Volume 56 Number 74 
      Produced: Tue, 09 Jun 2009 05:27:42 EDT

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

    [Ari Trachtenberg]
A mathematical conundrum 
    [Ben Katz]
Asher Yatzar after childbirth 
    [Stu Pilichowski]
Being called a Rabbi 
    [Mordechai Horowitz]
Cessation of Semichah and the Calender 
    [Ben Katz]
Changing Kipa 
    [Mark Steiner]
Der Yid Hakadosh and the Chozeh 
    [J Friedman]
Frequency of Asher Yotzar Recitation 
    [Janice Gelb]
Gabbai's prerogative 
    [Stu Pilichowski]
Gravestone Question 
    [Stu Pilichowski]
Not Treating Fellow Jews like a slave? 
    [David Curwin]
Psak on use of sink strainer on Shabbat 
    [Leah Aharoni]
Sunset at an Elevation 
    [Bill Gewirtz]
The name of the Amora Plimo/Judaising Foreign Words 
    [Mark Symons]
Two Pairs of Tefillin at the Same Time 
    [Avraham Friedenberg]
Wearing a Kipa at  Work 
    [Alexander Seinfeld]
Wearing a Kipa at Work 
    [Ben Katz]
Why is Shavuot never on Shabbat? 
    [David Curwin]
Zman Shacharis/t on the plane (2)
    [Yitzchok Zirkind  Bernard Raab]


From: Ari Trachtenberg <trachten@...>
Date: Fri, Jun 5,2009 at 02:14 PM
Subject:  Administrivia

Avi Feldblum <feldblum@...> wrote:

> This issue has been assembled using Ari's application.

I'd like to thank Avi, Michael Poppers and Binyomin Segal for their
extensive beta testing and debugging feedback.

[And I would like to thank Ari for his continuing enhancement of the application
as Binyomin, Michael and I make suggestions, as we continue to use this. I would
also like to thank Binyomin, Michael and Ari as they continue to work with me in
editing / moderating the list. Avi]


From: Ben Katz <BKatz@...>
Date: Tue, Jun 9,2009 at 02:01 AM
Subject: A mathematical conundrum

Most medieval Jewish philosophers agreed that even God cannot do that which is
logically impossible (eg making 6+1 = anything but 7).
Some (eg Ibn kaspi) took this to such an extreme that they assumed that since
existence and nonexistence are mutually contradictory that even God could not
create ex nihlio (yesh me-ayin)

Ben Z. Katz, M.D.


From: Stu Pilichowski <cshmuel@...>
Date: Mon, Jun 8,2009 at 07:01 AM
Subject: Asher Yatzar after childbirth

I was going to respond with a blasphemous answer about our Rabbonim
not being very in touch with women's life cycle events and therefore it didn't
even dawn on them to offer Asher Yatzar as a bracha or "rite" after childbirth. 

But then I read Leah's posting below. I'm ignorant of the "medieval special
prayers that women used to say."

There really were? Why did it stop? Social reasons?  How do minhagim
fall by the wayside?

> I started reflecting in this post about the general loss to our
> tradition of some of the medieval special prayers that women used to
> say around special women's events, e.g. breastfeeding, having babies,
> and so forth.

Stuart Pilichowski
Mevaseret Zion, Israel


From: Mordechai Horowitz <mordechai@...>
Date: Sun, Jun 7,2009 at 08:01 PM
Subject: Being called a Rabbi

Arie wrote [in MJ56#72]
> and btw, "typical questions" one would pose to a shul rabbi are usually 
> anything but typical. (that's why being a good shul rabbi is so hard - that 
> and the minefield of shul politics.)  i am sure that anyone who received 
> semicha can answer real typical questions.

Don't be so sure.

I have a friend who received semicha via a popular Orthodox online 
program, which brags [that] it trains people for semicha without a need
to know Hebrew.

He can't learn a daf of Gemora with Artscroll but he's an Orthodox Rabbi 
now and if he were a few years younger they would happily get him a job 
as a Jewish chaplain in the US military.


