Volume 54 Number 70
                    Produced: Sun May 20 11:55:34 EDT 2007

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Adler Machzor
         [Shmuel Himelstein]
Ben Ish Chai on Shemitah?
         [Joshua Hosseinof]
The Cost of Joining a Synagogue (2)
         [Wendy Baker, Keith Bierman]
Married Women and Hair Covering
         [Orrin Tilevitz]
Nusach of Al HaNissim for Yom Yerushalayim
         [Binyamin Lemkin]
Thoughts about Guns, Germs and Steel?
         [David Curwin]
Turning for L'Cha Dodi (2)
         [Ari Trachtenberg, Mark Symons]
Unmarried women and kippot? (2)
         [Leah S. R. Gordon, Susan D. Kane]
Unmarried women wearing kippot
         [Aliza Berger]


From: Shmuel Himelstein <himels@...>
Date: Tue, 15 May 2007 08:45:27 +0300
Subject: Adler Machzor

On Pesach, I noticed that the Adler Machzorim (the staple one which was
used - and may still be used - in Britain) has "trop" for every passage
in the prayer service which is taken from Tanach, as, for example, all
the Psalms in Pesukei D'Zimra, the Shir shel Yom, etc.

Would anyone know why this was included?

Shmuel Himelstein


From: Joshua Hosseinof <JHosseinof@...>
Date: Mon, 14 May 2007 12:49:11 -0400
Subject: Ben Ish Chai on Shemitah?

I have been searching recently for any writings of the Ben Ish Chai on
the issue of Shemitah, particularly on the Heter Mechirah.  I have
searched through his halachot (Ben Ish Chai), and responsa (Rav Pealim),
and only found one minor reference to Shemitah in his responsa, and
nothing at all in his halachot.  As he was the Hakham of the Iraqi jews,
and was held in high regard by the Jerusalem Sephardic Rabbis I am
surprised that he makes no mention of the heter mechirah controversy
which came up during his prime years when he was alive, and especially
as the Jerusalem rabbis were known to consult with him on many topics.
If anyone can point me to such writings by the Ben Ish Chai I would most
appreciate it.


From: Wendy Baker <wbaker@...>
Date: Sun, 13 May 2007 09:44:19 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Re: The Cost of Joining a Synagogue

> From: Israel Caspi <icaspi@...>
> Marilyn Tomsky's posting on 10 May 2007 on the subject of the Cost of
> Joining a Synagogue got me thinking about the costs involved in being a
> part of the Jewish community in general.
> As one who spent his whole professional life as a rabbi/educator, it
> always galled me that people expect sliding scale discounts for their
> children's day school tuition, their synagogue membership, etc.  Many of
> these people (I do not know Marilyn Tomsky and therefore should not be
> understood as referring to her or her family in these observations) seem
> to have enough money to drive luxury cars, take many expensive vacations
> to points all over the world, buy designer clothes, etc., etc.  And yet
> when it comes to paying their fair share of their Jewish expenses, they
> cry poverty.

This, to me, is quite insulting to many, who like my family, put two
boys through Day School on a high school teacher's salary.  We did not
eat out often, took inexpensive vacations or just stayed at my parents or
brother's house, put many things on hold because our kids came first.
Families with many children would not dream of asking.  We did get
partial schlarship help and supplied copies of our income tax returns to
qualify.  My husband also did night and summer work as a musician to
increase our income.  I am not alone in this and, although I would have
liked a larger family, did not want to impose tht kind of burden on the
Jewish community and to be unable to give my 3 children what we felt they

> nor would they expect, a discount on their children's clothes just
> because there are more than one.  Yet they fully expect a discount on
> their day school tuition

One can economize on clothes by passing them down from one kid to the 
next.  This is difficult to do with schooling.  I do know of at least one 
large family (8 kids) who moved to Israel just because of the education 
costs for Day School.

Wendy Baker

From: Keith Bierman <khbkhb@...>
Date: Sun, 13 May 2007 08:10:00 -0600
Subject: Re: The Cost of Joining a Synagogue

> From: Tzvi Stein <Tzvi.Stein@...>
> You should become Orthodox... it's a lot cheaper.

