Volume 63 Number 89 
      Produced: Sun, 24 Jun 18 03:50:20 -0400

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

Are we racists? 
    [Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz]
Say Good Shabbos 
    [Martin Stern]
Selling a Beit Knesset? 
    [Carl A. Singer]
Smelling a rat (3)
    [Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz  Sammy Finkelman  Saul Mashbaum]
Why such a lengthy detour? 
    [Martin Stern]
Yahrtzeit Kaddish? (2)
    [Yisrael Medad   Martin Stern]


From: Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz <sabbahillel@...>
Date: Tue, Jun 19,2018 at 09:01 AM
Subject: Are we racists?

Martin Stern wrote (MJ 63#88):

> 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?

Since "marriage" is basically a religious matter, the more religious a person
is, the more likely that he would consider a "marriage" between people of
different religions as totally invalid. It is not a racist concept, but a matter
of avoiding a false oath. As an example, a Jewish man "marrying" a non-Jewish
woman who stated "Harei at ..." would be explicitly declaring that the "ceremony"
that they are undergoing is invalid. Similarly, other religions also have
similar statements. Thus it is the less religious people who might be called

He does not say if the poll in the UK involves a person who has converted to
Judaism or not. If they have, then they are required to marry another Jew. If
they have not, then they should never marry a Jew.

Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Sat, Jun 23,2018 at 08:01 PM
Subject: Say Good Shabbos

Chaim Casper wrote (MJ 63#88):
> 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."

This applies equally to weekdays and to non-Jews. A cordial "Good morning"
or "Good evening" to everyone, especially when accompanied by a smile, would
go a long way to improve the tone of society. If it can be accompanied by
some complement, such as "Your garden is really beautiful" then the result
would be enhanced many times over.

Who knows how far the good will generated might go as in the case of the
judge in 1933 Germany whose life was saved because he always said "Good
to the non-Jewish doorman when he arrived at the court building and the
warned him of a plot to kill him.

Martin Stern


From: Carl A. Singer <carl.singer@...>
Date: Tue, Jun 19,2018 at 10:01 AM
Subject: Selling a Beit Knesset?

What seems like ages ago (40 years = ages) when Lower Merion Synagogue (Suburban
Philadelphia) was still in an old house (with a "Free Soviet Jewry" banner
across the front porch) we began planning to build a shul. The halachic issue
was whether we could tear down the old house / shul (we had an alternate
temporary location) and build on that same spot. Specifically,  that if after
tearing down the existing shul the funds for building the new building would be
jeopardized if needed to pay a ransom.

Carl A. Singer, Ph.D.Colonel, U.S. Army Retired


From: Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz <sabbahillel@...>
Date: Tue, Jun 19,2018 at 09:01 AM
Subject: Smelling a rat

Martin Stern wrote (MJ 63#88):
> 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?

A number of meforshim explain that Moshe Rabbeinu actually told them that this
will occur. This is said explicitly by Rashi on pasuk 6

> Moses told them, I am telling you this so that you should not be found 
> guilty. For the one He chooses will survive, and the rest of you will 
> perish." - [Mid. Tanchuma 5, Bamidbar Rabbah 18:8]

Each of the 250 thought to himself that he would survive and the others 
would die.

Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz

From: Sammy Finkelman <sammy.finkelman@...>
Date: Tue, Jun 19,2018 at 12:01 PM
Subject: Smelling a rat

In response to Martin Stern (MJ 63#87):

That was their claim, so how could they object without withdrawing it?

The import of the accusations against Moshe and Aaron, by the way, actually was
that Moshe and Aaron were lying to the people about what Hashem said.

Maybe Moshe hoped they would decline to try.  In fact, after proposing this, he
immediately tried to dissuade them, (not by warning them, but by asking what got
into their heads,  how could they argue this was fair, if everyone was equal
then why were the Leviim privileged. Is it too little for you that you, and all
your brothers the sons of Levi were brought near to God and you ask now also for
the priesthood - and he correctly stated it as asking. So he arguued to at least
Korach (the leader) and the Leviim who were among them.

It may have had an effect. It seems that Korach, and Dason and Aviram,
themselves didn't burn ketoret but let others try the experiment first. Korach's
sons also did not take part, and they left the tent too.

The reasoning as to why the men were who brought the ketoret were not deterred
by the exaple of Nadav and Avihu could be that they reasoned, or Korach and
Dothan and Aviram argued to them, that that was different - either Nadav and
Avihu died because they attempted to make it look like it was part of the
inaguration ceremony of the mishkan, but they were not doing that, this was
something quite apart, or that things had changed.

