Volume 63 Number 74 
      Produced: Sun, 11 Mar 18 11:46:02 -0400

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

A Masoretic joke? 
    [Martin Stern]
    [Sammy Finkelman]
Gezel Akum (stealing from non-Jew) 
    [Joel Rich]
Horses in Biblical Times 
    [Yisrael Medad]
Meaning of Biblical Times (was Horses in Biblical Times) 
    [Sammy Finkelman]
Mixed Seating at Weddings 
    [Carl A. Singer]
Mixing Nuscha'ot Tefilla 
    [Irwin Weiss]
Questions about Zeresh 
    [Sammy Finkelman]
Succah walls 
    [Sammy Finkelman]
Taamei halacha? 
    [Joel Rich]
Telling the truth 
    [Sammy Finkelman]
The appropriate route for the sefer torah 
    [Yisrael Medad]
Using secular music when davening (was Mixing Nuscha'ot HaTefila) 
    [Carl A. Singer]
Who are the "minim"? 
    [David Tzohar]


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Sat, Mar 10,2018 at 03:01 PM
Subject: A Masoretic joke?

At the end of each sedra, there is usually a Masoretic note giving the number of
verses in the sedra and a siman (mnemonic) for it.

Today somebody pointed out to me that this is missing from Pekudai, which has 92
(tsaddi beit) verses, and suggested that originally it had been given as "the
number of verses is tsaddi beit and 've'ein lah siman', meaning literally 'and
it has no mnemonic'", so the printers later simply omitted it. He suggested that
there was such a mnemonic and it was 've'ein (6+1+50) lah (30+5)', totalling 92.
He thought this was meant as a joke but, the more I think about it, the more I
feel it was precisely what the Masoretes had written - but I could not find it
in any text.

Is anyone aware of whether this was the case and can give a reference to verify it?

Martin Stern


From: Sammy Finkelman <sammy.finkelman@...>
Date: Fri, Mar 9,2018 at 05:01 PM
Subject: Gelatin

I have a book "Gelatin in Jewish Law" by Rabbi David I. Sheinkopf. It was
published by Bloch in 1982, and I don't know where someone would get it now (I
got it on May 29, 2016 secondhand)

Rabbi Dr. David I. Sheinkopf founded Kosher Supervisory Services and has
continued to write about this, and this web page indicates he can be contacted


Here is a very brief statement about gelatin:


Besides  Gelatin in Jewish Law (Bloch, 1982) he wrote and Issues in Jewish
Dietary Laws, (Ktav 1988), and Expositions in Jewish Dietary Laws (Ktav 2010).
which may cover much of the same territory.
In the first book he says the first written decision explicitly favoring gelatin
was made in 1935 in a letter sent from R. Chaim Ozer Grodzienski to Rabbi Samuel
Aaron Pardes of Chicago, in which he agreed with him. He said it was the based
on the same principle on which he had permitted tartaric acid in 1912.

Rabbi  Sheinkopf  says it was not until 1950 that this became a matter of sharp
Rabbinic controversy, and this was principally due to the objections of Rabbi
Eliezer Silver, who did not approve of the hekhsher given to Jell-O, which was 
made from pigskins as well as cow hides, and even that of Kojel which was at
that time made strictly of bone gelatin.

This is maybe based on part on differences between the Rambam, who says certain
parts of a nevaleh are assur, although potur, and the Shulchan Arukh.


From: Joel Rich <JRich@...>
Date: Thu, Mar 8,2018 at 01:01 PM
Subject: Gezel Akum (stealing from non-Jew)

Sammy Finkelman wrote (MJ 63#71):

> Joel Rich wrote (MJ 63#71) that in Sanhedrin 113a the gemara quotes 2 drashot
> about this - one by Rabbi Akiva, a 3rd-generation Tanna, and one by Rav Huna,
> a 2nd-generation amora.
> I can't find anything like this in Sanhedrin 113a, which is mostly about the
> rebuilding of Jericho, getting to that subject by way of dealing with what to 
> do with hekdesh found in a condemned city, getting to that from the issue of 
> Maasar sheni in Jerusalem that became tamey.
> I assume this is some kind of mistake. What is the correct source?

Humble apologies - Bava Kamma 113a

Joel Rich


From: Yisrael Medad  <yisrael.medad@...>
Date: Thu, Mar 8,2018 at 07:01 AM
Subject: Horses in Biblical Times

Sammy Finkelman writes (MJ 63#73):

>... this is not speaking of something that a person might have too much personal
> awareness of. This is in a military context, because it is in a military
> context that you would want to topple the rider.

Sorry for prolonging the discussion but I could think of a highwayman or a
pedestrian robber who would seek to topple a horse rider with no military

Yisrael Medad


From: Sammy Finkelman <sammy.finkelman@...>
Date: Fri, Mar 9,2018 at 02:01 PM
Subject: Meaning of Biblical Times (was Horses in Biblical Times)

In  in a message headed

Yisrael Medad (MJ 63#71) wrote:

> Or, another question: when did "Biblical times" end?

