Volume 52 Number 83
                    Produced: Fri Sep 29  5:40:04 EDT 2006

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Fear of punishment (was: Monsey Meat Debacle)
         [Akiva Miller]
Molad Calculation
         [Richard Fiedler]
Monsey food debacle
         [N Miller]
Or Zarua LaTzaddik
         [Irwin E. Weiss, Esquire]
Punishment and Suffering
         [Rick Blum]
Sod Haibbur
         [Richard Fiedler]
YK Niggunim
         [Saul Mashbaum]


From: <adnilc@...>
Date: Thu, 28 Sep 2006 07:44:17 -0500
Subject: BSD

What does the BSD stand for?
Or what is the meaning of BSD at the beginning of some articles?

[It is a TLA (Three Letter Acronym) for the Aramaic phrase: BeSayata
Deshemia - with the help of Heaven. Mod]


From: Akiva Miller <kennethgmiller@...>
Date: Thu, 28 Sep 2006 13:35:27 GMT
Subject: Fear of punishment (was: Monsey Meat Debacle)

It seems that I misunderstood S. Wise's post, and I apologize for how 
I responded.

> My point was and is, that with the mitigating factors associated with
> punishment (some of which you suggest), what does punishment mean and
> how can it serve as a deterrent for committing aveiros? Fear of
> punishment comes with cause and effect; if I do something, I expect
> something to happen. If punishment is deferred or compromised, what is
> the fear you have? That "one of these days you'll get yours." Well,
> that could be for sins large or small, so it is only speculation at
> the very best.

I'm honestly unclear which of the above questions are actual questions,
and which are rhetorical questions, so I'm not sure how to 

In my experience, prayer is pretty much a one-way street. We ask and beg
for all sorts of things, but it is exceedingly rare that someone gets a
clear, unambiguous response. When Yom Kippur ends, I feel no joy that
I've been forgiven, because I have no idea whether or not it is
true. But I do feel relief. I did my best (or at least, I fooled myself
into thinking so). It is the same feeling as when I give my final exam
paper to the teacher -- I did what I did, and the judgment is out of my

But the fear of punishment continues, and I am usually trying to do
better than I did last time. When I falter, if I don't see any immediate
repercussions, it makes me even more worried about how many sins I'll
need to work off in the next world. And the reverse as well - If I see
no immediate blessing from my mitzvos, I have confidence that they're
sitting in my account for later.

Vice versa as well. When I do see a punishment, I'm comforted by knowing
that I'm working off my debt, leaving less to pay later on.  And when
good things happen to me, I worry if this will be deducted from my
account in the next world.

Thus, as I see it, it is not the actual reward and punishment which we
see in this world, which causes us to do good and avoid evil.  Someone
with that perspective would be genuinely confused and bothered when bad
happens to good people, or when good happens to bad people. Rather, it
is the understanding of the big picture, the fear of punishment and the
hope of reward - the NOT knowing of when and how the rewards and
punishments will be doled out - that's what keeps me on track.

I hope this helps. Best wishes to you and everyone for a Gmar Chasima

Akiva Miller


From: Richard Fiedler <richardfiedler@...>
Date: Thu, 28 Sep 2006 08:26:36 +0300
Subject: Molad Calculation

75% of the time the basic Molad Calculation dictates a start of Tishrei
which is two days before any possibility of Re'ah - of witnesses
actually seeing the new moon. Thus our Islamic cousins who do base their
calendar on actual Re'ah practically always establish their new month at
least a day after we establish ours. This fact is rooted in both the
nature of the calculation formula and buy consulting the astronomical

It is impossible to imagine that the Jewish community of any period
would replace a calendar based on witnessed testimony with a new hi-
tech calculated calendar considering this discontinuity.

Hence they didn't.

We have been using this calculated calendar at least since the time of
Ezra. This is the basis of Sa'adyah Ga'on's belief that the calculated
calendar was the Sod ha'Ibur given to Moshe Rabeinu at Sinai.