The primary focus of most Orthodox schuls (in my personal experience) is
the synagogue itself (prayer, study, etc.). The primary focus of most
non-orthodox schuls tends to be more communal (viz. many members will
seldom attend prayer services, but will use many other "social"

Unfortunately there is a tendency to create unending funding drives, not
quite, but nearly as an end in and of itself.

Keith Bierman  | <khbkhb@...> | khbkhb1@fastmail.fm
AIM kbiermank |  skype khbkhb | gizmo: keithbierman 1-747-641-9858


From: Orrin Tilevitz <tilevitzo@...>
Date: Mon, 14 May 2007 09:11:10 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: Married Women and Hair Covering

In response to my observation that married women cover their hair when
lighting candles or bentshing (for which, in a later posting, Ken Bloom
cites sources), Rabbi Meir Wise states that any married woman who does
not cover her hair - is "Overet al dat Yehudit" and that

> probably those women who unfortunately do not (yet) cover their hair
> feel that for religious practices - shul, kiddush, weddings, bentching
> and candle lighting that they should do so.  Lets hope that they reach
> the required level of observance soon.

Without getting into the issue Rabbi Wise raises and resolves so
simplistically and patronizingly, I shall merely point out: nisht azoi
poshut: for example, the practice among Lithuanian Orthodox Jews seems
to have been for married women not to cover their hair.  See discussion
in ML Jewish 30:29 (Dec. 1, 1999 ).  But it is also irrelevant: as Ken
points out, there's a difference between hiding one's hair and donning a
headcovering.  I would guess that those married women who follow this
practice do so even if they are wearing sheitlach.


From: Binyamin Lemkin <lemkin@...>
Date: Tue, 15 May 2007 07:45:05 +0300
Subject: Nusach of Al HaNissim for Yom Yerushalayim

The nusach may be found at www.machonshilo.org

                           Binyamin Lemkin


From: David Curwin <tobyndave@...>
Date: Sun, 13 May 2007 01:48:23 +0300
Subject: Thoughts about Guns, Germs and Steel?

I was wondering what the Mail-Jewish readership thinks about the book
Guns, Germs and Steel by Jared Diamond. I don't want to get into his
thoughts about evolution. But while in his discussion of why some
civilizations became prominent in the world (and not others) does not
talk almost at all about the Jewish people, I can't help but see us on
almost every page.  (Reminds me in a way about reading Megilat Esther,
where God's name isn't mentioned, but His presence is clear.)

He mentions how it was just the luck of Eurasian people that their
continent has an east-west axis which led to the easy transport of
agriculture and technology. And of the thousands of species of plants
and animals, most of the ones that could be domesticated just happened
to be in the Near East.  (When he discusses "the first [domesticated]
fruit and nut trees" he mentions olives, figs, dates, pomegranates and
grapes!) The sheep, goat and cow were also domesticated in this
region. Writing happened to begin here.  The wheel also comes from this
small part of the world.

While he does discuss the "evolution of government and religion", he
doesn't mention the spread of morality. I can't help but think that all
these "coincidences" seem to show that there was great significance to
God choosing to have the people spreading His word live here. Anyone
have any other ideas about this?

Lastly, I thought it was very interesting that when he talks about why
the "Fertile Crescent" is no longer dominant in the world - particularly
in the area of food production - he mentions the deforestation of the
area. But isn't that exactly what Zionism switched the direction of?
More food for thought.

David Curwin
Balashon - Hebrew Language Detective


From: Ari Trachtenberg <trachten@...>
Date: Mon, 14 May 2007 14:37:17 -0400
Subject: Re: Turning for L'Cha Dodi

> From: Jonathan Baker <jjbaker@...>
> What they are actually doing?  Turning away from the Torah to greet
> an abstraction. 
> Does an abstraction need a door?

And what, exactly, is the Torah if not an abstraction?  The Torah is dye
on parchment that only has understood meaning, in the images and
thoughts that its words invoke because they were given by G-d.  One can
make an idol of the the Torah just as one can of a door.

Ari Trachtenberg,                                      Boston University
http://people.bu.edu/trachten                    mailto:<trachten@...>

From: Mark Symons <msymons@...>
Date: Sun, 13 May 2007 22:19:00 +1000
Subject: Turning for L'Cha Dodi

> <dtaragin@...> (David Taragin)wrote
> This is more of a sociological observation rather than an halachic
> question: I have noted often that in Shuls where the door is not in the
> rear of the shul, but near the front, everybody seems to turn around and
> face the rear anyway and bow to greet the Malka, even though she is
> probably entering from the front. I guess this another example of
> people doing something they are accustomed to doing before thinking
> about what they are actually doing.

