Rav Aryeh Leibowitz: The Porto Synagogue of Mantua’s Yizkor Prayers for Medieval Jewish Scholars
Rav Aryeh Leibowitz, Deputy Director of the Moty Hornstein Overseas Program in Yeshivat Sha’alvim, presents a page from an unpublished manuscript of a prayer manual of the Porto Synagogue in Mantua, Italy. The page contains a unique series of memorial (Yizkor) prayers recited by the community on behalf of great Rabbinic figures (Gedolei Yisrael) from the Medieval period (Rishonim). As an introduction to the text, Rav Leibowitz provides an analysis that explains why the particular Rishonim mentioned in the prayer were chosen by the Mantua community to be memorialized.
Rav Yechezkel Yakobson: Opening Remarks: The 200th Issue of 'HAMA'YAN'
The issue opens with remarks from the Rosh Yeshivat Sha'alvim, Rav Yechezkel Yakobson Shlit"a, in honor of the 200th Issue of 'HAMA'YAN'. He writes, inter alia, that very few publications can boast such longevity, variety of authors and Torah topics, so wide a readership coupled with a strict adherence to publication schedule over a period of sixty years.
Rav Yoel Catane: Editorial
Rav Catane, Hama`yan Editor, pays tribute to the memories of the periodical`s founder, Prof. Mordechai Breuer Z"L, and the longtime editor, R. Yonah Emanuel Z"L. He prays that he may continue to disseminate Torah in Hama`yan for many years.
Rav Nathan Tzvi Finkel ZT"L: The Kiss Within the Miracle
The late Rav Nathan Tzvi Finkel ZT"L, said, in a talk he gave some years ago about Hanukkah: at times, the miracles of the Holy One, Blessed be He, are like "kisses", which express his love for us. Signs of affection, more then anything else, draw the student closer to his teacher, so too G-d`s "kisses" draw the people of Israel closer to the Master of the universe… thus spoke the Rav ZT"L. In this spirit, Rav Avraham Yaakov Goldmunz pays tribute to his departed master.
Rav Israel Meir Lau: The Mitsva "with the shoulder they shall carry" at that time and for all generations
 Rav Israel Meir Lau shlit"a, former Chief Rabbi of Israel and currently Rabbi of Tel-Aviv, discusses the Mitsva of carrying the Sanctuary implements with the shoulder, and the distinctions which pertain to this Mitsva through the course of the generations. He explains the error of King David in instructing that the Holy Ark be taken in a wagon – thinking that when the Holy Ark is not located within the Tabernacle or the Sanctuary the rule to carry exclusively with the shoulder does not apply, and it is permissible to take it on wagons. He, however, erred – this distinction holds for all other implements, but not for the Holy Ark. In accordance with this Rav Lau also explains that the rule of covering the sacred implements was only in the time of the journey in the desert, and therefore this rule was not decreed for all generations.
Rav Aryeh Hendler: 'And they kept alive the women': Abortion for the Purpose of Saving Lives in the Shoah [Holocaust]
Rav Aryeh Hendler, assistant Head of Yeshivat Shaalvim, investigates what is the ruling when the fetus endangers the mother not because of complications in pregnancy or birth, but because of the wicked`s intention to harm any pregnant woman. In such a case is the fetus considered to be attempting murder, or is it only the potential murderer who is the wicked person, in which case there is no permission to kill the fetus in order to save oneself, as it is not at all the real murderer? He bases his words on true stories which took place during the Shoah, where pregnant women had to abort the fetus in order to be saved – otherwise they would have been selected to be killed under extreme torture. A woman who was party to these 'rescue abortions' wrote a book about it, and Rav Hendler's conclusion is that in the view of most halakhic authorities, abortion in this instance was permissible.
Yaaqov Loewinger: Concerning the Time of Halakhic Twilight and the Circumcision (Berit Mila) of a Child Born Near the End of the Sabbath: Hatam Sofer's Interpretation of the 'Exposition on Twilight and Nightfall of Rabbenu Tam'
Yaaqov Loewinger, native of Hungary, a Holocaust survivor who studied in Zürich, Switzerland and a resident of Tel-Aviv for over fifty years, is a retired structural engineer, who has been writing, discussing and lecturing extensively on halakhic times and practical astronomic-halakhic issues. In this issue he writes about a decision of Hatam Sofer (HS=Rabbi Moshe Sofer–Schreiber 1762-1839, 1797-1806 Rabbi of Mattersdorf, at that time in Hungary) to allow the Mila on Shabbat of a child born on the previous Saturdayin Eisenstadt (near Mattersdorf) half an hour after astronomical sunset there, in contrast to the current general practice. HS claims to follow the aforementioned Exposition of Rabbenu Tam (=RT). This decision of HS is analyzed in detail. The author argues that HS bases his decision on nightfall times in Frankfort on the Main, given to him by his mentor Rabbi Nathan Adler in 1785. These times were found by the author to be the result of sunset times in Hanover, calculated accurately by the astronomer Raphael Levi of Hanover in 1766 for that city. These times were not recalculated for their new places of implementation, but were applied respectively by Rabbi Nathan Adler and HS to their subsequent locations, without any change. HS's interpretation of RT is very different from the way RT has been generally understood in recent times.
