Volume 59 Number 25 
      Produced: Mon, 13 Sep 2010 15:26:49 EDT

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

Dates of Rosh HaShanah (2)
    [Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz  Martin Stern]
Rambam's change of mind 
Selichot (2)
    [Shmuel Himelstein  Akiva Miller]
    [Mark Symons]
The Minchat Elazar (sic) 
    [Jeanette  Friedman]
Throwing bread crumbs to fish on Shabbat/yom tov 
    [Jeanette  Friedman]


From: Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz <sabbahillel@...>
Date: Mon, Sep 13,2010 at 12:01 PM
Subject: Dates of Rosh HaShanah

Stuart Wise <Smwise3@...> wrote (MJ 59#24):

> Interesting note about 5751 and beyond.
> Jewish Action magazine notes that beginning this year four of the five
> next years (excluding 2012) will all have Rosh Hashanah on Thursday and
> Friday with Yom Kippur on Shabbos. The article did not explain why that is so,
> and wondering if anyone has a layman's explanation.

The Jewish year has three possibilities for the number of days in a
regular or leap year. The reason is that the lunar month is
approximately 29.5 (twenty nine and a half) days long. If this was
exact, then just alternating 29 and 30 day months would be correct.
However, the exact average cycle is 29 days 12 hours 793 "parts" in
length. A "part" is one in 1080 of an hour. The 793 "parts" converts
to 44 minutes and 1 "part" as can be seen by looking at a chart of the
molad announcements for the year. As a result, there are almost 15
minutes more than 29.5 days. This is handled by having the months of
Cheshvan and Kislev be either 29 or 30 days and having the three
possibilities of 29 and 29, 29 and 30, or 30 and 30.

Rosh Hashannah (first day) can never occur on Sunday, Wednesday, or
Friday so that Yom Kippur cannot occur on Friday or Sunday and
Hoshannah Rabbah can never occur on Shabbos.

This makes the regular year have 353, 354, and 355 days ("adding 3, 4,
or 5 days to the day of the week of Rosh Hashannah), while leap years
have 383, 384, and 385 days ("adding" 5, 6, and 0). The Jewish year
uses a 19 year cycle and the leap years can be shown by taking the
year number as modulus 19. This year (5771) is year 14 of the cycle
(year 19 of the cycle has modulus 0). The five years involved are thus
14, 15, 16, 17, 18 Year "17" is the next leap year. This year (a leap
year) both Cheshvan and Kislev are 30 days so that next Rosh Hashannah (5772)
will be also be on Thursday and Friday. The following year will have
Cheshvan 29 days and Kislev 30 days (30 Kislev 5772 is 26 December
2011). This brings the following Rosh Hashannah (5773) to Monday and
Tuesday. .

5773 will have 29 days in Cheshvan and Kislev which brings Rosh
Hashannah back to Thursday again (from the modulus calculation above.)
for 5774.

5774 is year 17 of the 19 year cycle and is again a leap year and
again will have both Cheshvan and Kislev set to 30 days. This means
that the following (regular) year of 5775 will again start on

Since 5775 is not a leap year, Rosh Hashannah of 5776 will occur on
Monday and since it is again a leap year (modulus number 0) with both
Cheshvan and Kislev 30 days, the following year (5777) is again on

I hope that this explanation is adequate.

Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz 

From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Mon, Sep 13,2010 at 01:01 PM
Subject: Dates of Rosh HaShanah

Stuart Wise  wrote (MJ 59#24):

> Interesting note about 5751 and beyond. Jewish Action magazine notes that
> beginning this year four of the five next years (excluding 2012) will all
> have Rosh Hashanah on Thursday and Friday with Yom Kippur on Shabbos. The
> article did not explain why that is so, and wondering if anyone has a
> layman's explanation.

The Jewish year consists of either 12 lunar months (ordinary year) or 13 lunar
months (leap year). Since the lunar month is just over 29.5 days, this means
that the months are alternately 29 and 30 days. However to take account of the
small excess, two months, Cheshvan and Kislev, can be either 29 or 30, the
choice depending on certain technicalities that are not relevant to Stuart's
question. Thus an ordinary year will have 353, 354 or 355 days, and a leap year
383, 384 or 385 days (the extra month always has 30 days). Of these only the
last number, 385, is divisible by 7 so only after such a year will the festivals
fall on the same days of the week two years running. Clearly there cannot be
two successive leap years so it is not possible for this to happen in three
successive years.

The situation Stuart has noticed is as follows:

5771 is a leap year with 385 days so, since Rosh Hashanah falls on a
Thursday and Friday in 2010, it also will in 2011.

If Rosh Hashanah also falls on the same days in 2013 and 2014, the Jewish
year 5774 must also be a leap year with 385 days.

