Volume 63 Number 67 
      Produced: Tue, 26 Dec 17 01:49:16 -0500

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

A minor change to our procedures 
    [Moderating team]
Calendar/Chanukah oddity 
    [Irwin Weiss]
Declaring Rosh Chodesh the ideal way 
    [Dr. William Gewirtz]
Riding on Shabbos (was: Declaring Rosh Chodesh the ideal way) 
    [Sammy Finkelman]
    [Joel Rich]


From: Moderating team
Date: Sun, Dec 10,2017 at 04:01 PM
Subject:  A minor change to our procedures

As a result of some unfortunate mix-ups with submissions that had been
moderated and then sent for approval, we intend, in future, to make the
following change to procedures:
1. Those who are happy with the changes made by the moderator, are asked to
reply with no added message. Our system will then move the submission
automatically to the publication list. If you add anything, the system will
treat it as a new message.

2. Those not happy with any changes are asked to reply with a message such

"I am not happy with the changes made  please delete this submission"

or resubmit the text as you would like it to appear. In the latter case, the
new submission will be moderated and sent back to you for approval. It would
be helpful if you could draw attention to those changes that you have
reversed, and are particular not to have altered, to avoid unnecessary
Submissions that have sat in approval for over a week with no reaction in future
will be rejected with a message to that effect.

The moderating team


From: Irwin Weiss <irwin@...>
Date: Mon, Dec 11,2017 at 07:01 AM
Subject: Calendar/Chanukah oddity

Chanukah 6791 will begin on December 13, 3030 (no typo), and Chanukah 6792 will begin on (drum roll...) 
January 1, 3032. Thats right; there will be no Chanukah in the civil year 3031!

So, 3031 will be devoid of dreidels, low on latkes, and sans sufganiyot.  The candle industry, which has a 
tendency to wax and wane anyway, may suffer.

I have to check on this, but I am thinking that Chanukah will occur twice in 3032.

May Moshiach come bimhera veyamenu

Irwin weiss


From: Dr. William Gewirtz <wgewirtz@...>
Date: Thu, Dec 7,2017 at 11:01 AM
Subject: Declaring Rosh Chodesh the ideal way

Sammy Finklemans summary (MJ 63#66) omits many vital details that impact on how
a future Sanhedrin or another court might operate.

First, the argument about David's absence and several other supporting episodes
in Tanach were advanced by Saadia Gaon in his attempt to show the original
reliance on calculation versus witnesses. A few Rishonim, including Rabbeinu
Channan'eil, quote this viewpoint in their peirush al haTorah. It should be
noted that some modern scholars quote those examples in support of a calendar as
described in the book of Jubilees.

To put it mildly, that position is strongly disputed by both Rambam and Ramban
in their fundamental disagreement on the logic that permitted a calculation
based calendar. It has been claimed that so farfetched an argument was advanced
by Saadia only in his battle to oppose the Karaite position. This area was
studied over a century ago, with updates from scholars of the last 100 years. As
well, the dispute between the scholars of Israel and Bavel is a much more
complex topic. Saadia's background put him in a unique position to address the

Regardless of what might happen, a future court will need to correct two issues
with our current calculation. First, the average molad calculation is off in the
7th decimal place. In about 4500 years this will amount to half a day. I am not
yet losing sleep. Second, the intercalation of an extra month, would need to
reduce the number of years with 13 months by about 1 every 6500 years as well.
Fortunately, both minute issues are in the preferred direction, halakhically.

I am purposely omitting many halakhic and astronomic factors which a future
court would need to examine. This area needs a book, not a post. In the
meantime, we can marvel at how Chazal utilized advanced scientific /
astronomical knowledge in establishing our calendar.

Dr. William Gewirtz 



From: Sammy Finkelman <sammy.finkelman@...>
Date: Thu, Dec 7,2017 at 08:01 PM
Subject: Riding on Shabbos (was: Declaring Rosh Chodesh the ideal way)

I wrote (MJ 63#66), citing Melochim II 4:23

> And he said: Wherefore wilt thou go to him today? it is neither new
> moon nor sabbath.' And she said: 'It shall be well. (Melochim II 4:23)
> (Horseback riding on Shabbos had not yet been prohibited at that point,

Actually, the lady rode a donkey. If you study the whole Tanach very
carefully, you will see that ordinary people in the Middle East
outside Egypt did not have horses. They had camels, donkeys and other
animals but not horses, but in Egypt they had horses. Horses were not
normally allowed to leave Egypt, because they were weapons of war. You
could write a whole essay on this.

The situation with horses did not get to be normal until the Second Temple period.


From: Joel Rich <JRich@...>
Date: Fri, Dec 8,2017 at 04:01 AM
Subject: Zemanim

As sunrise got later I was at a minyan where the earliest time for tallit was approximately the same as the 
minyan starting time. I watched as everybody watched their cell phones for the exact time to start from 
Myzmanim. (Of course that website says not to rely on to it to the minute)

I was wondering whether this close watch was a subset of a broader need of modern man to have 
exactitude in life versus living with gray. (Sort of a desire to be Newtonian in a quantum world) I was also 
wondering whether the advent of the railroad table approach now requires us to halachically follow that 
exactness rather than that the "it looks right to me" approach of Chazal? 


Joel Rich


End of Volume 63 Issue 67