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December 22, 2014 / 30 Kislev, 5775
 
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Rosh Chodesh’

A Jewish Palimpsest In Maastricht, Netherlands

Friday, May 4th, 2012

Three Medieval Jewish manuscripts
Regional Historic Center Limburg
Sint Pieterstraat 7, Maastricht, Netherlands
http://www.rhcl.nl/

One of my favorite places when I was growing up in Boston was the used bookstore on Beacon and St. Mary’s streets. Boston Book Annex could play a used bookshop on television; it was dimly lit and cavernous, crawling with cats, and packed with a dizzying array of books, many of which sold three for a dollar. But used bookstores of this sort, however picturesque and inviting, are a relatively modern phenomena. In the Middle Ages, for example, I would never have been able to afford even a single used book unless I had been born into an aristocratic family. (Full disclosure, I was not.) Pre-Gutenberg, books might as well have been worth their weight in gold, and even if peasants somehow managed to become literate (which they didn’t), they couldn’t just walk across the street and find a public library. It is within this context that one can begin to understand a palimpsest, or a manuscript that has been repurposed and retooled.

Due to the high price of vellum (animal skin used for book pages), some book owners would decide they weren’t too keen on the text they had inherited or purchased, and they would have the text scraped off the pages. A scribe would then write the new text on top of the old one, which might still appear ghostlike beneath the new text (not unlike a poorly erased Etch A Sketch). New technologies, which are far more effective and less invasive than their predecessors, have allowed scholars to decipher the old texts, although they are barely visible.

One particularly compelling example is the Archimedes Palimpsest Project, which focused on a mathematical work by Archimedes that had been erased by monks after it was acquired by a monastery. Perhaps unaware that he was defacing an otherwise lost work by Archimedes, the monk wrote a new religious text on top of the old one. The restored and carefully imaged text was part of the exhibit “Lost and Found: The Secrets of Archimedes,” which was open from October 16, 2011 to January 1, 2012 at the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore.

The palimpsest that Johan van de Walle, head of library at the Historisch Centrum Limburg on Sint Pieterstraat in Maastricht, showed me on my recent trip to the Netherlands had undergone something like the opposite kind of journey as the Archimedes book. Whereas the Archimedes text began as a scientific work and was then appropriated in a sacred context, the palimpsest in Maastricht was first a biblical text, and was subsequently turned into a tax register.

The Regional Historic Center Limburg, where Walle works, is itself a sort of palimpsest. Based in an early 14th century Franciscan monastery, which was turned into a state archive in the late 19th century, the archive—whose building has also served as a prison, a sauerkraut factory, and an artist’s studio, according to its website—still contains several tombs, and its documents span more than 11 miles.

First half of the 14th century. Leaf from a manuscript copy of Genesis 42:35 to 43:12. (“Membrum disjectum,” or disjointed element.) Photo by Menachem Wecker.

Walle showed me three Hebrew documents, all of which dated back to the 14th century. The first manuscript comes from a book of Genesis. Mislabeled in the archive as representing Genesis 42:35 to 43:27 (it in fact starts midway through verse 35 of chapter 42 and only goes until midway through the verse 43:12), the manuscript contains a few interesting elements. Whether a result of decay or scribal error, some of the letters are poorly formed (like the first line, for example), but more noteworthy, the scribe struggled with fitting the text on the lines.

On several occasions (for example, the last word on the third line of the right column), the scribe tried to fit a word into the line, only to run out of room and begin the word again on the subsequent line. Other times (such as the seventh line of that column), the scribe anticipated running out of room, so he extended a letter to fill out the rest of the line.

At the end of the first column, another interesting thing happens. The scribe, per usual, had to truncate the last word of the line, but instead of beginning the next line with a new word, he instead repeated the second to last word again. The truncated word, which is sandwiched between two iterations of the same word, isn’t even the correct partial word sequentially. And perhaps most atrociously, the scribe misspelled a word (he left out the final letter) 15 lines down the second column.

