Volume 61 Number 97 
      Produced: Thu, 07 Nov 13 12:11:21 -0500

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

A pronunciation problem 
    [Irwin Weiss]
Another pronunciation problem (2)
    [Katz, Ben M.D.  Arthur G. Sapper]
Beit Yosef's Algorithm 
    [Joel Rich]
Electric Menorahs for Chanukah 
    [Wendy Baker]
Modern technology 
    [Joel Rich]
Parental relationships in B'raishit and modern psychology 
    [David Ziants]
Preparing during shmoneh esrai 
    [Martin Stern]
Rosh Chodesh musings 
    [Martin Stern]
Shema and kedushah 
    [Martin Stern]
Technology and halacha 
    [David Ziants]
Torah admonition against idolatry 
    [Martin Stern]


From: Irwin Weiss <irwin@...>
Date: Tue, Oct 22,2013 at 09:01 AM
Subject: A pronunciation problem

There have been some posts by Martin Stern and Art Sapper relating to the NG
pronunciation of the Ayin, amongst Portuguese/Dutch Jews. I recall seeing a
siddur brought to the US by a friend's parents from Holland.  The English
transliteration of Shema Yisrael was Shemang Yisrael.

Irwin E. Weiss
Baltimore, MD


From: Katz, Ben M.D. <BKatz@...>
Date: Mon, Oct 21,2013 at 05:01 PM
Subject: Another pronunciation problem

Martin Stern wrote (MJ 61#96):
> Most books on halachah state that one should extend the pronunciation of the
> dalet of the word echad in the first verse of the Shema. Only the Teimanim,
> who pronounce a dalet without a dagesh as a fricative 'th', as in the English
> word 'the', can do so. All other Jews pronounce a dalet as a plosive 'd',
> which by its very nature cannot be extended, whether it has a dagesh or not.
> Why do the halachah books continue to rule this way?

I hate to say this, but will do so anyway: this simply reflects the inherent
conservatism of religion and the lack of knowledge of historical development. 
It obviously is impossible to prolong a sound that is not a sibilant.  Moreover,
the whole idea seems silly to me because a Resh and a Dalet LOOK alike but do
not sound alike.  They are written large so that they will not be misspelled,
not so that they will not be mispronounced, so I don't see why we need to
emphasize pronunciation, whether the letter is a sibilant or a guttural.

From: Arthur G. Sapper <asapper@...>
Date: Mon, Oct 21,2013 at 06:01 PM
Subject: Another pronunciation problem

Martin Stern (MJ 61#96) asks why the halachah books state that one should extend
the pronunciation of the dalet of the word echad in the first verse of the Shema
when, except for the Teimanim, other Jews cannot do so.  Mr. Stern observes that
the Teimanim pronounce an undageshed dalet like the "th" in the word "the."  (By
the way, this was also the formal liturgical pronunciation of the Jews of 

The probable answer is that the Talmud Bavli says in Berachot 13b, "It has been
taught: Symmachus says: Whoever prolongs the word ehad has his days and years
prolonged.  R. Aha b. Jacob said: [He must dwell] on the daleth."

Also, with great respect, I question the premise of the question.  Mr. Stern
acknowledges that English speakers naturally pronounce the (voiced) fricative
"th" sound in the word "the" (and the words "them" and "theater").  So by the
same token, they should, in theory, be able to pronounce the undageshed dalet in
"echad" as a voiced fricative (dth).

That's the theory.  In practice, however, I found that the principal obstacle to
learning to pronounce that sound at the end of "echad" was its rarity in English
when the last letters in an English word are "th."  Nearly always, the "th" at
the end of an English word is unvoiced, as in "tunesmith" (the "th" is
pronounced like that in "thin").  There are some exceptions, such as "mouths"
and (in some dialects of English) "paths," which have voiced "dth" at the end. 
As a result, I found it difficult to associate a voiced "th" sound with an
undageshed dalet at the end of a word, as in "echad."  Once that was surmounted,
I was able to pronounce echad as a voiced fricative (dth) upon seeing an
undageshed dalet.

