Volume 57 Number 38 
      Produced: Wed, 28 Oct 2009 08:18:35 EDT

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

Aliyot on simchat torah 
    [Eitan Fiorino]
Aramaic kamatz 
    [Ira L. Jacobson]
Baruch Dayan haEmet - Shmulie Spero 
    [Eric Mack]
Cameras and sensors 
    [Carl Singer]
Kaporos (3)
    [Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz  Russell Hendel   Abraham Lebowitz]
NOT stopping traffic on Shabbos 
    [Carl Singer]
Who washes the hands? (8)
    [Gershon Dubin  Martin Stern  Marshall Potter  David Ziants  Perets Mett  Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz  Menashe Elyashiv  Sholom Parnes]


From: Eitan Fiorino <afiorino@...>
Date: Tue, Oct 27,2009 at 10:01 AM
Subject: Aliyot on simchat torah

The practice of calling a chatan bereishit is by no means universal (you can
probably guess where I'm going with this; I have become predictable in pointing
out where non-Ashkenazi liturgical practices differ).  In the Italian minhag,
there is no chatan bereishit called on simchat torah.  Indeed, there is no torah
reading from bereishit at all on simchat torah; the chatan torah reads the first
few pasukim from bereshit from a chumash after the conclusion of his aliya.

Have we discussed on the list previously the origin of "chatan Torah" which,
according to Sperber and others, is a corruption of "chatam Torah" - the
completion of the Torah?  I've not read Sperber, so I don't know how convincing
a case he makes.



From: Ira L. Jacobson <laser@...>
Date: Sun, Oct 25,2009 at 03:01 AM
Subject: Aramaic kamatz

Rabbi Meir Wise <Meirhwise@...> stated in mail-jewish Vol.57 #37:

>The "chataf kamatz" in the word kadam in the Kaddish is not a sign 
>of a historically long vowel. On the contrary - the reverse is 
>true!  The first vowel should have been a shva but attracts a chataf 
>kamatz for vowel harmony.

That is fascinating.  Interestingly, the introductory notes to the 
Siddur of the Sefardi communities in Seattle notes that what they 
call qamatz hatoof is a short vowel, but they do distinguish it from 
'segol shva,' and 'patah shva,' which they put in a different category.

Is there any book that tells of the actual work of the original 
Masoretes, ben-Asher and perhaps his predecessors?  What prompted 
them to do the work at all, and what pronunciation of the time, if 
any, were they applying to the text?

As a note of interest, in the modern world, both the Hmong alphabet, 
which is about 40 years old, and the Irish alphabet, which is older, 
are wildly remote from the English phonetic system: e.g., 'Mejkoob' 
in Hmong is pronounced 'mee-kong.'  People are told that the spelling 
is universal among the dialects, but reflects the pronunciation of 
one particular place.  I have heard that some Hmong speakers who are 
familiar with the major dialects of Hmong, say that no one speaks 
like that.  However, some Hmong dialects are mutually intelligible 
while others are so distinct as to be considered separate languages.



From: Eric Mack <ewm44118@...>
Date: Tue, Oct 27,2009 at 07:01 AM
Subject: Baruch Dayan haEmet - Shmulie Spero

I regret to inform the mail.Jewish community of the p'tira [death] of Prof.
Shmulie (Samuel) Spero, of Beachwood, Ohio.  He was noted for his knowledge of
science and mathematics and how they related to Jewish matters.  K'vura [burial]
will be tomorrow (Wednesday) afternoon at har Hamenuchot in Jerusalem.  T'hei
zichro baruch.  [May his memory be blessed.]

Here is his biography, from B'or haTorah's website:
Samuel Spero is Professor Emeritus at Cuyahoga Community College and was also an
adjunct professor at Cleveland State University, the Siegal College of Jewish
Studies, and Yeshiva University in a teaching career spanning more than
thirty-five years. Professor Spero studied in the Telshe Yeshiva and has degrees
in physics and applied mathematics, and a doctorate in science education. Since
his retirement Professor Spero has devoted his time to learning Torah, doing
hesed, and researching science and Torah with special emphasis on the
relationship between the transcendent and the material.   