Moshe and Aharon were later accused of having conspired to kill the men (whom
they called in the accusation "am Hashem"). They blamed them for what God did.
But actually Moshe had several times prayed to spare the Jews, and here, he did
not know for sure what would happen because he prayed that their offering (at
least by Dason and Aviram) should be not accepted since he had not taken even a
donkey from anyone (which in his mind would be the thrust of an accusation of
usurping power) nor had he done any harm to one of them.

From: Saul Mashbaum <saul.mashbaum@...>
Date: Thu, Jun 21,2018 at 08:01 AM
Subject: Smelling a rat

Martin Stern asks (MJ 63#88) why Korach's followers did not object to Moshe
Rabbeinu's "ketoret test", in light of Nadav and Avihu's death when offering
ketoret a few months before.

R. Elchanan Samet in his "Iyyunin leParshot HaTorah" explicitly makes the
connection between Moshe's suggestion and Nadav and Avihu's death. He posits
that this obvious connection was intended to *dissuade* the "band of 250"  from
continuing their rebellion; Moshe expected them to back down when the suggestion
that they bring incense was made. In effect. he was saying "Surely you wouldn't
want to offer incense. Look what happened to Nadav and Avihu." To Moshe's keen
disappointment, this sensible plan to stem the rebellion did not have the
desired effect; his implicit but obvious warning was ignored.

In any event, Moshe did not trick the 250 men into a foolhardy venture; they
proceeded to follow Moshe's suggestion with open eyes. We can speculate why this
was so; apparently, the members of the "band of 250" were acting irrationally;
their desire to oppose Moshe was so intense that they were willing to expose
themselves to the risks involved.

People who embark on dangerous paths, convinced that "it won't happen to me",
are not rare.

Saul Mashbaum


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Sat, Jun 23,2018 at 07:01 PM
Subject: Why such a lengthy detour?

We read in parshat Chukat (Bam. 21:1-3) that the Bnei Yisrael decisively
defeated the Kenaani king of Arad shortly after the thirty days of mourning
after the death of Aharon. This would have been some time in Ellul in the last
year in the midbar. They then skirted the territories of Edom and Moav and
fought the two Emori kings of Transjordan, Sichon and Og, before preparing to
cross the Yarden to enter Eretz Yisrael from the east.

Why did they not overrun it from the south immediately rather than make such a
lengthy detour?

Martin Stern


From: Yisrael Medad  <yisrael.medad@...>
Date: Tue, Jun 19,2018 at 01:01 PM
Subject: Yahrtzeit Kaddish?

In his reply to Chaim Casper (MJ 63#87), Martin Stern writes (MJ 63#88) that
the change in practice from the Ashkenazi custom of one-person-at-a-time kaddish
recitation was "unfortunate" and it stemmed from the adoption by Rav Ya'akov Emden
based on his father's observation of the custom among the Sephardim in Sarajevo.
Martin adds that he fears the "rav" (unclear whether the Chacham Tzvi or his
son) did not notice 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 instituted.

I find it unfortunate that I cannot quite grasp Martin's point.

A. Ashkenazim may not chant in unison like Sefaradim but as the Shaliach Tzibbur
always recites aloud the first and last verse of each paragraph/section, I am at
a lost as to what Martin is writing.

B. Even amongst Ashkenazim, the "different speed" recitation occurs.

C. I truly doubt the "rav", whoever he was, didn't "notice" the chanting of the
Sefaradim in unison. Unless, of course, he was deaf.

Yisrael Medad


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Sat, Jun 23,2018 at 08:01 PM
Subject: Yahrtzeit Kaddish?

Yisrael Medad wrote (MJ 63#88)

> 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.

There are rules of precedence clearly set out in, for example, the Kitzur
Shulchan Arukh which would apply in any shul which still followed the
original Ashkenazi minhag that only one person should say each kaddish.

The real problem is that, in today's social thinking, people are so obsessed
with saying kaddish that any other halachic considerations are thrown

As someone once put it "Among assimilated Jews the only vestiges of Judaism
that they still retain are Maftir [celebrating their son's bar mitzvah - but
with the emphasis on the first word, bar, to the exclusion of the second,
mitzvah!] and Niftar [sitting shiva, saying kaddish and yizkor].

After a few generations of such attenuation, even these vestiges disappear
leading to this segment of the population's effective petirah min ha'olam
[disappearance from the world].

Martin Stern


End of Volume 63 Issue 89