For our fellow MJ'ers, please forgive the lingo used here, such as "voiced
fricative."  It basically means that you use the vocal cords in your voice box
to add sound.  Put two fingers on your voice box as you pronounce the words
"thin" and "the."  You'll feel the vibration, a buzz really, when you pronounce
the "th" in "the" but not that in "thin."  Same with an "s" sound and a "z"
sound -- such as the initial sounds in "sue" (unvoiced, no buzz) and "zoo" 

The extension of the dalet in echad that is mentioned in the halachah books to
which Mr. Stern referred is the buzz added by the vocal cords when an undageshed
dalet is pronounced as a voiced fricative, i.e., like the dth in "mouths."  It
is unfortunate to hear in shul Jews trying to extend the hard "d" to comply with
this halachah.  Some try hard to extend it but, as Mr. Stern writes, that cannot
be done.  One should instead learn to buzz one's vocal cords when pronouncing
the undageshed dalet, i.e., as a voiced fricative.

Art Sapper


From: Joel Rich <JRich@...>
Date: Fri, Oct 25,2013 at 06:01 PM
Subject: Beit Yosef's Algorithm

The Beit Yosef in his introduction provides his algorithm for arriving at psak.
The first step is to look at Rambam, Rif and Rosh and go by the majority.  He
then states what to do in cases where one of the 3 has no opinion etc.   I was
wondering if anyone has ever done a study of all or a subset of the Beit Yosef's
rulings to see what percentage of the rulings support the claimed algorithm.   I
have a specific example in mind where all 3 of his amudim [underlying
authrities] omit a particular requirement/ruling and yet the Beit Yosef follows
the Tur who does quote/require  the ruling.


Joel Rich


From: Wendy Baker <wbaker@...>
Date: Mon, Oct 21,2013 at 05:01 PM
Subject: Electric Menorahs for Chanukah

Steven Oppenheimer stated (MJ 61#96):

> Most people are aware that it is preferable to light Chanukah candles 
> with oil and wicks and that, if oil is not available, wax candles may be 
> used.  The majority of the poskim frown upon the use of electric 
> menorahs and rule that should one make a beracha when lighting the 
> electric menorah, it would be a beracha levatala [a blessing in vain]. 
> There are many reasons why the use of an electric menorah is not allowed 
> to fulfill the mitzvah, too detailed for this short message.
> What may be less well known is that both Rabbi Shlomo Zalman Auerbach 
> z"l and Rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyashiv z"l permitted using an electric 
> menorah in a pinch, when oil or wax candles were not available.  They 
> even permitted one to recite the beracha on the lighting of this 
> electric menorah (Halichot Shelomo, Moadim page 283, Ashrei Ha'Ish, 
> Moadim page 264, Kovetz Teshuvot 3:103).
> Rabbi Ovadia Yosef z"l permitted lighting an electric menorah without a 
> beracha.

The latter part of this item is good news.  I had a situation with my aged 
Mother many years ago that required an electric Hannukia for her if any 
observance of Hannuka was possible.  She lived on her own with a part time 
aide (and later a full time one) and was getting increasingly forgetful 
from Alzheimer's.  I was terrified of her using matches to light her wax 
candle Hannukia, so I bought her an electric one that she used happily for 
a number of years until her forgetting became too much even for that.  At 
that time the aide would just light it for her.

Is such a concession considered too bad that a limited older person should 
be deprived of the whole joy and observance of this holiday?   Would it be 
better for her to not observe at all?

Wendy Baker


From: Joel Rich <JRich@...>
Date: Wed, Nov 6,2013 at 09:01 AM
Subject: Modern technology

I am looking for  tshuvot or articles on brain/computer interface issues -
besides R' Asher Weiss (e.g. thinking leading to computer generated action -
implications for shabbat or nezikin [damages] etc.).  What about totally
imperceptible results (e.g. automatic adjustments to hearing aids, room sensors
that sense whether the room is occupied.....).


Joel Rich


From: David Ziants <dziants@...>
Date: Sun, Oct 27,2013 at 05:01 PM
Subject: Parental relationships in B'raishit and modern psychology

A few weeks ago, a neighbour of mine who is a Rav and a psychologist - Rav Ori
Fish - published an article in the (modern orthodox) Tzohar organization's
parsha sheet, where after being asked to reconcile the parental relationships in
book of B'raishit and modern psychology , he says he finds it difficult to do
this. The article, which is in Hebrew, is available at the following link:-


In the article he brings examples from almost throughout the book of B'raishit
to show that the unusual relationships that the children had with their fathers,
where some sons were rejected over others, cannot be compatible with modern
psychology that holds:-

a) a parent must accept every child unconditionally,

b) family dynamics should include the parents and not just the siblings.

