Volume 50 Number 09
                    Produced: Fri Nov 18  6:04:21 EST 2005

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

28 hour long days
         [Yisrael Dubitsky]
         [Eitan Fiorino]
Grammatical question
         [Ira L. Jacobson]
Ibn Ezra
         [Dr. Josh Backon]
Ibn Ezra - ve-hakena`ani az ba-aretz (2)
         [Shalom Carmy, Ben Katz]
         [Yisrael Dubitsky]
Wearing jackets to for prayer
         [Frank Silbermann]
Wearing jackets to shul
         [Akiva Miller]


From: Yisrael Dubitsky <Yidubitsky@...>
Date: Wed, 16 Nov 2005 19:15:10 -0500
Subject: 28 hour long days

A  question for the learned members of Mail Jewish:

1. R. Benjamin ben Eliezer ha-Kohen Vitale of Reggio (1651-1730; a noted
kabbalist and the father in law of another kabbalist, R. Isaiah Bassan
who was the Ramhal's teacher) in his Gevul Binyamin (Amsterdam, 1727),
p.  127b, quotes R. Yehudah son of the ba`al Shu"t Sha`ar Ephraim
(R. Ephraim ben Yaakov ha-Kohen of Vilna, 1616-1678) quoting a R. Judah
Habillo zt"l ("rosh yeshivat Hevron") quoting in the name of R. Mosheh
Cordovero (1522-1570) that the 6 days of Creation were worthy
[*re'uyim*] to be 28 hours long but, upon wishing for themselves a
leader/"king," were urged by God to give up 4 hours each to the
Shabbat. R. Benjamin Vitale then adds on his own that this would explain
the meaning of "HEMDAT yamim oto karata."

2. R. Hanokh Zundel ben Joseph (d. 1867) in his commentary Ets Yosef to
the siddur (Otsar ha-tefilot, p. 385) applies this teaching (without
citing his source, contrary to his usual practice) to explain "yom zeh
mekhubad MI-KOL yamim". In the Artscroll Zemirot book (Brooklyn 1979) ,
p. 192 this Ets Yosef is quoted as if it was a [classical rabbinic]
"homiletical Midrashic passage." [Not only does this "midrash" not
appear in any of the classical midrashim or gemarot etc, the implication
of the theoretical division of hours explicitly contradicts classical
sources.  But on that, another time. I should add that as not much is
known about the author of the zemer, it would be slightly presumptuous
to assume he had access to such kabbalistic notions.]

3. In his *Otsar Hayim* (Tel Aviv 1966), p. 15 on the parshah of
*Va-yekhulu*, R. Hayim Zuckerman quotes this "explanation," preceding it
by "ra'iti mistamkhim al agadah" -- but without citing a source,
probably assuming it comes from classical midrash. Moreover, in this
rendition the "re'uyim" part of the 28 hour days of creation is
deleted....Further, the explanation is again (independently?) applied to
explain "Hemdat ha-yamim," but one assumes R. Zuckermann did not have
recourse to the *Gevul Binyamin.*

Now, notwithstanding that I have been told by someone versed in Kabbalah
that this "derush" [explanation] in the name of R. Cordovero is not in
keeping with his known writings (if there is an expert out there who
does know of all the writings, not merely Pardes Rimonim, please speak
up), and that the attribution to him was in all likelihood a product of
something akin to "broken telephone" -- I would like to add to my list
above more sources (I am sure there must be many) that quote this
"midrash" or some form thereof -- whether preceding the RaMaK
[=Cordovero], or indeed from his own writings, or dating after the RaMaK
(and whether the source of the "midrash" is cited or not).  So if anyone
can remember where s/he has ever seen this, I would appreciate being
informed.  Many thanks in advance,

Yisrael Dubitsky


From: Eitan Fiorino <AFiorino@...>
Date: Thu, 17 Nov 2005 09:25:36 -0500
Subject: RE: Chapel

> From: Nathan Lamm <nelamm18@...>
> > Many poskim, including the Rav...write that one cannot even pray in a
> > conservative synagogue, as the shul itself has no "sanctity". It is
> > reasoned that one, therefore, for sure cannot pray in a church, or
> > non-Jewish chapel.
> By that logic, one can't pray in a room in one's house, or in a shul
> with no women and no mechitzah.  The Rav was discussing in those cases
> houses of Jewish worship with no mechitzah or mixed seating; I don't
> think the example can be extended to a non-denominational chapel.

