Volume 60 Number 38 
      Produced: Tue, 20 Sep 2011 17:08:27 EDT

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

An educational package in helping Jews respond to the Palestinian Stat 
    [Nachum Amsel]
Barachahs with "L'*" or "Al *" 
    [Sammy Finkelman]
Grape juice shortage? 
    [Art Werschulz]
Hashem as "King" 
    [David Riceman]
Mashkimim leslichot 
    [Martin Stern]
Phone-booth davvening 
    [Art Werschulz]
Shabbat on Sunday in New Zealand 
    [Guido Elbogen]
Shabbat Shalom 
    [Martin Stern]
Stiebel - Shabbat in New Zealand 
    [Guido Elbogen]
Taanit Dateline question 
    [Guido Elbogen]
    [Martin Stern]
Tribal origins of Ashkenazim and Sephardim 
    [Tony Fiorino]


From: Nachum Amsel <namsel@...>
Date: Sun, Sep 18,2011 at 11:01 AM
Subject: An educational package in helping Jews respond to the Palestinian Stat

[Full subject: an educational package in helping Jews respond to the Palestinian
 State initiative --Mod.]

Even though Mail-Jewish is not the usual forum for this, we thought that
because of the importance of this material and the need to obtain it
immediately, we should make it available through every Jewish forum. 

Rabbi Wein and the Destiny Foundation have developed an educational package
to deal with the topic of the impending Palestinian State and Israel Issues
in general. We are aware that many Jews are searching for appropriate
responses to the new reports and the "facts" from the Israeli and Jewish
perspective. Thus, this program has grouped 11 separate topics, each
introduced by an original video, with Instant Lessons and in-depth
additional resource material.

For a description of the program and one sample Instant Lesson, please feel free 
to contact me offline.  Thank you.


Rabbi Dr. Nachum Amsel
Director of Education, Destiny Foundation
Email - <nachum@...>
Tel.- (972)2-586-4262 
Cell phone - (972) 544-54-36-18 
Fax - (972)2-586-3034 
Phone from USA - 212-444-1656


From: Sammy Finkelman<sammy.finkelman@...>
Date: Fri, Sep 16,2011 at 01:01 PM
Subject: Barachahs with "L'*" or "Al *"

Martin Stern wrote (MJ 60#37):

> Sammy Finkelman wrote (MJ 60#36):

>> I would think the problem here [with putting on Tallis and Tefillin too
>> early] could be that:

>> 1) You shouldn't make the brachah before its time.
>> and

>> 2) If the time occurs while they are on, the proper form of the brachah would
>> not longer be "L'*" but "Al *"

> Whether we use the formulation "L'..." or "Al ..." in any particular
> situation is not clear but it certainly has nothing to do with whether one
> makes the berachah before or after doing the mitsvah - one must always say
> it before. ...The correct procedure is to wash, take the towel in one's
> hands, say the berachah and then dry them. Drying is part of the mitsvah and
> so one is saying the berachah before completing it. [and it is not after the
> mitzvah is completed, like I said.

I think there might be other examples where it is after it is over,  but I
think the "L'" is said only before a mitzvah began while "al' would
be said during or after a mitzvah.

We have "Al Netilas Lulav" because you already began. We say "Leishev
Basuccah" because you haven't actually begun residing there - or is
that right. Residing would be sitting down maybe or eating.

There is a little bit of a problem with "L'Hadlik Ner shel Shabbos."
It is said before it begins but it also may be acceptance of Shabbos.
If more than one candle is lit it might not be allowed to light a second.

Stuart Wise wrote (MJ 60#33): 

> [One person] made a curious statement when he met
> resistance: OK, the sin will be on your head (presumably for people not
> putting on tefilin at the moment it is permitted).

The underlying issue has been discussed as with Chaim Casper in MJ 60#34:

>.... Rav Moshe, zt"l added that if one is in such a situation, one could put
> on the t&t before alot and make the brakhah before yishtabah which would be
> after misheyakir.   His reasoning is that the issue is when are we allowed to
> make the brakhah?   There is no problem putting on t&t at night; there is
> only a problem of making a brakhah.   So long as we make the brakhah after
> alot (or even wait where possible to after misheyakir) we have made the
> brakhah in a permissible manor.

> Among the men that I daven with, there are those who are uncomfortable with
> Rav Moshe's p'sak so they hold off putting on t&t until after misheyakir.
> Tavo aleihem brakhah.

>  But most of my mitpallelim accept my understanding of Rav Moshe's psak. So
> they put on their t&t without a brakhah and wait for my announcement prior to
> yishtabah.

