Volume 63 Number 88 
      Produced: Tue, 19 Jun 18 04:14:48 -0400

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

Another punctuation problem (and solution?) in Korach 
    [Sammy Finkelman]
Are we racists? 
    [Martin Stern]
Changing paradigms? 
    [Joel Rich]
Realizing a Vision? 
    [Joel Rich]
Removing tefillin on Chol Hamoed 
    [Sammy Finkelman]
Say Good Shabbos (4)
    [Orrin Tilevitz  Chaim Casper  Martin Stern  Chaim Tatel]
Selling a Beit Knesset? 
    [Chaim Casper]
Seltzer and Bacteria (was Soda water 
    [Sammy Finkelman]
Smelling a rat 
    [Martin Stern]
The Smuggler's Mule 
    [Bill Bernstein]
Yahrtzeit Kaddish? (2)
    [Yisrael Medad   Martin Stern]


From: Sammy Finkelman <sammy.finkelman@...>
Date: Mon, Jun 18,2018 at 04:01 PM
Subject: Another punctuation problem (and solution?) in Korach

The first Posuk of Parsash Korach looks ungrammatical, (no direct object) and is
always translated something like this like this:

"Korah the son of Izhar, the son of Kohath, the son of Levi took [himself to one
side] along with Dathan and Abiram, the sons of Eliab, and On the son of Peleth,
descendants of Reuben"

Or as:

"Korah the son of Izhar, the son of Kohath, the son of Levi took [men] along
with Dathan and Abiram, the sons of Eliab, and On the son of Peleth, descendants
of Reuben"

But maybe this makes more sense if translated as:

"Korah, the son of Izhar, the son of Kohath, the son of Levi, and Dathan and
Aviram, the sons of Eliav, and On the son of Peleth took descendants of Reuben. 
And they stood before Moshe - and  [with them - that is, Korach, Dathan and
Aviram and the children of Reuven there were also] men from the children of
Israel, amounting to two hundred and fifty: Princes of the congregation, callers
of assembly, men of renown. And they collected themselves against Moshe and
Aharon, and said to them, 'You take too much upon yourselves, for the entire
congregation are all holy, and in their midsts in God. So why do you raise
yourselves above the  assembly of God?'"


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Sun, Jun 10,2018 at 07:01 AM
Subject: Are we racists?

Further to David Tzohar's posting (MJ 63#87):
Much has been made in the secular Jewish press of the finding of a recent
opinion poll that 23% of the non-Jewish population of the UK would not want
to have a Jew as a family member. Personally, I do not find this
particularly worrying since I would not be surprised if a similar survey
might show that the percentage of Jews holding similar views vis-a-vis their
non-Jewish compatriots was higher. I suspect that among the less religious
section of the community such a view would also be held of converts as well.
Does that make such Jews racists?

Martin Stern


From: Joel Rich <JRich@...>
Date: Fri, Jun 15,2018 at 05:01 PM
Subject: Changing paradigms?

The more I learn Shulchan Aruch and Mishna Brurah the more I understand the
Maharshal's opposition to codification as opposed to relearning the basic
sources to obtain the clearest understanding possible of Chazal's underlying
theories for extrapolation to new cases (each iteration away from the primary
source can cloud fine points, or is this Godel's incompleteness theorem at play?).

I also see much more of the implicit sociological assumptions made over time
(and wonder how we define the community [e.g., town, city, continent ...] and
time [every decade, exile ... ] that we measure).

Two examples: 

1.) S"A O"C 153:12 (MB:76) discusses an individual who had a stipulation with a
community to build a Beit Knesset (synagogue). It stays with him and his family
but is not transferable. Why not? "Mistavra" (it's logical) that that's what the
community had in mind unless specifically stipulated differently at origination
(me - who measured? How?) 

2.) S"A O"C 153:18 (MB:95) concerning a private object (e.g., Menorah) used by
the synagogue. Originally, the assumption was they became kodesh once used,
however, "now" it's assumed that they remain totally private (as if this were
the original stipulation). So how, when, and where did this change? Were the
first people who acted this way sinners, but enough sinners makes it OK?

Joel Rich


From: Joel Rich <JRich@...>
Date: Fri, Jun 8,2018 at 04:01 PM
Subject: Realizing a Vision?

In some shuls, the community leadership believes shacharit [morning prayer] on a
weekday should last 45 minutes, and posts appropriate starting and midpoint
times, but the majority of the community comes well after the official starting
time and tries to reach Yishtabach "on time" by praying more quickly. 

Does this accomplish the true desired result or does it establish "unofficial"
norms? If not, how else might the desired result be accomplished?

