Volume 49 Number 11
                    Produced: Thu Jul 21  9:35:14 EDT 2005

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

         [A Seinfeld]
Borders for prayer
         [Bernard Katz]
Cellphones while driving
         [Yisrael Medad]
Dina d'malchuso Dina
         [Carl A. Singer]
Do Not Call List
Family splitting for the summer
         [Bernard Raab]
Friedman the Tutor (2)
         [Janice Gelb, Freda B Birnbaum]
Mi shebeyrach
         [Yisrael Medad]
Terrorist Attacks On London / Kohanim
         [Immanuel Burton]
Tzn'ut spin-off
         [Yisrael Medad]
Why the Disparity (Formerly: Secular translations of Torah)
         [Matthew Pearlman]


From: A Seinfeld <seinfeld@...>
Date: Wed, 20 Jul 2005 11:13:31 -0400
Subject: Re: Berakha

You have great instincts.

To quote a recently published book:

"General knowledge of Hebrew declined in the fifth and fourth centuries
B.C.E. during and after the Babylonian exile. In response, a congress of
sages remembered as the Great Assembly took historic steps to make
user-friendly transcendental paths available to the general populace.
They composed a series of Hebrew word combinations that would be less
personal than a spontaneous meditation, but that would alllow future
generations to access the power of Hebrew and to use it for what I have
been calling amazement meditation. These word combinations are called
'Brachos/brachot' (singular: 'bracha'), a word which at its root refers
to a source or a spring.[12]

[12] Rashi on Talmud Sotah 10a ("M'meh birchu") states: "Every 'bracha'
in the Torah denotes increase, something that causes increase and by
which fulfillment is found;" see Avurdaham, p. 33. Cf. Ecclesiastes 2:6.
Hirsch understood the essence of "bracha" to be the concept of spurring
new growth, which is exactly the function of a source."

Therefore, a more accurate translation of "Baruch atoh" would be, "You
are the source..."

From: The Art of Amazement: Judaism's Forgotten Spirituality (Ch. 5)
by Rabbi Alexander Seinfeld
Tarcher/Penguin 2005
(Quoted with permission)


From: Bernard Katz <bkatz@...>
Date: Wed, 20 Jul 2005 15:56:00 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Re: Borders for prayer

Carl Singer wrote:
> I believe the "border" lies NOT within scientific discussion but within
> the heart and head of the individual who is praying (the mispalayl.)
> This may not be the best example -- but: Just like the little boy who
> prayed that London should be the capital of France (because that was
> what he put on his exam.)  To him it's not mevotel unless he opened up
> his textbook and found out that it can't be.
> If someone has emunah and believes that something is possible with
> divine intervention then it's within the realm of things that they can
> pray for.  (I don't know how "border" came into the discussion
> terminology.)
> So a person of strong emunah who hears that plony has cancer (but knows
> that many people recover / survive certain types of cancer) may pray for
> plony's recovery.
> Perhaps another person who knows more specifically about plony's
> condition and believes that it is hopeless, might, instead, pray that
> plony not be in too much pain.

  I love the geography example, but if the little boy's prayer is not
  mevotel unless he opened his textbook, then I don't see why it would
  be mevotel if he opened the book. The underlying thought, I take it,
  is that one shouldn't pray that something be the case when one knows
  that it is not the case. But textbooks can be mistaken. Taking this
  into account, perhaps the little boy should pray (in addition) that
  his textbook be mistaken? Does it make more sense for someone to pray
  that London be the capital of France, when he doesn't know what the
  capital is, than for him to pray that some textbook is mistaken?  I
  don't see why the latter would be mevotel if the former isn't.

  Carl suggests that if someone has emunah and believes that something
  is possible with divine intervention then it's within the realm of
  things that he can pray for. It seems to me, however, that while the
  condition he specifies may be a necessary condition for the
  appropriateness of prayer, it is not a sufficient one. In any case, we
  have a mishnah which tells us that a prayer concerning the sex of a
  fetus is a vain prayer, but obviously G-d can change the sex of a

  Clearly, prayer makes sense only concerning what is possible, at least
  with divine intervention, but I doubt that it makes sense concerning
  everything that falls into this category.