Eric Mack


From: Carl Singer <carl.singer@...>
Date: Fri, Oct 23,2009 at 09:01 AM
Subject: Cameras and sensors

> This is going to become an increasing problem from the Shabbat-observant
> community.  These days, you literally cannot walk down a city street
> without affecting a camera or sensor of some type, often to your benefit.
> Buildings increasingly employ motion and heat sensors to target lighting and
> heating to their resident's locations, and medical devices increasingly
> utilize adaptive technology (e.g.hearing aids adjusting volume based on
> background noise/speaker's volume, etc.).

Re: adaptive technologies -- would it be a stretch - perhaps to absurdity,
that when you open the door to enter your home, or for that matter your body
heat - impacts the temperature in your home and thus hastens or delays the
furnace cycling on or off.   Don't forget opening the refrigerator -- again
perhaps some delay.

More directly, could one open or close a mechanical damper to adjust the
amount of warm air coming into a specific room.

I'm not so much worried about the Amish analogy as that of those sects which
went without fire / light on Shabbos.

I don't pasken -- even pretend to -- one of my sons relayed to me that he
heard the delineation of  permissible and problematic deals with issues of:
1 - control and ownership
2 - intention
3 - benefit

(No order implied)

re: #1 - a neighbor who was renting in a multi-family home asked the
landlord to disable the sensor which caused the light to go on every time
someone approached.

re: #1 - I have no source, but the psak [halachik decision --mod] relayed to me
was that one need NOT go out of their customary path to avoid lights and motion
sensors -- that is if you normally walk home from shule Friday evening via
streets A B & C -- you need not deviate because someone now has a sensor in your

re: #2 - HOWEVER - you cannot go out of your way to activate a sensor -- for
whatever reason.

re: #3 - Here it gets a bit cloudy -- if your pathway home, let's say goes
through an alley which formerly was lit by a conventional system -- but now
is sensor driven.

re: #3 - When it comes to an electric door -- say visiting someone in a
hospital, acceptable practice seems to be to allow (wait for) someone else
to activate the door then to enter behind said person -- Does one presume
that the rove [majority] of people entering are not Jewish?



From: Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz <sabbahillel@...>
Date: Fri, Oct 23,2009 at 09:01 AM
Subject: Kaporos

S.Wise wrote:
> Of all the comments on my post regarding the practice of live kapporos,
> this one struck me as not drawing such a strong distinction. In both cases,
> you are essentially saying the same thing. What is the difference between
> saying an angry deity who wants to kill you, or a realization that G-d will
> kill you for disobeying him. Aside from that, how many acts are chayav misah,
> deserving of death, that this should have become such a practice, that one
> should feel he or should be punished by death?

The difference is in the attitude of the person to the deity. In the
case of avodas zara (idol worship) the "sacrifice" is actually a bribe
to the deity so that he will not kill you because he is angry or has
not received a large enough bribe. In the case of Hashem, it is a
recognition that the chicken (or whatever animal is used for a
sacrifice) does not matter at all. It is the requirement of Teshuvah
and that the person is considering himself *as if* he was chayav misa
(deserving of the death penalty). It is not that the person *is*
chayav misa. As far as the custom of a chicken, it is probably because
it is something that can be used immediately to make a meal (such as
seudah hamafsekes (meal before the fast) and be donated to a poor
person. It is also something that would be available for use by just
about everyone and affordable to donate. Besides, think about lifting
a cow before it is slaughtered (:-)

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

From: Russell Hendel  <RHendel@...>
Date: Fri, Oct 23,2009 at 01:01 PM
Subject: Kaporos

Just to respond and agree with S.Wise. The interpretation of Sacrifices as "We
deserved to die so the animal is dying instead" is pagan and contrary to the
Jewish point of view.

First of all not all sacrifices involve killing. The plant sacrifices (Minchah)
and perfume sacrifices (Ketoreth) do not involve any killing.

