Volume 59 Number 64 
      Produced: Thu, 21 Oct 2010 11:03:25 EDT

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

A punctuation question (2)
    [Sam Gamoran  Art Werschulz]
Abraham and Sarah in Egypt 
    [Robert Schoenfeld]
Avraham and Sara in Egypt and in Grar 
    [Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz]
Halakha for Special Agents (2)
    [Harlan Braude  Russell J Hendel]
Hechsher on the Label 
    [Orrin Tilevitz]
Looking For Early Editions Of The Authorised Daily Prayer Book (Singer 
    [Immanuel Burton]
Martyrdom and suicide 
    [Russell J Hendel]
Prohibition on entering a church 
    [Ben Katz]
    [Menashe Elyashiv]
Ruth survey 
    [Art Werschulz]
sayag l'torah 
    [David Ziants]
Use of the Hebrew word "banot" for "girls" 
    [David Ziants]
zemanim (2)
    [Menashe Elyashiv  Dr. William Gewirtz]


From: Sam Gamoran <SGamoran@...>
Date: Wed, Oct 20,2010 at 06:01 AM
Subject: A punctuation question

Sammy Finkelman <sammy.finkelman@...> wrote (MJ 59#63):

> ... It's right there in Pirkei Avos 2:13:
> c'she;atah mitpalel, al ta'as tefilat'cha keva - Rabbi Shimon says,
> when you pray, don't make your prayer keva [fixed = exact wording].

Actually it's Pirkei Avoth 2:18.

I always understood the word keva as meaning "routine" i.e. don't make your
prayers mechanical or rote without feeling or intent.  This is irrespective of
the text of the prayers though harder to avoid if the text is fixed.


From: Art Werschulz <agw@...>
Date: Wed, Oct 20,2010 at 07:01 AM
Subject: A punctuation question

In response to Sammy Finkelman's posting (MJ 59#61):

> V'Hashaiv Es Ha'Avodah Li'Dvir Baisecha, and V'Ishai Yisroel we don't find any
> more [in their machzorim](i.e., it and what follows is omitted)
> It could be that this was the basis for the Rabbinical Assembly (Conservative
> Judaism) omitting those words in its Siddur. It would be interesting to find out
> if they actually cited this Tosfos.

Orren Tilevitz writes (MJ 59#63):

> That might be plausible If this were the only related change in the Conservative
> liturgy. But it isn't. My recollection is that the old Silverman siddur -- which
> is my point of reference, and what I assume Sammy is referring to--changes
> "vesham naase lefanecha et korbenot chovoteinu" ["and there we will perform
> before You our obligatory sacrificies"] to "vesham asu lefanecha et korbenot
> chovoteinu" [or maybe it's even "korbenot chovoteihem", changing a prayer for
> the future to the statement of the past. In short, Conservative doctrine
> apparently doesn't admit to restoration of the sacrifices.

Interestingly enough, "v'ishei yisrael" is now an option in all amidot in the
new Conservative mahzor "Lev Shalem".  However, the past tense is still used in
all mussaf amidot.

Art Werschulz
207 Stoughton Avenue, Cranford  NJ 07016-2838
(908) 272-1146


From: Robert Schoenfeld <frank_james@...>
Date: Thu, Oct 21,2010 at 10:01 AM
Subject: Abraham and Sarah in Egypt

The Pharaoh of Egypt called his wife his "Sister" in some cases she was 
his sister This custom existed in other place in the Mid East at this 
time accorsing ro archeologists so Abraham calling Sarah his sister 
would not be unusual as he lead a band of people according to the Torah



From: Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz <sabbahillel@...>
Date: Wed, Oct 20,2010 at 01:01 PM
Subject: Avraham and Sara in Egypt and in Grar

Abe Brot <abe.brot@...> wrote (MJ 59#63):

