Volume 51 Number 02
                    Produced: Thu Jan 12  5:27:05 EST 2006

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

ATID Fellows 2006-07
         [R. Jeffrey Saks]
The Case against Upsherin (aka Upsheren, Upsherenish, etc.) (3)
         [Shoshana L. Boublil, Saul Davis, Bernard Raab]
Copy of Medan Amalek Article
         [Mark Symons]
Federations; was Who does represent Jews?
         [David Maslow]
Quotation Source
         [Yocheved and Rabbi Uri Cohen]
Saul Lieberman and the Orthodox
         [Marc Shapiro]
Tanach concordance for free
         [Shmuel Himelstein]


From: R. Jeffrey Saks <atid@...>
Date: Wed, 11 Jan 2006 09:29:50 +0200
Subject: ATID Fellows 2006-07

ATID FELLOWS 2006-07 / 5767
Now accepting applications for our 9th cycle
Are you the future of Jewish education?

ATID has been established in order to enable talented Orthodox men and
women, who have a rich background in Torah study, to develop the tools
to make informed decisions about the education of the next
generation. We have established ATID to help shape and develop the
future of educational leadership in our community.

These future leaders and visionaries will be the teachers and builders
of educational institutions, and the forces in setting the educational
agenda within the Jewish community in Israel and abroad.

In the coming academic year (starting September 2006) the ATID
Fellowship will again be comprised of a select number of people who have
shown early promise of taking roles as leaders for Torah education. The
Jerusalem-based in-service program consists of weekly seminars,
individual and group research projects and field work, and mentoring by
senior educators. Fellows are generally in the first 5-10 years of their
professional life, and have at least a BA (or equivalent).The fellowship
is awarded for two consecutive academic years, and the academic program
runs from September-June (inclusive). Each Fellow will receive a yearly
stipend of $3,500 (US).

We ask prospective Fellows to submit a CV (resume) before applying.
Qualified candidates will be invited to complete the application process
(the deadline for which is April 25, 2006). Send your CV by email to
<apply@...> (mailto:apply@atid.org) or by fax to 02-567-1723. (Be
sure to indicate your contact details, and date of birth.)

For more details on the ATID Fellows program, click here:
For details in Hebrew, click here: www.atid.org/hebrew/amitim.asp

Rabbi Chaim Brovender, President, ATID
Rabbi Jeffrey Saks, Director
Academy for Torah Initiatives and Directions 
9 HaNassi Street, Jerusalem 92188 Israel
Tel. 02-567-1719 * Fax 02-567-1723
<atid@...> * www.atid.org 


From: Shoshana L. Boublil <toramada@...>
Date: Wed, 11 Jan 2006 17:29:33 +0200
Subject: The Case against Upsherin (aka Upsheren, Upsherenish, etc.)

> From: <Phyllostac@...> (Mordechai)
> << From: Frank Silbermann <fs@...>
> > ......I am curious about those who have questioned and opposed this
> > practice.
> There is significant opposition to this custom among various gedolim and
> kehillos. I will attempt to give some background and explain their
> stance, since it seems that some people are not aware of it.

I will not address what was written in this post, except for the
reference to mustarbim and their minhag.

The "mustarbim" were the Jews who remained in Israel throughout the
ages.  When the Sephardi communities started coming to Israel, they
found them here, with many unique customs of their own.

I don't know if they are the source of this minhag, that I will mention,
or that they kept an ancient minhag.  Rav Gruzman, who researched the
minhag says the following (unfortunately, I don't have his sources or
where he printed the information):

The ancient minhag was to go on the 3rd birthday to Kever Shmuel HaNavi
(known now as Nebi Samuel by many), following the example of Chana who
brought Shmuel to the Temple on his 3rd birthday.

The hair cutting was a sign of coming of age, of wearing tzitzit and
starting schooling.

When it became impossible to go to Kever Shmuel HaNavi, someone (I don't
recall his lecture at this point) moved it to Kever Rashbi.

For those who are interested, there is now a kollel at Kever Shmuel
HaNavi, and they would be delighted to honor anyone who wants to have a
Se'udah there in honor of their son's 3rd birthday <g>.

Shoshana L. Boublil

From: Saul Davis <saul.davis@...>
Date: Wed, 11 Jan 2006 22:52:41 +0200
Subject: The Case against Upsherin (aka Upsheren, Upsherenish, etc.)

