Volume 51 Number 09
                    Produced: Mon Jan 23  5:26:55 EST 2006

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Advice of Yose ben Yochanan Ish Yerushalayim
         [Samuel Ehrenfeld]
Aveilus for parents
         [Carl Singer]
Books bound in human skin
         [Gilad J. Gevaryahu]
Is it Tzedukah? (2)
         [Harlan Braude, Akiva Miller]
Moving a Sefer Torah (2)
         [David Neuman, Ira L. Jacobson]
Only in Israel
         [Shmuel Himelstein]
TAPS at funerals
         [Harold Greenberg]
Tricorns (three-cornered hats) and Jews
         [Emmanuel Ifrah]
Wearing Jackets to Prayer/Clothing to Tefillah
         [Chana Luntz]


From: Samuel Ehrenfeld <samfeld@...>
Date: Thu, 19 Jan 2006 00:04:52 -0500
Subject: Re: Advice of Yose ben Yochanan Ish Yerushalayim

Thank you so much for your comments, Tzvi.

As for your point about not holding back - I did not specifically
suggest this, although it did cross my mind.  In fact, over the years, I
have always personally been more reticent.  But I think that's just more
my own personal style, rather than a guideline that I would impose on

In addition, you make a strong point when you say that by not holding
back, the posters at mail-jewish have caused certain readers to find
their way back to orthodoxy.  It would be nice to hear some of these
"success" stories.

In order to make my original post more accurate I should probably have
added the words "or good" in the last sentence of the next-to-last
paragraph, as follows:

"Who knows how much damage 'or good' can be caused (currently or in the
unforeseeable future)?"

Because, even to do good things we need to use words carefully.



From: Carl Singer <csngr@...>
Date: Fri, 20 Jan 2006 06:07:38 -0500
Subject: Aveilus for parents


We have Iranian Jews in our congregation who are now in their 12th month
of aveilus for a parent.  They told us that their minhag is to say for
the entire 12 months and are thus doing so.



From: <Gevaryahu@...> (Gilad J. Gevaryahu)
Date: Sun, 22 Jan 2006 17:05:48 EST
Subject: Books bound in human skin

The Daily Pennsylvanian, The independent newspaper of the University of
Pennsylvania, reported on January 18, 2006, that some books in its
library are bound in human skin. The article, which can be read
, tells us that other prominent East Coast libraries such as Harvard and
Brown also have such books in their libraries. "In the 19th century,
Penn faculty were known to bind books with human skin, and Van Pelt
still displays an example of the macabre craft".

At first I thought that cohanim should not enter these libraries because
of tum'at ohel, but on a second thought, the likelihood that a Jewish
human skin be in the binding is unlikely for the Jews in the 19th
century were a tiny minority in the USA, especially the first half of
the century, and second, Jews were more likely to insist on proper
burial, and were therefore unlikely to end up on the shelf. Only a
Jewish body defiles in tum'at ohel, while a gentile body defiles in
tum'at maga. If the above analysis is correct, Cohanim should ask before
touching books in old libraries on the East Coast (probably in old
libraries in Europe too?) where are the volumes bound in human skin and
avoid them.

After reading this report I realize that the Nazis were not original in
their grotesque use of Jewish skin during WWII.

Gilad J. Gevaryahu


From: Harlan Braude <hbraude@...>
Date: Tue, 17 Jan 2006 08:32:01 -0500
Subject: RE: Is it Tzedukah?

Carl Singer asks...
> 50% of donation -- my question is given that I know that a 
> percentage of the money goes to a professional solicitor not 
> to the tzedukah -- what portion of my donation can I consider 
> as tzedukah (for purposes of meiser?)

I don't see why one cannot include the whole donation in one's meiser

My reasoning is that the Yeshiva hired this person to do this. Whatever
the agreed upon compensation is (percentage of collections or flat
rate), it's between the Yeshiva and this person.

In my view, this is no different than any other service or product the
Yeshiva may obtain with money it has collected from donations, etc. Just
because I may know that, say, 5 cents of every dollar collected goes to
the electric company doesn't mean that I don't get meiser credit for
that portion of my donation.

