Avodah Mailing List

Volume 11 : Number 017

Sunday, May 25 2003

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Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Date: Fri, 23 May 2003 09:29:48 -0400
From: "Gil Student" <gil@aishdas.org>
Re: shavuot greenery

Joel Rich wrote:
>The mishna brura(O"C 294:10) states that the Vilna
>Gaon sought to do away with this minhag because
>the nations of the world do this on their holidays. Does
>anyone know if this is brought down in the works
>of the Gaon or his students?

His mechutan, the Chayei Adam, brings this down although only with
regards to trees.

Gil Student

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Date: Fri, 23 May 2003 13:24:40 -0400
From: kennethgmiller@juno.com
Re: birshus list

I wrote <<< Every place where that Beur Halacha mentioned "baal habayis",
you could substitute "baalas habayis" and it would make just as much
sense. >>> and R' Carl Sherer responded <<< Except that no posek from
50 years ago or longer ever did that, which is why I labelled it PC. >>>

As I've stated, in those homes where it can be presumed that the wife will
go along with whatever the husband says, I agree that she is implicitly
included in the "birshus baal habayis" and does not need to be mentioned
explicitly. I'm only talking about families where the decision of who
should lead the benching might be a joint decision of the husband and
wife; in those cases, the leader should acknowledge the fact that she
granted him this permission.

RCS wrote <<< That's not true. The ba'al ha'bayis has the right to
determine who leads the zimun ... the poskim make clear that the ba'al
ha'bayis would be perfectly within his rights to take the honor of being
the m'zamen for himself and no one else - including his wife - would have
the right to stop him. That's why you have to ask the ba'al ha'bayis'
r'shus (see Biur Halacha 201). >>>

If you can document this, I will humbly and thankfully retract everything
I've written on this subject. Specifically, where do the poskim make it
clear that the *wife* has no right to stop him from being the m'zamen?

(I've always presumed that each couple decides on their own how to
handle each sort of decision, and that the halacha does not dictate any
preference for the husband or wife in any of them. The husband can't
force his choice of m'zamen any more than the wife can force her choice
of wallpaper. Am I mistaken?)

I wrote <<< when a kohen is at the table, and the baal habayis asks a
different person to lead the zimun, that other person *does* include
the kohen in the "birshus..." (At least, that's what I've seen wherever
I go.) So, I maintain, he should include that baalas habayis as well. >>>

RCS pointed out <<< Based on the Biur Halacha, I don't think he's
obligated to include the Kohen. >>>

I totally agree! Once the baal habayis selects someone, and asks him to
lead the zimun, that person is not obligated to include the kohen in the
"birshus" list.

My point is that despite this technical exemption, we see that what
people actually do in practice is that they DO include the kohen in
the list. In fact, the siddur's text of "maranan v'rabanan v'rabosai"
includes *everyone* (well, the adult males, at least) even the ones
who are *lower* on the pecking order than the guy who the baal habayis
picked. Doesn't this prove that there's an element of manners and derech
eretz here? Doesn't this prove that we're not dealing only with technical
issues of who is allowed (al pi halacha) to lead the zimun?

Akiva Miller

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Date: Fri, 23 May 2003 13:15:40 -0400
From: "Seth Mandel" <sm@aishdas.org>
Re: bonfires on Lag Ba'Omer again

Regarding my post about bonfires and halaqa on Lag ba'Omer, several
people have pointed me to Taamei HaMinhogim, who claims that the "hilula"
is an ancient custom. I mentioned him dismissively in my post, and now
I discuss list my reasons for dismissing him.

First of all, let me point out that the original book, composed by R.
Avrohom Yitzhoq Shpreling of L'vov just mentions "marbim ba'or" on Lag ba'
Omer, and in fact brings no sources for the custom, other than bringing
an explanation from the B'nei Yisoskhor. When Eshkol Publishing brought
out an Israeli edition, they had a R. Shlomo Eliezer Margolios write a
special section about the "hilula" on Lag ba'Omer.

Said R. Margolios has done a good job in finding all the sources, but
he apparently lacks much ability to analyze what he reads.

