Volume 49 Number 83
                    Produced: Tue Aug 30  5:59:17 EDT 2005

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Attending a Church Service
         [Stuart Pilichowski]
bet resh kaf (2)
         [Ira L. Jacobson, Ira L. Jacobson]
Church / Business needs
         [Carl A. Singer]
Entering a church
Entering a Church (Some rabbis did!)
         [Josh Backon]
Horns (3)
         [c.halevi, Arie, Fay Berger]


From: Stuart Pilichowski <cshmuel@...>
Date: Mon, 29 Aug 2005 13:06:31 +0000
Subject: Attending a Church Service

>From: Orrin Tilevitz <tilevitzo@...>
>I think it is possible that at least certain forms of Christianity are 
>avoda zara for Jews, but in any >event, n response to my shaila, I was told 
>that one could attend a church service--in this specific >case, a funeral 
>mass--for business reasons, e.g., the funeral of a business  acquaintance.  
>I am not >sure that a college course is the same case, but what it reminds 
>me of is the passage in Rosh >Hashana mentioning that Rabban Gamliel kept 
>models of solar system objects, the prohibition in
>the Mishna notwithstanding, to facilitate his study.

What would you say about escorting a non-Jewsih business associate to
tour a church - no praying or services involved ?

I have two non-Jewish business associates visitng from the States next
week.  What if they want me to take them to churches in the Old City or
Nazareth, etc?

Do business dealings overide halachik prohibitions?

Stuart Pilichowski
Mevaseret Zion, Israel


From: Ira L. Jacobson <iraeljay@...>
Date: Sun, 28 Aug 2005 16:43:17 +0300
Subject: Re: bet resh kaf

Yehoshua Steinberg <ysteinberg@...> stated, quoting your humble

      >That's the point.  One does not question a derush.

      As an aside, I think many people misunderstand the phrase "ein
      meshivin al haderush", treating it as If it means "ah, who cares
      anyway, it's just derush." To my knowledge, the expression is
      found only in the achronim, but not in the Talmud itself. What is
      found in the Gemara is "ein meshivin al hahekesh",

There is an expression "ein meshivin al agadot."

I wonder whether your long argument here was meant to be taken
seriously.  I maintained that Hazal knew Hebrew far to well to expect us
to accept their "al tiqrei" literally.

To think otherwise is to accuse Hazal of not grasping the way the Hebrew
language works.  And that I refuse to do.

Having read this rebuttal of my thesis only reinforces my opinion.

Certainly they did not think that ben and boneh actually, truly,
honestly, are derived from the same root.  They used such a mis'haq
milim to make a hermeneutic exposition.

And by the way, as has been shown here on MJ a few weeks ago (much to my
surprise and delight), there are even cases of two roots that are
identical in spelling but with different derivations, as in the root of
berekh and the root of bereikha.

<MJGerver@...> (Mike Gerver) wote on Sun, 24 Jul 2005 19:17:57 EDT:

      Regarding the recent postings by Andy Goldfinger and Ira Jacobson,
      speculating on the relationship between the words bracha, meaning
      "blessing," berekh, meaning "knee," and breicha, meaning "pond,"
      the etymological dictionaries I have consulted suggest that the
      three words are unrelated to each other,

If you like, you could explain how you kneel in the swimming pool and
recite blessings.  But that does not validate the confusion between
different roots.

      and this is certainly not said to dismiss hekeshim, Rather to give
      them more weight - See Rashi on Menachos 82b who equates hekeshim
      with Gezeros shavos. This of course means that it cannot be
      dismissed when it can be assumed that a tradition of such a hekesh
      exists. If derush is therefore compared to hekesh, it would lend
      further weight to the derivation, not the opposite.

The validity of an exegetical point does NOT depend on its being a
linguistic derivation.  To think so is to belittle the powers of Hazal
to add meanings to texts.

      >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.

