Volume 65 Number 06 
      Produced: Thu, 14 Oct 21 12:32:44 -0400

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

Banging on the bimah (3)
    [Martin Stern  Martin Stern  Chaim Casper]
Dangerous Sukkos & Simchas Torah Frivolity (2)
    [Prof. Yitzchok Levine  Martin Stern]
Hebrew Pronunciation (3)
    [Yisrael Medad   Michael Rogovin  Michael Frankel]
Pfizer scientists: Natural immunity better than our vaccine 
    [Martin Stern]
Selichot time 
    [Joel Rich]
The Difference Between Davening and Learning (2)
    [Martin Stern  Ben Katz, M.D.]
Was Persian King Daryavesh II really the son of Queen Esther? 
    [David Ziants]


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Sun, Oct 10,2021 at 11:17 AM
Subject: Banging on the bimah

David Ziants wrote (MJ 65#05):

> Martin Stern wrote (MJ 65#04):
>> ...
>> This morning, first day of Rosh Choesh Marcheshvan, it struck me that it
>> would actually be a good idea to call out 'vekapparat pasha' before musaf
>> since this addition is relatively infrequent and might easily be omitted, but I
>> have never heard it done.
> Today, at musaph where I was, I impulsively said these words out aloud during
> my own silent amida to remind others - as no one else seemed to relate to this
> (similarly I did when we started meshiv haru'ach on sh'mini atzeret and a few
> times after - if there was no other reminder). I am now asking myself if I did
> the correct thing concerning saying 'vekapparat pasha' out aloud.

I do not think that anyone should call out anything during their silent shemoneh
esrei, even to remind others, because they must be assuming that everyone is
davening at the same speed. My experience is that such well-meaning people
inevitably call out when I, and probably most other mitpallelim, are at some
other point in the shemoneh esrei and the sudden calling out gives one a shock
which can make one lose track of where one is in it.

Martin Stern

From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Sun, Oct 10,2021 at 11:17 AM
Subject: Banging on the bimah

Michael Poppers wrote (MJ 65#05):
> In response to Martin Stern (MJ 65#04):
> That there is sanction for such public-address interruptions is only when
> forgetting the Amidah addition in question would result in having to repeat
> *b'rachos* (i.e. one or more of the Amidah blessings) / saying the Divine
> name.

This only applies where there may be some reason not to interrupt. There can be
no problem with making such an announcement before mussaf (or minchah).

Martin Stern

From: Chaim Casper <info@...>
Date: Wed, Oct 13,2021 at 02:17 PM
Subject: Banging on the bimah

Martin Stern wrote (MJ 65#04):

> ...
> This morning, first day of Rosh Choesh Marcheshvan, it struck me that it would
> actually be a good idea to call out 'vekapparat pasha' before musaf since this
> addition is relatively infrequent and might easily be omitted, but I have 
> never heard it done.

Working backward, the Mehaber of the Shulhan Arukh OC 236:2 says regarding
ma'ariv, "However, what the shaliach zibbur (i.e. service leader) says between
kaddish and the [Amidah] prayer is not a hefsek [interruption] since it is
[done] for zorekh t'filah [the needs of prayer service]." The Mishneh Brurah (7)
adds this applies to virtually any change to the regular prayer order. Thus, an
announcement can (should?) be made for Ya'aleh v'Yavo (for Rosh Hodesh and all
the holidays), Ten Tal u'Matar l'Vrakhah (the additional prayer for winter rain
that starts yearly on the eve of December 4 or 5, depending on the year) and Al
Hanissim (for Hanukkah and Purim) as these announcements are necessary for the
successful completion of prayer.

Now, why would there be an issue to say any of the above additions at minhah as
there is no specific prohibition to talk between kaddish and the start of the
Amidah? Here, too, the announcement of these additions would be a help to the
successful completion of prayer. As to musaf, I would offer that it is similar
to minhah. Since there is no specific prohibition to talk between kaddish and
the musaf Amidah, then "u'lekaparat pasha" would similarly be allowed and
helpful for those who forgot or even those who do not know the need to add this.
I have never understood why people prefer to zets (hit) the table or slam a
shtender door closed as not everyone will understand the significance of this
action. Yes, some will, but some will not.

