Volume 57 Number 95 
      Produced: Mon, 22 Mar 2010 23:04:09 EDT

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

A change or violation of Halachah? 
    [Sammy Finkelman]
biblical exegesis (3)
    [ Gilad J. Gevaryahu  Norman Miller  Naomi Graetz]
candle lighting time (2)
    [Menashe Elyashiv  Dr. William Gewirtz]
electronic stuff etc (4)
    [Ari Trachtenberg  Bernard Raab  Nathe London  Alan Rubin]
Gemaras "beyond our comprehension" 
    [Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz]
HaLachma Anya Translations 
    [Mark Symons]
Quinoa in Israel on Pesah 
    [Eric Mack]
wedding customs 
    [Stuart Wise]
wedding rings (2)
    [Martin Stern  Robert Rubinoff]


From: Sammy Finkelman <sammy.finkelman@...>
Date: Mon, Mar 22,2010 at 02:01 PM
Subject: A change or violation of Halachah?

Somebody brought this to my attention, because this was a question that had
been bothering him.

The Rambam, in the Mishneh Torah, in book 3 (Sefer Zemanim), section 7
(Hilchos Kiddush HaChodesh - Laws regarding the sanctification of the new
moon) Perek 4 , Halachah 15, which you can see online at:


...writes that we do not make a leap year in

a) a year of famine

b) a Shemittah year (and we customarily make a leap year the year before
Shemittah) [the Sabbatical year in the 7-year agricultural cycle --MOD]

Yet 5768 (2007-2008) *was* both a Shemittah year and a leap year, and so was
5733 (1972-3)

How did this happen?

Of course the Rambam (also known as Maimonides) is writing basic halachah,
which may have been altered by something or other - after all by his time
they no longeer had witnesses and he doesn't mention this thing I think.

But - what was his source and what happened?

We know of course that everything now is done by calculation, but how or why
was this omitted from the calculations?

In this context, there is a statement in the Gemorah from Shmuel  (in
Arachin 9b) that a lunar year can have a length not less than 352 days and
not more than 356. Nowadays it doesn't go below 353 or above 355 in a
regular years and there is similar three length possibility in a leap year
- in fact two of the Dechiyahs [deferments --MOD] is done to avoid a too long or
too short year.

Could an otherwise too short or too long year length have been used when
they did avoid shemittah years? The period of time between leap years might
also in that case sometimes have been 4 years.

There was a rule once that full months of 30 days were not to be less than 4
nor more than 8 in a year. We can still have as many as eight: Tishrei,
Cheshvan, Kislev, Shevat, Adar I, Nisan, Sivan and Av but we cannot have
less than 5: Tishrei, Shevat, Nisan, Sivan and Av.

Another (somewhat different) question I have is just when is the Shemittah
year? We know what we are using now, but is this same count we had at the
time of the destruction of the Second Beis HaMikdash [Temple --MOD]? If the time
of shemittah got lost or became almost completely irrelevant, it is
understandable how it would not be considered when coming up with the
Dechiyahs. But if it got lost, do we know that for a fact? Did observance of
shemittah ever become completely or almost completely dormant? If it didn't
get lost, do we know that too?


From:  Gilad J. Gevaryahu <gevaryahu@...>
Date: Sun, Mar 21,2010 at 10:01 AM
Subject: biblical exegesis

Russell J Hendel  wrote:
> No one commented on this idea of mine (that FILLING IN is important). While
> leining [reading --MOD] the megillah 13 times I noticed a very good example.
> Achasveirosh call Vashti the Queen in to "display her beauty." When she refused
> he executed her. This encourages a FILLING IN - why should Vashti have risked
> her life!?

In my Megillat Esther there is not execution of Vashti. 

There is a decree against her behavior for refusing to show her beauty with the 
punishment of "umalchuta yiten ha-melech lire'utah ha-tovah mi-mena" (Esther 1:19)
[=her position of the queen was given by the king to a better woman".] The text
says that  queen Vashti was divorced by Ahasuerus, her husband, for refusing to
appear [unvailed?] before his reveling company.

Gilad J. Gevaryahu

From: Norman Miller <nm1921@...>
Date: Sun, Mar 21,2010 at 12:01 PM
Subject: biblical exegesis

Russell J. Hendel, PhD. ASA writes:

> No one commented on this idea of mine (that FILLING IN is important). 