First he brings 3 sources from the Zohar (and a related book) that
RaShB'Y's talmidim went to his qever, and the g'moro Sanhedrin 98a
that says R. Y' hoshua ben Levi found Eliyahu haNavi at the cave
of RashB'Y. From this he concludes (!!!) that it was a custom from
the time of the Tana'im and Amora' im to visit the qever on a regular
basis. (Needless to say, the fact that the talmidim once went to his qever
proves no such thing, nor does the story of R. Y'hoshua ben Levi.) Then
he demonstrates that this purportedly ancient custom continued throughout
the ages by bringing stories of m'qubbolim from the time of the Ari in
EY who visited the qever. (I will bet that they visited lots of qivrei
tzaddiqim, and of course RaShB'Y would be first among them; nothing to
do with a yearly custom of making a party. Adrabbo, they went and said
over some things from the Zohar, which is an old custom, to give honor
to a rov by saying some of his Torah at his grave.) Then he brings a
custom mentioned of visiting RaShBY's grave twice a year and crying and
saying tahanunim there. And then a custom mentioned by the followers of
the Ari that they would go to the qever twice a year and spend 10 days
saying over things from the Zohar. (Which contain no mention of making
bonfires, celebrations, drinking, or halaqa. He also ignores the fact
that there are t'shuvos from some of these rabbonim that specifically
complain about the "hilula" and try to forbid it.)

He then looks for people who mention the hillula. The first source he
finds is R. Ovadyah of Bartinoro, who was there around 1489. According
to R. Margolios, R. Ovadyah writes to his brother "on the 18th of Iyyar,
the date of his death, people come from all the surroundings, and light
large torches in addition to the flame that is always burning there. and
many barren women are cured and sick people healed through the vows
and the money that they give in [or: for] that place" [my translation,
attempting to be as accurate as I can].

This is exactly what the Muslims do, as he himself recounts elsewhere
in his book, and it would not be surprising that the Musta'ribim were
doing it in the 15th century.

However, there is reason to suspect that this entire account is false.
In the published version of R. Ovadyah's letter to his brother, which R.
Margolius quotes as his source, the exact same wording (with all of its
details) appears, but it about the qever of Shmuel haNavi, and starts off
as follows: "The tomb of Sh'muel haNavi is still under Jewish control. On
the 28th of Iyyar, the date of his death, people come" etc.! There is
nothing at all in that entire letter about the hilula of in Meron.
This is not only my edition, but everyone else's that I have found.
It is precisely this lack of any mention of the hilula in Meron in any
sources that led to some historians claiming that there was no hilula
in Meron connected with RaShB' Y, but rather the hilula was moved there
after access to the qever or Sh' muel haNavi was forbidden in the 1560's,
as I mentioned.

Furthermore, at the end of the account as quoted by R. Margolios, he makes
it appear that R. Ovadyah is testifying that miracles occur at the qever
of RaShB'Y on a regular basis. In fact, R. Ovadyah's letter states that
his brother specifically asked him for reports on all of the miracles that
are supposed to occur at the site of the Bes HaMiqdosh and the qivrei
tzaddiqim, and he responds that he has seen no miracles in any of the
places at all. In particular, the full quotation regarding the qever of
Sh'muel haNavi reads "I did not see any miracles there, nor did I hear
of any except for stories of many barren women that are cured and sick
people healed through the vows and the money that they give in [or: for]
that place." This is certainly a far cry from the blanket assertation
brought by R. Margolius, even if he had reported the place accurately.

The best I can do as far as a limmud z'khus on such blatant
misrepresentation of the source material is that R. Margolius is so
convinced that the hilula of RaShB'Y is an ancient event that he assumed
that what R. Ovadyah wrote was a misprint: Sh'muel haNavi instead of
RaShB'Y and Iyyar 28 instead of 18. In fact, R Ovadyah's account is one
of the best proofs we have that the whole hilula is a late custom among
the Jews, since he reports the custom of torches by the yohrtzeit of
Sh'muel haNavi but knows naught of any such custom in Meron.

