>I've never seen it done and I'm not sure how it could be done, since
>according to the Rama (YD 285:11) the mother is not supposed to enter
>the men's section of the shul.

So what?  Since when is the brit always in "the men's section of the
shul" anyway?  Each of my sons had a brit in a non-shul location, at a
non-usual-davening time.  Oh, and I did drink the wine at my younger
son's brit, but I'm not sure if I did at the older son's.

--Leah S. R. Gordon

From: Menashe Elyashiv <elyashm@...>
Date: Tue, 7 Dec 2004 09:27:19 +0200 (IST)
Subject: Brit - Mother Drinking Wine

My oldest son's brit was a safek ben hashemashot birth (twilight -
twinight) before a 3 day Rosh Hashana. The brit was on Gedaliah fast, so
my wife drank from the wine. I was at a Tisha B'av brit and also there
the mother drank the wine.


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Sun, 05 Dec 2004 21:09:30 +0000
Subject: Re: Checking Tephillin

on 5/12/04 4:49 am, Michael Mirsky <b1ethh94@...> wrote:
> I have heard hints to the effect that "gasos" (thick leather batim) do
> not need to be checked, but it's better not to rely on that.  But for
> regular tephilin (Pshutim) they should be checked twice in 7 years.

The difference between gassot and peshutim lies in the battim rather
than the parshiyot. Peshutim are less robust and can more easily become
distorted and cease to be square. To check for this does not require
opening the tefillin at all, only measuring the lengths of the
diagonals. If these are equal, the battim are still square. Unlike
gassot, opening peshutim without considerable care might further damage

To the best of my knowledge, one is not legally obliged to check
tefillin that are in regular use, though many people have the custom to
check them every Ellul. This in contrast to mezuzot which must be
checked twice in 7 years, presumably because of the danger of
deterioration through exposure to the elements.

Martin Stern


From: Ari Trachtenberg <trachten@...>
Date: Mon, 06 Dec 2004 09:50:09 -0500
Subject: Re: kol Yisrael areivim zeh bazeh

>>From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
>>on 29/11/04 3:06 am, Binyomin Segal <bsegal@...> wrote:

>>This last quotation is a Christian concept completely alien to Jewish
>>tradition which considers kol Yisrael areivim zeh bazeh - all Jews are
>>responsible for one another - which obliges us to rebuke our fellow if
>>we can do so in an effective manner, something which is very difficult
>>in practice

As far as I know, there are two different renditions of the above quote
(depending on the gemara used):

"kol Yisrael areivim ze bazeh" - all Jews are "mixed" one by the other -
our behaviors affect each other.  This is the harsher, active reading
because it implies that if I do not rebuke the sinner, I will be hurt by

"kol Yisrael areivim ze lazeh" (the version I had originally learned) -
all Jews are responsible one *to* the other - this is the more passive,
lighter reading: I have a responsibility to my fellow Jew to guard him
from sin and hurt.


From: Perets Mett <p.mett@...>
Date: Mon, 6 Dec 2004 23:31:16 +0000
Subject: Nitl

Nachum Lamm wrote:

> If this is a reference to the Julian calendar, I find it hard to
> believe. In countries where the Church followed the Julian calendar,
> the secular authorities did as well (until about 1917),

East Galicia was annexed to Austria in the 18th century, and thenceforth
used the Gregorian calendar.  The local religion was Orthodox, so the
local goyim celebrated nitl on the day which 4th/5th/6th January on the
civil calendar. Jews called this the Rusishe nitl.

You may note that it is precisely the Jews who hail from East Galicia,
such as Belz and branches of Rizhin that observe the Rusishe nitl (on 6

Perets Mett


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Sun, 05 Dec 2004 21:19:25 +0000
Subject: Re: Nittel

on 5/12/04 2:31 am, Ira L. Jacobson <laser@...> wrote:
> In many circles the Dec. 25 eve is called the small nittel, as opposed
> to the Jan. 6 one, which is called the great nittel.  The difference
> is, of course, based on which religion was most prominent in the area
> of Europe from which they came.

In view of the doubt as to which date is 'correct' do we not have at
most a sfeika derabbanan (rabbinic doubt) on the custom of not learning
and so can be meikil (lenient) and allow learning on either day.

Martin Stern

From: Ira L. Jacobson <laser@...>
Date: Mon, 06 Dec 2004 08:27:28 +0200
Subject: Re: Nittel

[In response to Martin's posting above. Mod]

I'm not sure if you are serious.

This is a minhag that varies among various groups, just like qitni'ot on
Pessah, I would say.  You do what your father and grandfather did, and I
do likewise, depending on where they came from.



From: Alex Heppenheimer <aheppenh@...>
Date: Mon, 6 Dec 2004 15:22:53 -0800 (PST)
Subject: Re: Yahrzeit of the Rambam

In MJ 46:12, Barry Wolfson wrote:

> When you "ask around" the general reply you get is that the
> Rambam passed away on the 20th of Teveth which this year is
> actually next year - January 1, 2005 (of all dates!).
> However if one looks for example in the classic, History of
> the Jewish People by Margolis and Marx they give the date as
> December 13, 1204.  Now if you look back carefully (see for
> example www.hebcal.com) taking into account the Gregorian
> Reformation (http://www.xoc.net/maya/help/gregorian.asp) you
> will see that December 13, 1204 is the 2nd of Teveth which
> this year is Tuesday December 14 - very soon.

