Volume 54 Number 27
                    Produced: Thu Mar 15  6:17:31 EDT 2007

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Any source for Rashi "urban legend"?
         [Ilan Fuchs]
Conservative Responsa
         [Dr. Josh Backon]
Mi She-Berakh for Agunot (2)
         [Yael Levine, Freda B Birnbaum]
Purim Costumes
         [David Neuman]
R' Steinsaltz controversy
         [Jonathan Baker]
Rav Steinsaltz' gemaras
         [Mordechai Horowitz]
Synagogue searching for first rabbi
         [David Curwin]
Torture (2)
         [Jeanette Friedman, Avi Feldblum]
Uploaded Learn Hebrew video to YouTube
         [Jacob Richman]
Wimpel Minhag Survey
         [Mark Symons]


From: Ilan Fuchs <ilan_25@...>
Date: Sat, 10 Mar 2007 20:09:35 +0000
Subject: RE: Any source for Rashi "urban legend"?

Daniel Nachman <lhavdil@...> wrote   

>This question was asked in 1995 and apparently never answered, so I'll
ask again.  I have heard from more than one person that there is a Rashi
stating that the origin of "cholent" is French: "choud lent," meaning
>"hot slow."  But nobody has been able to point me to a source. searching
the net ("rashi cholent french lent") brings up other hits saying the
same thing, but none of them provide a source, either.  Which
>leads me to wonder - do we have here a Rashi bubbe maiyse?

I never saw this in Rashi but I did see this in books that were written
on the early days of Yiddish when it was only spoken in western Europe.
One of the examples for the connection between french and early Yiddish
was cholent


From: Dr. Josh Backon <backon@...>
Date: Fri, 09 Mar 2007 14:58:35 +0200
Subject: Re: Conservative Responsa

R. Guido Elbogen mentioned:

>If a sefer Torah is written by a goy or an acknowledged heretic, the
>halacha requires it to be burned so that the 'mindset' will not give
>credibility to those who have strayed from the path.

Almost, but not quite. See my comments below.

>Its important to realize that kedusha is not just the words, otherwise
>we could dispense with the purchase of expensive sifrei Torah and use
>Chumoshim instead.
>The kedusha comes from the fact that the sofer wrote the sefer
>'Lishmah', inclusive of making sure to tovel before writing the letters
>of the Holy Name.

I'd like to elaborate.

A Sefer Torah written by a gentile is hidden; that written by a Jewish
APIKORUS [according to the Rambam only one written by a MIN] is to be
burnt (see: gemara in Gittin 45b; Gilyon Meharsha YOREH DEAH 281 s"k 1
d"h apikorus, where the meaning is "anyone who doesn't believe in the
Oral Torah"; Tosafot there (Gittin) d"h sifrei, where the meaning is a
Torah FOUND [rather than written] on the premises of a MIN; Rambam
Hilchot Tefillin 1:13; Machaneh Efrayim YOREH DEAH Hilchot Sefer Torah)

BTW note that the Gilyon Meharsha YD 281 s"k 1 would say that a Torah
written by a Jew who doesn't believe in the Oral Law would be burnt;
more intriguing is the opinion of the Tosafot Shabbat 116a d"h sifrei
minin who would think that a kosher Torah FOUND on the premises of a Jew
who doesn't believe in the Oral Law is also burnt.

Josh Backon


From: Yael Levine <ylevine@...>
Date: Fri, 09 Mar 2007 14:35:39 +0200
Subject: Mi She-Berakh for Agunot

I'm pleased to mention that the Mi she-Berakh for Agunot which I
composed was recited in many shuls last Shabbat, in Jerusalem, New York,
and many other places as well.  It was endorsed by many rabbis, and I
received many requests for further info concerning the prayer.

