Volume 62 Number 11 
      Produced: Wed, 30 Apr 14 01:48:49 -0400

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

Are Iran and Israel Trading Places? 
    [Carl Singer]
Holidays on the same day of the week two years in a row 
    [Steven White]
Korban Pesach census in Jerusalem by Agrippa 
    [Sammy Finkelman]
Kosher Without a Hechsher 
    [Orrin Tilevitz]
Matza baking during the Holiday 
    [Martin Stern]
Men and Women: Equal Kedusha? 
    [Josh Berman]
Norman Miller, a.k.a. Noyekh Miller, zt"l 
    [Michael Gerver]
Okra on Pesach 
    [Carl Singer]
Plagiarism in Jewish law 
    [Mark Steiner]
Selling something you do not own (3)
    [Carl Singer  Martin Stern  Sammy Finkelman]
Using only one vector in a multi-media world. 
    [Carl Singer]


From: Carl Singer <carl.singer@...>
Date: Fri, Apr 25,2014 at 08:01 AM
Subject: Are Iran and Israel Trading Places?

In reply to Chaim Casper (MJ 62#10):

Anyone with a pen can write anything that they wish to.  At Stanford this
professor may be lionized for his views. The New York Times remains bent on
disparaging Israel and, more subtly, Jews. If it weren't for the ink and the
texture, it might make good bathroom tissue.

Carl A. Singer, Ph.D.


From: Steven White <stevenj81@...>
Date: Mon, Apr 28,2014 at 12:01 PM
Subject: Holidays on the same day of the week two years in a row

I haven't posted here in years ... 

Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz wrote (MJ 62#10)

> Ben Katz M.D.wrote (MJ 62#09):

>> For all the calendar mavenim out there I have a theoretical calendar 
>> question that I have always wondered about:
>> [snip] So my question is:  Is there really a good reason we are so
>>  strict regarding the length of the Jewish year?

> Yes. The restriction is based on the fact that the month is approximately 29.5
> days. Thus, we would normally alternate 29 and 30 day months. We cannot have a
> month that is less than 29 days or more than 30 days. Since the month is not
> exactly 29.5 days, we would sometimes have both Cheshvan and Kislev 29 days or
> both 30 days. When the Sanhedrin would declare the month based on witnesses, 
> we could sometimes have several 30 day months in a row. This would be offset 
> by several 29 day months when the witnesses would see the new moon "early" 
> (because of the extra time when they missed the new moon several times). Now 
> that we have a fixed calendar, this does not happen. In any case, since the  
> calendar is based on the lunar cycle, we cannot make the year a length that  
> does not fit into that cycle.

I would add that it is the MEAN lunation that is approximately 29.5 days in
length.  But astronomically, the conjunctions follow an approximately
14-month cycle where the longest lunations (about 29.75 days) are followed
seven months later by the shortest lunations (about 29.3 days) - see
www.kalendis.com for details.  So in reality you could (and probably would)
have several 30 day months in a row (or perhaps 5 out of 6), followed by
several 29 day months in a row, and all with witnesses reporting on the
proper day.

Interestingly, the Persian calendar works a little like that.  It's a purely
solar calendar at this point, but it has six 31-day months, followed by five
30-day months, followed by one 29-day month (with a possible leap day).
That might very well have its origins in the true cyclicality of the length
of a lunation.

Steven White


From: Sammy Finkelman <sammy.finkelman@...>
Date: Fri, Apr 25,2014 at 04:01 PM
Subject: Korban Pesach census in Jerusalem by Agrippa

I saw on a blog someone wrote that the Gemara in Pesachim 64b states that King
Agrippas wanted to take a census so he had the Cohanim count the number of
Korban Pesachs that were brought and it came out to 1.2 million korbanos, 12
million people (10 to a korban) and this looked like a problem to him. There
were just 3.5 hours to bring the korban pesachs and that would mean that they
had to sacrifice over 340,000 korbanos an hour, over 5700 a minute and over 95 a
second. And how could so many people fit into the Azara? 

