Volume 51 Number 11
                    Produced: Wed Jan 25  6:18:06 EST 2006

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Aveilus for parents
         [Stephen Phillips]
Does Torah Study Prevent Forbidden Thoughts
         [Ari Trachtenberg]
Gender-neutral translations (was "sick of sic", et al)
         [Akiva Miller]
Hinduism and monthesim
         [Rabbi Wise]
Is it Tzedukah?
         [Ari Trachtenberg]
Jewish Graves
         [Rabbi Wise]
The meaning of 'sic'
         [Shoshana Ziskind]
Moving a Sefer Torah
         [Mark Symons]
         [Carl A. Singer]
sick of sic?
         [Shoshana Ziskind]
Talking to women
         [Daniel Wells]
Who picks the bride's outfit?
         [Leah S. Gordon]


From: Stephen Phillips <admin@...>
Date: Mon, 23 Jan 2006 10:48:05 +0000
Subject: Re: Aveilus for parents

> From: Carl Singer <csngr@...>
> 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.

The ruling (psak) for Sefardim (Eidot Mizrach) as per the Yalkut Yosef
is that they should say Kaddish for 11 months, stop for 1 week, and then
recommence for the remainder of the 12 months.

Stephen Phillips.


From: Ari Trachtenberg <trachten@...>
Date: Mon, 23 Jan 2006 10:18:38 -0500
Subject: Re: Does Torah Study Prevent Forbidden Thoughts

> From: Russell J Hendel <rjhendel@...>
> My point here is to emphasize that WE (The Jewish community) DO have a
> problem---people do leave because lack of challenge.

Russel, in my not-so-humble opionion, you are missing the point.  To
translate pirkei avot - Whoso is intelligent, one who learns from
everyone.  The simplest form of learning is simply to absorb the
pre-digested thoughts of a great thinker; it is ultimately not so
satisfying (many people fall asleep).  To the contrary, it is much more
challenging (and meaningful) to tease apart greater meaning from what
appears initially to be mundane ... and that, in my opinion, is what
Jewish learning is about.

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


From: Akiva Miller <kennethgmiller@...>
Date: Sun, 22 Jan 2006 21:10:50 GMT
Subject: Gender-neutral translations (was "sick of sic", et al)

Leah Gordon wrote:
> 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 'error'.

The multiple negatives here got me a little dizzy, so let me just voice
my opinion on it, which is this:

We should acknowledge the truth that in many cases, proper English
grammar allows the writer/speaker to choose between masculine, feminine,
and neutral words, while in Hebrew, these options are not available,
being that the first person (I or we) is *always* gender-neutral, and
the 2nd and 3rd persons (you or other) are *never* gender-neutral and
the universal convention is to use the masculine for mixed or
indeterminate situations.

This poses a problem for the translator. While there are various
approaches to this problem, no one should pretend that the problem does
not exist. The translator has many goals in mind: a certain degree of
accuracy, a certain degree of fluidity, a certain degree of simplicity,
and others -- including a certain degree of political correctness, a/k/a
not wanting to alienate segments of the audience. The factors (and
others) are weighed, and the translator will probably have to sacrifice
in some areas for the sake of others.

Hebrew/English translating is something of a hobby of mine, which I've
used most for the Hagada which I produced for my family. One of my goals
was to pay attention to these issues of gender. For example, I could not
find any reason to translate the "Arba Banim" as "Four Sons". They can
just as easily be four *children*, and that's how I translated it. And
then each paragraph begins neutrally as well: "the wise one", "the bad

But then it gets difficult. When the Hagada tells us how to respond,
using the Hebrew word "lo" (lamed vav), how can I translate it
neutrally? "To it" just doesn't work when the subject is human, so I am
stuck with "to him", unless someone can offer me an uncomplicated

Similary, I use neutral language for "Tell the story to your child on
that day".

When speaking about a mixed group, I'll aim for neutral language, such
as "ancestor", but when speaking about a specific individual, I have no
problem translating that very same Hebrew word ("av") in a
gender-specific manner. Thus: "Since the very beginning, your ancestors
- such as Terach (who was the father of Abraham and Nachor) - used to
live on the other side of the river, and they worshipped other gods."

Likewise, if I were translating some other work, I'd pay attention to
the intent of the words. For example, suppose I'm translating the Shema,
and I'm up to "v'shinantam l'vanecha." If one understands this as
referring to the obligation of learning Torah for its own sake, then the
proper translation would have to be "teach your sons". But if one is
understanding that verse in some more inclusive manner, then it would be
most proper to translate it as "teach your children". (I do not want to
get into a discussion now of that verse, and am only using it as an
illustration of translation styles.)

Akiva Miller


From: <Meirhwise@...> (Rabbi Wise)
Date: Mon, 23 Jan 2006 05:43:05 EST
Subject: Re: Hinduism and monthesim

I Balbin seems to prove my point that Hinduism is not avoda zara on a
technicality. If there is no believe in One God there cannot be believe
in "other gods".

