Volume 50 Number 35
                    Produced: Thu Dec  1  5:37:17 EST 2005

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Adult vs. Child Epidemiology in Shul
         [Leah S. Gordon]
Celebrating Thanksgiving
         [Bernard Raab]
         [Nathan Lamm]
Going to shul with a cold or flu (2)
         [Carl A. Singer, Stephen Phillips]
Hebrew source of English words (5)
         [Saul Davis, Reuben Rudman, David Charlap, Ari Trachtenberg,
Yehoshua Steinberg]
Kohein marrying Convert
         [Stephen Phillips]


From: Leah S. Gordon <leah@...>
Date: Wed, 30 Nov 2005 02:58:10 -0800
Subject: Adult vs. Child Epidemiology in Shul

Rise Goldstein wrote:
>little kid.  To wit: most reasonably normal adults have some sensitivity
>to the need to practice reasonable infection control, and generally have
>the knowledge and skills needed to do it.  That is, they are capable of
>and attentive to careful handwashing, covering mouths when coughing, not
>shaking hands, and generally respecting interpersonal space and
>boundaries, especially when they know or suspect that they are

With all due respect - are you kidding?  I don't know what shuls you
frequent, but I have seen dozens and dozens of adults who are
coughing/sneezing up a storm and shake hands (or offer to shake hands,
creating discomfort) with people and even try to hug/kiss friends at
shul.  Not to mention grabbing food at kiddush without any attention to
what they touch.  And, the number of times that I have seen anyone wash
hands properly (*) at shul (e.g. in the bathroom) is vanishingly small.
(I get similar feedback about the hand-washing in the men's bathroom
from my husband.)

On the other hand, with children, you [as the adult] can say, "please
cover your mouth" or "please don't touch the cake" and avoid them
socially, or at least avoid shaking hands or touching them socially
(unless it's your own kid har-de-har-har).  Plus, they're shorter than
you and so will cough onto your clothed knees or whatever.

(*) As Rise no doubt knows, but others might not - the correct way to
wash hands includes enough soap and scrubbing, followed by using the
paper towel to turn off the faucet and then immediately (not touching it
again) throwing the paper towel away.

Carl Singer's idea to wash hands right when arriving home is a good one,
but even better would be washing before leaving shul (after all the
social contact is over).  Better still would be a move away from
universal hand-shaking etc.

--Leah S. R. Gordon


From: Bernard Raab <beraab@...>
Date: Thu, 01 Dec 2005 00:39:22 -0500
Subject: Celebrating Thanksgiving

> >From: Bernard Raab <beraab@...>
> >Actually, we do it because it is just a nice way to entertain a houseful
> >of family and friends when they are off from work and school and can
> >drive to you, so they don't have to spend the night and all of the next
> >day! And unlike Sunday, no regular events are scheduled, and the next
> >day is at least a semi-holiday also. The fact that it is not a specific
> >religious holiday makes it "kosher" of course, but it is NOT from
> >pressure to conform--those feelings are so 50's and 60's. The only
> >concession we make to the occasion is the inevitable weak joke about
> >saying "yaaleh v'yavo" at bentching.

After I described my first submission (above) to my wife, she scolded me
for not including one very germane reason for celebrating this holiday:
We are Americans no less than any others and this is a national hoiday
which commemorates an important event in American history. We should not
feel compelled to "explain" our observance in any other way. With all
the responses to this thread, nobody, including me, has seen fit to make
this point. Herewith, my addendum, with thanks to the first (and only)
Mrs. R.

b'shalom--Bernie R.


From: Nathan Lamm <nelamm18@...>
Date: Wed, 30 Nov 2005 03:12:24 -0800 (PST)
Subject: Ethanol

Rise Goldstein writes:

> Just beware that many of these [hand sanitizers] are ethanol based and
> therefore unlikely to work very well for Pesah."

It should be noted that according to many authorities, as they are not
food products, and certainly not edible, there's no problem using them
on Pesach.

Nachum Lamm


From: Carl A. Singer <casinger@...>
Date: Wed, 30 Nov 2005 05:55:31 -0500
Subject: Going to shul with a cold or flu

From: Stuart Pilichowski <cshmuel@...>
> Why am I annoyed at even the question? Isn't it basic human decency to
> stay home when sick? Period.

