Volume 49 Number 67
                    Produced: Tue Aug 23  5:26:21 EDT 2005

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

bet resh kaf
         [Yehoshua Steinberg]
Beth-Resh-Caph--Rav Hirsch's Theory
         [Russell Jay Hendel]
Bigoted posting
         [Eitan Fiorino]
Chassidic stories
         [Joseph Ginzberg]
Does gay marriage affect straight marriage?
         [Janet R.]
Hot Water on Shabbot
         [Shmuel Norin]
Jewesses, Lionesses, and Ogresses
         [Orrin Tilevitz]
minhag hamokom
         [Stuart Pilichowski]


From: Yehoshua Steinberg <ysteinberg@...>
Date: Mon, 22 Aug 2005 15:55:07 +0000
Subject: Re: bet resh kaf

Ira L. Jacobson <iraeljay@...> wrote on Tue, 16 Aug 2005 22:09:49
> At 15:23 16-08-05 +0000, Yehoshua Steinberg stated the following:

>> Menachem ben Saruk (entry kuf-dalet) says the word comes from
>> 'bircayim' (knees), just as 'lichroa' comes from 'kara'aim'
>> (legs). Likewise 'veyikod' derives from the bending of the 'kadkod'
>> (head), as 'hishtachavaya' comes from shechoach (bending). Praying
>> involves active demonstration of subjugation to Hashem's will.

>Be that as it may, I have never heard of any theory that involves a root 
>being derived from a plural noun based on that root.

Actually, Menachem says "berech". I used the plural just to make it
clear.  On the other hand, he does say "kara'aim" in the plural
apparently for clarity sake.

>Kadkod is pronounced kodkod because the first vowel is qamatz qatan.

Thank you, I'll type more carefully next time.

>> The Talmud (Yevamos 63a) derives from 'venivrichu' (Gen.  12:3) that
>> Ruth and Naama will be "attached" ('muvrach') to the Jewish people.

>The Talmud also has a derivation of afikoman that I don't think anyone
>is expected to take as being linguistically serious.

I don't recall any such for afikoman, although the Rishonim do give
"notrikons" for such words as that and apotiki. First of all, when a
foreign word is in question, no one is under illusion that what is being
suggested is the original meaning of the word, just a mnemonic device.

Leshon Hakodesh is another matter altogether though. Do we dismiss as
meaningless, every drasha that we are presented with, or could it be
that Chazal knew Hebrew at least as well as Chomsky or the average
Israeli today?  Whom do we believe? If Taani 4a says: Al tikrei avaneha
ele boneha, if they say al tikrei ein tzur ele tzayar, does it bear
further study to see if perhaps they meant that the real root of both
are the underlying radicals tzadi and resh and the others are extraneous
to the underlying root and concept? If they darshen an aleph like an
ayin in affefuni or afel, is it to be written off as "haphazard" an
"inconsistent"? I believe that there are important lessons to be learned
from the hundreds of such drashos, both conceptually and yes,

I ask the question not contentiously, I ask sincerely. It seems to me
rather presumptuous of modern-day linguists to dismiss time-honored
traditions as "folk-etymology" when it seems most logical that those who
spent night and day studying the scriptures and preserving the
traditions of the meanings of words - unless one contends like the
Karaites that they simply invented traditions - were somehow less
qualified than Ben Yehuda.

Would you seriously contend that verbs are never derived from nouns in
everyday life? Have you ever salted your food? Do you ever go for a walk
or do you prefer to walk? What came first, the smile or smiling?

When it comes the Holy Tongue, the Sages and commentators have passed
down traditions to us that words with apparently disparate meanings
derived from a common root are in fact related. I wouldn't expect Ben
Yehuda to believe that, because it would mean order in a language he
wished to treat as every other haphazard language. But the truth-seeker
can find brilliant minds that have shown how precision-engineered the
language is and what infinite wisdom it holds.

Yehoshua Steinberg


From: Russell Jay Hendel <rjhendel@...>
Date: Mon, 22 Aug 2005 22:46:33 GMT
Subject: RE: Beth-Resh-Caph--Rav Hirsch's Theory

Since Rav Hirsch was already mentioned (v49n64) thought I would give the
whole etymology (which is very illuminating).

