Volume 49 Number 75
                    Produced: Fri Aug 26  5:10:48 EDT 2005

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

bet resh kaf
         [Lisa Liel]
Good Intentions -- was separation of church & state
         [Carl A. Singer]
Jew couple
         [Nadine Bonner]
Josephus vs. Sefer Yosefon
         [Sammy Finkelman]
Separation of Church and State
         [Saul Mashbaum]


From: Lisa Liel <lisa@...>
Date: Thu, 25 Aug 2005 07:52:31 -0400
Subject: Re: bet resh kaf

From: Russell J Hendel <rjhendel@...>
>Lisa (v49n69) cites her teacher that BRK means to KNEEL before God. 

With all due respect, Russell, I didn't cite R' Blachman as saying
anything even remotely like that.  Baruch is a stative adjective which
we apply to Hashem.  We say that *Hashem* is "kneeling" (kavayachol) and
bringing His hashpa'ah into our world.

>This **would** explain BLESSING GOD. It however **would not** eg 

It would indeed.  L'varech is the causative-stative form of the verb
(pi'el), and derived from the above meaning, it would denote bringing
out the potential of X into actuality.

>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

I appreciate what you're saying, but I don't agree that this is the
primary function of knees.  Nor, I'd point out, is the primary function
of legs to spy (l'ragel, from regel), and the primary function of our
thoughts is not to bow down (kore'a, from kra'ayim).

>--if a father blesses his son, he facilitates his son's movement on 
>the path of life.

I agree.  If he blesses his daughter, too. <grin> But that fits with the
derivation I mentioned above.  We aren't talking about a physical
kneeling, but a bringing of potential down into the realm of the actual.
You see how that results in the same basic meaning, right?

>If we bless God we facilitate Gods movement on earth.

Hmm... I'm not sure it's correct to talk about us facilitating Hashem's
anything.  Also, while a father may bless his child, we don't actually
bless Hashem.  We note that He *is* Baruch.

>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.

As they were.  And I hope you won't take this the wrong way, but if you
don't see how something is consistent, it's often more productive to ask
how the apparent inconsistency can be explained, rather than simply
dismissing it.

Also, the fact that you could have understood from what I wrote that R'
Blachman explained bracha as *us* kneeling before Hashem has me puzzled.
I certainly didn't write anything to that effect.

Lastly, R' Blachman often taught us from the Ishbitzer, and I suspect
that his explanation comes from that source.

>In this case even though Rav Hirsch is homiletic, he is CONSISTENTLY 
>homiletic. Consistency helps increase your credibility and get your 
>main point across

I hope you won't take it as too harsh a criticism if I point out that so
does actually reading what you're responding to.



From: Carl A. Singer <casinger@...>
Date: Thu, 25 Aug 2005 07:26:16 -0400
Subject: Good Intentions -- was separation of church & state

> A friend of mine tells the story of his elementary school in 1962, which
> introduced the one Chanukah song in their Christmas assembly with the
> words "And here's how other people celebrate Christmas." (His parents
> threw a fit.)

Any singing that I'm involved with is painful - especially to music

When people, with good intentions, try to be ecumenical or "fair and
balanced" I appreciate the effort.  My High School choir sang the 150th
psalm in Hebrew.  (It turned out that the choir director, a non-Jew, was
a paid member of the choir of a local reform congregation.)

I recall an Army officer who brought a bottle of Mogen David wine (for
me) to an all holiday reception.  The thought was appreciated.

Similarly, an attempt, however misguided, to include Chanukah into
Christmas season events can if the circumstances warrant be looked at as
a gesture of friendship.

To those on the list who grew up in Israel or, perhaps, New York please
understand that growing up in a place that was say, 90+ per cent
non-Jewish (in the 50's) was a significantly different environment.