I would like to comment but I must choose my words carefully. 
While it is true that biblical commentators have fabricated and 
written thousands of fantasies with which to embroider (and often 
ruin) the grace and beauty of the text as we know it, I fail to 
see why any of these are "important" and why we cannot read and 
be inspired by the text as given.  Exegesis means to interpret or 
explain.  Bobe mayses [old wife's tales --MOD] do not constitute exegesis.

Noyekh Miller

From: Naomi Graetz <graetz@...>
Date: Sun, Mar 21,2010 at 04:01 PM
Subject: biblical exegesis

Russell Hendel wrote: 
> No one commented on this idea of mine (that FILLING IN is important). While
> leining [reading --MOD] the megillah 13 times I noticed a very good example.
> Achasveirosh call Vashti the Queen in to "display her beauty." When she refused
> he executed her. This encourages a FILLING IN - why should Vashti have risked
> her life!?

I find it amazing that in the 13 times you read the megillah you discovered that
Vashti was executed.  Nowhere does it say this.  In chapter two, verse one it
says that something was "nigzar" - had been decreed against her. But we don't
know what the decree was. Perhaps you are "filling in". Precisely because it
does not say she was executied, and the decree is left open-ended, some of us
who have written modern midrash (which also fills in the gaps) have given Vashti
a life after being expelled from the palace. In some she guides the new queen
and even serves as a positive role model for standing up for her own rights. 

Naomi Graetz 
Ben Gurion University of the Negev


From: Menashe Elyashiv <Menashe.Elyashiv@...>
Date: Sun, Mar 21,2010 at 08:01 AM
Subject: candle lighting time

In MJ 57/94 wendy asked
> Is this one and a quarter secular hours or 1/2 of the daylight hours? This 
> could be important because it is in the summer when the daylight lasts for 
> well over 12 hours that people are most likely to want to bring shabbat in 
> early so the children can have dinner with concomitant Shabbat kiddush, 
> bentching and singing at a reasonable hour and be put to bed.

These hours are daylight hours, just as all halachic hours are 1/12 of 
daylight (or nite time).  As summer daylight is long, so are the hours are 
longer than the 60 minutes hours. Even so, one should check if the Pelag 
time (early minyan) is correct, i,e, that Arvit (Maariv) is said after the 
pelag. In some places, Friday nite prayers are set at a set time all 
summer, and it could be before the pelag, and then it is still daytime for 
sure. The best situation is to set the time like this: Minha before the 
pelag, Kabbalat Shabbat & Arvit after the pelag. That is what we do in our 
place (e.g. this coming Friday Minha will be at 17:17. Kabbalat Shabbat at 
the pelag 17:43) If not this way, then Minha can be said after the pelag, 
but in no way Arvit before the pelag.

From: Dr. William Gewirtz <wgewirtz@...>
Date: Sun, Mar 21,2010 at 01:01 PM
Subject: candle lighting time

Wendy Baker wrote:

> Is this one and a quarter secular hours or 1/2 of the daylight hours?  This 
> could be important because it is in the summer when the daylight lasts for 
> well over 12 hours that people are most likely to want to bring shabbat in 
> early so the children can have dinner with concomitant Shabbat kiddush, 
> bentching and singing at a reasonable hour and be put to bed.

The earliest time that normally is used is 1 and one-quarter hours before
sunset, using the calculation for the hours of the day of the Vilna Gaon (and
others before him).  Thus, the hour in question is 1/12 of the sunrise to sunset
period.  In the NY area on a 15 (clock) hour summer day, a (halakhic)  hour is
75 minutes = 1/12 of the 900 minutes of daylight between sunrise and sunset.

1 and one quarter hours before sunset would be about 94 minutes before sunset or
always very slightly before 7PM.

In communities yet further north, issues get dicier; it appears that yet more
lenient positions would allow a Sabbath meal to begin even earlier, but it is
often assumed that the meal would extend to within 1 and one/quarter hours
before sunset.  Thus on an 18 hour daylight period with sunset at 1030PM, one
and one/quarter hours would be 112 minutes and 30 seconds.  the meal might start
at 730PM and extend until after 840PM.  Consult you local rabbi; those living in
Anchorage or St. Petersburg and even as far south as Amsterdam have community
customs, beyond the scope of this note.