I don't know and I don't think it has an answer.

It could mean different things by different people and, even though technically,
int includes the entire period of time that any book in tanach - or maybe just
nach - takes place in, could be used to refer (principally) to different periods
of time by the same person in different contexts

He was the one who first used that term in MJ 63#68 when he replied to something
I wrote on the subject "Riding on Shabbos (was: Declaring Rosh Chodesh the ideal
way)" using the subject Horses in Biblical Time

I had said (MJ 63#67):

> 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.

In Ezra 2:66, probably repeated in Nehemiah 7:68 where it gives the names and
the categories of people who came to Yerushalayim with Zerubavel in the days of
Xerxes and adds also how many animals they had, it says they had 736 horses
and 245 mules.

The number of horses and mules is missing in some manuscripts of Nehemiah,
according  the 1985 Jewish Publication Society translation so maybe in the past
there were somebody who thought there was a problem with that, saying to
himself, they couldn't have had horses, and "corrected" the text.


From: Carl A. Singer <carl.singer@...>
Date: Thu, Mar 8,2018 at 10:01 AM
Subject: Mixed Seating at Weddings

Steven Oppenheimer wrote (MJ 63#73):

> This is similar to the Levush who writes at the end of Minhagim #36 (at the 
> end of Levush HaChur), it says in Sefer Chasidim that when men and women see 
> each other e.g. at weddings, that one may not recite at Sheva Brachos, 
> Hasimcha Beme'ono, because there is no simcha before Hashem when there are 
> "hirhurei aveirah."  Today, however, writes the Levush, we are not concerned 
> with this because it is commonplace for men and women to be present together 
> and, therefore, there are no "hirhurei aveirah" because (the women) are like 
> "Kakei Chivarei" (white geese - see T.B. Berachos 20a).
> As an aside point, some refer to this Levush as a basis to permit mixed 
> seating at weddings.

I may be repeating myself, but I believe the term "mixed seating" is both
biased and historically inaccurate.

Consider the term "family seating" -- Today, in many instances we jump into
our car and drive to a wedding.

If our children are young, and we are not close relatives, the invitation
may exclude them - so we get a babysitter.

Things were different in former times.

I recall my Mother, ztl, telling me that when she was a young girl (pre-WW-II)
in Poland, a cousin was making a wedding. Her family went together for the few
days to share in the simcha.  


Carl A. Singer


From: Irwin Weiss <irwin@...>
Date: Fri, Mar 9,2018 at 10:01 AM
Subject: Mixing Nuscha'ot Tefilla

Michael Mirsky points out(MJ 63#73) the similarity between the music of
Scarborough Fair and Elei Tzion.

Very perceptive....they are quite close, but, of course, not exactly the same.  

Someone told me that the tune for the brachot said when one has an aliyah is the
same as the Gershwin song, It Ain't Necessarily So from Porgy and Bess. Gershwin
was Jewish.  I suspect that the authors of the music for Scarborough Fair were 

1) not Jewish and 

2) not familiar with Elei Tzion in any event.

Irwin Weiss
Baltimore, MD


From: Sammy Finkelman <sammy.finkelman@...>
Date: Thu, Mar 8,2018 at 06:01 PM
Subject: Questions about Zeresh

Elazar Teitz wrote (MJ 63#73):

>  What she said was, "If he is Jewish, then having started to lose to him, you
> will surely lose completely", indicating that once Hashem has smiled on a Jew
> in battle with an anti-Semite, his full success is assured.

Maybe not. It's really specific to Mordechai.

Now, I used to think she was just talking, saying something because she thought
it was true. But when Leah Gordon (MJ 63#72) asked that question I thought some
more and it came to me that the reason she said that was to offer advice to Haman.

Now you have to remember, that Haman wanted to kill the Jews because of
Mordechai. It just wasn't enough for him to kill Mordechai, because he had told
the other servants of Achesverosh what his reason was for not bowing (which the
current text of the megillah does not have because the halacha is not like
Mordechai) who in turn told it to Haman.

Zeresh was saying that if Mordechai was a Jew (as they assumed) then the whole
plot to murder the Jews would come to nothing because that meant he would also
be protected from that and the same force that protected him that day would
protect him in the future.

And that would mean Haman's plot would have to fail, which would probably mean
he would lose power - and lose power to Mordechai. And the point of that is that
he has to treat Mordechai as a superior and reconcile, beg for his life,
whatever. Haman didn't like this reasoning,and sought diifferent ways around it,
and they continued talking till they came to take him to the dinner.

And this is recounted in the Megillah because in fact it happened that way:
Mordechai replaced him, exactly like Zeresh had said he would.


From: Sammy Finkelman <sammy.finkelman@...>
Date: Fri, Mar 9,2018 at 05:01 PM
Subject: Succah walls

I don't know how I did this thing but I gave the wrong date (MJ 63#71) for the
publication of the book  "Wake Up,  Wake Up, To Do the Work of the Creator" by
William Helmreich, writing  (Harper and Row, 1962)

The book was actually published in 1976.


