Volume 51 Number 28
                    Produced: Sat Feb 18 21:28:29 EST 2006

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Hinduism and Monotheism
         [Ira L. Jacobson]
         [N Miller]
Lingua Franca
         [Ira L. Jacobson]
Looking down on smokers
         [Frank Reiss]
Tachnun - w/ Torah in the room
         [Ira L. Jacobson]
Temple Importance (2)
         [Yisrael Medad, Avi Feldblum]
Wearing Jackets to Prayer/Clothing to Tefillah (2)
         [Carl Singer, Akiva Miller]
Who leads / who decides who leads the zimmun ... and when
         [Carl A. Singer]
Yiddish, Aramaic, and other Vernaculars
         [Ira L. Jacobson]
Yitro, Moshe's father in law


From: Ira L. Jacobson <laser@...>
Date: Fri, 17 Feb 2006 15:35:17 +0200
Subject: Re: Hinduism and Monotheism

<Meirhwise@...> (Rabbi Meir Wise) stated on Mon, 30 Jan 2006 06:32:51

> Reading Rashi, one can see that "elohim acherim" can be taken either
> as "other gods" or "gods of others". There is only a fine symantic
> difference.

I meant to ask about this before.  The term "elohei aherim" would mean
the gods of others, while "elohim aherim" means other gods.  Can you
explain your contrary conclusion, which seems to me to be ungrammatical?

IRA L. JACOBSON         


From: N Miller <nmiller@...>
Date: Fri, 17 Feb 2006 08:56:54 -0500
Subject: Idolatry

Russell Hendel writes:

> Furthermore in my last posting I explain WHY. WHY should worshipping a
> physical representation of the one God be idolatry--after all you are
> thinking about God! The answer is that once you get physical you get
> physical in other ways....ALL physical representations of God tend
> sooner or later to become associated with sexual rituals. So there is
> a reason for classifying this as idolatry.

I never knew until now that RH has an encyclopedic knowledge of world
ethnography.  Where would the rest of us plodders find that information?

Of course, even if it were true it would also have been necessary for
khazal to know that truth.  Where would they have learned it?  Can we
have confidence in their mastery of the facts?

I raise these questions because imo there is nothing more foolish than
the attempt to find _"reasons"_ for ritualistic taboos and practices.
We do not know and we will never know how or "why" particular practices
and avoidance rituals came about.

Noyekh Miller


From: Ira L. Jacobson <laser@...>
Date: Fri, 17 Feb 2006 15:29:56 +0200
Subject: Re: Lingua Franca

Keith Bierman <Keith.Bierman@...> stated on Wed, 15 Feb 2006 02:47:41

> I believe the discussion in the gemora nets out to "youcan pray in any
> language you understand" however, davening in Lashon Hakodesh (Hebrew)
> is effective even if you do NOT understand the precise meaning.

I am not giving sources now, but I remember that one may daven (as a
yahid) in any language that he understands, provided that he does not
understand Hebrew.

IRA L. JACOBSON         


From: Frank Reiss <freiss47@...>
Date: Fri, 17 Feb 2006 07:41:47 -0800 (PST)
Subject: Looking down on smokers

Is there a prohibition of some sort - I tend to avoid cigarette smokers.
If I am walking and I see or smell the smoke, I cross the street.

What about someone from my shule who smokes and I meet in town or
waiting for the bus?

If I behave as I normally do, he will be offended.


From: Ira L. Jacobson <laser@...>
Date: Fri, 17 Feb 2006 15:29:24 +0200
Subject: Re: Tachnun - w/ Torah in the room

Carl Singer <csngr@...> stated on Sun, 29 Jan 2006 14:06:22

> When saying tachnun in the presence of a sefer torah we rest our head
> upon our arm.

This is only true for Ashkenazim.

> What defines "in the presence of" -- do we use the same concept as an
> "ohel" for tumah -- specifically, (a) what if the Sefer Torah is in a
> different room in the same building (b) what if the Sefer Torah is
> locked away in a heavy metal safe?

We use the rule of whether or not there is eye contact between the person
and the aron qodesh.

