Volume 61 Number 91 
      Produced: Wed, 21 Aug 13 05:46:43 -0400

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

Adding 4 lines from Psalms following Shir Hama'alot 
    [Aaron Lerner]
An extension of halacha - or shtus 
    [Avram Sacks]
Calendar Coincidence 
    [Katz, Ben M.D.]
Heads Up This Rosh Hashanah 
    [Richard Fiedler]
Just passing along a lesson learned 
    [Carl Singer]
Kissing Tzitzit at La-ad 
    [Yisrael Medad]
Prayer for one's host country and for Israel (2)
    [Joseph Kaplan  Katz, Ben M.D.]
R'Ei ma'aser is riches 
    [Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz]
Standing in shul 
    [Eric Mack]
Waffling (2)
    [Martin Stern  Katz, Ben M.D.]
Wedding Custom 
    [Stuart Wise]


From: Aaron Lerner <lerner603@...>
Date: Sun, Aug 11,2013 at 02:01 PM
Subject: Adding 4 lines from Psalms following Shir Hama'alot

On Shabbat, holidays, and other days on which tachanun is not said, we recite
Shir Hama'alot before Birkat Hamazon.  Some add four additional lines from
Psalms ("Tehillat Hashem," "Va'anachnu Nevarech," "Hodu L'Hashem", and "Mi
Yemalel") following Shir Hama'alot. 

What is the source for adding these additional four lines?

Aaron Lerner
Silver Spring, Maryland


From: Avram Sacks <achdut18@...>
Date: Thu, Aug 8,2013 at 03:01 AM
Subject: An extension of halacha - or shtus

Carl Singer writes (MJ 61#89) about what I consider a very disturbing incident
in which he was barred from visiting his mother in a nursing home due to the 
simultaneous  performance by a girl's choir at the same time.  He writes, "other
than a brief hello, I was unable to visit as they seemed in shock that a man was

Although  his  questions are focused on certain halachic issues (lifne iver 
[putting  a  stumbling  block  before  the blind]), impact on non-Jewish  men,
and upon whom the onus of observance lies, there is a much larger, and more 
important issue assuming the nursing home is located within the United States:
the violation of federal law.

Regulations that implement the Nursing Home Reform Act, bar a nursing home  from
preventing a resident from having access to a member of the resident's 
immediate family.  The right also extends to anyone who is the legal guardian,
surrogate, or POA for the resident.  See 42 CFR 483.10(a) and (j)(1)(vii).

Anytime a nursing prevents an immediate family member from immediate access to a
resident, it is cause for alarm. There is no halachic requirement for a nursing
home to provide entertainment by girls' choirs, but there is a halachic
requirement of dina d'malchuta dina ("the law of the land is law"- halachic
principle that requires one to obey the laws of the land in which a Jew is
residing, if the country is a benevolent one). Also, this fastidious observance
of kol isha (halachic principle that prevents a man from hearing an unrelated
woman's singing  voice) is at the expense of kibud av v'em (honoring one's 
father and mother), by preventing someone from visiting his mother.  The last 
time I looked, there was nothing in the aseret ha-dibrot (10 commandments) 
about kol isha, but there was something definitely there about kibud av v'em.

I am no rav, but as I see it the nursing home is being very machmir (strict)
about a rabbinic prohibition regarding kol isha, but is being very meikel (lax)
about kibud av v'em. As an attorney, I would also be much more concerned about
the apparent violation of federal law. Someone should set straight the
priorities of the nursing home before someone complains and the home gets fined
for violating a federal rule.

