Volume 55 Number 40
                    Produced: Mon Aug 13  5:16:34 EDT 2007

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

         [Leah Aharoni]
Authorship of the Zohar (2)
         [Joel Rich, Martin Stern]
Dikduk Question (2)
         [Martin Stern, Martin Stern]
"Harachaman" in bentsching
         [Akiva Miller]
Learning Megillat Esther
Left and Down
         [Leah Aharoni]
Number of Halachot and Chapters in Sefer Zmanim?
         [David Curwin]
Reciting Tehillim at night
         [Brandon Raff]
Using someone else's property (2)
         [Tzvi Stein, Carl Singer]


From: Leah Aharoni <leah25@...>
Date: Sun, 12 Aug 2007 13:21:48 +0300
Subject: RE: Assimilation

Dr Ben Katz wrote:
> This is more than a slight problem.  All you have to do is look at
> Rinat Yisrael for all the sidur Hebrew Rabbi Tal had to "translate"
> into modern Hebrew.

While I completely agree with your point regarding discrepancies between
Modern Hebrew and Biblical/medieval Hebrew usage, I think it is obvious
that a child growing up in Israel will understand almost every word or
at least every sentence in his/her siddur, even without the benefits of
yeshiva education.

This same statement cannot be made about many US yeshiva high school
graduates. I have met American students who after 12 years of yeshiva
and a year of seminary in Israel are not proficient enough in Hebrew to
order a pizza! Furthermore, I still can't forget one of my yeshiva high
school Judaic teachers (he went on to head a well known yeshiva high
school shortly afterwards), who confessed in class to not understanding
all the text in yom tov davening.

Leah Aharoni  


From: Joel Rich <JRich@...>
Date: Fri, 10 Aug 2007 05:24:22 -0400
Subject: Authorship of the Zohar

> In a word (OK, a few) , the halokhic positions of the Zohar were/are
> considered normative if they do not explicitly contradict a contrary
> view expressed by the Talmud.  Thus the Talmud - presumably reflecting
> the normal "human" halokhic processing (though not always.  But, od
> chozone lammoeid)- takes precedence over ruach haqqodesh/heavenly
> declamations.  But halokhic precedence is a quite different concept
> than no halokhic weight at all.
> <SNIP>.
> As time permits, I shall try to submit a follow up note that treats
> the notion of such meta-halokhic processes from a somewhat broader
> perspective.
> Mechy Frankel

Looking forward to the latter.

So in the time of the Talmud's formation, did the zohar have a role in
the psak applicable to that time?

Joel Rich

From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Fri, 10 Aug 2007 11:33:04 +0100
Subject: Re: Authorship of the Zohar

On Wed, 08 Aug 2007 18:38:12 -0500, Dr. Ben Katz <bkatz@...>
>> From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
>> 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.
> The latter statement by Mr. Stern is not exactly correct.  Rabbi
> Jacobs started a masorati movement in England which has some
> similarities to Conservative doctrine in the US but was never
> institutionally affiliated with the Conservative movement; it may
> resemble more the Union for Traditional Judaism, although the latter is
> probably more to the right than Rabbi Jacobs was.

I am sorry to have to disagree with Ben but the position he is
advocating is precisely that of Masorti (not Masorati) spokespeople in
England which was designed to gloss over their real affiliation. It was
precisely such double-talk that first prompted me to write against their
insidious propaganda.

In a letter published in the (London) Jewish Chronicle on 28 March '86,
the then Co-chairmen of the New North London Synagogue (a branch of Dr
Jacobs' original New London Synagogue) wrote in reply to my assertion (7
March '86) that they were a Conservative institution:

"The synagogue is not a member of the Conservative movement... We
maintain independence constitutionally and in our practice, as do our
fellow members of the Masorti Assembly of Synagogues... The Assembly is
administered by the Masorti Association, which is itself independent. It
is affiliated to the World Council of Synagogues, the international arm
of the Conservative movement in the United States."

As I replied in a letter to the same paper on 11 April '86:

"That they are constitutionally independent is not in dispute. However
their description of themselves ... seems to imply that they are better
described as Conservative than Orthodox. The two are, in fact,
incompatable, since they hold diametrically opposed views regarding the
nature of revelation and the text of the Torah. Any attempt to blur this
difference smacks of deceit."

