Volume 57 Number 83 
      Produced: Mon, 08 Feb 2010 16:30:03 EST

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

18 minutes candle lighting 
    [Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz]
Biblical Exegesis (was Spousal Abuse) 
    [Russell J Hendel]
Charedi Internet 
    [Mordechai Horowitz]
Halachic relativism (2)
    [Joel Rich  Meir Shinnar]
Jewish Law Association 
    [Larry Rabinovich]
kosher wine (3)
    [David Ziants  Stephen Phillips  Meir Shinnar]
Metonic cycle 
    [Richard Fiedler]
Spousal Abuse 
    [Shoshana L. Boublil]


From: Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz <sabbahillel@...>
Date: Tue, Feb 2,2010 at 11:01 PM
Subject: 18 minutes candle lighting

Joseph Mosseri wrote:
> Most Jewish Calendars the world over show candle lighting as 18 minutes before
> sunset.
> When did this custom of 18 minutes start?
> Where did it start?
> What sources do we have that mention it?
> Why was 18 chosen and not 10, 20, or 30?


Question 7.4: Why are there 18 minutes from the time candle lighting
starts on Shabbat until the last time you can light?


   In classic Halachic literature, Shabbat begins at sundown. The 18
   minute custom arose for various reasons that include the following:
     * There is a mitzvah to add to the shabbos by beginning it early and
       ending it later.
     * Time pieces are imprecise.

   As a result of this, the custom developed to light candles some
   specific amount of time before sundown. In the United States, the 18
   minute custom was almost (but not quite) universally accepted because
   the first printed calendars in the US were printed by Rav Henkin, and
   marked candle lighting 18 minutes before sundown. Most calendars in
   most cities in the US follow that format today.

   Note: While one can/should bring Shabbat in early with the lighting of
   candles, Shabbat begins at sundown even if candles have not been lit.
   For traditional Jews, at that point candle lighting would be

   Note that other cities may have different customs. In Jerusalem, the
   custom seems to be to light candles 30 minutes before sundown. In
   Chicago Illinois, the custom is 20 minutes.

Read more:

In the talmud, times of this type are specified as times to walk
specific distances.

       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: Russell J Hendel <rjhendel@...>
Date: Sun, Jan 24,2010 at 09:01 AM
Subject: Biblical Exegesis (was Spousal Abuse)

My esteemed colleague Jeanette Friedman writes in v57n79:
> 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.

Believe it or not this is a profound question in HOW we approach Biblical
exegesis. So let me elaborate. My comments here are more on Biblical exegesis
than on spousal abuse and they augment the principles mentioned in my posting of
v57n70. First however let me make clear: First let me agree with Carl Singer
about Jeanette: 
> she's been there and she knows the communities, very well. She speaks from
> first hand not from theory

So let me qualify. Jeanette may be an expert in spousal abuse. However she is
not an expert in Biblical exegesis. So let me analyze this passage in detail
from the point of view of HOW we approach Midrash.

First things first. Rashi is not to blaim here. The Baal Haturim made the
statement. And I took his side. I took his side using the same methods I defend
Rashi.  (My thanks to Leah Gordon for bringing this beautiful Baal Haturim to
our attention) Second: I no longer use the word Midrash. It has no meaning. The
text has an intended meaning of the author. That intended meaning is the meaning
of the text. I don't call that meaning SIMPLE because sometimes it is complex. I
don't call that meaning Midrash (exegetical) because that it implies that the
meaning is optional. Sometimes we don't fully know the intended meaning of the
text and the correct response then is we don't know possibly A or B or C
happened. My point here is that you can either justify (explicitly or by nuance)
that something is intended OR you can't (reasonably) justify it. If you can
justify it, don't insult it and call it exegetical. If you can justify it, it is
intended meaning!

The understanding of this passage requires four easy steps: First: We are told
that God in his infinite mercy created Adam and Eve and further created paradise
and further placed man in paradise and gave him a simple commandment: Don't eat
of the tree. But man did eat of the tree.

In the second step I sense OMISSION in the text. What happened? People don't
behave like that. Adam was a prophet. Why should he violate God's orders.
Because snake-man said so. Would any of us violate a commandment because a 3rd
world nation person told us too. Certainly not. What happened?

A beautiful example of this principle of OMISSION is documented in the Radack's
dictionary SHOROSHIM under the root APH. Radack notes that in Gen 3:1 it says
"...the snake said to woman "EVEN if God said don't eat from the garden trees."
Radack points out that this is a strange way to BEGIN a narrative. Radack
explains "It is the Bible's way to START NARRATIVES IN THE MIDDLE WITH A
PUNCHLINE AND LET THE READER FILL IN. So here we have to reconstruct that the
snake and Eve had been talking and that at a critical point the snake said EVEN

In the 3rd step I seek cues in the text, cues to solve my problem of OMISSION. I
have already mentioned (in a previous posting v57n70) a rule explicitly
formulated by the Malbim that  REPEATED nouns when pronouns can be used indicate
emphasis. I further cited an ALIGNMENT rule. I then pointed out that Gen 3:6
mentions "tree" twice: "Chava saw the TREE was good for food and (she also saw
that) the TREE was good for MAKING THINGS UNDERSTOOD" I then ALIGNED Gen 3:6 and
Gen 3:11 "She gave to her husband with her and he ate" vs "The woman who you
gave with me she gave me FROM THE TREE and I ate." So we see all types of
inuendo's about REPEATED TREES.

