Volume 57 Number 80 
      Produced: Thu, 28 Jan 2010 16:28:40 EST

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

    [Ari Trachtenberg]
Absurdities about titles 
    [Yeshaya Halevi]
Chazal on the man the Xtrians believe is Mashiach? 
    [Ben Katz]
Customs at a pidyon ha'ben 
    [Moshe Bach]
Delayed brit milah timing 
    [Perry Dane]
Educational Resources for Tu B'Shvat 
    [Jon Greenberg]
Jewish Law Association program in Manhattan Feb 7-8 
    [Larry Rabinovich]
JOFA Conference 
    [Rose Landowne]
kosher wine 
    [Moshe Bach]
Lashon HaRa/Rechilut 
    [Yisrael Medad]
Metonic cycle 
    [Shmuel Himelstein]
New, Jewish crowd-driven website (2)
    [Isaac Moses  Alex Heppenheimer]
Shabbat elevators et al. 
    [Richard Fiedler]
Spousal Abuse (3)
    [Nadine Bonner  SBA  SBA]
Thinking outside the box 
    [Shmuel Himelstein]


From: Ari Trachtenberg <trachten@...>
Date: Tue, Jan 26,2010 at 09:54 AM
Subject:  Administravia

By popular request, I have implemented an "Approval" feature in the moderation
cycle.  Any submission that is moderated (beyond spelling, grammar, translation
or formatting) will require approval of the submitter before publication.

In this process, the submitter will get an e-mail with the moderated version of
the text and advising of the need for approval.  If the submitter does not
approve to the e-mail within ONE WEEK, the submission will be deleted (with
notification).  To avoid back-and-forth editing (which we are not paid enough to
do!), moderated submissions may only be approved or deleted.  Of course, the
submission can be resubmitted after seeing our changes.

I would also like to renew our earlier call for civil discussion on and off list.
Most of the readership uphold this value, but the few who do not can cause
significant damage.

If you disagree with our position, please send a courteous and clear e-mail
to the moderators.  Rancorous ad hominem remarks will only reduce the
willingness of everyone, readers and moderators, to be involved in this
holy venture.

   -Ari, for the MJ moderation team

P.S.  We are looking for more moderators!  If you have very thick skin
(and maybe a certain masochistic predilection) and would like to join the
moderation team, please send an application to the mailing list; we will pick
one or two from the group, ideally someone with a mail-jewish record of fairness
and moderation.


From: Yeshaya Halevi <c.halevi@...>
Date: Thu, Jan 7,2010 at 02:01 PM
Subject: Absurdities about titles

Shalom, All:
A recent edition of Mail-Jewish (aka "mail-jewish") raised the subject
of referring to rabbis by their last names only (e.g. "Feinstein"
instead of "Rabbi/Rav Feinstein"). As an on-and-off journalist for
several decades, please permit me to add this warning about absurdities.
Journalism has undergone major changes in the past few decades, and the
debate about using Mr., Mrs. and Ms. at times became quite heated.
Today, the NY Times is decidedly in the minority in its use of referring
to people in the news by the honorific of "Mr." or "Ms." etc.  I do note
that some papers use the honorific in obituaries, even obits about
"regular Joes," but that's an honor I personally wish to decline at the
The whole thing became absurd when a news organization such as the Times
referred to certain creatures as "Herr Hitler" and "Mr. Stalin."
As for "Mr. Ed" -- I'll not say "neigh."
Yeshaya (Charles Chi) Halevi


From: Ben Katz <BKatz@...>
Date: Sun, Jan 24,2010 at 11:01 PM
Subject: Chazal on the man the Xtrians believe is Mashiach?

There is a terrific book that collects all of the statements re Jesus in chazal
(including the censored talmudic passages) by the great Christian Hebraist
Robert Travers Herford.  (He was the first Christian to write a sympathetic
account of the Pharisees as well.) The book is called Christianity in Talmud and
Midrash and is available as an inexpensive Ktav paperback reprint edition.  It
was originally published in 1903.