Parshas Shemini

Wednesday, April 18th, 2012

Vol. LXIII No. 16                                                     5772

New York City

CANDLE LIGHTING TIME

April 20, 2012 – 28 Nissan 5772

7:21 p.m. NYC E.D.T.

 

Sabbath Ends: 8:30 p.m. NYC E.D.T.

Weekly Reading: Shemini

Weekly Haftara: Machar Chodesh (I Samuel 20:18-42)

Daf Yomi: Me’ilah 5

Mishna Yomit: Moed Katan 3:9 – Chagigah 1:1

Halacha Yomit: Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayyim  42:2 – 43:1

Rambam Yomi: Hilchos Eruvin chap 6-8

Earliest time for Tallis and Tefillin: 5:12 a.m. NYC E.D.T.

Latest Kerias Shema: 9:32 a.m. NYC E.D.T.

Pirkei Avos: Chapt. 1

Sefiras HaOmer: 13

 

This Shabbos is Shabbos Mevarchim, we bless the new moon, and due to Sefira we say Av Ha’rachamim, however at Mincha we do not say Tzidkos’cha. Rosh Chodesh Iyar is 2 days, Sunday and Monday.

The molad is Shabbos morning, 17 minutes and 3 chalakim (a chelek is 1/18 of a minute) past 10:00 a.m. (in Jerusalem).

      Rosh Chodesh Iyar: Motza’ei Shabbos at Maariv we add Ya’aleh VeYavo. However, if one forgot to include Ya’aleh VeYavo (at Maariv only) one does not repeat (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayyim 422:1, based on Berachos 30b, which explains that this is due to the fact that we do not sanctify the month at night). Following the Shemoneh Esreh, the chazzan recites half-Kaddish. We then say Viyehi Noam and Ve’Ata Kadosh. The chazzan then recites Kaddish Tiskabbel, Aleinu, Kaddish Yasom.

Sunday morning: Shacharis with inclusion of Ya’aleh VeYavo in the Shemoneh Esreh, half Hallel, Kaddish Tiskabbel. We take out one Sefer Torah. We read in Parashas Pinchas (Bamidbar 28:1-15), we call four Aliyos (Kohen, Levi, Yisrael, Yisrael), the Baal Keria recites half- Kaddish. We return the Torah to the Aron, Ashrei, U’va Letziyyon – we delete La’menatze’ach – the chazzan recites half- Kaddish; all then remove their tefillin.

Musaf of Rosh Chodesh, followed by Reader’s repetition and Kaddish Tiskabbel, Aleinu, Shir Shel Yom, Borchi Nafshi and their respective Kaddish recitals (for mourners). Nusach Sefarad say Shir Shel Yom and Borchi Nafshi after half Hallel, and before Aleinu they add Ein K’Elokeinu with Kaddish DeRabbanan.

Mincha: In the Shemoneh Esreh we say Ya’aleh VeYavo, which we also add to Birkas Hamazon as well as mention of Rosh Chodesh in Beracha Acharona (Me’ein Shalosh) at all times.

Sunday evening: second day Rosh Chodesh, Maariv we add ya’aleh ve’yavo in Shemoneh Esreh.

Monday morning: Shacharis and Mincha same as yesterday.Kiddush Levana at first opportunity (we usually wait until Motza’ei Shabbos).

The following chapters of Tehillim are being recited by many congregations and Yeshivos for our brothers and sisters in Eretz Yisrael: Chapter 83, 130, 142. –Y.K.

Double Bris In The Amazon

Friday, March 30th, 2012

Against all odds, the spark of Judaism continues to burn brightly in the Amazon as two members of the Brazilian city of Porto Velho underwent a bris milah performed by a renowned Argentian mohel just days after Rosh Chodesh Adar.

Forty-one-year-old Isaac Portelo and 16-year-old Saatchel Benesby are two of just 16 Jewish residents of Porto Velho, which is the capital of the Brazilian state of Rondonia in the upper Amazon River basin and over five hundred miles from Manaus, home of the nearest Chabad center. According to Rabbi Arieh Raichman, the Chabad shliach to Manaus, it was on a visit to Porto Velho last May that he first discussed the idea of circumcision with the pair.

