Volume 64 Number 88 
      Produced: Wed, 30 Dec 20 12:05:20 +0000

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

Bracha for taking the vaccine 
    [Irwin Weiss]
Changes in practice 
    [Joel Rich]
Clear Thinking And Correct Terminology 
    [Martin Stern]
Cold Weather Prayer 
    [Art Werschulz]
Local custom 
    [Yisrael Medad]
Petirah of Rabbi Moshe Rapps ZTL 
    [Josh Rapps]
Priorities in customs 
    [Joel Rich]
Question about bagels (beigels) 
    [Jack Wechsler]
The Brisker derech  
    [Joel Rich]
The US Yeshiva Day School fraud (2)
    [Joel Rich  Carl Singer]


From: Irwin Weiss <irwin@...>
Date: Wed, Dec 23,2020 at 01:01 PM
Subject: Bracha for taking the vaccine

Let's say you determine that you'll get the vaccine when it is offered. Has
anyone seen any suggestion as to whether there is a Bracha appropriate to recite
upon getting the covid vaccine?

Irwin Weiss
Baltimore, MD


From: Joel Rich <JRich@...>
Date: Wed, Dec 30,2020 at 02:01 AM
Subject: Changes in practice

The Shulchan Aruch (Y"D 374:6) first reports the practice of contingent mourning
(e.g. a spouse taking on some elements of mourning when the other spouse is in
mourning). The Rama then says now (me - didn't they live around the same time?)
we don't do it anymore, and one who does is "min hamatmihim" (oooh, and it makes
me wonder - HT Led Zeppelin).


1.) What causes practices such as this to fall out of favor? 

2.) Why do poskim sometimes compliment those who do more and other times
discourage them - especially in this case?

Joel Rich


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Fri, Dec 25,2020 at 07:01 AM
Subject: Clear Thinking And Correct Terminology

Yaakov Shachter wrote (MJ 64#87):
> Many articles have appeared lately regarding the public-health measures that
> have been advocated, and in some cases imposed, in response to the spread of
> the SARS-CoV-2 virus, and the respiratory disease, CoViD-19, that is caused by
> it. I wish to make two points, in support of clear thinking and correct
> terminology. I am not expressing any opinion either for or against any of the
> positions that have been taken regarding those public-health measures.  You
> will perhaps think that I am, but if you think that, you are wrong; I am
> posting this article solely to promote clear thinking and correct terminology.
> 1. The word "pandemic" has been used to describe CoViD-19. That word should
> not be used.  Even if it is technically correct, it has misleading
> connotations, causing people to believe things that are untrue.  A disease
> with a mortality rate between 0.1% and 0.5% cannot be properly called a
> pandemic, regardless of how widely or how rapidly it has spread.  If you are
> using that word, it is because you have never lived through a real pandemic.
> The Spanish flu would tear into a town, and, in less than 6 weeks, leave
> one-third of the townspeople dead. That was a pandemic. Moreover, the 0.1% to
> 0.5% statistic, as low as it is, is misleadingly high.  The Spanish flu would
> kill people in the prime of life, who had no way to know that they were
> vulnerable.  In contrast, the only people who are contributing to this 0.1% to
> 0.5% statistic by dying of CoViD-19 are old people -- and "old" in this
> sentence means very old, like 70 years old, or older

As a 78 year old, I had never realised that I was 'very old' - I always assumed
that referred to someone in their late 90s - but thanks for the information!
That just goes to show that ones perception of what 'very old' means depends on
one's age. When I was a small child, I thought anyone over 30 was ancient.

> -- or young people who are vulnerable for other reasons that are known to
> them, like they are asthmatic, or they are fat (there are, of course,
> negligible exceptions to this statement, but the negligible exceptions are
> negligible, so please do not bring them up).  And, while it is true that there
> are a lot of fat people in the United States, and, to a lesser extent, in the
> other countries where mail.jewish readers live, there are no fat people who do
> not know that they are fat.

That may explain why I did not succumb to CoViD-19, being over 6 foot/1.8 metre
tall and 12 stone/4000 kg, if what I had in the summer was that disease! Whether
I had it is not certain as my only symptom was extreme exhaustion for about
three weeks - no fever, no cough, no loss of taste - and the test came back
negative though, I am told by medical practitioners who should know, such
self-administered test have a 40% false negative rate. It was not very pleasant
but it was hardly as bad as the media made out.

> It is possible for someone to know that s/he has a 0.0% likelihood of dying of
> CoViD-19 even if s/he is exposed to the SARS-CoV-2 virus. In this respect it
> is qualitatively different from any disease that can be properly called a
> pandemic, or, indeed, any other disease that medical professionals commonly
> work with; so people, including medical professionals, need to wrap their
> heads around that.

To be slightly more serious, I saw recently a report from Israel that 92% of the
fatalities from CoViD-19 suffered from an underlying chronic illness such as
diabetes, heart or lung conditions etc. I presume that (very high) proportion
only included those with KNOWN conditions, and it is conceivable that the
remaining 8% may well have had undiagnosed conditions, so it seems likely that
age PER SE is not the principal co-morbidity - such chronic illnesses just
become more common as one becomes older. In any case eventually everyone dies
and the older one gets the sooner it is likely to happen.

> ...

However Yaakov's point is well made - the reaction to this disease, though it
may be serious for certain sectors of society, has been OTT verging on the
hysterical in general society.