This seems to be incorrect. The difference between the Julian and
Gregorian calendars, in 1204, was seven days (it increases by three days
every 400 years, and it's now 13 days).  Hebcal.com gives the Gregorian
equivalent for 20 Teves 4965 as Dec. 20, 1204; subtracting 7 days gives
us Margolis and Marx' date, Dec. 13 of that year, and other calendar
programs that perform the Julian-Gregorian conversion automatically
(such as Kaluach) confirm that this is correct.

> So, the question then becomes what is/are the original source(s) for
> the date of his death?  Is there more than one "original" source and
> if so are they in agreement with one another?  Can anybody out there
> shed some light on this important issue?

There's a biography of the Rambam, written by either his son R' Avraham
or his grandson R' David (I don't recall which); that would probably be
the most reliable near-contemporary source for the actual date. (This
biography is also the primary source for the given date and time of the
Rambam's birth; he is probably one of the only Rishonim - or, indeed,
one of the only pre-modern figures at all - whose exact time of birth is

Kol tuv,

From: Bernard Katz <bkatz@...>
Date: Sun, 5 Dec 2004 15:19:33 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Yahrzeit of the Rambam

According to all the sources I've seen, including the inscription on the
monument on his grave in Tiberias, Maimonides died on 20 Tevet
4965. (I've not seen the actual monument, but I've seen a photograph of
it: At the top is the famous inscription "Mi Moshe ad Moshe . .  .", and
in the middle is the inscription "Moshe ben Maimon A''H".  The line
immediately below says that he was nolad (born) 14th of Nisan 895, and
the line below that says that he was niphtar (died) 20 Tevet 965. The
millennial digit is normally dropped in giving the year, but in this
case we know that it '4'. Thus, the dates are 4895 and 4965,
respectively.) Accordingly, the 800th yahrzeit will occur on 20 Tevet
5765, which, as Barry Wolfson points out, is January 1, 2005.

According to the calendar converters I have consulted, the secular date
usually given for the Rambam's death, i.e., December 13, 1204,
corresponds exactly to 20 Tevet 4965. This secular date is, in fact, a
date on the Julian calendar (the Gregorian calendar did not come into
existence until the latter part of the 16th century), and the 800th
anniversary of that date will be December 26, 2004, on our current
Gregorian calendar.

Bernard Katz

From: David Cohen <ddcohen@...>
Date: Sun, 5 Dec 2004 10:29:20 -0500
Subject: Yahrzeit of the Rambam

I believe that December 13, 1204 (Julian Calendar) does correspond to 20
Tevet, 4965.

This is confirmed by Kaluach, which does use the Julian Calendar for
days before September 1752 (when the British Empire made the

When Pope Gregory first made the transition in 1582 C.E., the Julian and
Gregorian calendars were 10 days apart.  This means that in the year
1204, they would have been 7 days apart (the differences being February
29 of the years 1300, 1400, and 1500).

According to Hebcal, 20 Tevet, 4965 corresponds to December 20, 1204 in
the Gregorian calendar.  (Don't be confused by Hebcal's incorrect
pushing of a Friday fast of 10 Tevet back to Thursday -- that threw me
off for a bit.)  Since the Julian calendar was 7 days "slow" at that
point, it would have been December 13, the same as what Kaluach says.


From: Joshua Hosseinof <JHosseinof@...>
Date: Mon, 6 Dec 2004 10:35:49 -0500
Subject: Yahrzeit of the Rambam

Of course when you raised the question of when is the hebrew yahrzeit of
the Rambam, the first thing I went to check was the calendar converter
in the Bar Ilan Responsa.  Alas, it will only show calendars as far back
as the hebrew year 5000, or 1239 CE.  A quick glance around the google
search engine and you will find the Rambam/Maimonides is widely listed
as having died on 20th Tevet or Dec. 13 1204.  At that time the
christian calendar in use was the Julian Calendar, so if you are
converting between the hebrew and english Calendar you can't just use
any old calendar converter.  One that I can recommend is
If you enter in December 13th, 1204 and click finished, it tells you the
date is:
13 / December / 1204 AD Gregorian
6 / December / 1204 AD Julian
13 / Tevet / 4965 AM Jewish

Since we need to adjust it for the Julian Calendar, we select the Julian
Calendar radio button and get:
20 / December / 1204 AD Gregorian
13 / December / 1204 AD Julian
20 / Tevet / 4965 AM Jewish

I believe the confusion with January is caused by entering in the Hebrew
date of 20th Tevet, 4964 (one year earlier on the hebrew calendar):
2 / January / 1204 AD Gregorian
26 / December / 1203 AD Julian
20 / Tevet / 4964 AM Jewish

As you can see there two 20th Tevet's in the Gregorian year 1204 -
however as the Gregorian calendar did not yet exist then, the only one
which occurred in that Julian year was the one on December 13 1204.
http://www.hebcal.com does not make adjustments for Gregorian/Julian
calendar and includes a disclaimer that you should not rely on their
converter for dates before 1752 CE.

From: Ari Trachtenberg <trachten@...>
Date: Mon, 06 Dec 2004 12:32:55 -0500
Subject: Yahrzeit of the Rambam

Prof. Nachum Dershowitz, a renowned calindrist, writes (copied with

The source is a passage attributed to Maimonides' grandson, David in the
foreword to (what is said to be) Rambam's commentary on Tractate Rosh
haShanah.  There it says Rambam died Sunday evening, 20 Tevet, 1516
Seleucid (shetarot).  (That text apparently has Maimonides' birth year
wrong; it's 1138 CE, not 1135!)

In any case, 20 Tevet 4965 = 13 Dec 1204 Julian (old style).



End of Volume 46 Issue 15