Sunday, January 08, 2006

מה תחזו בשולמית כמחולת המחנים

Things I learned on the AishDas/YavnehMinyan shabbaton:

  1. (Rabbi) Micha Berger is a very real person, not simply an Internet Torah-bot.
  2. I seem to be doing pretty well so far at looking at the world through God-colored lenses.
  3. Some people wear gangster hats to look "frum"; other people not only wear gangster hats, but also sound like gangsters when they speak.
  4. You can be an Orthodox Jewish Scifi Nerd while being a respected member in good standing in your community!
  5. One meaning of the ideal of ma‘avir ‘al midotav is 'living life without keeping score'.
  6. Jewish geography and small Upstate Jewish communities are the bomb!
  7. Some people still blame Rambam and his Rationalist friends for the downfall of Iberian Jewry. They need to read this for the opposite view.
  8. The Cheat rare European ngayin is not dead!
  9. While some people can tell from the way I write that I'm a Gamer Geek, others come to the erroneous conclusion that I'm some kind of pedantic PhD student with a stick you-know-where. What's up with that?
  10. Yekkish sheliahh-tzibur hats (and similar headcoverings) are the next big thing (when borsalinos go out of style).
  11. When 5 or more different bloggers/commentors within one Shabbos ask you what the heck is up with "(dos iz nit der šteg)" you think seriously about dropping it; and then when someone says they think that שטעג should actually be שטעגער in proper Yiddish...
  12. Some people seem to take their cues as to what constitutes 'authentic Torah mesora' by seeing what fundamentalist Christians say about our Scripture, and then copying them.
  13. 'Simple faith' is anything but simple.
  14. Apple strudel is a side dish, not a desert (typo) dessert?

Yishar koahh to everyone involved in the shabbaton!

btw, anyone get the pun/reference in the titles of these two posts?


Blogger thanbo said...

Blessed be.

"desert"? Apple Strudel as the manna?

Debbie & I were giggling over your "gangster-hat" description.

Oh, and I taught an iyun tefillah shiur at Yavneh a couple of summers back; buzz me if you want my notes. I turned a lot of that into my columns for Mesukim MiDevash, along with some other material. I can send you Word files of the whole series (12-13 columns). It was a bit annoying not being able to cite Art Green's "Keter" in MmD, but as Gil says, you have to know your audience.

1/08/2006 2:46 PM  
Blogger Jameel @ The Muqata said...

Yes, Micha Berger is definitly a real person.

And now I remember all the Yavneh Shabbatonim I used to plan. Ages ago.

Thanks for the memories :)

1/08/2006 2:56 PM  
Blogger Mar Gavriel said...

Who used the rare European ngayin at the Shabbaton? Dutch Sepharadim? Dutch Ashkenazzim? People from some other group?

1/08/2006 5:33 PM  
Blogger thanbo said...

That was Micha Berger, who makes a point of emulating his Polish-Litvish (Suvalk) ancestors. Having given up on being a guy with modern hashkafah trying to fit in sociologically with the yeshivish, he has adopted the garb he imagines his ancestors wore in Poland, at least for Shabbat: a long frock coat and a Litvishe hoiche yarmulke (which he got from ELPh Minden, who used to have a seforim store in Berlin).

1/08/2006 10:56 PM  
Blogger Steg (dos iz nit der šteg) said...


Blessed and strong be!

Oh, oops... i knew that desert looked wrong, somehow. :-P

So i guess you heard it too?

Cool, the notes would be great, thanks! I've already downloaded the AishDas siddur with that footnote chart that Micha showed me. You can never have too many sources!


Ah, i take it you're one of their Success Stories then? ;-)

Mar Gavriel:

[what Thanbo said]


I'm still unclear whether the Litvishe hoiche (heiche?) yarmulka is the same or different than the Yekkishe sheliahh-tzibur hat, which someone at the shabbaton told me is called a 'kepshin' or something like that (caption?).

1/09/2006 1:23 AM  
Blogger Steg (dos iz nit der šteg) said...

Btw, Thanbo, when do we all get to see those pictures?

1/09/2006 1:41 AM  
Blogger Lipman said...

Who used the rare European ngayin at the Shabbaton?

That was Micha Berger, who makes a point of emulating his Polish-Litvish (Suvalk) ancestors.

Hm? But Polish-Litvish (Suvalk) pronunciation didn't have a ngayen, apart from the well-known exceptions such as the name Yankel, as far as I know. Maybe because his paternal line is actually Syrian?

