Volume 59 Number 56 
      Produced: Sat, 16 Oct 2010 15:18:38 EDT

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

A good way to learn mishnah? 
    [Sammy Finkelman]
Am I too rational? (2)
    [Harlan Braude  Norman Miller]
    [Martin Stern]
Christians and Moslems 
    [Ira L. Jacobson]
    [Eitan Fiorino]
Dalet Amos Halacha Series 
    [Sammy Finkelman]
Did Ben-Yehuda revive the Hebrew language? 
    [Leah Aharoni]
Left-over korbanot (2)
    [Josh Backon  Stephen Phillips]
Leniency / Stringency 
    [Carl Singer]
Lo Yishama al Picha (It shall not be heard through you) 
    [Ira L. Jacobson]
Preventing Torah thefts 
    [Josh Backon]
Prohibition of entering a church 
    [Chana Luntz]
Shower on second day yom tov 
    [Akiva Miller]


From: Sammy Finkelman <sammy.finkelman@...>
Date: Thu, Oct 14,2010 at 07:01 PM
Subject: A good way to learn mishnah?

David Ziants wrote (MJ 59#52):

> My daughter has just started grade 1 at a Mamlachti Dati Torani school
> ...& [has a number of courses] one of them being learning Mishnayot
> - Pirkai Avot

> The school is teaching this through a method called mishnayot b'shet"ef,
> where shet"ef is the acronym for shira [song], t'nu'a [movement] and
> p'altanut [activity methods].

> When I first started hearing the CD of the course, I was very happy that
> there was such a pleasant way of learning mishnah - which is not simple
> language for 6 and 7 year old - by having each one sung to a (Jewish) popular
> beat/rap tune with appropriate musical accompaniment - thus each mishnah
> can be learnt off by heart after a very short period of time.

> When I wanted to revise this with my daughter on Shabbat (without
> musical or electronic aids of course) she did not want to and, from her
> reaction, I think it might be that the loud music lingers in her head a
> long time after the lesson and she is thus not so happy with the approach.

David Ziants added (MJ 59#54):

> My little daughter, when I asked her, also said that the loud
> music doesn't bother her at all, and there are other reasons why she
> did not want to do it when I asked.

The first thing I thought is: they start Torah off with Pirkei Avos?
That can be described as the sacred scripture of Reform Judaism. It
may tell you something about the school's Torah learning.

The tune (is it "v'karaiv pezurainu"? - I couldn't get anything to
play at the link) is probably too fast - and bouncy too maybe - for
any kind of comprehension. Which probably doesn't matter to the
school, since it isn't interested in comprehension anyway and it is
not treating it like something that is supposed to be understood.
Setting something to a catchy tune though, is probably good though,
for word to word repetition, and maybe that looks good to the parents,
who may be fooled into thinking the child actuially knows something.
But it is not so. How many times have you learned a song without any
understanding of what it says? Breaking it down into words probably
gets in the way of singing it, anyway.  When you try for comprehension
you are probably destroying the tune.

Or it may be she doesn't like the tune that much and that's the problem.

The Gemorah says Gemorah should be learned to a tune, but this is not
the kind of tune you hear.  The musical tones actually follow the
meaning - and the same thing is true for Torah reading.

I would suggest waiting awhile until they stopped and then learning it
with a different sound. It's not really that difficult to learn the
same song with two different tunes.


From: Harlan Braude <hbraude@...>
Date: Thu, Oct 14,2010 at 11:01 AM
Subject: Am I too rational?

In MJ 59#53, Eitan Fiorino wrote:

> Shmuel Himelstein wrote in MJ 59#52:
>> what it means that we are told that "Action X" is a "Segulah Beduka"
>> - a proven supernationally based method - for a Shidduch,
>> livelihood, health, etc.
> You are simply observing the debasement of Orthodox Judaism into
> a post-modern paganism of personal satisfaction, in which performance
> of magical rituals is claimed or believed to dictate the actions of God
> and consequently of the universe.

Wow, this is a tough neighborhood!

I used to get annoyed at these prouncements, too, until it occured to me
that these are merely "blessings in disguise", in the literal sense.

