Volume 55 Number 37
                    Produced: Wed Aug  8  4:35:12 EDT 2007

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

302 pictures of the new Olim in Israel
         [Jacob Richman]
         [Martin Stern]
Authorship of the Zohar
         [Martin Stern]
"Harachaman" in bentsching
         [Andy Goldfinger]
Interesting museum piece (2)
         [Jacob Gross, Mordechai]
The Real Old Time halachists
         [Eitan Fiorino]
shva na or shva nach in artscroll
         [Martin Stern]
Yeshiva high school tuition
         [Shayna Kravetz]


From: Jacob Richman <jrichman@...>
Date: Tue, 07 Aug 2007 16:50:08 +0300
Subject: 302 pictures of the new Olim in Israel

Hi Everyone!

Today, August 7, I was at Ben-Gurion airport to greet the
new olim that made aliyah from North America.

Congratulation to the 210 olim that have returned to their 
homeland. The excitement was everywhere and you knew 
that Jewish history was unfolding before your very eyes. 

I took 254 pictures the exciting event and I posted them 
online at:

On Monday, August 6, I attended an AACI Aliyah / Klita fair in
the Jerusalem office of Nefesh B'Nefesh. Olim from recent 
North America and England aliyah flights came to the fair. 
I posted 48 pictures at: 

When the first page appears, press the F11 key 
to view the full length of the pictures. To move from page to page, 
use the navigation buttons on the bottom of the screen.

May the aliyah from all over of the world grow and bring more 
Jews back to their homeland, Eretz Yisrael.

Have a great day,


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Tue, 07 Aug 2007 13:06:52 +0100
Subject: Re: Assimilation

On Fri, 03 Aug 2007 23:20:29 +0300, Leah Aharoni <leah25@...>

> Taking into account the 25% assimilation rate in the US Orthodox
> community, statistically, one of those four "million-dollar babies,"
> will marry a non-Jew.

I wonder where Leah gets the figure of 25% from. For US Jewry as a whole
the intermarriage rate is over 50% but I am sure that even for the
modern Orthodox it is nwhere as high as she suggests. Can anyone provide
an accurate figure?

Also with the current Jewish Agency policy of encouraging the
immigration from the former Soviet Union of those with only very tenuous
links to the Jewish people who are not halachically Jewish,
intermarriage in Israel is bound to rise.

> On the other hand, in Israel, your kids will actually understand every
> single word in their siddur, and almost every word in their Tanakh,
> Rashi, Ramban, and the Shulchan Aruch. Now, that's value for your
> money!

There is a slight problem in that modern Hebrew usage is not always the
same as that in mediaeval texts and this can lead to misunderstandings.

Martin Stern


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Tue, 07 Aug 2007 13:29:07 +0100
Subject: Re: Authorship of the Zohar

On Mon, 6 Aug 2007 11:46:04 -0500, Frank Silbermann
<frank_silbermann@...> wrote

> 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).

The late Louis Jacobs may have started off as an Orthodox rabbi but he
clearly moved away and started a UK branch of the Conservative movement.
Despite his frequent self description as "Orthodox as it was understood
prior to the shift to the right" or "non-fundamentalist Orthodox", it is
misleading to include him, even by implication, as Frank seems to do.

Martin Stern


From: Andy Goldfinger <Andy.Goldfinger@...>
Date: Tue, 7 Aug 2007 08:13:38 -0400
Subject: "Harachaman" in bentsching

This past Shabbos, after bentsching (i.e. birchat HaMazon for my
Sephardi friends) at the house we were invited to, the woman of the
house said to me "you bentsching gives away your age!"

I asked her what she meant, and she pointed out that I said a short
"Harachaman" for the Ba'al and Ba'alas HaBayis while my son said a much
longer one.  She commented that people of our generation (i.e. old guys)
say the short one but that the new generation is generally saying the
longer one.

I never noticed this.  Is it true?  Is it limited to our community
(Baltimore, Maryland, USA) or is it going on around the world.  If it is
true, how has it come about?

