Volume 65 Number 02 
      Produced: Thu, 09 Sep 21 14:17:33 -0400

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

Baring shoulder during mourning 
    [Dov Bloom]
Deceptive tzeduka (2)
    [Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz  Michael Poppers]
Hebrew Pronunciation  
    [Prof. Yitzchok Levine]
Jewish law has evolved 
    [Ben Katz, M.D.]
Kamtza / Bar-Kamtza 
    [Prof. Yitzchok Levine]
Lakewood Rabbonim Oppose The COVID-19 Jab 
    [Prof. Yitzchok Levine]
Reciting L'Dovid Hashem Ori, A Secret History 
    [Prof. Yitzchok Levine]
Which foods should one avoid eating on Rosh Hashana? 
    [Prof. Yitzchok Levine]


From: Dov Bloom <dovbbb@...>
Date: Wed, Sep 1,2021 at 07:17 AM
Subject: Baring shoulder during mourning

Ben Katz wrote (MJ 64#99):

> Jewish law definitely evolves .... Here are just a few examples:
> 1. Baring one's shoulder during mourning was prescribed in Talmudic
> times; no one does this today.

I was recently at a funeral for a Yemenite (held in the ancient cemetary of
Hevron) and some of the mourners/children did halitzat katef, bared his
shoulder, during the funeral.

I guess it is one more thing where only the Yemenites held on to ancient customs
and halachot.

Dov Bloom


From: Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz <sabbahillel@...>
Date: Mon, Aug 30,2021 at 10:17 PM
Subject: Deceptive tzeduka

Carl Singer wrote (MJ 65#01):

> The overwhelming number of tzedukahs I deal with are erlach.  But I am finding a
> few deceptive ones.
> We received in today's mail a letter with a return address from someone in
> our community (whom we do not know). There was a faux handwritten encouraging
> note on the outside of the envelope. Inside a card mis-addressed to one of our
> sons (who hasn't lived in our household in at least 5 years). It falsely claimed
> that he pledged $180 in 2018 & 2019, and $360 in 2020.
> We also get multiple*tzedakah*  requests from organizations unknown to us, all
> with the same bulk rate permit number.
> The question is how to best respond.   The easy solution involves my recycling
> bin. But do I (we) have a broader *halachic *responsibility?  What?

If they send you a prestamped envelope, he I would stuff their papers into the
envelope and send it back with a comment. Otherwise, I would notify the local
vaad hatzedakah about this so that the members of your community can be warned.
Aside from that, there is usually nothing else that you can do.

Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz

From: Michael Poppers <the65pops@...>
Date: Sun, Sep 5,2021 at 12:17 AM
Subject: Deceptive tzeduka

In response to Carl Singer (MJ 65#01):

The question is how to best respond, In the US, see Webpage


From: Prof. Yitzchok Levine <larry62341@...>
Date: Tue, Aug 31,2021 at 09:17 AM
Subject: Hebrew Pronunciation 

The Real Story of Hebrew Pronunciation

by Rabbi Dr. Seth Mandel at

In this article, the author writes:

"Given that there is no certainty regarding the authenticity of one tradition
over another, it is not surprising that most posekim, including Rabbi Yitzchak
HaCohen Kook despite his nationalistic bent and positive feelings toward the
revival of the Hebrew language took the position that one may not change his
ancestral custom regarding pronunciation."

See the above URL for much more.

See also the article

No, Sephardic Pronunciation Is Not More 'Correct' Than Ashkenazi

by Alexander Beider at


who writes:

"Many people believe that when it comes to the Hebrew language, the Sephardic
pronunciation is the correct one. It's common to hear that this is the reason
that modern Israeli Hebrew pronunciation is based on the Sephardic one. People
have told me for instance that the phonetics of the Sephardic speech is closer
to the pronunciation used in the biblical period.

"And yet, none of this is accurate. The first assertion is senseless from a
linguistic point of view. The second one is partly incorrect. And the third one
is speculative....

"Which one of the three ancient dialects, "Tiberian", "Palestinian" or
"Babylonian," did Jews speak during the time of King David?

"We have no information to help us definitively answer the question. But even
during the time of King David, Jews in different parts of the Land of Israel
might have pronounced Hebrew differently  and "the Forward" was not yet around
to teach them the correct way to do it."

See the above URL for more.



From: Ben Katz, M.D.<BKatz@...>
Date: Wed, Sep 1,2021 at 10:17 AM
Subject: Jewish law has evolved

Yaakov Shachter wrote (MJ 65#01):

> Ben Katz wrote (MJ 64#99):
>> Jewish law definitely evolves .... Here are just a few examples:
>> 1. Baring one's shoulder during mourning was prescribed in Talmudic
>> times; no one does this today.
>> 2. Time of starting shabbat.  It is clear many communities started
>> shabbat later than we do today.  See Marc Shapiro's book Changing
>> the Immutable for examples of halachic texts that were edited to
>> eliminate this change in practice.
>> 3. Turning one's back to the synagogue is explicitly prohibited in
>> the Talmud and yet we all do it today at the final paragraph of
>> Lecha Dodi.
>> 4. Piyutim inserted into davening after the time of the Talmud.  (I
>> know that not everyone says these, but huge numbers of communities
>> do.)
> First of all, we do not "all" turn our backs to the synagog at the final
> paragraph of Lkha Dodi, only people praying in synagogs that face East do 
> that.
> People praying in synagogs that face West, continue to face West.  People
> praying in synagogs that face South, like the synagogs where Lkha Dodi
> originated, turn to their right.
> Second of all, and more to the point, if you are going to argue that halakha 
> has evolved, you should be able to recognize what is and what is not a valid 
> example of evolving halakha.  For example, there is a halakha that women may 
> not wear men's articles, which is understood to mean, minimally, that women  
> may not wear men's clothes.  The term "beged ish" is used in the halakha  
> literature, although that term does not exist in the Torah.  Now, when women 
> started wearing wigs, wigs were beged ish, and it was forbidden for women to 
> wear wigs for that reason.  Now wigs are not beged ish, and it is now not 
> forbidden for women to wear wigs for reasons of beged ish (although it may be
> forbidden for married women to wear wigs, for other reasons).  It would be
> moronic to present this development as an example in support of an argument 
> that halakha has evolved.  The halakha that women may not wear beged ish, has 
> not evolved; what has changed is what is beged ish.  This is not a change in
> halakha, it is a change in men's fashions.
> Similarly, a change in mourning practices, is not a change in the halakha that
> we must mourn certain people, for a certain period of time; it is a change in
> mourning practices.  A change in the starting time of Shabbath, in contrast,
> would be a better example of a change in halakha.

