Volume 50 Number 03
                    Produced: Tue Nov 15  6:52:17 EST 2005

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Brit Milah
         [Israel Caspi]
         [Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz]
Curious wording in Tfilla Zako
         [Asher Grossman]
Davening in a non-denominational chapel
         [Stuart Cohnen]
Grammatical question
         [Michael Frankel]
Kabbalah Symbolism in Art
New Online: The Bible Quiz
         [Jacob Richman]
Sales tax
         [David Charlap]
Shomer Shabbat Ketubah Witnesses
         [Ari Trachtenberg]
         [Meir Wise]


From: Israel Caspi <icaspi@...>
Date: Tue, 08 Nov 2005 09:42:00 -0500
Subject: Brit Milah

I understand that the practice, when circumcising a child convert is to
do the Mikveh after the Brit Milah.  My question is, how can we bring a
non-Jew into the Covenant of Avraham Avinu?  Or is the milah itself done
l'shem giur?  If so, why do we need the mikveh?

--I. Caspi


From: Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz <Sabba.Hillel@...>
Date: Fri, 11 Nov 2005 11:56:18 -0500
Subject: Re: Brit/giur

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> From: Israel Caspi <icaspi@...>
> Date: Wed, 19 Oct 2005 00:49:13 -0500
> Subject: Brit/giur
> When a non-Jewish infant is adopted, the procedure, based on the gemara,
> is to perform brit milah as soon as possible and then to bring him to a
> mikvah for conversion when he is older and the experience of being
> completely immersed will be less traumatic. This is the procedure even
> if the child is old enough for the mikvah -- i.e., brit milah first,
> then giur.  My question is how can the adoptive father say the b'rachah
> "...v'tzivanu l'hachniso liv'rito shel Avraham Avinu"?  Where are we
> commanded to circumcise a non-Jewish child?  And how can a non-Jewish
> child enter the coveneant of Avraham Avinu?

Remember that Avraham also performed milah on his entire "household". 
Thus, when a person adopts a child and brings him into the "household" 
(via giur) then the commanment to perform milah applies as well.  Is the 
bracha said with an adult ger as well at his bris?  I would suspect that 
it is because it is part of giur.  Any male who becomes Jewish (whether 
through birth or giur) is chayav milah.

Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz | Said the fox to the fish, "Join me ashore."
<Sabba.Hillel@...> | The fish are the Jews, Torah is our water.


From: Asher Grossman <asherg@...>
Date: Mon, 14 Nov 2005 23:54:01 -0500
Subject: Re: Curious wording in Tfilla Zako

I. Balbin wrote:

>I noticed the phrase Kimat Ein Tzadik Bo'oretz Asher Ya'aseh Tov Velo
>Yechto [there is *almost* no Tzadik in
>I was always under the impression that humans are fallible, and

When I saw this question, I at first thought to say that this might be
because Chazal do tell us of a few people who were entirely without sin
and died only because on the decree that man must die. Some of those
were Binyamin - Yaakov Avinu's son, Yishai - Dovid HaMelech's father,
and one of Dovid's brothers (I forgot his name).

However, after looking in my Machzor (an Eshkol Machzor Rabba) I saw
that the complete wording there are that "Since there is almost no
Tzaddik in the world who will not sin "against his mate in money matters
or physical matters". This means that we are talking here about "Bein
Adam LeChaveiro" - transgressions which are done by someone against
another person. It's possible for a person to be so elevated as to not
have sinned in these matters. And since the greater the Tzaddik - the
more is expected from him, he may be "guilty" of something before HaShem
- but not against another person. The author of Tefillah Zakah was just
using the language of the passuk to enhance the language of the

Asher Grossman


From: Stuart Cohnen <cohnen@...>
Date: Mon, 14 Nov 2005 17:13:53 -0500
Subject: Davening in a non-denominational chapel

Recently, I found a minyan near my office for Mincha. The minyan is
davening in a non-denominational chapel of a local hospital. I asked my
Rov if I could daven there and was told that I could not . He said it
was better to daven "beyichidus" (by myself, without a minyan).  Mention
was made of a responsa of Rav Moshe Feinstein. Does anyone know where I
can find the teshuva? I would like to approach the people who organized
the minyan with the teshuva in hand, in order to convince them to move
it to a more suitable room.



