Volume 51 Number 35
                    Produced: Sat Feb 25 20:49:04 EST 2006

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Rabosay . . . . . mihr velen NIT bentchin
         [Stu Pilichowski]
Rashi question
         [David Mescheloff]
Sheva Berakhot
         [Mark Steiner]
Simchat Bat
         [Shoshana L. Boublil]
Simchat Bat and "agenda"
         [Leah S. Gordon]
         [Ira L. Jacobson]
Talmud Trees and Chuppah
         [Michael Green]
Valentines and Avoda zara
         [Aharon Fischman]
Valentine's Day...
         [Leah S. Gordon]
Zeved Habat
         [Menashe Elyashiv]
Zohar Book Review


From: Stu Pilichowski <cshmuel@...>
Date: Thu, 23 Feb 2006 14:45:12 +0000
Subject: Rabosay . . . . . mihr velen NIT bentchin

I'm sorry my only source is the fifth chelek of the shulchan aruch, but
someone at the table who without warning or asking anyone present starts
the zimun is an offender in my book. He's acting totally in an
inappropriate way.

We've spent so much time on MJ discussing "dressing up" and getting
ready for davening, what after all is bentching? Something that you just
jump into w/o warning. Puh-leeze!

For those that wash mayim achronim - will they have an opportnity to
wash or fahgetaboutit . . . Mr M'Zamain takes precedence? No way, Jose.

Stuart Pilichowski
Mevaseret Zion, Israel


From: David Mescheloff <david_mescheloff@...>
Date: Thu, 23 Feb 2006 03:19:37 -0800 (PST)
Subject: Rashi question

Lisa Liel asked:

> 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.

> Does anyone have any idea what this means?

The word is a "laaz", old French for a rapier, a relatively slender,
sharply pointed sword, used mainly for thrusting attacks.  Apparently
its modern form was developed in Europe around the 16th century, but it
is just a variation on what chazal already recognized.

A Google search for "rapier translation old French" leads to the
explanation of this laaz in Rashi:

French rapi're, from Old French (espee) rapiere, rapier (sword).]
WordNet and more:

Have a look at: http://www.answers.com/topic/rapier

The article from Wikipedia is also brought there, which has
this to say about the etymology:

The etymology of the word "rapier" is uncertain. Charles du Fresne,
sieur du Cange uses the word "Rapparia" in 1484 to describe an espe'e in
his ``Glossarium mediae et infimae Latinitatis``. He proposes that the
origin of the word may stem from the greek [our ascii version does not
allow greek to be sent across the list. Mod], to cut. However, Walter
William Skeat suggests that "rapie'r" may derive from "raspie're", a
poker, and that this may be a contemptuous term developed by older
cut-and-thrust fencers for the new weapon.

May G-d erase the need for the use of such weapons from this world.

Best wishes,
David Mescheloff


From: Mark Steiner <marksa@...>
Date: Thu, 23 Feb 2006 13:41:27 +0200
Subject: RE: Sheva Berakhot

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

	There is a difference between the din of zimmun and the din of
zimmun with a minyan.  To bensh with a zimmun when you ate with the
people, is absolutely mandatory.  To wait for 10 is a mitzvah (let's
assume for the sake of argument that by leaving there still will be 10,
so you are not spoiling it for them).  Hence the din of waiting for 10
could be overridden in some cases.  The Talmud discusses a case in which
it was impossible to hear the public birkat hamazon; and on the other
hand, to organize a "private" minyan in the hall would insult the host,
so three Jews got together and benshed quietly.  In other words, the
mitzvah of respecting the host overrode the mitzvah of minyan for
zimmun.  This is how the Arukh Hashulhan learns this gemara.

	The Arukah Hashulhan adds that this din certainly applies to
today's interminable dinners: you can bensh quietly with 3 and leave.

	The Mishnah Berurah is uncertain of this, but says that if you
have another mitzvah to do you can forgo the mitzvah of benshing with a
minyan.  My brother-in-law (who is a moreh hora-ah who has published
serveral sifrei halakha) holds that the mitzvah of davening in the
morning or learning Torah could be a mitzvah which exempts you from the
mitzvah of waiting for 10.  Obviously another rav could disagree with
him, but I don't see what's wrong with what he's saying (I thought of it

	Note, however, that there is never an excuse simply to leave
without a zimmun at all, because a zimmun is an absolute obligation.