      Why on earth would I take that "for granted"? What I do take for
      granted is that they knew Hebrew a whole bunch better than we do,
      and that until Yehuda Hayyuj in the 11th century there was a whole
      different understanding of the etymology of the
      language. Triliteralism may be much "neater," and fit in with
      linguistic theories better, but it appears to me that Chazal had a
      different view. They can teach us a lesson because of the fact
      that they understand the underlying roots hidden beneath the
      surface (divested of the he'emantiv letters:

You seem once more to accuse Hazal of having an inferior understanding
of language.  That seems to be a necessary part of your argument, and
one that I reject.

      For instance, in Midrash Tanchuma (Vayakhel 7): al tikrei machon
      ela mechuvan. A modern Hebrew speaker could dismiss this as a
      "play on words" at best, more likely snickering to himself about
      how these Rabbis knew nothing about grammar.

As I have said, the conclusion is quite the contrary.  Becuas thet DID
undersatnd the structyue\re of the words they coudl alow themselves to
paly with them.  If "play" is not acceptable, we could repalce taht with
"manipulate," "use intelligently," "use creatively" or any other similar

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

      I'd ask that you refrain from dismissive expressions for the sake
      of argument.  The vast majority of drashos I've examined teach a
      profound lesson based on a profound understanding of an orderly,
      precision-engineered language.

And the use of plays on words to teach worthwhile lessons.  I'll try
this for the last time.  One can learn from such derashot without having
to assume that the author had a primitive understanding of the
underlying grammar.

      >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.

      That's hardly what I think anyone who gives it more than a few
      seconds of consideration would conclude. I believe that Chazal
      gave us a gift here of being able to see just a little deeper,
      i.e. that there is an underlying root bet-nun that precisely
      describes both progeny and project. Furthermore, the other three
      "disparate" meanings listed in the Machberes for this root bear
      this out as well.

You mean that after all this you REALLY think that Hazal really believed
that the two words have the same root?!

      >>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.

      There most certainly are roots - who's arguing with that? If you
      mean because I quoted Menachem as saying that to "bless" is
      related to "knee", you read that wrong. They are both derived from
      the root bet-resh-kaf, from which they both borrow a kernel of
      meaning, described in earlier posts.

And refuted before your post ever appeared.  See above, where I quote
Mike Gerver.  By the way, before I read his post I also assumed that the
words had a common source.

. . . the commentators throughout the ages have striven to show the
connections between words sharing a root, apparently with a long
tradition dating back to Chazal and beyond.

Sorry.  That is not at all what they did.  Instead, they took words that
sounded similar but were unrelated, and they made a play on the words to
teach a lesson.  Believe me, the lesson loses nothing if we come to
grips with the fact that Hazal were not as simple as you make them out
to be.

IRA L. JACOBSON         

From: Ira L. Jacobson <iraeljay@...>
Date: Tue, 30 Aug 2005 11:45:42 +0300
Subject: Re: bet resh kaf

Yehoshua Steinberg <ysteinberg@...> stated on Fri, 26 Aug 2005
12:52:32 +0000:

      For instance, in Midrash Tanchuma (Vayakhel 7): al tikrei machon
      ela mechuvan. A modern Hebrew speaker could dismiss this as a
      "play on words" at best, more likely snickering to himself about
      how these Rabbis knew nothing about grammar. Anyone with an ounce
      of respect, and a few minutes to spend examining the words more
      closely will see an entire world opened before him.

I'm sorry I could not reply sooner, but I just came back from Gan-Or in
Gush Katif, participating in a group that rescued one farmer's pineapple
crop before it was bequeathed to our enemies.

Regarding the plays-on-words by Hazal, Sunday's daf yomi had an
excellent example.

On the verse, "shomer shabbat mehal'lo", the gemara comments "al tiqri
'mehal'lo' ela 'mahul lo.'"

The lesson is that one who observes Shabbat--his sins are forgiven.
This is based on the prefix "me," meaning "from" attached to the root
het lamed lamed (which means "to profane").  Hazal have noted the
similarity in sound between this word derived from the root het lamed
lamed, and the word derived from the root mem het lamed.  They of course
had the understanding that the words are not linguistically related by
even the maximum stretch of the imagination, but that did not prevent
them from stating the lesson they derived.

