Volume 60 Number 22 
      Produced: Sun, 24 Jul 2011 11:38:13 EDT

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

A visit to Rome 
    [Shmuel Himelstein]
Being Menachem Avul  [comforting a mourner] and Eulogies 
    [Carl Singer]
Direction of Prayer 
    [Elozor Reich]
Facing Temple Mount in prayer (2)
    [Richard Fiedler  David Ziants]
Facing the Temple Mount in Prayer 
    [Bernard Raab]
In vitro meat 
    [Josh Backon]
Obscure Midrashim and Aggadic Reasons 
    [Guido Elbogen]
Ridiculous Daf Yomi question 
    [Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz]
Stand or not? 
    [Marilyn Tomsk]


From: Shmuel Himelstein <himels@...>
Date: Fri, Jul 15,2011 at 07:01 AM
Subject: A visit to Rome

We have just returned from a visit to Rome, where we prayed in the Great
Synagogue. A number of items caught my attention:

We were there on a weekday, and the synagogue is wired for sound. The
Chazan used a microphone throughout.

At every minchah and aravit prayer, there are dozens of women. This may be
linked to the fact that at the end of Aravit the Chazan reads off the names
of dozens - if not hundreds - of departed ones, each departed one's name
preceded by "ve'nefesh ...." This adds as many as 20 minutes to the total

The Torah scroll is "swaddled" with a long cloth. Once that is taken off,
there is another piece of cloth underneath, which more-or-less covers the
columns to be read. When the Hagbahah takes place (before the Torah
reading), one can clearly see the cloth at the back. The Torah scroll is on two
rollers, like the Ashkenazi Torah scrolls.

The Italian rite is sui generis - neither Ashkenaz nor Sefarad.
Throughout the year, they say "le'eilah u'leilah" in the kaddish.
The Kedushah on weekdays begins as does the Sefardic text: "Nakdishach
ven'aritzach" but then concludes "le'umatam baruch yomeiru" - as is the
Ashkenaz text.

Nusach Sefarad and Edot Hamizrach (and Ashkenazim in Israel) add Barechu
after the Kaddish DeRabbanan at the end of the prayers. In the Italian rime,
this Barechu is said toward the beginning of the service, after Kaddish
D'Rabbanan following the Korbanot. (This really threw me, as I tried to see
where they were up to.)

When the Sefer Torah is taken out of the Aron, a gentleman (the Shamash?)
walks ahead of the Torah scroll, holding out the Torah pointer. People touch
the pointer with their Tallitot and then kiss their Tallit.

Aravit begins with the Chazan reciting the Shir shel Yom of the NEXT day.
On Friday night (according to their Siddur, which I understand is the
official one for the community), after the six chapters of Kabbalat Shabbat,
they recite Mizmor LeTodah.

The prayers are recited almost responsively - or so it appears. The Chazan
recites all the words, but every few sentences he recites a few words of the
next verse, and the congregation recites the next words responsively.

The only difference in the Barech Aleinu blessing is that throughout the
year the text reads: "vetein tal liverachah" and in the rainy season of
Israel it says: "vetein tal u'matar liverachah".
There are many other differences, but these are the ones I found

All in all, I found this rite enchanting.
May I suggest that others who come across different rites should share their
observations with the other readers? I am sure that we will all benefit from
such exposures.

Shmuel Himelstein


From: Carl Singer <carl.singer@...>
Date: Wed, Jul 20,2011 at 10:01 PM
Subject: Being Menachem Avul  [comforting a mourner] and Eulogies

These are "touchy" subjects -- please bear with me.

1. Shiva visits

With the recent tragic murder of a young boy in Brooklyn we've seen an
outpouring of emotion. A TV reporter stationed in front of the bais avul
mentioned that throngs of mourners were coming, staying about 3 minutes and
leaving to allow the next batch to enter. Seemingly ubiquitous news crews
interviewed several people in front of the bais avul. Several interviewees said
something to the effect of "I don't know the family and I traveled from (afar)."
Upon hearing these interviews, a friend of mine referred to these people as

My son recounted a similar situation last year when a tree fell and killed
two people as they were leaving shul in Teaneck. Prior to this event, he had
been mentoring the son of one of the deceased and thus he spent considerable
time during the shiva period with the family. He noted that most of the people
being interviewed were strangers to the family -- just people drawn to the
tragedy and perhaps to the cameras.

In contrast, my wife and I were recently menachem avul a friend whose
Mother had passed away.  There were perhaps 6 people in the room -- all
friends for the mourner. We had known *both* Mother and daughter for over 35
years.  We sat and waited for the mourner to initiate a conversation.  We were
then drawn down memory lane sharing thoughts for well over half an hour.