  Bernard Katz


From: Yisrael Medad <ybmedad@...>
Date: Wed, 20 Jul 2005 20:56:57 +0200
Subject: Cellphones while driving

Another problem I have come across, as a trempist (hitchhiker), is that
those drivers who have a so-called new "hands free" phone in any case
wind up holding the microphone bit up closer to their mouth as it
usually dangles too low.  So they still use their other hand.

Yisrael Medad


From: Carl A. Singer <casinger@...>
Date: Wed, 20 Jul 2005 07:20:04 -0400
Subject: Dina d'malchuso Dina

In various discussions on this forum and elsewhere I've seen dina
d'malchuso dina restricted by some as applying ONLY to monetary matters
and unbounded by others as applying to just about everything.  Can
anyone expound on the transition from the original (restricted)
interpretation to the open (literal) interpretation?

Carl Singer


From: Mordechai <mordechai@...>
Date: Wed, 20 Jul 2005 21:46:30 -0400
Subject: Re: Do Not Call List

>I am not sure iif that would exempt them - it may apply only if you are
>asking outright for a charitable contribution, rather than selling
>anything - but telephone service is exempt from the do-not-call list.
>It does not apply to Verizon, Sprint, MCI, or any company offering any
>kind of a telephone plan, and you have probably gotten a few calls along
>those lines, probably from one or more of the smaller telephone
>companies. The person you spoke to may have been a little confused as to
>exactly what the exemption rested on.

It certainly does apply to telephone companies

Who is covered by the National Do Not Call Registry?

The National Do Not Call Registry applies to any plan, program, or
campaign to sell goods or services through interstate phone calls. This
includes telemarketers who solicit consumers, often on behalf of third
party sellers. It also includes sellers who provide, offer to provide,
or arrange to provide goods or services to consumers in exchange for

The National Do Not Call Registry does not limit calls by political 
organizations, charities, or telephone surveyor



From: Bernard Raab <beraab@...>
Date: Wed, 20 Jul 2005 13:18:05 -0400
Subject: Re: Family splitting for the summer

>From: Tzvi Stein <Tzvi.Stein@...>
>I think it's devastating to both Shalom Bayis and parenting.  I can't
>fathom the priorities of the people who do this.  That obviously goes
>even more for parents who live in separate places (even Israel and
>America is quite common) and even people who work so many hours or
>commute so long that they are literally never home except for Shabbos.
>I refuse to believe that the only option they have is to starve.

The assumption that all seem to have made in this thread is that
separation for a few days is antithetical to shalom bayis. But it can
work both ways: the separation and subsequent reunion can be
revitalizing to a flagging relationship!

It seems quaint to refer with disapproval to the practice of chasidim
who would visit their rebbeim, when in this day and age both men and
women routinely travel for business, frequently for days at a time. One
might expect that the children would suffer from such absences, but we
have grandchildren who are growing up with the expectation that one, or
sometimes both, parents would be gone at times (grandparents to the
rescue!), and who appear to be as well adjusted, and perhaps even better
adjusted, than others who expect one or both parents to be around all
the time. It seems that so much depends an the quality of the
parent-child relationship when they are together, and perhaps this can
also benefit from some (hopefully brief) periods of separation.

b'shalom--Bernie R.


From: Janice Gelb <j_gelb@...>
Date: Wed, 20 Jul 2005 10:05:21 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: Re: Friedman the Tutor

Freda B Birnbaum <fbb6@...> wrote:
> In helping clear out some old books at my shul last week, I rescued from
> the "shamos" box an extremely interesting little pamphlet entitled "How
> to Get Deeper into Torah without Going off the Deep End: a tutor's
> suggestions for maintaining your sanity while studying in a baal teshuva
> yeshiva", copyright 1994 by Friedman the Tutor with illustrations by
> Susan Slapak.

I am not aware of any other works, but thought that I should let other
readers know, in case they are as curious as I was, that the text of
this pamphlet appears to be available online at

-- Janice

From: Freda B Birnbaum <fbb6@...>
Date: Wed, 20 Jul 2005 14:08:33 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Friedman the Tutor

Well!  I received an email from someone who saw my query which said:

> I am not aware of any other works, but thought that I should let other 
> readers know, in case they are as curious as I was, that the text of 
> this pamphlet appears to be available online at 
> http://hcs.harvard.edu/~jerosenb/giur/deepend.html

I went to the site and there it is!

