Volume 63 Number 75 
      Produced: Tue, 13 Mar 18 17:30:56 -0400

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

A Masoretic joke? (2)
    [Gilad J. Gevaryahu  Orrin Tilevitz]
    [Dr. Josh Backon]
Gezel Akum 
    [Sammy Finkelman]
Using secular music when davening (2)
    [Irwin Weiss  Orrin Tilevitz]
Who are the "minim"? 
    [Martin Stern]
Yehiyou Lerotzon Imrei Fee 
    [Stuart Pilichowski]
    [Michael Frankel]


From: Gilad J. Gevaryahu <gevaryahu@...>
Date: Sun, Mar 11,2018 at 02:01 PM
Subject: A Masoretic joke?

Martin Stern (MJ 63#74) pointed out the possibility that the Siman at the end of
Parashat Pekudei which has 92 pesukim conceivably had a Siman which was Ve'ein
lah (=92) Siman.

I agree that it is a likely case. I'll give another case of the sophistication
of Masoretic notes.

Parashat Tzav has 97 pesukim. The Masoretic note at the end of the parashah is
"Tzav Siman" without the number of verses. The Masoretes specifically omitted
the number of verses, because from the first word Tzav on the 2nd pasuk it is 96
verses exactly. Luckily that precise note was kept.

Gilad J. Gevaryahu

From: Orrin Tilevitz <tilevitzo@...>
Date: Mon, Mar 12,2018 at 06:01 AM
Subject: A Masoretic joke?

In response to Martin Stern (MJ 63#7$):

As Martin points out, in many editions of the chumash, each parashah is followed
by a note indicating the number of verses in the parashah and mnemonic device to
remember the number, i.e., a word or phrase whose gematria is equal to the
number of verses.

For example, the note at the end of the first of this weeks parashot, Vayakhel,
states: 122 verses; the siman / sign is Senuah. (Senuah is a person mentioned in
the book of Nechemiah; the name has a gematria of 122.)

In nearly all chumashim, however, this weeks second parashah, Pekudei, which has
92 verses, has no such note printed after it. R Menachem Mendel Schneerson z"l
(1902-1994; the Lubavitcher Rebbe) was once asked why, and he responded as follows:

It is necessary to check older prints of the chumash, for in my opinion, this
originates from a printers omission, which was later copied by other printers.
Perhaps the original siman consisted of the phrase bli kol / without any [see
Devarim 28:55], which has a gematria of 92. Perhaps a young printers apprentice
saw the phrase bli kol siman / without any siman and misunderstood its meaning,
so that Parashat Pekudei was, in fact, left without any siman. (Quoted in Otzrot
Tzaddikei Ugeonei Hadorot)



From: Dr. Josh Backon <backon@...>
Date: Sun, Mar 11,2018 at 01:01 PM
Subject: Gelatin

Sammy Finkelman (MJ 63#74) raised the issue of gelatin.

Basically the problem with gelatin (and for that matter also rennet) is whether 
we follow 

1. the Noda BYehuda (Yoreh Deah Siman 26) who reads the Rambam (Maachalot
Assurot 14:10) as following  Rabbi Meir in the gemara in Avoda Zara 67b [re: the
stomach lining of a nevela] and thus, only the rennet derived from a kosher
animal is permitted for making cheese] or 

2. the Rema YD 87:10; Pri Chadash 103:2; Pitchei Tshuva 87:21 who follows the
Shach YD 114:21 and the ROSH on Avoda Zara 2:34, who say that even from a nevela
[a kosher animal that was not slaughtered, or a nonkosher animal] there is no
Toraitic prohibition if the stomach lining was completely dried out like dust.

Since the Mechaber follows the Ri MiGash that davar ha'maamid is mi'derabban, we
can be lenient.

Even though there is a rabbinic prohibition of eating food that is unfit for
human consumption (see: Minchat Cohen Hilchot Taarovot Chelek Aleph 9; Pri Toar
103; Shaagat Aryeh 75; Pri Megadim Shaar Ha'taarovot 5:6) this is not the case
if the material was in a mixture YD 103) [zeh v'zeh gorem muttar].

[BTW I'm stunned by Sammy's claim that it was Rav Eliezer Silver who was
adamantly opposed to the heter. To make a long story short: this was less
halachic than political. All I can say is that David Sheinkopf's father (a major
posek) and R. Silver served together in the same town in MA and didn't get along]

Josh Backon


From: Sammy Finkelman <sammy.finkelman@...>
Date: Tue, Mar 13,2018 at 05:01 PM
Subject: Gezel Akum

Joel Rich wrote (MJ 63#71):

> I'm studying gezel akum. One question I have is a very simple one on the basic
> source found in Sanhedrin 113a.

He later corrected that to Bava Kamma 113a, but actually that's not 100%
correct. This is at the very end of Bava Kamma 113a, and continued into 113b.

