Volume 62 Number 08 
      Produced: Mon, 31 Mar 14 01:40:52 -0400

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

Covering the Sefer Torah between aliyot 
    [Martin Stern]
Haredi rally against enforced conscription 
    [Martin Stern]
Holidays on the same day of the week two years in a row (4)
    [Martin Stern  Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz  Yitzchak Scott-Thoennes  Lawrence Myers]
Kosher without a hechsher 
    [Martin Stern]
Lashon Hara Scenarios 
    [Lawrence Israel]
Pesach question 
    [Irwin Weiss]
Sacrificing donkey (3)
    [Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz  Dr. Josh Backon  Martin Stern]
Some further Dikduk queries 
    [Martin Stern]
Tazria / Metsora query 
    [Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz]
The more things change ...  
    [Michael Rogovin]


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Fri, Mar 28,2014 at 04:01 AM
Subject: Covering the Sefer Torah between aliyot

In his weekly column in the Jewish Press, Rabbi J. Simcha Cohen writes
(March 27):

Question: Should a Sefer Torah be covered between aliyot?

Answer: There is not a clear cut halachic view on this matter. The Shuchan
Aruch (Orach Chayim 139:5) rules that common custom is to cover a Sefer
Torah between aliyot.

The Rema notes that in his area the custom was to roll up the Sefer Torah
between aliyot and that is what is important. The Mishnah Berurah (139:21)
contends that the Rema implies that covering an open Sefer Torah is not
sufficient. It must be rolled up. He cites the Taz that, accordingly, one
need not cover a Sefer Torah between aliyot.

However, after Kaddish when the keriah has concluded or when there is a
great span of time between aliyot  for example, when calling up a chatan 
the custom is to cover a Sefer Torah.

Of interest is the ruling of the Aruch HaShuchan. He notes (Orach Chayim
139:16) that the custom to cover a Sefer Torah implies that the Sefer Torah
is left open between aliyot (which is why a cover is necessary). The custom
to roll a Sefer Torah, in contrast, implies that no cover is needed

A third custom is articulated by the Shaar Efraim. He notes (4:21) that
even though a Sefer Torah is rolled up, it should still be covered because
of kavod HaTorah. The Torah should not be uncovered during Mishebeirachs.


I believe the Mishnah Berurah justifies leaving the Sefer Torah uncovered
because of tircha detsibbura when Mishebeirachs are not said, as is usually
the case on weekdays. However I have noticed that in many places it is left
uncovered during the third oleh's berachah and then covered for Kaddish.
Surely this is not what the Mishnah Berurah had in mind. Can anyone justify
this custom?

Martin Stern


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Thu, Mar 27,2014 at 05:01 PM
Subject: Haredi rally against enforced conscription

Both Dr. Josh Backon and Bill Bernstein (MJ 62#07) missed the point of my
submission (MJ 62#06). I was not arguing about whether haredim were correct
in their opposition to military conscription, against which they argue. On
the contrary, I was suggesting that the only way to resolve the current
stand-off is for both sides to try and understand the other's thinking.
Since haredim are not, in the main, readers of mail-jewish, I thought it
appropriate to present their underlying thinking, assuming that the opposing
view was well known. A refusal even to think about what might worry one's
opponent only reinforces negative stereotypes on both sides and makes a
rapprochement ever more difficult.

Martin Stern


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Thu, Mar 27,2014 at 05:01 PM
Subject: Holidays on the same day of the week two years in a row

David Lee Makowsky wrote (MJ 62#07):

> I noticed that from Purim through Simchat Torah, all of the holidays in 2014
> fall on the same day of the week they fell on in 2013.
> How often does that happen two years in a row?

This only happens after a shanah me'uberet [leap year] in which both
Cheshvan and Kislev are malei [have 30 days]. The year then has 385 days
which is precisely divisible by 7, unlike all other possible year lengths
(353, 354, 355, 383 and 384).

Martin Stern

From: Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz <sabbahillel@...>
Date: Thu, Mar 27,2014 at 09:01 PM
Subject: Holidays on the same day of the week two years in a row

In reply to David Lee Makowsky (MJ 62#07):

A leap year can be 383, 384, or 385 days long. Since the 385 days is 
evenly divisible by 7, the following year will have every day of the 
(non-leap) year occur on the same day of the week as the leap year if 
the following year also has Cheshvan and Kislev with 30 days (just as 
the leap year did).  If the leap year in 383 (both months are 29 days) 
or 384 days (one of each) then the following year can have days match 
after Kislev if the 'extra' days are made up in Cheshvan and Kislev of 
the following year.

I have a posting 

      Why four out of five years (5771 - 5775) start on Thursday -

which discusses the calendar. and what happens with the setup and why 
the holidays come out on the same days. The previous decade is unique in 
that we had two sets of five year spans in which this occurred.

Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz

From: Yitzchak Scott-Thoennes <sthoenna@...>
Date: Fri, Mar 28,2014 at 12:01 AM
Subject: Holidays on the same day of the week two years in a row

In reply to David Lee Makowsky (MJ 62#07):

Whenever there is a leap year that is shleima (has a 30 day Cheshvan)
- that gives a length of 385 days, exactly 55 weeks.

I believe this happens 185087 of out every 1149120 years.

From: Lawrence Myers <lawrm@...>
Date: Fri, Mar 28,2014 at 08:01 AM
Subject: Holidays on the same day of the week two years in a row

In response to David Lee Makowsky (MJ 62#07):

In fact, these holidays fell on these same days 3 & 4 years ago. Thats 4 years
out of 5. Very rare.

Lawrence Myers


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Sun, Mar 30,2014 at 05:01 AM
Subject: Kosher without a hechsher

Sammy Finkelman (MJ 62#06) asked about a scenario where having a hechsher
might make otherwise kosher products non-kosher.

There seems to be a much more serious problem, which has a long history, of
items presumed previously to be perfectly kosher suddenly appearing on the
market with a hechsher. While some of these may be necessitated by changes
in food technology, one does get the slight feeling that it may sometimes be
a marketing ploy by the manufacturer.

Some people will prefer to buy a product with a hechsher just to be on the
safe side, despite the higher price, even though it is not really necessary
and it is this "nervousness" that is being exploited. One consequence is
that those who are less nervous, or are better informed, get labelled as
being of accepting a dubious kashrut standard.

I remember how, many years ago, the sugar supervised for Pesach did not
arrive in Manchester because of some logistic accident and one of the
dayanim told people that there was no problem in using the ordinary sugar.
B"H now one of the sugar refineries has a hechsher all year round on all
their standard sugars, with no price increase, so the problem no longer

One cannot blame the rav or kashrut authority for giving an 'unnecessary'
hechsher, since they are merely certifying what is true, but one often
wonders whether they are also being exploited for commercial gain. Such
suspicions can only lead to cynicism regarding all supervision even where
there are good reasons for requiring it.

What do others think of this?

Martin Stern


From: Lawrence Israel <larry.israel@...>
Date: Fri, Mar 28,2014 at 06:01 AM
Subject: Lashon Hara Scenarios

The latest post on lashon hara reminds me of the ban on smart phones instituted
by rabbis of certain streams of Judaism. What I don't understand is why they
have not banned the telephone, which is certainly to greatest disseminator of lashon
hara ever made.


From: Irwin Weiss <irwin@...>
Date: Thu, Mar 27,2014 at 11:01 PM
Subject: Pesach question

Since we are about to note Shabbat Hachodesh, with the associated Haftara, I had
this question:

We commemorate so many of the things that happened in Mitzrayim at the seder. We
taste moror to remember the bitterness of slavery. We eat Charoset, which looks
like the mortar/bricks. We pour off drops of wine associated with the 10
plagues. We have a bone commemorating the Pesach, we have matzah for obvious

Why do we not put blood (or beet juice or something else) on our doorposts? This
is mentioned in the Haftara for Shabbat Hachodesh in a different context. But,
why dont we do that? (Im not advocating that we do). Is it because we have mezuzot?

Irwin Weiss
Baltimore, MD


From: Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz <sabbahillel@...>
Date: Thu, Mar 27,2014 at 09:01 PM
Subject: Sacrificing donkey

 David Ziants wrote (MJ 62#07):

> It was reported in the Jerusalem Post a few days ago that a "Rabbi and his
> student" were arrested for trying to sacrifice a donkey. See:
> http://www.jpost.com/National-News/Rabbi-student-arrested-for-trying-to-slaughter-donkey-
> Does anyone understand how this is halachicly correct (assuming that it is a
> real Rabbi)?
> I have heard that korbanot on bamot [altars that are not in the bet hamikdash or
> mishkan] are permitted for Non-Jews and have heard that that there are B'nei
> No'ach [Non-Jews that follow the seven laws of Noach] that follow this practice.
> Bamot, were outlawed during the period of the first Bet Mikdash. Also would it
> have been permitted to give as a korban a donkey - which is a non kosher animal?

I suspect that there is definitely something wrong with this story. As 
you point out, a donkey could never have been a korbon [sacrifice]. We 
cannot sacrifice anywhere except on the altar of the bais hamikdash. 
Even without those points, the donkey could never have been a chatat 
[sin sacrifice].

While one could have thought that this is a misunderstanding of the 
killing of a bchor [first born] donkey, that only applies to male 
donkeys and the story says that the animal was female.

Based on that, and the fact that it was supposedly a 'Palestinian' who 
turned them in, I would take the story with a barrel of salt.


Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz

From: Dr. Josh Backon <backon@...>
Date: Fri, Mar 28,2014 at 06:01 AM
Subject: Sacrificing donkey

In MJ 62#07 David Ziants wrote: 

> It was reported in the Jerusalem Post a few days ago that a "Rabbi and his
> student" were arrested for trying to sacrifice a donkey.

The newspaper got it all wrong. The EREV RAV [tm] is the CHAMOR (donkey) J

Josh Backon


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Sat, Mar 29,2014 at 06:01 PM
Subject: Sacrificing donkey

In reply to David Ziants (MJ 62#07):

This whole story is simply incredible and may just be a bit of the sort of
anti-religious propaganda which crops up from time to time in the Israeli

Martin Stern


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Sat, Mar 29,2014 at 06:01 PM
Subject: Some further Dikduk queries

Here are two queries that I have on the ta'amei hakra [cantillation

1.  Often I have noticed that a pasuk ends with a tippecha (a disjunctive
punctuation mark akin to a comma) followed by a sof pasuk [full stop],
separating the words, while the plain sense would seem to link them. Is
there some rule that, under certain circumstances a merecha (a conjunctive
sign) is changed to a tippecha in this position and, if so, what are the
criteria for making this change?

2. The way words are linked with a meteg [hyphen] seems to be completely
random though this can change the vocalisation, e.g. the cholam in kol is
shortened to a kamats katan. Is there any rule for putting it in?

Can anyone suggest any answers?

Martin Stern


From: Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz <sabbahillel@...>
Date: Sun, Mar 30,2014 at 12:01 PM
Subject: Tazria / Metsora query

Martin Stern wrote (MJ 62#07):

> Every year when we read these parshiyot, the question arises as to why the
> parshat hayoledet [woman after childbirth] comes at the beginning of Tazria
> (Vay. 12, 1-8) rather than towards the end of Metsora after the various tumot
> hayots'ot min haguf [ritual impurities arising from bodily discharges].
> ...
> Finally,the intervening section (Vay. 13-14) discusses various forms of 
> tsar'at which seem to be completely unrelated. 

I have a discussion of this point in my blog at Parsha Tazria - Why is Milah in
the middle of Tum'ah 


One section is

 > Rav Samson Rafael Hirsch has stated that the numbers 6, 7, and 8
 > connect with Maasei Bereishis [creation] to show the way a person
 > exists. The number 6 is the creation of the natural world. It is the
 > set up of the laws and instincts that alolow the physical world to
 > continue and the living beings in it to exist. Shabbos, as the number
 > 7, symbolizes the completion of the natural world and the continuation
 > of nature without new 'explicit' creations. The number 8 therefore,
 > symbolizes "L'ma'alah min hatevah" [above or outside of nature]. That
 > is the beginning of a new cycle, showing a raising of human status so
 > that Man, unlike the rest of nature can change. This is hinted at in
 > the first Rashi of Parshas Tazria which states that Rav Simlai
 > explained that this is connected to the order of creation in which Man
 > was created after all the animals. Just as Man was created after all
 > the animals, the parsha of giving birth comes after the explanation of
 > taharah [ritual purity] for the animals. Bris Milah is the next step
 > (L'maaleh min Hateva') of Bnai Yisroel.

I then connect the fact that tzora'as is a totally 'miraculous' occurence and
not a normal "disease" to the concept of bris milah and explain why bris milah
must come before Tzora'as.

Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz


From: Michael Rogovin <michael@...>
Date: Fri, Mar 28,2014 at 12:01 PM
Subject: The more things change ... 

Martin Stern writes (MJ 62#07):

> Unlike buildings, one cannot fix a plaque with the donor's name on these
> effectively intangible items [paying heating bills, etc]. Unfortunately that 
> is a big disincentive when soliciting donations.

One other solution routinely ignored by most schools and synagogues that are
building new, or significantly renovating old, facilities is to build buildings
that comply with the high performing school standard, Energy Star standard or
LEED standard. Doing so may have a higher upfront cost (though not necessarily)
and can lower operating costs significantly. Even if there is a higher upfront
cost, this is often absorbed in a mortgage and the operating savings more than
make up for it. A recent study however demonstrated that LEED projects (even at
the Gold or higher level) cost about the same on average as non-LEED compliant
projects. The benefits for insitutions are clear: since it is easier to raise
funds for capital costs than operating, build a building that lowers operating
costs. In a shameless plug for myself, I consult to institutions looking to go
green, but there are many good architects and engineers that know how to do this
too. But the client has to want to do this. (There are good reasons other than
saving operating costs, such as health benefits for occupants, environmental
benefits for the planet, even improved learning outcomes in better designed
school buildings)

Michael Rogovin



End of Volume 62 Issue 8