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Bais-Medrash V2 #50

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Mar 28, 2001, 11:59:37 PM3/28/01
Bais-Medrash Wednesday, March 28 2001 Volume 02 : Number 050

Bais-Medrash is an open forum for discussion among those with a solid Jewish
education. Opinions and Halachic positions represented herein are not
necessarily those of anyone but the writers of the respective posts, and
have not been checked or verified in any way by Project Genesis.

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

Re: Napster
Re: Napster
Etymological Questions
Re: Etymological Questions
Re: Zodiac
Re: Sh'ma
Re: Zodiac
Re: Women and Chazal
Re: Siddur Discrepancies (was Re: Migdol, Magdil)
Re: Napster
Re: Defective Na'arah
Re: Zodiac
Re: Etymological Questions


Date: Mon, 5 Mar 2001 09:17:44 -0500
From: "Dr. Donald J. Weinshank" <>
Subject: Re: Napster

On copying copyrighted material...continued.

This Shabbat, I was reading LETTERS OF JEWS THROUGH THE AGES: Volume One,
ed. Franz Kobler, Jewish Publication Society, 1952. In a chapter entitled,
"The Rise of the Geonic Responsa," I found this on p. 72.:

<Gaon Shalom Bar Boas to an Inquirer 'All robbery whatsoever of non-Jewish
property is forbidden.' [Sura, second half of the ninth century] (( NOTE:
Sura and Pumbedita were the two great Talmudic academies. ))

You ask: What is the rule concerning the robbery of non-Jewish property? Is
such robbery prohibited exclusively as a profanation of the Holy Name? This
is our decision: The prohibition of robbery has no reference to the
profanation of the Holy Name. For it is a Halakah that all robbery
whatsoever (thus also) of non-Jewish property is forbidden. ....

R. Pinhas ben Jair said: It is not permitted to appropriate even the lost
property of non-Jews, since it leads to profanation of the Holy Name. In a
story related of R. Ashi that once, when traveling, he sent for a grape
grown in the garden of a non-Jew, this is certainly to be understood for
payment and in the certain assurance that the grapes were offered for sale.
Far be the idea that such as man a Rabbi Ashi committed any falsehood or
fraud, he who declared it as a principles that one must not cause an untrue
opinion in anybody, Jew or non-Jew.>

This is, in my view, classic 'kal v'chomer' reasoning. That is, the simple
principle is that stealing is stealing, no matter from whom something is
stolen. But further, stealing from a Jew or a non-Jew (or even
appropriating lost property) is Profanation of G-d's Name.

Dr. Don Weinshank


Date: Tue, 6 Mar 2001 17:13:21 -0000
From: "Aubrey Hersh" <>
Subject: Re: Napster

Russell Hendel <> wrote:
<<I don't know of >ANY< instance where an act is classified as theft when
done to a Jew but is classified as permissible when done to a non-jew The
Rambam >OPENS< the Laws of Theft and the Laws of Robbery with a clear
statement that prohibitions apply to Jews and Non Jews alike (Chapter

You are right with regards to gezeilah d'oraysoh. However with d'rabbonons,
the case is not clear at all and is subject to a machlokes rishonim. With
Napster therefore, where the person downloading the music is taking from a
second hand source and not from the original piece of music, the discussion
would be very pertinent i.e. can you retain ownership over a piece of music
even when it is no longer on the original disc (in technical terms: to what
extent can you be sha'yer be'kinyono)

Rabbi Aubrey Hersh
Jewish Learning Exchange, London


Date: Wed, 7 Mar 2001 06:17:22 -0600
From: "Cohen, Izzy" <>
Subject: Etymological Questions

In BM V2, #44, "M.Y." <> wrote:
<<...Is it not significant that the Alef Beit and the [alphabet] are so
similar in name, order, and structure ...>>

I have not seen a reply from the professional linguists yet, but here is my
(amateurish) reply.

It is generally accepted that alphabets (as we know them today) were only
"invented" once. Nearly all subsequent alphabets have been modifications of
previously existing alphabets. For a more detailed analysis, see the links

As a result, the "sequence pattern" established by major, earlier alphabets
tends to be copied by later alphabets. The original source of letter shapes
(orthography) is an open question. The majority opinion is that a letter's
shape constitutes "instructions" for its pronunciation. A substantial
minority opinion is that each letter's shape represented hand signals for
"signing" that letter.

