Volume 56 Number 89 
      Produced: Wed, 08 Jul 2009 17:01:01 EDT

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

Birkat Kohanim in Haifa 
    [Shmuel Himelstein]
Kaddish after krias HaTorah - to whom does it belong? 
    [Martin Stern]
Limitations on God 
    [Russell J Hendel]
Real Burial Spots of Moshe and Aharon 
    [Alex Heppenheimer]
Siddur Page Number Display Board? 
    [Janice Gelb]
Sink Drain Strainers 
    [Haim Snyder]
Why Cheshvan and Kislev are the variable months 
    [Michael Gerver]
Women Rabbis (4)
    [Russell J Hendel  Ilana Rosansky  Leonard Paul  David Ziants]


From: Shmuel Himelstein <himels@...>
Date: Sun, Jul 5,2009 at 12:01 PM
Subject: Birkat Kohanim in Haifa

We just got back from a vacation in Haifa. On Friday morning, as a Kohen I
went out of the Shul room to wash my hands. I was then told that they do not
Duchen on weekdays.  As for Shabbat, they duchen both Shacharit and Musaf.
This was the main Ashkenazi Shul in Haifa, where the rabbi is a Kohen. To
the best of my knowledge, there are 2 Minhagim in Israel among Ashkenazi
Jews : a) Duchening every Shacharit and Musaf (and on Fast days at Mincha
Ketana); or b) only at Musaf.  The pattern in this Shul doesn't fit into
either. Is there a third Minhag in Israel?

Shmuel Himelstein


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Mon, Jun 29,2009 at 06:01 AM
Subject: Kaddish after krias HaTorah - to whom does it belong?

On Sun, Jun 21,2009, Stu Pilichowski <cshmuel@...>

Subject: Kaddish after krias HaTorah - to whom does it belong?
> I'm actually looking forward to a baal shachrit, baal koreh, and chiyuv
> [requirement to lead - Mod] due to a yahzrzeit all rolled into one to be able
> to say the kaddish!

IMHO this 'custom' of trying to say as many kaddeishim as possible, even
where they do not 'belong' to an aveil [mourner - MOD] or to 'manufacture'
them by saying (NOT learning) a mishnah is pure superstition.  I know there
is an opinion that every kaddish raises the neshamah [soul -- MOD] of the
departed a bit further out of Gehinnom ["hell" - MOD] but saying extra ones
would seem to imply that, in the opinion of the one saying them, that neshamah
is extra-deeply mired in that place.  Surely this is no way of performing kibbud
av ve'eim [honouring parents].

Martin Stern


From: Russell J Hendel <rjhendel@...>
Date: Sun, Jul 5,2009 at 11:01 AM
Subject: Limitations on God

My apologies for some typos in my otherwise good posting on God inability to
perform logical contradictions.  I of course meant to say "Let me put it this
way...God can't make 1+7=1 but He can make 1 flask + 7 flasks = 1 flask" (In the
posting I said "God can't make 1+7=8). Similarly above I start by the father
asking the child if God can make 1+6=7.  I meant Can God make 1+6=1.  I think
however that the basic idea of the posting (That God can't create contradictions
AND this should not upset us) stands out clearly.

Russell Jay Hendel; Ph.d. ASA http://www.Rashiyomi.com/


From: Alex Heppenheimer <aheppenh@...>
Date: Thu, Jul 2,2009 at 12:01 AM
Subject: Real Burial Spots of Moshe and Aharon

In MJ 56:85, Stu Pilichowski <cshmuel@...> asked:

>Rashi, Bamidbar 20:22 refers to three mountains:
>1. Sinai - Torah
>2. Nebo - Moshe's burial place
>3. Hahor- Aharon's burial place

>I always thought Moshe died at Har Nebo, but his burial place was kept from the
>world so his burial place wouldn't turn into a place to worship him. So is his
>burial place Nebo, but we simply aren't sure where the real Nebo is? (Today,
>there's a church and lookout point in Jordan. Is that really not Nebo?) 