From: N Miller <nm1921@...>
Date: Thu, 28 Sep 2006 10:26:45 -0400
Subject: Monsey food debacle

Three cheers for Eitan Fiorino's eloquent and witty comments.  He is not

What intrigues me is the all-too-human tendency to come up with inspired
defences of the indefensible.  Just as Stalin's supporters managed not
to see the state criminality that what was in front of their noses we
have pious Jews doing backflips in the face of widespread malfeasance in
the frum community--as Eitan Fiorino points out.

What also intrigues me is this. The defences are for the most part
insults to our intelligence--incoherent and illogical.  So how does it
happen that a list with so many scientists and professionals, men and
women who know that a theory or explanation has to be falsifiable,
remain silent in the face of obscurantist rubbish?

Noyekh Miller


From: Irwin E. Weiss, Esquire <irwin@...>
Date: Thu, 28 Sep 2006 07:33:09 -0400
Subject: Or Zarua LaTzaddik

Some say "Or Zarua LaTzaddik, U'lyishrei Lev Simcha" just before Kol
Nidre. Who does this and who doesn't? Does anyone know why it is said?
(I noted that the final letters of each word of the phrase spell "R.

Gemar Chatima Tova to all.
Irwin Weiss, Baltimore


From: Rick Blum <4at1x@...>
Date: Wed, 27 Sep 2006 20:25:16 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: Re: Punishment and Suffering

"Much as I loathe the theory that the Holocaust was God's punishment on
the Jews for creating Reform (so why did Germans have years to get out,
while still-mostly-frum Poland and Hungary took the brunt of the punish-
ment? - would seem to indicate that God *favored* the Reform, since more
of them were given a chance to flee, over the Orthodox), there is a
point here."

Even on the literal level of understanding of emunah, we always find
multiple dimensions of meaning.  Specifically with regard to the concept
of punishment, there is a lot to learn.  Contemporary English sources
(Artscroll) included Making Sense of Suffering by R. Yitzchok Kirzner
and Shoah by R. Yoel Schwartz.  Ramchal's Derech HaShem (Feldheim)
includes a clear elucidation of these dimensions.

Among the elements that reflect on the above question:

1.  Positive attributes of Hashem are always stated as "caviyachel," "in
a manner of speaking."  As the Rambam explains it, they are true only in
two ways: their opposite is untrue, and if a person acted in such a
manner, we would describe it that way, for example, as punishing.

2. Specifically it terms of punishment, HaShem's purposes are always
redemptive, either for the individual and/or for the Jewish people.
Punishment for its own sake is meaningless within his abounding love.

3.  Because of the latter purpose of directing the future of klal
Yisroel, tzadikim are at times chosen to take on a burden of great
suffering in order to effect a positive transformation for the Jewish
people.  Their suffering is particularly powerful this regard precisely
because of their merit.  These people understand this role and undertake
it willingly.

This summary is a overly brief suggestion of some of the ways that
direct comparisons of punishment and merit can be misleading.  Of
course, there is no more important subject and no more challenging
aspect of Torah.  So, I am looking only to broaden the discussion, not
to complete it.

Rick Blum


From: Richard Fiedler <richardfiedler@...>
Date: Wed, 27 Sep 2006 20:31:52 +0300
Subject: Re: Sod Haibbur

On Sep 20, 2006,Eli Turkel wrote:

>>Kollel Iyun Hadaf of Har NofBACHYE (Parshas Bo 12:2) cites a very
>>interesting opinion in the name of RABEINU CHANANEL, which is also cited
>>in the name of RAV SA'ADYAH GA'ON (see TORAH SHELEIMAH vol. 13, #293,
>>and OTZAR HA'GE'ONIM to Beitzah, p.  3), that Kidush ha'Chodesh actually
>>has nothing to do with witnesses.  Rather, it is determined solely by
>>the calculations of the Sod ha'Ibur given to Moshe Rabeinu at Sinai,
>>with which the Beis Din calculates the new month every month. Witnesses
>>did not affect the determination of the new month at all.

