Volume 46 Number 44
                    Produced: Sun Jan  2 10:55:43 EST 2005

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Checking Sifrei Torah
         [Carl Singer]
Coming late to shul -- A Curious Anecdote
         [Gershon Dubin]
Saving Lives
         [Carl Singer]
         [Nathan Lamm]
Tsunami discussion
         [H Goldsmith]
Wedding Rings (5)
         [Steven M.Kapnick, Nathan Lamm, Tzvi Stein, David Riceman,
David Charlap]


From: Carl Singer <casinger@...>
Date: Fri, 31 Dec 2004 10:38:41 -0500
Subject: Checking Sifrei Torah

> I think Rav Teitz's point was somewhat different (and if it is not his
> point, then it is mine), but is well developed from your explanation
> above. Let's assume the method is a trained neural network. As has
> been pointed out, there are two issues that can be checked for. One is
> missing / extra letters, the other is incorrectly formed letters. In
> the ideal case, the training samples and decision weights are chosen
> such that with a set of letters that the Posek defines as marginally
> acceptable and marginally unacceptable, the neural network returns the
> same results. In a more likely real scenario, the details will depend
> on whether you are looking for missing / extra letters or incorrectly
> formed. Here again, I would suspect that you would want to have the
> software first use a relatively inclusive decision weight to err on
> accepting incorrectly formed letters, and based on that decision,
> report out all missing / extra letters. If any are found, you have a
> high likelyhood of having a invalid sefer torah. I would then expect
> that you could rerun the logic with a set of tighter decision weights
> that would now flag any suspect letters. In this case, the software is
> just being used as a tool to find for the checker which letters he
> should pay attention to, and then have the checker make the actual
> determination of valid / non-valid status.
> Avi Feldblum

You won't catch me paskening -- but I think the halachically acceptable
approach would be to have the computer program screen for possible

Clearly a human checking a "document" such as a Sefer Torah may miss
finding some errors -- in part because he is likely well versed in the
contents and will read past errors without noticing them -- plus the
length of the "document" and the great importance of the work make it
especially taxing.

Using a computer to find "obvious" errors -- say mis-spellings or
missing words with even a fairly lax exclusion criteria would be a most
helpful AID to the sofer.  He could then focus on and reexamine those
items culled out as possibly being in error.

But again -- the criteria for whether a given letter is properly formed
or (as in the case of older Sefrai Torah) broken is fixed in halacha --
this criteria (which I previously characterized as a youthful reader)
cannot be readily duplicated by a computer algorithm -- and doing so
would be problematic from an halachic - not technical point of view.

Compare / contrast this to the discussion re: bugs in the lettuce.  The
halachic criteria is not absolute -- whether a microscope reveals the
presence of a bug is irrelevant.

Carl Singer


From: Gershon Dubin <gershon.dubin@...>
Date: Fri, 31 Dec 2004 15:11:11 GMT
Subject: Coming late to shul -- A Curious Anecdote

From: <MJGerver@...> (Mike Gerver)
> Years ago, I heard a story about someone having a party, and writing a
> different time in each invitation, according to what time each person
> had come to the last party he had-- everyone showed up exactly at the
> same time

In the Syrian Jewish community in Brooklyn, many/most people would not
even think of showing up to a wedding or other simcha before about 3-4
hours after it's called for.  This is apparently so well rooted that
when Ashkenazim are invited as well, often people print different (i.e.,
much later) times for them so they don't waste hours waiting for the
simcha to start.



From: Carl Singer <casinger@...>
Date: Fri, 31 Dec 2004 06:21:54 -0500
Subject: Saving Lives

Rabbi Lau Calls for Continuing the Search for Survivors on the Sabbath
22:45 Dec 30, '04 / 18 Tevet 5765

(IsraelNN.com <http://IsraelNN.com>) Former Chief Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau
called for continued rescue efforts in southeast Asia over the Sabbath,
explaining the possibility of saving lives demands the sanctity of the
Sabbath be pushed aside in the hope of rescuing survivors.

I received the above from the "passaic.jews" email list.

I then began to over-analyze it:

It's not a chidush or anything that a knowledgeable, observant Jew
wouldn't know to do even without this "booster shot."  But may be
helpful for those who are observant (i.e. keep Shabbos) but are not
knowledgeable or sure.

