Volume 57 Number 50 
      Produced: Thu, 03 Dec 2009 16:38:24 EST

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

    [Mark Steiner]
Becoming a Minhag 
    [Orrin Tilevitz]
Behaviors around the Sepher Torah 
    [Evan Rock]
Cameras and sensors 
    [Akiva Miller]
Chulent pots from baker 
    [Stephen Phillips]
How much did he pay 
    [Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz]
Middle Names 
    [Carl Singer]
On being a patient in a hospital. 
    [Joel Wiesen]
Standing at the side of the bima when saying the Haphtarah 
    [Perets Mett]
What Did Beruriah's Psalms Read? (Was: Why is Moses Surprised ) 
    [Michael Frankel]


From: Mark Steiner <marksa@...>
Date: Thu, Dec 3,2009 at 09:01 AM
Subject: Aramaic

In my last posting on Aramaic there is a typo:

Example: the term ba`al appears numerous times in the parsha Mishpatim, and
the Targum translates "mana" in all but one place: "ba`al isha" (husband).

The word is "mara" (owner) not "mana".

Mark Steiner


From: Orrin Tilevitz <tilevitzo@...>
Date: Thu, Dec 3,2009 at 11:01 AM
Subject: Becoming a Minhag

I have a question which may have been discussed on this list before, and if so
someone please step in before this discussion gets too far: just how long must a
community engage in a practice before it becomes a "minhag", i.e., a practice
that is established enough to be binding, or to be considered so? The question
is suggested by various recent discussions, including that on the direction one
faces when reading the haftarah (which a recent post suggests is a "chumra" and
which I think is a matter of convenience) and Martin's continuing problems. That
time is clearly not measured in centuries: for example, the practice in
non-sefard shuls of reciting kaddish derabanan before mizmor shir dates to the
late 19th century, and the practice of reading zeicher/zecher in parshat zachor
is, at least according to Rav Breuer, even later.

And that question raises a bunch of subsidiary questions. For example, since
minhagim can spring into existence, i.e., can change, is the search for a
"correct" minhag inherently fallacious? Are some rites inherently expansionist,
tending to displace others? I am thinking of the importation of bits of nusach
sefard into ashkenaz davening, and of the tendency I've observed of people who
daven nusach sefarad, and particularly of real sefaradim, to recite their
kaddish/kedusha aloud in ashkenaz shuls, while I would not dream of not blending
in in a sefard shul, but there are probably better examples. Could it be that
while a shul may not change its minhag, once it does so that minhag is changed,
which means that the new minhag may not be changed, from which it follows that
as a halachic (not to speak of practical) matter, Martin is out of luck? (And
could part of Martin's problem be that--ironically; see Godwin's Law--his German
rite is not expansionist?)


From: Evan Rock <theevanrock@...>
Date: Thu, Dec 3,2009 at 01:01 PM
Subject: Behaviors around the Sepher Torah

Have any gedolim written or commented on such or similar behaviors?

1- While on a trip to Los Angles I visited and prayed in a number of synagogues
in the Peco neighborhood. While being inspired by the vigor and concentration of
the shlikhey tzibbur and the congregants one behavior amazed and puzzled me.
Whenever a sepher Torah was taken out, the women in the ezrat nashim sections
would cry, bow down, blow kisses to the sepher Torah. In many ways their actions
reminded me of secular women in the past and their reactions to their musical
idols at rock concerts. Is this kind of veneration commented on?

2- In the shul where I daven, we have a British educated shaliakh tzibur who
refuses to bow to the ark with a sepher Torah in his arms as he calls to the
tzibbur :" Gadlu l HaShem iti..." He explained such bowing as undignified and
insulting to the sepher Torah.

Thank you.


From: Akiva Miller <kennethgmiller@...>
Date: Thu, Dec 3,2009 at 11:01 AM
Subject: Cameras and sensors

Jack Gross wrote:
> The electric switch fails the first test:  The components
> of the circuit serve no function, other than "stand-by",
> when the switch is "open".

I don't see much difference between the building's door and the sensor's switch.
Just as the door serves no function when it is open, neither does the switch.

An argument could be made that when the switch is open, the electric device is
functionless, whereas while the door is open, the wall is still functional. That
argument is fine, but just because the *wall* is functional, that does not allow
me to close the *door*! On the contrary, closing the door adds functionality to
the wall, and ought to be prohibited from the Construction perspective. But
because it was Constructed with hinges, we are not Constructing anything new,
simply using that which was already Constructed.

And the same goes for the switch. Closing the switch adds functionality to the
camera, but because the camera was Constructed from the beginning with a switch
which opens and closes like a door, there is no new Construction, and
"Construction" cannot be a reason to forbid it on Shabbos.

On the other hand, the wall is somewhat functional even when the door is open,
whereas the camera is totally useless when the switch is open. This might be the
point which the Chazon Ish is making: The "already installed hinge" of a door
removes the prohibition of Construction for a wall which is already somewhat
functional, but it does not remove the prohibition of Construction for a camera
which is not functional at all.

