Volume 57 Number 84 
      Produced: Thu, 11 Feb 2010 23:47:40 EST

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

    [Ari Trachtenberg]
Biblical Exegesis / Spousal Abuse 
    [Leah S. R. Gordon]
candle lighting time 
    [Menashe Elyashiv]
Chaz"al about the man the Xtrians believe is Mashiach? (3)
    [Lisa Liel  Martin Stern  Martin Stern]
Customs at a pidyon ha'ben 
    [Shoshana L. Boublil]
    [David Tzohar]
electronic locks 
    [Steven Oppenheimer]
    [Leah S. R. Gordon]
Halachic Relativism (3)
    [Bernard Raab]
Jerusalem candle-lighting time 
    [Shmuel Himelstein]
kosher wine 
    [Martin Stern]
non-mevushal wine 
    [Leah S. R. Gordon]
Shabbat elevators et al. (2)
    [Janice Gelb  <chips@...>]
Torah Reading on Chanukah (2)
    [Perets Mett  Shalom Berger]


From: Ari Trachtenberg <trachten@...>
Date: Thu, Feb 4,2010 at 02:01 PM
Subject: almemar

In my edits of a recent post, I translated "almemar" as pulpit and was castigated
by one of our readers.  Does anyone know of a more accurate, short translation
of the word into English, as seen in the following text:

>>> The Honorary Officers in the synagogues in the UK often sit in a box
>>> (enclosed pew) in front of the almemar [pulpit --MOD].

With apologies for some of the sloppy translations,


From: Leah S. R. Gordon <leah@...>
Date: Mon, Feb 8,2010 at 06:01 PM
Subject: Biblical Exegesis / Spousal Abuse

Russell Hendel states:
> (My thanks to Leah Gordon for bringing this beautiful
> Baal Haturim to our attention)
> [re the idea that Eve beat Adam with part of the tree in order to convince
> him to eat the forbidden fruit]

Not only did I not bring this to "our" attention, but I claimed (and still
do) that it is not a mainstream explanation of that posuk [sentence --MOD].  I
furthermore maintain that to bring it as some kind of 'not just men beat women'
idea is harmful in the extreme!

Please leave me out of this exegesis.

--Leah S. R. Gordon


From: Menashe Elyashiv <Menashe.Elyashiv@...>
Date: Tue, Feb 9,2010 at 03:01 AM
Subject: candle lighting time

One has to light before sunset (of course this is according to the Geonim, 
not R. Tam).  However, if one brings in Shabbat at Plag time [a set time before
sunset --MOD], candle time is at Boei Kala or Mizmor Shir time. The question is
how much time before sunset is needed? Lighting too early can have a situation
that the candles are lit but work in the house continues by everybody except the

Lighting late makes Minha late, sometimes after sunset, and Kabblat 
Shabbat at night. Shabbat has already came, so how do we welcome her 
after her coming?

In Israel, there is no common time for candles. R. O. Yosef states that 15 
minutes is enough; that is close to R. Henkin's ruling. Ashkenazim in 
Jerusalem light 40 minutes, the same in Petah Tikva, Beitar Ilit & 
Immanuel, that were founded by Yerushalmim. Most other cities light 22 
minutes, Haifa 27 (maybe because of its height). Elad & Modiin Ilit 
compromised on 30 minutes.


From: Lisa Liel <lisa@...>
Date: Wed, Feb 3,2010 at 11:01 PM
Subject: Chaz"al about the man the Xtrians believe is Mashiach?

Bernard Raab wrote:
>Lisa Liel wrote:
>>  There's no certainty that the man ever existed...
>To deny that "he" ever existed is a huge insult to Christians, akin 
>to those Arabs who deny our own cherished history in the holy land.

I'm not aware of any Jewish sources which suggest that we should 
engage in false statements because the truth is a huge insult to 
Christians.  Nor is there any reason that I can see to compare this 
with Arab denialism.

