Volume 7 Number 62

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Abbreviation Query
         [Martin Tanner]
Hashem Sefatai Tiftach (2)
         [Elly Lasson, Jonathan Wreschner]
Kosher Whiskey
         [Josh Klein]
Moses's Speech Impediment
         [Gary Davis]
Non-Jews at Yom Tov meals
         [Frank Silberman]
         [Mike Gerver]
Torah and Secular Knowledge: New or Old Hashgafa?
         [Anthony Fiorino]
Yeshiva boys being clean-shaven
         [Warren Burstein]


From: Martin Tanner <tanm@...>
Date: Mon, 24 May 93 23:13:34 EDT
Subject: Abbreviation Query

Does anyone out there know what the following abbreviation stands for?
Reading from right to left: tav, vav, shin, lamed, vet, ayin.

Please address your response to <sherman@...>



From: <Elliot_David_Lasson@...> (Elly Lasson)
Date: Mon, 24 May 93 21:05:34 -0400
Subject: Hashem Sefatai Tiftach

Over the years, I have noticed individuals, who when repeating the
amidah as a shliach tzibbur, begin with "Hashem Sefatai Tiftach" prior
to the first bracha.  I have been told that this was based on the
opinion of the Rav, ZT"L that this introductory phrase is actually part
of the first bracha, so it is appropriate to say that aloud as well.  Is
this accurate?  Could anyone elaborate?

Elly Lasson

From: <jonathan@...> (Jonathan Wreschner)
Date: Mon, 31 May 93 06:56:21 -0400
Subject: Hashem Sefatai Tiftach

Where did the custom originate for the chazzan, in chazarat hashatz of 
Shmone Esrei, to say out *loud* the sentence before the first Bracha, "Hashem
sfatai tiftach u'fi yagid tehillatecha"?    

I never came across this before until in Israel, and then only with American
baalei tefilla.

Jonathan Wreschner

reply - Before I managed to send this, I asked my father-in-law 
(Prof P. Rabinowitz) if he knew the source for this.   His answer was "it's
Brisk.  Eventhough the Magen Avraham says it should be said silently, noone
argues with Brisk". 

Anyone else heard of this?


From: Josh Klein <VTFRST@...>
Date: Tue, 25 May 93 12:17 N
Subject: Kosher Whiskey

Itzhak Kremer asked why some whiskeys/liqueurs might not be kosher. At
least one single-malt whiskey (generally considered to be 'mehudar' by
drinkers) advertises that its unique flavor comes from being aged in
sherry casks. The ad emphasizes that some of the flavor is derived from
the residual sherry in the wood of the barrel. Sherry, being a wine, is
only kosher if made under hashgacha, so I would guess that a whiskey
with 'true sherry flavoring' would not be kosher, either, nor would a
blended whiskey be kosher if a component was a sherry-flavored single
  In New Zealand a few years ago there was a big deal made about the use
of whey-derived alcohol for gin and vodka. The whey is a by-product of
cheese- making (NZ makes lots of milk products) and had been dumped in
streams where it had acidified the water and killed fish. SInce making
people drunk is better than killing fish, this was cited as a great
example of recycling and industrial responsibility. At the very least
such drinks might be milchig (separate martini glasses for milk and meat
cocktail parties?!), and at most treif, depending on the source of the
rennet used in making the cheese.
  Ouzo is a grape-based drink from Greece (remember Bacchus/Dionysius?).
Drambuie I believe is a liqueur based on whiskey, so it might have the
'sherry problem' cited above. I guess we should stick to beer, although
I should mention that as far as sources of liquor go, non-Jewish friends
of mine have ben thrilled to receive bottles of "Jordan River Gin", made
in Maale Efraim.  Does "Holy Gin" cancel treif whiskey?  
Josh Klein


From: Gary Davis <davis@...>
Date: Tue, 25 May 93 09:28:07 -0400
Subject: Moses's Speech Impediment

If Moses injured his mouth with a hot coal, why would he not have
something like a lisp, rather than a stammer?

Gary Davis (<davis@...>)


From: <fs@...> (Frank Silberman)
Date: Tue, 25 May 93 00:13:14 -0400
Subject: Re: Non-Jews at Yom Tov meals

Several years earlier, I attended a study group led by an elderly rabbi
who got his smicha in Rumania or Hungary (I forgot which).  The topic of
seder preparations came up, and some already-observant students
indicated that among their guests would be gentiles.  After the study
session, I mentioned that it had been my impression that this was
forbidden.  His reply was simply: "Oy, you are so machmir!"

Since then, I have attended seders with a (non-congregational) rabbi of
Hassidic background (not Chabad) who always has gentile guests.

 From the above, I suspect there probably is a generally-accepted heter.
I'd be curious to find out for sure.

