Volume 54 Number 45
                    Produced: Fri Mar 23  4:49:16 EDT 2007

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

13 vs 15 items
Gezel Akum
         [Akiva Miller]
Location of Ben Ish Chai's kever?
         [Shimon Lebowitz]
Location of Ben Ish Chai's kever
         [Yael Levine]
Mourning - dividing into parts
Rabbinic Authority
         [Alex Heppenheimer]
Steinsalz gemaras
         [Shimon Lebowitz]
Torah Centered Judaism
         [Russell Jay Hendel]
Zaycher vs. Zecher
         [Joshua Hosseinof]


From: <chips@...>
Date: Thu, 22 Mar 2007 7:19:36 -0700
Subject: Re: 13 vs 15 items

>In commenting on the other explanations: I would point out that the OIL
>and SPICES were NEEDED for the temple construction. For example the
>MISHKAN had to be annointed with OIL at the time of construction (See
>Ex40-09). One COULD even argue that although the OFFERING of incense was
>not part of the TEMPLE construction the CREATION of INCENSE (to be
>deposited in Temple storage bins) was part of the construction.

Weren't these Incense a special one timer by Moshe? In which case,
according to this train of thought, shouldn't the Luchos been mentioned
as well as they were needed to be placed in the Aron?


From: Akiva Miller <kennethgmiller@...>
Date: Thu, 22 Mar 2007 12:09:36 GMT
Subject: Re: Gezel Akum

Regarding Meir Shinnar's post that:
> R David Cohen, a well known major posek, ... talked at length
> about how gezel akum and cheating and stealing from the
> government and nonjews is perfectly mutar if one can get away
> with it ...

Frank Silbermann commented:
> Because some governments and societies do indeed oppress and
> rob Jews, denying them justice, in some circumstances stealing
> back some of what was stolen from him may be a Jew's only
> reasonable option.  Therefore, I can understand that it would
> be inappropriate for the Torah to place a _blanket_ ban on
> such behavior.

I do not follow this logic at all.

First: If someone steals something from me, do I need permission to
steal it back?

Second: Even you say that I do need permission, and that this is what
Gezel Akum is all about, are you saying that this permission extends to
stealing things which were *not* stolen from me? Why would that be?

Third: Suppose there was a case where it was a *Jew* who oppressed and
robbed another Jews, denying him justice, and stealing back some of what
was stolen from him may be the victim's only reasonable option? Wouldn't
your logic lead to the conclusion that it is not only Gezel Akum which
is allowed, but also Gezel Yisrael?

Fourth: Your comment that the Torah would not "place a _blanket_ ban on
such behavior" seems to presuppose that Gezel Akum is not already
prohibited by the general ban on theft, such as Vayikra 19:11. Why?

Akiva Miller


From: Shimon Lebowitz <shimonl@...>
Date: Thu, 22 Mar 2007 17:22:38 +0200
Subject: Re: Location of Ben Ish Chai's kever?

> Does anyone know where the Ben Ish Chai is buried? I've heard it's in
> Baghdad, but haven't been able to find out specifics. I will be there for
> a short time and would love to be able to visit it if possible.

I have no idea at all where he is buried, in Baghdad or elsewhere.

But my feeling is that if you MUST go there, then just go in, do your
work, and get out, as fast as possible! With zero side trips. I can't
believe that the sakanat nefashot is worth it.

Remember, we get all worked up (justifiably!!)  at terrorist attacks
killing people in Israel, but at the same time people are dying of such
attacks in Iraq by the tens and hundreds.  I don't want to live there,
and I don't think it's even a nice place to visit.

Tzeitchem leshalom uvoachem lishalom!

From: Yael Levine <ylevine@...>
Date: Thu, 22 Mar 2007 13:31:22 +0200
Subject: Location of Ben Ish Chai's kever

I suggest you check out the book in Hebrew by A. Ben Yaakov, "Kevarim
Kedoshim Bi-Bavel".  It would be wonderful if you could write up an
account of your visit, and post it.



From: <chips@...>
Date: Thu, 22 Mar 2007 7:19:35 -0700
Subject: Re: Mourning - dividing into parts

>Is anyone aware of any communities where the practice is to
>differentiate between the 1st 3 days of mourning and the balance
>(e.g. the mourner talks little or not at all, visitors wait till after
>the 3rd day to comfort the mourner...)

