Volume 6 Number 82

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Bread of affliction
         [Benjamin Svetitsky]
Hebrew v. Vernacular
         [Aaron Israel]
Jewish Calendar Programs (2)
         [Sigrid Peterson, Leon Dworsky]
Non-Wheat Matza
         [Jonathan Traum]
Pesach in the desert
         [Benjamin Svetitsky]
Reading Hebrew (2)
         [Aryeh Frimer, Jonathan B. Horen]


From: Benjamin Svetitsky <FNBENJ@...>
Date: Thu, 1 Apr 93 17:55:40 -0500
Subject: Bread of affliction

In answer to Danny Farkas' question:  It is true that matzah commemorates
the haste of the departure from Egypt, and that this happened AFTER the
Seder of the night of the 10th plague.  However, the people were commanded
to eat the Paschal lamb with matzot at that Seder, before the exodus, as
well (Ex. 12:8).  Further, the Midrash tells us that matzah was the food
of slaves in Egypt.  Thus matzah is for us a twofold symbol -- both the
bread of affliction and the bread of liberation.

The Maggid of Dubno has a wonderful parable addressing this point.  Its
message is that the matzah symbolizes our urgent need to escape Egypt
(bread of affliction) and God's urgent desire to have us for His own
(i.e., no time to let the dough rise).

Chag kasher ve-sameach,
Ben Svetitsky        <fnbenj@...>


From: <israel@...> (Aaron Israel)
Date: Thu, 1 Apr 93 11:25:41 EST
Subject: Hebrew v. Vernacular

In v.6#74 Aryeh Frimer comments on the lack of desire to study Hebrew. I
don't quite believe that scholars throughout the ages "lived" Hebrew as
Aryeh suggests.  IMHO it seems that throughout most of the galut (diaspora),
Hebrew existed primarily as a written language, used by scholars when
discussing Torah and its application to our lives. Often, however, when a
work was written for use by the masses, it was written in the author's
vernacular to allow greater dissemination and understanding of the
information (e.g. the Talmud in Aramaic, RaMBaM's works in Arabic, Me'am Loez
in Ladino, T'zenah U'renah in Yiddish, R. Hirsch's commentary in German) which
the author felt that Hebrew just wouldn't do. If we were to look at today's
Torah Jews, it is indeed unfortunate that many do not understand Hebrew at
all and many others who do speak Hebrew speak modern Hebrew not
Biblical/Halachic Hebrew. However, to blame the Day School movement because
of its lack of teaching Ivrit B'ivrit addresses an entirely different point.
Is the objective of the Day School movement, or any teacher, to help the
students understand the teaching in a way they can understand and grow in
their Torah learning and observance, or to force children to daydream in class
because the class is being taught in a foreign language.  IMHO the objective
of the Day School movement is to instill Torah and Mitzvos and love of
Yiddishkeit into the students.  This is difficult enough to do while
speaking in a language that the students understand.  Having attended a Day
School which teaches Ivrit B'ivrit and having children in one, I am well
acquainted with the problems of trying to learn Torah while trying to learn
another language.  Only the gifted are able to manage, not the average
student.  I hope Aryeh is not suggesting that we abandon the masses who
cannot manage to overcome the language barrier merely so that a few gifted
individuals can master Hebrew.  Those who are gifted will have many other
opportunities to master the Hebrew of the Torah, Nevi'im, etc. as well as
the Aramaic to study Shas in the original.
As for Aryeh's comment on being unable to learn Shas without a translation /
teacher, this was part of the intent of the authors of Shas. The Aramaic used
in Shas was not the normal everyday Aramaic that people spoke but was
specifically intended not to be understandable without a teacher. This was
done because of the "oral" nature or Torah Shebal Peh (the Oral Law) which
was only committed to writing under the dictum of Eis La'Asos (if we don't
act now, the Torah will - G-d forbid - be forgotten).
I must add one further note.  While it would be wonderful to have the time to
do all my learning in the original (where the work is actually in a language I
understand and read [for me that's English or Hebrew]) unfortunately, I need
significantly more time to cover the material in Hebrew than in my vernacular,
English.  For those in my category, it has been a great help to have works
available in English that enable me to grow in Torah and Yiras Shamayim (at
least, I hope I'm growing......)
Wishing all a Chag Kasher V'Sameach (A happy and kosher Pesach)

