Volume 58 Number 05 
      Produced: Tue, 27 Apr 2010 22:32:26 EDT

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

a problem in Yekum Purkan 
    [Robert Schoenfeld]
an unappealing proverb, revisited (2)
    [Frank Silbermann  Charles Chi (Yeshaya) Halevi]
biblical exegesis - Vashti's execution 
    [Russell J Hendel]
education (3)
    [Mordechai Horowitz  Joel Rich  Daniel Cohn]
electronic stuff etc 
    [Bernard Raab]
Israel independence day (2)
    [David Ziants  Sam Gamoran]
marriage and separation (3)
    [Janice Gelb  Anonymous Ari Trachtenberg]
    [Ira L. Jacobson]
wedding customs 
    [Martin Stern]


From: Robert Schoenfeld <frank_james@...>
Date: Mon, Apr 26,2010 at 10:01 AM
Subject: a problem in Yekum Purkan

> In the first Yekum Purkan, there is a phrase that is either 'dayanei devava' or
> 'dayanei di vava', both of which are difficult to understand.

"oF [the] gate" is the correct meaning. There are several examples in the 
Tanach where it says that the judge sits by the gate.



From: Frank Silbermann <frank_silbermann@...>
Date: Mon, Apr 26,2010 at 09:01 AM
Subject: an unappealing proverb, revisited

Mark Symons Vol.58 #04:
> I think a dog has a tendency to specifically eat its own vomit, which is
> what the proverb is referring to.

Would this count as "chewing the cud?"  Does this mean that the lack of cloven
hooves is the only thing keeping dogs from being kosher?

Frank Silbermann    Memphis, Tennessee

From: Charles Chi (Yeshaya) Halevi <c.halevi@...>
Date: Tue, Apr 27,2010 at 03:01 AM
Subject: an unappealing proverb, revisited

After I quoted Meeshlay (Proverbs 26:11) that
> As a dog returns to its vomit, so a fool repeats his folly
Mark Symons replied that
> I think a dog has a tendency to specifically eat its own vomit, which is
> what the proverb is referring to.

However, my question remains unanswered. Of course the vomit to which Meeshlay
refers is the dog's own. It uses this as its opening premise when it specifies
the dog "returns to its vomit." And the feces that many dogs eat can be their
own, or another dog's. 

Therefore, my original question stands. How can we use "not fit for a dog" in
determining standards about something being kosher or not, when a dog displays
such a lack of culinary criteria ? 

Kol Tuv, 
Charles Chi (Yeshaya) Halevi


From: Russell J Hendel <rjhendel@...>
Date: Sun, Apr 25,2010 at 05:01 PM
Subject: biblical exegesis - Vashti's execution

First, I was delighted to find half a dozen responses to my posting on Biblical
exegesis using the FILLIN method (v57n94). After 15 years on mail jewish I have
finally convinced some people that methodology itself should be discussed. I
would like to address some of the responses.

First Gilad (v57n95) and Naomi (v57n95) express surprise (and actually scoff )
that I think Vashti was executed since it is not written in biblical text. But
as I clearly explained the ESSENCE of the fillin method is to fill in the
biblical text with items that are not explicitly there. Norman (v57n95) accepts
this but asks why it is important - why can't we read the text as given.

Menasahe (v57n99) and Mordechai (v57n96) have begun responses. Mordechai cited
several explicit midrashim(So this isn't something I am making up). Menashe
defended the naturality of the interpretation "in the non-modern western world
in all times human life was not that valuable and people were killed right and
left." Menashe thereby answers Norman: "The reason we have to fill in the text
is because the CURRENT reader may not understand the psycho-social CONTEXT in
which the story was happening. The purpose of the FILL IN is to present to the
reader psychological and sociological background that facilitate understanding
the story." So in this case Menashe FILLS IN that we are dealing with a barbaric
world where people are killed left and right. This directly addresses Norman's
concerns: Norman lives in 20th century western America - to understand the
Esther story we must understand that the society in which she lived was
extremely different.

