Volume 57 Number 45 
      Produced: Thu, 26 Nov 2009 19:43:09 EST

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

115 Cool Chanukah YouTube Videos 
    [Jacob Richman]
    [Yisrael Medad]
Bereshit 23: 6-16 (2)
    [Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz  Alex Heppenheimer]
Chayye Sarah note 
    [Shmuel Himelstein]
Invitation to the Virtual Chanukah Party on Facebook 
    [Jacob Richman]
Masorah references (was Aramaic kamatz) 
Naming a child "Shem" (2)
    [Martin Stern  Menashe Elyashiv]
    [Andy Goldfinger]
Why doesn't Avraham tell Sarah ... 
Why is Moses Surprised 
    [Russell J Hendel]


From: Jacob Richman <jrichman@...>
Date: Sun, Nov 15,2009 at 08:01 PM
Subject: 115 Cool Chanukah YouTube Videos

Hi Everyone!

I created a list of 115 cool Chanukah YouTube videos.
There is something for everyone.

The list includes:
Adam Sandler's - The Chanukah Song 
Kenny Ellis sings his hit single Swingin' Dreidel  
I Had a Little Dreidl - Bagel Blvd Chanuka Edition  
Left to Right - Michelle Citrin
Captain Smartypants sings Dreidel  
The Funky Gold Menorah by The Mama Doni Band  
Chabad: Chanukah Around the World  
Light Up - Moshe Skier Band
Poway Chanukah: Yes, We Can! 
Nefesh B'Nefesh: Modern Day Miracles  
Birthright: Light em Up 
Hanukkah Bird (animation and song)  
My Menorah - The knack is back! (animation and song)  
Ahmedinijad admits he is addicted!  
Eli Yazpan, Hanukkah (in Hebrew)  
Jewlarious: he Miracle on 42nd Street  
Benji Lovitt: Happy Chanukkah from Jerusalem! 
Meshugga Beach Party - Oh Hanukkah  
"First Time Lighting" - with Matisyahu, Nosson Zand 
Al Hanisim - Six13 @ Chabad Chanukah Telethon  
Hannukah Song Texas Style  
Oy Cappella - Adam Sandler Chanukah Song  
Voices of Liberty singing O Hannukah  
Aish: Just Jew It - True Chanuka Story  
Chana Zelda 
"The Latke Song" by Debbie Friedman  
How to play Chanukah Dredyl  
LeeVees - Latke Clan 
Gerber Folk Skewer The Dreidel Song  
The Eight Nights of Hanukkah, as told by Jewish celebrities  
Purim Homintaschen vs. Hannukah Latke debate  
Feed Me Bubbe - Latkes  
Mabat "Live" report on Hanukkah

  and many more.....

The address is:

An Early Happy Chanukah!


From: Yisrael Medad <ybmedad@...>
Date: Mon, Nov 16,2009 at 06:01 PM
Subject: Aramaic

A thought:
When the vernacular was Aramaic, the custom was instituted to have a
secondary reader translate the Hebrew of the weekly portion reading into
Many Yeminite services are still conducted this way.
However, today, when Hebrew is much better known and Aramaic almost
absolutely not, isn't that a reverse of the original situation some 2000
years ago?
If so, why do the Yeminites continue and why does the minhag of "Shnaim
Mikra v'Echad Tirgum" persist?


From: Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz <sabbahillel@...>
Date: Wed, Nov 18,2009 at 10:01 AM
Subject: Bereshit 23: 6-16

> From: Joseph Mosseri <joseph.mosseri@...>
> What is going on in these 10 pesouqim?
> Shem'enou Adoni (23:6)
> Shema'ouni (23:8)
> Shema'eni (23:11)
> Shema'eni (23:13)
> Shema'eni (23:15)
> Vayishma' (23:16)
> BeOzne Bene Het (23:10)
> BeOzne 'Am HaAress (23:13)
> BeOzne Bene Het (23:16)
> Why such a large concentration of SH.M.'A. in these pesouqim? Do we find this
> any where else? If that wasn't enough we also have all these instances of people
> talking into ears. This may sound silly but was everyone deaf???

The source of idioms can be a fascinating subject. In this case, I
think that it is an idiom for being careful to tailor the message to
the audience. Make sure that you carefully explain the ideas that you
are conveying so that the people that you are speaking to will "hear
and understand". how many times have we gone to lectures, which may
express valid concepts, but are spoken in such lofty or simplistic
language that the audience is almost forced to ignore it.

Especially here, where Avraham needs to convince the various people
that he is speaking with to agree to his request. Consider the
different groups that he is speaking to. The nobility of the region,
the parliament (including the "commoner" landowners), the actual owner
of the property, merchants, ...

Each group has to be given a message, not only tailored to them, but
one that will not offend the others.

       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: Alex Heppenheimer <aheppenh@...>
Date: Wed, Nov 18,2009 at 02:01 PM
Subject: Bereshit 23: 6-16

In MJ 57:43, Joseph Mosseri <joseph.mosseri@...> asked:

>Why such a large concentration of SH.M.'A. in these pesouqim? Do we find this
>any where else? If that wasn't enough we also have all these instances of people
>talking into ears. This may sound silly but was everyone deaf???