From: Michael Frankel <michaeljfrankel@...>
Date: Sun, 13 Nov 2005 13:21:46 -0500
Subject: Re: Grammatical question

>Israel Caspi (49/93) asks: 
>>I am confused about the punctuation of the Kak/Chaf in the words
>>Birkat/Birchat Ha-mazon.  If the former, why do we say "Birchot
>>Ha-shachar" and not "Birkot Ha-shachar"?

>Actually, you are correct. "Birkot" is the correct pronunciation, as is
>"Birkat". The Bet has a Chirik Chaser - a Tnu'a Kala, which renders the
>Shva of the Reish a Shva Nach. Therefore, the Chaf gets a Dagesh Kal
>and becomes a Kaf. the mistake is in the "Birchat" HaMazon. 
>Asher Grossman

Not so quick there with that "mistake" stuff.  In fact, the issue is not
at all clear and reasonable men (or women) may differ.  The problem is
that in any number of realizations of the construct form or command form
for that matter (i.e. s'mikhus or tsi'vui) - the sh'voh is problematic
to those who place their trust in simple grammatical "rules" (such as
the closing of all (unaccented) t'nuos qalos with a noch (or dogeish
chozoq) and the deployment of a dogeish qal in a following bgdkf(t))

Consider for example the oft tanach attested "darkhei" - as in "darkhei
tziyon availos.." and numerous other examples of construct form.  Or
-one I've long noted but never actually seen remarked elsewhere- the
common occurrence of words with "bais" as a first letter with chiriq,
followed by a sh'voh letter, followed by a bgdkf(t). e.g. after the
paradigm of "b'g'vul".  Such words are impossible to explain by the
simple grammatical algorithms of the sort suggested by the poster but
certainly don't represent "mistakes" - let's not be slaves to the
academic musings of medieval s'faradi grammarians.  It has led some to
posit the existence of yet another sh'voh - the sh'voh m'racheif - which
seems to be a catch all category which comforts those who long for
taxonomical completeness but otherwise has little explanatory virtue.

Having said all that, it is nonetheless probably true that "birkas" -
though in the construct form - should indeed take a dogeish in the khof
- but not because of the cited "rule" which we have seen does not
necessarily apply in s'mikhus, but rather because the word birkas
appears that way numerous times in the torah - e.g. "birkas avrohom" -
and we have no reason to change that.

Mechy Frankel                      W: (703) 416-3252
<Michael.frankel@...>          H: (301) 593-3949


From: <DebbieOney@...> (Debbie)
Date: Tue, 15 Nov 2005 01:32:17 EST
Subject: Kabbalah Symbolism in Art


A woman I was speaking to told me she was writing a paper on Kabbalah
Symbolism in Art and wanted to know if I knew of any good references.  I
told her I was a member of this email group and would put it through the
group.  If you know of any good references please let me know and I'll
forward the information to her.

Thanks in advance.



From: <Shuanoach@...> (Josh)
Date: Mon, 14 Nov 2005 09:30:29 EST
Subject: kabbalists

Yisrael Medad wrote:

> "Josh asks about the explosion of "kabbalists", wonder-working
> "rabbis", and people giving out kemei'yot (amulets) and doing things
> like palm reading in the jewish community.  Does anyone know of any
> particular publicized events of this sort in the 1980s in Israel which
> aroused the ire of many rabbis?