From: Shoshana L. Boublil <toramada@...>
Date: Thu, 23 Feb 2006 19:30:14 +0200
Subject: Re: Simchat Bat

> From: Naomi Kingsley <rogerk@...>
> Sephardim [or at least some of them, I don't know which varieties] have
> such a ceremony.

It is the custom of the Lybian and the Italian-Livorno communities to
have both a Zeved HaBat when a daughter is born, and a Bat-Mitzvah
celebration when she reaches the age of 12.  The Buchara community also
has a celebration on the birth of a daughter.

The Zeved HaBat is documented going back to the 17th century at least
and probably earlier.

It is a Se'udat Hodaya on the birth of a girl.

It used to be held 80 days after the birth, so that it wouldn't be that
"the guests are happy, but the parents are not...".

"Zeved" in hebrew means "gift".

During the ceremony, that is accompanied by a Se'udat Mitzva, a short
portion of Shir HaShirim is read; a special MiShebeirach (mentioning the
7 prophetesses) is said by the Rabbi or a Cohen and the ceremony is
usually concluded by a Birkat Kohanim.

If this is a 1st born daughter an additional sentence is said.

BTW, this is a separate ceremony from the naming ceremony in shul.

I've found that the community She'erit Yisrael (Spanish-Portuguese)
apparently also have a similar Zeved HaBat ceremony.

> One part of the ceremony is a sort of procession of all the female
> relatives [great-grandmothers, grandmothers, mother, sisters, newborn].
> I don't remember whether the baby gets passed round all these or not.
> In any case, as long as the food is kosher and the event is not taking
> place in a "treif" venue or atmosphere, why should there be any halachic
> problems with what the poster is describing above? Why should the birth
> of a girl not be a reason for a party if the parents want to have one?
> Until quite recently, no-one had bat-mitzvah parties - try to tell this
> to your 11 year-old daughter!

Actually, as noted, Sephardi communities have been having celebrations
for centuries, only they were usually in the home, in some places the
shul had a special ceremony after the davening, and in general, the girl
was expected to wear something new and say Shehecheyanu that includes
the thought of the special day.

Shoshana L. Boublil
(we just celebrated a Zeved HaBat for our youngest grandaughter last week <g>)


From: Leah S. Gordon <leah@...>
Date: Thu, 23 Feb 2006 03:26:16 -0800
Subject: Simchat Bat and "agenda"

I read Anonymous' posting about his/her invitation to a Simchat Bat with
a ritual that seems to parallel a bris and thus makes him/her

Others have replied saying things along the lines of "yes, it indicates
an ideological agenda" to do things this way.

I fear that too many readers of M.J are not conversant with the ways of
the non-Othodox world.  The ceremony described by Anonymous is not at
all 'radical' or 'making a statement' in the general Jewish community.
It sounds very vanilla to me, and very much like every other Simchat Bat
I've heard of in recent times.

I personally am quite relieved that it is no longer 'radical' to do this
ceremony, as indeed it is not.  My *relief* is indeed a sign of an
ideological agenda; make no mistake.  ;)

Although the Simchat Bat as described may seem, to some on this list,
like a major feminist statement and way beyond the pale of 'what people
do,' that is simply not the case in 2006 USA Judaism.  Most nonOrthodox
Jews, like most Orthodox Jews, are not crazy feminists like me.  They
are more or less conformists with the usual traditions of their

--Leah S. R. Gordon


From: Ira L. Jacobson <laser@...>
Date: Thu, 23 Feb 2006 20:27:44 +0200
Subject: Re: Tahanun

Eli Turkel <eliturkel@...> stated on Tue, 21 Feb 2006 11:59:42

>> Sefardim do not rest their heads on their arms during nefilat apayim.
>> Ashkenazim rest their heads on their left arm unless they are wearing
>> tefillin there, in which case they rest their head on their right
>> arm.  Teimanim rest their head on their left arm even if they are
>> wearing tefillin there.  (Left-handed people do the same, except that
>> their right is our left, so to speak.)>>

> Unless your Brisk in which case you always rest the head on the left
> hand even if the are wearing tefiillin there (and again reverse for
> lefties)

I must admit that this terminology "your something is my something" and
"reverse for lefties" is at best confusing. (*see note.)