I think I discovered where the problem comes from.  Page 979 in the Artscroll 
Siddur states in the middle of Law 15:

<< ..According to all views it is not permissible to put on Tefillin
until there is sufficient daylight to recognize a casual acquaintance
at a distance of four cubits (O.C. 30:1, see OC 19:3 in regard to
Tallis). >>

Now of course this is wrong. Artscroll has oversimplified and/or confounded
practical instructions (which tell you what is best practice, and what is not)
with what is not permissible.

Because it is certainly not true that according to "all views" it is
'"not permissible" to put on Tefillin early. Just not permissible to
do everything as usual (making the Brachah at the same time).  I guess
Rabbi Artscroll felt that was too complicated an idea to get across,
in spite of printing several pages of Halachah, many pertaining to more
rarely encountered matters.


From: Art Werschulz <agw@...>
Date: Fri, Sep 16,2011 at 04:01 PM
Subject: Grape juice shortage?

Leah S.R. Gordon <leah@...> wrote (MJ 60#37):

> Has anyone else found a shortage of Kedem Grape Juice (large bottles)?  I
> have gone to several stores and one Shaw's [I live near Boston] called their
> distributor for me, and there seems to be a lack of product available.  Now
> hopefully I have not *caused* a shortage/hoarding by even asking the
> question on M.J :)  We do have wine, and a few bottles of KGJ left, but I
> had wanted to stock up for the season, obviously.

Not in New York metro region (at least in New Jersey).  The local ShopRite was
running a sale.

Art Werschulz


From: David Riceman <driceman@...>
Date: Mon, Sep 19,2011 at 07:01 PM
Subject: Hashem as "King"

David Tzohar <davidtzohar@...> wrote (MJ 60#37):

> We must understand that this concept can only be understood on a deeper,
> mystical level.

I find it hard to imagine any subject which can "only be understood on a 
deeper, mystical level".  In my experience even toddlers understand the 
metaphor of God as king on a shallower, rational level.  Descending to 
the depths without passing through the shallows can lead to drowning!

David Riceman


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Sun, Sep 18,2011 at 04:01 AM
Subject: Mashkimim leslichot

It's that time of the year again when we Ashkenazim start to say selichot.
Generally this is described as "mashkimim leslichot" which means literally
"get up early for selichot".

The ideal time for their recital is to start before daybreak and finish
shortly after misheyakir [the earliest time that one can, except in
emergency situations, put on tallit and tefillin and say Shema]. In
Manchester England these times are approximately 5.15 and 6.00 respectively
which is a little too early for most people.

This would appear to be the reason why we do not put on tallit and tefillin
until after saying them even for those who do not begin so early though it
would be permissible and I have seen the occasional person do so, probably
to save time between finishing selichot and beginning shacharit.

There seems to be a longstanding custom of saying selichot on the first
night (Motsa'ei Shabbat) at midnight, which is the earliest time for their
recital. I have however noticed that most such recitals are announced for
12.00 which, because of daylight saving, is an hour before midnight. Can
anyone explain the reason behind this apparently incorrect procedure?

Also, in some congregations, selichot are said each night in the evening
after ma'ariv which seems to go against the concept of getting up early to
say them. Can anyone provide an explanation for this?

Martin Stern


From: Art Werschulz <agw@...>
Date: Fri, Sep 16,2011 at 04:01 PM
Subject: Phone-booth davvening

Leah S.R. Gordon <leah@...> wrote (MJ 60#37):

> Apparently the woman was davening, and there were repeated knocks on the
> booth, and the woman thought to herself, "they'll just have to wait; I'm
> using the booth" - and she had taken the receiver under her chin to look
> more authentic.
> Evidently after davening, she opened the door and the person there was a
> repair technician who said, "that phone is broken and we have to fix it"
> with a very strange look.

I guess she could've told him that she was making a *very* long-distance call.

Art Werschulz


From: Guido Elbogen <havlei.h@...>
Date: Sun, Sep 18,2011 at 09:01 AM
Subject: Shabbat on Sunday in New Zealand

Judith Weil  <weildj@...> wrote (MJ 60#37):

> Bernard Raab <beraab@...> wrote (MJ 60#36):

>> And could you please find out if they observe Shabbat on Saturday, since
>> apparently there are still some among us who cling to the idea that there
>> are Jewish communities somewhere that follow the p'sak of the Chazon Ish
>> regarding a halachic dateline which differs from the international
>> dateline
>> (which would require that they observe Shabbat on Sunday)?