From: Moshe Bach <moshe.bach@...>
Date: Sun, Jan 24,2010 at 07:01 AM
Subject: Customs at a pidyon ha'ben

>From the few pidyonei ha'ben that I've attended, I recall people putting
jewelry, garlic, sugar on a silver tray where the baby is trying to nap.  I have
found no sources for these customs (jewelry, garlic, silver tray, whatever).  My
son-in-law asked a local rabbi who said that there is no written source "but you
can't have a pidyon ha'ben without it."

Can someone point me to written sources for these customs?

You have 2 weeks until my son needs to know for his son :)

maury (moshe) bach


From: Perry Dane <dane@...>
Date: Tue, Jan 26,2010 at 09:01 PM
Subject: Delayed brit milah timing

>  ...And a bonus question:  suppose Orthodox relatives want to say a
>  mishaberach for the baby.  If the baby didn't have a name yet, would
>  there be a way to do that?  If the baby *does* have a name (his parents
>  did tell the name already in fact), is that name used, even before a
>  bris?  Is it kosher' to do an official mishaberach for a young/pre-named
>  baby?

I'm not sure what the point is of specifying "Orthodox 
relatives."  Non-orthodox Jews also say mishaberachs, and might, just 
as much as Orthodox Jews, want to make sure that the bracha is both 
halakhically correct and sensitive to the situation.  To be sure, 
there are differences in the halakhic views of Orthodox and observant 
non-Orthodox Jews about, for example, the role of women.  But I can't 
imagine why there would be any significant difference regarding the 
proper procedure in saying a mishebarach for a yet-unnamed baby.



From: Jon Greenberg <jon@...>
Date: Thu, Jan 14,2010 at 11:01 PM
Subject: Educational Resources for Tu B'Shvat

In response to Jacob Richman's posting [on Tu B'Shvat educational sources
--MOD], [I] may also offer my own

"Rav Kook Plants a Tree," from my Biblical botany Web site torahflora.org:


Best to al,

Jon Greenberg, Ph.D.
Biblical botanist


From: Larry Rabinovich <ljrab@...>
Date: Tue, Jan 19,2010 at 03:01 PM
Subject: Jewish Law Association program in Manhattan Feb 7-8

The Jewish Law Association, in conjunction with Fordham Law School's
Institute on Religion, Law and Lawyer's Work, is presenting a program in
Jewish law on Sunday February 7 (family law issues) and Monday February
8 ( a wide range of issues in biblical, medieval and contemporary Jewish
law).  Among the presenters will be Professor Michael Broyde on kisui
rosh [head covering --MOD] ( see the most recent issue of Tradition) , Professor
Steven Resnicoff on the reaction (or lack thereof) of the leaders of the
Yeshiva world to allegations of sexual abuse in the community, and a
rabbinic panel featuring Rabbi Mordechai Willig and Rabbi Saul Berman
and others who will react to the  recently released report and
recommendations of the Manchester Agunah Unit. For the complete program
and to register (no charge unless you would like to order a kosher lunch
or get CLE credits- but Fordham is requesting that anyone who plans to
attend register in advance as space is not unlimited) please click on
the link below.


Questions may be addressed to the program's chair Professor Daniel
Sinclair (<Dsinclair@...>) or the Association's
representative Larry Rabinovich (<ljrab@...>)


From: Rose Landowne <roselandowne@...>
Date: Tue, Jan 12,2010 at 12:41 PM
Subject: JOFA Conference

The JOFA Conference: Join the Conversation! 
Saturday evening, March 13 (Film Festival)- Sunday, March 14 (Full-day Conference).
Columbia University, NYC.
Women & Men welcome! 
The Conference will address four core issues: the evolving role of women in
Orthodox leadership, increasing participation of women in ritual and life cycle
events, incorporating a social justice perspective into Orthodoxy, and ensuring
that modern life is more spiritual. 
Babysitting available. 
Full-day middle school track (grades 6-8). 
Student, educator and under-30 discounts available. 
Visit www.jofa.org to register, learn more, and join the conversation on our blog.


