Volume 50 Number 59
                    Produced: Thu Dec 15  6:28:54 EST 2005

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

         [Meir Wise]
Aramaic Today
         [Nathan Lamm]
Death Penalty
         [Ari Trachtenberg]
"Minor" Holiday
         [Martin Stern]
Philadelphia Wedding
         [Nathan Lamm]
Tides (was Licensed tour guide?)
         [Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz]
TV News
         [Bernard Raab]
Women Writing a Sefer Torah (2)
         [Ben Katz, Dr. Josh Backon]


From: <Meirhwise@...> (Meir Wise)
Date: Thu, 15 Dec 2005 06:08:32 EST
Subject: Re: Aramaic

I was taught Aramaic by Rabbi Dr Irving Jacobs who was Principal of Jews
College, London and Prof Marc Geller of University College. There is
only one kamatz in Aramaic however this does not affect the
pronunciation - the ashkenazim will pronounce o and the sefardim a in
all cases. If you look in the Machzor of the Spanish and Portuguese Jews
of London - you will see the title in English Kal Nidrei - not kol

The titles for parents are changing with more "mixed" ie Israeli chutz
la'aretz marriages.  I called my English-born parents Dad and Mum and
therefore felt comfortable calling my Israeli in-laws abba and ima
(unless i was being formal in which case I refer to him as Mori Chami)
Having become a Zeide at 47- I prefer Zeide to Grandpa although both
sound old! My Israeli wife prefers Grandma!  The baby has a Saba & Savta
in Jerusalem so in this way each of us has a different title and avoids
confusing (we hope).


From: Nathan Lamm <nelamm18@...>
Date: Wed, 14 Dec 2005 12:34:16 -0800 (PST)
Subject: Aramaic Today

Aliza Berger wonders if we can turn to Kurdish Jews for Aramaic
pronounciation. I hope so, but also note that Iraqi Christians
(Assyrians/Chaldeans) speak Aramaic to this day, and Yemenites have
always used it liturgically, saying the Targum along with the Torah and
Haftorah in shul.


From: Ari Trachtenberg <trachten@...>
Date: Wed, 14 Dec 2005 15:45:12 -0500
Subject: Death Penalty

The recent execution of Stanley Williams brings up some interesting
halachic questions.  May a Jew serve in a [secular] jury (or
prosecution) where the death penalty is an option?  How about if the
defendant is a Jew?

It would seem that this would center on whether a court's decision is
halachically considered murder if not supported by a bet din.  I'd be
interested to hear what people know of this issue.

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


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Thu, 15 Dec 2005 11:25:23 +0000
Subject: "Minor" Holiday

on 15/12/05 10:43 am, Daniel Werlin <dwerlin06@...> wrote:

> Further Chanukah is not d'oraita [Biblical] and is, I believe,
> mentioned only 5 times in the Mishnah, and then only in passing.  It's
> not until Megilat Taanit and the Gemarah that Chanukah gets full
> treatment.

Megilat Taanit was composed during the time of the Bayit Sheini and so
is an earlier work than the Mishnah.

Martin Stern


From: Nathan Lamm <nelamm18@...>
Date: Wed, 14 Dec 2005 12:22:08 -0800 (PST)
Subject: Philadelphia Wedding

> There was no rabbi in Philadelphia at the time, and rabbinic duties
> were performed by the hazan, the Rev.  Gershom Mednes Seixas...

It should be pointed out that contemporary accounts demonstrate that
Rev. Seixas was very well versed in halakha (he was simply lacking
formal semikha, but was the Rav for all intents and purposes) and would
not have performed the wedding. We know, for example, that he dealt with
questions of Kehunah on a regular basis.

> Perhaps the couple was already married, and the woman then converted,
> and the Jewish marriage was important to achieving or preserving that
> conversion and the husband's continued Jewishness.

That would be negated by the title "Almanah" given to her. One wonders
if her first husband was Jewish or not.

In any event, thanks to Richard Dine's wife, we now have the facts. Well


From: Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz <sabba.hillel@...>
Date: Wed, 14 Dec 2005 10:43:59 -0800 (PST)
Subject: Re: Tides (was Licensed tour guide?)

> From: Irwin Weiss <irwin@...>
> Shmuel Himelstein, in vol 50 #52, writes about a tour guide giving
> wrong information on a tour.  I suspect that this is not so uncommon
> on all tours of whatever nature.  We were on a tour once in Canada and
> the guide commented that the water level in some lake was very high
> because it was "New Moon".  Well, I don't know the science of why a
> new moon would make the water level high or low, or not effect it, but
> I did know that Rosh Chodesh was 10 days earlier.  Irwin Weiss
> Baltimore, MD

Interestingly enough, the tide was just after the low point and

The tide is highest at the new moon (rosh chodesh) because the moon and
the sun are on the same side of the earth pulling the water. The full
moon (the 15th of the month) is higher because the sun and the moon on
opposite sides pull the solid mass of the Earthe away from the water on
the opposite side.  Thus halfway in between would be the low points of
the tide.


Spring tides are especially strong tides (they do not have anything to
do with the season Spring). They occur when the Earth, the Sun, and the
Moon are in a line. The gravitational forces of the Moon and the Sun
both contribute to the tides. Spring tides occur during the full moon
and the new moon.