The problem with the above paragraph is that there are plenty of things for
which the "already installed hinge" DOES remove the prohibition of Construction:
Folding chairs, folding tables, baby strollers, all sorts of furniture which is
designed to be opened and closed. I don't see why the Chazon Ish would allow us
to open and close them, and still forbid electrical switches on account of

Mark Symons asked:
> Isn't there a major difference between a wall and an
> electrical circuit in that the wall exists as a substantial
> effective entity regardless of whether a gate in it is open
> or closed; whereas an electrical circuit doesn't exist at
> all unless the circuit is complete?

Forgive me if this sounds like semantics, but I think there is a real
clarification to be made here. It is true, as you say, that "an electrical
circuit doesn't exist at all unless the circuit is complete". But we must
compare that not to a "wall", but to a "complete wall", and that doesn't exist
until after the door is closed. Let me phrase it this way: If the problem with
an electrical circuit is that it is an uninterrupted piece of metal, then it
must be compared to a wall, which is an uninterrupted piece of building materials.

I suspect that what you meant to say was that the electricity won't flow through
the circuit at all unless the circuit is complete. But don't see why that should
be a problem. As I explained above, a folding stroller is totally incapable of
holding a baby until it is put together properly, just like a circuit won't let
electricity flow until it is complete.

Akiva Miller


From: Stephen Phillips <admin@...>
Date: Thu, Dec 3,2009 at 09:01 AM
Subject: Chulent pots from baker

> From: Martin Stern 
> Despite suggestions to the contrary by the Masorti movement, the (Orthodox
> UK) United Synagogue has not been taken over by Lubavitch, so one would not
> expect the opinion of the Shulchan Aruch HaRav to be followed by it.

I wouldn't call the Shulchan Aruch HaRav necessarily a "Lubavitch" book. I
believe the Alter Rebbe (when he was very much a "Junger Rebbe" of about 18
years old) wrote the book, basing his rulings largely on those of the Magein
Avraham. In my edition (which is the new one published within the past few
years) there are footnotes giving his sources and from time to time you will
find a footnote that states that the ruling brought is not that followed
nowadays by Chabad. In addition, the Shulchan Aruch HaRav is widely quoted in
works by non-chassidic Poskim like the Mishna Berura.

Stephen Phillips


From: Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz <sabbahillel@...>
Date: Thu, Dec 3,2009 at 10:01 AM
Subject: How much did he pay

> From: Charles Chi (Yeshaya) Halevi <c.halevi@...>
> If I may be permitted to add my 2 cents worth regarding the worth of the
> shekalim Avraham paid to bury Sarah in the cave of Machpela, I'd note that the
> shekel of one kingdom probably had a higher higher or lower silver content than
> a shekel of another land -- even if that land was only 2 miles down the pike.
> Also please consider: an American dollar has a value which is different than a
> Canadian or Australian dollar. And keep in mind inflation -- some of us on this
> list still remember when gasoline was 25 cents per gallon, postage was 3 cents

Consider the phrase "oveir lasocher" (the shekel that passes via a
merchant). It appears that even though the shekel had different
values based on the issuing kingdom (note references in the gemoro to
shekel of ...) their would have been a "standard" shekel that all
merchants used throughout the region. This would enable trade to
continue. Thus, the fact that he paid four hundred of the "merchants'
shekels" rather than the local currency meant that he was paying
significantly more.

 For example, in modern times, the U.S. dollar is often used in
international contracts as the standard of value. I know of people who
had mortgages on apartments in Israel (back when the lira was the unit
of currency) written in dollars. Even when inflation hit, they had to
pay the exact amount of dollars specified. I know of others who had
the mortgage written in lira. When the currency changed to shekels and
"new shekels" or if they earned and payed in dollars, the bank had to
beg them to pay once a year rather than each month and eventually
asked them to pay off the mortgage rather than send a check for

       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: Carl Singer <carl.singer@...>
Date: Thu, Dec 3,2009 at 09:01 AM
Subject: Middle Names

>If one has two names both should be used-"nisht tzu farshemen di mes" not
> to shame the person after whom he is named.

This is understood when one is named after two different individuals.
However, in many cases this is not the case -- the Tzvi Hersh, for example,
is not named after grandfather, Zvi and uncle, Hersh -- but after a single



From: Joel Wiesen <jwiesen@...>
Date: Thu, Dec 3,2009 at 10:01 AM
Subject: On being a patient in a hospital.

Seeking publications and suggestions on the practical halacha of being  
a patient in a hospital.




From: Perets Mett <p.mett@...>
Date: Thu, Dec 3,2009 at 10:01 AM
Subject: Standing at the side of the bima when saying the Haphtarah

Immanuel Burton <iburton@...> wrote:

> If that is the case, then in those Shuls where the Leader leads the  
> prayers from the Bima itself, then shouldn't he also stand at the side when  
> saying the paragraphs of "Yukam Purkon", etc?