Avram Sacks
Skokie, IL


From: Katz, Ben M.D. <BKatz@...>
Date: Thu, Jul 25,2013 at 07:01 PM
Subject: Calendar Coincidence

Eric Mack wrote (MJ 61#89):

> Carl Singer (MJ 61#87) pointed out that he "found an interesting coincidence 
> in the 5774 & 2014 calendars.
>> February / Adar I
>> April / Nissan
>> May / Sivan  (thru May 29th)
>> All coincide in numbers -- for example, the 12th of Nissan coincides with
>> the 12th of April.
> Using Kaluach, I compared the civil and Jewish calendars, going back to 1995 
> and forward to 2025. There seems to be a minimum of 30 months between 
> coinciding months; sometimes the interval is as much as 64 months!  
> Coincidence of *three* times in one year last occurred 19 years ago, in 1995, 
> that was also Feb, Apr and May. It did not occur 19 years earlier, in '76, 
> because that was a civil-calendar leap year. Here's the breakdown of  
> coinciding calendars from 1995 to 2025:
> 1995: Feb, Apr, May
> 1997: Nov
> 2000: Sept
> 2003: Jun & Jul
> 2006: Jan & Mar
> 2008: Sept 
> Then a 35-month wait until
> 2011: Aug
> 2014: Feb, Apr, May
> 2016: Dec
> 2019: Sep 
> Then a 64-month wait until
> 2025: 

Members of this list may be interested in an article I wrote about another
calendar coincidence: identical years - ie pairs of years where the Heb and Eng
dates are identical; eg your Heb and Eng birthdays coincide.  It was published
in BDD (Bekhol Derakheha Daehu: Journal of Torah and Scholarship 2008;20:57-65).

Anyone who wishes a pdf should write to me privately.


From: Richard Fiedler <richardfiedler@...>
Date: Tue, Aug 13,2013 at 12:01 PM
Subject: Heads Up This Rosh Hashanah

Those who rise early to say selichot prayers Wednesday morning, September 4th,
the eve of Rosh Hashanah, will witness a highly unusual, perhaps unique event,
in the predawn sky. The Old Moon - i.e. the last sliver of the waning moon,
before it disappears to be reborn as the New Moon - will be visible in Jerusalem
at 5:10 AM. Those who search the eastern skies from that time through 5:50 am
will probably be successful in seeing the Old Moon; after that time, the sun's
brightness will block its visibility.

What is special about seeing the Old Moon on Erev Rosh Hashanah? Readers will
perhaps recall the conflict, described in the Mishnah, between Rabban Gamliel
and R' Yehoshua over the proper date of Yom Kippur. The depiction of this
conflict in the Babylonian Talmud (25a) begins with this quote:

Two witnesses came and said: "We saw the Old Moon in the morning and the
Crescent New Moon in the evening." Yochanan ben Nuri said "They are false

It is a scientifically observable fact that the Old Moon and the Crescent New
Moon can never be seen on the same day. Hence, Yochanan ben Nuri knew that it
was impossible that the witnesses upon whose testimony the New Moon of Tishrei
(and with it, Rosh Hashanah) was to be based could have seen such a thing.
Notwithstanding, as the Talmud goes on to tell us, Rabban Gamliel accepted these
witnesses. Not only that, he even forced Rabbi Yehoshua to accept them too,
demanding from him to "appear before me with your staff and your money on the
day which according to your reckoning should be Yom Kippur" - i.e. to desecrate
the most holy day of the year, as it fell out by his understanding.

What is going on here? Why would Rabban Gamliel accept a testimony that was
blatantly impossible, and base the dates of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur on it?
It is my contention, along with a handful of traditional commentators that the
dates were being fixed behind the scenes. Ostensibly using a witness-based
system, the calendrical court was in fact using a pre-established calendar being
secretly handed down through the Rabban Gamliel family line - a calendar that at
a later date became publicly acknowledged.

One unwanted side effect of this fixed calendar was the rare unexpected creation
of an Old Moon visible on Erev Rosh Hashanah. Everyone knows that Rosh Hashanah
is synonymous with the New Moon of Tishrei. Were Rosh Hashanah indeed to fall
out on the actual Crescent New Moon, via sighting and witnesses (as the Muslims
do), an Old Moon sighting would indeed would be impossible on its eve. However,
in the fixed Hebrew calendar, Rosh Hashanah may fall in a minority of cases as
much as three days before the actual New Moon appears (approximately four
percent of the cases according to a longitudinal Molad of Tishrei study I
conducted). In such a set of circumstances, a relatively bright Old Moon could
be easily seen in the predawn skies. 

