Volume 55 Number 11
                    Produced: Tue Jun 26  5:40:09 EDT 2007

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Agunot/Mesurevet Get
         [Daniel Geretz]
Curious  English Word:  Tharf.
         [Immanuel Burton]
Kol Beseder
         [Robert Israel]
Need info on Franfurt book fair
         [Shmuel Himelstein]
on Hair Covering & Modesty
         [Yisrael Medad]
Physical punishment on a child
         [Stephen Colman]
Physical Punishment on a Child (3)
         [Joel Rich, Joel Rich, Russell J Hendel]
Shabbat Zemirot
         [Art Sapper]
Uploaded New Learn Hebrew Video to TeacherTube and YouTube
         [Jacob Richman]
Viduiy before Tachanun
         [Boruch Merzel]


From: Daniel Geretz <danny@...>
Date: Mon, 25 Jun 2007 12:24:36 -0400
Subject: Agunot/Mesurevet Get

David Riceman kindly pointed out an error in my post.

> "Agunah" is a general term used to describe women stuck in a marriage,
> either due to disappearance of the husband, or due to the refusal of
> the husband to give a get, or possibly in an affiliated case of
> yibum/chalitzah (levirate marriage) where the younger brother is not
> yet of age (or mentally incapacitated.)

Although *today*, "agunah" is a general term, the term was classically
used specifically to refer to a woman whose husband had disappeared.

David also pointed out that the classic "ways out" for "agunout" revolve
around leniencies in testimony concerning the husband's death.  None of
these "ways out" are available as recourse for a woman whose husband
refuses to give her a get.

This actually strengthens the question: Isn't calling a woman whose
husband refuses to give her a get an "agunah" inaccurate, and actually
an affirmation that the husband's role in a "way out" is irrelevant?

(Any errors in my characterization of David's comments are my own.)


From: Immanuel Burton <iburton@...>
Date: Fri, 22 Jun 2007 11:34:52 +0100
Subject: Curious  English Word:  Tharf.

While looking up a word in the Oxford English Dictionary, I came across
the word "tharf".  Two definitions were given:

1.  To be under a necessity or obligation (to do something).
2.  Of bread, etc.: Not prepared with leaven, unleavened.

The word is listed as obsolete, and not all editions of the Oxford
English Dictionary list it.  However, this is a curious pair of
meanings, as the Hebrew word mem-tzadi-vav-taf spells either "mitzvot",
which are obligations to do things, or "matzot", which is unleavened
bread.  I wonder how this English word came about to be.

Immanuel Burton.


From: Robert Israel <israel@...>
Date: Thu, 21 Jun 2007 10:45:56 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: Re: Kol Beseder

Dr. Ben Katz <bkatz@...> wrote:
>         I have heard this before and it makes no sense to me.  First
> of all, I think kol beseder is a moden Hebrew expression.  Second, why
> would the Hebrew expression have been so widespread as to have been
> picked up centuries ago in English?  (Copasetic is an old word.  I
> remember checking the etymology years ago when I first heard this and
> remember reading "orig. unk.")

As I said, the origin of "copacetic" is unknown.  It might not be such
an old word, though: its earliest known appearance in print is from
1919.  Here's what The American Heritage Dictionary of the English
Language says:

  We know very little about the origin of the word copacetic, meaning
  "excellent, first-rate." Is its origin to be found in Italian, in the
  speech of southern Black people, in the Creole French dialect of
  Louisiana, or in Hebrew? John O'Hara, who used the word in Appointment
  in Samarra, later wrote that copacetic was "a Harlem and gangster
  corruption of an Italian word." O'Hara went on to say, "I don't know
  how to spell the Italian, but it's something like copacetti." His
  uncertainty about how to spell the Italian is paralleled by
  uncertainty about how to spell copacetic itself. Copacetic has been
  recorded with the spellings copasetic, copasetty, copesetic,
  copisettic, and kopasettee. The spelling is now more or less fixed,
  however, as copacetic or copasetic, even though the origin of the word
  has not been determined. The Harlem connection mentioned by O'Hara
  would seem more likely than the Italian, since copacetic was used by
  Black jazz musicians and is said to have been Southern slang in the
  late 19th century. If copacetic is Creole French in origin, it would
  also have a Southern homeland. According to this explanation,
  copacetic came from the Creole French word couperstique, which meant
  "able to be coped with," "able to cope with anything and everything,"
  "in good form," and also "having a healthy appetite or passion for
  life or love." Those who support the Hebrew or Yiddish origin of
  copacetic do not necessarily deny the Southern connections of the
  word.  One explanation has it that Jewish storekeepers used the Hebrew
  phrase kol bsedeq, "all with justice," when asked if things were
  O.K. Black children who were in the store as customers or employees
  heard this phrase as copacetic. No explanation of the origin of
  copacetic, including the ones discussed here, has won the approval of
  scholars, as is clearly shown by the etymology of copacetic in the
  first volume of the Dictionary of American Regional English, published
  in 1985: "Etym unknown."

Robert Israel                                <israel@...>
Department of Mathematics        http://www.math.ubc.ca/~israel 
University of British Columbia            Vancouver, BC, Canada


From: Shmuel Himelstein <shmuel@...>
Date: Sun, 24 Jun 2007 15:41:00 +0300
Subject: Need info on Franfurt book fair

If you've ever attended the Frankfurt book fair and/or familiar with the
city, I'd appreciate corresponding with you privately in terms of
various halachic matters (e.g., kashrut, minyanim, etc.)


Shmuel Himelstein


From: Yisrael Medad <ybmedad@...>
Date: Mon, 25 Jun 2007 21:02:58 +0300
Subject: on Hair Covering & Modesty

 I have put up a blog post on the subject here


and here is the substance:

Recently, there have been a spate of postings and discussions on matters
of women's modesty, tzni'ut.  But why not raise another issue of

Chapter 303 of the Shulchan Arukh on Hikchot Shabbat deals with women
walking about in the public domain with jewelry which is problematic.

My translation:-

      A woman shall not go out [into the public domain] with nose
      rings for perhaps she may undo them to show them off; but to
      go out with earings [is permissable] because her ears are
      covered [my emphasis] with her ornaments and it would be too
      much of a bother to uncover them in order to slip them off
      for display; and in places where the ears [are in any case]
      uncovered, it would be then prohibited to walk about with

As I am not a Rabbi, well, a diplomaed one, please, if you have any
questions, consult your local Orthodox Rabbi but two observations:-

a) Jewish women had nose rings.

b) Jewish women seemingly had to cover not only their hair but their ears
as well (only on Shabbat?)



From: Stephen Colman <stephencolman2@...>
Date: Fri, 22 Jun 2007 06:38:19 -0400
Subject: Physical punishment on a child

> Like someone who disciplines his child: he places the strap with which
> he hits him in a high place, so that he will always see it and
> remember [to behave well]."

That reminds me of Miss Milner - one of my teachers at the Menorah
Primary School in London in the 1960's. Everybody in the school knew she
had a cane wrapped in brown paper and kept in the cupboard of the
classroom, and would use it on any misbehaved child. However, nobody
ever saw it - and and strangely enough, disciple was never a problem in
her class.


From: Joel Rich <JRich@...>
Date: Fri, 22 Jun 2007 08:18:41 -0400
Subject: Physical Punishment on a Child

> I would venture to say that the use of physical punishment on a child
> is the resort of failed discpline.  My father (who never physically
> disciplined us) conditioned us from a very young age to respond to a
> specific tone of voice.  When he used this tone of voice, all
> arguments immediately stopped, and we did as we were told (well, until
> we left the home :-).