I am hopefully not going to prolong this thread too much, but Mr Shachter is
setting up straw men here.

1. His first point about "all" is of course technically correct (although I have
been in many shuls that don't face East and still turn their backs) but does not
detract at all from my main point that the Talmud says not to do something that
is nearly universal today.

2. Mr Shachter provides a weak argument that I never made, refutes it, and then
implies that my arguments are as weak and should also be refuted.  And BTW not
every time the "mitziut" changes does the halacha change.

I could have added to 4. above at least 2 berachot that are nearly universal
which are NOT found in the Talmud (both incidentally related to women)-
'sheasani kirtzono' and 'lehadlik ner shel shabbat'.


From: Prof. Yitzchok Levine <larry62341@...>
Date: Mon, Aug 30,2021 at 07:17 PM
Subject: Kamtza / Bar-Kamtza

Immanuel Burton wrote (MJ 65#01) about Kamtza / Bar-Kamtza.

I wonder how many are aware of what the Munkacher Rebbe and the 6th Lubavitcher
said the letters in the name Kamtza stands for:

Kamtza - K: Komunistim,  Mem: Misrachistim, Tz: Tzionistim,  A: Agudistim.

Thus,  they put all of these groups in a negative category!

Professor Yitzchok Levine


From: Prof. Yitzchok Levine <larry62341@...>
Date: Sun, Sep 5,2021 at 10:17 AM
Subject: Lakewood Rabbonim Oppose The COVID-19 Jab

A sign consisting of a kol koreh of Rabbonim opposing the COVID-19 jab was
recently hung in shuls around Lakewood.

Free translation:

"Behold, regarding the new vaccines which were released recently for corona, our
opinion in this is that, being that ample time has not yet passed to see and
know the nature and outcomes of these vaccines, and moreover, recently, we have
heard of many serious adverse reactions which have occurred to individuals who
have been vaccinated, and there those who have died shortly after being
vaccinated, therefore we are instructing those who ask us for now to abstain
from taking these vaccines.

"And may we have faith in Hashem that He fix the problems in our midst and say
enough to our tzaros."

For a pdf of this announcement, see


While I cannot make out the signatures at the bottom,  I am certain that each of
these rabbonim has extensive training in the medical area of infectious
diseases. If not, I am sure they would never make such assertions.



From: Prof. Yitzchok Levine <larry62341@...>
Date: Tue, Aug 31,2021 at 09:17 AM
Subject: Reciting L'Dovid Hashem Ori, A Secret History

Many people have the custom to recite L'Dovid Hashem Ori at this time of year.
On the other hand, minhag Frankfurt and (I believe) Sanser Chassidim and others
do not say it.

For an interesting talk about this issue by Dr. Shnayer Leiman go to


Dr. Leiman examines the dubious custom of reciting Psalm 27 in Elul and Tishrei.
He sheds light on the varying customs regarding its inclusion in tefila and
traces its murky liturgical origins.

I think you may be surprised by what he has to say.



From: Prof. Yitzchok Levine <larry62341@...>
Date: Wed, Sep 1,2021 at 08:17 AM
Subject: Which foods should one avoid eating on Rosh Hashana?

> From today's OU Kosher Halacha Yomis

Q. Which foods should one avoid eating on Rosh Hashana?

A. Just as we eat sweet apples and other foods on Rosh Hashana because of their
symbolic significance, it is customary to avoid bitter and vinegary foods on
Rosh Hashana (see, for example, Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 129:9).

The Rama (Orach Chaim 583:2) writes that some avoid eating egozim (walnuts) on
Rosh Hashana. This is because the gematria (numerical value) of the Hebrew word
"egoz" is the same as the numerical value of the word cheit (sin). Additionally,
nuts cause an increase in phlegm which can disturb one's prayers. Magen Avrohom
(583:4) points out that according to the second reason, one should not eat any
nut, and not only egozim (walnuts). Be'er Moshe (3:97) writes that ground nuts
(other than walnuts) that are part of a recipe do not pose a concern.

It is recorded (Ma'ase Rav 210) that the Vilna Gaon did not eat grapes on Rosh
Hashana. Some explain that this is because on Rosh Hashana, Adam ate from the
Tree of Knowledge, and according to some opinions in the Gemara the forbidden
fruit was the grape. However, Kaf Ha'chaim (583:21) writes that only black
grapes need be avoided. He explains the custom of the Vilna Gaon based on the
Gemara (Berachos 56b) that black grapes are considered a bad sign.



End of Volume 65 Issue 2