Secondly the "real reason" for sacrifices is to symbolically instruct the
offerer on what they need psychologically to resume their life. Here is one
simple example. A sin-offering is brought on serious sins (like a person who
accidentally committed incest or adultery). Such a person feels depressed. They
may feel they have crossed the white line and no one will accept them. The sin
offering's blood is place on the highest altar point (the horns) symbolizing
that the person should remember the heights they were at beforehand and not let
one incident throw him into depression. He should continue with his good deeds.

As to slaughter Rabbi Hirsch explains "The slaughter TRANSFORMS the blood from
ANIMAL BLOOD to TEMPLE blood...the blood which formerly resided in an animal
body now resides in a temple vessel - the animal blood was profane while the
vessel blood is sacred. The priest takes this Temple blood and symbolically
affirms to the offerer what (s)he needs."

I should also mention that "slaughter" is NOT part of the temple service per se.
SLAUGHTER could be done by laymen. The "priestly" part of the service BEGINS
with the receipt of blood in a temple vessel.

As I always tell my classes "If the only thing you knew about sacrifices is that
you kill an animal you would be justified in thinking them pagan concessions and
barbaric...but slaughter has nothing to do with sacrifices and there is so much
more in them"

I always recommend reading Rav Hirsch on sacrifices. I have an article coming
out in the Jewish Bible Quarterly early next year "The Priest as Vocational
Counselor" in which I show how the psychological insights of the sacrifices were
three thousand years ahead of their time

So what do I think of Kaporos: I think someone who didn't understand sacrifices
made them up. It is pagan-like as SWise says and is totally unjewish. I also
agree with SWise that incorrect customs should not be followed and done away
with (We have plenty of good customs).

Russell Jay Hendel; http://www.Rashiyomi.com/

From: Abraham Lebowitz <aileb@...>
Date: Sun, Oct 25,2009 at 03:01 PM
Subject: Kaporos

In the various submissions regarding kapparot I don't recall seeing anyone
mentioning the view of the Mechaber (R' Yosef Karo) who wrote in Chapter 605
of Shulchan Aruch Orach Chayyim:
"The practice of making a kapparah on Erev Yom Hakippurim by slaughtering a
rooster for each male and reciting verses should be suppressed." (My

The Chofetz Chayim (R' Yisrael Meir Kagan) explains the
Mechaber's opposition to kapparot on the grounds that it may be a pagan
custom (darkei ha'emori).  The Mechaber's objection is followed by a long
note by R' Moshe Isserles stating that the Geonim and many later decisors
approved of kapparot and providing additional details as to how it is
carried out.  However, it does appear that not everyone favored this custom.

Abe Lebowitz


From: Carl Singer <carl.singer@...>
Date: Fri, Oct 23,2009 at 09:01 AM
Subject: NOT stopping traffic on Shabbos

Back from 2 years learning in Jerusalem, my son told me that on Shabbos one
doesn't cross the street in such a manner as to cause a driver to slow down
or stop on their account -- the underlying presumption being that the (majority
of) drivers, although not Shabbos observant, are Jewish - and our actions impact
their driving actions.

I heard recently that in Lakewood, NJ -- a similar ruling was issued re: a
specific neighborhood.




From: Gershon Dubin <gershon.dubin@...>
Date: Fri, Oct 23,2009 at 10:01 AM
Subject: Who washes the hands?

<elshpen@...> wrote:
> What would happen if there are no Levi'im and no bachorim?  Who washes the
> hands of the Kohanim in that situation?
They wash their own (Mishna Berura 125:22)


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Fri, Oct 23,2009 at 12:01 PM
Subject: Who washes the hands?

On Wed, Oct 21,2009, Avraham Friedenberg <elshpen@...> wrote:

Subject: Who washes the hands?
> In the absence of any Levi'im, I was occasionally asked (because I was a
> bachor [firstborn] to wash the hands of Kohanim before they duchaned.
> What would happen if there are no Levi'im and no bachorim?  Who washes the
> hands of the Kohanim in that situation?