All the answers he got were bad:

1) The numbers were an exaggeration.  Nowhere in the Gemara (or in any of the
Rishonim/Acharonim is there even a hint that these numbers are not real, and the
numbers are still too high.

2) It was a miracle. But we are not to rely on nissim nor does anyone ever speak
about there being such a neis anywhere in the Gemara or even the Rishonim or

On another blog someone thinks the Kohen Gadol stopped counting at 1,200,000.

I have a solution. Neither this blog nor that blog is correct.

That there were 1.2 million korbanos, or 12 million people is not what the
gemorah says. It says that there was no Korban Pesach (that year) that did not
have at least 10 people assigned to it. It also says they the Kohen Gadol took a
kidney, and there were 600,000 pairs of kidneys, twice that of the number who
went out of Egypt.

Right here there is a question. 600,000 kidneys means 600,000 animals, not
1,200,000, if two are taken from each animal!

And if only one is, we have a real problem, which the Gemorah goes into.

This is all in the context of telling that no one was ever crushed to death in
the crowds except one time one man was in the days of Hillel and they gave that
Pesach a special name: the Pesach of the crushed.

Then it tells of another Pesach that got a special name - the thick Pesach or
the Pesach of the dense crowds - apparently because of the extremely huge crowd.

The Gemorah has a question on this story. How could the Kohen have taken a
kidney from each animal - they are supposed to be burned - and furthermore, not
mixed up together, one korban with another. They come up with an answer: it is
possible he handled it and then it was set aside. And that's the end of the sugya.

I think that, like too many other times, they settled on the wrong answer, or
the sugya ends too early.

There is actually something wrong with the text of the Tosephta being quoted.

Sometimes that sort of thing (change the text) is given as the answer, or a
possible answer to a question, so this is a fully legitimate conjecture, but it
always a last resort. Unfortunately, here, the Gemorah was satisfied that the
text could be correct. But what they asked was not the only question that could
be asked about that Tosephta!!

I think the true answer is what the Kohen Gadol counted up was the total number
of people assigned to all the Korban Pesachs that year. Remember, the people
entitled to eat of it must be specified at the time of slaughtering: that is
basic halacha everyone knows. So it would be possible and not too difficult to
keep a running total.

And here the word meaning kidney is a mistake - it must have been originally 
some other word stemming from the root Kal - all - and it is not supposed to be
the word meaning kidney. Indeed the whole passage makes no sense with the word

Does any one have an idea what the word maybe should be? Is there some word with
the root Kal used elsewhere in the Mishnah or Gemorah that could be mistaken
with the word for kidney?

Why add "excluding those who were unclean and those who were on a distant
journey"? And what's the point of adding that no korban Pesach had less than ten
people assigned to it.

The meaning is that they could not increase the number of lambs slaughtered
beyond a certain point, so they had to add more people to each korban, and
therefore no Korban Pesach that year had less than ten people assigned to it.

Here we have an illustration of what Rabbi Avigdor Miller said about secular
Jewish historians - that they make stuff up. Graetz gets the idea that this
census took place right before the Jewish revolt and was done by Agrippa II to
show the Romans how many the Jewish people were, and that there the Gemorah is
talking about only one Pesach and not two.

This is nonsense squared.

This clearly was done by Agrippa I who ruled 41 to 44 CE, when a Jewish monarchy
was restored after the attempt by the Roman Emperor Caligula to install a statue
of himself in the Temple, which was stopped by massive passive resistance:
people laying themselves down in the road. Until news came that Caligula had
been assassinated. And the Jews would have been very happy, and also not afraid,
and therefore an enormous number of people came that year. And Agrippa wanted to
know how many.

And what with the idea of counting up pairs instead of the actual number -
that's how they counted in those days, or perhaps they thought it was
halachically more acceptable.

And if it had really been done in the year 66, there would have no reason for
there to have been that year an exceptional crowd, nor would the period of time
the temple stood after that time been long enough for that Pesach to get a
special name, nor would that name have referred to the crowd, rather than to its
being the last real one, nor would Josephus have left it out of his books, nor
would anyone mix up Hillel into this.