R' Micha, you reading this?

1/09/2006 4:47 AM  
Anonymous brother yehudah said...

more details on those notes please

1/09/2006 6:52 AM  
Blogger Steg (dos iz nit der šteg) said...

bro yehudah:

which notes?

1/09/2006 7:34 AM  
Anonymous brother yehudah said...

2, 3, 4, 6, 7, 9, 12, 13.

1/09/2006 8:33 AM  
Blogger Steg (dos iz nit der šteg) said...

2: After Shahhris+Musaf there were discussion groups about how to develop ahavat H', and a number of the techniques and attitudes discussed were things that i try to do already when it comes to mindfulness.

3: accent, attitude, and affect projected

4: one of the shabbaton organizers

6: met a relative of people from my Upstate shul

7: at the melava malka panel discussion people were rehashing the old claim that rationalism leads to overphilosophizing which leads to heresy

9: i don't know what's up with that; someone just told me that i was more laidback than they expected

12: someone claimed that anything other than a literal understanding of Ma‘aseih Bereishit is "not part of our Authetic Torah Mesora"

13: 'emuna peshuta' isn't necessarily naive ignorant fundamentalism, as many people (myself included) frequently assume; it can also mean looking at the world through God-colored glasses, which is an attitude i like to promote

1/09/2006 10:52 AM  
Anonymous brother whomever said...

which of these ideas were expressed by speakers/attendees/etc?

also, i got the shunamit/shulamit references

1/09/2006 11:05 AM  
Blogger Steg (dos iz nit der šteg) said...

2 < speakers/attendees

6 < attendee

7 < some speakers

9 < a speaker

12 < a single speaker (disputed in a roundabout way by another one), in response to a attendee's question

13 < speakers

1/09/2006 11:52 AM  
Blogger Mississippi Fred MacDowell said...

Since I'm not fortunate enough to have ever actually heard a ngayin pronounced as such, can you confirm:

Ya'aqov with the ngayin sounds roughly like = Yanyaqov

'Adonay with the ngayin sounds roughly like = Nyadonai



1/09/2006 12:12 PM  
Blogger Steg (dos iz nit der šteg) said...

Ya‘aqov with a ngayin sounds like Yangaqov — think "singing"

Why would you pronounce אדני with an initial ע?

1/09/2006 12:26 PM  
Blogger thanbo said...

Miss. Fred:

byt whut dues "nyadonai" mien?


Debbie's article on "Cons for Frummies" can be found here.

1/09/2006 12:30 PM  
Blogger Mississippi Fred MacDowell said...

I thought that the gnayin was pronounced like the "gn" in "signor."

Isn't that the Italian tradition?

>Why would you pronounce אדני with an initial ע?

That is in fact a great question. LOL

1/09/2006 12:45 PM  
Blogger micha said...


I'm worse off than that. I had Sepharadi ancestors in Suwalke (pronounced "Suvalk"), which is the capital of a district of Poland but Litta as far as minhag. (My rebbe, Rav Dovid Lifshitz z"l, was the city's last rav.) My ancestors only wore white on Shabbos, as well as only speaking Hebrew. But I couldn't find myself able to go that far from norm. Rather, I'm wearing an outfit that makes me feel connected to my rebbe. I adopted it at a time when my emunas chachamim (trust in the sages) was facing a challenge, and I needed help remembering.

My ayin and ches don't come from any of those places, but from R' Seth Mandel, who I sat next to back when I was a bachur davening in a "bachurei Minyan". (Two decades later, Rabbi Mandel signed a piece of paper calling me "Rabbi", and convince two others to do the same, to boot. He used to be a regular on Avodah, but since took a job as head of the OU's hechsheirim on meat. R' Mandel happens to also be a linguist; the kind of Ashkenazi who studies Rambam in the original Arabic.) I imitated him on these and other pedantic issues of reading Hebrew as a way to force myself to actually look in my siddur and read slowly. At this point, I still pronounce Hebrew with an attempt at precision, but it no longer serves to slow me down.

The ngayin isn't Italian, but Ashkenazi. Contrary to "lipman" (although he studied minhag Ashkenaz in far greater depth than I) I believe that the ngayin was in Eastern Europe and faded out during the 17th or 18th cent. In any case, the gemara and the Rambam require alef vs ayin and ches vs khaf distinction or else one did not fulfill the mitzvah of saying Shema (!), and I am unaware of a dispute on this point on grounds other than a contemporary "we can't, so we shouldn't hurt ourselves trying".

