Volume 59 Number 89 
      Produced: Fri, 31 Dec 2010 09:05:17 EST

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

A Chanukah thought (3)
    [Wendy Baker  Ben Katz  Martin Stern]
Aliya to Mizraim 
    [Sammy Finkelman]
From The Jewish World Review 
    [Alex Heppenheimer]
Full moon in halacha (4)
    [Jack Gross  Harry Weiss  Michael Mirsky  Abe Brot]
Inheritance of a rabbinical position 
Salaries for public charity leaders (2)
    [Mordechai Horowitz  David I. Cohen]
Shuckling (2)
    [Stuart Wise  Michael Pitkowsky]
Video on Gay Orthodox Jews (2)
    [Orrin Tilevitz  R E Sternglantz]


From: Wendy Baker <wbaker@...>
Date: Fri, Dec 17,2010 at 12:01 PM
Subject: A Chanukah thought

Martin Stern (MJ 59#87) hypothesizes that one could explain the use of the
singular yad in al hanissim

> perhaps bederech drush [homiletically] one could say that the
> singular is used to indicate that the Jewish people were completely united
> like a single person and that was the reason why they were successful. Had
> they been split into factions, as happened in the latter days of the
> Chashmonaim, they would not have been able to overcome the Greeks

This is a lovely thought, but, it seems to me that it really does not fit the 
history of the event.  From what I have learned (first from Rabbi Riskin, 
many years ago) the fight was as much between observant and hellenized 
Jews as much as the military fight against the Syrian Greeks.

Unity is always a fine aim, as in the prayers for the approaching Rosh 
Hodesh (new month) when we joyfully pray for chaverim kol yisrael 
(brotherhood of all Jews), one of my favorite passages in liturgy, but, 
unfortunately, is often not the fact today as in the days of Chanuka.

Wendy Baker

From: Ben Katz <BKatz@...>
Date: Fri, Dec 17,2010 at 02:01 PM
Subject: A Chanukah thought

Martin Stern wrote (MJ 59#87):

> In Al Hanissim we say "masarta gibborim beyad challashim [You gave over the
> mighty ones into the HAND of the weak ONES] ..." It struck me that the
> phraseology is strange and it should read 'biydei' in the plural rather than
> 'beyad' in the singular.

Mr. Stern's comment is cute but unfortunately likely historically inaccurate.  
There was a probably a large element of civil war in the Chanukah story (not 
only Jews vs Greeks but mityavnim [Hellenizers] vs the Chasidim [righteous]).

Ben Z. Katz, MD
Professor of Pediatrics
Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine

From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Wed, Dec 29,2010 at 10:01 AM
Subject: A Chanukah thought

Gilad J. Gevaryahu <gevaryahu@...> (MJ 59#88) wrote:

> Martin Stern questions (MJ 59#87) the use of "beyad" in "Al Hanissim," and
> would have liked to see the plural form "biydei".
> I suggest the Martin look at Bereshit 30:35 Vayiten beyad banav, or Bereshit
> 32:17 Vayiten beyad avadav, or Shemot 14:8 uVeney Israel yotzim beyad rama.
> This is standard Biblical Hebrew use.

If Gilad would refer back to my posting, he would se that I wrote:

> Probably the pshat [simple reason] is that the words 'challashim' etc are not
> true plurals but rather collective nouns.

Perhaps this is the thinking underlying the standard Biblical Hebrew usage.

Martin Stern


From: Sammy Finkelman <sammy.finkelman@...>
Date: Thu, Dec 30,2010 at 04:01 PM
Subject: Aliya to Mizraim

In the Torah, it always speaks going down (Yarad) to Mizraim (Egypt)

And the opposite is Alah (going up) - from which we get the term used for moving
permanently to Israel from the Diaspora, Aliya.

And there are maybe one or two explanations for that, which we were
taught. One is that going to Egypt from Israel physically involves
going down in some fashion. And the other is that Israel has a higher
value in some sense than other lands, so leaving it is going down.
The Torah certainly uses going down for the idea of Avos going to Mizraim.