“When I arrived in Porto Velho and visited the local community, they were all very excited to greet me,” said Rabbi Raichman. “Some cried with emotion while others were ecstatic with joy as I was the first rabbi to visit them.”

While Portelo told Rabbi Raichman that he was eager to have a bris at the first possible opportunity, it wasn’t until 10 months later that Benesby decided he was ready to proceed as well.

“Saatchel had just spent Shabbos at a Shabbaton organized by Keren Nehor Menachem in Sao Paolo, where he met other Jewish youths from all around Brazil,” explained Rabbi Raichman. “I believe what touched him was that they gave him a bar mitzvah and celebrated this momentous event in his life. When they asked for his Jewish name, Saatchel said he didn’t have one but was going to have a brit milah with me.”

Both Portelo and Benesby flew to Manaus to meet with David Katche, an expert adult mohel who has performed over 11,000 brissos in South America and was in Manaus to perform a bris for any community members who wanted to be circumcised. Benesby received the name Moshe Chaim at his bris on February 27th and Portelo, who cancelled all his meeting in order for his bris to take place exactly one day later, was given the name Isaac Yoel. Both were performed at the Hospital Adriano Jorge, where director Dr. Raymison Monteiro gave the men access to one of the public hospital’s operating rooms at no charge.

“It was a great honor and inspiration to see two adults decide that there is something missing in their lives,” said Rabbi Raichman. “Every day, baruch Hashem, people take on new mitzvot and leave behind their old ways. However, this mitzvah has both a physical and spiritual imprint that lasts forever. Seeing them being circumcised, while being conscious, was an incredible demonstration of self sacrifice and it served as an encouragement for me and others to give more of ourselves in serving Hashem.”

Benesby’s mother accompanied him to Manaus for his bris and was inordinately proud of her son.

“It is an obligation for every Jewish male to be circumcised and I am very happy that my son did it. When he was born I went around to doctors in Porto Velho to have him circumcised but nobody wanted to do it. Now he did it and he did it with a mohel.”

Rabbi Raichman hopes to make future visits both to Porto Velho and other neighboring cities and says that there are currently almost 20 men in Manaus and four men in Porto Velho who have not yet had a bris. Portelo plans to learn Hebrew and would like to visit Israel. He continues to serve as a surrogate rabbi in his community, educating other Jews about Yiddishkeit and hosting Porto Velho’s Jews in his home on Friday night and on Jewish holidays. Benesby hopes to make a trip to Israel this summer along with his 26-year-old sister Suhellen and is very interested in learning more about his Jewish heritage.

Sandy Eller is a freelance writer who has written for various websites, newspapers, magazines and private clients in addition to having written song lyrics and scripts for several full-scale productions. She can be contacted at sandyeller1@gmail.com.

If I Only Had One Jewish App On My iPhone

Thursday, March 22nd, 2012

This past week I saw a video preview of an upcoming iPod app that excited and inspired me to the point of near tears. It was for RustyBrick’s jaw-dropping ArtScroll Schottenstein Talmud app. Unfortunately that app won’t be out for another few months (but take the time to check out the preview at www.rustybrick.com), yet I realized after months of writing this column that I had yet to give the due attention to RustyBrick’s Siddur app. While I discussed the Siddur app in my Jewish Press column two years ago, that was an expose on Jewish apps as a whole. Now, aside from being the Jewish app I use most frequently, I can say that if I could only have one Jewish app on my iPhone the Siddur would be it.

I remember that before getting an iPod touch (and later an iPhone), I would carry a tiny siddur in my wallet. It certainly added unwanted bulk, awkwardly making my wallet protrude from my pocket. I immediately downloaded a free app with tefillah on it, but then came across the Siddur app – and became sincerely awed. It had full prayer services in Ashkenaz, Sephard, and nusach Ari, could find a shul or minyan near your current location, and had a full luach with daily z’manim. For these reasons alone, I felt (and still feel) that it’s worth the $9.99 price tag. And that was only the early version of the app. Two weeks ago RustyBrick updated the Siddur app to version 5.0.