> In Parshat Lech-Lecha, we read about the incident where Avram and Sarai are
> driven from Cana'an because of a famine and go to live in Egypt. In order to
> protect Avram's life, they declare themselves as brother and sister.
> Several of the commentators, especially the Ramban, state that Avram erred
> in this matter because he left Cana'an without G-d's command, and thereby
> risked Sarai's life and honor. (The Ramban also sees the Egyptian exile of
> Avraham's descendents as a punishment for this sin.)
> But what about the additional sin of putting Sarai (a married women) in a
> position where she might have martyred herself and not submit to gilui
> arayot (a severe illicit relationship). Here, we can probably say that
> before receiving the Torah, the rule that requires martyrdom instead of
> gilui arayot does not apply.
> Now we move to Parshat Vayera, and this time we read of a more puzzling
> incident where Avraham and Sara go to live in Grar, and again adopt the
> "brother and sister" story. But this time, there was no famine that drove
> them away from Eilonai-Mamrei! ... Of course, Sara was taken to King
> Avimelech's house. Sara was ultimately saved from being violated only
> because of G-d's intervention.
> Since there was no famine in Cana'an, what was Avraham's justification for
> moving to Grar, and then using the "brother and sister" story again? (This
> was against Sara's will, according to Rashi.) The dangers were very real and
> no justification is stated in the Torah. In fact, during G-d's dealings with
> Avimelech, Avimelech is shown to be a tzadik and Avraham is not shown in
> that light.
> Later, during the confrontation between Avraham and Avimelech, Avraham
> excuses his behavior by saying "I thought there was no fear of G-d in this
> place, and I expected to be killed because of my wife". So why did he come
> to Grar?
> So how do we explain Avraham's behavior in this incident?


There are are several different questions being asked that need to be
dealt with.

Even those who fault Avraham for going to Mitzrayim, do not fault him
for going to Grar. Yitzchak was forbidden to leave Eretz Canaan as a
result of the Akeidah, but Hashem told him (in Toldos) specifically to
stay in Grar. Thus, Grar was not outside of Canaan and there was
nothing wrong with that. The only problem was the trick that Avrohom
used. As Avraham tells Avimelech, this trick was actually necessary
and part of their normal behavior. It is only brought up in the Torah
when the king (who was the only one who could get away with violating
Avraham's rights as the "brother" of an unmarried woman) actually took
the "sister" in order to make her part of her harem.

Rav S. R. Hirsch (among others) points out that this trick was
designed to save the two of them from the general population of the
city state. As Rav Hirsch says,(as translated in the Judaica Press
edition) in Vayera chapter 20 pasuk 2.

"... unmarried virgins must have been much safer amongst the
people than married women. It seems to have been only princes that
unmarried strangers had reason to fear. And actually it was again only
a king that dared to take her, and who later on has no scruples in
admitting it."

Avimelech, in fact, is wrong even though he *thinks* that he is
innocent. When Hashem "speaks" to him, Avimelech says

"in the innocence of my heart and the integrity of my hands I did this"

However, when Hashem responds, He says

"I know that you thought that you were acting innocently" (my translation)

We see that Hashem acknowledges that Avimelech thought that he was
right, but tells him that not only was he wrong, but he needs to get
Avrohom to pray for him or he would die as a result of what he did

"And he will pray for you and you will live"

Thus we see that Avimelech was deserving of death for the abuse of
power. Note that Avimelech does not dispute the fact that Avrohom used
the trick on everyone else. He is just upset that Avrohom did not let
him know what was going on. Indeed, Avimelech in Toldos tells Yitzchak

"One  of the people might have 'taken' your wife" (in 'nicer' language)

Rashi points out that this means he himself might have taken her. In
fact, Avimelech there has to explicitly warn the people not to 'touch'
either Yitzchak or Rivkah. Avimelech in Vayera did not dare let
Avraham stay in the city itself. He couched his 'request' that Avraham
leave in nicer language by telling him that he was free to settle
wherever in the land under his (Avimelech's) control that he wanted

Sabba  -     ' "    -  Hillel
Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz


From: Harlan Braude <hbraude@...>
Date: Wed, Oct 20,2010 at 08:01 AM
Subject: Halakha for Special Agents

In MJ 59#63, David Tzohar wrote:

> About thirty years ago I was recruited by the Mossad.
> [...]
> He also presented me with some moral dilemmas which had to do with operations
> which would endanger (read kill) civilians. To all of these questions I replied
> that I would have to consult with my Rav, but it was my understanding that a
> milchemet mitzvah, where there is a question of pikuach nefesh of klal Yisrael
> takes precedence over all the mitzvot of the Torah. I don't know if my hesitant
> answers were the reason, but in the end (thank G-d) I did not become an agent.

