Volume 64 Number 24 
      Produced: Tue, 14 May 19 15:21:08 -0400

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

Blessing on Seeing a Scholar 
    [Yisrael Medad]
Measles vaccinations (2)
    [Sammy Finkelman  Martin Stern]
Not wearing glasses in public 
    [Martin Stern]
The names of the korbanot 
    [Ben Katz, M.D.]
Vowel changes in layning 
    [Orrin Tilevitz]


From: Yisrael Medad  <yisrael.medad@...>
Date: Thu, Apr 18,2019 at 02:01 AM
Subject: Blessing on Seeing a Scholar

Immanuel Burton (MJ 64#23) asks if there is a blessing to be recited upon
seeing a Torah scholar who has forgotten his knowledge.

I googled it and found this at Menachot 99a/b:

"R. Joseph learnt: This teaches us that both the tablets and the fragments of
the tablets were deposited in the ark. Hence [we learn that] a scholar who has
forgotten his learning through no fault of his must not be treated with disrespect."

I found this elucidation of the last point:

Literally, by reason of his misfortune; i.e., through old age, sickness or
trouble, but not through wilful neglect since even the broken pieces of the
tablets were also treated with sanctity and were placed in the ark.

Yisrael Medad


From: Sammy Finkelman <sammy.finkelman@...>
Date: Mon, Apr 15,2019 at 06:01 PM
Subject: Measles vaccinations

There was a front page story in the New York Times last week Thursday about this.


According to this article, the serious measles outbreak in Rockland County can
be traced to the pilgrimage last Rosh Hashonah to the grave of Rav Nachman of
Breslov. He despised doctors and said they are assistants of the Malach
Hamoves, but DID say that there is a halachic obligation to have one's children
vaccinated against smallpox, which was being introduced in his time. Breslover
Chassidim are very wary of doctors, and want to make sure they are right as
shown by a report by someone from Breslov on their website:


But the Breslover Chassidim are not the ones who are turning against vaccines,
although they were maybe the first to get it in large numbers.  There is a
measles epidemic in Ukraine where the vaccination rate has declined. It has
since recovered but the Ukrainian government rejected using cheaper Indian and
Korean vaccines but didn't spend the money on the more expensive European ones.

There is a big anti-vaccine movement in Poland. It is not as strong in Israel,
but is stronger in the United States and even stronger in the United Kingdom.

Another article:


Fliers are distributed and there is a printed handbook by an organization called
Peach. And another thing - parents sometimes do not report cases of measles to
doctors (because they don't to get punished?)

Measles has a death rate of 1 in 1,000 in modern developed countries, but the
percentage hospitalised or with complications is more and the death rate is
higher. In places where children don't have ideal nutrition or the possibility
of excellent hospital care for complications, and in some refugee camps, it can
reach 10%. It's also extremely dangerous for adults who never caught measles as
children or were not vaccinated - their body does not react as fast as children
do to strange new pathogens.

From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Wed, Apr 17,2019 at 05:01 PM
Subject: Measles vaccinations

Irwin Weiss wrote (MJ 64#23):

> A friend of mine is a non-Orthodox pediatrician.  Some of his patients are
> Orthodox.  He administered the MMR (measles, etc) vaccinations to the children
> of a person we will call Orthodox woman #1.  My friend, the doctor, signed
> papers with the childrens' names and the mother's name, indicating that the
> immunization was given in order for Orthodox woman #1 to present the document
> to the day school her kids go to.  So far so good. My friend the doctor gets a
> fax from the school.  They sent him a paper which had his name on it, but the
> names of some children who were not his patients, with the name of Orthodox
> woman #2 on them, the mother of these other kids. Apparently, Orthodox woman
> #1 provided the paper to Orthodox woman #2 who was able to alter the document
> to put her kids' names on the document, even though her kids were not
> vaccinated.  This, so that the children of Orthodox woman #2 could go to the
> school. My friend, the doctor, was rather horrified and called me for legal
> advice (I am a lawyer). It is hard for me to believe that Orthodox woman #1
> would facilitate the fraud of Orthodox woman #2, and be a party to
> jeopardizing the health of the community in this fashion. (I am betting that
> Dr. Ben Katz, among others, will be outraged by this).
> Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz (MJ 64#22) notes that a number of the leaders of our
> community have issued a statement regarding the need to keep exposed persons
> away from the community.  That is fine, but it should likewise be noted that
> Rabbi Moshe Hauer and Rabbi Moshe Heinemann, two Gedolim in our community have
> said that not only is it permissible to get immunization for your children, it
> is asur (forbidden) not to do so.