Andrew D. Goldfinger


From: Jacob Gross <JacobBGross@...>
Date: Tue, 7 Aug 2007 21:53:09 -0400
Subject: Re: Interesting museum piece

From: Shmuel Himelstein <himels@...>
> 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.

Sifra d'aftarata / sefer haftarot -- We had one of those in the Bergen
Street shul in Newark, NJ in the '50s; and one is reproduced in the
haftara section in the back of the old Sharfman tikun.  Bergen St. also
had a full set of Neviim. They probably came from one of the many
mergers -- they sat, unused, under the aron kodesh in the weekday shul.

The shul building had the z'chus to be demolished when the Interstate
came through; its plaques wound up in a successor shul in the suburbs,
and I understand the neviim made aliyah.

From: <Phyllostac@...> (Mordechai)
Date: Tue, 7 Aug 2007 23:53:11 EDT
Subject: Re: Interesting museum piece

I believe what is described above is a 'sefer aftarta'. The topic is
discussed in the sefer Shorshei Minhag Ashkenaz (III) by Rav Binyomin
Shlomo Hamburger.

In the days before the advent of the printing press, they were used more
widely, but when printed seforim became widely available, it seems that
their use declined, although it didn't disappear entirely.



From: Eitan Fiorino <AFiorino@...>
Date: Tue, 7 Aug 2007 10:16:44 -0400
Subject: RE: The Real Old Time halachists

> I wish I could find that tape from R' Jeff Woolf where he talks about
> the chassidicization of halacha, as the Zohar becomes more and more an
> important halachic source.  The Real Old Time halachists, such as R'
> Yosef Karo, a well-known kabbalist, kept kabbalah out of their
> halachic works.
>         name: jon baker              web: 

I meant to comment on this previously.  I think it is very mistaken to
attempt to distinguish R. Yosef Karo "the halachacist" from Yosef Karo
"the kabbalist."  This is a person who was radically mystical, who
believed himself to have been visited by a maggid on a near daily basis
which represented itself as the mishnah personified.  One cannot
estimate the influence (or purported lack thereof) of mysticism in the
Shulchan Aruch by merely counting the number of times the mechaber
writes that a din is "according to kabbalah."

In his biography of the R. Karo (Joseph Karo, Lawyer and Mystic), Zvi
Werblowsky shows how R. Karo's maggid (detailed in the Maggid Mesharim)
provided a running commentary to R. Karo on the rulings recorded in the
Beit Yosef and Shulchan Aruch (see chapter 8, "The Halakhah of the
Maggid"), even telling him at times that one particular rishon or
another was pleased with how R. Karo had interpreted a particular din.
While the maggid does not appear to have been an originator of halachot
but rather seems to comment on and confirm R. Karo's rulings (prompting
the Chacham Tzvi to comment that R. Karo was a bigger chacham that his
maggid), the inherently mystical nature of this experience and the
maggid's close relationship with R. Karo's role as a halachacist should
be sufficient to dispel any notion that these identities were somehow
compartmentalized within R. Karo.

Furthermore, I would suspect that there were mystical overtones to R.
Karo's motivation to become a compiler of halachic codes.  Through the
composition of the Beit Yosef and its abridgement, the Shulchan Aruch,
the mechaber hoped to eliminate differences in practice that had arisen
through generations of exile and expulsion, and through individuals
having passing familiarity with various halachic codes, all of which
seemed to be coming to a head in the late 15th/early 16th century.
While I am not familiar enough with the tenets of R. Karo's kabbalistic
system (presumably Lurianic but I'm not even certain of this) to know if
unification and perfection of observance of Jewish law had important
mystical or eschatological implications, it is not unreasonable to
postulate, pending further study, that this may have been a major
desideratum of a R. Karo's kabbalistic world view.  If so, then the
raison d'etre of R. Karo's codes could be said to be entirely of a
kabbalistic nature.  Admittedly, this is not the same as deciding among
multiple halachic opinions on the basis of a mystical experience or
insight - though I believe in order to assess this properly, one would
need to analyze the cases in which R. Karo does not rule according to
the majority opinion and determine if kabbalistic impulses or reasons
led to the alternative ruling.



