Volume 52 Number 74
                    Produced: Mon Sep 18  5:39:45 EDT 2006

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Alarm Clock on Shabbat
         [Saul Mashbaum]
Birkat HaMazon - not guest and not home (6)
         [Ken Bloom, Akiva Miller, David Charlap, David Curwin, Michael
Gerver, Aharon Fischman]
New Israeli Educational Stamps Posted Online
         [Jacob Richman]
Public and Private Psak Halacha
         [Mark Steiner]
Source of "Beshem Hashem
Tunes and Personalities (4)
         [S. Wise, Shayna Kravetz, Akiva Miller, David Riceman]
Yahrzeit website query
         [Paul Shaviv]


From: Saul Mashbaum <smash52@...>
Date: Fri, 15 Sep 2006 12:51:36 +0200
Subject: Re: Alarm Clock on Shabbat

Deborah Stepelman <stepelma@...> wrote

>Several former problems concerning alarm clock on shabbat and yom tov
> have been eliminated thanks to modern technology.

This is surely an accurate statement, but somewhat ironic in light of
the fact that not-so-modern technology caused the problem in the first
place. Older mJ-ers remember wind-up timepieces, which worked on a
spring, and didn't have batteries in them at all. The alarm of a wind-up
alarm clock would run down in a few minutes by itself, a useful feature
which it has taken "modern technology" an appreciable time to
duplicate. :)

Saul Mashbaum


From: Ken Bloom <kbloom@...>
Date: Thu, 14 Sep 2006 07:23:11 -0500
Subject: Birkat HaMazon - not guest and not home

David Curwin <tobyndave@...> asked:
> There is a section of Birkat HaMazon where a guest asks God to bless
> his host, and if one is at his own table he asks God to bless himself
> and his family. What is one supposed to do when in neither of those
> situations?  In a restaurant, a work lunchroom, or a park?

I've heard people say "harachaman hu y'varech et kol ham'subin kan" in
this situation. Some, but not all benschers include that language, in
particular the ArtScroll siddur does not, but the NCSY benscher does.

--Ken Bloom

From: Akiva Miller <kennethgmiller@...>
Date: Thu, 14 Sep 2006 12:43:26 GMT
Subject: Re: Birkat HaMazon - not guest and not home

I have always understood that the point of that section is to bless the
person who provided the meal, that is, the one who paid for it.
Therefore, if one paid for the food he eats at work or in the park, or
will pay for the food he eats in the restaurant, he would use the same
wording as at home.

That paragraph is one of the last bastions of creativity in the siddur,
and creativity is exactly what is needed sometimes. For example, when
one is at a restaurant as someone else's guest, saying "baal habayis
hazeh" ("the owner of this house") doesn't work, so I usually say "baal
haseudah hazeh" ("the owner of this meal") or something like that, maybe
even mention them by name. At a wedding I usually refer to "the chasan,
the kallah, their whole families", or such.

The text we used at shabbatons when I was young is a very good catch-
all that can be used in any situation at all, I suppose: "kol hamesubin
caan" - "all who are dining here".

Akiva Miller

From: David Charlap <dcharlap@...>
Date: Thu, 14 Sep 2006 14:52:26 +0200 (GMT+02:00)
Subject: Re: Birkat HaMazon - not guest and not home

When I was in NCSY, attending a Shabbaton, we would often bentch in
large groups, in assembly rooms.  We would say "harachaman hu yivarech
et kol ha'mesubin kan" - that God should bless everybody present.

-- David

From: David Curwin <tobyndave@...>
Date: Thu, 14 Sep 2006 07:47:44 -0700
Subject: RE: Birkat HaMazon - not guest and not home

From: Ken Bloom [mailto:<kbloom@...>] 
>I've heard people say "harachaman hu y'varech et kol ham'subin kan" in
>this situation. Some, but not all benschers include that language, in
>particular the ArtScroll siddur does not, but the NCSY benscher does.

I had forgotten about that possibility. However, there are times when
even that does not seem appropriate - like when one is eating alone and
in public.

From: Michael Gerver <mjgerver@...>
Date: Fri, 15 Sep 2006 02:09:39 +0200
Subject: Birkat HaMazon - not guest and not home

I think it depends on who owns the food. If you brought it from home, or
bought it at a restaurant, then you bless yourself and your family, and
have in mind that "habayit hazeh" refers to your own home. If someone
else is taking you to lunch at a restaurant, or you are visiting someone
and they gave you a sandwich to take to a park for lunch, then you bless
them, and have in mind that "habayit hazeh" refers to their home.

