Volume 49 Number 73
                    Produced: Thu Aug 25  5:33:04 EDT 2005

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

bet resh kaf (3)
         [Jonathan Baker, Ira L. Jacobson, Russell J Hendel]
Cleaning shofars
         [Sammy Finkelman]
History of matrilineal transference
         [Ben Katz]
Hot Water on Shabbat
Jew couple vs. Jewish couple
         [Ruth Bernstein]
Jewess, etc.
         [Abie Zayit]
Noisy davenning
         [Ben Katz]


From: Jonathan Baker <jjbaker@...>
Date: Wed, 24 Aug 2005 09:04:54 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: bet resh kaf

>From my tefilla column in the AishDas publication Mesukim Midevash:

But what is a Berachah? These morning blessings are mostly praises of
G-d. What does it mean to bless G-d, the Source of blessings? R^ Shimon
Schwab, following the lead of R' S.R. Hirsch, interprets the classic
Berachah phrase as follows:

"Baruch" - Blessed, but "beireich" also means to increase. We are
increasing that in the world which is dedicated to G-d. "Atah" - You are
the One whom I address, to whom I dedicate this praise. We have a
dialogue, a relationship. Addressing the "You" implies the "I".

"Ado-noi" - the cognomen of the Shem Havayah, the Tetragrammaton, the
unpronounceable Name of G-d that signifies His Infinite Essence and His
Timelessness (as a contraction of "Hayah, Hoveh, Yihyeh", the three
tenses of Being). Further, the cognomen itself is holy, as the Shem
Adnus - the Name of Lordship, signifying the Power to whom we pray, who
has control over our lives.

"Elo-heinu" - expresses a closer relationship, addressing our G-d, not
just the Infinite, Transcendent G-dhead. This G-d, the Master of Forces
according to the Shulchan Aruch, is the Authority who commands us to
pray, who directly sustains us and drives our lives, who allows us to
talk with Him and hope it will make a difference in ourselves and in the

"Melech ha-olam" - distances us again, yet we remain in a relation with
the King of the Universes. The King is crowned by His subjects, and
commands them, both in the physical world (olam) and in the spiritual
world, the hidden world, that which is "ne'elam".

Combining these ideas, we find that we say, over and over: We join You,
O transcendent G-d yet G-d with whom we are granted a true relationship,
O ruler of all of physical and spiritual reality, in dedicating our
lives, and the objects and processes of Your world, to You. We join with
You in the sanctification of the universe. Six simple words, yet they
lay the foundation of our relationship and partnership with the Divine.

   - jon baker    <jjbaker@...>     <http://www.panix.com/~jjbaker> -

From: Ira L. Jacobson <iraeljay@...>
Date: Thu, 25 Aug 2005 09:50:58 +0300
Subject: Re: bet resh kaf

Yehoshua Steinberg stated on Mon, 22 Aug 2005 15:55:07 +0000:

>>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,

You are right.  I was thinking of Rashi, who derives it from afiqu
minaikhu, and the Me'iri says afiqu mani.

> 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

That's the point.  One does not question a derush.  But you should
really take it for granted that Hazal did not think that they were
describing the etymology of the words, but rather making a "play on
words" to derive a message.

I once heard of a rav (not necessarily the gedol hador) who said that
the blessing of one's sons,"Yesimcha," shows that we must bless them
with simcha.

> 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, linguistically.

The derush may have lots of meaning, but linguistically--let's say it
lacks something.

> 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.

I don't think that they intended their folk etymology to be used
scientifically.  What makes you think otherwise?

What you imply is that Hazal had no sense of language whatsoever R"L,
and they confused one root with another.  That they thought that bet nun
(banayikh) and bet nun heh (bonayikh) were the same root.  Needless to
say, I reject that, and I am certainly not alone.

> 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?

Hebrew is a language of roots, and the nouns and verbs are derived from
the roots.  The roots are not derived form the nouns.

> 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.

One need not deny the brilliance of Hazal to accept the fact that their
"al tiqrei" suggestions were intended as derush and not as though they
actually thought that these were linguistic derivations.  Quite the
contrary: Hazal understood the language and could therefore play with
it.  To think otherwise is to do Hazal a disservice.

Also, I don't know how Ben Yehuda treated every other haphazard
language, so I cannot comment on that.

IRA L. JACOBSON         

From: Russell J Hendel <rjhendel@...>
Date: Wed, 24 Aug 2005 22:53:49 -0400
Subject: bet resh kaf

Lisa (v49n69) cites her teacher that BRK means to KNEEL before God. This
**would** explain BLESSING GOD. It however **would not** eg explain
FATHER BLESSES SON. I again reiterate (with further points) Rav Hirsch's
explanation: **ALL** verbs derived from organs connote their PRIMARY
function---the primary function of knees is not to kneel but rather to
facilitate movement--if a father blesses his son, he facilitates his
son's movement on the path of life. If we bless God we facilitate Gods
movement on earth. It is important to emphasize that blessing is an
ACTIVE not PASSIVE recognition of God--if we don't help God, then the
Divine presence suffers. Finally,while I dont dispute the value of
homiletic insights from etymologies (such as Lisa give) I still feel
that the underlying homilies should be derived from consistent
principles. In this case even though Rav Hirsch is homiletic, he is
CONSISTENTLY homiletic. Consistency helps increase your credibility and
get your main point across


From: Sammy Finkelman <sammy.finkelman@...>
Date: Sun, 24 Aug 05 23:58:00 -0400
Subject: Cleaning shofars

Are there any dinim, or any advice about cleaning shofars?