[In general, R. Ovadyah's account is as interesting regarding what he
didn't see and hear as it is for what he did. For instance, he records all
of the q 'vorim that he saw, yet he did not see the qever of the Rambam,
even though he was in Tz'fat, and even though he regarded the Rambam as
the first and foremost among all of his predecessors. One is forced to
conclude that the qever was not there at his time; and indeed that is
the case. The place of the Rambam's actual qever is unknown; what is
currently called his qever was "revealed" by miraculous means by the Ari.]

And this case should serve as a musar haskel for those who would use
books such as Minhag Yisruel Toyro and Ta'amei haMinhogim: check the
sources and see what they actually say; in many cases analysis of the
sources proves the opposite of their contention.

Unfortunately, this is not the only misrepresentation of R. Margolius.
He quotes R. Chaim Vital, who says that he was told that the Ari attended
the hilula the first year he was in Israel, and asserts that this shows
(to quote R. Margolius) that "the Light of our Eyes in the Secrets of
the Torah, the Ari Z'l himself upheld this ancient custom of making a
pilgrimage to Merion to the Exalted Establishment, the Hekhal within the
Hekhal, the Place of Rest of the Tano RaShB'Y on Lag b'Omer." In fact,
the account by R. Chaim Vital proves the opposite. R. Chaim Vital learned
by the Ari until his death (2 years later), and his account shows that
the Ari never went during that period, nor spoke about the 'inyon of
going. R. Chaim Vital in his writings recounts numerous things that he
heard about his rebbe, as well as things he himself saw or heard from him,
but this is one of the few places R. Chaim Vital saw fit to put in the
cautionary note that the Ari may not have done what he did if he knew all
that he knew later. (For another case, there is the putting in tzitzis
in two adjacent holes; for a case where he accepts what he heard without
a note, see the issue of haqqofos on Simchas Torah.) The fact that he
put in the note (which, of course, R. Margolius ignores, even though it
immediately follows the part that he quotes) shows that R. Chaim Vital
knows of no support for the custom in anything else that the Ari said,
and certainly means that the Ari never did it again.

At the very least, R. Margolius is guilty of telling half truths, making
misleading statements, and misrepresenting facts. Unfortunately, that
means that nothing he says can be taken at face value.

Seth Mandel

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Date: Fri, 23 May 2003 14:06:05 -0400
From: "Joseph Kaplan" <jkaplan@tenzerlunin.com>
Re: birshus list

From: "Carl and Adina Sherer" <sherer@actcom.co.il>
> > Probably the same source as the Yiddish "rabbosai . . . bentchen."
> Hardly. That comes from the Gemara in Brachos that talks about hav
> lan v'navrich (yes, I know, we said last night that is only
> appropriate for bentching with a kos, but the SA says that you should
> always bentch with a kos, even as a yachid (!), and the Rema
> certainly seems to hold that l'chatchila one should bentch with a
> kos. You have to go down to the Mishna Brura to see why we're meikil.

I was referring to the use of Yiddish (which I assume is not in the gemarah
or rishonim).  If we can blithely change the language of the beginning of
the zimun (no one says any other part of the benching in Yiddish), it
doesn't seem to be such a major deviation to include women in the birshus
or, as I suggested, lichvod.

Let me make three more points about this:

1.  Rn' Toby asked, probably rhetorically, whether the wife of a poster to
whom she was responding ever leads the benching.  Had she asked me, the
father of four daughters (all over the age of bat mitzvah) that question, my
answer would be "yes, lots and lots of times."

2.  R' Micha asks why he should ask his mother permission to lead a mezuman
in which she can't participate.  Being Jewish, let me respond with a
question:  if, when you were 14, you were about to lead the mezuman, and
your mother said, "Micha, I didn't ;like the way you behaved this week
(obviously this is theoretical) and I therefore don't want you to have the
honor of leading the benching, would you say that you don't need her

3.  R' Carl puts this in terms of "political correctness"   Personally, I
find that a term people use too easily in cases where someone is sensitive
to something the user of the term is not sensitive about.  (More about that
another time perhaps.)  So I reject the charge that my use of "birshus" or
"lichvod ba'alat habayit" is political correctness; it's merely politeness
and a recognition of those through whose efforts the meal that I have just
eaten came about.  If I know that the women feel like Rn' Adina or Rn' Toby
and don't appreciate that acknowledgment, then obviously if I led the
benching in their homes, I would not say it.  But if I think they do
appreciate it, as many of the women in the families I am friendly with do,
then I see nothing wrong in continuing to do this.

