Volume 60 Number 79
      Produced: Mon, 30 Apr 2012 18:48:21 EDT

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

Beta Israel
    [Josh Backon]
Kavod hatsibbur
    [Martin Stern]
    [Yisrael Medad]
Listening to music on the radio, tape, mp3 player etc. during sefirat  
    [Michael Rogovin]
Minyan problems
    [Martin Stern]
Out of synch (4)
    [Martin Stern  Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz  Perets Mett  Sammy Finkelman]
 "Frum" products downsizing
    [Harry Weiss]
Save Soviet Jewry movement -- a new book
    [Irwin Weiss]
Thought for the Month
    [Martin Stern]


From: Josh Backon <bac...@...>
Date: Thu, Apr 26,2012 at 01:01 PM
Subject: Beta Israel

Dr. Steven Kaplan of the Dept. of African Studies at Hebrew University
in Jerusalem is a acknowledged expert on Ethiopian history. His research
definitively shows that there was NO connection between the Tribe of Dan
and the Ethiopian Falasha community. Rabbi Ovadiah Yosef based his ruling
re the Jewishness of the Ethiopian community on a ruling of the RADBAZ, a
16th century Egyptian rabbi which was simply in error. The history of
the Ethiopian Beta Yisrael (Falasha) starts from the 15th century. There
were Jewish influences on ALL the Christians living in Ethiopia. These
Christians saw themselves as the real Bnei Yisrael (Children of Israel);
they did no work on the Sabbath; they ate no pork. In the 15th Century
a new ruler took over Ethiopia and forced the general populace to give
up these *jewish* customs. Some resisted for *political reasons* and these
people lost their right to own property. Curiously, it was the Christian
monks living in Ethiopia who supported the refusal of the resistors to
follow the order of the new ruler. The Ethiopian word FALASHIAN means
*monk* and the term given to those Christians who lost their property
was FALASHA. Anyone who resisted the ruler EVEN IF THAT PERSON WAS
CHRISTIAN was called AHUDAI (e.g. "Jew"). That's why the Ethiopian
*Jews* never referred to themselves as Jews but as BETA YISRAEL.
These people (AHUDAI) never married Christians who obeyed the ruler.

Translation: they're not Jewish. The RADBAZ assumed that because
they were called AHUDAI they, in fact, were Jews. What a mistake!

And to those who ask how such mistakes occur: there is a famous gemara
in Yevamot 92a (re: the Beit Din of 72 in the Lishkat heGazit of the Beit
Hamikdash, not Rabbi Irving or Rabbi Murray) "horu beit din she'shak'a chama
ulvasoff zarcha chama, ein zu hora'ah elah ta'ut"  (if the court ruled that the
sun set but the sun actually rose, this is not a ruling but a mistake). And this
is codified by the Rambam in Hilchot Shegagot 14:3. See also Shulchan Aruch
Choshen Mishpat Siman 25 and the first 3 Mishnayot in Horayot.

Josh Backon


From: Martin Stern <md.st...@...>
Date: Sun, Apr 29,2012 at 09:01 AM
Subject: Kavod hatsibbur

In many communities someone receiving an aliyah puts on a tallit as kavod
hatsibbur [showing respect for the congregation]. While this is not the
practice in others, do the latter object in principle to doing so? The
reason I ask, is because I was present when a young unmarried man said it
was not his custom to put on a tallit and threw it on the ground when one
was draped on him by the gabbai. Can anyone suggest a justification for this
bizarre and apparently disrespectful behaviour?

Martin Stern


From: Yisrael Medad <yisrael.me...@...>
Date: Fri, Apr 27,2012 at 04:01 AM
Subject: Kitniyot

In a pre-Pesach talk, as reported in Matzav HaRuach #178, 6 April 2012,
Rav Dov Leor related to the matter and made the following points:

1. From "kocha d'hetera adif" (that it is preferrable to apply halachic
authority for purposes of permitting), he stated that only what was
included in the 800 year old edict as kitniyot is to be prohibited for
those observing the custom. Ashkenazim can eat quinoa, soya, peanuts and
the like.

