Volume 62 Number 58 
      Produced: Sat, 28 Nov 15 23:16:16 -0500

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

After-action review  
    [Joel Rich]
Anti-feminist liturgy? 
    [Martin Stern]
Chazan's role? 
    [Joel Rich]
Greed, wealth and scandal 
    [Nachum Amsel]
Intoxication (2)
    [Orrin Tilevitz  Martin Stern]
Is there another Jordan? 
    [Martin Stern]
    [Orrin Tilevitz]
Machnisei rachamim 
    [Sholom Parnes]
Rav Auerbach, ztz"l, on conversion/geirut 
    [Chaim Casper]


From: Joel Rich <JRich@...>
Date: Thu, Oct 29,2015 at 06:01 AM
Subject: After-action review 

Does your shul ever do an after-action review of any of its programming (e.g.
how did people feel about yamim noraim services? Scholar in residence)?  If so, how?
Joel Rich


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Sun, Nov 22,2015 at 10:01 AM
Subject: Anti-feminist liturgy?

After Kriat Hatorah on Shabbat morning, we recite "Yekum purkan min shamaya
... lekhol-kehala kadisha hadein, ravrevaya im ze'eiraya tafla uneshaya ..."
which is usually translated as "May salvation from heaven be granted ... to
all this holy congregation, great and small, children and women ..."

Some feminists take exception to this since it appears to class women
together with children as second-class Jews.  Perhaps this is due to a
mistranslation and the word "tafla" might better be considered as deriving
from "tafeil" meaning "dependent". This is similar to the concept of ikkar
vetafeil [primary and secondary] in the dinim of birkhot nehenim, where the
berakhah on the primary foodstuff (ikkar) covers subsidiary items (tafeil) eaten
(or cooked) with it without necessitating a separate berakhah. Examples are
mango chutney eaten with meat or raisins or prunes cooked in a carrot tzimmes
(but the precise parameters are quite complicated and one should consult a
competent Orthodox Rabbi for any practical problem).

If so, this passage might be better rendered as meaning "May salvation from
heaven be granted ... to all this holy congregation, great and small, their
dependents and [also those] women [who are independent heads of households
in their own right] ...."

Since, until recently at least, such women were rare exceptions, this prayer
might be understood to emphasise their equal status within the community,
especially as they are mentioned after "tafla" rather than before them as might
have otherwise been expected.

Martin Stern


From: Joel Rich <JRich@...>
Date: Thu, Oct 22,2015 at 09:01 AM
Subject: Chazan's role?

The importance of the ongoing role of the chazzan seems to me to have changed
since the advent of the printing press and the general availability of prayer
books. What roles do mail-jewish members see in their experience for the chazzan
in contemporary daily prayer? Shabbat? Yom Tov? Yamim Noraim?


Joel Rich


From: Nachum Amsel <namsel@...>
Date: Sun, Nov 1,2015 at 07:01 AM
Subject: Greed, wealth and scandal

Joel Rich wrote (MJ 62#56):

> Rabbi JB Soloveitchik wrote (Derashot Harav, pp. 116-117):
>> Historically, Jews have fared poorly when subjected to the trial of wealth.
>> When a Jew acquires excessive wealth, he becomes animal like. While the 
>> nations of the world divert a portion of their wealth towards spiritual 
>> matters, towards culture, towards higher ideals, under similar 
>> circumstances, the Jew takes on the trappings of a vulgar, cynical 
>> materialism. And Jeshurun became fat and rebelled (Deut. 32:15) is the 
>> characteristic reaction of the Jew to wealth. For some unknown reason a Jew 
>> cannot combine the dew of the heavens with the fatness of the earth (Gen. 
>> 27:28). Having one, he cannot have the other.
>> On the other hand, when confronted with the trial of poverty or suffering, 
>> the Jewish people have fared very well. A Jew does not spill blood when he is
>> hungry. When he is hungry, he senses the hunger of his fellow; when he is 
>> cold, he feels his brother's discomfort.
> Question. How do other mail-jewish members think this applies to the American
> Orthodox experience? If the reaction to the different extremes differs, why?

I was recently asked to speak in Teaneck on Shabbat about "The Torah Reaction
to the Madoff and other Financial Scandals and Greed". Why? Because, the Rabbi
said, financial scandals abound today in the Orthodox community like never
before. But the fact remains that the issue of wealth, and how so many Jews
(mis)handle it, is an ongoing problem in all facets of the Jewish community.
Rabbi Berel Wein, whom I work with, explained that since almost all Jews were so
poor for 2000 years following the Churban, they never learned how to properly
"handle" wealth.

In the end, we decided I should not talk about this topic but, rather, "The
Jewish View of Sports", because it was a topic re which few Jews (even learned ones)
realize how rich and varied are the values and statements regarding sports
in the classic Jewish sources (and thus was more interesting to the audience),
and it was especially timely because the Mets are in the World Series. 

