Volume 57 Number 53 
      Produced: Thu, 17 Dec 2009 08:12:30 EST

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

171 Chanukah Videos including these new ones.... 
    [Jacob Richman]
Becoming a Minhag 
    [Martin Stern]
Behaviors around the Sefer Torah (2)
    [Alex Heppenheimer  Daniel Wells]
Cameras and sensors 
    [Ari Trachtenberg]
Judith and Chanukah 
    [Alex Heppenheimer]
Litter in shul 
    [Martin Stern]
Misheberach for cholim 
    [michael perl]
My Hebrew Songbook - Chanukah Songs 
    [Jacob Richman]
New Book - Sim Shalom, Prayers for World Peace 
    [Yael Levine]
Prayer Concerning Women who have been Murdered by their  Spouses 
    [Ira L. Jacobson]
    [Ralph Zwier]
Silver Oil Menorah 
    [Menachem Aryeh Gielchinsky]
THIS Jordan? 
    [Yeshaya Halevi]
Two Birkat Hamazon questions 
    [Lisa Liel]


From: Jacob Richman <jrichman@...>
Date: Thu, Dec 17,2009 at 01:01 AM
Subject: 171 Chanukah Videos including these new ones....

Hi Everyone!

There are now 171 Cool Chanukah Videos listed at:

The updated list includes:
- Gord Lindsay: Chanuka Funicula  
- Chanuka 2009 Beit Krakow, Poland  
- Chanuka em Curitiba 2009  
- Chaverim - Ma'oz Tzur  
- 2009 Major League Dreidel at Full Circle Bar  
- YUAcapella Maccabeats Chanuka 2009  
- The Mama Doni' Band's "Chanukah Fever"  
- Episode 1: Hanukkah Special - Dreidel  
- Episode 27: Hanukkah Special - The Auto Menorah  
- Kindergarten Song Practice for Chanukah Party  
- Belz Chanukah Lighting in Jerusalem  
- Chanukah Lighting - Trip to Poland group  
- Chanukah 5770 - Philadelphia Annual March of Lights  
- Menorah Lighting on Clearwater Beach  
- New Ma'oz Tzur Tune  
- HaRav Zev Leff Lighting the Menorah  
- 2H Productions - Al Hanissim  
- Shloime Daskal - Al Hanisim  
- CNN: Matisyahu lights up  
- Menorahs - NJN News  
- Hanukkah With A Chinese Twist  
- Go Latkes 2009 Hanukkah Champions  
- Chabad Naples Chanukah Menorah Lighting - 12/13/09  
and many more....

Happy Chanukah!


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Thu, Dec 17,2009 at 01:01 AM
Subject: Becoming a Minhag

On Mon, Dec 7,2009, I wrote:

Subject: Becoming a Minhag

> The whole affair suggests a completely new way of understanding the verse
> (Ps. 19,14) Gam mizeidim chasoch avdecha, al yimshlu bi az eitam venikeiti
> mipesha rav - Also guard Your servant from presumptuous sinners, let them
> not rule over me, then will I be justified and be clear from the rav's
> iniquity [perhaps a better translation of the last phrase is "from much
> iniquity" --Mod.]!

Of course the Moderator is correct in his literal translation; the point I
was making was that the verse could also be read homiletically in a
different way that referred to the situation in which I found myself.

Martin Stern


From: Alex Heppenheimer <aheppenh@...>
Date: Thu, Dec 17,2009 at 01:01 AM
Subject: Behaviors around the Sefer Torah

In MJ 57:52, Martin Stern <md.stern@...> wrote:

>Similarly, in some places the Sefer Torah is taken to 'important' people to
>kiss rather than that they should go forward to it. Is this not also a
>denigration of the Sefer Torah as though the person is more important than

It might depend on what kind of important people we're talking about. If they
are Torah scholars, then they may indeed outrank the Sefer Torah. See Makkos
22b: "Said Rava: How foolish are those people who stand up for a Sefer Torah,
but not for a great man [Torah scholar]!..."

