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Volume 06 : Number 069

Sunday, December 17 2000

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Date: Thu, 14 Dec 2000 19:41:41 EST
From: Zeliglaw@aol.com
Fwd: Rabbi Frand on Parshas VaYishlach

An excellent piece of mussar-Let's not think that we can behave as Marranos .
                             Steve Brizel

-          "RavFrand" List  -  Rabbi Frand on Parshas VaYishlach           -

I Kept The 613 Commandments, And, Oh Yes - I Did Not Act Like Lavan Either

Yaakov sent messengers to Eisav before their confrontational meeting
with the following message: "I have lived with Lavan (Im Lavan Garti),
and tarried until now" [Bereshis 32:5]. Rashi cites the famous Rabbinic
comment that the word GaRTY (I lived) has the numerical value of 613
(TaRYaG), indicating "I lived with the wicked Lavan, but I observed the
613 Commandments - without learning from his evil ways."

Rav Ruderman (1901-1987) once commented on the apparent redundancy
in Yaakov's message to his brother, Eisav. If Yaakov had already sent
the message "I observed the 613 Commandments," what indeed is added by
further stating "and I have not learned from the evil ways of Lavan?" The
Rosh Yeshiva, of Blessed memory, taught that the inference to be drawn
is that one can observe the 613 commandments and, nevertheless, learn
from the ways of a Lavan. Even within the context of a fully observant
life-style, a person can wind up looking like a Lavan. Even when an
individual's actions are technically permissible, the person may still
be acting like a Lavan. A person can live an indulgent life-style --
one which may not technically deviate from the letter of the Law but
one which is totally alien from that which should be representative of
a Jewish lifestyle, from the spirit of the Law.

Therefore, Yaakov clarified: "Not only have I observed the letter of
the 613 commandments, I have also not learned from Lavan and have even
continued to observe the spirit of those laws."

I mentioned this insight from Rav Ruderman in a previous year. I usually
do not like to repeat myself from year to year but I was prompted to
relate this insight again now as a result of a recent article that I
read in the New York Times. The article, "Jews Debate Who Will Define
Orthodoxy," included the following paragraph:

"The waters of the Hudson River gently lapped at the bow of the cruise
ship sailing under the flag 'The Glatt Yacht' as it slowly pulled away
from the noisy shoreline of Manhattan. A couple celebrating a special
anniversary got up to dance as the pianist played Billy Joel's 'Just the
way you are'. Suddenly a rabbi appeared on the dance floor and tapped the
man on the shoulder. He knew right away that the rabbi did not just want
to butt into his dance. The Rabbi asked the couple to stop dancing. When
they ignored him, the Rabbi walked over to the pianist and ordered him
to stop. The boat was eerily silent until the couple sat down. Only then
did the music resume."

What is the issue at hand here? The New York Times Page 2 synopsis
of all the major stories in the paper defined the issue as whether
there is in fact a dichotomy between a person's religious life and his
social life. Or as Ari Goldman (the New York Times reporter) wrote,
some Orthodox Jews "...draw distinctions between the different facets
of their lives..." This means compartmentalization. Yes I am a Jew. I am
an Orthodox Jew, but that stops at a certain point. To quote the person
who was embarrassed off the dance floor "The Rabbi's place belongs in
the kitchen. Kashrus is in the kitchen.

It was just too fortuitous for me to have read this article on the
Wednesday of Parshas Vayishlach and not say over the Rosh Yeshiva's
comment of learning from Lavan's actions, while ostensibly observing
the 613 commandments. The concept that there can be a dichotomy between
someone's religious life and his social life, that glatt Kosher applies
only to what I put in my mouth but not to what I see or how I act or dress
- is wrong. It is a violation of "I have not learned from his evil ways".

A person can be religious and even only eat glatt Kosher, but still
learn from the ways of Lavan.
     Transcribed by David Twersky; Seattle, Washington  twerskyd@aol.com
   Technical Assistance by Dovid Hoffman; Baltimore, MD  dhoffman@torah.org
RavFrand, Copyright  2000 by Rabbi Y. Frand and Project Genesis, Inc.
Permission is granted to redistribute, but please give proper attribution
and copyright to the author and Project Genesis, and refer to
learn@torah.org and http://www.torah.org/ ...