So (as a taxonomist) I might assert that there are four categories of people
who might be menachem avul:

1 - Those who know neither the deceased nor the mourner(s)
2 - Those who knew the deceased
3 - Those who know some or all of the mourners
4 - Those who both knew the deceased and know some or all of the mourners.

I've always been under the assumption that it is (always) a mitzvah to be
menachem avul --  when, if at all, might it not be so?

2. Eulogies.

I've heard the gamut from the heartfelt thoughts of a dear friend of the
deceased to a Rabbi having to say something based on the few minutes spent
speaking with the nifter's family prior to the service to learn some basics
about the deceased.  But what is of concern to me is that of late the word
"I" seems to have crept into eulogies.  Not the "I was greatly influenced by
this tzadik" but more the "I was trying to sum up my emotions upon hearing

Other than those halachos that deal with when a eulogy may or may not be
said -- are there specific halachos dealing with the content of a eulogy?



From: Elozor Reich <ereich@...>
Date: Fri, Jul 15,2011 at 07:01 AM
Subject: Direction of Prayer

There has been some discussion here about praying towards Mizrach. For an
analysis of the best direction in locations far from Eretz Yisroel see an
article I wrote some years ago: 
Elozor Reich, Manchester


From: Richard Fiedler <richardfiedler@...>
Date: Thu, Jul 14,2011 at 10:01 AM
Subject: Facing Temple Mount in prayer

Akiva Miller <kennethgmiller@...> wrote (MJ 60#21):

> Practically: Take your idea, but take it to the extreme. Next time you are at
> the Kotel, take a look. Do you see ANYONE praying while facing left at an angle
> of 70-80 degrees? No, rather EVERYONE is facing straight forward. The Jews are a
> wise people; if what you suggest is truly a good idea, surely someone else would
> be doing it. But we understand that if we would be at the Kotel, and ignore the
> Temple Mount for the sake of facing the Holy of Holies directly, then we have
> slighted the honor due to the Temple Mount.

With all due respect, I live in the Jewish Quarter within sight of the Kotel.
When I daven at the Kotel maybe 30% face at an angle to the direction of the
presumed Holy of Holies. When I daven at Menachem Zion here in the Rova maybe 20%.

All this is complicated by some different opinions as to where the temple was

From: David Ziants <dziants@...>
Date: Thu, Jul 14,2011 at 11:01 AM
Subject: Facing Temple Mount in prayer

On receiving some editorial corrections to my submission (MJ 60#21) from the
moderator, I resubmitted a slightly newer version of the posting where I made a
few more enhancements. Erroneously the moderator still submitted his version,
which included a change that was not exactly my intent [I apologise to David for
the mix-up MOD].

The main changes are in the wording of the last sentence in my point (2iii) and
also a qualification in angular brackets at the end of point (2v).  If you do
not think it should be a joke, you are welcome to flame me!!

(2 iii) By veering left at the kotel we are still facing the kotel. 
Moreover, until approx 100 years ago, facing Jerusalem from outside of 
Jerusalem was facing har habayit/the kotel/City of David/Old City of 
today, and this was more-or-less the same direction in practical terms.

(2 v) (Does anyone say there is a hiddur to specifically face me'ah she'arim <I
hope this is a joke>?)

At this point, I want to thank and praise the moderators for doing a 
wonderful job in keeping this informative list going. A big yashar koach!!

David Ziants


From: Bernard Raab <beraab@...>
Date: Thu, Jul 14,2011 at 04:01 PM
Subject: Facing the Temple Mount in Prayer

As brought by Akiva Miller and others (MJ 60#21) everyone seems to agree that
outside of Israel, one faces the land of Israel in prayer. In the US, this is
generally taken to mean facing east/southeast. But this is only the direction to
Israel on a line through the center (more precisely; interior) of the Earth, and
as reinforced by flat schoolroom maps of the world. The shortest line in the
real world "as the crow flies" is one that goes Northeast from almost anywhere
in the US, as we who have ever flown to Israel all know.

Sometimes this is not a trivial distinction, if your LOR insists that the Aron
Kodesh be on the east wall of the shul, even if the natural dimensions of the
shul might favor the north/northeast wall.

Is the proper direction east/southeast or northeast?

Bernie R.


