Volume 64 Number 82 
      Produced: Sun, 01 Nov 20 05:05:56 -0500

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

Corona shortcuts (was Maphtir before Chatan Bereishit ... ) 
    [Menashe Elyashiv]
Forced vaccination 
    [Ari Trachtenberg]
Mixed Choirs 
    [David Olivestone]
Which garment? (2)
    [Yisrael Medad   Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz]
Why is the month of Cheshvan prefixed "Mar"? (8)
    [Elazar Teitz  David S. Greenberg  Art Werschulz  Menashe Elyashiv  Michael Rogovin  Yaakov Shachter  Ben Katz, M.D. Lawrence Israel]


From: Menashe Elyashiv <menely2@...>
Date: Mon, Oct 26,2020 at 06:01 AM
Subject: Corona shortcuts (was Maphtir before Chatan Bereishit ... )

David Ziants wrote (MJ 64#81):

> 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.)
> ...
> Obviously, this special year allows for short cuts, where in any case the 
> places where we are davening are often much less comfortable.
> ...

I saw a notice in a large synagogue - only the hazan reads 'ata horaita', 3
minutes per hakafa, only one man carries the sefer torah. Because it was
Shabbat, only 7 olim laTora, Kol hanearim - fathers put boys under their talit,
by their seat, do not leave for yizkor, just turn around.

In my beit knesset, we do not shorten the prayers, we shorten other things (we
pray inside all the time, of course not crowded). Pray Minha & Maariv together,
on Shabbat Rosh Hashanah no shofar - no speech, cut back the mi shebeirachs.


From: Ari Trachtenberg <trachten@...>
Date: Mon, Oct 26,2020 at 03:01 PM
Subject: Forced vaccination

Recently, Tradition's online magazine featured an article arguing for mandatory
COVID vaccination as soon as the vaccine becomes available for Emergency Use:


Although I take very strong issue with the science behind the article (which
effectively demands blind faith in the vaccine process), I am also curious about
the reactions to the halachic positions raised in the article, for those of you
have read it.

Since two doctors have written the piece (one of whom also has smicha), I would
imagine that the article has the potential to deeply prejudice the discussion
going forward.


Ari Trachtenberg, Boston University 
http://people.bu.edu/trachten mailto:<trachten@...>


From: David Olivestone <david@...>
Date: Mon, Oct 26,2020 at 11:01 AM
Subject: Mixed Choirs

Oren Tilevitz asked (MJ 64#81):

> 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 observant.)

In all my reading and research into the lives of the chazanim during the Golden
Age of Chazanut (first half of the 20th century), I have never seen any mention
of mixed choirs. Of course, this does not prove that they did not exist. But
there are many accounts, several of them contemporary, of the activities of
chazanim in the major European Jewish population centers, such as Vilna, Odessa,
and Warsaw, where the main synagogue was usually known as the Chorshul. In all
the reports that I have seen (and there are photographs, too) the members of the
choir, which sometimes numbered as many as 100, are described as men and boys.

We know a lot about Yossele Rosenblatts life story, including from a very
detailed biography written by his son, and nowhere is there any suggestion of a
mixed choir. He was a shomer Torah u-mitzvot all his life.

David Olivestone


From: Yisrael Medad  <yisrael.medad@...>
Date: Mon, Oct 26,2020 at 02:01 AM
Subject: Which garment?

Martin Stern asks (MJ 64#81) why the definitive 'Hey' was used to describe a
garment [simlah] with which Noach was covered as that "suggests a specific
garment" and yet no specific garment is noted.

I would suggest that as the garment that was there, presumably, was the one
he had drunkenly rolled out of, and that there was no other, that was "The

Yisrael Medad

From: Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz <sabbahillel@...>
Date: Tue, Oct 27,2020 at 02:01 AM
Subject: Which garment?

In response to Martin Stern (MJ 64#81):

Ibn Ezra actually explicitly says "Hayeduah", the "known" garment. Based on the
pasuk and the way it is written, it would seem that the garment was identified
with Noach and was immediately available.

That is, just as the garment had slipped off of Noach in his drunkenness, Shem
and Yafes picked it up from right next to their father in order to avoid leaving
him uncovered while they went to find a garment.

While the only reference that I found in the Mikraos Gedolos was this Ibn Ezra
who points out it is a hei hayediah, this seems to be the best way of reading
the pshat.

Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz


From: Elazar Teitz <emteitz@...>
Date: Sun, Oct 25,2020 at 07:01 PM
Subject: Why is the month of Cheshvan prefixed "Mar"?

David Ziants wrote (MJ 64#81):

> 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? 
> So, is anyone able to explain this anomaly concerning Heshvan?
> ...

We may be told so (I remember being given that explanation as a young child),
but it is incorrect.  "Mar" is not a prefix added on to the name of the month,
as "Menachem " is to the month of Av.  Rather, it is an integral part of the
name. [Note that on the Shabbos before Rosh Chodesh, the latter is referred to
as "Av," while the former is "Marcheshvan.  Likewise, in documents such as a
kesuba or a get, the same is true: we do not write Menachem Av, but we do write

The true reason, apparently, is  that, as we know, the names of our months are
Babylonian in origin, and Marcheshvan is a slightly corrupted version of the
Babylonian term for "eighth month," which is what Cheshvan is, since Nissan is
the first month.  Since it is a long name (the only trisyllabic month name), it
became shortened to Cheshvan in unofficial usage.

