Volume 6 Number 94

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Bread of Affliction
         [Benjamin Svetitsky]
Kitniot and the Tosephos Yom Tov
         [Danny Skaist]
Learning in Hebrew (3)
         [Mike Berkowitz, Bruce Krulwich, Ronald Greenberg]
Yiddishkeit in Washington Heights
         [Henry Abramson]


From: Benjamin Svetitsky <FNBENJ@...>
Date: Mon, 12 Apr 93 15:40:00 -0400
Subject: Bread of Affliction

Yet another interpretation of lechem 'oni.  Rav Kook in 'Olat Reiah
(commentary on the Siddur & Haggadah) writes that the state of 'oni
(poverty, affliction) extended both before and after the exodus, and
expressed the absence of the Torah -- so the matzah was lechem 'oni all
the way to mattan Torah on Shavuot.  It would appear that this removes
the dual meaning of the matzah to which several people have referred,
except that the Rav Kook gives a positive meaning to this 'oni as well:
The 'oni associated with the matzah purged B'nai Yisrael of the uncleanness
incurred during slavery in Egypt, and made them fit to receive the Torah!

A fitting thought with which to start S'firat ha-'Omer.

Ben Svetitsky   <fnbenj@...>


From: DANNY%<ILNCRD@...> (Danny Skaist)
Date: Wed, 14 Apr 93 08:14:05 -0400
Subject: Kitniot and the Tosephos Yom Tov

Ezra L. Tepper writes:

>From the Tosafos Yom Tov.
>Kitnios = ..are raised primarily for human consumption of the seeds
>Garden = ..not the seeds which he says are not fit for human consumption

Herein lies the basic problem that give rise to most of the differences of
opinion on what is or is not kitniot.  (or as we know it "Sophek kitniot")
The difference between "primarily for human consumption of the seeds" and
seeds "not fit for human consumption" is a vast territory.

>       One might also conclude that pumpkin seeds would not be
>_kitni'os_ because the crop is raised for eating the fruit, as well.

Or, conversly, one might conclude that pumpkins and Watermelons ARE kitniot
since the seeds are "fit for human consumption".

>        Sunflower seeds, however, would clearly be _kitni'os_ because
>the plant here is raised solely for its seeds.

By the "kitnyot" definition sunflower seeds are clearly NOT _kitni'os_ since
they are raised as animal food, and NOT "primarily" for human consumption.
By the "garden seed" definition they ARE clearly _kitni'os_ because they are
FIT for human consumption.

>Also cotton-seeds (like flax
>seeds mentioned by the Tosafos Yom Tov) which is produced as a side
>product of cotton crops would not be _kitni'os_, as the plant was not
>grown primarily for its seeds (such as is rice).

Here again they ARE clearly _kitni'os_ by the "garden" definition because
they are fit for human consumption.(after processing).

>                                         I have no idea whether the
>definition of _kitni'os_ given by the Tosafos Yom Tov in Tractate
>Kelayim is accepted with regard to _kitni'os_ and Pesach.

It is! the only definitions of kitnios available for halacha come from
hilchot kelayim.  The tosafos Yom Tov seems to be the same as the Rambam.

>According to the definitions provided by the Tosafos Yom Tov, one could
>conclude that mustard seed is not _kitni'os_
Mustard seed is NOT _kitni'os_. (see Rambam hilchos kelayim, chap 1, par 8
for his breakdown of the 3 catagories) Mustard is not used for another

Your analysis is very good, usefull and 100% correct, but in a world where
the Kinneret is Hametz, what chance does logic stand.

>I conclude here with the stipulation that this posting is only for
>discussion purposes and not halachah

So, I discussed.  :-)



From: <etzion@...> (Mike Berkowitz)
Date: Mon, 5 Apr 93 11:53:12 +0200
Subject: Re:  Learning in Hebrew

     1)  There was a debate carried on in the pages of "Ten Da'at", a 
publication of the YU Torah Education Network, between Joel B. Wolowelsky 
of Yeshiva of Flatbush and Moshe Bernstein of Revel, on the subject of 
teaching "ivrit b'ivrit" (Hebrew in Hebrew) in American day schools.  I 
believe it began in the Spring '90 issue.
     2)  One problem of learning from English translations that I did not 
see mentioned is that of willful distortion of the original.  For a 
variety of reasons, mainly the result of one frumkeit or another, 
translators have omitted or changed original Hebrew texts in meaningful 
ways.  Some examples:
     The Silverman translation of Rashi on the meaning of the word 
"cumaz" is so sanitized (one assumes for reasons of "modesty") that the 
entire point is missing.
     In the "My Uncle the Netziv" fiasco, the book (a translation of one 
volume of the "Mekor Baruch", the autobiography of the author of the 
"Torah Temimah") was recalled when it was realized that there were 
statements in it that didn't follow the official party line.  This in 
itself does not prove my point, but I have heard that it has since be 
reissued in an "abridged" edition.
     Likewise, pertinent sections of R. Zevin's "Moadim BaHalachah" were 
edited out of the English translation.

