Volume 51 Number 51
                    Produced: Wed Mar  8  6:25:18 EST 2006

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Common Mispronunciations
MispronounciaTIONS - mispronounciAtions
         [Alan Rubin]
Valentine's Day and New Year's Day
         [Eitan Fiorino]


From: <aliw@...> (Arie)
Date: Mon, 6 Mar 2006 23:22:05 +0200
Subject: Re: Common Mispronunciations

in MJ 51/46,  Jay F Shachter wrote:
>I have never heard, or if I have heard I have never noticed, the
>mispronunciations of Psalms 148:13 ... that were mentioned by 
>Mr Himelstein prior to the cited passage above, and they are very, 
>very, disturbing, indicating that the state of public education in 
>Israel, or at least in Mr Himelstein's part of Israel, is much worse 
>than I would have ever expected. 

i don't know how fair that is to say. i know highly israeli-yeshiva
educated people who say hodu instead of hodo, not only as the sefer is
returned to the aron, but also in psukei d'zimra, in the hallelukahs.and
they say it because they heard it from others as they grew up. and it
sort of fits. i grew up in a shteibel, (albeit in the u.s., not in
israel) had a yeshiva education (including ivrit b'ivrit in elementary
school) and yet because i davened in a shteibel, it was years before i
realized that the words of sh'ma koleinu did NOT include "al
tashlicheini" !

>From Proverbs 31:29, recited by a husband every Friday night, as 
>he gazes lovingly across the table at his wife: "Rabbot banot asu 
>xayil, v'at alit al kullana", pronouncing the `ayin in "`alit" as if it 
>were an 'alef, changing the meaning from, "many daughters have 
>done valorously, and you have exceeded them all" to "many 
>daughters have done valorously, and you have cursed out all of 

alah, a curse, is a noun, not a verb. i went through my concordance and
found, besides alah, alati (my curse) and alato (his curse) but never
the form you suggest. besides which, almost all ashkenazi jews fail to
differentiate between aleph and ayin, and even those who do so when
leining, do not differentiate in everyday speech (well almost - i know
one guy who does.)  



From: Alan Rubin <alanrubin1@...>
Date: Tue, 7 Mar 2006 08:35:38 +0000
Subject: MispronounciaTIONS - mispronounciAtions

Since the subject of pronounciation has raised itself again I would be
interested in how we know that it is generally correct to stress the
final syllable. Is this mainly from the way tenach is pointed? Is there
any other textual evidence. I come from a tradition where people
commonly pronounce mil'eil. Should I consider that tradition simply as

Alan Rubin


From: Eitan Fiorino <AFiorino@...>
Date: Mon, 6 Mar 2006 15:36:00 -0500
Subject: Re: Valentine's Day and New Year's Day

Orrin's position is that wishing a "happy and healthy new year" to
someone January 1 is assur.  His sevarah is as follows - to utter the
words "happy new year" on January 1 "takes away" from Rosh Hashana, and
thus saying those words forbidden. I have asked Orrin to provide any
halachic source that recognizes a concept of "taking away" from Rosh
Hashana, and any sources that apply that concept to creating issurim on
speach or actions at other times.  I continue to await such sources.  I
have also countered that the halacha actually recognizes a multiplicity
of calendars and new years, so it is very difficult to argue through any
set of logical deductions that the words "happy new year" uttered
outside of the context of Rosh Hashana can be construed as detracting in
some way from Rosh Hashana.

Since sources have not been forthcoming, I'll offer a potential example
- there is a custom that matza is not eaten for various lengths of time
before Pesach, and the halacha is not to eat matza on erev pesach (based
on a custom of Rebbi recorded in the Yerushalmi).  A commonly offered
explanation is so the taste of matza will be fresh in one's mouth at the
seder (I am interested in exactly what is the issur here?  A question
for another time perhaps, unless someone knows the answer and cares to
email it to me).  This example doesn't really help Orrin's case, however
because (1) this explanation of why we don't eat matza erev pesach is
subject to dispute and may not be the reason for the prohibition, and
(2) even if the issur directly results from a problem with "taking away"
from the taste of matza at the seder, the issur generated against eating
matza only applies to a single day of the year (erev pesach), and
applies to an act, not to an utterance.