First, in my opinion, that you were considered for such a position speaks
highly of your academic (and other) credentials. Not every Tom, Dick and
Yossie gets an invitation. Nice!

Second, I suspect that more than your hesitant answers, your need to consult
your Rav - who might not have the appropriate security clearance - is likely
the reason you didn't get the job.

From: Russell J Hendel <rjhendel@...>
Date: Wed, Oct 20,2010 at 08:01 PM
Subject: Halakha for Special Agents

First: Thanks to Josh and others for providing the link to Rav Shvat's article.
I was also happy to learn that Mosad consults with Rabbinic figures. 

Rav Shvat does cite many sources. I disagree on three methodological grounds:
When push comes to shove the sources cited base themselves on Talmudic texts
which base themselves primarily on the Ester and Yehudis stories. But it is
clear that Ester and Yehudis were rape victims. Achasveirosh ORDERED all virgins
to his harem. Similarly the Governor ordered all newly weds to be with him. The
allowances given to a rape victim do not generalize to the current situation.
They certainly do not justify "luring enemy agents into affairs." So
methodologically I question whether we can accept a source if that source has
incorrectly generalized a Biblical situation.

Second: Rambam (Sanhedrin) explicitly states that a Jewish judge when deciding
law should approach it BOTH legally and experientally. That is, if the legal
arguments are perfect but the Judge feels uneasy about the conclusion (s)he
should not decide. Applying this to the intelligence situation, does Rav Shvat
really FEEL that allowing Jewish women to lure non-Jewish men is something
allowed. If not, his legal sources should not be sufficient.

Third: The luring of enemy agents is a response to an indirect threat to life.
In the Ester and Yehudis cases there was a direct threat targeted at these
individual women. It is extremely dangerous to regard "possible gathering of
information" as based on "threat to life." Let me reformulate this: Of course
"threat to life" overrides everything in the Torah. But e.g. my statement "I
took a city bus to shule on Shabbos because there is less danger of accident
than by walking OR because I am afraid of being mugged and wanted to be on the
street" is clearly incorrect (halachically). Why is it incorrect? Because I am
using a "vague indirect" threat to life as a justification for something that
requires a "direct threat to life." Just how much information do we get from
such encounters? Could we not get it otherwise? Even if we really need it I dont
see how a woman who is not threatened can lure someone.

Finally: I rebring my question of "Why are we doing all this." What happens to
the families of women who engage in such activities. Can they have normal lives?
If in protecting ourselves we destroy ourselves isn't something wrong?

I also note that Rogovin cited Broyde who believes that "all prohibitions are
abrogated in times of war." David Zohar gave a counterexample. You can't do
whatever you want sexually as indicated in the laws at Deut 22. In passing, we
had a thread about Broyde's remarks on mail jewish (The issue was using torture
to obtain information). I objected then and object now.

I think the overriding concern is that BESIDES the halachic issues, in fighting
the enemy we should not descend to their level

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


From: Orrin Tilevitz <tilevitzo@...>
Date: Wed, Oct 20,2010 at 08:01 AM
Subject: Hechsher on the Label

Carl Singer and Sabba Markowitz responses in MJ 59#63 to my posting questioned
the accuracy of my tastebuds and noted that federal labeling laws may not
require all ingredients to be listed. These responses are beside the point of my
question, which I thought was clear it was. My apologies if it was not. Here is
the question:

> Let's say that in fact the flavorings are artificial but reliably kosher, and the
> OU found out about this. Would the OU demand that the labels be changed on pain
> of withdrawing their hechsher, or would they say "the product is kosher, and
> our responsibility ends there"

In other words, what would happen if the OU (or, for that matter, another
supervisory organization) found out that a label was false -- a lie; not that
the label doesn't mention added ingredients that the government didn't require
it to list -- but the ingredients that it should have listed were kosher?


From: Immanuel Burton <iburton@...>
Date: Wed, Oct 20,2010 at 08:01 AM
Subject: Looking For Early Editions Of The Authorised Daily Prayer Book (Singer

The first edition of the Authorised Daily Prayer Book of the United Hebrew
Congregations of the British Empire (popularly known as the Singer's Siddur) was
published in 1890, and the most recent edition in 2006.

