Volume 49 Number 53
                    Produced: Mon Aug 15  5:44:33 EDT 2005

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

An Aramaic Answer
         [Charles Halevi]
Chassidic Stories
         [Jeanette Friedman]
Correction - Personal Status
         [Art Werschulz]
Jews and "ogresses" (2)
         [Akiva Miller, Charles Halevi]
Language... and Pidyon-ha-Ben
         [Leah S. Gordon]
Marriage Status in another Jurisdiction
         [Irwin Weiss]
Separation of Church and State (3)
         [Bernard Raab, Ari Trachtenberg, Charles Halevi]
Visitors in shul (2)
         [Gershon Dubin, Gershon Dubin]


From: Charles Halevi <c.halevi@...>
Date: Thu, 11 Aug 2005 21:20:51 -0500
Subject: Re: An Aramaic Answer

Shalom, All:

Rav Elazar Teitz wrote in m-j that >> Not one talmid chacham I know felt
or feels the need to study (or know) Aramaic grammar in order to
understand Talmud at the greatest depth.  <<

Two thoughts/replies:

1. Please stop with the red herring emphasis on grammar. I think Aramaic
grammar should be taught, but the vast emphasis should be on vocabulary.
And if you actually speak a language without formal grammar training, I
assure you that the grammar will insinuate itself into your speech

2. It's obvious one can be a great sage (theologically and secularly)
but still have blind spots here and there. Maybe those sages just never
thought about formally teaching Aramaic. The cliche' about not seeing
the forest because of the trees around one comes to mind.

(After all, how many of us gave much thought to teaching Aramaic to
better understand G'mara [Talmud] until I raised it here in m-j?  And
some of us who did think about it apparently never gave it much
standing. Now, it's somewhat of a lively topic here, isn't it? I think
we've generated more than 25 responsae to this question, totaling more
than 4,000 words.)

Kol Tuv,
Charles Chi (Yeshaya) Halevi


From: <FriedmanJ@...> (Jeanette Friedman)
Date: Thu, 11 Aug 2005 10:17:13 EDT
Subject: Re: Chassidic Stories

      1) a person who didn't know how to daven, so on yom kippur in shul
      he, according to different versions, either whistled or said the
      aleph bet instead of the text of the tefilot, and was criticized
      by baale batim next to him, until the end when it was revealed, in
      diff.  ways in diff.  editions, that his tefilah is the greatest
      of all those in the shul.

No, it was a mute boy who took out a flute...and it was Reb Nachman, if
I remember correctly who said that his flute opened shaarei shamayim to
the tefillah of the kehilla.

would that such tolerance be displayed today.



From: Art Werschulz <agw@...>
Date: Thu, 11 Aug 2005 09:33:08 -0400
Subject: Re: Correction - Personal Status


Our moderator wrote:

> For those that might not be understanding the correction, here is the
> definition for the two words from the Compact Oxford English dictionary:
> polygamy
>   noun. the practice or custom of having more than one wife or husband
>   at the same time.
>   ORIGIN from Greek polugamos 'often marrying'.
> polygyny
>   noun. polygamy in which a man has more than one wife.
>   ORIGIN from Greek gune 'woman'.

To complete this set of definitions:

  Polyandry \Pol`y*an"dry\, n. [Poly- + Gr. 'anh`r, 'andro`s, man,
     male: cf. F. polyandrie.]
     The possession by a woman of more than one husband at the
     same time; -- contrasted with {monandry}.
     [1913 Webster]

     Note: In law, this falls under the head of polygamy.
           [1913 Webster]

  From WordNet (r) 2.0:
       n : having more than one husband at a time

  From :
  20 Moby Thesaurus words for "polyandry":
     beena marriage, bigamy, common-law marriage, companionate marriage,
     concubinage, deuterogamy, left-handed marriage, levirate,
     leviration, love match, marriage of convenience, monandry,
     monogamy, monogyny, morganatic marriage, picture marriage,
     polygamy, polygyny, trial marriage, trigamy

  From Bouvier's Law Dictionary, Revised 6th Ed (1856):
  POLYANDRY. The state of a woman who has several husbands. 
       2. Polyandry is legalized only in Tibet. This is inconsistent with
          the law of nature. Vide Law of Nature. 