Martin Stern


From: Art Werschulz <werschulz.art@...>
Date: Wed, Dec 23,2020 at 04:01 AM
Subject: Cold Weather Prayer

Lawrence Israel wrote (MJ 64#87):

> I noticed that, in our outside shaharith, some people put on their tallith and
> then put their jackets over them. Others, put the talith on the outside, over
> the jacket. Inside the jacket obviously keeps you warmer, because of the air
> layer trapped under the jacket, but there might be a problem with the large
> talith not being visible. Which, if either, is the more proper way to do it?

The kind of jacket you're wearing might also be a factor.  The jacket I most
often wear is made of a slick material, and so my tallit slides right off the
jacket.  Hence, I wear my tallit inside the jacket.

Art Werschulz


From: Yisrael Medad  <yisrael.medad@...>
Date: Wed, Dec 23,2020 at 04:01 AM
Subject: Local custom

Joel Rich asks (MJ 64#87):

> When the Mishnah tells us that we need to keep local custom (makom shenahagu
> ... al yishaneh adam mipnei hamachloket) it gives the reason "mipnei
> machloket [to avoid discord?]". What specific type actions / statements were
> Chazal concerned about in terms of discord?

Can I ask how are we supposed to even know anything to be able respond? Does it
mean shouting? Banging on tables? Throwing around chairs? Screaming? Beating up
the Rabbi, the Gabbai or the Parnasim? Setting up a breakaway minyan?

But if I had to answer then it would be: all of the above. And more.

Yisrael Medad


From: Josh Rapps <rappsjosh@...>
Date: Wed, Dec 23,2020 at 02:01 PM
Subject: Petirah of Rabbi Moshe Rapps ZTL

My father, Rabbi Moshe Rapps ZTL passed away this week. He was a Rom and teacher
of Hebrew, Dikduk and Navi at MTA for 36 years and at RJJ on the lower east side
close to 20 years prior to MTA. Many years ago when I was publishing weekly
Divrei Torah from the Rav ZTL on mail-jewish and mj-ravtorah I was contacted by
many from this email/list community who were among his thousands of students,
inquiring about my father. I wanted to let his students know about his passing
and ask them to learn le'ilui nismato. I would be happy to hear from his former
talmidim. I can be reached at <rappsjosh@...>

Josh Rapps


From: Joel Rich <JRich@...>
Date: Wed, Dec 30,2020 at 02:01 AM
Subject: Priorities in customs

Commercial customs often (but not always) supersede halachic default positions.

Thought question: Is halachic default position the ratzon Hashem (What HKB"H
prefers us to do) or simply provided so society can function? 

Bonus question: How does this relate to priorities for chiyuvim for the amud
(leading services)?

Joel Rich


From: Jack Wechsler <wechsler@...>
Date: Tue, Dec 29,2020 at 06:01 AM
Subject: Question about bagels (beigels)

Having just learned daf hayomi Pesochim 37 today, it occurs to me that the
Gemara is talking about a dough that is cooked in boiling water first of all and
then baked in an oven. This is exactly the way bagels (beigels) are made. The
Gemera  discusses if this type of bread is considered bread and has the mitzvah
of challah on it or not.

I was wondering whether anyone knows what the halacha is today about bagels ? Do
you make a brocha hamotzei? Do you take challah from a large dough or not?

Jack Wechsler 


From: Joel Rich <JRich@...>
Date: Wed, Dec 30,2020 at 02:01 AM
Subject: The Brisker derech 

My guess is the Brisker derech is not the final approach to Talmudic analysis.
(For me, it's too Boolean in trying to explain the underlying halachic data.)
I've been thinking that a more multivariate approach will eventually be
constructed; perhaps with some assistance from AI, which could yield further
insights into the ratzon hashem. See what happened with alphago



Joel Rich


From: Joel Rich <JRich@...>
Date: Wed, Dec 23,2020 at 04:01 AM
Subject: The US Yeshiva Day School fraud

It seems to me a long way of saying that "we're all materialists now" (HT -
Milton Friedman). I'd not blame the schools as usually they simply reflect the
priorities of the majority of their constituents.

On a separate note, it seems an almost universal pattern that youth think the
prior generation got it wrong.

Joel Rich

From: Carl Singer <carl.singer@...>
Date: Wed, Dec 23,2020 at 10:01 AM
Subject: The US Yeshiva Day School fraud

I don't see the point in publishing this article.  The author is clearly
disenchanted and has an axe to grind.

Our friend / moderator Martin Stern who resides in the UK likely does not have
an intimate / accurate  view of US Yeshiva Education. And certainly, as with
most issues, "one size fits none."

My wife, having taught in US Yeshiva Day Schools and also having been an English
studies principal, would certainly disagree with this assessment.

My three sons all products of Yeshiva Day Schools (K-8) and yeshivas (9-12)
are well educated (2 have Masters Degrees, the third is an attorney) All are,
B"H, observant Jews - one has Smicha.  Our grandchildren attend US Yeshiva Day

But more than this, I see communities with physicians and lawyers and
professionals all with college degrees -- many are Yeshiva Day School graduates.
And I see them as observant Jews who, in turn, are sending their children to
Yeshiva Day Schools.

Again, I see no positive reason for spreading this negative narrative other
than to stir the pot.   It is biased, inaccurate and serves little purpose
without an accompanying rejoinder.

Carl A. Singer, Ph.D.Colonel, U.S. Army Retired
70 Howard Avenue


End of Volume 64 Issue 88