To begin or cancel your subscription to this class, please write to
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Date: Thu, 14 Dec 2000 13:07:02 +0200
From: "Carl M. Sherer" <cmsherer@ssgslaw.co.il>
(Fwd) Parshat Vayishlach 5761

An excerpt from Rav Nebenzahl's sicha. As usual, I suggest reading the 
whole thing....



	Why then did Yaakov find their [Shimon and Levi's - C.S.] actions
improper and criticize them? Perhaps Yaakov realized that his sons'
motives were not free from personal bias. They obviously felt they were
sanctifying Hashem's Name, Yaakov, with his "ruach hakodesh", however, was
able to discern that an element of "lo lishma" had become mixed in with
their noble intentions. This "lo lishma" was of such a miniscule amount
that even Shimon and Levi were unaware of its existence. One can say that
the Torah alludes to this by their description of Shimon and Levi as:
"two of Yaakov's sons, Dina's brothers" - they acted not only as sons of
Yaakov attempting to spread Hashem's Name and glory throughout the world,
but as Dina's brothers as well. They were so horrified and enraged by
what had happened to their sister that they wanted to take revenge. This
motivation too may be noble, but it is no longer pure Kiddush Hashem.
Feeling outraged at acts perpetrated against one's family is an emotion
that exists in other nations as well and may spur one to action, it is not
sufficient reason to place one's life in danger. This may explain why the
ensuing argument between Yaakov and his sons ended with Shimon and Levi
asking "should he treat our sister like a harlot?" [7] (Bereishit 34:31).
Once they uttered "our sister" they realized themselves that their
motives were not totally pure. Yaakov no longer had to argue his point.


	From here we can appreciate the greatness of Matityahu and his
sons. The Greeks wrought incredible suffering upon the Jewish people.
Not only did they rule over Israel but they killed those who observed
Mitzvot in cruel and unusual ways. People were punished for observing
Shabbat, Brit Mila and other Mitzvot. This alone, the cruelty they showed
the Jewish people, was sufficient reason for them to wage war. They hurt
the soul of the Jewish people and desecrated the Beit Hamikdash and
defiled it with idol worship. Matityahu, however, chose not to react to
these terrible cruelties, until they went out with the intent of harming
the honor of Hashem. It was not "our sister" that spurred Matityahu to
action, but "Hashem levado" "only to Hashem alone" [18] (Shmot 22:19).

	There is a dispute in the Gemara whether or not one is permitted
to benefit from the light of the Chanukah lamp, and we follow the
opinion that it is forbidden. The authorities have a further dispute
whether leftover oil can be used, and even that we rule is forbidden.
Why are we permitted to use what is left over from our Shabbat lights
and not from Chanukah candles? Were they not both used in performance
of Mitzvot? Several reasons have been offered, one of them is that the
entire purpose of the Shabbat candles is "oneg Shabbat", Shabbat delight,
and "shalom bayit", peace and harmony in the home. This is not the case
with the Chanukah lights. One opinion states that the Chanukah candles
are meant to emulate the candles of the Menorah which are consecrated
and may not be used.

	We can provide an additional explanation based on the above
discussion. The revolt of the Chashmonaim would have been too high a
risk to take had their intentions been interwoven with even the slightest
desire for any personal gain. The Chanukah candles, therefore, must not
have any element of personal gain. It was their dedication to Hashem
that merited them spreading Hashem's Name throughout the world and
sanctifying it.

	There were two ingredients lacking that prevented the Chashmonaim
from properly lighting the Menorah: pure oil and the gold Menorah.
A miracle occurred and suddenly they found a pure flask of oil bearing
the seal of the Kohen Gadol signifying its purity. Why was there no
similar miracle involving the Menorah? They used bronze spits covered
with wood, and it was only when their wealth grew that they first used
silver and then gold. We must keep in mind, a gold Menorah is not simply
a matter of "This is my G-d and I will beautify Him" [19] (Shmot 15:2),
it is intrinsic to the Menorah. If the Menorah is not made of gold it is
also not constructed with all the intricate details such as the cups,
knobs, and blossoms. Why then was there no miracle in which a gold
Menorah suddenly appeared?

