Volume 47 Number 61
                    Produced: Tue Apr 12  6:33:09 EDT 2005

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Additions / Changes during leap year davening
         [Carl Singer]
Brachot for green plants vs. mushrooms
         [Mike Gerver]
Eida Chareidis
         [Perets Mett]
God's Bookkeepers
         [Shmuel Carit]
Grammer and Halacha
         [Martin Stern]
The Great Divide - further comment on
         [Shmuel Himelstein]
         [Menashe Elyashiv]
"Lonely Man" at 40
         [R. Jeffrey Saks]
Rabbi Schwab
         [Reuben Rudman]
Tircha d'Tsibbura
         [Martin Stern]


From: Carl Singer <casinger@...>
Date: Sun, 10 Apr 2005 09:35:55 -0400
Subject: Additions / Changes during leap year davening

A gutten choydish.

During this morning's Rosh Chodesh Musaf the Art Scroll Siddur in the
paragraph that begins --- Chadaysh Aleinu Ets HaChodesh Hazeh --- notes
the addition of the phrase --- vLeChaprat Pasha --- during leap years.

Any insights into this and other leap year modifications -- also, how
universal are these?



From: <MJGerver@...> (Mike Gerver)
Date: Sun, 10 Apr 2005 04:00:40 EDT
Subject: Brachot for green plants vs. mushrooms

In yesterday's daf, Brachot 40b, its says that the brachah for mushrooms
is "shehakol" rather than "borei pri ha-adamah" as it is for green
plants, because mushrooms, unlike green plants, do not get most of their
sustenance from the soil (adamah). I always wondered about this, because
it seems backwards. Green plants get almost all of their mass from water
and carbon dioxide, and their energy from sunlight, with only minerals
(making up a small fraction of their mass) coming from the soil, while
mushrooms get almost all of their mass from organic matter in the soil,
as well as a small fraction from minerals in the soil.

The obvious explanation, of course, is that photosynthesis was not
discovered until 1771 (by Joseph Priestly, although he interpreted
everything in terms of the phlogiston theory), so chazal would not have
taken it into account in deciding what bracha to establish for
mushrooms, and by 1771 no one was going to change the brachot. Still, it
would be nice to be able to understand it in a way that is consistent
with modern scientific knowledge. And coming across it in the daf yomi,
and I started thinking about it again, and came up with a possible

Green plants differ from fungi in that they are able to produce an amino
acid (I forget what it's called) which is needed for the protein lignin,
which gives plants their structural strength. This amino acid is not one
of the 20 standard amino acids which are coded in the genes by DNA, but
is a modified form of one of the standard amino acids, produced in the
cell by an enzyme-mediated reaction. Animals also know how to make it,
and use it to produce other proteins which give structural strength to
their bodies. But fungi cannot make it, and as a result fungi do not
have much structural strength, and cannot grow very big.

So even though most of the mass of a plant comes from carbon dioxide and
water, most of the strength of a plant comes from a protein, lignin,
which requires nitrogen, a mineral obtained from the soil. In the case
of mushrooms, most of the little strength they have comes from organic
matter in the soil, which, unlike the minerals in the soil, is not
considered part of the soil itself. This distinction between organic
matter in the soil, and the soil itself, may be reasonably inferred from
the Gemara, which uses the fact that mushrooms can grow on old logs as
evidence that they do not require soil.


Mike Gerver
Raanana, Israel


From: Perets Mett <p.mett@...>
Date: Sun, 10 Apr 2005 15:02:35 +0100
Subject: Eida Chareidis

Risa Tzohar wrote:
> Yes, the mashgiach in our supermarket explained that the badatz does
> not give hashgacha for Pesach period. He said ignore them and use it
> on Pesach if someone else says Pesach.  >

The mashgiach in your supermarket is misinformed. The Eida Chareidis
supervises a range of products for Pesach including of course, matzos
(both hand-baked and machine-baked) and wine. The full list is available
in the Madrich Hakashrus of the Eido.