>At the start of each tour I asked each group one question: What is 
>the difference between Judaism and Christianity? Almost invariably 
>they answered: "Jews don't believe in Jesus". My response was: "We 
>believe in the historical Jesus, but not in his divinity".

What is your source for this statement?  I can't think of a single 
Jewish source for the historicity of the character who appears in the 
Christian Bible.  When you said this to them, was it based on a 
source, or was it based on a desire to make them like us?


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Thu, Feb 4,2010 at 07:01 AM
Subject: Chaz"al about the man the Xtrians believe is Mashiach?

Shmuel Himelstein wrote:
> A bitter Jewish "joke" states that even if Yeshu never existed, the Jews
> nevertheless killed him.

This reminds me of the probably apocryphal story of the little Jewish boy who
was being taunted by a crowd of shkotsim (unruly Gentile children) with "You
Jews killed our saviour!" Before they started to beat him up he said "Wait a
minute, don't you believe that J died on the cross to save you from your sins!"
to which they answered, somewhat bemused, "Yes" In that case", said the Jewish
boy, "you should be thanking us because if we hadn't killed him you would suffer
eternal damnation!" This so baffled his tormentors that they gave up, proving
the truth of "Hakol kol Yaakov vehayadayim yedei Eisav" [the voice is the voice
of Yaakov, and the hands are of Eisav, Genesis 27:22--MOD].

Martin Stern

From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Thu, Feb 4,2010 at 08:01 AM
Subject: Chaz"al about the man the Xtrians believe is Mashiach?

Ben Katz stated the following in mail-Jewish Vol.57 #80 Digest:
> 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...

Robert Travers Herford was a Unitarian minister in Stand, near Manchester. Since
many Christian denominations do not consider Unitarian to be a form of
Christianity, perhaps he should be described as a great non-Jewish Hebraist and
not as a Christian.

Martin Stern


From: Shoshana L. Boublil <toramada@...>
Date: Thu, Feb 4,2010 at 03:01 AM
Subject: Customs at a pidyon ha'ben

It may interest the membership to know that in Libyan (and Livorno-Italian) 
Jewish communities, it was accepted that there was no need to send 
invitations to a Pidyon Haben - rather, everyone in the community, who heard 
that one is about to take place - came!

The "uninvited" guests did not partake in the dinner set out for the invited 
guests, but the garlic, sugar and candied almonds were distributed to 

Shoshana L. Boublil


From: David Tzohar <davidtzohar@...>
Date: Thu, Feb 4,2010 at 11:01 AM
Subject: eiruv

Menashe Elyashiv said that the wire eiruv which is accepted today was
not accepted by the Shulchan Aruch. It is also not accepted by Rav Ovadia
Yosef former Sephardi chief reabbi and present leader of the sephardi
community in Israel. This is because of his stringent opinion of the
definition of reshut ha rabbim (public domain). A wire eiruv does not permit
carrying on shabbat according to this opinion.


From: Steven Oppenheimer <steven.oppenheimer@...>
Date: Thu, Feb 4,2010 at 04:01 PM
Subject: electronic locks

Bernard Raab wrote:
> The use of magnetic keys is now ubiquitous, and badly needs to be judged
> mutar [permitted --MOD] if we are to avoid becoming latter-day Amish. The
> blanket prohibition of all forms of electricity is the easy way out. A more
> sophisticated approach is long overdue.

I was puzzled by this bizarre comment.  Do people really believe that
halacha changes because certain situations become inconvenient?  Electronic
locks do present a very real challenge and it is becoming harder and harder
to find a hotel that does not have them.  There are, however, halachic
guidelines that can be followed to deal with this and other challenges.
Criticizing our poskim [Jewish legal adjudicators] as being unsophisticated is
not the answer, IMHO.

Steven Oppenheimer, D.M.D.