This issue previously appeared in MJ 61#98 (November 2013). At the time, I was
the gabbai of a large shul. I mused in my posting that "Some have had, B"H, a
very solid Jewish education while others, BTs and less proficient day schoolers,
struggle with the davening. As a result, to [hit a table or] just say 'Ya'aleh
v'yavo' or 'Rosh Hodesh' may not resonate with all the mitpallelim; they may not
understand what I want them to do. So I speak in complete sentences: 'Please
remember to add Ya'aleh v'avo for Rosh Hodesh (or 'Attah B'hartanu, the Amidah
for Yom Tov, with the additions for Pesah," etc)' and then the appropriate page
number. I still think this is good advice.

B'virkat Torah,
Chaim Casper
North Miami Beach,
FL 33162-1229


From: Prof. Yitzchok Levine <larry62341@...>
Date: Thu, Oct 7,2021 at 08:17 AM
Subject: Dangerous Sukkos & Simchas Torah Frivolity

Martin Stern wrote (MJ 65#05):

> I am in total agreement with Professor Levine, and Rav Avigdor Miller, about
> the way Simchas Torah has been distorted in the last or so seventy years
> from being an expression of joy at the completion of the Torah cycle into
> what can be described as an excuse for wild and drunken excess. Unless it is
> curbed, it could eventually lead to serious injury such as the trampling of
> small children Rachmana litzlan.

Let me describe to you how Simchas Torah took place this year in the Young
Israel of Ave J.  It was the same in previous years.

I announce, "The theme of the day is order and decorum."  We start at 7:15 AM. 
I timed each HaKafo.  Each one took about 10 minutes. We duchan during Musaf, 
since there is no food or drinking during the davening.  We finished at 10:15.
Everything was orderly, and there was no nonsense!  After davening there was a
very nice kiddush given by one of the mispallelim.  Not everyone stayed.

We had about 80 men and boys.  Many of those who have younger children daven at
this minyan,  then go home, make kiddush, and then take their kids to other
shuls for the HaKafos there.

Many of those who attended this minyan this year at the YI of Ave J thanked me
for a very nice davening.  This is, IMHO, the way Simchas Torah should be done

Prof. Yitzchok Levine

From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Sun, Oct 10,2021 at 11:17 AM
Subject: Dangerous Sukkos & Simchas Torah Frivolity

Immanuel Burton wrote (MJ 65#05):

> ...
> I remember hearing from Rabbi Shlomo Noach Mandel in Toronto the following
> advice when assessing one's actions and behaviour:
> "When doing a mitzvah, make sure that it is indeed a mitvah, and not your
> yetzer hara telling you it's a mitzvah."

Like learning during chazarat hashatz!

Martin Stern


From: Yisrael Medad  <yisrael.medad@...>
Date: Sun, Oct 10,2021 at 11:17 AM
Subject: Hebrew Pronunciation

Orrin Tilevitz writes (MJ 65#05):

> in modern Sefaradi Hebrew, a tseire is pronounced as a segol; there is no
> distinction between the two.

Having lived in Israel now for 52 years, I do not think that that is the case.

Yisrael Medad

From: Michael Rogovin <michael@...>
Date: Mon, Oct 11,2021 at 11:17 AM
Subject: Hebrew Pronunciation

David Tzohar (MJ 65#05) wrote in reply to Mechy Frankel (MJ 65#04):

> I assume that by correct we are talking about pronunciation that is closest
> to Hebrew as it was pronounced in the Biblical period.

To which I reply: by whom? Why is the assumption that ancient Israelites in the
Biblical period all spoke the same dialect? And which is the "original"
(Avraham? Isaac? Jacob? Joseph? Moses? Ezra? Mordechai? Yehuda HaNasi? -- and
why would one assume that all of them spoke in exactly the same way?) And even
if we are to identify one dialect, what makes it correct and the others wrong?
Given our migrations as a people, our dialects must have changed.

Is it not logical to assume that whatever Jacob and his children spoke when they
went to Egypt evolved to a different dialect when Moshe led the Israelites out
of Egypt (Moshe after all, was raised in Paro's court and he and those who grew
up in Egypt probably had Egyptian accents)? Ezra's Hebrew was probably
influenced by living in exile in Bavel. Mordechai's from Persian. Whose Hebrew
is more authentic: that of Avraham, Moshe, or Ezra?

