Volume 56 Number 38
                    Produced: Sun Sep  7 10:36:16 EDT 2008

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Blessing for the Head of State
         [Akiva Miller]
Din Torah with Shul Rabbi and Executive
         [Mordechai Horowitz]
Haredi Hashkafa and Science
         [Akiva Miller]
A plurality of local customs
         [Marc Yunis]
Prayer for the Country in UK
         [Martin Stern]
Request for Mishna Chapter names
         [Ralph Zwier]
Ultra Orthodox hashakfa
         [Ben Katz]
         [Art Werschulz]
Value of pi [was: Haredi haskafa (Science and Halacha)]


From: Akiva Miller <kennethgmiller@...>
Date: Thu, 4 Sep 2008 03:30:20 GMT
Subject: Re: Blessing for the Head of State

While reading the various posts in this thread, I was struck by
wondering exactly what it is that we are praying *for* in this prayer.

I've always presumed that the authority behind this prayer is from
Pirkei Avos 3:2 -- "Pray for the welfare of the kingdom, for if not for
the fear of it, each person would swallow his neighbor alive."

To me, this sounds like the main thrust is that we need good government
on a LOCAL level, to prevent rampant theft, murder, and the like. But
the prayer we actually say is for the NATIONAL leaders - the Queen, the
President, whoever. It seems to me that the main concern of national
leaders is to protect the residents from outsiders, not so much to
promote peace among the residents themselves. I wonder if this
difference is significant.

The first place I chose to research this question was the regular
commentaries on the Mishna. Tosfos Yom Tov says something very
interesting: "Welfare of the kingdom - This means the king together with
his princes and advisers who lead his kingdom and make law (v'osim
mishpat) in the land. And therefore the Mishna does not say to pray for
the welfare of the king" -- but of the king*dom*.

So now I'm also wondering about another shift, from Mishna which says to
pray for the goverment in general, to today's prayers which specify the
governors by name and/or position.

Can anyone offer a little more history about the development of this
prayer? (I sure hope I don't end up finding out that Pirkei Avos has
nothing to do with it, and that the prayer was simply written to placate
or impress someone.)

Akiva Miller


From: Mordechai Horowitz <mordechai@...>
Date: Thu, 04 Sep 2008 09:50:34 -0400
Subject: Re: Din Torah with Shul Rabbi and Executive

> I was forced to take the rabbi and executive to a Din Torah in front of
> the Manchester Beth Din and obtained the psak below. Unfortunately those
> in control saw fit to ignore its ruling despite having signed a shtar
> birurim (deed of arbitration) before the hearing agreeing to accept its
> ruling. Can anyone suggest what I should do next?

Have them placed in herem, banned from the Jewish community including
finding employment or customers in the Jewish community, sending their
children to schools, shopping in kosher markets and getting shidduchim
for their children.


From: Akiva Miller <kennethgmiller@...>
Date: Thu, 4 Sep 2008 02:54:02 GMT
Subject: Re: Haredi Hashkafa and Science

Bill Gewirtz wrote about a sefer
> written by R. DY Burstyn entitled Zemanim keHilchasom.
> The sefer seems to have "discovered" a fact known as far
> back as R. D. T. Hoffman on the scientific point of alot
> hashachar (cited in melameid lehoil).  Assume, as the
> author and most do, that alot hashachar means the first
> light from the sun.  two opinions on the time of alot
> hashachar used lehalakha today are (an adjusted) 72 and
> 90 minutes before sunrise (accurate only in the
> spring/fall in the Middle east.) Along comes scientific
> observation and determines that the first light of the
> sun is visible to a sophisticated instrument ONLY 80
> minutes before sunrise. So our science minded author
> declares that 90 minutes is valid only as chumrah
> and cannot be relied on for a kula in extenuating
> circumstances.

What date and location was that scientist talking about? How much light
does he need to define "first light"? How does he define "sophisticated
instrument"? Do *we* care about when the light is visible to an
instrument, or to a typical eye?