Now in the 4th step I need Jeaneatte's help. I can't ignore the problem of
OMISSION mentioned in step 2. If a person says "Adam simply rebelled against God
after God treated him so nicely" I will consider this childish and ill thought
out. One HAS TO deal with the omission. But how.

Baal Haturim picks up on the REPEATED WORD tree and says Eve hit Adam. To use
the Bible's nuance "She used the tree to MAKE HERSELF UNDERSTOOD." Not bad.  But
I think that too loud. I in turn said she showed him the tree with fruit every
day and possibly poked him a little ...and when this happened persistently he
agreed to try the fruit.  Maybe Jeaneatte has a different explanation. But it is
irrelevant what her explanation is. The important thing here is that some type
of spousal abuse must be ASSUMED as OMITTED from the text.

[Otherwise, we are] "waiting for explicit reports to be certain about the extent
of spousal abuse." In fact God is doing [us] a big favor here. He is telling
[us] that spousal abuse happened even in Paradise and God is assuring her that
not everything is explicitly reported. Isn't that what Jeaneatte has been saying
all along....and lo and behold you don't have to go to Mail Jewish to find this
out...it is right there in Genesis 3.

Perhaps I will close this posting with a story of child abuse. While in Israel
once I visited an orphanage. They told me they were using animal therapy. They
found a child poking a rabbit in a strange way. When asked the child explained
his behavior "This is the way my daddy treats my baby sister." The father is now
in jail. 

Notice: I have not told you WHY the father is in jail. We are adults and we
understand the OMISSIONS. I am asking you to give God the same courtesy we give
ourselves. So I am interested in opinion[s] on the OMISSION in Gen 3-why did
Adam rebel. I will not be upset if [they is a] different explanation. But I am
asking not to wait for explicit reports. The Bible like the child in the above
story couldn't fully articulate what happened. In fact Adam's emphasis "The
woman who you gave me WITH ME" shows the first ingredient of all
abuse...excessive staying together.

I look forward to [anyone's] comments. I think the above 4 steps very important
in understanding Biblical passages. They explain why our sages make many
midrashim...they were trying to fill in text. We can disagree with them but only
if the OMISSIONS are dealt with in an adult manner.

Russell Jay Hendel; Ph.d. A.S.A


From: Mordechai Horowitz <mordechai@...>
Date: Sun, Jan 24,2010 at 08:01 AM
Subject: Charedi Internet

David writes
> Mordechai Horowitz is mistaken if he thinks that most charedim are ignoring
> the ban proclaimed by gedolei tora [Torah leaders --MOD] on the use of the
> internet...

Yet you who learn in a charedi kollel are telling me how everyone is 
following this ban by sending an email through the Internet to an email 
discussion list that will send it via the internet to Jews around the world.

Indeed this is why, according to the emails I keep getting from yeshiva 
world news, they [are] now pushing to expel the children of anyone who 
uses the Internet from school.  Such threats are needed because people 
are ignoring the ban.

And if the ban is being followed why does theyeshivaworld.com still 
exist?  Why does Artrscroll.com still exist?  Why do Ohr Somayoch and 
Aish Hatorah still have websites?

The fact this ban came out right after it was [reported] that yet another Rosh 
Yeshiva was in a sex scandal, demanding sex for conversions, is no 
coincidence. The Internet didn't cause Rabbi Tropper, then head of the 
Eternal Jewish Family, to [allegedly] demand this perversion but it has prevented 
him from covering it up because his voice was heard by anyone with an 
Internet connection making his demands. 

What the "leadership" of the Jewish world needs to deal with is not 
protecting their honor but rather acting honorably. 


From: Joel Rich <JRich@...>
Date: Thu, Feb 4,2010 at 06:01 AM
Subject: Halachic relativism

> It is one thing to say that about minhagim (customs) or humrot (stringent
> observance) of  halachot, but to say that halacha p'suka (halacha determined by
> recognized rabbinic decisors) is determined by societal or cultural conditions
> is IMHO very dangerous. This relativist view will erode the integrity of the
> halacha.  I would like to hear your opinions on this.

