Volume 56 Number 04
                    Produced: Fri Dec 21  5:32:04 EST 2007

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Avoiding Tachanun (2)
         [Alex Herrera, k and a weiss]
Shemittah 5768
         [Joseph Ginzberg]
Z'manim again
         [Michael Frankel]
Z'manim, +length of twilight with latitude
         [Michael Frankel]


From: Alex Herrera <odat@...>
Date: Tue, 18 Dec 2007 10:37:12 -0600
Subject: Avoiding Tachanun

Joel Rich writes regarding someone who uses any excuse to skip Tachanun...

> Any idea why someone who strongly identifies with the emotional
> component of prayer would be eager to skip tachanun?

Tachanun is strikingly depressing (especially the long
Tachanun). Therefore one who is emotionally invested in the joy of
prayer would naturally look for excuses to avoid it. Personally I run
through it as quickly as possible... not paying too much
attention... for that very reason.

Is that terrible?

Alex Herrera

From: k and a weiss <aliw@...>
Date: Tue, 18 Dec 2007 19:30:04 +0200
Subject: Re: Avoiding Tachanun

> Any idea why someone who strongly identifies with the emotional
> component of prayer would be eager to skip tachanun?

it seems to me that not saying tachanun is associated with happy things
- look when you don't say tachanun - when a ba'al simcha is present,
erev chag and during chagim, and in certain months, during the stretches
between chagim and after the chag until the end of the month (and for
chasidim - on a yahrzeit - which is a happy occasion). etc.  people who
identify strongly with the emotional component of prayer do so out of
joy - mostly joy in the closeness to HKB"H achieved through the
t'filla. so, l'aniyut da'ati, people seeking to avoid tachanun may do so
because they think saying it may mar their joy.  i personally think we
should not avoid it because we need all the help we can get...


From: Joseph Ginzberg <jgbiz120@...>
Date: Thu, 6 Dec 2007 12:46:06 -0500
Subject: Shemittah 5768

I recently received a magazine called "Shemittah 5768", published as a
fund-raiser for the Keren Hashviis.  Obviously, they have a strong
vested interest in supporting those who oppose the heter of the

What I am wondering is whether their approach to halacha in general has
become normative.

For example, in a Q&A article called "Harav Belsky Responds", they ask,
" Since over 30% of the supply of American flowers comes from EY, is one
mechuyav to verify the source of flowers before buying them?"

His response validates the question, and confirms that flowers are a
potential problem, need hashgocho, etc.

On page 77, though,in the same publication, in an unsigned article, it
says that flowers without any fragrance have no sanctity of shemittah.

Is R. Belsky just "frummer"?

Similarly, to another question regarding eating fruit from the Aravah
area, R. Belsky responds, "I know there are different opinions regarding
the Aravah in EY. The reasons for most of these escape me.
Nevertheless- Halacha Lemaaseh- one should treat it as safek sheviis and
be machmir unless there is a real sha'as hadchak".

If he doesn't understand the issues involved, how can he rule to forbid
it?  I know the rules about safek d'orayso, but here the safek is that
he doesn't understand, so why forbid it?

As an aside, wouldn't it be nice if someone invested that much time,
money, and effort into producing something touting chumras in chilul
Hashem or honesty or dina d'malchusa or any of the 10 commandments?

Yossi Ginzberg


From: Michael Frankel <michaeljfrankel@...>
Date: Thu, 6 Dec 2007 11:42:56 -0500
Subject: Z'manim again

>> The first, trivial reason, is that there is a delta in time between
>> the two events in a single day....a 12 hour delay translates into
>> about a five second intrinsic difference. not a lot to be sure, but
>> enough to establish the principle of asymmetry.

> This is actually not a practical difference. When someone gives times
> or gives tables they never try to be more accuyrate than the nearest
> minute. If we were trying to be that accurate

never said we were.  just pointing out that even minor discrepancy
sufficient to upshlug assertions of symmetry. Also don't know how big
an effect until considered. Just sharing.

> course for Shabbos we are anyway adding 18 minutes or 20 minutes and..

actually we're not. at least not for tzais.

>> a more significant reason lies in the role of the atmosphere. the
>> degree of refraction of MF sunlight when below the horizon depends on
>> the thermodynamic state of the atmosphere. published tables are never
>> really "true" since they must assume some averaged atmosphere,
>> whereas random variations may contribute up to a few minutes
>> variation in actuual, observed refraction.  Riding on top of the
>> random variation in this case is a systematic variation. i.e. in the
>> morning, the atmosphere is colder, denser, and lower.