Joel Rich


From: Sammy Finkelman <sammy.finkelman@...>
Date: Mon, Jun 18,2018 at 04:01 PM
Subject: Removing tefillin on Chol Hamoed

Martin Stern wrote (MJ 63#81):

> On one day of Chol Hamoed Pesach, I had to leave too early to daven with a
> minyan and had to decide when to take of my tefillin.
> The minhag is to do so after kedushah (except on the day when the keriah is
> the two parshiot from Bo - Kadesh and Vehaya ki yeviacha - that are contained
> in them, when the tefillin are removed after reading them).
> It struck me that there seemed to be no reason for removing them until after
> Uva leTzion as is done on Rosh Chodesh. I speculated that the origin of the
> current custom was that, on Chol Hamoed Succot, people were afraid that the
> retzuah [strap] might be a chatzitzah [interposition] between the hand and
> the lulav and later the custom of early removal spread to Pesach where this
> was not a problem. This explanation seems a bit dubious since one could
> merely unwrap the retzuah from one's hand and wrap it round one's wrist, as
> someone doing hagba'ah does.
> Can anyone shed light on the current custom?

While it used to be the situation where some people in a minyan would wear
tefillin while others would not, I think this has mostly stopped because the
rabbis in New York got across the point that the minhag of wearing or not
wearing tefillin on Chol HaMoed is something for a whole minyan, not an
individual. And the whole minyan should do the same thing. Which means that
wearing tefillin on Chol HaMoed has mostly stopped. This happened sometime after
the year 2000.

As for me, I always wore them, until the year 1999.  I was saying Kaddish for my
father, when I went to shul the first day Chol HaMoed Succos and forgot my tefillin.

Then I remembered that my father had said I shouldn't wear tefillin on Chol
HaMoed, so I didn't go home. I had discounted that for a number of reasons,
including the fact that in Poland my father was sometimes a Chazan at some place
- and this was a nusach Sephard minyan because he said that Hodu comes (or
should come) before Boruch She'Amar. So I thought that maybe not wearing
Tefillin on Chol HaMoed was part of what was done in nusach Sephard.

I had thought it depended on how you treated that day.

As for when they were taken off, I always saw (or at least noticed) that it was
right before Musaf on Rosh Chodesh, and before Hallel on both Chol Hamoed 
Pesach and Succos. If some people did differently, I never noticed, but I am
sure in some places, or with some people, there was a more precise minhag.

The reason for Succos clearly was so as to take up the lulav and esrog, and this
as something associated with Yom Tov.   With Pesach I guess it was because at
that point you're more doing things connected with Yom Tov. Saying Hallel and
the Torah reading, while till then there was nothing special that distinguished
this from a regular weekday.


From: Orrin Tilevitz <tilevitzo@...>
Date: Fri, Jun 8,2018 at 01:01 PM
Subject: Say Good Shabbos

Carl Singer asks (MJ 63#87):

> Today I live in a neighborhood where virtually all of the Jewish families are
> observant -- but when I cross paths on Shabbos many (perhaps half) DO NOT
> respond to my "Good Shabbos".
> Someone suggested that they may be davening while walking to / from shule and
> thus not answering -- should I give the benefit of the doubt?

A number of years ago, after doing an informal study in my neighborhood, just
outside of holy Borough Park (Chabad-looking people generally initiated; other
black-hatters ignored me, but then I don't own a black hat; I needed a control),
I once suggested to one of our daughters that she do such a survey as her senior
high school project.

From: Chaim Casper <surfflorist@...>
Date: Fri, Jun 8,2018 at 04:01 PM
Subject: Say Good Shabbos

Carl Singer (MJ 63#87) expressed regret that we have lost the fine art of saying
"Good Shabbos" or "Shalom Aleichem."

I thought I had seen a statement that a "Talmid Hakham (Torah Scholar) always
greets the other first" but Avot 4:15 has R` Matia ben Harash saying that
everyone "should greet the other first." I also came accross a listing of
sources regarding greeting the other at


As a student of the GR"A, the Gaon of Vilna, I found the last listing most
interesting.   One who is greeted first but does not return the greeting is
considered a thief based on a sentence in Yeshayahu 3. 

B'virkat Torah,
Chaim Casper
North Miami Beach, FL

From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Sun, Jun 10,2018 at 07:01 AM
Subject: Say Good Shabbos

Carl A. Singer wrote (MJ 63#87):

> Someone suggested that they may be davening while walking to / from shule and
> thus not answering --  should I give the benefit of the doubt?
> BUT then again, a respected Rabbi who I see each weekday morning at Shacharis
> explained to me that (with some exceptions) the importance of greeting one's
> fellow individual is such that it is OK to interrupt one's davening to return
> a greeting.

