Volume 48 Number 70
                    Produced: Tue Jun 28  5:17:13 EDT 2005

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Accepting Psak without reviewing
         [Gershon Dubin]
Amen to Non-Live Voices
         [Joseph Ginzberg]
Headgear for Bris
         [Sam Gamoran]
High-Interest Loans (2)
         [Eitan Fiorino, Bill Bernstein]
Minimizing Chilul Shabbat
         [Keith Bierman]
Mishaic Hebrew
         [Eitan Fiorino]
Silicone Bakeware
         [Carl A. Singer]
         [Dov Teichman]
Software licenses
         [Ari Trachtenberg]
         [Joseph Ginzberg]
A way for a cohen to enter a cemetery
         [Moshe Bach]
Yiddish etymology
         [N Miller]


From: Gershon Dubin <gershon.dubin@...>
Date: Mon, 27 Jun 2005 17:33:01 GMT
Subject: Accepting Psak without reviewing

From: Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz <sabba.hillel@...>

> Once the young man received the psak (that the service dish after 24
> hours could be used fo dairy), the plate was completely kosher and
> Rabbi Pam had no qualms about allowing him to use it.

However, Rabbi Reisman quoted Rav Pam further as saying that the
particular fellow in the story was a regular mispallel at Rabbi Ploni's
shul and would have in fact asked Rabbi Ploni the question had he not
seen Rav Pam sooner.

Under those circumstances (only?) did Rav Pam send the person to get a
pesak with which he himself did not agree.



From: Joseph Ginzberg <jgbiz120@...>
Date: Mon, 27 Jun 2005 09:44:37 -0400
Subject: Amen to Non-Live Voices

>points in the service asking ourselves afterwards if there is any
>halachik need or prohibition to participate in such a situation.  I
>know that one is not yotzei [fulfill the obligation of] the Megilla via
>phone but does any chiyuv [religious requirement] still exist to answer

Rabbi Zelig Epstein (Rosh Yeshiva, Shaar Hatorah, Queens), probably one
of the senior Rosh Yeshivos in the US today, has ruled that one answers
amen to brachos on videos.

I learned this from the disconcerting vision of people from Kew Gardens
watching their wedding video and answering all the brachos!

Rav Moshe Feinstein (IIRC) ruled that bikur Cholim and nichum aveilim
can be done over the telephone, but not l'chatchila, only if you have no

Yossi Ginzberg


From: Sam Gamoran <SGamoran@...>
Date: Mon, 27 Jun 2005 16:45:47 +0300
Subject: Re: Headgear for Bris

Yitzhok Jayson wrote:
> I have seen the practice of tying a kippa to the head of a baby being
> brissed. Is anyone aware of the significance of this is minhag,
> halacha or gemara ?

When I saw that tiny leather kippa with chin straps (to tie and hold it
in place) in the sephorim store window it looked unbelievably cute so I
splurged and fell for it.  I have no idea where it disappeared to after
that morning so I won't make him wear it to his Bar Mitzvah B"H in 3
months :-)

Sam Gamoran


From: <AFiorino@...> (Eitan Fiorino)
Date: Mon, 27 Jun 2005 09:34:13 -0400
Subject: RE: High-Interest Loans

> From: N Miller <nmiller@...>
> Yossi Ginzberg writes:
>  > While Jews were forced into the moneylending industry by church
>  > rulings forbidding usury to xtians...
> 'Forced' is a pretty strong word.  Is there any historical evidence to
> support it?  Were/are Jewish money-lenders also 'forced' to adopt
> 'predatory' practices?

You can see any book on medieval Italian Jewish history to understand
the process - Jews were excluded from many professions, but were allowed
to lend money because Christians were forbidden from lending money at
interest to other Christians.  Whether one can call this "forced" or not
- if the alternative is abject poverty, I think it can pretty much be
reckoned as coercion.  Eventually it became clear that money lending and
pawnbroking were very lucrative businesses and the Church established
their own money lending and pawnbroking establishments (the Monti di
Pieta or "mountains of piety") by the late 1400s and early 1500s.  This
was of course to the great economic disfortune of many Jews.


From: Bill Bernstein <billbernstein@...>
Date: Mon, 27 Jun 2005 06:07:59 -0500
Subject: Re: High-Interest Loans

The original query concerned whether such loans were permissible or not.
I would assume halakhically that ribis is ribis, whether it is a large
amount or a small amount.  The actual rate should not matter.