I'm sorry to disappoint you, but this "fact" is actually an *opinion*,
based on various factors which may or may not have any halachic

I will now quote from the "Tables of Sunrise Sunset and Twilight",
published by the United States Naval Observatory, Washington DC in
1945. This is an excellent source for figuring out zmanim anywhere in
the world. The charts include three different calculations for twilight,
becuase reasonable will have varying needs for light and for darkness,
and will define twilight differently.

The introduction, page 7, says: "... The durations of the three kinds of
twilight -- civil, nautical, and astronomical -- given in the main table
are, respectively, the intervals of time between sunset or sunrise and
the instants when the center of the Sun is 6 degrees, 12 degrees, and 18
degrees below the horizon...."

Pages 9-10 say: "The duration of civil twilight is the interval in the
evening from sunset until the time when the center of the Sun is 6
degrees below the horizon; or the corresponding interval in the morning
between sunrise and the time at which the Sun was still 6 degrees below
the horizon. Civil twilight is intended to cover the somewhat indefinite
periods after sunset and before sunrise during which the natural
illumination usually remains sufficient for ordinary outdoor operations
to be carried on... The durations of nautical and astronomical twilight
are, respectively, the intervals between sunrise or sunset and the times
at which the center of the Sun is 12 degrees and 18 degrees below the
horizon. The limits of astronomical twilight are the times at which
complete darkness (aside from moonlight or starlight) begins in the
evening and ends in the morning. Nautical twilight represents an
intermediate stage of illumination."

Thus, it is the opinion of the U.S. Naval Observatory that "complete
darkness" ends in the morning when the center of the sun is18 degrees
below the horizion. For the purposes of the thread, I hope no one will
disagree if I say that this would be the same thing as "first light" (to
the U.S.N.O., of course).

For comparison, here are some approximate durations of civil, nautical,
and astronomical twilight for various locations on March 21, as
calculated by the U.S. Naval Observatory. (Latitudes are all North, and
rounded to the nearest degree.)

36, 80, 125 min - 55 deg - Vilnius, Lithuania
32, 69, 108 min - 49 deg - Paris, Fance
28, 60, 93 min - 41 deg - New York City
25, 54, 83 min - 33 deg - Baghdad, Iraq
24, 53, 82 min - 32 deg - Yerushalayim
23, 50, 77 min - 26 deg - Miami

In other words, on March 21, the sky has the same degree of brightness
50 minutes before sunrise in Miami, 60 minutes before sunrise in New
York, and 80 minutes before sunrise in Vilna.

Please note that I am NOT saying that the book which said that

> the first light of the sun is visible to a sophisticated instrument
> ONLY 80 minutes before sunrise

is wrong. It is not wrong. It is not even mistaken. But it is a BIG
mistake to use this quote as a source for calculation of Alos
Hashachar. The two cannot be compared. It's not even like apples and
oranges -- it's more like apple pie and orange juice. The basic facts of
each are okay, but they depend on so many factors that they cannor be
compared to each other.

By the way, I'd like to add a few very opinionated words about the
objectivity often attributed to scientists: The Naval Observatory
offered no explanation as to how it chose the "shiurim" of 6, 12, and 18
degrees -- at least, not in this volume. On the one hand, I'm sure that
the times calculated from this book have been used by pilots and sailors
all over the world for decades, and I'm also confident the the Naval
Observatory did their best to give them times which would help their
early morning and late evening operations. But at the same time, I just
cannot look at the numbers 6, 12, and 18, without wondering if they
weren't chosen for roundness and convenience. In other words, perhaps a
truly objective look at the sky would have set the astronomical twilight
at 17 degrees below the horizon, but they chose to use 18 anyway...

Akiva Miller


From: <GrchoMarc@...> (Marc Yunis)
Date: Wed, 3 Sep 2008 16:53:28 EDT
Subject: RE: A plurality of local customs

> From:  Ben Katz <BKatz@...>
> This gets into the whole mimetic vs text tradition issue of
> Rabbi Dr.  Aharon Soloveichik.  Do you look up in abook what to do, or do
> you  mimic the behavior of the observant community around you?   The
> shulchan aruch could only codify behaviors it was familiar with at  the
> time. It could not speak of customs with which it was unfamiliar,  or
> customs yet to develop.

