Volume 51 Number 22
                    Produced: Thu Feb  9  4:53:13 EST 2006

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Announcing the time of the molad (was: Yiddish in Ritual) (4)
         [Mike Gerver, Carl A. Singer, Ben Katz, Eitan Fiorino]
Does Learning prevent forbidden thoughts
         [Rick Blum]
Idolators and Hindus (3)
         [Meylekh Viswanath, Russell J Hendel, Rabbi Meir Wise]
Wearing Jackets to Prayer/Clothing to Tefillah
         [Andy Goldfinger]
Yiddish in Ritual
         [Stephen Colman]
Yiddish lead-in to benching
         [Carl A. Singer]


From: <MJGerver@...> (Mike Gerver)
Date: Wed, 8 Feb 2006 19:10:03 EST
Subject: Announcing the time of the molad (was: Yiddish in Ritual)

Carl Singer writes, in v51n21,

      The announcement of the molad harkens back to times prior to
      "calculations" when aidim (witnesses) actually saw the new moon
      over the hills of Jerusalem and relayed that information to the
      Sanhedrin so that the starting date of the new moon, and in turn
      the calendar month, could be determined.

      This thought is, perhaps, seconded by the fact that it is inserted
      into the middle of davening at a specific point in the Rosh
      Chodesh benching right before we announce when Rosh Chodesh will

How can that be? In principle, at least, in the days when Rosh Chodesh
was determined based on witnesses observing the moon, there was no need
to calculate the time of the molad at all--certainly not to within a few
seconds. In practice, I think, the Sanhedrin made their private
calculations, and refused to accept witnesses if they had calculated
that the moon couldn't have been visible yet. And I suppose those
calculations would have required them to calculate the molad to within a
fraction of an hour, anyway. But I don't see why there would have been
any need to announce the exact time of the molad publicly in those days.

The purpose of announcing the time of the molad nowadays, it seems to
me, is so that people will keep track of when the molad is, so they can
calculate the dates of the chagim, without having to calculate back from
year 1, in case they do not have access to a calendar, or access to
people who know when the chagim are.

And of course, they could not have announced in advance in shul what day
Rosh Chodesh would be on, before we had a fixed calendar. Or maybe they
did, and just didn't announce in advance whether it would be one or two

Mike Gerver
Raanana, Israel

From: Carl A. Singer <casinger@...>
Date: Wed, 08 Feb 2006 21:22:17 -0500
Subject: Re: Announcing the time of the molad (was: Yiddish in Ritual)

[In reply to Mike's comments above]

Exactly.  The witnesses were part of the "ritual" associated with the
new moon.  Hence the announcing of the Molad is a "ritual" -- which was
the original point.


From: Ben Katz <bkatz@...>
Date: Wed, 08 Feb 2006 10:45:39 -0600
Subject: Re: Announcing the time of the molad (was: Yiddish in Ritual)

         I believe Dr. Singer is incorrect.  The molad is announced even
when the day in which we celebrate Rosh Chodesh differs.  Historically,
it seems to me that announcing the molad had to be instituted AFTER the
calendar became automatic to show that even if the molad is observed on
a different day (which is occassionally as much as 2 days off) that Rosh
Chodesh is when beit din said it was.  In fact, holding the sefer Torah
when announcing Rosh Chodesh seems to me to be an oath of sorts
declaring the date of Rosh Chodesh for the whole community (kind of like
Kol Nidrei).

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: Eitan Fiorino <AFiorino@...>
Date: Wed, 8 Feb 2006 09:45:52 -0500
Subject: RE: Announcing the time of the molad (was: Yiddish in Ritual)

Still, the announcement of the molad may be some kind of zecher but
halachically it accomplishes nothing - nothing changes if it is not
announced, rosh chodesh still comes when it is supposed to, and in fact
the Sephardim (at least mizrachim, I don't know about the
Spanish-Portuguese custom) and Italians do not announce the molad at



From: Rick Blum <4at1x@...>
Date: Wed, 8 Feb 2006 06:43:25 -0800 (PST)
Subject:  Does Learning prevent forbidden thoughts

Regarding the question of gematria, let me suggest, as someone with no
facility for gematria, that to reduce it to "playing games with numbers"
is somewhat tantamount to taking the resh out of PaRDeS, since the remez
level of Torah study includes gematria.  It also reduces Torah to its
narrative and ignores the significance of every letter, as we learn that
Torah is the blueprint for the world, predating Creation, and that it is
analygous to the DNA of the body in its precision.  My point is that
what looks superficial to me might convey depth to you.  Consider that
the physical world, which appears G-dforsaken to us, is derah
b'tachtonim the dwelling place in the lower realms in which Hashem
desires to create and fill.

Rick Blum


From: Meylekh Viswanath <pviswanath@...>
Date: Tue, 07 Feb 2006 14:23:24 -0500
Subject: Idolators and Hindus

At 06:02 AM 2/7/2006 -0500, Russell J Hendel wrote:

>Hinduism (As several other postings have pointed out) denies the unity
>of god (and I believe they use statutes--they are idolaters and it is
>prohibited to enter their shrines.

There are two issues here -- one, denying the unity of God; two, using
statues.  I don't believe using statues is equivalent to avode zore.
Denying the unity of God is, but Hinduism doesn't do that.  As early as
the RigVeda, we have a statement "Truth is One; the wise call it by many
names."  The Upanishads further clarify the nature of the Godhead as
being attributeless.

