Volume 62 Number 03 
      Produced: Tue, 21 Jan 14 15:59:46 -0500

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

A non-Jewish practice 
    [Martin Stern]
Animal Hebrew Names 
    [Orrin Tilevitz]
    [Yisrael Medad]
Moshe and Yaakov, Yisro and Lavan - In-Laws and Out-Laws 
    [Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz]
Riding a bicycle on Shabbat (4)
    [Monica Cellio  Martin Stern  Michael Mirsky  Dov Bloom]
The significance of fifteen? 
    [Martin Stern]
Womb Transplants 
    [Yisrael Medad]


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Mon, Jan 20,2014 at 05:01 AM
Subject: A non-Jewish practice

I wonder if others were as horrified as I to read that the coffin of former
prime minister Ariel Sharon, who died on Shabbat, "lay in state" all Sunday
outside the Knesset in Jerusalem so that people could "pay their respects".

In Jewish tradition, delaying burial is considered a grave dishonour to
the deceased. The Torah insists that even the body of a convicted criminal
after execution be buried before nightfall (Dev. 21, 23), and by implication
this would apply to all. Only in exceptional circumstances, e.g. where a son
cannot arrive by then, is delay permitted. In any case the custom in
Yerushalayim is to be extremely strict and bury the deceased even by night,
though most other communities wait until daytime.

Lying in state is a non-Jewish practice which has no place in a Jewish
state. Those who wish to honour the deceased would do better to attend the
funeral or, if this be impossible, visit his grave after interment.

Martin Stern


From: Orrin Tilevitz <tilevitzo@...>
Date: Sun, Jan 5,2014 at 07:01 PM
Subject: Animal Hebrew Names

This past shabbat I called someone to the Torah whose name was Dov Tzvi ben
Moshe Zev. So during the rabbi's speech I was musing about names (and 
particularly the verse in the Haftara for the last day of Pesach) and 
fantasizing how I'd like to name a child Zev Keves or Namer G'di, in line with 
the basketball player (an off-court troublemaker) who took the name Meta World 
Peace. Here are some questions:

1. Has anyone encountered a Jew with four or more distinct animal names, 
e.g., Dov Zvi ben Aryeh Zev? (Names like Dov-Ber and Zev-Vulf do not count.)

2. Why isn't Namer (a leopard or tiger) a traditional name (I would guess 
that some Israeli child has that name, although I've never heard it)?

3. The same question for Gedia or perhaps Kisba (for a female child, who is not
supposed to be warlike).

4. I'm told that Chabad generally bars children from having even pictures of
non-kosher animals. Are Chabad children given names of non-kosher animals?

5. How did Dov get to be a traditional Hebrew name? Aryeh (Judah), Zvi 
(Naftali) and Zev (Binyamin) I understand, but from quick online research the 
only reference to Dov is in the book of Job.

6. What about bird names, such as Nesher, even if it means a gryphon vulture
instead of an eagle? And according to Jastrow, Bnai Yisrael are compared
somewhere in Bereshit Rabba to an ayit, which is some sort of bird of prey. Why
isn't that a traditional Hebrew name?

7. Does anyone know a woman (outside the Tanach) named Huldah (tr. weasel)?

8. When did these animal names start surface? I can't recall any of the Tanaim 
or Amoraim having animal names.


From: Yisrael Medad  <yisrael.medad@...>
Date: Mon, Jan 6,2014 at 03:01 AM
Subject: Gematria

Martin Stern asks (MJ 62#02) for comments on his gematria foray, noting 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.

Though gematria are problematic, I have found them quite tantalizing.

A.  There are several gematria systems (me'ugal; m'ruba; milui; katana; kollel;
im otiot; etc.).  Not only does this present the thought that one is trying too
hard to fit the answer into the hint but that it is all a game rather than a
serious study format.

B.  If there is indeed a connection, should it not hold true for everywhere
shema is recited?  Does it do so?

C.  Maybe kadosh and shema have a connection, but why should kedusha and
shema have one?  Just because the word kadosh appears?

D.  And kadosh appearing thrice could refer to the three times the Shema is
recited - morning, evening and upon retiring to bed?  Who decides?

E.  If kadosh is spelled with or without a vav, does the gematria alter?

F.  I'd continue but I was never good at arithmetic.

Yisrael Medad


From: Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz <sabbahillel@...>
Date: Mon, Jan 20,2014 at 01:01 PM
Subject: Moshe and Yaakov, Yisro and Lavan - In-Laws and Out-Laws

I have a new post on my blog that compares two father-in-law / son-in-law pairs
and points out the contrast between them.


Moshe and Yaakov, Yisro and Lavan - In-Laws and Out-Laws
The Torah has two sets of son-in-law / father-in-law relationships that show the
opposing spectrum of possibilities. We have Yaakov Avinu and Lavan, the rasha, as
opposed to Moshe Rabbeinu and Yisro, who turns out to be a tzaddik.

Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz


From: Monica Cellio <cellio@...>
Date: Sun, Jan 5,2014 at 07:01 PM
Subject: Riding a bicycle on Shabbat

In reply to Ben Katz (MJ 62#02), I asked this question on Mi Yodeya:


Answers there suggest that most poskim forbid it (though they are not named).

Arguments against bike-riding include: 

1. Carrying (the bike is not part of the rider), 

2. The bicycle may break down and lead to repair, 

3. Riding a bike is a weekday activity not suitable for Shabbat, 

4. One might ride over soil and transgress plowing, 

5. A bicycle is considered by some to be muktzah, and 

6. One might ride outside the walls of the eiruv.

On the other side, an answer there cites the Ben Ish Chai as permitting the
riding of bicycles for leisure on Shabbat (inside an eiruv).  (There is a link
there, but my Hebrew is not up to the task of evaluating this opinion


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Mon, Jan 6,2014 at 04:01 AM
Subject: Riding a bicycle on Shabbat

Ben Katz wrote (MJ 62#02):
> I always thought the reason for not riding a bike on Shabbat was similar to
> the rabbinic reason for not riding a horse, that one might pluck something
> from a tree (e.g. a branch to use on the horse, or an apple).

