Volume 65 Number 79 
      Produced: Tue, 30 Aug 22 15:29:12 -0400

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

A tefillin query 
    [Martin Stern]
Eli Tzion - A Rhyming Translation 
    [Martin Stern]
Is Geirus deOraisa? (2)
    [Martin Stern  David Tzohar]
Shabbat Candles and the Blessing 
    [Isaac Balbin]


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Mon, Aug 29,2022 at 06:17 AM
Subject: A tefillin query

The other day, a friend mentioned that he was told when coming up to barmitzvah
(over 60 years ago) to wrap the retzuah [thong] of his shel yad around his arm
so that it consisted of 4 loops then a gap and then the final 3 loops. He had no
idea why he should do so and wondered what was the reason. I also had no idea
but suggested that it might represent the division by the etnachata of the verse
"ve'atem hadeveikkkim baShem Elokeichem, chaim kulachem hayom", often used to
count the 7 loops.

Does anyone know the source for this 'minhag' (if it actually has one and is not
something 'invented' by an unqualified person) and, if so, what is its true reason?

Martin Stern


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Mon, Aug 8,2022 at 09:17 AM
Subject: Eli Tzion - A Rhyming Translation

While I do not like to simply copy material that has appeared elsewhere, I feel
that this particular piece is of more general interest, especially after Tisha
be'Av, and may not be widely available.

Rabbi Yair Hoffman wrote in VINnews (8 August):

Eli Tzion is a kinah that has a special impact on many people. Perhaps it is
because the same mournful tune is used on Mussaf of yom tov when we say, Bnei
veischa kvatchilah, but it is this authors feeling that it is the triple
combination of

* the remarkable words
* the slow dirge 
* and the rhyme. 

If any of the three elements were missing, it would not have the same
impact. For those not fluent in Hebrew, the translation provided below, in
which an effort was made to keep the rhyme, may help bring across the
powerful feeling that so many feel when hearing and reciting Eli Tzion.

Cry, O Zion, and cities around her!
Like a woman in labor whose birth pangs confound her
And like a mournful newly wed bride
Crying over her groom who died

Cry for the palace abandoned and forlorn
Because of the sins of the flock she had borne
And for the arrival of the blasphemers that looms
Into the sanctuary of the Temples rooms                     Cry, O Zion, ...

Cry for the exile of the servants of G-d
Whod sing songs, praise and applaud
And for their blood, spilled in barrels
Bursting forth like waters of her channels                  Cry, O Zion, ...

Cry for the lyrics of her dances so grand
Now absent and silent throughout the land
And for the great hall in which it did stand
The glorious Sanhedrin, now unmanned                        Cry, O Zion, ...

Cry for the daily offering lost to the nation
And for the Pidyon Bechors negation
And for her vessels desecration
And for the incense altars salvation                        Cry, O Zion, ...

For the children of her kings, lets cry
The descendants of David, flying so high
And for their beauty, now entirely lost
When her royal crowns were tossed                           Cry, O Zion, ...

Cry for the Divine honor now in exile
At the destruction of temples erstwhile
And for the persecutor who did scorn
As she dons her garments torn                               Cry, O Zion, ...

Cry for the pounding and numerous blows
Her noblemen received from their foes
And for the smashing upon the stone
The skulls of infants and children not yet grown            Cry, O Zion, ...

Cry for the joyous shouts of the enemy
Laughing at her misfortune and calamity
And upon the affliction of free men set apart
Noble in spirit and pure of heart.                          Cry, O Zion, ...

Cry for the sin that she had wrought
Diverting her from the straight path she had sought
And for the legions of congregations slackened
With faces now wrinkled and blackened                       Cry, O Zion, ...

Cry over the curses of those who abused her
Multiplying corpses as they pursued her
And for the sounds of those who blasphemed long and hard
Inside the tabernacle of her courtyard                      Cry, O Zion, ...

Cry for the Name that was profaned
In the mouth of the tormentor so disdained
And for the prayer we cry out to You
Hear our cries, through and through!

Cry, O Zion, and cities around her!
Like a woman in labor whose birth pangs confound her
And like a mournful newly wed bride
Crying over her groom who died

How do other members find this rendering?

Martin Stern


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Sun, Aug 28,2022 at 05:17 PM
Subject: Is Geirus deOraisa?

Yisrael Medad wrote (MJ 65#78):

> Martin Stern writes (MJ 65#77):
>> Yisrael is once again taking an over-literal view of the text while ignoring
>> the Torah shebe'al peh
> May I remind him and the list members that if the topic we are discussing i.e.
> whether something is "d'Oraitha" (from the Torah), a very special and
> well-defined term of Jewish Halachic practice, it really doesn't help your
> argument to point to the Torah She'Baal Peh while ignoring that there actually
> is no Torah She'bichtav source for the mitzva.
> Does anyone know of a mitzva that is O'raitha that is not sourced in the Torah
> text?

Unfortunately Yisrael omitted the concluding clause of my statement

>> which is crucial to understanding it from a halachic perspective.

However he also wrote (MJ 65#78):

> The source for the custom of conversion is the concept that B'nai Yisrael
> were not Jews when they left Egypt. They needed to undergo three acts to
> become Jewish:
> circumcision
> immersion
> sacrificial offering.