To give them the benefit of the doubt, I would have assumed that people
davenning on their way to shul would be saying parts of the tefillot where
one would be able to make a break, such as birchot hashachar. Surely nobody
leaves home so late that they might miss pesukei dezimra, let alone kriat
shema. In any case, I am sure Carl would himself not be so late!

Martin Stern

From: Chaim Tatel <chaimyt@...>
Date: Tue, Jun 12,2018 at 05:01 AM
Subject: Say Good Shabbos

Carl A. Singer wrote (MJ 63#87):

> Today I live in a neighborhood where virtually all of the Jewish families are
> observant -- but when I cross paths on Shabbos many (perhaps half) DO NOT
> respond to my 'Good Shabbos'.

I live in Outer Golus on the Left Coast of USA. Here in our "out of town" 
community it is common to hear "Good Shabbos", "Gut Shabbos" or "Shabbat Shalom".

I had occasion to visit a large Jewish community on the "Other Coast". On
Shabbos, I walked to shul with a friend. We passed a few groups of people going
to shul in the opposite direction. Each time we passed, I would say "Good
Shabbos." Got NO response. After the 3rd or 4th time, my friend said to me "they
don't say that here."

Have a good one, and stay out of the line of fire. (It's really important where
I live).


From: Chaim Casper <surfflorist@...>
Date: Fri, Jun 8,2018 at 04:01 PM
Subject: Selling a Beit Knesset?

Joel Rich asks (MJ 63#87) if a shul can be sold to pay for pidyon shivuyim
(Jewish captives who are being held for ransom).

He is right the RaMBa"M holds that it cannot because the in his opinion the
sanctity of the synagogue is never negated - once a synagogue, always a
synagogue.   As a result, the answer is no, the synagogue cannot be sold and
alternative funds must be raised (yes, another dinner to go to and another
appeal in shul, oy). 

But I would like to draw Joel's attention to the Biur Halakhah by R` Yisroel
Meir Kagan, aka the Chofetz Chaim, where, the Mishneh Brurah (they are one and
the same) quotes the RaSh"Ba that all synagogues outside of Israel are built on
a t'nai [a condition] that the shul only has current, temporary sanctity.  
Thus, I would suggest, one would be able to sell a shul for pidyon shvuyim as
the redemption obligation outweighs the temporary sanctity of the synagogue. Now
even the RaSh"Ba would agree that a synagogue built in Israel (even today,
before the arrival of the Mashiah) would never lose its' sanctity, so such a
synagogue could not be sold (and so we are back to a dinner and a shul appeal,
oy again).

B'virkat Tolrah,
Chaim Casper
North Miami Beach, FL


From: Sammy Finkelman <sammy.finkelman@...>
Date: Mon, Jun 18,2018 at 06:01 PM
Subject: Seltzer and Bacteria (was Soda water

Leah S. R. Gordon wrote (MJ 63#87):

> Sammy Finkelman wrote (MJ 63#86):
>> 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:
>> http://www.foodrepublic.com/2014/06/19/8-things-you-probably-didnt-
>> know-about-seltzer/
> I realize this is tangential to the issue, but Sammy has repeated an urban
> legend.

That's all right, it's worth going into and learning. The gemorah at the top of
Shabbos 82a indicates that "mili d'almeh" - words of the world - are also worth
learning, especially when it deals with some things pertaining to life (health)

Maybe that's more true when that is in the context of a good Torah lecturer, who
will also sooner or later talk something of Torah,and have something good to say

I don't think that's an urban legend. The place wherever I heard it sounded more
like this was a scientific theory. It might be wrong but it was some kind of a
serious theory.

> All sources that claim an antibiotic capacity for seltzer (such as the link
> provided), explain that any such effect is due to the acid-base balance which
> is slightly acidic when there is a higher level of dissolved carbon dioxide.  

No they don't. They actually don't know why.

> Nothing about "exploding" bacteria (how would this work exactly?).

They would get into the cell and then come out of solution when the pressure drops.

And then I found something that discusses this idea in passing:


or https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1271/bbb.61.1133

Inactivation of food microorganisms by high-pressure carbon dioxide treatment
with or without explosive decompression (Biosci Biotechnol Biochem. 1997 Jul;

Here is a quote:

"Among the methods, the explosive decompression system consists of a
pressurization stage to induce penetration of the applied gas into the microbial
cells and a subsequent explosive discharge that results in rapid gas expansion
within the cells. With this system, the greater part of the microbial cells are
believed to be mechanically ruptured like a popped balloon at the moment of
flash depressurization.."

Now, this is not the idea I had. I had the idea that drinking seltzer
could kill bacteria already in your stomach (because the carbon
dioxide would come out of solution - the carbonation diminish - after
the bottle was opened.)