"Anyone with an ounce of respect, and a few minutes to spend examining
the words more closely," will understand that the derush contained in
the "al tiqri" statement is not intended to be linguistic, but rather

IRA L. JACOBSON         


From: Carl A. Singer <casinger@...>
Date: Mon, 29 Aug 2005 06:40:01 -0400
Subject: Church / Business needs

> I think it is possible that at least certain forms of Christianity are
> avoda zara for Jews, but in any event, n response to my shaila, I was
> told that one could attend a church service--in this specific case, a
> funeral mass--for business reasons, e.g., the funeral of a business
> acquaintance.

I have an acquaintance whose non-Jewish boss died.  She waited outside
the church during the services as her business-appropriate action.  I
don't recall if she accompanied the cortege to the cemetery.  Clearly,
one needs to ask a shaila.

Carl Singer


From: c.halevi <c.halevi@...>
Date: Sun, 28 Aug 2005 15:25:31 -0500
Subject: Entering a church

Shalom, All:

May one enter a church, ashram or Buddhist shrine?

IMHO, yes - as long as they don't participate. My reason? One who
observes a murder or theft is not a killer or thief. Everybody knows
they aren't the perp, just an observer.

It may be a good idea for those who worry about marat ayeen
(appearance's sake) to enter when they don't see anybody around who
might observe them, but that's a personal choice.

Yeshaya (Charles Chi) Halevi

From: <BACKON@...> (Josh Backon)
Date: Mon,  29 Aug 2005 16:43 +0300
Subject: Re: Entering a Church (Some rabbis did!)

After reading the exploits of a "Chief rabbi" of Jerusalem who in 1917
visited a church, all I can think of is the "Meet our Ketanim" column in
the 1979 and 1982 parodies NOT THE JEWISH PRESS where we read about such
illustrious people as Shlomo Chayim Hochleiber the 'Krotz of Blitta' who
declaring in a moment of pique that "eating on Yom Kippur was not
necessarily a bad thing if you kept it quiet and benched", and Harav
hagaon Mechel Tzippenberg BLT, the 'Dimlight of Grepps' who after
learning a very well crafted hot pastrami on rye, lean with a sour
pickle on the side became the Brisket Rav.

Josh (one of the original 15 writers of the NTJP)


From: c.halevi <c.halevi@...>
Date: Mon, 29 Aug 2005 06:30:51 -0500
Subject: Horns

Shalom, All:

            When I wore a yarmulka every day -- to remind me there's
always something above me, my parents taught me-- a woman in a subway
station asked me why I wore that "beanie."
            "Because I'm Jewish," I replied.
            "Oh," she said, "Jewish."
            A pause.
            "So you wear that to hide your horns, right?"
            She spoke without malice, her pleasant voice tinged with the
pleasure of solving a puzzle: Jews were devils; this youth said he was
Jewish and wore something on his head.  Q.E.D.
            Looking back, I'm not as surprised as I was when that remark
hit me with the force of the train we both awaited.  I almost even smile
when I recall she was black and should have been more sensitive to
senseless racism.
            Then again, since racism is senseless, why should I have
expected her to be sensible about it?

Kol Tuv
Yeshaya (Charles Chi) Halevi

From: <aliw@...> (Arie)
Date: Mon, 29 Aug 2005 23:36:11 +0200
Subject: Horns

the horns concept, so i understand, comes from michaelangelo's 
moses, which shows moshe rabeinu with rays of light (which look 
like horns) coming from his forehead, a misinterpretation of  the 
word "keren" as in "karan or panav" (moshe's face was shining), 
since keren can be both a horn and a ray of light, and used as a 
verb in the quote above means to shine.


From: <JuniperViv@...> (Fay Berger)
Date: Mon, 29 Aug 2005 08:54:07 EDT
Subject: Re: Horns

My late husband A'H was in the US Army during the Korean War.Men from
the south,upon learning that he was Jewish,were surprised that he didn't
have horns.

Fay Berger


End of Volume 49 Issue 83