Volume 56 Number 53
                   Produced: Wed May 13  5:47:30 EDT 2009

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

Birchat Hachamah (4)
        [Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz, Bernard Raab, <wgewirtz@...>,
Mordechai Horowitz]
Birchat Hatorah on Mail Jewish
        [Hendel, Russell]
Leather and Fur of Nonkosher Animals
        [Frank Silbermann]
Trivia Quiz and Educational Resources about Jerusalem
        [Jacob Richman]


From: Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz <sabbahillel@...>
Date: Tue, May 12, 2009 at 6:45 PM
Subject: Re: Birchat Hachamah

> From: Ben Katz <BKatz@...>

> Even though it won't occur again for 28 years, MJ gives me a place to
> vent why birchat hachamah makes no sense.

> 1. First of all, birchatr hachamah is recited on April 8th, the
> suppossed Julian date for the Spring equinox in this century. However,
> as we hav eknown for centuries, the Julian calendar is incorrect.

> 2. The majority opinion of Jewish tradition is that the world was
> created in tekufat Tishray, not Tekufat Nissan. Recall how often we say
> hayom harat olam on Rosh hashanah. So, if you were to say birchar
> hachamah, it could just as well be in Tihray.

> 3. MOST IMPORTANT is that the Jewish calendar itself, as currently
> constituted, does not recognize the date of April 8th as the vernal
> equinox, because Pesach cannot begin before the vernal equinox. Next
> year, pesach wil END before April 8th.

> BTW, there were rare rabbis who agreed with these sentiments, but they
> were downed out by the euphoria surrounding this occurrence.

As I recall from the last time, the gemoro explicitlty recognizes that
the tekufa of shmuel is incorrect. It knows that 365.25 (the Julian
estimate) is incorrect.  The reason given that we us this *Solar*
estimate rather than the more accurate lunar/solar setup of our fixed
xcalendar is so that we will have an actual day to celebrate (7 * 1.25
= 8.75) which is why we use 28 (4*8.75 = 35) years as the estimate.
If we actually used the more accurate setting, it would never work

BTW those that say that the world was created in Nisan would translate
"haras olam" as conception of the world rather than birth.  In any
case the whole setup of birchas hachama was to have a celebration in
such a way that everyone could have several during their lifetimes and
not because it was the exact same day.

 Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz | Said the fox to the fish, "Join me ashore"
 <SabbaHillel@...> | The fish are the Jews, Torah is our water

From: Bernard Raab <beraab@...>
Date: Tue, May 12, 2009 at 10:48 PM
Subject: Re: Birchat Hachamah

I have not seen it suggested that birchat hachama is related to the
vernal equinox. Is that because you assume that on the first day of
creation, at least, the length of day and night must have been equal
everywhere on earth? Nor is there any justification for a 28 year cycle
in the cosmic world. The relative positions of sun and earth are
replicated annually. None of this really matters, of course, since the
tradition is now so well established, even those who decry the logic
rejoice in the opportunity to celebrate G-d's creation of the natural

I read a very erudite debunking of the idea of the 28-year cycle, I
believe written by Rabbi Riskin (please correct me if I am wrong).
Nevertheless, there he was, leading a sunrise service on the highest hill
around Jerusalem on the occassion.

There will be endless problems whenever we try to regard the descriptions
of maasei bereshit literally.

Yasher Koach, Avi, and welcome back

Bernie R.

From: <wgewirtz@...>
Date: Wed, 13 May 2009 02:07:55 +0000
Subject: Re: Birchat Hachamah

On 1: birchat hachmah is further off than the Julian calendar ~ 16 days
versus ~19.  this may be a major issue/hint.  a mathematican in israel
in an article in the Jerusalem post i believe, happened to to answer
this in manner that is IMHO is a tad less than believable.

On 2: Abaye said ONLY on the day of the week and at the time of the day
that creation happened; the idea that it was ALSO the calendar date of
creation is as you argue obviously opposed to the normative positon of
the world being created in Tishrai.  there may be another reason for
choosing spring over the fall despite fall being clearly the equinox
around creation.

On 3: next birchat hachamah - we should all merit being here - is ISRU
chag Pesach - a problem as you note in spades.

4) also we are using seder olam known for a few issues.

5) according to many achronim the place where it was 6pm (nominally ) on
tuesday at creation is rhe location of the dateline - being in the
vicinity of Jerusalem is not a good idea.

