Volume 64 Number 44 
      Produced: Wed, 01 Jan 20 04:16:49 -0500

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

Dark-mode siddur 
    [Seth Ness]
Eleven - or five - verses? 
    [Martin Stern]
    [Joel Rich]
Reward for mitzvot 
    [Irwin Weiss]
The missing nun 
    [Martin Stern]


From: Seth Ness <nesss01@...>
Date: Tue, Dec 24,2019 at 11:01 AM
Subject: Dark-mode siddur

Does anyone know how i can obtain a dark-mode siddur (white text on black page)?
(other than printing one out myself)
Seth L. Ness 
Email: <sln8@...> <mailto:sln8@columbia.edu>


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Sun, Dec 29,2019 at 11:01 AM
Subject: Eleven - or five - verses?

In the ketoret [incense] section at the beginning of shacharit, there are a
group of verses, three of which are repeated three times - Ps. 46:8, 84:13,
20:10 - and a further two - Ps. 32:7, Mal.3:4 - that are not. I wondered whether
there was any significance in this. One idea that occurred to me was that this
meant a total of 11 verses are said and that reflected the 11 spices used in the
preparation of the incense.

Also the first and second groups of four spices were each of equal weight
whereas the remaining three spices were each different. Thus, one might
categorise the spices by weight into five groups - possibly reflected by the
five distinct verses.

Any comments?

Martin Stern


From: Joel Rich <JRich@...>
Date: Wed, Dec 18,2019 at 02:01 AM
Subject: Perceptions

What percentage of people would like to know how they are really viewed by
others (as opposed to maintaining their own false self-image)? Are we failing
(ethically? halachically) by not telling folks if there are negative perceptions
about them out there?

Joel Rich


From: Irwin Weiss <irwin@...>
Date: Mon, Dec 16,2019 at 06:01 AM
Subject: Reward for mitzvot

Joel Rich wrote (MJ 64#43).

> The Derashot Haran (Drasha 6) posits that while HKB"H set varying "gemulim
> [rewards]" for the 613 mitzvot, he didn't tell us which (positive ones - me) 
> had greater reward in order that we not focus only on those mitzvot but 
> rather try to do all in hopes that we include the high value targets.
> It would be interesting to see what alternative rewards system a compensation
> consultant might come up with to support the same desired results. Of course a
> good consultant would tell you compensation is only a part, and often not the
> key driver, in the market/employee value proposition!

Two comments:

There are a few Torah Mitzvot which tell us that doing them has the reward of
long life, which one might say is a great reward.  (e.g. You should honor your
mother and father, "l'ma'an ya'arichum yomecha"-

But, I know people who say, "Please do such and such ... it would be a BIG
Mitzvah" - I know this is just an expression, but I wonder what is an example of
a medium size mitzvah or a small one.

Irwin Weiss
Baltimore, Maryland

PS Is there any reason why Joel's submission was dated in August, but I received
it only in December?

[Apart from a large number of short submissions from Joel, we received very few
after the end of August and so simply did not have enough to make up a digest
until the beginning of December. Joel's 'backlog' has now been 'cleared' and we
look forward to new submissions from him and others so that we can publish
digests more frequently - MOD]


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Sun, Dec 29,2019 at 11:01 AM
Subject: The missing nun

The Gemara (Berachot 4b) quotes R Elazar bar Avina as saying "Anyone who says
'Tehillah leDavid' (Psalm 145 - what we usually refer to as Ashrei) three times
a day is assured of a place in the World to Come".

It then probes the reason why this is such an important text, suggesting two
possible reasons:

1. The initial letters of its verses contain the alef-beit.

2. It contains the verse 'Potei'ach et yadecha ...' (v. 16) praising HKBH
for his constant care for feeding all creatures.

As regards the first, it suggests that a better choice might have been Psalm 119
which has an eightfold acrostic whereas, as regards the second, Hallel Hagadol
(Psalm 136), which contains the verse 'Notein lechem lechol basar ... - He gives
food to all living beings' (v. 25) is more appropriate. It rejects these
objections and concludes that Ashrei is a better choice since, unlike them, it
contains both.

Then, as if it had only just noticed that Ashrei is missing a verse beginning
with nun, it quotes R Yochanan who queries this omission and explains it as
being done because of a verse 'Naflah lo tosif kum betulat Yisrael - She has
fallen and will no longer rise, maiden of Israel' (Amos 5:2) beginning with nun
which alludes to the downfall of Israel. The Gemara pushes this objection aside
by making a midrashic repunctuation that reverses it to mean 'She has fallen but
will no longer [remain fallen], Rise, O maiden of Israel!' However, this whole
discussion seems to me somewhat forced.

It struck me the other day, that the choice of Hallel Hagadol as an alternative
to Ashrei might have been more significant than appears at first sight - after
all there are many other chapters of Psalms that contain references to HKBH's
bounty and sustenance of His creation.

One point is that the verse cited begins with the missing letter nun - which
might be fortuitous or, alternatively, significant.

Another is that this particular verse seems out of place in the psalm itself
which is a praise of HKBH first as the Creator of the world and continuing with
thanks to Him for redeeming us from Egypt and the subsequent miracles,
culminating eventually in giving us Eretz Yisrael. After recounting these
miracles, there are two verses, first thanking Him for preserving us during the
exile followed by His bringing the final redemption. Placing our verse after
these two seems to indicate that it refers to this time at the end of days.

Might one suggest that this verse (136:25) was meant to be included in Ashrei to
supply the missing nun but removed for the following reason. 

At the end of Massechet Tamid, where the daily psalms are listed, they wrote
that on Shabbat the Levi'vim said "Mizmor shir leyom Hashabbat - a song for
the Shabbat day" to which they added, unlike for the other days "Mizmor shir
le'atid lavo - a song for the time to come - for the day that is totally
Shabbat and of everlasting rest".

Could one argue that its absence from Ashrei was that the latter was meant
to apply in Olam Hazeh [This World], but in which there was always the
possibility of (hopefully temporary) downfall, and its thrice daily recital
was to be a 'visa' for entry to Olam Haba [The World to Come].

Chazal did include Hallel Hagadol in the extended Pesukei dezimra for
Shabbat, which is Mei'ein Olam Haba [a taste of The World to Come]. This,
perhaps, and its recital only then, explains its transfer to its present
location. Perhaps, it will then be returned to its rightful place when the
midrashic repunctuation of the verse from Amos will be fulfilled 'She has fallen
but will no longer remain fallen, Rise, O maiden of Israel! - bimera veyameinu.

Any comments?

Martin Stern


End of Volume 64 Issue 44