Volume 47 Number 31
                    Produced: Tue Mar 22  7:02:34 EST 2005

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Administrivia - Purim
         [Avi Feldblum]
Book Review (2)
         [Martin Stern, Martin Stern]
Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone
         [Martin Stern]
Neturei Karta
         [Martin Stern]
Sausages or Wurst
         [Martin Stern]


From: Avi Feldblum <mljewish@...>
Date: Tue, 22 Mar 2005 06:47:02 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Administrivia - Purim

As many of you know, in the past we have had a Purim edition of
mail-jewish, oftimes with a spiel etc as well. This was co-ordinated /
edited by a long time member and good friend - Sam Saal. As many of you
know, Sam was nifter this past year, at the end of December. I have
recieved some Purim material, and will put it out in this issue, which
is dedicated to our good friend, Sam Saal - may his memory be a blessing
for us all. Despite all his personal difficulties, Sam always reached
out and tried to brighten up others days, and I know Purim was one of
his favorite times.



From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Mon, 21 Mar 2005 09:59:31 +0000
Subject: Book Review

They have reason to deceive
by Rabbi Dr Jacob Lewis
Nicholas De Lyra University Press, New London, Ohio, 2003 (xvi + 640 pp,
reviewed by
Rabbi Dr Leon Bake, lecturer in Bible studies,
Jewish Institute of Theology, New Heaven, Con.

    This volume by one of the most influential thinkers in the Jewish
world is the culmination of a lifetime's work in trying to convince any
remaining doubters of the dangers of fundamentalism for the survival of
Judaism or, for that matter any text-based religion. It takes the form
of a history of the modern approach to Bible studies, starting with the
insights of Spinoza and Astruc through Wellhausen's brilliant
reconstruction of Biblical history up to contemporary scholarly
studies. This is followed by some of his own observations which demolish
the latter's criticism of Wellhausen. To give an example of his
approach, I can do no better than quote one passage (pp.  263-4), which
shows the depth of his scholarship, which destroys the possibility that
any unprejudiced person could ever take seriously the pre-modern
fundamentalist approach to the Pentateuch.

  "In the book of Numbers (ch. 26) there is a passage, the record of the
census taken just before the Israelites crossed the Jordan to conquer
the promised land, which most modern readers skip over as of little
relevance.  In it, however, there are minor variations in the way by
which the various tribes are denominated, which betray its late date of
composition, forever destroying the fundamentalist belief that the whole
Pentateuch could be of Mosaic origin.

  We find some tribes referred to adjectivally: 'Reubenites' (v.7),
'Simeonites' (v.14), 'Zebulunites' (v.27). Others are referred to by
their tribal name: 'Judah' (v.22), 'Issachar' (v.25), 'Manasseh' (v.34),
'Dan' (v.42), 'Naphtali' (v.50). The remainder are all called 'children
of -', or 'sons of -', the same word being used in the original Hebrew
(though this variation may be an indication that the Authorised Version
was compiled by more than one person), as in 'children of Gad' (v.18),
'sons of Ephraim' (v.37), 'sons of Benjamin' (v.41), 'sons of Asher'

  On the basis of this variation in nomenclature, it is clear that this
passage is a composite of three documents, one from an author from the
tribe of Ephraim (E), another from the tribe of Judah (J) and a third
from the tribe of Reuben (R). While the precise tribal affiliation of
each is not entirely certain, I have assigned the authorship to the
leading tribe in each group for obvious reasons. From the groupings we
can ascertain the historical period in which these census took place.

  Such groupings make no sense in the context of the legendary invasion
under Joshua, as implied in the book of Numbers. However their inclusion
there would suggest that the redactor hoped for a reunification of all
twelve tribes, probably just after the fall of Babylon prior to Cyrus'
permission for their return, rumours of the pending announcement of
which must have been circulating at the time.

  The problem, however, of the date of the original documents remains.
Obviously, it cannot be at the time of the United Kingdom since one
would not expect such terminological differentiation in a unitary
state. Similarly they cannot have been composed once the two states of
Israel and Judah were definitively separated since the tribal groupings
do not correspond to their final crystallisation. Thus we must place it
during the turbulent period following the death of Solomon before the
two states had established their separate identities.

