Volume 57 Number 51 
      Produced: Mon, 07 Dec 2009 08:15:54 EST

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

Becoming a Minhag (2)
    [Susan Kane  Martin Stern]
Behaviors around the Sepher Torah (3)
    [Ben Katz  Carl Singer  Joel Rich]
How much did he pay 
    [Robert Israel]
Middle Names 
    [Martin Stern]
On being a patient in a hospital (2)
    [Mark Goldenberg  Joel Wiesen]
Prayer Concerning Women who have been Murdered by their Spouses 
    [Yael Levine]
    [Ben Katz]
THIS Jordan? 
    [Martin Stern]
What Did Beruriah's Psalms Read? (2)
    [Avraham Norin  Saul Mashbaum]


From: Susan Kane <suekane@...>
Date: Fri, Dec 4,2009 at 12:01 AM
Subject: Becoming a Minhag

I think we discussed recently that Sepharadim follow the ruling that one should
always maintain one own's minhag. 

Ashkenazim, in contrast, follow the ruling of minhag ha makom.

There should be no conflict between these two systems. The only conflict is an
apparent one based on applying the norms of one group to the other. 

It is not rude for Sepharadim and Mizrahim to follow their own minhagim in an
Ashkenazi shul or with an Ashkenazi Shatz. 

In fact, they have no choice BUT to do this and this should be fully embraced by

This is not an issue of personal preference or individual choice.  There is no
question of considerate or inconsiderate behavior.    

You could just as easily say that Jews "insist" on keeping kosher even though
Gentile willingly eat in our homes. 

In reality, both Ashkenazim and Sepharadim insist on following their own poskim. 

This is a credit to both communities and should be cause for celebration - not

The only question that remains in my mind is which minhag  Ashkenazim should
follow in a Sepharadi shul. 

The answer seems simple - they should daaven Sepharadi -since they follow minhag
ha makom. 

But wait - the true minhag is *not* really Sepharadi but rather that each
individual should follow his own minhag!

So, perhaps - to truly honor minhag ha makom - an Ashkenazi should daaven his
own siddur. 

From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Sat, Dec 5,2009 at 04:01 PM
Subject: Becoming a Minhag

On Thu, Dec 3,2009, Orrin Tilevitz <tilevitzo@...> wrote:
> 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  Martin's
> continuing problems  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?  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?)

Orrin would be correct where the changes were accepted by everyone but, as
was paskened by Dayan Berger in my case, any member was entitled to object
to the changes which then could not be introduced.

To get round this problem Yeravam ben Nevat (the prototype of those who are
chote umachti et harabbim [sin and cause others to sin] who have no chelelk
in olam haba [no place in the world to come] -Sanhedrin 90a) posted sentries
to prevent such people entering thereby ensuring that objectors did not

Martin Stern


From: Ben Katz <BKatz@...>
Date: Thu, Dec 3,2009 at 07:01 PM
Subject: Behaviors around the Sepher Torah

From: Evan Rock <theevanrock@...>
> 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.

While no one would consider me a gadol, :-) I have commented on this behavior
previously in the first incarnation of mail Jewish.  There is no reason to bow
down at gadlu (which means magnify or glorify) and it is considered unseemly not
to be upright when one says God's name, which is the very next word.  I believe
that some well-meaning chazzan with a dramatic flair wished to emphasize
"une-rommeah" (which means elevate) by elevating the Torah when he chanted that
word, and then in order to emphasize that action, started out the verse with the
Torah lower.  (Obviously the verse as read is an example of parallelism: Give
glory to God with me/Let us elevate His name together.)

From: Carl Singer <carl.singer@...>
Date: Thu, Dec 3,2009 at 08:01 PM
Subject: Behaviors around the Sepher Torah

>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
>tzibbur :" Gadlu l HaShem iti..." He explained such bowing as undignified
>insulting to the sepher Torah.

Apropos to the accompanying discussion of minhag.  It seems that attributing
not bowing to reason rather than minhag is something to be considered.
Similarly to standing aside the shulchan for the haftorah so as not to have
one's back to the Sefer Torah as opposed to minhag.

I am aware that some who bow during "Gadlu L HaShem iti" simultaneously
raise the Sefer Torah so IT does not dip.  Some turn towards the Aron,
others do not.   A close friend of mine neither turns towards the Aron nor
bows at this point.