Rav Yehuda Shaviv: 'Modest Behavior' and 'Proclaiming the Miracle'
Rav Yehuda Shaviv, veteran Ram (teacher) at Yeshivat Har Etzion in Alon Shvut, writes on the theme specific to Hanukkah of making known (pirsum) the mitsva, in comparison to the usual requirement of fulfilling mitsvot in a modest fashion ('hatznea lekhet'). He explains the implication of the 'door latch' and the 'ox horn' decrees as expressions of the extent of publicity with which the Hellenists wanted the Jews to openly proclaim heretical positions ('we have no share in the G-d of Israel'), and hence commensurately we are charged with an unusual, sui generis Mitsva whose performance entails the obligation of advertising in the public domain.
Rav Yitzchak Weiss: From the Desk of the Rav
Rav Yitzchak Weiss, a posek (arbiter of Jewish law) who functions on behalf of the Chief Rabbinate of Jerusalem, writes on his personal viewpoint as a posek regarding the well-known principle that "A judge must consider only what he sees". This principle is recorded in the Talmud and codified in the Shulhan Arukh in various contexts. However, in the opinion of Rav Weiss this maxim serves not only as a basis of leniency – but of stringency as well. The rabbinic judge can and must see – and even at times sense – the background which looms behind the enquirer and underlies the enquiry. Therefore, anonymous halakhic questions conveyed by communications media are not desirable, since they occasionally prevent the Rav from providing a precise response applicable to the enquirer. Provisionally, the Rav will answer anonymous questions, but the ideal court situation entails not only a halakhic decision, but establishing recognition and friendship between the Rav and the enquirer, which are vital to correct halakhic decision-making.
Rav Uri Redman: 'The King in his Beauty' to Petah Tiqva: the Saga of the Appointment of Rav Yehezkel Abramsky ZT"L as Rav of the Colony
The renowned revered Rav Yehezkel Abramsky ZT"L, who in his early years was Rav of the city of Slutzk in Belarus, is famous for his great insight into Torah and especially by virtue of his imposing commentary on the Tosefta. It is less known that he was chosen to be the Rav of the town of Petah Tiqva, an appointment which was never actualized, as the communists prevented him from leaving Russia, and thereafter even threw him into prison in Siberia. By the time he was freed from Siberia, the Rabbinical position of Petah Tiqva was already occupied by Rav Aharonson, and the Rav accepted this with great magnanimity. Rav Redman, himself a resident of Petah Tiqva, describes – through surviving documents and recovered memoirs – this tragic sequence of events, in the course of which are revealed the superlative character traits of Rav Abramsky.
Prof. Zohar Amar: The Color of Techelet according to Maimonides
Various explanations have been given in defining the color of techelet, such as green, light blue, medium blue and purple. Prof. Zohar Amar, researcher of the realia of the land of Israel and the Torah of Israel, investigates again to what Maimonides had reference when he described the color of techelet in tzitzit (ritual fringes). It is logical that the term cahol having the sense of 'blue' is modern, while in ancient languages it characteristically meant a dark color. Analysis of Maimonides' words in all his various writings shows that he thought the hue of techelet is dark blue, tending towards black, or a dark shade of gray, and not what is commonly accepted in our day!
Rav Ohad Fixler: Circumcision (Mila) Mitsva Which is a Covenant (Berit)
Rav Ohad Fixler deals with a facet peculiar to the Mitsva of circumcision, viz. that it itself constitutes establishing a covenant with the Holy One, blessed be He. He claims there is a close connection between the details of the rules of circumcision and the reasons for the Mitsva and the establishing of a covenant which it encompasses, and that these matters find expression even in halakhic decisions regarding current questions: sedation during circumcision, circumcision of a non-Jew, fitness of a circumcisor (mohel) who is not himself circumcised, and more. The Mitsva of circumcision is one Mitsva among many in which it is possible to detect in the details of the rulings traces of the philosophy of the rulings and interpretations of the underlying verses, but it is special in that even in the details which have only been examined by authorities of recent generations, these traces are manifest.