I might also add - supporting Menashe - that even in our modern world,
executions and deaths are sometimes only hinted at. The Bible (as Naomi
mentions) speaks about a decree; it mentions that she was to appear no more.
This is similar to say a modern day "hit" that "takes care of someone". Even
murderers are ashamed of what they do and speak discretely.

Next I would like to take up an interesting comment of Gilad. I asserted that
the biblical statements "The king ordered Vashti to appear...she refused...it
was decreed she would appear no more (execution)" are peculiar. They require
FILLIN.  Why did Vashti risk death? Following Chazal I suggested that "She was
ordered to appear Naked." This is consistent with the text "on the 7th day when
their hearts were good with wine...(the King ordered Vashti to appear)..."

Gilad however suggested "Perhaps he ordered her to appear without a veil." This
is an important FillIn. Gilad is pointing out that people (even sinners) tend to
be discrete about physical matters. The King would not come outright and ask her
to appear totally naked. "Just the veil." Here too we can address Norman's
concerns about FILL INS- why? The Midrash is explaining that for a Persian woman
to appear unveiled would be no different than say a modern woman appearing in
her underwear. The midrash gives us psycho-social context. Vashti saw his
drunkenness and his INITIAL requests as leading to no good. Again we answer
Norman - Chazal are being empathic with Vashti - they are showing us how a
female FEELS when men make such comments. The man may not be seeing where he is
going...he just asked to remove the veil - But Vashti FEELS the end - she is
being asked to strip totally. [Offhand while I accept Gilad's comments I am
unaware of veil customs among Persian women in Achashveirosh's time]

I think the above discussion useful. It shows the interaction between personal
experiences, psycho-social knowledge, and terse biblical texts. The above
discussion exposes the delicate interaction between text, observer and final
midrash.  I would encourage more such discussions in the coming issues.

Russell Jay Hendel; Ph.d ASA http://www.Rashiyomi.com/


From: Mordechai Horowitz <mordechai@...>
Date: Fri, Apr 2,2010 at 08:01 AM
Subject: education

Anonymous writes
> My eight-year-old son, to my utter horror, took the leftovers in the
> kiddush cup the other week, and said, "I offer this to the god Poseidon!"
> as a kind of joke.  Did he treif [render unkosher --MOD] the grape juice in the
> cup?
> Any thoughts..?  Please don't suggest banning all non-Jewish children's
> books.

In terms of practical halacha ask your Rabbi.

All non Jewish books shouldn't be banned but ones that are actual about 
real Avoda Zorah and have actions you don't want your child imitating yes.

But you bring up a point we need quality kosher literature that children 
and adults want to read which certainly isn't being created today.


From: Joel Rich <JRich@...>
Date: Tue, Apr 20,2010 at 12:01 PM
Subject: education

Stuart Wise wrote:
> I don't recall these classics being part of the yeshiva curriculum, and [I] am
> not convinced that a person cannot live a full and meaningful life without
> studying Greek and Roman mythology...

So where do you draw the line or do you use torah[-]only textbooks for math?
Physics? Psychology?.....

BTW my response to my kids was that they were right, they would never use 80% of
what they learned in school-trouble is you don't know which 20% you'll need till
after the fact (it's tough for a flatlander to imagine spaceland -
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flatland - oops, there I go with that useless
knowledge again:-)
Joel Rich

From: Daniel Cohn <4danielcohn@...>
Date: Sat, Apr 24,2010 at 04:01 PM
Subject: education

Stuart Wise writes:

> ...The anecdote that raised this issue--namely  the kid playing avodah zarah
> [foreign worship --MOD] --may be an isolated incident, but by the same
> token, unless the child plans to be an English professor or even an English
> major, it seem unnecessary to expose kids to this.
> Kids are so impressionable  and one never knows what can be triggered by a
> seemingly harmless exposure...

So by the same token maybe we should not allow them to read the Tanach
(Bible) as it is known to be full of descriptions of idolatry?  Yes, you
could claim that Percy Jackson is the hero of the book while in Tanach
idolaters are the villains (even when they are Jewish) but an impressionable
kid might very well feel tempted to imitate the bad guys (it happens all the

I also believe any phrase that starts with "a person cannot live a full and
meaningful life without..." is misleading as you can complete it with nearly
anything.  You could live a full and meaningful life without learning the
book of Job, or without learning math, or without learning to play a musical
instrument.  Yet the character and personality needed to live a meaningful
life is often made up from a sum of pieces of knowledge and experiences,
none of which is by itself a sine qua non condition.