Unless there are factors, of which we may be unaware, to justify it, this prima
facie case of fraud IS outrageous. There may be good reason to inform the
authorities who would, no doubt publicise these ladies' names, in order to
discourage others who might be tempted to act similarly. To forestall the
probable consequential chillul Hashem this should be done by the Rav, in his
official capacity, thereby making it clear that the Jewish community
unequivocally condemns such behaviour.

Martin Stern


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Tue, Apr 30,2019 at 01:01 PM
Subject: Not wearing glasses in public

Immanuel Burton wrote (MJ 64#23):

> Seriously, though, is there a problem with merely seeing what one considers to
> be an immodestly dressed person, or only with looking at a person in that
> state? (Seeing implies something accidental or inadvertent, whereas looking
> implies maintaining the gaze intentionally.)

The question is "Is seeing an improperly dressed lady so likely that it is prudent
to take action to avoid it?"

I think this touches on the halachic distinction between 'ones gamur'
[completely unintentional event] and 'ones hakarov leshogeg' [an event that
occurs unintentionally but could have been avoided if the person had had
sufficient foresight, i.e. one involving a slight degree of carelessness]

Any comments?


From: Ben Katz, M.D.<BKatz@...>
Date: Thu, Apr 18,2019 at 01:01 AM
Subject: The names of the korbanot

Martin Stern wrote (MJ 64#23):

> I have always felt that the conventional translations of the names of the
> korbanot might be misleading.
> The name "chatat" is usually translated as "sin offering" yet quite a few of
> the cases where it is brought seem to have little to do with sin per se, for
> example the "chatat hayoledet" brought by a woman who has given birth. Though
> attempts to link it to some impropriety on her behalf, such as vowing during
> labour to abstain from future marital relations because of the pains she was
> suffering at the time, they do not seem to me to be very convincing and, on the
> contrary, rather forced ex post facto rationalisations.

Many modern commentators note this (eg Milgrom in the Anchor Bible commentary
and Baruch Levine in the JPS Torah Commentary) and translate the chatat offering
as a purification offering.  This also fits in with the use of the root in the
form of ve-chetay (as in Lev. 14:52 - ve-chetay et habayit = it will purify the


From: Orrin Tilevitz <tilevitzo@...>
Date: Wed, May 1,2019 at 11:01 PM
Subject: Vowel changes in layning

This post is prompted by some experiences I had recently in Israel. The relevant
halachic principal is that if the baal keriah reads a word incorrectly, i.e.,
with an incorrect consonant or vowel (or, for that matter, with an incorrect
cantillation or stress), 

(i) if the meaning of the word thereby changes, one makes him repeat it

(ii) otherwise, one rebukes him (go-arim bo). 

That is, in any event the baal keriah is required to read the words as printed.
Shulchan Aruch. OC 142; Shaarei Ephraim 3:14 and 16.

One baal keriah, purportedly using Sephardic pronunciation, nevertheless
distinguished between a kamatz and patach as would one using Ashkenazic
pronunciation. He didn't appear to distinguish between a kamatz gadol and a
kamatz kattan. When asked why he was doing this, he mentioned his Ashkenazic
background and said something about short and long vowels. 

Edward Horowitz book "How the Hebrew Language Grew" (hardly a treatise, but
Horowitz has, or had, a masters in linguistics) says that there is no basis for
distinguishing, in the Sephardic pronunciation, between a kamatz gadol and a
patach, citing Samuel David Luzzato. 

I heard no instance while this fellow was layning where this incorrect
pronunciation made a difference in meaning.

This same baal keriah, and another one I heard, followed what I understand is
the recent trend in Israeli street Hebrew not to distinguish between a tzeyrei
and a segol, pronouncing both as a short "e". Horowitz views this dimly as well.
Again, I heard no cases where the meaning changed, although it sounded wrong and
in many shuls in the States he would have been crucified.

Finally, I-- also using a Sephardic pronunciation -- habitually distinguish
between a cholam and kamatz kattan, ordinarily pronouncing the former as a long
"o". Horowitz says they are pronounced the same, and that indeed is the
prevailing Israeli pronunciation.

The question is: 

"Is it permissible for a baal keriah to do these things? Is there a difference
among them?"


End of Volume 64 Issue 24