Although the wording is unfortunate, what I think underlies these 
pronouncements is an offer of a bracha in exchange for performing a service. For
example, suppose some nice single person shleps the groceries into the kitchen
of a senior citizen, the reward might be a thank you, a $2 tip or a bracha of
finding his/her beshert very soon (or maybe all three in Fancytown).

In another context, it's commonplace for someone making a donation to a synagogue
when called to the Torah on Shabbos or Yom Tov morning to get a "Mi shebeirach".

So, it's not a prediction that doing X will yield result Y, but a request to 
HaShem to grant the person Y for doing X.

From: Norman Miller <nm1921@...>
Date: Thu, Oct 14,2010 at 06:01 PM
Subject: Am I too rational?

Eitan Fiorino <afiorino@...> wrote (MJ 59#53):

> You are simply observing the debasement of Orthodox Judaism into a post-modern
> paganism of personal satisfaction, in which performance of magical rituals is
> claimed or believed to dictate the actions of God and consequently of the
> universe.

I agree entirely.  But it should be noted that this debasement 
has been going on for a very long time.  As Scholem points out, 
there were magical practices in the Talmudic period.  And 
centuries before the Baal Shem there were local baalei shem. 
Indeed it can be argued that the incredibly rapid growth of 
hasidism had more to do with the large-scale promotion of kameyes 
and such than with the pop-psych theory that's generally passed on.


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Fri, Oct 15,2010 at 09:01 AM
Subject: Beschert

In view of the current shidduch crisis where all too many young people are
unable to find their spouse, I wonder if anyone can explain the following:

We are told that 40 days before the birth of a boy, a bat kol [heavenly
voice] declares 'Bat ploni leploni' [so and so's daughter is to marry so and
so] - this underlies the concept of 'beschert' [intended marital partners].

Often young (and not so young) people come for advice to leading rabbis
regarding their inability to find their heavenly intended partner and often they
are told "you may well have met, but rejected, him/her". This raises a
problem. If we have free will and can therefore reject our intended, what
should happen to that person, who did not do the rejecting yet has been
deprived of their heavenly designated spouse?

Martin Stern


From: Ira L. Jacobson <laser@...>
Date: Sat, Oct 16,2010 at 03:01 PM
Subject: Christians and Moslems

Akiva Miller stated the following (MJ 59#54):

> We believe that they are mistaken, but that doesn't make them 
> [the Mulsims] idolaters, and this is not something we would demonize them over.

It seems to me that there is a lot in common between throwing stones 
at Markulis and throwing stones at the Ka'aba.  Why has this not been 
pointed out.  It just might change Akiva Miller's belief.



From: Eitan Fiorino <afiorino@...>
Date: Fri, Oct 15,2010 at 10:01 AM
Subject: clarification

In MJ 59#55 I wrote: 

> There was indeed a very long history of Moslem tolerance for 
> Jews and Jewish populations thriving under Moslem rule.  For 
> example, the golden age of Jews in Moslem Spain, and about 
> 500 years later, the invitation of Sultan Bajazet of Turkey 
> for the Jewish exiles from Spain to settle in Turkey (and 
> many thousands accepted the offer, turning Salonica and 
> Constantinople into major Jewish centers of commerce and 
> learning).  I would suspect that in many middle eastern 
> countries, it was not until the rise of of modern 
> anti-semitism in the late 19th and early 20th centuries that 
> relations began to seriously deteriorate (though there are 
> exceptions - King Mohammed IV of Morrocco refused to deport 
> Jews during World War 2, and when his son King Hassan II died 
> in 1999, many Morroccan Jews in Israel observed shiva).

I should correct one thing - news reports were that Moroccan Jews observed seven
days of mourning; I do not know if they formally observed shiva after the death
of King Hassan II.



From: Sammy Finkelman <sammy.finkelman@...>
Date: Fri, Oct 15,2010 at 03:01 PM
Subject: Dalet Amos Halacha Series

Last week (October 8, 2010/30 Tishrei 5771 issue) there was an article
in the Jewish Press (page 9) about Rabbi Ari Enkin and his Dalet Amos
Halacha Series. It sounds very interesting for the people here.