Regarding the halachic question itself, I must say that I am surprised by it
- doesn't avoda zarah require kavanah (intention)? And can a minor be held
guilty of avodah zarah, to the point of treifing wine?  I don't discount the
value of the experience as a learning tool, however.


From: Bernard Raab <beraab@...>
Date: Fri, Apr 2,2010 at 05:01 PM
Subject: electronic stuff etc

Batya Medad wrote:
> There are some very serious halachik problems with ebooks on Shabbat,
> finding one needs repairs, dealing with batteries or however they work.
> When I was becoming religious in the 1960's (NCSY and Seminar) I
> remember learning that even though bicycles were totally mechanical they
> shouldn't be ridden on Shabbat because of potential need of repair.  (I
> don't remember much being said about eruv, even though they were still
> very rare.) 

This could certainly be raised as a serious problem since the gemarah itself
discusses the potential repair of musical instruments as a reason to ban their
use on Shabbat, although they were permitted in the Beit Hamikdash.  But we are
not talking about something which effects the tzibbbur. If a musical instrument
were to fail during a public performance, there would certainly be pressure to
repair it so the performance can continue. An ebook, however, is a very personal
device, and its failure effects only the reader. If a light bulb were to burn
out while we are reading on Shabbat, something that I am sure has happened to
most of us, we may be upset, but I believe that very few observant Jews would
think about replacing it until after Shabbat.

> Certainly ebooks can't be removed from all the electrical
> aspects.  They aren't electric frames on the wall or table, which like
> electric clocks, aren't touched and if they "die" on Shabbat, big deal.
> No doubt, that like the digital cameras and computers with their "short
> shelf lives" you'll find that the ebooks won't last long.  You can read
> the same paper book for decades.
I have been trying in this discussion to draw a distinction between various
forms of electric energy, and a response I recently submitted carries the
discussion further. I am intrigued, however, by the mention of digital cameras.
You must have noticed how rapidly digital cameras have taken over from film
cameras. Within only about 5 years, it has become virtually impossible to buy a
film camera. Yes, you will be able to keep books for decades (or longer, if you
treat them as treasures) but you will not be able easily to buy a new one.  Yes
there are problems with ebooks on Shabbat, not the least of which is the display
as I point out in my recent submission.

> Hotels and electric keys are problems, but arrangement can usually be
> made with the management in advance as a condition for staying in that
> hotel.  Hotels are businesses.  They want to keep customers.
The question is: Is that really necessary?

Thanks again--Bernie R.


From: David Ziants <dziants@...>
Date: Wed, Apr 21,2010 at 05:01 AM
Subject: Israel independence day

There does not seem to be any mechanism to "bring in" Yom Ha'Atzma'ut 
[=Independence Day] at p'lag mincha [=an earlier halachic time approx. 
90 mins before sunset], because of Yom HaZikaron [= Memorial Day for 
Fallen Soldiers] being the day before. The home celebration of Yom 
Ha'Atzmaut, as set out in the laws of the day by our zionistic Rabbanim 
who want this day to have its religious dimension, should include a 
festive meal after the festive davening [=prayer service] in shul. This 
can be quite late, becauseYom Ha'Atzma'ut cannot formally start until 
around 8:00pm in Israel and so is not friendly towards the family.

This issue is not relevant on Purim, which is preceded by Ta'anit Esther 
[=Fast of Esther] because no one ever dictated a festive meal at night 
on Purim.

Any ideas on how this can be dealt with?

David Ziants
Ma'aleh Adumim, Israel


This question is, of course, directed to those who feel a need to 
celebrate Yom HaAtzmaut in a religious way. For those who think Yom 
Ha'Atzma'ut need only be celebrated as a secular holiday this question 
has less relevance, as having or not having a festive meal is not such a 
big deal and those who think Yom Ha'Atzma'ut should not be celebrated at 
all, then this question has no relevance at all.