IRA L. JACOBSON         


From: Yisrael Medad <ybmedad@...>
Date: Sun, 19 Feb 2006 01:07:52 +0200
Subject: Temple Importance

I just came across, in my Motzash shiur, a reference point that could be
used to highlight the importance of the Temple and its related issues.

The Rambam in his Mishneh Torah, Korbanot, Hilchot B'chorot, 3:13, notes
that "The shorn hair of a b'chor, even one which is blemished, that got
mixed up with unsanctified shorn hair, even one amongst many thousands,
all of it is prohibited (to gain benefit from)".

In other words, whereas in the matter of kashrut, we know of the
principle of batel b'shishim, in this case, the Rambam writes further
that this is because "it is a matter of something important and it
sanctifies all".

Think of it: one hair from a first-born sheep is of a degree that
overides the concept of kashrut, something which many of us would think
is more important.

Yisrael Medad

From: Avi Feldblum <avi@...>
Date: Sat, 18 Feb 2006
Subject: Temple Importance

It is not clear to me that there is any difference between kashrut and
hekdash in this matter. If something is a "davar chasuv", a "matter of
importance" then it is not batul b'shishim even in the case of kashrut.

Avi Feldblum


From: Carl Singer <csngr@...>
Date: Fri, 17 Feb 2006 12:36:30 -0500
Subject: Wearing Jackets to Prayer/Clothing to Tefillah

Here's one I never heard before -- during an informal discussion of
wearing a gartel when davening -- one of my colleagues asked another why
a belt (worn ordinarily) wasn't sufficient.

The response was that one is supposed to wear an additional garment when
davening and that the gartel fulfilled this requirement.

Any sources?  The responder is Lubavitch -- something I add only re:
where to look.


From: Akiva Miller <kennethgmiller@...>
Date: Fri, 17 Feb 2006 13:46:55 GMT
Subject: RE: Wearing Jackets to Prayer/Clothing to Tefillah

I wrote:
> I do not wear my very best three times a day when I meet with
> G-d, but it is for reasons other than the ones described by
> the poster here.

Stuart Pilichowski asked:
> May I ask why you don't dress in your "very best three times a
> day" when you meet with G-d?

Because if I did wear "my very best" during the week, then how would I
improve upon that for Shabbos and Yom Tov?

It seems to me that - depending on the individual's personal taste and
how he relates to the concepts of style and fashion - everyone has their
own set of definitions of what sort of dress is appropriate for various
occasions. For example, what one person considers to be formal and
proper, another person might consider to be gaudy and *inappropriate*.

But no matter how one defines "dressing up", it seems to me impossible
to wear one's "very best" for Monday, and something "even better" for
Shabbos. Trying to wear something "even better than that" for Yom Tov is
then beyond impossible.

I resolve these contradictions by NOT wearing "my very best" during the
week. I wear something which is clean and decent, and which I hope does
not offend the Kings Of Kings. In this manner, I have room to wear
something better on Shabbos and Yom Tov. On rare occasions, I will
deliberately "dress down" after Shacharis, so that I will be forced to
change back into better clothes for Mincha.

In this post, I am deliberately avoiding any description of the clothing
styles that I personally choose, and that is because MJ-ers are a very
diverse group, and I want everyone to be able to relate to what I'm
writing. But I also think that some examples might be helpful to
illustrate these issues. So, let me suggest that shoes are more formal
than sandals, a button-down shirt is more formal than a knit pullover, a
suit is more formal than a sport jacket, and a tie/hat is more formal
than without. There are many other gradations as well. (I apologize to
the women for not having relevant examples, and hope that you can come
up with some on your own.) In each of these examples, one might feel
that the first is good for Shabbos and the second for during the week,
or that the first is good for davening and the second for work, or the
first for work and the second not at all. Each person according to his
own taste and the standards of his community.

(I would like to add that my wish is to be able to afford a wardrobe
large enough to include an assortment of work clothes, and an assortment
of weekday davening clothes, and an assortment of Shabbos clothes, and
an assortment of Shabbos davening clothes, and an assortment of Yom Tov
clothes, and an assortment of Yom Tov clothes, and an assortment of
Yamim Noraim clothes. But I cannot afford such a wide variety right now,
so some of my outfits serve in more than one of those categories, with
only minor variations. For example, I wear pretty much the same thing on
Shabbos and Yom Tov and Yamim Noraim as I do to a weekday wedding, but I
have special ties and yarmulkas reserved for the different occasions, so
as to make distinctions and give proper honor to each.)

