Volume 63 Number 86 
      Produced: Tue, 29 May 18 12:07:06 -0400

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

A problem with the splitting of Sefer Bamidbar 
    [Martin Stern]
Designer Babies? 
    [Sammy Finkelman]
Seizing "gifts" 
    [Sammy Finkelman]
Sifrei Torah 
    [Perets Mett]
Soda water 
    [Sammy Finkelman]
Theologically motivated? 
    [Joel Rich]
Yahrtzeit Kaddish? (2)
    [Avraham Friedenberg  Yisrael Medad]
Yetsiv pitgam (3)
    [Immanuel Burton  Sammy Finkelman  David E Cohen]


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Mon, May 28,2018 at 10:01 AM
Subject: A problem with the splitting of Sefer Bamidbar

Further to my earlier submission (MJ 63#85), I noticed last Shabbat at
minchah that Moshe Rabbeinu was instructed to sprinkle the Levi'im with 'mei
chatat' (Bam.8:7). However, the rules as to how it should be made and used
are only found much later (Bam.19). Is there any explanation for this
apparently anomalous order?

Martin Stern


From: Sammy Finkelman <sammy.finkelman@...>
Date: Tue, May 29,2018 at 12:01 PM
Subject: Designer Babies?

Joel Rich wrote (MJ 63#85) about gene editing technology. The first question
would be is this permitted at all and, if so, for what reason and in what

I don't think anyone could ever propose that it would be required, especially
for purposes of giving birth to a great talmid chacham. (And why would anybody
be sure it would work? You'd only have, at most, greater potential.)

It's well known anyway that early teaching helps. People learn more when they
start early. And there's also nothing, I think, that anyone knows how to select
for except maybe health of some sort.


From: Sammy Finkelman <sammy.finkelman@...>
Date: Fri, May 25,2018 at 04:01 PM
Subject: Seizing "gifts"

Joel Rich wrote (MJ 63#85):

> 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).
> ...
> it's almost like having a legal claim and therefore they felt they could take
> the items.

It doesn't say they took "gifts" - it says they seized (that is, had a right to
seize) something very specific: the hides of the korbanos the oleh regel brought.

Hides are not considered part of the korban - the Kohen got that from a olah
whereas, in the case of other more korbanos, the person who brought it got to
keep it. It is important to note that the hides were very cheap, i.e. not worth
much money.

The same fragment of learning is also at Yoma 12a and  you could look at
commentators in both places. Artscroll cites the Ritva to Yoma 12a.

This issue maybe have arisen because of the question of the status of
Yerushalayim. In any case ,  this is linked to it and follows this question in
the Gemorah. Whether that's truly related is not clear to me.

It seems to have been generally held that Yerushalayim belonged (after the Beis
Hamikdosh was there anyway) to no tribe. Perhaps in that connection, or perhaps
for an unrelated reason, there was a ruling that no one could charge a lodging
fee to the people who came for the Yom Tovim. And there was also the idea they
could not even charge for the use of a bed.

Food, of course, would be different. In fact the Torah says money for which
Maaser Sheni is exchanged can be spent (only) on food in Yerushalayim. And
probably people could charge for anything else besides a place to stay.

They seem to have ruled that, while no one could charge for lodging, the people
who provided it had a right to take the hides. What's important to note here is
what this means is that Beis Din would not say reverse it, as they would if
someone took money or anything else belonging to the lodger!

Abaye seems to deduce from this that it is proper for a lodger to leave
something behind (he mentions also the jug he drank from) for the person he
stays with. The connection is not too clear to me. I'm probably missing
something that would be clear in the light of some other halachah.

The Tosephta to Maaser Sheni may have more on this subject. It's mentioned in
the Soncino notes. to one of the two places in the Gemorah where this whole
piece of learning is quoted.


From: Perets Mett <p.mett00@...>
Date: Wed, May 23,2018 at 05:01 AM
Subject: Sifrei Torah

Nachum Amsel (MJ 63#85) wrote regarding the Sephardi minhag:

> 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.

As ruled by the Mechaber in Shulchan Oruch. OC,  Hagba serves to show the
community the reading about to take place.

However, Ashkenazim per the RMO, perform Hagba after the Torah reading.

In Yerusholayim the old-established chasidic communities have Hagba before the
reading following the Mechaber

Perets Mett


From: Sammy Finkelman <sammy.finkelman@...>
Date: Fri, May 25,2018 at 03:01 PM
Subject: Soda water

Menashe Elyashiv wrote (MJ 63#85):

> Soda is nonflavored water, with bubbles.

It sounds to me like by "soda water" Menashe Elyashiv means what we call in the
US "seltzer". So the question is whether seltzer is the same as water, and what
exactly is the din about water.

A book (one of large number of books in my shul) about berachos (written by a
Sefardi, Rabbi Yosef Dweck in 2007) that deals with what are the Berachos for
all sorts of foods.  It says the Berakhah Rishona for seltzer is Shehakol and
the Berakhah Aharonah is Nefashot.

For water it says the same thing but has a note: If drunk for purpose other than
quenching thirst or enjoyment (i.e. pill taking) then no berakha is required:
and then refers you to the wrong  place elsewhere in the book.  That says that
if you eat or drink and don't get enjoyment (i.e. if it is something bitter) no
berakha is recited,. But if there is enjoyment even if that is not the reason
(like when taken for medicinal purposes) a berakha is required.

