Volume 64 Number 60 
      Produced: Wed, 22 Apr 20 03:43:03 -0400

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

Celebrating In Public (was Corona outbreak) 
    [Immanuel Burton]
Chassidut (2)
    [Frank Silbermann  Alex Heppenheimer]
Is There A Glaring Grammatical Error In Xad Gadya? 
    [Yaakov Shachter]
Roll your own 
    [Carl Singer]
Street minyanim (2)
    [Martin Stern  Joel Rich]
The Corona pandemic -  Rav Tzvi Tau's perspective 
    [Susan Kane]


From: Immanuel Burton <iburton@...>
Date: Sun, Apr 19,2020 at 11:01 PM
Subject: Celebrating In Public (was Corona outbreak)

Given the circumstances, I hope everyone had the best Pesach they could, and is
doing as best as they can.

Many countries have implemented physical distancing rules in order to reduce the
chance of transmission of the Covid-19 virus, and many countries have advised
not to go outside unless strictly necessary. This has obviously had an impact on
the ability of praying in Shul with a minyan, or indeed gathering in Shuls or
function halls for simchas [joyous occasions].

Over the course of Chol Ha'Moed and since, a number of people in the
neighbourhood where I live seem to have taken it upon themselves to cheer people
up by driving around with extremely loud music playing from their vehicles.  The
music is undoubtedly what could be called Jewish music, and I have not heard any
Easter music, Asian music or indeed classical music from a classical music fan.
 The music was loud enough that I could hear it quite easily from my home, at
least 3 blocks away from the source, and on the 9th storey.  The disturbance
lasted approximately 20 minutes.

The locale where I live has 2 laws prohibiting loud music in public places that
are relevant in this case - a by-law prohibiting amplified sounds louder than
70dB (about the loudness of a vacuum cleaner), and a law prohibiting excessive
noise of any type from a motor vehicle.

I am not against people celebrating as best they can under the current
circumstances.  Loud music from an event held in a function hall is largely
confined to the building in question, and if people find it uncomfortable they
either don't go or can leave - someone playing music loudly in the street leaves
no way of opting out.  And in these days of physical distancing, listening to
music in a shared way can be accomplished online in a variety of ways.

I am therefore left with these questions:

(1)  What mitzvah, if any, is being accomplished by driving around the 
neighbourhood with loud music during these times that would permit one to do so?

(2)  Is it acceptable to use public property in this manner given that one has
no way whatsoever of knowing in advance who will be affected by it and how?  For
example, people who are working from home, resting, sleeping. trying to put
children to bed, ill, following an online shiur, suffer from sound sensitivity
(e.g. hyperacuity or disphonia), other issues such as autism, or, G-d forbid,
sitting shiva, would find such an audio intrusion unwelcome, were not asked if
they object, and, as pointed out above, do not have a way of opting out.  (One
of the people doing this and to whom I addressed myself seemed to think that
because no-one has objected, everybody is agreeable to it, which is faulty logic.)

(3)  Is it acceptable to impose one's music on someone in their own home from
the public street?  Isn't this a form of trespass?  Does anyone have the right
in Halachah to broadcast music into my home in a residential area from the
public street if I don't want it and have told them so?

(4)  Do I have to relinquish the quiet enjoyment of my own home to anyone who
decides to be play music loudly in the street?  Does the current situation of
physical distancing change anything in this respect?  (And who appoints these
people anyway?)

(5)  What rationales can be used to explain to someone why they should turn it
down (or not do it in the first place)?  I find this the hardest question of
all, as it's very difficult to reason with unreasonable people.

I hope someone can shed light on these issues one way or the other, and 
may we soon join together in publicly celebrating the arrival of Moshiach.

Immanuel Burton


From: Frank Silbermann <frank_silbermann@...>
Date: Sun, Apr 19,2020 at 06:01 PM
Subject: Chassidut

Alex Heppenheimer wrote (MJ 64#58):

> Joel Rich wrote (MJ 64#57):
>> A rav visiting a high school spoke to the students concerning acceptable
>> approaches to avodat Hashem (worship of HKBH). His major point was that 
>> they're all ok as long as they have a gadol (great Rabbi) who supports the
>> approach. I wondered to the student whether the rav, who identified with a
>> branch of chassidut, felt the irony of making such a statement when 
>> chassidut's originator would have failed this test. Thoughts?
> How would the Baal Shem Tov "have failed this test"? Was he himself not a 
> gadol?

He began pursuing his approach long before he was recognized as such.

> In addition, from quite early on there were distinguished rabbis who
> supported him, such as the Meir Nesivim (R. Meir Margolios, rav of Ostraha).

OK, so an approach to avodat Hashem is OK as long as it has the support of
distinguished rabbis.  Support by a widely recognized gadol might come later.