In either case, I find the differences between standard Hebrew printed
characters and printed Rashi characters to be significant. Those characters
which are "different" between the two scripts are the same characters whose
sound seems to have changed over time. Moreover, the shape of the Rashi
character gives a clue to the *earlier* sound of the letter. This is true
despite the conventional wisdom that Rashi is a later script that was
adopted by printers as merely a convenient way to distinguish commentary
(especially Rashi) from Talmudic text itself.

In other words, it is as though the printers used an older script to
represent newer writings simply because the older script was
recognizable/readable and sufficiently "different" to accomplish their goal.

Long before I had looked at Rashi script, I had hypothesized the following
sound changes in the (proto-)Hebrew letters:

aleph: GHT/CHS --> T --> glottal stop
Therefore, aleph-oh-resh = LiGHT/LiCHT (see resh below)
The parallel is usually aleph-C1-(C2) = C1-(C2)-GHT.
[aleph was often replaced by het-dalet or het-shin; e.g., aleph-bet = 1, 2
- --> het-shin-bet = to count]
Rashi aleph looks much like today's het = KH

bet: sometimes MB --> M in other langs.
Rashi bet looks like an M rotated 90 deg clockwise.

heh: DH (as in the) --> H.
[so heh was often replaced by dalet, but remained heh for the definite
e.g., dalet-mem = Gk HeMo, aleph-dalet-mem = Gk HoMo, etc.]
Rashi heh looks like today's taf rotated 90 deg clockwise.

vav: F --> V.
het: W --> X / KS --> KH.
[I suspect these various sounds overlapped.]

yod: Germanic G / Latin K --> Y.
Sometimes CR in other langs. Compare YoD = CReDit.
Let's give him a big hand.

lamed: often N, sometimes R in other langs.
mem: lazy mem --> W in other langs.
examples: MaTaR --> water
MaD[ad] SHa3a --> watch
see bet, above

nun: often R, sometimes L in other langs.
Hebrew suffix nun = English suffix -er/-or

aiyin: velar G/K --> current sound.
Sometimes CR in other langs.
examples: 3aZaZeL --> CRaZy aS 'eLL
3oFeL = aCRoPoLis

tzadi: S --> TZ.
Rashi tzadi looks like a current lamed, bent.
I do not know why. It is somewhat S-shaped.

resh: often L, sometimes N in other langs.
shin: usually T, sometimes D --> SH
[compare English suffixes -tion and -tial]
Rashi shin looks like current tet rotated 90 deg clockwise.
Shin always has a T-sound on my anthropomorphic body-part maps [of Hermes &
Aphrodite] in Asia minor and north Africa. Charts of these place names are
available by email off-list.

sof: S --> T (during my lifetime).

Based on the above, YHVH has an interesting meaning. Compare Ju-Piter.

Dosh kham,
Israel Cohen


Date: Wed, 7 Mar 2001 06:29:21 -0600
From: "Cohen, Izzy" <>
Subject: Re: Etymological Questions

(My response to Rabbi Marmorstein continues...)

Isaac Mozeson, author of The WORD, agrees with you. However, he does *not*
accept the sound shifts within Hebrew that are implied by the
aleph-GHT/CHS, heh-DH, vav-F, het-digamma/Wynn/X, yod-G/K, mem-W(h), and
shin-T/D parallels. He does, however, utilize gimel-K, vav-W, het-G(h),
lamed/nun/resh-NRL, aiyin-G/K, and tsadi-S parallels.

<<If Hebrew and Latin are comparable because they came into contact with
one another ... is English not a later development out of this same
original crucible?>>

I would not consider English to have "developed out of" any contact between
Hebrew and Latin. I do see evidence for some limited borrowing between
Hebrew and Latin, in both directions. But there was far more borrowing
between Hebrew and Greek. And probably still more between Hebrew and Aramaic.

I do believe in the monogenesis of language. That is, language only evolved
one time. Therefore, *all* languages are related. What one calls the
original language is simply a matter of convenience or convention. Mozeson
calls it Eden-speak. It can, I think, be called proto-[any existing or no
longer existing language]. In 1924, the Danish linguist Holger Pedersen
postulated "Nostratic" as a precursor for both Proto-IndoEuropean and
AfroAsiatic languages. It seems that a Nostratic-like ancestor constituted
the genetic link between Hebrew and English. [Mozeson would call this
ancestor proto-Hebrew.]