I am trying to put together a complete set of all the 40 or so
editions/impressions that have been published since 1890, and need just two more
to complete the set:

2nd edition - 1891.
6th edition - 1900.

Technically these are the 2nd and 6th impressions, but the publisher in those
days (Wertheimer, Lea & Co) seemed to have used the word "edition" instead on
the title page.

If anyone knows of any copies of these editions that are for sale or otherwise
available I should be grateful if they would contact me.

Thank you.

Immanuel Burton.


From: Russell J Hendel <rjhendel@...>
Date: Wed, Oct 20,2010 at 08:01 PM
Subject: Martyrdom and suicide

Akiva (MJ 59#61) is absolutely correct - martyrdom is an obligation to BE KILLED
rather than do one of the three cardinal sins. There is no allowance for
suicide. This is supported by the grammatical use of the passive - YAHARAYG VAL
YAAVOR - let him/her be killed but not violate.

When I spoke about suicide pills of female Israeli soldiers it was not on
account of martyrdom but along the lines of 9-11 when people jumped rather than
be consumed by flames. My understanding was that it was an option given to
female soldiers who were afraid of being tortured after being caught.

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


From: Ben Katz <BKatz@...>
Date: Wed, Oct 20,2010 at 06:01 PM
Subject: Prohibition on entering a church

Chana Luntz <Chana@...> wrote (MJ 59#57):

> Mark Steiner (MJ 59#55) writes:

>> They had no access to Wikipedia, did not attend church services, and hence
>> were not aware of the details of the mass and of the actual role of the
>> wafer as an avoda zara itself (the flesh of Jesus).

> I am very uncomfortable with this kind of analysis for three reasons.

> The first is that once you say that the Ba'alei Tosphos (or whoever) did not
> have access to Wikipedia and hence did not know what they were talking
> about, then anything they say on the subject becomes suspect. If they did
> not know this much about Christian theology, then any analysis of
> Christianity they undertook was coming from a stance of ignorance, and we
> can safely ignore it.

There are many issues related to what the Ba'Alei haTosaphot knew or didn't
know.  First of all, many scientific ideas upon which halachot are based are
incorrect.  See the book review of M. Levinger's Guide to Massechet Hullin and
Masechet Bechorot (and follow-up correspondence) that appeared in BDD
1997;4:81-102 for a thorough and occassionally humorous discussion by Shlomo

Second, I attended a shiur today by Rav Hershel Schachter of YU who in
discussing the Tosafot s.v., I nami bachavilay zemorot on Kidushin 26a, where
Tosafot suggests that to make a kinyan hagbaha (lifting something up to show
ownership) on an elephant one needs to entice the elephant to jump up - had no
problem saying that Tosafot probably never saw an elephant.


From: Menashe Elyashiv <Menashe.Elyashiv@...>
Date: Wed, Oct 20,2010 at 04:01 AM
Subject: Rashi

Josh wrote (MJ 59#62):

> the story told in Shmuel Alef 31 (and in Divrei haYamim Alef 10:12)
> about the residents of Yavesh Gilad who risked their lives to retrieve
> the body parts of Shaul HaMelech and his sons who were killed
> in battle with the Pelishtim. I checked all the mefarshim in
> both places and the only relevant one was Rashi in Divrei
> HaYamim who specifically indicates how the residents of Yavesh

It is not sure if this is Rashi, although the printed caption is Rashi, it 
is refered as hamefaresh (the commentator), and is probably Rashi's 


From: Art Werschulz <agw@...>
Date: Wed, Oct 20,2010 at 08:01 PM
Subject: Ruth survey

I took an informal survey of Ruths, via our shul's email list.  I had seven
responses, all of whose civil and Hebrew names differed.  However one respondee
said that her granddaughter had the name "Plonit Ruth" in both English and

So I guess our shul's English Ruths are simply ruthless in Hebrew (sorry).