I have no doubt that people who stayed in the region preserved more than those
who migrated to Europe, and that Israeli Hebrew which glosses over differences,
attempting to merge European and Arabian Hebrew is just a mish mosh. But that
does not mean that Temani Hebrew is what Abraham, Moshe or Ezra spoke since it
too was no doubt influenced by local custom. What is most important is
understanding meaning or texts and being able to communicate with each other. Of
more significance to me is how the meanings of words evolved from the early
Biblical period, to later periods, to Mishnaic to Talmudic, to modern times. We
err when we impose modern meanings on words from a different period. Like
pronunciation, meanings change over time.

Michael Rogovin
<michael@...>  |  201.820.5504  |  www.linkedin.com/in/michaelrogovin
Click to book a slot on my calendar

From: Michael Frankel <michaeljfrankel@...>
Date: Wed, Oct 13,2021 at 05:17 PM
Subject: Hebrew Pronunciation

Orrin Tilevitz writes (MJ 65#05): 

> Continuing the recent thread, in modern Sefaradi Hebrew, a tseire is
> pronounced as a segol; there is no distinction between the two. To my
> recollection, this lack of distinction is a relatively recent development.
> (I'm sure someone will correct me if I'm wrong.) 

Yes, you're wrong.  But you could still be a good person.

> Questions:
> ...
> (2) What does a baal keriah do with the (questionable) minhag of reading
> "zeicher" and "zecher" in Parshat Zachor, ... 

There would seem little question that zeicher is correct i.e. correct = only in
sense of replicating what Ba'alei Mesorah wrote, and so too all the most
accurate codices that we have today, e.g. Leningrad.  And while both Minchas
Shai and Ohr Torah both note it as problematic, Minchas Shai votes for Zeicher
(Ohr Torah leaves it with no decision), while almost all printed editions of
Torah simply write Zeicher.  But you can read about development of this issue in
excruciating detail in Penkowers article (Iyunei Miqroh U-farashanus, Vol. 4,
1997), tracing first mention of a machloqes back to Radak, whereupon it
disappeared for a few hundred years, all the way through to Mishnah Berurah's
19th-20th century halachic innovation of a doubled reading.  

What I do as a lainer (since Im forced to follow the shul's custom) is read it
in reverse order to that which I've heard other Torah lainers do, i.e. I first
lain zecher and then follow with zeicher. My own little protest reflecting the
usual order in which a lainer repeats a true mis-read - he corrects the mistake
by re-laining the correct version last.

I had an interesting (to me anyway) and somewhat similar repetitive laining
issue this last week while laining Noach.  In shishi (9:29), standard printed
Torahs, all editions of Miqraos Gedolos as well as all Torah scrolls that I have
ever seen myself, record Vayhi Yemei Noach, whereas R. Mordechai Breuer z"l
argues that it should be VayihYu Yemei Noach ..., which sounds quite different.
So I lain both versions, but this time the more correct version (VayihYu) first
and the lesser one (Vayhi) last.   That is because setting aside correctness, a
lainer must never lain by heart and must go with text on the qelaf in front of
him.  Of course I do this fairly quickly as the Breuer emendation sounds
different enough it would likely arouse a somnolent qohol to their usual
lets-yell-at-the-lainers-mistake mode if I gave them too much time to process.

Although the Vayhi i version is now pretty much the standard in most printed
Torahs, strongly supporting the VayihYu version is fact that Leningrad Codex
also endorses it.  But maybe earlier generations weren't familiar with that
document.  Im also guessing Vayhi won out its because of the early and
continuing dominance of Miqraos Gedolos which also settled on Vayhi.  Also
Minchas Shai, after dreying around in a long comment, finally pasqened Vayhi 
And Minchas Shai is practically the only fellow people looked to for matters of
disputed nusach. The Mossad Harav Kook Tanach - basically that is the Breuer
Torah - actually incorporated this change as the mainline Torah text. The only
other printed Torahs I've come across with the VayihYu version is Biblia
Hebraica Stuttgartensia and the JPS Torah Commentary, the big blue books, which
is not surprising as both base themselves on Leningrad Codex. Breuer also
relates that VayihYu is the version incorporated in Yemenite Torah scrolls which
I've also never seen.

