Volume 52 Number 70
                    Produced: Tue Sep 12  5:19:34 EDT 2006

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

A capella radio?
         [Andy Goldfinger]
Heter for turning off an alarm clock on shabbat? (2)
         [Akiva Miller, Saul Mashbaum]
         [Joel Rich]
Images on gravestones
         [Irwin Weiss]
Jewish Agency and Nefesh B' Nefesh (2)
         [Barry S Bank, Saul Mashbaum]
Tunes and Personalities
         [Michael Gerver]
What is the Talmud?
         [Andy Goldfinger]
Why aren't Jewish children named Yitro?
         [Scott Spiegler]
Yahrzeit of Sarah Immeinu on first day of Rosh ha-Shanah;  Yahrzeit of
         [Yael Levine]


From: Andy Goldfinger <Andy.Goldfinger@...>
Date: Fri, 28 Jul 2006 10:38:24 -0400
Subject: A capella radio?

Today, I was listening to Arutz Sheva on the radio (well -- on my
computer, but same idea).  They played some a capella music (singers but
no instruments) and commented that this was permitted during the nine
days.  My question is the following: is it a capella if I hear it over a

That is: a person singing in my presence is certainly a voice rather
than a musical insturment (kli shir).  In this case,however, there is no
person present.  Rather an electronic-acoustic device (a radio or
computer) is playing music that sounds like a human voice but actually
is not.  Does this count halachically as a voice or a kli shir (musical

-- Andy Goldfinger


From: Akiva Miller <kennethgmiller@...>
Date: Tue, 12 Sep 2006 04:58:51 GMT
Subject: Re: Heter for turning off an alarm clock on shabbat?

Bernard Raab wrote:
> I have received heterim over the years from various rabbis
> for turning off fans or adjusting thermostats in Shabbat
> if these appliances were preventing sleep on Shabbat,
> especially for an elderly person. It has been my understanding
> that Shabbat rest is a Torah mandate, while the prohibition on
> the use of electricity on Shabbat is strictly of rabbinic
> origin, with the sole exception of incandescent lighting,
> which most poskim seem to regard as "eish" (fire), and hence
> of biblical origin.

Rav Moshe Heinemann (of the Star-K) is just a bit stricter than the
above, as he considers electricity to be a Torah violation not only when
light is generated, but also if heat is generated.

His views were published by Feldheim in the book "Guide to Halachos" by
Nachman Schachter. The following excerpt is from pages 29-30:

> Activating any electrical device to generate either heat or
> light or increasing the setting on an electrical device to
> generate more heat or light is prohibited because of the
> Melacha D'oraisa of Ma'avir. Examples include intentionally
> 1) activating a heating pad, 2) activating a light, 3)
> increasing the setting on a dimmer switch and 4) increasing
> the setting on an electric blanket.
> However, activating a device that provides unnecessary heat
> or light, e.g. a phone with a lighted dial in an illuminated
> room, is prohibited as a Melachah D'rabbanan.
> Activating or increasing the setting on any electrical device
> whose purpose is other than generating light or heat, e.g. a
> fan, an air conditioner, a timer or an automatic door etc. is
> prohibited as a Melachah D'rabanan. However some electrical
> devices included in this section perform an additional
> Melachah, e.g. a grinder performs the Melachah D'oraisa of
> Tochein [grinding]. Therefore, asking a non-Jew to activate or
> increase the setting on such a device is prohibited.

It would seem to me that a ringing alarm clock would clearly fit Rav
Heinemann's criteria for something which is prohibited "only" by the
rabbis. This does not give a person carte blanche to turn off his alarm
clock each Shabbos morning, but I can see cases where a rabbi would
allow it for the ill or elderly (as Mr. Raab wrote), especially if there
is no non-Jew around who one might ask.

It is a very useful book, and I strongly recommend it to anyone who is
dissatisfied with "one size fits all" rulings like "Electricity is
forbidden on Shabbos", which -- despite being accurate -- is too
superficial to allow a person to understand how to deal with borderline
cases such as these.

(The book's ISBN number is "1-58330-225-5", and if you enter that number
into Amazon.com or BarnesAndNoble.com, you'll be told that it is out of
print. And that's probably why there's no mention of it at
Feldheim.com. But your local Jewish bookstore might have a copy, and if
enough people write to Feldheim, maybe they'll reprint it.)

Akiva Miller

From: Saul Mashbaum <smash52@...>
Date: Tue, 12 Sep 2006 10:14:51 +0200
Subject: Re: Heter for turning off an alarm clock on shabbat?

