Volume 55 Number 36
                    Produced: Tue Aug  7  6:07:31 EDT 2007

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Authorship of the Zohar
         [Frank Silbermann]
Avada kedavra (was: Zohar)
         [Michael Gerver]
FREE Drisha lecture: Use or Abuse?: Divine Law in Human Hands
         [Freda B Birnbaum]
Free educational resources for the Jewish New Year
         [Jacob Richman]
Harry Potter Killing Curse
         [Robert Israel]
         [David Curwin]
Jewish Education as an "Unrewarding Profession"
         [Chaim Shapiro]
Off the Derech
         [Nachman Yaakov Ziskind]
Public Education
Scroll of Haftarahs
         [Martin Dauber]
shva na or shva nach in artscroll
         [David Curwin]


From: Frank Silbermann <frank_silbermann@...>
Date: Mon, 6 Aug 2007 11:46:04 -0500
Subject: Re: Authorship of the Zohar

>>> Am I missing something here?
>>> If I wrote a long book on string theory without having a full and
>>> appropriate CV somehow attached, would any competent person read it?

From: Lipman Phillip Minden <phminden@...> MJ 55:27
>> Some might, and they'd then judge it by the usual criteria like
>> plausability etc.
>> But don't publish it under your name - claim it's an unkown manuscript
>> by Einstein you just happened to find (even if it quotes several 1990s
>> articles from both Nature and Reader's Digest, contains the occasional
>> hip-hop slang word and allusions to The Simpsons, and string theory was
>> developed decades after Einstein's death), and see if people still buy
>> the story.

Alex Heppenheimer <aheppenh@...> V55 N34:
> But in that case, why don't we (G-d forbid) apply the same logic to
> dating the Torah itself?  It refers to events that occurred centuries
> after its putative date of writing (including the destruction of the
> Jewish state and the dispersal of its inhabitants), and it uses
> linguistic forms that are otherwise attested in the historical record
> only much later, so clearly no one should "buy the story" that it was
> written by Moshe.

Many have made this argument, but Orthodoxy has drawn the line here
(perhaps with Louis Jacobs having been a rare exception).

> We reject that reasoning, of course, because we know that the Torah
> was dictated by G-d, to Whom past, present, and future are identical.

Indeed, this is one of the Rambam's 13 Pillars of Faith.  So we have to
make an exception for the Torah, and not hold ourselves in judgement over
its authenticity.

However, I would tend to think that any generation would be obligated to
apply its critical facilities to evaluate claims about the holiness of
any book that our ancestors did not know about.  (Yes, our recent
ancestors knew about the Zohar, but not until the time of R' Moshe de
Leon, and significant skepticism existed from the time of its first
publication.)  We have in our tradition great rabbis, some who believed
de Leon's claims and some who denounced those claims.  So it seems we
have the freedom to decide for ourselves.

Given that freedom, however, it seems to me that using such a
controversial book as a basis for halacha would tend to be devisive
where devisiveness is most dangerous -- in our religious _practice_.
Perhaps this is why many authorities refrained from using the Zohar in
deciding halacha.  (Of course, you cannot stop people from developing
customs based on the Zohar.)

Frank Silbermann            Memphis, Tennessee


From: Michael Gerver <mjgerver@...>
Date: Sun, 5 Aug 2007 00:46:46 +0300
Subject: Avada kedavra (was: Zohar)

Alex Herrera, in discussing claims of magical powers for the words of the
Zohar, says

> Such things have even crept into the common language such as the
> famous "magic words" that so many illusionists have used to lend
> weight to their hand-waving...  "Abracadabra"... a phrase that
> suggestions creating something to Harry Potter's "Avader-cadavera"
> (suggesting a cadaver) in which the words have the power to kill.

I'm pretty sure that the phrase "Avada kedavra" in the Harry Potter
books was not derived by the author from the word "cadaver", but from
the Aramaic "I will destroy as I speak", by analogy with Aramaic "Abara
kedavra", "I will create as I speak", which, according to one theory, is
the etymology of "abracadabra." (I should add that there is another
theory that "abracadabra" comes from the Late Greek "abraxas," a magical
word whose Greek letters have a numerical value of 365, which itself may
come from a Hebrew acronym, and there is also a theory that
"abracadabra" is of Balkan origin. See Ernest Klein, Comprehensive
Etymological Dictionary of the English Language, and Webster's New World
Dictionary.  These dictionaries do not mention the Aramaic theory, and I
don't remember where I read it.)

