Volume 62 Number 36 
      Produced: Fri, 03 Oct 14 09:59:07 -0400

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

A deeper structure? 
    [Martin Stern]
Altering Halacha 
    [Sammy Finkelman]
Blowing Shofar during Elul 
    [Martin Stern]
Kappel (2)
    [Freda B Birnbaum  Ira L. Jacobson]
Latter day prudery 
    [Martin Stern]
Mangled piyutim (4)
    [Leah S. R. Gordon  Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz  Lawrence Israel  Eliezer Berkovits]
Mechitza in antiquity 
    [Yisrael Medad]
Not eating Matzah after Purim 
    [Michael Rogovin]
Precedence of Mourners in Leading Services 
    [Orrin Tilevitz]
Silent El Maleh Rachamim 
    [Orrin Tilevitz]
Unmarried minor wearing tallis over his head 
    [Isaac Balbin]


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Wed, Oct 1,2014 at 09:01 AM
Subject: A deeper structure?

In MJ 62#30 I wrote:
> The thirteenth century Chasidai Ashkenaz were assiduous in counting the
> number of words and letters in the tefillot so it is possibly significant
> that the number fifteen appears in several places in the liturgy. In this
> they were continuing an ancient tradition as the Gemara (Kid. 30a) states
> the early sages were called Sofrim because they counted the number of
> letters in the Torah.
> ...
> Also, there are fifteen stages in the daily avodah in the passage Abaye have
> mesader (Yoma 33a) towards the end of the Korbanot section, which might also
> provide a reason for its inclusion since the order is only according to the
> opinion of Abba Shaul and the halachah is not according to him (Yoma 14b).

Some have the custom, when saying the eleven spices in the incense (Keritot
6a) each day to count them with their fingers because "someone who omits one
of them is deserving of a heavenly death penalty" (Yer. Yoma 4:5)

If one does this on one hand for Abaye have mesader (i.e. as three groups of
five) one comes up with some interesting results:

The hatavat chameish nerot [preparing the 5 lamps (of the menorah)] is item
5 in the list

The hatavat shtei nerot [preparing the remaining 2 lamps (of the menorah)]
is item 7 in the list, i.e. 2 fingers showing (from the second set of 5)

Also the siddur shnei gizrei eitsim [arranging the 2 logs of wood (on the
pyre)] is the third item - leaving 2 fingers not showing

Is all this fortuitous or did Abba Shaul specifically arrange the order of
the daily avodah to have this structure?

Martin Stern


From: Sammy Finkelman <sammy.finkelman@...>
Date: Wed, Oct 1,2014 at 08:01 PM
Subject: Altering Halacha

Another place where Halacha seems to have changed (for many) is the issue of
sleeping in the Succah. This seems to have become eating in the succah.

The reason may be because this is not an absolute requirement.

The whole idea is to regard the succah as your home, and while this is primarily
sleeping, it can also be eating. In times past, in Europe, it was cold and maybe
dangerous and people didn't feel comfortable, and so it was ruled sleeping can
be avoided. If people are not comfortable, they are patur   [exempt - MOD], just
like staying there and eating or anything while it rains.

That reason seems now to have become unnecessary. Someone else maybe can explain
what went on.

Another issue is Yovel.

Shemittah is now counted without Yovel. There was no Yovel proclaimed during
the time of the Second Beis HaMikdash. (There was a dispute among Tannaim
whether Yovel was separate year or not. If is a separate year then shemittah
has no permanent stable count, unlike Shabbos. But it has no permanent count
anyway, as it starts with kedushas Ha"aretz..)

This absence of Yovel is related to a mitzvah becoming batul [nullified - MOD]
when it is impossible to perform. They are not abolished, but people are patur.

There are many cases of this. All the korbanos are like that.

Now, interestingly - some mitzvos you might think are not tied together, are,
and some that you might think are tied together are not.

When the Beis HaMikdosh is not standing even some things that could be done
are not. This might be because they are connected to the place where the
name of Hashem rests. If there is no such place, everything else remotely
connected with it, is held in abeyance.

But with Techeiles, the mitzvah of techeiles and the mitzvah of tzitzis are
separate mitzvos and if you can't do one you still can do the other and the
Gaonim apparently ruled that people should NOT avoid the problem.

