Volume 64 Number 31 
      Produced: Tue, 18 Jun 19 16:24:10 -0400

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

Call the midwife 
    [Yisrael Medad]
Nesi'im wording anomalies 
    [Martin Stern]
Tzitzit = totality of mitzvot (3)
    [Yaakov Shachter  Sammy Finkelman  Immanuel Burton]
Yoav's father? (3)
    [Yisrael Medad   Sammy Finkelman  Isaac Balbin]


From: Yisrael Medad  <yisrael.medad@...>
Date: Fri, Jun 14,2019 at 09:01 AM
Subject: Call the midwife

Joel Rich wrote (MJ 64#30):

> Kiddushin 73b states we believe the midwife to tell us which twin came out
> first. The Ran on the Rif on Kiddushin 31a states a midwife's credibility is 
> not "midin" (from the law) but the Rabbis believed her because in the 
> majority of cases, there's no other way. 
> 1. How did HKB"H expect this to work prior to the Rabbinic injunction? (this
> applies to other examples as well where the halachic gold standard of two
> witnesses is relaxed) 
> 2. Is it related to R'Moshe's (self-knowledge) and "neemanut" (trust).[see
> Iggrot Moshe Y"D 1:54]?

One answer would be that this Rabbinic injunction came via Torah Sheb'al Peh
i.e. HKB'H's word transmitted orally at Sinai?

Another answer might be to ask why we should expect HKB'H to do otherwise, the
matter being based on logic and prevailing circumstances?

And as for other examples, like nidda where we trust one woman, I would also go
with simple logic and circumstance. Those are good Jewish legal values.

Yisrael Medad


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Sun, Jun 16,2019 at 06:01 AM
Subject: Nesi'im wording anomalies

At the end of Naso (Bam. 7) the offerings brought by the nesi'im [princely
leaders of the tribes] to inaugurate the mishkan are listed - and all brought
precisely the same. While it might not be unexpected that the formulation of the
first, Nachshon ben Amminadav, might be slightly different from the rest, there
seems to be no reason why, on day 2, the word "hikriv" is inserted before the
nasi's name, Netan'eil ben Tzu'ar, unlike all the other days where it is
omitted. Also his tribal affiliation, Yissachar, is stated after his name
(incidentally just as for Nachshon on day one) unlike the subsequent nesi'im
whose tribal affiliation precedes their personal name.

Does anyone have any explanation for this discrepancy?

Martin Stern


From: Yaakov Shachter <jay@...>
Date: Fri, Jun 14,2019 at 10:01 AM
Subject: Tzitzit = totality of mitzvot

Martin Stern wrote (MJ 64#30):

> The Gemara (Menachot 43b) quotes a beraita that states that the mitzvah of 
> tzitzit is eqivalent to all the mitzvot combined based on the verse "...
> ure'item oto uzekhartem et kol mitzvot Hashem ... [and you shall look at it 
> and remember all Hashem's mitzvot]" (Bam. 16:39) on which Rashi comments that 
> this is based on the fact that the gematria of tzitzit is 600 which together 
> with the 5 knots and 8 strings makes a total of 613, the total number of
> mitzvot.
> While this might appear to be a rather fanciful drush [homiletic
> interpretation], it struck me recently that it might actually be hinted to by
> the text. The mitzvah of tzitzit is performed by wearing a rectangular garment
> with tzitzit attached to each corner, i.e. 4 in total, so one would have
> expected the verse to have stated "ure'item otam [them]", in the plural, 
> rather than "ure'item oto" in the singular. That it uses the singular might 
> indicate that each tassel individually, rather the complete set which 
> constitutes the mitzvah, is meant to remind us of all Hashem's mitzvot and it 
> is on this that Rashi is basing his explanation.
> Any comments?

If Martin wants us to take the above seriously, he should first provide some
evidence for his implicit assumption that "tzitzit" is a plural noun. It is not
morphologically plural, and, as he has himself admitted above, it is not, in
Scripture, grammatically plural, so he is going to need some very convincing
evidence, which, except for popular usage, he does not have.

Jay F. ("Yaakov") Shachter
6424 N Whipple St
Chicago IL  60645-4111

From: Sammy Finkelman <sammy.finkelman@...>
Date: Fri, Jun 14,2019 at 02:01 PM
Subject: Tzitzit = totality of mitzvot

In response to Martin Stern (MJ 64#30):

"ure'item oto" might refer to the p'sil tekheles  - the  thread of blue, which
makes sense because that stands out, and also is (or would be) a little reminder
of heaven

When they were at Mount Sinai, a little after the ten commandments were spoken,
and seventy three people plus Moshe went up alittle bit on the mountain, that's
what they saw:


"And they saw the God of Israel; and there was under His feet the like of a
paved work of sapphire stone, and the like of the very heaven for clearness."
(Shemos 24:10)

Sapphire is blue. And  I think this could also be the color of electrons
travelling above the speed of light.


"The characteristic blue glow of an underwater nuclear reactor is due to
Cherenkov radiation."