Moshe indeed went up to Har Nebo before his death (Deut. 34:1), but verse 6 says
that he was buried "in the valley." Some of the commentaries (such as Ibn Ezra
ibid.) say that they're both referring to the same place (i.e., that there was a
valley or a cave on the mountain itself), and presumably the Rashi you cited
would agree. But others (such as Sforno ibid.) argue that the meaning is indeed
that Moshe was buried in a different place than where he died. The Gemara (Sotah
13b), too, states that Moshe's burial place is four mil (about three miles) from

A few lines further down on that same page, incidentally, the Gemara comments on
the paradox that the Torah provides several geographical markers ("in the
valley, in the land of Moab, opposite Beth-Peor"), and yet that with all of
that, "no one knows his grave to this day" - and tells a story of how the Romans
attempted to discover it, but each time they thought they found it, the grave
appeared to be in a different location.

>I always heard that the Mount Sinai that people visit really isn't Mount
>Sinai.... is this true of Nebo as well?

Possible, although I would think that the possible geographical range is much
more restricted. Mount Sinai has been variously located all over the Sinai
Peninsula plus northwestern Saudi Arabia; Mount Nebo, by contrast, necessarily
has to be across the Jordan River from Jericho (as stated in Deut. 34:1). I
don't know how many mountains there are in that area, though.

> People visit Aharon's burial place in Jordan near Petra. Is this also not
> really his burial place?

It's probably also uncertain. I once saw an argument - though I don't recall
where - that the Torah (Num. 20:23) describes the place as "on the border of the
land of Edom," whereas Petra is pretty well in the middle of their land; but
it's not as though anyone could precisely define the borders of ancient
countries anyway.

Kol tuv,


From: Janice Gelb <j_gelb@...>
Date: Wed, Jul 1,2009 at 09:01 PM
Subject: Siddur Page Number Display Board?

David Ziants <dziants@...> wrote:
> This thread highlights that there is kind of a community
> that would need page numbers to be announced and a kind 
> of a community like the majority of those in Israel that 
> do not need this. Seeing that the former, sometimes 
> labeled "mainstream", are either more establishment type or 
> seeking ways towards outreach or attracting shul newcomers,
> I am wondering whether the latter are lacking because they 
> do not feel a need to support such devices...

This response [seems to suggest that]
the synagogues that have put such a system in place 
mostly consist of members who cannot find their way 
around a siddur, or are so unfriendly that they would 
not help a visitor who seemed to need such assistance.

Most shuls have occasions when a number of visitors 
who are not familiar with the service are likely to 
be in attendance, for example, for simchas or to 
hear a special darshan [loosely "lecturer" --MOD].
While of course most members 
go out of their way to help someone who appears lost, 
the visitors are not always sitting next to someone 
who can provide such assistance, or the visitors do 
not feel comfortable interrupting someone who is 
in the middle of davening to ask the page. 

Our discussion suggested that having a sign available 
might help alleviate the embarrassment of visitors and 
could be less disturbing to the kavanah [intent -MOD]
of those davening than being interrupted to ask the page,
or having the davening interrupted with frequent
page announcements.

-- Janice


From: Haim Snyder <haimsny@...>
Date: Thu, Jul 2,2009 at 03:01 AM
Subject: Sink Drain Strainers

In Vol 56 #86, Carl Singer repeats his assertion that: "My contention is
(and this goes back to postings several years) that one consults their
community (shul, kehilla, shtut) Rav."

Whereas that may be true in the "gola" (exile), here in Israel the concept
of a shul Rav is not as prevalent as it is in the States. The community Rav
is an appointed official of the local Religious Council and, as a result, is
sometimes not the authority a given person would go to for answers.  Many
shuls don't have a Rav. That's why we, especially in the National Religious
communities, tend to look up the answers ourselves or consult a Rav who we
know reflects our outlook, independent of his physical proximity.

Even outside of the Holy Land, there are rabbis who are not as learned as
they might be and, as the number of people who go to religious day schools
and yeshivot increases and there is a more learned laity, the tendency to
rely on the local rabbi is bound to diminish.  A learned man will tend to
look for the answers himself from recognized sources and only turn to a
higher authority when he can't find them.  In that case, he may well turn to
his Rosh Yeshiva instead of the local rabbi since he is seeking a "higher
authority" and the local rabbi may not qualify in his mind.