The updates on 5.0 include the option to hide the navigation bar, giving the siddur a full screen option, the ability to swipe from tefillah to tefillah, and new zoom and text control features. It’s nothing too sensational, but the app has already been improved in various ways during the 60-plus previous updates. They added a Mizrach compass, a public cholim list to which one can add names, extra optional tefillot (e.g. for parnassah in Shemoneh Esrei) and, with the introduction of the front-facing camera, a tefillin mirror with lines of symmetry. My favorite update was the English translation for the app (an in app purchase, please note). While I would have preferred the English transliteration under the Hebrew, one can read the two languages side by side when using your i-device in the landscape view.

Of course the Siddur is still a “smart app” as well. Hallel is automatically inserted on Rosh Chodesh, Chanukah, and on any other day when the extra prayer is said. Torah-reading and full Tachanun is included on Mondays and Thursdays. When one bentches right after sunset the app will ask you when you started your meal, so as to properly add any prayers that might be needed. Basically the app makes sure that all the tefillot you might need to say on any given day for any given prayer will be available – so long as it’s not Shabbat or Yom Tov (it won’t work on those days).

It appears that I’m not the only person who favors the Siddur app. Of the 18 paid apps provided by RustyBrick (with many more free apps available as well), the Siddur is the most downloaded. This is probably because it really is the most consistently useful app on the Jewish market. “We are honored and privileged to be in a position to help contribute to the Jewish community in this unique and exciting way,” said RustyBrick founder and CTO Ronnie Schwartz. Indeed it does. Despite never having met Ronnie or his brother Barry (the company’s CEO), there is a genuineness about them that makes comments like the aforementioned seem totally sincere. The fact that they just gave all their paid apps for free to a young girl in my community who is bed-ridden following spinal surgery makes them all the more sincere. I will certainly be using my Siddur app to daven for her, and for any weekday tefillah needs I might have.

Daf Yomi

Thursday, March 22nd, 2012

Temple Management 101
‘The Rest Were Given To The Craftsmen As Wages’
(Kerisos 6a)

The Gemara, on our daf, discusses how to dispose of ketores from the previous year that remained unused. The Gemara explains that any leftover ketores went toward the wages of the craftsmen engaged in the service of the Beis Hamikdash.

The funds for purchasing ketores came from the machatzis hashekel that every Jew was required to contribute annually before Rosh Chodesh Nissan. These shekalim were used to purchase karbenos tzibbur (which included the ketores).

The Gemara (Jerusalem Talmud, Shekalim 1:1) derives from Scriptural sources that sacrifices offered after Rosh Chodesh Nissan must be purchased with shekalim designated for the new year’s sacrifices and not with shekalim designated for the previous year’s sacrifices.

The Remaining Lambs

The Gemara (in Shevuos 10b) deals with the similar problem of sanctified tamid lambs remaining at the end of the year. Since they were purchased with shekalim collected for the previous year’s sacrifices, these lambs are unfit for use in the new year.

Rashi (ad loc. s.v. “temidim shelo hutzrechu l’tzibbur”) explains that at the conclusion of every year, four lambs remained. The mishnah (in Arachin 13a) states that Temple authorities always kept a minimum of six lambs on hand from which two would be chosen for the daily tamidim sacrifices. Thus, on the last day of Adar (the end of the year for this matter), the Beis Hamikdash had six lambs but only two were sacrificed. Four lambs thus remained.

Why the need for six lambs every day? The Rashba explains that the Beis Hamikdash needed extra lambs in case the chosen two developed blemishes. The six lambs were bought in advance and examined for four days to ensure the absence of blemishes.

A Simple Solution?

The Turei Even (Rosh Hashanah 29b) questions this procedure. Why, he asks, did the Beis Hamikdash purchase six lambs four days before they were needed? If examination of blemishes was the goal, why didn’t they examine them without buying them? In this manner, they could have avoided the whole question of what to do with the four extra lambs remaining at the end of the year.

In truth, the Gemara (in Shevuos 10b) states that Temple administrators would stipulate at the time of purchase that the animals were only to become hekdesh if they were needed. Thus, the four remaining lambs were not hekdesh and could be sold. Nonetheless, the Turei Zahav’s question still stands: Why did they buy the animals in the first place?