The above relationships cannot generally be seen in most of B'raishit, but they
can be seen with Yoseph and onwards in the Torah.

He says that the reason for these types of relationships is because in that
period, the father was considered by the children as a representative of G-d
that cannot be questioned. Only later in the Torah, this perception changed.

The author gave me permission to relate to his article on mail-jewish and I hope
that I managed to summarize in English his words successfully.

My question to this forum is:-

Can anyone refute his claim? Is anyone on this list able to find points of
reconciliation between the acts in B'raishit and the concepts of today's
psychological theories?

I know that the author will look forward to hearing any interesting responses,
which I will send on to him.

David Ziants
Ma'aleh Adumim, Israel


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Tue, Oct 22,2013 at 04:01 AM
Subject: Preparing during shmoneh esrai

Joel Rich wrote (MJ 61#96):

> The S"A/M"B seem pretty clear about appropriate behavior during chazarat
> hashatz. How does one explain the seemingly common practice to take off
> tfillin, unsheathe lulav and esrog, and even make a bracha on them during
> chazarat hashatz?

I must admit that this has also puzzled me. As far as I can see, such
behaviour is not correct. The only limmud zechut [justification] for taking
off one's tefillin is that this does not require enough thought to be a
distraction from listening to the shatz. Also there is usually insufficient
time to do so between the end of chazarat hashatz and hallel, which is
justified in order to avoid tircha detzibbura [inconveniencing the
congregation]. In fact, the shatz should not take his tefillin off until
after hallel for this very reason, only unwrapping the retsua from his hand
on Chol Hamoed Succot (not Pesach) so that it should not be a chatzitzah
[interposition] when holding the lulav.

There would seem to be no justification, however, for making a berachah on
the arba minim during chazarat hashatz since that would require more

I have noticed that many people also put away their arba minim before
kaddish titkabal which is also not entirely correct - holding them until
after kaddish titkabal is a way of showing chivuv hamitzva [love for a mitzvah]. 
The shatz should certainly not put away his arba minim before kaddish titkabal 
because of the additional consideration of tircha detzibbura.

Some time ago, I asked a Lubavitcher rav about the common practice of
changing from Rashi to Rabbeinu Tam tefillin during chazarat hashatz, and he
said this was not correct and was not Chabad practice. Presumably, rabbanim
do not speak out against this 'custom' because 'mutav sheyehu shogegim velo
yehu meizidim [better that they should sin inadvertently rather than
brazenly]', since people would not change their behaviour.

Martin Stern


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Sun, Nov 3,2013 at 06:01 AM
Subject: Rosh Chodesh musings

Some thoughts came to mind today during davenning on Rosh Chodesh.

There is an old minhag, already mentioned by the Maharil in the 15th
century, of the gabbai calling out "Ya'aleh veyavo" (1st day Rosh Chodesh if
there are two days) or "Rosh Chodesh" (2nd - or only - day Rosh Chodesh) at
ma'ariv after birchot kriat shema just before the congregation starts
shemoneh esrei. The same is done for some other additions such as "tal
umatar" or "al hanissim".

There is some discussion in the halachic literature as to why this
interruption is permitted between Ga'al Yisrael and shemoneh esrei and the
consensus is that such a break is not as severe a problem at ma'ariv as at
shacharit, where the break is for the purpose of the congregation avoiding
mistakes in the tefillah.

Unfortunately, in some places, several people take it on themselves to call
out "Ya'aleh veyavo" or "Rosh Chodesh", which is not necessary and might
constitute a prohibited interruption by them. Also, that some people call out
loudly the words "Ya'aleh veyavo" or"Rosh Chodesh" when they say them in their
(officially) silent shemonehe srei can be very disturbing to those who do not
daven quite as fast as them.

What surprises me is that, unlike shacharit or minchah, someone who omits
ya'aleh veyavo does not have to repeat his shemoneh esrei. Is that because,
when the date of Rosh Chodesh was set by observing the new moon, this was
only done during the day and so there was no certainty that it was in fact
Rosh Chodesh at ma'ariv?

A relatively new custom seems to have arisen for the gabbai to bang on the
bimah at the same point in shacharit where speaking is much more severely
prohibited. It is difficult to fault this but, again, only one person should
do it. 