And we must realize the portion each person ate in those days often were quite
small. That's why there was also the Hagigah - not offered by everyone, but by
some people - and that's part of the reason the Korban Pesach was left for last.

That was so someone from a different family/table would not eat from it as
people used to go out in the meals to visit other people. Wikipedia to Afikoman

"The Jerusalem Talmud, however, derives the word afikoman from epikomion,
meaning "after-dinner revelry" or "entertainment". It was the custom of Romans
and Greeks to move from one party or banquet to another."

Now you understand what it says in the Haggadah. After the Korban Pesach you
didn't go to anotehr family. Ain maftirim acher HaPesach AFIKOMEN, (epikomen or

And why they made it the last thing eaten? So that the Korban Pesach wouldn't
get mixed up with the other food. Afikomen probably acquired its secondary
meaning of "dessert" from this practice.


From: Orrin Tilevitz <tilevitzo@...>
Date: Fri, Apr 25,2014 at 11:01 AM
Subject: Kosher Without a Hechsher

Martin Stern wrote (MJ 62#10):

> Soda is an unfortunate choice as an example, since there is a well-founded
> problem at Pesach that the carbonation may be derived as a by-product of
> beer production.

Could someone with food industry expertise please weigh in as to whether modern
soda-production would ever rely on carbon dioxide (the source of the
carbonation) from beer fermentation? It is almost inconceivable to me that
they'd even be made in the same factories, or on the same lines, and it is not
that carbon dioxide is rare or expensive to obtain. If nothing else, exhaling
will do.


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Fri, Apr 25,2014 at 12:01 PM
Subject: Matza baking during the Holiday

Yisrael Medad  wrote (MJ 62#10):

> Does any know of a source that discusses matza baking during the Holiday?
> Possible? Problems? Permitted? Prohibited (and why)?

As long as the flour is guarded from getting wet and the usual time limit is
observed from mixing it with water until baking is completed, I cannot see
why there should be any problem whatsoever, at least in theory. 

In practice this may be much more difficult than before Pesach since the
slightest delay would involve actively producing chamets on Pesach. That would
not have been a problem previously since possession of chamets then would not
have been prohibited.

Martin Stern


From: Josh Berman <mesechetbrachot@...>
Date: Mon, Apr 28,2014 at 12:01 PM
Subject: Men and Women: Equal Kedusha?


I know that there is a totem poll in Judaism. A mamzer is very low on the totem
poll while a kohen gadol and a king are very high. We all know, for instance,
that a Kohen is higher than a Levi because a Kohen is more holy. I was wondering
if similarly a man is holier than a woman or visa versa. Just like we give a
kohen more respect than everyone else because he is more holy, should men get
more respect because they are more holy than women? Or perhaps women should get
more respect than men? Does anyone know of any sources for this? It is an
interesting topic.

Thank you, Josh Berman


From: Michael Gerver <mjgerver@...>
Date: Sun, Apr 27,2014 at 09:01 AM
Subject: Norman Miller, a.k.a. Noyekh Miller, zt"l

I realized that I should have used this subject heading, instead of the subject
heading I did use ("Norman (Noyekh) Miller, zt"l") in my post (MJ 62#10). With
the subject heading I used, that post will not come up in a search for either
"Norman Miller" or "Noyekh Miller." This post is intended to fix that.

Anyone who wants to search for his posts on mail-jewish should search at
least for "Norman Miller" and "Noyekh Miller" and probably also "N. Miller"
and "N Miller," and maybe "Norman (Noyekh) Miller" and "Noyekh (Norman)
Miller" to make sure you don't miss any. And perhaps also, to catch
misspellings, "Noyech Miller," though he did not like that spelling. As a
Yiddishist, he firmly believed that the eighth letter of the Hebrew
alphabet should be transliterated as "kh," rather than as "ch" or as h with
a dot under it, as Hebraists customarily do. In an email I sent him a few
years ago, I wrote "kheder," rather than "cheder" as I would normally do,
just to make him happy. He noticed it and complimented me, remarking "We'll
make a Yiddishist out of you yet!"