The intervening two (Jewish) years, 5772 and 5773, will be ordinary ones so
in 2012, Rosh Hashanah will fall on different days of the week. If Rosh
Hashanah falls on a Thursday and Friday in 2013, their combined length must
be divisible by 7 so 5772 will be of 354 and 5773 of 353 days (the other way
round is not possible).

I have omitted many interesting details about the calendar to simplify this
and I hope that the result is not still too technical.

Martin Stern


From: Chana <Chana@...>
Date: Mon, Sep 13,2010 at 06:01 AM
Subject: Rambam's change of mind

Avi Walfish wrote (MJ 59#23):

> I don't have time to do a thorough study of this subject, but here's
> one counterexample off the top of my head: in Hilkhot Hanukkah Chapter 3
> I don't see any explicit statement exempting women from reciting Hallel,
> even though 3:14 makes it clear that women are in fact exempt.

True.  The odd thing about Hallel though is that the whole obligation of
Hallel (for all festivals) is mentioned almost as by the way, in the
midst of his discussion about Channukah.  In many ways one would have
expected him to follow his more usual format and had a separate perek
entitled Hilchot Hallel or some such.  If he had, then I would have expected
him to again follow his more common format and set out who is obligated and
who is exempt.

In an earlier post (MJ 59#21), Avi Walfish wrote:

> I think the simpler and more convincing reading is that women are included
> in 1:1 and not in 1:5. (And 6:10 just refers back to the obligation about
> which we know already, namely 1:1).

And I replied (MJ 59#22):

> Actually no. 6:10 adds in one key word that is not in 1:1 "Nashim, avadim
> *vkatanim*" - women, slaves *and minors* are obligated in tephila.
> Now, it is not at all surprising that katanim are not mentioned in 1:1
> and 1:2, because the obligation of katanim for anything is generally
> understood not to be from the Torah, but to be rabbinic.

Avi Walfish then responded (MJ 59#23):

> The exclusion of minors from 1:2 is for an obvious reason - the status
> of minors has nothing to do with the nature of prayer as a non-time-bound
> commandment, which is the main point of 1:1.

Yes, exactly. 

He continued:

> The inclusion of ketanim (minors) in 6:10 has troubled many commentators,
> especially in light of Rambam's formulation in Hilkhot Keriyat Shema 4:1
> that ketanim are exempt, but fathers are obligated to educate them to do
> it. Rambam seems here to be following the language of Mishnah Berakhot 3:3,
> which exempts minors from shema but obligates them in prayer, but Rashi and
> Tosfot already noted that this mishnah seems to contradict itself - if
> viewed from the perspective of personal obligation, the minor should be
> exempt from both, but if viewed from the perspective of father's educational
> duty, he should be obligated in both. Neither Rashi's nor Tosfot's answer
> seems to fit the Rambam's differentiation between educational obligation for
> shema and personal obligation for prayer. Rav Kappah quotes Sidrei Moshe,
> who argues your case - 1:1-2 is Torah law, from which minors are exempt, but
> 6:10 is rabbinic, and minors are included. ...

> I think this is a problematic reading, because even if 6:10 is referring to
> the rabbinic thrice-daily requirement of prayer, the Rambam still should
> have noted that the requirement of children is due to education, as he did
> in Hilkhot Keriyat Shema (and elsewhere). To my mind, Rav Rabinowitz in Yad
> Peshuta to Keriyat Shema 4:1 (pp. 111 ff.) has a better reading, which
> differentiates between mitzvot where the rabbis imposed the educational
> obligation on the parent and mitzvot where the the educational obligation
> devolves on the child himself. In Rav Rabinowitz's view (p. 113), this has
> nothing to do with whether we are discussing rabbinic or Torah dimensions of
> prayer.

I don't follow the logic of this (I am not sure if this is Rav Rabinowitz's
view or yours).  You can still argue for a differentiation between mitzvos
where the rabbis imposed the educational obligation on the parent and
mitzvos where the educational obligation devolves upon the child while
continuing to maintain that both is a rabbinic dimension of prayer (and if
it were not, then ketanim need to be included in the Rambam's 1:2).  And
hence the statement in 6:10 is either mixing up rabbinic (minors) and Torah
(women and slaves) obligations (which is as mentioned, very odd) or these
are all rabbinic obligations.  And if women have a rabbinic obligation vis a
vis prayer, over and above the Torah one, then what is it?

I personally find the argument you have quoted from the Sidrei Moshe (via
Rav Kappah) more compelling - especially  if you go back to Brachos 20b
(which everybody agrees this comes from) and assume the wording of
"d'rachmai ninhu" - because then the logic of devolving a personal
obligation on the minor, and not just an educational obligation, would seem
to be that minors too need mercy (as indeed we see unfortunately every day).
[Indeed, I don't think you even need the gemora's wording of d'rachmai ninhu
to understand that the thrust and rationale behind the mishna is to ensure
mercy for those who need it.  That is, even if you do understand that
wording to be an incorrect addition, you might well understand that the
reason whoever added in those words did so was because they were in tune
with the underlying issues, even if they were not necessary or correct where
they were placed].  But you don't need this explanation.  