Here's a picture, translated into the usual digital colors;


Tekheles maybe should be something like that color.

Note: When it says they saw Hashem, it means they saw something that was not a
normal part of the universe as it is. Some slight alteration of, or deviation
from,  the laws of nature  maybe produced that. So you can that's seeing God, or
something above in that way.

Another explanation: 


"Vehoiyu lochem l'tzitzis. When you put all four fringes there it becomes
something new - a singular tzitzis." (Bamidbar 15:19)

So either it is referring to the blue thread, or to the garment as a whole.

From: Immanuel Burton <iburton@...>
Date: Sun, Jun 16,2019 at 11:01 AM
Subject: Tzitzit = totality of mitzvot

In response to Martin Stern (MJ 54#30):

In reference to the blue thread in tzitzit, the Talmud notes in Menachot 43b
that the colour blue is similar to the sea, which is like the clear blue sky,
which is the colour of God's heavenly throne.

According to the article by Aish about tzitzit


the singular in "ure'item oto" refers to the blue thread, and not the whole
group of threads on any given corner.

If Rashi based his comment how the combination of threads and knots etc when
added to the numerical value of the word "tzitzit" could be problematic, because
there are four tassles on a garment, so the number of threads and knots would
have to be multiplied by 4.  When added to the 600 of tzitzit, 4 lots of 5+8
gives a grand total of 652.

If the singular verb refers to the blue thread, is there any advantage to
wearing one's tzitzit outside one's clothing if one doesn't have a blue thread?

Immanuel Burton.


From: Yisrael Medad  <yisrael.medad@...>
Date: Fri, Jun 14,2019 at 09:01 AM
Subject: Yoav's father?

Martin Stern wrote (MJ 64#30):

> My wife has been learning Sefer Shemuel and asked me why Yoav is always 
> referred to as 'ben Tzeruyah', the son of his mother, Tzeruyah, who was David 
> Hamelekh's sister, and not as in the case of almost every other person as the 
> son of his father who seems never to be mentioned.
> Two ideas came to mind:
> 1. She had been kidnapped by non-Jews and raped, resulting in his conception, 
> so he did not have a halachic father.
> 2. His father was a relative non-entity whereas his mother was a royal 
> princess so this was a way to enhance his standing.
> I could not find any support for either of these but, in any case, find 
> neither to be a satisfactory explanation.
> Can anyone provide a better one?

I would assume that Tzeruya had married beneath her station and therefore, the
more important familial relation was the one to be mentioned. Or perhaps he died
early in the relationship. Or turned out to be a ne'er-do-well.

Incidentally, according to Shmuel 17:25, Tzeruya had a sister, Abigal, who was
the daughter of one Nahash. The Talmud (Shabbat 55b) posits that Nahash was
Yishai but he died due to a snake bite.

Otherwise, the whole family tree goes awry.

Yisrael Medad

From: Sammy Finkelman <sammy.finkelman@...>
Date: Fri, Jun 14,2019 at 02:01 PM
Subject: Yoav's father?

In response to Martin Stern (MJ 64#30):

I don't like choice 1, and it seems to me that choice 2, or some variation on
it, must be the reason. It was his relationship to King David's (half?) sister
that got him his position as head of the army.

His father might also have been dead by that time, or they were divorced, and it
could be just that he wasn't known by the name of his father.

Another problem with choice 1 is that Yoav had two brothers, and from all
appearances, they were very close, so would probably have had the same father

If choice 1 is closer to the truth, it wouldn't be that she was kidnapped, it
would be that she married someone not Jewish who never fully converted (which it
could be argued helped account for Yoav's brutality.)

In any case the absence of his father's name  from the record (and he's
mentioned quite a number of times and so there's room to expand on it) could
indicate that there was something shameful or non-publicized or secret or
unknown about his father, but what it was I don't know how you can tell.  I
don't think the idea that somebody was tracing descent through the mother
because that was his usual way of doing so is reasonable.

Yoav's name possibly means Hashem [is his] father (and in that time, they still
gave children original names. It would resemble a word but not be a word) but he
was not the bechor (first born) cf Divrei Hayamin I 2:16, and the others don't
have similar names. And the second letter of Yoav is a vav and not a hey. But
maybe in such cases when a name starts with the two letters, yud hey the hey is
omitted or changes (as in Yehonatan)

Maybe somebody else knows a commentary dealing with this.

From: Isaac Balbin <isaac@...>
Date: Sat, Jun 15,2019 at 06:01 AM
Subject: Yoav's father?

In response to Martin Stern (MJ 64#30):

I wouldn't be so bold as to write the guesses that Martin did, especially without
any evidence. I believe its arguably spreading a negative name (Motzi Shem Ra)
against Yoav and his mother to even intimate Tzeruya was raped!

Yoav is listed as such because his yichus (pedigree) was that he was a nephew of
King David. Unfortunately his other Uncle, Amasa killed him, Amasa being the son
of Aunty Avigayil, sister to Tzeruya.


End of Volume 64 Issue 31