Volume 50 Number 14
                    Produced: Wed Nov 23  5:19:04 EST 2005

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Comparative Linguistics (was: Cover)
         [Frank Silbermann]
Ibn Ezra (2)
         [Mark Steiner, David Riceman]
         [Harold Greenberg]
Mesira and Sanitation
         [Orrin Tilevitz]
Og Melech HaBashan (3)
         [Frank Silbermann, Lisa Liel, Asher Grossman]
One-handle water faucets on Shabbat
         [Barry Wolfson]
Sefardic-Ashkenazic Breaks in Torah Reading
         [Russell J Hendel]
Tearing Shirt in Gaza
         [Shoshana L. Boublil]
Wearing jackets to shul
         [Seth Kadish]
Yeridat Hadorot (2)
         [Seth Kadish, Ben Katz]


From: Frank Silbermann <fs@...>
Date: Tue, 22 Nov 2005 08:48:54 -0600 (CST)
Subject: Comparative Linguistics (was: Cover)

Ben Katz <bkatz@...> V50 N10:
>> it is best when data are approached without preconceived notions

Yehoshua Steinberg V50 N11:
> Which advice would be well directed to academic linguists who ceratinly
> seem to go to great lengths to avoid any Hebrew influences on Western
> languages.
>...(examples of conceivable Hebrew-English cognates given)...
> At the very least I'd like to know why sources such as these are
> rejected out-of hand without so much as mention in passing.

As I see it, the speculations of comparative linquistics are considered
weak when all they have to go on are a few isolated roots or word
endings (e.g., when trying to compare Asian with Native American

The hypothesis of a language relationship is strongest when one can cite
a whole list of words whose sound shifts from one language to another
show some regularity (eg. "Pfeffer<->paper, Pfund<->pound,
Pfennig<->penny).  Also important is whether presumed common roots
appear in words that a pre-schooler might know.  (The words used by
small children are the ones least vulnerable to replacement by
foreign-language borrowings.)

Frank Silbermann	Memphis, Tennessee


From: Mark Steiner <marksa@...>
Date: Tue, 22 Nov 2005 14:07:43 +0200
Subject: RE: Ibn Ezra

>See also Ibn Ezra Bemidbar 21 on the Canaanite king of Arad. (Shalom Carmy)

>Even more amazing than the IE on this verse is that Abravanel harshly
>castigates the Ramban (of all people) for writing (although it is not
>in our texts of the Ramban) that this whole section of the Torah was
>written later! (Ben Katz)

	I don't understand what is "amazing" about the IE on the
verse--he denies flatly that the verse was written later than the time
of Moshe, and offers an alternative pshat.

	Add to this the comment of the IE that I originally quoted, that
a book arguing that Biblical material was written in the time of
Yehoshaphat should be burned.

	Do you think that a man who could burn a book saying that a
whole parsha of the Torah was written later, would likely hold that, on
the other hand, a single verse might be written later?

	I think the most plausible reading then of IE's comment on the
verse (ve-hakena`ani az ba-aretz) that there is a "sod" here, is that to
understand how a verse in the Torah could take a position from a future
point of view, requires a mystical approach to the Nature of the
Almighty.  The word "sod" appears in IE's commentaries at least 163
times, and my intitial look at the (highly mystical) trend of IE's
thinking persuades me that the "contradiction" in IE's views about the
authorship of the Torah is a pseudo problem.

From: David Riceman <driceman@...>
Date: Tue, 22 Nov 2005 09:13:49 -0500
Subject: Ibn Ezra

<<Who gives an acharon the right to declare a rishon an apikorus.>>

I don't think the Maharshal thought of himself as an aharon.

David Riceman


From: Harold Greenberg <harold.greenberg@...>
Date: Tue, 22 Nov 2005 15:04:46 +0200
Subject: Ketuba

I am confused by some of the comments re the ketuba.  For instance
"... it basically renders the husband's monetary obligation
uncollectible in case of divorce."

At some of the many Israeli weddings which I have attended I have heard
a large shekel amount read out, linked to the Israel consumer price
index.  There is no question in my mind that here is a valid,
enforceable contract.

However, consider my marriage to my wife years ago in the Province of
Ontario.  I was not explained what the document contained.  I did not
sign it - it was signed by the officiating rabbi and 2 witnesses.  I had
no idea of the value of 200 zuzim then, and 200 zuzim now. I doubt if it
was an enforceable contract under civil law.  I considered it a moral
obligation among my bride, myself and the Almighty.