From: Ben Katz <BKatz@...>
Date: Tue, Jun 9,2009 at 02:01 AM
Subject: Cessation of Semichah and the Calender

> From: Alex Heppenheimer <aheppenh@...>
> Anyway, one piece of evidence for the post-Hadrianic existence of semichah is
> our calendar. "Real" semichah is required to be able to set the dates of Rosh
> Chodesh and the holidays (Rambam, Hil. Kiddush Hachodesh 5:1ff), and "until the
> days of Abbaye and Rava" (ibid. 5:3) that was exactly what was done. Those two
> Sages lived in the fourth century CE, and the fixed calendar that we use was
> established in the year 670 Seleucid Era(Ramban's comments on Sefer
> Hamitzvos,Positive 153), which corresponds to 359 CE.

The calendar was set later than 359 CE
See Sacha Stern's Calendar and Community 


From: Mark Steiner <marksa@...>
Date: Tue, Jun 9,2009 at 03:01 AM
Subject: Changing Kipa

Even in the velvet kipa world, there are nuances.  Whether one wears a kipa
with a border (seret) or not makes an enormous difference in the statement
one is supposed to be making.  As one rebbe in kheyder recently said, in a
play on words based on another meaning of "seret," namely "movie": "Whoever
goes with a kipa without a seret, will end up at a seret without a kipa."


From: J Friedman <FriedmanJ@...>
Date: Tue, Jun 9,2009 at 03:01 AM
Subject: Der Yid Hakadosh and the Chozeh

Here's what happened. The Chozeh was supporting Napoleon and working to  
make the Poles go with Napoleon against the Czar. He was doing it for years. 
and  Der Yid was against him doing that and using Kabbalah to bring Moshiach. 
Many of  the Chozeh's followers hated Der Yid for being against this issue, 
and  spread terrible loshon horah about him to the Chozeh,  

The Chozeh understood what Der Yid was against, and after  Napoleon lost at 
Waterloo, asked Der Yid to be his Shliach to Hashem and get  mechila for 
him. When Der Yid agreed, on Rosh Hashanna (i think it was 1812, not  sure I 
can double check) he began to say good bye to his chassidim, and made his  
peace with his enemies in the court of the Chozeh. A few weeks later, I can 
give  you the description by Buber, of how he said his last tefillah, lifted 
his arms,  folded them and died,  (one of our list members informed me off 
list it was  the 3rd day of chol hamoed Sukkot  no food and water for almost 
three  weeks.)
To me that seems as if the Chozeh asked Der Yid to, in essence. commit  
suicide by starving himself to death in order to be a meylitz yosher. Why did  
Der Yid have to die for the Chozeh?
The Chozeh himself admitted that he sometimes didn't know whether  or not 
to believe all the loshen horah, and that he was wrong for fiddling  around 
in matters that only Hashem could control. He also finally realized that  
Simon Deutsch and a different Yakov Yitzchak (not Der Yid) were constantly  
lying to him about Der Yid. The Chozeh finally called Deutsch a liar, and he  
left the Chozeh in a huff and wasn't heard from again. But the viciousness of 
 the lies and the spying on Der Yid were a never ending business until the 
day he  lay down and died.
 I find that a horrible, terrible thing to have someone die for you  while 
you let your chassidim lie about him, and it bothers me even more because  
of Der Yid's philosophy about not being a blind follower of any rov.
In addition to that, the political implication of trying to bring Moshiach  
is a pretty scary thing. It's like Ahmadenijad trying to make war with the  
evangelical christians who want war. too, because both parties think a 
major war  will bring their respective messiahs, and we think Gog and Magog will
bring  ours. War mongering for the sake of bringing Moshiach only results 
in many  millions of innocent people dying. The Holocaust proved that.
If the rabbanim in Europe thought the Holocaust would hasten Moshiach and  
did all the same things the Chozeh did for Napoleon to help Hitler, or told  
their followers to stay put instead of fleeing to Palestine or America when 
they  could, it is a horrible thing to contemplate.
 It is out of bounds? My first cousin, the Minchas Elazar didn't let 
people flee and despised my uncle Baruch (his own first cousin and son in  law) 
for encouraging them to go to Palestine. He really hated my uncle for  that. 
It's why they call my uncle today "the Rebbe Yemach Shemo."   (and my 
feeling on that is chock full of expletives that are deleted here, but wished on
everyone of the _______ who say it)
To top it all off, a Dinever Einekel, the late Rabbi Arthur Hertzberg, the  
conservative rabbi who was raised on the derech and then found his own 
path,  once said to me, without deleting the expletives.  "If Moshiach didn't 
come  during the Holocaust, what the _____makes you think he will show up now?"
I think this is worthy of discussion, considering the situation with Iran  
and Israel, between the Islamofascists and the Jewish people.