Rabbi Wise


From: Ari Trachtenberg <trachten@...>
Date: Mon, 23 Jan 2006 10:02:18 -0500
Subject: Re: Is it Tzedukah?

> From: Akiva Miller <kennethgmiller@...>
> 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.

I disagree.  It is up to the Yeshiva together with the solicitor to
estimate how much "influence" the solicitor had on direct contributions.
Many things have influenced you to donate, including your upbringing and
your opinion of the yeshiva ... and if you don't feel comfortable giving
directly to the solicitor, then he obviously didn't do his job

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


From: <Meirhwise@...> (Rabbi Wise)
Date: Mon, 23 Jan 2006 05:44:38 EST
Subject: Re: Jewish Graves

Our graves need to marked so that kohanim and for that matter others do
not walk over them. (see Shabbat 33)

Rabbi Wise


From: Shoshana Ziskind <shosh@...>
Date: Sun, 22 Jan 2006 11:21:09 -0500
Subject: Re: The meaning of 'sic'

On Jan 15, 2006, at 11:29 AM, Leah S. Gordon <leah@...> 

> 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?

Sorry. Not knowing Latin I only know sic from seeing it in common usage.
Usually it seems to mean that you definitely do not agree with some of
what's written there either it's grammatically wrong or you don't agree
with the content and in a way you're distancing yourself from the quote
saying that's not really what I believe. I don't know.  It just did not
seem an appropriate thing to do to a quote from Chazal.

Shoshana Ziskind


From: Mark Symons <msymons@...>
Date: Mon, 23 Jan 2006 22:33:27 +1100
Subject: Re: Moving a Sefer Torah

Ira L. Jacobson <laser@...> wrote

> 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

How do you reconcile this with the mitzva for the king to carry a sefer
Torah with him wherever he goes?

Mark Symons
Melbourne Australia


From: Carl A. Singer <casinger@...>
Date: Sun, 22 Jan 2006 11:11:24 -0500
Subject: sic

>From the dictionary (when all else fails) -- third definition of "sic"
is relevant to discussions:

3 sic \sik, sek\ adverb [L, so, thus  more at so] (ca. 1859)
: intentionally so written      
used after a printed word or passage to indicate that it is intended
exactly as printed or to indicate that it exactly reproduces an original
<said he seed [sic] it all>

(C) 1996 Zane Publishing, Inc. and Merriam-Webster, Incorporated


sic passim \sik-pa-sem, sek-pa-sim\ adverb [L] (1921)
: so throughout 
used of a word or idea to be found throughout a book or a writer's work

(C) 1996 Zane Publishing, Inc. and Merriam-Webster, Incorporated



From: Shoshana Ziskind <shosh@...>
Date: Sun, 22 Jan 2006 11:39:24 -0500
Subject: Re: sick of sic?

On Jan 22, 2006, at 10:49 AM, Leah S. Gordon <leah@...> 

> 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
> 'error'.

It's distressing to say Chazal was incorrect in their usage of language
and meaning.  It's one thing to say your contemporaries are incorrect
but to say Chazal are incorrect is a very different thing.

Again, I'd much prefer language which assumes I'm a male than disrespect
of our Chazal any day.

I'm not saying there can't be improvements in the way halacha is
discussed by people today but complaining about Chazel is a different

Shoshana Ziskind


From: Daniel Wells <wells@...>
Date: Thu, 19 Jan 2006 19:40:12 +0200
Subject: Talking to women

> The word 'excessively' in 'dont speak to women excessively' is
>obviously context sensitive.
> But this law is specifically formulated in terms of a subjective word,

'excessively' to most people is a subjective variable. But in the Mishna
it means plain and simple do not talk to the opposite gender any more
then is absolutely necessary, even to the extent of being of being
uncivil by not adding such words as 'Hallo' and 'Shalom' unless it's to
gain her attention.

Obviously if the woman would be insulted by the lack of civility not
normal in the location, then presumably since most introductory words
(good morning, how are you) are generally stripped of personal
inflection, they would be allowed.

One poster mentioned that ''al tarbeh sicha im ha-Isha" is only
applicable to men. I would put it to that person that it also applies to
women : that engaging men in unnecessary conversation, they are also
party to the aveira of the man.



From: Leah S. Gordon <leah@...>
Date: Sat, 21 Jan 2006 19:20:47 -0800
Subject: Who picks the bride's outfit?

Batya Medad writes, in part (re. brides covering hair at wedding):
>One of my friends is very makpid on it with her daughters and
>daughters-in-law, making a point of insisting even if the kalla's family
>hadn't known of its importance.  She says that yichud changes the status

Um...I'm not sure I know *any* brides who reliably go along with their
future-MIL's opinions for dress.  ;)



End of Volume 51 Issue 11