Note: In an earlier posting of mine (MJ 62#33), it said that at the time
when the works producing techeiles probably were destroyed, the government
in Byzantium was not known as the Byzantine Empire but the Roman Empire.
Actually it was not called the Roman Empire - in the 600s it was called the
Roman Republic! This error was introduced by the moderator [Apologies for
the mistake - MOD)

I believe I read that in a book called History for Ready Reference, published in
1883. It said it was called Republica Romana. This makes sense because I don't
think the Roman Empire was ever called an Empire - it had an Emperor but it
wasn't an "Empire" - and they maintained a Senate well into the Byzantine period.


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Fri, Oct 3,2014 at 09:01 AM
Subject: Blowing Shofar during Elul

Perets Mett wrote (J 62#35):
> Sammy Finkelman (MJ 62#34) wrote:
>> We don't blow shofar on Erev Rosh Hashanah in shul, unless it is a Friday and
>> Rosh Hashonah comes out on Shabbos, so that there should be a one day
>> interruption between the blowing of the during the month of Elul and the
>> blowing on Rosh Hashana.
> In fact, we don't blow shofar on Erev Rosh Hashana ****even when it is a
> Friday****. (Mishno Bruro 581)

Perhaps Sammy Finkelman was confusing not blowing shofar on Erev Rosh
Hashanah with not saying Avinu Malkeinu on Erev Yom Kippur. We do the latter
at shacharit when Erev Yom Kippur is on a Friday (as this year) to make up
for not saying it on Yom Kippur itself (except at Ne'ilah).

Martin Stern


From: Freda B Birnbaum <fbb6@...>
Date: Sun, Sep 28,2014 at 09:01 AM
Subject: Kappel

Perets Mett wrote (MJ 62#35):

> David Ziants (MJ 62#34) wrote:
>> Because I grew up in the UK, the term "cappel" was very familiar to me. Since 
>> it was not an English word like "cap" - I just assumed it was Yiddish - maybe
>> meaning "a small cap".
>> Very much later in life, I found out that this is not Yiddish and "yamulka" 
>> is the Yiddish term. People outside the UK actually had hardly heard of a 
>> "cappel". In any case, I prefer the Hebrew word "kippa".
> I don't know where David got his information from, but "kapel" is a perfectly
> good Yiddish word, with the same meaning as"yarmelke".

and Jeanette Friedman notes (MJ 62#35):

> Kappel (plural kappelech) is Polish/Hungarian Chassidishe Yiddish. 
> That's what my father called it, that's what the chassidim call it, and 
> that's what it is: Yiddish.

My husband was brought up in England (he died in April at the age of 87) and he
often used the word "cappel" for yarmulka; in fact, I don't think he much used
the word yarmulka at all.  Before England, the family was from Germany and
before that Eastern Europe.

Freda Birnbaum

From: Ira L. Jacobson <laser@...>
Date: Mon, Sep 29,2014 at 06:01 AM
Subject: Kappel

KAPPEL was used by my parents (Z"L and A"H) to refer to (what just may be
linguistically related) a KIPPA.

The term KAPPELUSH is used, at least in Israel to mean a regular hat.  See 


A derivation of KAPPEL from KAPPELUSH, 'a "kappel" - a skullcap for religious
purposes. The word, of Yiddish-European origin, could be derived from the word:
"kappelush," a man's hat,' appears in 




From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Sun, Sep 28,2014 at 05:01 AM
Subject: Latter day prudery

During today's selichot (Tsom Gedalia), I noticed that the second selichah
(according to all three of minhag Polen, Ungarn and Litta) "Et Hashem behimats'o
ledarsho kidamti" in its second verse uses a comparison of sinners that would
hardly be possible nowadays. Yet the payetan Rabbeinu Eliyahu ben Shemayah from
Bari in the south of Italy was lavishly praised by Rabbeinu Tam who wrote about
him "For from Bari shall go out Torah and the word of Hashem from Otranto"
(Sefer Hayashar Shut 46).

In the selichah the sinner is said to describe himself as:

"I am like a suspected adultress, dishevelled and profaned,
"a soiled sanitary towel (napkin in US), a garment blood stained ... "

This sort of imagery is used several times in other selichot but would be
unthinkable in modern times because of the near complete taboo on the mention of
menstruation outside a purely medical context.

