Volume 52 Number 36
                    Produced: Fri Jun 30  5:36:10 EDT 2006

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Clapping hands on Shabbat and Chassidut
         [Ben Katz]
Had To Work on Shabbos
         [Tzvi Stein]
         [Ben Katz]
Jewish Blogs
         [Ari Trachtenberg]
Kaddish After `Aleinu
         [David E Cohen]
lettuce, professionalization, and the Foxfire books
         [David Riceman]
         [David Charlap]
Research question: references to the Creator
         [Louis Finkelman]
Sephardic womens' custom of preparing Korban Minchah
         [Elazar M. Teitz]


From: Ben Katz <bkatz@...>
Date: Mon, 26 Jun 2006 10:29:10 -0500
Subject: Re: Clapping hands on Shabbat and Chassidut

>From: Chana Luntz <chana@...>
>       The Shulchan Aruch (Orech Chaim siman 339 si'if 3) (discussing
>       hilchos shabbas) states that it is forbidden to slap one hand
>       against the other, or to clap a hand against a thigh, or to dance
>       [on shabbas] as a gezera [decree of the rabbis] lest one come to
>       fix an instrument.

I thought Rav Moshe had a teshuvah about clapping that was not so

  This also brings up the whole issue of chassidut, which really began
as a rebellion against rabbinic authority, no different from many other
movements that followed in the next century.  The Vilna Gaon of course
hated chassidut (and I use hate in the full sense of the word) and said
many inflammatory things about chassidim.  It seems to me that it was
only when mainstream Jews saw that Chassidim were serious in their
Judaism, that they became acceptable, unlike other rebellious movements
in the next century who were not.

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: Tzvi Stein <Tzvi.Stein@...>
Date: Mon, 26 Jun 2006 08:18:21 -0400
Subject: Had To Work on Shabbos

> From: Bill Bernstein <billbernstein@...>
> Tzvi Stein begins his recent post on this subject saying he can't judge
> those people who felt forced to work on Shabbos.  He then continues and
> does just that.
> It is difficult at this point to remind ourselves of the circumstances
> and mind-set that prevailed in the 1920s through the early 1960s.  An
> ...
> In such an environment, it is no wonder so many abandoned Shabbos
> observance.  It is to their credit that they continued any observance at
> all.  And those who were steadfast in their principles deserve the
> highest admiration.

I fully accept your criticism that I have engaged in "judging".  And in
fact I want to make clear that if I would have lived in that era, I
would have likely done no differently.

But I still feel that to give all the people that "had to work on
Shabbos" a free pass dishonors the heroism of those that resisted.  Yes,
it was a very difficult time that we today can not relate to.  But the
fact remains that some individuals and families "went along with the
crowd" and succumbed to the pressure, while others sacrificed for Hashem
and prevailed over the pressure.  As the risk of "judging", I believe
that distinction needs to be made.

It also should be noted that in the overwhelming majority of cases, the
people who "followed the crowd" went on to become the patriarchs and
matriarchs of the 90% or so of the Jewish population that has
assimilated, whereas the "heroic" minority who resisted became the
patriarchs and matriarchs of the surviving remnant (10%) of Torah

I also find it interesting to note how different rabbis and shuls
reacted to the situation.  Some reacted by making their davening and
schedules accommodating to the "crowd" of Shabbos desecrators (kaddishes
at the beginning of Shacharis, drasha at Mincha, etc.) while others
reacted in the opposite way (banning Hashkama minyanim on Shabbos, etc.)

I will repeat that I don't believe the people who were not able to
prevail over the pressure deserve our harsh condemnation since we are
not in their shoes.  However, considering the consequences of their
actions, I don't believe they deserve our "admiration" either.


From: Ben Katz <bkatz@...>
Date: Mon, 26 Jun 2006 10:53:45 -0500
Subject: Re: Hatikva

>From: Nadine Bonner <nfbonner@...>
>When it comes to national anthems, I think the sentiment trumps the
>song.  I personally find the tune to "HaTikva" to be emotionally
>stirring, so I think the song works on both levels.

   Hatikva is the only (or only one of the few) national anthems in a
minor key.

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: Ari Trachtenberg <trachten@...>
Date: Mon, 26 Jun 2006 10:24:57 -0400
Subject: Re: Jewish Blogs

From: <Dagoobster@...> (Chaim Shapiro)
> THE major difference between the telephone and Jewish blogs as a
> medium, is the wider distribution the Internet allows... ANYONE with a
> computer can stumble on a blog entry.  Some of the most popular Jewish
> blogs have received OVER 600,000 page views...

Yes, but this works both ways.  As more and more people blog, there is
more and more information available, and people have to be more
selective about what they read and what they believe.

One could have made the same argument about books, in that anyone can
write what they want and publish it.  However, the abundance of books
has lead to consumer skepticism and discrimination in what they read.

Ari Trachtenberg,                                      Boston University
http://people.bu.edu/trachten                    mailto:<trachten@...>


From: David E Cohen <ddcohen@...>
Date: Wed, 28 Jun 2006 10:33:24 -0400
Subject: Kaddish After `Aleinu

Recently, mention was made of the Rema's position in OC 132:2 that
Kaddish should be said after `Aleinu, even in the absence of mourners.

My understanding is that at the time of the Rema, the Shir shel Yom had
not yet been added to the daily service.  I'm almost certain that the
recitation of Mizmor 30 before Pesukei de-Zimra had not yet become
widespread.  Given that, it would seem that perhaps the Rema was not
telling us that the pasuk at the end of `Aleinu has some sort of special
status that makes it more worthy of a mandatory Kaddish than other
pesukim, but rather that after any pesukim are recited, Kaddish must be
said.  It just so happened that in his day, the only place where "extra"
pesukim were recited (outside of the formal framework) were after
`Aleinu, so that's what he mentioned.