Mike Gerver
Raanana, Israel


From: Carl Singer <carl.singer@...>
Date: Fri, Apr 25,2014 at 08:01 AM
Subject: Okra on Pesach

Dr. Josh Backon wrote (MJ 62#10):

> In MJ 62#09, Orrin Tilevitz queried whether okra is kitniyot. In Hebrew this
> vegetable is called bamya and is not considered kitniyot

With all due respect :)  -- although Okra may not be kitnyos -- per limited
experimentation with my dog, it may not be considered an edible food
(Ma'achal Kelev) and thus falls into the same category as sauteed saw dust.
[I know that Purim comes before, not after, Pesach -- but I couldn't

Carl SInger


From: Mark Steiner <mark.steiner@...>
Date: Fri, Apr 25,2014 at 10:01 AM
Subject: Plagiarism in Jewish law

Martin Stern wrote (MJ 62#10):

> In reply to Ephraim Tabory (MJ 62#09):
> Not having read the original psak, it is impossible to give an informed
> opinion, but I would be inclined to think that this is a typical example of
> the sort of distorted journalism found in the Israeli secular press that
> likes to vilify Orthodox Judaism and its rabbis and does not feel
> constrained by such trivia as objective truth.

Unfortunately, the rabbi in question published his one sentence opinion
encouraging plagiarism on the Internet.  The secularists in this case
don't have to make up any libels.


From: Carl Singer <carl.singer@...>
Date: Fri, Apr 25,2014 at 08:01 AM
Subject: Selling something you do not own

> Ari Trachtenberg wrote (MJ 62#10):

> When you sell your chametz to someone non-Jewish, can you sell something you
> don't own, for example:
> 1.  Something that you are watching/guarding for another Jew.
> 2.  Something that you have borrowed from another Jew.

I don't pasken -- but there is a not too subtle difference between something you
own and something that is in your possession.

Carl Singer

From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Fri, Apr 25,2014 at 12:01 PM
Subject: Selling something you do not own

In reply to Ari Trachtenberg (MJ 62#10):

Since the item would become permanently forbidden if it remained in the
other Jew's ownership, he would presumably want you to take whatever
measures necessary to avoid the loss. So surely this is a case of zakin adam
shelo befanav [doing something for another's benefit in his absence] and
therefore be permitted, provided the non-Jewish purchaser decides after
Pesach not to complete the sale. If, as is highly unlikely, he decides to
keep it, you would be probably obliged to compensate the owner but this
requires more careful consideration by someone more qualified than I am.

Martin Stern

From: Sammy Finkelman <sammy.finkelman@...>
Date: Fri, Apr 25,2014 at 03:01 PM
Subject: Selling something you do not own

In reply to Ari Trachtenberg (MJ 62#10):

I think this might be one of the things you can assume implicit permission for,
like letting someone use a pair of Tefillin (unless you know there is some
reason the person would not want you to do that)

There is halachah in general about designating another person to watch something
which may or may not be allowed


From: Carl Singer <carl.singer@...>
Date: Fri, Apr 25,2014 at 08:01 AM
Subject: Using only one vector in a multi-media world.

I was visiting with one of my sons for Shabbos HaGadol -- and prior to his
Rabbi's Shabbos HaGadol drosha, chatting with this Rabbi I asked if he had
his PowerPoint slides which led to a brief but interesting discussion.
Clearly PowerPoint slides, etc.,  are verboten on Shabbos - but that wasn't
the central issue.

The issue is that in a world where many of us and even more so our children
are growing up in a multi-media world -- our mesorah for learning stems
from a beautiful centuries old tradition of the written word and verbal
discussion / debate.

Yes, I've seen sketches of the tabernacle, sukkah walls, etc., -- but
rather few and far between.

Is there an opportunity to introduce multi-media content into our
mainstream learning to enhance learning -- or is it a stumbling block.  (If
it ain't broke ....)

Carl Singer


End of Volume 62 Issue 11