Outside of Israel, what are we talking about?  A moral obligation if a
bet din says "Pay" or a contract enforceable under civil law?  Or
perhaps both? Does anyone know of a ketuba that was enforced by a
government in the USA or Canada?

 Harold  Zvi Greenberg
 Eilat, Israel


From: Orrin Tilevitz <tilevitzo@...>
Date: Mon, 21 Nov 2005 12:22:19 -0800 (PST)
Subject: Mesira and Sanitation

The issue of the permissibility of mesira (turning a Jew into
governmental (?) authorities) has come up periodically in this list,
most recently in relation to child abuse (where the response seems to
have been that it's required) and building violations (where the
response was mixed).  I'd be interested in a response to the following:

A local resident, a Jew, is a scofflaw.  Among other things, the
sidewalk in front of his property is strewn with trash and dead leaves.
In addition to being unsightly, when this stuff gets wet, it's slippery,
and the area has many old people.  It also attracts rats.  Municipal
rules require a property owner to clean up, but most of the time the
rule is enforced only if someone complains, in which case the offender
gets a ticket and a fine.  In the past, this resident has cleaned up
only when he got a ticket.

Questions: (1) What is a Jew who sees this suppose d to do?  The logical
choices seem to be (a) call the authorities, on the ground perhaps of
"lo tuchal lehit'alem; (b) do nothing, because it is mesira and
therefore forbidden, or (c) clean it up himself.  (2) If the prohibition
of mesira specifically forbids turning a Jew into a non-Jewish (as
opposed to secular) governmental authority, how does it apply where the
head of the government is Jewish (e.g., New York City)?

Incidentally, the local posek seems to think that turning a Jew into the
authorities is forbidden in all cases, sakana included.


From: Frank Silbermann <fs@...>
Date: Tue, 22 Nov 2005 08:28:48 -0600 (CST)
Subject: Og Melech HaBashan

Martin Dauber <mhdauber@...> V50 N11:

> We know that Og held on to the Taivah (ark) of Noach in the year 1656.
> Og also was encountered by Avraham Avinu (approx 2047).  Moshe Rabeinu
> then defeated Og and the Bashanites (Bashanians?) in the years
> surrounding the exodus ( circa. 2450).

Would this be the first example of a person gaining salvation
by "clinging to the coat-tails of a tzaddik"?

Frank Silbermann	Memphis, Tennessee

From: Lisa Liel <lisa@...>
Date: Tue, 22 Nov 2005 12:51:21 -0500
Subject: Re: Og Melech HaBashan

Og was real, but the only one of those three items you mention that we
"know" is the defeat of Og by Moshe Rabbenu.  The other two are
midrashim which may or may not be literally true.


From: Asher Grossman <asherg@...>
Date: Tue, 22 Nov 2005 23:53:25 -0500
Subject: Re: Og Melech HaBashan

I don't know of any record for Og's age at death, but it should be easy
to figure out: The mabul was in the year 1656, Og was killed in the
final year of Am Yisrael's wandering in the desert, which was 2488,
which is 832 years later. As Og was the last of the "Nephillim", which
are mentioned at the end of Parshat Noach, we should predate Og's birth
by at least 100 years to the Mabul, (the age of Shem at the time of the
Mabul).  Thus he would have been at least 932 years old at the time he
was killed, perhaps older, and could have exceeded Metushelach's life

Was he "real"? I don't understand the question. Was Bilam "real"? Was
Pharoh "real"? For that matter, if you can ask that question, was
Avraham Avinu or Adam HaRishon "real"? The Torah tells us he existed,
that he had a long lifespan, that Moshe Rabeinu killed him, and even
points out that his bed was 9 cubits long, made of steel, and could be
found in Rabat Bnei Amon. How much more "real" can you get?

Asher Grossman


From: Barry Wolfson <mailcenter123@...>
Date: Sun, 20 Nov 2005 11:52:54 -0800 (PST)
Subject: One-handle water faucets on Shabbat

I was a little intrigued by the discussion of One-handle water faucets
on Shabbat started by L.  Aharoni vol.42 #96.  I found it amazing how
many people tried to come up with so many solutions, some of which I
might add seemed a bit far fetched.  It seems like (I didn't read every
last submission on the matter) A. Marks vol. 43 #28 came up with a very
simple and good solution - just shut off the hot water beneath the sink.
There may be a yet even simpler solution (I am guessing somewhat here)
along the lines of "much ado about nothing".  A. Berger vol 43 #27
wondered why there is a problem at all if it is clear which direction is
hot and which is cold.  