From: Janice Gelb <j_gelb@...>
Date: Mon, Jun 8,2009 at 10:01 PM
Subject: Frequency of Asher Yotzar Recitation

Ira Bauman <irabauman1@...> wrote:
> Those of us who were brought up with a yeshiva education 
> learned early on to recite asher yotzar after each instance 
> of leaving the bathroom.
> I seem to recall a teshuva, I think it was the Maharil, who
> differed on this point. I can't find the reference now. The 
> tshuva states that the brocho is not one of hana'ah(benefit) 
> but rather one of of hada'ah, (thanks) and therefore only 
> requires a recitation once at the morning prayers. 

I couldn't find this exact citation but in a search, 
I did find a thorough paper on this subject at 

[The Laws and Nature of Asher Yatzar by Rav Moshe Taragin - Mod.]

-- Janice Gelb


From: Stu Pilichowski <cshmuel@...>
Date: Mon, Jun 8,2009 at 07:01 AM
Subject: Gabbai's prerogative

I have recently ascended to the position of gabbai in my small
ashkenazi minyan. Thank God no horror stories and double thank God the
small kehilla is very understanding and open-minded.

Concerning one practice that I've tried to further is giving a mourner
the final aliyah before kaddish so he can say the kaddish - and not
the baal koreh or the shachrit chazan.

My recipe for success is 3 parts common sense and one part
metnchlichkeit (same thing?). Seems to be working. Usually I don't get
into trouble with halacha or minhag.

I once thought about giving one who is learning for his conversion the
honor of opening the aron kodesh before Anim Zmirot at the end of the
tefillah on Shabbat. The Rabbi didn't think it appropriate to give a
non-jew any kibbudim. Any thoughts?

Stuart Pilichowski
Mevaseret Zion, Israel


From: Stu Pilichowski <cshmuel@...>
Date: Mon, Jun 8,2009 at 07:01 AM
Subject: Gravestone Question

Another interesting and wonderful minhag that I don't think was
mentioned that many families followed in my former community in
Northern NJ was composing an acrostic of the deceased name for the

I sat with the Rabbi AND Rabbanit and reviewed important character
traits and we arrived at a beautiful summation of their lives.

Stuart Pilichowski
Mevaseret Zion, Israel


From: David Curwin <tobyndave@...>
Date: Mon, Jun 8,2009 at 08:01 AM
Subject: Not Treating Fellow Jews like a slave?

I once heard a shiur that said that there's a prohibition against
treating a fellow Jew like a slave. The example given was that you
shouldn't leave something for someone else to clean up (in a
restaurant for example), just because they're an employee.

Is anyone familiar with this concept? Do you know where it is
mentioned in the halachic sources?

David Curwin
Balashon - Hebrew Language Detective


From: Leah Aharoni <leah25@...>
Date: Mon, Jun 8,2009 at 07:01 AM
Subject: Psak on use of sink strainer on Shabbat

Haim Snyder wrote:
> However, Borer is defined as extracting something you want from
> something you don't want. An example is pouring salt from a shaker
> that has rice in it to absorb moisture. The holes let the salt (wanted
> item) out and keep the rice (unwanted item) in.