Chullin In The Azarah

In answer to this question, the Netziv (Meromei Sadeh, to Shevuos 10b) suggests that the administrators probably purchased and sanctified the tamid lambs because they were kept in a chamber of the Temple courtyard – the lishkas ha’tela’im – and it would have been inappropriate to bring chullin animals into this area.

This week’s Daf Yomi Highlights is based upon Al Hadaf, published by Cong. Al Hadaf, 17N Rigaud Rd., Spring Valley, NY 10977-2533. Al Hadaf, published semi-monthly, is available by subscription: U.S. – $40 per year; Canada – $54 per year; overseas – $65 per year. For dedication information, contact Rabbi Zev Dickstein, editor, at 845-356-9114 or visit Alhadafyomi.org.

Parshas Vayikra

Thursday, March 22nd, 2012

New York City CANDLE LIGHTING TIME
Mar. 23, 2012–29Adar, 5772 6:52 p.m. NYC E.D.T.
Sabbath Ends: 7:58 p.m. NYC E.D.T.

Weekly Reading: Vayikra
Weekly Haftara: Kol Ha’am (Ezekiel 45:16-46:18)
Daf Yomi: Kerisos 4
Mishna Yomit: Megillah 1:1-2
Halacha Yomit: Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayyim 32:18-20
Rambam Yomi: Hilchos Keri’as Shema chap. 3 – Hilchos Tefillah u’Birkas Kohanim chap.1
Earliest time for Tallis and Tefillin: 6:00 a.m. NYC E.D.T.
Latest Kerias Shema: 9:58 a.m. NYC E.D.T.

 

This Shabbos is Rosh Chodesh Nissan (1 day), as well as Parashas HaChodesh.

Friday evening, Kabbalas Shabbos and the usual Maariv tefilla with inclusion of Ya’aleh VeYavo in the Shemoneh Esreh. If one forgot to say Ya’aleh VeYavo – at Maariv only one does not repeat. (The Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayyim 422:1, based on Berachos 30b, explains this as due to the fact that we do not sanctify the new month at night – and this rule applies even when Rosh Chodesh is two days.)

Shabbos morning: Shacharis some say Yotzros in the Reader’s repetition. We take out two Sifrei Torah from the Ark. In the first we read the weekly parasha of Vayikra and we call up seven aliyos. Following the recital of half-Kaddish we call up the Maftir and we read in the second Sefer in Parashas Bo (Shemos 12:1-20), from “Vayomer Hashem, Hachodesh hazeh” until “Tochlu matzos.” We then read the Haftara in Ezekiel (45:16-46:18), Kol Ha’am. We say Yekum Purkan, we do not say Av HaRachamim, nor is there Hazkaras Neshamos, but we continue with Ashrei. We return the scrolls to the Ark and the chazzan says half-Kaddish.

Mussaf: Instead of Tikkanta Shabbos we substitute Ata Yatzarta and in the Korbanos (sacrifices) we mention both Shabbos and Rosh Chodesh; after chazzan’s repetition, Kaddish Tiskabbel followed by Ein K’Elokeinu, Aleinu, Shir Shel Yom and Borchi Nafshi and their respective Kaddish recitals (for mourners). Nusach Sefarad say Shir Shel Yom and Borchi Nafshi after Shacharis.

Mincha is usual Shabbos tefilla. We include Ya’aleh VeYavo in the Shemoneh Esreh. We do not say Tzidkas’cha. Maariv is the usual Motza’ei Shabbos tefilla.

With the onset of the Month of Nissan we do not say Tachanun for the entire month until after Rosh Chodesh Iyar (beginning again on 2 Iyar).

Adar And Beyond

Wednesday, March 14th, 2012

Just last week we experienced the crowning point of the month of Adar by commemorating the extraordinary events that unfolded in the ancient Persian Empire. We read the scroll of Esther, enjoyed a hearty feast, and traded gifts of goodies with each other.