Yishar koah Mordechai for your explanation of upsherin. Here in
Beer-Sheva everyone seems to be doing it: Sephardim and Ashqenazim,
haredi and non-haredi. I would not be surprised to discover Jews here
who are mehalel shabbath but whose boys have no haircut until 3! My
wife, who is a developmental psychologist (ie of children 0 to 7), once
heard a sociological-anthropological explanation of this (so called)
minhag from Yoram Bilu (a professor of anthropology and psychology at
the Hebrew University of Jerusalem). This explanation was published in
his article entitled: "From Milah (Circumcision) to Milah (Word): Male
Identity and Rituals of Childhood in the Jewish Ultraorthodox Community"
(Ethos 31 (2): 172-203 published by the American Anthropological
Association in 2003). As Mordechai and others have suggested there is
little or no halakhic basis for the minhag and its popularity is
probably just social. The following are some quotes from the paper.

"Two disparate hair-related practices appear to have converged in the
haircutting ritual: the growing of ear-locks [payoth - s.d.] and the
shearing of the head hair. ... Ritual haircut, probably modeled on the
Muslim custom of shaving male children's hair in saints' sanctuaries,
was practiced by native Palestinian Jews (Musta'arbim) as early as the
Middle Ages. Rabbi Isaac Luria Ashkenazi, the 16th-century founder of
the celebrated Lurianic School of Kabbalah who assigned special mystical
value to the ear-locks, was instrumental in constituting the ritual in
its present form. The ritual remained primarily a Sephardi custom
following Luria, but in the last 200 years it became widespread among
East European Hasidim. From Palestine it spread to the Diaspora
communities, where it was usually celebrated in a more modest family

As in the rite of circumcision, and even more so, the ideal of gender
differentiation prevails in the ritual haircut. At age three, after the
biological, mother-supervised functions of weaning and sphincter control
have been achieved, the child is appropriated from the female world and
placed in the center of male territory. ... the first haircut at age
three is a powerful social statement that the permissive nongendered,
undersocialized period of early childhood, under the protective cover of
the mother, is over. The first haircut is viewed as the beginning of
the child's education, the first step in the all-encompassing, primarily
male world of the commandments and Torah.

Bilu asks why "In present-day Israel, the haircutting ritual is
ubiquitous among the ultraorthodox", and why "the powerful convergence
of the first haircutting and school ... . initiation ceremonies at age
three is a relatively recent phenomenon that reached its zenith in
present-day Jewish ultraorthodox communities in Israel"? His answer is
as follows:

The present-day purist and stringent voluntary ultraorthodox community
battles to defend its boundaries and reassert its values primarily
against the mainstream secular society amidst which it is uncomfortably
situated. In order to inoculate the children against the polluting
influence of the external world, they have to be placed as early as
possible in the guarded bastions of learning. This early timing of
identity imprinting, which occurs when the child is still deeply
engulfed in the domestic, female-governed milieu, perforce accentuates
the transition to the all-male world of study

Unlike Mordechai, Bilu stresses that there is a direct connection
between the upsherin and the other minhag that haredi fathers do with
their 3 year-old boys. At 3 a boy is introduced to heder and is shown
the value and beauty of the torah by eg licking the torah's letters
covered in honey. Mordechai wrote that "There is a very serious concern
that it's origins are from non-Jewish practice among certain cultures"
and thus should be assur as "hukath hagoy". Bilu notes that there are
other gender identity rituals in non-Jewish cultures that involve
haircutting: a Muslim ritual haircut, Buddhist pabbajja in northern
Thailand, Hindu Busakha in Nepal, and Hindu-Brahmin Ghudakarana. I
cannot help adding that mothers (and other female relatives as well as
some men) think that the little boy, with his long curly hair, is very
pretty. The popularity of the minhag may also be that it provides an
excuse to keep the beautiful curls.

I am sure some MLJ forumists will not like what I have written here and
will prefer to cling to this minhag as if it was halkha-lemoshe-miSinai
and tanaim and modern gedolim did it. All is not true and I can only
apologize to them. My son, Yahel Tsvee, was born 22 Iyar 5762 and had a
haircut about 2 years ago. If anyone is interested, they can email me
(saul.davis(at)gmail.com) and I will send Bilu's article (as a pdf

Saul Davis

From: Bernard Raab <beraab@...>
Date: Wed, 11 Jan 2006 14:07:19 -0500
Subject: The Case against Upsherin (aka Upsheren, Upsherenish, etc.)