  At that time, the rebellious tribe of Ephraim, led by Jeroboam, had
not yet garnered much support, only having attracted Gad and Asher and,
surprisingly, Benjamin which later reverted to the Davidic kingdom. The
latter probably reflected lingering loyalty to the house of Saul and
resentment at its displacement by the Davidic dynasty.

  Most other tribes still remained loyal to Rehoboam except for Reuben,
Simeon and Zebulun. The first two, traditionally descended from Jacob's
two oldest sons, probably resented the dominance of Judah, his fourth,
let alone the upstart Ephraim whom they no doubt viewed as usurpers
favoured by their mythical ancestor, Jacob, as claimed by Ephraimic
propagandists, later included in the text of Genesis (48,5). As regards
Zebulun, its maritime commercial interests probably made it wary of
joining a state based on either hill tribe whose economy was based on

  So we see how a close look at the Pentateuchal text shows that the
idea of a unitary origin of the text in the Mosaic period cannot be
upheld by any right-thinking person."

  No one could put the case against fundamentalism more convincingly and
anyone who could believe a word of it must have the word 'gullible'
missing from his or her vocabulary!

From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Mon, 21 Mar 2005 10:14:20 +0000
Subject: Book Review

Subject: Purim 5765*

Book Review
Shorshei Kerem Rosh Nevolim by Mordekhai ibn Shakhran
edited with introduction and notes by Rabbi Alter Brandwein
(240 + xii pages, $100)
reviewed by
Shimmy Benkish, 
Emeritus Professor of Palaeooinology, University of Weinburg

    As has been reported widely, the Sefer Shorshei Kerem Rosh Nevalim
by the 10th century exegete, Ibn Shakhran, was found recently in the
wine cellars of the Vatican where its folios had been used as stoppers
in ancient amphorae. Until now he was only known from scattered
quotations but now we can appreciate his deep understanding of the
Tenakh in all its brilliance.

    The author obviously chose this name for his sefer as an acrostic of
his name. It is also a reference to his home town, Gibraltar, which had
been known, previous to the Arab conquest, as Nebelberg from the
Visigothic word meaning 'foggy mountain', because of the clouds that
often envelope its summit, or el Pe'on, the Rock, as it is still called
by its residents, HaTsur in mediaeval Jewish works. The Arabs renamed it
Gebal Tariq, the mountain of Tariq, after their leader. In defiance, the
indigenous population called it 'el Pe'on del cabecilla', literally the
rock of 'the head of the gang of scoundrels', rosh nevolim.

It seems that his idea that Hebrew words were derived from four letter
roots from which one letter was removed to give different nuances of
meaning, drew the ire of his contemporary, Dunash Ibn Labrat, who wrote
of him "Ben Kaf keVen Quf ", implying that, with such opinions, his name
should have been with a quf rather than a kaf. This may also be the
earliest reference to the colony of Barbary apes which still live in
Gibraltar. Ibn Ezra was moved to defend our author against this calumny
in his comment on Tehillim (81,17) "umitsur devash asbi'eka - kemo
hamefaresh hagadol Ibn Shakhran me'ir Tsur shemidevarov anu sevei'im
devash." This may itself be an allusion to Ibn Shakhran's introductory
comment to the Megillah "Why is Shushan always referred to as 'HaBirah'
- because it was the centre of beer production in Achashverosh's
empire." In Biblical usage devash invariably refers to date honey, the
raw material for beer manufacture in Bavel, barley beer being peculiar
to the land of Madai ('Beer Production in the Bible and Talmud' by
Professor Yehoiyada Felix, Beer Sheker University Press, 5715*)

    To give the readers a better idea of his approach, we quote some
further insights on the Megillah which will whet their appetite for

Noach and the Megillah

    Ibn Shakhran notes that, throughout the Torah, the name of Noach is
spelled chaser, yet in the Megillah, we find it spelled malei in three
places, a hint to be livesumei bePurya ad delo yada, in that one should
be as malei yayin as Noach (Gen. 9,21).