> I did some research a few years ago on dateline-related issues. As I
> understood it, New Zealand's local community, Australia's Chabad community
> and its Mizrachi community, regard the New Zealand Shabbos as coinciding
> with Saturday. Australia's Yeshiva community, and I think its Chassidim,
> other than Chabad, regard it as unclear whether Shabbos coincides with
> Saturday or Sunday. They therefore avoid being in NZ over a weekend, but if
> they are they observe two days (the second day possibly not as a complete
> Shabbos, but just not doing work).

> The source of the controversy is the question of whether the Jewish dateline
> lies 90 degrees (six hours) or 180 degrees (12 hours) from Jerusalem.

Creating double Shabbatot in NZ out of sofek would be difficult to maintain.

The biggest problems will occur when returning to witness based Rosh Chodesh
determination. Even a yearly calendar cannot be created.

The correct position of the dateline will have to be subject to scrutiny.

As Bernie Raab mentioned a few time times according to the time zone rules,
there will never be a a possibility of the whole world at some point of time
being the same day.

However according to the Jewish sources that are not concerned with time zones,
when the sun is midday in Jerusalem, the whole world will be the same day,
because the sunset directly east of Jerusalem will sit on the dateline canceling
out the effect of the dateline, ie crossing the dateline from west to east adds
a day, while crossing the sunset from west to east subtracts a day.

The concept of the whole world being on the same day at noon in Jerusalem, ie
dateline 90 degrees east of Jerusalem, is important.

Rosh Chodesh will not be declared on the 30th day of the month if the time is
noon or later since some communities especially NZ will have commenced the day,
regarding it as "lamed" and not "aleph", causing discrepancies when to celebrate
the holidays.

Suppose today Sunday was the 30th day after RH AV and noon in Jerusalem is 11:33
Standard time (18 Sept), the approximate Jewish time in Perth, west Australia,
would be 17:33 (J+6) Sunday well before the upcoming sunset at 18:10 (18 Sept)

However Auckland in NZ will at noon Jerusalem have the approximate Jewish time
21:33 (J+10) Monday since sunset was 18:13 (18 Sept).

Whether the "kula" of the CI allowing the dateline to be moved to avoid logistic
problems remains to be seen if it will be accepted.

However the idea of the 180 degree dateline east from Jerusalem would appear to
have very little halachic basis.


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Fri, Sep 16,2011 at 01:01 PM
Subject: Shabbat Shalom

Ira L. Jacobson <laser@...> wrote (MJ 60#37):

> Martin Stern stated (MJ 60#36):
>> I have noticed that some people are avoiding saying Shabbat Shalom
>> or Gut Shabbos on Fridays as they always used to do and say Erev
>> Shabbat Shalom or Gut Erev Shabbos instead, which strikes me as
>> over-pedantic.
> There is a shita that holds that saying Shabbat Shalom (or its
> equivalent in other languages) is one way to accept Shabbat (as long
> as it is done after pelag haminha).
> Perhaps these people are not ready to accept Shabbat and therefore
> refrain from saying that formula.

This is all very well provided the person is intending to accept Shabbat
with his greeting but I think most people definitely do not. In any case
they have the option of making a mental note that they are not doing so
which certainly would be effective, just as a man can light the Shabbat
lights (after plag haminchah, of course) with the intention of not accepting
Shabbat and then carry on doing melachot (usually carrying in an area where
there is no eruv). A woman, I believe, must actually make a declaration that
she is not accepting Shabbat since women (unlike men) usually accept Shabbat
by candle lighting.

Martin Stern


From: Guido Elbogen <havlei.h@...>
Date: Sun, Sep 18,2011 at 06:01 AM
Subject: Stiebel - Shabbat in New Zealand

Orrin Tilevitz <tilevitzo@...> wrote (MJ 60#37):

> BTW, meanwhile I have found the location of the shtiebel, or "Stiebel" as
> they spell it, but since it's not on the Auckland Hebrew Congregation website

Yes it is. On the front page of http://www.ahc.org.nz/

As Auckland's only Orthodox Synagogue and Community Centre, Auckland Hebrew
Congregation is the hub of Jewish living in Aotearoa. The AHC has a main
centre <http://www.ahc.org.nz/centre.php> in Auckland Central and an Eastern
Suburbs Stiebel <http://www.ahc.org.nz/living.php#religious>. Whether you
have grown up in Auckland, are a new arrival or just passing through; the
Congregation has something for everyone!
********end quote************


From: Guido Elbogen <havlei.h@...>
Date: Sun, Sep 18,2011 at 06:01 AM
Subject: Taanit Dateline question

Orrin Tilevitz <tilevitzo@...> wrote (MJ 6037):

> Let us say that you fly from New Zealand to the U.S.,
> across the Pacific, on the day of a taanit other than
> Tisha B'av. You will land on the west coast of the
> United States on the same day you left, several
> hours earlier, i.e., on the same taanit.
> In the interim, you have gone through a
> night, so the fast has ended. Must you fast twice?