From: Ben Katz <bkatz@...>
Date: Wed, 24 Aug 2005 18:54:57 -0500
Subject: Re: History of matrilineal transference

>From: Tom Buchler <tbuchler@...>
>A local shul, unaffiliated, but nominally conservative is considering
>calling someone a Jew whose father is Jewish. As I have friends there,
>including board and ritual committee members, I'd love some discursive
>armament, including the historical background of matrilineal
>transference of Judaism, beyond a verse in Devarim. Some might be swayed
>by cogent argument.

         It is obvious that AT LEAST since the time of Ezra, if the
mother was not Jewish the children were not.  That is why Ezra sends
away all the foreign women (and their families, if I am not mistaken) at
the end of the book of Ezra.

Ben Z. Katz, M.D.
Children's Memorial Hospital, Division of Infectious Diseases
2300 Children's Plaza, Box # 20, Chicago, IL 60614
e-mail: <bkatz@...>


From: <aliw@...> (Arie)
Date: Wed, 24 Aug 2005 12:09:34 +0200
Subject: Re: Hot Water on Shabbat

in mj 49/70 Josh Backon wrote:
>Using water that was heated ON shabbat (even not through electricity
>but even by mixing cold water with hot water that was heated BEFORE
>shabbat but would be elevated by the pre-heated hot water to the
>temperature of YAD SOLEDET (approx 113 degrees F) is prohibited.

keep in mind that rav tzvi pessach frank, zatza"l, was posek that water
heated by solar heaters (very prevalent in israel, in his time as well
as today) may be used on shabbat - and a solar heater draws in cold
water as it releases hot, mixing the two. if there's no incoming, the
outgoing won't work.  similar to heating or even cooking food in the
direct sun - which is not considered cooking on shabbat, except that in
a solar hearter the sun is direct on the panels, not on the water.



From: Ruth Bernstein <ruth.bernstein@...>
Date: Wed, 24 Aug 2005 13:58:21 -0400
Subject: Jew couple vs. Jewish couple

> I wonder if this would have been deemed newsworthy (i.e. offensive) if
> the descriptive term had been "Jewish couple" instead of "Jew couple"?

There is a long discussion of this on a blog called Waiterrant
(www.waiterrant.net) under the August 17th, 2005 entry. It's not
conclusive either way.


From: <oliveoil@...> (Abie Zayit)
Date: Wed, 24 Aug 2005 16:24:09 +0000
Subject: Jewess, etc.

I recently was sent a link to the archives of a periodical called "The
American Jewess". You can access it at

Here's the description:
The American Jewess (1895-1899) described itself as "the only magazine
in the world devoted to the interests of Jewish women." It was the first
English-language periodical targeted to American Jewish women, covering
an evocative range of topics that ranged from women's place in the
synagogue to whether women should ride bicycles.

Founded and edited by Rosa Sonneschein (1847-1932), it offered the first
sustained critique, by Jewish women, of gender inequities in Jewish
worship and communal life. Assembled and digitized for online access by
the Jewish Women's Archive, this digital reproduction of the 8 volumes
of The American Jewess was assembled from the collections of Hebrew
Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion Klau Library, Brandeis
University Libraries, the Library of Congress, and the Jewish Women's

Thought it might be of interest.

Abie Zayit


From: Ben Katz <bkatz@...>
Date: Wed, 24 Aug 2005 18:12:06 -0500
Subject: Re: Noisy davenning

>From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
>Sometimes I envy her, as a female, not being obligated in tephillah
>betsibbur. With some of my neighbours in shul, I would be able to daven
>with far more kavannah at home.

         I believe Mr. Stern's last comment here is not exactly correct.
No one, to my knowledge, has an obligation to daven betzibur.  I may
have an obligation to say kaddish which can only be done betzibur, but
that is different.  When a tzibur (usually but not always defined as 10
men) are together, certain obligations ensue which an individual does
not have (eg laining Torah on Mon. Thurs. and Shabat), but there is no
obligation for me as an individual to join this group.  (I am not saying
it is not better to daven betzibur generally, just that it is not an
obligation.)  Note that the shulchan aruch says that it is better to
daven by yourself vatikin (early in the morning) than later in the
morning with a minyan.

Ben Z. Katz, M.D.
Children's Memorial Hospital, Division of Infectious Diseases
2300 Children's Plaza, Box # 20, Chicago, IL 60614
e-mail: <bkatz@...>


End of Volume 49 Issue 73