    He notes (Esth. 9,17) that this must be the source of the beraisa
brought in the Avos deRabbi Natlan (Schlechter edition, 1,1-3, Van
De'Stijl Brothers' Press, Weinheim, Baden, 5526*):

"HaBakbuk kibel haYayin meKerem umesarah leNoach (Gen. 9, 20-21),
veNoach liVnos Lot (19, 31-36), uVenos Lot leOved Edom haGitti (2
Sam. 6, 10), veOved Edom haGitti leNaval haKarmeli (1 Sam. 25, 36)
[There seems to be a chronological inaccuracy here since Naval was prior
to Oved Edom, but perhaps this is a case of ein me'uchar umukdam
beshikhrus - when drunk one has no perception of time - S.B], veNaval
haKarmeli leBelshatsar (Dan. 5), uVelshatsar leAchashverosh,
veAchashverosh asah mishteh lekhol sarav ve'avadav (Esth. 1, 3) " Noach
hayah omer 'Al sheloshah devarim haOlam omed, al haYayyin ve'al
haShekhar ve'al haSaraf' " Hu hayah omer 'Im ein kerem ein yayin ve'im
ein yayin ein shikhrus' ''

    Its repetition (9,18), supports Rav Yeina Saba's memra in Massekhes
Shikurim. (Falsher edition 7,12, Tokayer Press, Martha's Vineyard,
Mass., 5716*) that 'livesumei applies to both days of Purim, umeshum
sefeika deyoma machmirin bazeh"!

    In his comment on "ya'asu eits gevoah chamishim amah" (5,14), Ibn
Shakhran brings Midrash Shekhar Tov which explains that Haman obtained
this piece of timber from Noach who had used it as one of the cross
beams of the ark (Gen. 6,15):

    "How is it that Noach was drawn into the Megillah? Our Sages teach
that when Zeresh told Haman to hang Mordekhai on a gallows fifty amos
high, he asked her where such an enormous piece of timber might be
found. To this she replied 'Did not your ancestor Noach build his ark
with such mighty beams?  Go to him and ask for one!' This advice greatly
pleased Haman and he did so.  When he came to Noach with his request
Noach refused, so Haman grabbed one end and tried to make off with
it. At this, Noach grabbed the other end to prevent its loss but, being
an extremely elderly man, could not stop Haman who thereby dragged him
with the beam into the Megillah."

    Since it says (Esth. 9,16) "veNoach mei'oyeveihem", which he
translates as "and Noach from among their enemies", Ibn Shakhran points
out that Haman's hatred of Jews must have come from Noach together with
the rest of his junk

The mothers-in-law of Achashverosh

    It seems that surrogate motherhood was still known in his days since
he comments on the verse "Gam Vashti haMalkah asesah mishteh nashim"
(1,9) "HaKesiv 'mishteh' im hei, vekakri 'mishtei' im yud, vezeh sod
gadol - achas lezera' veachas le'ibbur" and notes that both are named in
the Megillah, "Bo'arah" (1,12) and "Keshokh" (2,1). The former was
obviously the biological mother as he explains "venikreis al shem zeh
mipnei shehe'erah bah ba'alah", so the latter must have been the
surrogate. He notes that it is clear that these two must be the mothers
of Vashti since they are brought in connection with her downfall.

    He comments "al tikri 'kam bechamaso' (7,7) ela 'beKam chamoso'
vezeh shemah shel imah shel Esther " she was also known as "Shokhakhah"
(7,10) and this is no contradiction to the verse 'she had no father or
mother' (2,7) because her mother's name had been forgotten. Though some
say Esther had two mothers like Vashti, this is a mistake: her mother's
name was 'Kam', and 'Shokhakhah' was rak kinnui be'alma".

    There are many further insights brought by Ibn Shakhran for which
the reader is recommended to obtain a copy and intoxicate himself with
its wisdom, "halo hem kesuvim al sefer (10, 2)".

*Note that hashtus, hashikor and hashasui have gematrias 5715, 5526 and
5716 respectively. Also this year 5765 is the gematria of hashetuim
(with two yuds from the shem hameshulav of course!)


