Volume 64 Number 81 
      Produced: Sun, 25 Oct 20 16:37:51 -0400

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

"Secular wisdom" on hold? 
    [Joel Rich]
Amar Rav Papa 
    [Joel Rich]
    [Joel Rich]
Forms of teshuvah  
    [Joel Rich]
Maphtir before Chatan Bereishit with only one Sepher Torah 
    [David Ziants]
Mixed choirs 
    [Orrin Tilevitz]
Which garment? 
    [Martin Stern]
Why is the month of Cheshvan prefixed "Mar"? 
    [David Ziants]


From: Joel Rich <JRich@...>
Date: Tue, Oct 20,2020 at 08:01 PM
Subject: "Secular wisdom" on hold?

I saw recently in a book review the following comment:

'You will not find here comparative analyses of the various approaches: "Torah
Only" versus "Torah im Derech Eretz" versus "Torah Umadda." This enhances the
book because those arcane discussions have always been more the province of
scholars in their ivory towers than that of actual wage earners out in the

'Rabbi Lopiansky instead sets out a model elegant in its simplicity: The time
spent in yeshivah is a period in which a young man takes on the role of Shevet
Levi - "a stratum of undiluted and uncompromised spirituality with a minimum of
interaction with the material world." These years are "the stratum [that]
becomes the core of our being." The subsequent years in the work world are years
in which one must find his role as one of the other shevatim - "to know our
mission in life and to realize it." Such missions must be solidly within the
framework of osek b'yishuvo shel olam - "the constructive building and enhancement
of the world."'

My reaction to this was that certainly another model might be considered: one
might argue that looking ahead while one is in Yeshiva would allow a stronger
foundation for the subsequent years (e.g. understanding real world trade-offs
while studying theoretical paradigms, learning skills which will make one more
effective in their ultimate mission, gathering lenses and facts which can force
multipliers in one's learning). This differentiation has some very practical
implications. (Besides the psychological considerations of possible feelings
about having to leave the Yeshiva)


Joel Rich


From: Joel Rich <JRich@...>
Date: Wed, Oct 7,2020 at 05:01 PM
Subject: Amar Rav Papa

Fun Fact - the abbreviation Alef Reish Peih (amar rav papa) appears twice in
shas whereas the statement amar rav papa appears 702 times! Explanation?

Interestingly the kitvei yad (manuscripts) don't have the abbreviation in either


Joel Rich


From: Joel Rich <JRich@...>
Date: Tue, Oct 13,2020 at 07:01 PM
Subject: Analogies

>From the RCBC (Rabbinic Council of Bergen County): Just as our exile from Israel
was intended as punishment, but has become comfortable and even preferable to
many, the same may be said about our exile from shul and yeshiva.

Question: What priority (resources/time) should/does the American Orthodox
community (and its leadership) spend on thinking about the first part of this
statement? Does the analogy resonate with them?

Joel Rich


From: Joel Rich <JRich@...>
Date: Tue, Sep 22,2020 at 08:01 PM
Subject: Forms of teshuvah 

R' Gil Student wrote elsewhere:

Medieval Ashkenazic authorities prescribed a variety of strong acts of
self-induced suffering as part of the teshuvah process, including long-term
fasting, lashes, exile and more. Rabbeinu Peretz (Gloss to Semak, no. 53) lists
four kinds of teshuvah:

1) teshuvas charatah, in which you regret the sin;

2) teshuvas ha-geder, in which you set additional boundaries for yourself to
avoid sinning in the future;

3) teshuvas ha-kasuv, in which you undergo the punishment listed in the Torah
for your sin;

4) teshuvas ha-mishkal, in which you inflict yourself with pain corresponding to
the amount of pleasure you enjoyed with your sin.

Of these four, the first is what we consider standard teshuvah and the second is
going above and beyond. The third and fourth are not - and should not be -
practiced today. The Vilna Gaon's brother (Ma'alos Ha-Torah, introduction) makes
clear that we cannot undergo these harsh forms of teshuvah in our time (his
time, even more so in our time) and emerge physically and religiously healthy.
Instead, he recommends intense Torah study.

My question is what is the nature of the paradigm change claimed by the Ma'alos


Joel Rich


From: David Ziants <dziants@...>
Date: Sat, Oct 10,2020 at 04:01 PM
Subject: Maphtir before Chatan Bereishit with only one Sepher Torah

Simchat Torah during time of Corona was different for most of us, especially
with many street minyanim and outside shul minyanim being divided up into groups
of not more than twenty according to the current Ministry of Health guidelines
in Israel and the need to finish relatively quickly in the morning because of
the heat. (Many are davening with sunrise - k'vatikin.)