Prof. Yaakov Shmuel Spiegel: Rav Mahalalel Hallelyah (or: Halleluyah)of Civitanova and his Response in the Matter of Cancelling an Excommunication (Herem), with the Approbation of the Emissaries of the Land of Israel Rav Shlomo haLevi, Rav David Carigal and Rav Moshe Yitzchak of Lvov
Rav Mahalalel Hallelyah (or Halleluyah) of Civitanova (a city near Ancona, Italy) was counted among the Rabbis of Ancona. He was born, as best we can tell, around 5365 (1605), and passed away no earlier than 5434 (1674). His works remain in manuscript, i.e. a book of decisions and responsa entitled Hallel Gamur (Complete Praise), his major work on the Torah called Kodesh Hillulim (Sacred Praises) and a lesser collection called Hallelyah (or Halleluyah) containing letters and poems; some of his letters and poems have appeared in print. In this article, Prof. Yaakov Spiegel publishes for the first time the wording of the title page of Hallel Gamur and the author's introduction to the book, as well as one responsum which deals with the cancellation of an excommunication which a certain rabbi decreed unfairly. This responsum was chosen because it is accompanied by the approbation of three emissaries: the first who approved the decision of Rav Mehalalel is Rav Shlomo haLevi, emissary of Safed, who is known and recognized, although it was not known that he had been in Italy. The other two are emissaries of Jerusalem otherwise unknown to us, the first being Rav David Carigal, and the second Rav Moshe Yitzchak of Lvov, emissary of the Ashkenazim in Jerusalem, from the Yeshiva of the renowned Rav, Rabbi Or Shraga.
Rav Eitam Henkin: About Selling Land to Non-Jews and "the Open Letter of the Rabbis"
The Open Letter published last year by rabbis prohibiting the sale of apartments in the Land of Israel to non-Jews aroused much criticism. One of the claims raised against the letter was that the rabbis were using halakhah to advance a socio-political agenda. In the current article, Rav Eitam Henkin demonstrates that the position expressed in the Open Letter is well grounded in halakhah. He also intimates that the accusation of political bias may prove to be a double-edged sword. Rav Henkin adds that despite its 'mechanical' validity in a halakhic sense, due consideration was not given to many ramifications of publishing the letter, which may have done more harm than good.
Rav Yaakov Korzweil: 'The Chronicles Were Presented for No Other Reason Than to be Expounded'
Comparison of the Book of Chronicles with that which is written in the other books of the Bible, principally the Book of Samuel, confronts the student with difficult dilemmas, revealing factual contradictions between the texts. The commentators, led by the Malbim, deal with the difficulties in a localized, point-by-point manner. There exists, however, an opinion among our Sages – that has not yet found its place in the explanatory literature in any but the most restricted fashion – according to which it is unnecessary to contemplate the 'straightforward' meaning of the verses in the Book of Chronicles , since "the Chronicles were presented for no other reason than to be expounded". Rav Korzweil, a Ram in the 'hesder' yeshiva in the city of Sderot, proposes that the reader deal with contradictions between the books in light of these words of the Sages.
Rav Itiel Amitai: Clarification in Maimonides' Introduction to the 'Helek' Chapter
Rav Amitai, who teaches at the Nezer Matai Yeshiva which moved after the expulsion from the settlement of Netzarim in the Gaza Strip to the city of Ariel in Samaria, analyzes the words of Maimonides in his commentary upon the first mishnah of the Helek chapter of Tractate Sanhedrin. The central point in Maimonides' line of reasoning in the matter of future reward deserved by those who observe the Torah is to disabuse the errant of the notion that this future reward is a physical reward, in any form whatsoever. Maimonides begins by citing the ideas of five schools of thought representing as it were alternatives to his reasoning in the matter of reward, the common denominator of which is their dependence upon physical reality. From a close reading of his words, of Maimonides' style of presentation, and from the order which he employs both in citing the words of the proponents of the schools, and in explaining his own reasoning, Rav Amitai concludes that Maimonides teaches us that the future promises of the Good of the Torah are cleansed of any relationship to the physical, not only as regards the individual, but in relation to the entire people.