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Mon, 21 Mar 2005 10:02:37 +0000
Subject: Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone

Dear Sir

I have done some research which seems to confirm the rumours that the
Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, had Jewish ancestry. Examination of
records of births and deaths have shown him to be a direct descendant of
Phinehas Livingstone (1735 - 1781), who was described in a commercial
directory of 1764 as having a butcher's shop in Great St Helens in the
City of London.  His father, Lazarus Livingstone (1694 - 1756), was
mentioned in the records of the Middlesex Assizes in connection with
some dispute over the sale of second hand clothes as 'an Ottoman subject
newly arrived from Gibraltar now residing in Old Castle Street in the
parish of St. John the Lesser by Aldgate'.

While names like Phinehas (Pinchas) and Lazarus (Elazar) were used in
England almost exclusively by Jews, the finding of a gravestone in the
Old Cemetery of the Spanish and Portuguese Jews in Mile End would seem
to be most significant. Though it is difficult to make out the
inscription, it would appear to be that of 'Harav Elazar ben Pinchas
haCohen Ibn Hayyim born in Smyrna and grandson of Aharon Ibn
Hayyim'. Unfortunately the dates are illegible.

The only problem is whether Elazar Ibn Hayyim is the same person as
Lazarus Livingstone. Clearly birth in Smyrna (now known as Izmir in
Turkey) would make a person an Ottoman (Turkish) subject and the
forenames obviously correspond. A little thought suggests that they are
one and the same since the surname Ibn Hayyim would have been pronounced
Even Hayyim which could have been (mis)translated as 'Stone of Life' or

It seems that Phinehas Livingstone had some dispute with the Mahamad of
the Spanish and Portuguese Congregation as he is recorded as having been
placed under a ban in 1765. This may have been something to do with the
fact that he married a certain 'Margaret O'Reilly, domestic servant,
late of County Clare' as recorded in the parish register of St. John the
Lesser by Aldgate in that year, which severed any further connection
with the Jewish community.

Yours faithfully
Kalonymus Vogelstein
Past President, The International Jewish Genealogical Society
London N2


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Mon, 21 Mar 2005 11:43:36 +0000
Subject: Neturei Karta

Dear Sir

Reading your report on the Neturei Karta members who went to the recent
Beirut conference of solidarity with Palestinian victims of Zionist
persecution, I was shocked at your prejudiced attack on those who, like
us, take as our motto "Be like the followers of Aharon Hacohen loving
peace and pursuing peace" (Pirkei Avos 1,12). We are only trying to
fulfil the Torah's command "And you shall fill the land with Hamas"
(Gen. 6,11) so that, as we all say on the Yamim Noraim, "The tsaddikim
will see and be glad, the yeshorim will exult and the chassidim will
rejoice, when iniquity's mouth will be shut and all wickedness will be
consumed like smoke, when the State of arrogance will disappear from the
earth" with the coming of Moshiach soon in our times.

Yours sincerely

Arieh Shoeg 
'Shomer Pesochim Hashem' International
Williamsburg, New York


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Mon, 21 Mar 2005 10:01:28 +0000
Subject: Re: Sausages or Wurst

Dear Sir

As the problem of the correct berochah for mezonos bread has been
worrying many people, I would like to reassure the Torah community that
this does not apply to any sausages or wurst produced under our strict
supervision. For them the correct berochah is always 'borei minei
mezonos' since the major ingredient is breadcrumbs which have been so
finely ground that they no longer have tzuras hapas.

Furthermore these products resemble lockshen in that they are not baked
(not even half baked as some malicious rumours have claimed) and so one
may eat as much as one wishes without coming into any shailah of having
to bentsch afterwards.

However readers should be aware that they do contain a small proportion
of meat which exceeds one sixtieth of the total. This is because our
dayanim are particular to fulfil the posuk in Hallel Hagadol - "Nosein
lechem lechol basar" as Chazal darshan it "Just as He puts bread in all
meat products so should you" (Chullin 142b), according to Rashi's
explation "but make sure that the meat is not completely botul". In
consequence all wurst and sausages must be treated as fleishig and not
be eaten with dairy products.

None of the above applies to any products bearing our Pesach hechsher
which are all 100% non-gebrokts and should therefore be treated as
definitely not being raui leakhilas kelev.

Wishing all readers a freiliche Purim

(Rabbi) Velvel Fleischfresser
Director, Kashrus Department,
Beis Din of the Confederation of Stiebelach
(under the leadership of the Rebbe Shlita)

London N16


End of Volume 47 Issue 31