> To get the same degree of light

exactly so.

> One question - if we are taking these things into consideration, then
> what about cloudy days?

so keep a luach somewhere.  seriously speaking, I'd imagine the weather
in europe promoted development of the printed luchos.  unlike eretz
yisroel europe tends to be cloudy and relatively miserable weather all
the time.  iI remember this as an issue back in the good old days when
we considered availability of air packages over the fulda gap.

> Do we use when people outside could see - and use that a means for
> determining the time?


>> and perhaps we wouldn't much like that shitoh if we knew. here q"q
>> silver spring MD, the Chabad calendar and luach are particularly
>> poplar. Not because anyone has the slightest idea of how any of the
>> z'manim were arrived at, but because of the nice artwork and it's
>> just the right size for posting in the kitchen and scrawling ..

> But this is a good point.

shucks. and here i thought all my points were good.

Dr. gewirtz:.. 

> On 2.  Alot does not vary with the halakhic definition of shaot
> zemniot using any of the shittos u quoted. i clearly did not say
> fixed, just a more complex variation (depression angles not correlated
> to the length of daylight period.)..

ah. thanks for the clarification. i took your statement that AH doesn't
vary with sho'os z'maniyos in contrast with the assumption of "fixed
hours".  i see now your sentence rather bears the interpretation that it
varies with solar declension (i.e. a "fixed" solar declension leading to
different period of time each day.  this is on much firmer ground, but a
problem I still have with it now is more of a sez who? (actually I know
the who and is really more of a since when) in this sense - all classic
rishonim pos'qim give z'man of AH in terms of a fixed number of sho'os
z'maniyos (thus rambam and shulchon aruch at 1.2 "hours", but pick what
you will).  this automatically takes care of changing the period of time
between AH and honetz each day with the expansion and contraction of the
"hour" unit.  But this daily change in temporal length is not the same
as would be given by the changes dictated by the 16 deg solar depression
criterion.  never mind that the solar angle criterion certainly gives
"better" z'manim (i.e. more uniform level of daylight from day to day).
so how did such radical change in a halakhically determined shiur get
off the ground?

> On 6 - ... myzmanim that i referenced has a haskomah from RYB.

looked up the web site and found it unintelligible, at least if you were
trying to reverse engineer the shitos.  It mentions 72 minutes and also
16 deg solar declension.  these will be the same only at equinoxes.  so
is it 16 deg everyday and 72 min only two days a year (my guess as to
what they mean, but they don't really explain it).  rambam and shulchon
aruch would say 1.2 "hours" every day.  and who is RYB? (didn't notice
the haskomoh).

i also left many issues on the table.  e.g.  consider the popular gaonic
shitoh which measures a sh'oh z'manis by taking the period from sunrise
to sunset and dividing by 12.  now we should ask - just what is sunrise
and sunset.  i think - need to check but in hurry right now - according
to the US navy tables (which I assume everybody uses) these refer to the
rising and setting of the center point of the sun.  but halakhic honetz
refers to the rise of the first "edge" of the suns's orb.  similarly for
sh'qioh - until the last "edge" sets.  But this can be off by a goodly
amount of time from astronomically tabulated sunrise-sunset (probably
takes a good ten minutes or so to completely set).  but if so, the
daylight "hours" will be noticeably longer than nighttime "hours" at the
t'qufos - when the day and night are supposed to be equal according to
gaonic shitoh.  In my previous note about evening z'manim I noted
residual - and unresolved - halakhic difficulties in untangling RT's
shitoh as well.  so all this z'manim stuff could certainly use a good
scrubbing to make it all understandable.  and so I shall look forward to
the publication of dr. gewitz's book as a potential solution to all our

Mechy Frankel


From: Michael Frankel <michaeljfrankel@...>
Date: Tue, 18 Dec 2007 23:11:25 -0500
Subject: Z'manim, +length of twilight with latitude

> From: Carl Singer
>> From: Rabbi Alexander Seinfeld

>> The Kitsur Shulchan Aruch admonishes one to wait in the summer "until
>> all light is gone from the sky". This is more stringent than most
>> people practice today.  But I have indeed noticed that in North
>> America, from San Francisco and northward (all the moreso in Seattle,
>> where I visit each summer) there can be light in the NW sky up to 100
>> minutes or more after shkiah (sunset).  I have never observed such a
>> phenomenon in the winter.