But Onkelos translates at the beginning of the Sedrah and Sefer Shemos
- coming to Mizraim as going UP, (Exodus 1:1) and leaving (or being chased out
actually) Mizraim as going DOWN (Exodus 6:1)!

And I found no comment about this is in a whole new (or recent - meaning
the last decade) book about Onkeles (Onkelos on the Torah: Understanding the
Bible Text by Israel Drazin).

Now Onkelos surely must have been following some Rabbis, and it certainly
wouldn't have become accepted if many thought it wasn't right.

What's the explanation here for Onkelos?

Now I can see that maybe the more general idea of Aliya meaning going
to Israel and the concept of going down being applied to leaving it is
perhaps rather modern. But the Torah itself (not Onkelos) at least uses 
going down for going to Egypt.

I had an idea. Going to Egypt might be going DOWN, because someone who
went to Egypt might not be able to get out, like someone going into a
pit or a well. In the Twentieth Century, we had a similar word for
going to the Soviet Union - only it was IN, and not DOWN, because the
analogy was to a jail, while in those days it was more to a dungeon
because that was the type of place someone could be trapped. A person
might go INTO the Soviet Union and come OUT of it.

That could explain the language in the Torah itself; and the idea that
the idea of Aliya in Hebrew always meaning going to Eretz Yisroel,
might be a fairly recent idea.

But still that does not explain why Onkelos uses UP to mean going to
Egypt and DOWN to mean leaving it and he is not even translating a
word meaning UP or DOWN! (I didn't check what Onkelos says in

Is Onkelos doing it maybe according to the frame of reference - with
DOWN always meaning leaving the frame of reference and UP always
meaning coming to it, and in Sefer Shemos the frame of reference is


From: Alex Heppenheimer <aheppenh@...>
Date: Fri, Dec 17,2010 at 05:01 AM
Subject: From The Jewish World Review

In MJ 59:87, Jeanette Friedman <FriedmanJ@...> wrote:

> "Rabbi Judah says: Whoever does not teach his son 
> a trade or profession teaches him to be a thief."

Whoever wrote this ought perhaps to set aside a little time from his "trade or 
profession" to learn what the Gemara actually says (Kiddushin 29a and 30b). 
First of all, it immediately emends this statement to "...it is as if he teaches 
him...". Second, the Gemara points out that according to this opinion, the term 
"umanus" ("profession," or more precisely, "craft") is specifically chosen to 
_exclude_ "trade," since as Rashi explains, that requires a stock of 
merchandise, and in its absence the person may be driven to thievery. (The 
opposing view is that any honest occupation, craftsmanship or trade is fine.)

Incidentally, too, the same word "umanus" is used to describe a full-time Torah 
scholar: "toraso umanuso," his Torah is his craft or profession (Tosafos, Sotah 
21a, s.v. Zeh; Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh De'ah 243:2; et al). We may therefore 
derive from this statement of R' Yehudah that one who raises his son to be a 
full-time Torah scholar has taught him well.

Kol tuv,


From: Jack Gross <jacobbgross@...>
Date: Wed, Dec 29,2010 at 10:01 AM
Subject: Full moon in halacha

Bob Kosovsky <kos@...> wrote (MJ 59#88):

> The rare occurrence of the full moon/winter solstice with an accompanying
> lunar eclipse brings to mind a question I've had.

> While the new moon certainly plays a big role in Judaism, the full moon
> seems to play a very minor role.  In fact, the only thing I can think of is
> the occurrence of the first night of Pesach.
> ...
> Are there any other days or ideas/concepts that depend upon a full moon?

The term "ha-levana bi-tekufatah", in Hebrew of the Mishnaic period, refers to
the full moon.  

