Volume 57 Number 89 
      Produced: Thu, 04 Mar 2010 21:21:17 EST

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

Chaz"al about the man the Xtians believe is Mashiach? (2)
    [Robert Rubinoff  Michael Frankel]
hair/modesty (6)
    [Frank Silbermann  Joel Rich  Susan Kane  Leah S. R. Gordon  Wendy Baker  Estelle P.  Harris]
historical Jesus 
    [Ben Katz]
kosher wine 
    [I. Balbin]
Megilla and Havdala linkage? 
    [J Wiesen]
On Adam's Abuse 
    [Dov Bloom]
    [Yehonatan Chipman]


From: Robert Rubinoff <rubinoff@...>
Date: Tue, Feb 23,2010 at 10:01 PM
Subject: Chaz"al about the man the Xtians believe is Mashiach?

Bernard Raab wrote:
> Perhaps "they" cannot prove that he existed. but if we wish to maintain that
> their claim is false, we must be able to prove that he did not exist. Clearly
> impossible. 

Well, it's not completely impossible.  What if we discovered a bundle of
correspondence, from the correct time, in which people discuss their plan
to invent a fictional character that they will use as the basis for a religious
reform/new religion?  While I doubt very much that anything like this happened,
it's not *impossible*.

I doubt that the historical record is sufficiently complete and uncontaminated to
prove much of anything about this particular case, though.  


From: Michael Frankel <michaeljfrankel@...>
Date: Mon, Mar 1,2010 at 09:01 PM
Subject: Chaz"al about the man the Xtians believe is Mashiach?

Martin Stern wrote:
> Furthermore there are no independent sources that mention him (it is
> generally accepted that any apparent ones such as in Josephus were later
> Christian interpolations) unlike the archaeological and other evidence ..
Actually, it seems it is not "generally accepted".  Some fiddling here there to
Christianize it, sure.   But the core reference beneath the fiddling (as
perceived by many - not to mention the less contested references to Jesus's
brother James and John the Baptist) are accepted by many.  I'd direct you to Zvi
Baras -"the testimonium flavianum and the martyrdom of James" in Louis Feldman
and Gohei Hata's Josephus, Judaism and Christianity (Wayne st u press, 1987) who
summarizes a vast literature on the subject as divided into three groups, "those
who accept its authenticity, those who reject it entirely as a forgery, and
those who accept only parts of it as authentic, and reject the rest for being a
Christian interpolation".  As these matters are rather far from my own
particular competencies, I offer no substantive opinion on the underlying
machloqes [controversy --MOD], other than to note that lack of consensus does
seem to exist.     
Mechy Frankel


From: Frank Silbermann <frank_silbermann@...>
Date: Wed, Feb 17,2010 at 08:01 AM
Subject: hair/modesty

David Riceman v57#85:
> Leah S. R. Gordon, citing someone citing Rabbi Broyde
>>     With regard to Rabbi Broyde's quoted comments about how fifty years ago,
>>     it was "not considered immodest" for women to have uncovered hair
> If you accept the opinion that only married women must cover their hair,
> how canthe law be related to modesty?  Aren't all Jews, of both genders
> and any marital status, required to dress modestly?  
> ... is this a din [law] concerning tznius [modesty] or ervah
> [nakedness?  --MOD]

This subject was heavily discussed on MLJ twenty or so years ago.
If I recall, different poseks had different opinions, but someone (?)
said it was a Solevetchik (which one?) was taught by his father
that it was a minhag [custom --MOD] based on Torah that was universally accepted,
thus acquiring the force of halacha (hence of the books of halacha
which mandate hair covering).

It followed from this that the abandonment of the custom was improper,
but once large groups of frum women abandoned the custom it ceased
to be universally accepted, thus no longer having the force of halacha
-- but is obligatory as a family minhag by any married woman whose
husband's mother covered her hair.