We find that the root SHMA, besides its plain meaning of hearing, also means
paying close attention and understanding. (Rashi thus translates it by the
French word "entendre" - understanding- in Bereishis 41:15 and Devarim 28:49.
Similarly, in the Shema prayer, the meaning isn't just that we should "hear"
that G-d is One, but that we should "understand and contemplate" this idea, as
Sforno writes in his commentary to this verse.)

So the repetition of this root throughout the narrative may be meant to inform
us that everyone involved was paying full attention to all of the details of the
transaction. This is especially important to stress, because:

(a) This is the first piece of property that Avraham acquired in the Land of
Israel, so the details are important(which, indeed, is one reason why the story
is recorded in the first place).

(b) The transaction was actually technically prohibitedby Hittite law: as Malbim
(to 23:5) points out, only Hittite nationals were allowed family burial plots,
while foreigners would be required to bury their dead in a potter's field. The
point, then, would be that Avraham was fully aware that he was asking for
something extralegal, and that correspondingly, the Hittites of Hebron (and
specifically Ephron) consciously agreed to do so and to treat Avraham as an
honorary citizen.

As for the expression "talking into ears," it's used also in Bereishis 44:18
(where Yehudah is going to argue with Yosef on behalf of Binyamin). Rashi there
cites the Midrash Rabbah, that it means "let my words enter your heart." On the
other hand, Kli Yakar and Ohr Hachaim say that it means that Yehudah was asking
for a private audience with Yosef, because he was going to be speaking harshly
and didn't want to make a public scene of it.

Applying these two approaches to Avraham's discussion with the Hittites, then,
we might venture that according to Rashi the intent of everyone "speaking into
each others' ears" is meant to further underscore how seriously everyone took
the matter, while according to the other commentaries it means that they were
trying to keep it from becoming too publicly known, perhaps indeed because they
were afraid of the consequences of skirting the law.

Kol tuv,


From: Shmuel Himelstein <himels@...>
Date: Wed, Nov 18,2009 at 03:01 AM
Subject: Chayye Sarah note

When we speak of the amount paid by Avraham for Me'erat Hamachpelah (the
Cave of Machpelah), it was sold to him by Efron the Hittite for what seems
to be "trifling" sum of money, a "mere" 400 Shekels of silver. Of course the
"trifling amount" would be a term used by any seller trying to sell
something. However, to get an idea of the actual value involved, I remember
that the Hertz Chumash mentioned that the average YEARLY income of workers
at that time was between six to eight Shekels. Thus the "trifling amount"
was something like fifty years' earnings of an average person.


That puts an entirely different perspective on the transaction.


Shmuel Himelstein


From: Jacob Richman <jrichman@...>
Date: Tue, Nov 17,2009 at 02:01 PM
Subject: Invitation to the Virtual Chanukah Party on Facebook

Hi Everyone!

You are cordially invited to my first Virtual Chanukah Party on 
Facebook. No entrance fee and you may bring all your friends.

The virtual address:

See you online.

Chodesh Tov - Have a good month,


From: <mp@...>
Date: Mon, Nov 16,2009 at 11:01 AM
Subject: Masorah references (was Aramaic kamatz)

In M-J V57#38, Ira L. Jacobson wrote:
> 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?

In M-J V57#40, Ben Katz replied:
> I think the best book is "History of the Tiberian Mesorah" by Yeivin.

and in M-J V57#42, Mechy Frenkel added:
> no disagreement from me but a minor correction.  the correct title is
> Introduction to the Tiberian Masorah and you may also find it associated 
> E.J. Revell, its 1980 english translator from Yeivin's hebrew original, 
> lammisorah hattavronis. 

To quote Mechy, no disagreement from me either.  In addition to those 
cited, another book I recommend highly is Yeivin's more recent Ha'Masorah 
la'Mikra (Academy of the Hebrew Language, 2003, Hebrew).  Unfortunately it 
has not been translated into English, but the Hebrew is relatively simple 
and very readable.  It is more of an overview than the Tiberian Masorah 
book but, for those not interested in getting into the weeds, it provides 
a very concise but thorough treatment of the topic.  Roughly half the book 
devoted to the development of the Masoretic apparatus, including some 
discussion of the various different schools mentioned by Mechy.  More 
signficantly, each section has its own extensive, topic-specific 
bibliography which makes it much easier to further pursue specific topics 
of interest.

Incidentally, the other half of the book deals with explaining ta'amei 
ha'mikra (trup, or cantillation). For those with an interest in that area, 
once again more of an overview but much more accessible than other more 
involved works on the subject like Rav Breuer's Ta'amei ha'Mikra book 
(1982) or the Wickes books.

Kol tuv,

Mark Polster
Cleveland, OH


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Mon, Nov 16,2009 at 10:01 AM
Subject: Naming a child "Shem"

On Wed, Nov 11,2009, SBA <sba@...> wrote:
> When I was in yeshiva one of the magidei shiur had a son called
> Shem-Tov.