From: Ari Trachtenberg <trachten@...>
Date: Mon, Mar 8,2010 at 11:01 PM
Subject: electronic stuff etc

Batya Medad wrote:
> I wouldn't be so quick to bury paper books.  They've outlived so many
> modern information/data storage methods.  Books will be around a long,
> long time.  Ebooks will go the way of instamatic cameras,  cassettes,
> walkmans, filmstrips etc.

I think that these are bad analogies.  The instamatic cameras,
cassettes, etc., might all be gone, but they have made a significant
mark on society and been replaced by even more technology.

I think that Bernie's original point was right on ... the day will
come when publishers will stop publishing physical books, and we will
have nothing to read on Shabbat (unless we run our own obsolescent
presses).  I too am interested in a more nuanced understanding of
what specific electronic devices or components are ultimately
permissible on Shabbat.


From: Bernard Raab <beraab@...>
Date: Fri, Mar 12,2010 at 01:01 PM
Subject: electronic stuff etc

Rabbi Meir Wise wrote:
> Bernard Raab's V57#90 argument about electronic locks is very subtle. When  
> murder was forbidden guns were not invented therefore murder with guns  
> must be permitted!
> And why is he so dismissive of the Amish? I don't know much about them  
> but they seem like harmless Godfearing folk?

I don't quite see the analogy. The Torah forbids murder. If the method were
specified then we would have a shayla [theological question]. Where exactly in
the Torah is the use of electricity forbidden? That it started when electric
lights replaced gas lamps in the most widespread initial application is perhaps
understandable, but it has progressed stepwise from there to cover any and all
applications. My argument is that in the microelectronic era we are in a
completely new regime. These devices consume negligible power, and are typically
engaged in information transfer. They are, at best, distant relatives to the
earlier applications of electricity.  I agree with the statement about the
Amish, but it seems that they reject the intrusion of 20th century technology
into their lives. They are free to do so and more power to their freedom. But is
that to be our role model?

Thanks for advancing the discussion--Bernie R.

From: Nathe London <nathelondon@...>
Date: Sun, Mar 21,2010 at 08:01 AM
Subject: electronic stuff etc

I am shocked at Michael Perl's unwarranted attack on Rabbi Wise and  
surprised that the editors let this through.  Rabbi Wise was polite to Bernard
Raab describing his argument as subtle.

And whilst Mr Perl acknowledges that Mr Raab is mistaken about the  
halocho he adds nothing to the actual argument.

Perhaps Rabbi Wise was too subtle but if I understand his meaning it is  
as follows.
   * The Torah does not mention electricity nor does it mention guns.
   * It speaks in and lays down principles.
   * It forbids ignition on the sabbath whether by fire which is mentioned  
or any other form of ignition.
   * It prohibits murder with tools that existed in it's day and those to  
be invented in the future. That is why the Torah is a living document  
that speaks to all generations.
Hence the learned Rabbi's comparison of electricity to guns was  
absolutely correct as an example of two future inventions covered by  
the Torahs laws.

I am still waiting for someone to say exactly what is wrong with the  
Amish and why they are fair game on a Jewish discussion group?!

Rabbi Wise is one of the leading scholars in London and is involved in great
Chesed projects without a salaried position. He and his rabbanit have an open
house and help the poor, widows, orphans, students and converts.


From: Alan Rubin <alan@...>
Date: Mon, Mar 22,2010 at 07:01 PM
Subject: electronic stuff etc

I hope I am not misrepresenting our local Rav (who is Haredi but with
a mostly MO kehilla) but I think that he has said that he doesn't
understand why use of solid state electronic devices should be
prohibited on Shabbos.  We look forward to a time when all of our
seforim, siddurim and chumashim are on e-readers and we are able to
use them in shul on shabbos and Yom Tov.  That does not mean the he is
now allowing members of the community to use them!