Actually, separating an object you want (known as ochel or food) from
unwanted items is permitted vis--vis borer (as long as it's done
without a special utensil and for immediate use). Forbidden borer is
separating the items you DON'T want from the ones you do.

The classic example is a mixed lot of good and rotten apples. Taking
out good apples for immediate use is fine, while taking out the rotten
ones for disposal is borer and thus forbidden.

As to the salt shaker containing salt and rice, one is allowed to use
it since besides the fact that what comes out is the desired substance
(salt), one's intention is to get some salt and not to separate
between salt and rice.

Leah Aharoni
Email: <leah25@...>


From: Bill Gewirtz <wgewirtz@...>
Date: Sun, Jun 7,2009 at 01:01 PM
Subject: Sunset at an Elevation

I have not been able to identify when the notion of sea - level became
an accepted part of halakha.  Does anyone know of a source before the
18th century?  I wonder when this even became a popular secular
notion.  I strongly suspect all halakhot regarding sunrise are
observational, within reason.  Sea-level defined sunset, despite its
popularity, took a back seat to previous generations of poskim in the
middle east to the point when the sun is no longer visible from the
highest mountains around Jerusalem or the call of Salatu-l-Maghrib (the 
Muslim "sunset prayer"), a few minutes yet later.

The psak of RSZA zt"l quoted on babies born on different floors
surprises me; is this psak published?  The more traditional psak in
Jerusalem determined the date of a brit for a baby born in a valley
based on whether the sun was still visible from a mountain. This
comports with the standard reading of the gemara in Shabbat 118 about
living in Teveryah and Tzippori, ascribed a middat chassidut (a voluntary act 
of piety) to residents of Teveryah (how to read the gemara relative to the end 
of shabbat in Tzippori is a much less obvious).


From: Mark Symons <msymons@...>
Date: Mon, Jun 8,2009 at 08:01 AM
Subject: The name of the Amora Plimo/Judaising Foreign Words

From: Gilad Gevaryahu <Gevaryahu@...>wrote
> ...when our sages who were masters of the our holy tongue, like
> Maimonides, adopted a Greek word into our holy language, they forced
> the word to become Jewish first. In the process, they
> forcefully and intentionally distorted it from the original, to make it read
> and sound different, as it fits the context... Boaz to Mishnah. Peshachim
> 10:8

I guess they were following the precedent of the Torah itself, eg
Pharoah being "begedkefet-ized" to Par'oh.
BTW, with Ph/Picol, which is the "real" name?

(This leads to the issues of commonality between languages:
Interesting how adding H to P is like a siman rafeh for the P -
therefore it may be more appropriate to transliterate words like
musaf, shofar with PH - as I think the Routledge/Adler Machzor does -
rather than with F!)

Mark Symons


From: Avraham Friedenberg <elshpen@...>
Date: Mon, Jun 8,2009 at 07:01 AM
Subject: Two Pairs of Tefillin at the Same Time

Shavua Tov,

Firstly, thanks to Avi for the past years of hard work at Mail Jewish,
and hatzlacha to Avi and the new moderators. It's not an original
observation to say that Mail Jewish was missed . . . and I enjoy
having it back.

I recently saw a Sefardi gentleman in my shule wearing two pair of
Tefillin at the same time. I was in a bit of a rush, so I was not
able to ask him about it. I assume he was wearing both Rashi and
Rabbeinu Tam Tefillin, but I've never heard of wearing both at the
same time. I'm not even sure how this can be done halachically - both
the shel yad and the shel rosh have to be worn in pretty specific

Is anyone familiar with the whys and wherefores of this minhag?

Avraham Friedenberg


From: Alexander Seinfeld <seinfeld@...>
Date: Tue, Jun 9,2009 at 02:01 AM
Subject: Wearing a Kipa at  Work

Question for all you kipa-wearers -

Does/did wearing a kipa to work lead you to behave better (more ethical,
patient, disciplined, etc.) than you might have without one?