> Why does the gemara quote 2 drashot - one by Rabbi Akiva, a 3rd-generation
> Tanna, and one by Rav Huna, a 2nd-generation amora?

Here are some more or less preliminary thoughts, based on a little bit of reading:

In fact, maybe neither drasha is needed because there is no restriction on Lo
Tignavu in Parshas Kedoshim.

(Perhaps the issue is: Is a Jewish court *obligated* to recognize theft and to
force a Jew to return the stolen goods? (Note: A Beis Din has the authority to
confiscate money, so whether they can do that is not an issue. This is, of
course, talking about the Batei Dinim in those days, but now every Beis Din is a
Beis Din shel Hediotos because there is no real semicha any more. So they all
worry about whether they would be stealing and, based on that principle, a
current day Jewish court always makes, or tries to make, a compromise and not
officially rule according to halacha.)

The first question here is: Why are there two different drashas?

I would say the answer is:

In the first place not every drasha made by every Tanna was known by everyone,
so sometimes different drashas were made independently. And we can tell from the
way it is told that this one in particular was an obscure drasha by Rabbi Akiva,
not something he regularly aught, but he said it when he came back from
Zephyrium in Cyprus (according to Jastrow)

This would mean that some people raised the question of gezel akum (it might
have been raised because there is something found in Bava Metziah 111b which
suggests that there are certain kinds of people (the gemorah uses the word
Ameleiki) whom you could steal from. Except that there are no such people from
Amelek. But maybe they were cited as a proxy for something else like
professional robbers).

So Rabbi Akiva anyway answered them with the example of the Jew sold to a
non-Jew.  Rabbi Akiva pointed out that the Torah in Parshas Behar says he should
be redeemed - but that shows that it is forbidden to steal.

Rav Huna had a different drashah, based on the fact that the pillaging of the 7
nations had to be specially authorized.

That's why they exist. But why are both drashas quoted by the gemorah?

The gemorah makes quite clear there's an answer to Rabbi Akiva's drasha. You
might hold that a slave was not property. So the other drasha is needed.

There is another possible distinction, but it is dealt with quickly in the
gemorah What's in Behar might be limited to a ger toshav not an akum. But it
also says this applies to "aker mishpachas ger" which would mean someoine who
himself is not a ger.toshav. Rare but possible

Why not just Rabbi Huna's drahshah? The discussion actually started with a
question on a statement by Rabbi Akiva that never gets answered, but I gave an
answer - a Beis Din has the right to confiscate property, and a Beis Din
confiscating property is not gezel.

The question is why doesn't Rabbi Akiva say the court should not do something
because of gezel akum. To ask this it proves that Rabbi Akiva was against gezel
akum. Now this drashah has a posisble objection from Abaye. So what Rav Huna
said is brought in. You can't say only Rabbi Huna because the gemorah only gets
to the subject by asking a question on Rabbi Akiva. He's brought in only if you
are not satisfied with Rabbi Akiva's drashah.

Also, you can say the drahshah is weaker, because maybe you can't make such a
deduction from the Torah allowing something to saying it is otherwise
prohibited.  It's a false syllogism.

Both drashas are really asmachtahs.  And both of them have to do with government
approved stealing, not whether a person is personally prohibited from stealing.

I could have a third indication that gezel akum is prohibited, not from any
verse in the Torah, but from Mordechai's instructions to the Jews not to steal,
but there could be good policy reasons for that: Not taking any property would
tend to insure that there would be honest assessments who was a dangerous enemy
of the Jews and when they decided whom to kill on the 13th of Adar, there
wouldn't be something that corrupted judgment and acted like a bribe. (While the
decree that Mordechai wrote said, like Haman's about the Jews, that their
possessions could be looted, that was probably there mainly to prevent
accusations. Mordechai's more private instructions to the Jews were not to take
anything. You could miss this distinction if you go over the megillah too fast)

By the way, the question as to why Rabbi Akiva only said it would be a chillul
hashem to twist the law so as decide against a non-Jew and didn't consider that
this would be gezel, would be because, when a court takes something, it is not a
violation of the prohibition of stealing. It may be a prohibition of judging
honestly (which raises the question of why that would not apply - perhaps
because he's not really coming to the court as a court per se).


From: Irwin Weiss <irwin@...>
Date: Mon, Mar 12,2018 at 09:01 AM
Subject: Using secular music when davening

Carl Singer wrote (MJ 63#74):

> 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.

Some years ago I was davenning at a shul here in Baltimore that has since
closed. The Chazzan was born into a Satmar family, but the shul was Modern
Orthodox. He had a fabulous voice and began to sing portions of the Kedusha to
Broadway tunes.  Like, Kvodo Maleh Olam was to the tune of Memories from Cats. 

This was met with pleasure on the part of some and horror on the part of others.
 The rule then became that tunes must be suitable Jewish music. (Whatever that
means).  I've done Mimekomo Hu Yifen Brachamim to the tune of Sunrise, Sunset
from Fiddler on the Roof.  Is that acceptable?