2.  Kitniyot that have not been on contact with either water or cooking oil
are permitted, such as popcorn if heated without oil or oil if not prepared
with water.

3. Spices, except for cumin, are permitted.

4. He also expressed amused criticism of those who leave Israel for Pesach
and, while being careful to eat non-gebrucht (when matza is not mixed with a
liquid as in a soup, etc.) and glatt kosher, nevertheless disregard the
prohibition of leaving the Land of Israel as per the Rambam. Laws of Kings
- "In all times, it is forbidden to leave *Eretz Yisrael* for the
Diaspora, except to learn Torah, or to find a wife, or to rescue Jewish
property from the gentiles, and then one must return to the Land of Israel."
Also it is permitted to leave to engage in commerce, 5:9.

Yisrael Medad


From: Michael Rogovin <mrogovin...@...>
Date: Fri, Apr 27,2012 at 02:01 PM
Subject: Listening to music on the radio, tape, mp3 player etc. during sefirat

In MJ 60#78, David Tzohar noted an opinion (from R. Eliezer Melamed) that was
relatively more lenient than what has become the norm on listening to music
during sfira. This may have been opinion of the Rav (Joseph Soloveitchik)
as well.

In a letter in Tradition a few years ago (responding to an article
on the 3 weeks and music), R. N. Helfgot cited several sources (including, I
believe, R. H. Schachter) that the Rav's view was that music in the context of
simcha gatherings (weddings, etc.) was the problem; actually it was the
simcha gatherings themselves (where music is the norm; so other gatherings
like fundraisers or going to the movies with your husband would presumably
be OK, whereas getting together with 10 friends to go bowling or for a
party might not). The underlying rationale is that the 3 weeks are based on
the 11 months of mourning following shloshim (the 9 days = shloshim and
Tisha B'Av = shiva), and the Rav felt that prohibition was limited to
attending a simcha, not to abstaining from listening to the radio. By
extension, since most (I think) hold that sfira restrictions are less
stringent and in any case would correspond closer to the 11 months rather
than the 30 days of mourning, it follows that the same leniency would apply
to sfira.

In any case, there are different opinions as to how one should observe
sfira (and the 3 weeks). The trend in the last few decades has been ever
increasing stringency - what was a chumrah is now treated as normative, be
it women's singing or growing a beard during sfira. One who feels it
necessary or desirable to observe stringencies may generally do so (except
when doing so would be yuhara (arrogance)), but to impose chumrot on the
entire community strikes me as overkill.

Michael Rogovin


From: Martin Stern <md.st...@...>
Date: Fri, Apr 27,2012 at 07:01 AM
Subject: Minyan problems

I have noticed that some men are particular to put on their tallit and
tefillin outside shul. Can anyone suggest the source for this practice?

Recently, there were nine men in shul waiting to start davenning (actually
we were waiting before the first kaddish) when the tenth man insisted on
waiting outside to "get dressed" and refused to do so inside so that the
mourner could say kaddish. Even according to his custom, was he acting

Martin Stern


From: Martin Stern <md.st...@...>
Date: Thu, Apr 26,2012 at 11:01 AM
Subject: Out of synch

The following appeared in the (London) Jewish News in its Ask the Rabbi
column authored by Rabbi Yitchak Schochet:
Many people asked me this question this year, so allow me to elaborate. For
clarity I will explain to readers that we in the Diaspora celebrated the
final day of Pesach on Shabbat- hence, we will have read the special
festival reading for the day. In Israel, where they only celebrate seven
days, the last day of Pesach was Friday so Shabbat was an ordinary Shabbat.