Indeed, if the person holding the sefer Torah is sitting directly  
behind the shulchon (the reading table) then I and others at our  
minyon stand to the side when 'leading' Yekum Purkon.

> Come to think of it, on those occasions when two Sifrei Torah are  
> used and one
> of them is being held by someone sitting at the back of the Bima,  
> shouldn't the
> whole of the reading from the first Sefer Torah be conducted  
> sideways so that
> people aren't standing with their back to the second Sefer Torah?

I am a baal korei and I ask the person who has hagboho on the first  
sefer to move to one side so that I don't have to stand in front of a  
sefer Torah while reading the next parsho. The person holding the  
first sefer never sits behind the shulchon.

I recall that the bima in the Sunderland Beth Hamedrash was designed  
with no bench behind the shulchon; instead those holding a sefer Torah  
sat on a sideways facing bench.

Perets Mett


From: Michael Frankel <michaeljfrankel@...>
Date: Thu, Dec 3,2009 at 02:01 PM
Subject: What Did Beruriah's Psalms Read? (Was: Why is Moses Surprised )

From: Elazar M. Teitz <remt@...>
> The grammatical difference he refers to is that of a letter with a dagesh
> chazak and one without it. The presence of such a dagesh is tantamount to the
> doubling of the letter in which it appears (hence the English term for the
> phenomenon, gemination, meaning "twinning"). This may be deemed obscure to Dr.
> Hendel, but it is known to virtually anyone who has learned the rudiments of
> Hebrew grammar; and as a rule, it changes the meaning. As an example, 
> "chata'im
> g'dolim" in Koheles 10:4, with no dagesh in the tes, means "great sins," while
> "b'derech chata'im," in T'hillim 1:1, with a dagesh in the tes, means "the path
> of sinners." In our case, too, the addition of the dagesh makes it a different
REMT is of course quite correct here and the exemplary distinction of chattoim
vice cha'toim to illustrate the grammatical role of the dogeish chozoq is a
felicitous choice since it allows me to air my discomfiture at one of the more
widely misquoted - or at least abused - verses in t'hillim that centers on this
very difference.  and that is Beruriah's upbraiding of her spouse - b. berachos
10a - to the effect  of "me k'siv chot'im? cha'toim k'siv!" [Is it written
chot'm/sinners? It is written cha'toim/sins - MOD] it says which is invariably
presented as a kind of PC endorsement of the bible's focus on the potential
redemption of the sinner, and rejection of the (crude/primitive?) notion that
tanach just wants to solve the problem of evil by offing all the bad guys. 
of course the problem with all this is that beruriah apparently misquoted
t'hillim.  chattoim in pereq 104 indeed appears with a patach and dogeish chozoq
(rather than a chataf patach and no dogeish which it would have, had it said
what beruriah claimed it did).  now, i am hardly the first to have noticed this
- the english translations all properly record chattoim here, contra beruriah in
the talmud, as "sinners", and all m'foroshim, ranging from rashi to art scroll
(and yes, i am also discomfited that i have seemingly equivalenced the two in
the same sentence, but gimme a pass or i'll never get to the end of this note) 
who bother to comment this verse exert themselves to explain this discrepancy
and preserve beruriah's reading in the face of the contrary text in front of
them.  some such "explanations" being more far fetched than others but all
comfortably qualifying as "dochaq teirutzim".   
i have my own modest suggestion/solution to this textual awkwardness although it
is not very traditional and thus others who have thought the same may have
refrained from expressing it.  and that is that beruriah actually had a
different "text" in front of her than we do today.  that the tanach open to
chazal  (and the rishonim for that matter) had numerous minor differences from
the text we have on our shelves today is hardly a secret to any traditional
talmid chokhom, or even to any yeshiva bochur who bothered to read the tos'fos
and then gilyon hashas to shabbos 55b and ponder r. akiva eiger's long list of
discrepancies. i.e. i suggest we should expand the list to include discrepancies
involving dogeish, surely much easier to contemplate than the orthographic
discrepancies already readily acknowledged by all  (remarkably, considering the
contemporary zeitgeist, with not much more than a shrug - a topic well worth an
entire thread by itself). in truth my suggestion is really much less radical
than might appear at first blush, since in fact it does not really require
beruriah to have any different written "text" at all.  back in her time the
entire apparatus of the pointing system and graphemes developed in the
seventh-ninth centuries by baalei mesorah simply hadn't been invented yet - so
there were no dogeishes in anything in beruriah's time. so chattoim
(patach/dogiesh) and cha'toim (chataf patach/no dogeish) would be
indistinguishable in her text and my suggestion collapses to the notion that she
rather had a different reading tradition than the one later adopted by the
baalei mesorah, but exactly the same textual k'siv. 
Mechy Frankel


End of Volume 57 Issue 50