Volume 49 Number 55
                    Produced: Mon Aug 15  6:02:41 EDT 2005

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Chassidic Stories
         [Eliezer Wenger]
Customs of the Place - Minhag HaMakom
         [Shmuel Himelstein]
Documentary hypothesis
         [Shayna Kravetz]
Jackets for Tefillah
         [S. Wise]
kosher food, restaurants and shuls in Italy and Greece
         [Mike Gerver]
Pictures of Tisha B'Av in Gaza
         [Jacob Richman]
Pidyon HaBen
         [Shimon Lebowitz]
Pidyon Haben
         [Stuart Cohnen]
Separation of Church and State
         [Chaim Shapiro]
Separation of Church and State in America
         [Frank Silbermann]
Visitors, chiyuvim, and nightmare shelichei tzibur
         [Orrin Tilevitz]


From: Eliezer Wenger <ewenger@...>
Date: Fri, 12 Aug 2005 14:04:54 -0400
Subject: Re: Chassidic Stories

 <Shuanoach@...> requested << references for two stories (i think from
chassidic sources) about:

1) a person who didn't know how to daven, so on yom kippur in shul he,
according to different versions, either whistled or aid 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.>>

I have this story with the Aleph Beis in my first volume of Chagaynu on
the laws of Tishrei which was reprinted from Haderech. The story the way
I have it is with Rabbi Levi Yitzchok of Berditchov.  If you want a copy
of it, I can send it to you if you will send me offline your address or
fax #.

BTW, I think that the story with the aleph bais and the whistling are
two separate stories.

The second story you inquired about is available in the Machanayim
series of stories for children.

Have a good Shabbos and an easy fast.
Eliezer Wenger


From: Shmuel Himelstein <himels@...>
Date: Fri, 12 Aug 2005 14:14:31 +0300
Subject: Customs of the Place - Minhag HaMakom

A year or so after we made Aliyah, a Shul was founded in our new
neighborhood, and I was one of the founding members. In fact the Shul's
genesis started in our home one Shabbatot at Minchah, as I had my own
Sefer Torah.

A few years later, after my sons had become Bar Mitzvah, I found that
week after week I was being given the Kohen Aliyah in the Shul at
Shabbat Minchah, but never my sons. When I asked why, I was told that
there was an (unwritten) rule that only someone wearing a hat could be
called up for an Aliyah. That was the last Shabbat I wore a hat to
Shabbat Minchah ...

>From that time on the Gabbai had his choice of three Kohanim - all of
them without hats, so that levelled the playing field.

Shmuel Himelstein


From: Shayna Kravetz <skravetz@...>
Date: Fri, 12 Aug 2005 09:24:36 -0500
Subject: Re: Documentary hypothesis

>I'd let someone more conversant with the current state of Biblical
>higher criticism to respond to final comments, but my understanding is
>that the documentary hypothesis is far from the dominant position today
>than it was 30 years ago.
>Avi Feldblum

I'd hesitate to identify myself as "more conversant" than our esteemed
moderator in this area, but I do think that there is a distinction to be
drawn between evidence and inferences therefrom.  The documentary
hypothesis (DH) relies on variations in the style of writing of the
Torah to infer a multiplicity of authors.  The DHers' observations about
variations in style are perfectly fair and justifiable analyses of the
grammatical and literary forms used in the torah, and have much in
common with the parshanut so popular in current Jewish learning.  So
far, one need not feel any conflict on a theological basis with DHers.

However, when DHers argue that a /necessary/ inference from those
variances in style is that the Torah had multiple human authors, they
take a step too far from normative Jewish belief.  There are obvious
counter-arguments to address this inference and these have been and
continue to be made in academic circles today.  But whether the Torah
had a unitary /divine/ author or merely a /human/ one is a matter of
belief, not evidence or inference.

