Volume 63 Number 85 
      Produced: Tue, 22 May 18 07:10:20 -0400

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

A problem with the splitting of Sefer Bamidbar 
    [Martin Stern]
A punctuation problem 
    [Sammy Finkelman]
Designer Babies? 
    [Joel Rich]
Egg Matzo 
    [Sammy Finkelman]
Seizing "gifts" 
    [Joel Rich]
Sifrei Torah 
    [Nachum Amsel]
Soda water 
    [Menashe Elyashiv]
Tzedaka priorities 
    [Joel Rich]
Yahrtzeit Kaddish? 
    [Joel Rich]
Yetsiv pitgam 
    [Martin Stern]


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Tue, May 22,2018 at 05:01 AM
Subject: A problem with the splitting of Sefer Bamidbar

On Shabbat Bamidbar, it struck me that shevi'i (Bam.4:1-20), which deals with
the work of the Kehat family, seemed to be far more naturally attached to the
beginning of Naso, where the corresponding work of the families of Gershon and
Merari (Bam.4:21-33) is detailed. Similarly in Naso the tally of Kehat
(Bam.4:34-37) is included in rishon whereas those of Gershon and Merari
(Bam.4:38-49) form sheini,

I suppose that it could be said that adding the shevi'i of Bamidbar to Naso
would make it far to long (it is after all the longest single sedra already) but
that could have been 'compensated' by moving the parashat hanesi'im (Bam.7),
which has little connection to the preceding parshiot, to the Beha'alotekha,
leaving Naso still a 'normal' length sedra.

Doing this would, of course, make Beha'alotekha rather long but that could be
'compensated' by finishing at the 'natural' break after Bam.10 and transferring
the 'grumbling' passage, etc. to Shelach with which they have a certain
affinity, and finishing the latter at the end of Bam.14, before the parashiyot
hanesachim etc. in Bam.15. These conclude with parashat tzitzit (Bam.15:37-41)
which Chazal tell us was the basis of one of the arguments used by Korach to
further his claims. The latter might more 'naturally' terminate at Bam.18:7 and
the remainder of Korach be transferred to Chukat with the beginning of which it
has some affinity. The end of Chukat (Bam.21:21-22:1) dealing with the wars
against Sichon and Og appear to be more 'attached' to sedra Balak since Balak
was prompted to hire Bilaam because of the latter's defeat. The current sedra
Balak is itself quite short so by now all these suggested changes would 'even
out' the lengths of the sedras.

Of course whoever decided on how the sedras should be divided must have had some
reason for the current arrangement but why did they do it in that way rather
than as suggested above?

Martin Stern


From: Sammy Finkelman <sammy.finkelman@...>
Date: Mon, May 14,2018 at 05:01 PM
Subject: A punctuation problem

There is an explanation of the pshat to Vayikra 16:19 that I think makes sense.

You can see the pesukim here:


Although nobody says this whole thing exactly, I got the key point from the book
"Insights into the Torah" which is a translation of "Moznayim LaTorah" by Rabbi
Zalman Sorotzkin, known as the Lutzker Rav because he was the rabbi of Lutsk
from 1930 till the war.

Rabbi Zalman Sorotzkin, in turn, got it from his father in law, Rabbi Eliezer
Gordon, was the Rabbi of Telz (and its yeshiva) from 1884 to 1910.  Rabbi
Eliezer Gordon is notable, according to his Wikipedia article, for starting the
practice of not giving the same shiur to everyone, but what amounts to tracking
people (previously they just put people who couldn't follow the lecture in the
back benches, and they could try to learn it from others who were there);
primarily studying the Rishonim instead of later commentaries; and for putting
emphasis in mussar through the use of a mashgiach. He died while fundraising in
London and is buried there. He was travelling there against the advice of his

The key to this is that Vayikra 16:19 begins not with "IF I had eaten the
sin-offering to-day" but the entire statement of Aharon is conditional - An IF!

The word "hein" there doesn't mean something happened, but SUPPOSE something
happened, unlike the case in the previous posuk (verse) Vayikra 10:18 when it
means something that did happen. Hein can somwtimes refer to something that you
are supposing was the case. Haggai 2:12 is another example, also Yirmiyahu 3:1.

One can look this up online at:


which is Oznaim LaTorah for Vayikra, in Hebrew, (1957) by Rabbi Zalman
Sorotzkin. The scan  combines the commentary with pages from a standard Chumash
and may even be taken from two different editions of the sefer:

Around pages 164-168


one can see what he wrote.

And another point about this is, not everything is explained.