1) Rav Hirsch takes the fundamental meaning Beth Resh Kaph to be KNEE

2) Hence Beth Resh Kaph can mean to KNEEl on your KNEES (NOte that the
ENglish KNEEL seems to also come from KNEE (Not 100% sure but it looks
that way)

3) Rav Hirsch's etymology of Beth Resh Kaph=Blessing is ingenious but
correct.  Recall that each organ can also stand for its function: For
example Yud -Dalet means TO THROW (from HAND), Aleph-Zayin-Nun means to
LISTEN (from HEAR), Ayin-Yud-Nun means TO STUDY (From EYE). Rav Hirsch
continues: The function of the KNEE is not to CREATE movement since you
can walk without bending your KNEES. Rather the function of the KNEE is
to FACILITATE movement (The bending of the KNEES makes the movements
quicker and easier). Hence TO KNEE someone is to FACILITATE THEM ON

4) Finally Rav Hirsch takes Beth Resh Kaph=POND as a place where you
KNEEL for water.

As to the Talmudic word for ATTACHED---we could explain this not as any
ATTACHMENT but rather as a GOOD BLESSED ATTACHMENT(In other words the
TALMUDIC meaning added the nuance of ATTACHMENT to the general idea of

Russell Jay Hendel; http://www.Rashiyomi.com/


From: Eitan Fiorino <AFiorino@...>
Date: Thu, 18 Aug 2005 13:36:55 -0400
Subject: RE: Bigoted posting

> From: Mordechai <mordechai@...>
> I will point out that I have refrained from attacks on people, rather
> than focusing on their statements and facts (or lack thereof).  While
> people have criticised my sources, they actually have not presented any
> of their own to refute my factual statements.

Actually, you haven't made ANY statements that I would consider to be
"factual" because you have relied on the research of people known to
have a strong bias against homosexuals.  Would rely on a rabidly
anti-Semitic organization to review some aspect of Jewish culture?
Doubtful.  Yet you rely on a rabidly anti-homosexual organization to
write review the question of homosexuality and pedophilia.

Moreover, I have already pointed out that the research you quoted, had
it come even from the most reliable of sources, did not support your
contention that homosexuals are more likely than heterosexuals to be
pedophiles - the references you cited supported a claim that pedophiles
are more likely than non-pedophiles to have a same-sex preference.



From: Joseph Ginzberg <jgbiz120@...>
Date: Mon, 22 Aug 2005 10:50:56 -0400
Subject: Chassidic stories

>1) the person whistles
>2) the person recites the aleph bais
>3) the person plays his flute

There's at last one more. where the Cattle-herder cracks his whip loudly.

Similar also are the other (feminine) variants of the story, i.e. the
woman who (well-meaning) put Challos into the Holy Ark every Friday,
where the poor Shammos finds them and thinks they're a gift to him from
heaven.  There are at least a few variations of this one, too.

The best line I ever heard about all these is an old chassidic classic-
" If you believe all of the holy stories, you are a fool. But if you
believe none of them, you are a heretic."

Yossi Ginzberg


From: Janet R. <j.zangvil@...>
Date: Thu, 18 Aug 2005 10:58:02 -0400
Subject: Does gay marriage affect straight marriage?

Lisa Liel writes: 
>  Allowing me to inherit directly from my partner isn't going to weaken
> your marriage.  Allowing us to file our taxes jointly or to hold
> common title on our home isn't going to affect your children in any
> way whatsoever.

No one has claimed that gay marriage has immediate effects.  The concern
is moral hazard, in the economic sense: allowing equal marriage changes
the incentives for future generations of bisexuals in their decision to
affiliate primarily as gay or straight.

Many gays are, to use R Meir Fund's words, "wall to wall gay", but the
population of people who could go either way is not negligible.  The
prevalence found in studies depends entirely on the definition used ---
feelings, behavior, self-identification, in descending order of
prevalence --- but considering the results from all three types of
questions, many put it at about 5% of the population.  The existence of
bisexuals who do make a choice between affiliations makes the LGB
community's rhetoric of "we were born like this" somewhat disingenuous;
some were born like this, but others could have had an opposite sex

Bisexuals have to make a choice whether they will identify as primarily
gay, or primarily straight.  No one pressures anyone in any explicit
way, but the gay and lesbian communities are single-sex social worlds,
separate from straight society, with their distinctive vocabularies,
mannerisms, dress, and social venues.  L'havdil, it's the way a baal
tshuvah has to decide whether to be charedi or modern; maybe he'll be
one of those free spirits who moves to Flatbush but has Rav Soloveitchik
and academic Talmud on his bookshelves, or who lives in Teaneck but
sends his daughters to Beis Yaakov, but he has to have a primary