In that case should I, chas v'halilla, presume that the person who came
(comes) to shul coughing and sneezing does not have (even) "basic human
decency" ?  I believe it, like, "common sense" , may be a rare commodity
in certain circles.


From: Stephen Phillips <admin@...>
Date: Wed, 30 Nov 2005 11:28:29 +0000
Subject: Re: Going to shul with a cold or flu

> From: Stuart Pilichowski <cshmuel@...>
> Why am I annoyed at even the question? Isn't it basic human decency to
> stay home when sick? Period.

What about those Shuls which struggle to get a Minyan? It is quite
likely that in the winter months at any one time at least 1 or 2 members
are going to be down with a cold. Should we be asking all regular
attendees whether they will be Mochel anyone who has a cold in order to
sustain the Minyan?

Stephen Phillips


From: Saul Davis <saul.davis@...>
Date: Mon, 28 Nov 2005 23:26:59 +0200
Subject: Hebrew source of English words

Most academics are euro centric even and when it comes to etymology they
trace the origin of words to the Latin and Classical Greek or old
English and northern European languages only. Browse
http://www.etymonline.com/ or http://www.onelook.com/. It is not
difficult to see the origin of many words further back than these few
languages. Hebrew as the source of English words is not a theory for
Jews who need to think of ourselves as superior. There is a clear
connection between many words in major European languages (eg English)
and ancient Semitic languages (eg Hebrew). Words in English should be
traced back to the Middle-East and to their origins in earlier languages
and not just to Latin or Greek (or Sometimes Sanskrit). I am sorry to
disappoint but there is no great proof of the holiness English, rather
of the antiquity of a language like Hebrew and its influence on other
later cultures.

I have collected a few examples of words in English and Hebrew that are
so similar that there cannot be a coincidence: no and lo, eye and ayin,
halo (radiance of light) and hila (shining, see Eyov 29:3, 25:5 and
31:26 Yeshayahu 13:10 and 14:12) or yahalom (diamond a shiny stone),
sparrow (a type of bird) and tsipor (bird), mirror and mara, dye and dyo
(=ink), occur and qara (=happened), fall and nafal (nun often drops from
Hebrew verbs). These examples speak for themselves.  (Upshot and pshat
is awful, upshot is 2 seperate words, copacetic has nothing to do with
hakol beseder which is Modern Hebrew, sweater and svedder are connected
but svedder is a modern Hebrew invention (albeit from the same root, the
Greek sud (=sweat), a derivative is sudar (as in qinyan sudar) a garment
that keeps you warm, ie makes you sweat), as is hivrish (=he brushed)
which is similar to brush. The words being compared must be simple words
from the 2 ancient languages.)


From: Reuben Rudman <rudman@...>
Date: Tue, 29 Nov 2005 16:34:29 +0300
Subject: RE: Hebrew source of English words

At the end of Parshat Noach, we are told that HKB"H mixed up the
languages, including reversing the order of words.  My uncle collected
hundreds of Hebrew words which when read in reverse order gave a word
simliar to an English (European?) word with the same meaning.  This list
was published by him in a privately printed booklet.  Obvious examples
are "eim" and "ma" ; "av" and "pa".  Also "retev" and "vater".  This
theory does not follow modern rules of formal linguistics but is
nevertheless very interesting.  At the very least, compiling a list of
such words makes for an interesting way to pass the time.

Reuben Rudman                          

From: David Charlap <shamino@...>
Date: Tue, 29 Nov 2005 11:41:43 -0500
Subject: Re: Hebrew source of English words

I just read Mike Gerver's very interesting message.

I would just like to add, regarding the "eye vs. ayin" example, that the
similarity between the words fades rapidly if you know the Hebrew.

The letter ayin is not silent, even though Ashkenazim pronounce in that
way.  It is considered a "guttural" letter, to be pronounced at the back
of the throat (much like a reish or chaf.)  This is why proper names
beginning with an ayin have been translated into words beginning with a
"G".  For example, 'Amora becoming Gommora (as in "Sodom and ...")

Once you realize how the letter ayin is pronounced in some parts of the
world (like in Yemen) and that there is a great likelihood that this is
probably the oldest pronunciation for the letter, it becomes clear that
the pronunciation of the word "ayin" really isn't that similar to the
English "eye" at all.