We don't get told when the chatas was burned and when Moshe discovered that and
whether Eleazar and Ithamar actually did the exact right thing - only that the
answer of Aharon, as to why they didn't EAT the chatas, sounded good (or
correct) to Moshe.

Aharon didn't answer why they burnt it, which maybe they did do prematurely,
even if there was no other way it could reasonably end.

And the pshat is as follows:

After giving them instructions (because of the changed circumstances or because
they might think circumstances had changed) on other things, Moshe wanted to
tell them what to do with the chatas.

And it is THE chatas because there is only one or only one that he can be
speaking about - the one mentioned at 9:3 and 15. that is what the Rashbam holds,


As well as the Abarbanel, Ibn Ezra, Kli Yakar, Rabbi Yitchak Arama and Rabbi
Hertz in the Hertz Chumash.

But Moshe can't give instructions for the chatas. The chatas wasn't where he
thought it might be, and he couldn't any trace of it and he diligently searched
for it.

Here, the Gemorah applies the words darosh darash to his (unspecified)
questions, but I think the Posuk means does means his (unspecified) actions to
locate the chatas. Darash means to investigate what happened, not to
interrogate someone about the REASON somebody did something.

The issue with derash is finished when he discovers what happened to it. The
darosh is finished at the point where he finds that it had been burnt.

Now why did he get angry? Moshe was angry because he thought Eleazar and Ithamar
hadn't understood what should be done with the chatas. He was angry that they
didn't get the halaxah right, especially since this was so important - Nadav and
Avihu got killed for not getting the halaxah right!!

They were told (Vayikra 8:35):  And at the door of the tent of meeting shall ye
abide day and night seven days, and keep the charge of the LORD, that ye die
not; for so I am commanded.

Moshe hadn't understood why he was told to say that. Its significance and
meaning slipped past Nadav and Avihu because of their yetzer harah, and they
proceeded to add something at the end. The key point lost on Nadav and Avihu is
that "Ushemartem es mishmeres Hashem" applied even after the ceremony was over.
They couldn't add anything to it and make it appear that it was part of it. This
would lead to claiming for false authority for what they would say

Here (at Vayikra 10:16) Rashi sticks with his usual explanation of the word
"lamor" as  instructing someone to say something. This is a construction it
cannot bear - we have for instance, at the beginning of Parshas Vayereh, Sarah
laughing in her heart (Bereishis 18:12) and there are many other instances.
Like Bereishis 39:19 where it can't be the exact words.

Lamor means "more or less as follows..." It is a kind of global adverb or
adjective and goes on what follows.

Lamor used to be translated in Yiddish as "azoi tzu zagen"[To speak so]". It
means that what follows is an approximation of what was said.

Except that, right after, in Vayikra 11:1 Lamor, seems, for once, to mean
actually to tell someone to tell! So I may not have this completely right, or it
has two meanings.


From: Joel Rich <JRich@...>
Date: Fri, May 18,2018 at 09:01 AM
Subject: Designer Babies?

Assume that gene editing technology reaches the point that "designer babies" are
possible to some extent.  And, furthermore, assuming that "intellectual acuity"
genes can be identified and screened for, would a Desslerian philosophy allow
(require?) mass screening and eventual genetic tinkering to provide a gadol
hador material baby?  What if there was a clear trade-off that this gene also
resulted in a materially shorter life expectancy?

Joel Rich


From: Sammy Finkelman <sammy.finkelman@...>
Date: Thu, May 10,2018 at 06:01 PM
Subject: Egg Matzo

Leah Gordon wrote (MJ 63#84):

> David Tzohar wrote (MJ 63#79):

>> AFAIK all Ashkenazi authorities in Israel pasken that all "matzah ashira"
>> including egg matza is to be considered chametz gamur on the safek that it
>> contains some water moisture and so is assur bekolshehu.

> ,,, - imagine the following scenario:
> You buy a box of matza ashira in anticipation of a sick/elderly person coming to
> your seder who will need it.  That person is unable to attend, and you don't use
> the matza ashira.  After Pesach, you have the box of matza ashira that you
> certainly owned during Pesach.
> Does anyone seriously contend that you should burn the matza ashira?  (Or even
> refrain from eating it?  Whether you want to or not is beside the point :) )
> Wouldn't this be the rule if it were "chametz gamur"?

Leah probably missed what I wrote (MJ 63 #81):

> I think what the Ashkenazi authorities in Israel are saying is egg matza is to
> be *considered* chametz gamur because of a safek, but they don't mean it really
> is. They just want people to treat it that way, so they are not maybe following
> through all across the board.
> Now, the question is, what's going on?