Art Werschulz


From: David Ziants <dziants@...>
Date: Tue, Oct 19,2010 at 05:01 PM
Subject: sayag l'torah

My grade 1 daughter is doing some very nice things, with respect to her 
Mishna Avot course at school. To demonstrate the phrase at the end of 
the first mishna "v'asoo sayag l'torah" ["Make a fence around the 
Torah"], she came home with a  shabbat telephone cover. We very much 
look forward to using it, and she understands well that it is, so we do 
not use the phone by mistake on Shabbat, and it helps in honouring the 

My question is, although having a shabbat telephone cover is an honour, 
does it technically come under the heading of "sayag l'torah" in avot? 
Is honouring the shabbat technically part of "sayag"?

I understand that the phrase in the Mishna is an instruction to such 
institutions like the Anshei K'nesset HaG'dola (Men of the Great 
Assembly] or the Sanhedrin that they can enact laws like muktza [objects  with
restricted use on shabbat and yom tov]. Being a delicate object, I assume the
telephone comes under the strictest level of muktza, and so cannot be handled in
the normal way under any circumstance (unless a danger to life issue). Muktza is
the fence that was enacted. As far as I know, they did not enact another fence,
like having a shabbat cover on the muktza.

Are we allowed to make our own personal sayagim? (I know they have been 
plenty of sayagim on a community level.)

I realise, that whatever the conclusion of people on this list is, the 
most comfortable thing is to go along with the direction of the class, 
so my daughter has full trust in what she learns.

David Ziants


From: David Ziants <dziants@...>
Date: Wed, Oct 20,2010 at 04:01 AM
Subject: Use of the Hebrew word "banot" for "girls"

Although in the end this is not relevant for the responsa on sting operations as
the author used the term "isha" [woman], I think that in Israeli society it is
very common to use the term "banot" ["girls"] in a collective form for young
females (in army, in sherut l'eumi [national service], studying, etc.). Thus I
do not understand the problem, if the term is used in this discussion, as it is
the correct context.

Even when some of these girls are married, they would still naturally 
feel part of the same collective of their framework, and would not take 

In England, my mother, z"l, even into middle age, would refer to the 
"girls" of her Wizo group or the "girls" who worked with her in the 
solicitor's office.

David Ziants


From: Menashe Elyashiv <Menashe.Elyashiv@...>
Date: Wed, Oct 20,2010 at 04:01 AM
Subject: zemanim

I once went to Iskovich (the Benei Brak minyan factory) for Minha Gedola, 
and we finished together with a Shaharit (morning??) minyan.

A friend of mine finished Seuda Sheleshit late, and as a hiyuv, we went to 
Amshinov in order to be a shaleach sibbur. The ending minyan said Kaddish 
derabban and Aleynu, because - they finished Musaf (!) at Rabbenu Tam time
In my place, we pray Minha right before sunset, and Arvit follows at 
sunset, even in the winter. Many times, some one comes in and joins us in 
the middle of the amida (shemone esrei) being sure that he made it in time 
(?) for Minha, and then is surprised that to see that we finished Arvit

From: Dr. William Gewirtz <wgewirtz@...>
Date: Wed, Oct 20,2010 at 11:01 AM
Subject: zemanim

In MJ 59#63 Akiva Miller asks:

> Dr. William Gewirtz (MJ 59#62) wrote:

> Davening maariv late on motza'ai shabbat is more interesting and as you
> note permissible. ...
> The shul seems to be waiting almost 4 hours, well beyond anything in halakha.

> If "davening maariv late on motza'ai shabbat" is permissible, then what's your
> problem with waiting 4 hours? It seems to me that no one claims that one *ought*
> to wait that long. Rather, the late minyan is there for the convenience of those
> who want it.

The original question was not permissibility (obviously yes), but any halakhic
basis to suggest a 4 hour zman?

The specific question from Stuart Wise in MJ 59#60 to which I was responding was:

>> "I guess you can end Shabbos so late, but is this based on a zeman?"

My response was there is no halakhic zman that I am aware of. In passing, I
noted that 4 hours in NY this week may even extend well beyond tosefet shabbat.
Clearly some maintain tosefet applies even later (until chatzot ha'lailah
perhaps) or perhaps until Tuesday!!!!

To be clear, I have no problem as long as they daven maariv before chatzot


End of Volume 59 Issue 64