After receiving an offlist comment and consulting with another talmid
hakham in person, I wish to summarize, with the hope that nothing I say
here is wrong.

Left-handed Ashkenazim fall on their left forearm, unless it has
tefillin, in which case they fall on their right forearm.  Right-handed
Ashkenazim fall on their left forearm whether or not they are wearing

Sefardim sit but do not fall on either arm, whether or not they are
wearing tefillin.

Teimanim and those who follow minhag haGra fall on the left forearm no
matter what.

All this notwithstanding, I peeked yesterday and observed one Sefardi
who sort of fell, by bringing his right wrist up to his forehead, and
one Teimani who sat but did not fall at all.  If he is a Shami rather
than a Baladi, this may make sense, since many of the Shami customs are
identical to others of the `Edot Hamizah.

I have also observed people who fall on bare forearms and on wrists.
This is not to be understood as condoning such practices.

(*) NOTE: This terminology reminds me of something a telephone
technician told me many years ago.  He pointed to his right index finger
and said "The president of the United States cannot move this finger."
I asked him why, and he replied, "Because it's on my hand."

IRA L. JACOBSON         


From: Michael Green <michaelchaimgreen@...>
Date: Thu, 23 Feb 2006 22:37:02 +0200
Subject: Talmud Trees and Chuppah

Does anyone know where the Talmud says that when a boy was born, it was
the custom to plant a cedar tree; and when a girl was born, an acacia.
When they ultimately wed, the tree (which one: acacia or cedar? ) was
cut down and their wedding was enhanced by using the branches for the
chuppah, the wedding canopy?

Thank you

Michael Chaim Green


From: Aharon Fischman <afischman@...>
Date: Thu, 23 Feb 2006 09:47:36 -0500
Subject: Re: Valentines and Avoda zara

<Meirhwise@...> (R. Meir Wise) Wrote:

>He suggested that the Jewish students of London University (UJS)
>celebrate Tu Bishvat which occurred around that time, thereby creating
>an opportunity for Chinuch and a kiddush Hashem.

My 4 & 3/4 year old daughter (and don't dare forget the 3/4) saw all of
the valentines day decorations going up and commented how she can see
how everyone is getting ready for Tu Bishvat which she was learning
about in school.

Aharon Fischman


From: Leah S. Gordon <leah@...>
Date: Thu, 23 Feb 2006 03:32:48 -0800
Subject: Valentine's Day...

The statement "Valentine's Day is the worst kind of avodah zara" sounds
more like rhetoric than reasoned halakha.

I preferred R. Broyde's (and others') careful, reasoned approaches with
sources.  I will be very unlikely to take seriously a polemic statement
with obvious problems--could anyone believe that giving one's sweetie a
rose is worse than offering one's firstborn to Ba'al?

By the way, I find it a bit amusing that observance of Valentine's Day
is considered halakhically somehow more "rational" than observance of
Halloween.  I get the other distinctions, but not that one.

--Leah S. R. Gordon


From: Menashe Elyashiv <elyashm@...>
Date: Thu, 23 Feb 2006 14:50:58 +0200 (IST)
Subject: Zeved Habat

I have never seen a Zeved Habat ceremony in all the places I have been
to, (although that is no proof). What is done is the first Shabbat or
weekday Tora reading, after the father is given a Aliya, 2 verses of
Shir Hashirim (yonati...) and a Misheberach of calling a name for the
new girl is said. A Kiddush is sometimes brought.


From: Medad <ybmedad@...>
Date: Thu, 23 Feb 2006 21:44:21 +0200
Subject: Zohar Book Review

The Times Literary Supplement has a book review on the Zohar and other
related books:



End of Volume 51 Issue 35