<kbloom@...> wrote
> I made the mistake of experimenting with the time-bake feature of my 
> oven about 5 minutes before shabbat, to keep the oven on low until it 
> was time to eat. Little did I know that after the oven turned off,
> the  oven would beep every minute or so to indicate completion until
> someone  hit a button on the control panel to turn off the beeping.

It seems to me that there is a fundamental difference between Ken
Bloom's case, in which the bell sounds intermittently, and an alarm
clock which rings continuously. When the bell is not ringing, adjusting
the alarm prevents a *future* ringing, unlike turning off a bell which
is currently ringing. So it seems that in Ken Bloom's case there is much
more room for leniency than in that of a continuously ringing alarm

Saul Mashbaum


From: Joel Rich <JRich@...>
Date: Fri, 28 Jul 2006 08:29:40 -0400
Subject: Hostages

The gemara in Gittin (45a) reports the case of Levi bar darga as an
example of paying greater than market value for a hostage but rejects it
(Abaye) based on "dilma shelo bratzon chachamim avad".  I could find no
other mention of Levi nor any other place in shas where an example is
rejected on this basis. Why would the gemara assume that an action was
not bratzon chachamim unless it knew it (the fact that it occurred was
obviously known, if the chachamim objected wouldn't that have been
mesora as well?)

Joel Rich


From: Irwin Weiss <irwin@...>
Date: Mon, 11 Sep 2006 23:13:45 -0400
Subject: Images on gravestones

Bob Kosovsky inquires into the subject of images on gravestones, having
seen them in a cemetery in Brooklyn on some relatively recent gravesites
for Russian immigrants.

I never knew the custom either, until I saw this also in 2001 on a visit
to the Jewish cemetery in Havana, Cuba.  Not on new gravestones, but
dating from years ago. (One was a marker on a grave of a young man who
died while serving in the army in the Korean War---he was pictured in

Irwin Weiss
Baltimore, MD


From: Barry S Bank <bsbank@...>
Date: Tue, 12 Sep 2006 05:58:58 GMT
Subject: Re: Jewish Agency and Nefesh B' Nefesh

On 7 Sep 2006, <FriedmanJ@...> writes (mail-jewish Volume 52 Number

> ...the Jewish Agency...pays the Aliyah bills and subsidizes the NBN
> grants...  Everyone of this list needs to know the following: Nefesh
> b' Nefesh is a wonderful organization, but they are PARTNERS with the
> JEWISH AGENCY FOR ISRAEL.  The Jewish Agency pays for the olims' seats
> on the plane and the chartered flight....  And for those of you who
> want to make aliyah, here's a little detail worth almost its weight in
> gold: The Jewish Agency allows olim 3 suitcases at 70 lbs. each.

No question NBN does wonderful things and that they should be highly
praised for their wonderful achievements in developing Aliyah from North
America.  But my wife and I are among the probably very few who,
unfortunately, had a very negative experience with NBN, in part having
to do with seats on their flights.  NBN represented to us that the
financing of their flights comes from "private" sources -- the
impression being very clearly conveyed that the cost of their flights is
underwritten by donors from the private sector.  At no time do I
remember them referring to the Jewish Agency, certainly not as the
source of their financing.

With regard to the 3-suitcase rule -- since we were not able to fly on a
Nefesh B'Nefesh flight, we arranged -- through the extremely helpful
offices of the Israeli Consulate in Atlanta -- for a reduced rate,
one-way ticket on EL AL whose policy also is to allow 3 suitcase for
both Olim Chadashim and Toshavim Chozrim.

--Barry S. Bank

From: Saul Mashbaum <smash52@...>
Date: Tue, 12 Sep 2006 09:46:26 +0200
Subject: Re: Jewish Agency and Nefesh B' Nefesh

<FriedmanJ@...> wrote about the Jewish Agency and Nefesh b"Nefesh 
> The Jewish Agency for Israel is a vital, integral part of the Aliyah
> process, pays most of the bills and while not perfect, does a fantastic
> job. Give them proper, positive credit. They deserve it.

Indeed, it seems that the JA is not getting the credit and hakarat hatov
it deserves for its aliyah efforts. Somehow, NBN gets all the glory,
leaving the JA just the job of picking up the bill. Actually, IIUC many
wonderful educational and social activities are funded by the JA and run
by other organizations, who get all the credit.

> And for those of you who want to make aliyah, here's a little detail
> worth almost its weight in gold: The Jewish Agency allows olim 3
> suitcases at 70 lbs. each.