From: Leah S. R. Gordon <leah@...>
Date: Fri, Feb 5,2010 at 06:01 AM
Subject: hair/modesty

With regard to Rabbi Broyde's quoted comments about how fifty years ago,
it was "not considered immodest" for women to have uncovered hair, it
appears to me that hats were even more in style at that time for women
in the U.S. than they are now.  I'm not making a call on the tshuva [responsum
--MOD], or the hair-covering issue, just on the apparent assertion that "modest"
women in the U.S. now would be wearing hats de facto - I do not think
that this is correct.

--Leah S. R. Gordon


From: Bernard Raab <beraab@...>
Date: Thu, Feb 4,2010 at 02:01 AM
Subject: Halachic Relativism

Halacha evolves, even in Orthodoxy, although in recent years the evolution seems
to be always toward the right. There seems to be little objection to this as
"relativism". One hundred years ago the education of women was regarded as
strictly forbidden by all "recognized rabbinic decisors". Look it up.
Bernie R.

From: Mordechai Horowitz <mordechai@...>
Date: Fri, Feb 5,2010 at 08:01 AM
Subject: halachic relativism

> I recently listened to an audio shiur that was given by Rabbi Broyde ...
> 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.

First I would like to address who Rabbi Broyde is. He is not just a college
professor but a member of the Beit Din of America. 
http://www.bethdin.org/staff-bio.asp and founding Rabbi of the Young Israel of
Toco Hills
So lets realize we are discussing the ideas of a major Talmud Chachom (Torah
scholar) and not a secular college professor. 

The fact is reality changes.  And our questions change.  The Judaism of free
Jews running their own state in Israel is different than a persecuted galut Jew
living in Russia in the 1600's.  Halacha is not supposed to be a fixed rule in a
book, which is why it was initially prohibited to write down.  We are supposed
to follow the teachings of the Rabbis of our day not that of some Rosh Yeshiva
300 years ago who did not have the ability to predict the future. Yes their are
principals of halacha (i.e. be modest) that are timeless but the implementation
can be different because of the different conditions we find ourselves in.

Its not relativism but reality we are discussing.  Is it wrong to kill someone?
 The answer seems simple of course not right...  Well not so fast.  It would be
wrong for me to kill the shul Rabbi because I wasn't made dinner honoree.  But
it would equally be wrong not to kill a terrorist about kill a child. Its not
relativism but context that changes the answer to the apparently simple
question.  Not all questions are as clear-cut as the the example I've given and
that's what the Torah leadership of the generation "should" be doing.

Whether they are doing it and how well they are doing it.... I'll leave that to
another post.

From: Norman Miller <nm1921@...>
Date: Fri, Feb 5,2010 at 10:01 AM
Subject: halachic relativism

David Tzohar writes:
> 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.

It seems to me that the burden is on David Tzohar's shoulders. 
Let us hear from him how 'recognized halachic decisors' have 
ceased to be basar v'dam [flesh and blood --MOD] and subject like the rest of
mankind -- and womankind -- to the social climate of the time.

Noyekh Miller


From: Shmuel Himelstein <himels@...>
Date: Mon, Feb 8,2010 at 11:01 PM
Subject: Jerusalem candle-lighting time

The accepted practice in Jerusalem (maybe only among Ashkenazim?) is to
light candles 40 minutes before sunset. I understand that Rav Ovadyah Yosef
disagrees, and according to him one lights it 18 minutes before sunset - as
most other places.

I also heard that Petach Tikva, founded by Jews who had come from Jerusalem,
also uses 40 minutes. 

Shmuel Himelstein


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Tue, Feb 9,2010 at 12:01 PM
Subject: kosher wine

Stephen Phillips wrote:
> 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. 

I can confirm that when I acted as a locum supervisor at functions in
Manchester, England, I had to inform hosts that I could take no responsibility
for non-mevushal wine that they had brought in.

Martin Stern


From: Leah S. R. Gordon <leah@...>
Date: Fri, Feb 5,2010 at 06:01 AM
Subject: non-mevushal wine

Regarding the recent exchange on non-mevushal
wine (sorry, I don't have everyone's names in this digest..?).  The first
poster said, "obviously non-Jewish/irreligious people are serving this wine."
The second one said, "we count irreligious as still Jewish enough," and
the third one said, "so what; how is the wine kosher".