Of course, polyandry is prohibited by halacha.

Art Werschulz (8-{)}   "Metaphors be with you."  -- bumper sticker
GCS/M (GAT): d? -p+ c++ l u+(-) e--- m* s n+ h f g+ w+ t++ r- y? 
Internet: agw STRUDEL cs.columbia.edu
ATTnet:   Columbia U. (212) 939-7060, Fordham U. (212) 636-6325


From: Akiva Miller <kennethgmiller@...>
Date: Thu, 11 Aug 2005 16:25:52 GMT
Subject: Re: Jews and "ogresses"

Yeshaya Halevi wrote:
> Using "ess" at the end of "Jew" was a way to dehumanize us. Ogres had
> ogresses, lions had lionesses etc. About the only positive exception
> that comes to mind is "prince" and "princess."

and baroness, goddess, duchess, empress, hostess, priestess, prophetess

Not to mention the more neutral actress, stewardess, waitress,
headmistress, seamstress, hostess...

Rounding out the list are the uncomplimentary adultress and murderess.

But I guess I should admit that of all these, "Jewess" is the only one
referring to a religion or nationality, nor are any of them
capitalized. We don't find Baptess, Hindess, Frenchess or Chiness, for

As usual, Jews are the exception to the rule...

Akiva Miller 

From: Charles Halevi <c.halevi@...>
Date: Thu, 11 Aug 2005 19:19:04 -0500
Subject: Re: Jews and "ogresses"

> About the only positive exception that comes to mind is "prince" and
> "princess."

How about:
count -> countess
heir -> heiress
host -> hostess

    Good points (well, maybe "upholsteress" is a bit over the top.). I
think, tho, that if we focus on Harry Golden's position that just about
no religion has the "esses" ending foisted upon them except for Jews,
his point stands unchallenged.

KT, Sincerely,
Charles Chi (Yeshaya) Halevi


From: Leah S. Gordon <leah@...>
Date: Thu, 11 Aug 2005 10:31:07 -0700
Subject: Language... and Pidyon-ha-Ben

For all this talk of "don't say 'gender' if you mean 'sex'," I notice
that very few people are describing birth correctly (re e.g. pidyon
ha-ben).  The kind of birth that qualifies for a p-h-b is a "vaginal
birth" not a "normal birth"!

The use of the word "normal" instead of "vaginal" in this context is, to
quote Meir, "misplaced modesty".  It also sort of insults the birth
experiences of women who have had C-sections.  (I would actually like to
hear from women who have had C-sections if they mind; I am not in that
category so I can't say definitively if it is offensive.)

Also, I have a technical question.  The term "opens the womb" doesn't
seem to mean necessarily "comes out the vagina," though I can see that
it would mean "comes out the cervix."  What would happen, theoretically,
if a baby made it out of the cervix but then not out through the vagina?
I think this could only happen under the most catastrophic
circumstances, of course, e.g. mother dies during pushing phase?  Or
maybe obstetrically, the baby would still be pulled out through the
vagina?  (Let us never be faced with this situation, Gd willing.)

Finally, I have a practical question.  We had a p-h-b for our eldest
son, and it was kind of a pulled-together ceremony with a Cohen that we
didn't know (chosen by our local rabbi).  We were not in the most
organized state of life at the time, and events sort of happened around
us.  Do most parents organize a big party or celebration or kiddush
etc. like they do for a naming/bris?  Is there supposed to be a
certificate?  If so, we don't have one (a fact often mentioned by a
family friend, a Cohen, who threatens playfully to take our son home
with him).



From: Irwin Weiss <irwin@...>
Date: Thu, 11 Aug 2005 15:08:00 -0400
Subject: Marriage Status in another Jurisdiction

Leah Gordon asks:

> Suppose a woman with two husbands immigrated to Israel from a country
> where that is permitted?  Suppose (more realistically) that a gay
> married couple immigrated to Israel from Massachusetts, USA?  What
> then of "personal status" rules?  I have the creepy feeling that the
> only wiggle room is for Polygamy.