(Google it:

home.com%2F%3BFORID%3A1%3B&hl=he )

The citation from the beginning of Yerushalmi Berachot uses the full moon to
illustrate one Tanna's understanding of the "twilight period" (Bein
Hashemashot) --- viz., Rebbi's interpretation of R' Yosi's "zeh nichnas
v'zeh yotzei (one enters and the other leaves)" --- as the period from the
setting of the lower edge of the sun's disk to the setting of the upper

Of course, the moon has no direct connection with the legal end-point of the
day.  But it enters into the illustration that Rebbi sees in R' Yosi's

When the local sunset coincides with the moment of full-moon, then (as
sunset progresses, assuming an unobstructed view of the horizon) the portion
of the sun still above the western horizon equals the portion of the rising
moon still below the eastern horizon.  When sunset and moonrise start, Bein
Hashemashot begins; when sunset and moonrise are complete, it ends.

Needless to say, the halacha rejects this opinion.

From: Harry Weiss <hjweiss@...>
Date: Wed, Dec 29,2010 at 12:01 PM
Subject: Full moon in halacha

Bob Kosovsky <kos@...> wrote (MJ 59#88):

> I suppose the two "tu" days (15 Shvat and 15 Av) might have some relationship
> to the full moon, but I don't recall ever hearing/reading about it, if in fact
> there is any.

The 15 of AV definitely does.  There is the story that after the sin of the 
spies on the 9th of AV people dug graves and a certain number died that day each 
year.  In the last year of stay in desert no one died.  They went back the next 
day and no one died and so on until the 15th of AV when the full moon was 
obvious and everyone realized that there was no mistake in calculating the 9th 
and the punishment was over.

From: Michael Mirsky <mirskym@...>
Date: Wed, Dec 29,2010 at 12:01 PM
Subject: Full moon in halacha

Bob Kosovsky asks (MJ 59#88):

> Are there any other days or ideas/concepts that depend upon a full moon? 

Yes, when the full moon appears it's too late to make Kiddush Levana.

Michael Mirsky

From: Abe Brot <abe.brot@...>
Date: Thu, Dec 30,2010 at 07:01 AM
Subject: Full moon in halacha

Bob Kosovsky asked (MJ 59#88) whether the full moon plays any role in
Halacha, and points to the first days of Pesach and Sukkot which occur on the
15th day of the month.

In the times of the Sanhedrin, the beginning of the month was determined by
witnesses testifying that they observed the new moon. Typically, the first
observance of the new moon (first day of the new month) was about two nights 
after the true molad. The full moon, which is approximately 15 days after the
true molad was, therefore, seen on about the 13th night of the month (and not
the 15th). As a result, the first days of Pesach and Sukot usually fell two days
after the full moon, and no special significance was placed on this occurrence.

Today, we have a calendar more tuned to the molad, so the sight of a full
moon on the first night of Pesach and Sukkot is usual.

Abe Brot

www.AbeBrot.com <http://www.abebrot.com/>


From: Anonymous
Date: Sun, Dec 19,2010 at 08:01 AM
Subject: Inheritance of a rabbinical position

The beloved rabbi of a synagogue recently passed away. His widow insists
that the synagogue appoint his son in his place. The synagogue
members are best described as modern Orthodox. The rabbi's son is best
described as a Hassidic Haredi person. (To somewhat indicate the difference:
the male congregants attend Shabbat services in short sleeve white shirts;
the rabbi's son wears a shtreimel and regularly leaves his family to
celebrate major holidays with his Rebbe. The son has not spent a Shabbat in
the community since his marriage, over 25 years earlier.) The rabbi's son
has indicated that he will not reside in the community, but rather walk over
every few weeks to be in the congregation. He apparently indicated to the
board that his main interest in fulfilling the position was to please his
mother, more than it was to serve the congregation.

