Volume 64 Number 25 
      Produced: Sun, 19 May 19 05:12:32 -0400

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

Mezuzah allusions? 
    [Martin Stern]
Not wearing glasses in public 
    [Carl A. Singer]
Only One Person Says Mourner's Kaddish? 
    [Orrin Tilevitz]
Passing a cemetery  
    [Joel Rich]
Vowel changes in layning (3)
    [David Ziants  Martin Stern  Art Sapper]


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Sun, May 19,2019 at 05:01 AM
Subject: Mezuzah allusions?

In both the first and second paragraphs of Kriat Shema  (Dev. 6:9, 13:20),
we mention the mitzvah of mezuzah "Ukhetavtam al-mezuzot beitekha uvish'arekha".
It struck me that this might refer to two eras:

1. beitekha [your doors] referring to olam hazeh [nowadays] and

2. uvish'arekha [your gates] referring to yemot hamashi'ach [Messianic times]
when we will once again have Jewish town gates.

This implication might be indicated by the cantillation of these verses "tevir,
merecha, tippecha, sof pasuk" which sequence is, as as far as I am aware, only
found in two other places in the Chumash:

1. "Vayekhulu hashamayim veha'aretz vekhol-tzeva'am" (Ber. 2:1)

2. "Vataharena shetei benot-Lot mei'avihen" (Ber. 19:36)

The first refers to the completion of the creation of the world as it is - olam

The second refers to Lot's daughters becoming pregnant from their father. Chazal
tell us (B.K. 38b) that this was the beginning of the Messianic process in that
it led to the birth of the progenitors of Moav and Ammon, from whom were
descended Rut, the great-grandmother of King David, and Na'amah, the mother of
Rechav'am, respectively, both of whom form crucial links in the ancestry of

Any comments?

Martin Stern


From: Carl A. Singer <carl.singer@...>
Date: Tue, May 14,2019 at 04:01 PM
Subject: Not wearing glasses in public

Martin Stern wrote (MJ 64#24):

> 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?

Let's consider the likelihood of encountering someone who is "improperly
dressed" -- by frum community's standards. Let's say short sleeves above the
elbow -- to use an extreme example.

If one lives in a multi-cultural community and it is summer -- there is a
reasonable likelihood of such an encounter, let's say while walking to shul
on Shabbos. However, should this be considered an event that occurs
intentionally? And how does one avoid this? Remove one's glasses (which may be
dangerous re: crossing the streets); find an alternate route (there may not be
one); avoid going to shul?

I believe this is different from previous discussions of avoiding walking
past a certain house because passingit will activate a sensor-driven light.

That said, one must consider that if, for example, one walks on a road leading
to a beach, one may encounter folks in swimwear.

So, let's rephrase the question:

"Is there a prohibition of walking within a multi-cultural community without
"hobbling" one's eyesight?" (Say you have 20-20 vision, should you wear
sunglasses smeared with Vaseline?)

I believe the answer to the question as stated is obvious.

Alternatively, it could be rephrased:

"Is it "meritorious" to hobble one's eyesight when walking within a
multi-cultural community?"

Carl A. Singer


From: Orrin Tilevitz <tilevitzo@...>
Date: Thu, May 16,2019 at 06:01 AM
Subject: Only One Person Says Mourner's Kaddish?

The practice set down in the Shulchan Arukh is for a single person to say the
mourner's kaddish, and a hierarchy (with rotation) among those obligated to say
it if there is more than one.

Nowadays, everyone saying the kaddish says it, preferably together, and the
hierarchy is applied instead to those seeking to be the baal tefilah. 

Has anyone encountered a shul that follows the original practice?

How is a person who is not technically obligated in kaddish handled? The most
common example is someone saying kaddish for a close relative other than a
parent who had left no children whose aveilut terminated after sheloshim [30
days of mourning].  Is he (we won't even address women saying kaddish) out of luck?


From: Joel Rich <JRich@...>
Date: Wed, May 15,2019 at 10:01 AM
Subject: Passing a cemetery 

If one passes a cemetery every day on their commute to work but their brain
doesn't process it (that's how our vision actually works), do they then make a
bracha when going to a cemetery for a funeral?

Joel Rich


From: David Ziants <dziants@...>
Date: Tue, May 14,2019 at 05:01 PM
Subject: Vowel changes in layning

Orrin Tilevitz wrote (MJ 64#24):

> ...
> 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 ...

I have noticed that in my Israeli community, many who grew up in the USA (not
all) do not know how to say a kamatz katan - or if there is an effort to use
Ashkenazi pronunciation the kamatz gadol does not come out as the Ashkenazi
kamatz gadol that I know of (I grew up in England).