The reason for not riding an animal is, as Ben correctly states, because one
might, in passing, break off a branch from a tree (kotser). However, this
would be in order to use it as a prod to 'encourage' the horse to speed up,
which would not be relevant to a bicycle. AFAIK nobody suggests that it is to
avoid picking an apple, which has nothing to do with riding an animal :).

On the contrary, it is more related to the prohibition of playing musical
instruments which one might be tempted to repair if they break (makeh

Martin Stern

From: Michael Mirsky <mirskym@...>
Date: Mon, Jan 6,2014 at 04:01 AM
Subject: Riding a bicycle on Shabbat

In reply to Ben Katz (MJ 62#02):

I always assumed that it was similar to the prohibition of playing a musical
instrument; that you might be tempted to repair it if it breaks.

Michael Mirsky

From: Dov Bloom <dovbbb@...>
Date: Mon, Jan 6,2014 at 10:01 PM
Subject: Riding a bicycle on Shabbat

In reply to Ben Katz (MJ 62#02):

The shvut (rabbinical prohibition) of horseback riding wasn't extended to new
gezerot (rabbinic injunctions). No one uses a switch broken off a tree to urge
the bicycle to go faster.

The bicycle tires may get a hole or the chain may break -- Anyone who rides
knows this, hence the prohibition shema yetaken kli (in case one might repair it).

So a tricycle with non-air filled tires that never are changed - kids ride them
and no one thinks this is hillul shabbat.


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Sun, Jan 19,2014 at 06:01 AM
Subject: The significance of fifteen?

It has always been a bit of a puzzle as to why the passage "Abaye have
mesader" (Yoma 33a) is included towards the end of the korbanot section of
shacharit, since it lists the daily activities in the Beit Hamikdash
according to the opinion of Abba Shaul, and the halachah is not according to
him (Yoma 14b).  

For several years this puzzled me until I noticed another structure, this
time that Chazal seem to have arranged tefillat shacharit with a fourfold
structure that might be seen as paralleling the four worlds mentioned in the
kabbalah, an idea already alluded to in the siddur of R. Yaakov Emden:

birkhot hashachar / korbanot                   olam haasiyah
pesukei dezimra                                olam hayetsirah
kriat shema uvirkhoteha                        olam haberiah
shemoneh esrei                                 olam haatsilut
For those not familiar with the kabbalistic concept of four worlds, it is a
way of resolving the paradoxical relationship of HKBH, the infinite G-d,
with our finite universe. It posits that we live in the olam haasiyah [world
of action] - which parallels in ascending closeness to the Divine - the olam
hayetsirah [world of formation], olam haberiah [world of creation] and olam
haatsilut [world of closeness], and that HKBH created, and continues to
interact with us through, a 'percolation' of the Divine will through them.
Each world represents the same concepts, but, as one progresses downwards,
in an attenuated form. An, albeit imperfect, analogy that might clarify this
is to think of a pile of paper with clear writing on the top sheet. On the
second one there will be an impression that is still readable, whereas the
third can only be read with difficulty. On the fourth, the impression,
though still there, is almost invisible and will only be readable by someone
who is aware of its existence and examines it with the utmost care and

Each successive section of the tefillat shacharit, as shown above, corresponds
to an increased closeness to HKBH, and I noticed that, towards the end of each
section, we find a list of fifteen items which might represent a rise in
spiritual level, parallel to the fifteen steps leading from the ezrat nashim up
to the azarah in the Beit Hamikdash.

In a way the identification of birkhot hashachar with olam haasiyah is quite
natural since they were originally instituted to be said before leaving one's
home, i.e. in the everyday world of which we are aware. The other three
sections then naturally correspond to levels in which we come increasingly
close to the Almighty, as is clear from the rules regarding under what
circumstances interruptions are permitted in their recital.

"Abaye have mesader" lists fifteen stages in the daily avodah even though
there are others not included (and some of those listed are not even
performed every day - mussafim, bazikin). I speculate that this number might
be Chazal's motivation for its inclusion at this point.

Similarly, there are fifteen expressions of praise (shir, ushevachah ...) in
yishtabach which concludes pesukei dezimra.

Finally, as I pointed out in my essay on the Shema (A Time to Speak, pp
76-77), after the removal of the word emet, there are fifteen words
(veyatsiv ...) used to describe it. The former's removal might be meant to
draw our attention to this. Furthermore, this list is followed by the words
hadavar hazeh and the word davar [word, thing] has the same root letters as
devir, another name for the Sanctuary. This would fit very well with the
idea that this 'final ascent' would be to the 'world' closest to HKBH, at
which stage we can communicate with Him, so to speak, and establish a channel 
for His beneficence to come down to us as I have described (ibid. pp. 85-96).

Any comments?

Martin Stern


From: Yisrael Medad  <yisrael.medad@...>
Date: Mon, Jan 13,2014 at 04:01 PM
Subject: Womb Transplants

The news is that "Nine women in Sweden have successfully received transplanted
wombs donated from relatives in an experimental procedure ... The women were
born without a uterus or had it removed because of cervical cancer. Most are in
their 30s and are part of the first major experiment to test whether it's
possible to transplant wombs into women so they can give birth to their own

Would that raise any halachic issues as to the identity of the real mother?

Suggestions of possible mamzerut?

Yisrael Medad


End of Volume 62 Issue 3