Carl Singer


From: Nadine Bonner <nfbonner@...>
Date: Thu, 25 Aug 2005 09:24:52 -0400
Subject: Jew couple

This phenomenon of stereotyping customers is not unknown in the business
world, but usually it is more subtle. About 8 years ago a manager at
Einstein Bagels sued the company for discrimination, contending that she
had not received promotions because she was Jewish. As I recall, part of
her complaint included her objection to code names that were used to
refer to customers. Those perceived by employees as being Jewish were
dubbed "Lexuses"--based on the presumption that all Jews drive expensive
cars.  I don't remember all the details or how the case ended, but the
stereotyping and code names seemed to be part of the corporate culture.

This, too, is a treif food chain that attracts a Jewish clientele. (I
think at one point they had a kosher subsidiary--Noah's Bagels. But I
think most of them either closed or became treif.)

Nadine Bonner


From: Sammy Finkelman <sammy.finkelman@...>
Date: Sun, 24 Aug 05 23:38:00 -0400
Subject: Josephus vs. Sefer Yosefon

>From: Aryeh Gielchinsky <agielchinsky@...>

> Are they really two different books or was there some kind of
> confusion?

There are two different books AND there is a lot of confusion. In fact,
actually there are three different books, only two which have bene

>Nathan Lamm:
> Yosippon is a medieval Jewish adaptation of Josephus.

Robert Israel <israel@...>

> Yosefon is a history of the Second Temple period in Hebrew.  It claims
> to be written by Flavius Josephus, but is generally thought to be from
> the 9th or 10th century CE.  See e.g. the article on Joseph ben Gorion
> in the online Jewish Encyclopedia
> <http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/view.jsp?artid=473&letter=J>

The true story can be gathered from the Encyclopedia Judaica in the
article JOSSIPON (Volume 10, pages 295-296)

The Sefer Yosefon that you have seen is a medieval forgery, that was
later yet further changed, that *pretended* to be the work written in
Italy in the year 953 CE that Rashi probably had. I should say I am not
really sure there was any big forgery somewhat early, as opposed to
honest mistakes and additions.

The real Jossiphon, which exists only in manuscript, is a wide ranging
historical compilation written in Hebrew dealing with ancient Rome and
the Jews, and the history between them. Basically, that is, he wants to
explain why and how the Second Temple was destroyed and pulls together
anything he can find. He gives the history of ancient Rome and the
history of the Second Temple period till the fall of Masada.

It is mainly Josephus' works with some additional material. His main
source was a Latin translation of 16 of the 20 books of Antiquities of
the Jews plus the Jewish war, which was made in the late 300s and is
known as the Hegesippus. He has one important error which stems from
that book - that Josephus was called Joseph ben Gorion and was the same
Joseph ben Gorion who was a general in the war that resulted in the
destruction of the Temple. (This error was later followed by many modern
writers, who didn't want to let go of it.)

The author may evidentally not have had access to the rest of the
Antiquities or he didn't trust what he had. All copies of Antiquities of
the Jews that we now have stem from a single copy that was sent from
Egypt to Italy in the 500s, and already contained at least one and
possibly two Christological additions. (The Encyclopedia Judaica article
wants to say that he couldn't read Greek, although he was born in the
Byzantine Empire and he is aware of things not included in the

Another source was the Apocrypha (the two books called Maccabees) He
also draws on Medieval chronicles, and he's got a few fables connected
with ancient Rome.

Two direct quotes from the original work are given in this Encyclopedia
Judaica article:

"I have collected stories from the book of Joseph ben Gorion and from
the books of other authors who wrote down the deeds of our ancestors and
have compiled them in one scroll."


"...and we wrote from the book, from the book of Joseph ben Gorion
ha-Kohen in the year 885 from the destruction." (Since that was usually
thought to be 68 CE that works out to be the year 953 CE.)

The date is further proven by the fact he says that Ishmalites live in
Tarsus, which was conquered by Byzantium in 965 and by the fact he says
that Hungarians, Bulgarians and Pechenegs dwelt on "the great river
called the Danube, i.e. Donau" - here's a third quote - and that was the
situation prevailing after about the year 900 CE.

