Volume 64 Number 64 
      Produced: Wed, 27 May 20 12:39:39 -0400

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

An incongruous choice of words? 
    [Dr. William Gewirtz]
Another incongruous choice? 
    [Martin Stern]
Minyanim not in accordance with government rules (2)
    [David Tzohar  Bill Bernstein]
Some more incongruous choices of words? (3)
    [Ben Katz, M.D. Haim Snyder  Elazar Teitz]
Street minyanim 
    [Immanuel Burton]
Targum Pseudo-Yonathan 
    [Yaakov Shachter]
Warning of a sakkanah 
    [Carl Singer]


From: Dr. William Gewirtz <wgewirtz@...>
Date: Thu, May 21,2020 at 12:01 PM
Subject: An incongruous choice of words?

Irwin Weiss wrote (MJ 64#63): 

> Martin Stern wrote (MJ 64#62):
>> One thing which struck me was the apparent incongruous choice of words in the
>> second paragraph of the Shema "Ve'asafta degganecha vetiroshecha 
>> veyitzharecha [and you will gather your grain, wine and oil]" (Deut. 11:14).
>> While it makes perfect sense to "gather" grain, one does not "gather" wine or
>> oil but, rather, one gathers grapes and olives which then need further
>> processing to produce the final product.
> Well, I am not a Hebrew scholar by any means, but it seems to me this is
> probably idiomatic. I mean, the land doesn't really flow with milk and honey,
> does it?

I am not a Hebrew scholar either, but I am relatively expert in trop and less so
in Onkelos. The trop separates milk, which flows, from date-honey (as opposed to
bee honey) which does not. Onkelos disagrees; however, he translates zavat not
as flows but as produces, and then correspondingly lists/links both items 'milk
and date-honey'.

As to Deut. 11:14, the trop arguably separates your grain from your wine/grapes
and oil/olives. This gets into a complex discussion of how trop deals with a
list of items. See my second paper on cantillation on the lehrhaus.com where
this is very elementarily addressed. You can read my first paper as well.
Alternatively, Rashi translates ve'asafta as 'you', as opposed to 'your
enemies', will bring (the three items) into your house.

And, as a public service announcement:

By Shavuot, my website at www.zemanim.net, will, hopefully, be up and running.
Please do not try to access before Shavuot


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Mon, May 25,2020 at 06:01 AM
Subject: Another incongruous choice?

Another point that occurred to me, this time in birchot hashachar, was a switch
from singular to plural and back again.

In order to avoid the dispute as to whether the first yehi ratson after birchot
hashachar is a separate berachah or not, and therefore requires a response of
amen, the practice is to append it to the fifteenth of them  - hama'avir sheinah
mei'einai ... - without saying the latter's last words aloud and with a vav
appended to its first word 'yehi' to join them into "one long berachah" (much
like the way "veha'arev-na ..." is joined to "... la'asok bedivrei Torah").

The problem is that 'hama'avir sheinah' is framed in the singular whereas the
first 'yehi ratson' in the siddur is in the plural despite its source in (TB
Berachot 60b) being phrased in the singular.

On the other hand, the second one is reported in both singular (TB Shabbat 30b)
and plural (TB Berachot 16b), and it is not joined to the first with a vav, so
there is no problem with it being quoted in either number.

However, it is strange that the first yehi ratson seems to have had its number
deliberately altered.

Has anyone any explanation?

Martin Stern


From: David Tzohar <davidtzohar@...>
Date: Sat, May 23,2020 at 08:01 PM
Subject: Minyanim not in accordance with government rules

Joel Rich (MJ 64#63) recently asked about how we should relate halaachically to
laws promulgated against the corona pandemic by a (I presume) Goyish government.

He implied that those who consider themselves chukati (statist) would be more
open to kulot arising, inter alia, from the principle of "sakanta chamira

Bimchilato, I disagree. To be fully transparent, I should state that I think he
would pigeon-hole me as chukati since I am a Rav in an institution, Machon Meir,
that is identified with the Mamlachti (statist) movement led by Rav Tzvi Tau,
Nasi of Yeshivat Har Hamor. This even though I learned Rabbanut for 15 years in
a Kollel that was definitely not statist but, rather, charedi. (I guess that
makes me a baal teshuva in more than one way!)