And there are some notes.

All sources seem to go back to the same sources: the end of the last mishnah in
Berachos Perek 6 - that is 6:7, the short gemorah about it at the end of
Berachot 44b and start of Berachios 45a (where the example is to wash down food
stuck in the throat - the pill example is a more common example from the last
century  or so)

Also Tosfos Berachos 45a s.v. Dehanakteh; Mishneh Torah  8:1; Shulchan Aruch OC
206:7 Iggrot Moshe I: 82, also Tosfos Berachot 36a s.v. Kevan, Magen Avraham 206:19

The rule that you sometimes do not make berachah on plain water is based on the
notion that you don't gain any benefit from drinking water unless you are
thirsty. Helping something else go down is the example. I don't know if any of
the sources were aware of or considered seltzer.

Seven-UP would have flavor.

But then what the *reason* for drinking seltzer? My question would be why does
anyone use seltzer rather than plain water? So I would think someone *does* get
some enjoyment from the seltzer.

Now the thing is seltzer (not just Alka Selzer) could also be used for medicinal
purposes, because the carbonation kills bacteria, by exploding them although
this source does not explicitly have that:



From: Joel Rich <JRich@...>
Date: Fri, May 25,2018 at 04:01 PM
Subject: Theologically motivated?

In "Scalia Speaks" the author writes:

"The religious person - the truly religious person - cannot divide all his
policy preferences into those that are theologically motivated and those that
proceed from purely naturalistic inclinations. Can any of us say whether he
would be the sort of moral creature he is without a belief in a supreme
Lawgiver, and hence in a Supreme Law?"

My problem is how one would answer this question? How would an atheist? What
would be an acceptable answer for a religious person to give if asked at a
judicial confirmation hearing in the US? In Israel? Or elsewhere?

Joel Rich


From: Avraham Friedenberg <elshpen@...>
Date: Tue, May 22,2018 at 04:01 PM
Subject: Yahrtzeit Kaddish?

In my "growing up" shule, if someone had a yahrzeit, the Rabbi would make an
announcement during Aleinu: "Yahrzeit kaddish!" The person observing the
yahrzeit would say kaddish by himself. This would be followed by a communal
recitation of "Mizmor shir chanukat habayit l'David," followed by another
kaddish - this time recited by all who were saying Kaddish.

I'll point out that I've never seen that done anywhere else since then.

Avraham (Alan) Friedenberg
Be'er Sheva, Israel

From: Yisrael Medad  <yisrael.medad@...>
Date: Mon, May 28,2018 at 07:01 AM
Subject: Yahrtzeit Kaddish?

Joel Rich (MJ 63#85) asks how widespread is a [as opposed to 'the'] practice of
reserving (through a bang on a table) one kaddish at the end of davening for someone
marking their Yahrzeit?

Well, it's not that widespread in the synagogues I've prayed in - Does that help
the statistics?

Yisrael Medad



From: Immanuel Burton <iburton@...>
Date: Tue, May 22,2018 at 10:01 PM
Subject: Yetsiv pitgam

Martin Stern (MJ 63#85) asked why Yetsiv pitgam is recited after the 2nd verse
of the Haftarah rather than the 1st.

The Rabbi Lord Sacks Koren Shavuot machzor indicates that Yetsiv pitgam is
indeed read after the 1st verse.  (I used the Minhag Anglia edition of this
machzor, so I don't know if the Nusach Ashkenaz one differs.)

The preface to the Minhag Anglia edition of this machzor (written by Dayan Ivan
Binstock) discusses where Yetsiv pitgam should be inserted.  The Shulchan Aruch
(494:2) states that the Haftarah begins at chapter 2:20 of the book of Habakkuk,
the Magen Avraham states that the custom is to start from the following verse,
which is the beginning of chapter 3.  The Talmud states (Megillah 24a) that the
person translating the haftarah would start after three verses had been read,
but that this isn't the case if the passage goes over a paragraph break.  However, 
since it became the practice to start the haftarah with the last verse of
chapter 2, it is deemed better to insert Yetiv pitgam after the "new" first
verse, which is where a translator would have started.

I suppose this now means that inserting Yetsiv pitgam after the 2nd verse needs

Immanuel Burton.

From: Sammy Finkelman <sammy.finkelman@...>
Date: Fri, May 25,2018 at 04:01 PM
Subject: Yetsiv pitgam

In the Philip Birnbaum Siddur it says that Yetsiv pitgam is recited after the
first verse of the haftorah and I think I've read that in other places, and I
was surprised this Shavuos that the Ba'al koreh started it after the second verse.  

Of course it could be that the first verse was added to the Haftorah later for
some reason.

From: David E Cohen <ddcohen@...>
Date: Tue, May 29,2018 at 10:01 AM
Subject: Yetsiv pitgam

Martin Stern wrote (MJ 63#85):

> 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?

Indeed, that seems to be the case.  The list of haftara customs in Encyclopedia
Talmudit (in an appendix to the "haftara" article) indicates that in many older
Ashkenazi chumashim, this haftara starts with the pasuk "Tefila laChavakuk hanavi."

I found one example (from the Hamburg Library's Codex Levy 19, a 14th-century
manuscript) here:


(See page 902.)

-- D.C.


End of Volume 63 Issue 86