From: Sam Gamoran <SGamoran@...>
Date: Mon, Apr 26,2010 at 02:01 AM
Subject: Israel independence day

Ira L. Jacobson <laser@...> wrote:
>>The problem with Yom Ha`Atzma'ut is Hillul (desercration) Shabbat.
>It has been suggested that this argument also applies to Log Ba`Omer
>(so named for the logs we burn), and that the celebration to be held
>on Motza'ei Shabbat should also be postponed by one day...

There are several differences between Yom Ha'Atzma'ut/Yom Hazikaron and Log Ba'Omer:

1) Yom Ha'Atzma'ut is a "new" holiday (people are still alive who remember when
it came into existence).  The halachot (laws) are still being worked out
dynamically with no long-standing tradition.  Log B'Omer is an "ancient" holiday
that has been observed for generations on Motzei Shabbat so it would not be
appropriate to change it now.

2) Yom HaZikaron (Memorial Day) observances (and this is what would be motzei
Shabbat [upon the departure of Shabbat --MOD]) are communal in nature and may
take place at a cemetery.  Log B'Omer celebrations tend to be "family" or
"groups of friends" oriented with the notable exception of the central
celebration at Mount Meron.  They do not worry about hillul Shabbat [desecration
of Shabbat --MOD] at Mount Meron because of the type of people who go there and
the option exists to arrive before Shabbat and sleep over.  I read that this
year they cleaned out a number of nearby chicken coops and turned them into
makeshift dorms for youngsters.  Sleeping at a cemetery before a Yom Hazikaron
ceremony is not an option.

There are also several other advantages to ensuring that Yom Ha'Atzma'ut does
not occur on a Monday or Thursday.  Actually with the extant calendar it never
occurs on a Thursday and this latest change prevents Monday as well.

1) There is no conflict in choosing between the regular weekly Torah portion and
any other reading from inyanei d'yoma (events related to the day).  More on that

2) There is no conflict between Yom Ha'Atzma'ut and the (not widely observed)
fasts of BH"B (Monday-Thursday-Monday) that take place starting the first Monday
after Rosh Chodesh (beginning of the month of) Iyar.  This avoids
"embarrassment" of having some Jews fasting on a day that others are reciting

While I am on the subject of Yom Ha'Atzma'ut observances I want to write about
something that bothers me in the prayers chosen for this day.  I wonder if I am
the only one...  It seems to me that the prayers for Yom Ha'Atzma'ut should more
closely follow the "matbeya" (prototype) for prayers on a holiday of Rabbinic 
origin.  The two classical Rabbinic holidays are Chanukah and Purim.  On these
days we:
- say Hallel (Chanukah only because Purim took place outside of Israel)
- read a special portion from the Torah
- say Al Hanissim (the prayer of Thanksgiving for the miracles that took place
on these days)
- say Shehechiyanu (Purim and first day Chanukah) though we also are saying it
for the special commandments of the day of the day (lighting the menorah,
reading the megilla, mishloach manot, etc.)

It seems to me that we should be following the same prototype for Yom Ha'Atzma'ut.
- Why don't we have a special Torah reading with three people called up and
saying the blessings?  If the haphtarah (prophetic reading) from the eight day
of Passover is to be read why don't we say the blessings?
- Why don't we say a (newly composed) Al Hanissim.  I recall seeing one whose
origin, I believe, was, from a Conservative Background.  Does that make it
- Why do we add (see the Rinat Yisrael and similar siddurim (prayerbooks)) so
many passages not said on any other holiday?  Is it to cover up that perhaps we
think Yom Ha'Atzmaut isn't a full-fledged "real" holiday?

Sam Gamoran


From: Janice Gelb <j_gelb@...>
Date: Mon, Apr 26,2010 at 04:01 AM
Subject: marriage and separation

Russell J Hendel <rjhendel@...> wrote:
> 1st) Intermarriage, as the Rav explains, does cut oneself
> off from the Jewish > people. One manifestation of this is that your children
> will not be Jewish. But > more importantly you yourself will cease being
> Jewish...