Alan Rubin


From: Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz <sabbahillel@...>
Date: Wed, Feb 24,2010 at 09:01 AM
Subject: Gemaras "beyond our comprehension"

Stuart Wise wrote:
> ... My question, then, is, who was the gemara written for and given to if it
> is not within our ability to comprehend? This sounds similar to passage in
> Navi, which also are regarded as off-limits, such as the maaseh merkava in
> the book of Yechezkel.
> Stuart Wise

There are several answers to this question. I should point out that
there are people who reach the level of being able to understand
"maaseh merkava" (the descriptions of the "chariot of G-d" in
Yechezkel) even though *we* (generic plural) are not at that level.
Similarly, there are gemoros that require a level of learning and
understanding that we have not been able to reach. Those gemoros were
written because there are such people.

There are also gemoros that were written in code and only those who
have the key would be able to understand them. In today's daf yomi
(daily page of the Talmud - 10 Adar 5770) we see messages sent in code
regarding such matters as adding a second Adar to the year with the
explanation of the code. There are other aggadata [folklore? --MOD]
for which the code is not written down, but the oral explanation was passed down
to those who were ready for it.

For example see "The Juggler and the King" by Rabbi Aharon Feldman.

       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: Mark Symons <msymons@...>
Date: Sun, Mar 21,2010 at 04:01 AM
Subject: HaLachma Anya Translations

I seem to recall that several years ago someone posted to MJ information 
about a database of translations of HaLachma Anya into several languages 
- either on the internet or in a personal file. I've tried to search for 
this, both on MJ and on Google but haven't been able to find it. Does 
anyone - esp the original poster - have any information about this? I'm 
particularly interested in a Finnish version.

Mark Symons
Melbourne Oz


From: Eric Mack <ewm44118@...>
Date: Sun, Mar 21,2010 at 05:01 AM
Subject: Quinoa in Israel on Pesah

In the States, quinoa is accepted as kosher for Pesah.  However, last year, the
supermarket here in Jerusalem (Talpiyot neighborhood) covered the packages of
quinoa, along with the chametz [leavened foods].

Israeli charedim reportedly consider quinoa to be kitniyot, but that would not
explain why it, unlike rice, beans, etc., was covered, and not available for

Can anyone shed any light on this issue?

Eric Mack


From: Stuart Wise <Smwise3@...>
Date: Sun, Mar 21,2010 at 06:01 AM
Subject: wedding customs

I am guessing that the source of the custom for fathers to walk down the  
groom and mothers to walk down the kallah is not to mix sexes,  but when  
it's ones parents, why is this an issue? And why is that some people who follow 
this custom also perform the "mitzvah tanse," where male family members 
engage in some sort of indirect contact with the bride through some medium 
such as a gartel?
Why would a custom arise that deprives a parent of walking one's child down 
 the aisle?
Stuart Wise


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Mon, Mar 15,2010 at 10:01 AM
Subject: wedding rings

Carl Singer wrote:
> The "heavy" (halachic) question is, is there a requirement
> under ordinary circumstances for a married woman to wear her ring - or a
> surrogate ring*.

AFAIK there is no halachic requirement for a married woman to wear a wedding
ring. Though we usually give a ring to effect kiddushin, this is not
strictly necessary since anything of sufficient value suffices. Once she has
received it at the chuppah, she can, at least in theory, sell it, give it
back or even throw it away since it has fulfilled its purpose.

It might even be argued that wearing a ring is chukkat hagoy [following
non-Jewish customs] though I have never seen anyone seriously suggest this.

Martin Stern

From: Robert Rubinoff <rubinoff@...>
Date: Sun, Mar 21,2010 at 01:01 PM
Subject: wedding rings

Gershon Dubin wrote:
> There is absolutely no requirement for a married woman to wear her wedding ring
> if she doesn't feel like it (or has some other reason not to).

In fact, there's no requirement that she even keep the ring.  Her acceptance of
the ring from the man establishes that they are betrothed. Once this happens,
the ring is just a piece of property she owns, with no difference from anything
else she owns (halachically, obviously it will have symbolic and emotional
value).  And while it is the general custom (at least among Ashkenazi Jews) to
use a ring, technically the betrothal can be enacted by any object of clear,
non-trivial value.  So there doesn't even have to be a ring at all.

Of course it is the usual custom for a married woman to wear her wedding ring
(among non-Jews as well!), but I don't think that custom rises to the level
where it becomes an actual requirement, particularly in a case where there's a
reason not to (e.g. it doesn't fit any more).



End of Volume 57 Issue 95