But more my point is the perception some posters have voiced that such
loans are "predatory."  I worked in the "B/C" mortgage business for
close to 10 years.  The customers for such high rate mortgages could not
borrow money from a bank for the prevailing rate (maybe 5 or 6%) for
various reasons, e.g. poor credit history, inability to prove income,
etc.  Their choice was not a mortgage loan at 6% or a mortgage loan at
12%.  Their choice was a loan at 12% or no loan at all.  While 12% is no
one's idea of a bargain it frequently represented the best alternative
people had.  And they always had the choice not to do it.  In fact, one
of the best loans I ever did carried a rate of 18%.  The borrower was
ecstatic because he could buy a single-wide mobile home on 6 acres of
rural property with no money down.  No bank would have loaned him the
money otherwise.

Bill Bernstein
Nashville TN


From: Keith Bierman <Keith.Bierman@...>
Date: Mon, 27 Jun 2005 13:36:37 -0400
Subject: Re: Minimizing Chilul Shabbat

>Speaking as an electrical engineer, assuming the computer doesn't have
>to be switched on (ie left on all Shabbat so VOIP is ready), I don't
>see any difference or preference.  Each one involves lifting the cradle
>(ie closing a switch)

That, of course, depends on the VOIP solution. If it's a software IP
phone (e.g. skype) then there is no cradle to lift, just a couple of
keypresses on the keyboard.

But I think getting into the technical details is an error. Since the
reason for allowing it at all is for pekuach nefesh, the question ought
to be what is the most reliable phone. VOIP has gotten pretty good; but
it's not as robust as the POTS.

A POTS based shabbat phone is clearly a good solution. If, for some
reason, the shabbat phone is unavailable, I would have thought that ANY
phone would do, as pekach nefesh clearly takes precedence.

Keith H. Bierman    <keith.bierman@...>| khbkhb@gmail.com
<speaking for myself, not Sun*> Copyright 2005


From: Eitan Fiorino <AFiorino@...>
Date: Mon, 27 Jun 2005 09:10:33 -0400
Subject: Re: Mishaic Hebrew

> From: Mark Steiner <marksa@...>
> The word biryah in MH is the SAME WORD as bri'ah in BH.  (This doesn't
> exclude the possibility that the meaning of the word shifted over time
> as very often.)  What happened in MH is that the roots eding in aleph in
> BH tend to be conjugated in MH as though they ended in heh:

re: beriah and biryah - also this distinction is seen in birkat hamazon;
the Italian has "lechol biryotav asher bara" versus the (I assumed
emended version of Heidenheim et al) "lechol beriotav . . ." in
Ashkenaz.  I don't have a Sephardi siddur with me at the moment but my
recollection is that both vocalizations are found, depending on the



From: Carl A. Singer <casinger@...>
Date: Mon, 27 Jun 2005 08:46:27 -0400
Subject: Silicone Bakeware

> Can it be kashered?  
> Does it need to be toveled?  
> How do we even start to answer these questions? 

The above is a most interesting question, especially as technology (in
this case materials science) continues to provide so many opportunities.
Coupled with the recent discussion re: Psak -- consider this:

In many communities the "frummer" elements (whatever that means) hold by
a later time for the end of Shabbos -- commonly referred to as "holding
by Rabbainu Tam" -- this is the same Rabbainu Tam who held that glass
dishes could be used for both milchig and fleishig.  (I recall in the
1950's the kosher, community rehab/nursing home in Cleveland used one
set of dishes relying on this psak, possibly fearing "mistakes" made by
a largely non-Jewish support staff.)

As soon as you mention this to apparently inconsistency Rabbain Tam for
z'man sof Shabbos but not for glass dishes you get into some hand waving
about glass was different then (or today) etc.  And there is no
inconsistency in following a rav only for certain decisions.

It seemed to me the underlying theme is really mayckil / machmir -- and
perception of same within the community.  I strongly doubt that any
decision re: the status of this silicone bakeware will rest on its
physical properties as much as the surrounding issues.

Carl Singer


From: <DTnLA@...> (Dov Teichman)
Date: Mon, 27 Jun 2005 08:42:08 EDT
Subject: Re: Skirts

<MJGerver@...> (Mike Gerver) writes:
> When the Danes invaded England, Danish and Anglo-Saxon (Old English)
> were still closely enough related so that they were somewhat mutually
> intelligible, and many Danish words came into English when the related
> Anglo-Saxon word was also being used, for example "skirt" and "shirt."
> Their meanings, which may have been identical originally, were forced
> to move apart, so that people could make sense of the fact that there
> were two different words.