                           Mike Berkowitz

From: <krulwich@...> (Bruce Krulwich)
Date: Thu, 15 Apr 93 14:09:18 -0400
Subject: Learning in Hebrew

I think that it's necessary to distinguish the religious issue of
facility in traditional Hebrew (aka Loshon haKodesh) with the political
issue of learning Ivrit b'Ivrit and learning conversational modern

My experience is that people who have studied in traditional Yeshivos,
as well as (in my experience) those who have studied in YU's Yeshiva
program, have a good command of traditional Hebrew.  This means reading
it and writing it and speaking in it.  Most of my Rabbaim prepare for
their shiurim (classes) in Hebrew, and write notes to themselves in
Hebrew.  I have been encouraged over and over to take notes of shiurim
in Hebrew (which BTW is a great way to improve language use).

Furthermore, it is certainly NOT the case (as was said previously) that
major works of Torah scholarship are written in English.  This IS true
of outreach books, which form a very big market these days (B'H), but
it's not true for major new "halachic and commentatorial works."  Igros
Moshe and Dibros Moshe are in Hebrew.  As were the Kol Dodi books (by R'
Dovid Feinstein) before they were translated to English.  As was Ish
haHalacha and the other books of "the Rav" before being translated.  The
list goes on.  Most such books are not translated, such as Shiurei Daas,
Divrei Yoel, etc.  It is books such as these that constitute most of
this generation's (and the previous one's) contributions to Torah
scholarship, and they're all in Hebrew.

Certainly this is seperate from the political issue of learning
conversational modern Hebrew.  I agree with others who have said that
this should be stressed more, and I think it's a shame that it isn't.
But that doesn't mean that traditional use of Hebrew in Torah
scholarship is declining.  The two issues are seperate and should be
distinguished in discussion.

Dov (Bruce) Krulwich

From: Ronald Greenberg <rig@...>
Date: Thu, 15 Apr 1993 18:05:16 -0400
Subject: Learning in Hebrew

  >the following:  How many people actually use the English Steinsaltz Talmud?
  >(ENGLISH, not Hebrew.)  I first learned of its publication several years

  >will make it available to all.  I remember thinking that if language is
  >the only thing that makes the Talmud difficult, I should be having a much
  >easier time with Bava Kamma...

I did attend a class at my synagogue from Steinsaltz's first English
volume (beginning of Bava Metzia).  I was about to stop looking for a
study partner better than me who would put up with my weaker
Hebrew/Aramaic skills and try to find somebody similar who was willing
to just bite the bullet and plunge into plodding throug the Aramaic,
dictionary in hand.  But this class came up, so I did that.
Unquestionably, the English allowed me to get through much more than I
would otherwise have been able to do.  Especially helpful is the
"translation and commentary" column, which borrows heavily from Rashi
and the additional notes at the bottom.  Indeed, you need a lot more
than just understanding the words of the gemara, and Steinsaltz does
give it to you.  In fact, I felt that occasionally he gave too much; he
would sometimes bias you towards a particular intrepretation when it was
premature or give you one interpretation, when I felt there could be
another valid interpretation.  Given the Steinsaltz text and some
general Orthodox acculturation, I don't think we really needed a
teacher, though he did have threefold value: (1) motivating people to
study on a regular weekly basis, since there was a set class time, (2)
doing a bit of lookahead to provide further help in understanding the
arguments, and (3) providing background acculturation to those people
who didn't have it.  One thing I didn't like about the class was that we
almost never looked at the original Aramaic, because most of the
attendees had even worse skills than me.

Where have I ended up regarding continued study?  Well, the class ended
after completing the first mishna and the gemara on it (about 100 pages
in the English Steinsaltz) when the teacher became a father.  I then
went through two classes (one after the other) by the Rabbi, which were
in a little bit different model than anything we previously had at my
shul.  The Rabbi xeroxed a whole bunch of selections on a particular
topic from talmud and later commentaries and went through them after
giving some time for us to attempt them b'chevruta.  Except for me and
my study partner, however, the people who have been attending are really
incapable of taking advantage of the first phase.  It has also been
somewhat ridiculous in that the Rabbi gives half an hour for learning
b'chevruta material that takes him an hour to go through at high speed.
My study partner and I generally met once or twice a week before the
class in order to get a shot at getting something out of the material on
our own.  The second class has ended just in time for Pesach, and I'm
not sure what we will go on to now.  The Rabbi's classes frustrated us
somewhat, in that the Rabbi can't generally be slowed down to a speed
where we have more time to absorb where we missed things in our own
reading and what phrases and so forth to watch out for next time.  On
the other hand, the class attendees with extremely poor backgrounds
sometimes ask very basic questions that take us on long, unnecessary
(for me and my partner) digressions.  For our future study, both of us
would like to work on the texts in the original, but I think having good
English like the Steinsaltz or Artscroll around will be very helpful.
Sometimes when we got stuck in our earlier attempts at gemara, we would
pull out this other English translation, but it wasn't always very

Ronald I. Greenberg	(Ron)		<rig@...>


From: Henry Abramson <abramson@...>
Date: Wed, 14 Apr 93 23:38:46 -0400
Subject: Yiddishkeit in Washington Heights

My family and I are planning to spend June and July in Washington Heights,
New York City, where my wife intends to complete her Master of Social Work
degree at Yeshiva University.  Although we've commuted to the area from 
outside for the past two summers, we know little about the Jewish community
there.  We would very much appreciate information on things like the local
grocery stores, mikvaot (and how one travels to and from at night in this
dangerous area), sforim stores, etc.  Are there many resources at YU in
the summer for day care?  Who can we post to in order to set up a temporary
email account there?  Please post to us directly.

Kol tuv,

Henry & Ulana Abramson      <abramson@...>


End of Volume 6 Issue 94