Rav Dr. Israel Meir Levinger: Definition of Cooking and Similar Processes
Cooking is a process in which the following stages occur: Each degree of increase in temperature lowers the specific weight of the substance. The increase in temperature elevates the solubility of the cooked material and speeds it up. Materials flow more easily through semipermeable membranes. In accord with the processes which take place, we define the temperature of cooking as between the minimum 40-46 to the maximum of 70-80 degrees celcius. With these definitions, many halakhic problems, regarding Shabbat and kashruth, can be resolved.
Rav Yisrael Danderovitz: Refraining from the Mitsva of Visiting the Sick
The great Rabbi Akiva Eger (RA"E) fulfilled the Mitsva of visiting the sick through an agent. There exist two halakhic problems in fulfilling this Mitsva through an agent, for the agent is obligated in this Mitsva and he fulfills it for himself, and moreover in the case of Mitsvot to be performed with one`s person, agency is not effective. Beside the solutions which the Adere"t came up with, it may be said that RA"E was exempt from the Mitsva itself in view of his advanced age and in keeping with his dignity.  What is the real reason that RA"E did not visit the sick? His biographers think it was due to his demanding schedule, but his descendant reveals that he did not want to hear the infirm cursing Heaven as is their wont. The author points out that it is possible that this is why Rav Shlomo of Karlin refrained from the Mitsva of visiting the sick, and brings a tale told in Avot deRabi Nathan of a similar case, though we noted that there are additional explanations for the words of Avot deRabi Nathan with implications as well for the rules which arise therefrom.
David and Elyasaf Neustadter: The Relationship between the Written Torah and the Oral Torah According to Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch
The Oral Torah is generally thought of as being an explanation of the Written Torah. Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch has a different understanding. He explains that the Oral Torah was given at Sinai and the Written Torah was given forty years later for the purpose of remembering the Oral Torah. He refers to this fundamental concept multiple times in his commentary to explain a number of different aspects of the Written Torah. This article analyzes some of these examples to provide a deeper understanding of Rabbi Hirsch’s view of the relationship between the Written Torah and the Oral Torah, and its consequences.
Rav Tuvia Katzman: A Note in the Matter of a Tinok sheNishba ('Captive Infant' lacking Jewish upbringing)
Rav Katzman, a senior researcher at Yad Harav Herzog and among the authors of the Talmudic Encyclopedia, makes an important observation in the matter of the definition of a tinok shenishba, and if an error in faith or philosophy whose source is coercion is a factor in a person not being considered wicked or a 'sectarian'. He discusses the reasoning of the medieval authorities, the novel view of Rav Chaim of Brisk that a coerced heretic ('nebich' apikores) is nevertheless a heretic, and arrives at interesting and timely conclusions.
Rav Ari Yitzchak Chwat; Rav Eli Gorfinkle: The Reasoning of Rav Kook and Rav Herzog in the Matter of the Third Redemption
Rav Ari Chwat (Shvat) critiques the thesis of Rav Eli Gorfinkle in the previous issue, that Rav Kook, Rav Herzog, and others who decisively declared our generation as the Period of Redemption, were not actually convinced of what they said, but rather were speaking wishfully and evincing a positive approach for educational and psychological purposes. In addition to taking issue with the approach that rabbis don’t truly believe in what they say, Rav Chwat proves that the deliberate explicitness of the statements of the Sages, and the aforementioned rabbis, cannot be misconstrued. Under the present nuclear threat, we should learn from those rabbinic leaders to strengthen rather than frighten, to examine rather than reinterpret, the sources, logic and benefit of such resolute declarations. At the end of the issue Rav Gorfinkle responds briefly.
Rav Gedaliya Eizman ZT"L served as the Spiritual Guide (Mashgiach) of the Kol Torah Yeshiva in Jerusalem, headed by the late Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach ZT"L, for decades. He recently passed away at age 101, after a long full and productive life. A former student, Moshe Oren, veteran Kibbutz Sha`alvim member and director of Yeshivat Sha`alvim, emotionally recalls his awe-inspiring influence upon his students.
On Books and Their Authors
Rav Yaakov Laufer of Jerusalem reviews the important book Parshegen by Rav Rafael Benjamin Posen – an innovative, careful commentary on Targum Onkelos; Dr. Abraham David of the national Library in Jerusalem reviews the new edition of the Responsa of Shimon ben Tsemach Duran (Shu"t Tashbetz) published by the Shlomo Aumann Institute in cooperation with Machon Yerushalayim, the fourth volume of which was issued recently; and Dr. Benny Braun offers a comprehensive response to the critical review with which Rav Yehoshua Levine confronted him in the previous issue, concerning his book about Rav Avraham Yeshaya Karelitz (Hazon Ish); Rav Levine responds briefly.