IMHO Joel ignores the basic question - whether "dina demalchuta dina" applies in
the galut - even in a "golden galut" whose laws are not necessaraly against the

First let's take America. It is without a doubt "malchut" since it has power of
levying taxes and at least on the federal level (IIAC also in NY state} it has
capital punishment. Therefore if Trump (or DiBlasio or Cuomo) says "No public
Minyans", this is a halachic obligation. The only question is whether it is an
issur de'oraita, issur derabbannan, both chiyuvim [obligatory], or merely minhag
derech eretz, i.e. reshut [recommended behaviour but non-obligatory]. If it is
being done to save lives then factors such as "dina demalchuta dina" come into
play. But if the goal is economic, I would see a problem.

Whether it applies to the present State of Israel is an entirely different
question. The question is whether the Israeli government constitutes a halachic
"malchut". According to Rav Tau there is no question that the State and all its
branches are"Kissei Shechunat Hashem Ba"olam even though there is no capital
punishment except for Nazi war criminals. It is the kind of "malchut"
established by the Hasmonians and Bar Cochba. 

IMHO, according to the Rambam Shlit"a, BIBI has the status of a King and is
halachically entitled to lock up mikvahs, shuls and Yeshivas for the public
good. Of course, many (but not all) of the Haredim don't agree, and they paid
for their dissent - over 500 arrested and jailed and countless others taken off
to quarantine centers.

I apologize for not citing sources, but there are so many which makes it unfeasable.

As we said in Birkat Hachodesh "May Hashem grant health to Am Yisrael".

Kol tuv

David Yitzchak Tzohar
Machon Meir
Yerushalayim habnuya

From: Bill Bernstein <billbernstein@...>
Date: Sun, May 24,2020 at 04:01 PM
Subject: Minyanim not in accordance with government rules

Joel Rich asks (MJ 64#63) about the rationale for people holding minyanim not in
accordance with government edicts.

I am not certain about his question. In most places in the U.S. under lockdown
any minyan is not in accordance with government edict, as religious services
have been banned. If he means other places where minyanim are allowed but with
certain stipulations that are not followed I cannot speak to that as I am not
aware of any.

His question rests on certain assumptions:

1. Contact with the virus is so likely to be fatal that it constitutes a sakanas
nefashos [danger to life]

2. Government rules are effective at keeping people from such contact

3. Jews are obligated to follow government edicts

I find each one of these assumptions to be suspect. As more antibody testing is
done we discover that the rate of infection is far higher than anyone had
thought. Yet many testing positive have experienced either no symptoms
whatsoever or very mild ones which they often mistook for other things. 

The two major factors for the disease being fatal seem to be age and underlying
health issues. Yet even in New York City, the hardest hit city in the U.S.by
far, the rate of death for people under 44 with no underlying conditions is
quite low, about 3% or less than the flu in some years. The rate rises
considerably for those over 75.

Social distancing rules are not effective in preventing contamination. The
evidence of widespread contact, i.e. antibody testing, shows lockdowns were not
terribly effective. A piece by TJ Rodgers that appeared in the Wall St Journal
on April 26 showed a statistical analysis that suggested this.

Additionally the government has issued contradictory guidance over time -- first
recommending against the use of face masks, and then recommending using them. 

The six foot distance rule as well has been questioned.

Finally the idea that Jews are obligated to follow government edict is itself
difficult. Attending a minyan is a definite obligation so an edict against doing
so should not fall under the principle of Dina d'Malchusa dina, as it runs
contrary to halakha. Such edicts additionally run contrary to the United States
Constitution's Free Exercise clause of the First Amendment on religious freedom,
and courts are beginning to strike them down.

So to me the onus is not on those conducting minyanim but on those who want to
nullify this obligation. A popular story involves Reb Yisroel Salanter z'l
wanting to demonstrate that fasting during an epidemic is prohibited. To do so,
he produced a cup of wine in shul on Kol Nidre and made kiddush. But they didn't
suspend the minyan.

Bill Bernstein
Brunswick GA.