Therefore, they would have continued with the normal Torah portion cycle,
effectively putting them one week ahead of us. It is not until the
penultimate week before Shavuot, when we encounter one of the 'double
portions'- Behar Bechukotai- that we read them together. In Israel they
read them spread across two weeks, resulting in us both reading the opening
portion of Bamidbar (Numbers) on the Shabbat preceding Shavuot.

One question that arises is why we wait until those particular weeks to
bring ourselves back into sync when, in fact, there are several double
portions beforehand and we could do so sooner.

The answer lies in the reason we have double portions in the first place.
This is in order to satisfy the four basic rules mentioned in Code of Jewish
Law about the distribution of portions throughout the year. In particular,
the first two are that the Shabbat before Pesach has to be the portion of
Tzav (second portion of Leviticus) in a regular year or Metzora (fifth
portion of Leviticus) in a leap year.

The other condition is that the penultimate Shabbat before Shavuot must be
Bechukotai (the final portion of Leviticus), because of the "admonition"
contained therein, and always separated by the portion of Bamidbar (the
first portion of Numbers) just prior to Shavuot.

Since Tzav is the 25th portion in the Torah and Bamidbar is the 34th, and
since in most regular years there are only six Shabbats between Pesach and
Shavuot, there are, therefore, generally three sets of double portions
during this time.

The great 16th-century Turkish sage R. Yissachar ibn Susan suggested that if
they were to split any of the earlier double portions in Israel, that might
suggest they are less important than the Jews living outside Israel- in
that they have to change their usual practice for the sake of the Diaspora
(or 'Chutznikim' as they like to call us). So they wait until the last
possible opportunity (in the weeks before Shavuot) and then split that
double portion up, because at that point there's no choice. They have to do
so in order that Bamidbar will be read on the Shabbat before Shavuot.

Like you, my son travelled back to Israel after the festival as well. To
resolve the issue, those coming from the Diaspora make a special service on
the first week back, creating an unusual triple portion! This would consist
of the portion being read that week in the Diaspora (Shemini- the third
portion in Leviticus) which he would otherwise be missing- as they already
read it while we did not- combined with the standard double portion of
Tazriah Metzorah which they would then be reading in Israel. It's a long and
painful process. But, hey, they don't get sermons and it's a small price to
pay for the privilege of studying in Israel.

From: Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz <sabbahil...@...>
Date: Thu, Apr 26,2012 at 02:01 PM
Subject: Out of synch

Yaakov Shachter (MJ 60#78) wrote:

> In MJ 60#77, someone wrote:
>> Since the first constraint that we come to in the order of the
>> readings is that the parsha before Shavuot has to be B[]midbar...
> This is empirically untrue.  About one-third of the time, Shavu`oth
> falls between Parashath Naso and Parashath Bha`alothkha.  This most
> recently happened in the year 5771, that is, on Wednesday, June 8,
> 2011.  So it wasn't that long ago that the above generalization was
> proven false, unless (and this is a stretch, but I am trying hard to
> find a justification for the listmember's statement), when he wrote
> "constraint", he meant a consideration that is not binding, but only advisory.

The point was that there must be at least one parsha (Bamidbar) between
bechukosai and Shavuos. That is (according to a number of articles that
I have seen) so that the tochachah (curses) will not immediately precede
the chag.

For example, Rabbi Kaganoff wrote in http://rabbikaganoff.com/archives/1730:

- Show quoted text -

Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz

From: Perets Mett <p.met...@...>
Date: Thu, Apr 26,2012 at 02:01 PM
Subject: Out of synch

Martin Stern (MJ 60#78) wrote:

> The rule is that Bamidbar must come before Shavuot, not that it be read on
> the immediately preceding Shabbat. In fact, it is not uncommon for Naso to
> come before Shavuot. Therefore Haim's suggested reason cannot be correct.

Not quite so. The rule is "mnu veitsru" = count (Bamidbar) and then celebrate
Atseres (Shovuos), which means read Bamidbor on the Shabbos preceding Shovuos,
and is exercised ****whenever possible****.