> There is indeed an odd mix of nashim, avadim, ketanim, insofar as the
> reasons for obligating and exempting of the former two differ from the
> reasons regarding the minor.

Only if you read it the way you have to read it to get to the answer you
want to get to.  If however you read the obligation as fully rabbinic in
6:10, (and if you will, with rabbinic concerns driven by the need for
rachamim) the halacha works comfortably and you don't need to go to:

> However, the Rambam here, as usual, is simply citing the language of
> the Mishnah, which lumps the three together - and creates a complicated
> exegetical problem. It should be noted, however, that this trio is
> often brought together in the Mishnah, and it is far from unlikely that
> the literary desire to keep the trio together overrode the different
> halakhic logic applying to each. Some Rambam commentators (I forget where
> I saw this) suggest that "ketanim" in this formula does not really belong
> to this halakhah, and is simply cited together with its usual partners as
> a catch-phrase (similar to some citations in the Mishnah of gerushah
> vahalutza, mamzer venatin, etc.).

Can you see how all this is a stretch, far more of a stretch than saying
that the Rambam meant what he said, he meant the three to be together
because he thought the Mishna had rightly put them together, and he
understood the gemora in Brochos as talking about a rabbinic obligation.
Just in addition, he thought there was a Torah obligation learnt out from
the Torah language of avodah b'lev which was a mitzvah not dependent upon
time.  It is far more respectful to the Rambam, as well as more satisfying
on a learning level.

There is yet another reason though why I believe that the straight reading
of the Rambam is that women were included in the rabbinical mitzvah.  And
that is because of a general Talmudic principle of kol d'tikun rabbanan
k'ain d'oraisa tikun [anything that the rabbis enacted they enacted like a
Biblical law].  Now the gemora in Gittin 65a does suggest a qualification on
this that it has to be "b'milta d'ita leh ikar min haTorah" [a matter where
the essence comes from the Torah] - but if one follows the Rambam, the
essence of prayer is indeed from the Torah.  [And the gemora in Pesachim
116b makes it clear that who is or isn't included in a mitzvah is one of the
things that this concept picks up - in that case a blind person].  

And indeed, this is the position followed in all the other cases I can think
of vis a vis women.  Once we say shamor v'zachor [guard and remember]
obligates women in the positive mitzvos of Shabbas along with the negative
from the Torah, all of the other rabbinic obligations follow.  We do not sit
here quibbling about whether all the myriad of positive rabbinic obligations
vis a vis Shabbas do or do not apply to women (except for things on the
periphery like havdalah, and the issue there is whether this is really a
mitzvah linked to Shabbas or not).  Similarly with Pesach, once women are
considered obligated biblically in the korban pesach and other Torah mitzvos
of seder night, the four cups and other rabbinic mitzvos follow.

All of a sudden those who try and read the Rambam this way are suggesting
that the Rambam is deviating from this principle - and without any kind of
explanation or justification, not in him, and not in any of the major
commentators on him.

This is in contrast to the Hallel case you mentioned.  There the only
principle in operation is that of women being exempt from positive mitzvos
dependent upon time.  Now Rashi does take the position that just because
there is a Torah principle that women are exempt from positive mitzvos
dependent upon time, that does not mean that the Rabbis took the same view,
and enacted the same way.  But if one were to assume kol d'tikun rabbanan
k'ain d'oraisa tikun then the position one ends up with is rather Tosphos's
position, that in general when the rabbis enacted a new positive mitzvah
dependent upon time, they enacted like the Torah did, and exempted women,
unless they gave specific reasons (such as they too were involved in the
miracle) when they did it differently (such as megila).  

Thus one can easily understand the Rambam assuming that women are exempt
from Hallel, because kol d'tikun rabbanan k'ain d'oraisa tikun and when the
rabbis enacted hallel, they enacted it like a Torah positive mitzvah
dependent upon time, and hence obviously women are exempt. 

But this logic does not work, and works against you, when it comes to
prayer.  Because the Torah obligation includes women, therefore the logical
assumption would be that women are included in any rabbinic obligation where
the essence is from the Torah.  Not that the Rambam might not have found a
reason to rebut that assumption, but to rebut that assumption, one would
have expected him to say so clearly, rather than by means of what is really
a very difficult and not straightforward learning from the text.  As I have
also said, I fully understand the motivations that drive a desire to learn
an exemption for women from thrice daily prayer in the Rambam, and indeed
there are commentators who very much do look to the social reality (ie what
the people are actually doing) in deriving halacha (Tosphos is one that
immediately springs to mind amongst the rishonim).  But the Rambam is not
one of them.  If anything he tended to represent the purist school, going
back to the original sources and setting out the halacha as found in them,
regardless of social reality. Indeed, our previous discussion was on the
differences between his perush HaMishnayos and his Mishna Torah, and his
corrections to the former to bring it in line with the latter.  But if you
read his explanations for why he made "so many mistakes" in his earlier work
that needed correction, he states that this is because there he followed the
position of the geonim, and that having now gone back and reviewed the
original sources, he now believes those positions are untenable.  That is
not the philosophy of somebody who is likely to be swayed away from the
original sources based on the reality of what women were actually doing.