Mike Gerver
Raanana, Israel

From: Aharon Fischman <afischman@...>
Date: Thu, 14 Sep 2006 08:56:20 -0400
Subject: Re: Birkat HaMazon - not guest and not home

I usually say "Harachaman hu Yevaraich et kol Hamesubim con" - blessed
are all the people sitting here in such situations.

Aharon Fischman


From: Jacob Richman <jrichman@...>
Date: Mon, 18 Sep 2006 00:27:28 +0200
Subject: New Israeli Educational Stamps Posted Online

Hi Everyone!

I scanned and posted on my website the new Israeli stamps that were
issued in September 2006.  I included the stamp itself, the first day
cover, and an English and a Hebrew flyer about the stamp.

- Festivals 2006 - The Six Orders of the Mishnah (part 2)

 The Order of Nezikim ("Damages") 
 The Order of Kodashim ("Sacred Things") 
 The Order of Tohorot ("Pure Things") 

- The Bezalel Academy of Arts - 100 Years 

-  Abba Eban

The new stamps are located at:

If you do not see September 17, 2006 on the top of the page, hold the
control key and press the F5 key to refresh your browser.

Have a Good Year (Jewish New Year 5767),
Shana Tova,


From: Mark Steiner <ms151@...>
Date: Fri, 15 Sep 2006 11:40:21 -0400
Subject: RE: Public and Private Psak Halacha

> The fact is that many a rabbi will give you a heter privately that
> they would be loath to publish publicly. I used to think that this was
> nothing but craven cowardice, but with age has come a broader
> understanding. In many cases it is simply a matter of supporting the
> majority view, so as not to cause dissension or unecessary conflicts
> within the orthodox world.

	I would like to suggest another possibility.  Many decisions a
"posek" makes are impossible to base on rules.  The psak is tailor made
to the one who requested it, and the considerations include direct
knowledge by the posek of that person.  (In philosophy this is called
"tacit knowledge"--e.g. we all can recognize thousands of faces, but we
cannot characterize each face and tell by rules how we recognize, say,
G. W. Bush.)

	I have personal knowledge of cases in which R. Moshe Feinstein,
of blessed memory, allowed women to undergo abortions (and may have
urged them to do so), despite his staunch public position against
abortions, as bloodshed.  R. Moshe was not promoting "unity" and did not
shrink from conflicts if he thought he was right, but he did not think
that the considerations he used in this heter should be made public,
since it would be impossible for him to set out in final detail the
guidelines he tacitly used.  Publication would inevitably lead to misuse
of the responsum.  (He consistently opposed attempts to translate his
responsa into English, for a similar reason.)

Mark Steiner


From: SBA <sba@...>
Date: Mon, 18 Sep 2006 00:02:28 +1000
Subject: Source of "Beshem Hashem

From: Ephi Sachs <>
> Does anyone know who wrote the passage "Beshem Hashem Elokei Yisrael"
> recited as part of the bedtime Shema?
> I found references to Zohar Bamidbar which describes the locations of
> the guardian angels and the heavenly presence over the Israelite camp,
> and also a reference to Pirkei D'Rabi Eliezer describing the same
> relative positions of the angles around the heavenly throne, but who
> wrote the text that appears in the Siddur, and when was it first used?

The Avodas Yisroel Siddur (Baer) mentions the KolBo.



From: <smwise3@...> (S. Wise)
Date: Fri, 15 Sep 2006 11:09:52 -0400
Subject: Re: Tunes and Personalities

RE: my comments on tune and personalities.

In a reply to a private message on this topic, I said that I am more
bothered by tunes for which I have a secular association. Many of our
nigunim may have started out with non-Jewish sources, but I don't have
that association with the words or music to feel negative about it as I
might if someone started introducing Beatle melodies or worse to the
tefilos. The main problem is a lack of originality in Jewish music, both
in words and melody.  Would anyone want to sit through tefillos where
all the melodies came from the musical JC Superstar or Lez Miz, or tunes
based on Madonna songs?  And when you're moved by these adapations, what
are you reacting to, the words of tefillah or the music. I would love to
hear some honest answers.