> In fact, an interesting study was done almost a hundred years ago precisely
> to  determine whether the chemical or the pressure was the reason for 
> depressed bacterial activity in carbonated beverages. Nitrogen pressurizing
> had no effect on bacteria.  The paper is available to the public here:


But that isn't the idea in the article from the 1920s that she cited, or in the
one from 1997 I found. That idea is that the bacteria are killed by staying in
bottle with carbon dioxide, and the longer it is there, the fewer bacteria there

I read the article Leah cited but the idea that this is a purely chemical
reaction is untenable. That is because there is an upside down U curve if the
pressure is not very high. The number of bacteria first go up, and then go down.
If it were just chemical, a solution reaches equilibrium - chemicals mix - 
pretty quickly, and if the number of bacteria rose at first it would stabilize
at some equilibrium. Instead the number of bacteria went up, and then went down.
It has to involve a process that continues through cell division and is not set
back to zero. It can't be anything as simple as the acid-base balance.

The 1997 article says it is probably because the CO2 dissolves in water. N2O
does too, but nitrogen gas (N2) and argon do not. The article from the 1920s
only compared carbon dioxide with nitrogen.

It also says that the exact mechanism remains obscure at this time.


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Sun, Jun 17,2018 at 01:01 PM
Subject: Smelling a rat

In parshat Korach, Moshe Rabbeinu (Bam. 16:5-7) tells the Korach's followers to
bring machtot [censers] and burn ketoret [incense] in them as a test to see whom
HKBH would favour.

Since, only a few months earlier, Aharon's two sons, Nadav and Avihu, had done
something similar and been killed by a "fire from Hashem" (Vay. 10:1-2), surely
the followers of Korach should have been, at the very least, suspicious of what
might transpire.

Why did they not 'smell a rat' and, at the very least, object to this test?

Can anyone shed light on their thinking?

Martin Stern


From: Bill Bernstein <billbernstein@...>
Date: Mon, Jun 18,2018 at 06:01 PM
Subject: The Smuggler's Mule

In the Seridei Eish, Choshen Mishpat 167, he answers a question about a shaliach
(agent) of a smuggler who is caught at the border and taken to jail. Does the
smuggler have an obligation to bail out his agent? The answer of course is "it
depends but generally 'No'". He goes through some sources in the answer. My
question is why didn't Rav Weinberg zt"l bring the idea of "ein shlichus b'davar
aveira" (there is no agency for a forbidden act) since smuggling contraband is
illegal and would seem to fall under "Dina d'malchusa Dina" (secular law is also
binding)? Ideas?

Bill Bernstein
Brunswick, GA.


From: Yisrael Medad  <yisrael.medad@...>
Date: Sat, Jun 9,2018 at 03:01 PM
Subject: Yahrtzeit Kaddish?

To add a comment to Chaim Casper's contribution on the subject of Yahrtzeit
Kaddish (MJ 63#87):

I would think that to inform someone that he/she cannot say Kaddish because it
is reserved for another person only (let alone who gets to define that person)
should carry halachic weight over a localized custom from another continent over
two centuries ago, is simply unacceptable - especially in today's social thinking.

Yisrael Medad

From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Sun, Jun 10,2018 at 07:01 AM
Subject: Yahrtzeit Kaddish?

Chaim Casper wrote (MJ 63#87):

> I was told that originally, only one person said kaddish for all the mourners
> in the community (see the Mahzor Vitry or the RaM"A).

This is still the custom of Jews originating from Germany wherever they
still have organised communities perpetuating their distinctive minhag.
> It is only a later development that everyone who is mourning would say kaddish
> together, so there is no longer any need to have one person say it to the
> exclusion of the others.

This, in my opinion unfortunate, change dates back to Rav Ya'akov Emden's
observation, about 250 years ago, in his siddur commentary that he had
observed it to be the custom among the Sephardim when his father, the
Chacham Tzvi, was Rav in Sarajevo. He lauded it since it avoided the not
infrequent quarrels over precedence that erupted in larger Ashkenazi
communities. The practice spread over the nineteenth century throughout
Europe, the original one being restricted to the so-called Yekkes.

With all due respect to the learned rav, I fear he had not noticed that,
among Sephardim, all the tefillot were said in unison, unlike among
Ashkenazim who often davenned each at his own pace. This resulted in the
kaddish being said by the various aveilim at differing speeds making it
inaudible and, thereby, preventing the congregation from responding "Amein -
yehei shemeih rabba ..." which was the main purpose for which it was

In some congregations, the custom was for all aveilim to gather together in
the front of the shul to say kaddish which helped alleviate the problem but,
in most places, the "Orphan's kaddish" itself became an orphan whose call
went unanswered.

Martin Stern


End of Volume 63 Issue 88