1/09/2006 1:13 PM  
Blogger micha said...

I guess it's time to update my picture...

1/09/2006 1:14 PM  
Blogger Mississippi Fred MacDowell said...

>The ngayin isn't Italian, but Ashkenazi.

I suppose. The Italian is a 'gnayin.

1/09/2006 1:29 PM  
Anonymous brother yehudah said...

Ngayin as ashkenaz would explain how "Yankel" is short for "Yaakov"

1/09/2006 1:31 PM  
Blogger Steg (dos iz nit der šteg) said...

R' Micha:

I agree a new picture could be good, since your old picture looks like it has a mustache instead of a goatee. Although the sort of Matrix-esque pixilation of your present picture is a pretty cool effect.

I'm just waiting for the melava malka pictures... if the picture with me in it came out well i might want to switch up with that.

Your Polish-Lithuanian Sefaradic ancestors spoke Hebrew? Not Ladino/Arabic/etc.?



1/09/2006 2:33 PM  
Blogger Mississippi Fred MacDowell said...

Only Hebrew on shabbos.

1/09/2006 2:38 PM  
Blogger micha said...

Fred: Yes, when I said "as well as only spoke Hebrew" I meant the "on Shabbos" to apply to both. Does that mean I attempted to split an infinitive?

Non-šteg: There's a good reason for the picture looking like I have a mustache. I can not grow a full beard, and yet look like a bochur when clean shaven. I used to have just a mustache, but when the van dyke went into style, I switched.

1/09/2006 4:27 PM  
Blogger thanbo said...

I'll see what I can do about pictures sometime this week. Yesterday I just lay about, being rather wiped, between the morning (shul board mtg and Yoreh Deah shiur) and evening (dinner out, and shul membership mtg) activities. No nap on Shabbos, doncha know.

R' David Hojda sent me an audio file that I need to convert to MP3, of the Melave Malka. Maybe you both can get more up-to-date pictures from this batch. May take a bit of twiddling, though.

1/09/2006 5:04 PM  
Blogger Habib said...

Recently, in my peregrinations, I spent 2 consecutive shabbatot in synagogues where ngayin was used: different countries and different `edot.

An explanation I received for the difference between east-Mediterranean yotze Sefarad and the Amsterdam variety (including the offshoots in London/NY/Curacao) is that many of their mesorot were destroyed/lost during the period most of them spent as anusim, and they had to relearn much of yahadut from Ashkenazi Amsterdam Jews. Is it possible that the ngayin came from this influence? Likewise, the Italki ngayin could be because of the putative origins of the early Rheinish communities in Italy, no?

1/10/2006 2:50 PM  
Blogger Mississippi Fred MacDowell said...

Habib, there is no question that pronunciation of Hebrew consonants are influenced by the local vernacular. It's probably why, for example, Ashkenazi Jews lost the "th" in "thav." Every hear a German say somesing?

1/10/2006 3:12 PM  
Blogger Habib said...

there is no question that pronunciation of Hebrew consonants are influenced by the local vernacular
True, although in this instance, I was referring more to the local Jewish vernacular (ie the Ashkenazim who were in Amsterdam before Sefardim arrived).

1/10/2006 3:21 PM  
Blogger Steg (dos iz nit der šteg) said...

I've seen evidence that the 'Ashkenazi' saf developed in Israel during the Talmudic period, as seen from spellings of Greek and Latin words ending in -s with a final tav.

1/10/2006 3:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mnemonic device for desert/dessert. Desserts are so delicious, they need two s's.

1/10/2006 3:33 PM  
Blogger Mississippi Fred MacDowell said...

>I've seen evidence that the 'Ashkenazi' saf developed in Israel during the Talmudic period, as seen from spellings of Greek and Latin words ending in -s with a final tav.

Can you think of an example?

BTW what would account for the persistence of "th" in transliterated words like "brith" and "emmeth" which seem to come from Europe? I know that words like sh-b-th were transliterated in the LXX, but not bris or emmes.

1/10/2006 4:01 PM  
Blogger Mar Gavriel said...

"Berith" and "Emeth" use what Lipman calls the "post-Italki scholarly mm" pronunciation, which has been common among Christian humanists over the past few centuries.

1/10/2006 4:49 PM  
Blogger Mississippi Fred MacDowell said...