One last personal comment:  Before Rn' Toby thinks "you'll never lead the
benching in MY house," :) let me tell a story.  Many years ago in Far
Rockaway where I grew up, I was at a sheva brachot Friday night, as was R.
Bulman.  When it came time for benching, R. Bulman, who knew I was a kohen,
asked me to lead the benching.  I deferred to him, and after some colloquy,
he agreed to lead the benching.  But I promise Rn' Toby that if she or her
husband (but especially she) ever ask me to lead the benching, I'll jump at
the opportunity.


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Date: Fri, 23 May 2003 17:33:36 -0400
From: "Feldman, Mark" <MFeldman@CM-P.COM>
RE: Birshus ba'alas habayis, nivarech...

I wrote:
>: Let's say that a widow has invited three male guests. Isn't she the
>: one who has the right--as the ba'alas ha'bayis--to designate which of
>: the three will lead the mezuman? In that case, wouldn't it be proper
>: for the one leading the mezmuman to say "birshus ba'alas habayis?"

From: Micha Berger [mailto:micha@aishdas.org]
> I'm not sure it's asking permission to lead benching. Presumably
> (and this is true in practice) the guest wouldn't have opened his
> mouth had such reshus not been granted.

He's not asking reshus now. Rather, he's acknowledging that reshus has
been given.

> Also, why then ask reshus of anyone beyond the ba'al habayis, or the rav,
> or whichever one kohein is in the position to do the appointing? Why would
> it ever be belashon rabbim or otherwise refer to multiple people except in
> the rare cases where the person was selected by committee?

He's acknowledging everyone out of anavah (i.e., since S'A OC 201 says
that gadol mevareich). But he's especially acknowledging the ba'al
habayis who authorized him to bentch.

SA OC 201:1 says that if there is an orei'ach, he leads the bentching in
order to be able to bless the ba'al habayis with the bircas ha'orei'ach.
If there is a ba'alas habayis and not a ba'al habayis, presumably she
is the recipient of the bircas ha'orei'ach.

Kol tuv,

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Date: Fri, 23 May 2003 15:49:58 +0300
From: "Carl and Adina Sherer" <sherer@actcom.co.il>
Re: Re: giving chalah to your wife before eating your own piece

On 23 May 2003 at 11:30, Micha Berger wrote:

> On Fri, May 23, 2003 at 12:17:50PM +0300, Carl and Adina Sherer wrote:
> :> As for questions of hefseq... Where's the hesach hada'as? Is there
> an :> oveir la'asiyasan for food?
> : I'm not sure I understand the second question. Why would you have a
> : hava amina that the bracha for food does not have to be oveir :
> l'asiyasan?...
> Why would I? Where is the maqor?

1. Gemara in Brachos - Assur l'henos min ha'olam ha'zeh l'lo bracha.
2. Gemara in Psachim - All birchos ha'mitzva are oveir l'asiyasan 
(and eating the challah is a mitzva or we wouldn't l'chatchila have 
one person be motzi everyone). 

> I thought the problem with food is hefseq, not immediacy.

True. But how are you defining hefsek? As I understand hefsek, it 
means anything that is not required for fulfilling the mitzva. Do I 
have to cut challah for everyone else in order to fulfill my mitzva? 

> :             As to your first question, if I made the bracha I am :
> supposed to eat right away. How is cutting for everyone else part of :
> the inyan of my making the bracha and eating? 
> You aren't making the berakhah only for yourself.

Ain hachi nami. But it's impossible for me to make sure that everyone 
else doesn't have a hefsek. But with respect to myself, I can make 
sure that I don't have a hefsek. 