However, the use of certain later-enacted rabbinical rules of postponement
decreased the likelihood of this occurrence to the point that it almost never
happens today. This year, however, it will happen - and only due to a narrow
margin in the timing. The Molad of Tishrei is on Thursday September 5th, 16 and
830/1080 hours. Had the Molad fallen approximately an hour and a quarter later,
it would have been subject to a rabbinical postponement called the "Dehiyyah
Molad Zaqen," and Rosh Hashanah would have been deferred first to Friday and
then (due to another rule, "Lo Adu Rosh") to Saturday. But this did not occur,
and hence we will this year have one of those rather rare occurrences.

What made this Tishrei so different? The answer lies in the moon's trajectory.
The moon takes different paths across the globe, encompassing wider or narrower
angles of travel.  This year, the moon adopts an extreme southern trajectory, to
the point that nowhere on Earth will it be possible to see the Crescent New Moon
with the naked eye on September 5th, one day after Rosh Hashanah had already
begun. At sunset, in Jerusalem, September 6th, at the end of the two days of
Rosh Hashanah, the orbit of the moon will still fall below the African Continent
and even with a telescope it will not be visible in Jerusalem. Only on sunset
September 7th, three days after the start of Rosh Hashanah, will the Crescent
New Moon first be seen in Jerusalem. Look skywards and verify this for yourselves!

Here is a link to the Van Gent chart that shows that the moon of Tishrei will
not be seen until 3 days after Rosh Hashanah starts.


From: Carl Singer <carl.singer@...>
Date: Tue, Aug 13,2013 at 09:01 AM
Subject: Just passing along a lesson learned

My wife and I have been attending many weddings of late -- our friends' children
are getting married and it's wonderful to share in their simchas. Several have
been in Brooklyn or Monsey or New Square where mischlochim go table to table
asking for zedukah. To me it's a reminder of the poverty that envelops parts of
our community.

The lesson learned goes back many years -- my wife and I were invited to the
wedding of a daughter of Reb Elya Svei, ztl, the Philadelphia Rosh Yeshiva.
There was an extra table set -- just like all the others -- but this one was set
aside so any mischlochim or others who came from off the street could sit down
and enjoy banquet meal.

My mother told me that this was a common practice in Europe.

Carl Singer


From: Yisrael Medad  <yisrael.medad@...>
Date: Tue, Jul 23,2013 at 01:01 AM
Subject: Kissing Tzitzit at La-ad

I would like to clarify a previous posting of mine some years ago (and
since I cannot locate it, I hope my memory does not fail me).  It concerned
the kissing of the tzitzit (prayer shawl fringes) at the saying of the word
"la'ad" the second time after the completion of the three paragraphs of the

There was a discussion that touched on the Kabbalistic interpretation
provided for that act and the use of the word "ben" was at the center and,
if I recall, there was some rather inadequate information provided by me.
And since our postings are archived, someone might at a future date
actually review our material.

To refresh memories, briefly: "la-ad" equals in 'simple' gematria 104
(lamed=30; ayin=40; dalet=4) and there are two of them immediately
following the She'ma (umalchuto la'ad; v'nechamadim la'ad) which results in
"kodkod" which is Hebrew for head/brains and equals 208 (kuf=100; dalet=4).  

The interpretation then devolved into the use of the term "ben", which is
"son", which equals 52 (bet=2; nun=50) which when multiplied four times slso
equals 208.  We can stop here for the background.

What I wanted to clarify was, what I know now, is the extra meaning for the
term "ben" as I do not think it was explained how that term fit into the
concept.  It is an extension of the Kabbalistic imagery of "zivug" (union)
which I'll skip.

Another complicated form of gematria is called "milui ["filling in"]
whereby letters are given numerical equivalents as if they are considered
complete words which results from words within words [e.g. alef is treated as
alef lamed peh = 1+30+80 = 11 - MOD].  In our case, the name of the Divinity in
that yud-kay-vav-kay, spelled out via gematria with the letters "filled in"
equals 52  (yud: 10+6+4; heih: 5+5; vav: 6+6; heih: 5+5) which equals the value
of "ben".