From: Ben Katz, M.D.<BKatz@...>
Date: Thu, May 21,2020 at 06:01 PM
Subject: Some more incongruous choices of words?

Martin Stern wrote (MJ 64#63):

> Taking advantage of the current lockdown in having more time to think about 
> our davenning, I noticed a couple of incongruous wordings in Pesukei dezimra on 
> Shabbat:
> 1. "af ein-yesh-ruach befihem" (Ps.135:17)
> Surely ein [there is not] contradicts yesh [there is] and the meaning would be
> the same if the latter were omitted.
> 2. In Ps. 136, surely verses 17 and 18 should come after verses 19 and 20. 
> AFAIK there were no 'kings' defeated, apart from the king of Arad (Num. 21:1-3),
> before the defeat of Sichon and Og, let alone any whose lands became part of 
> the heritage of the Jewish people.
> Any explnation?

1. The Psalmist is saying 'They have a nose but no breath comes out of it'.  The
structure is slightly different from the preceding phrases (they have ears but
can't hear, eyes but can't see).  If you left out the yesh you would probably
need a different conjunction before ein (such as aval)

2. I always thought those 4 verses were all describing the same  events - God
struck great kings...killed exalted kings ... Sihon the King of Emor and Og king
of Bashan

From: Haim Snyder <haimsny@...>
Date: Fri, May 22,2020 at 03:01 AM
Subject: Some more incongruous choices of words?

In response to Martin Stern's second observation (MJ 64#63):
I think the answer is given in Ps. 125 which we say immediately before Ps. 126.
Verses 10 to 12 are similar in intent, but there, in verse 11, is an addition
"and all the kingdoms of Canaan." 

In my opinion, Sihon and Og are mentioned separately in Ps. 126 because their
lands weren't in Canaan, but they WERE included in the area given to Bnei
Yisrael because they didn't acknowledge the special status of Bnei Yisrael and
allow them to pass unimpeded.

Haim Shalom Snyder
Petah Tikva

From: Elazar Teitz <emteitz@...>
Date: Mon, May 25,2020 at 09:01 PM
Subject: Some more incongruous choices of words?

In two posts, Martin Stern pointed to some apparent incongruities in some verses
in our prayers.

One (MJ 64#62) was the "choice of words in the second paragraph of the
Shema, 'Ve'asafta degganecha vetiroshecha veyitzharecha [and you will
gather your grain, wine and oil]' Deut. 11:14)," which he questioned
because "While it makes perfect sense to 'gather' grain, one does not
'gather' wine or oil but, rather, one gathers grapes and olives which then
need further processing to produce the final product."

However, his question is based on a faulty translation of "dagan."  It does
not mean "grain." The word for grain is "t'vua." Dagan is the kernels of
grain after they have been winnowed, and thus are comparable to "tirosh,"
the result of pressing grapes, and "yitzhar," the result of pressing
olives. The verb "esof" can refer to the original crop or (figuratively)
to the finished product, as in "b'osp'cha migorn'cha umiyikvecha," when you
gather from your granary and your wine press (Deut. 16:13).

Another apparent incongruity cited (MJ 64#63) was "af ein-yesh-ruach befihem"
(Ps.135:17), because "[s]urely ein [there is not] contradicts yesh [there
is] and the meaning would be the same if the latter were omitted."

But as some commentaries note, the sense of the verse is not "there is not
there is," which is indeed meaningless.  What it means is "it is even the
case (af) that there is no (ein) existence (yeish) of breath in
their mouths," not just that they have mouths but cannot speak, as
mentioned in the previous verse.

Finally, he feels that in Psalm 136, the verse pair 17-18, that we offer
our praise to Hashem "Who smites great kings (verse 17) and killed mighty
kings," (verse 18) should follow verse 19 "Sichon, the king of the Emori,"
and verse 20, "Og, the king of the Bashan," because "there were no 'kings'
defeated . . . before the defeat of Sichon and Og, let alone any whose
lands became part of the heritage of the Jewish people."  What he means is
that historically, Og and Sichon were killed, and then 31 Canaanite kings
were killed.  His assumption is that it was these thirty-one who are
referred as the "strong" and "mighty" kings who were killed, and "whose
land He gave as a heritage, a heritage to His nation Israel. However
(aside from the fact that if verse 19 became verse 17 it would be
meaningless -- "Sichon, king of the Emori" : what about him?), verse 19 and
20 are not independent of 17 and 18, but are an elaboration of them: "He
smote great kings, and killed great kings; [namely], Og, king of the Bashan
and Sichon, king of the Emori, and gave their lands as a heritage to His
nation Israel." It follows the same pattern as the earlier "Who creates
great luminaries (verse 7), [namely] "the sun to rule by day" (verse 8)
and "the moon and the stars, to rule by night" (verse 9).  In both
instances, the later verses expand on the earlier.