> : BTW - I also wash last, partly for the same reason. I told my kids :
> that when they have their own houses BE"H, I won't be offended if :
> they make me wash ahead of them :-) 
> The gemara tells the mevareikh not to wait for 5 or more peoplen
> but to wash first if there are fewer.

I think that relates to mayim achronim. I don't recall hearing that 
with respect to mayim rishonim. My shver washes first regardless of 
how many people are there (he holds that it's kavod), but I like to 
make sure that my kids keep moving and going last lets me do that. It 
also lets me chap a little learning while I'm waiting for them to 
wash :-) 

-- Carl

Please daven and learn for a Refuah Shleima for our son,
Baruch Yosef ben Adina Batya among the sick of Israel.  
Thank you very much.

Carl and Adina Sherer

See pictures of Israel. Point your browser to:


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Date: Fri, 23 May 2003 09:26:10 -0400
From: "Gil Student" <gil@aishdas.org>
Re: Naming a Child

David Riceman wrote:
>See Kether Shem Tov, ed. Kehot, #146 (p.36).

Which one?  The one attributed to the Ba'al Shem Tov?

Gil Student

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Date: Sun, 25 May 2003 01:47:48 -0400
From: Gershon Dubin <gershon.dubin@juno.com>

I found the musar vort in the Daf Yomi a few days ago interesting. The
Gemara asks about the difference between kahanos teme'os, and yayin mutar.
The Gemara's answer is that liv'ol yesh penai, lenasech ein penai.
Rashi explains that since the invaders WANT liv'ol, there's time, while
they don't want lenasech as much, so there's no time.


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Date: Sun, 25 May 2003 01:45:20 -0400
From: Gershon Dubin <gershon.dubin@juno.com>
Birshus ba'alas habayis, nivarech...

From: "Feldman, Mark" <MFeldman@CM-P.COM>
<<Let's say that a widow has invited three male guests. Isn't she the
one who has the right--as the ba'alas ha'bayis--to designate which of
the three will lead the mezuman? In that case, wouldn't it be proper
for the one leading the mezmuman to say "birshus ba'alas habayis?">>

No, since while she has the presumed right to ask whomever she wants to
bentsh, it is not bireshusah that they bentsch, since she herself does
not have permission to lead. Bireshus X does not mean X asked you to
bentsch, but that the preference for X, either as kohen or other mechubad,
is deferred in your favor.

Therefore, bireshus ba'al habayis and baalas habayis is inappropriate,
since she never has the prerogative to defer.


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Date: Sun, 25 May 2003 10:21:21 +0200
From: "Shoshana L. Boublil" <toramada@bezeqint.net>
Re: reshut for bentching (was vernacular)

From: <T613K@aol.com>
> Why? Does a son need his mother's reshus, or does a male guest need
> his hostess's reshus, before leading the bentshing? Are there times
> when the mother in your house in fact leads the bentshing?

The answer is YES. Halachically (at least according to Maran) 3 women who
eat a meal are supposed to say Zimun. Therefore they are MiLekat'chilla
part of the people bentching and the Mezamen needs their reshut.

I asked a few rabbis (Sephardi) and they stated that the Reshut asked
is not from Ba'al HaBayit [who has already given reshut to the Mezamen
to lead - SLB] but from those present. The nusach is "Birshutchem"
[and/or] Hav Lan VeNavRixh LeMalka I'la'a Kadisha". The nusach is
intended to include all present -- including the women.

And those present answer "Shamayim" (or Birshut Shamayim).

And why "Shamayim"?

When there is a question of one saying a Bracha for those present,
the Mezamen has to be Mekaven Le'Hotzi all those present -- and those
present have to be Mekaven LaTzet.

Shamayim is an acronym: "Shome'a u'Mashmi'a Yachdav Mexhavnim"

Yes, in my husband's family there is a private Minhag of specifically
mentioning both parents when a son says Zimun, but it is only a
continuation of the idea that Reshut is asked from all those present --
including the women.

Shoshana L. Boublil

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Date: Sat, 24 May 2003 20:36:34 +1000
From: "SBA" <sba@iprimus.com.au>
Re: hav lan v'navrich

>> Maybe we'll try hav lan v'navrich, although no one else other than
>> the two boys will know where it came from.
> My late father OH used to say "Her tzu rabosay - mir velln bentchen..'
> I think that is the Oberlender way. (Anyone else have that nusach?)