> Let's back up for a second.  One of the technical reasons why attending
> a new year's eve party is forbidden is 'lo telchu bechokot hagoi',
> which is lav #262 in the sefer hachinuch.  I was merely, using one of
> Rabbi Broyde's criteria, trying to explain why this prohibition might
> not apply to valentine's day.  This criterion is that the practice must
> not inconsistent with Jewish tradition. 

Here Orrin has made an assertion that attending the typical secular New
Year's eve party is forbidden under chukot hagoyim.  This differs from
his original claim that acknowledging January 1 as New Year's day is
assur because to do so "takes away from Rosh Hashana," and it is unclear
if he is limiting this assertion to a party or if he is claiming that
even uttering "happy New Year" is also forbidden under chukot hagoyim.
In either case, I disagree (however, attending at least certain kinds of
New Year's eve parties is quite likely assur for other reasons).  Orrin
states that attending a New Year's party violates the 4th criterion
cited by Rabbi Broyde, that in order to avoid the prohibition of chukot
hagoyim the practice in question "must not [be] inconsistent with Jewish
tradition."  (Incidentally, this is a slight mis-quote of Rabbi Broyde's
citation of the Rema on this point; he actually phrased it in the
positive, not the double negative, stating the activity must be
"consistent with the Jewish tradition.")  In the case of New Year's Day,
the most common secular themes of the day are reflection and
self-improvement, and these are are 100% consistent with Jewish
tradition.  Moreover, it seems likely that some elements of celebrating
New Year's Day also satisfy other criteria brought down by the Rema and
so there may be in fact multiple reasons to reject the application of
chukot hagoyim to New Year's Day activites.

> You will first have to
> concede - otherwise there is nothing for us to talk about - that 
> (1) there is nothing in Jewish tradition that marks January 1 as the
> beginning of a new year;
> (2) there is nothing in Jewish tradition that makes the beginning of a
> new year - any new year - a time for revelry;
> (3) the only personal new year we observe - Rosh Hashana - is a time not
> for revelry but for serious prayer; and
> (4) in Jewish tradition, we wish others a 'happy and healthy new year'
> before Rosh Hashana and at no other time.
> I think, given the items above that you will have to concede that I have
> made an airtight case that observing January 1 - whether it's with
> seriously wishing 'happy new year', with noisemakers, or with alcohol -
> is inconsistent with Jewish tradition.  Having done so, I respectfully
> submit that the burden of proof that the act is permissible is yours.

Ok, I think there truly is nothing to discuss.  The burden of proof is
on on ME to show that saying "Happy New Year" on January 1 is mutar?? I
do not subscribe to the view that all actions and utterances are a
priori assumed assur until I have scoured the Shulchan Aruch and 1000
years of teshovot for some heter.  Putting the burden of proof on me is
an "argumentum ex silentio" - that the absence of a specific heter for
saying "Happy New Year" means it must be assur, unless I can find a
heter somewhere.  As far as I am concerned, the burden of evidence is
not on me to prove the words are assur, when Orrin has yet to set forth
either a credible halachic basis for his position or a credible line of
deductive reasoning.  Just for fun, then, let's look at the deductive
sequence that that will apparently lock me into a logical logjam and
force me to concede that Orrin is correct:

> (1) there is nothing in Jewish tradition that marks January 1 as the
> beginning of a new year;

Conceded.  I would note that "Jewish tradition" (whatever that is)
explicitly recognizes a multiplicity of new year's days, and that Jewish
tradition acknowledges that there are secular calendars - thus while
Jewish tradition does not recognize January 1 as the beginning of any
halachic new year, Jewish tradition has no problem with acknowledging
that any particular day may be the new year's day for some alternative
calendar, be it secular, Jewish, or otherwise.

> (2) there is nothing in Jewish tradition that makes the beginning of a
> new year - any new year - a time for revelry;

Not sure I concede - it depends on how one defines "revelry" (American
Heritage dictionary says this is "boisterous merrymaking").  Certainly,
Jewish tradition allows for the recognition of tu b'shevat with a party
of some kind - I've never been to a tu b'shevat seder but, I don't know,
throw a bunch of kabbalists together with some carob and you could get
"boisterous merrymaking."  I think that the month on Nisan, the first
day of which is a Jewish New Year's Day, is a month the Jewish tradition
recognizes as a time of simcha (and I've certainly seen plenty of people
engage in "boisterous merrymaking" upon realizing there is no tachanun
to be said).  And according to the Rambam, there is a din of simcha on
Rosh Hashana and that one must eat meat and wine to mark the day.