The congregation is almost unanimously opposed to employing the son as a
rabbi, feeling that there is a need to hire a modern Orthodox rabbi who can
dynamically serve and strengthen the congregation and also reach out to the
non-religious population in the community. In response to the pressure on
the synagogue board by the rabbi's widow, aka "the Rebbetzin", to appoint her
son as the inheritor of the position, without considering any other
candidate, the board nevertheless decided to hold a general meeting to
discuss the issue. The two items on the agenda are:

1. whether or not to allow the Rebbetzin solely determine that one of her
sons should be the rabbi. The board has phrased the vote to indicate that a
positive vote would determine that the Rebbetzin can decide which of her
sons will be the new rabbi. A negative vote would reject this possibility,
and also prevent any of her sons from presenting his candidacy in the
future. The rationale for this is that the Rebbetzin would exert pressure on
other persons to refrain from putting forth their candidacy, claiming that
the position belongs to her son by inheritance. A negative vote, then, is
taken to mean a rejection of the right of rabbinical inheritance.

2. The second item to be voted upon is the formation of a search committee
for a new rabbi, to be approved only by the synagogue members, if the demand
by the Rebbetzin is rejected.

I am interested in knowing whether a similar situation has been encountered
by other synagogues in the recent past, and how the demand for rabbinical
inheritance has been addressed.


From: Mordechai Horowitz <mordechai@...>
Date: Wed, Dec 29,2010 at 12:01 PM
Subject: Salaries for public charity leaders

Ari Trachtenberg <bodek@...> (MJ 59#88) wrote:

> Anyone know of any halachic guidance on the amount of income one may properly
> draw from a public charity (I am not commenting on non-charity or for-profit
> institutions)?

Here is a question:

Check out how much your shul Rabbi or the principal, or the Rabbis (not the
secular teachers), of your kids' school make. 

Why do we have a tuition crisis in Jewish schooling, because the 
teachers and principal like living like doctors. After all I can't take 
off yeshiva break week to go on vacation, and then go on vacation 
again for Pesach, and then for the summer, and then for Sukkot.  I'm 
just a Baal HaBayit who works for a living.

My shul right now is having a issue because the Rabbi wants to hire 
other Rabbis in the community who went to his yeshiva to do things that 
we Baalei Batim do for free (or are his job). So we hire one of his buddies 
to read Torah every week, another to organize and adult ed program one day 
a week, another to lead high holiday services.  Meanwhile he takes Thursday 
off of work for another paid job checking the Eruv.

Let's not focus of the corruption in the secular Jewish non-profit world. 
Let's focus on the corruption of our Orthodox Rabbinic leadership.  Then 
we can point fingers.

From: David I. Cohen <bdcohen613@...>
Date: Thu, Dec 30,2010 at 01:01 PM
Subject: Salaries for public charity leaders

One should be cautious in using the numbers stated in the Forward article.

In general, these are taken from IRS compensation disclosure forms which
include the "value" of all sorts of "benefits" not normally included in the
publication of total compensation in the public sector.

For example, if a person gets a ride to the airport for a business related
trip, then the airline ticket and hotel accomodations etc.are considered
compensation and get put into the overall numbers. The actual W-2 salary is
usually much much less.


From: Stuart Wise <Smwise3@...>
Date: Thu, Dec 16,2010 at 10:01 PM
Subject: Shuckling

In MJ 59#87, David Tzohar <davidtzohar@...> wrote:

> Do you sway when you pray? An almost ubiquitous expression of Orthodox Jewish
> prayer is "shuckling, i.e. moving the upper body while standing in prayer.
> The two major styles are rocking back and forth or swaying from side to side.
> Rocking back and forth can be a problem for men since the friction with
> clothing can cause physical arousal. There are those who say that it is more
> mechubad (appropriate) to stand perfectly still as one would if he were
> standing before a king. I myself sway from side to side. I have found that if
> I sway at the rate of approximately 70 times per minute, near the pulse rate at
> rest, the motions of the body become the rhythm of prayer. In this way it is
> possible to attain a higher state of consciousness that enhances kavvanah.
> I would be interested if anyone knows of textual sources for shuckling, and if
> there are different traditions in different communities or at different
> historical periods.