From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Tue, 07 Aug 2007 13:35:32 +0100
Subject: Re: shva na or shva nach in artscroll

On Mon, 6 Aug 2007 08:49:25 -0500, From: David Curwin
<tobyndave@...> wrote:
> 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?

This type of a sheva after a shuruk arising from a vav hachibbur is a
matter of dispute among the ba'alei dikduk. Obviously Artscroll changed
its mind at some stage and adopted the opinion of the G'ra.

Martin Stern


From: Shayna Kravetz <skravetz@...>
Date: Tue, 7 Aug 2007 11:39:30 -0500
Subject: Re: Yeshiva high school tuition

Dr. Josh Backon <backon@...> on Thu, 02 Aug 2007 16:53:28 +0300
writes in part:

>College counselors: that's why the Ribono shel Olam created the
>Internet: there are a number of excellent websites that guide the 12th
>grader through the process of picking and choosing a college that fits
>his/her needs. Gevaldig! We just saved $250,000 in salaries and thus
>$431 in tuition.

Anyone who uses the internet to research anything as important as a
choice of college may, unfortunately, deserve what they get!  The amount
of useful information on the 'net is only exceeded by the amount of junk
and collective stupidity stored there.  While the 'net is a good place
to start, it is by no means adequate.  Individual colleges' sites are,
of course, self-serving and once you stray further afield into
evaluative third-party sites, you are now obliged to struggle with
evaluating the evaluators. And a youngster emerging from a Jewish school
system may have questions that the average internet site will ignore

So, yes, I definitely do think you need at least one human being with
experience and a broad knowledge of colleges in [your country here] and
Israel, to help a young person decide where to spend the next 3-4-5
years of their life and possibly how to spend the rest of their life.

>Librarians: there are excellent DVD's that train the person in
>information literacy including use of databases on the Internet
>(including the "hidden web") and commercial databases at public
>libraries. Mazal tov! We shaved off another $250,000 in salaries and
>thus $431 in tuition. Let retired teachers (now grandmothers) volunteer
>to run the actual print library at the school using free open access
>computer programs for librarians.

Ever try to ask a DVD a question?  I thought not.  Librarians are
/crucial/ in running a school -- and I speak here as someone with no ox
in this marketplace.  I have no children in any school, I am not a
librarian or a school teacher, and I am indifferent (well, not really,
but you know what I mean) to their fates as professionals.  But they are
often the only people in the school (besides the remote, harried, and
ineffable principal) who are able to take a synoptic view of knowledge
and make connections that the students may miss forever.  No DVD is
capable of looking into a child's face and seeing whether that child is
connecting with a book or not.  Computer testing for reading
comprehension is not the same thing. (Even if it were possible, but
that's another argument for another day.)

As for the retired teachers asked to volunteer, you get what you pay for
-- alas.  I wish this weren't so and there are certainly many wonderful
volunteers who are indispensable to schools.  But running a library is
not just a question of being a physical body in the room to help find
the unfindable book, and to handle re-shelving.  It is, almost always, a
full-time job, which is a lot to demand of any volunteer. (Has anyone
here ever tried to work part-time in the Jewish community?  Hah!
Part-time means full-time without pay and benefits to match.)  Moreover,
librarians need to keep up with their professional body of knowledge and
skills.  What school will pay for a professional seminar for a volunteer
who may or may not be available to use that knowledge in the school next
year?  And what happens to volunteer librarians who never have the
chance to schmooze with their fellows and find out what the really good
new children's books are or whether that heavily promoted Artscroll
series is really clunky to use and badly indexed?  A good librarian will
save a school their salary many times over in the purchases they
recommend /against/.

Kol tuv,
Shayna in Toronto


End of Volume 55 Issue 37