>From: <Phyllostac@...> (Mordechai)
>There is significant opposition to this custom among various gedolim and
>kehillos. I will attempt to give some background and explain their
>stance, since it seems that some people are not aware of it.

Many thanks for this summary. I recently heard a lecture on the Jewish
Life-Cycle to a generally non-orthodox and some non-Jewish audience, in
which the lecturer went from Brit-milah or naming ceremony to the
"upsheren" ceremony as next event on the list, and followed by Bar- or
Bat-Mitzvah. There was no hint that these events are anythiing but
totally accepted on the same level of observance. The lecturer was a YU
faculty member.

It is my impression that this is becoming a more generally accepted
practice, under the assumption that if "they" do it, then it must be
right. Once again, Mail-Jewish to the rescue!

b'shalom--Bernie R.


From: Mark Symons <msymons@...>
Date: Wed, 11 Jan 2006 23:45:45 +1100
Subject: Copy of Medan Amalek Article

Does anyone have a copy of the article by Rav Y. Medan, "Amalek," in "Al
Derekh ha-Avot," the 50th anniversary publication of Herzog College?

Dr Mark S Symons M.B.B.S. F.R.A.N.Z.C.P.
General Adult Psychiatry
Caulfield North (Melbourne) VIC 3161 Australia


From: David Maslow <maslowd@...>
Date: Mon, 9 Jan 2006 16:03:39 -0500
Subject: Federations; was Who does represent Jews?

I want to concur with Jonathan Groner's request that Orthodox Jews not
assume that all community Federations are disinterested in the needs of
the Orthodox community.  In addition to the excellent example that he
gave of the current involvement of Orthodox men and women in the
Federation of the Greater Washington DC area, I want to point out that
even in communities with lesser levels of Orthodox presence among the
Federation leadership, there is almost always very significant financial
support of day schools, including those under Orthodox auspices.

It would be beneficial, both for the Orthodox community and the
community as a whole, for Orthodox Jews to become involved in their
local Federations rather than dismiss it.

David E. Maslow


From: Yocheved and Rabbi Uri Cohen <uriyo@...>
Date: Tue, 10 Jan 2006 12:09:39 -0800 (PST)
Subject: Re: Quotation Source

I found two alternate attributions, though no primary sources:

Barth is fond of quoting a conversation between Frederick the Great and
his personal physician, Zimmermann: "Zimmermann, can you name me a
single proof of the existence of God?" And Zimmermann replied, "Your
majesty, the Jews!"
-- Karl Barth, Dogmatics in Outline (trans. G. T.  Thompson; London:
SCM, 1949) 75.

The Protestant pastor, Christian Furchtegott Gellert, was asked by
Frederick the Great, "Herr Professor, give me proof of the Bible, but
briefly, for I have little time." Gellert answered, "Your Majesty, the
-- Abraham Joshua Heschel, "No Religion is an Island."


From: <shapirom2@...> (Marc Shapiro)
Date: Wed, 11 Jan 2006 23:25:38 -0500
Subject: Saul Lieberman and the Orthodox

The University of Scranton has just published my little book (really a
kuntres) "Saul Lieberman and the Orthodox." This is being distributed
free of charge to all members of the AJS in the United States. All
members who are interested in receiving a copy, please e-mail me. For
those who aren't members, you can order a copy by contacting the
University of Scranton Press at 570-941-4228, or by sending an e-mail to
<mecadonp1@...> I think the cost is $6

    Marc Shapiro
    U. of Scranton


From: Shmuel Himelstein <himels@...>
Date: Tue, 10 Jan 2006 15:48:25 +0200
Subject: Tanach concordance for free

As I may have mentioned years ago, one can get the whole Tanach with a
search function from www.crosswire.org. This is a Christian site, but you
can download just the engine and whatever other Tanach modules you want
in many different languages. It even has the JPS 1917 English version.
One warning: one of the "Hebrew" versions is obviously of a missionary
nature, as it includes (in Hebrew) the NT.

Shmuel Himelstein


End of Volume 51 Issue 2