Volume 62 Number 04 
      Produced: Sun, 02 Feb 14 15:55:27 -0500

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

A non-Jewish practice (5)
    [Carl Singer  Stuart Pilichowski  Meir Shinnar  David I. Cohen  Isaac Balbin]
Animal Hebrew Names (7)
    [Martin Stern  Robert Israel  Eliezer Berkovits  Dov Bloom  Lawrence Myers  Shimon Lebowitz  Elazar M. Teitz]
Gematria (was shema and kedushah) 
    [Martin Stern]
Riding a bicycle on Shabbat 
    [Michael Rogovin]
The Year of Formation 
    [Yisrael Medad]
Womb Transplants (3)
    [Carl Singer  Frank Silbermann  Katz, Ben M.D.]


From: Carl Singer <carl.singer@...>
Date: Tue, Jan 21,2014 at 05:01 PM
Subject: A non-Jewish practice

Martin Stern wrote (MJ 62#03):

> 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.

I would differ with his characterization and change "non-Jewish" to "non-halachic".

We live in a pluralistic Jewish world and there are many of our fellow Jews
who knowingly or unwittingly do things which are in violation of normative

I serve as a volunteer board member of a non-profit Jewish funeral home that was
established by our community over 90 years ago.  I'm told that it is one of only
4 truly non-profit homes in the U.S.A. 

By our charter and tradition we insist on a strict adherence to halacha
regarding the chevra, tachrichim, caskets, etc. Nonetheless I hear from
professionals in the field that this is not the norm within the greater Jewish
community. Cremation, mausoleums, embalming, open caskets, caskets with metal,
no halachic preparation of the mais, etc. are practiced by funeral homes (Jewish
and secular) that service Jewish clients.

Carl Singer

From: Stuart Pilichowski <stupillow@...>
Date: Tue, Jan 21,2014 at 05:01 PM
Subject: A non-Jewish practice

Martin Stern wrote (MJ 61#03):

> 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".
> ...
> 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.

I was not at all horrified. More like gratified that the last proper
respects could be offered. Many foreign customs have been adopted / adapted
by our Jewish traditions over the years..... many with great benefit to the

> In Jewish tradition, delaying burial is considered as 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.

The delay in burial only brought greater kavod/respect to a great leader of
the State of Israel. "Kavod Hamet" does not only refer to a snappy burial.
It's also defined by offering greater recognition and respect to the
deceased by showing an outpouring of love, eulogies and the like.

My mother-in-law, z"l, was buried in Jerusalem after a delay of two days
while her grandson came from California. The Jerusalem Chevra kaddisha did
not hesitate or offer even a smidgen or scintilla of a question as to the
permissibility of waiting. This was affording the highest level of
kavod/respect to the meit/deceased.

Stuart Pilichowski
Mevaseret Zion

From: Meir Shinnar <chidekel@...>
Date: Tue, Jan 21,2014 at 10:01 PM
Subject: A non-Jewish practice

In reply to Martin Stern (MJ 62#03):
Actually, the levaya of Sharon was in accordance with the Shulchan Aruch (Yore
Deah 357:1) - assur lehalin hamet ela Im ken helino lichvodo [it is forbidden to
delay burial - unless one does it FOR HIS HONOR] - the shulchan Aruch then lists
other exceptions, including having the family arrive. It is hard to argue that
the state funeral was not likhvodo - and therefore explicitly within the
parameters of the Shulchan Aruch.

The fact that this halacha may not be well known or followed by many - and even
horrifies some - may indeed say something about the influence of non-Jewish
sources on current practice - and how much current communal practice has strayed
from the Shulchan Aruch - but to criticize the Israeli government for following
the Shulchan Aruch - now apparently deemed a non-Jewish source- says much, but
not about the levaya...

Meir Shinnar

From: David I. Cohen <bdcohen613@...>
Date: Wed, Jan 22,2014 at 04:01 PM
Subject: A non-Jewish practice

In reply to Martin Stern (MJ 62#03):

I am afraid that he is missing the point of the concept of quick burial that he
referred to concerning the burial of Ariel Sharon.

The purpose is to show "kavod hamet". As he did indicate, the levaya is
sometimes delayed in order to allow the attendance of family members who are far
away. We also delay burial if a person dies outside of Israel but is to be
buried in Israel. The point is that "kavod hamet" seems to be the overriding
principle and a quick burial is a prime way, but not the only way, of doing so.

In the case of someone so prominent as Sharon, the delay that allowed many to
"pay their respects" and allowed many world leaders to show him honor and
respect by attending, IMHO, more than  outweighed the concern of burial that
day. (As an aside, he was not buried in Yerushalayim, so the rules of
Yerushalayim may not have applied.)

I have not seen any rabbinic authority in Israel publicly condemn the burial
procedures for Sharon.

