Volume 59 Number 66 
      Produced: Wed, 27 Oct 2010 01:57:08 EDT

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

A punctuation question 
    [Ira L. Jacobson]
A punctuation question continued 
    [Sammy Finkelman]
Does use of a digital telephone on Shabbat involve Torah prohibitions? 
    [David Ziants]
Esther (WAS: Halacha for Special agents) 
    [Robert A. Book]
Girls (2)
    [Yisrael Medad  Frank Silbermann]
Hechsher on the Label (2)
    [Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz  Orrin Tilevitz]
Queen Esther (was Halacha for Special agents) 
    [Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz]
Ruth as a Hebrew Name 
    [Freda B Birnbaum]
Special Agents / Women and Language 
    [Michael Rogovin]
Teaching Midos 
    [Carl Singer]
The end of Kedusha 
    [Ira L. Jacobson]


From: Ira L. Jacobson <laser@...>
Date: Tue, Oct 26,2010 at 04:01 PM
Subject: A punctuation question

Sammy Finkelman stated (MJ 59#65):

> The Tosfos does not have a "yesh omrim" for the first possibility, 
> but says instead simply that that's what we say. If the two sides 
> were equal, there would be the words "yesh omrim" for both 
> possibilities, as there is for the two ways of explaining Rav 
> Gidal's statement about Micha'el.

Isn't there a principle of "halakha keyesh omrim"?  (That is, the Law 
is in accordance with the stand of those identified as "yesh omrim.")



From: Sammy Finkelman <sammy.finkelman@...>
Date: Tue, Oct 26,2010 at 06:01 PM
Subject: A punctuation question continued

I wrote (MJ 59#65):

> Now there's another issue. This whole thing is a big mistake. There never
> was a problem with the brachah. Both ways of understanding it are wrong,
> and Nusach Sephard (with the additional of the word Meherah) makes clear
> what the brachah means.

I realized now this - the word Meherah - is actually in the nusach
that Tosfos quotes! (but not in our current Ashkenazi Nusach nor in Nusach Ari.)

What probably happened here was, that approximately a thousand years ago, in
Northern France and Western Germany, going back maybe to the days of
Rabbeinu gershom (Meir HaGolah) and Rashi and Rabbi Meir ben Shmuel,
the Jews there were troubled by the wording of that Brochah.

The text had come from the Gaonim - so there should not be anything
wrong with it.

Some started saying the Brachah with vi-ishei yisrael connected to
what went previously.

Either way, it didn't seem right.

It seemed to mean either:

A)  That the sacrifices and the prayers should be accepted. But that
sounds like they are saying the sacrifices are now being offered.


B)  That the Avodah should be restored and the sacrifices.

But that's very awkward, and why are the words "v'ishei yisroel " at
the end of the sentence and not in the middle? And why are the avodah
and "Ishei yisroel" separate things? Well, you could say the avodah
consists of more than that.

Furthermore both versions, why are we asking twice for the tefillah to
be accepted - in fact three times with Shema Koleinu?

And in the days of Rabbeinu Tam or the Ri (Rabbi Yitchak of Dampierre) or
Rabbi Shimson of Sens, they thought they solved it:

The brachaha is said according to what it says at the end of the Gemorah at the
end of Menachos. There a verse in Divrei Hayomin (Chronicles) 2:3. is
explained. (A letter King Solomon wrote to King Hiram of Tyre.is
quoted that says, in part, and in passing, that the various (animal)
sacrifices are a permanent requirement on Israel.)

For some reason this is taken as an indication that the sacrifices are
still being offered in some fashion, One explanation is that
sacrifices are continuing in heaven and another explanation is that
you can say that as long as we study the korabanos.

So, it looked like the brachah follows that gemorah - sacrifices are
still being offered, and we ask that they be accepted.

But the real truth is, BOTH meanings are wrong and there was nothing
wrong with the wording of the Brachah in the first place.

The meaning is: Be satisfied with us and our prayers, restore the
service to your house, and receive quickly with love the sacrifices
and prayers....

The word "Meherah" appears many times in the davening - and it's
always referring to the restoration of the temple service - that this
should happen fast.

At some point,  it could have been not too later after that tosfos was written,
somebody was bothered by the word "Meherah"

Understanding the brachah to be asking that TODAY'S PRAYERS be
accepted quickly, it seems to be asking Hashem not to take his time
pondering the prayer but accept it quickly. Although we may have a
somewhat similar idea (but not really) the first night of Rosh
Hashonah, this seems very wrong. God, unlike a himan judge, does not
need to take time to think things over. The only reason for delay
would be to see if something changes in our conduct.

So the word meherah - which is the clue as to what the brachah
*really* means - was removed.


