Volume 8 Number 24

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

AL vs LE
         [Dr. Moshe Koppel]
Birkhat Cohanim (2)
         [Yosef Bechhofer, Turkel Eli]
Bone Marrow Donations
         [Freda Birnbaum]
Buying Aliyahs
         [Gary Davis]
DC Kosher Vendor
         [Pinchus Laufer]
MIT Kosher Kitchen
         [Martha Greenberg]
Modest Yemenite Girls
Woman as Sofer STAM
         [Charlie Abzug]


From: <koppel@...> (Dr. Moshe Koppel)
Date: Thu, 8 Jul 93 12:17:07 +0200
Subject: AL vs LE

Just to clarify with regard to nusach brachot:
The question of 'vetzivanu al ha..' [commanded us concerning..] and
'vetzivanu le..' [commanded us TO ...] is discussed in some detail in
Pesachim 7b. The gist is that the more specific 'le..' [TO] implies that the
mitzva is about to be performed by the person who has been commanded
to perform it. Thus the more vague formulation 'al..' [CONCERNING] is
used when the mitzva has already begun to be performed (e.g., netilas
lulav) or when the mitzva is (according to some: can be) performed by
an agent (e.g., milah). I recall the Rav zt'l 'Briskerizing' this into
"Al is used when there is a disparity between the chiyuv [obligation]
and the kiyum [performance]". (I personally don't think it comes
across as well without the accent.)

Moish Koppel


From: <YOSEF_BECHHOFER@...> (Yosef Bechhofer)
Date: Wed, 7 Jul 93 23:07:09 -0500
Subject: Birkhat Cohanim

        BTW, to the best of my recollection the fire was in the GRA's
shul in Vilna when he tried to institute Birkas Kohanim in Chu"l; it
might be mentioned in the Ma'aseh Rav, and is definitely in Betzalel
Landau's "HaGaon HeChasid MiVilna."

From: Turkel Eli <turkel@...>
Date: Thu, 8 Jul 93 09:09:02 -0400
Subject: Birkhat Cohanim

      The story goes that the Vilna Gaon once decided to introduce
Birkhat Cohanim into into his shul the coming shabbat. During that week
he was arrested by the Russian authorities (I think in connection with
the fights with the hassisim) and so couldn't carry out his idea which
was then dropped.  Later his student, Rav Chaim Voloshin tried to
introduce it into the yeshiva and that week the yeshiva burned down.
This was taken as a sign from heaven and no further attempts were made.
       Rav Nathan Adler was a famous rabbi in Franfort and the rebbi of
the Chatam Sofer. In his shul in Frankfort he introduced many "strange"
customs such as praying in nusach sefard (he even hired an sefard rabbi
to teach him how to use the true sefard pronunciation). It is very
possible that Birkhat cohanim was said in that shul. In any case Rav
Adler was kicked out of town (no the shul did not burn down). I have
heard claims that the fight over Rav Adler was one of the factors that
contributed to the quick changeover to reform jewry shortly afterwards.

      In Israel there is an old (several hundred years) custom to say
Birkhat Cohanim, in Sefad, only on shabbat at Musaf. Rav Yitzchak Weisz
has a lengthy responsa on this (sorry don't have the reference where in
Minchat Yitzchak it appears). His conclusion is that there is no real
basis for the custom as all the reasons are not really valid.
Nevertheless since the minhag is mention by several gedolim (Peat
haShulchan) it should be continued as they must have had a good reason.
Other poskim point out, however, that Rav Yosef Karo is lived in Sefad
(though much earlier) and he strongly advocated saying birkhat cohanim
every morning and twice on shabbat. Even Rav Weisz says nothing about
other places in northern Israel (galil) other than sefad. In practice
many places in the galil also say birkhat cohanim only on shabbat at
musaf. As previously mentioned some places in Haifa have changed to say
it every day. Even where I live, in Raanana, which is in thew sharon
area, a northern suburb of Tel Aviv the town is split between shuls that
say it every day and those that only say it on shabbat musaf. Also as
mentioned many sefard (edot mizrach) shuls say birkhat cohanim every day
even outside of Israel.

Eli Turkel


From: Freda Birnbaum <FBBIRNBA@...>
Date: Thu, 8 Jul 93 08:04 EDT
Subject: Bone Marrow Donations

In the most recent post on the subject of bone marrow donations,
and in previous ones as well, it has been stated that the procedure
of donating marrow is harmless to the donor.

Several years ago, as I was waiting my turn to donate the few
teaspoonsful necessary to getting tested, in response to a well-
publicized plea for bone-marrow donations for a young person, I
used the time to carefully read all the literature they handed us.
While the procedure is low-risk, it is NOT risk-FREE, and the
literature was vivid enough about the worst-case scenarios to
cause one to reflect very seriously about what one's decision ought
to be if one turned out to be a match, given one's other
responsibilities in life.

Anybody contemplating such a move should get competent medical as
well as halachic advice.

Freda Birnbaum


From: Gary Davis <davis@...>
Date: Thu, 8 Jul 1993 11:10:02 -0300 (ADT)
Subject: Buying Aliyahs

I have just learned that in a synagogue in this area in the 1930's (and
possibly later) Shabbat aliyahs were sold.  There was a lot of competition
for the "best" ones, and so on.  Was/is this a common practice?  Did it
originate in any particular part of Europe?  What are its Halachic

Gary Davis


From: <plaufer@...> (Pinchus Laufer)
Date: Thu, 08 Jul 1993 08:54:55
Subject: Re: DC Kosher Vendor

The Kosher vendor in DC has been driven away from the Holocaust museum
area by a consortium of allied vendors.  He has shifted to Pennsylvania
and 15th (on 15th) with reasonable success. ( That is, the threats of
violence are now coming from other individual vendors, and he feels he
can handle that.)