As I remember reading, there are 2 opinions - facing the door (which to
me has always seemed more logical) and facing the rear, which I think is
the Gra's view.

Mark Symons
Melbourne Australia


From: <leah@...> (Leah S. R. Gordon)
Date: Sun, 13 May 2007 16:31:57 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: Re: Unmarried women and kippot?

> From: Ken Bloom <kbloom@...>
>....I would nevertheless would feel
> uncomfortable in America about a woman who followed R' Ovadia's opinion
> by wearing a kippah, since I am accustomed to understanding this as a
> statement of egalitarianism by the Conservative and Reform movements.
> R' Ovadia rules that a man should wear a kippah in order to be
> recognized as one who accepts Torah and Mitzvot -- Yehave Da'at v4s1,
> Yabia Omer v9 OC 1. Since this practice conveys the opposite message
> among women in the United States, I was wondering whether there were
> poskim who discuss this issue explicitly in this context.

I find astounding Mr. Bloom's assertion that a woman who wears a kippah
while making brachot etc. "conveys the opposite message" of "be[ing]
recognized as one who accepts Torah and Mitzvot".  What message, pray
tell, does he think a Jewish-woman-wearing-kippah-sayong-bracha conveys?
It seems like piety to me.  The "opposite" would be to wear no cap and
skip the bracha.  That would convey lack of piety.

This reminds me of the foolish statement that someone wrote on M.J a
decade ago that for a woman to learn Talmud was "to rebel against Gd and
Torah".  Please.  Jewish women, like Jewish men, pray, bless, study,
etc. in the service of Gd to the best of our ability.

If you don't like the "style" of the head-covering, it in no way impugns
*her* motive/message.  Men don't *own* the idea of wearing a small
brightly-colored cap.  Women's kippot look completely distinct from
men's from what I have seen, often with lace or other detail.  I've
never worn one myself, but I think it would be perfectly sensible to do
so.  I view the fact that I've never worn one as lack of courage on my
part to buck the peer pressure of views like those of Mr. Bloom.  I view
women who wear them as making important strides forward.

--Leah S. R. Gordon

From: Susan D. Kane <suekane@...>
Date: Mon, 14 May 2007 16:57:11 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Unmarried women and kippot?

My experience becomes clear in light of the ruling by Rav Ovadia Yosef
about unmarried women and headcovering, but FYI, for what it is worth

While in Israel, I had two experiences among Teimani Jews where it
seemed that an unmarried woman was expected to cover her head during

While visiting a shul with a very tiny women's section full of unused
furniture, I was warmly welcomed and allowed to stand in the entraceway,
but strongly encouraged to take my (winter) scarf and tie it around my
chin.  I explained that I was not married but this was waved away as
having no relevance.

During Chanukah, I was surprised to see a Teimani friend cover his
unmarried sister's head with his hand as she said the blessings over the

I saw mizrachi boys covering each other's heads with their hands all the
time -- this is very common -- but I was surprised to see it done for a

I wasn't sure if there was a ruling that women should cover their heads
during prayer or if it was a masoret from having lived in a country
where all women did cover their heads in one way or another most of the

As a Conservative Jew, I wore a kippah in many of these settings, which,
of course, always causes Israelis of all backgrounds to fall over in
hysterical laughter.

Susan Kane
Boston, MA


From: Aliza Berger <alizadov@...>
Date: Tue, 15 May 2007 10:46:20 +0300
Subject: Unmarried women wearing kippot

I thought for a long time about how to address this issue. I have many
things to say, but for the meantime I will use a practical approach.
Yesterday shopping for head coverings, I noticed that the kind I get
were called "kippot" in the store. They are about as big as the largest
men's knitted kippot - they cover most of the whole head. So this is
partly a matter of semantics. I don't see the point in objecting to
someone covering their head while praying, which is generally considered
a positive thing: whether man or woman, married or unmarried, small
covering or large, whether Othodox, Conservative, or Reform.


Aliza Berger-Cooper, PhD


End of Volume 54 Issue 70