David I. Cohen

From: Isaac Balbin <isaac@...>
Date: Sun, Jan 26,2014 at 08:01 PM
Subject: A non-Jewish practice

Martin Stern (MJ 62#03) was upset that Ariel Sharon's coffin lay in state and
stated that it was a non Jewish practice. Nu?

Perhaps it would be better if he didn't use the English term. The reality is
that Al Pi Din (according to Jewish Law) when great or famous people die, their
burials are delayed. They do "lie in state" until that time in order to give
them Kavod (honour). When R' Chaim Ozer Grodzenski died on a Friday, they
couldn't decide whether to bury him on the Friday or wait until the Sunday,
after which more people would know and his funeral would be more honourable.

They convened a Beis Din (Jewish Court) of Litvishe Rabbis and the decision was
to WAIT until Sunday. During that time, of course, the difference is that Jews
say Tehillim and guard the body. That's not "laying in state". Martin can be
sure that the Rabbinate had people saying Tehillim while Ariel Sharon a"h wasn't
buried 24/7.

Ariel Sharon was a famous leader, and there is ample precedent for delaying a
burial and saying Tehillim. The fact that the coffin wasn't in a fridge, but
rather visible, really isn't an issue according to Halacha unless one follows
the view of the Vilna Gaon on non Jewish customs. Practically speaking, we don't
follow the Vilna Gaon on Chukas Akum (imitating non-Jews)


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Tue, Jan 21,2014 at 06:01 PM
Subject: Animal Hebrew Names

Orrin Tilevitz wrote (MJ 62#03):

> 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)?

I know someone called Namir who comes originally from Baghdad.

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

Yes and she is recorded in the Carlebach family book.

Martin Stern

From: Robert Israel <israel@...>
Date: Tue, Jan 21,2014 at 10:01 PM
Subject: Animal Hebrew Names

Orrin Tilevitz wrote (MJ 62#03):

> 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.

This comes from Yaacov's blessing of Issachar in Bereishit 49:14-15. The 
animal actually mentioned there is a donkey, but nobody wants to name a 
child "Hamor". However, in verse 15 "he bowed his shoulder to bear (a 
load)". It is from a pun on the verb and noun "bear", or rather the cognate 
words in some form of German, that we get the name "Ber" as a kinnui for 
"Issachar", and then "Dov" comes as a Hebrew back-formation from that.

Robert Israel
University of British Columbia and D-Wave Systems

From: Eliezer Berkovits <eb@...>
Date: Wed, Jan 22,2014 at 05:01 AM
Subject: Animal Hebrew Names

In reply to Orrin Tilevitz (MJ 62#03) regarding the name Dov:

There is a reference in Eichah 3:10, 'Dov Orev hu li, ari bemistorim' (2 animals
in one Passuk). 

This perhaps strengthens his question, as Dov here is certainly not used in a
positive context.

As an aside - my great-grandfather R' Dov Berkovits, a talmid chacham well
versed in Tenach, once used this to play a little trick on someone. At his son's
wedding, a Chassidic Rebbe was present who wanted to praise his friend R Dov in
his speech, so he asked him for a Passuk with the word Dov. To which R Dov
responded with 'the Passuk in Eichah: Dov Orev hu li' - which the Rebbe then
enthusiastically expounded upon, not realizing what the (somewhat different)
source actually said.

From: Dov Bloom <dovbbb@...>
Date: Wed, Jan 22,2014 at 05:01 AM
Subject: Animal Hebrew Names

Orrin Tilevitz (MJ 62#03) stated (offhand 'lefi tumo') that he only found one
reference to a bear in tanach. A good memory helped by a concordance trumps online
research. I have a vested interest in showing there are 12 references to a bear
in Tanach. Among them:

Melachim - Elisha and the two bears coming out of the woods (see the RADAK
K2 2 24 who quotes midrashim ' lo dubim vlo yaar,').

Eicha 3 Dov orev hu li...

David in Shmuel alef 17 three times

Dov shakul - a mother bear protecting her children in shmuel bet 17 and
Hosea 13

Dov Bloom

From: Lawrence Myers <lawrm@...>
Date: Thu, Jan 23,2014 at 02:01 AM
Subject: Animal Hebrew Names

Orrin Tilevitz wrote (MJ 62#03):

> 1. Has anyone encountered a Jew with four or more distinct animal names, 
> e.g., Dov Zvi ben Aryeh Zev? 

A friend of ours has a son Dov Aryeh ben Zvi Zeev.

Lawrence Myers

From: Shimon Lebowitz <shimonl@...>
Date: Thu, Jan 23,2014 at 05:01 AM
Subject: Animal Hebrew Names

Orrin Tilevitz wrote (MJ 62#03):

> 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?

The Magid miMezeritch: Dov Ber
The 2nd Lubavitcher Rebbe: Dov Ber
The 5th Lubavitcher Rebbe: Sholom Dov Ber (Rasha"b)

Which reminds me of the funny story about the person who went to Rav Dov Lior
to ask a shaila. He wanted to know if it was OK for a baby to be named with the
name of a non-kosher animal. To which Rav Lior answered that his own name is Dov.