Similarly, explicit erotic imagery is often used as, for example, in the fourth
verse of Rabbeinu Yitzchak's "Eilecha ve'ashuva el Ishi harishon" (3rd selichah
on the second day of the asseret yemei teshuvah in minhag Polen, 4th selichah on
the third day in minhag Ungarn, but not said in minhag Litta).

Probably most people are in such a hurry that they simply do not notice what is
written but, nonetheless, the question must be raised as to whether we are
suffering from a "latter day prudery" under the influence of our non-Jewish
environment which prevents us from having a healthy attitude to matters sexual.

Martin Stern


From: Leah S. R. Gordon <leah@...>
Date: Sun, Sep 28,2014 at 10:01 AM
Subject: Mangled piyutim

Martin Stern comments (MJ 62#35) on the piyut for R"H "Melech Elyon" -

I don't have an answer for his comments, but it jarred my memory that every
year, I wonder about the odd juxtaposition of its first line "vayehi vishurun
melech" ("and there will be in Jeshurun a king") and then we start up with all
the divine kingship comments.  But isn't the first bit about a mortal king?
Where's the "melech evyon" ("mortal king") to distinguish?

I'm also bothered because that bit about the king in Jeshurun is something that
Christians like to quote a lot about their special friend.  Was this a subtle
dig at this practice?

--Leah S. R. Gordon 

From: Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz <sabbahillel@...>
Date: Sun, Sep 28,2014 at 04:01 PM
Subject: Mangled piyutim

Martin Stern wrote (MJ 62#35):

> In many shuls, the Melekh Elyon piyutim on Rosh Hashanah get mangled by
> those who are unaware of the composers' original intentions. In particular
> each stanza is sung as if ending with laadei ad yimlokh Melekh Elyon. This
> was not, however, what the composers, Kalir for the first day and R. Shimon
> Hagadol of Mainz for the second, wrote.
> The words Melekh Elyon are the introduction to each stanza which then ends
> with laadei ad yimlokh. This is clear from the Machzor Roma where the full
> piyut is said with alternate 'Melekh Elyon' and 'melekh evyon' stanzas,
> contrasting the King on high with an earthly monarch. For some reason,
> probably because the aron was opened and shut for each alternate one,
> leading to confusion, the melekh evyon stanzas were dropped in Ashkenaz.
> This also explains the peculiar acrostic which appears to miss alternate
> letters.
> To compensate for their deletion, the first and last melekh evyon stanzas
> were added at the end. Unfortunately, probably because of an early printing
> error, the ones from Kalirs piyut for the first day were put at the end of
> the second day's one instead of the correct ones, hence the different style
> which may have been noticed.
> If only we could restore these wonderful piyutim to their original form but
> I fear that may no longer be possible.

In the example which you use, we actually have it written as you say (even
though the melech evyon stanzas are omitted). The Art Scroll (and other)
machzorim do explain how it was originally. However, I think that what we are
faced with is a matter of the change based on the choir. That is, the chazan
ends the stanza and the choir picks it up and sings the beginning of the
repetition which the congregation then continues. We have a similar usage in
Hashem melech, Hashm malach, Hashem yimloch in which the congregation responds
(Hashem melech) and then continues for the next stanza.

Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz

From: Lawrence Israel <larry.israel@...>
Date: Wed, Oct 1,2014 at 05:01 AM
Subject: Mangled piyutim

In response to martin Stern's comments on the Melekh Elyon piyutim (MJ 62#35):

Others are mangled as well. In some it doesn't hurt, but some it does. V'khol
maaminim , for example, has a beautiful parallelism in each line. But the way it
is said chops the end off each line and adds it to the start of the next, making
nonsense of the meaning.

From: Eliezer Berkovits <eb@...>
Date: Thu, Oct 2,2014 at 05:01 AM
Subject: Mangled piyutim

Following Martin Stern's comments (MJ 62#35) on the 'mangling of the Melekh
Elyon piyutim on Rosh Hashanah ... each stanza is sung as if ending with laadei
ad yimlokh Melekh Elyon', anyone with a reasonable understanding of what they
are saying is probably already aware of this point. Unfortunately it seems as
though many people do not have such an understanding.

They are not aided by the cumbersome, confusing layout of some of the most
popular Hebrew only Makhzorim, for which there is often poor punctuation and
paragraph layout, inconsistent sizing of the font, and also no dikduk
[grammatical] aids like a symbol for mil'el words [words stressed on the
penultimate syllable - MOD]. I am trying to obtain the Koren makhzor, but it is
prohibitively expensive online.