Lisa Liel sent the same post to another list (WTN) on which I posted the

First of all, it was made clear to her by many on the list, including
myself, that in translating the prayer into English without the author's
consent, according to the copyright law she violated the copyright of
the author. This translation is entirely incorrect in the majority of
places, and also from her questions for clarification it is clear that
she was not aware of many of the sources upon which the prayer was
based.  Therefore I have to clarify that this translation is incorrect,
unreliable and unauthorized, and as already mentioned a breach of the
law, and consequently of halakhah. I find it necessasry to mention this
particularly since this list follows the norms of Orthodox halakhah.
With time, I hope to publish an authorized translation.  By contrast,
had someone posted an extremely short synopsis, one or two lines, there
would have been no problem.

Additionally, the unfounded criticism voiced was clearly dismissed and
denounced by virtually all listmembers. There were additional
developments which are known to members of that list.


From: Freda B Birnbaum <fbb6@...>
Date: Fri, 9 Mar 2007 09:53:33 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Re: Mi She-Berakh for Agunot

Thanks to Yael for that fine prayer, and to Lisa for "giving it over" to
us Hebrew-challenged folks, although I do bear in mind that the
translation is not by the author and may not reflect her exact intent.

I'll add the comment that I have been saying for years that we should be
saying these prayers for agunot not only on special occasions, but every
Monday and Thursday when, after the Torah reading, there's a prayer for
"our brethren in captivity, on land or sea" etc.  It seems to fit just
right in that spot.

I am very glad to hear that it is being recited publicly in many places.

I'm not sure I understand Lisa's objection to the use of the word
"captivity"; it seems to me to be quite appropriate.

Freda Birnbaum, <fbb6@...>
"Call on God, but row away from the rocks"


From: David Neuman <daveselectric@...>
Date: Sun, 11 Mar 2007 15:02:44 -0500
Subject: Purim Costumes

One would think a "Kohen Gadol" Purim costume having the "Me-Il", a four
cornered costume would have Tzitis on them. Any comments?

duvid neuman


From: Jonathan Baker <jjbaker@...>
Date: Fri, 9 Mar 2007 09:55:00 -0500 (EST)
Subject: R' Steinsaltz controversy

From: Guido Elbogen <havlei.h@...>

> Rav Steinsaltz' gemaras were to the BTs what todays Art Scrolls are.
> However a closer reading of some of the commentaries of Rav Steinsaltz
> portrays ideas that conflicted with traditional interpretations leading
> to his ousting as an accepted Gadol BeTorah amongst the haredim.

I read a review of R' Steinsaltz' gemaras in Tradition (the RCA
journal).  While the review was generally negative about the whole idea
of a Gemara in English, his specific critique of R' Steinsaltz was just
that he put forth one explanation in places, rather than a survey.  Not
really something that would lead to heresy charges.

What really got people to ban him was his book "Biblical Images", which
portrays some of Our Foreparents in less than stellar terms.  Despite
the Torah's own descriptions of the failings of the Avot, there is a
school of thought saying that for us to say such things is Just Plain

>From the Village Idiots blog:

: R. Adam Mintz, ("Words, Meaning and Spirit: The Talmud in Translation"
: - Torah U'Madda Journal vol.5) where on p.152fn.99 he writes:

: "The three books mentioned in the original ban [placed by R. Elazar
: Menachem Mann Schach, Rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyashav, Rabbi Chaim Pinchas
: Scheinberg and Rabbi Avigdor Nevenzahl] were: The Essential Talmud,
: Women in Tanach, and Biblical Images [all by R. Adin Steinsaltz].
: According to the report in Yated Ne'eman (August 18, 1989), 1, "In
: these books condemned by the BaDaZ, the objections were not to isolated
: sentances but to the whole tenor of the works." 

        name: jon baker              web: http://www.panix.com/~jjbaker
     address: <jjbaker@...>     blog: http://thanbook.blogspot.com


From: Mordechai Horowitz <mordechai@...>
Date: Fri, 9 Mar 2007 08:00:07 -0500
Subject: RE: Rav Steinsaltz' gemaras

> Rav Steinsaltz' gemaras were to the BTs what todays Art Scrolls are.
> However a closer reading of some of the commentaries of Rav Steinsaltz
> portrays ideas that conflicted with traditional interpretations
> leading to his ousting as an accepted Gadol BeTorah amongst the
> haredim.
> Guido


At the time Rav Shach put Rav Steinsaltz in cherem he was suffering from
the first symptoms of Alzheimers. My own Rosh Yeshiva Rav Riskin was
also put in herem.  Unfortunately by the end of his life Rav Shach's
mental illness destroyed his ability to make rational judgements.
Unfortunately many in the haredi world failed to recognize his illness
and followed these unfortunate announcements.