I know. But where'd they get it from?

From their understanding of Biblical Hebrew, which Christian Hebraists originally learned from Jews and studying Jewish works.

1/10/2006 5:08 PM  
Blogger Steg (dos iz nit der šteg) said...


Sorry i don't remember any specific examples. It was in, if i remember correctly, a grammar of Galilean Aramaic that i found in my high school library back when i was in high school. The book was written in Hebrew. There was another book there that was interesting, a book (also in Hebrew) about mishqalim.
In it at one point, the author started going off on a rant, and said something like:
אינני רוצה שיקראו לי אנטי-פֿמניסט, אבל זאת בושה שבעברית מקראית כשליש משמות־העצם היו נקבות, ובעברית מודרנית, בגלל הדרך שהמציאו מילים חדשות, כשלושה רביעים משמות־העצם הם נקבות. חייבים לשמור על האיזון הטבעי של השפה!!!!

1/10/2006 6:41 PM  
Blogger Steg (dos iz nit der šteg) said...


i don't remember exactly what the ratios were in the rant. the point was though that Hebrew has undergone a shift from a zakhar>neqeiva ratio to a neqieva>zakhar one.

1/10/2006 6:46 PM  
Blogger Habib said...

Fascinating! I have never thought of that. Israeli culture is highly misogynistic.

I would imagine that this is because of all the
"ציה----" words.

I guess the אקדמיה (fem, sing.) should do something about this trend. Right now they're too busy getting rid of seghol and qamats.

1/10/2006 9:12 PM  
Blogger Lipman said...

I would imagine that this is because of all the
"ציה----" words.

And all the diminutives in '-eet'. And those abstract nouns from adjectives (often loans from German and Russian, later from English) in '-eeyoot'.

Really - it's probably because of word building schemes like those, rather than single words. You also have modern wordbuilding abhorrences that are masculine, like '-on', but they're less.

Add to it the fact that many words designating persons have grammatical gender according to natural sex. Some of those are modern (another function of '-eet')*, but it's more natural in Hebrew than in other languages.

The most stupid PC feminine form I've seen (yet...) is 'breetA' for "mock brismile festivity for a baby girl". Not only does it go against the language, but 'breet' is feminine anyway. (Though 'meedrashA' for "besmedresh for women" is bad, too.)

* This is actually nice explosive matter for a useless debate among Israeli would-be feminists: Why are women treated as something smaller? The suffix -eet is a diminutive!!!!! So a 'sachkAn' is an actor, but 'sachkanEEt' is a little actor something, an actorlet, a starlet!!!!

1/11/2006 3:53 AM  
Blogger Zackary Sholem Berger said...

There's an attested Yiddish form brisitse (i.e. "bris" + [fem. suffix] "itse" [compare "khutspenitse"]), a welcoming ceremony for a baby girl. The term predates PC and its detractors.

1/12/2006 4:50 PM  
Blogger Lipman said...

Yes, I know, but apart from the subjective fact that brisetze has a certain charm which brita hasn't, I think the two coinings were independent from each other.

But you're certainly right that in the case of brisetze, there's hardly a "PC" motivation.

1/13/2006 6:52 AM  
Anonymous ph said...

"I'm still unclear whether the Litvishe hoiche (heiche?) yarmulka is the same or different than the Yekkishe sheliahh-tzibur hat, which someone at the shabbaton told me is called a 'kepshin' or something like that (caption?)."

I think the word you're looking for is something like kaeptchen (dimunitive of ?). I saw that word in a discussion of some goings-on at a Yekke kehilla in the past. One of the points of conflict with the young Rav (then), was that he didn't want to wear one, IIRC.

1/14/2006 10:22 PM  
Blogger Lipman said...

- Kappe (pl. Kappen): cap, hood
- Käppchen (pl. Käppchen): diminutive of Kappe, also traditional-style "kipa", like a tassle-free smoking cap. The ch sound is the palatal one in German as well as in WY, and might well sound like sh to someone not familiar with it. (Some German dialects also pronounce it like that.)

- kapp (pl. kappen): cap, hood
- keppche (C and NWY, pl. keppcher), keppel(e) (SWY, pl. kepplich, and EaY, pl. kepplach): diminutive of kapp, also traditional-style "kipa", later also modern skull-cap. In EaY, you hear more often yarmelke than keppele. Frankly, I'm not sure kapp and keppele are used at all.

1/15/2006 6:46 AM  

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