Mechy Frankel

<michaeljfrankel@...> <mailto:michaeljfrankel@gmail.com>


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Sun, Oct 10,2021 at 11:17 AM
Subject: Pfizer scientists: Natural immunity better than our vaccine

Prof. Yitzchok Levine wrote (MJ 65#05):
> In an article published on-line, "Alternate treatments pushed aside over
> money", it states:
>> A number of scientists from the Pfizer corporation involved in developing the
>> COVID vaccine claimed natural immunity is likely superior to the immunity
>> obtained through vaccination, and chided their employer for pushing aside
>> treatments for COVID, a group of conservative investigative journalists
>> revealed Tuesday.
> ...
> I object to the> terminology "natural immunity".  As far as I know, no one is
> born with immunity to Covid.  The immunity they are talking should be called
> "acquired immunity", since one acquires it after getting Covid.
> ...

I fear Professor Levine is being somewhat pedantic. When people talk about
"natural immunity" they mean "naturally acquired immunity" as opposed to
immunity obtained through vaccination, and most readers would have understood
that was the scientists meant.

Martin Stern


From: Joel Rich <JRich@...>
Date: Tue, Oct 12,2021 at 06:17 PM
Subject: Selichot time

How should community leadership (Rabbi/Tovei hair [officers]) think about the
trade-off between expected number of attendees and appropriateness of timing
when setting time for selichot (including PM)?

Joel Rich


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Sun, Oct 10,2021 at 11:17 AM
Subject: The Difference Between Davening and Learning

Prof. Yitzchok Levine wrote (MJ 65#05):
> The following is from page 38 of Rabbi Berel Wein's book Patterns in Jewish
> History.
> "A great sage once remarked that when we pray, we speak to G-d. When we study
> Torah, G-d, as it were, speaks to us."
> I believe that we would all benefit if we kept this adage in mind at all
> times.

A similar idea is expressed in "in the shemoneh esrei, we speak to G-d - in
the shema, G-d speaks to us".

Perhaps this thought might explain why, in certain circles, people spend an
inordinately long time on the former while the latter is completed without undue
delay. After all, it is a common human trait to prefer to speak rather than
listen to others.

Martin Stern

From: Ben Katz, M.D.<BKatz@...>
Date: Mon, Oct 11,2021 at 09:17 AM
Subject: The Difference Between Davening and Learning

In response to Prof. Yitzchok Levine (MJ 60#05):

I believe the great sage referred to may be Rabbi Dr Louis Finkelstein, former
chancellor of JTS.   I remember reading this once in an interview with him,
where he answered the question "why do you spend 90% of your time learning and
only 10% of your time praying?" by saying "when I pray I speak to God; when I
learn, God speaks to me".  Perhaps he was quoting an earlier sage, but I am not
aware of who that might be.    


From: David Ziants <dziants@...>
Date: Wed, Oct 13,2021 at 05:17 AM
Subject: Was Persian King Daryavesh II really the son of Queen Esther?

If, according to Midrash Va'yikra Rabbah 13:5, King Daryavesh II (aka Cyrus) was
son of Queen Esther (and Achashverosh) - why is this factor not mentioned in
Massechet Rosh Hashanah (Bavli 3b and 4a) when discussing whether he was a good
or bad king? Surely, this would make him Jewish, despite being a monarch of the
Persian Empire.

The basis of the debate there is why they first counted the years of his reign,
for legal dating purposes, from Nissan when he was good as is done for a Jewish
king, and in later years from Tishri after he went sour as is done for a
non-jewish king. It seems that this debate is based on an assumption that we
have a completely non-jewish king who is held to a different standard if his
good acts were also for self-grandeur. Also, if his evil was that he had a
relationship with a dog - one of the possibilities brought by the Gemara - why
does it need to say that it is forbidden for non-jews as well? But he would be
completely Jewish, if he was Queen Esther's son - and when a Jew sins he still
remains a Jew.

So, was King Daryavesh II really son of Queen Esther?

(Actually as I was writing this, I already found some answers when I googled the


so I am interested if there is anything more someone can add. I know that
midrashim and aggadatot don't always need to be accepted as historical fact -
but still there is an inner contradiction that needs to be resolved.)

David Ziants


End of Volume 65 Issue 6