I abide by standing still, and from what I can tell, so do most rabbonim
and roshei yeshiva I have observed. Could you explain how shaking enhances
kavanah? A better thing to do is to keep one's eyes in the siddur and
focus on the words.
Stuart Wise

From: Michael Pitkowsky <michael@...>
Date: Fri, Dec 17,2010 at 11:01 AM
Subject: Shuckling

David Tzohar asked about source for shukling (MJ 59#87).  For a discussion about 
shukling with numerous sources see:


[Mod.'s note: the above-noted URL apparently comes from the Masorti/Conservative-
movement Schechter Institute of Jewish Studies.  After utilizing a number of 
traditional sources, the page concludes:
["...Jews have shuckled during prayer and study for at least 1,400 years. While 
the original reason is not known, most Jews seem to feel that it helps one 
concentrate during prayer and study. On the other hand, there is certainly no 
obligation to shuckle. The best rule of thumb is probably that stated by R. Yehiel 
Michal Epstein (d. 1908):
["'And during the Amidah there are some who sway and some who don't and it depends 
on the person's nature. If by swaying, his kavanah improves, then he should sway; 
and a person whose kavanah is clearer when he stands perfectly still should not 
sway - and [either option] should be done for the sake of heaven...'"]


From: Orrin Tilevitz <tilevitzo@...>
Date: Fri, Dec 17,2010 at 07:01 AM
Subject: Video on Gay Orthodox Jews

In MJ 59#87, Mordechai Horowitz Horowitz quotes Lisa Liel (MJ 59#85) as saying:

>> JONAH is quackery. Harmful quackery...

and continues

> The Torah leadership fully supports their work

He then quotes the JONAH website as saying: 

> Rabbinical Council of America Rabbis may refer any individuals within their
> congregations ... 

and further quotes Rabbi Noach Weinreb of Aish HaTorah that 

> JONAH has been at the forefront working with young Jewish men to help them
> properly understand the roots of their homosexuality and do Teshuva...

Whether one has a religious obligation to attempt to get homosexuals to act like
heterosexuals, regardless of the possibility of success or the likely effect on
the subjects, is a halachic issue. Whether any such attempt is doomed to failure
is a factual, scientific one.

Lisa addresses the second issue, on which, based on all her posts on this forum,
she is uniquely qualified to opine. Mordechai brings no reason why the RCA or
the distinguished Rabbi Weinreb should have any credibility on this issue, other
than that they are Torah leadership. I am not sure that I would
agree that the RCA qualifies as Torah leadership based on recent halachic 
pronouncements by this organization that would turn the clock back fifty years,
but does Mordechai believe that the status of Torah leadership make one
infallible as to factual matters? 

From: R E Sternglantz <resternglantz@...>
Date: Thu, Dec 30,2010 at 06:01 PM
Subject: Video on Gay Orthodox Jews

I'm trying to understand why it is that every time homosexuality -- the
inclination, not the performance of forbidden sexual acts -- is mentioned on
this list, the moderators permit certain list members to divert and subvert the
possibility of serious discussion of what is a real issue in the Torah world
into a diatribe against (and I paraphrase here) mentally ill sexual perverts who
perform forbidden sexual acts and spread illness and die young. 

The "It Gets Better" web video campaign has nothing to do with sex. The video
with the frum gay men has nothing to do with sex. It is entirely about spreading
the word that if you are a young frum person with same-sex attraction, you
aren't alone, and that killing yourself isn't the solution even when all around
you some people in the Torah community are basically saying that you have no
future in the Torah world and are better off dead. The video advocates seeking
advice and counsel. It does not promote any particular solution. 

It really is not acceptable that this straw man -- homosexual = sexually
active = sinner -- is permitted to be perpetuated. And it is abundantly clear from
Mr. Horowitz's remarks that he has never had a conversation with a young frum
gay person, or any young or old gay person, because his characterization of how
people "become gay" has no relationship to reality. 

I am not suggesting that anyone should condone forbidden sexual practices. But
this hijacking (by list-members who are well aware that this ground has been
plowed before) is abhorrent. 

Ruth Sternglantz

[Moderators' note: We feel this subject has now run its course and will be
terminating acceptance of further submissions on it.]


End of Volume 59 Issue 89