This book was owned by Rabbi Gershom ben Yehuda (Meir HaGola) who lived
from about 960 to 1040. Besides this of course, Meir Hagolah collected
and corrected texts of the Talmud and Rashi had a copy or had consulted
a copy of the Talmud written in his own hand. (article on meir HaGolah
in The Rishonim) Three of the best manuscripts of Yossipon say that
Rabbi Gershom copied it in his own hand. (One of those manuscripts gives
us the date 885 years from the destruction.

That section was apparently not in the other two or was damaged or lost

The author did not include his own name in any portion that has come
down to us. If there was some kind of introduction, someone later didn't
bother to copy it and he didn't note it down either.

There was an expanded and revised version (read forged?) version of this
book written no later than 1160 CE, which attributed the whole work to
Josephus, (that doesn't mean that the correct version did not also
circulate) and it was further edited (read forged) by a man called Judah
Leon Mosconi in the 1300s. There is supposed to be a separate
Encyclopedia Judaica article about Mosconi but I can't find it.

This version was the basis for the 1510 Constantinople edition of Sefer
Yosephan which was the basis for all later editions. It was restyled,
ascribed to Joseph Ben Gorion, and fictitious elements added the most
well known of which became the description of the crowning of Vespasian
in Rome.

There was also an edition published in Mantua circa 1480 but this one
was even abbreviated, and was carelessly restyled (says the Encyclopedia
Judaica article) although it did not ascribe the book to Joseph ben
Gorion. (All references were omitted is the way the article puts it, but
I don't know if that means it is known to be taken from a manuscript
that did have that.)

Actually a whole variety of different versions existed and circulated,
including a big forgery, and eventually the forgery displaced the

As I said, perhaps not all of them were forgeries - maybe people were
just adding to a book of unknown authorship what they knew. But the
published version has to be called a forgery, and it is not the same
book at all, really.

More (taken from the Encyclopedia Judaica article):

The original Yosiphon was very widely circulated and translated. There
was an Arabic translation by a Yemenite Jew probably done already in the
11th century and an Arab writer (Ibn Hazm, died 1063) refers to it by
name. A Samaritan chronicle written in Arabic contains the Yosiphon
account of Alexander the Great's visit to Jerusalem (different from
Josephus?) but the location is changed to Har Gerizim. The Arabic was
traslated into Ethiopic circa 1300. A passage on Alexander the Great
translated from it appears in a Russian chronicle (without attribution -
but the words were recognized by some later scholar)

And of course many Jewish Meforshim (commentators) quoted it.

Some versions of the book - before the age of printing there were all
kinds of versions - include a Hebrew translation of a separate Greek
narrative which I guess people could have thought was written by
Josephus. But actually that is an abridgement of a legend about
Alexander the Great attributed to Calisthenis and a Greek/Byzantine
chronicle of the period from Alexander to Tiberius.)

The original Yosephon mentions John the Baptist, but the expanded
(forged) version has a brief mention of the central figure of
Christianity, and some later versions have a polemical account of its

Most of the European translations (Latin, Czech, Polish Russian English)
stem from the printed editions.


From: Saul Mashbaum <smash52@...>
Date: Thu, 25 Aug 2005 15:29:25 +0200
Subject: Re: Separation of Church and State

Janice Gelb <j_gelb@...> wrote:

>A friend of mine tells the story of his elementary school in 1962,
>which introducted the one Chanukah song in their Christmas assembly
>with the words "And here's how other people celebrate Christmas." (His
>parents threw a fit.)

I have it on good authority that that this reflects the thinking of many
non-Jews (mostly, but not exclusively, in areas with small Jewish
populations) to this day. They believe that Chanukah *is* Xmas, and that
the Jews simply celebrate the holiday differently.

This misconception explains some of the resentment non-Jews feel when
Jews obect to Xmas displays in the public marketplace. It doesn't seem
fair that the Jews, who celebrate the very same holiday, should object
to having it celebrated in public in the way the majority is comfortable

It has become a commonplace in American culture that Chanukah is "the
Jewish Xmas". We can be dismayed, but shouldn't be surprised, that many
take this literally..

Saul Mashbaum


End of Volume 49 Issue 75