To return to Avi and Mordechai's original issue: one hopes that the raw
data that is collected for scientific studies is indeed as 'objective'
as possible.  Unfortunately, much as I disagree with Mordechai in other
respects, I fear that this is no longer so on this topic.  The decision,
for example, to remove homosexuality from the list of abnormalities in
the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) that is the 'bible' (so to
speak) of psychiatric practice can be clearly seen as a political
triumph but not necessarily good science.  None of the evidence
concerning homosexual desires and practices and the accompanying
psychiatric difficulties for so many people had changed.  What had
changed was the political and social attitudes towards homosexuality.

I doubt that you could now get funding for a study investigating an
association between homosexual desires and, say, depression unless it
was 'pitched' as being an analysis of the effect of societal pressures
rather than, say, a biochemical association between homosexuality and
lower dopamine levels.  Please note that I am NOT saying that such an
association exists or doesn't exist (I have no idea!) -- only that a
study wouldn't be funded unless it was couched in the terms that I set
out above.  The result is that, if such a relationship were to exist, it
would never be investigated or reported and thus we would have no
"evidence" of it.

So in the process of moving from evidence to inference on this issue, we
stand on very unsteady ground in my opinion, and the analogy to the DH
situation fails.

Kol tuv, shabbat shalom and an easy fast from
Shayna in Toronto


From: <Smwise3@...> (S. Wise)
Date: Fri, 12 Aug 2005 07:56:44 EDT
Subject: Re: Jackets for Tefillah

While I realize that there are many shuls that allow men without jackets
to daven for the amud, and in Israel I notice there are many people as
well who do, is it not more respectful to Hakadosh Baruch Hu to come
properly dressed to daven to him, with a jacket, socks and shoes?  I am
not the first to make this comparison, but there are occasions when even
these casually people will dress for a client or an important person.
Doesn't Hashem deserve the same?



From: <MJGerver@...> (Mike Gerver)
Date: Mon, 15 Aug 2005 04:05:22 EDT
Subject: kosher food, restaurants and shuls in Italy and Greece

Can anyone tell me if there is a list of kosher products available in
supermarkets and grocery stores in Italy, and a list for Greece? If so,
where can I get a copies of these lists (preferrably quickly)? Or are
there special stores which sell kosher products? What about shuls in
Rome, in Naples, and in Athens? Are there kosher restaurants in any of
those cities, or in Florence?

Mike Gerver
Raanana, Israel


From: Jacob Richman <jrichman@...>
Date: Mon, 15 Aug 2005 06:40:00 +0200
Subject: Pictures of Tisha B'Av in Gaza

Shalom Everyone!
I posted on my website pictures of Tisha B'Av in Gaza.
In Windows, press the F11 key for full screen viewing.
Please forward this email to relatives and friends who 
may be interested. 

Thank you!


From: Shimon Lebowitz <shimonl@...>
Date: Fri, 12 Aug 2005 17:59:27 +0200
Subject: Re: Pidyon HaBen

>          Why does the first born son of a woman who is a bat kohen or
> bay levi NOT have a pidyon haben?  This is the only example of
> "yichus" (status, as oppossed to religion) following the mother.  I
> know the shulchan aruch brings a pasuk to justify this, but the logic
> of the limud has never been satisfying to me.

I do not think this is the only case. I do not remember all of the
tosafot in shas (thereby invalidating myself as a posek) but I have a
recollection that there is one which says that the daughter of a kohen
is a valid recipient for monetary "matnot kehuna" (gifts to the

Hopefully someone with such knowledge at their fingertips will know
where tosafot says this.

Shabbat shalom,
Shimon Lebowitz                           mailto:<shimonl@...>
Jerusalem, Israel            PGP: http://www.poboxes.com/shimonpgp

From: Stuart Cohnen <cohnen@...>
Date: Fri, 12 Aug 2005 14:05:03 -0400
Subject: Pidyon Haben

From: Nathan Lamm <nelamm18@...>

> You can begin to see why the ritual is so rare: Half of families (on
> average) will have first born girls.  About ten percent of the
> population or more is a Kohen or a Levi; even allowing for marriage
> within the shevet, that cuts out about 15% more. Allowing for ever
> more common C-sections and miscarriages (or abortions) eliminates
> more.

