Volume 63 Number 42 
      Produced: Tue, 25 Jul 17 01:34:16 -0400

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

Birchot hashachar 
    [David Olivestone]
Correcting baalei kriah 
    [Dr. William Gewirtz]
Mukzeh (2)
    [Jack Gross  Carl A. Singer]
Reading beginning of Parshat Pinchas at end of Parshat Balak 
    [Menashe Elyashiv]
The Dweck affair (5)
    [Martin Stern  Susan Buxfield  Frank Silbermann  Michael Rogovin  David Lee Makowsky]
Was there a third Amorite state? 
    [Lisa Liel]


From: David Olivestone <david@...>
Date: Mon, Jul 24,2017 at 04:01 AM
Subject: Birchot hashachar

It is well-known that birchot hashachar, by which I mean the 15 berachot
beginning with 'asher natan la-sechvi vinah' were originally said by each
individual as he or she went through the process of getting up in the morning
and getting dressed. In Shulchan Aruch, OH 46:2, the mechaber writes that,
"Nowadays ... the custom is to recite birchot ha-shachar in the bet knesset, and
everyone answers amen, thus satisfying their obligation (to say these
berachot)". On this point, the Mishnah Berurah comments (note 13):  "... but in
our day, the custom is that each individual says the berachot for himself, and
the chazan does not take care of anyone else's obligation".

Following the Mishnah Berurah, the instruction in the Koren Siddur that preceeds
birchot hashachar reads: "The following blessings are said aloud by the shaliach
tzibbur, but each individual should say them quietly as well".

But my experience is that I have rarely noticed anyone, in any morning minyan
here in Israel or in the galut, who actually does say them together with the
shaliach tzibbur. What puzzles me further is that most people call out 'baruch
hu uvaruch shmo', in each brachah, which indicates that they have no intention
of being yotzei by listening to the chazan's recitation of the berachot.

Does everyone say the berachot at home, or on the way (I know some people who do
this), or in shul before the minyan starts? But what if you are asked to be the
chazan and therefore have to say the berachot aloud? Would the halachah allow
you to say them a second time, as, for example, when repeating kiddush on
Shabbat for someone who not yet heard it? What if there is no one in shul who
has not said them yet?

Of course, the minhag in most Israeli shuls is for the chazan to begin at Rabbi
Yishmael Omer, which preempts the question.

(By the way, its interesting to note that while the 20th century Mishnah Berurah
uses the phrase in our day, R. Chaim Vital, whose Sefer Olat Tamid the Mishnah
Berurah quotes as his source, was actually a 16th century contemporary of R.
Yosef Karo, the mechaber, who also talks about nowadays.)

David Olivestone


From: Dr. William Gewirtz <wgewirtz@...>
Date: Mon, Jul 24,2017 at 03:01 PM
Subject: Correcting baalei kriah

Jacob Gross wrote (MJ 63#41): 

> Dr. William Gewirtz wrote (MJ 63#40):
>> ... in addition to the varied criteria used, I have wanted to correct
>> outrageous errors in trop.
> Two of my favorites:
> 1. In Mishpatim (Ex. 21:17) a very common error is:
> "Umkallel aviv (pause) v'immo mot yumat"
> (what did his mother do to deserve capital punishment?)
> In the sequence "merkha tevir tippekha" there should almost always be a
> greater pause after the tippekha than after the tevir.
> 2. At the end of Bo (Ex. 13:15):
> "kol-petter rekhem hazecharim"
> intoned with "pashta (pause), munnakh, zakef katan" instead of "mappakh,
> pashta (pause), zakef katan"
> (normally males do not have wombs!)

His examples are both excellent and make the point I was making yet more
strongly, albeit in cases of more egregious errors. I would be dumbfounded if in
either of his two examples, with no pause between "imo" and "mot", or between
"rechem" and "zachor", did not cause anyone knowledgeable to correct.

My peeve was motivated by cases where a kadmah is read as a pashta, a two-level
error, which is perhaps the most common. "Rechem" without a pause is a kadmah
when it ought to be a pashtah; errors of that type are fortunately uncommon. 

The inverse, a kadmah read as a pashtah are rather more frequent. I have heard a
BM teenager lein in that manner and after asking his teacher, I find out that
the teacher, and hence the student, was unaware. Particularly in poetic verses
the error is often annoying.

