Volume 51 Number 33
                    Produced: Thu Feb 23  5:28:08 EST 2006

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Benching in a hurry
         [Shimon Lebowitz]
How to Pasken (Decide) a question--was "hinduism and Idolatry"
         [Russell J Hendel]
Purim on the J Site and 95 Purim Hotsites
         [Jacob Richman]
"Raboysay mir veln benshn"
         [Bernard Raab]
Rashi question
         [Stephen Phillips]
Rashi question on Pigyon
         [Gilad J. Gevaryahu]
Sheva Berakhot
         [Joel Rich]
Use of technology
         [Freda B Birnbaum]


From: Shimon Lebowitz <shimonl@...>
Date: Thu, 23 Feb 2006 01:34:27 +0200
Subject: Re: Benching in a hurry

> One may ask two.  The difference is that if two request of one, he 
> _must_ pause for the two to be m'zamein.  If one requests of two, they 
> are not obligated to accommodate him, but they may, and unless there are 
> pressing circumstances, they should. 

I have often wondered about that *must*. 

If the one (who *must*)... DOESN'T agree, and does not answer when one
of the two starts the zimun, then what happens?  Do the two continue
responsively, one to one, without him?



From: Russell J Hendel <rjhendel@...>
Date: Tue, 21 Feb 2006 19:46:49 -0500
Subject: How to Pasken (Decide) a question--was "hinduism and Idolatry"

Meylekh writes demurs to my explanation of Hinudism as Avoda
Zarah. SInce his critique of me goes to the heart of how to pasken I
thought I would answer him line by line.

First Meylekh states "Russell often has interesting points of view." to
which I would respond that this is IRRELEVANT to deciding halacha.

Next Meylekh states that "he simply has a result that he desires and
looks at/for data that is consistent with his conclusion." to which I

Meylekh next states that "Russell has not been able to show that
rishonim hold that non-Jews are not allowed physical representations;
not only that, he comes up with hypotheses, and uses them as evidence to
show why khazal should have paskened according to him." to which I would
respond that I did cite at least one Rishon the Rambam who CLEARLY AND
EXPLICITLY STATES that the essence of the idolatry prohibition is
PHYSICAL REPRESENTATION OF A DEITY(Chapter 1 of Idolatry).  It is also
prohibited to eg worship stones and wood that do not represent a deity
but this is a later development of idolatry (Rambam Idolatry Chapter 1).

But Meylekh could have asked "So what...Rambam is only one Rishon" to
which I would respond that deciding law is not a numbers game. Rambam in
COURTS (Sanhedrin) Either Chapter 9,10 Par 1 clearly states that we
count the NUMBER of reasons not the number of opinions. So 10 people who
cite one verse can AND SHOULD be overruled by 2 people citing 2 verses
since the 2, not the 10, have the majority. In other words it is part of
the halachic process to EXPLAIN in terms of Verses and halachic concepts
the decision.

Let me now restate my defenses not of my position, and not of the
reasonable position, but of the Rambams position: The classic case of
idolatry is the golden calf. The golden calf made AFTER prophetic
witness of God, is clearly a physical representation of God. The reason
why the Golden calf was such a horrible crime is because it was
associated with orgies involving sex and murder. In other words once you
get physical vis a vis God you get physical in other ways.

Furthermore it is reasonable (as happend in all the other sins) that a
motivating factor of the golden calf was the non jewish contingent who
left Egypt (Asafsuf). We find a similar association of idolatry and
sexual sin in Nu25 by the sins of Moab--we are carefully told that idol
worship was connected with sexual misconduct. Finally I could cite the
explicit verse at the end of Yithro "Do not make WITH ME, Golden and
silver Gods" which could easily be translated as "dont make Golden =
Fire images of Me" or "Silver=light images of me." (Recall that the calf
of idolatry represented the Fire Ox of Ezekiel--again explicitly said in
the Gemarrah).

So let me summarize: The three biblical sources--golden calf; Moab, end
of Yisro--support the idea FORMULATED by Maimonides that
Idolatry=Physical Representation whether with Jew or Non-Jew. Of course
when i state it this way it SOUNDS like I looked for a position that
supported what was interesting--not so! It is intrinsic to the halachic
process to defend each rishon and only then count opinions.

I am not saying there are no other opinions. BUt, and this is where I
must criticize Meylekh it is his halachic responsibility to show a) What
it is other rishonim are stating and b) To show how these other rishonim
deal with the texts I mentioned. Only then do we have an admissable

And suppose Meylekh cant defend it. I believe proper halachic response
is to decide in favor of the rishon whose reasons are understood and to
leave it as "in need of investigation." I don't believe the FACT that a
rishon said something and therefore had to have a reason is IN AND OF
ITSELF sufficient reason to decide that way.