Is there now such a thing as a "global psak" -- who should send it.
Would it require myriad signatures.  What halachic impact does it have.

What impact does it have on the local community / local Rabbaim --
clearly there is not an overwhelming Jewish presence in Southeast Asia.

Was there any similar statement made after September 11th? (Which was on
a Tuesday, btw)

What if the message dealt with something controversial (say the
"cellphone ban")


From: Nathan Lamm <nelamm18@...>
Date: Fri, 31 Dec 2004 08:33:03 -0800 (PST)
Subject: Smoking

Carl Singer mentions how, in times past, smoking was sometimes held to
be a healthy practice.  Interestingly, the New York Times recently ran a
piece on how the recent rise in obesity can be directly linked to a
decrease in smoking. The health experts in the article, however, said
that there's no question that the former, while undesirable, isn't
nearly as bad as the latter.

Of course, there may be some reluctance to issue (or follow) a ban
because of a slippery-slope fear. After all, unhealthy practices
abound. Will they all have to be formally banned?


From: <HHgoldsmith@...> (H Goldsmith)
Date: Fri, 31 Dec 2004 10:35:18 EST
Subject: Tsunami discussion

Instead of discussing back and forth should we or should we not send
money to Sri Lanka, let us put our minds and hearts to discerning the
message of the calamity. I recently received the following email:

Disaster, Redemption and the Tsunami
Thursday, December 30, 2004 / 18 Tevet 5765

At least one Kabbalist sage predicted "natural calamities" over two
weeks ago. He and others call for an increase in acts of kindness, as
they try to place the events in universal context.

The venerated Rabbi Yitzchak Kaduri, considered Israel's leading
Kabbalist rabbi, was quoted in the Yediot Acharonot newspaper on Dec. 12
as saying:

"We are now in the fourth year of what could be the seven-year
Redemption period, according to the calculation of the Vilna
Gaon. [However.] in the coming three years, uncertainty about the future
will hang over our heads, unless we work and strive that the Messiah be
revealed. The Messiah is already [here] in Israel. Whatever people are
sure will not happen, is liable to happen, and whatever we are certain
will happen may disappoint us. But in the end, there will be peace
throughout the world.  The world is mitmatek mehadinim (lit., becoming
sweet from/of strict justice), great tragedies in the world are
foreseen, that's the thing of the Jews going to the East. [emphasis
added] But our enemies will not prevail over us in the Land of Israel,
'fear and trembling will fall upon them,' in the [merit of the] power of

Rabbi Kaduri said this week, "What can save the world from calamities is
real repentance by Jews, who must increase acts of kindness towards one
another... The cry of the many poor in Israel and the expulsion of Jews
from their homes shakes the world... It's not for naught that this place
was hit, where many of our compatriots went to look for this-worldly

Rabbi Kaduri has told his students that the current government will be
the last one of the "old era," and that the new government will already
have leadership of the Messianic era.

Another sage, Rabbi Chaim Kanevsky of Bnei Brak, was quoted in Yediot in
the same article as saying that we are verily in the period of the
beginning of the Redemption period, and that the Messiah could be
revealed at any moment. He called for further outreach "in order to
prevent calamities and to bring mercy from the Creator. All Jews must
come to the Land of Israel." The Rabbi also called to establish Torah
schools in every area, and that "Torah study will prevent calamities
 - from earthquakes to other natural disasters."

The Kipa website, a Hebrew-language forum for religious youth, features
a response by Rabbi Uziel Eliyahu, Chief Rabbi of the Misgav Regional
Council in the Galilee regarding a Jewish approach to the calamitous
events. "First of all," Rabbi Eliyahu wrote, "we should pray and ask G-d
to remove His wrath from the word, send a complete recovery to the
injured, and help and protect everyone in the world, causing sorrow to

Rabbi Eliyahu added that what is happening now was decreed on Rosh
HaShanah [the Jewish New Year]: "It was a Divine decree that was issued
regarding 'who will be killed by water, and who by fire...'" Our job
now, he wrote, is to "pray to G-d, to try harder in studying Torah and
fulfilling the Torah and doing acts of kindness and charity. This is an
hour of reckoning for the entire world!!!"