There have been far more areal contacts between Semitic languages and IE
languages than most professional linguists have acknowledged. Here are some
of those contacts:

1 - Physical proximity when Germani tribes inhabited Anatolia and areas
near the Caucasus mountains. I suspect the term Germani is derived from
kHermes. My reconstructed (Phoenician) anthropomorphic map of Hermes in
Asia minor has his RoSH/cranium in Rus/Ukraine, his left shoulder [KaSeF]
at the Caspian sea, his heart [Gk cardia] at Kurdistan, his biceps at
Pontus < Gk pontiki, his elbow [KiFooF-yaD] at Cappadocia, his
fingers/phalanges at Phrygia, his pupik at Mt kHermon (then part of
Lebanon, the reversal of Sanskrit nabhila = navel), ... his knee [BeReX] in
Bahrain, and his right [YeMiN] foot in Yemen.

2 - The impact of Aramaic as a lingua franca for almost 600 years,
beginning in the 6th cent B.C. At that time, the world was not the global
village it is today, but words do tend to be borrowed into other languages
especially from the current lingua franca. [Today, the lingua franca is

3 - Contact with Phoenician explorers and merchants. The Phoenicians did
obtain tin in Cornwall, England. They may have obtained iron [BaRZeL] in
Brazil. ;-)

4 - The influence of the Carthaginians in S.E. Spain and northern Italy.
Hannibal [247-183] crossed the Alps into Italy during the 2nd Punic war. My
body-part map of Aphrodite indicates that her face [PaNim] was lost during
the 3rd Punic war. The rest of her is still there in north Africa. Her
reversed cranium is now Morocco. It still has a Fez. The Atlas (= first
cervical vertebrae) mountains support her head. Her hair [Sa3aRos] is the
Sahara desert. Her chin [SaNTir] reverses to Tunisia. Her heart [LeV] is
Lybia. Her breast [SHaD] is Chad. Her narrow [TZaR] waist is Misr/Mitzraim.
Her navel was Nubia. Her side [TZaD] is Sudan. And her left [SMoL] leg is

5 - Following the Roman conquest of Israel, Jews dispersed to several
European areas. Jews were expelled from England by king Edward 1 in 1290.
They were expelled form Spain in 1492. Many of those driven out of Spain
moved to Holland.

6 - The Crusades brought Europeans to the "Holy Land": First Crusade
1095-1099 Second Crusade 1147-1148 Third Crusade 1189-1192 Fourth
Crusade 1202-1204 Fifth Crusade 1218-1221 Sixth Crusade
1228-1229 Seventh Crusade 1248-1254

7 - About 5 centuries of Moorish control in Spain, from about 715 to 1260.
Moorish control of Granada ended in 1492. Sailors & soldiers in the Spanish
Armada of 1588 became stranded in Ireland and Scotland. Their descendents
are sometimes called "Black Irish".

8 - The Bible has been translated into more languages than any other text.
The Old Testament was originally written mostly in Hebrew. Words which
could not easily be translated were transliterated and borrowed into the
target language. For example: leviathan, literally, jackal/teeth that
accompany (you at sea), probably a pilot whale (where PiLoT is a reversal
of DoLPhin).

9 - Some Hebrew words have entered other languages via Yiddish. For
example: gunmoll < Yiddish < Heb GaNaV = to steal + MaLWeH = one who
accompanies; hence, a female companion of a criminal. Compare this LW with
that in LeWiaTHaN (using W for vav).

The ultimate in genetic followed by areal influence is illustrated by
clicking on Valentyn Stetsyuk's "Nostratic Languages" map at Here he places Kartvalian, Altaic,
IndoEuropean, Semitic, Uralic, and Dravidian all within walking distance
(literally) of each other south of the Caucasus between the Black and
Caspean seas.

Dosh kham,
Israel Cohen


Date: Mon, 12 Mar 2001 00:26:22 -0600
From: "CB Kaufman" <>
Subject: Re: Zodiac

Michael Hamm <> wrote:
<<The mazalos are, astronomically, based solely on the solar cycle. Why do
/ How can we associate each with a lunar month ("mazal Sivan t'omim")? In
addition, if there is some practical (even spiritual) effect of that
association, then isn't it faulty, considering that the mazalos do not
directly correspond (astronomically) to the months?>>