Could you please provide the legal source 
for this contention that intermarriage 
causes the Jewish partner to "cease being 

-- Janice

From: Anonymous
Date: Mon, Apr 26,2010 at 11:01 AM
Subject: marriage and separation

It doesn't take a great halachic or psychological mind to see the many
problems with this situation. But as we talk about the various
punishments for sexual transgressions--being cut off from the Jewish
people, stoning, flogging--consider this.

Manhattan is filled with women in all manner of hair-covering and
over-the-elbow sleeves and with husbands in yarmulkes who take pride
in finding a mincha minyan at the office. But the mikva'ot, while not
empty, are not exactly filled to capacity.

So as we tell anonymous to find a nice Jewish girl--good advice,
doubtless--let's keep in mind that lack of a nice Jewish girl is not
the only circumstance that leads to being cut off from one's people.
Does this make it all right to sleep with a married non-Jewish woman?
No. But perhaps it gives a little perspective. What I like about
Anonymous is he's honest.

From: Ari Trachtenberg <trachten@...>
Date: Mon, Apr 26,2010 at 11:01 AM
Subject: marriage and separation

> Russell J Hendel wrote:
> 1st) Intermarriage, as the Rav explains, does cut oneself off from the Jewish
> people. One manifestation of this is that your children will not be Jewish.
> But more importantly you yourself will cease being Jewish.

I believe that this is flatly refuted by Jewish law, with the famous quote from
the Talmud (Sanhedrin 44:1, based on Joshua 7:11), translated loosely
"Even if he has sinned, he is a Jew."

This is reinforced quite clearly in various places, for example regarding
loaning with interest to a Jewish meshumad (one who has abandoned the faith)
(Sefer Ha'ora 2:116):

> One may not lend with interest to a meshumad ... and this extends ...
> This does not appear to be out of chumra [stricture], but rather because of
> the intrinsic essence of a Jew that cannot be denied.

Also to the shechita [slaughtered animal --MOD] of a meshumad (Tos. Hulin 1:1).

It is true that one loses certain privileges for certain sins, but this also
happens during non-sinful times (e.g. a mourner has restrictions on his/her
participation in the Jewish community during mourning).

Ultimately, however, a halachic Jew remains a Jew according to the Torah no
matter what.  He/she still has the same unique responsibilities of a Jew,
whether or not he/she keeps them, and there is a path to regaining full communal



From: Ira L. Jacobson <laser@...>
Date: Fri, Apr 2,2010 at 08:01 AM
Subject: quinoa

Mekhon HaTorah veha`Aretz three years ago at 
http://www.kipa.co.il/ask/show/114176 discusses kitniyot at length 
and seems to conclude that liftit (lecithin from rapeseed) is 
permissible for Ashkenazim, because it is not suitable for human 
consumption, and it is added to affect viscosity and not taste.

Eli Turkel stated in mail-Jewish Vol.57 #97 Digest:
>OU doesn't allow Canola oil
I was informed privately that when canola oil is prepared, they 
collect with the canola, cuttings of sheaves other grains, and 
therefore there are kashrut organizations that approve all oils for 

>and doesn't recommend Quinoa,
The cRc of Chicago says about Quinoa, "Quinoa is not kitniyot but 
requires certification to be sure no other grains are mixed 
in."  Other kashrut organizations concur.

>but do[es] allow citric acid (eg aspartame).
In Israel, no mehadrin hekhsher for Pessah (that I know of) is given 
to products containing Aspartame, but ordinary rabbinate hekhsherim [kosher
certifications --MOD] are given for Pessah for such products.



From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Tue, Mar 23,2010 at 06:01 AM
Subject: wedding customs

Stuart Wise <Smwise3@...> wrote:
> 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?
> Why would a custom arise that deprives a parent of walking one's child down
> the aisle?

It seems that there are two customs that have arisen and any reason for
either is not known. This reminds me of a question once put to Rav Yaakov
Kamenetsky by someone who noticed that at the wedding of one of his children
he had adopted a different one from previously. When he was asked what was
his reason for not changing his custom, he replied that he had made no
change since his custom had always been to avoid any dispute with
mechutanim [in-laws --MOD]!

Martin Stern


End of Volume 58 Issue 5