The reason might be is because certain pronunciations of American English do not
have an "o" sound - so for example the city "Boston" comes out as "Baastan" by
these pronunciations. I have seen old American siddurim that transliterate
kaddish using Ashkenazi pronunciation, transliterate the Ashkenazi kamatz gadol
as "aw". I don't know how they would contend with kamatz katan as in principle
in Ashkenazi pronunciation this should be shorter.

So how much can local language usage affect how we pronounce Hebrew? I remember
learning from the Mishnah Berurah that people who cannot say shin as "sh" should
not be shatz [prayer leader] but is lenient on most Ashkenazim (of his time) who
cannot pronounce the guttural ayin. I try to say a proper ayin but also
sometimes lapse.

I also use Israeli pronunciation in my davening (I don't layn) and have done so
since I was a teenager, and have it as second nature that the cholem is slightly
longer than the kamatz katan. This happens naturally because of the grammatical
rule that a kamatz katan replaces it in a non-stressed closed syllable. Is it
possible that a patach and kamatz gadol in Israeli pronunciation, although both
sounded "a" - should similarly be slightly distinguished because of this
grammatical rule?

David Ziants

From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Fri, May 17,2019 at 12:01 PM
Subject: Vowel changes in layning

Orrin Tilevitz wrote (MJ 64#24):

> ...
> 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...

This last point must, I think refer to the 'sound' of the vowel but,
strictly speaking, the kamatz gadol should be slightly longer than the
patach. The same would apply to the cholem and kamatz kattan, tzerei and
segol, shuruk and kubbutz, and the hirik gadol and hirik kattan, but it
seems that this distinction has been virtually lost in practice nowadays, as
orrin observed:
> 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...

Martin Stern

From: Art Sapper  <asherben@...>
Date: Sat, May 18,2019 at 11:01 PM
Subject: Vowel changes in layning

Orrin Tilevitz wrote (MJ 64#24): 

> ... 
> One baal keriah, purportedly using Sephardic pronunciation, nevertheless
> distinguished between a kamatz and patach as would one using Ashkenazic
> pronunciation.
> ...

I once attended a shiur in the U.S. at which a Sephardic rabbi (of Moroccan
extraction) read from a book on Hebrew pronunciation written by another
Sephardic rabbi (also from the Maghreb), and which is widely respected, and
urged the Sephardim and Mizrachim in his tzibbur to pronounce the qamaytz the
way that traditional Ashkenazim do (or did), that is to pronounce it differently
from the patach.  He thus in effect urged them to abandon a wide-spread
Sephardic pronunciation, and he did so because he said that the maintenance of
the distinction by the Ashkenazim was correct.  So the layner you heard had
merit to what he did.

I know that there are a few rabbanim in Israel urging Jews to change their
pronunciation so as to discard sounds derived from European languages (such as
discarding the s when pronouncing the undageshed thav and using unvoiced th
instead) and to restore ancient Hebrew sounds, such as the ayin and the cheth.
They claim support from various sources, including a Gemara decrying
mispronunciations by Galileans.

There is also the famous episode in Shoftim (12:6), which describes a civil war
in which Gileadites would ask those crossing the Yarden to pronounce shibboleth.
 If they pronounced it sibboleth, they were taken to be Ephraimites and killed.
 What is interesting is that the text goes out of its way to say that the
Ephraimites did not pronounce the shin correctly.  Not that they did not
pronounce it normally or as the Gileadites did or that they pronounced it as s,
but that they did not pronounce it correctly ('velo yachin ledaber kein'), as if
there is an absolute standard of correctness that supersedes local or tribal
variation.   And there have been rabbis over the centuries, "including
Ashkenazic rabbis", who have urged reforms in pronunciation regardless of what
the local pronunciation happened to be.

So is it wrong to do what the layner did?  What he did is very arguably
defensible.  But it is even better to change pronunciation after one has become
informed.  And that is the problem I have seen - people changing pronunciation
without being informed.

One example is Jews changing the pronunciation of the undageshed gimel to j
following what they think is a custom among some Yemenite Jews and, therefore,
they think, authentic Hebrew pronunciation.   The problem is that there is more
than one Yemenite pronunciation and this particular pronunciation when it comes
to the undageshed gimel follows a comparatively recent development of Arabic in
which the pronunciation of the cognate letter in Arabic changed to a j sound. 
(This development never made it to Egypt, which is why Egyptians don't pronounce
it as a j).  Other Yemenite Jews and other Mizrachi Jews pronounce the
undageshed gimel as ... well, its hard to render in English letters, but it
isn't the j sound and it is Hebrew, not Arabic.

For those interested, a good resource is Rabbi David Bar-Hayims YouTube videos
on proper Hebrew pronunciation.

May we all soon pronounce Hebrew without the dust of galuth on our tongues.

Art Sapper


End of Volume 64 Issue 25