There are two types of Zodiac signs: Sun Signs and Moon Signs. They are
both in common usage but the Sun sign is more commonly known. Each has
different influences. Most peoples sun and moon signs correspond, but some
don't. If you look at the beginning and ending dates for sun signs they are
around the 20th-23rd of the month (approx.). The Moon sign always begins on
Rosh Chodesh. My sun sign is Capricorn (G'dee) and my moon sign is Dlee

Chaim Baruch Kaufman


Date: Mon, 12 Mar 2001 09:29:35 +0200
From: "laurence shore" <>
Subject: Re: Sh'ma

In Bais-Medrash V2 #43, Anne Trensky <> wrote, in
part, that she'd heard that <<Sh'ma was first uttered in Genesis by Jacob's

Since Yaakov's sons' answer Baruch Shaim K'vod, we say it after the Shemah.
However since this is what the angels were singing when Moshe showed up, we
say it in a whisper. Actually we say it in a whisper, because it is a
mapsek. On yom kipur we say it b'kol ram (loudly?) because we are like
angels. Someone (R. Sheldon Freidman) suggested we say it b'kol ram because
it is still a mapsek. However in Israel they shout both phrases with the
same intensity so it is not a general rule. Anyone know how and when this
all got started?

Laurence Shore, Ph.D.
Kimron Veterinary Institute


Date: Mon, 12 Mar 2001 10:09:43 +0200
From: "laurence shore" <>
Subject: Re: Zodiac

Michael Hamm <> wrote:
<<The mazalos are, astronomically, based solely on the solar cycle. Why do/
How can we associate each with a lunar month ("mazal Sivan t'omim")? In
addition, if there is some practical (even spiritual) effect of that
association, then isn't it faulty, considering that the mazalos do not
directly correspond (astronomically) to the months?>>

Your first assumption is not correct. The Hebrew calender is a mix of solar
and lunar calculations since in addition to the New Moon having to come out
on the first of the month, Pesach must come out in the spring so in general
the solar year and lunar year are in line. I suggest looking at the
Encyclopedia Judaica for further details. Suffice it to say that by the
year 6000 with our present calendar, Pesach will not come out in the spring.

The second idea is correct as the zodiac signs have shifted two months
since the time of the Talmud so the signs today have absolutely no
relationship to reality. The North star has also rotated (20,000 year
cycle). This is why North in the Talmud is the Big dipper since the North
Star was not north. Although it is quite clear that Hazal, Rashi and the
Ramban have great respect for astrological observations, the Shulchan Aruch
does poskin that true believing Jews do not rely on such observations. The
Rambam says we have no way of understanding the movement of the stars and
such study is useless.

I of course must state as a trained scientist that all astrological
predictions and horoscopes are not correct and statistical analysis has
shown that such predictions are worthless. However a knowledge of astrology
is important as so many governments in the world follow horoscopes to
determine policy.

Laurence Shore, Ph.D.
Kimron Veterinary Institute


Date: Mon, 12 Mar 2001 14:31:38 +0300
From: "Ira L. Jacobson" <>
Subject: Re: Women and Chazal

In Bais-Medrash V2 #38 Russell Hendel <> wrote:
<<First: Women ***can*** be used for witnesses in Jewish law. This is
explicitly stated in Rambam, Witnesses, 5:2-3...>>

While RH is of course correct in his reference, this is a very special
case, in which a woman may serve as a witness. The **rule** is that women
are not accepted as witnesses, along with children, slaves and relatives,
among others. A source is Rambam, Yad, Hilkhot Edut 9:1. (The exception
that proves the rule, you would observe.)



Date: Mon, 12 Mar 2001 10:31:34 +0200
From: "laurence shore" <>
Subject: Re: Siddur Discrepancies (was Re: Migdol, Magdil)

Rabbi Geoffrey L. Shisler wrote:
<<...It is most likely that there are other examples in our Nusach where
things have crept in, in error, or out of sheer ignorance, and have
remained out of our reluctance to interfere with 'tradition', even where it
makes no sense. Perhaps Migdol/Magdil falls into this category?...>>

I am surprised that no one has brought up Mizmor Shir L'Chanukah which is
our best documented printer error since it occurred after the invention of
printing. There are siddurim where is clearly written on the side that it
is for Chanukah which just got lost in Askinazic Sidurim. It appears to me
by saying Mizmor Shir L'chanukah we manage to violate three technical
points at once. (1) adding things to the prayer service which previous
generations did not have (2) saying an unnecessary Kaddish (the same way we
do not make unnecessary blessings) and (3) more than one person saying the
Kadish at once. (There are many places which are careful to have only one
person say Kadish.) Actually a good discussion of unnecessary kadish and
multiple people saying kadish is in the Dinim section of the Art Scroll.
However this explanation did not make it to the Hebrew edition and the Art
Scroll makes no mention of the dubious origins of saying Mizmor Shir
l'chanukah in Shacharit. (The Birnbaum siddur does.)