> Seemed to me that in the PacificNW, it gets darker quicker in the
> winter than it does in the Baltimore-NewYork corridor.

can't argue with a perception but the astronomical reality is that the
transition period between light and dark is longer the more northerly
your latitude (or southerly for that matter, measuring from the
equator).  this is true in both winter and summer. (though the expansion
is not symmetrical between summer and winter)

> From: <wgewirtz@...> (Dr. William Gewirtz)
> Two items relative to M. Frankel's post given a more careful read: >
1) In item two, Shaot zemaniot versus fixed, Shaot shavot were discussed
> in the context of alot haShachar. This can be misleading.

as I stated, the vast majority of pos'qim who discuss AH and sho'os do
so in a context of sho'os z'maniyos, As I mentioned there is a minority
who use "fixed" hours, which leaves the period of time between AH and
honeitz as fixed (notably p'ri m'godim according to mishnoh b'ruroh).
this is the easiest shitoh to compute but the furthest from reality.  so
what's confusing/misleading?

> Shaot zemaniot are the norm in halacha.  (There are specific uses of
> zmanim where that is not the case, but that is not relevant to a
> lot..)

not to disagree but to expand on dr. gewirtz's comment . basically when
sho'os in the mishnoh refer to parts of a day they are always sho'os
z'maniyos.  when they refer to astronomical matters - such as t'qufos or
molodos - they are always sho'os shovos, i.e. "fixed".

> Moving to alot hashachar the range of psak is much less uniform.
> There are 3 different opinions in psak: 1) to use a uniform 72/90
> minutes. 2) to vary in a way that correlates with standard shaot
> zemaniot. 3) to vary in the more complex way that D. Cohen and I
> mentioned. Unlike shaot zemaniot that is universally accepted in psak,
> each of the three alternatives is widely supported. I clearly prefer
> and have strong arguments for 3), but the list of poskim who follow 1)
> is significant. 2) is also explicitly stated or implied by many
> important poskim.

there's also 120 minute and 80 minute shitos. however, not really sure
what point is being added here to my original note.  I mentioned #2
explicitly - this is effectively the rambam and many others' p'shot.  #
3 would essentially vary the time based on some fixed (pick'm) solar
declension, which I also discussed (and remained puzzled how such an
innovative procedure might supersede a halokhic determination that had
been fixed for centuries).  #1 is implicit in my reference to minority
of opinions who used "fixed" sho'os to calculate AH, though i didn't
provide a survey.

> 2) Item 3a) mentions 1.2 hours, 72 minutes, 4 * 18 (18 minutes
> being the time according to many poskim to walk a mil) and Rambam in one
> sentence.  If an hour is 60 minutes (do NOT assume that is always the
> case in halakhic literature) then 1.2 hours = 72 minutes. Based on the
> preferred girsa in Rambam, 72 minutes is what was intended as the
> interval of alot hashachar by Rambam in PH who said one and a fifth (
> 1.2) hours.

72 minutes is a rambamical red herring. it is equivalent to position of
the rambam on only two days a year.  whereas 1.2 "hours" is the stated
position of the rambam for every day of year.  in fact rambam does not
mention minutes at all (and I am unaware of any suggestion on the
rambam's (or others) part, that minutes might also be a
variable-z'maniyos measure.)

> the The other equation 72 = 4* 18, which is the explanation of 72
> minutes given by the Shulchan Aruch, is unlikely to have been
> theposition of Rambam, who consistently assumed that the time to walk
> a mil was 24 minutes, NOT 18. 4*18 as an explanation of Rambam is
> contradicted by Rambam in PH and MT and would mean a significant
> changeof position. This is a contested area, but R. Schlesinger and
> R. Kafiah have innovated very credible solutions..

again, rambam doesn't mention "minutes" but always references in terms
of fractional hours.  there is indeed a problem with rambam who - as dr.
gewirtz indicates - tells us one place mil is equal to 2/5 of an hour in
PH ( i.e. equal to 24 minutes. and here rambam took care to tell us it
was 2/5 of a fixed hour), wheras elsewhere he tells us AH is 1.2 "hours"
(=72 min before honeitz at the equinoxes), which is incompatible with
the notion that this period is also 4 mil.

Mechy Frankel


End of Volume 56 Issue 4