For all you non-kipa wearers - did/does not wearing a kipa to work enable
you to behave less well?

For everyone - if my hunch is correct that wearing a sign of one's
religiosity tends to make one better behaved, would that be reason enough to
wear one? 

From: Ben Katz <BKatz@...>
Date: Tue, Jun 9,2009 at 02:01 AM
Subject: Wearing a Kipa at Work

Covering one's head was common for men, both Jewish and non Jewish in Babylonia.
This was not the case even relatively late(r) in Israel/Palestine (as it was
called at the time).  See Mashechet Soferim 14:15 for an opinion that one could
recite the shema from the bimah bareheaded.  See also M Margulies The
differences between Babylonian and Palestinian Jews (Hebrew) pages 87 and esp.


From: David Curwin <tobyndave@...>
Date: Mon, Jun 8,2009 at 07:01 AM
Subject: Why is Shavuot never on Shabbat?

> From my understanding, all opinions agree in the gemara (Shabbat 86a,
> et al) that Matan Torah was on Shabbat.

So when they fixed the calendar, setting Shavuot on the 6th of Sivan,
why did they add a rule which prevents the 6th of Sivan from ever
falling on Shabbat?

David Curwin
Balashon - Hebrew Language Detective


From: Bernard Raab <beraab@...>
Date: Mon, Jun 8,2009 at 11:01 PM
Subject: Zman Shacharis/t on the plane

>> > Forgive my innocence please, but why is it necessary to check times
> > and data tables when the rising of the sun is always and immediately
> > visible from an airplane at 30,000+ feet?
> > Bernie R.

>From: Ken Bloom <kbloom@...>
> Second: AIUI when you're on the ground you're supposed to be machimr for
> both the zmanim at sea level, and zmanim at your present elevation.

The major problem that I see with the Tables is that there is no way to account
for in-flight delays, unpredicted head/tailwinds, re-routing enroute, unplanned
stops, etc. Second problem is elevation of the ground below. Unless you are over
ocean, this can change dramatically over the course of a few minutes. You may
argue that it's better than nothing. I would argue that perhaps it is time for a
change in paradigm.

The reference to the ground below suffers from an unwillingness to address a new
situation. When Judith Resnick, of blessed memory, the first Jewish astronaut,
first went into space in 1984, she wanted to honor her heritage by lighting
Shabbat "candles" in the Space Shuttle. She consulted rabbinic authorities about
the proper timing of this event. Considering that her spacecraft would orbit the
Earth every 90 minutes, reference to "local" time or the ground immediately
below would be an oddity. It was decided that she would mark Shabbat on the
schedule of her home base, Houston. Tragically, her second spaceflight was
aboard the doomed Challenger in 1986. Incidently, the second Jewish astronaut,
the Israeli Ilan Ramon, carried a small book of tfillot and tehillim with him.
If he had wanted to don t'fillin, he certainly would have been instructed to
follow the zmanim of his home base, just as was Judith Resnick, without regard
to local time or sun position. He too lost his life in the 2004 Columbia
disaster, but miraculously, his sefer of tfillot was recovered on the Texas
landscape months later. Is KB"H telling us that Jews should not venture beyond
our home planet? Personally. I agree. 

Nevertheless, NASA is in the advanced stages of planning a permanent moon base.
On the moon, of course, one cycle of sunrise-sunset is 29.5 days. I would
suppose that a Jewish lunar-naut would be instructed to refer to his home base
for z'manim, if he was so inclined. Should that be the new paradigm for air
travellers as well?

Just asking--Bernie R.

From: Yitzchok Zirkind <yzkd@...>
Date: Tue, Jun 9,2009 at 01:01 AM
Subject: Zman Shacharis/t on the plane

> From: David Ziants <dziants@...>
> Time issues can also be relevant when not on a plane.

See Tshuvos vHanhogos Vol. 4 # 25, and Piskei Tshuvos Simon 58 Ois 4 and
footnote 41.

Kol Tuv,
Yitzchok Zirkind


End of Volume 56 Issue 74