	Based on what we have said above, we can explain that the victory
of the Chashmonaim came about as a result of their pure thoughts and
motives. Even the slightest level of impurity in their thoughts would have
resulted in the miraculous victory not occurring. The lack of a Menorah
alludes to what they lacked on a physical level: soldiers, elephants,
arms, etc. The Jewish people were saved only because of the spiritual
level of the Chashmonaim and not because of any physical superiority.

	Today we are in great need of a twofold salvation. We need
salvation from the enemies who wish to take our land from us. In addition
there are many "Hellenists" today who wish to remove the Torah and Mitzvot
from within us. If we purify our hearts and actions, we can hope that:
"He Who performed miracles for our forefathers and redeemed them from
slavery to freedom - may He redeem us soon" [20] .

English version
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The HaRav Nebenzahl parsha archives can be found at
(C) 5761/2000 by American Friends of Yeshivat Hakotel

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Date: Mon, 11 Dec 2000 20:32:17 EST
From: Zeliglaw@aol.com
Fwd: RAV -02: His Life and Thought, Part 2

Micha , please post this for the list. R Ziegler is working together with Dr 
David Shatz on many of RYBS manuscripts. For more details, check the intro to 
Family Redeemed
                             Steve Brizel

                    YESHIVAT HAR ETZION

by Rav Ronnie Ziegler

LECTURE #2: His Life and Thought, Part 2

... [Dedication rudely deleted. Sorry, this post is long enough without
frills. -mi]


The Rav's most important and fateful encounter in Berlin was that with
his wife, Dr. Tonya (Lewit) Soloveitchik (1904-1967). A student at
the University of Jena, where she obtained a Ph.D. in education, she
was introduced to Rav Soloveitchik by her brother, a fellow student at
University of Berlin. Although a scion of the illustrious Soloveitchik
family was expected to conclude a match with the daughter of a prominent
rabbi or at least a successful businessman, Rav Soloveitchik fell in
love with Tonya Lewit and married her in 1931 despite her family's
undistinguished lineage and lack of means.

As mentioned in the previous lecture, the Rav's relationship with his
wife was one of the two most significant relationships in his life. He
had unlimited esteem for her -- his dedication of "The Lonely Man of
Faith" reads: "To Tonya: A woman of great courage, sublime dignity,
total commitment, and uncompromising truthfulness." He respected her
opinion and heeded her advice, both in practical and in intellectual
matters. It was on her advice that he changed the topics of his annual
Yahrzeit (memorial) lectures for his father, which attracted thousands of
listeners, to matters which non- scholars could relate to (such as prayer,
Torah reading, and holidays). [The halakhic portions of some of these
lectures are collected in the two volumes of Shiurim Le- zekher Abba
Mari z"l.] In a poignant passage in a teshuva lecture delivered after
his wife's death, he recounted how he used to consult her before speaking:

"The longing for one who has died and is gone forever is worse than
death. The soul is overcome and shattered with fierce longing... Several
days ago, I once again sat down to prepare my annual discourse on the
subject of repentance. I always used to discuss it with my wife and
she would help me to define and crystallize my thoughts. This year,
too, I prepared the discourse while consulting her: 'Could you please
advise me? Should I expand this idea or cut down on that idea? Should I
emphasize this point or that one?' I asked, but heard no reply. Perhaps
there was a whispered response to my question, but it was swallowed up by
the wind whistling through the trees and did not reach me." (On Repentance
[Jerusalem, 1980], p. 280)

Rav Soloveitchik's wife was his best and perhaps only real friend. His
natural proclivity towards loneliness, which we will encounter repeatedly
in his writings, was heightened in his philosophy to an ideal, which
expresses itself in an invigorating sense of one's own uniqueness. One
can be lonely even, or perhaps especially, when surrounded by friends,
colleagues, and family. This is a constructive force which propels
a person toward his individual destiny, while also propelling him to
seek a depth-connection with G-d and with his fellow man. Aloneness,
as opposed to loneliness, is a disjunctive emotion. The passage above
highlights the Rav's almost unbearable sense of aloneness following his
wife's death in 1967 after a long struggle with cancer. He is reported
to have said, "After my father's death, I felt like a wall of my house
had fallen down. After my wife's death, I felt like the entire house
had collapsed." 1967 was an extraordinarily trying year for the Rav;
within the space of three months, his wife, mother and brother all
passed away. Although he did manage to return to a productive career of
teaching after this period of crisis (and in fact said that it was the
study and teaching of Torah which had helped him overcome his crisis),
echoes of it reverberate throughout his later writing.