From: "Seth Mandel" <sm@aishdas.org>
> That is the custom of all Yiddish speaking Jews that I know of: hert tzu
> rabboisai, mir veln benchen.  However, Germans said "wir wollen bentshen."
> "Rabbosai nvorekh" is a calque of the Yiddish: it did not exist in any
> community to the best of my knowledge before the Israelis had to figure out
> how to say mir vellen benchen in Hebrew.  S'faradim and Teimanim never said,
> and do not say, any such thing.

The Mogen Avrohom [102:1] as well as MB, say that 'hav lon unevoreich'
is the earlier version of 'rabosay mir veln bentchen' [which they write
in Yiddish] confirming the above RSM.

Also it seems quite clear that 'hav lon unevoreich' has nothing to do
with having or not having a 'kos'.


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Date: Sun, 25 May 2003 17:26:39 -0400
From: "Seth Mandel" <sm@aishdas.org>
Re: bonfires on Lag Ba'Omer

Yesterday I attended R. Shneiur Leiman's shabbos afternoon lecture, and he
was discussing Lag Ba'Omer.  The point of takeoff was a new book published
by Artscroll about Lag Ba'Omer.  His basic point was that a book of 190
pages on such a specialized subjetct should not ignore most of the primary
source material (instead it relies on various late summaries, including the
part of Ta'amei haMinhogim that I discussed in my earlier posts).
He did not go into so much detail on bonfires as I did, although one of the
points he mentioned was that the ArtScroll perpetuates the mistake/
misrepresentation of the material from R. Ovadiah from Bertinoro that came
from the quntres appended to Ta'amei haMinhogim that I discussed.  He
covered other material, among which was:
1) the earliest mention that Lag ba'Omer is any different from any of the
other days of the s'fira is in the Sefer haManhig and the Meiri, both of
which record a custom not to fast on Lag ba'Omer (but no connection with the
talmidim of R. Aqiva yet.)  (Such a custom, not to fast and to omit tahanun,
was unknown in Ashk'naz in the period of most of the rishonim, as well as
unknown to the Rambam and most other rishonim who discuss tahanun.  Indeed,
it was apparently unknown to the Bes Yosef, who brings the list of Shibbolei
haLeqet of the days when tahanun is omitted, and it is not in the list.  It
is the R'Mo who brings the minhog, based on R. Eizik of Tirna.)
2) The g'moro that R. Aqiva had 12,000 pairs of talmidim who all died does
not mention Lag ba'Omer, and, as many acharonim point out (he quoted some of
them), giving this as a reason for a simcha is rather far-fetched: if you
had a yeshiva of 24,000 bochurim and they started dying one by one, and the
last one died on the 32nd day of the Omer, would anyone be so demented as to
stage a celebration?  For what, that there were no more left to die?
4) Because of this difficulty, the acharonim try to find different reasons
for any celebration or abolition of mourning.  R. Leiman did a brief search
over a couple of days, and found 14.  One of the most inventive was that of
R. Yaaqov Emden, who notes that Lag ba'Omer in qabbolo is hod inside the
week of hod.  Since hod represents din, Lag ba'Omer is a day of complete
din, and when you have a bet Din 100% of whose members hold that the accused
is guilty, he goes free.
3) The early sources that list the occurences during Iyyar (M'gillas
Ta'anis, and material from the Geniza that was recited on each Rosh Chodesh,
listing the important occurrences during that month) both list the 28th as
the yortzeit of Shmuel haNovi, and one lists the 18th as the yortzeit of
Yehoshua bin Nun, but none mention RaShB'Y.  Rather strange if this is an
old holiday.
4) Not only is there no early source at all that lists the yortzeit of
RaShB'Y as being on Lag ba'Omer, the early sources do not list RaShB'Y as
being buried in Meron.  As a matter of fact, the letter from a talmid of R.
Ovadyah of Bertinoro, published in the same volume as the latter's letters
of his travels, lists all the notable sites around Tz'fat.  He talks about
the qever of Hoshea' haNovi, and of R. Y'huda ben R. Ilai.  He tells of
miracles told about the latter qever.  The q'vorim of R. Tarfon, R. Yosef
ben Kisma, Hillel and his talmidim, Shammai and his talmidim, and of 22
talmidim of RaShB'Y.  He talks about the synagogue of RaShB'Y near Tz'fat
that lies in ruins.  However, he does not mention the qever of RaShB'Y
himself.  Perhaps he did not get to see it, but the point is there is no
tradition mentioned that it is in Meron until the 16th century.