From: David Ziants <dziants@...>
Date: Thu, Oct 21,2010 at 07:01 PM
Subject: Does use of a digital telephone on Shabbat involve Torah prohibitions?

Firstly I want to thank the moderators for doing a wonderful job on this 
list and I certainly learn tremendously a lot from the postings. Also I 
am very happy that they sometimes make typo corrections, do short edits, 
or shorten a translation, to make a posting more readable.

Although it was a side statement in brackets, I made a wording with a 
certain ambiguity, and this was edited for me. It was concerning muktza 
and the parameters with respect to danger.

My original sentence was:

"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 issue that would allow the 
telephone to be used)."

The moderator changed the phrase in brackets:
"(unless a danger to life issue)"

My understand is that electricity, where no incandescent lights are 
involved, is Rabbinic according to most poskim (but not the Chazon Ish).

Looking up shmirat shabbat k'hilchata 33:3 and footnote 23* one 
understands that the telephone of that time (not so long ago actually) 
might involve lights in the operators' room and so is a Torah 
prohibition on Shabbat. Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach tzatz"al, in the 
footnote there, immediately has leniencies on Yom Tov, despite a light 
coming on in the operators' room because on Yom Tov most poskim see 
lights and lighting new fire as Rabbinic. Do such lights exist nowadays 
in the telephone exchanges? Are there other reasons, assuming one is not 
following the Chazon Ish, that use of a digital telephone might still be 
forbidden as a Torah prohibition? (Possibility of sparks in the electric 
connections does not seem to be an issue, I assume because this is only 
likely if the connections are loose.)

A case example that I have in mind is a bedridden sick person whose life 
is not in danger but is very uncomfortable. His enjoyment of Shabbat is 
in danger. The only way to get him more comfortable is to follow the 
advice of a professional who is only reachable by phone. Would such a 
phone call, in today's digital world (maybe dialling with a shinui [done 
in a different way] if lacking a phone that has g'rama [Shabbat delay] 
mechanisms) , be permitted on Shabbat? If the telephone is allowed to be 
used under these circumstances then I would assume that it would be 
permitted for it to be handled normally as if anything the operation of 
the phone is the important issue.

Although I did not intend to turn this into a discussion at this time, 
it was this idea I had in the back of my mind that convinced me to 
discreetly write "danger" and not "danger to life". It looks like now, 
that a new discussion might emerge.

With this, please do not analyse every word I add or omit in my postings 
to deduce hidden meanings. Most of the time it is just oversight that 
causes mistakes and with this I continue to give permission for the 
moderators to make the minor corrections according to their 
understanding where relevant, and if occasionally I feel a correction is 
not what I wanted, I hope I can have the prerogative to restore my text 
and explain myself.

David Ziants


From: Robert A. Book <rbook@...>
Date: Tue, Oct 26,2010 at 05:01 PM
Subject: Esther (WAS: Halacha for Special agents)

Russell J Hendel wrote (MJ 59#64):

> 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.

Mordechai Horowitz replied (MJ 69#65):

> But its unlikely that Esther as a married woman was a virgin so she
> voluntarily went to the harem and then voluntarily made herself look nice
> to be picked as the queen.

Notwithstanding the commonly-cited interpretation, the text clearly
states that those women to be collected were virgins.  The Hebrew word
used in Esther 2:3 is "betulah."

If I understand correctly, the claim that Esther was Mordechai's wife
is based on last few words of 2:7.  The plain meaning is "... Mordecai
took her for his own daughter."  But the word for "daughter" (Bet Tav,
or Beis Sav if you prefer) could also mean "house" which is used to
mean "wife" (via "household") in certain other instances.

One could potentially reconcile the two claims by saying Esther and
Mordechai were betrothed (kiddushin) but not yet married (nissuin),
in which case she would have a status similar to a wife for purposes
of adultery, but would still be a virgin -- in which case she would
have been subjected to Achasveirosh's "order" and would thus NOT have
"voluntarily" went into the harem.

There are two other problems with this approach: First, given the
views of the time -- that a woman who consorts with the King was not
to consort with any other man -- it is highly unlikely that a married
woman who wanted to go into the harem would be permitted to do so.
Second, the notion that Esther would have done so is arguable a slur
on Esther with no credibility whatsoever, and no support in the
context described, which is of virgins (not married women) being
conscripted into the harem by force (not voluntarily).

--Robert Book    


From: Yisrael Medad <ybmedad@...>
Date: Tue, Oct 26,2010 at 06:01 PM
Subject: Girls

Maybe look at it this way:

In Yiddish, veiber is "women" but it has a bit of a put-down connotation.
Same with "girls".


From: Frank Silbermann <frank_silbermann@...>
Date: Wed, Oct 27,2010 at 12:01 AM
Subject: Girls

David Ziants wrote (MJ 59#64):

> 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.