One of my neighbourhood rabbanim advised, because of tircha d'tzibura, that they
should say a shortened version of the reshut for the chatanim, and that those
minyanim that have only one sepher torah should read maphtir before chatan
bereishit so as not to spend extra time rolling the sepher backwards all the way
and then forward again. In normal years, if there was a need to roll the sepher,
this could be done at the time that the reshut was being said. It should be
noted that chatan breishit is a custom of much less importance than other
aspects of kriat hatorah.

Reading maphtir before chatan breishit is a suggestion that had been documented
in halachic works for use under normal circumstances, but had generally been
rejected because the congregants are likely to become upset when changes like
this are made, and in any case the sepher is generally wound at the time the
reshut is said so the tircha d'tzibura would be minimized. Obviously, this
special year allows for short cuts, where in any case the places where we are
davening are often much less comfortable.

I am curious to hear if there are any other takes on this issue. Also, what
other short-cuts have other congregations taken over the last weeks during the
Yamim Nora'im and Sukot/Shemini Atzeret. (For example, in Israel, in any case
the general Ashkenazi custom is not to have too many piyutim - but this year
many of the core piyutim which are generally said were cut - and we were advised
to make up by singing these at home afterwards.)

Hope that everyone had an enjoyable chag.

David Ziants


From: Orrin Tilevitz <tilevitzo@...>
Date: Fri, Sep 11,2020 at 08:01 AM
Subject: Mixed choirs

Does anyone know whether the great Eastern European chazzanim in Orthodox
synagogues pre-war, such as Yossele Rosenblatt, sang with mixed choirs at
services? (I mention Rosenblatt in particular because, unlike some such
chazzanim, he had an unimpeached reputation for being religious and religiously

There is an article, available online, in Jewish Historical Studies , 2004, Vol.
39 (2004), pp. 121-151, that addresses the British Chief Rabbinate's stance on
this issue but does not answer my question.


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Sun, Oct 25,2020 at 06:01 AM
Subject: Which garment?

After the flood, Noach planted a vineyard and made wine from its grapes from
which he became intoxicated, leading him to lie unclothed in his tent (Ber.
9:18-21). This was noticed by Cham who drew this to his brothers' attention (v.
22) but they wished to respect Noach's modesty and took "hasimlah" and, walking
backwards, covered him without directly seeing him (v. 23).

"Hasimlah" normally would mean "THE garment" i.e. a specific garment which we
should be able to identify but it is not clear to me what it was and, as far as
I can see, all the mefarshim seem to understand it as meaning "An [unidentified]

However, the use of the heh hayedia' suggests a specific garment and I am
surprised that nobody seems to have picked up this apparent problem and, at
least, provided other examples form Tenach where a heh hayedia' is used for a
non-specific item.

Of course, the fact that I have not found such a comment does not mean it does
not exist so I wonder if anyone else can provide a reference.

Martin Stern


From: David Ziants <dziants@...>
Date: Tue, Oct 20,2020 at 04:01 AM
Subject: Why is the month of Cheshvan prefixed "Mar"?

We are told that the month of Cheshvan is sometimes known as Marcheshvan, i.e.
prefixed with "mar" which means "bitter" because in contrast to the previous
month of Tishri, there are no festivals (not even minor) during this month.

This designation, though, does not seem to be in line with Jewish tradition that
has an optimistic approach to life, and generally encourages positive language.
Even the saddest month of the year, Av, is prefixed "menachem" (comfort) because
of this approach, although "mar" might seem more appropriate for Menachem-Av.
But, also Av, contains the festival of Tu B'Av - so also before Mashiach ben
David appears we have celebration in this month.

So, is anyone able to explain this anomaly concerning Heshvan? Are we saying
that, unlike Tevet, Tamuz and Av that have fast days that will eventually turn
into festive days, we do not even have this in Cheshvan?
I will leave Elul alone, because it's speciality in that it is a month of
teshuva - and this can only be positive. So Cheshvan really does stand out as
the only month with no festivals, not even for the future - what right do we
have to call this "mar" when the Torah mandates clean [optimistic] language?

David Ziants


End of Volume 64 Issue 81