Continuing the economic model: the choice to affiliate primarily as gay
has a certain number of costs and benefits.  Gay marriage decreases the
cost of being gay, and may result in a greater number of bisexuals
choosing to affiliate primarily as gay.  This economic model is subject
to the same critiques as any economic model --- all models are wrong,
but some are useful --- but there is no reason to consider the decision
for a bisexual to affiliate as gay as any different from the decision to
attend graduate school or to take a job in a different city: both
decisions have emotional components, but eventually the person has to
combine the emotional with the practical components and make a single
decision.  Although some people have utility for being persecuted and
like being different and desire the social capital of being part of the
LGBT community, their calculus wouldn't reverse unless the situation
reversed to be homonormative.

Ideally, policy should discriminate between people who have a choice and
people who don't have a choice.  The gay community's rhetoric that this
is a civil rights issue because gays didn't have a choice has trickled
into the conventional wisdom, and a majority of people polled say that
people who are 100% wall to wall gay should be able to have civil

Unfortunately, we don't have any way to discriminate between the two
populations other than through the cost of being gay, so the only
question is how high to make the cost before it's not fair to the gays
who don't have a choice.  Certainly, it would be possible to raise the
cost of being gay --- e.g., taxing people who don't marry a person of
the opposite sex --- but probably not in any practical way.  On the
other hand, perhaps the cost of being gay is too high, given that many
gays don't have a choice, and we should lower the cost somewhat: e.g.,
create civil unions with some, but not all, of the advantages of
marriage.  What constitutes "fairness" is an issue in itself, and the
viable means of changing this cost is also an issue in itself.  We can
take advantage of people's short time horizons and change the cost of
being gay only for the elderly --- such as through changes to
inheritance laws --- these measures are probably sufficiently in the
future that a young person wouldn't consider them substantially in their
decision for affiliation, but would nonetheless help the gay elderly who
didn't have a choice in their orientation.

In brief, people who have choices respond to incentives. There is a cost
to being gay, and public policy towards gays can raise or lower this
cost.  Costs should be set to discourage bisexuals from gay affiliation,
and yet be fair for the gays who don't have a choice.

(The above is copyrighted.  Please do not quote without my permission.)


From: <engineered@...> (Shmuel Norin)
Date: Mon, 22 Aug 2005 08:34:02 -0400
Subject: Hot Water on Shabbot

Does anybody on the list know if the halacha about using hot water on
Shabbot (or heated just before Shabbot) is any different if heated by
the sun versus heated by Aish (fire).  I am thinking about the Israeli
hot water systems.

Shmuel Norin


From: Orrin Tilevitz <tilevitzo@...>
Date: Mon, 22 Aug 2005 08:47:43 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: Jewesses, Lionesses, and Ogresses

Nathan Lamm writes:

> One ethnic word is "Negress," which is also seen as being quite
> derogatory today. I think this may go back to a time when male/female
> terms were well separated: One would never refer to a female "waiter"
> or "actor," for example. (On the other hand, "man" meant "human".)
> Now that we have female waiters, actors, and so on, "waitress,"
> "actress," and "Jewess" have become passe and sometimes offensive.

Arnie Kuzmack writes:

> There is also "Negress", which is also now considered offensive.  The
> reason both "Jewess" and "Negress" are considered offensive appears to
> be the implication that both Jews and Negroes are not quite human, so
> that females of the two groups were given a separate term, just like
> the females of some animal species.

As for "Negress" there is no comparison because so is "Negro".  That
itself is a remarkable transformation; when I was growing up "black" as
a noun was considered offensive; black people were properly "Negroes".
The last black person of prominence to call himself a "Negro" was
Justice Thurgood Marshall, and he did so until he died.  As for
"waitress", I don't know, although my boss owns a restaurant and I hear
his employees using the word "servers".  And do you mean to tell me that
Katherine Hepburn was an actor?


From: Stuart Pilichowski <cshmuel@...>
Date: Mon, 22 Aug 2005 14:47:00 +0000
Subject: minhag hamokom

>I assume the shul minhag is eveyone does their own thing or else
>shouldn't they all say the kaddish with the nusach hamakom as they do
>for kedusha?
>Joel Rich

I may not understand your point.

Individuals say the kedusha in their own nusach if they're davening at a
minyan with a different nusach - AFAIK.

No one in my minyan(s) has any problem whatsoever with everyone saying
the kaddish of their own nusach or tradition.

Stuart Pilichowski
Mevaseret Zion, Israel


End of Volume 49 Issue 67