Kol tuv,

From: Daniel Wells <biuashur@...>
Date: Thu, Dec 17,2009 at 05:01 AM
Subject: Behaviors around the Sefer Torah

> There seem to be two minhagim regarding whether the person who takes out
> the Sefer Torah shuts the Aron after handing it over to the shatz.
> Also I have noticed that in certain places, the person taking out the Sefer
> Torah takes it down the steps to hand it to the shatz. Surely this is not
> correct and the latter should go up to fetch it in order to give honour to
> it.

There is very little written in the rishonim concerning the procedure of
opening the aron kodesh and the transferal of  a sefer torah to the bimah.

The Aruch HaShulchan, with reference to the Mesechet Sofrim, maintains
that the the ShaTz should 'face the patach' (I presume meaning in front of
the open)  aron kodesh for Gadlu after Shma and Achad (on Shabbos).

This procedure is far more aesthetic then the minhag of having the mechubad
peticha [the one honored with opening the ark - MOD] going down the steps to
hand the sefer to the Shatz and then
returning to close the aron before finally leaving the stage....and this is
surely still better then the mechubad peticha trying to balance the sefer
with his right hand while trying to close the aron with his left before
descending the steps to hand over the sefer.

Piskei Tshuvot has a quarrel with facing the aron for gadlu because of the
shatz turning left afterwards, and that the gadlu possuk is preferably said
facing the tzibbur, while the first two are preferably recited facing the

Kollel Chazon Ish, the Belzers and some other kehillot have the minhag of
transfering the Sefer Torah with the written side of the parchment facing
the heart of the ShaTz. While this is the preferred manner of long distance
transportation, it would appear to many of the tzibbur seeing the reverse
side of the Sefer torah as like placing a book wrong way round.


From: Ari Trachtenberg <trachten@...>
Date: Mon, Dec 14,2009 at 04:01 PM
Subject: Cameras and sensors

Akiva Miller wrote:
> 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.

I would like to point out that there are very few "single use" circuits out there
in the world ... in most cases a switch is merely adding some functionality or another.


From: Alex Heppenheimer <aheppenh@...>
Date: Thu, Dec 17,2009 at 02:01 AM
Subject: Judith and Chanukah

In MJ 57:52, Ben Katz <BKatz@...> asked:

>The RMA on the shulchan aruch siman 670 dealing with Chanukah states that there
>is a custom to eat dairy because of the miracle that occurred with dairy after
>Judith fed it to the enemy. The mishna berurah adds that Judith was the
>daughter of Yochanan the high priest and there was a decree about forcing
>espoused women to have immoral relations with "tafsar" (I am not sure who that
>is) and so Judith cut off the head of the chief antagonist.

>Comment: This is not the story in the book of Judith. Milk is only mentioned in
>the Judges story with Yael, and there is no immoral decree in Judith.
>Question: What is the source of the story the SA and the RMA are familiar with?
>How did the story of Judith get linked with Chanukah? According to the book
>itself the story takes place in the immediate aftermath of the return from
>Babylonia in 586 BCE. There are historical problems with the book and many
>scholars believe it actually was written in the Maccabean era to bolster morale,
>but how did it get accepted Jewishly?

There are indeed a couple of versions of the story aside from the one in the
Apocrypha. Two of them are in Eisenstein's Otzar Midrashim, vol. 1, pp. 204ff
(available at http://www.hebrewbooks.org/2603); the second one there is the one
that tells about Judith giving milk to King Holofernes ("Elifornai") and then
killing him. (In this version, the besieged city is Jerusalem, and the story is
set in Maccabean times. Eisenstein writes in his preface there that the version
that got into the Apocrypha was deliberately obfuscated by changing the
historical setting and the name of the city, so as not to provoke the later
Seleucid rulers under whose reign it was written.)