Frank Silbermann        Memphis, Tennessee

From: Joel Rich <JRich@...>
Date: Tue, Feb 23,2010 at 10:01 PM
Subject: hair/modesty

>From the upcoming audioroundup on Hirhurim:


Rabbi Aaron Rakeffet-Rothkoff - covering the hair
First of two.  Is Kol Isha and hair covering a subjective definition?  While
next week R'AR will present his view (head covering  for married women
required), this week he presents the case for subjectivity (worth listening to
for the quotes from R'YBS and R'Yitzchak simcha halevi Horowitz)  [me -  A very
wise man once told me "every generation thinks they discovered sex for the first
time (in human history)"]

Kol Tuv
Joel Rich

From: Susan Kane <suekane@...>
Date: Wed, Feb 24,2010 at 12:01 AM
Subject: hair/modesty

David Tsohar wrote:

> The gemarra says "seiar b'isha erva"( A woman's hair is lascivious). 
> Only a married woman must cover her hair because relations with a married 
> woman are arayot (illicit sexual relations punishable by death) and are 
> therefore much more serious than relations with an unmarried woman which 
> is only the misdemeanor of znut (promiscuity).

But ... if it's this clear and simple then why was it accepted practice 
for many learned women not to cover their hair?

Reading the above passages raises any number of questions.

It may be true that women's hair is licentiousness, but it is true always 
and for all time?

Or it that only true in a society where a proper woman's hair is always 
covered?  So that if one moves to a society where a woman's hair is not 
considered sexual then this rule changes?

And if indeed "seiar b'isha ervah" -- why not cover unmarried women's 

Even if illicit relations with an unmarried woman are "only" promiscuity, 
is promiscuity a good thing?  Should we encourage it?  Why not discourage 

The near-universal hair covering for unmarried women in Yemen vs. the 
universal lack of hair covering for unmarried women in Europe points to 
culturally-bound modesty as the main reason.

If culture is the culprit, then unmarried women would be obligated by 
halacha to cover their hair in Yemen, lest they be considered by both Jews 
and non-Jews to be immodestly dressed.

And by the same token, married women in America in the 1950s could get by 
with a hat that creates a proper look for leaving the home, regardless of 
how much hair is showing.

And of course, in Israel today, one sees a fascinating collection of hair 
coverings, including my favorite look -- the small scarf tied over long 
loose hair.

I don't know the origin of this custom, but I think it is a token 
recognition of the importance of religion and modest dress in 
Jerusalem.  Even women not fully observant of halahca but who respect 
religion feel the need to at least show respect to the general norm.

I have no horse in this particular discussion -- I don't mean to suggest 
that the norm should be one way or the other.

I actually think that as ethnic differences have become more acceptable in 
America -- we have become more free to do what we really think is right.

kol tuv, Susan
Unix *is* user friendly.
It's just very picky about who it's friendly to.

From: Leah S. R. Gordon <leah@...>
Date: Wed, Feb 24,2010 at 06:01 AM
Subject: hair/modesty

David Tzohar wrote:
> David Riceman asked if hair covering is because of tzniyut (modesty), or
> erva (lasciviousness of the uncovered body). It is both. The gemarra says"
> seiar b'isha erva"( A woman's hair is lascivious).  Only a married woman
> must cover her hair because relations with a married woman are arayot (illicit
> sexual relations punishable by death) and are therefore much more serious
> than relations with an unmarried woman which is only the misdemeanor of
> znut (promiscuity).

When I read this, the obvious question is the same one Golda Meir asked
regarding a curfew on women to avoid rape:  why are we
restricting the women when we should be restricting the men?

First, let's ignore the significant question of whether hair is lascivious
(!) by its very nature - and by the way, my impression is that the style,
i.e. tied up in a bun vs. flowing and bedroom-y, makes a difference.

I think it is a perfectly good question to ask:  shouldn't the onus be
on the man to avoid being aroused by someone he shouldn't be sleeping
with?  I find irritating this idea that 'because xyz sin is really bad
for me, you should change your whole lifestyle around to avoid tempting
me'.  Eating treif is pretty bad, but I don't see a halakha that says
your Christian neighbor can't have a great-smelling barbecue.  Oh, that
is because "we" have control over women [with the exception of the
angry feminist minority on M.J ;) ]

> This is also connected with the ceremony of Sotah
> where a
> married woman must publicly uncover her hair as a sign of her immodest
> behavior.

IIRC, the Sotah is innocent until proven guilty!  And furthermore,
doesn't the commentary imply that she was never found guilty by this
trial by ordeal in actual fact?  Hence...what "immodest behavior"?