Mike Gerver
Raanana, Israel


From: Freda B Birnbaum <fbb6@...>
Date: Fri, 3 Aug 2007 13:07:43 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: FREE Drisha lecture: Use or Abuse?: Divine Law in Human Hands

I've just received this announcement from Drisha.  This looks VERY 
interesting and I'm making efforts to be there.

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Jordana Golden <jgolden@...>
Subject: Meesh Hammer-Kossoy - August 8

Meesh Hammer-Kossoy at Drisha
Wednesday, August 8, 6:30 p.m.  FREE
37 West 65th Street, 5th floor
(between Central Park West and Columbus Avenus)
Co-Sponsored by Pardes and Drisha

Use or Abuse?: Divine Law in Human Hands

Rabbis of the Talmud at times seem to take great liberties with Torah
law, sometimes legislating Torah law out of existence, other times
apparently inventing new rules all together. One of the clearest cases
of this bold innovation is in the criminal punishment system as it is
developed in the Talmudic period. Using this examples as a model, we
will explore the rights and responsibilities of the rabbis then and now.

Dr. Hammer-Kossoy, once Drisha faculty member and assistant director of
Drisha High School Summer Program, is currently a member of the Talmud
Faculty and Director of Admissions at the Pardes Institute of Jewish
Studies in Jerusalem. She has an AB in Near Eastern and Judaic Studies
from Brandeis University, and a MA and PhD from New York University. Her
dissertation explored the courageous manner in which the rabbis of the
Talmud created a new criminal punishment system. Dr. Hammer- Kossoy is
also a graduate of NATIV, Pardes, Midreshet Lindenbaum, MaTaN, Drisha,
and ATID. She has received many fellowships including Lady Davis,
National Foundation for Jewish Culture, Memorial Foundation, ATID.

email: <jgolden@...>
web: http://www.drisha.org
Drisha Institute | 37 West 65th Street | New York | NY | 10023


From: Jacob Richman <jrichman@...>
Date: Sun, 05 Aug 2007 23:18:00 +0300
Subject: Free educational resources for the Jewish New Year

Hi Everyone!

Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year 5768, begins Wednesday night,
September 12, 2007.

The J Site - Jewish Education and Entertainment 

has several entertaining features to celebrate the new year:

Jewish Trivia Quiz: Rosh Hashana

Which special prayer is said in the days before Rosh Hashana ? 
Which group of foods is customary to eat on Rosh Hashana ? 
What are the other three names of Rosh Hashana ? 
How many times is the shofar sounded during Rosh Hashana ? 
Which food is customary NOT to eat on Rosh Hashana ?

The above questions are examples from the multiple choice Flash
quiz. There are two levels of questions, two timer settings.  Both kids
and adults will find it enjoyable.

Additional Rosh Hashana resources and games on the J site include:
Free Rosh Hashana Clipart
The Multilingual Word Search Game (English / Hebrew / Russian)
The Hebrew Hangman Game 
My Hebrew Songbook (Hebrew Song Lyrics)
My Jewish Coloring Book (online / offline)

The J site has something for everyone, but if that is not 
enough, I posted on my website 86 links about Rosh Hashana, 
from laws and customs to games and recipes.
Site languages include English,  Hebrew, French, German, Italian, 
Portugese, Russian and Spanish.
All 86 links have been reviewed / checked this week.

The web address is:

Please forward this message to relatives and friends, 
so they may benefit from these holiday resources.

Shana Tova - Have a Good Year,


From: Robert Israel <israel@...>
Date: Mon, 6 Aug 2007 18:37:58 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: Re: Harry Potter Killing Curse

Orrin Tilevitz <tilevitzo@...> wrote:

>>> Actually, the killing curse in Harry Potter is "Avada Kedavra"; in
>>>Aramaic "avada" is "to make", and I suspect Ms. Rowling knew that.

>> I saw it differently: I thought of "avada" with an Aleph, and saw it
>> as a parallel to "Abara-cadabra",(I will create using words) meaning,
>> "I will cause to be lost, destroyed, using words".

>But then it should have been "abeda kedabra"

In an interview at the Edinburgh International Book Festival
Rowling said:

   Does anyone know where avada kedavra came from? It is an ancient
spell in Aramaic, and it is the original of abracadabra, which means
"let the thing be destroyed". Originally, it was used to cure illness
and the "thing" was the illness, but I decided to make it the "thing"
as in the person standing in front of me. I take a lot of liberties
with things like that. I twist them round and make them mine.