This was at one time quite a popular name among Sefrdim and is the Hebrew
equivalent (translation) of the Ashkenazi name Kalonimos which is of Greek
origin (kalos = good, onoma = name).

Martin Stern

From: Menashe Elyashiv <Menashe.Elyashiv@...>
Date: Tue, Nov 17,2009 at 03:01 AM
Subject: Naming a child "Shem"

When I was in yeshiva one of the magidei shiur (an old-fashioned,
traditional Hungarian Talmid Chacham) had a son called 
Shem Tov was a known name, and there were Rabbis with that name. I know an 
older guy called Shem Tov. But the question is the name Shem.


From: Andy Goldfinger <Andy.Goldfinger@...>
Date: Wed, Nov 18,2009 at 10:01 AM
Subject: Scales

The current dapim (pages) of Baba Basra (a tractate of the Talmud) that are
being studied daily deal with honesty in using weights and measures.  Part of
the discussion deals with balance scales.  The gemara (Talmud) gives dimensions
to use for those scales used for weighing heavy things, such as iron, and light
things, such as wool.  It specifies (recommends?) smaller dimensions for the
light things and larger dimensions for the heavy ones.  Thus, a scale for
weighing iron should have a beam length longer than one for weighing wool.

I would have expected the opposite - that light things need a more sensitive
scale and hence one with a longer beam.  Does anyone have any insight that can
help me here?


... Andy Goldfinger, Baltimore


From: SBA <sba@...>
Date: Mon, Nov 16,2009 at 10:01 AM
Subject: Why doesn't Avraham tell Sarah ...

Subject: Why doesn't Avraham tell Sarah ...
The Ramban  (18:15 - the last piece) gives 2 explanations.
1)  Avraham wanted Sarah to hear the good tidings directly from the
messengers of Hashem - the angels.
2)  That Avraham was so busy arranging his own Bris Milah as well as that of
his large household (as he was instructed to do) - at the same time as being
told the good news - that there was no opportunity to talk to Sarah. And the
next day he was recovering and still feeling weak.

I thought of another possible explanation.

Avrraham knew his wife Sarah very well. And he realized that if he tells her
about Hashem's conversation with him about having a child - she wouldn't
believe him anyway - as indeed she didn't when the angels told her..

So Avrohom decided - let her find out the good news on her own - when she
becomes  pregnant..



From: Russell J Hendel <rjhendel@...>
Date: Tue, Nov 17,2009 at 01:01 PM
Subject: Why is Moses Surprised

I recently answered the question "Why was Moses surprised when he saw the golden
calf, given that God told him." I answered by citing Ex 32:18 and a Rashi and
pointing out that Moses was surprised, not by the idolatry, but by the murder of
Chur. I pointed out that the 3 Hebrew phrases "Anoth Gevurah" "Anoth Chalushah"
"Anoth" means "Victory refrain" "Helpless refrain" and "General reframe (Mob
hysteria)", signifying a mob gone wild who without thinking killed Chur who
protested the building of the calf.

In v57n42 there was (uncalled) disagreement with this analysis. More
specifically the dissenting person suggested (based on obscure grammatical
differences) that the first two ANOTH mean REFRAIN while the last one means TORTURE.

In refuting this I cite one of the primary sources of understanding for Biblical
Hebrew, the Radack's "Book of Roots" (Shoroshim). The Radack was a rishon (early
authority) and has a standing no different than other great early authorities
such as Rashi, Ibn Ezra, Ralbag etc. The Radack lived at the close of the era of
grammarians. Hence he was in a unique position to provide encylopedic
grammatical insights to many Biblical issues. 

I have often recommended including Radack in ones library or in the books one
studies. I do not know why the modern orthodox and Yeshiva world have avoided
this book. 

The Radack in fact lists 10 meanings to the root Ayin-Nun-Hey. To be fair to the
dissenter "torture" is one of them. But one of the great things about the Radack
is his encylopedic use of examples. The Book Of Roots is more than a
dictionary...it is in fact a commentary (A fact not widely recognized). The
Radack EXPLICITLY lists all 3 occurrences of ANOTH in Ex32-18 as meaning
REFRAIN, SCREAM, (The radack adds that this refrain,screaming can be done either
for joy or sadness). The discussion of the meaning "torture" occurs in a
different passage. 

And, in passing, the fundamental meaning of Ayin-Nun-Hey is RESPONSE. Hence a
REFRAIN is a form of response. A MOB cry is also a form of response. In fact
TORTURE is nothing else than FORCED response. The primary meaning of ANH as
torture is RAPE a situation where the woman is forced to respond. By contrast
the Biblical word for a woman's conjugal rights is beautifully called "her
responsiveness." Biblically a woman has a right in marriage to a certain number
of marital visits by her husband per week/month during which she should be
allowed to be responsive.

Getting back to Ex 32:18. I could (as I did with Alex a few postings ago)
request that the dissenter carefully check his sources before posting. For
example it was totally uncalled for to accuse me "he overlooks the fact"....I
did not overlook anything (neither did the Radack).

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


End of Volume 57 Issue 45