FYI the word skirt "skurtia" is found in the Mishna in Keilim 16:4 and
Ohalos 8:1,3. Many commentators describe it as a leather, apron-like
garment. Maybe this is a Greek word that somehow made its way from/to
the Old Norse skyrta.

Dov Teichman


From: Ari Trachtenberg <trachten@...>
Date: Mon, 27 Jun 2005 09:55:19 -0400
Subject: Re: Software licenses

> From: David Charlap <shamino@...>
> "Shrink-wrap" and "click-through" licenses (where opening the package or
> clicking an "accept" button in the program's installer, are not
> generally considered binding under US law.
> How this relates to halacha is anybody's guess.

There is some federal law making digital signatures binding (which are
different from "shrink-wrap or click throughs") and an attorney working
with Microsoft (I think, or some large computer company) was adamant in
a recent personal conversation that they could, in fact, enforce their
licenses.  One of the peculiarities of US law is that you can, in fact,
substantively change law through "interpretation" at the judicial level.

In either case, one could argue that you have some sort of moral or
ethical imperative to abide by one of these licenses.  As might as I
hate them, I would feel very uncomfortable violating them (as probably
would many people ... which might be why the companies keep them).



From: Joseph Ginzberg <jgbiz120@...>
Date: Mon, 27 Jun 2005 09:58:44 -0400
Subject: Usury/Fleecng

>Yossi Ginzberg writes:

> > While Jews were forced into the moneylending industry by church
> > rulings forbidding usury to xtians...

>'Forced' is a pretty strong word.  Is there any historical evidence to
>support it?  Were/are Jewish money-lenders also 'forced' to adopt
>'predatory' practices, such as those prevalent in Lakewood?

>Finally, is there any reason--other than fear of inciting
>antisemitism--why observant Jews should not be engaged in fleecing the

I don't want to start a parsing thread, but as I read it "forced" is an
approprate description of having almost all the more legitimate methods
of making a living closed to one, "forcing" people to enter the
banking/usury line where it was comparatively easy to make a living.
Certainly it is possible to quibble over how much coercion it takes to
justify this, and also certainly it varies from person to person,
depending on their moral standing on the issue.

Re Lakewood, prevalent has nasty implications that I hope were
unintended.  Many people (I think) have at least some problems with the
city, but implying that usury/ fleecing is "prevalent" isn't right or

Finally, there are several majorly important reasons why one should not
engage in fleecing. Vasisem hayashar vehatov (You shall do the correct
thing) is in the Torah, as is the sin of chilum Hashem.

Yossi Ginzberg


From: Moshe Bach <moshe.bach@...>
Date: Mon, 27 Jun 2005 14:54:09 +0300
Subject: A way for a cohen to enter a cemetery

Hi.  Israel TV broadcast a program on Chabad last week.  During the
program, they showed a way for a cohen to go into a cemetery without
becoming tamei - ritually impure - other people encircled the cohen and
held hands to form a human wall against the tum'ah.

Can anyone bring sources to support this procedure?

maury (moshe) bach
<mbach@...>, moshe.bach@intel.com


From: N Miller <nmiller@...>
Date: Mon, 27 Jun 2005 10:40:28 -0400
Subject: Yiddish etymology

Bernard Raab writes:
 >Or it was a neologism invented at the time to describe a species of
 >Zionist which no longer exists, and so neither does the word in its
 >original meaning...

It's becoming evident that the whole recent shemozzle (a British term
that illustrates neatly how language can take unexpected turns) over
shtadlan is due to the notion that it's a modern term, that it has
something to do with Zionism, and that somewhere somehow the modern
German word 'staat' is involved.  In Yiddish this sort of conceit is
known as an aynredenish.

vos toyg a lange lektsiye?  Who needs a long lecture?  If Bernard Raab
had done a Google he would have found among others:


I'm satisfied to let this account stand for the much longer record, much
of it easily available.  End of story.  Or if you prefer: old story.
_All_ minority groups throughout recorded history have been led (and as
frequently misled) by community 'representatives' and 'leaders'.  In New
York City today the number of Jewish shtadlonim and shtadlan-wannabees
has grown so large that some have formed a trade association.  It's
called the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish
Organizations.  By their suits shall you know them.

This would be a perfect place for some good shatdlan jokes but I fear
that Avi wouldn't permit that, and besides, you know them all already.

Noyekh Miller


End of Volume 48 Issue 70