However he is, in essence, merely repeating what I had written (MJ 65#74):

>> However, the Torah sheb'al peh [authentic oral tradition] ... records that
>> the process for his/her admission is similar to the way the Jewish people
>> came into existence at Har Sinai: milah (for males), tevilah (immersion in a
>> mikveh) and bringing a korban (sacrifice).

The source is the Sifri Bamidbar 108 as his friend Lawrence H. Schiffman
quotes in his "Conversion to Judaism in Tannaitic Halakhah" (p. 192), which
is explaining the Torah basis for conversion. In essence it is giving the
authentic halachic meaning of the pesukim in Bo, thus rendering the
conversion process de'oraita.

Parenthetically, having read his article, I do not find that it is doing much
more than discussing the earliest date we can find IN THE LITERATURE for the
rules of conversion. It does NOT mean that these rules were not in existence
earlier, merely that they were not recorded earlier - "Lo rainuha eino rayah
[that we have not seen something is no proof (that it did not happen)" (Ket 23a
et al.). As Chana Luntz points out (MJ 65#78), academic discussions have NO
RELEVANCE to halachic process.

So Yisrael's two postings are a case of "Hu motiv lah vehu mefarek lah [he
raises a question and himself provides the answer]" (Er. 91a et al.)!

Martin Stern

From: David Tzohar <davidtzohar@...>
Date: Mon, Aug 29,2022 at 04:17 AM
Subject: Is Geirus deOraisa?

Chana Luntz wrote (MJ 65#78) in the context of applying traditional accepted
halacha to modern problems including giyur:

> Yisrael Medad (MJ 65#77) wrote
>> d) I think that an open attitude is better than narrow mindness.
> That might be true, but it is also really important to understand what is at
> stake.  Were it true that conversion was merely rabbinic, rather than from the
> Torah, converts would be second class Jewish citizens, unable to participate
> fully within many, many aspects of halachic life to which the Orthodox 
> position entitles them.

She concluded that

> This cannot be an Orthodox position ... because it ends up contradicting
> Orthodox halacha as it is practiced.

I agree with both statements assuming that we agree that Orthodox means neither
"modern" or "ultra" Orthodox. The question is especially relevant concerning giyur.

The gemarra concludes that gerei tzedek were not accepted during the monarchy of
David and Solomon, the reason being that subjects were converting to enjoy the
perks of Jewish citizenship. The same was true for the "mityahadim" at the end
of the Purim story.

This poses some difficult questions:

1 - Is this "narrow minded"?

2 - Can a more open attitude be applied in present day Israel?

My position is we must adhere to the halacha from our parashat hashavua (Shoftim):

"VeSHaMaRTa LA'ASot CECHaL ASHeR YoRuCha [and you shall be careful to do
everything as they rule for you]" (Dev. 17:10) 

meaning that takkanot chachamim [rulings of the Sages] beginning with takkanot
of Yehoshua, Ezra, Yavneh and Usha and including halachot that were nifseku
[ruled] in any Sanhedrin of "smuchim [properly ordained Sages]".

This is why we can bless the Hanukkah candles "asher kiddishanu bemitzvotav,
vetzivanu ..." because we might ask "aifo tzivanu [where has HKBH commanded us]?
to which the answer is "CECHaL ASHeR YoRuCHa"! This means that all of these
rulings have the authority of d'oraita.

This raises the further question:

3 - Does this mean that we shouldn't accept converts in present day Israel?

Food for thought.


R'David Yitzchak Tzohar



From: Isaac Balbin <isaac@...>
Date: Sun, Aug 28,2022 at 08:17 PM
Subject: Shabbat Candles and the Blessing

Chana Luntz wrote (MJ 65#77):

> Isaac Balbin wrote (MJ 65#76) responding to my posting (MJ 65#75):
>> Except that Acharonim (later decisors) rule that nowadays it is preferable to
>> have the electric lights off when lighting Shabbos candles as they make no
>> impression (light wise) otherwise. Furthermore, when more than one candelabra
>> is present, it is preferable >that it be lit in a different room, for the
>> same reason. It could be argued, therefore, that in the presence of
>> electrical lights, the analysis, let alone Bracha, is somewhat moot.
> I am not sure I understand what you are saying and it would also be helpful
> if instead of referring to "Achronim" you were to specify whom you meant.

Rav Hershel Schachter.

> Amongst those poskim who regard this as an issue (and not everybody does) I
> have heard various opinions quoted as to the correct procedure: 
> a) turn off the electric lights, turn them back on, light the candles, say the
> blessing; 
> b) turn off the electric lights, light the candles, turn on the electric
> lights, then say the blessing; 
> c) turn off the electric lights, light the candles, have somebody else turn on
> the electric lights, say the blessing.
> Which of these views were you referring to (or maybe yet others ones I have
> not included here)?  If it is one of these views, why are they not compatible
> with my suggestion?

In this context, it wouldn't matter whether it was any of (a) through (c). My
point wasn't to invalidate your analysis. Rather, to note that for any of (a)
through (c), the continued existence of the light emanating from the candles is
no longer a significant factor vis-a-vis the electric light contribution, when
compared to former times where such an analysis was perhaps more relevant.


End of Volume 65 Issue 79