Once we had a visitor from Australia in shul.  I did Adon Olam to Waltzing
Mathilda in his honor. But, there are limits of course!

Irwin Weiss
Baltimore, MD

From: Orrin Tilevitz <tilevitzo@...>
Date: Mon, Mar 12,2018 at 11:01 AM
Subject: Using secular music when davening

In response to Carl Singer (MJ 63#74): 

The timing sounds right -- it was about then that I was first exposed to Naomi
Shemer tunes (pre-Yerushalayim Shel Zahav) when one baal tefila used them for
kedusha. But maybe that's a bad example because while her songs were secular,
they are replete with tanachic allusions. 

And I recall about that time the baal musaf on Yom Kippur inserting a passage
from Italian Symphony, under (I suspect) the illusion that nobody in shul would
realize what he was doing. He did not reckon with the presence of my father,
z'l, and me. (We giggled).

And that, I think, encapsulates the problem with using tunes like this in
davening. Oh, I do it on occasion -- I've sung Adon Olam to Scarborough Faire,
and IMHO on Simchat Torah nearly anything goes, although my personal preferences
are Mozart opera and 19th-century popular songs (mimkomo hu yifen goes nicely to
Pop Goes the Weasel). But lecha dodi, as someone on the list suggested? 

Again, IMHO, in general the shatz's job should be to keep the congregation's
mind on the davening, not off it, and unless either there's a thematic
connection between the foreign tune you're using and the text (e.g. Naomi
Shemer's "Shir Shel Abba,", with the refrain "yibane hamikdash", sung to a piyut
which deals with just that) or the congregation is guaranteed to be clueless (as
noted above, no guarantees), you're not doing your job.

Now, 50 years ago and more there maybe weren't a lot of choices, beyond
traditional melodies, other than secular Hebrew songs and foreign tunes. That
was pretty much before Shlomo Carlebach, Ben Zion Shenker, and neo-chassidic
tunes in general. (I once read that in the 19th century chazzanim frequented
opera houses to get the latest tunes to use in shul, although maybe that's not
something worth emulating given their reputation for impiety.) But one need not
be overly frum to conclude that today using such music when it is likely to be a
distraction just isn't appropriate, unless distraction is the idea.


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Mon, Mar 12,2018 at 11:01 AM
Subject: Who are the "minim"?

David Tzohar wrote (MJ 63#74):

> 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.

The word min means literally a 'specific type of thing' as in the 'arba minim'
taken on Succot or the 'sheva minim'  with which Eretz Yisrael is blessed. 

One might speculate (shades of Hirsch!) that it is connected to the preposition
'min' which means 'from', in the sense that they are distinguished from other
similar things - so a min would be a deviant.

Perhaps this might shed light on the basic underlying distinction between minut
and shemad [apostasy] in that minim claim still to be Jews but follow certain
private opinions that conflict with accepted Jewish belief.

Therefore better translations of minut and minim are heresy and heretics
respectively since the word heretic comes from the Greek word meaning 'someone
who chooses [to differ from accepted opinions]'.

Martin Stern


From: Stuart Pilichowski <stupillow@...>
Date: Sun, Mar 11,2018 at 03:01 PM
Subject: Yehiyou Lerotzon Imrei Fee

Why is the sentence "Yehiyou Lerotzon Imrei Fee ..." to be said both before and
after the Elokai Netzor tefillah at the end of Shemoneh Esray?

Stuart Pilichowski

Mevaseret Zion, 


From: Michael Frankel <michaeljfrankel@...>
Date: Mon, Mar 12,2018 at 12:01 AM
Subject: Zemanim

Further to the the posts on zemanim and use of calculated depression angles to
determine the boundaries of night from David E Cohen (MJ 63#72) and Dr. William
Gewirtz (MJ 63#71), I note that actual refraction is a real-time function of
factors, inter alia, of atmospheric temperature, density, and their gradients
and hence should constantly fluctuate.  

I would guess this introduces an effective randomness of anywhere from one to
four minutes.  Thus a published luach with whatever (generally subjective!)
choice of depression angle gives a false (though useful) impression of precision.

On the other hand, just eyeballing the night sky (as we used to do when I was a
kiddie) automatically integrates all that real time data, leaving just the final
(still subjective) judgement determining three stars were now visible.

But what I really wanted to write was that my wife and I were going to visit
London the week of March 18 for a professional conference (my wife's) and would
be spending Shabbos Haagodol in Hendon.  Google informs us there seem to be two
two shuls - Hendon Adass just up the block from our hotel and the larger(?)
Hendon US also nearby.  If any locals participate on this list  and if anybody
could sort of characterize the two shuls in terms we might recognize (American
equivalents? friendliness vibe factor?) we would appreciate the heads up.  

Mechy Frankel (<michaeljfrankel@...>) <mailto:michaeljfrankel@gmail.com)>


End of Volume 63 Issue 75