Volume 49 Number 16
                    Produced: Sun Jul 24 14:19:01 EDT 2005

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

         [Jeanette Friedman]
Aramaic question still unanswered
         [Charles Halevi]
         [Ira L. Jacobson]
Cellphone safety
         [Carl A. Singer]
Cellphones while driving
         [Harlan Braude]
Competing with free
         [David Charlap]
Competition (2)
         [Shayna Kravetz, Jeanette Friedman]
Mi shebeyrach
         [Ira Bauman]
Orthodox Jews in the military
         [Carl A. Singer]


From: <FriedmanJ@...> (Jeanette Friedman)
Date: Fri, 22 Jul 2005 08:26:26 EDT
Subject: Re: Aramaic

> In day school and yeshiva I was taught Hebrew, of course, but never,
> ever was given a class in Aramaic. Since one can't learn Babylonian
> G'mara (Talmud) without knowing Aramaic, everybody is at a huge
> disadvantage. Why is this?

Once upon a time, long, long ago, (about 10 or 15 years ago) a CNN
reporter in the Holy Land (they hardly ever call it Israel in a feature
story, even back then) did a story about a tiny group of Arabs in the
land who spoke an ancient unknown language called Aramaic.

Quick as a bunny I called the assignment editor in Atlanta and told him
that he should go to the local Jewish bookstore and crack open a normal
Hebrew bible and find the Aramaic text right next to the Hebrew
text--written in the alpahabet of that even more ancient language,
Hebrew. Then I told him to check the Jewish prayer books, since a goodly
portion of our prayers, including the famous Kaddish, is also in
Aramaic.  And asked him to hie himself over to any yeshiva, crack open a
Talmud, read some text, and follow the language that never
died--Aramaic...a language studied by hundreds of thousands of Jews on a
daily basis.

So much for CNN for trying to hand Aramaic to the Arabs as solely their
special language and disassociating it from the Jews.

Normally CNN would run a piece like that into the ground. Happily, they
immediately pulled the segment.



From: Charles Halevi <c.halevi@...>
Date: Sun, 24 Jul 2005 05:10:07 -0500
Subject: Aramaic question still unanswered

Shalom, All:

I appreciate the response by Allen Gerstl, who attempted to answer my
question of why Aramaic is never (AFAIK) taught as a language to people
who struggle with G'mara (Talmud).

Regrettably, Reb Allen's post centered around a mere couple/few Aramaic
**grammars** now published. He also cites one Aramaic dictionary, which
I very strongly suspect is not on the bookshelves of most yeshivot and
day schools.

But that was never my question. The core issue here is, **Why don't day
schools and yeshivot teach Aramaic as a language?** I never asked
whether there is an esoteric book or two on grammar. And having one
dictionary buried in one or three school libraries is NOT the same as
teaching it as a language to understand our sacred tomes. Since Aramaic
is the language of the Talmud and other major Jewish works, not teaching
it as a language is a travesty, IMHO. And knowing its grammar sans
fluency in the language is very inadequate, to say the least. (Please
let me make it clear: none of my ire is directed at Allen Gerstl's
thoughtful reply.)

My question stands: if Jewish education wishes to further the knowledge
of G'mara and other important Judaic works, why aren't we teaching
Aramaic as a language?

Charles Chi (Yeshaya) Halevi


From: Ira L. Jacobson <laser@...>
Date: Fri, 22 Jul 2005 14:31:42 +0300
Subject: Re: Berakha

Andy Goldfinger <Andy.Goldfinger@...> stated:

      . . . the word "bracha" is derived from the word "braycha," which
      means a spring (which he called a "springwell," possibly meaning
      the more common term "wellspring").

I would say that both words have the same root, bet resh kaf.  Since
berakha appears in three books of the Torah, as well as in the prophets
and the writings, whereas bereikha does not appear in the Torah at all,
assuming that the former is derived from the latter appears to be
another case of popular etymology.

The Radaq on Joshua 15:19 does indeed hint on a connection between the
words (as we could probably guess form their common root), but he does
not suggest that berakha was derived from bereikha.

IRA L. JACOBSON         


From: Carl A. Singer <casinger@...>
Date: Fri, 22 Jul 2005 06:48:56 -0400
Subject: Cellphone safety

If you do a google on "cell phone safety Australia" -- you'll get
several related hits - here are the highlights.

A study of Australian drivers found that those using cellphones were
four times as likely to be involved in a serious crash regardless of
whether they used hands-free devices like earpieces or speaker phones
that have been perceived as making talking while driving safer. The
study, which is to appear in The British Medical Journal today, is the
first of its kind to use actual crash data and cellphone records to show
a link between talking on the phone and being seriously injured in an

It is also the first to conclude definitively outside of a laboratory
setting that holding a phone to the ear or talking through a hands-free
device pose the same risks.

Either way -- in my community I see lots of Jewish drivers -- (to the
extent that I might presume someone wearing a yarmulke or shaitel or
with a yeshiva parking sticker on their car is Jewish.)  -- many do not
wear seatbelts, many are holding cellphones.  (Yes many ARE wearing
seatbelts and ARE not holding cellphones) --

I recall when I was in college that a smashed up car was temporarily
deposited in the back yard of our fraternity house -- it turns out that
another driver had leaned over to tend to a burning cigarette and
swerved across the roadway causing this accident -- but it's a
fallacious argument to justify one bad activity by pointing to other bad

Carl A. Singer, Ph.D.
Passaic, NJ  07055-5328
See my web site:  www.ProcessMakesPerfect.net      


From: Harlan Braude <hbraude@...>
Date: Fri, 22 Jul 2005 08:46:55 -0400
Subject: Re: Cellphones while driving

> From what I have read, the main reason cell phones are dangerous while
> driving is not because the driver is using one hand to hold them, but
> because he is concentrating on the conversation instead of on the
> road. I read somewhere that using any cell phone while driving,

I've heard this rationale, too, but I don't understand why conversation
using a cell phone would be any more distracting than conversations with
passengers in the vehicle.