It is, however, true to say that their list of Pesach-supervised goods
is limited. The community for whom they cater is not interested in the
thousands of products which are available elsewhere; they reckon they
can survive for seven days without that wide range of choice.

it is therefore a pointless exercise to to try and divine whether or not
they would have given a hechsher for Pesach on any particular product.

Perets Mett

[Similar response from Ira Jacobson (<laser@...>). Mod]


From: Shmuel Carit <cshmuel@...>
Date: Sun, 10 Apr 2005 12:24:58 +0000
Subject: Re: God's Bookkeepers

Re: Dov Teichman's posting where he lists a few "Gedolim" and their
attitudes towards why "bad things happen to good people."

I guess they're actually saying they're not "good people." Bad things
only happen to bad people.

Far be it for me to quarrle with recognized Gedolim, though present
times make it more and more difficult for me to respect and admire what
sometimes we hear they're quoted saying.

Perhaps this issue can be divided into two areas. We can privately
assume responsbility for punishments due to our (personal) sins - mipnei

But never be so haughty as to ascribe blame publicly and to the public
at large.

Stuart Pilichowski
Mevaseret Zion, Israel


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Sat, 09 Apr 2005 22:58:17 +0100
Subject: RE: Grammer and Halacha

on 8/4/05 11:47 am, Mark Steiner <marksa@...> wrote:

> An example is the reading of Hebrew with penultimate stress
> (mil`eil), quite common in Ashkenaz.  As it happens, however, many
> prominent linguists think that this phenomenon may reach as far back as
> the tannaim!  This reading is "wrong" in Biblical Hebrew, to be sure,
> but the tefillot are not in Biblical Hebrew.

Could Mark please name some of these prominent linguists. It would seem
more likely that the reason for the stress shift in Ashkenazi
pronunciation is that it reflected their primary spoken European
languages which did not have the stress on the last syllable.

Generally people apply the phonetic habits from such a primary language
to any others used, which explains why foreigners have noticeable
accents. The absence of gutturals in European languages led to their
absence in Ashkenazi pronunciation of Hebrew, with the chet being
replaced by a khaf and the ayin by an aleph. Similarly the tendency in
most dialects of UK English not to pronounce an 'r' at the end of a word
is also imported into their Hebrew pronunciation making the words matar
and matah homophonous.

Martin Stern


From: Shmuel Himelstein <himels@...>
Date: Sun, 10 Apr 2005 16:52:39 +0200
Subject: The Great Divide - further comment on

I too fail to understand the logic of those who will no longer be saying
Hallel on Yom Ha'atzma'ut. In fact I can much more readily understand
the logic of those who have never said it. That is at least consistent.

In essence, by stopping to say it now, these people are saying that for
the past 56 years they were living a lie. For these 56 years they had
believed that Hashem had, in His great mercy, given us a country of our
own after 2000 years of exile. In those 56 years they had seen the
Jewish population in Israel increase ten-fold. And Torah learning -
there is not other country in the world where so high a percentage of
Jews are as involved in Torah.  Now these all pale into insignificance,
and the State is of no more importance to the Jewish people than Ghana.

OK - so they don't like (a VAST understatement) what the government is
doing. Yet all these years I thought that Hallel was a praise to Hashem,
and not to the government of Israel. It's like the kid who gets upset,
so he throws a tantrum and takes his ball back - or so it seems to me.

I might possibly understand their stopping to say the prayer for the
State of Israel, but if anything they should be praying all the more for
Hashem to have Him guide the government properly.

Shmuel Himelstein


From: Menashe Elyashiv <elyashm@...>
Date: Sun, 10 Apr 2005 11:54:03 +0300 (IDT)
Subject: Karaties

The Karaties do have Purim! See their website at www.karaim.net


From: R. Jeffrey Saks <atid@...>
Date: Sun, 10 Apr 2005 10:44:41 +0200
Subject: "Lonely Man" at 40

This summer marks forty years since the publication of Rabbi Joseph B.
Soloveitchik's monumental "The Lonely Man of Faith" which appeared
originally in Tradition (Summer 1965).