Batya Medad responded (MJ 59#65):

> Between "the girls" we're girls, but when
> a man refers to grown women, middle-aged
> women and older as "girls" he's being sexist
> and insensitive.

Not necessarily -- it depends on the society.  In a society for which a woman's
value is to a large extent determined by her youth and beauty, calling
middle-aged women "girls" could be taken as an attempt at flattery.

Of course, we in the Torah community measure a woman's value not by her youth or
physical beauty but by her fear of G-d, so the above would not apply to us. 
However, when Jews speak the local vernacular (rather than, say, Yiddish) it is
understandable that we might adopt gentiles' expressions and terminology, even 
though the derivation is not something with which we would identify.

Frank Silbermann         Memphis, Tennessee


From: Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz <sabbahillel@...>
Date: Tue, Oct 26,2010 at 04:01 PM
Subject: Hechsher on the Label

Shayna Kravetz <skravetz@...> wrote (MJ 59#65):

> Last, as anyone who watches the kashrut announcements knows, there's
> enough accidental mislabelling to explain Orrin's experience without
> any malign intent by the maker or mistake by Orrin. I receive the
> email alerts from the local kosher authority (COR) and every week or
> two there's a note referring to some certified product saying, "Don't
> use X" or "Y should be treated as dairy" because of mislabelling.

There are several incidents that I found. In one, a Japanese company
copied certain pictures from a label of an American firm including the
OU. When they were informed that it was a copyrighted symbol meaning
the product is kosher, they removed it. They had thought that it was a
symbol of good luck or the initials of a "religious" phrase.

Another case was that of "Circle U Pepperoni" which appeared to be the
OU symbol (but was not). Apparently the use had been grandfathered in
as it had been a well established brand.

   Sabba  -     ' "    -  Hillel
Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz 

From: Orrin Tilevitz <tilevitzo@...>
Date: Tue, Oct 26,2010 at 04:01 PM
Subject: Hechsher on the Label

In MJ 59#65, Mitchell Rogovin writes about the OU's apparent non-reaction in the
1980s Beechnut apple juice scandal and suggests that they may have seen the
light after the recent Agri scandals. 

The October, 2010 issue of Kashrus Magazine has a roundtable on Ethics and
Kashrus, with the moderator and representatives of the Big 4 kashrus
organizations. One can purchase a copy on the website. (I was disappointed: lots
of vague statements about requiring ethical behavior, but at no point does any
representative say that his organization would terminate a hechsher for any
non-kashrus related misdeeds, only that the organization would consider this   

The moderator raised the issue of labeling, but the representatives seemed to
interpret this to mean only the hechsher insignia, not the contents.


From: Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz <sabbahillel@...>
Date: Tue, Oct 26,2010 at 04:01 PM
Subject: Queen Esther (was Halacha for Special agents)

Mordechai Horowitz <mordechai@...> wrote (MJ 59#65):

> Russell J Hendel wrote (MJ 59#64):
>> 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.
> But its unlikely that Esther as a married woman was a virgin so she
> voluntarily went to the harem and then voluntarily made herself look nice
> to be picked as the queen.

Except that it is clear from the Megillah that she did not volunteer
for the contest, but was picked up in the general roundup. It is also
clear that she did not "voluntarily make herself look good" but that
she did what they told her to do. The description of how the women
were prepared makes it clear that this was the general procedure that
the harem officials carried out with every women. It was only at the
very end when she had to approach the king to save the Jewish people
that she "volunteered".

As we can see at http://www.chabad.org/library/bible_cdo/aid/16475

Esther - Chapter 2

8. And it came to pass, when the king's order and his decree were
heard, and when many maidens were gathered to Shushan the capital, to
the custody of Hegai, that Esther was taken to the king's house, to
the custody of Hegai, keeper of the women. 	  	-.
9. And the maiden pleased him, and she won his favor, and he hastened
her ointments and her portions to give [them] to her, and the seven
maidens fitting to give her from the king's house, and he changed her
and her maidens to the best [portions in] the house of the women. 	
10. Esther did not reveal her nationality or her lineage, for Mordecai
had ordered her not to reveal it. 	  	.
11. And every day, Mordecai would walk about in front of the court of
the house of the women, to learn of Esther's welfare and what would be
done to her. 	  	.
12. And when each maiden's turn arrived to go to King Ahasuerus, after
having been treated according to the practice prescribed for the
women, for twelve months, for so were the days of their ointments
completed, six months with myrrh oil, and six months with perfumes,
and with the ointments of the women. 	  	'.
13. Then with this the maiden would come to the king; whatever she
would request would be given to her to come with her from the house of
the women to the king's house. 	  	'.
14. In the evening she would go, and in the morning she would return
to the second house of the women, to the custody of Shaashgaz, the
king's chamberlain, the guard of the concubines; she would no longer
come to the king unless the king wanted her, and she was called by
name. 	  	".
15. Now when the turn of Esther, the daughter of Abihail, Mordecai's
uncle, who had taken her for a daughter, came to go in to the king,
she requested nothing, except what Hegai the king's chamberlain, the
guard of the women, would say, and Esther obtained grace in the eyes
of all who beheld her.