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


From: Jacob Richman <jrichman@...>
Date: Thu, 23 Feb 2006 05:19:49 +0200
Subject: Purim on the J Site and 95 Purim Hotsites

Hi Everyone!

Purim, the fun-filled Jewish holiday, falls on the 14th of the Hebrew
month of Adar. This year Purim begins Monday night March 13, 2006.  (In
Jerusalem, it is usually celebrated one day later.)

The J Site - Jewish Education and Entertainment 

has several entertaining features for Purim:

Purim Trivia
Why do people eat poppy seeds on Purim ? 
From what tribe was Mordecai ? 
Why was Haman angry at Mordechai ? 
Who was queen of Persia before Esther ? 
Esther had another name, what was it ? 
How many times is Haman's name mentioned in the megillah ? 
What did the king do when he couldn't sleep ? 
What does the word "Esther" mean ? 
How many advisors did king Achashverosh have ? 

The above questions are examples from the multiple choice 
Flash quiz. There are two levels of questions, two timer settings.
Both kids and adults will find it enjoyable.

Purim Clipart
Whether you need a picture to attach to your "Mishloach Manot", a
picture for your child's class project, a graphic for your synagogue,
Hillel or JCC Purim announcement, the Jewish Clipart Database has the
pictures for you.  You can copy, save and print the graphics in three
different sizes.

Multilingual Hangman - Purim
It's the classic Hangman game recreated in an online Flash version.  If
you expect your simple "hang the man by the rope" drawing then you are
in for a surprise. The game can be played in English or Hebrew.

Purim Word Search Game
Enter the Multilingual Word Search game and choose the language you
would like to play in: English, Hebrew or Russian. There is an easy mode
for the kids and a harder mode for us big kids. Learning Purim words has
never been more fun. Each game is randomly generated from a special list
of Purim words. You can even print out a blank game (and the solution
page) for offline playing.

My Jewish Coloring Book - Purim Pictures
Young kids love to draw and this online coloring book is made just for
them. Three different size "brushes" and 24 colors to choose from. You
can print the completed color pictures or print black and white outlines
to color offline. No need to go buy a coloring book this Purim.

Hebrew Purim Songs with Vowels (Nikud)
Enter My Hebrew Songbook and choose the category Purim.  You can view
any song online or create a printed song sheet with several songs
together for a sing along. All Hebrew is graphic so you do not need
Hebrew support to view or print the songs.

The J site has something for everyone, but if that is not enough, there
are now 95 Purim links on my holiday hotsites.  The sites have
everything ranging from laws and customs to games and recipes. Site
languages include English, Hebrew, Russian, Spanish, French, Portugese
and German.  All 95 links have been reviewed / checked over the past
The address is:

Please forward this message to relatives and friends, so they may
benefit from these holiday resources.
An early Happy Purim!


From: Bernard Raab <beraab@...>
Date: Wed, 22 Feb 2006 16:31:54 -0500
Subject: RE: "Raboysay mir veln benshn"

>From: <aliw@...> (Arie)
> >i think people should be made aware of the problem and avoid a
> >situation where someone suggests bentching in a manner which is in
> >itself the opening to zimun. one solution i've seen is that someone
> >points out to the "offender" that what he just said is sufficient to
> >start zimun so he should take care, and THEN everyone else present
> >tried to decide who should lead the zimun.
>and in MJ 51/29 Bernie R. wrote:
> >So this solution is: First embarrass the "offender" for his ignorance
> >and then proceed to ignore him? So much of our religious observance
> >(and life in general) is so tied up with such minutia that we tend to
> >ignore the very serious issurim connected with adam lechveiro.
to which Arie responded:
>i'm being very careful not to say anything about the bein adam
>l'chaveiro involved in that somewhat sarcastic answer.
>i will say, however, that most people, when the opportunity arises
>to discuss some halacha lema'ase (and b"H, both the willingness
>to express the knowledge and the willingness to listen and discuss
>are on the rise over the last years), such as in the situation
>described above, do it with tact, and use it as an opportunity to
>discuss and expand horizons, not to put down and/or ignore.
>it could be that bernie has been in situations where someone took
>"mis-advantage" of the opportunity to spread knowledge in an open
>and pleasant way, and used it in an ugly way, to put someone
>down; hence his reaction. but NOT raising any points which clarify
>halacha (in proper way) to someone who has erred (and who
>doesn't ?) which would otherwise open the point to  discussion
>from which everyone is enriched, raises other points of issurim...