The Kabbalistic interpretation I saw (and I will not relay all, as I do not
grasp all) suggested that the tzitzit should be kissed now that the process
of completing the act of setting one's kodkod in order is done (in my words
from the interpretation:

Since all the "nimin" (hair extremities) and the kodkod come together in
harmony [there is an additional element here of "malchut" representing Leah
and "emuna" representing Rachel and a matter of "zivug" but I'll stop here]
when you arrive at "nechmadim" which represents chab"ad [chochman, bina,
daat] and the coming as close as possible to the Divinity thereby, you then
kiss the tzitzit and release them.

Yisrael Medad



From: Joseph Kaplan <penkap@...>
Date: Thu, Jul 25,2013 at 03:01 PM
Subject: Prayer for one's host country and for Israel

David Makowsky commented (MJ 61#98): 

> I have a custom of not standing during the Prayer for the President and Vice
> President because the prayer specifically mentions the political office currently
> occupied by someone I believe is harmful to Jews. 
> What are the various halachic issues surrounding my actions? " 

I don't think what you are doing is a "personal custom."  Rather, it's
a political statement.  As for the propriety of political statements during
tefillah, I leave that to the halachists.


From: Katz, Ben M.D. <BKatz@...>
Date: Thu, Jul 25,2013 at 07:01 PM
Subject: Prayer for one's host country and for Israel

David Lee Makowsky wrote (MJ 61#89):

> Carl Singer wrote (MJ 61#88):
>> I note that many popular siddurs have no prayer for the host country
>> (USA in my case) and none for Israel -- and similarly for the soldiers.
>> Not only the siddurs, obviously, but the davening at many synagogues
>> seem to omit these as well.
> I have a custom of not standing during the Prayer for the President and
> Vice President because the prayer specifically mentions the political
> office currently occupied by someone I believe is harmful to Jews.
> What are the various halachic issues surrounding my actions?  Please do NOT
> turn this into a political debate.  I am not advocating that anyone else do
> this.

Jeremiah (Yirmiyahu), upon whose advice the prayer for the state is based, did
not make a distinction whether or not you agree with the state's politics.  The
idea seems to be that the better things go for the host state, the better it
will be for Jews living there, even if the situation is sub-optimal.  For
extreme cases this might be difficult (eg praying for Nazi Germany) but I doubt
any US administration should pose that big a dilemma.  


From: Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz <sabbahillel@...>
Date: Fri, Aug 2,2013 at 07:01 PM
Subject: R'Ei ma'aser is riches

The commentators take the command "Aser Ta'aser" (you must tithe) and 
teach a lesson on the results of following the Torah. "Aser 
Shetis'asher) " (Tithe so that you become rich. In actuality this 
connects with the statement of Pirkei Avos (Ethics of the Fathers):

Aize who ashir, hasomeach bechelko - Who is rich? He who is happy with 
his lot.

This means that it is not necessarily that when one gives his tenth to 
charity he will become wealthy (though that can happen), but that one 
who regularly gives tzedakah learns to consider that whatever he has is 
a gift from Hashem.  He learns to become "happy with his lot" and to 
live as if whatever he has is a gift and is not "coming to him". Thus, 
he learns the lesson and truly "becomes rich".

In truth, if someone puts aside his ma'aser (tenth) either into a 
separate account or even in a separate ledger and ensures that it is 
given to tzedakah (charity is not a good translation) he will find that 
somehow he will actually be able to live on the remaining ninety per 
cent and that somehow there is enough money. I can testify to this 
because that is what happened to me.

The blessing is not that you suddenly get more money, but that whatever 
you have is enough for your needs.