Many attribute to this period a significant change in the Rav's
temperament. In an address at Yeshiva University at the conclusion of
the Rav's sheloshim (thirty-day mourning period), his son Dr. Haym
Soloveitchik related his different experiences in the Rav's Talmud
shiur. In the 1940's and 50's, the Rav had been "a volcano, a storming
lion in the classroom... he could crouch like a tiger and leap at the
slightest error that a student would make." However, when he entered his
father's shiur in 1969, he was shocked to find him "gentle, forbearing;
very little upset him." Why the change?

The Rav's father, Rav Mosheh Soloveitchik, had trained him with the
assumption that everything was superable through effort. Indeed, contrary
to most people's impression of a meteoric career, the first forty years
of the Rav's life had been an endless overcoming of obstacles -- war,
poverty, antisemitism, politics, etc. Thus, both Rav Mosheh and the Rav
believed that most intellectual error was a moral failure -- a failure of
will and effort. Rav Soloveitchik responded to error with fury because he
believed it to be a mark of laziness and self-indulgence; if his students
would try harder, if they would care more, then they would reach a better
grasp of the material they were studying. (Of course, he held himself to
the same high standard, devoting long and intense hours to preparation
of his classes.) However, in the 1960's Rav Soloveitchik had to cope
with his own, ultimately successful, bout with cancer, and his wife's,
ultimately unsuccessful, bout with cancer. At this point, he discovered
a sense of helplessness -- not everything was accomplishable by sheer
force of will. This caused a shift in his attitude to his students. He
came to terms with human limitations and vulnerability.

This change in temperament may also reflect a shift in emphasis in the
Rav's writings. Certainly, in the writings of the 1960's and 1970's the
themes of surrender, humility, the heroism of defeat, and childlike
dependence on G-d assume more prominence. (Some talk of a shift from
Neo-Kantianism to Existentialism, or the influence of Crisis Theology.) We
will leave open for now the question of whether these themes are not
present in his earlier writings or whether they are present but not
as central; we will also examine in later lectures the circumstances
surrounding the writing of the Rav's major philosophical essays.


Soon after his arrival in the United States in 1932, Rav Soloveitchik
was appointed Chief Rabbi of the Orthodox community of Boston. Even
after succeeding his father in 1941 as head of the Rabbi Isaac Elchanan
Theological Seminary of Yeshiva University in New York, he retained his
position in Boston, shuttling back and forth every week for over forty
years. Rav Aharon Lichtenstein (loc. cit., p. 285) depicts the Rav's
approach to the rabbinate as follows:

"Bred in a tradition that emphasized the intellectual, rather than the
pastoral function of the rabbinate, it was Rav Soloveitchik's conception
that the rabbi is above all a student, scholar and teacher. Soloveitchik,
therefore, dedicated himself to the task of disseminating a deeper
knowledge of Torah Judaism. He set out to encourage a general awareness
of the values of traditional Judaism and their relevance to modern
life. Thus, periodic derashot -- lengthy public discourses combining
halakhic, homiletic and philosophical material -- his weekly halakhic
shiurim (lectures) on the lay level, and his own, richly philosophic
understanding of human nature, won for him an ever-growing reputation
for wisdom and scholarship."

This is not to say that he neglected the common functions of the rabbinate
-- deciding halakhic questions, counseling, performing weddings and
funerals; he just did not see these as his focus. Each aspect of his
varied career -- teacher, scholar, synagogue rabbi, communal leader --
gave added depth and breadth to every other aspect.

Rav Soloveitchik's greatest impact was as a teacher at Yeshiva University,
where he taught from 1941 until 1985. In this capacity, he trained
thousands of advanced students. His reputation for creativity, clarity and
insight brought people from around the world to hear him. His students,
many of whom today populate rabbinic and teaching positions throughout
America and Israel, continued to regard him as their mentor long after
they had left yeshiva, thus spreading his influence even farther.