Laurence Shore, Ph.D.
Kimron Veterinary Institute


Date: Mon, 12 Mar 2001 14:22:05 +0300
From: "Ira L. Jacobson" <>
Subject: Re: Napster

Rabbi Nosson Slifkin <> wrote in Bais-Medrash V2 #46:
<<...I heard from someone that he asked Rav Moshe Sternbuch if he could
copy software, and Rav Sternbuch, without getting into any discussion about
gezel akum, said simply, "If it says on the box that you can't copy it,
then you can't copy it!"...>>

It would seem to follow from this that if it said on the box that "you must
make 400 copies and send them to Saddam Hussein," then I must do so. Or if
it said that one "can't use the software on even days of the month," then
this would also bind me. Or if it said that I must not pay my electric
bill, then I must not pay the electric bill.

Is this a good reductio ad absurdum?


Date: Mon, 12 Mar 2001 8:52:48 -0500
From: "Debbie Israel" <>
Subject: Re: Defective Na'arah

Russell Hendel <> wrote:
<<Michael Turniansky in Bais Medrash Volume 2 Number 43 asks why the word
NAARAH is spelled defectively without a terminal HEY....ALL occurrences of
NAARAH are spelled defectively except for Dt22-19. I would therefore
suggest that the defective spelling shows that boys and girls haven't fully
developed their gender characteristics (masculine vs feminine) as
teenagers. It is only after years of practice as a parent that these
characteristics show. Hence the words for male and female teenager are
always spelled the same to show this....>>

I wonder if the reason might be that, as the daughter of B'tu'el and the
sister of Lavan, living in this home of evil people, she could only have
become complete by living in Avraham's house with Yitzchak.



Date: Mon, 12 Mar 2001 13:38:41 -0500
From: Michael Hamm <>
Subject: Re: Zodiac

Someone responded off-list, in part, to my post (BM V2 #47) about mazalos,
that <<the Jewish mazalos are in the hebrew months hence they are strictly
Lunar like our calendar is.>>

This response seems to be saying the Jewish mazalos have nothing to do with
the sun. Nothing, in fact, to do with astronomy (for what would they have
to do with astronomy without relating to the sun?).

Michael Hamm,


Date: Mon, 12 Mar 2001 10:08:33 -0600
From: "Cohen, Izzy" <>
Subject: Re: Etymological Questions

Laurence Shore wrote:
<<Greek/Latin and Hebrew are not related....>>

Among professional linguists, the consensus of opinion is that human
language originated only one time ... with the first humans ... and that
therefore *all* languages are "genetically" related. I think it would be
more accurate to say that Greek and Latin are much more closely related to
each other than either is to Hebrew.

<<There are about 15 Hebrew cognates in English (most familiar -
Hallelujah, Amen, Selah, Jubilee (Yovel), Shibboleth)...>>

I would not call these words "cognates" (cousins). That is, they were not
inherited from a common source. I would call them transliterations. They
were adopted/borrowed by other languages (including English) because
equivalent concepts did not exist in the target language.

<<There are however several Semitic words in English, especially words used
in trade, again due to our Phoenician traders ...>>

I would estimate there are several *thousand* English words which have
Hebrew cognates, that is, English and Hebrew words which do have a common
Nostratic-like ancestor.

Ironically, some English words which are claimed to be related to Hebrew
are wrongly identified. For example, English "cabal" is said to be derived
from Kabbalah (the received tradition), but actually it is related to
het-bet-lamed XiBa:L = to plot, scheme.

Many English words that are related to Hebrew are claimed to have other
sources. For example, English "sabotage" is said to be derived from Old Fr.
çabot, b. savate = old shoe.

Actually it is related to Shabbat. Its original meaning was to go on
strike, that is, to treat a regular working day as if it were the Sabbath.
It has nothing to do with throwing old shoes into machinery.

Likewise, English "muscle" is not derived from a small Latin mouse. And
gypsies were never thought to have come from Egypt. In other words, one
must take the most famous published etymologies with a large dose of salt.

dosh kham,
Israel Cohen


End of Bais-Medrash V2 #50

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