The story with Yochanan's (or Matisyahu's) daughter is briefly in Megillas
Taanis (entry for 17 Elul), and with more detail in Midrash Maaseh Chanukah
(Otzar Midrashim, vol. 1, pp. 189ff). In both of them, the point is indeed that
the Greeks had instituted a decree requiring all brides to submit to jus primae
noctis with the local ruler, and that she was threatened with this fate but was
saved by her brothers and father.[Megillas Taanis titles him "castrin," an army
camp commander (from Latin castra); Maaseh Chanukah has the decree speaking of
"hegmon," a general, and her brothers pretending instead to take her to the
king, and then killing him. Mishnah Berurah's "tafsar" (which Jastrow translates
as "royal dignitary") is presumably a compromise.]

I don't know what's MB's source for combining this with the previous story,
though, since both of these accounts say that Matisyahu and/or his sons killed
the Greek commander or king. (In Maaseh Chanukah, the daughter does spur the men
to action by deed and word.)

Kol tuv,


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Mon, Dec 7,2009 at 12:01 PM
Subject: Litter in shul

The table on which the Sefer Torah is put for reading has the status of
tashmishei kedushah [an accessory to a holy thing]. Surely it is not correct
for people to use it as a dumping place for siddurim and other sefarim let
alone hats, tallit bags etc.

Furthermore is not the practice of not returning siddurim, chumashim etc.
after use, leading to the shul looking as if it were a junk yard, not a
slight on the honour that should be accorded to a place of worship?

Martin Stern


From: michael perl <michael_perl9@...>
Date: Tue, Dec 8,2009 at 03:01 PM
Subject: Misheberach for cholim

I looked back at the MJ archives and while this misheberach has been discussed
the following has not. 

Last Shabbat, I attended a Chabad shul in NY where this prayer was made in its
(now) customary spot between shishi and shevii (6th and 7th call ups). The rabbi
proceeded to make one for men followed by one for women, jogging my memory
having seen this before in another shul with a lubavitch rabbi. 

Afterwards, I asked the rabbi why he separates men and women in this and after
giving a weak reason - that it is a different "nusach"- he admitted he really
had no idea why and had never given it a second thought. I then looked at their
siddur (Tehillat Hashem) and saw what I think has happened. Listed there is a
misheberach for a sick man and for a sick woman but the only differences are
adjusting for daughter of/son of and grammatical -ba'avuro vs ba'avura. To me,
it just seems like a convenience. In general. this siddur aims to make it very
easy to follow so that even someone with little knowledge can navigate it

When the communal misheberach became popular someone kept it separate even in
plural form and this was followed without much question.

So, am I right? Is there anything I am missing?

Kol tuv,
Michael Perl


From: Jacob Richman <jrichman@...>
Date: Wed, Dec 9,2009 at 10:01 PM
Subject: My Hebrew Songbook - Chanukah Songs

Hi Everyone!

Just in time for Chanukah, My Hebrew Songbook is back and 
now has its own domain and website.

Enter the songbook and choose the category Chanukah.
You can view any song online or create printed song sheets
with several songs together for a sing along. All Hebrew is 
graphic so you do not need Hebrew support to view or print 
the songs. All songs include Hebrew nikud (vowels).

You will find the popular Chanukah songs here (Sivivon, Maoz Tzur, 
Al Hanisim, Yemay Hanukah, etc...) but also songs that you may 
have forgotten from many years ago.

Feedback is welcome.

In addition to the Chanukah songs, I updated the following pages:

144 Cool Chanukah Videos on YouTube:

21 Chanukah Humor Files

145 Chanukah Resource Sites


Happy Chanukah!