The Rav's Talmud shiur was not only the focal point of all his activities;
it was the prism through which he viewed everything else. He frequently
defined himself as "simply a melamed," a teacher, noting that this
is also a description of G-d ("ha-melamed Torah le-ammo Yisrael").
To a large extent, his philosophy flows from this basis. Although his
thought has universal dimensions, it is based squarely within Halakha and
explores Halakha's role in mediating man's relationship with G-d, with
the world, and with himself. In fact, much of Rav Soloveitchik's thought
constitutes an attempt to draw out the philosophy implicit within the
sources of Halakha, as opposed to imposing externally-conceived ideas upon
Halakha. This attempt can only be made after rigorous study of Halakha,
using its own autonomous methods of analysis -- and this study is what
the Rav devoted himself to in his shiur. A staunch advocate of Torah
study for its own sake (Torah lishmah), he did not believe that its
value depended on its contribution toward attainment of any other goal,
such as formulating a Jewish worldview. Nevertheless, Rav Soloveitchik
viewed Torah study as far more than just one of the 613 commandments: it
is our main source of insight into the will of G-d; it gives us knowledge
about ourselves and our world; it inducts us into the Massora community;
and it allows us to encounter G-d on an experiential level.

The Rav also taught Jewish Philosophy for many years at Yeshiva
University's Bernard Revel Graduate School. Quite technical in
nature, these lectures often revolved around the philosophy of the
Rambam. In these and other lectures, the Rav attempted one of his
boldest but most overlooked moves: saving the Rambam's philosophy from
obsolescence. Although it might seem that the Aristotelian framework in
which the Rambam's philosophy is conceived would render it irrelevant
to modern Jewish thought, Rav Soloveitchik set out to reinterpret
certain doctrines of the Rambam so as to preserve their contemporary
relevance. In our discussion of "U- vikkashtem Mi-sham," we shall note
several instances of this.

Directing his prodigious talent and energy not just to training scholars,
the Rav devoted great efforts to educating laymen as well. He spoke
about the weekly Torah reading to broad audiences every week in Boston
and New York, and his annual Yahrzeit lectures (for his father and
later for his wife) and teshuva discourses attracted both learned and
unlearned alike. In English, Hebrew and Yiddish, he was a dramatic
and engaging speaker who could hold an audience spellbound for hours.
He also had the rare ability to address a variety of audiences (adults
and children, scholars and laymen, Jews and Gentiles), each at its own
level. This resulted from his exposure to a wide variety of people (he
was not closed off in an ivory tower), his sharp psychological insight,
and his innate pedagogical and rhetorical ability. What makes this
skill more striking is the fact that he learned English as an adult,
as his fifth or sixth language!

Rav Soloveitchik also devoted considerable attention to childhood
education. Soon after his arrival in Boston, he founded the Maimonides
School, the first Jewish day school in New England. He and his wife
applied themselves wholeheartedly to ensuring the school's success,
both in terms of fundraising and educational guidance. The Maimonides
School has been quite influential as a model for the day school movement,
particularly in the importance it assigned to girls' Torah education.

Although initially a member of the non-Zionist Agudas Yisroel, the Rav
changed his mind on this issue and became honorary president of the
Religious Zionists of America (Mizrachi) in 1946. We will discuss the
Rav's views on Zionism when we analyze his essay "Kol Dodi Dofek." Let
us just note here that his only visit to Israel was in 1935, when he
unsuccessfully applied for the position of Chief Rabbi of Tel Aviv. (On
that occasion, he met Rav Avraham Yitzchak Hakohen Kook, the other seminal
thinker of the Modern Orthodox or Dati Leumi community. We shall address
the contrast between these two great figures when studying "Kol Dodi
Dofek.") In the 1960's, the Rav was offered the position of Chief Rabbi
of the State of Israel, but he turned it down.

The Rav also exerted great influence in the public arena as chairman
of the Halakha Commission of the Rabbinical Council of America. He
was responsible for the formulation of several guiding policies of
the Modern Orthodox rabbinate, such as the staunch opposition to mixed
seating in synagogues (see B. Litwin, The Sanctity of the Synagogue [NY,
1959]) and to interfaith dialogue on matters of creed (see his essay
"Confrontation," Tradition 6:2 [Spring 1964]; reprinted in N. Lamm, ed.,
A Treasury of Tradition [NY, 1967]). However, his primary influence
derived not from any official position he held, but rather from his
outstanding scholarship, piety, and charisma.