From: Akiva Miller <kennethgmiller@...>
Date: Tue, 17 Jan 2006 16:03:46 GMT
Subject: re: Is it Tzedukah?

Carl Singer asked:
> ... paid solicitors ... get as much as 50% of donation -- 
> my question is given that I know that a percentage of the money
> goes to a professional solicitor not to the tzedukah -- what
> portion of my donation can I consider as tzedukah...

Let's take the case of where a yeshiva sent you a fund-raising letter
directly, and you sent them a check directly. Does you entire check
count as tzadaka, or should the postage and banking fees be deducted?

Let's take another case: Suppose the check you sent goes to pay the
yeshiva's salaries, but the check I sent was used to pay for the meals
for the students. Did one of us send tzedaka and the other not?

My thought is that an institution has many legitimate expenses. These
include salaries, utilities, payroll taxes, insurance, fund-raising
expenses, and many others. They allocate their funds according to the
budget that they have decided for themselves, and I can consider the
*entire* amount as tzedaka.

On the other hand, one might feel that a 50% commission is too high, and
that this is wasteful. If so, one should consider not giving to them at
all. But a third option -- giving directly so that the entire donation
is used efficiently without being diverted to a professional solicitor
-- is *wrong*, because he *did* influence you to donate, and he is
therefore entitled to whatever payment they have agreed to give him.

Akiva Miller


From: David Neuman <daveselectric@...>
Date: Tue, 17 Jan 2006 05:42:08 -0500
Subject: Moving a Sefer Torah

I belive that an Aron Kodesh [ Built In or Movable] is considered to be
a permanent placement for a Sefer Torah.  And such, if the Sefer Torah
stored in this portable Aron Kodesh is taken to any location can be read
from one time.  This is done many time at simchas at hotels.  Many
communities have portable Aron Kodesh for this purpose.  I have heard
that when a Sefer Torah is taken to Beis Avel and it placed in a corner
of it's own and covered with a Tallis it can be considered a permanent
place and that is why some permit less than three readings.

Duvid Neuman

From: Ira L. Jacobson <laser@...>
Date: Tue, 17 Jan 2006 12:59:32 +0200
Subject: Re: Moving a Sefer Torah

Martin Stern writes:

      Yes. I cannot quote texts but I have seen on several
      occasions a sefer torah taken to a shiva house when it could
      not be used three times even with shabbat minchah.

`Arukh Hashulhan 135:32 forbids taking a sefer Torah to another location
unless it is read at least three times.  Three times is regarded as
qevi`ut, it says there.  It also requires that when the three-time rule
is fulfilled, the sefer must be placed in an aron or teva that is in a
special location.

If a sefer Torah is read fewer than three times, `Arukh Hashulhan calls
this bizayon.  He condemns a minhag to take the sefer out on Rosh
Hashanah and Yom Kippur to a different location, in order to give more
a`aliyot to more people. He encourages us to protest this sort of thing
and thereby bring honor to the Torah

Bob Sherer added:

      So, what do you do when the Shiva is not going to run a full
      week but will be cut short by a Yom Tov? Do we not bring in a
      Sefer for the one (or two) days that you need it?

If we accept the pesaq of `Arukh Hashulhan, then we indeed do not.

Hayyim Snyder added:

      My understanding is that a sefer torah can only be moved to a
      "makom kavua" (permanent place) which is defined in two
      different ways.  One is a place where it will be read three
      times.  The other is to an "aron kodesh" (holy ark), which is
      the permanent place for a sefer torah to be stored.

As we have seen, `Arukh Hashulhan requires both conditions to be

IRA L. JACOBSON         


From: Shmuel Himelstein <himels@...>
Date: Sun, 22 Jan 2006 17:53:44 +0200
Subject: Only in Israel

I drove up to the entrance of the Malcha mall in Jerusalem, and waited
for the obligatory car inspection. After the inspection, the guard on
duty handed me a small twig of a Hadas (myrtle). "Here, smell this and
make a blessing on Besamim," he said to me.

Shmuel Himelstein


From: Harold Greenberg <harold.greenberg@...>
Date: Tue, 17 Jan 2006 16:28:14 +0200
Subject: TAPS at funerals

>General question -- What funeral-related customs prevail within
>non-European Jewish communities?