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


From: David Curwin <tobyndave@...>
Date: Mon, 6 Aug 2007 07:25:06 -0500
Subject: Havineinu

Have any of you out there ever said the Havineinu prayer (the abbreviated
Amidah)? Under what circumstances?


David Curwin
Efrat, Israel


From: <Dagoobster@...> (Chaim Shapiro)
Date: Mon, 6 Aug 2007 14:55:07 EDT
Subject: Jewish Education as an "Unrewarding Profession"

I'd like to call the attention of the list to a quote by Neil Kaunfer as
quoted on page 269 in "A Bibliography of Jewish Education in the United
States; Complied and Edited by Norman Drachler: Wayne State University

"Jewish education is an unrewarding profession financially and in terms
of status.  It is also part time work.  The result of all of this is that
only the very dedicated or the very incompetent choose to enter the

Chaim Shapiro


From: Nachman Yaakov Ziskind <awacs@...>
Date: Mon, 6 Aug 2007 11:47:35 -0400
Subject: Off the Derech

> From: Tzvi Stein <Tzvi.Stein@...>
> http://www.offthederech.com/ ).  It goes deeply into this question, but
> includes heredi Jews as well.
> The author's main point is that it has very little to do with
> "temptations of the outside world" or "bad influences from school" and a
> whole lot to do with the atmosphere at home.... and very little to do
> with how "frum" the atmosphere at home was, but a lot more to do with
> how happy, warm, and loving it was.

(I read where) a therapist said (online, no name given, so make of it
what you will) that in counseling jews who went off the derech (he was
talking chassidic/haredic here) that in EVERY case, he found that the
person was sexually molested/abused.

Dunno if that's true. Dunno if that *could be* true. But, it's food for
thought - we're locking the front door to keep the bad guys out, but
they're already inside. :-(

Nachman Yaakov Ziskind, FSPA, LLM       <awacs@...>


From: <Dagoobster@...>
Date: Mon, 6 Aug 2007 14:47:50 EDT
Subject: Re: Public Education

      In our case, we're talking about Orthodox Jewish parents who are
      getting their children a proper education in a private school. Why
      indeed should they also have to contribute to schools from which
      neither they nor, frankly, a good deal of the student body derive
      any benefit?

      Kol tuv,

That's the point Alex.  I do NOT think Jefferson would claim that those
who are NOT sending their children to public schools are not receiving
any benefit.  Quite the contrary, he would likely believe that society
as a whole benefits from such schools, even when particular communities
choose to opt out.  Don't forget that Jefferson saw schools as a
meritocracy.  He would not have seen it as a school's goal to continue
to educate everyone.  He would have seen it as integral that they offer
the opportunity to everyone (in his milieu, mostly white children).

I guess we could argue IF Jefferson would or would not support vouchers
and charter schools in the modern context.  I don't think we can dispute
that Jefferson would believe in a community's responsibility to support
free schooling EVEN if they do not receive schooling as a benefit,
especially if free schooling was offered and declined by that community.

Chaim Shapiro


From: Martin Dauber <mhdauber@...>
Date: Mon, 6 Aug 2007 14:40:26 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: Scroll of Haftarahs

  Shmuel Himelstein  wrote:

> In the Jewish Museum in Budapest there is a scroll of all the Haftarot
> obviously hand-written, with the name of theHaftarah preceding each of
> them. What I found interesting is that the names of the Haftarot are
> written in red ink.

An identical, albeit virtually useless, scrol was recently sold on ebay
for a pittance.

Moshe Tzvi Dauber


From: David Curwin <tobyndave@...>
Date: Mon, 6 Aug 2007 08:49:25 -0500
Subject: shva na or shva nach in artscroll

Someone recently pointed out to me that different versions of the
Artscroll siddur have different markings for the shva under the first
bet in u-v-shachb'cha in Shma. Some have a shva nach (I think the older
ones) and some have a shva na (the newer ones). The other siddurim who
distinguish between the two types of shva (including the Simanim siddur
and chumash) all have a shva nach.

Anyone know the reason for the inconsistency in Artscroll here?


David Curwin
Efrat, Israel


End of Volume 55 Issue 36