> During that time, there were TV news reports on the dozens of people
> lining up outisde Rav Kaduri's apartment among other similar
> phenomenon"

As Rav Kaduri was one of those giving approbations to the Sefer, as well
as contributing substantive notes to it, i doubt he was part of the
phenomenon being criticized. Rav Kaduri is highly regarded in rabbinic
circles in Israel. He is not considered among the fortune tellers and
palm readers who are not talmidei chachamim are act as though they are
miracle workers - he is a big talmid chacham.  



From: Jacob Richman <jrichman@...>
Date: Mon, 14 Nov 2005 19:20:58 +0200
Subject: New Online: The Bible Quiz

Hi Everyone!

This week I launched a new website called:
The Bible Quiz

The, free, online Bible Quiz contains more than 3,000 multiple choice
questions about the 5 books of Moses.  Choose a chapter and timer
setting, then the fun begins.  The quiz, randomly, selects questions
from its database, thus no two quizes are alike. There is, also, a
database browser for reviewing and printing the Questions with the
correct Answers. Adults, as well as children will find the quiz
entertaining and very educational.

Feedback is welcome.

Please forward this message to other teachers, parents and students so
they may benefit from this new educational site.

Have a good day,


From: David Charlap <shamino@...>
Date: Mon, 14 Nov 2005 09:52:12 -0500
Subject: Sales tax

Leah S. Gordon wrote:
> ... Eh, what does "tax-free" really mean anyway, since officially the
> sales-tax is supposed to be paid by the seller; s/he could always
> just not pass it on to the customer anyway, so it's kind of a fake
> idea (though admittedly the government gives the sellers a good
> reason not to charge the extra percentage to customers by not
> charging it ab initio).

This is incorrect.

While a merchant can obviously choose to collect sales tax and not pass
it on to consumers, a consumer is obligated to pay it if the merchant
does not collect it.

Most states have a form (named something like "consumer use tax")
included with state income tax forms that you are supposed to use to pay
tax on items you purchase where sales tax was not collected.  Typically,
this applies to mail-order purchases (since out of state merchants are
not obligated to collect sales tax.)

(Yes, I'm aware of the fact that most people ignore this form and don't
pay.  This doesn't change the fact that they are supposed to.)

-- David


From: Ari Trachtenberg <trachten@...>
Date: Mon, 14 Nov 2005 10:27:18 -0500
Subject: Re: Shomer Shabbat Ketubah Witnesses

Asher Grossman wrote on 11/11/2005 01:36 AM:
> The definition of someone who is not Shomer Shabbat is probably obvious 
> to most. ... When speaking of a Mechalel Shabbat, you're
> talking about someone who is Mechalel Shabbat Befarhesya - so that 
> everyone knows he's violating...

I agree that these are the obvious cases ... but there are certainly
many less-obvious cases (i.e. rarely is it the case that everyone knows
or can agree to know that he is violating).  For example, someone who
publicly violates a fence around the law, or who violates according to
some opinions (maybe including your own rabbi).  Specific examples might
include: someone who rides a bike within an eruv, someone who regularly
accepts a ride home from a hospital call, etc.

> Regarding the "adulterous relationship", check out the wording of the
> Rambam on this subject. He states that A: if there is no ketubba - the
> couple may not cohabit. and B: If the husband wrote out a sum which is
> too low, they may not cohabit, and if they do - it is considered a
> "Beilat Z'nut"...Since the word "Z'nut" dovetails with adultery,
> though not in the strict sense in which it is used today, I translated
> it as such.

As you state ... the sin is not one of adultery, but rather "z'nut".
The importance of the clarification is that the former is capital
offense with much more serious halachic ramifications (as far as I

Kol tuv,
Ari Trachtenberg,                                      Boston University
http://people.bu.edu/trachten                    mailto:<trachten@...>


From: <Meirhwise@...> (Meir Wise)
Date: Tue, 15 Nov 2005 05:48:52 EST
Subject: Tallis

Does anyone have any source as to whether unmarried Litvaks wore a tallis
before marriage or not?

Meir Wise (London)


End of Volume 50 Issue 3