I think another question is, "how do you know the pourers are not religious

--Leah S. R. Gordon


From: Janice Gelb <j_gelb@...>
Date: Thu, Feb 4,2010 at 10:01 PM
Subject: Shabbat elevators et al.

Bernard Raab wrote:
>  My routine for ascending was to get into any 
> elevator with other passengers and getting off 
> at any floor that anybody else was going to
> that would be closest to my own. Many times 
> the passenger who I was following would
> become alarmed and very wary of my behavior.

A frum friend of mine has an entertaining solution 
to this problem: when he gets into a hotel elevator 
on Shabbat, he makes sure not to stand by the door 
and then asks: "Is <number of his floor> pressed?" 
His contention is that this is a simple request for 
information and not an instruction for the button 
to be pressed -- if the person near the door 
chooses to press the button if it's not already 
pressed, it's a voluntary action :->

-- Janice

From: <chips@...>
Date: Mon, Feb 8,2010 at 09:01 AM
Subject: Shabbat elevators et al.

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

  TA-DA! That is the main point. It is not a direct cause-and-effect as
you just stated. It takes an unknown amount of time based on an unknown
condition. If , however, you *knew* that the thermostat was at the
lowest point and that opening the door would cause the heat to kick in
immediately, well then you would have to come up with a work-around.
  A better question would be - what if one knew that opening the door
would definitely result in the heater going on in 73 seconds regardless
of what the room temperature was?


From: Perets Mett <p.mett@...>
Date: Wed, Feb 3,2010 at 04:01 AM
Subject: Torah Reading on Chanukah

Shmuel Himelstein wrote:

> The Minhag of the Torah reading in Israel during Chanukah is that  
> the Kohen
> has the first part of that day's Korban read[ing], the Levi the  
> second part, and
> the Yisrael the entire day's Korban reread. Outside Israel, I  
> understand
> that the Yisrael has the next day's Korban read[ing]. Can anyone  
> explain what is
> involved here?

The minhag chuts lo-orets [outside Israel --MOD] mentioned by Shmuel is followed
by Ashkenzim only. Sephardim outside Erets Yisroel do the same as in Erets Yisroel.

The source is a machlokes [disagreement --MOD] between the Mechaber and the RMO
in Shulchon Oruch OC 684:1.

This is in turn based on  a similar machlokes about what the shlishi  
should read on Chol Hamoed Sukkos. The Mechaber says that the shlishi  
repeats the aliyo of the Kohen, and the RMO says that the shlishi  
reads the following parsho. (OC 633:1)

The source of the RMO is Rashi Sukko 55a (final two lines).

Perets Mett


From: Shalom Berger <szberger@...>
Date: Thu, Feb 4,2010 at 07:01 AM
Subject: Torah Reading on Chanukah

Shmuel Himelstein asks about differences in Torah reading on Chanukah in Israel
and the Diaspora.

While I have never seen this in writing, I always assumed that it is a hint to
the well-known connection between Chanukah and Sukkot. 

On Sukkot, the differences between Torah reading in Israel and the Diaspora are
obvious. In Israel during Hol ha-Mo'ed (the intermediary days) the sacrifice
appropriate to the day is repeated for all four people who are called to the
Torah, while in the Diaspora, in order to satisfy the need to cover the sefeika
d'yoma (the questionable day of Yom Tov that leads to the two day Diaspora Yom
Tov), the reading alternates between the two possible days - and even looks
forward to the next day.

While there is no sefeika d'yoma kept on Chanukah - something worth discussing
in itself - the Torah reading echos that of Sukkot, to which it is connected in
a variety of different ways.  


Rabbi Shalom Z. Berger, Ed.D.
The Lookstein Center for Jewish Education
Bar-Ilan University


End of Volume 57 Issue 84