Seth Mandel

----- Original Message -----
From: Seth Mandel
To: SBA ; areivim
Cc: Phyllostac@aol.com ; gil@aishdas.org ; T613K@aol.com
Sent: Friday, May 23, 2003 1:30 PM
Subject: Re: bonfires on Lag Ba'Omer

I have just posted to Avodah a discussion of the sources brought by the
Ta'amei haMinhogim for the bonfires and halaqa, and shown that the
discussion of the quntres added to that book there about the hilula contains
half-truths, misleading statements, and misrepresentations of the facts (not
the fault of the author of Ta'amei haMinhogim, who makes no misleading
statements: he just recounts the explanations he has heard for lighting
fires).  In fact, the evidence from R. Ovadyah of Bartinoro/Bartenura
indicates that the custom did not exist among Jews at the time, in direct
contradiction to what the quntres there claims.
In regard to the note from Shmuel, posted by R. SBA below, his point is
entirely valid.  R. Chaim Vital (R CV) never says that the Ari was opposed
to the custom.  However, there is a clear difference between what R. CV said
about the tzitzis and what he says here.  R. CV testifies that the Ari wore
his tzitzis with two adjacent holes; presumably he saw him do so.  In this
case, it is clear that the Ari did not go to the hilula in subsequent years.
R. CV was learning by him, and knows that the Ari went his first year in EY
only from being told; in subsequent years, he would have seen it, or at
least have an idea about how his rebbe felt about the issue (as he does
regarding tzitzis).
The fact that the Musta'ribim were looked down upon by the S'faradim is
true; they were looked down upon by the Ashk'nazim as well.  This does not
in itself indicate that there is anything wrong with their customs.
However, as I said in my original post, it is indisputable that they adopted
many (non-questionable) customs from the Arabs, hence their name.  It is the
fact that this custom has a clear source in Arab customs, but was unknown by
any group of Jews except for the Musta'ribim, that makes it probable that it
was a borrowing.
Seth Mandel

----- Original Message -----
From: SBA
Sent: Thursday, May 22, 2003 10:39 PM
Subject: Fw: bonfires on Lag Ba'Omer

From: shmuel
Subject: Re: bonfires on Lag Ba'Omer

Just one or two points to pick up on - not to criticise the essay:

The Musta'ribim (!) Must'arabim (or Murishkas) are the native Oriental
Jews as opposed to the Spanish immigrants. The latter looked down on the
former, as indeed they did on the Ashkenazim. In their eyes there was
nothing more pure-blooded than a 'real Castiliano'. So the criticism of
the Murishkas for their customs is not automatically well-founded.

I'm not altgether sure that the interpretation of R Hayyim Vital's comment
is accurate. He was at that point already an 'expert' but during the
following year (the last of his life according to most interpretations)
he reached unheard-of levels of understanding. Moreover the question
here appears to be more a halachic question that a mystical one. I think
that R Hayyim simply wants to make the point that we do not necessarily
need to adopt this practice, since it does not have a conclusive stamp of
approval from the Ari. A parallel case is that of the manner in which the
Ari made his tsitsis - with two holes in the corner rather than one. R
Hayyim writes that he adopted this practice following the opinion of
the Agur, before he become expert in the kabboloh, so neither R Hayyim
himself, not his son (nor the Rashash) adopted it.