From: Immanuel Burton <iburton@...>
Date: Sun, May 24,2020 at 11:01 AM
Subject: Street minyanim

Martin Stern wrote (MJ 64#63):

> Most 'Street minyanim' seem to operate by neighbours standing in their front
> gardens within sight of each other but I have noticed that some, in quiet
> residential streets, are actually davening on the street itself, generally on
> the part reserved for pedestrians. They are thereby obstructing their right of
> way and, probably a more serious problem, forcing them onto where motor 
> vehicles pass through with the associated dangers.
> Is this behaviour halachically permitted or should one remonstrate with them
> and ask them to leave the public domain and stay in their private property?

In his book Code For The Road (Israel Bookshop, 2012), Rabbi Avrohom Bookman
writes regarding parking one's car:

"It is forbidden to park in a manner that blocks pubic passage.  By doing so,
one could be considered stealing from the public as he is depriving others from
their right of passage along a specific route.

"Parking on a sidewalk has the additional problem of possibly endangering the
public such as if pedestrians are required to walk along the road in order to
circumvent the parked vehicle."

I cited the above paragraph in MJ 64#40 concerning blocking the aisle in 
an aeroplane in order to pray:

> I would suggest that a similar idea would apply to blocking the aisle in an
> aeroplane without consent.  All the passengers on a plane are equally entitled
> to use the aisle, and blocking the aisle would deprive the other passengers of
> that right.  This may even apply to any case where one uses a communal
> resource, e.g. the aisle in a synagogue, in a manner that excludes others
> from using it.

As with blocking the aisle, I would suggest that blocking the pavement/sidewalk
in a manner that prevents other members of the public from using it would
similarly be wrong.  And even if it isn't wrong, it certainly doesn't sound like
a proper thing to do.

If blocking the public right of way does constitute a misappropriation of public
property, then doesn't one's prayer becomes a mitzvah haba'ah be'aveirah (a good
deed accomplished through sinning)?

Immanuel Burton.


From: Yaakov Shachter <jay@...>
Date: Tue, May 26,2020 at 09:01 PM
Subject: Targum Pseudo-Yonathan

Menashe Elyashiv wrote (MJ 64#61):
> Yaakov Shachter wrote (MJ 64#60):
>> This year I am fulfilling the obligation of "shnayyim miqra v'exad
>> targum" with Targum Yonathan.
> ...
> This is very interesting.  However, Yonatan did not translate the
> Torah, only the Neviim.  T"Y is Targum Yerushalmi, a targum used in
> Israel, as opposed to the Targum Onkelos that was used in Bavel, and
> continues to be used by the Yemeni Jews up to the present day.

This is one hundred per cent correct.  Menashe, you are right; I was wrong
(shadkhanim: note the ease with which I uttered those last six words).  I should
have called it "Targum Pseudo-Yonathan", or, perhaps, "The Targum Formerly
Attributed To Yonathan".  Thank you for correcting me.

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: Tue, May 26,2020 at 10:01 PM
Subject: Warning of a sakkanah

Suppose I see an unfamiliar 8 year old child riding his bicycle in the street
NOT wearing a helmet

What should I do?    If I post his picture on a community website so his parents
will find out, I get various responses:

Response 1  --  this is loshen horah, embarrassing the rider, etc. -- how dare you!!

Response 2  -- thank you for the warning.

BTW -- 2 days later I saw the same child -- this time wearing a helmet.

I know the psak I learned long ago -- just wondering how others might weigh in
on this.

Kol Tuv

Carl A. Singer


End of Volume 64 Issue 64