HaRav Dovid Heber has written an interesting article that may answer some of
your questions


However I would suggest the following that may simplify matters.

If the issue is date defined, ie 17 Tammuz, then you would be obliged to fast
again since you went from 17 to 16 and then to 17 Tammuz. There is no halachic
recipe to cope with the need to do a double fast..

See the famous story of Mir Yeshiva during WWII


However a day defined issue such as Shaharis you have to daven Shaharis just
once between any sunrise to sunrise. But if there are significant differences in
the Shaharis because on 16 there was no taanis now on 17 Tammuz you would
probably pray Shaharis again since it's permissible to repeat.


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Tue, Sep 20,2011 at 04:01 PM
Subject: Theodicy

I have been thinking about how we should react to such terrible occurrences
as 9/11 or the murder of Leib Kletzky and come up with some ideas on the
matter. The age-old question is if G-d is all-powerful and utterly good, how
can He allow such things to happen.

Of course we can never really explain them since we cannot see them from
G-d's perspective and this is our real dilemma. Nonetheless we need to be
able to put these tragedies in some sort of context so that we do not lose
our trust in His ultimate goodness. After all, even such a great rabbi as
Acher (Elisha ben Abuya) was unhinged by a much lesser example of an
apparent lack of Divine justice.

I would like to suggest that there is a basic principle that can help in
this connection, that we have freedom of choice, which is the converse of
the concept of reward and punishment, which would be meaningless without it.

Unfortunately, the consequence of free choice is that it has to be possible
for a person to choose to be as wicked as he wishes and commit the most
horrendous crimes. G-d does not interfere in an obvious manner else His
'interference' would limit our ability to make moral choices and, in effect,
force us to do good.

While this does nothing to alleviate the pain we feel when confronted by
these inexplicable events, blaming G-d is about as sensible as blaming Him
for not preventing the death of someone who falls from a high building.
While we believe He CAN act against the 'laws of nature', we also believe
that, in general, He does not do so for the above reasons.

What do others think of this line of thought?

Martin Stern


From: Tony Fiorino <afiorino@...>
Date: Mon, Sep 19,2011 at 12:01 PM
Subject: Tribal origins of Ashkenazim and Sephardim

In MJ 60#37, David Tzohar <davidtzohar@...> wrote:

> In reply to Judith Weil  <weildj@...> (MJ 60#36): 
> The origins of Ashkenazim are from three different groups:
> 3-Descendants of the Khazar kingdom of southern Russia who converted to
> Judaism and assimilated into the Jewish communities of Eastern Europe after
> the fall of the Khazar kingdom.

Although there is much debate over the extent to which conversions to Judaism 
extended beyond the aristocracy of the Khazar kingdom (and there are scholars 
who question whether it happened at all), there is an interesting modern 
historical sidebar here.  The claim that Ashkenazic Jews are descendants of 
Khazars (and hence not truly the descendants of the Jews of the land of Israel) 
was used as an anti-Semitic and anti-Zionistic theory in the 19th and 20th 

It is worth noting that studies of diverse groups of Jews including Ashkenazim 
have shown, by analyzing various genetic markers on the Y chromosome, that 
Jewish populations tend to resemble each other regardless of their geographic 
place of residence and tend to possess genetic markers distinct from the 
surrounding gentile population but which place them relatively close to other 
Middle Eastern gentile populations.  These data are consistent with a migration 
of Jews from the Middle East with relatively little influx from surrounding 
populations after those migrations.  The data also suggest that a large influx 
of gentile males into the Ashkenazi gene pool (e.g., through the conversion of a
large number of Khazars) did not happen.  It does not rule out the possibility
of a modest number of converts entering the Ashkanazi gene pool, perhaps more
consistent with the conversion of an aristocracy.

As an aside, these kinds of genetic studies cut both ways with regard to 
authenticating elements of Jewish history and historiography.  It always bothers
me that those who like to cite the existence of the Cohen Modal Haplotype (the
so-called "Kohein gene," a genetic marker found at a high frequency among
Ashkenazi and Sephardi kohanim, as well as some other non-Jewish ethnic groups)
as some kind of proof of descent from Aharon always fail to mention that genetic
studies of Leviim demonstrate a heterogeneous genetic makeup that is
inconsistent with descendancy from a single individual.   One could postulate
that the transmission of status as a Levi has been far less exclusive than that
of Kohein (in other words, that over the millenia, it has been easier and far
more common to fake being a Levi than a Kohein - though the rationale for such
behavior escapes me).  Other interpretations of the data are also possible.



End of Volume 60 Issue 38