> Rav Kasher has an entire volume (parshat Bo) on the subject and 
> discusses Rav Saadiah Gaon's opinion in great depth. Though it is very
> interesting it is not the generally accepted opinion but rather
> Rambam that everything depended on witnesses.

I believe this opinion is more than interesting. A look at the facts and
the sources should tell you that the issue is the same as Raban Gamiel
in his conflict with Rabbi Yehoshua.  The Rambam is Rabbi Yehoshua and
Saadya Gaon is Raban Gamiel Yes it was all done on the basis of

Rabbi Yehoshua wanted to pick his witnesses on the basis of his
understanding of the possibility of Re'ah. Rabbi Yehoshua did not know
the Sod HaIbbur but he did know that each month had to be 29 days or 30
days. So perhaps based on a sighting of the Old Moon Rabbi Yehoshua knew
that Elul could not be 29 days.

Raban Gamiel picked his witnesses on the basis of the requirements of the
very same calculation that is in use today. This calculation requires
that Elul be 29 days so that people in Bavel would not need to fast two
days for Yom Kippur.

The Yerushalmi Rosh Hashana(1:4) and Challah (1:1):

There, they are concerned and observe the fast of Yom Kippur for two
days. Rav Chisdah asked them, "Why are you concerned over such a
far-fetched possibility? One can safely assume that the court is not
negligent in this regard."

The commentary Birkat Yisrael to the Yerushalmi explains the passage as
follows: "There" refers to Babylon. Some Jews in Babylon treated Yom
Kippur like any other holiday and observed it for two days. Rav Chisdah
said there is no need for this. The reason is as follows: It almost
never occured that the month of Elul lasted 30 days. And if it would
last 30 days the court that determines the calendar would certainly
notify the Jews in Babylon about this extraordinary event. It follows
that there is no real doubt about when the first day of Tishrei was
determined by the court in Israel, and the Jews in Babylon need not add
a day for the observance of Yom Kippur because of doubts about the

The calculation we use today and to which Saadya Goan referred
calculates not the time that the New Moon can be seen but rather the
time it cannot be seen. 75% of the time the calculation produces a Rosh
HaShana two days before any possibility of Re'ah and 25% of the time one
day before any possibility of Re'ah. This Rosh HaShana's Calculation
called for Rosh HaShana to begin on Thursday Night but this was deferred
to Friday Night because of a postponement rule. Yet the Muslim's began
the month of Ramadan on Saturday night by virtue of Re'ah.

So why does the calculation produce Rosh HaShana two days before the New
Moon can be seen? From the Yerushami: Rabbi Abba [in the name of ] Rabbi
Hiyya in the name of Rabbi Joshua ben Levi: we may proclaim the first
day of the new month when the New Moon has not been seen; but we may not
disregard the sighted {New Moon] to intercalate.

There was always witnesses for a 29 day month and for a 30 day month but
in reality they only thought they saw the New Moon because the previous
month was always declared when the real New Month was yet to be
seen. The people were kepted in the dark with this because they assumed
the witnesses selected were being truthful and that they just did not
see the New Moon themselves.

Richard Fiedler


From: Saul Mashbaum <smash52@...>
Date: Thu, 28 Sep 2006 17:03:08 +0200
Subject: Re: YK Niggunim

Mark Symons <msymons@...> wrote
>It may be a bit late to ask, but does anyone have suggestions for good
> tunes for V'chol ma'aminim....

You may consider the tune of the old Yiddish song "Ofen Pipichik". I do
not know if this old tune is familiar to, and will strike a chord with,
most of the members of the congregation in question. I was moved when it
was used in the high school I was teaching in many years ago in
Providence RI. In that framework we had an opportunity unavailable to
regular congregations: we assembled the students several days before RH
and YK, and made sure not only that they had a basic familiarity with
the text of the davening, but that they knew the tunes which would be
used as well.  The principal, Rav Nachman Cohen, an outstanding
educator, explained that that this simple, child-like melody (I belive
that it is a lullaby) expresses the emunah pshuta, the simple faith the
piyyut gives expression to.

Saul Mashbaum


End of Volume 52 Issue 83