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Date: Sun, 25 May 2003 02:00:31 -0400
From: Gershon Dubin <gershon.dubin@juno.com>
Re: giving chalah to your wife before eating your own piece

On Fri, 23 May 2003 15:49:58 +0300 "Carl and Adina Sherer"
<sherer@actcom.co.il> writes:
<<I think that relates to mayim achronim. I don't recall hearing that
with respect to mayim rishonim. My shver washes first regardless of how
many people are there (he holds that it's kavod), but I like to make
sure that my kids keep moving and going last lets me do that. It also
lets me chap a little learning while I'm waiting for them to wash :-) >>

It's a Rosh that recommends washing last for least hefsek. I do that
also to keep things moving. You can learn on the other side of having
washed also.


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Date: Sun, 25 May 2003 13:14:50 -0400
From: kennethgmiller@juno.com
Re: giving chalah to your wife before eating your own piece

R' Carl Sherer wrote <<< if I made the bracha I am supposed to eat right
away. How is cutting for everyone else part of the inyan of my making
the bracha and eating? >>>

I agree that cutting for everyone else is NOT part of the inyan of my
making the bracha and eating.

However, it IS part of the inyan of THEM being yotzay in the bracha and
eating. Isn't that just as important?

Akiva Miller

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Date: Sun, 25 May 2003 16:51:32 GMT
From: Eli Turkel <turkel@post.tau.ac.il>
RYBS and chazakot

This past shabbat there was a reprint in Hatzofe of a speech of RYBS
to the RCA (doesn't give the year). Shorteneing the speech he made the
following remarks

1. Limud Torah = kabbalat ol malchut Shamayim (emphasis on ol)
2. One cannot use external methods to learn Torah. Someone who says that
he has a new method that Rashba, Gra etc. did not know - is a joke
3. Judaism does not need to apologize to women or other groups over
halacha. There is no need to adapt the eternal halacha to every passing
whim in modern society.
4. Mesorah requires us to give love and honor to the chachmei haMesorah,
tanain, amoraim and rishonim, they are the ultimate authority. Comments
attacking these sages approaches the level of kefirah (Rambam teshuva 3:8)
5. (4) applies not only to halachot but also to chazakot. example:
Tav Lemetav tan du ... is not based on the society and position of old
but is a basic existentialist property of women in all ages
a single old woman will always have it harder than a single old man.
destroying chazakot = destroying yiddishkeit, just light a match instead
and let it burn.
Another example is "afkinhu rabban kidushin".
If every bet din can retroactively uproot a marriage then we no longer
need gittin. Those in favor are trying to destroy halacha! (it seems
that there was some issue up for a vote that RYBS was opposing).
6. Not all problems are solvable. Judaism requires men/women to sacrifice.
Tells story of a woman ger tzedek who meets a man and convinces him to
become religious. In seeking his roots he discovers he is a Cohen. The
woman did everything right but there is no way of allowing them to
get married.
Halacha is sensitive to the needs of individuals and groups but only
within its own parameters. sensitivity does not mean that everything is
allowed. We oppose changes but allow "chiddushim". Just a psychology
can't change mathematical facts it cannot change halachic facts.

 Prof. Eli Turkel,  turkel@post.tau.ac.il on 05/25/2003
Department of Mathematics, Tel Aviv University

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Date: Sun, 25 May 2003 19:28:50 +0300
From: Akiva Atwood <akiva@atwood.co.il>
FW: Interesting question

I received this from my LOR. Anyone have any ideas?


Trust this note finds you and yours well.

I saw the following question raised in the name of Rav Shlomo Zalman
Auerbach zatza"l- thought you might have insights on it:
The Gemara in Shabbos 108b states that one cannot make strong saltwater on
shabbos, which the gemara defines as 2/3 salt and 1/3 water. Rav Shlomo
Zalman zatza"l pointed out that one cannot make a saltwater solution of
greater than 36% salt- the salt will not dissolve- so therefore what
does the Gemara mean that one could mix 2/3 salt and 1/3 water- this
will not dissolve- Did they have a different type (or possibly not pure)
salt in the times of chazal that could dissolve in greater %s? Or perhaps
chazal meant something different when they said 2/3 salt and 1/3 water?

I am very curious if you have any insights on this-

Kol Tuv

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