I would concede this point if one defines "revelry" as "drunkeness and
licentiousness", in which case the point is taken but eaningless since
Jewish tradition marks NO days of the calendar as acceptable for
drunkeness and licentiouness.  I have never disputed any claim that it
is assur to mark January 1 with drunkeness and licentiousness - such
behavior is assur every day - rather I disputed the claim that ANY
acknowledgement of January 1 as New Year's Day "takes away from" Rosh
Hashana and that therefore such behavior is forbidden.

> (3) the only personal new year we observe - Rosh Hashana - is a time not
> for revelry but for serious prayer;

I do not understand what is meant by "personal new year" so I cannot
concede this point - I don't ever recall seeing Rosh Hashana referred to
as a "personal new year" by the mishna.  Also, we are again contending
with the problems of the definition of "revelry" and whether there is a
din of simcha on Rosh Hashana, also making it hard to concede to this
point.  Even if I agree that Rosh Hashana is not a time for the revelry
Orrin has in mind, this point too adds nothing because Rosh Hashana is
certainly not the ONLY time for serious prayer (indeed, every day is a
time for serious prayer).  I would concede that from Elul through Kippur
one's thoughts turn more towards introspection and repentance and this
often drives a more focused approach to tefila - however, it seems to me
that the focus on prayer and repentance during this time is related more
to to Yom Kippur than to Rosh Hashana. 

> (4) in Jewish tradition, we wish others a 'happy and healthy new year'
> before Rosh Hashana and at no other time.

I do not concede. I (and I know of others) who make a point of wishing a
"happy new year" on tu b'shevat specificaly because the mishna tells us
this is a new year's day. And, even if I concede to a less absolute
formulation of this statement, here too the point adds nothing because
the observation that a behavior not being done does not prove anything -
this is the argument from silence again.  Just because Orrin has never
heard someone say "Happy New Year" on tu b'shevat or rosh chodesh nissan
or rosh chodesh elul does not prove that there is some special link
between the words "happy new year" and Rosh Hashana.

I would summarize the Orrin's logical progression as follows: (1)
January 1 is not a Jewish New Year's day, and (2) Jewish New Year's days
are not celebrated with revelry; indeed, in contrast, (3) Rosh Hashana
is celebrated with serious prayer and (4) it is the only time Jews wish
each other a "Happy New Year."   I honestly have no idea how this group
of statements, which do not form a logically cohesive and connected
argument, can lead anyone to conclude that therefore "observing January
1 - whether it's with seriously wishing 'happy new year', with
noisemakers, or with alcohol - is inconsistent with Jewish tradition."
I can't even piece together what the purported logic was supposed to be
- is the basic thesis that we cannot utter the words "happy new year" on
January 1 because "Jewish tradition" has reserved the use of that phrase
exclusively for Rosh Hashana? 

In fact, Orrin's position is not a sevarah; rather, it is merely an
unsupported assertion that he is trying to dress up undert the guise of
a series of logical deductions.  He asserts that since "Jewish
tradition" (which seems to be a substitute for the citation of
legitimate sources) recognizes Rosh Hashana as the most important new
year's day on the calendar, it is consequently forbidden to use the term
"happy new year" with regard to non-Jewish new years days like January 1
or the Chinese new year.

This might be true in Orrin's "Jewish tradition." MY Jewish tradition,
in contrast, recognizes January 1 as New Year's day on the secular
American calendar (because poskim like Rav Moshe have noted in their
teshuvot that the rest of the country recognizes the date as a holiday)
and moreover, MY Jewish tradition recognizes a fundamental difference
between wishing my neighbor a "Happy molech day - hope the sacrificing
of your children goes smoothly, we sure will miss seeing those little
tykes around here" and wishing him a "Happy New Year, hope it is a happy
and healthy one."  MY Jewish tradition also places halachic weight on
inyanim like kavod habriot and darchei noam and thus may even OBLIGATE
me to wish my neighbor a Happy New Year on January 1 (a question I've
never asked but the possibility does not seem so far-fetched).



End of Volume 51 Issue 51