Haim Shalom Snyder


From: Michael Gerver <mjgerver@...>
Date: Tue, Jun 30,2009 at 05:01 PM
Subject: Why Cheshvan and Kislev are the variable months

In v56n75, in connection with the question of why the first day of Shavuot
never falls on Shabbat, Akiva Miller asks:

> But I don't recall ever hearing why Tishre and Cheshvan were chosen to be
> the months which were variable between 29 and 30 days. If, for example, Nisan
> and/or Iyar were chosen for this purpose, then Shavuos may well have had the
> ability to fall on Shabbos. So I'd like to open the question to the group for
> discussion:
> Why were Tishre and Cheshvan chosen for the 29/30 variation?

Actually, it is Cheshvan and Kislev that are the variable months. I believe
the short answer to this question is that it is desirable for the variable
months to occur as soon as possible after Rosh Hashanah, but without ever
having three 29-day months in a row, in order to make the molad [birth of the
new moon --MOD] fall as close as possible to Rosh Chodesh during the year. This
may be considered a desirable thing in itself, and in addition it may be
considered desirable because it prevents the embarrassing situation of having
the old moon visible at dawn on Rosh Chodesh.  For those of you who are
interested in the long answer, read on.

In the fixed Hebrew calendar, a standard year ("kesedra" year) of 12 months
is 354 days long, and a standard year of 13 months (including two Adars) is
384 days long.  A year, whether of 12 or 13 months, can be one day shorter
than a standard year (which is called "chaser"), or one day longer than a
standard year (which is called "maleh"), but no more than that. The mean new
moon of any month is called the Molad of that month. Rosh Hashanah falls on
the day of Molad Tishrei, unless it is delayed for various reasons, for
example to avoid having it fall on certain days of the week, and to avoid
having a year that differs by more than one day from a standard year.

Whether a year is maleh, kesedra, or chaser depends largely on whether Molad
Tishrei falls relatively early or relatively late, compared to the beginning
of Rosh Hashanah. If Molad Tishrei falls sufficiently late on the day of
Rosh Hashanah (which it can do, up to 12:00 noon, i.e. up to 18 hours after
the beginning of the day), then the year will be a maleh year. If Molad
Tishrei falls sufficiently early relative to Rosh Hashanah (because Rosh
Hashanah was delayed beyond the day of the Molad), then the year is likely
to be a chaser year (though it might not be if the following Rosh Hashanah
is also delayed). By placing the variable months as soon as possible after
Rosh Hashanah, Rosh Chodesh for the other months of the year is brought back
closer to the day of the Molad.

By that criterion, Tishrei and Cheshvan should have been chosen as the
variable months. But I am guessing this was not done, because it would
result in having three 29-day months in a row, Elul, Tishrei and Cheshvan,
in a chaser year. (And we cannot avoid that by making Elul a 30 day month,
because then 30 Elul would be Rosh Chodesh Tishrei without being Rosh
Hashanah, or else Rosh Hashanah would begin in Elul, which are not things we
want to happen.) We have to have either three 30 day months in a row
sometimes, or three 29 day months in a row sometimes, but since the average
month is slightly more than 29.5 days, it is better to have three 30 day
months in a row. So the variable months are Cheshvan and Kislev.

Keeping Rosh Chodesh close to the day of the Molad may have been especially
important in maleh years, for which the Molad of Tishrei falls close to
12:00 noon on Rosh Hashanah.  In such years, depending on where the moon's
perigee is at the time, the old moon can almost be visible on the morning of
Rosh Hashanah.  As the year continues, until the extra day is added, it
becomes increasingly likely that the old moon will be visible on the morning
of a one-day Rosh Chodesh (again, if the moon's perigee is in the right
place), because, between Tishrei and Nisan, the sun is moving further east
relative to its average motion through the constellations of the zodiac, and
this makes the Ibbur (actual new moon, as opposed to mean new moon) occur
later and later relative to the Molad, between Tishrei and Nisan. To avoid
the embarrassment of having the old moon visible on the morning of Rosh
Chodesh, it is especially important to add the extra day of a maleh year as
soon as possible after Rosh Hashanah. The first opportunity is at the end of
Cheshvan (since Tishrei has 30 days in any case).

The reason the sun appears to move eastward through the zodiac faster
between Tishrei and Nisan, than between Nisan and Tishrei, is that the earth
is moving in an elliptic orbit around the sun, getting closest to the sun on
January 2. When the earth is closer to the sun, it is moving faster around
the sun (from Kepler's laws), and the sun appears to move eastward through
the zodiac faster, both because of the earth's greater speed, and because of
the decreased distance to the sun. This speeding up of the apparent motion
of the sun through the zodiac between Tishrei and Nisan was known to Ptolemy
(though of course he did not know about Kepler's laws, attributing it
instead to epicycles), so it would have been known to Hillel Sheni, and he
could have taken it into account in deciding which months to make variable.

