Volume 51 Number 08
                    Produced: Sun Jan 22 10:49:39 EST 2006

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Advice of Yose ben Yochanan Ish Yerushalayim (2)
         [Tzvi Stein, Mark Steiner]
         [Leah S. Gordon]
The meaning of 'sic'
         [Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz]
Sexist Terminology (2)
         [Ben Katz, Janice Gelb]
"sic" - and a call for reason
         [R E Sternglantz]
sick of sic?  ;)
         [Leah S. Gordon]


From: Tzvi Stein <Tzvi.Stein@...>
Date: Tue, 17 Jan 2006 09:01:48 -0500
Subject: Re: Advice of Yose ben Yochanan Ish Yerushalayim

> From: Samuel Ehrenfeld <samfeld@...>
> Whatever you feel on subjects like these, please keep the following in
> mind when you post: Our posts may be read by many, many people, of both
> sexes.  Our posts may be read many, many years in the future.  Someone
> may come across one of our posts in a Google search (on a related or
> completely unrelated topic) tomorrow or 100 years from now and
> completely misunderstand your meaning.  Who knows how much damage can be
> caused (currently or in the unforeseeable future)?
> It behooves us all to choose our words carefully.  "Chachamim, hizaharu
> bedivreichem . . . ." ("Wise ones, be careful with your words . . . .")

I can certainly agree with the concept of choosing words carefully.
It's a good practice once you are done writing something to clear your
head, try to put yourself in the position of someone who hasn't been
thinking about the topic, and read it over, looking out for areas of
possible misinterpretation. This applies whether it's intended for 1
person or thousands.

However, I would hesitate to take this to the point of people "holding
back" on what they really think and feel.  The more honesty, the better
discussions and the more clarity will come out of it.  As far as Google
searches... I think that falls squarely into the matters that are really
in the hands of Hashem.  There's just no way we can accurately predict
what search terms people will type into Google years from now, for what
reason, and what will come up.

Considering what else is already out there on the internet, I think it's
safe to say that if someone's Google search leads to a mail-jewish
posting (duly reviewed by our tireless moderator of course), no matter
what the sentiments expressed in the posting, it is going to be better
for them to read that than whatever alternatives the search would have
led to.  There is no doubt in my mind that Google searches leading to
mail-jewish articles have contributed to the development of baalei
teshuva on multiple occasions.  We need to increase that more than hold

From: Mark Steiner <marksa@...>
Date: Tue, 17 Jan 2006 12:41:21 +0200
Subject: RE: Advice of Yose ben Yochanan Ish Yerushalayim

I would like to agree vigorously with Shmuel Ehrenfeld's warning to
posters to consider the possible effects on "outside" readers as well
(of course) as effects on members of the list itself) of our words.

Here is a story that illustrates the point.  Years ago, someone asked
whether it was permissible to buy Wordperfect (which was then owned by
devout Mormons who tithe their earnings to their church).  I answered by
stating the Mormonism may be avoda zara but that it seemed to me that
this would not prohibit the use of Wordperfect.  Within days I was
contacted by the Mormon church about this slander....

Mark Steiner


From: Leah S. Gordon <leah@...>
Date: Tue, 17 Jan 2006 13:10:21 -0800
Subject: Davening/Gender/Language

Tzvi Stein writes, in part:
>[he attended an Egalitarian service with some language changes
>that seemed jarring because of their gender-neutrality/adjustments]
>was quite distracting and jarring.  It seemed a bit ironic, because one
>would expect such a "non-traaditional" service to me more "accessible"
>than a traditional one and it seemed quite the contrary.

I would fully expect that it was distracting/jarring to you, since you
had never before (and judging from your Rabbi's response, never since)
gone to one of these services.  I doubt it was as distracting/jarring to
the regular crowd there, to whom highly-gendered texts might be more so.



From: Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz <Sabba.Hillel@...>
Date: Tue, 17 Jan 2006 19:35:35 -0500
Subject: Re: The meaning of 'sic'

> From: <Gevaryahu@...> (Gilad J. Gevaryahu)
> Leah S. Gordon MJv51n04 writes:
>>>Shoshana Ziskind writes:
>>>I find it very distressing to see a [sic] after a quote from our
>>>sages. In fact I only included it in the subject line since it was
>>>there before.

>>Perhaps I wasn't clear about using 'sic' after a quote.  I meant it in
>>the generally accepted meaning of the notation, i.e. short for 'sicut'
>>in the Latin, meaning 'it was just like this in the original quote
>>[whether or not I agree with it here]'.  This is not at all distressing;
>>why would it be?

> But this is not the generally accepted meaning of "Sic".
> <<Sic ("so," "thus," "in this manner") may be inserted in brackets,
> following a word misspelled or wrongly used in the original. (Note that
> sic is a complete word, not an abbreviation, and therefore takes no
> period.)>> Sources: _The Chicago Manual of Style_ 13th edition, 1982 p.
> 297 section 10.51.