The only exception to this rule is when all the sedras up to and including Matos
and Massei are separate, namely a leap year in which the previous Rosh Hashono
fell on a Thursday (and additionally in Erets Yisroel a leap year when Pesach
falls on Shabbos).

This is an approximate frequency of 10% in Chuts Lo-orets and 20% in Erets

Although this may be considered "not uncommon", it only happens when there is no

Perets Mett

From: Sammy Finkelman <sammy.finkel...@...>
Date: Thu, Apr 26,2012 at 08:01 PM
Subject: Out of synch

Martin Stern (MJ 60#78) quoted from Torah Tidbits (997):

> Several TT readers asked why we wait for B'har and B'chukotai to return to
> reading the same sedra in Israel and in Chu"l. Wouldn't separating Tazri'a
> and M'tzora or Acharei and K'doshim work just as well and accomplish the job
> sooner? ...

If you did it for the first two combinations, you couldn't have the
same rule for regular years and leap years, and the Gaonim, or whoever
set this rule, didn't want to make things more complicated than they
had to be.

In leap years where the next Rosh Hashanah begins on a Monday and
Pesach began on Shabbos,  B'har and B'chukotai is the first


From: Harry Weiss <hjwe...@...>
Date: Thu, Apr 26,2012 at 12:01 PM
Subject: Re  "Frum" products downsizing

In MJ 60#78, Dr. Rick Turkel wrote:

> all three regular (i.e., non-"frum") brands of Kosher tuna -- Bumble Bee,
> Chicken of the Sea, and StarKist -- shrank their cans more or less at the
> same time.  Can you spell "market collusion," boys and girls?

I have to give the heimishe brands a bye in this matter.   Try to find a Gefen,
Dagim, Haddar etc. brand tuna plant.  It doesn't exist.   They just use a plant
run by others (often those that make store-brand), kasher the facility, and have
a special run for a few days.   The equipment, including the one that cans,
measures etc., is the same that they use on all their other products.  

By economic necessity their product has to be similar wherever possible to the
companies' regular production.

Harry J. Weiss


From: Irwin Weiss <ir...@...>
Date: Thu, Apr 26,2012 at 01:01 PM
Subject: Save Soviet Jewry movement -- a new book

Some time ago there were some discussions here about the "Save Soviet Jewry"

I sincerely recommend Gal Beckerman's recent book, "When They Come for Us, We'll
Be Gone: The Epic Struggle to Save Soviet Jewry." It was published in 2010 and
a fascinating and detailed account of what was going on here and what was going
in Russia.

There is much in the book I remember and some things I did not know (or maybe I

(I have no connection to Mr. Beckerman.) The book was awarded several prizes for
its scholarship.

Irwin E. Weiss
Baltimore, MD


From: Martin Stern <md.st...@...>
Date: Sun, Apr 29,2012 at 09:01 AM
Subject: Thought for the Month

> David Ansbacher wrote (MJ 60#78):
> I recently heard that the Roshei Taivos for this month, Iyar (Alef - Yud -
> Yud - Reish), stand for "Ani Hashem Rofecho".

> Interestingly, last month was the month of Geulah, where, after the Makkos
> Mitzrayim, Hashem promised "Kol hamachaloh asher samty b'Mitzrayim lo osim
> eilecho ki Ani Hashem Rofechoh". Therefore it is appropriate that the next
> month should be a month of Refuoh. May there be a Refuah Shleimoh this month
> for all who need it with the coming of Moshiach, Bimheiroh V'yomainu.

This sequence is found in several places in the liturgy, for example:

1. "... matsmiach yeshuot, borei refuot ..." in the brachah yotser or before
kriat shema in the morning

2. the brachoh "Goel Yisrael" followed by "Rofei cholei amo Yisrael" in the
weekday Shemoneh esrei

Martin Stern


End of Volume 60 Issue 79