Let's also not forget that there was clearly a polemical aspect to this
psak - it is not entirely clear that technically it is preferable to
forgo the mitzva d'oraita of shofar rather than to hear the shofar in a
shul with no mechitza.  After all, while there are clearly halachic
considerations regarding the place that one ought to daven, what is the
actual issur involved in praying in a mechitza-less shul?  Is there the
same level of issur, for instance, in praying in an impromptu minyan at
a wedding, for example, with women walking by and sometimes through the
minyan?  It seems a stretch to say that there is Torah prohibition
against fulfilling the Rabbinic requirement of prayer in a place with no
mechitza, especially since the textual support for the concept of
mechitza (from the ezrat nashim) can be faulted for lack of parallelism.

Lest anyone misinterpret my point, let me make clear that I am not
arguing against the mechitza!  It is axiomatic that it is required.  My
point is that this famous psak of the Rav was issued in a sha'at
had'chak - as is described in the book The Sanctity of the Synagogue,
American Orthodoxy was in decline, many Orthodox communities were in
demographic decay, and their shuls were being made mechitza-less by
memberships decreasingly committed to halacha.  The Rav, in a bold
public policy move, drew a line in the sand, and in doing so, gave
tremendous chizuk to the halachically committed.  The conditional
approval for YU-ordained rabbis to take posts at mechitza-less shuls
(with, I understand, a time limit on such a position, within which the
shul needed to commit to installing a mechitza) is another example of
the Rav's halachic response to the pressing need of that time.

In any event, I think it is unwise if not flat-out wrong to extend this
psak to circumstances to which it was not initially addressed -
certainly, non-denominational prayer rooms in hospitals, airports,
etc. can hardly be viewed as falling under the purview of the ruling.

Frankly, and I would be very interested in reading others' thoughts on
this, given the strong and established presence of Orthodoxy in 2005, I
am not sure that this psak even applies any more.



From: Ira L. Jacobson <laser@...>
Date: Thu, 17 Nov 2005 14:46:43 +0200
Subject: Re: Grammatical question

Asher Grossman stated the following on Thu, 10 Nov 2005 01:52:58 -0500:

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.

Rather than detail the reasoning, I wish to state that "birkat" (with a
dagesh qal) is an exception to the rule.  The rule is demonstrated by
nedava, which gives nidvat (singular semikhut) and nidvot (plural
semikhut).  Thus, "birkhot" (kaf rafa) is correct and in accordance with
the rule.

See "Lu'ah Hashemot Hashalem," paragraph 138, note.

IRA L. JACOBSON         


From: Dr. Josh Backon <backon@...>
Date: Thu, 17 Nov 2005 16:07:31
Subject: Ibn Ezra

The MAHARSHA"L in his Yam Shel Shlomo commentary on Bava Kamma
(introduction) gives a scathing attack on the Ibn Ezra placing him in
the category of Apikorus. I have seen other Acharonim also banning the
study of the Ibn Ezra for the same reason.

Josh Backon


From: Shalom Carmy <carmy@...>
Date: Thu, 17 Nov 2005 09:18:17 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Ibn Ezra - ve-hakena`ani az ba-aretz

Mark Steiner writes:

> Anyone who would like to attribute to Ibn Ezra the view that this verse
> was written much later than the period of Moshe, at a time when the
> Canaanites were no longer in the land, will have to contend with the
> following remark by the same Ibn Ezra, to Gen 36:31, where it says,
> similarly: These are the kings who reigned in Edom, before there was a
> king of Israel:

See also Ibn Ezra Bemidbar 21 on the Canaanite king of Arad.

From: Ben Katz <bkatz@...>
Date: Thu, 17 Nov 2005 11:48:04 -0600
Subject: RE: Ibn Ezra - ve-hakena`ani az ba-aretz

         Dr. Steiner raises a well known issue with Ibn Ezra, viz. how
can he hint at several phrases in the Chumash being written after
Moshe's time and yet severely criticize Yitzchaki for saying the same
thing.  (BTW, Rav Yehudah Hachasid also stated that the section begining
with Gen. 36:31 was a later insertion into the Torah, in his Torah
commentary that was published by I Lange [an Orthodox scholar
fromEurope] in 1975.  As you might expect this led to some controversy,
including a teshuvah from Rav Moshe Feinstein and a second, expurgated
copy of the Torah Commentary being published.  See my article in Jewish
Bible Quarterly 1997;25:23-30.  Louis Jacobs has written about this in
his book We Still Have Reason to Believe and SZ Lieman has lectured
about this topic as well, as I hinted at in my previous original

         The answer usually given is that IE had no problem with small
phrases being inserted into the Torah, but not a whole section (except
for the last perek of Devarim, but one could argue that there the Talmud
already had a tradition that that whole section was inserted by
Yehoshua; IE just modified that view by stating that the section
comprised 12 verses, not 8).