It has been suggested that the Rav's works as a whole constitute a
spiritual and intellectual autobiography. Thus, as we set out to explore
the Rav's thought, we will be embarking on a journey as exciting and
dramatic as the Rav's own turbulent soul. Before making our way to
Rav Soloveitchik's major works, we will examine several shorter and
more accessible essays: "The Community," "Majesty and Humility," and
"Catharsis." The critical concept of catharsis will lead us to an excursus
(drawing on many of the Rav's works) concerning the interrelationship of
action, emotion and thought in the Rav's philosophy. This discussion will
raise many of the central themes in the Rav's thought =96 sanctity and
the physical life, the need for inwardness, the experience of knowledge,
etc. -- which we will see amplified in his major works. Next week,
we will commence with "The Community."

I would like to conclude this lecture with a quote from Rav Lichtenstein
("The Rav at Jubilee: An Appreciation," Tradition 30:4 [Summer 1996],
pp. 50-51) which beautifully portrays a major aspect of the Rav's legacy.

"W.B. Yeats once commented that a person writes rhetoric about his
struggles with others and poetry about his struggles with himself. As an
orator, the Rav had no peer in the Torah world. But it is the poet in him
which has so touched and enthralled us. He has opened for us new vistas of
spiritual experience, vistas within which the drama of human existence,
in the form of confrontation with oneself, the cosmos, and above all,
the Ribbono Shel Olam -- all within the context of halakhic existence
in its most rigorous Brisker formulation -- is charged with hitherto
unperceived force and meaning. It is not as if we had engaged in the
quest of 'U- vikkashtem Mi-sham' and had faltered. We had simply never
thought in those categories. It is nas if we had felt tremulous anxiety
as lonely men and women of faith mired in the pursuit of mundane daily
concerns of faith -- but in a minor chord. Most of us had simply never
confronted that reality. The Rav did. What we have missed, he experienced
-- in terms of the dichotomy so cherished by him -- at both ends of the
scale: gadlut ha-mochin, the depth and force of a powerful mind mastering
its environment and impacting upon it, and that of katnut ha-mochin,
the simplicity of the child -- not as the epitome of intuited holistic
existence idealized by the Romantics, but as the archetype of a helpless
humble spirit groping towards his Father and seeking solace in Him and
through Him.

"Something of that experience he, through various channels, communicated
to us; and, in so doing, he has sensitized us to the need for a fuller
dimension of our own avodat Hashem. Flashes of what he saw and showed
both engage and haunt us; chords of what he heard and said resonate
in our ears; strains of what he felt palpitate in our hearts. Beyond
detail, however, we have been gripped by demut diyukno shel Rabbenu --
magisterial but sensitive, winsome and yet, ultimately, inscrutable --
and his spiritual odyssey. At home, we have, hanging, one picture of
the Rav with an engaging smile on his face; another, of him, bent over
pensively, with a somber, almost brooding expression. In looking at the
latter, I am frequently reminded of Wordsworth's portrayal 'Of Newton,
with his prism and silent face, the marble index of a mind forever /
Voyaging through strange seas of thought, alone.' Only not just a mind,
but a soul, not just thought but experience, and above all, not marble,
but a passionate human spirit."

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Date: Fri, 15 Dec 2000 11:30:31 -0500
From: "Markowitz, Chaim" <CMarkowitz@scor.com>
urn halacha

C1A1Brown@aol.com wrote:
> Re: k'lachar yad - even without my kashe, you have to be creative
> enough to come up with a case of bishul k'lachar yad because RS"Z
> himself relies on it for his chiddush!

	I thought of a case of bishul k'lacher yad but don't know if it
would have any nafka mina to the discussion at hand. According to the way
some understand Rashi (I think it's Rashi) bishul al yidei chamah is muttar
cause it is k'lachar yad. 

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Date: Sat, 16 Dec 2000 18:18:47 -0600
From: "Steve Katz" <sk0002@home.com>

Why is there no posuk starting with the letter nun in Ashrey?

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