Frank Silbermann
Memphis, Tennessee

From: Alex Heppenheimer <aheppenh@...>
Date: Mon, Apr 20,2020 at 11:01 PM
Subject: Chassidut

Joel Rich wrote (MJ 64#59) in response to me (MJ 64#58):

> What I had meant was that there was no direct link to a gadol in the previous
> generation. Perhaps I should have made that point clearer.

In fact there was such a direct link. R' Yosef Yitzchak Schneersohn (the sixth
Lubavitcher Rebbe) records the following chain of tradition: 

1. R' Eliyahu Baal Shem of Worms,

2. R' Yoel Baal Shem of Zamosc,

3. R' Adam Baal Shem, (The identity of R' Adam is disputed; a tradition of the
Chernobyler chassidim is that it was the grandfather of R' Nachum of Chernobyl,
while an introductory note to Mirkeves Hamishneh on the Mechilta identifies him
with its author, R' Avraham David Moshe (hence the initials Adam) of Rohatyn.

4. The Baal Shem Tov himself.

It is worth pointing out, too, that we do not always know the names of the
teachers of a particular gadol. As an example, the Maharal of Prague never
mentions any of his teachers, but surely no one would say that his ideas
therefore "fail" any test.

Kol tuv,


From: Yaakov Shachter <jay@...>
Date: Tue, Apr 21,2020 at 10:01 PM
Subject: Is There A Glaring Grammatical Error In Xad Gadya?

Is there a glaring grammatical error in Xad Gadya, that no half-literate Jew
could possibly make who was making any effort to write the Aramaic language

We know that the author of Xad Gadya was not a native speaker of Aramaic.  We
know this because we know when Xad Gadya was written -- or, more precisely, we
know when it first appeared in haggadoth -- and on that evidence alone we can be
confident that the author was not a native speaker of the language.  It has also
been pointed out that the author of Xad Gadya didn't know Aramaic even as a
second language, because of the supposed glaring grammatical error in the
refrain: "dzabbin abba bithrey zuzey", which is Aramaic for "which Father sold
for 2 zuz".  The correct Aramaic for "which Father bought" -- presumably what
the author meant to say -- is "dizvan abba" (or, perhaps -- see below --
"dzabban abba").  This is evident from the Aramaic translation of verses in
Scripture like Genesis 47:20 or Genesis 47:22, which contain both q-n-h and
m-k-r in the same verse, almost right next to each other, so you can easily
compare them, where "zvan" clearly means "bought" whereas "zabbin" clearly means
"sold". Anyone who fulfills the obligation of "shnayyim miqra v'exad targum"
with Targum Onkelos has read the Targum on Genesis 47:20 once a year since he
was bar-mitzva; unless there is something wrong with his brain, such that he can
read that verse without noticing what he is reading, or remembering it, he
clearly knows that "dzabbin abba" means "which Father sold".  This year I am
fulfilling the obligation of "shnayyim miqra v'exad targum" with Targum
Yonathan.  Targum Yonathan on Genesis 47:20 has q-n-' for the Hebrew q-n-h; but
if you look two verses further down, at Targum Yonathan on Genesis 47:22, you
see "zabban" for q-n-h (where Onkeles, in a perverse symmetry, has q-n-') and
"zabbin" for m-k-r.  So it clear that "zabbin" means "sold", never "bought".

Some haggadoth have corrected this obvious solecism, and changed "dzabbin" to
"dizvan".  The Maxwell House haggadoth are interesting. At first, they printed
the corrected text, "dizvan".  In the 2013 haggada, however, they changed it
back to "dzabbin", perhaps on the grounds that, if that's what the author wrote,
that's what we should print, even if it's wrong.

Can we rescue the reputation of the anonymous author of Xad Gadya? Perhaps there
were regional, nonstandard dialects of Aramaic where "zabbin" could mean both
"bought" and "sold".  In English there are dialects where one can say "learn" to
mean "teach" (although the usage seems to be restricted to procedural, rather
than propositional, learning) as in "he learned me to ride a bicycle" or "I'll
learn you not to do that".  In English, even in informal speech, these dialects
are spoken only by illiterate people.  But in French, even literate people, in
informal speech, allow themselves to say apprendre in the sense of enseigner
(this is my impression, as a non-native speaker; native French speakers of
mail.jewish will please correct me if I am mistaken).

Unfortunately, the author of Xad Gadya was not a native speaker of Aramaic, and
therefore did not speak any regional, nonstandard dialect of it.  All s/he knew
of the language, s/he must have learned from written texts, and in the written
texts "zabbin" always means "sold". There does not seem to be any way we can
escape the conclusion that the author of Xad Gadya was illiterate.

So I thought until a few days ago, when I read the "Leyl Shimmurim" commentary
on the haggada, by Rabbi Epstein (the same one who wrote the `Arokh HaShulxan).
 This is a delightful commentary.  It's a little too wordy, but so is the
Abarbanel (and I think that might very well have been his name, not Abravanel)
on the Torah.  Yes, he could have used the services of a good editor, but his
commentary is a masterpiece, and so is the Leyl Shimmurim.