Martin Stern


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Fri, 10 Aug 2007 06:29:14 +0100
Subject: Dikduk Question

On Wed, 08 Aug 2007 18:57:40 -0400. Leah-Perl <leahperl@...> wrote:

> Can anyone explain the term "segholation" in plain English?  Am I
> correct in understanding closed and open syllables to mean stressed
> and unstressed?

A closed syllable is one ending in a consonant, an open one does
not. The stress is something completely separate and can be understood
best by the UK English distinction between the pronunciation of, for
example, 'dispute' as a noun, where the stress is on the syllable 'dis',
as opposed to as a verb where it is on the syllable "pute'.

> Is there a book on didkduk that can help me fill my gaps?

A relatively elementary book, meant, I think, for schools, is "Eim
laMikra haShaleim" by R. Nisan Sharoni (2000) which is in pointed Hebrew
(i.e. with vowels). A slightly more advanced work is Sefer Dikdukei Shai
by R. Shmuel Yonatan Mandelbaum (1999).

Martin Stern

From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Fri, 10 Aug 2007 11:42:58 +0100
Subject: Re: Dikduk Question

On Fri, 10 Aug 2007 03:00:26 +0300 Richard Schultz <schultr@...>

> IIRC, "segholate" refers to a class of noun such as "melech" that is
> accented on the first syllable and in which the vowel in the second
> syllable disappears upon addition of a pronomial suffix, e.g. "melech"
> = "king," but "malki" = "my king."  They are called "segholates"
> because most of them have a seghol as the vowel in the first syllable.

One of my granddaughter (aged 13!) asked me a question about these
"segholate nouns". Usually they change the seghol to a kamats when in a
pausal form, i.e. when accented with an etnachta or sof pasuk (and
occasionally a tippekha in short pesukim), e.g. 'erets' becomes 'arets'.
However some do not, such as 'melekh' or 'negev'. This is obviously true
but I have no idea why it should be so. Has anyone any suggestion as to
what distinguishes these two classes of "segholate nouns"?

Martin Stern


From: Akiva Miller <kennethgmiller@...>
Date: Sun, 12 Aug 2007 02:29:34 GMT
Subject: Re: "Harachaman" in bentsching

David Ziants wrote: 

> The source of the prayer is Berachot 46A and quoted in the Shulchan
> Aruch - Orech Chayim 201:1 

Not exactly "quoted". Compare the two, and you'll see a lot of
variations. The basic thrust of the two versions is extremely similar,
but I can't help wondering: If the Shulchan Aruch is not using the same
text as that of the Gemara, what's so bad if we use modify it even
further, and use the Harachaman text as in the siddur?

Martin Stern wrote: 
> It seems, however, to have fallen into disuse among Ashkenazim but was
> 'revived' by the Mishnah Berurah who recommended its use, which might
> explain its use by those who have been to a yeshivah. >>>

Let's see... I suspect that you are referring to MB 201:5. This comment
of the Mishna Brura refers to the Shulchan Aruch 201:1, which asks "What
blessing does he [the guest] give to him [the host]?", and then answers
his own question by giving the text of the blessing -- a text which, as
I pointed out above, is not the same as that in the Gemara.

I would translate MB 201:5 as: "In the sefer Lechem Chamudos, he wonders
[tamah] why we change the text of the blessing which we say for the
host, from what is said in the Gemara."

One thing I'd like to say about this MB is that it is not immediately
obvious what changes the Lechem Chamudos wondering about. It could be
(as many seem to think) that he his comparing the Harachaman of our
siddurim to the prayer cited in the Gemara. But it might also refer to
the changes between the Gemara's version and the Shulchan Aruch's
version, in which case this MB is totally irrelevant to any questions
about our Harachaman.

Second, is the MB really "recommending" that we drop the Harachaman in
favor of the other prayer, as Mr. Stern wrote? I'm not so sure. It could
be that he is merely making an interesting comment. If the intention of
the MB was to recommend one text or the other, wouldn't he have added
something like "And that is the proper way" or something similarly
emphatic and decisive?