But this is indeed the same meaning.  Just because we normally see it
after a misspelling or a wrong usage does not change the usage.  In both
cases, it means "this is exactly the way it was said".

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


From: Ben Katz <bkatz@...>
Date: Tue, 17 Jan 2006 14:24:12 -0600
Subject: Re: Sexist Terminology

         As a regular shul-goer and davener, I of course agree with mr. 
stein and generally dislike nontraditional services (although I don't mind 
sitting with my family to be honest - usually having already davened).

         however, imagine how "distracting and jarring" it is for someone 
whose Hebrew is not good to nonexistant in a standard Orthodox service, 
with little or no English prayer, unreadable English translations (anyone 
out there davening to the diety Hashem lately?) and no one announcing pages 
or informing the congregation as to what is going on.

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: Janice Gelb <j_gelb@...>
Date: Tue, 17 Jan 2006 05:11:53 -0800 (PST)
Subject: Re: Sexist Terminology

Tzvi Stein <Tzvi.Stein@...>
> By coincidence with this discussion, I had occasion to attend an
> "egalatarian" service recently. [snip]
> Anyway, one thing that struck me about it was how much harder it was to
> follow than a regular Orthodox service, because the prayer leader was
> constantly changing the text to remove any "sexist" references.  This
> was not as easy as it may seem... a fair amount of creativity was
> involved.  For example, sometimes the 3rd person, "He", refering to
> Hashem, was changed to You which required more of the sentence to be
> changed for consistency.
> Since I am not used to davening in English to begin with, added to the
> fact that there was quite a lot of "skipping" going on, the whole thing
> was quite distracting and jarring.  It seemed a bit ironic, because one
> would expect such a "non-traaditional" service to me more "accessible"
> than a traditional one and it seemed quite the contrary.

Please note that the term "egalitarian service" can mean many different
things. The most common usage I've seen is that men and women
participate equally in leading the service and there is mixed
seating. While some egalitarian services do also attempt to eliminate
sexist language in their English readings, many do not. There is a wide
range of such services, including some where you would be hard-pressed
to find any difference from a more traditional service (including hardly
any use of English at all) save for women's participation in leading the
service and reading Torah.

-- Janice


From: R E Sternglantz <resternglantz@...>
Date: Tue, 17 Jan 2006 06:16:47 -0500
Subject: RE: "sic" - and a call for reason

Having read the litany of posts on the "meaning" of "sic" I seriously
wonder how many of the posters use the term in their routine writing.

The term is NOT used to pass judgment on either the content or source of
the material quoted. Its chief purpose is to signal, first to
editors/proofreaders and then to readers, that even though the quotation
may seem inaccurate in some way (e.g., that it might contain a typo or
that a word might be missing), it is in fact accurate as quoted.

In some contexts, of course, the use of a quotation complete with typos
is designed to impugn the source (e.g., if a journalist quotes a
typo-laden memo that a government official sent). But "sic" has nothing
to do with it.

While I myself think that the original poster used "sic" in a
non-traditional way, she did follow up with an explanation.

Having spent time working on the current edition of the Oxford English
Dictionary, and as someone with credentials in history of the English
language, I feel comfortable saying here that all a dictionary does is
record how a word is generally used by some people at a given time. It
neither proves nor disproves how a particular person is using a word at
a particular time. And in any case, dictionaries are best as historical
reflections. They certainly do not establish categorically what the
"real" meaning of a word currently *is*.

If someone says "this is what I meant" - whether or not they back that
up with a dictionary definition - throwing dictionaries at them to
"prove" that this is not what they meant is kind of silly.

This is the second time in very recent memory that an important if
controversial discussion is being drowned out by dictionaries. Folks,
lay down your lexicons.

Ruth Sternglantz


From: Leah S. Gordon <leah@...>
Date: Tue, 17 Jan 2006 13:07:19 -0800
Subject: sick of sic?  ;)

Ok, I read all the 'sic' posts, but I still don't get it - 

David Feiler writes, in part:
>quoted passage, especially one containing an error or unconventional
>spelling, has been retained in its original form.  Therefore using sic
>after a Torah or Chazal quote is extremely distressing.  Journalists

Why "extremely distressing"?  No one has said why.  I have the sneaking
feeling that I know the answer.  Some of M.J think it is upsetting that
someone would consider it an 'error' not to use gender-neutral language.
Well, I do think it is an 'error' to use sexist language, in a
translation to a language (English) that allows for gender-neutral
language.  So to me, it is distressing *not* to acknowledge this

For people who like looking things up in the _Chicago Manual of Style_
and/or the _MLA_ and/or a host of other references, you will soon see
that gender-neutral language is the accepted base case nowadays in

We could have a talk about whether to use the Hebrew equivalent of 'sic'
after the actual quote (not its translation), and then maybe I'd buy the
'distressing' argument or at least a 'disrespectful' accusation.

--Leah S. R. Gordon


End of Volume 51 Issue 8