From: Moshe Bach <moshe.bach@...>
Date: Mon, Jan 18,2010 at 04:01 AM
Subject: kosher wine

On various occasions, I have attended weddings or gone to restaurants under
kosher supervision that serve (kosher) wine that is not mevushal (cooked :)),
and the waiters and people who pour the wine or pull out the cork are obviously
not Shabbat observant.  I never drink such wine, but a friend of mine told me
recently that several leading rabbinic authorities are lenient and permit
drinking such wine.

Can someone point me to written teshuvot (responsa) that permit drinking such wine?

maury (moshe) bach


From: Yisrael Medad <ybmedad@...>
Date: Thu, Jan 7,2010 at 06:01 PM
Subject: Lashon HaRa/Rechilut

I spotted this assertion:
> Synagogues are public places open to all and trying to hide behind the
> laws of lashon hara and rechilut just doesn't work.
a) I don't understand that.  Could I request an elucidation?
b) Could that elucidation also reference Rabbi Kagan's Shmirat HaLashon?
Yisrael Medad


From: Shmuel Himelstein <himels@...>
Date: Wed, Jan 27,2010 at 11:01 PM
Subject: Metonic cycle

While looking for something else on the Internet, I found a reference to the
"Metonic Cycle," named for Meton of Athens. Meton, in about 430 B.C.E., came
up with a calendar for reconciling the solar and lunar cycles, based on
adding lunar months 7 times in 19 years. I assume that that was the basis
for the calendar of Hillel II, about 800 years later. For further
information, check Wikipedia for "Metonic Cycle."

Shmuel Himelstein


From: Isaac Moses <imoses@...>
Date: Tue, Jan 12,2010 at 04:01 PM
Subject: New, Jewish crowd-driven website

I am a long-time archive-lurker and now a first-time poster. Thus, I
address you with some trepidation and leave it up to the moderators to
determine finally whether the following solicitation is appropriate.

I have set up a new, crowd-driven website for questions and answers
about Jewish life and learning, and I would be honored if you would
try it out. The site is currently in private beta testing while we
gather a critical mass of users, so I won't mention the name in public
yet, but I will tell you that the people on it so far (including one
active mail-jewish member) are having a great time and sharing lots of
useful and interesting information.

Here are some examples of questions that have been asked and answered
at least once on the new site:
"What do I need to know in order to properly have an aliya?"
"How do you vet a day school?"
"Why did Yosef's brothers speak freely in the presence of the interpreter?"

As you might imagine, the new site has a great deal of topical overlap
with mail-jewish, but I assure you that this is in no way an attempt
to perpetrate "hasagat gevul" ("intruding on turf") on your venerable
community. Where mail-jewish shines as a forum for extended
discussion, the new site's format is organized around a collection of
discrete questions, each with its collection of answers. Questions and
answers are peer-reviewed by the entire community and editable by
their originators and by moderators and super-experienced users. The
result is not the conversational back-and-forth you enjoy here but an
online repository of useful knowledge structured as questions and
answers. Imagine a cross between Wikipedia and AskMoses. (Or, if you'd
rather not try to imagine, take a look at http://StackOverflow.com,
the wildly popular programming Q&A site whose technology the new site

I would love to have you check out the new site, ask or answer a
couple of questions, and send me any feedback or questions on its
setup, content, etc. If you're interested in joining the private beta,
please email me at <newjewishqa@...>, and I'll send you an

Thank you very much,
Isaac Moses
Baltimore, MD

From: Alex Heppenheimer <aheppenh@...>
Date: Wed, Jan 13,2010 at 12:01 AM
Subject: New, Jewish crowd-driven website

To add to what Isaac writes, I'm the active M-J member who's been contributing
on this new site, and already I've gained quite a bit from it.

Perhaps the difference between M-J and this new site might best be analogized to
the difference between the Gemara (where discussions are ongoing, can go off on
tangents, etc., and rarely are finalized) and the responsa literature (where
there's a defined question and various possible answers, but eventually some
kind of rough consensus).

Kol tuv,


From: Richard Fiedler <richardfiedler@...>
Date: Fri, Jan 15,2010 at 02:01 AM
Subject: Shabbat elevators et al.

Let us consider two cases - elevator and thermostatically controlled heating.