   Sabba  -     ' "    -  Hillel
Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz 

From: Freda B Birnbaum <fbb6@...>
Date: Wed, Oct 20,2010 at 01:01 PM
Subject: Ruth as a Hebrew Name

When I said [in M-J V59#63 --Mod.]:

> My mother's "English name" was Pauline Ruth, though she was always known 
> as Ruth (or "Rut", rhyming with "boot", or "Ruti").  Her Hebrew name, 
> however, was Pia Riva.
> No idea why.  And no converts involved here.

I made a typo AND I hadn't worked hard enough to find a word ending in "t" 
-- I should have said:

My mother's "English name" was Pauline Ruth, though she was always known 
as Ruth (or "Rut", rhyming with "foot", or "Ruti", rhyming, I suppose, 
with "footsie").  Her Hebrew name, however, was Pia Riva.

I'm assuming she was named after a grandmother and Ruth sounded more 

I have not come across other people named Ruth whose nicknames were 
pronounced like that.


From: Michael Rogovin <mrogovin118@...>
Date: Tue, Oct 26,2010 at 04:01 PM
Subject: Special Agents / Women and Language

In reply to Leah Gordon's query (59#65)

> Has anyone investigated using MEN (or by some of you, "boys") for "honeypot"
> sting operations? Either with female terrorists or, far more likely, with gay
> male terrorists?

Can't answer for sure re poskim, but the logic used by Rabbi Broyde (as I
explained in summary form in a prior post) would theoretically permit
sending a man for such a mission if it were deemed necessary to win a war.

I cannot stress enough that I find the idea of such missions repulsive in
the extreme, but then again, I find many of the potential orders which I
imagine a general giving in a war to be repulsive. That does not make them
assur (halachically prohibitted), nor does saying they are mutar
(halachically permitted) make them desirable, ethical, or good things to do,
even in a war. Not everything that is mutar is ethical, since ethical
concerns are subject to changing (hopefully improving) contemporary mores,
contextual legal and philosophical approaches taken by broader society and
our sense of the direction the Torah wishes us to go as guided by Chazal. So
long as these external and internal ethics do not conflict with what
is prohibited, the issue of mutar and issur are not the only governing
principles. Still, if we permitted to do anything to win a war, including
acts that are otherwise repulsive, using sex to win a war seems no worse
than torture, dropping bombs on schools or hospitals etc. One hopes that
these kinds of acts are of a type that is "last resort" when less troubling 
acts are not sufficient, where lives will be saved and the decision makers
consider the ethical ramifications of what they order.


From: Carl Singer <carl.singer@...>
Date: Tue, Oct 26,2010 at 04:01 PM
Subject: Teaching Midos

Perhaps because transgressions of proper behavior are so rare, when they do
occur they stand out even more.

I was at a local pizza shop for lunch today.  Near me was a Rebbe with four
10 year old boys (my guess) from a local day school.
After their meal they got up and left all their debris on the table -- this
is a shop where people bus their own trays.

I guess I should give them the benefit of the doubt -- but why do some of us
find this especially annoying?
And do our teachers include midos and proper behavior (to be taught by
example) in their curricula?

Examples: Kissing a mizuzah with one's right hand, not putting a siddur
on top of a chumash, not turning one's back to a Sefer Torah
(these are all bain Adam l'Makom -- but there are social ones as well).



From: Ira L. Jacobson <laser@...>
Date: Tue, Oct 26,2010 at 04:01 PM
Subject: The end of Kedusha

Haim Snyder stated (MJ 59#65):

> In Nusah Ashkenaz, after every kedusha and in Nusah Sfard, after 
> kedusha for musaf, we say "l'dor vador nagid gawdlecha." instead of 
> "ata kadosh."

Actually, Daniel Goldschmidt, in his most precise siddur for Nusah 
Sefard, says that most congregations say "Atah qadosh" for musaf 
qedusha, while some say "Ledor vador."

I suspect that this is connected to the way the Nusah Sefard siddurim 
were initially printed. They took the Nusah Ashkenaz text and added 
the Nusah Sefard changes in parentheses.  The parentheses eventually 
got dropped, which is why (in unedited siddurim) we have such 
grotesque combinations as "bishelomekha, berov oz veshalom."



End of Volume 59 Issue 66