Frank Silbermann	cs.tulane.edu
Tulane University,
New Orleans, LA.


From: <GERVER@...> (Mike Gerver)
Date: Sun, 30 May 1993 4:01:44 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Techelet

In his account of the hesped for the Rav given by R. Shachter, Eitan
Fiorino, in v7n46, mentions that the Rav rejected the view of the Rodziner
Rebbe as to the nature of techelet, the blue dye originally used to dye
a thread of the tzitzit, because the Rodziner had no mesorah [tradition]
that this was the correct dye, even if it made sense scientifically. In
fact, in addition to having no mesorah, the Rodziner's theory did not
make sense scientifically, according to the chapter on "Tekhelet and
argaman" in Yehuda Feliks' "Nature and Man in the Bible" (Soncino Press,
1981). The Rodziner favored the idea that techelet came from the ink of
the cuttlefish, but as pointed out by Prof. Feliks, this ink is cheap,
since cuttlefish are common in the Mediterranean and each cuttlefish has
a lot of ink. Also, it does not make a fast dye, but fades if the cloth
is soaked in boiling water, or washed with soap. So it is just as well
that the Rav rejected this view. On the other hand, he probably also would
reject Prof. Feliks' own view, because he also did not have a mesorah, and
that is too bad, since Prof. Feliks' view seems very convincing. He
believes that techelet was the first stage in processing the dye of the
Murex snail, with the later stages of processing resulting in argaman,
or "Tyrian purple". This dye does hold fast, and is very expensive; he
estimates that a kilogram of cloth dyed with techelet or argaman would
cost about $300 (presumably 1981 dollars). He thinks that it is also
possible, although less likely, that the dye came from a different genus
of snail, Janthina, which was the opinion of R. Yitzhak Halevi Herzog,
the former Chief Rabbi of Israel.

Mike Gerver, <gerver@...>


From: Anthony Fiorino <fiorino@...>
Date: Tue, 25 May 93 12:25:56 -0400
Subject: Torah and Secular Knowledge: New or Old Hashgafa?

Someone mentioned in passing (I con't remember who), in a discussion of
the Gra learning secular subjects only in the bathroom, that the prohibition
of studying secular knowledge is relatively new.  This is not at all the
case.  The gemara in brachos (35b) records in a braisa a dispute between R.
Yishmael and R. Shimon ben yochai; R. Yishmael holds that it is permitted
to work to earn a living while R. Shimon disagrees; he holds that if a man
works, he will keep working and there will be no time for Torah.  He says
if one does G-d's  will, then others will perform the work for him.  The
gemara clearly inclines towards the view of R. Yishmael.

Also, there is a gemara in menachos in which R. Yishmael is asked if one
can study Greek wisdom after studying all of Torah; his response is that
one must find a time that is neither day nor night to study Greek wisdom.

It is clear that there is a place in Jewish tradition for Torah-only
studies.  This is not a recent development but rather one of the deep
strands of masora.  It is, however, certainly not the _only_ legitimate
approach to secular studies recognized by masora.

If I may offer my own commentary on this idea that the Gra only studied
secular subjects in the bathroom -- it can be interpreted as a subtle spin
on the Gra's character: since it is well known that he studied secular
subjects, such a story implies that he considered this a b'diavod
approach; that it was never permissable to take away from Torah study for
secular studies unless one can't study Torah.  This understanding of the
Gra seems stretched since his talmid, R. Baruch of Shklov, quoted the Gra
as saying "to the degree that one lacks in his knowledge of other
[branches of] wisdom, he lacks a hundredfold in the wisdom of Torah, for
wisdom and Torah are intertwined' (quoted in Torah Umadda, R. Norman Lamm).
But this kind of story can also be interpreted as an indication of the Gra's
profound love of Torah, that he was only willing to give up Torah when he
was not permitted to study Torah.  Either way, given the apocryphal nature
of the story, it is probably unwise to attach too much truth value to it,
but instead to take away the message that the Gra loved Torah and he
studied secular knowledge too.

Eitan Fiorino


From: <warren@...> (Warren Burstein)
Date: Mon, 24 May 93 21:55:02 -0400
Subject: Re: Yeshiva boys being clean-shaven

>[Along similar lines, my father told me that in Lita when he was growing
>up, it was considered "disrespectful" for a Yeshiva bochur to have a
>beard, and was grounds to be thrown out of the Yeshiva. Only the Rabbeim
>wore beards. Mod.]

My high school (Yeshiva High School of Queens) prohibited beards.  Not
many boys were capable of growing them, but one boy with a very thick
beard managed to convince the administration that the only way he
would be able to remove it would be to use a razor.

 |warren@      But the principal
/ nysernet.org is not paranoid at all.


End of Volume 7 Issue 62