From: Joel Rich <JRich@...>
Date: Fri, May 11,2018 at 10:01 AM
Subject: Seizing "gifts"

I was bothered by the gemara (Megilla 26a) where it says Jerusalem apartment
"owners" took "gifts" by force as "rental" from olei regel (those who came to
Jerusalem for 3 holidays). The Beit Mordechai (2:16), who lived in the early
20th century, raises the same question and says since the normal practice in
Israel was for renters to leave something for the innkeeper in addition to the
rental payment, innkeepers in Jerusalem would take it by force since they could
not charge rent. He admits that it's possible that this would be considered
stealing but because of this "normal practice" of leaving something, it's almost
like having a legal claim and therefore they felt they could take the items.

Interesting that I couldn't find earlier authorities bothered by this but maybe
I missed something.  Any thoughts appreciated.

Joel Rich


From: Nachum Amsel <namsel@...>
Date: Sat, May 5,2018 at 03:01 PM
Subject: Sifrei Torah

Joel Rich asked (MJ 63#83):

> Can anyone point me to information concerning the history of the difference
> between the physical element of Ashkenazi (atzei chaim) and Eidot Hamizrach
> (containers) Sifrei Torah and the differences in the timing and physics of 
> hagba and glila?

When I went to visit Spain I expected that the Torah cover/mantle would be
of the "Sephardic" variety and was very surprised to see that the covers were
"Ashkenazic". When I asked why, no one could give me an answer. Finally,
someone explained that the "Sephardic" Torah covers originated in Arab
countries, and the reason for their "hard" covers were that in that climate,
bugs and rodents used to eat the Klaf. So they had to devise a covering that
was "bug-proof". So it is not a Sephardic covering per se, but originates in
Eidot Hamizrach, the Arab countries of the Middle East. 

Why Hagba is first before the Torah reading? I really do not know. Perhaps
because there is no Gelila in these Sifrei Torah, there is no need to do it
AFTER the reading like the Ashkenazim, when the Torah has already been
scrolled/moved and then is tied by the next Parsha.  Just a hunch.



From: Menashe Elyashiv <menely2@...>
Date: Mon, May 21,2018 at 09:01 AM
Subject: Soda water

In yesterday's Yom Tov shiur, the Rabbi speaker mentioned that soda water has a
bracha problem. From the Mishna Berachot, it is clear that one says a bracha
only when drinking water for thirst. Drinking water when not thirsty, when
something is stuck, or with medicine, or to tank up before a fast or walking in
the heat (Shabbat had 40 degrees...), does not require a bracha. Any drink that
has a flavor requires a bracha, because one pieasures the flavor. Soda is non
flavored water, with bubbles. Should it require a bracha or not? Any comments?


From: Joel Rich <JRich@...>
Date: Fri, May 4,2018 at 08:01 AM
Subject: Tzedaka priorities

The Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 152:1 codifies a prohibition against tearing down
a synagogue before building a new one (one must build the new one first). The
M"B (4) gives the reason for this prohibition as a concern that if one had not
built the new one first, a case of pidyon shvuyim (captive's redemption) might
arise requiring funds to be diverted from the new construction.

1. Why couldn't Chazal make a similar rule in that case?

2. Why would Chazal work around required priorities?

3. Doesn't 152:6 says you would sell a synagogue anyway in a case of pidyon shvuyim?

Joel Rich


From: Joel Rich <JRich@...>
Date: Fri, May 18,2018 at 09:01 AM
Subject: Yahrtzeit Kaddish?

How widespread is the practice of reserving (through a bang on a table) one
kaddish at the end of davening for someone marking their Yahrzeit?  What is the
source of this practice? Is it, perhaps, related to the original Ashkenazi
practice of only one person saying each Kaddish?

Joel Rich


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Tue, May 22,2018 at 05:01 AM
Subject: Yetsiv pitgam

The piyut "Yetsiv pitgam" is one of a genre of Aramaic piyutim, mostly written
about a thousand years ago in Ashkenaz (Northern France and the Rhineland) as an
introduction to the Targum which used to be read pasuk by pasuk during Kriat
Hatorah (now only done by the Teimanin) - similar to Akdamut. The custom was to
read such piyutim before the first pasuk of Targum, i.e. after reading the first
pasuk of the Torah or Haftarah.

Why then is Yetsiv pitgam read after the second pasuk of the Haftarah for the
second day Shavuot? Was that pasuk added later after the placing of the piyut
had already been fixed? After all, it is in a separate parashah in the Navi
according to the Massorah, which itself raises some difficulties.

Has anyone any information on this?

Martin Stern


End of Volume 63 Issue 85