Anybody can do it but I believe the cohen usually washes his own hands by

Martin Stern

From: Marshall Potter <pottermr@...>
Date: Fri, Oct 23,2009 at 03:01 PM
Subject: Who washes the hands?

On 21 October 2009 Avraham Friedenberg wrote:
> What would happen if there are no Levi'im and no bachorim?  Who washes the
> hands of the Kohanim in that situation?

As a Kohayn who regularly visits Yirushalayim, it has been my experience that I
wash my own hands when there is no Levi or Bechor that comes out to wash the
hands of the Kohanim.  I have had this experience in several shuls in
Yirushalayim where I have I duchened on a weekday when there were no Levi'im   

This is also confirmed in the Mishnah Berurah 128:6 (22) where it says it is
better for a Kohayn  to wash his own hands than to have a Yisrael pour the water
over his hands.

Marshall Potter

From: David Ziants <dziants@...>
Date: Sat, Oct 24,2009 at 07:01 PM
Subject: Who washes the hands?

> When I was learning in yeshiva after getting married, there were few Levi'im
> who attended shacahrit.  In the absence of any Levi'im, I was occasionally
> asked (because I was a bachor [firstborn] to wash the hands of Kohanim
> before they duchaned.
> What would happen if there are no Levi'im and no bachorim?  Who washes the
> hands of the Kohanim in that situation?
Sometime I see a Cohen wash his own hands. Especially if the Cohen is 
sha"tz [=prayer leader] and does so before he starts the repetition.

I saw the mara d'atra [=Rabbi of the place], who is a Cohen, go to wash 
his hands before duchaning and there were no levi'im around, and so as a 
b'chor [firstborn son --mod] I tried to offer to do this. He did not accept and
preferred to do this himself. Maybe he was afraid that I did not know the laws
(how much of a hand to wash etc.), as an experienced Levi would hopefully know.

It also seems, though, that a bachor washing instead of a Levi is not
universally accepted.

David Ziants

Ma'aleh Adumim, Israel

From: Perets Mett <p.mett@...>
Date: Sat, Oct 24,2009 at 08:01 PM
Subject: Who washes the hands?

Avraham Friedenberg wrote:
> What would happen if there are no Levi'im and no bachorim?  Who  
> washes the
> hands of the Kohanim in that situation?

In the absence of leviim and bchorim, the kohanim wash their own hands.

Perets Mett (a bchor)

From: Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz <sabbahillel@...>
Date: Sat, Oct 24,2009 at 11:01 PM
Subject: Who washes the hands?

From: Avraham Friedenberg<elshpen@...>
> What would happen if there are no Levi'im and no bachorim?  Who washes the
> hands of the Kohanim in that situation?

Someone before duchening made a comment of having been in a situation 
where kohanim washed each others hands. I do not know if that is the 
actual minhag or not.

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

From: Menashe Elyashiv <Menashe.Elyashiv@...>
Date: Sun, Oct 25,2009 at 04:01 AM
Subject: Who washes the hands?

It is not an universal custom that a first born replaces a Levi for 
washing the Kohanim's hands.

Kaf Hahayiim brings the Zohar that this is only a Levi job. (I can look 
for the source if anyone wants it). Altho some Poskim hold that a first 
born can replace a Levi, the bottom line of the Kaf Hahayim is sit & not 
do (= shev, lal tasase). And that is what we do in our minyan.

From: Sholom Parnes <merbe@...>
Date: Sun, Oct 25,2009 at 03:01 PM
Subject: Who washes the hands?

What I have observed in our shul (synagogue) in Israel is the the kohanim
(priests) wash their own hands if their is no levi (levite) present.

I, as a firstborn (be'chor), have never been asked to pinch hit for the levi.

This can take place even when a levi is present. The levi may not have finished
the silent prayer by the time the kohanim are ready to wash their hands. Or, the
levi might be a talmid chacham (torah scholar) who does not go out to wash the
kohanim's hands. (Anyone know the basis for this custom? Did Rav Soloveitchik,
as a levi, wash the kohanim's hands?)

All the best.



End of Volume 57 Issue 38