I sincerely apologize if I have offended Arie in any way. I was not
(intentionally) being sarcastic. The truth is I was taken aback by his
characterization of the possibly mistaken diner as an "offender". I think
we have all been in the situation where someone at the table says
something like: "Are we ready to bentch?" or "So, let's bentch". Never in
my experience has anyone taken that as the equivalent of "Rabosai...",
the formal invitation to join in bentching. If you believe that is a
mistake, then it would seem that your obligation is to answer seriously
with the formal response, not to stop and give mussar to the innocent

I have been told of a situation where such an "offender" was answered
semi-seriously, described as occuring among classmates in a jocular
yeshiva environment. I would suggest that the time for mussar, if indeed
mussar is called for, is away from the immediate table environment,
unless, of course you are dining with very close friends or classmates,
and are absolutely certain that no offense would be taken.

Now my question to the erudite MJ-ers: Hypothetically; suppose someone at
your table does formally say "Rabosai, etc." without consulting anyone in
advance. Has he obligated you to answer even if you had no such
intention? Can someone obligate you to a mitzvah without your approval?
Let's say that everyone was engaged in conversation that they did not
want to rudely interrupt. What is the aveira in not answering? Is there
an aveira (other than the possible embarrassment, which I do not
minimize)? If not, then the "offender" in the above scenario has possibly
not offended.

Really interested in the answers--b'shalom--Bernie R.


From: Stephen Phillips <admin@...>
Date: Wed, 22 Feb 2006 13:12:43 +0000
Subject: Re: Rashi question

> From: Lisa Liel <lisa@...>
> Bava Metzia 84a.  In the 14th line of Rashi from the end, d"h "pagyon".
> Rashi gives a single word as an explanation.  It's spelled
> alef-shin-peh-yud-chupchik.  He doesn't say it's laaz, so I'm assuming
> it's not, but the only weapon-oriented thing that starts that way means
> quiver, and a pagyon is supposedly a dagger.

On my Bar Ilan Responsa Library CD this Rashi is written as follows:

HaPigyon - Ashp"i +Pigyon, Sakin Arucha+

I'm not sure who added the bit between the plus signs, but it does seem
that it is some form of long knife.

Stephen Phillips


From: <Gevaryahu@...> (Gilad J. Gevaryahu)
Date: Wed, 22 Feb 2006 09:34:43 EST
Subject: Rashi question on Pigyon

Other Gemarot has it correctly Alef, Shin, Peh " Yod which a hint that
it is a foreign word. The easiest way to find its meaning, unless you
have the glossaries to Rashi of Blondheim and his followers, is to go to
Steinsaltz edition of the Talmud where he usually gives the meaning of
these foreign words.

In this case Steinsaltz says: From Old French "esped" meaning a long
knife.  When Steinsaltz gave the word he had an alternative spelling in
Hebrew which had a Dalet at the end, and if indeed that was the original
Rashi, then the "chupchick" the hyphen, is understood as it shows only
the beginning of the word..

Gilad J. Gevaryahu


From: Joel Rich <JRich@...>
Date: Wed, 22 Feb 2006 08:13:23 -0500
Subject: Sheva Berakhot

> (b) It is permitted to leave before sheva berakhot--i.e. wherever you
> would be able to leave a regular dinner before birkat hamazon is recited
> in public, you can leave at a wedding.

For example?

> (c) Even the Mishna Berurah says that you can bensh with three rather
> than ten if you have to run out to do a mitzvah.  My brother-in-law, one
> of the important figures in Bnei Brak, agreed with my thesis that to get
> a good night sleep so that one can daven or learn (didn't ask him about
> work) probably is certainly a mitzvah.  The Arukh Hashulhan goes further
> and says that you don't have to wait when they stretch out a meal
> interminably.
>Mark Steiner

WADR to your brother-in-law, this is ain ldavar sof argument which would
eviscerate the din of requiring you to wait for 10.

Joel Rich


From: Freda B Birnbaum <fbb6@...>
Date: Wed, 22 Feb 2006 08:02:53 -0500 (EST)
Subject: re: Use of technology

In v51n31, Andy Goldfinger writes:

> A wonderful use of technology:
> My son in law teaches in a yeshiva in Brooklyn (NY).  One of the eighth 
> grade students is ill and is currently in the hospital for lengthy 
> treatment.  He has been very depressed, bored, and misses school (!). 
> The school has put a web cam in the class, and he now is "attending" 
> class via a lap top in his hosptial room (and is happy!).

I was at a wedding once where the mother of the groom was hospitalized,
and someone arranged a web cam for her hospital room, and she was able
to see the chupa, as well as numerous times during the dancing when the
people stopped to wave hello at her.

Also loved your

> In an now famous episode, one patrol member was stationed near a shul
> that had an evening lecture.  As the crowd came out, he radioed: "I see
> a large group of number one people in number two hats."

Of course... you can always tell the good guys, they wear the black


Freda Birnbaum, <fbb6@...>
"Call on God, but row away from the rocks"


End of Volume 51 Issue 33