Stuart also wrote:
> My feeling is that it isn't at all laziness, it's familiarity
> breeds comfort and an easing of formality. The Ministers I came
> in contact with during my meeting with the King do not always
> have to dress up for the occasion of meeting the King. This is
> also the case with Presidents of the US. When the meeting with
> the President is off-hours or during vacation time at the ranch,
> formality and strict codes are relaxed.

Yes, I do realize that in many such circumstances the dress codes are
relaxed, even when in the presence of a President or a King. But I
reject the idea that it is appropriate to take such liberties in the
presence of the King Of Kings.

Yes, "familiarity breeds comfort and an easing of formality." But that
is not always a good thing, as we see from the many people who use
exactly this excuse to justify misbehaving in shul. On the contrary, the
rabbis teach us to always be on our very best behavior in His presence.

I'll apologize and retract my use of the word "laziness", but I am doing
so in order to underscore my opposition to the idea that "familiarity
breeds comfort" and "an easing of formality" are positive things.

Akiva Miller


From: Carl A. Singer <casinger@...>
Date: Fri, 17 Feb 2006 08:54:45 -0500
Subject: Who leads / who decides who leads the zimmun ... and when

3 posters in issue #25 ask different questions related to this question:
1 - who
2 - when
3 - what if someone "grabs" 1 & 2

In a home, it's usually the host who:
1 - who determines (somehow) that we are ready to bench (Has everyone 
finished their dessert?  or "We better get going so we'll get to ____ on 
time.,  etc.)
2 - who is the person who decides who leads and asks that person if he 
will lead

In a repetitive situation, Shalosh Seudot for example, there frequently 
is a "leader" - the person who arranges Shalosh Seudot or the Rabbi
1 - who does the assignment -- which is usually designated by placing a  
wine kos in front of the designee
2 - the clock or events usually determine when -- the speeches have 
completed, singing has similarly wound down and it's about time to daven.

In an ad hoc situation there's usually some group discussion.   I do 
recall someone trying to "rush" the benching - they have to leave so 
they ask someone else to lead the benching -- the issue being when, not 
who -- I guess it's less onerous to force the issue of "when" without 
also grabbing the "who".

Has anyone ever heard a serious "NO" reply to let us bench?



From: Ira L. Jacobson <laser@...>
Date: Fri, 17 Feb 2006 15:32:31 +0200
Subject: Re: Yiddish, Aramaic, and other Vernaculars

<aliw@...> (Arie) stated:

> yohrtsayt isn't a one word expression either. it's yohr, or year and
> tsayt, or time. in modern hebrew it's referred to as "yom hashana".

That brings to mind the success of translating the Yiddish "bal koyreh"
to Modern Hebrew as "ba`al qeri'a," while the sources use a perfectly
good Hebrew term, "qorei."

As they say, "if it ain't broke, don't fix it."  Or to put it slightly
differently, one can use existing Hebrew terms for religious concepts
without having to use Yiddishisms.

IRA L. JACOBSON         


From: o7532 <o7532@...>
Date: Sat, 18 Feb 2006 20:30:48 -0500
Subject: Yitro, Moshe's father in law

Just a guess but it seems to be the narrative using it as an honorific,
or possibly a way of suggesting that good as he may be Yitro is not
viewed a stand alone character perhaps as he is not strictly speaking
Jewish.  It is dropped only in 9 and 10, a dialogue context.  Aharon and
others stand on their own merit.  Tziporah does as well and in 6, and
interestingly rather than saying 'v'ishtecha u'shne vane'ha imi' it
writes 'ima.'

On a somewhat tangential note, the whole business consulting aspect of
the suggestion surprises a bit.  Why didn't Moshe think of it already.
What does this imply about da'at Torah on some matters.  Why did Moshe
not have to bother checking with God here.  Why so many, 13.1% of the
population when we hear of not one disputation hereafter.  And, why
1000, 100, 50, 10.  Why 50.


End of Volume 51 Issue 28