From: Shmuel Himelstein <himels@...>
Date: Mon, Sep 13,2010 at 02:01 PM
Subject: Selichot

Martin Stern points out that the language of the Selichot is unfamiliar.
Many years ago - I don't remember where - I read that in the Middle Ages
study of the meaning of the Selichot was part of the Yeshivah curriculum.

I should also point out that in the Sefardic communities, as I understand
it, the same Selichot are said each day, which obviously makes the language
much more accessible.

Shmuel Himelstein

From: Akiva Miller <kennethgmiller@...>
Date: Mon, Sep 13,2010 at 03:01 PM
Subject: Selichot

Martin Stern asked (MJ 59#24):

> Do others find that selichot tend to be said, if anything, faster
> than the regular davenning despite their relative unfamiliarity
> and difficult poetic language? I have found that I never have time
> to finish more than about half of each one before the chazan starts
> "Keil Melech ...". Is it just that I am a slow reader or is it
> normal simply rush them off without thinking what they mean?

I too only get about a third or halfway through each one. This used to bother
me, but I have long since given up on that -- Selichos is not like Shema or
Hallel, where a specific text has been prescribed, and if one says too little he
has failed to satisfy the requirement. No, I think that Selichos is all the way
at the other end of the spectrum, where the text itself is *almost* irrelevant,
and is merely a vehicle for expressing particular thoughts and prayers.

I can't speak for others, but for me, the poetry is definitely part of the
problem. It's not only that I can't read the words by sight because they're
unfamiliar, but I have to sound each one out because even the *forms* are
unfamiliar. I even find myself doublechecking many words to insure that I got
them right. Sometimes a phrase will catch my attention, and I'll spend a few
seconds trying to appreciate it, but usually I just try to focus on the refrain
of each poem.

But, to give credit where credit is due, I must say that in many of the shuls
where I've been, several paragraphs here and there are skipped. I hope this is
because otherwise it would be said even faster. This happens at Kinos (on Tisha
B'Av) as well.

Akiva Miller


From: Mark Symons <mssymons@...>
Date: Mon, Sep 13,2010 at 03:01 PM
Subject: Tashlich

Aharon A. Fischman <afischman@...> wrote (MJ 59#24):

> If I remember correctly, my year in Yeshivat Sha'alvim 20 years ago (has it
> really been that long!) we said tashlich in front of the water tower.

IIRC when I was at Shaalvim (1970) we said Tashlich ON TOP of the water
tower - and there seemed to be 2 opinions as to the reason for this: 

1. To be close to the water in the tower. 

2. To be able to see the sea from that vantage point.

Mark Symons


From: Jeanette  Friedman <FriedmanJ@...>
Date: Sun, Sep 12,2010 at 03:01 PM
Subject: The Minchat Elazar (sic)

Yechiel  Conway (MJ 59:19) wrote:

>>The Minchat Elazar<<    

The "Minchas Eluzer" would throw one of his classic hissy fits if he saw 
himself referred to in Modern Ivrit, which to him was an abomination.


From: Jeanette  Friedman <FriedmanJ@...>
Date: Mon, Sep 13,2010 at 11:01 AM
Subject: Throwing bread crumbs to fish on Shabbat/yom tov

David Ziants wrote (MJ 59 #24):

> There was a recent thread on throwing bread crumbs to fish when doing
> tashlich.  I have never seen this "minhag" [custom] but do know of the
> custom of shaking out one's pockets as if to shake out one's sins.
On the second day of Rosh Hashanna, thousands of people in Brooklyn would  
descend upon the lake in Prospect Park to drop bread crumbs into the water 
and cast away their sins. It was a long walk, and often people would not 
return home, but go to their friends' houses that were closer to the park and 
then take a bus home once Yom Tov was over. The lake in the Japanese 
Gardens of the Brooklyn Botanical Garden was also a popular spot...with people 
from Crown Heights going to the Botanical Gardens and people from Boro Park 
going to Prospect Park.
No one told anyone that dropping crumbs in the water was forbidden, 
although when it was discovered that boys and girls were talking to each other, 
it was decided that it was no longer permissible to go to the parks for 
taschlich unless accompanied by a parent or responsible  chaperone.


End of Volume 59 Issue 25