It was an "Informed Sources" columns by Steve K. Walz. I tried to
locate the article online but evidentally, these columns are not
included in the Jewish Press archives on the web.

What Rabbi Enkin does is deal with numerous different issues and
discusses it from all points of view.

In his interview he explains:

"I've always enjoyed the study of halacha over all other areas of
Torah study. Unfortunately, advanced halacha study is largely
inaccessible to the general Jewish public. This includes working
laymen with yeshiva backgrounds. I want people to be exposed to the
depth and variety of opinion that exists in the world of halacha and
the halachic decision making process.....My goal is for my sefarim to
be appropriate for both scholar and layman alike. The text is
thorough, but written in a very accessible and engaging manner. The
many footnotes are a treasure chest for scholars who wish to explore
the material further in their original sources....."

"[Question about why does the Anglo community in Israel and the Diaspora need
such sefarim]  All the major English Torah book publishers only
produce halacha works that are strictly in accordance with haredi
positions and philosophies, to the exclusion of all others. In my
series of sefarim, I proudly cite poskim from across the entire
spectrum of Orthodoxy. There is simply nothing out there in the world
of English halacha sefarim like my seforim."

This year he published his third book and he hopes to publish another
four in the coming years but he also says he hopes this will "eventually
be a 7 to 10 volume set on contemporary halachic issues."

In an email reply to me he said: "Each of my 3 sefarim discuses over
100 different halachic issues. There are over 2500 maarei mekomos in
each sefer."

There is a picture of the front and back coveer of his most recent
book at http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?pid=13324278&id=785295192&l=2646fcaf95

It carries an endorsement - or blurbs on the cover - from Gil Student
(of Hirhurim and OU Press) and Rabbi Gedalia Dov Schwartz, the Av Beis
Din of the Chicago Rabbinal Council, and Rabbi Yehuda Hertz Henkin.

Rabbi Ari Enkin has semicha from the Yeshiva Gedola of Montreal and
various other semichas including now Yadin Yadin. He made aliya
through Nefesh b'Nefesh in July 2004 and manages a Cheerfully Changed
currency exchange outlet. His job gives him lots of free time between
customers and he does all (?) of his research during work hours - that is,
he can be seen leafing through seforim and making notes, according to Steve

He very much agreed with the idea of posting information to the
mailing list. He sells each book for $25 with free shipping although
the first two seem to be a bit cheaper on Amazon.com. The current one
is a lot more expensive there ($59.95)  The list price looks to be
$24.95. His email address in the Jewish Press article was

It looks like they might be published by Gefen Books (516) 593-1234 or
972-2-538-0247.  At least his previous book was. They don't seem to be
found at israelbooks.com. I don't know if <orders@...>
would work.

There's now an orphaned Wikipedia article (meaning no links from other
Wikipedia articles) about him at

Rabbi Enkin appears to have announced what was probably the first
volume in his series himself on Mail_Jewish in Volume 52 Number 38
(message sent June 29,2006, produced July 5, 2006)

At that time, he was selling it for 40 shekels / 10 dollars!! (plus
shipping, if any) It also had a recommendation from Rabbi Michael

The previous book (which can be viewed inside at Amazon.com) has a
haskama inside from Rabbi Michael J. Broyde. He says it is well
written, has a wide assortment of issues so that every reader one will
find something of interest, and combines the ethical and technical,
showing the halachic process so that you see how Halacha actually
works taking into consideration many external factors.

The latest book does not seem to have been scanned.


From: Leah Aharoni <leah25@...>
Date: Thu, Oct 14,2010 at 03:01 PM
Subject: Did Ben-Yehuda revive the Hebrew language?