6) There is a midrash that the sun was put in orbit at 9am jerusalem
time on wednesday not 6pm on tuesday - the basis of the (not) famous
(but very useful) dateline of r. dovid shapiro ztl, hyd.

7) see lieberman (tosefta) for some sources that prefer the summer

i could go on but you get the point.  Nonetheless, I made the beracha
per the Levushim.

My reasons/explanation are no where near as good as Dr. Katz's or my
questions.  However, remember what pres. Obama and pres. Peres did on
the day of the actual equinox.  it may hold a part of the riddle on what
happened.  i have more work to do before claiming a plausible
explanation .  i have almost 28 years to finish.

WELCOME BACK relaunching the best medium for this type of group

From: Mordechai Horowitz <mordechai@...>
Date: Tue, May 12, 2009 at 9:00 PM
Subject: Birchat Hachamah

Would I be asking too much to ask who these Rabbis were and were they
suggesting ignoring it totally or having it on another date.


From: Hendel, Russell <RHendel@...>
Date: Tue, May 12, 2009 at 12:31 PM
Subject: Birchat Hatorah on Mail Jewish

While discussing reviving Mail Jewish several people praised Avi for his
efforts on behalf of the email group

I chirped in and said that Mail jewish was more than good---it was bona
fide Torah and you say a Birchat Torah on it.

Jay Schachter, demurred, citing the Orach Chaim that there is no Birchat
Torah on a no-vocalized reading.

This raises five questions

1) BERACHAH vs KIYUM: Even if there is no Birchat Torah on silent
reading, would the silent reading qualify as a fulfillment of
learning. That is can we claim that "vocalization" is a prerequisite not
only to the blessing but to the fulfillment also

2) NO REQUIREMENT VS FORBIDDEN: I have not checked the OC yet but my
suspicion is that there is no obligation to recite a blessing. Would it
be permissable to recite.(There is a serious problem in saying non
obligated blessings since Gods name is mentioned)

3) ARAI vs KEVIUTH: Would the lack of obligation to say a blessing vanish
if a person had keviuth (Steady learning time) to read
and respond to mail Jewish

4) SILENT WRITING: Even if silent reading does not require a blessing
wouldn't writing emails (Silently) have a different status and require
a blessing.

5) POLICY ISSUE: Even if silent reading did not require a blessing we
still have a policy issue: Should we try and avoid the Birchat Torah.
Wouldnt it be advisable to recommend that the reader say a few words so
that (s)he is obligated to say the blessing and
then continue reading silently.

Russell Jay Hendel; Ph.d. A.S.A. http://www.Rashiyomi.com/ [I have not
lost my touch in creating provocative, thoughtful and humorous postings]


From: Frank Silbermann <frank_silbermann@...>
Date: Tue, May 12, 2009 at 8:01 AM
Subject: Leather and Fur of Nonkosher Animals

The Torah mentions that the carcasses of nonkosher animals make us
impure. Without the Temple we are no longer concerned about ritual
purity, but in the days of the Temple what was the status of leather or
fur from these animals? Would mink coats, alligator watchbands and
pigskin footballs have made people in the time of the Temple impure (and
if so, would they have been forbidden?), or are processed hides
considered to have become "another thing" (mineralized, as it were, like
the ancient bones used to make parve kosher gelatin)?

Frank Silbermann, Memphis, Tennessee


From: Jacob Richman <jrichman@...>
Date: Tue, May 12, 2009 at 7:01 PM
Subject: Trivia Quiz and Educational Resources about Jerusalem

Hi Everyone!

Jerusalem Day is celebrated on the 28th of the Hebrew month
of Iyar. This year (5769 / 2009) the day falls on Friday, May 22nd.
To avoid conflict with Shabbat, celebrations will take place on
Thursday, May 21st.

The Jewish Trivia Quiz
has over 100 multiple choice questions about Jerusalem.

Who built the first temple ?
How many people were involved in constructing the first temple ?
What are the colors of the Jerusalem Beitar soccer team ?
Which animal is on the emblem of the Municipality of Jerusalem ?
What three Jewish holidays is Jerusalem the focal point ?
How long ago was Jerusalem established ?
On what mountain was King David buried ?
How high is Jerusalem above sea level ?
What is the name of the famous art school in Jerusalem ?
What is the length of the wall surrounding the old city ?
When was Hebrew University established ?
Which group defended Jerusalem in 1948 ?
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What is the name of the largest shopping mall in Jerusalem ?
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End of Volume 56 Issue 53