From: Elazar M. Teitz <remt@...>
Date: Fri, Jan 31,2014 at 04:01 AM
Subject: Animal Hebrew Names

Orrin Tilevitz asked (MJ 62#03) when the giving of animal names began. 

The first instance is in Chumash: Rachel Imeinu.



From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Tue, Jan 21,2014 at 06:01 PM
Subject: Gematria (was shema and kedushah)

Yisrael Medad  wrote (MJ 62#03):

> 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.

That is always a problem but I feel they should be seen as remazim
[suggestive allusions] rather than peshat [actual interpretations]. Once one
takes this stance, the many gematria systems should not be seen as mutually
contradictory but, rather, as all adding to a deeper understanding.

> 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?

That was the point of the posting, the title may have been misleading - I
> D.  And kadosh appearing thrice could refer to the three times the Shema is
> recited - morning, evening and upon retiring to bed?  Who decides?

Both may be valuable insights - in the realm of allusions, differing
suggestions may be equally valid so there is no need to 'decide'.
> E.  If kadosh is spelled with or without a vav, does the gematria alter?

Of course it would but, in the verse under consideration it is spelled with
a vav. Without a vav, the gematria would not be the same as that of shema
and no link would exist.
> F.  I'd continue but I was never good at arithmetic.

Martin Stern


From: Michael Rogovin <michael@...>
Date: Wed, Jan 22,2014 at 02:01 PM
Subject: Riding a bicycle on Shabbat

Dov Bloom wrote (MJ 62#03):

> 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).

Well, I rode recreationally on streets and bike paths for many years and
never once had to repair a tire or broke a chain. Yes it happens to serious
riders who go on biking trips where they ride for hours on end and for many
miles a day. But I don't think that is what we are talking about, since to
do that in most places would take one outside a eruv or techum. What we
*are* talking about is riding within a neighbourhood to a friend's house,
to shul or to/in a park. In such a case, should there be a problem, one
could always lock the bike to a rack or fence nearby or walk it to a nearby
home. Obviously one won't repair it since it is Shabbat and one presumably
does not have tools (having left them at home since they were muktza). A
stroller could break too. So could a talit bag with a shoulder strap.
Bicycles do not break so often when maintained and used for short rides. We
can disagree on whether or not it is a shabbosdik activity, but WADR let's
not make up "facts" to bolster weak arguments. (Let me be clear, I am not
saying Mr. Bloom is at fault here; he is repeating what almost everyone
says about riding a bike; I just think it is false and thus cannot be the
basis of a valid psak halacha)

Michael Rogovin


From: Yisrael Medad  <yisrael.medad@...>
Date: Sun, Feb 2,2014 at 09:01 AM
Subject: The Year of Formation

In the Rambam's discussions of fixing time, he uses the term "year of formation
(yetzirah)" to describe what preceded the first year of creation (briah), as,
for example, in Hilchot Kiddush HaChodesh, Chapter 10 Halacha 3, (even though
most translations use the term "creation"):

"According to this calculation, the vernal equinox of the first year of creation
[Heb.: yetzirah!!] was nine hours and 642 units (in numbers, 9 - 642) before the
conjunction of the month of Nisan. Similarly, in every first year of a [nineteen
- year] cycle, the vernal equinox is nine hours and 642 units before the
conjunction of the month of Nisan."

As this reflects on the philosophical inquiry of whether there was "existence"
prior to creation, do anyone on this list have resource material references
discussing this?

Yisrael Medad


From: Carl Singer <carl.singer@...>
Date: Tue, Jan 21,2014 at 05:01 PM
Subject: Womb Transplants

Yisrael Medad  wrote (MJ 62#03):

> 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
> children."
> Would that raise any halachic issues as to the identity of the real mother?

A most interesting question.

Related to his posting - what halachic ruling(s) are in place re: embryo
transplants, egg donors, sperm donors, etc.

The Aybishter endowed humankind with the intellect and skills to advance science
into so many new areas -- Certainly the Aybishter also endowed humankind with
the intellect and skills to properly apply halachah

Carl Singer

From: Frank Silbermann <frank_silbermann@...>
Date: Tue, Jan 21,2014 at 06:01 PM
Subject: Womb Transplants

In reply to Yisrael Medad (MJ 62#03): 

If one of the women (donor or recipient) already had a child and the other had
not, and if the recipient's husband was not of the tribe of Levi, it might raise
a questionas to whether a Pidyan haBen should be done.

Frank Silbermann

From: Katz, Ben M.D. <BKatz@...>
Date: Wed, Jan 22,2014 at 01:01 PM
Subject: Womb Transplants

In reply to Yisrael Medad (MJ 62#03):

NO, since the ovaries and the eggs are from mom.


End of Volume 62 Issue 4