From: David Charlap <shamino@...>
Date: Fri, 22 Jul 2005 10:20:46 -0400
Subject: Competing with free

Jeanette Friedman wrote:
> No one can compete with free.

Not at all true.  When there are free products, the commercial products
must be of higher quality (or have a perception of higher quality) in
order to compete.  But that is not the same as your claim that everybody
must go out of of business when free alternatives come into existance.

The softwre industry is full of examples.

For instance, the Free Software Foundation has been publishing "gcc" for
years.  This is a world-class software development environment.
Completely free.  Anybody in the world can download it free of charge.
Lots of corporations use it for their software development work.

Nevertheless, Microsoft, Sun, Borland, and many other companies still
sell their software development environments.  And some of those
environments cost quite a lot of money.  And they aren't making these
products without a suitably large customer base.

The existance of a free product definitely puts pressure on those who
are making commercial products.  But this does not mean all those
products must fail.

-- David


From: Shayna Kravetz <skravetz@...>
Date: Fri, 22 Jul 2005 11:08:44 -0400
Subject: Re: Competition

Freda Birnbaum writes:
>I recall, over 50 years ago, my mother preferring to buy buttons from
>the guy with the small shop than from Woolworth's because she felt he
>needed the business more.  I'm not sure how far that would have gone if
>the prices were significantly different, the family being on a rather
>tight budget.  (I realize the situations aren't 100% analogous, but you
>get the idea.)

This is a decision that many people still make.  In my neighbourhood,
the fruit-and-veg store across from my apartment block is preferred by
many over the large supermarket two blocks north.  The F&V is small and
its prices are mildly more expensive (say, 5-10%) but many of us prefer
to support the smaller and more local shop rather than the
HyperMegaGlobalMart.  Not only is it closer and you don't have to plough
through acres of aisles to find an item; it is also possible to form a
relationship with the shopkeepers (an immigrant family).

Kol tuv and shabbat shalom from
Shayna in Toronto

From: <FriedmanJ@...> (Jeanette Friedman)
Date: Fri, 22 Jul 2005 08:29:22 EDT
Subject: Re: Competition

> (Halevai there were still small button shops, and even Woolworth's!)


there's a button shop in the east 70s in manhattan that charges through
the nose, and there was, I hope there still is, a button shop on Morlot
Ave in Fair Lawn, NJ.


From: <Yisyis@...> (Ira Bauman)
Date: Fri, 22 Jul 2005 17:57:41 EDT
Subject: Re: 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)

That may be true, but I would discourage anyone from incorporating that
quote into the mi shebeyrach text.                              

Ira Bauman


From: Carl A. Singer <casinger@...>
Date: Fri, 22 Jul 2005 06:35:11 -0400
Subject: Orthodox Jews in the military

> I have often had that very same thought.  For example, a lot of energy
> is being expended on how to make gays feel welcome in the military,
> but very little attention is being given to making sure Orthodox Jews
> can serve.

>From the context above, one presumes the discussion regards the
U.S. military.  As someone who spent over 30 years active and reserve in
the U.S. Army -- and I am NOT a chaplain -- I think I can comment with a
bit of authority rather than speculation.

1 - Gays are not welcome in the military.  Legislation / policy commonly
referred to as "don't ask, don't tell" crafted by lawyers whose closest
encounter to the military was burning their draft cards notwithstanding,
the military will (properly) protect the safety of a gay soldier -- but
(properly) will not tolerate any openly gay activity.  It's one
leadership challenge too many.

The military has been on the forefront of many social innovations, (WW-I
Captain, later U.S. President) Harry S Truman integrated the military
long before American society was truly integrated.  The military tends
to be color-blind meritocracy.  I think I've said enough on this
tangential topic.

2 - For the record.  The military provides KOSHER meals to any who ask.
Turns out very, very few do.  I remember that Chase Manhattan Bank had
hot kosher TV dinners (prepackaged meals) available on an ongoing basis
in their cafeteria -- At IBM I could pre-order same waiting only for
them to be heated.  But outside of NYC and other major Jewish areas,
it's easier to get a hot kosher meal in the Army than in the civilian
world. (Unless, of course, you bring your own.)

Despite a very, very small number of Orthodox Jews in the military there
are Jewish chaplains.  My niece who is currently serving in Korea has
access to a Jewish Chaplain.

In basic training (I was an enlisted man for two years) there was a
"kosher trailer" at Fort Campbell Kentucky provided by the Jewish
community of Nashville.

On those many occasions when my duty required that I wear a suit
vs. uniform I had no issues with wearing a yarmulke -- perhaps a curious
question asking it was a holiday or something.

As an aside -- I've found in both civilian and military world that
non-Jews who are religiously observant tend to be much more concerned
with my "rights."  Friday afternoon is a case in point -- even in the
summer when Shabbos starts late, some of my fellow soldiers would get
uneasy in late Friday afternoon when I was still around.

Let's get real -- today there are very few Jews in the (U.S.) military.
Now that you know that kosher meals are available, what's stopping you.

One caveat, as a rather senior officer, I got treated well regardless :)


End of Volume 49 Issue 16