Rabbi Eliyahu emphasized that G-d has complete control of nature, and
that the Jewish People live "amidst great faith, despite questions that
remain open. No question mark can break our strength of great and
perfect faith in G-d... This does not prevent us from asking and
searching for answers and [logical] explanations, but it all takes place
on the solid ground of great faith in G-d... The Bible (Zechariah 14)
mentions that in the future, when the Messiah comes, the Mt. of Olives
will be split in two... The Messiah can come at any minute, even as you
read these lines..."


From: Steven M.Kapnick <rsmk@...>
Date: Fri, 31 Dec 2004 13:10:35 -0500
Subject: RE: Wedding Rings

>From: <DTnLA@...> (Dov Teichman)
>Speaking of rings, when and how did the practice of men wearing wedding
>rings (bands) catch on in the Orthodox world? (Especially Modern
>Orthodox vs. Chareidi) Do we find such a practice in Chazal? As far as I
>remember only signet or ornamental rings are mentioned. For that
>matter, I was always puzzled about men wearing jewelry too, which in
>general is much less common among ashkenazim vs. sefardim and even among
>ashkenazim its primarily among modern orthodox rather than chareidi. Can
>some explain these phenomena?

I have been informed anecdotally through numerous resources that it was
a "common" practice in various parts of Europe for even
Observant/Orthodox married Jewish men to wear a wedding band on their
pinky finger. Can anyone offer any further information on this matter?

Shimon Kapnick

From: Nathan Lamm <nelamm18@...>
Date: Fri, 31 Dec 2004 08:29:49 -0800 (PST)
Subject: Wedding Rings

One may, of course, question how the custom of *women* wearing wedding
rings, especially the plain bands common today, began. Obviously, it's a
much older custom, but possibly also has its origins in non-Jewish
practice (or vice versa).

I've actually heard that wearing a wedding ring makes life somewhat
"easier" for a man who works in a professional setting. Personally, I
don't buy it, as this supposes that women throw themselves at unmarried
men (and *only* unmarried men), and married men without rings can't
control themselves (and those with them can). But this is certainly on
the minds of some men, and, likely, their wives, and thus might be an
incentive for them to do so.

Or it may simply be a harmless and nice gesture from the outside world
penetrating the Jewish one. So long as it's not done under the chuppah,
where it could create all sorts of issues.

From: Tzvi Stein <Tzvi.Stein@...>
Date: Sat, 1 Jan 2005 23:34:02 -0500
Subject: Re: Wedding Rings

I've never worn a wedding ring.  Ironically, the only time I had a
problem with unwanted opposite-sex attention in the workplace was in

From: David Riceman <driceman@...>
Date: Sun, 2 Jan 2005 10:02:31 -0500
Subject: Re: Wedding Rings

> From: <Joelirich@...> (Joel Rich)
> When the issue is raised by "more frum" friends, I always
> ask them if their wives wear wedding rings. The usual answer is yes. I
> then ask them for the source of this practice in chazal.

See Tikkunei HaZohar #5 (p. 20b in the edition with biur HaGra), cited
in Rama on Even HaEzer 27:1.

David Riceman 

From: David Charlap <shamino@...>
Date: Fri, 31 Dec 2004 11:51:57 -0500
Subject: Re: Wedding Rings

Dov Teichman wrote:
> Speaking of rings, when and how did the practice of men wearing
> wedding rings (bands) catch on in the Orthodox world?

I assume it is a fairly recent thing.  My father and grandfathers didn't
wear wedding rings.

> Do we find such a practice in Chazal? As far as I remember only
> signet or ornamental rings are mentioned.

As far as halacha is concerned a husband's "wedding ring" is purely
ornamental.  It doesn't play any role in creating the marriage, the way
the wife's ring does.  (Although, strictly speaking, he could give any
object above a certain value for the wedding, not just a ring.  If
someone would, then her ring (if she has one) would also be purely

> I was always puzzled about men wearing jewelry too, which in general
> is much less common among ashkenazim vs. sefardim and even among 
> ashkenazim its primarily among modern orthodox rather than chareidi.
> Can some explain these phenomena?

I always assumed that, in society (Amercan/European) at large, the
wearing of jewelry is considered someone only women do.  (With notable
exceptions for some celebrities.)  As such, for a man to wear jewelry,
it would be similar to wearing women's clothing.

I would assume that, like the overall concept of defining what is
"men's" and "women's" clothing, the halacha here would depend on the
time and place in question and not be held to an absolute standad.

-- David


End of Volume 46 Issue 44