In recent months I've come across several examples of Israeli scholarship
claiming Modern "Israeli" to be a distinct language from Hebrew (you can
read my take on that here: http://aqtext.com/blog/hebrew_or_israeli/) 

May be some of the readers could suggest additional sources on the use of
Hebrew for purposes other than religious study predating Ben-Yehuda (circa

Also, I am looking for the location of the Tosfot which serves as the
anecdotal etymology of the Hebrew word "riba" - jam. The story goes that Ben
Yehuda misread a Tosfot "ma riba minei mirkahat?" as "Mai riba? Minei
mirkahat." Any input on the veracity of this story would also be


Leah Aharoni
AQText Translation Services
Phone: Israel - 972-72-2124355
           US line - 201-203-7233 
Mobile: 972-52-6852571
Email:   <mailto:<leah25@...> leah25@017.net.il
Website:   <http://www.AQText.com> www.AQText.com
Blog:  <http://www.ingathered.wordpress.com> www.ingathered.com 
Twitter: @leah_aharoni


From: Josh Backon <backon@...>
Date: Fri, Oct 15,2010 at 05:01 AM
Subject: Left-over korbanot

Stuart Wise asked (MJ 59#54):

> I overheard a conversation that questioned the halacha of an animal that
> was designated for sacrifice that can no longer be used must be let out to
> pasture to die. The question was whether this means letting the animal live
> out its life, or just stop feeding it until it dies of starvation. One of the
> conversants asked how could it be the latter, when that would constitute
> tzaar  baalei chaim (causing pain to living creatures).

You are referring to a Gemara in Temura 22 re: "ro'ah vs. meita. Your question
doesn't even address why we **kill** a korban that was dedicated, was 
lost and then found!  In any case, the animal that is put out to pasture is not 
for it to die but to *get* a "mum" [defect].

Based on a biblical verse (Exodus 23:5), the Talmud (Shabbat 128b; Bava  Metzia
32b) prohibits cruelty to animals and this prohibition was codified by the
Rambam (Hilchot Rotzeach 13:1) and the Shulchan Aruch (Choshen Mishpat 272:9).
However, the Rema (Even HaEzer 5:14) indicates that if there is any human need,
the prohibition is overturned (see also: Biur haGRA there s"k 40, and the Noda
B'Yehuda Mahadura Tinyana Yoreh Deah 10 as brought in the Pitchei Tshuva YD 28
s"k 10).

See also: Shvut Yaakov III 71, Chelkat Yaakov I 30, Sridei Eish III 7,
Chiddushei Chatam Sofer on Messechet Shabbat 154b, Binyan Tzion 108, Tzitz
Eliezer XIV 68, and the Trumat haDeshen Psakim uKtavim 105.

And in this case (animal sent out to pasture to fend for itself) there is
absolutely zero tzaar ba'alei chayim.

Josh Backon

From: Stephen Phillips <admin@...>
Date: Fri, Oct 15,2010 at 06:01 AM
Subject: Left-over korbanot

Stuart Wise wrote (MJ 59#54):

> I overheard a conversation that questioned the halacha of an animal that
> was designated for sacrifice that can no longer be used must be let out to
> pasture to die. The question was whether this means letting the animal live
> out its life, or just stop feeding it until it dies of starvation. One of the
> conversants asked how could it be the latter, when that would constitute
> tzaar  baalei chaim (causing pain to living creatures).
> Any elucidation?

Possibly the answer to that question will depend on whether the prohibition of
tzaar baalei chaim is a Torah injunction or a Rabbinic one. I believe it is
debated among the Rishonim [earlier Rabbis of the Middle Ages].

However, I don't see the problem. If the animal is left "out to pasture" then
its food is there growing under its feet!

Stephen Phillip


From: Carl Singer <carl.singer@...>
Date: Thu, Oct 14,2010 at 05:01 PM
Subject: Leniency / Stringency

Orrin Tilevitz in (MJ 59#54)  Modern Orthodox - notes

> While certainly the yeshivish, litvish black hat crowd (that is not the
> same as charedim) look for stringencies, the position that one does not do
> so is not the same as looking for leniencies.

I don't know that I agree with generalizations about Litvish or yeshivish
any more than generalizations about Modern Orthodox -- or charedim or any other
"labeled groups."

If seems that both terms, "stringency" and "leniency", carry with them
baggage as being either to the left or to the right of some ideal -- as seen by
those who disagree.