Last: Let's suppose that the MB *is* telling us to use this other
text. I'd love to know what makes this decision of the MB so different
than so many others, which the world seems to ignore. This is NOT the
only place where the MB is at odds with what is commonly found in our
siddurim. Another case is in the additions to Al Hamichya which we say
on Yom Tov: Our text is "V'samchenu b'yom chag Ploni hazeh", but MB
208:58 says to say "V'zachrenu l'tovah b'yom chag Ploni hazeh". And yet
another is Haneros Halalu (on Chanuka) which has only 36 words according
to MB 676:8; our text is much longer.

Akiva Miller


From: Heshy <hhandls@...>
Date: Fri, 10 Aug 2007 13:03:28 +0300
Subject: Learning Megillat Esther

I am looking for suggestions of perushim to learn with Megillat Esther.



From: Leah Aharoni <leah25@...>
Date: Sun, 12 Aug 2007 13:03:14 +0300
Subject: RE: Left and Down

David Riceman wrote:

> I've seen many drashot about the shapes of the Hebrew letters, but I
> don't recall seeing any about their direction (letters right to left
> and lines top to bottom).  Are there such drashot?  If so, where, and
> if not, why not?

See Sefer HaBahir with Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan's commentary (published by Weiser

Leah Aharoni


From: David Curwin <tobyndave@...>
Date: Sat, 11 Aug 2007 23:02:17 +0300
Subject: Number of Halachot and Chapters in Sefer Zmanim?

Does anyone know the total number of halachot and chapters in the Rambam's
Sefer Zmanim?


David Curwin


From: Brandon Raff <Brandon@...>
Date: Mon, 13 Aug 2007 09:47:42 +0200
Subject: Reciting Tehillim at night

It was mentioned to me that Tehillim is not recited at night unless
there are pressing circumstances. Has anyone heard about this and / or
know a source for it?




From: Tzvi Stein <Tzvi.Stein@...>
Date: Fri, 10 Aug 2007 09:30:46 -0400
Subject: Re: Using someone else's property

> From: <meirman@...> (Meir)

> Say my 16 y.o. son goes to the baseball field at the local public
> junior high, with a few friends his age, and no one else is around and
> he finds a batting helmet on the ground near home plate.  They brought
> a bat and baseball and gloves, but didn't think or didn't remember to
> bring or didn't own a batting helmet.  May he use the one he finds
> there?

> Would it be different if it were a Jewish school and the only kids who
> could have left it behind were Jewish?  Would it be different if it
> were a non-Jewish boy who was at a) a public or b) a Jewish school to
> play and wanted to use a helmet he found there?

> Although they didn't exist when I was little, except maybe in the
> pros, now a batting helmet is considered a very good idea to avoid
> head injuries.

> How does this compare to using someone's tfillin, if you were
> unexpectedly away from home or if you forgot to bring yours, if you
> knew nothing about the owner except that he wasn't there, and there
> were no other spare sets?

IIRC, it depends on how likely it is that the item would become damaged,
whether the item was left there on purpose or accidentally, and whether
it is being used for a mitzva.  The ikkur is halachically "getting into
the owner's head" and deducing whether he implicitly gives permission
for other people to use it.

From: Carl Singer <casinger@...>
Date: Thu, 09 Aug 2007 20:35:32 -0400
Subject: Using someone else's property

There are a number of side issues that need to be addressed both with
batting helmet & tfillin.

1 - Is there a presumption that the object left when & where it was left
is there for others to use.

2 - Will the object being used be degraded or diminished in any sense by
your use.  Might you get it dirty, stretch it, etc.

3 - Might your use of the object preclude the rightful owner from using
it.  Say you're in the middle of Shemoneh Esrai wearing this other
person's tfillin when he arrives -- either to wear them or to take them

4 - Might someone think that you are "stealing" rather than "borrowing"

5 - If there is a normal "rental" fee for the object that you are using,
are you obliged to track down the owner and pay that fee.

6 - Are you setting a bad example for someone who might (as in #4 above)
think you are stealing.

7 - Might the owner return and, noticing the object is not where he/she
left it, think it was stolen and thus (temporarily?) feel a great sense
of loss.

8- Might you forget to return the object.

9- Might this lead you towards a bad habit of forgetting to bring your
own object.



End of Volume 55 Issue 40