ATID has convened an online symposium gathering reflections and insights
by Orthodox educators and communal leaders on what the central ideas
contained in "The Lonely Man of Faith" have meant to them personally.
How have those ideas shaped or informed their work as a teacher of Torah
or Jewish communal leader? What is the continued relevance of "The
Lonely Man of Faith" to contemporary religious life? How have those
ideas affected the Jewish community? How might they?

Contributions to the symposium will be uploaded to our website over the
coming months--numerous essays have already been "published" to the web.
For the Table of Contents, click here: www.atid.org/resources/lmof40.asp
ATID invites you to write an essay for the symposium. Guidelines to
contributors can be found here: www.atid.org/resources/lmof.asp

Rabbi Jeffrey Saks
Director, ATID
Academy for Torah Initiatives and Directions 
Tel. 02-567-1719 * Fax 02-567-1723 * <atid@...>  


From: Reuben Rudman <rudman@...>
Date: Sun, 10 Apr 2005 12:52:06 +0300
Subject: re: Rabbi Schwab

From: Joseph Ginzberg <jgbiz120@...>
>">With the utmost respect to R. Schwab, his purported advice to
>>ArtScroll "if it brings yiras shamayim, print it even if it's not
>>true.  If it doesn't, don't print it even if it is true" seems
>Was this advice really given?  What about "mi'dvar sheker tirchok"
>["distance yourself from a false word"] (Exodus 23:7)?

Personally, while I heard it from a Rav in Lakewood myself, and he
claimed to know it was true, I doubt its veracity.  Unfortunately,
though, I do know that many of the publications from there do believe it
to be true."

In The Torah U-Madda Journal, Vol. 8, 1998-1999,page 233, Rabbi
Dr. J. J. Schacter quotes Rabbi Shimon Schwab from his reference to Rav
Schwab's "Selected Writings" (Lakewood, 1988) p. 234.  Dr. Schacter also
quotes it in greater length in Vol. 2, 1990, page 111.  Some of the
statements of Rav Schwab are: "There is a vast difference between
history and storytelling.  History must be truthful otherwise it does
not deserve its name.... What ethical purpose is served by preserving a
realistic historic picture?  Nothing but the satisfaction of curiosity.
We should tell ourselves and our children the good memories of the good
people...What is gained by pointing out their inadequacies...?  We want
to be inspired by their example..."  There is more, but these quotes
should indicate that what has been paraphrased is true. [Note that it
also has ramifications to the discusssion of popular history by another
Rabbi that has appeared here too.]  According to Schacter's Bibliography
t his essay first appeared in the December-March, 1984-85 issue of
Mittelungen.  It does not seem to have been prepared expressly for

Talking of "Artscroll", it is interesting that many Israelis who do not
know of Artscroll but use their Hebrew Talmud, refer to the Hebrew
version of the Artscroll Talmud as the "Schottenstein" Talmud, just as
they talk about the "Steinsaltz" edition of the Talmud.  I get the
impression they think that Schottenstein himself did the translation.
Interesting what happens in translation.

Reuben Rudman                          


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Sun, 10 Apr 2005 14:16:39 +0100
Subject: Re: Tircha d'Tsibbura

on 10/4/05 1:38 pm, Yisrael Medad <ybmedad@...> wrote:

> if non-children say it, i.e. parents and siblings, then obviously the
> saying of Kaddish has altered its status and maybe now is a Halacha
> rather than a custom.

As far as I am aware the obligation of saying kaddish only applies to
sons of the deceased and, if he leaves no sons, there is no obligation
for anyone to say kaddish.

There are some kabbalistic sources which suggest that each kaddish
raises the soul of the departed higher in heaven and so people often
arrange that somebody should say kaddish where the deceased leaves no
sons. Such people have no halachic standing and so would be barred from
saying kaddish in those communities where only one person says each
kaddish if there were no 'spare' kaddeishim available.

As the sifrei halachah put it good deeds, which are also available to
daughters, and learning bring more merit to the departed soul than the
tirkha detsibbura occasioned by innumerable kaddeishim. We should not
let Judaism become some sort of kaddisholatry!

Martin Stern


End of Volume 47 Issue 61