His examples involve errors that are even more egregious (and hilarious) - a
three-layer error in the first case. To be clear, severity is not a function of
just the level of incorrect trop. Both of his examples are, to my mind, equally
troubling despite differences in the level of the trop mismatches. For those who
wish an introduction to the syntactic implications of trop, there is a brief
20-page essay by Rav Mordechai Breuer ztl in the first volume of Daat Mikra on


From: Jack Gross <jacobbgross@...>
Date: Sun, Jul 23,2017 at 08:01 AM
Subject: Mukzeh

Martin Stern wrote (MJ 63#41) in reply to Carl Singer (MJ 63#40):

> A pushke is not a "keli shemelachto le'issur [a utensil whose main purpose is
> for forbidden work]" like a hammer, which can be moved "letzorekh gufo [to use
> for a permitted purpose]" or "letzorekh mekomo [because its current place is
> needed for a permitted purpose]". It is most likely that a pushke is a more
> severe form of muktzeh - basically a basis [support] for the money [muktzeh
> machmat gufo] in it - which can only be moved "kilacher yad [in an unusual
> manner]" and should perhaps have simply been tipped onto the floor by tilting
> the table and then kicking it underneath.

I am not so sure. Coins are deemed "muktze", not because of a positive factor
(their use in commerce) but because of a negative factor -- they are not
designed to serve as a utensil, so they fall into the same category as "eitzim
va'avanim" -- sticks and stones. 

But US coins are designed to meet very specific physical criteria, so that they
can be used to fit and operate machinery -- vending machines, parking meters,
pinball machines -- and so that such machinery can be designed based on the
coins' physical specifications. Of course, such operation is prohibited on
Shabbat, either as commerce, or because the operation is innately a violation of
Shabbat, or both -- but that should still leave them in the same class as a
hammer -- "Keli shemelachto leissur" -- in which case they, along with their
container, could be moved out of the way in a case like Carl's.

From: Carl A. Singer <carl.singer@...>
Date: Sun, Jul 23,2017 at 10:01 AM
Subject: Mukzeh

 In reply to the various comments (MJ 63#41) on my earlier posting (MJ 63#40):
(1) re whether or not I could move the puskeh - in the room with me was a
Rabbi / my friend of 30+ years whom I consider my Posek - he said OK to move.  
So this was not / is not my concern.  

(2) my concern was how / where to move it - something I had neglected to ask
BTW I received several back channel emails which I appreciated - but they
indicated - as does the discussion on mail-jewish that there is a difference of
opinions re both permissibility of moving and how far to move.   
One suggestion that I simply push the pushkeh off the shulchan would have
resulted in a floor covered with coins and bills so this would not have been a
practical solution (it had no sealed lid).  

Carl A. Singer


From: Menashe Elyashiv <menashe.elyashiv@...>
Date: Sun, Jul 23,2017 at 07:01 AM
Subject: Reading beginning of Parshat Pinchas at end of Parshat Balak

David Ziants wrote (MJ 63#39):

> Someone told me that there is a community somewhere in the north of Israel 
> that in order to finish Parshat Balak on a good note, they have the custom of
> finishing off Parshat Balak by reading the beginning of Parshat Pinchas. (I
> don't know whether this is on sh'vi'i, maftir or both.)

Yes: this is Minhag Tripoli. Rabbi Meir Mazuz mentioned it in his Motzai Shabbat
shiur. Of course they start Pinhas as usual.


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Sun, Jul 23,2017 at 01:01 AM
Subject: The Dweck affair

Leah S. R. Gordon wrote (MJ 63#41):

> I notice that no-one is getting all up in arms about sha'atnez, and those who
> flagrantly wear it and participate in the sha'atnez lifestyle, even in public,
> in spite of it being condemned in the harshest terms in the Torah.
> (Coincidentally, the *same* terms as some other things we've been
> discussing.) This implies to me that people are looking to the Torah to
> validate their personal "ick" feelings, which I find disappointing to say the
> least.

There is a major difference - those who wear sha'atnez do not AFAIK advocate
it as a "legitimate alternative lifestyle" which they insist should be
recognised by others as such.

The LGBT lobby, certainly in the UK and probably elsewhere, DO make that
demand. At present a London chasidic girls' school (Vishnitz) is being
pressured to teach in some detail such issues and being threatened with
closure if it refuses


This is the point of my 'joke' (MJ 63#40) regarding the explanation of why a
90 year old great grandfather intended to emigrate:

> "It's all this gay business. The Torah calls it an abomination, and
> prescribes the death penalty.
> "In this country, the law was not quite as severe but it used to be punished
> with a long prison term.
> "Then the law was changed to legalise it 'between consenting adults in
> private' - but it was still frowned upon.
> "Gradually public opinion changed and it came to be tolerated, but now it's
> actually encouraged and anyone who raises any objection is branded a
> 'homophobic bigot'.
> "The way things are going, I want to get out before they make it
> compulsory!"
> Many a true word has been said in jest!

which Leah finds

> [not] funny, the idea that extending human rights to all people, could end up
> meaning forcing someone to become a minority.