Rav Steinsalts is the President of the nascent Sanhedrin
http://www.thesanhedrin.org/en/main/officers.html which has the support
of Rabbis ranging from Shas, Religious Zionism and Eda Haredit.


From: David Curwin <tobyndave@...>
Date: Tue, 13 Mar 2007 09:38:24 -0400
Subject: Synagogue searching for first rabbi

Can anyone share with me their experience in having a relatively new
synagogue search for its first rabbi? How did they approach the process?
What questions were asked of the congregation and of the potential
candidates? How did the voting process work? What authority was the
rabbi granted in the by-laws?

I'm interested in applying this to an Israeli community, but I imagine
the experiences in other countries would be helpful as well.


David Curwin
Efrat, Israel


From: <FriedmanJ@...> (Jeanette Friedman)
Date: Fri, 9 Mar 2007 07:51:51 EST
Subject: Re: Torture

The answer to my question seems to be
a: don't ask
b. don't tell  and
c. Torture? No problem.

From: Avi Feldblum <feldblum@...>
Date: Thu, 15 Mar 2007
Subject: Re: Torture


I'd be interested in understanding how you came to that conclusion from
the posted responses to your question. The summary of the responses as I
understood them was:

The question was formulated as asking for halachic support of a given
position, not inquiring about what the halachic position to a specific
topic is.

What conclusion to draw from the fact that very few people took you up
on your request is not easy to determine, but I do not see your
conclusion as valid. If I were to put it in your format, it would be
closer to:

1) Do not ask questions formulated in a manner where only one valid
   position is assumed
2) Questions asked in such a manner may not be of interest to respond
   to, since the person asking is not open to discussion
3) As to the fundimental question of what is the halachic position re
   use of torture, there is minimal information that has been offered by
   members of the list.



From: Jacob Richman <jrichman@...>
Date: Wed, 14 Mar 2007 10:17:29 +0200
Subject: Uploaded Learn Hebrew video to YouTube

Hi Everyone!

I uploaded my first Learn Hebrew video to YouTube.
The address is:

Feedback is welcome!

Have a good day,


From: <Phyllostac@...> (Mordechai)
Date: Mon, 12 Mar 2007 03:57:55 EDT
Subject: Wimpel Minhag Survey

I am curious about the persistence and scope of the practice of the
wimpel minhag (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wimpel) nowadays.

A web search I did yielded some information about the practice and I
recently was informed about a new website of a wimpelmacher
(www.jewishwimpel.com), but I am still in the dark re how many people
may still practice it.

I would be interested to hear information or anecdotes that can shed
light on the matter.

Thanks in advance.



From: Mark Symons <msymons@...>
Date: Sun, 11 Mar 2007 18:37:31 +1100
Subject: Yishtabach

From: .cp. <chips@...>

> If Tfillin are not on yet when you get to Yishtabach and the zman
> arrives, should one say Yishtabach first?
> If one is a bit ahead (more than 3 minutes say) of the Chazan and hits
> Yishtabach, should one wait for the Chazan or say Yishtabach and wait
> for Barchu.

This is the psak of the Rav of Mizrachi, Melbourne, Rav Yaakov Sprung:

1.  the ba'al tefilla MUST NOT reach yishtabach before the time for
putting on tallit and tefillin

2.  the ba'al tefilla shall put on tallit and tefillin with their
accompanying brachot before saying yishtabach (omitting Barchi Nafshi
and V'eirastich li)

3.  the congregation should say yishtabach first and then put on tallit
and tefillin as described in No. 2.

4.  the ba'al tefilla MUST WAIT until the majority of mitpallelim have
put on tallit and tefillin before proceeding with Kaddish.

Mark Symons


End of Volume 54 Issue 27