Ben Z. Katz, M.D.
e-mail: <bkatz@...>


From: Yisrael Dubitsky <Yidubitsky@...>
Date: Wed, 16 Nov 2005 19:17:21 -0500
Subject: Shimshai

Another question for the learned member of MJ:

I wonder if anyone here can offer suggestions as to how/why Shimshai the
scribe (Ezra 4:8ff) "became" Haman's son in Esther Rabbah, petihta 5
(and Midrash Abba Gurion 6) and quoted therefrom in "Rashi" at Ezra
4:8. [I put Rashi in quotes there bec it is fairly well established that
the commentary in Ezra attributed to Rashi is not his. But even were
that not so, one may suggest that that part of the perush was tacked on
to the rest of the perush in the pasuk. That Rashi did not "learn"(/have
in front of him?)  that Esther Rabbah is evident from his comments --
lacking any familial relationship between Shimshai and Haman -- at Est
9:10 as well as in Meg 16a, in both of which places such a reference
would be expected. (I write this even though I am aware that Ratner in
his ed of Seder Olam ch. 29, n.  20 cites R. Bahya as well as
R. S. Alkabetz citing Rashi to just those places where it seems they had
a version of Rashi with the Shimshai relationship spelled out. It is
possible, but not yet convincingly proven, that Rashi had a different
version of Seder Olam than we have.)]

I can understand why a scribe from Ezra's time would be *associated*
with Haman (even if this is not spelled out in Tanakh); I don't see the
"need" or the justification for making him a son -- especially since we
have a whole list of sons in Est 9 named explicitly and Shimshai is not
even close to those names. I have always assumed there is, and often can
find, a certain logic [i.e. explanation] to midrashic name derivations
or associations. Basically, I am asking here for such a logic.

Yisrael Dubitsky


From: <fs@...> (Frank Silbermann)
Date: Thu, 17 Nov 2005 08:55:33 -0600 (CST)
Subject: Wearing jackets to for prayer

When I said that requiring a jacket and tie to pray on weekdays is hard
on the poor, I did not have in mind someone who couldn't afford a jacket
(you can give him one).  Instead of saying "the poor" I rather should
have said "blue-collar workers" -- who would have to change clothes
several times a day to pray, sometimes on the employer's clock.

I wonder whether those trying to require jackets and ties for prayer are
revealing a prejudice against blue collar work, perhaps feeling that
dirty or greasy labor is "no kind of job for a nice Jewish boy."

If a Jew is an automechanic whose garage is near a shul, should he not
pray with a minyan?  Should he have to suffer the embarassment of being
the only person not wearing a suit?

Make all the rules you like about Shabbas and Yom Tov, but don't require
people to dress up on weekdays.

Frank Silbermann	Memphis, Tennessee


From: Akiva Miller <kennethgmiller@...>
Date: Thu, 17 Nov 2005 13:00:09 GMT
Subject: Re: Wearing jackets to shul

David Mescheloff wrote of the time he spent <<< for three days to help
with the salvaging of whatever could be saved >>> in Gush Katif.

He writes <<< I went in my work jeans and a long-sleeved worn-out white
work shirt (I am, deep at heart, a simple Israeli farmer and maintenance
man, ... I rather hope that the [Heavenly] tribunal will look kindly on
the brief drasha I gave, incognito in my dirty work clothes, from the
bare bima after mincha on the second day... >>>

I disagree. "Incognito" is the wrong word. "Dirty work clothes"? I think

Rather, I expect that they're looking at your *uniform* with pride,
"shepping nachas" at your dedication and efforts. I, for one, thank you
and salute you.

The whole thrust of the previous discussion, I think, was that one must
have a sense of what is appropriate attire for each situation. What is
proper for a January shul-goer in Brooklyn is not necessarily proper for
a July soldier in Iraq, and the same goes for many other circumstances.

Akiva Miller


End of Volume 50 Issue 9