Neap tides are especially weak tides. They occur when the gravitational
forces of the Moon and the Sun are perpendicular to one another (with
respect to the Earth). Neap tides occur during quarter moons. 

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


From: Bernard Raab <beraab@...>
Date: Wed, 14 Dec 2005 21:42:00 -0500
Subject: TV News

>From: Frank Silbermann:
>Let me be a bit more precise.  I believe most of our newsmen are soft
>left-leaning _moderates_.  That's why beliefs springing from the
>hard-left takes a while to reach them.  Beliefs filter across the
>political spectrum slowly, much as once-radical fashions in clothing
>slowly travel from Greenwich Village to the Upper East Side, then to
>Queens and New Jersey, and only very much later to places like Wyoming
>and Utah.
>Our moderate liberal newsmen get their ideas from liberal political
>activists and from (further-left) European newsmen.  Liberal political
>activists and European newsmen get their ideas from leftist university
>professors (many of whom openly admit to being Marxists).  Marxists get
>their ideas from their political parties, who supported the Soviet Union
>in the past, and who today seek the votes of the anti-Jewish and
>anti-Israel Muslim immigrants.  As with fashions in clothing, it takes
>time for fashions in political ideas to propagate.

So if I understand Frank correctly, it has taken this long for Marxist
ideas to filter accross the ocean and to infect our news media. Of
course, the fact that Marxism has been discredited and abandoned in most
of the world, both politically and economically, will take an equally
long time to propagate to these isolated shores. It's not too reassuring
to know that we are so far behind the times here in the US and are
incapable of developing our own ideas but must wait for instructions
from abroad, and they take so infernally long to cross the ocean. And
the Europeans who complain about excessive American influence in their
affairs and their culture must have it totally backwards. You have to
wonder why the world leaders and media moguls don't just subscribe to
Mail Jewish and get the latest thinking every day!

> > Eventually, the liberal bias to favor the downtrodden and the underdog
> > reversed this to favor the Arabs.
>On the global level, Israel _is_ the underdog.  The Palestinians are
>downtrodden more by other Arabs (particularly by other Palestinians)
>than by Israel.  Our news media has never made a big deal about
>underdogs downtrodden by the Left and its allies.  "Favoring the
>downtrodden and the underdog" is just propaganda to justify a decision
>made for other reasons.

Of course "favoring the downtrodden and the underdog" is NOT an
explanation the media can use. That would be evidence of bias. It was
offered as my explanation so it cannot be propaganda since it is not
being propagated. And nobody but Galut Jews still regard Israel as the
world's underdog.

> > As for the "_hated_ United States", are we now talking about the Arab
>   media?
>No, I'm talking about the European media.  Their hatred for the United
>States adds to their hatred of Israel.
>When I say that European newsmen hate the U.S., I don't mean that they
>hate the soil of America, nor do they hate American self-haters (such as
>Michael Moore and Noam Chomsky).
>I mean only that they hate the great many Americans who cling to a
>two-hundred and fifty year-old political philosophy that rejects the
>coming of Marx and socialism.  This is analogous to the medieval hatred
>of Jews who refused to accept Nazarene religious innovations.

Now I am really confused. Just 3 paragraphs ago you were complaining
that the US media are infested with Marxist philoshophy, and now you
seem to be saying that we are hated by Europeans because we have
rejected Marxism. Is it possible that you are just a little too obsessed
with this archaic and rejected philosophy as an all-purpose explanation
for current events?

b'shalom--Bernie R.


From: Ben Katz <bkatz@...>
Date: Wed, 14 Dec 2005 14:35:53 -0600
Subject: Re: Women Writing a Sefer Torah

>From: A.J. Hyman <ajhyman@...>
>If the main point of the commandment is to fulfill the mitzvah of Torah
>study, since women are exempt from the obligation to study the Torah
>they would be exempt as well from the commandment to write a Sefer

         I believe at most this exempts women from oral Torah, not
written Torah, so the command to write a sefer Torah would still seem to
apply to women.

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@...>

From: Dr. Josh Backon <backon@...>
Date: Wed, 14 Dec 2005 20:28:03
Subject: Women Writing a Sefer Torah

Although a Sefer Torah written by a woman is passul (invalid) [Shulchan
Aruch YOREH DEAH 281:3; gemara in Gittin 45b; Rambam Hilchot Tefillin
1:13], there may be a requirement for her to write one (for study, not
for use in a shul) [See: Pitchei Tshuva YD 270 s"k 2 quoting a teshuva
of the Shaagat Aryeh 35; Aruch haShulchan YD 270 # 5; Minchat Chinuch
613 # 9]. Needless to say, the Sefer Torah she writes has no DIN of a
Sefer Torah (Minchat Chinuch 613 #9).

What's curious is that the SHACH YD 281 s"k 6 mentions that the DRISHA
on TUR YD 281 indicates that from the language of the RIF, ROSH and TUR,
only tefillin are invalid if written by a woman but not a sefer Torah
but the SHACH dismisses this. Since the TUR YD 281 is so short (a few
lines) I simply can't understand from where the DRISHA get this.

Kol Tuv


End of Volume 50 Issue 59