My step-father was a veteran of WW one.  He belonged to the Rosenwald
Post of the American Legion in Detroit - an all-Jewish post.  I was told
it was the only all-Jewish post in the USA.  His funeral was an American
Legion funeral.  The coffin was covered with an American flag sent by
the President of the United states.  The members, wearing army caps,
walked up to the coffin, saluted, and returned to their places.  I don't
remember if taps or the last post was played, but it would have been

 Harold  Zvi Greenberg
 Eilat, Israel


From: Emmanuel Ifrah <emmanuel_ifrah@...>
Date: Tue, 17 Jan 2006 05:04:52 -0800 (PST)
Subject: Tricorns (three-cornered hats) and Jews

Just to rectify, shamashim of consistorial synagogues in France do not
wear tricorns but rather bicorns.

The historical origin of this practice is clear, as it was Napoleon who
created the Consistoire following to the convocation of the Grand
Sanhedrin in 1807.


From: Chana Luntz <Chana@...>
Date: Wed, 18 Jan 2006 11:42:48 +0000
Subject: Wearing Jackets to Prayer/Clothing to Tefillah

I wrote: 
> "Today, if somebody gets an invitation for an audience with the Queen or
> the President, one feels (and probably is) on some level important, and
> the dressing up associated with that is part and parcel of that feeling.
> "But in the days when Kings and Queens were not just about pomp and
> ceremony, but held real powers over people's lives - people who went to
> beg for something important did not necessarily dress up for the
> occasion. That may have been for the royal court, but if anything an
> ordinary person asking for mercy was expected to stress the distance
> between the asker and the asked, and humble clothing would seem far more
> conducive to that."
And Samuel Ehrenfeld  writes in response: 

> I recall parshas Miketz (from 3 weeks ago) where we read about Yosef
> being called to Pharaoh.  "Vayegalach vayechalef simlosav vayavo el
> Pharaoh."  ("And he [Yosef] shaved [or cut his hair] and changed his
> clothes and he came to Pharaoh.")  Rashi says on the spot: "Mipnei kevod
> malchus" ("for the glory of the king").  Sforno goes even further: "Ki
> ein lavo el shaar hamelech bilevush sak" ("for it is not appropriate to
> come to the gate of the king in sackcloth) (paraphrasing from Megillas
> Esther)."  Even though it's possible to argue that Yosef's case was not
> one of "an ordinary person asking for mercy" (but maybe it was), the
> message from the commentaries seems to apply.
> What do you think, Chana?

I think that this is not in fact a case of an ordinary person asking for
mercy.  It was rather the reverse, a case where the Pharoah was asking
for help (in interpreting his dream).  It is humiliating enough that a
king needs to ask for help from an ordinary person, but clearly the
humbler the person, the more humiliating it is.  So this particular case
would seem to be one where it was indeed imperative, for the king's
honour, for Yosef to dress up in all finery and look the part of one
important enough to advise the king (I agree that the language of the
Seforno seems to go wider than this, but I think it needs to be read in
context - which is in connection with his advisors and other members of
his court).  When Morderchai was made second to the king, he too was
dressed in finery, as part of the glory of the king is also the glory of
his court and particularly his advisors.

A better case showing the power balance between a ruler and his subjects
who come to ask for mercy is found rather with Yosef vis a vis his
brothers.  In that case they needed food from him, but he did not need
their money.  Note particularly the difference in tone used by the
brothers (where some form of the word avedcha, your servant, crops up
throughout each conversation the brothers have with him) to that used by
Yosef to Pharoah.  Yosef may make it clear that it is G-d, rather than
himself, who inteprets dreams, but his servitude of Pharoah is hardly

Note also that the Rashbam gives as one of the reasons why the brothers
do not recognise Yosef because he wad dressed up in bigdei malchus
(which by implication at least suggests that one of the reasons he was
able to recognise them was because they did not).

It is only at the end of the story, when Yosef has made himself known to
his brothers that he gives them fine clothing (36:22).

Chana Luntz


End of Volume 51 Issue 9