I wante to relate story. Recently, my father was asked to be the Kohain
at a pidyon haben of a great-great nephew. He had been the kohain for
the pidyon of the father. This baby was the third generation to require
a pidyon, a rare occasion, I'm sure. Alas, my father is unable to
travel, so I (proudly) took his place. The baby's grandfather was
present, so that all three generations were present.

I traveled, at some expense, to peform, what I assumed was a mitzvah for
me, as the kohain. One I don't get to perform very often. Afterwards, I
attended a shiur by Rabbi Bezalel Rudinsky of Monsey, where he discussed
the kohain's role at a pidyon. His concluded that for the kohain, this
was a business transaction and at best, a "hecsher mitzvah".

Stuart Cohnen


From: <dagoobster@...> (Chaim Shapiro)
Date: Fri, 12 Aug 2005 11:00:53 -0400
Subject: Re: Separation of Church and State

I wrote:
>>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.

Lisa Responded:

>I know that's often claimed, but I don't think it's true.  There's been
>a long assumption in this country that the only religion that counts is
>Christianity.  Sort of like the assumption that women shouldn't vote or
>that blacks weren't entirely human.

I respond:

A logical point that does not speak to the main issue; Lisa, Slavery was
allowed in the Constitution, as was the 3/5th's compromise!  There is no
comparison between an assumption (one I would claim was fully supported
by our founders)and a law that was part of the Constitution itself.  And
nice try, there is no moral equivalence between slavery and state

Truth be told, that is all irrelevant.  Your argument makes no sense.
You claim that there was an assumption that Christianity is the default
religion in the United States and then claim that the Constitution and
the framers who codified it, wrote in a law that disallowed
Christianity?  The assumption that religion is NOT allowed in public
life is the new perspective, one that does not hold up to scrutiny.

I had written:

>>Truth is the US is a religious country with many religious
>>traditions that do NOT challenge our freedom.

Lisa Responded:

>Indeed.  And it's much easier to accept them when they fit with our
>religion.  Isn't that always the way?  But there are people in this
>country whose religions are blatantly dismissed by the "religious
>traditions" you're talking about.  The examples I gave were an attempt
>to get you to imagine how you'd feel if those "religious traditions"
>conflicted with Judaism.

To which I respond:

Irrelevant once again.  This isn't about feelings.  Its about
Constitutional Law.  I don't care who likes it and who doesn't.  The
question is what does the Constitution say about the matter.  It does
NOT say we need a "wall of separation."

Chaim Shapiro


From: Frank Silbermann <fs@...>
Date: Fri, 12 Aug 2005 06:32:47 -0500 (CDT)
Subject: Separation of Church and State in America

In response to earlier posts on the subject, I admit that Jews would
likely suffer from the creation of a theocracy in America Still, I would
like to point out that in over two hundred years America has _not_
become a theocracy, and therefore it is probably more than a little
paranoid to obsess over the little longstanding nods towards
Christianity that various levels of America's government have
traditionally engaged in.  To make a big deal out of them is not only
unnecessary, it probably invites a backlash.

Frank Silbermann	New Orleans, Louisiana		<fs@...>


From: Orrin Tilevitz <tilevitzo@...>
Date: Fri, 12 Aug 2005 08:57:39 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: Visitors, chiyuvim, and nightmare shelichei tzibur

First, thank you, Martin Stern and others, for practical suggestions on
how to deal with potential nighmare shelichei tzibbur.

Second, there's been some discussion about "guests" and the right to the
amud. As I understand, a "guest" who davens in another shul "in the
city"--what this means in the day of the automobile, I don't know--has
no rights at all, "chiyuv" or not; one may tell him to go daven in his
own shul.  A "guest" from outside the city, though, has a right to the
amud if there are no member chiyuvim (subject, of course, to being
merutze lakahal).  As I mentioned earlier, though, the MB suggests, and
the book by Fuchs says, that "merutze lakahal" does not apply to maariv.
I agree with the suggestions that in my nightmare scenario, I should
just conveniently ignore this.  In any event, I have a PDF file of the
chapter in Fuchs dealing with these issues, and will be happy to send it
to anyone who is interested.


End of Volume 49 Issue 55