S. Wise

From: Shayna Kravetz <skravetz@...>
Date: Fri, 15 Sep 2006 06:20:41 -0400
Subject: Re: Tunes and Personalities

S. Wise, commenting on a posting about the use of tunes from "Joseph
and the Technicolor Dreamcoat" for Yom Kippur davening, writes in
>> Incorporating music from a Broadway show (an icky one at that), to me,
>> shows bad taste, especially for Yom Kippur or Shabbos.

Michael Gerver <mjgerver@...> replied, in part:

>I'm sorry you think it was in bad taste to use these tunes for Yom
>Kippur. I believe this is very much a minority view. Of the over 100
>families who daven in that shul, I don't think there was a single
>person who thought it was in bad taste. People loved it! If anyone had
>objected to it, I'm sure I would have heard--believe me, people there
>do not hesitate to say so if they think something is in bad taste. I
>would like to think that if you had been there, and heard it, you would
>not have thought it was in bad taste.

There is plenty of room for disagreement on the pure esthetics of this
issue.  I adore Broadway songs and often sing them but would join
S. Wise in cringing at hearing them used at solemn moments in the

>> This begs the broader question of using non-Jewish music for anything
>> holy. I cringe when I hear pisukim put to reggae-style music, or
>> riffs from rock and roll songs

>Do you also cringe when you hear the traditional Ashkenazic "Adon
>Olam"?  That was originally a German drinking song, I think. Almost all
>synagogue music was composed long after the time of the Beit Hamikdash,
>and while some of it may have been composed by chazanim just for that
>purpose, much of it, probably the great majority of it, comes from
>popular secular songs.

Correct historically, as far as I know, but it seems to me that the
distinction is whether the tune still carries with it the overtones of
its secular use into the shul setting.  None of us hearing "Adon Olam"
think of German beer halls because we no longer know the original song
from which the tune was taken.  But if someone sings the Kedushah to,
say, "Leavin' on a Jet Plane", most of us are still going to hear the
secular words in some part of our head, even as we hear the Kedushah as
well.  Even if the lyrics don't intrude, we're still going to be
distracted trying to remember what secular tune that is and why we can't
recall it.  And there is the question of whether it's koved-dik to
'reduce' the songs of the service to the merely popular.

I'd say that you could probably use opera and perhaps even early Tin Pan
Alley by now, since most of us don't recognize the tunes from their
original context.  But anything that's got a double life -- as both
secular and sacred music -- is a problem, I think.

(And, as a pedantic footnote: "begging the question" does NOT mean
simply "raising or posing the question."  In logic, to "beg the
question" [petitio principi] is to assume the very thing that is to be
proven, as in: "The earth is round.  Therefore it's a sphere."]

Shabbat shalom and shanah tovah.
Shayna in Toronto

From: Akiva Miller <kennethgmiller@...>
Date: Fri, 15 Sep 2006 10:40:45 GMT
Subject: Re: Tunes and Personalities

Michael Gerver wrote:
> The only exception that comes to mind is the wordless tune that the
> congregation chants during the Avodah of Musaf on Yom Kippur.

That tune never fails to remind me of "Atmospheres" from the soundtrack
of "2001: A Space Odyssey". Of course, the movie is not as old as that
tune, but I wonder if they share common roots.

Akiva Miller

From: David Riceman <driceman@...>
Date: Fri, 15 Sep 2006 09:12:07 -0400
Subject: Re: Tunes and Personalities

> From: Michael Gerver <mjgerver@...>
> I'm not sure why you think "Joseph" was "icky." If you mean you didn't
> like the music, fine, different people have different tastes in music.
> But if you are referring to the way the story was adapted, I don't see
> anything in the show that violates the spirit of the Joseph story.

I enjoyed the musical, but it very much violates the spirit of the
Biblical story.  The Biblical story is about how God intervenes in human
affairs.  God is absent in the musical.

David Riceman 


From: Paul Shaviv <shaviv@...>
Date: Sun, 17 Sep 2006 12:34:53 -0400
Subject: Yahrzeit website query

On several occasions, asked to give talks or to speak at seudah shlishit
at short notice, I have used a fabulous website called www.yahrzeit.com
(or something very close to that).  It lists, day by day, week by week,
yahrzeits of rabbis, admorim etc, with brief biographies.  But it seems
to have disappeared.  Can anyone shed light on this? Is my memory
playing tricks?  Answers on or off-list would be appreciated.

Paul Shaviv


End of Volume 52 Issue 74