From: Josh Backon <backon@...>
Date: Sat, Jul 9,2011 at 03:01 PM
Subject: In vitro meat

Bernard Raab  wrote (MJ 60#20):

> Those who are stringent say that the former non-kosher status [of gelatin MOD]
> is restored by making it once again edible (the position accepted in the US,
> based on a ruling by Rav Moshe Feinstein), while those who are lenient (the
> Rabbanut of Israel), say that it can be used and eaten, if all of the other
> ingredients are kosher. Just last week, a news report
> (URL:
> http://www.impactlab.net/2011/06/19/japanese-scientists-create-edible-steaks-
> from-human-feces/)
> appeared in various sources that a Japanese researcher has succeeded in
> producing edible "steaks" from protein-rich sewage containing human excrement.
> (I warned you!) Quote: "The researchers then extracted those proteins,
> combined them with a reaction enhancer and put it in an exploder which
> created the artificial steak. The 'meat' is 63% proteins, 25% carbohydrates,
> 3% lipids and 9% minerals. The researchers color the poop meat red with food
> coloring and enhance the flavor with soy protein. Initial tests have people
> saying it even tastes like beef."
> In this case, the starting material is not food that can be consumed in a
> "normal" way, so it is neither kosher nor unkosher. Therefore, "restoring" it 
> to an edible form should be kosher ???; parve ???? (My friend Bernie Z. says 
> we should pray that it be ruled non-kosher.)

My first reaction was to cough up the old Jewish joke about the woman who comes
to the rabbi with an halachic question. "Rabbi, the chicken fell into 
the potty. Is it kosher?" and the rabbi answer: "Kosher, BUT DOES IT STINK !!"

Seriously, there is a prohibition of BAAL TESHAKTZU (do not engage in vile
or disgusting acts which are repulsive). See the Aruch haShulchan YD 13 #2
quoting a Tosfot in Shabbat re: the prohibition of eating live fish. The Aruch
haShulchan YD 116 #24 specifically lists the prohibition of eating vile or 
disgusting foods or beverages or from dirty dishes though from the Minchat
Chinuch 163 #2 quoting the Tevuot Shor 13 s"k 2 and the Chochmat  Adam Klal 68
#5 ("makat mardut") the prohibition seems to be rabbinic.

The only question is whether the classic Jewish delicacy 
galariteh/pitcha is OK :-)

Here's the recipe:
                         PITCHA  (Jellied calf's foot)

1 calf's foot, (kashered and thoroughly cleaned by butcher)
1 onion
1 clove of garlic
1 bay leaf
Juice of 1 lemon
2 tbl vinegar
2 hard boiled eggs, sliced

Soak calf's foot in cold water for 1 hour. Drain. Place in large pot,
cover with water,and cook for 2 hours. Add onion, garlic, bay leaf, lemon
juice and vinegar. Cook for 1 more hour. Remove meat and dice. Strain the
juice from pot over it. Add egg slices and chill.

And thank you for flying EL AL !

Josh Backon


From: Guido Elbogen <havlei.h@...>
Date: Thu, Jul 14,2011 at 05:01 AM
Subject: Obscure Midrashim and Aggadic Reasons

Rabbi Meir Wise <Meirhwise@...> wrote (MJ 60#21):

> The origin of time zones is in the Torah itself. The first occurance
> of the otherwise superfluous phrase "bechol moshvoteichem" (in all your
> dwellings) occurs in Shemot 12:20. Where else would one eat?
> Therefore the rabbis learnt that yom tov and shabbat commences in all
> your dwellings wherever they are. The alternative would be that
> shabbat and yom tov commence all over the world at the same time as
> Jerusalem which in antiquity would have been impossible.

Time zones are usually understood to be areas where from one end to the
other, the same time is shown on all clocks.

Thus 4pm in Manchester will also be at that time, 4pm, in London.

What RMW is referring to, from the posuk, is that sunset may be in
Manchester at 4:02 pm while in London at 4:30 pm. according to astronomical

What maybe confusing are those that hold by the 'Jerusalem clock' system,
where sunset in every location is 6pm.

If such a clock or watch that readjusts automatically to the astronomical
values of the current location (i.e. GPS?) would be invented, Shabbat would of
course commence weekly at the same time on each person's time piece wherever
they are.

Thus 4pm in Manchester will NOT also be at that time 4pm in London,
according to the 'Jerusalem Clock' system.


From: Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz <sabbahillel@...>
Date: Mon, Jul 18,2011 at 01:01 PM
Subject: Ridiculous Daf Yomi question

Ridiculous Daf Yomi question:


If you shecht [slaughter] an animal with a light saber, is the animal

Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz


From: Marilyn Tomsk <jtomsky@...>
Date: Thu, Jul 14,2011 at 12:01 PM
Subject: Stand or not?

Does one stand for the Kiddush or not?  

Marilyn Tomsky


End of Volume 60 Issue 22