> Hair covering is not a chok (unexplainable law which must be
> taken on faith), since there are two good reasons: erva and tzniyut. 
> Rather it is a mishpat (law that is understandable by reason and logic).
> By the way in Yemen,

I think the previous poster was saying that it was more palatable to her
to treat this as a chok, because it is so incredibly insulting to men,
and to women, when people give these "modesty" reasons to the rule.

> young single Jewish women were required to cover their hair. They
> discontinued this practice after they came up to Israel

It is pretty clear that this practice was due to the influence of surrounding
Moslem culture and their rules.

--Leah S. R. Gordon

From: Wendy Baker <wbaker@...>
Date: Wed, Feb 24,2010 at 10:01 AM
Subject: hair/modesty

Yisrael Medad wrote:
> On Leah S. R. Gordon's fashion observation:
> Since I can remember standards from about 55 years ago, I can attest
> that women coming to schule, no matter how irreligious, usually on the
> High Holy Days, would always cover their heads with a hat (and oh what
> hats!) and at the very least, a doily-type covering so, obviously, the
> idea of hair being covered as a sign of orthodoxy if not modesty was
> well known and accepted as a norm

Yes, and in those days men wore kippot in shul and, if observant, at home 
or at least while eating.  The women's headcovering was also considered 
an "in shul" thing, although hats were often worn as a fashion item.  I 
remember going to take my teaching test for NYC license  and my chairman 
told me to be sure to wear a hat and white gloves as this chairman who was 
to observe and grade me was punctilious about such matters.  In those days 
we young people had already given up hats for everyday wear.  In addition, 
except for shul hats had little to do with marital status.

Wendy Baker

From: Estelle P.  Harris <DandEhar@...>
Date: Tue, Mar 2,2010 at 10:01 PM
Subject: hair/modesty

When I went for my last picture at the  NJMVD, I told them that I could not take
off my hat for religious reasons.   They did not force me to.
Estelle P.  Harris


From: Ben Katz <BKatz@...>
Date: Wed, Feb 24,2010 at 01:01 PM
Subject: historical Jesus

Yisrael Medad wrote:
> My copy of Chisronot HaShas is chock full of Talmudic references to
> Jesus by name, by deed, etc., which the Chruch expunged from the Talmud.

Note that some of this was self-censorship for fear of Christian retaliation.


From: I. Balbin <Isaac.Balbin@...>
Date: Tue, Feb 23,2010 at 10:01 PM
Subject: kosher wine

Akiva Miller wrote:
> In recent years I have been at some affairs - mostly in Monsey and Lakewood,
> I think - where each table has a card on it, addressed to the guests,
> explaining that the supervisory agency is not supervising the bar. That's at
> least a step in the right direction, but still falls woefully short. How do
> these organizations (I'd name them, but I don't remember their exact names)
> get a reputation for being responsible and reliable? I guess I just don't 
> understand all the issues involved.)

I don't think this is an issue. 

Caterers are often required to use only Mehadrin [punctiliously] Kosher
ingredients. For example, there are often items which are certified as kosher on
account of an agency being satisfied that non kosher ingredients are not germane
in the product. However, a Mehadrin product may well imply surprise site visits
and/or a different cleaning regime which is acceptable to more decisors and/or a
different cooking regime acceptable to both Sefardim and Ashkenazim, and the
list goes on.

When it comes to alcohol, however, given the paucity of Mehadrin alternatives,
and given that they are imbibed using a glass utensil thereby not presenting
opportunities to soil the kashrus of crockery etc, it would appear to be
sensible to permit those who already drink such items to continue to do so at a

That being said, I have seen such notices on tables here in Melbourne, and at
the same time, caterers will limit what the bar serves to those items which are
considered kosher (but not necessarily mehadrin) and not milchig [dairy --MOD].

Of course, there may be instances where some caterers around the world do not do
this. In that situation, I agree that the practice is not acceptable because a)
some may imbibe before they see a notice, b) others may not see a displaced
notice, and c) others may conclude that certain items are acceptable because "it
was served at that kosher function".


From: J Wiesen <wiesen@...>
Date: Tue, Mar 2,2010 at 10:01 PM
Subject: Megilla and Havdala linkage?

Is there a link between the megilla and havdala?