I think the issue of minmetic vs text tradition was  discussed in detail by 
Haym Soloveichik, the Rav's son and not Rav Aharon. The  article can be found 
in Tradition, Vol.28 No. 4 Summer 1994.  It's well worth reviewing. Hopefully, 
citing the correct  sources will  help hasten the coming of Moshiach.

Marc Yunis


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Thu, 04 Sep 2008 06:03:52 +0100
Subject: Re: Prayer for the Country in UK

On Tue, 02 Sep 2008 22:51:03 +0300, David Ziants <dziants@...> wrote:

> Are you sure that we need to spell as "G-d" when we are quoting something
> that has the context of the Xtian concept of deity?

I think that we do accept that the Deity worshipped by the Christians is
G-d and not some pagan god. Our objection to their beliefs is that they
associate other powers, in particular the alleged founder of their
religion, with Him (shittuf) but many rishonim do not consider this to
be a forbidden form of avodah zarah for non-Jews though it would be for

Martin Stern


From: Ralph Zwier <ralph@...>
Date: Thu, 04 Sep 2008 14:20:42 +1000
Subject: Request for Mishna Chapter names

Avi, good to have MJ back again. It IS unique.

Does anyone know of a transliterated index of chapter names of Mishnayos
for Yohrzeit learning eg: "Yesh Maalin", "Dinei Mamonot", "Haro'eh" etc?
It would be nice (but not necessary lechatchila) in Excel format with
the Seder and Masechet and the chapter number.

Ralph Zwier


From: Ben Katz <BKatz@...>
Date: Wed, 3 Sep 2008 20:08:05 -0500
Subject: RE: Ultra Orthodox hashakfa

From: Mordechai Horowitz <mordechai@...>
> Joel Rich <JRich@...>
>> Answer aiui is your question may be of historical interest but of no
>> practical import - the fact that "the hashgacha" kept this fact from
>> him was so that the psak, which now stands independently of the
>> reasoning, should be as is
>Why should a psak not supported by its reasoning stand at all.  What
>Torah source is there to state we should follow incorrect psak.
>Indeed isn't their an entire tractate of Gemorrah that discusses what to
>do when the Sanhedrin makes in incorrect psak.  That certainly makes me
>believe that when Rabbis make "halacha" based on their lack of knowledge
>that we are required to repudiate such a psak when we have correct
>Indeed I believe this to be one of the major dividing lines between
>Modern Orthodox and the haredi world.

	Do you still use a separate fork for fish and meat? This is
based on faulty medicine.


From: Art Werschulz <agw@...>
Date: Thu, 04 Sep 2008 06:31:51 -0400
Subject: URLs


Some mail-reading programs are unkind to very-long URLs, sometimes 
causing a line-break that breaks the URL.  Please consider using TinyURL
to shrink URLs in your postings.  It might also be helpful to put the 
URL on a separate line.


Art Werschulz (8-{)}   "Metaphors be with you."  -- bumper sticker
GCS/M (GAT): d? -p+ c++ l++ u+ P++ e--- m* s n+ h f g+ w+ t+ r-
Internet: agw STRUDEL cs.columbia.edu
ATTnet:   Columbia U. (212) 939-7050, Fordham U. (212) 636-6325


From: <chips@...>
Date: Wed, 3 Sep 2008 22:04:34 -0700
Subject: Re: Value of pi [was: Haredi haskafa (Science and Halacha)]

 > 1) The Talmud based on a verse in Kings of a temple construction with a
 > diameter of 10 and circumference of 30 infers that the mathematical
 > constant pie is 3. Some authors have seen this as a "belief" or a
 > "Sanctioning" of pie as 3. 

It would have been obvious to anyone that pi # 3 without any major
scientific breakthrough, as indeed it was as they simply took the actual
measurements. So to me the explaination that pi = 3 was to be used for
halachic purposes seems somewhat obvious and not an apolegetic at all.
HOWEVER, what does bother is the continuation of the Gemara which
discusses Shloma haMelech's bowl. After giving what is basically the pi
= 3 measurements, there is then a complaint that the length measurements
don't fit the volume measurements. And the Gemara does NOT answer that
"pi = 3" is itself an approximation.



End of Volume 56 Issue 38