Volume 60 Number 89 
      Produced: Wed, 13 Jun 2012 12:20:05 EDT

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

B'racha on Venus transit (2)
    [Sammy Finkelman  Katz, Ben M.D.]
Limiting genealogic inquiries 
    [Frank Silbermann]
No Rape Evidence in Our Genes 
    [Yisrael Medad]


From: Sammy Finkelman <sammy.finkelman@...>
Date: Fri, Jun 8,2012 at 05:01 PM
Subject: B'racha on Venus transit

David Ziants wrote in MJ 60#88:

> The question I presented to the Rav of the shul where I went for Shacharit
> this morning was - can one (should one) say the b'racha Oseh Ma'aseh B'reishit?

I hadn't thought about the idea of a Brachah, but it would seem to me
that Shehechiyanu would be appropriate for this. I think this could be
said for anything you anticipate that didn't take place in the
previous 30 days.

The Brachah that is said every 28 years (Birchat Hachammah) is actually really
due to a mistake - some text probably is omitted in the Gemorah (not so much
a corruption as an omission) - Abaye is usually much better than this.

From: Katz, Ben M.D. <BKatz@...>
Date: Mon, Jun 11,2012 at 01:01 PM
Subject: B'racha on Venus transit

In MJ 60#88, David Ziants wrote:

> This morning in Israel, Venus could be seen passing the sun
> as a small black spot.  The next time this transit will happen
> will be more than one hundred years from now....
> The question I presented to the Rav of the shul where I went
> for Shacharit this morning was - can one (should one) say
> the b'racha Oseh Ma'aseh B'reishit?...

Of course one should say a beracha on a real astronomical phenomenon which makes 
you realize God's greatness.  Rav Bar-Hayim of Machon Shilo has a nice response 
to this question - just check out their Website (http://MachonShilo.org).
(In my humble opinion, as was discussed a few years ago on these very pages,
it was a beracha levatalah to say birchat hachamah because that is not a real 
astronomical phenomenon.)


From: Frank Silbermann <frank_silbermann@...>
Date: Fri, Jun 8,2012 at 05:01 PM
Subject: Limiting genealogic inquiries

In MJ 60#88 Kevin Williams raised some interesting questions
about the conversion of women ancestral to Jewish diaspora

> What is shared amongst different Diaspora Jewish communities
> is the Y-chromosomes. Those Y-chromosomes are largely Middle
> Eastern, consistent with historical, archeological, and Biblical records
> linking us to that region. But Jewishness passes from the mother,
> and the bit of genetic material that's passed, nearly unchanged,
> from mother to child is the mitochondrial DNA. Unexpectedly,
> at least to me, mitochondrial DNA is largely unshared amongst
> different Jewish groups, because it often resembles the mitochondria
> of the surrounding Gentile populations (it's typically less diverse,
> indicating limited input). ... How, exactly, were these women
> converted before the arrival of rabbinical authorities?

He asked other questions and made analogies to the "Who is a Jew"
issue today, which I'll leave to others to discuss.  I would just like
to note that one explanation rarely mentioned is that ancient Jewish
merchants might have come into possession of gentile slaves.
If these merchants had children with them, those children would
become Jewish when freed, no?

Frank Silbermann        Memphis, Tennessee


From: Yisrael Medad <yisrael.medad@...>
Date: Sat, Jun 9,2012 at 03:01 PM
Subject: No Rape Evidence in Our Genes

Kevin Williams writes (MJ 60#88, thread "Limiting genealogic inquiries"):
> Moroccan Jews look like Arabs, German Jews can have light hair and blue
> eyes.  There must have been significant ancestral admixture.  How did it
> happen?  I had assumed through rape during pogroms, plus seduction and
> abandonment.  But thankfully, there's not much evidence of those horrors
> in our genes.

While indeed inter-marraige through conversion or otherwise is a
contributory factor to physical resemblance between Jews and the general
surrounding population, I wonder what proof there is that there is "not
much evidence of these horrors [rape, seduction & abandonment] in our
genes"?  Reviewing Jewish European history, I would think that not the case.

Yisrael Medad


End of Volume 60 Issue 89