Although the extra luggage allowance is a nice perk, in general the need
to import things from the States to Israel has sharply declined over the
years. *Much* more is now available in Israel, and at reasonable prices,
than in years past. If the extra few pounds allowed enable you to take
with you priceless family photos and memorablia, hey, that's great. If
you use it to load up on, for example, ketchup, peanut butter and tuna
fish, you're wasting your time - Heinz, Skippy, and Chicken of the Sea
peddle their products in almost every Israeli supermarket.

Saul Mashbaum


From: Michael Gerver <mjgerver@...>
Date: Thu, 27 Jul 2006 22:40:24 +0200
Subject: Tunes and Personalities

Orrin Tilevitz writes, in response to my posting about using tunes from
"Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat" for Yom Kippur:

         I think I would find any pop composer, no matter how moving the
      tune and how Jewish the subject matter, beyond the pale for Yom
      Kippur - though perhaps not for Shabbat.  Also IMHO, the words of
      the original tune, not merely the tune, should evoke the thing
      it's used for or at least not contradict it;

In general, I would agree with you. But Jesse Hefter, the chazan at
Congregation Kadimah Toras Moshe (Brighton, MA) for the Yamim Nora'im,
really thought it out carefully, and did it in a beautiful way. You
would have to be there to appreciate it. The only example I can think
of, right now, is "Kol Ma'aminim" to the tune of "Close Every Door To
Me." He didn't use that tune for all the verses, but varied it with more
traditional niggunim. There were a few other tunes from "Joseph" that he
used for other piyyutim. Maybe someone who has davened there can give us
some other examples.

Mike Gerver
Raanana, Israel

P.S. Note my new email address, although for now I am still keeping and
regularly checking my old aol address.


From: Andy Goldfinger <Andy.Goldfinger@...>
Date: Fri, 28 Jul 2006 10:56:20 -0400
Subject: What is the Talmud?

On numerous occasions, I have been asked "what is the Talmud?"  Usually
it is a non-Jew asking the question, and there really isn't enough time
to get into a detailed explanation.  I have answered with such
statements as:

"An analysis of the Bible."

"A voluminous compilation of the oral information we believe was
revealed to Moses at Mt. Sinai."

"Lecture notes from the Babylonian and Palestinian Rabbinic Academies
between 100 and 500 CE."

I have also found a web site that contains various attempts at answering
this question:


None of these answers seems satisfactory to me.  Can anyone suggest a
good short answer to this question?  Might it be better to simply say:
"That can't be explained quickly!"

-- Andy Goldfinger


From: Scott Spiegler <scottspiegler@...>
Date: Mon, 11 Sep 2006 22:58:51 -0400
Subject: Why aren't Jewish children named Yitro?


Given that Yitro was a pretty important person in Moshe's life and a
parsha was named after him, I would think that parents would use his
name for the children. But, I don't know any Yitros.

I wonder whether this lack of use has to do with the fact that Yitro
didn't stay with klal yisrael and rather returned to Midian?

Any thoughts? Scott


From: Yael Levine <ylevine@...>
Date: Tue, 12 Sep 2006 09:44:21 +0200
Subject: Yahrzeit of Sarah Immeinu on first day of Rosh ha-Shanah;  Yahrzeit of

Rosh ha-Shanah is considered to be the Yahrzeit of Sarah Immeinu.
According to midrashic sources, the soul of Sarah Immeinu departed
following the appearance of the Satan before her erroneously notifying
her that Isaac was sacrificed. In most sources the binding of Isaac was
considered to have transpired on Rosh ha-Shanah.  It is brought in the
name of the Ari that on the day of the passing of zaddikim, one should
learn sayings they have written or sayings about their deeds. With this
in mind, I composed the ritual (in Hebrew) "Hillula de-Sarah
Immeinu". It was just published in the current issue of the Kolech
monthly divrei Torah publication (pp. 1-3). Following is the link on the
Kolech website: http://www.kolech.org.il/show.asp?id=14466

Additionally, the second day of Rosh Ha-Shanah is the Yahrzeit of Glikl
Hamel (d. 1724). Several years ago I devoted an article to her in the
Kolech monthly divrei Torah publication as well ["Li-Zkor et Glikl",
Kolech 25 (Rosh ha-Shanah 5761), pp. 3-4], and published for the first
time a Yizkor prayer in her memory from the manuscript of the Metz
Memorial Pinkas, which is in the collection of the JTS library
(published by permission of the JTS library). I am reprinting the prayer

[Hebrew does transfer well on the mailing list, please either contact
Yael or myself for a copy of the hebrew text of the Yizkor prayer. Mod.]

This prayer was also recently published in the intro to the critical
edition of the memoirs of Glikl by Prof. Chava Turniansky.

Yael Levine


End of Volume 52 Issue 70