As to why this month uniquely was named by its number rather than a specific
name, it may indeed be because of the "mar", not in its connotation of "bitter",
but as "a drop".  See Isaiah 40:15, "k'mar mid'li," as a drop from a bucket.
(Parenthtically, I suspect that this verse is the source of that expresssion.) 
The name may have been chosen to indicate that Cheshvan is the beginning of the
rainy season in Eretz Yisrael, where the prayer for rain, "v'sein tal umatar
livracha" (Grant us dew and rain for a blessing) is begun on 7 (Mar)Cheshvan.


From: David S. Greenberg <david.scott.greenberg@...>
Date: Mon, Oct 26,2020 at 12:01 AM
Subject: Why is the month of Cheshvan prefixed "Mar"?

In response to David Ziants (MJ 64#81):

This is actually a misconception.  The name of this month is most likely
Marheshvan, deriving from the combination of the Akkadian words for eighth
month,  mrach shvan. 

From: Art Werschulz <agw@...>
Date: Mon, Oct 26,2020 at 03:01 AM
Subject: Why is the month of Cheshvan prefixed "Mar"?

In response to David Ziants (MJ 64#81):

Over the last few years, I had heard that the proper name of the month is
Marcheshvan.  I had first heard of this in various issues of Torah Tidbits (and
now Philo-Torah), in which Phil Chernovsky stated that the proper name is
Marcheshvan.  You can find support for this viewpoint in Arukh HaShulhan, Even
HaEzer 126:17.  

There is a nice article about the topic at


Art Werschulz
IL: +972 50-709-5525
US: +1 908-612-8140

From: Menashe Elyashiv <menely2@...>
Date: Mon, Oct 26,2020 at 04:01 AM
Subject: Why is the month of Cheshvan prefixed "Mar"?

In reponse to David Ziants (MJ 64#81):

Three reasons are suggested for the significance of the 'prefix' mar, which
might mean: 


bitter, as in marror, 

drop of water, as in kemar midli (Isaiah 40,15 "as a drop from a bucket", i.e. a
hope that the rains should start).

All all incorrect. The Months' names come from the Babylonian months. WARCHU
SHAMNU means the 8th month. As in Babylonian, W can change to M and M to
W, we have MARCHU SHAWAN, or in modern hebrew Marcheshvan.

see THE ACADEMY OF THE HEBREW LANGUAGE <http://en.hebrew-academy.org.il/>

From: Michael Rogovin <michael@...>
Date: Mon, Oct 26,2020 at 09:01 AM
Subject: Why is the month of Cheshvan prefixed "Mar"?

In response to David Ziants's question (MJ 64#81), it is due to his mistaken
naming of the month (not his fault, I would estimate that roughly 99% of
Jewry makes the same mistake).

Hebrew months are named after Babylonian months (which are often from their
gods). The month in question is not "Cheshvan" or "Mar Cheshvan" but rather
"Marachshevan", a contraction of "Marach Shevan" which translates from Akkaidian
to Hebrew as "yerach shmonah" or "eighth month." Indeed, Marachshevan is the 8th
month in the calendar, following Tishrei which is identified in the Torah as the
7th month counting from Nissan. It is not clear exactly when the splitting of
the two words (in the wrong place to boot) occurred, but it led to the need to
explain what "mar" meant, 
obviously not "mister" :-)

There was an article about this in Jewish Action several years ago by Ari
Zivotofsky. Here is the link:


Wikipedia also has an article about this.

Michael Rogovin

From: Yaakov Shachter <jay@...>
Date: Tue, Oct 27,2020 at 12:01 AM
Subject: Why is the month of Cheshvan prefixed "Mar"?

In response to David Ziants (MJ 64#81):

There is no month named Xeshvan.  There is a month named Marxeshvan (which is
old Aramaic for "8th month", the mem corresponding to the Hebrew yod, as in
"Methivta"), which is sometimes incorrectly known as Xeshvan.

Jay F. ("Yaakov") Shachter
6424 North Whipple Street
Chicago IL  60645-4111

From: Ben Katz, M.D.<BKatz@...>
Date: Tue, Oct 27,2020 at 11:01 AM
Subject: Why is the month of Cheshvan prefixed "Mar"?

In response to David Ziants (MJ 64#81):

Most people assume it is a mistake for merach shevan.  Shevan means 8 in Persian
(all names of the months are Persian, and are post-Babylonian exile) and merach
is related to the word yerach which means month, so merach shevan just means the
8th month.  If this is correct, why other month names are not preceded by merach
is a question I have never seen addressed.  

BTW there's an old mathematical joke: is there any such thing as an
uninteresting number?  2 is an example of an interesting number because it is
the only even prime.   So are there any uninteresting numbers?  The "answer" is
No, because if there were,  there would be a set of uninteresting numbers and
then the first number in that set would drop out because it is interesting that
it is the first uninteresting number, and this process then continues ad
infinitum.  To me Cheshvan is an important month because it has no holidays (and
let's you catch up on all the work we missed in Tishrei).  

From: Lawrence Israel <larry.israel@...>
Date: Wed, Oct 28,2020 at 05:01 AM
Subject: Why is the month of Cheshvan prefixed "Mar"?

In response to David Ziants (MJ 64#81):

I thought that the reverse was true, that the month was originally Marheshwan,
but that the Mar was dropped because it sounded like "bitter".


End of Volume 64 Issue 82