IMHO that isn't what R' Broyde was saying but rather (as is iiuc [if I
Understand Correctly --MOD] one of the main themes of R' Sperber's 7 volumes of
minhagei yisrael) that when a religious community (Lita in Europe) has a
widespread practice it must have a halachic basis. (ayen sham [see there --MOD]
for a plethora of examples)
Joel Rich

From: Meir Shinnar <chidekel@...>
Date: Thu, Feb 4,2010 at 11:01 AM
Subject: Halachic relativism

> on the subject of womens hair covering. He notes that 50 years ago it was
> accepted in the American Orthodox community that women did not have to cover
> their hair...He tries to explain
> this by saying that the cultural climate of the times was such that women who
> did not cover their hair were not considered to be immodest. It is one thing
> to say that about minhagim (customs) or humrot (stringent observance) of
> halachot, but to say that halacha p'suka (halacha determined by recognized
> rabbinic decisors) is determined by societal or cultural conditions is IMHO
> very dangerous.

The question, of course, is whether these areas are just halacha psuka
- or the halacha recognizes that IN THESE AREAS societal or cultural
conditions are part of the psak.

I would add that there is a greater danger - that of being motzi la'az
[slandering with evil imputations? --MOD] on entire generations of people whose
commitment and knowledge of halacha is not in doubt  - which is a clear issur
d'oraita (torah prohibtion) according to all - far worse than relying on minority
opinions in hair covering.  We are not the first generation to be able
to read standard halachic texts - and it is far more dangerous to
assume that those who don't (or didn't) conform to our reading are

Meir Shinnar


From: Larry Rabinovich <ljrab@...>
Date: Tue, Feb 2,2010 at 11:01 PM
Subject: Jewish Law Association

Here is the correct[ed] link for the Jewish Law Association family law
/Agunah program at Fordham Law School this weekend, Sunday February 7
and Monday February 8.  



From: David Ziants <dziants@...>
Date: Wed, Feb 3,2010 at 03:01 AM
Subject: kosher wine

I answer the question of non-mevushal open bottles or glasses of wine
being served by "irreligious Jews".
How do we really know how religious a Jew is? If a Jew was never taught
to keep Shabbat, can we blame him for doing things wrong?
David Ziants

From: Stephen Phillips <admin@...>
Date: Thu, Feb 4,2010 at 06:01 AM
Subject: kosher wine

Here in London it seems the practice of the kashrus organisations that their
supervision at functions does not extend to the wine that is served. 
Stephen Phillips

From: Meir Shinnar <chidekel@...>
Date: Thu, Feb 4,2010 at 11:01 AM
Subject: kosher wine

> I am unsure what you are trying to say here.
> But you have not answered the question on how rabbis and kashrus orgs can
> allow non-mevushal [non cooked] wine to be served by gentiles or irreligious
Gentiles is a problem. However, irreligious Jews come to the basic
issue of how do we deal with irreligious Jews in our times - do we
apply the traditional standard of viewing them as being public sabbath
violators, or as being tinokot shenishbu (people raised since
childhood in a non-Jewish environment - and therefore not responsible)
- or somewhere in the middle - and there are many who do permit
irreligious Jews. (this goes already back to the nineteenth century
and the binyan tziyon in Germany). RSBA comes from a community that
does not permit - but there are other standards...

Meir Shinnar


From: Richard Fiedler <richardfiedler@...>
Date: Sun, Jan 31,2010 at 02:01 PM
Subject: Metonic cycle

Shmuel Himelstein wrote:
> 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...

Actually Shmuel you are only seeing the tip of the iceberg.
Take a look at Wikipedia entry for "Babylonian Calendar".
That is our calendar the Babylonians say they established it in 499 BC.
Then look at Hipparchus  c. 190 BC - c. 120 BC.
He measured the length of a year to be 365 + 1/4 - 1/300 days.
Multiply that year length by 19 years and divide it by 235 months and you get
29 days 12 hours and 793 parts, the basis for our calendar system.

Richard Fiedler


From: Shoshana L. Boublil <toramada@...>
Date: Sun, Jan 31,2010 at 07:01 AM
Subject: Spousal Abuse

The following post is an EXCELLENT example of inappropriate utterance.

The fact that it was allowed through shows that unfortunately, too many 
people believe this stereotyping.

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

The truth is that wife-beating is as prevalent in Mid Eastern culture as it 
is in Western culture.  It is usually done by people with serious 
personality problems.

It is also not limited at all to poor people.  Many, many very wealthy 
people beat their wives as well.  So that stereotyping is also not true.

It is also not limited to uneducated people.  There are too many 
university-educated men who beat their wives as well.  One more stereotype 
to bite the dust.

The "belief" that a "religious" person won't beat his wife is also, 
unfortunately, not true.  Too many reports exist that prove this stereotype 
mistaken as well.

I hope that in the future, when such ugly comments are made, someone
will correct the poster without subjecting all of us to this garbage.

Shoshana L. Boublil
(Litvak married to a Libyan Rabbi)


End of Volume 57 Issue 83