The person who put together the site also has some outstanding material
on conversion and a very good reading list, useful for any beginner
and/or general reader.  I can't recommend it too highly.  DO poke around
the entire site -- it's great!

I just don't understand why my Google search didn't pick this up...

Freda Birnbaum, <fbb6@...>
"Call on God, but row away from the rocks"


From: Yisrael Medad <ybmedad@...>
Date: Wed, 20 Jul 2005 21:00:00 +0200
Subject: Mi shebeyrach

Irwin Weiss asks:
> Does anyone know an online source for a special Mi Shebeyrach for a
> 100th birthday?

But according to Pirkei Avot, at 100, a person is considered as if dead
and gone from this world (see 5:24)

Yisrael Medad


From: Immanuel Burton <iburton@...>
Date: Wed, 20 Jul 2005 09:03:47 +0100
Subject: Terrorist Attacks On London / Kohanim

I presume that the general MJ readership has heard of the terrorist
attacks on London on 7th July 2005.  My sympathies and condolences are
with the injured and bereaved.

A colleague of mine who is a Kohen told me that his Rov advised him to
avoid using the London Tube (subway/metro/underground railway) until the
authorities have finished removing the victims of the attacks.  This is
because a dead body imparts tumah (ritual impurity) to anyone or
anything under the same roof (a rule called Tumat Ohel), and not just by
physical contact.  A mere kezayit of a dead body also imparts ritual
impurity.  A Kohen has an obligation to keep away from such ritual
impurity, even if he is already ritually impure.  As the tunnels are
interconnected with staircases, corridors, etc, this means that any part
of the London Underground connected to any tunnel where an attack
happened and where the authorities are still cleaning up is effectively
out of bounds to my colleague.

To what extent does Tumat Ohel spread through a structure such as the
London Underground.  Can the platform at, say, Canada Water, be
considered to be under the same roof as the site of the attack near
King's Cross, given that several miles separate the two places, and they
are on different lines, and so are only connected by staircases or
corridors comprising the interchanges between lines?

Does my colleague have to be concerned that the authorities may not
completely remove everything?  If he does, then he might not be able to
use the Tube ever again!

If one does accept this ruling, then this will also affect a Kohen's use
of the inter-city trains, as some stations such as Euston have
staircases from the London Underground rising up onto the main

Has anyone heard of any similar rulings advising Kohanim not to use an
underground railway following either a crash or a terrorist attack?

Immanuel Burton.

(The Web site http://www.geofftech.co.uk/tube/sillymaps/ has, amongst
other versions, a map of the London Underground showing which parts are
actually underground.  Some parts of the network are clearly not a
problem for a Kohen to use.)


From: Yisrael Medad <ybmedad@...>
Date: Wed, 20 Jul 2005 20:51:28 +0200
Subject: Tzn'ut spin-off

Martin wrote:
> even Golda Meir covered her hair when she visited the Pope!

This isn't exactly Halacha but it's an opportunity to tell a good Jewish

Geula Cohen visited the Pope, too, although I am not sure this was when
she was already an MK.  Anyway, she never covers her hair (and rarely
combs it as the British wanted poster for her also noted).  She realized
that she needed to offset the Pope some way Jewishly and so, recalling
that he always had a big cross pendant on his chest, she came into the
room with the biggest Magen David she could find.  The picture appeared
on the front page of Ma'ariv at the time.

Yisrael Medad


From: Matthew Pearlman <Matthew.Pearlman@...>
Date: Wed, 20 Jul 2005 09:36:05 +0100
Subject: Why the Disparity (Formerly: Secular translations of Torah)

Russell J Hendel says "A recent poster stated that when he finds a
religious commentary dealing with a literary approach he would gladly
give up Alter and read them."

If Russell is referring to my posting, I think I made it very clear that
I was referring to a full translation rather than a commentary.



End of Volume 49 Issue 11