Nonetheless, I've seen many a shaliach tzibur dip the Sefer Torah in order
to make it easier for a crown to be placed atop.

Another example:  The shul in which I grew up, the gabbai would hand the
Sefer Torah to the Shaliach Tzibur as he started to return the Sefer Torah
after the leyning / haftorah.  Is this Minhag, courtesy  to the shaliach
Tziubr, practicality, or koved to the Sefer Torah?

The relationship of reason to minhag, or the progression - if any -  of (an
act done due to) reason to (an act which is considered) minhag is


From: Joel Rich <JRich@...>
Date: Fri, Dec 4,2009 at 03:01 AM
Subject: Behaviors around the Sepher Torah

> 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.

Perhaps the better question is can you find a written source for the bowing? To
the best of my knowledge the sources say to raise the torah at that point.  In
fact IIRC (I'm travelling) the sources also state one should not bend down with
the torah in order that children may kiss it.

Joel Rich


From: Robert Israel <israel@...>
Date: Sun, Dec 6,2009 at 05:01 AM
Subject: How much did he pay

From: Charles Chi (Yeshaya) 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 etc.

Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz  wrote:
> 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.

Avraham's time was not only before the introduction of floating exchange 
rates, it was before the invention of national currencies.  Note that
Avraham "weighed out" (vayishkol) 400 shekels of silver, rather than 
counting out coins.  The shekel was primarily a unit of weight, rather
than a unit of money.  The first known coins (i.e. pieces of metal 
stamped by a government as guarantee of value) date from the seventh 
century BCE.

As to the original question, I should have checked the Hertz chumash.  It 
actually refers to Hammurabi's Code:

"In the contemporary Code of Hammurabi the wages of a working-man for a 
year are fixed at six or eight shekels (Bennett)."

I don't know what the reference to Bennett is: there's no Bennett listed
in the "Versions and Commentator's Consulted".

Kaplan's chumash also refers to the Hammurabi Code, and it too says
"a year's wage for a working man was between six and eight shekels".
But I don't see anything of the sort in the texts of Hammurabi's Code
that I have seen, just the 5 or 6 gerahs per day for a day-labourer,
5 for a potter or a tailor, 4 for a ropemaker.

Robert Israel                                <israel@...>
Department of Mathematics        http://www.math.ubc.ca/~israel 
University of British Columbia            Vancouver, BC, Canada


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Sat, Dec 5,2009 at 04:01 PM
Subject: Middle Names

On Thu, Dec 3,2009, Carl Singer <carl.singer@...> wrote:
>> 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
> individual.

On the contrary, this principle would apply even more to such a case. If the
person after whom he was named had a double-barrelled name like Tzvi Hersh
than not using the full name might be an insult.

There is an opinion that naming someone after two people by joining their
names does not work since the resulting double-barrelled name is a new name
in its own right and not two separate names of two distinct people. Thus the
Wuertzburger rov, Yitzchak Dov Bamberger, named one of his sons Yitzchak
(Seckel) which would have been unheard of among Ashkenazim who do not name
children after living ancestors let alone a living father.

Martin Stern


From: Mark Goldenberg <GOLDDDS@...>
Date: Thu, Dec 3,2009 at 07:01 PM
Subject: On being a patient in a hospital

From:  Joel Wiesen <jwiesen@...>
> Seeking  publications and suggestions on the practical halacha of being  
> a  patient in a hospital.

Our shul in Los Angeles, Young Israel of  Century City, and its Rabbi, 
Elazar Muskin have put together a booklet  entitled "Bikur Cholim-Selected 
Prayers and Laws."  It is to be used by  both patients and visitors 
observing this most important Mitzvah of visiting the  sick.  It can be accessed
and downloaded online at: http://yicc.org/pdf/yicc-bikur-cholim.pdf
      May all those who are ill have a "Refuah  Shleimah."
Mark Goldenberg

From: Joel Wiesen <jwiesen@...>
Date: Fri, Dec 4,2009 at 11:01 AM
Subject: On being a patient in a hospital

On Dec 3, 2009, at 9:16 AM, Joel Wiesen wrote:
> Seeking publications and suggestions on the practical halacha of  
> being a patient in a hospital.

I am looking for such topics as Shabbat, Kashrut, Davening.