People performing ad-hoc linguistic analyses really have to take into
account the fact that pronunciation of basic letters has changed over
the centuries.  The fact that there is a similarity in pronunciation
today does not necessarily mean that there was a similarity thousands of
years ago, when the words would have supposedly jumped cultures.

-- David

From: Ari Trachtenberg <trachten@...>
Date: Tue, 29 Nov 2005 10:33:59 -0500
Subject: Re: Hebrew source of English words

 > From: <MJGerver@...> (Mike Gerver)
 >English and Hebrew each have at least a few thousand short (two or three
 >consonants) words, i.e. an average of at least ten different words in
 >each category of meaning. For a two-consonant word in English, there is
 >roughly a 10% chance that one of the ten Hebrew words in the same meaning
 >category will have the same sound pattern as the English word, since
 >there are 100 different sound patterns. (I am ignoring the fact that some
 >of the sound patterns may be more common than others.) In the case of
 >three-consonant words in English, there is roughly a 1% chance that one
 >of the ten Hebrew words in the same meaning category will have the same
 >sound pattern as the English word, since there are 1000 different sound
 >patterns. If about half of the short words have two consonants, and half
 >have three consonants, then overall a few percent of the English words
 >will have corresponding Hebrew words with similar meaning and sound...

I appreciate the deep and insightful comments of Mike Gerver on the
expected commonality of Hebrew and English words, but I respectfully
submit that the back-of-the-envelope "statistical" calculation is not
very meaningful.

For one, a simple perusal of the standard Linux dictionary used by
various spellers (a total of 479,625 English-language words) shows a
total of 11,854 two-consonant words and 43,106 three-consonant words
(not including 'y' as a vowel).  This significantly skews the numbers
mentioned above, but it also demonstrates that the parenthetical comment
about ignoring commonality of sound patterns is, in fact, extremely
important to the calculation.

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

From: Yehoshua Steinberg <ysteinberg@...>
Date: Tue, 29 Nov 2005 16:55:39 -0500
Subject: RE: Hebrew source of English words

Thank you Mike, for that clear and detailed response. It does put some
things in perspective.

Another dictionary has been brought to my attention, which apparently is
widely respected: A Comprehensive Etymological Dictionary of the English
Language by Dr. Ernest Klein. This work has been incorporated as one of
the sources in the Online Etymological Dictionary and the author won the
Canada Prize for the book. I have only seen a few examples, but he seems
to incorporate Semitic sources that the establishment linguists had
previously ignored, including attributing to Arabic and Hebrew some of
the examples discussed in this thread previously. What's your opinion
about this book?

As far as the list of English words, it's quite interesting, but I'm not
quite clear on how you've concluded that the sets of words have
different origins.  I will comment on the Hebrew example, however:

>23. Hebrew malach (sailor) and melach (salt), even though both are
>spelled the same way, and even though "salt" is a slang word for sailor
>in English.

The commentators (e.g. Malbim Ez. 27:9) give plausible explanations for
sailors being called "malachim" (which surprisingly has nothing to do
with salt).  Why do you say these nouns derive from different sources.

And here is my sincere question once more: is it not presumptuous of
linguists to determine word meanings without even taking into account
the traditions of the native speakers of the language? And how much more
so when the subject is nothing but the sacred tongue of the People of
the Book itself, which the Jewish people have toiled over day and night
for millenia, just to understand nuances of the language and to pass on
the tradition with integrity? I ask the question humbly, but with
wonderment.  What am I missing?

Yehoshua Steinberg <ysteinberg@...>


From: Stephen Phillips <admin@...>
Date: Wed, 30 Nov 2005 12:04:40 +0000
Subject: Re: Kohein marrying Convert

> From: I. Balbin <isaac@...>
> On a related note, the issue of a Kohein marrying the daughter of a
> convert is less clear in that it would appear to not be prohibited
> although some say it is not advisable in that it "taints yichus" I have
> no idea how that issue is dealt with in practice today.

All I can say, from personal experience, is that if the mother is a Bas
Yisroel and the father a Ger, then the daughter may, LeChatchillah,
marry a Kohen. I think that also may be the case if it is the mother who
is a Giyores and the father a Ben Yisroel.

The problem is if both parents are Geirim; then I believe a Beis Din
wouldn't sanction the marriage.

Stephen Phillips


End of Volume 50 Issue 35