I don't have the answer. I can tell you that in Maryland, we do not have
"common law" marriage--this is when a man and a woman live together and
hold themselves out as married for a specified time. We don't do that.
But, if persons were determined to be common law spouses in another
state (like Pennsylvania which is immediately to our north), then we
recognize the Pennsylvania marriage.  I wonder what we would do in
Leah's postulated question.



From: Bernard Raab <beraab@...>
Date: Thu, 11 Aug 2005 15:43:27 -0400
Subject: RE: Separation of Church and State

>From: <Dagoobster@...> (Chaim Shapiro)
>Lisa Liel provides a rather alarming perspective on what would happen if
>the Wall between Church and State is breached in this country.  I must
>remind her that the "wall of separation" is based on Constitutional case
>law, and is NOT found in the Bill Of Rights.  

Of course it is. It is called the "establishment clause" in the first
amendment. It reads: "Congress shall make no law respecting an
establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof...."

To say that all that flows from this is merely "case law" is the
equivalent of saying that the laws of Shabbos or kashrus are all based
on talmudic learning and have no basis in the Torah. The constitution,
like the Torah, is intended to establish first principles, and not to
develop the full extent of their observance.

b'shalom--Bernie R.

From: Ari Trachtenberg <trachten@...>
Date: Thu, 11 Aug 2005 22:03:12 -0400
Subject: Re: Separation of Church and State

From: Lisa Liel <lisa@...>
>From a First Amendment point of view, proclaiming God's existence is
> certainly an establishment of a religious point of view.  It's a good
> thing to do from a religious standpoint, but it's dangerous to us.

But specifically taking God out of existing material (such as coins) is
an establishment of a different religious point of view - atheism.  The
correct stance for the government is non-religious, not anti-religious.

From: Charles Halevi <c.halevi@...>
Date: Thu, 11 Aug 2005 20:21:09 -0500
Subject: Re: Separation of Church and State

Jeanette Friedman replied to someone who wrote >>Neo-paganism is growing
by leaps and bounds in this country.<< She said >>No, it's not.
Evangelical Christianity and Islam are.<<

I think it's secularism, FWIW,

Charles Chi (Yeshaya) Halevi


From: Gershon Dubin <gershon.dubin@...>
Date: Thu, 11 Aug 2005 16:58:36 GMT
Subject: Visitors in shul

From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>

<<Why did Jeffrey not simply wear a tallit? This is the minhag in many
shuls for minchah>>

Not at that shul;  they'd have been in an uproar.

From: Michael Kahn <mi_kahn@...>

<<I daven in a yeshiva which does not tolerate anyone who even thinks of
not following their minhagim in tfilah>>

I don't see how you reach this conclusion.

<<In their summer camp many "outsiders" are unaware that only the shatz
says magen Avos Friday night. If someone starts saying it out loud the
whole Beis Medrash shushes them.>>

This is of a piece with the usual practice of everyone correcting where
one person will do.  They don't "not tolerate" anyone not following
their custom, they just assume if you're calling out magen avos (why,
BTW did you address that-veshamru comes earlier) you are not aware of
their custom.

I was once at that yeshiva when one poor fellow screamed out veshamru at
the top of his lungs when you could hear a pin drop in the rest of the
beis midrash: do you think he looked for a hole to crawl into because
the yeshiva was intolerant?

<<Incidentally, this yeshiva does not say Brich Shmay.>>

Not sure of the relevance of this observation.


From: Gershon Dubin <gershon.dubin@...>
Date: Thu, 11 Aug 2005 17:12:45 GMT
Subject: Visitors in shul

From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>

<<Therefore lending the shats one's hat or jacket would involve
fulfilling an extra mitsvah in places where this is the required form of
attire and should not be decried.>>

Not to mention the extra mitzva of facilitating the avel's davening for
the amud, a significant chesed in itself.



End of Volume 49 Issue 53