I have heard it but not in terms of being a community type practice and
I did not see a real halachic source for doing so.  
Two points:

1: this thinking may have arised for the halacha that a newly married
person does not sit shiva for the first three days.

2: from my own experience, I (and my sisters) wanted to be left alone
the first night (we sat at the cemetary late on the first day) and was
annoyed that there was a good deal of visitors the first night. The
peoplle who were from out-of-town and happened to be in town we had no
problem with , but we could not understand why in-towners (including
cousins) were visiting. We just wanted to be left alone among ourselves
for that first night and we felt we missed out on not being able to do


From: Alex Heppenheimer <aheppenh@...>
Date: Thu, 22 Mar 2007 07:40:56 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: Re: Rabbinic Authority

In MJ 54:42, Ben Katz wrote in reply to points raised by R' Yehonatan
Chipman and me:

>>So the sale of chametz must indeed be valid according to both Biblical
>>and Rabbinical law. It's been formalized, in that it's done by the
>>community Rabbi rather than by each individual; but after all, a major
>>reason for that is precisely to ensure that the sale is executed in a
>>manner that is valid according to halachah.

>         I may have "misspoken" re "chametz she-avar alav hapesach", but
>isn't the point raised by Alex Heppenheimer equivalent, in that selling
>the chametz "allows" one to get around the lav of baal yimatze?

But the point is this: when we say that sold chametz is not included in
this prohibition, is that a Biblical or a Rabbinical law? If it's
Rabbinical, then you would be right: it would be an example of something
that is forbidden by the Torah, but for which the Rabbis created a
loophole. But in fact, the Torah itself excludes sold chametz by using
the word "lecha" ("your" chametz), as the Gemara states in Pesachim
5b. So it's not that the Rabbis "allowed" one to sell his chametz to get
around this law; the Torah itself gives this dispensation.

Kol tuv,


From: Shimon Lebowitz <shimonl@...>
Date: Thu, 22 Mar 2007 17:22:38 +0200
Subject: Steinsalz gemaras

Someone said:

>   I think Rav Steinsalz's Hebrew gemaras aim to bring people to the
> Torah; one is intended to graduate from them to the real thing.  That
> they are in Hebrew, not English, only reinforces this.  BTW, they are
> still coming out; "were" is incorrect.

They are still coming out???

Was Seder Nezikin ever finished? I have Sanhedrin and the Bavas (from
how many years ago?) but I am not sure if Makkos, A"Z etc were ever
published.  Have you seen a Zevachim or Menachot in the bookstores?



From: Russell Jay Hendel <rjhendel@...>
Date: Thu, 22 Mar 2007 01:02:41 GMT
Subject: Torah Centered Judaism

Torah Centered Judaism has occupied several discussions in
v54n18,19,20,22,23,31. My position is that ORTHODOXY **is*** Torah
Centered Judaism. Orthodoxy **requires** both ACCEPTANCE and
UNDERSTANDING of Jewish law. To fully accept Jewish law one must
UNDERSTAND all Jewish law as an IDEAL that is fully defensible by logic
(at least that is my position which I defend below).

First a story to set tone. When I was in college a friend of mine
suggested that "Judaism makes laws based on race."  When I asked him
"What laws" he responded that "A convert could not become a King because
of his background." I responded "But American law is identical (A non
native-born American cannot become President)." My friends response was
interesting "Oh..that is different; America is not racist."

The story speaks for itself. Both American and Jewish law had the same
law yet one was perceived as "racist" and one wasn't.  This is the
essence of the problem that Andy raised: It is not a problem of
substance but rather a problem of perception. We are TAUGHT to think of
AMerican law as non-racist and therefore any laws to the contrary "must
have an explanation." But we are not taught to think of Jewish law as
IDEAL. In other words, we are embarassed by our own law.

Enough on the story. LEt me address specific topics.  My position is
that Torah when properly understood has no problems--the problems are
caused by our accepting slander on our own religion. Here are the topics
brought to date

POLYGAMY: I am indebted to my high-school Bible Teacher, Rabbi Amnon
Haramati(Now in Silver Spring) who pointed out that EVERY polygomous
marriage in the BIble has recorded fights due to that polygamy
(Sarah-hagar, Rachel-Leah, Chanah-Peninah etc). Thus the Bible was
ALREADY against polygomy and the Rabbinic ordinances were not an
what already existed.