Aaron (Alter Shaul) Israel       Kol Ha'Marbeh L'saper Harey zeh Meshubach
Highland Park, N.J.              Whoever relates more [of the Pesach story]
<israel@...>           is praiseworthy.(from the Hagadah of Pesach)


From: Sigrid Peterson <SIGPETER@...>
Date: Thu, 1 Apr 93 11:34:15 -0500
Subject: Re: Jewish Calendar Programs

Shlomo Kalish asked where he could get a program to calculate the calendar.

There are several in the Kabbalah Software Catalog that I received along with
the annual catalog for 1-800-JUDAISM. Also, Kabbalah Software is on-line as
<Kabbalah@...>; phone (908)572-0869.

Sigrid Peterson

From: <ljd@...> (Leon Dworsky)
Date: Thu, 1 Apr 93 02:29:29 -0500
Subject: Jewish Calendar Programs

There are several Hebrew Calndar computer programs.        
By far the best I've seen is one called *JCAL* which  is
distributed as shareware.  It includes several utilities
and a 39k text file explaining how the Luach itself works!
You can find it on most bulletin boards.  However, you can order
it direct using the following info from the end of the above text
file.  I would imagine that by now the price is a bit higher, as
this item is from a May 1990 version.

>     Rather than marketing these programs I am distributing them as
> Shareware.  Try the programs at no charge.  They are not copy protected
> and you may distribute them freely to others.  If you find them useful
> and continue to use them you must pay the $18 registration fee.  Send
> the registration fee along with the program revision number (from the
> opening screen) to:
> Lester Penner
> 25 Shadow Lane
> Great Neck, NY 11021
> (H) 516 466-5574
> (W) 516 273-3100
>     Please send only US currency; no Canadian checks.
>     You may send information about bugs to the same address
> or to Compuserve 75236,1572.
> Enjoy,
> Les



From: <jont@...> (Jonathan Traum)
Date: Thu, 1 Apr 93 18:44:04 -0500
Subject: Non-Wheat Matza

If matza can be made from any of the five grains that can become chametz,
has anyone actually ever seen matza made from rye, oats, etc.? Wouldn't
it be nice to have some corned beef on rye matza? And I'll bet somebody
could make a killing marketing "Oat Bran Matza"!

Jonathan Traum
<traum@...>, 	jont@dsg3100.harvard.edu


From: Benjamin Svetitsky <FNBENJ@...>
Date: Thu, 1 Apr 93 17:55:34 -0500
Subject: Pesach in the desert

This subject is discussed in commentaries to Numbers 9:1-5, especially
Rashi and the Ramban.  Apparently Pesach was NOT observed by the people
in the desert, except for the first anniversary of the exodus which is
the subject of the chapter.  While (says the Ramban) the mitzvah of
getting rid of chametz was observed, since it is incumbent on everyone
wherever he is, the positive mitzvot surrounding the korban pesach were
not observed because circumcision was not practiced in the desert (see
the beginning of Joshua).

I don't know where they got the grain for matzot that year,though.

As for meat, when the people complain to Moshe, he says that he can't find
enough cattle to satisfy them, whereupon God sends the quail.  Presumably
there just wasn't enough to go around on a regular basis.  In any case,
during the years in the desert people were forbidden to eat meat unless
it was brought as an offering to the Mishkan.  (I guess the quail were
exempt?)  Again, in Numbers 9:1, the Ramban says that because of their
uncircumcised state "neesru bechol hakodashim" - they were forbidden to
bring ANY offerings.  So what, exactly, was done in the mishkan during
the 40 years?