Both topics form chapters in my new book, "The Encyclopedia of Jewish Values"
(Urim Publishers, Aug. '15), and I went through the talk with Hebrew handouts of
the sources taken from it. Anyone in the Mail-Jewish community who wishes to get
either of these chapters sent to them via email should contact me offline and
I will be happy to send them.

Rabbi Dr. Nachum Amsel
Director of Education, Destiny Foundation
Tel.- (972)2-586-4262 ** Fax -3034
Cell phone - (972) 544-54-36-18
Phone from USA - 212-444-1656


From: Orrin Tilevitz <tilevitzo@...>
Date: Tue, Oct 20,2015 at 06:01 AM
Subject: Intoxication

Further to my submission (MJ 62#57), if I remember correctly the Gemara uses the
term "chazak" to describe pre-dilution wine. My LOR, a credentialed talmid
chacham whose mind tends to run directly along Gemara lines and who is naive
when it comes to wine, describes as "strong" dry wine that he doesn't like, I
had guessed because it objectively isn't very good, e.g., it has an alcohol kick
(even though it has no higher an alcohol content than anything else). "Chazak"
translates as "strong". So I asked him how he read the gemara's rule about
diluting wine. Right off, he said "chazak" meant "bitter".

From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Wed, Oct 21,2015 at 04:01 AM
Subject: Intoxication

Robert Israel wrote (MJ 62#57):

> In reply to Joel Rich (MJ 62#56):
> The practice of diluting wine with water was common to the Greeks and Romans
> as well as the Jews. See e.g.
> <http://laudatortemporisacti.blogspot.ca/2004/10/wine-and-water.html>.
> I think the consensus is that the wine did not have higher alcohol content
> than modern wine. However, it was the main source of hydration, and drinking
> only pure wine (especially on a hot day) would get you drunk pretty quickly.

Until relatively recently, and then only in developed countries, most water
was not safe to drink because of bacterial pollution. Therefore, talking of
"diluting wine" is misleading since the real purpose was "disinfecting
water", taking advantage of the alcohol in wine as an antimicrobial agent.
In England, weak beer was brewed for the same purpose until quite recent
times and even consumed by children as the only safe drink available.

Martin Stern


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Mon, Nov 23,2015 at 05:01 AM
Subject: Is there another Jordan?

At the beginning of Vayishlach (Ber. 32:11), Ya'akov Avinu says, "Ki vemakli
avarti et-hayarden HAZEH [With my stick I have crossed THIS Jordan]." AFAIK
there is no other Jordan, so what is the significance of "hazeh [this]"?

Martin Stern


From: Orrin Tilevitz <tilevitzo@...>
Date: Sat, Nov 21,2015 at 07:01 PM
Subject: Mach'la-mochla

At the end of parshat Toldot, Esav marries Yishmael's daughter. Her name is either 
Machala or Machla, depending on what chumash one looks at. The difference becomes 
conspicuous only in Ashkenazic pronunciation, where it is either Mochala or Machla. 
That is, the mem has either a kamatz or a patach under it. There is little doubt that 
the correct vocalization is with a kamatz; that is what the Minchat Shai says, and it 
is the text in both the Leningrad codex and in Breuer, who has no footnotes to the 
contrary. I suspect, though, that the custom in Ashkenaz is to read it with a patach, 
because that's what the Koren has, and -- I believe -- it follows Wolf Heidenheim.

Which brings me to closer to my question. My rav last week quoted R. Yehoshua Leib 
Diskin as saying that the difference in vocalization leads to a difference in how one 
treats the name midrashically. The classical midrash is that the name is related to the 
verb machal, meaning forgiveness, hence the midrash that in so marrying Esav did 
teshuva. But, said R. Diskin, if it's with a patach, then its related to machala, or 
sickness, and maybe Esav didn't. So, R. Diskin said, there exists a minhag to read it 
both ways, one in shevii and the other in maftir.

Finally, the question: has anyone seen this minhag in practice? (My rav hadn't, and 
asked me whether I had.)


From: Sholom Parnes <sholomjparnes@...>
Date: Tue, Oct 20,2015 at 08:01 AM
Subject: Machnisei rachamim

In reply to Martin Stern (MJ 62#56):

It would seem to me that if the angels can decipher garbled/mispronounced
words that G-d himself can do the same (certainly better than the angels).

Sholom J Parnes
Hamelech David 65/3
Efrat 90435 ISRAEL


From: Chaim Casper <surfflorist@...>
Date: Sun, Nov 15,2015 at 12:01 AM
Subject: Rav Auerbach, ztz"l, on conversion/geirut

I vaguely remember someone in our group a number of years ago mentioning that he
was discussing geirut with Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach, zt"l, and that Rav Shlomo
could not understand Rav Moshe Feinstein's, zt"l, position that a convert can
accept all the mitzvot without actually doing all mitzvot.  In other words, we
shouldn't set a higher standard for converts than we who are born Jewish (and
spend a lifetime studying and practicing) set for ourselves.  Does anyone
remember this?  I can't find it in the index.  

B'virkat Torah,

Chaim Casper
North Miami Beach, FL


End of Volume 62 Issue 58