I have a room 10' by 10' by 8' high with an exterior door. Inside it is 72 F
outside it is 25 F. The wind is blowing at 12 MPH.
It is Shabbat and I open the door to let 4 guest arrive for Shabbat lunch.
Heated air rushes out side replaced by cooler air lowering the temperature in
the room by 4 degrees by the time I get the door shut.
The thermostat, a bimetal strip senses the change and causes a mercury switch to
close a contact and ignite the main furnace burners from the existing pilot.
This takes 1 to 3 minutes depending on how close to the set point temperature
the room was at. The burners take another minute to heat the air before the fan
turns on and I hear the unit working. All of this if I open my ears and feel the
air on my skin I know is happening.

Now you want to say it this is not cause and effect. I think it is very much
cause and effect and the real reason it is not prohibited is that you would have
a revolt against the poskim [Jewish legal decidors --MOD]. It is nice to be in a
warm house.

In the case of an elevator when I get in it is true that I cause the more
current to flow to the motor to increase the force to lift my weight but I know
this from electrical theory and extrasensory measurements which become
prohibited only by analogy. 

Prohibitions by analogy have their "it is not shabbusdic aspect" but I don't
think we need to be mitdakdik [nitpicking --MOD]


From: Nadine Bonner <nfbonner@...>
Date: Sun, Jan 24,2010 at 11:01 PM
Subject: Spousal Abuse

About 12-15 years ago, Rabbi Avraham Twerski, MD,  wrote an excellent book on
spousal abuse, aimed at young women and containing the warning signs of an
abuser. None of his regular publishers would touch it, but he thought it was so
critical to share this information that he paid to publish it himself. He also
participated in a video on the same topic. I was working for the Wisconsin
Jewish Chronicle at the time, and I reviewed the book. I can't recall if it was
reviewed elsewhere.

I did several articles on abuse for the Chronicle - both spouse abuse and elder
abuse. As a result of these articles, a shelter was set up in Milwaukee along
with a hot-line. 

This is a difficult issue for any community to face - especially in the Jewish
community which prides itself on good husbands. But I think we have made
progress on this issue, even if it not enough progress to help all the women
suffering in silence.

From: SBA <sba@...>
Date: Mon, Jan 25,2010 at 12:01 AM
Subject: Spousal Abuse

Shoshana L. Boublil wrote:
> ... I would like to tell you, as an experienced Kallah guide that
> things have changed. They aren't perfect - but they are better.
> Here in Israel, there are far more organizations involved in bride
> counseling than anytime in the past.  

The problem in Israel is probably worse because of the Mid-Eastern 'culture'
of acceptance of wife-beating which infiltrated into many Jewish homes.


From: SBA <sba@...>
Date: Mon, Jan 25,2010 at 12:01 AM
Subject: Spousal Abuse

Jeanette Friedman wrote:
> Prove to me please that that was the case. Prove to me that she beat him up
> until he ate. Please do not give me a medrash. I would appreciate a
> different source to support this allegation. 

Different source? Like what?
> And Russell, I am sorry. But where did Rashi get the idea that she poked
> him with a stick until he gave in? I really don't see that one either. And
> yes, excessive teasing is definitely abusive.
Not Rashi, but Baal HaTurim



From: Shmuel Himelstein <himels@...>
Date: Wed, Jan 27,2010 at 11:01 PM
Subject: Thinking outside the box

I came across a remarkable Halachic ruling recently. The question concerned
an officer in the Israeli army. He had been issued as army car, but as a
religious soldier did not need it for Shabbat. Could he allow another
officer, who did travel on Shabbat, to borrow it for Shabbat? The ruling was
that he was not permitted to hand the keys to the other soldier, but could
leave them on the table, where the other officer could find them. This was a
ruling of [Rabbi? --MOD] Min Hahar. What is most interesting is the reason given
for the ruling - "Pikuach Nefesh" - danger to someone's life. What danger?

The explanation was that in a war situation, each soldier has to trust every
other soldier implicitly. If one soldier holds a grudge against another - by
not having had access to the car in this case - that could affect the
relationship between them in a war situation.

A remarkable ruling, indeed.

Shmuel Himelstein


End of Volume 57 Issue 80