Chag kasher ve-sameach,
Ben Svetitsky          <fnbenj@...>


From: <F66235@...> (Aryeh Frimer)
Date: Thu, 1 Apr 93 17:31:59 -0500
Subject: Re: Reading Hebrew

      I want to thank Meylekh for making clear the intent of my recent
post on the hesitation  of some Bnai Torah to tackle original sources
because they are written in Hebrew. Meylekh understood me correctly and
my comments were certainly not directed at him or at the members of mail
Jewish.    Nevertheless,  it looks like I owe Meylekh a public
apology because the opening words of my post might have been construed
otherwise.                     Aryeh

From: <horen@...> (Jonathan B. Horen)
Date: Thu, 1 Apr 93 02:29:33 -0500
Subject: Re: Reading Hebrew

In his recent posting, Reb Aryeh Frimmer bemoans the sad state of
affairs wherein so many individuals within the daled-amot of Torah
are studying Chumash, Talmud, Halacha, etc., in English. I use the
word "studying", because the more traditional term, "learning", is
truly reserved for doing so in Hebrew.

During the early 1980s, when I was a bachur in Yeshivat Aish HaTorah
in Jerusalem, many chozrim be-t'shuva were in a hurry to get going
with their limudim, and didn't feel that they could afford to devote
the time required to learning Hebrew. Fortunately (for them), Artscroll
and other Jewish publishing houses provided them, ever increasingly,
with translations of major Jewish works.

However, those talmidim who stayed more than 6 months, some sooner
and some later, began to run up against a wall -- for some of them,
we could call it their own "Wailing Wall" -- and one which they could
neither scale nor go under nor go around. That is, certain, in fact,
many/most commentaries, were/are not translated from the Hebrew into
English. These talmidim had been smoothly sailing along in the Yam
of Talmud, then ran aground (forgive my mixing metaphors) when the
maggid shiyur began discussing one Tosephot or another. Whoa! they
cried -- that's not here in the Soncino (or whatever)! Not fair!

Many "skipped" those Tosephot, some decided to rechannel their
energies into "saving the Jews in Galut", but only a few were able
to "suit-up, show-up, and start learning Hebrew".

I was lucky, and had a maggid shiyur by the name of Rav Chaim Sosna.
He took a bunch of us, sat us down with the RaMbaM's Mishne Torah
(Mossad HaRav Kook version, with vowels), and had us begin learning
Hebrew together with classical Jewish thought. We began with Hilchot
Talmud Torah, then moved to Hilchot Dayot, and finally to Hilchot
T'shuva. By that time we were reading without vowels, covering a
lot of material, exploring what Judaism teaches, and building a
set of skills that have carried us into the next decade.

I don't know if this is a predominantly American phenomenon, this
wanting to get to the upper slopes of mountains without first
traversing the lower levels, but I do recall the words of the
founder and Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshivat Aish HaTorah, HaRav Noach
Weinberg, Shlit"a, who said regarding one's learning: "Don't
learn `about' it, learn `it'!" Reading someone else's translation
of Torah falls under the heading of "learning `about' it".

Today's 12-step programs use a different phrase: "Do the footwork",
as well as "Participate in your own recovery".

But Chazal and David HaMelech perhaps said it best in Pirke Avot
and Tehilim: "V'lo alecha hamelacha ligmor, v'ata lo ben-chorin
levateyl memena" and "Hazorim b'dima, b'rina yiktzoru".

V'hamaiveen youveen.

Jonathan B. Horen       | If Karen Carpenter and Mama Cass had only
SysAdmin/SrTechWriter   | shared that ham sandwich, both of them
Tel: (408) 736-3923     | might still be alive today.
Email: <horen@...> | 


End of Volume 6 Issue 82