From: Yael Levine <ylkpk@...>
Date: Sat, Dec 5,2009 at 03:01 PM
Subject: Prayer Concerning Women who have been Murdered by their Spouses

Ira L. Jacobson wrote:
> Where is the prayer for elimination of violence against children?
> Or a prayer for elimination of violence against Jews by Muslims?  Or by
> police?

Why is it that if these issues are of constant concern to you, you didn't
thus far speak about the need for such prayers. It is obviously not my job
to compose prayers on all topics.
> By who did the prayer gain acceptance? Are there any specific Jewish
> organizations which endorsed or officially adopted the prayer?

You'll find some of the answers if you read the article in the link.
The prayer is endorsed, inter alia, by Kolech, and many other
It is very widespread. You may not have heard of it where you live, but in
this case, "lo raita aina ra'aya"[your lack of seeing does not constitute proof
- MOD]. The prayer been printed in many places, including "Tefillat Nashim", and
is found on many internet sites. We've been thru a similar discussion already in
the past. I suggest we continue offline.



From: Ben Katz <BKatz@...>
Date: Thu, Dec 3,2009 at 08:01 PM
Subject: Scales

From: Irwin Weiss <irwin@...>
> This type of scale is sometimes called a "balance" in English.  You put some 
> stuff in the pan on one side and try to balance it with a known weight on 
> the other side. This is what Andy is discussing from Gemorah.
> Interestingly, we humans get our sense of balance (so we don't fall over) 
> from something in our ear.  The Hebrew word for "ear" is "Ozen".  Spelled 
> the same. As in Exodus 21:6......Parshat Mishpatim.....you shall bore a hole 
> in his ear.  "  - :
> Now, at the time of the giving of Torah, I don't think it was well known to 
> humans that our sense of balance came from the ear.  Curious that the words 
> should be the same.

It is EXCEEDINGLY unlikely that the Hebrew word for scale was based on some
advanced knowledge of balance being regulated by the inner ear.  Much more
likely is what I always imagined - that the balances of a scale hang down from
the center, resembling ears.


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Sat, Dec 5,2009 at 04:01 PM
Subject: THIS Jordan?

In Sedra Vayishlach, Yaakov Avinu says "Ki vemakli avarti et hayardein HAZEH
- I have crossed THIS Yardein" (my emphases) which would seem to imply that
there is another Yardein which he did not cross. I am unaware of any other
river of that name yet none of the meforshim I consulted commented on this
apparently superfluous word nor could anyone I asked offer an explanation.
Can anyone suggest why the word HAZEH is used here and in several other
places in Tnakh? 

Martin Stern


From: Avraham Norin <harbashan@...>
Date: Fri, Dec 4,2009 at 05:01 AM
Subject: What Did Beruriah's Psalms Read?

In the time of the Mishna, the masoret on the Tanach was not yet written, and
therefore the first five years of a child's education was spent learning the
masoret by heart. It is difficult to say that Berurah- or her husband Rabbi Meir
who was a sage and a scribe, didn't have the correct understanding of the pasuk.
It is clear from the parallelism of the pasuk -which contrast Chataim and
Rishaim (wicked individuals)-that the word Chataim means sinners, and not sins.
Beruriah knew this as well. Her point was since the word"sinners"is written with
the same spelling as the word "sins", another message can be extracted from the
Beruria's words-
"Is it WRITTEN"Chotim"(with a Vav)? It is WRITTEN "Chataim" (without a vav)!- 
clearly show she was extracting a message from the way the word was written, and
not how it is pronounced. This is an accepted method of drash throughout the

From: Saul Mashbaum <saul.mashbaum@...>
Date: Sun, Dec 6,2009 at 05:01 PM
Subject: What Did Beruriah's Psalms Read?

Mechy Frankel learnedly demonstrated that "chatoim" in Psalms 104 means
"sinners", not sins, despite the comment made by Bruriah in Brachot 10.

I have a much more baale-batish (commonplace) observation which  supports
this. The verse in question continues "oreshaim od ainam" - "and the wicked
are (ie will be) no more". "Chatoim" is clearly parallel to "reshaim", which
both confirms that the former refers to the persons sinning and not the sin
itself, and further undermines Bruriah's explanation verse. I am not unduly
disturbed by this, being perfectly willing to grant Bruriah the homiletic
license necessary to allow her to interpret the verse other than perfectly
literally and grammatically.

Saul Mashbaum


End of Volume 57 Issue 51