Days later, shalach manos remnants still clutter available surface space in most homes, while the truly artistic, edible works of art sit undisturbed and whole, adorning our dining room sideboards in their original attractive packaging. Not for long, though, because Pesach’s clean sweep will have us scrambling to dismantle or ingest or give away most of the items.

Why, of all holidays, was Purim singled out for the mitzvah of shalach manos? One perspective, attributed to the Chofetz Chaim, links this to the Jews having taken part in the feast of Achashveirosh while nonetheless maintaining kashrus in their own homes. Sending and receiving shalach manos signaled trust in one another, their contention being that participation in the king’s lavish celebration was merely a show of respect for his reign.

Decidedly of greater impact, if less eye-catching, is the Purim mitzvah of matanas l’evyonim, gifts for the poor. Since the mitzvah of tzedakah is boundless as well as consistently incumbent upon us, why does it warrant such top billing at this time of year?

For one, as the twelfth month of the year, Adar affords us a last-ditch opportunity to compensate for our deficiency in repentance a half-year earlier (in the month of Elul). In the same way that we begin our thirty-day preparation at the start of Elul to stand before God on the Yom HaDin, we use the month of Adar to get into shape for Nissan, also a z’man teshuvah, a time when we recall how our Father in Heaven extracted us from the depths of impurity and raised us up to the level of kedushah. A yearning for His closeness prompts us to feel remorse for our wrongdoing, and, as the Talmud states, we will only be redeemed when we do teshuvah.

With the distribution of tzedakah, we fulfill the criteria of teshuvah: tzom (fasting) – we fast on Ta’anis Esther; kol (voice) – we listen to the reading of the megillah; and mamon (money) – we disperse charity with a generous hand.

* * * * *

The Arba Parshiyos, the four portions of Torah read on the Shabbos of their relevancy beginning with Rosh Chodesh Adar and culminating with Rosh Chodesh Nissan – namely Parshas Shekalim, Parshas Zachor, Parshas Parah and Parshas HaChodesh – correspond to the four elements that are the foundation of all creation: fire, water, earth and wind.

Shabbos Parshas Shekalim

Intended as a spiritual uplifting of the yesod of aish (the element of fire), this portion ushers in the month of Adar, during which time we renew our bond with Hashem, and is read in remembrance of the machatzis hashekel, the half shekel each member of the Jewish nation would contribute toward the upkeep of the Beis HaMikdash.

Since we, alas, do not have the Beis HaMikdash in our time, the machatzis hashekel serves as a symbol of that era and is donated to the poor (an act that should not be confused with Purim’s mitzvah of matanas l’evyonim, which is a separate observance).

The root word of machatzis is chatzi (half), composed of the letters ches, tzaddik and yud. The tzaddik in the center stands for tzedakah (charity), while the ches and yud on either side form chai (life) – emphasizing that charity confers life on the giver.

According to an interpretation ascribed to the Shach, man can never be fully satisfied with what he attains and will always feel the need for something more, due to the fact that of the four elements involved in man’s creation, only half – water and earth – are weighable; the machatzis hashekel comes to symbolize that man will invariably have only half of what he craves.

Shabbos Parshas Zachor

The second of the four parshiyos, read on the Shabbos preceding Purim, conveys correction of the element of water and recalls what Amalek did to us on the way out of Egypt (asher karcha baderech – when they met you on the way). The root of the word karach is kar (cold), an allusion to the yesod hamayim (foundation of water), which is cold – as are the cold-blooded Amalekim bent on annihilating the Jewish nation to this day.

The portion begins with an admonition to “Zachor… remember what Amalek did to you…” and ends with “Lo tishkach – do not forget.” Why the redundancy? Reb Elimelech’s reaction to someone who complained of his increasing forgetfulness offers us a clue. The tzaddik advised the sufferer to do teshuvah because repentance is a segulah for good memory retention. Giving in to the yetzer hara leads to a mind blockage, whereas the act of teshuvah has the power of removing one’s forgetfulness. Hence, the mitzvah of obliterating any vestige of evil – as in eradicating one’s evil inclination – will promote good memory.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/front-page/adar-and-beyond/2012/03/14/

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