If you will be in the area and would like the latest update let me know
and I'll reply.  Phone calls are fine till about 1130 PM.  If you leave
a number I WILL CALL BACK.
Pinchus  Home  (301) 587-8423   Work (703) 578-2857  


From: <marthag@...> (Martha Greenberg)
Date: Thu, 8 Jul 93 02:05:53 EDT
Subject: MIT Kosher Kitchen

Well, as one of the mashgichim of the KK last year, I think I can answer
this one :-)

The MIT Kosher Kitchen is currently located in the basement of Walker
Memorial Dining Hall (room 50-009, I think).  It serves dinner only,
five nights a week (Monday through Friday).  You must reserve and prepay
for Friday night dinner by Thursday night.  All other nights you can
just walk in and pay with either Validine (MIT monopoly money), or cash.
Dinner is from 5-7 on weeknights, and at 6:45 on Friday nights (5:45
in the winter).

It is officially under the hashgach of the Vaad of Massachusetts, but
the supervising is done by the students themselves.

Martha Greenberg


From: Applicom <benavrhm@...>
Date: Thu, 8 Jul 1993 05:54:42 +0300
Subject: Modest Yemenite Girls

My wife gre up in Kfar Avraham, just to the east of Petah Tikvah.  She
relates that as a girl she saw Yemenite girls with head covering like
the Arab girls in our neighborhood wear (a large scarf of blue or
turqoise color) on the #77 bus from Rosh HaAyin to Petah Tikvah. This
custom continued until about 1957 she states, then it stopped.

Please note that the Yalkut Yosef in part aleph, hilcot tfila, para 25
states that unmarried women (naarot is the term he uses) have al mi
lismoc for not wearing a head covering but that it is incumbent upon the
teachers in beit yaakov and such schools to teach the girls to wear a
head covering, at least when making any kind of braca or tfila. This is
a very interesting psak, and I recommend that all of you who have taken
an interest recently in this issue read it.

My personal plug: I cannot understand why almost everyone who has posted
recently on this issue seems to want to get rid of the hear covering,
especially our Jewish sisters. Isn't this mitsvah something special that
distinguishes us? Shouldn't it be haviv alenu, like tsitsit, kipa,
tfilin, etc.?


Jonathan Ben-Avraham


From: <cabzug@...> (Charlie Abzug)
Date: Wed, 7 Jul 93 18:38:04 -0400
Subject: RE: Woman as Sofer STAM

With respect to Peter Rosencrantz's comment on "Woman as Sofer STAM", I
take issue that the RAMBAM's p'sak with respect to Tefillin written by a
woman applies also to to Sifrei Torah and Mezuzot.  The mitzvah of
Tefillin is clelarly a mitzvat 'aseh shehaz'man g'rama (a positive
commandment ordained by time).  Therefore, the mitzvah applies only to
men, and women are excluded.  That does not mean that a woman cannot
perform the mitzvah, but when she does it is a case of "'eynah metzuvah
ve'osah" (not required to perform it but does it [voluntarily]), which
is a lower category than if a man were to perform the mitzvah.  The
sofer is the shaliach (agent) of the one who puts on the Tefillin - and
therefore the shaliach must have the same level of obligation with
respect to the mitzvah as the sholeyach (the one who puts on the
Tefillin).  Similarly, there is a halachah that a woman cannot read the
Megillat Esther on behalf of a man, but she may read it on behalf of
other women, since although the Rabbis did require women also to hear
the megillah, nevertheless their obligation is not the same as men's
obligation.  I believe that this is the reason for the RAMBAM's p'sak -
if a woman were to write Tefillin, those Tefillin would not be usable by
a man, but only by other women.  Looking back 800-900 years to the
RAMBAM's time, I don't think that women had yet advanced to the point
when any were seriously considering putting on Tefillin, and even if so,
since Tefillin are not normally labelled with the name of the writer, if
a pair written by a woman were to get mixed up with other Tefillin
kosher for both men and women, it would be a mess, so it would not be a
good idea for a woman to write Tefillin even for use by other women
(unless they were painted pink or had some other distinctive point of

	With respecpt to Sifrei Torah, is the Mitzvah of "vehiygiytah bo
yomam valaylah" (you should delve into it day and night) also a positive
command ordaained by time?  It is not clear to me.  Does this mitzvah
imply a separate obligation to study each day and each night (if so, then 
clearly a positive mitzvah ordained by time), or does it mean that you 
should continually turn your thoughts to Torah?  

	Finally, the mitzvah of Mezuzah.  A positive commandment, surely.
Ordained by time?  I am not sure.  The obligation to place a mezuzah does 
not begin until day 30 of the dwelling's habitation (when I bought my 
house 17 years ago I was careful NOT to place the mezuzot until day 30
for fear of making a B'rochoh levatoloh, an unneeded [and therefore 
forbidden] blessing.  However, here the house is merely exempt for 29 
days.  Once day 30 arrives there is a continuous obligation to have the
mezuzah in place, day and night.  I believe that this also qualifies 
as a mitzvat 'aseh shehaz'man grama, but I am not really sure.  

	All of which goes to show that life is not simple.

					Charlie Abzug


End of Volume 8 Issue 24