From: Yael Levine <ylkpk@...>
Date: Mon, Dec 14,2009 at 07:01 AM
Subject: New Book - Sim Shalom, Prayers for World Peace

I am pleased to announce the publication of the compilation of prayers:
Sim Shalom: Tefillot le-Shlom ha-Olam, Asufa mi-Toch Likkutei Tefillot
(Sim Shalom, Prayers for World Peace, An Anthology from Likkutei Tefillot).
Likkutei Tefillot was written by R. Nathan Sternhartz, foremost disciple of R. Nachman of Breslav, based on the teachings of R. Nachman.
The book, edited by myself, is accompanied by illustrations, and was published by Maggid, a division of Koren, in Jerusalem. 
It includes an introduction, which also discusses the theme of world peace in the writings of Rabbi Nachman of Breslav. 

Hanukka Same'ah,
Yael Levine


From: Ira L. Jacobson <laser@...>
Date: Thu, Dec 17,2009 at 04:01 AM
Subject: Prayer Concerning Women who have been Murdered by their  Spouses

At 22:58 16-12-2009 -0500, you stated:
>Comment from editor:
>I believe there was some editing done on this, and so I wanted to get your
>approval before it is sent out.
>Binyomin Segal
>MJ Moderation Team

Thanks for sending this for approval.  Interestingly, I checked the 
"status" site and saw that this had been rejected.  So I rewrote it 
for resubmission.  I was about to send it off when I noticed your email to me.

I think that the new version should be acceptable.  I am mailing it 
(nearly) simultaneously with this.

Hanukkah same'ah.



From: Ralph Zwier <ralph@...>
Date: Mon, Dec 7,2009 at 04:01 PM
Subject: Scales

It might be that the connection between oznayim (ears) and oznayim (scales) 
is not with physical balance, but rather with metaphorical / symbolic 

The "eyes" see - they are the primary organ of testimony and witnessing, 
but the ears - of a judge or a beth din - "hear" evidence, and apply a 
balancing process to such evidence to arrive at a verdict.

Ralph Zwier


From: Menachem Aryeh Gielchinsky <agielchinsky@...>
Date: Sun, Dec 13,2009 at 01:01 PM
Subject: Silver Oil Menorah

Has anyone ever put oil directly into the cup of a silver menorah and lit
the floater type wicks? Did the Menorah get badly tarnished or melted by the


From: Yeshaya Halevi <c.halevi@...>
Date: Thu, Dec 17,2009 at 03:01 AM
Subject: THIS Jordan?

Martin Stern says 
> In Sedra (Torah portion) Vayishlach, Yaakov Avinu
> (our forefather Jacob) says "Ki vemakli avarti et hayardein HAZEH " I have
> crossed THIS Yardein" (my emphasis) 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

May I suggest the simplest explanation is that he long had
been noted for his facility with words (e.g. his own father saying the voice
is the voice of Jacob) and here is a clear example. He says, (paraphrase)
when I first crossed this river all I had was my staff, but now I'm crossing
**this same river Jordan** with wives, livestock etc. It was not this river
which had changed " it was his status in the material world, due to his
relationship with God.

And BTW, a _very_happy Hanuka to one and all.
Charles Chi(Yeshaya) Halevi


From: Lisa Liel <lisa@...>
Date: Mon, Dec 7,2009 at 10:01 AM
Subject: Two Birkat Hamazon questions


I've run across a custom of adding a four verses to the end of Shir 
HaMaalot before birkat hamazon.  Tehillat Hashem yedaber pi, 
Va-anachnu nevarech Kah, Hodu LaShem ki tov, and Mi yemallel yeshuot Hashem.

I first saw this in a Conservative context, where it's very common, 
but I've run into it in Orthodox homes as well.

Does anyone know what the source is of adding these verses, and if 
there are issues pro or con to adding them?


The "harachaman" for Shabbat is punctuated differently by different 
people.  Some say "Hu yanchilenu yom she-kulo shabbat u-menucha -- 
l'chayei ha-olamim", and other say "Hu yanchilenu yom she-kulo 
shabbat -- u-menucha l'chayei ha-olamim".  Is there any basis for one 
of these being more correct than the other?



End of Volume 57 Issue 53