       Sabba     -                  -     Hillel
Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz | Said the fox to the fish, "Join me ashore"
  <SabbaHillel@...> | The fish are the Jews, Torah is our water


From: Eric Mack <ewm44118@...>
Date: Mon, Aug 19,2013 at 10:01 AM
Subject: Standing in shul

David Makowsky's question (MJ 61#89) about standing/not standing for the t'fila
[prayer] for the government of the USA has wider ramifications.  Specifically,
why do we stand for certain t'filot [prayers] and not for others?
Many stand for certain portions of P'sukei d'zimra [the collection of Psalms and
other verses recited before Bar'chu].  Specifically, it is customary to stand for

a) "Baruch She'amar" (the blessing at the start of P'sukei d'zimra; 

b) "Mizmor l'toda", on weekdays, and "Hodu", on Shabbat; 

c) the verses and blessings from "Vay'varech David" thru "Yishtabach", which is
the blessing recited at the end of P'sukei d'zimra

Many also stand for the several t'filot (here in Israel) for the government of
Israel, Tzahal [the Israeli Defense Forces], etc.  However, it is not customary
to stand for the "Mishebayrach" after each aliya, nor for the three "Y'kum
purkan" paragraphs (well, two, plus a Hebrew equivalent of the second "Y'kum
purkan"), which are also prayers for a larger community.  Why is it customary to
stand for the government of Israel and Tzahal prayers, which are very recent
additions to our liturgy, but not for the older ones?

Many also stand for "M'varchim haChodesh", the blessing/announcement of the new
month.  Is that standing more a function of the Sefer Torah (Torah scroll) being
held by a standing person, then it is related to the content of the prayer?

K'tiva v'hatima tova [May you be inscribed for a good year].

Eric Mack, Jerusalem


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Thu, Jul 25,2013 at 08:01 AM
Subject: Waffling

Rose Landowne wrote (MJ 61#90):
> Orrin Tilevitz wrote (MJ 61#89):
>> The idea is that a patron takes a
>> cup of waffle batter and makes his own waffles -- so bishul nochri is not
>> even an issue. (There are individual servings of jam, also with an OU.)
> You could ask the people in charge whether the waffle iron was new with the
> batter set up, and whether it has ever been used for anything else. No reason
> to assume they wouldn't tell the truth.

I fear Rose is not correct. One cannot rely on the reply of a non-Jew (or
non-observant Jew) to a direct question in such circumstances. The only way
to elicit the information in a halachicly reliable manner is to engage them
in conversation and steer it so that they disclose the information without
being aware of its halachic significance (meisiach lefi tuma). I have had to
use this technique on several occasions when supervising caterers.

Martin Stern

From: Katz, Ben M.D. <BKatz@...>
Date: Thu, Jul 25,2013 at 07:01 PM
Subject: Waffling

Orrin Tilevitz wrote (MJ 61#89):

> Maise shehoyo [it really happened].
> You walk into the complimentary breakfast room in the Middle of Nowhere, 
> U.S.A. The people in charge are from India. You don't know who the proprietor 
> is but there is no reason to think it is a shomer shabbos Jew. In fact, you may 
> be the only shomer shabbos Jew within 100 miles. There is a dispenser of cold 
> Kellogg's cereal, plastic bowls, and plastic spoons, so you have what to eat. 
> Also,plastic plates and forks.  Then you see (1) a dispenser of waffle batter,
> with a printed label bearing an OU and (2) a waffle iron of the same brand as the
> waffle batter, so it is apparent that they were bought together. The idea is
> that a patron takes a cup of waffle batter and makes his own waffles -- so
> bishul nochri is not even an issue. (There are individual servings of jam, 
> also with an OU.) I am not asking for a psak here, so please don't reply with 
> "CLOR". Would list members be comfortable making and eating the waffles?

I am not ashamed to say I would use the machine and enjoy the waffle!


From: Stuart Wise <Smwise3@...>
Date: Thu, Aug 8,2013 at 04:01 PM
Subject: Wedding Custom

I am still bemused every time I attend a wedding where the fathers walk  
down the chasan and the mothers walk down the kallah, according to chasidish  
custom. Why would such a custom arise and become accepted. Are there any  
prohibitions that prevent an opposite sex parent to walk their child down the  
aisle? It seems sad to me that a parent should be deprived in such away, 
and  that sectors of the Jewish community have embraced it.
Of course I realize that most parents do walk down their child together,  
but for those that don't, this custom takes an event and turns it melancholy. 

Similarly, because of the separation of the sexes, there is some parent 
that for  the most part is not part of this important event in their child's 
Stuart Wise
Father of the Bride
(P.S. we will G-d willing be walking down our daughter)


End of Volume 61 Issue 91