From: Joel Rich <JRich@...>
Date: Sun, Mar 11,2018 at 11:01 AM
Subject: Taamei halacha?

In Sh'ut Ha Rambam (313) he allows only additional hadassim to be used (but) no
additional lulavim, aravot or etrogim). He allows it because it was "katuv biyur
chochamim [It was already written by the sages]" but otherwise would have not
allowed any additional branches. 

The commentators then provide a logic for the Rambam's allowance differentiating
between hadassim and aravot based on things like beauty . . . so I asked R'
Bednarsh how once can project an underlying logic when the Rambam himself says
he was forced by precedent. IIUC his response was that while the Rambam was
forced to the conclusion by precedent he would've worked out a supporting logic
(this is what's always done).

And if tradition had been to allow additional aravot and not hadassim he
would've come up with a logic, too. 

Interesting - when do we project a logic and when do we say we just don't
understand and thus don't extrapolate?

Joel Rich


From: Sammy Finkelman <sammy.finkelman@...>
Date: Wed, Mar 7,2018 at 02:01 PM
Subject: Telling the truth

In MJ 63#72 I wrote:

> According to a book I have, one Rabbi who was in a yeshiva at that time,
> estimated that about 80% of the families kept kosher, and, while he wasn't so
> careful to make an estimate at the time, about 20% fully kept Shabbos.

The book is "Returning to Tradition: The Contemporary Revival of Orthodox
Judaism" by M. Herbert Danzger (Yale University Press, 1989) and the Rabbi is
Rabbi Morris Besdin and he said, or rather wrote, it in 1981.

But he was not talking about students in an elementary school (yeshivah ketaneh)
but students at (what was at some point renamed) the James Striar School of
Yeshiva University, the college. (It was established in 1956 for students with a
limited Judaic background, ["lacking background in Jewish studies"] and he was
the director after 1958.)

Two paragraphs of something he wrote somewhere is quoted on page 65 but no
reference is given so I don't know where it is from, other than that Danziger
says "he reported" that:

Rabbi Besdin said that by then (1981) most of their students came from Yeshiva
high schools, but in the early years 90-95% came from non-yeshiva schools. They
had at most a few years of elementary Jewish education. Before the composition
of the student body changed he did a study and it is from this study that he
concluded or found that about 20% of the students came from non-kosher homes. He
never did a study of how many came from non-shomer shabbos homes but he thought
it was around 80%.

Danziger writes that the first class had 43 students and in 1964 there were 264
enrolled in the program (divided by 4 that would be 66 per class.)


From: Yisrael Medad  <yisrael.medad@...>
Date: Thu, Mar 8,2018 at 07:01 AM
Subject: The appropriate route for the sefer torah

The most common practice in synagogues with Rabbis from Merkaz HaRav and
affiliated institutions is to hold that the route for a Sefer Torah should be
the shortest. No going all around, to the back. etc. What does happen is the
Chazan/Prayer Leader will stop at the steps to the Bima and wait for people to

Yisrael Medad


From: Carl A. Singer <carl.singer@...>
Date: Thu, Mar 8,2018 at 10:01 AM
Subject: Using secular music when davening (was Mixing Nuscha'ot HaTefila)

Michael Mirsky wrote (MJ 63#73):
> Yisrael Meidad wrote (MJ 63#72):
>> That reminds me of the time I was davening Kabbalat Shabbat many years ago,
>> before 1970, and used the tune of "Scarborough Fair" (try it) for Lekha Dodi.
>> A voice from the back spoke up loudly, demanding I stop. I was caught out - 
>> using a 17th century English folk melody recently renewed by two Jews, Simon 
>> and Garfunkel. 
>> But no.
>> When the Rabbi asked him why I was to be stopped, the old man replied, "In
>> Poland that was the tune we used for reciting Kinnot on Tisha B'Av".
> Methinks that that elderly gentleman was confusing Scarborough Fair with the
> final kina sung on Tisha B'Av called Elei Tzion. They sound similar.
Perhaps it is a local (or "frum") affectation -- but today I seldom hear secular
melodies incorporated into the local davening. I recall, perhaps 50  years ago,
both opera and popular songs adapted for use.

Carl A. Singer


From: David Tzohar <davidtzohar@...>
Date: Thu, Mar 8,2018 at 05:01 AM
Subject: Who are the "minim"?

I found a source in Torat HaRav Kook ZTZ"L on this question. 

He wrote, in Olat Reaya, that today there is no longer an identifiable "sect of
minim" and that this is an indication that we are in the period of "atchalta
degeulah" (beginning of redemption). 

However minut (apostasy?) as a concept still exists and therefore in birkat ha
minim we should be thinking about those who are still attracted to this concept.
This is similar to the fact that there are no longer any identifiable Amalekites
but we still have the mitzvah of remembering and blotting out Amalek.
Unfortunately the spirit of Amalek still exists in the world and we are
commanded to remember that and blot it out.

David Tzohar 
Armon Hanetziv 


End of Volume 63 Issue 74