My educated guess is that she is probably right most of the time.  To
explain, one need simply go back to the original submission mentioned
above.  To quote "unless the handle is pushed to the extreme position,
some hot water is mixed in."  The obvious question which nobody seems to
have asked is, what if the handle is pushed all the way (usually it is)
to the right, does any hot water get mixed in?  To test this one simply
need follow the procedure suggested by A. Marks except shut off the
cold, not the hot, water beneath the sink and turn on the faucet to the
right.  If no water comes out then there shouldn't be a problem.  No hot
water is getting mixed in.  The reason I commented above about an
educated guess, is that I, on two very different occasions actually
performed the above test.

So, you want to know what happened!  O.K. here it is: I can state
unequivocally beyond any doubt that absolutely no water came out.

  The only other issue I can see, is that in households with smaller
children (like mine) they tend to be less careful when turning on the
water and the handle on occasion is not in the extereme right position.
This of course is a somewhat different halachik issue.

B. Wolfson


From: Russell J Hendel <rjhendel@...>
Date: Sat, 19 Nov 2005 19:17:59 -0500
Subject: RE: Sefardic-Ashkenazic Breaks in Torah Reading

I had some spare time this Shabbos and heard an extra leining in a
Sefardic shule. I was a bit surprised to hear different stops (There
isnt that much room too change, I thought).

I can conceptualize the difference: In CaYay Sarah Ashkenazim, on Mon
Thur, stop at verses indicating "ABRAHAM BOWED". Apparently the BOW is a
thank you meaning he obtained what he wanted.

But the Sefardim stop before verses where Abraham is called MY LORD:
Apparently this is a sign of respect and is a good place to begin.

Of course everyone stops at the Shayni for Shabbas leining.

This fascinated me: I was wondering if anyone a) Knows a source
discussing this b) if not, knows other examples where differences can be
conceptually differentiated.

Russell Jay Hendel; http://www.Rashiyomi.com/


From: <SPOOCH81@...>
Date: Tue, 22 Nov 2005 08:08:31 EST
Subject: Shechita

Can someone please explain the difference between the sefardic and
ashkenazic customs of performing shechita? And are ashkenazim permitted
to eat sefardic shechita? Thank you.


From: Shoshana L. Boublil <toramada@...>
Date: Sun, 20 Nov 2005 12:14:14 +0200
Subject: Re: Tearing Shirt in Gaza

> From: <DTnLA@...> (Dov Teichman)
> Many people during the evacuation/disengagement from Gaza tore their
> clothes and said the brocha of Dayan HoEmes.  Was there an official
> psak that this was a valid occasion to make this brocha with hashem's
> name?

There is a Halacha that you do Kri'a over a city in Israel that is

In Yamit, Rav Neriya ZT"L and Rav Ariel Shlit"a instructed the bochurim
to do Kri'a before they were forceably removed from the Yeshiva, and
they did so themselves.

Shoshana L. Boublil


From: Seth Kadish <skadish@...>
Date: Tue, 22 Nov 2005 14:50:19 +0200
Subject: Wearing jackets to shul

Reading the back-and-forth on this whole thing has reminded me how
grateful I need to be, Barukh Hashem, to live among religious Zionist
Israelis. I don't even own a proper jacket anymore.

Seth (Avi) Kadish
Karmiel, Israel


From: Seth Kadish <skadish@...>
Date: Tue, 22 Nov 2005 14:42:59 +0200
Subject: Yeridat Hadorot

Responding to Bill Bernstein, you will probably enjoy reading:

Menachem Kellner, Maimonides on the "Decline of the Generations" and the
Nature of Rabbinic Authority (SUNY Press, 1996).

Seth (Avi) Kadish
Karmiel, Israel

From: Ben Katz <bkatz@...>
Date: Tue, 22 Nov 2005 11:10:01 -0600
Subject: Re: Yeridat Hadorot

>From: Bill Bernstein <billbernstein@...>
>One of the very commonly held beliefs in the Orthodox world is the idea
>of yeridos hadoros, that generations decline in terms of their knowledge
>and spirituality.  I am curious what the source of this belief is and
>where it is applied.  Some statements and facts seem to contradict this
>in some specific examples.  Is the statement applicable only to rabbis
>or does it encompass all of klal Yisroel?

         The Rambam didn't believe in yeridat hadorot.  Menachem Kellner 
wrote a small book about this.

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 50 Issue 14