 Mike Gerver
Raanana, Israel


From: Russell J Hendel <rjhendel@...>
Date: Sun, Jul 5,2009 at 11:01 AM
Subject: Women Rabbis

I think Frank came up with a good idea.  Give the woman some title such as
"Social Coordinator" or "Reverend." I think some other (admissable titles might
be ) "Synagogue coordinator" or "Synagogue Assistant Rabbinic Coordinator" or
any other combination.

Perhaps if Rabbinic bodies (O-U, Young Israel Council) publicly declared these
titles there would be no problem with red tape. A simple declaration that
"Synagogue Coordinator" is a special title could help with the Red tape.
Finally I mention that Dr Yaffa Eliach has mentioned that in one community the
Rabbis wife answered all routine questions (Such as meat spoons falling into a
dairy pot). She answered these religious questions so that her husband could sit
and learn all day (Amusing comment on modern kollel type practices!)

Russell Jay Hendel; Ph.d. ASA http://www.Rashiyomi.com/

From: Leonard Paul <lenpaul@...>
Date: Wed, Jul 1,2009 at 08:01 PM
Subject: Women Rabbis

For many years, I have been living in a suburb outside of Philadelphia where
Gratz College is located.  Dr. Geffen is highly respected for her many
contributions to Jewish scholarship.  I was delighted to read her posting and
welcome her participation on this list.  It is my personal hope that she will
continue to make other contributions for our learning.  Her former husband
was a classmate of mine at Boston Latin School and is also a graduate of the
Jewish Theological Seminary.  

With regard to this topic, in my opinion, she is not only uniquely qualified
to comment about women rabbis but also Rebbetzins who are also rabbis.  [Her
biography may be found at
http://www.jcpa.org/JCPA/Templates/ShowPage.asp?&IID=1455 for those interested.

Leonard Paul
Elkins Park,PA

From: Ilana Rosansky <ilana@...>
Date: Sun, Jul 5,2009 at 09:01 AM
Subject: Women Rabbis

Alexander Seinfeld wrote:
> ... Someone pointed out that rebbeztin began as an honorific for the rabbis
> wife; no longer these women stand on their own as scholars and teachers

Truth be told, Rabbanit still stands for the Rabbi's wife.
The Hebrew for a female rabbi is "Rabah".

Ilana Rosansky

From: David Ziants <dziants@...>
Date: Wed, Jul 1,2009 at 05:01 AM
Subject: Women Rabbis

David Ziants wrote:

> The problem with this solution is that a "Rebbetzin" or "Rabbanit" is 
> the Rabbi's wife...
> Although my pocket Bantam-Megiddo dictionary translates "chaplain" as 
> "komer malchuti" [malchuti= "state"; komer= "priest (Christian), 
> parson" ...

Before I get a barrage of emails saying that the modern English 
dictionaries indicate that the title "chaplain" can belong to any 
religion, I still claim that this word has Christian connotations (as 
Bantam-Megiddo translates), as is the word "chapel".

In the same way as I sometimes cringe at Jews adopting bits and pieces 
from Christian culture, neither am I a Yiddish enthusiast. (It makes 
more sense that the Hebrew language should join us together.)  Still, 
Yiddish has protected us from the non-Jewish culture many centuries and 
the chareidim [ultra-orthodox] use it to protect themselves from 
non-chareidi culture even today.

So let me present the following proposal. Since the Yiddish term 
"Shtieble" [a prayer room in a private house] possibly has its etymology 
roots similar to "chapel", a "chaplain" can then be a "schtieblan", and 
if female a "shtieblanit".

Although there might be serious issues for discussion on the extent we 
are allowed to take things from foreign culture, please do not accept my 
proposal too seriously - but I do like it!!

David Ziants
Ma'aleh Adumim, Israel

PS In my previous posting, "malchuti" is really "royal", which would be 
OK for the UK, but not for the USA. A more general translation would use 
"mamlachti" [="state'], but the principle is still the same.


End of Volume 56 Issue 89