The Leyl Shimmurim explains -- not very convincingly, I must admit, but it is
delightful nonetheless -- that "abba" denotes Yoseph, whom each of his ten
brothers sold ("zabbin") for 2 zuzim apiece.  This explanation is not, as I
said, convincing, but I love it nevertheless.

What I love most of all is that Rabbi Epstein didn't even take a moment to
explain what "zabbin" means.  It is apparent from his commentary that Rabbi
Epstein assumed that his readers already knew the correct meaning of "zabbin". 
I don't know what planet Rabbi Epstein was writing on, but it certainly was not
the one that I inhabit.  On the planet that I inhabit, yeshiva-educated men,
even many who call themselves Rabbi, do not know Aramaic grammar, despite
reciting shnayyim miqra v'exad targum every adult year of their lives, and they
have no idea that there is a difference between "dizvan" and "dzabbin".  They
don't even know the correct pronunciation of `Arokh HaShulxan; and yet the
author of the `Arokh HaShulxan assumed without comment that he was writing for a
literate readership.  That is what I love most of all about his commentary.

Jay F. ("Yaakov") Shachter
6424 North Whipple Street
Chicago IL  60645-4111
(1-773)7613784   landline
(1-410)9964737   GoogleVoice

"Quidquid latine dictum sit, altum videtur"


From: Carl Singer <carl.singer@...>
Date: Sun, Apr 19,2020 at 05:01 PM
Subject: Roll your own

Joel Rich wrote (MJ 64#57):

> An oleh one Thursday morning insisted on reading his own aliyah. I was 
> surprised that the gabbai/Rabbi did not waive him off (given the reason
> individual olim stopped reading was so as not to embarrass others). Is this
> at all common?

I want to step back a bit and generalize from Joel's original case and ask:

With an established minyan usually associated with a shul -- there usually
are established minhagim. Under what, if any, circumstances should an individual
or group be allowed to substitute their own minhagim for those of the minyan?
And how should such a request be dealt with?

The "roll your own" example was of an individual who, in contrast to the
minhag of the shul, "insisted" on layning his own aliyah. In this example there
are three responses that come quickly to mind:

1 - acquiesce

2 - tell him no

3 - tell him no and if he insists give the aliyah to someone else.

Several years ago we had a group come into our shul from a nearby simcha and
they snuck into a side room and davened nusach Sfard (ours is a nusach Ashkenaz
shul -- and yes, there are nusach sfard minyanim in our town).

Given time for an orderly response -- what should one do?

Carl Singer


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Sun, Apr 19,2020 at 04:01 PM
Subject: Street minyanim

David Ziants wrote (MJ 64#59):
> On MJ 64#58 I brought up the subject of street minyanim. By the time my
> submission was published, the Israeli government had already imposed more
> extreme measures both over Pesach and a bit after, completely forbidding
> street minyanim. The only remaining possibility of joining a minyan in a
> proper way ... was through what has been termed "minyanai mirpasot" [balcony
> minyanim where each family unit stands on its private balcony and there are
> enough people within ear-shot and sight to make up a minyan].
> This brings up a host of halachic questions:-
> 1) I live the other side of the road to the closest such minyan to me, but can
> usually hear very clearly and also see some of the people. A local Rav had
> already published locally that such a person cannot be one of the 10, but he
> is included in the congregation and has tefilla b'tzibur ...

I was always told that the crucial criterion for inclusion in a minyan was
that the person could see / be seen by at least some of the others.

> 3) Sometimes one can hear a minyan a bit further away, but cannot see the
> people ... - but is one obligated to answer [a berachah] if one hears and
> one is waiting for amida repetition etc at ones own minyan?
> ...

Probably not  it would seem to be similar to hearing someone in the street make
a berachah on a fruit.

> I am sure that there are more questions but now that the Israeli Cabinet has
> authorised street minyanim with up to 19 people ... they have become
> more academic than practical. May they remain just that - halachah velo le
> ma'aseh - in the future!


Martin Stern

From: Joel Rich <JRich@...>
Date: Mon, Apr 20,2020 at 02:01 AM
Subject: Street minyanim

Rabbi Gil Student has posted  a good summary of the background halachah "Are
Porch Minyanim Kosher?" on Torah Musings


(unfortunately he does not discuss the psychological impact on those who can't
join and what they might do not to "miss" a minyan)

Be Well and KT
Joel Rich


From: Susan Kane <adarconsulting@...>
Date: Sun, Apr 19,2020 at 05:01 PM
Subject: The Corona pandemic -  Rav Tzvi Tau's perspective

In response to David Tzohar (MJ 64#59):

Come on - everyone knows that the corona virus came into the world because of
long sheitls and short beards.  Let's be serious!

The day they blame a natural disaster on the fact that many men fail to daven
bizmano is the day I will consider entertaining any of these attributions.


End of Volume 64 Issue 60