There is a distinction between teaching respect for people, even if they are
acting in a way of which one disapproves, and treating their activities as
acceptable, as Beruriah put it "Hate sin not sinners". But that is what I
had written:

> Nobody can deny that the Torah proscribes all male homosexual activities,
> though one can always assume, as I do, that when two males (or females)
> share accommodation are only doing so in order to share its exorbitant cost,
> and treat the individuals accordingly - provided they do not expect others
> to be aware of, and approve, their different intention.

In any case if everyone is forced to indulge in homosexual activity,
homosexuals will cease to be a minority :)

Martin Stern

From: Susan Buxfield <susan.buxfeld@...>
Date: Sun, Jul 23,2017 at 07:01 AM
Subject: The Dweck affair

Leah S. R. Gordon (MJ 63#41) wrote:

> With regard to ... bigotry against LBGT people

If the discussion had been about those Yishmaelim who believe that it's a
mitzvah to behead sinners & disbelievers, should a dissenter be also considered
a bigot?

Was Pinchas a bigot for killing Zimri and the Moabitess Cosbi?

To label an opposing view, especially when held by the vast majority, as a
bigoted is not only despicable but in itself is bigoted.

> 1. I notice that no-one is getting all up in arms about sha'atnez ... in
> spite of it being condemned in the harshest terms in the Torah.

If a Jewish orthodox leader would propound that sha'atnez is currently
permitted, without any doubt the frum world would not take long in "getting all
up in arms".

That individuals choose to disregard the halacha is a situation that can only be
dealt with from the religious point of view by education.

> 2. I don't think that joke from Martin was funny, the idea that extending
> human rights to all people, could end up meaning forcing someone to become a
> minority. How "funny" would that joke be about interracial marriage, for
> example?

In my opinion, Martin's joke was not meant to be funny but a serious analysis of
the history behind the current situation.

Until the haskala the vast majority of the Jewish world was Orthodox. Little by
little the reformers chipped away so that today according to the latest Pew
report the majority of Jews in America are no longer Orthodox.

> 3. I was appalled by Susan Buxfield's casual assertion that we need not care
> about gay Jews, our brothers, because "they will disintegrate anyway" - who
> says such things about our fellows?

The use of the word "care" was not mentioned.

Orthodox Judaism cannot consider itself to be the G-d given truth, if there is
an acceptance of the validity of other streams.

As such, the hope, as borne out by the recent Pew reports in the USA and the
Jewish Policy Research in the UK, that the non-orthodox streams have reached
their zenith and are in decline, are proving positive.

> 4. A key tenet of life in the USA, UK, and to some extent Israel, is that a
> given person's religion doesn't affect what other people have to do ... et al.

When an ideology directly conflicts with one's own, there is no recourse but to
object strenuously.

From: Frank Silbermann <frank_silbermann@...>
Date: Sun, Jul 23,2017 at 12:01 PM
Subject: The Dweck affair

Martin Stern (MJ 63#40) made a joke about changing attitudes towards homosexuality 

Commenting on it, Leah S. R. Gordon wrote (MJ 63#41):

> I don't think that joke from Martin was funny, the idea that extending human 
> rights to all people, could end up meaning forcing someone to become a
> minority.

One of the reasons the joke is not funny is that we may in fact be heading in
that direction.





Frank Silbermann                    Memphis, Tennessee

From: Michael Rogovin <michael@...>
Date: Mon, Jul 24,2017 at 02:01 PM
Subject: The Dweck affair

Much has already been said but I wonder what is it that those who spend their
time condemning the LBGT community want as their end game. Do they:

(a) want to force people to pretend they are something other than who they are?
I wonder what kind of homes filled with psychological damage these will be 

(b) want them to live their lives alone and celibate, or 

(c) accept that they are who they are and thus abandon all the other mitzvot. 

a and b seem to me to be unrealistic and unlikely at least for most people, so
we are left with c. 

Oh, they could join conservative, reconstructionist or reform synagogues, but
very few of these have vibrant observant communities (there are a few, but not
too many). 

Being observant requires a community, and schools. Should day schools refuse a
Jewish education to halachicly Jewish children of such couples? Should
synagogues punish such children by refusing to celebrate them as bnei mitzvah?
Should the children be shunned because of their parents? Should How far do we go
in publicly embarrassing these couples and their families?

Most modern orthodox synagogues do not inquire into the sexual practices of
straight couples, or if they eat out in non-kosher restaurants, or wear
sha'atnez (as Leah Gordon pointed out) or conduct their businesses in an ethical
way (corrupt measures are also to'eva) or keep all of the Shabbat rules,
rabbinic and divine. This is the only halachic principle that otherwise tolerant
people base their call for the utter rejection of otherwise observant Jews from
the community.