The practical daily ramifications of this understanding of the Rema for
contemporary shuls following the East European branch of Nusach Ashkenaz
would seem to be that:

1.  Kaddish ought to be considered "mandatory" after Mizmor 30 before
Pesukei de-Zimra.

2.  Whether or not mourners are present, one Kaddish should be recited
at the end, not immediately after `Aleinu, but rather after the Shir
shel Yom.

I have never seen a shul that conducts itself in this way, though.  Can
somebody tell me why I'm incorrect?  If the popular understanding of the
Rema is the correct one, what IS it about the pasuk at the end of
`Aleinu (I'm referring to "Hashem yimlokh le-`olam va`ed"; the one from
Zekharyah was added later) that makes it more worthy of Kaddish than
other pesukim?



From: David Riceman <driceman@...>
Date: Wed, 28 Jun 2006 14:21:06 -0400
Subject: lettuce, professionalization, and the Foxfire books

I recently saw a full page advertisement signed by several rabbis
announcing that bugs had been found in lettuce, and that no one should
eat lettuce unless it had been inspected personally by a leading expert
in the field of lettuce inspection.

It set me to wondering.  When I was a boy there was a large group of
experts in fields like inspecting lettuce and salting and soaking meat.
They were called "mothers".  No rabbi in his right mind, no matter how
haredi, would have thought of questioning their expertise.  Of course
there have been demographic changes since then - - for example, when I
was a boy none of my friends lived in childless households, and now
several of my friends do.

It seems that there are two possible responses to these demographic
shifts.  One is professionalization, as exemplified in the advertisement
I mentioned, and in the groups which will come round to kasher your
home, and the resorts which will make Pesah for you.  But why stop
there? The halacha is very precise, for example, about visitors'
behavior in a house of mourning, and I myself have seen several examples
of people trying to be menahem avel who violated halacha.  Surely we
should have professionals who could go and be menahem avel for us, and
full page advertisements decrying amateurs daring to attempt such a
feat.  Similarly, it's very hard to know what to apologize for and how
to apologize before Yom Kippur.  Why isn't there a group of rabbinically
trained apologizers whom we can hire to apologize properly for us?

The other option is populism.  There is a series of books called the
"Foxfire Books", written by schoolchildren who interviewed older
neighbors about lost arts.  Surely some enterprising Jewish schools
could do the same, and we could have lessons, not only on halachic
subjects like cleaning lettuce and salting meat, but also on
sociological subjects like how to make your children feel guilty, and
how to speak with an Eastern European accent.  We'd hope that eventually
these subjects made their way into the Yeshiva and Beis Yaakov
curriculums, so that washing lettuce could once more become a home

David Riceman 


From: David Charlap <shamino@...>
Date: Wed, 28 Jun 2006 10:33:57 -0400
Subject: Re: Midrash

Michael Kopinsky wrote:
> 2) Are midrashim actually the (or a) meaning of the pasuk? Or are they
> pieces of wisdom presented in a particular format, such that the pasuk
> is merely serving as an aid to present the information or lesson?

The foreword to "The Midrash Says" discusses this.  It says (among many
other things) that midrashim are actually an "encoding" of the Torah's
moral and ethical teaching - placing these highly abstract concepts into
a framework that people can understand.

As such, many can not be understood literally, and all require a teacher
(or at least a lot of detailed explanation) in order to properly

The following article provides more information about what the Midrash is:

-- David


From: Louis Finkelman <louis.finkelman@...>
Date: Tue, 27 Jun 2006 21:41:18 -0400
Subject: Research question: references to the Creator

Dear folks:

When speaking in English, observant Jews tend to refer to the Creator
using the ordinary English word for the Deity, God, the same word used
by practictioners of other faiths. A few Jews followed a stricter
opinion, and avoided using that word in speech, reserving it for prayer
(placing it on the same level as the seven epithets in biblical Hebrew,
which we do not use casually).  At least, that describes the way that we
spoke in my youth.

In recent years, I have observed people insisting on using the Hebrew
word "HaShem" in place of the ordinary English word; and that seems the
practice of some Jewish book publishers as well. This, in effect, claims
that the Jewish concept of the Creator differs so radically from the
concept held by non-Jews that we should not use the same word.  My
research question: What do speakers of other Jewish languagues do with
general words for the Creator?

I think Yiddish uses Hebrew words, but also German ones, "Abishter" and

Judesmo (Judeo-Espaniol, Ladino) uses "Dio," close to, but not identical
with, the Spanish "Dios."

What do speakers of Judeo-Arabic, Judeo-Persian, Bukharian, and so
forth, do? What word do we find in the Arabic philosophic and religious
writings of the great Rishonim?

I look forward to responses from fellow readers who know.

Eliezer Finkelman


From: Elazar M. Teitz <remt@...>
Date: Tue, 27 Jun 2006 00:54:25 GMT
Subject: Re: Sephardic womens' custom of preparing Korban Minchah

     The statement was made that it would be possible (were it not for
problems of tum'ah) to bring a korban mincha outside the Beis Hamikdash,
referring to a supposed responsum of Ezra, Nechemiah or their immediate
successors to that effect.

     I know nothing about such a responsum, but the Mishna in Z'vachim
(109a) states unequivocally that a mincha cannot be brought outside the
Beis Hamikdash, and subjects the one who does so to the same penalty as
one who brings an animal sacrifice.



End of Volume 52 Issue 36