Following on from this, I have noticed some people also "bang" just before
the minchah shemoneh esrei. This struck me as rather odd since there would
not be any objection to them actually calling out at that point in

Do other MJ members have any observations on these matters?

Martin Stern


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Sun, Nov 3,2013 at 05:01 AM
Subject: Shema and kedushah

In an essay "Reading between the lines of the Shema" included in my book "A
Time to Speak" (Devorah Publishing), I noted (p.24) that the word kadosh has
the same gematria, 410, as the word shema and suggested that this might be
one reason for the connection between kedushah and shema in several places
in the liturgy (birkhat yotser, Shomer Yisrael after tachanun, mussaf
kedushah etc.). 

I wondered whether the fact that the word kadosh is repeated three times in
the kedushah might also be connected to the number, three, of paragraphs in
Kriat Shema. It seemed fairly easy to connect the first two with the words
shema, referring to the first paragraph, and shamoa, referring to the
second, which is spelled the same, though vocalised differently.
What puzzled me was how the word kadosh could be connected to the third
paragraph, as was my problem in an earlier posting "Allusions in the word
Shema" (MJ 61#92) concerning a similar problem with the word shema. One idea
that occurred to me was that the solution might be similar to the one
suggested there. 

Perhaps it summarises the whole process if it is treated partially as an
acronym. The last letter, shin, might allude to Shibud Mitsrayim, slavery.
The next two, vav (6) and dalet (4), with total gematria 10, might
correspond to the ten plagues. The plagues themselves consist of three
groups, the first two of three each (detzach and adash), which were
preparatory, and the final one of four (beachav), which culminated in
leaving Mitsrayim, as Rabbi Yehudah is quoted as doing in the Haggadah shel
Pesach. The first letter, kof, corresponds to Kriat Yam Suf, the splitting
of the Reed Sea, which was the final stage of Yetsiat Mitsrayim.

That this should require the word shema to be read backwards might be to
indicate that the whole process could only be understood in hindsight after
it had been completed (Shem. 14,31).

Any comments?

Martin Stern


From: David Ziants <dziants@...>
Date: Mon, Oct 21,2013 at 05:01 PM
Subject: Technology and halacha

Joel Rich wrote (MJ 61#96):

> What is the earliest example of halacha responding to changes in technology
> (meaning a specific discussion of how to apply existing halachic constructs to a
> new technology, e.g. corrective lenses for a Torah reader - is he able to
> perform as a reader who can discharge the obligation of parshat zachor for a
> community?)?

>From the little gemara learning that I have, I remember learning a sugya
[subject] in Mesechet B'rachot that discusses behaviour in a toilet, being a
place that is unclean.

Bearing in mind that toilets those days were basically holes in the ground, a
distinction is made of a newer type of toilet (maybe in Bavel) which had a
primitive kind of drainage, and as a result there was less smell and so one could
be more lenient on certain issues.

Sorry that I don't remember more. Am sure that there are people on this list
that can give more details, including the page of the sugya.

David Ziants


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Tue, Oct 22,2013 at 05:01 AM
Subject: Torah admonition against idolatry

In the second paragraph of the Shema, we are warned of the punishment for
transgressing the mitzvot, specifically idolatry.

However, we find a striking difference from the way the rewards for compliance
with G-d's will are phrased with the warnings. Unlike the former, it seems as if
the Torah goes out of its way to introduce delays.

(i) hishameru lachem, guard yourselves

(ii) pen yifteh levavechem, lest you heart be seduced

(iii) vesartem, and you turn astray

(iv) vaavadtem elohim acherim, and serve other gods

(v) vehishtachavitem lahem, and bow down to them

Though in the first phrase the words are joined by a munach, in the remaining
stages, the verb is separated from its object by a disjunctive accent (tippecha
((ii) and (v)) and pashta (iv)) as if the Torah is trying to avoid even 
suggesting that it has to warn us against idolatry.

While it would appear that the first three stages are progressively worse, there
seems to be an inversion in the order of the last two, which has always puzzled
me, since bowing down to an idol is a specific form of serving it (San. 7.6).
Recently I thought of a possible solution based on that mishnah - that the term
'vaavadtem' in this verse refers to the non-capital offences mentioned in the
mishnah as opposed to any of the capital ones of which bowing down is singled
out as a typical example.

Any comments?

Martin Stern


End of Volume 61 Issue 97