Avi Mori vrabbi zll"hh didn't need to open his mouth, we just got "the
look". Personally I would have rather been hit than disappoint.  Imho
the job of the parent is such that even when they are no longer here (or
we've left home) we see "dyokno shel aviv" (his father's face ) in the
window at those moments where we might go wrong (as did Yosef by
potiphar's wife)

Joel Rich

From: Joel Rich <JRich@...>
Date: Fri, 22 Jun 2007 08:20:04 -0400
Subject: Physical Punishment on a Child

> So the Baal HaTurim seems to be making the same point: seeing the
> strap hanging on the wall ought to be enough to remind the child how
> to act.  Using it more than once in a lifetime (and even then with
> extreme reluctance) instead dilutes and distorts the intended message.
> Alex

Or in the famous words of Nimzowitsch "The threat is stronger than the

Joel Rich

From: Russell J Hendel <rjhendel@...>
Date: Sun, 24 Jun 2007 21:48:16 -0400
Subject: Physical Punishment on a Child

I am surprised that some obvious statements about this have not been
mentioned. (1) There is a Biblical prohibition of inflicting torts. I
recently cited this prohibition as a reason for prohibition torture. The
prohibition applies equally to children and adults and even ones own
children (See Rambam Laws of Torts 5:1,2).  The only possible exception
is that a father has the (theoretical right) to "spank" his son (Which
causes pain and humiliation) But he has no right to cause physical

(2) Many people have mentioned "I was never spanked".."It does no good."
All good and true. But sometimes a childs behavior warrants it. We
SHOULD try and avoid it but if a child has been doing improper things it
may have to be done.

(3) Finally I think we should all be aware that "it does happen." I have
mentioned several times on mail-jewish the wonderful work of Amit in
Israel. They have taken severely abused children and made them normal.
BUT....some of these children literally have scars and burns on their
body and are routinely subjected to such actions by parents on alcohol
or drugs (Again: AMit has been successful in curing them but my point is
we should be aware that such excesses happen).

(4) Finally after having had a "run in with the law" on the therapy
issue (Recall I believe that in the idea messianic world therapists
should occasionally violate confidentiality) here Judaism and the law
agree. A person inflicting physical harm on a child should be brought to
the authorities attention. The child is legal entity under the law
subject to protection. Although we dont allow the child to engage in
marriage and commerce he is still a legal entity with protections.

Russell Jay Hendel; http://www.Rashiyomi.com/


From: <asapper@...> (Art Sapper)
Date: Thu, 21 Jun 2007 18:20:42 -0500
Subject: Re: Shabbat Zemirot

      Mah Yofis was traditionally sung on Friday night, between the fish
and meat courses.
     The origin of the connection to Friday night is unknown to me, but as
to being sung between fish and meat, I can offer this (admittedly weak)
conjecture:  that it was based on these words in the zemer: "for you, meat
and also fish are prepared in advance of the day."
      For those interested in reviving the custom of singing this zemer,
please feel free to email me at <asapper@...> and I will send you a full
resource folder (zipped), with a sound file, score, words, translation,
story, etc. 

Art Sapper


From: Jacob Richman <jrichman@...>
Date: Sun, 24 Jun 2007 19:12:18 +0300
Subject: Uploaded New Learn Hebrew Video to TeacherTube and YouTube

Hi Everyone!

I just uploaded a new Learn Hebrew video to TeacherTube
and YouTube. The topic of the new video is Computer Vocabulary

The TeacherTube address is:

The YouTube address is:

The list of previous uploaded videos is located at:

Enjoy the videos and have a good summer.


From: <BoJoM@...> (Boruch Merzel)
Date: Thu, 21 Jun 2007 15:54:03 EDT
Subject: Re: Viduiy before Tachanun

Perry Zemek writes:
>As far as I saw outside Israel, the Vidui is only part of Nusach

I have davened in many Litvishe nusach ashkenaz congregations that do
say viduiy Monday & Thursday prior to recitation of long tachanun.  In
fact, the shule in which I currently daven, in my hometown, was founded
more than 120 years ago by strongly principled misnagdim and and no one
has ever thought of skipping Viduiy before tachanun on Mondays and

Boruch Merzel


End of Volume 55 Issue 11