On a similar note I have often questioned why the Sheliach Tzibbur for Rosh
Hashana Mussaf appends the word 'Vene'emar' to the phrase preceding it, then
pauses before reciting the next phrase, as this doesn't seem sensible. One
Sha'tz I asked told me 'he asked various other Sheluchei Tzibbur and this is
what they all do, so it must have some basis.' I found this a quite
unsatisfactory response - all it takes is the first person developing the
Nussach to make a mistake and they all follow. Any justifications?

Eliezer Berkovits


From: Yisrael Medad  <yisrael.medad@...>
Date: Tue, Sep 30,2014 at 01:01 AM
Subject: Mechitza in antiquity

We discussed this issue in the past but I do not think this article was

"Reconsidering the question of separate seating in ancient synagogues", Chad
Spigel, Journal for Jewish Studies, 2012, Volume: 63, Issue: 1, 62-83 pp.

Abstract: Before the twentieth century most scholars thought that men and women
sat separately in ancient synagogues. However, in the late twentieth century
Shmuel Safrai and Bernadette Brooten argued that there was neither literary nor
archaeological evidence of separate seating in ancient synagogues. Their
arguments eventually led to a new scholarly consensus, recently articulated by
Lee Levine: there can be little doubt that throughout late antiquity, Jews
gathered in the synagogue for ritual purposes without making any distinctions in
seating arrangements for males and females. The following article suggests that
instead of a uniform situation where men and women either sat together or sat
separately in ancient synagogues, the literary, archaeological, and cultural
evidence allows for both possibilities, and therefore synagogue seating must be
considered on a case-by-case basis.

For those who are suspicious of his religious identifications, I do not know but
he does teach currently at Trinity University and graduated Brandeis.

Yisrael Medad



From: Michael Rogovin <michael@...>
Date: Sun, Sep 21,2014 at 12:01 PM
Subject: Not eating Matzah after Purim

I'm very machmir and refrain (except when I don't have a choice) from eating
matzo from the 8th day of Pesach until the first day of Pesach.  But that is
because I don't like matzo.


From: Orrin Tilevitz <tilevitzo@...>
Date: Mon, Sep 22,2014 at 03:01 PM
Subject: Precedence of Mourners in Leading Services

In one shul, by policy approved by the rabbi, the rule giving precedence in
leading services to one mourner over another, say, to one who has yahrzeit for a
parent over anyone else, applies only to regular attendees at a particular
minyan, regardless of whether the attendee is a paid member.  

For example, a non-member attendee at 6 A.M shachrit (there are also services at
7 A.M. and 8 A.M.) who is a mourner past the initial 30 days takes precedence
over a paid member who has yahrzeit for a parent but attends that particular
minyan only sporadically.  

That is the reverse of the general rule.  This policy is fiscally shortsighted:
nonmember attendees vastly exceed members, the shul depends primarily on
contributions and (rather high) membership dues; and being a paid member confers
no other benefits.   

But is it halachically wrong, given the supervening rule (which we've discussed
on this list) that nobody may lead services unless he is merutzeh lakahal
[acceptable to the congregation]?


From: Orrin Tilevitz <tilevitzo@...>
Date: Mon, Sep 22,2014 at 04:01 PM
Subject: Silent El Maleh Rachamim

In my shul, when someone needs El Maleh Rachamim recited, following layning the
gabbai takes the sefer torah and recites it aloud.  This procedure makes sense to
me; Sefaradim call it an "azkara", which implies something said aloud.  Where I
davened today, the two yahrzeits in turn took the sefer torah and recited it (I
assume; it was inaudible) silently.  Any basis for this?


From: Isaac Balbin <isaac@...>
Date: Sun, Sep 28,2014 at 08:01 AM
Subject: Unmarried minor wearing tallis over his head

In respect of the issue of an unmarried minor wearing a tallis over his head,
this is not a problem as it is called Atifa (wrapping of the head) and one is
obliged to do that when one is called to the Torah, for example. If one wears a
hat, then the hat suffices. This is the Psak (decision) of Mori VRabbi (my
teacher and Rabbi) Rav Hershel Schachter the Rosh Kollel at YU and Posek
(Halachic decisor) of the OU.


End of Volume 62 Issue 36