SLAVERY: A Jewish slave is not a slave IN ANY REGARD (Except one to be
discussed below). For example if you wound them you have to pay them
just as you do for an ordinary person. A Jewish slave is simply a worker
who cannot get out of his contract. Jewish law equates the "slave" with
"worker" and there really is no problem. In fact Jewish law is very
explicit that the slave has "reverse discrimination rights." The law
states "If you have two loaves--one fresh and one mouldy you are
required to give the slave the fresh loaf and you eat the moldy one."
Clearly here we have no problem OR the problem is due to our accepting
slander about our own religion.

The last paragraph particularly applies to a Jew who sells himself
account of poverty The one exception is a Jewish slave who was sold
because of theft which he could not pay off. The problem is that the
master has conjugal rights over him (He can force the slave to cohabit
and produce other slaves).

But this is not a problem when judged in context. In non jewish systems
thieves are sent to jail where they engage in "non-desirable" sexual
practices. Jewish law came and said that the thief who could not pay off
his debts should lose his rights (slavery/prison) but his master would
guide him thru sexual rehabilitation.  Furthermore unlike AMerican
prisons, the slave had visitation rights with his wife and furthermore
the "master could not separate him from his wife" I interpret this to
mean that if he had a normal marriage the master had to let him live
with his wife and could not force him to have another partner. If he was
not married the master could also not force him. The only remaining case
is where his wife "didn't mind" It would appear to me that like many
thieves the thief had episodes of clutchiness that led to theft and
undesirable marital behavior. Under such circumstances the master could
force him to live with someone else (again without separating him from
his wife) until he was rehabilitated.

I am not concerned so much with whether people believe my explanation. I
am rather concerned with whether there is anything to be embarassed
about here.  When compared to other solutions to theft, Jewish law is
seen as better-- men are not separated from their wives, "herd sex" is
not allowed, and the master at most has the right to force him into
another relationship if he has the strength and it is not inteferring
with his marriage. Certainly this is superior to American law.

I anticipate this might lead to further discussion...but I think the
point here is that ORthodoxy can defend itself. Our problem lies with
how we perceive ourselves not with the law.

Russell Jay Hendel; Ph.d.;ASA; http://www.Rashiyomi.com/


From: Joshua Hosseinof <JHosseinof@...>
Date: Wed, 21 Mar 2007 17:46:35 -0400
Subject: Zaycher vs. Zecher

I refer everyone to the discussion of this topic in mail-jewish v47n20
in 2005 where I wrote:

See the responsa of Rabbi Avraham ben Harambam #79, question Bet.  He
was asked why the Gemara Berachot 15b does not list the phrase "benay
yisrael" as a case in keriat shema where we must be careful to not join
the two words together since "benay" ends with yud, and "yisrael" begins
with yud.  He answers that "benay" is pronounced as if the yud is silent
like an aleph (so it is pronounced "bene").  He calls the vowel under
the nun a "patach" however which is a little confusing - perhaps the
name tsere is a modern invention?  So if the yud is not vocalised it
could not be "benay", and the tsere sound could not possibly be an "ay"

I wonder if in some way this is what led to the dispute in Ashkenazic
circles on how to pronounce this particular instance of "zecher" -
textually from manuscripts we know it's a tsere, but since we are extra
careful about pronunciation of this section of the Torah, maybe there
was some vestigial memory in some communities that the word was always
pronounced "zecher" instead of "zaycher".

See also Mail Jewish v13n44 in 1994 where Alan Cooper wrote:

>In response to Pinchus Laufer's queries about Hebrew pronunciation: (1)
>the differentiation of segol from tsere disappeared a long time ago in
>most words.  See already Rosen's _Textbook of Israeli Hebrew_ (more
>than 30 years old), p. 2.  He cites the words DOfeq and doFEQ ("pulse"
>/ "knocking"), and states that the /e/ vowels are bascially the same
>(irrespective of the facts that the former is a segol and the latter a
>tsere, and that one is stressed while the other is not).  There is a
>most illuminating discussion of the proper pronunciation of tsere in
>Bentzion Hakohen's book, _Sefat Emet_, pp. 208-219.  Hakohen raises
>interesting questions about the age and authenticity of the
>pronunciation of tsere as /ey/.

This must be one of those topics that just comes up again and again on


End of Volume 54 Issue 45