If somebody wants to go le-khumre and classify Hinduism as avode zore,
that's another matter -- but that khumre will have to depend on the use
of idols by Hindus.

I doubt I am going to change anybody's conceptions of Hinduism (since
the idea of the use of idols being avode zore is so strong amongst
Jews), but here's why I think Hinduism is practiced differently from
Judaism, even though both systems focus on a Unity:

As I understand it (I have no textual basis for this; it's just my
understanding), Judaism prohibits idols because it doesn't want any
possibility of a misunderstanding regarding the nature of God.  Hinduism
is not as concerned; it probably applies the principle of mitokh --
i.e. from any appreciation/acknowledgement of a Superior Being will
ultimately come realization of the true nature of that Superior Being.
It does not, therefore, place as much emphasis upon a verbal
acknowledgement of the nature of God; rather, it focuses on the process
that leads to such a realization.  Judaism emphasizes both; the mitsves,
too, bring people to the realization of the nature of God.

This is likely to cause problems when speaking with Hindus (in addition
to the linguistic problem already mentioned in my previous posts).


From: Russell J Hendel <rjhendel@...>
Date: Tue, 7 Feb 2006 22:35:47 -0500
Subject: Idolators and Hindus

P.V. Viswanath comments that to equate Hindus with idolaters depends "on
what the statutes symbolize--how they are used."

Rambam (one Rishon) clearly denies this in his laws of idolatry. The
Rambam definition of idolatry is clear and is exactly what PV Viswanath
Biblically prohibited.

Before we attach the Rambam or say 'it is the opinion of one Rishon' let
me cite one historical piece of evidence for it. The Jews AFTER THEY HAD
WITNESSED GOD AT MOUNT SINAI worshipped the Golden calf. This is
anomalous. Many people explain that the Calf resembled the OX of
Ezekiel's chariot...in other words the CALF was a PHYSICAL
REPRESENTATION of the prophetic imagery of God.  NEVERTHELESS this is
clearly idolatry(The Bible so classifies it).

Rambam gives one explanation but based on the Biblical passage I can
give a second. Rambam explains that over time people worship the
physical representation and forget what it represents. I would go
further....when people worhsip physical representations they become
physical (The idolatrous worship of the calf was associated with sex
orgies and murder as can be inferred from the nuances of several words

Bottom line: Monotheism requires the belief in ONE INCORPOREAL GOD OF A
denial of any of these items (not one, not incorporeal, not personal,
physical representation) is idolatry.

Russell Jay Hendel; http://www.Rashiyomi.com

From: <Meirhwise@...> (Rabbi Meir Wise)
Date: Wed, 8 Feb 2006 02:38:54 EST
Subject: Re: Idolators and Hindus

In reply to Russell Hendell. There are only two not three
interpretations in Rashi divided by "davar acher".  The first is "gods
of others" and the second "other gods". I repeat that there is only a
fine difference which is irrelevant to the status Hinduism.  If there is
no believe in God there can be no "other gods".

Rabbi Wise


From: Andy Goldfinger <Andy.Goldfinger@...>
Date: Wed, 8 Feb 2006 08:13:49 -0500
Subject: RE: Wearing Jackets to Prayer/Clothing to Tefillah

Just another perspective on the issue --

I was attending the 6:20 AM minyan at a "black hat" shul.  In the back,
I saw a teenage boy putting on his tephillin.  He was wearing jeans and
a tee shirt that had something written on it.  The tee shirt was hanging
out of his pants (trousers), and he had on some kind of necklace.

My first reaction was "how can he come to shul this way?"  But then it
occurred to me.  He is a teenage boy, and at 6:20 AM he is IN SHUL!  I
then realized how wonderful this was.

-- Andy Goldfinger


From: <StephenColman2@...> (Stephen Colman)
Date: Wed, 8 Feb 2006 05:24:31 EST
Subject: Yiddish in Ritual

> I would not put the following in the above category, but in Ashkenaz,
> it was customary to sing a Yiddish version of Adir Hu at the seder.
> ("Bau dein Tempel shiroh")

I first heard this sung at my Father-in-law's seder in Antwerp. He was
Hungarian. Subsequently I found it printed in the Lehmann Haggodoh (in a
very difficult to read hebrew script). I photocopied it, and we have
sung it every year since.



From: Carl A. Singer <casinger@...>
Date: Wed, 08 Feb 2006 16:59:57 -0500
Subject: Yiddish lead-in to benching

>> I have heard (anecdotal evidence, hmmm?) that someone
>> once led off with "Let's bench", and the chavurah with
>> whom he was eating proceeded to answer "Yehi shem etc."
>I do this on Purim. Not as a parody of the real thing, but to
>demonstrate that it *IS* the real thing. I'd like to do it more often,
>but sociologically, this is the only time I can get away with it.

Let me add to this -- there is a delightful gentlemen who visits his son
here in our community.  His language still drips with the honey of his
European background.  A cohain, he frequently is asked to lead benching
he invariable begins "Herr zach tzu -- Rabboasai mir vellen benchin"
 -- in essence: "Listen up -- we're going to bench"

Carl A. Singer,


End of Volume 51 Issue 22