I do not have a problem with those who assert that certain conduct violates the
Torah and/or rabbinic rulings. But how we deal with it should be based, at least
in part, on how we would want to be treated by the community were it us, or our
son/daughter, who for reasons beyond our control could not keep some mitzvah, or
even conscientiously chose not to keep a mitzvah, but still sought to be a part
of the broader orthodox community. The inability to (or decision not to) keep
one mitzvah should not negate keeping the other ones.

Michael Rogovin
voice only (no sms): 201.820.5504

From: David Lee Makowsky <dmakowsk@...>
Date: Mon, Jul 24,2017 at 07:01 PM
Subject: The Dweck affair

Leah S. R. Gordon (MJ 63#41) wrote:

> With regard to recent discussions on Rabbi Dweck, halakha, and bigotry
> against LBGT people, I would like to make four points:

> 1. I notice that no-one is getting all up in arms about sha'atnez, and
> those who flagrantly wear it and participate in the sha'atnez lifestyle, even 
> in public,in spite of it being condemned in the harshest terms in the Torah.
> (Coincidentally, the *same* terms as some other things we've been discussing.)
> This implies to me that people are looking to the Torah to validate their
> personal "ick" feelings, which I find disappointing to say the least.

I find it ironic that in an attempt to make a point using sarcasm against an
argument that opposes her point of view, a failed example is used.  Not only is
sha'atnez sometimes permitted, it was required of the Kohen Gadol.

However the point being made is itself wrong.  Homosexuality is not only
severely forbidden, it is utterly condemned as an abomination.  How many other
activities are so condemned?  Yet despite this we have attempts by the supposed
"Open Orthodox" (An oxymoron if there ever was one) to get everyone to accept
that lifestyle.  While I go by the standard "Love the sinner, hate the sin" my
refusal, and that of others, to give any kind of legitimacy to the act itself is
a virtue.  To do anything else is a vice (with apologies to Barry Goldwater).

David Makowsky
(847) 942 - 2636


From: Lisa Liel <lisa@...>
Date: Sun, Jul 23,2017 at 04:01 AM
Subject: Was there a third Amorite state?

Sammy Finkelman wrote (MJ 63#41):

> Ben Katz wrote (MJ 63#40):

>> Sammy Finkelman wrote (MJ 63#39):
>>> In reply to Martin Stern (MJ 63#38):
>>> Not only was there a third Amorite state, there were many others and not all
>>> of them that near Eretz Yisroel. Also in Eretz Yisroel Joshua defeated many
>>> of their kings.
>>> References to them have been encountered in other places. Hammurabi (a
>>> distorted rendition of the name Amrophel) was one of them.
>> It is not clear at all that Amrophel is a distortion of the name Hammurabi.
>> See discussions in any modern Biblical commentary, such as the Anchor Bible
>> (Speiser) or the JPS Torah Commentary (Sarna).
> I couldn't find them. It seems like for many years this was the consensus 
> after 1888, but they abandoned it for no good reason.
I wouldn't say no good reason. The first part of Hammurabi's name (Hammu) is the
Akkadian equivalent of the Hebrew `Am, as in the names Yerav-`am (Jeroboam) and
Rehav-`am (Rehoboam). In fact, the second part may even make the name the
equivalent of Rehavam (Hebrew het is usually not represented in Akkadian at
all). Meanwhile, the name Amraphel is extremely similar to common parts of names
used by Assyrian and Babylonian kings. Amar-Apal would mean "The heir saw" or
"___ sees the heir". Amar in Akkadian is the verb for "see", and Apal as heir is
all over the place. For example, Merodach Baladan's name in Akkadian is Marduk
Apal Edinna, or "Marduk has given the heir" (Edinna is cognate to the Hebrew natan).
At one point, back in the 1800s and early 1900s, a lot of people were really
gung-ho about finding ways to compare names they found to biblical characters,
even if they had to do so by comparing English (or German) transliterations to
one another, which is kind of a silly thing, when you think about it.
Finally, Hammurabi most likely lived during the time of the Judges in Israel,
which rules him out entirely.
> Now Ammurapi, has the Aleph, the Mem, the Resh, and the Pei and is only 
> missing the lamed
It doesn't actually have the aleph. 
> Rav and Shmuel assumed he was Nimrod and that either the name Nimrod or the 
> name Amrophel was not his actual name. The case for Amrophel being some kind 
> of descriptive name is much weaker than for Nimrod.
In fact, Nimrud is an acceptable alternative reading for Ninurta, a  
Mesopotamian deity (a hunter/warrior god, who may have been based on the
historical Nimrod). I imagine Amraphel's actual full name was Nimrud-amar-apal.


End of Volume 63 Issue 42