From: Ira L. Jacobson <laser@...>
Date: Sat, Oct 16,2010 at 03:01 PM
Subject: Lo Yishama al Picha (It shall not be heard through you)

Martin Stern stated (MJ 59#54):

> Incidentally one way of minimising this problem is to avoid wherever 
> possible writing the year number in full e.g. '10 for the current 
> Gregorian year. This usually does not cause any confusion but avoids 
> accepting their count explicitly.

Unfortunately, most of us already leave out the "he" in writing the 
Hebrew date, so that 5771 comes out to be 771.  You recommend that we 
do the same thing to the Xtian date and that will make us less 
obviously accepting their count, while we are at the same time less 
obviously accepting our own count.

Am I the only one who noticed the similarity?



From: Josh Backon <backon@...>
Date: Tue, Oct 12,2010 at 09:01 AM
Subject: Preventing Torah thefts

Shmuel Himelstein wrote (MJ 59#52):

> I am in no way involved with the organization, although I have had my Torah
> scroll marked that way. (It took maybe half an hour.)
> I wonder if the Israeli police are aware of this public service, and if
> anyone on the list has contact with the police, it might be worthwhile to
> bring this to their attention.

I asked the guy who sits next to me in shul (he's the Chief of Ballistics at
the Crime Lab at National Police Headquarters in Jerusalem). It seems that
there's an outfit in Bnei Brak that has some kind of an optical scanning service
for Sifrei Torah that does a similar kind of operation and "marks" the Sefer.

Josh Backon


From: Chana Luntz <Chana@...>
Date: Fri, Oct 15,2010 at 01:01 PM
Subject: Prohibition of entering a church

I wrote (MJ 59#54) in response to an earlier post of Frank Silbermann's:
>> It is only a sin not to offer a calf on the altar *if and only if*
>> the offering is made to HaShem. It is unquestionably a sin to offer a
>> calf (or anything else) as an offering to an idol. If, indeed, the
>> Christian conception of what they are offering to is halachically deemed
>> idolatrous, then they are making offerings to an idol ....

And he replies (MJ 59#55):

> Isn't that begging the question?  In the context of worship by
> gentiles, if the Christian concept of G-d is idolatrous then we've already
> answered the question -- so the Eucharist is irrelevant.  And if the
> Christian concept of G-d is not idolatrous for gentiles, then perhaps neither
> is the Eucharist. Noting that Christians perform this service therefore adds
> no evidence either way.

It is not begging the question, it is trying to answer the question.  The
rule is that anything offered to an idol, in the manner that similar items
were offered in the Beis HaMikdash, are forbidden for a Jew to benefit from
forever.  So if something (the Eucharist) is offered in a manner similar to
the way items were offered in the Beis HaMikdash, we can derive from its
treatment in halacha what the status is of that to which it is offered.  If
it is permitted for a Jew to benefit from, then it cannot be deemed to have
been offered to an idol, ergo, Christianity is (at least in some sense) not
idol worship.  If it is forbidden, then we can understand that Christianity
is idol worship, because were it not, then it should not be forbidden.



From: Akiva Miller <kennethgmiller@...>
Date: Thu, Oct 14,2010 at 06:01 PM
Subject: Shower on second day yom tov

Ben Katz (MJ 59#54) asked:

> A better question is how tefillin, which is d'orayta (from the
> Torah) can be abolished by yom tov sheni shel galut, which is
> d'rabanan (from the rabbis)

The answer is that tefillin is a positive mitzvah. The rabbis considered it
rather simple for us to temporarily refrain from doing positive mitzvos, where
they had a good reason for it. Some famous examples are telling us refrain from
hearing the shofar or taking the lulav on the first day of Yom Tov -- when these
are Torah mitzvos -- if the first day is on Shabbos. They did this for the
greater good - protecting Shabbos from even a rare inadvertent violation.

Similarly, in order to protect the FIRST day of Yom Tov, they had to take a hard
line stance on the second day as well, and not let us put our tefillin on. I
admit that this is hard to understand nowadays (it sure seems like "a fence
around a fence" to me) but for a generation which was truly unsure which of the
two days was the "real" yom tov, it makes a lot of sense. And the whole idea of
Second Day Tom Tov nowadays is to follow it just as carefully as they did.

Akiva Miller


End of Volume 59 Issue 56