In both, we have the words:

la'yehudim hayata ora v'simcha v'sason v'yikra (at the end of Chapter 8) [and
for the Jews there was light and happiness and joy and honor --MOD]




From: Dov Bloom <dovb@...>
Date: Tue, Feb 23,2010 at 08:01 PM
Subject: On Adam's Abuse

Yisrael Medad wrote: 
> ... according to one Abba bar Kuriyei in the Midrash found at Breisheet Rabba
> 19:3, " 'and the woman said to the serpent' - and where was Adam at that
> time?  Abba var Kuriyei said: he had been working hard and was sleeping."
>  Since Adam was sleeping and not around when she needed him...

I think YM's translation of the midrash is incorrect. Nitasek b'derech eretz
_could_ mean "had been working hard (at productive labor)" but here it means
"marital relations". This is a common euphemism in leshon Hahamim (rabbinic hebrew).

To understand my following proof, read the last verse of Genesis 2 and the first
of Genesis 3. 

My proof is a parallel comment in the previous section of Bereshit Rabba
18:2:25, commenting on the immediate previous verse "Vayihyu shneihem 'arumim"
(the two of them were naked - Genesis 2:23 ). The comment relates to the
motivation of the serpent: "mitoch she-raam mit'askim be'derech haaretz
ve'nitave la" --  the serpent saw them [Adam and Eve] engaging in marital
relations and therefore he (the serpent) desired her. 

The immediate next verse (3:1) tells of the serpent speaking to Eve, commented
on by the midrash BR 19:3:2 quoted by YM in MJ 57:85.  Both midrashic comments
use the same phrase "mitaskim bederch ha'aretz" "nitasek be'derch eretz" for the
exact same time frame, that of Gen 2:23, immediately before the serpent
approached Eve. 

The midrash in BR 18:3 is perhaps poking fun at the penchant of males to fall
asleep after engaging in marital relations, as opposed to women. Notice the
first midrash (BR18:2:25) uses the plural for Adam and Eve engaging, while the
sleeping comment of BR 19:3:2 only refers to Adam, singular, engaging, as if he
felt only he had the right to be tired. Eve meanwhile was awake and therefor
accosted by the serpent.


From: Yehonatan Chipman <yonarand@...>
Date: Wed, Mar 3,2010 at 04:01 AM
Subject: Purim

1.  A halakhic question for the Purim Rebbe:  We know from many sources 
that the 248 positive mitzvot correspond to the 248 organs of the human 
body, a number which includes the 32 teeth.  By this reasoning, oughtn't 
one who doesn't have all of his teeth-through extractions, root canal 
therapies, implants, etc.,-to be exempt from the corresponding mitzvah?

2.  The Torah tells us, in its descriptions of the Sanctuary which ewe 
raed during these weeks, that the table for the shewbread was located on 
its northern side, while the menorah was in the south.  The Sages, 
commenting on this, and noting that light symbolizes wisdom whereas bread 
symbolizes wealth, said "He who whishes to be wise shall turn southward; 
he who wishes to be wealthy should turn north."

A modern Israeli translation of this might be:  If you want to make money, 
go to America;  if you seek "wisdom," go to India.

3. In the spirit of Yom Kippur being "a day like Purim," I must engage in 
confession.  Though I have been presenting myself to the world all these 
years as a serious religious Jew, my holy Rebbitzin and I have secretly 
engaged in the worship of a household god (or perhaps godling).  Like the 
Hindus who offer their gods ghee (clarified butter), every morning we make 
an offering to our household god of the first share of the finest dairy 
products-cottage cheese and yogurt.  Moreover, this godling possesses 
several truly wondrous, if not divine qualities:  he sees all, even in 
total darkness;  he hears all and knows everything going on n the house; 
he moves in total silence.  Also, at all times he wears festive clothes, 
like a Rebbe;  Shabbat and weekdays he wears a dark coat and tail made of 
the finest, most delicate fur, and a shining, spotlessly clean white 
shirt.  His entire aspect is of creature from another world, with golden- 
green eyes, like the "pinions with green gold" of Psalm 68:14, and 
antennae that absorb messages from his surroundings.  Most important, he 
is totally convinced of his natural right to total obeisance on our 
part-and we, his humble servants, must comply with his every wish and 
whim, so long as he lives.

And let us say:  Meow!


End of Volume 57 Issue 89