Readers Respond To the Pesach Issue

Kudos to Hamodia for a Features supplement with so much interesting information.

I especially found the interview on Mr. Shloime Werdiger and his family very inspiring. To see a family so invested in Torah and gemilus chassadim is beautiful. May Hashem give them the ability to continue their holy and sacred work as true ovdei Hashem.

My second-favorite article would have to be the interview with Mr. Horowitz and his partner about the charts titled: “Will Your Grandchildren Be Jewish?” I could only imagine the amount of work that went into such a thoroughly researched project.

No need to mention the other articles and interviews, as they surpassed all expectation.

Thank you for an oneg Yom Tov.

Esther Greenstein

In the Op-Ed of the Pesach Features, “The Questions of Leil HaSeder,” the questioning nature of the Seder is highlighted with references to the questions of the four sons, the customs performed to elicit questions from the children, etc. This is contrasted, interestingly, with Harav Moshe Wolfson quoted as saying that we give no answer to the question about why we eat karpas, in order “to teach the children that we have emunah in Hashem even when we have no answers to our questions. Serving Him does not depend on having all the answers.”

We read of many chinuch initiatives such as Ask the Rabbi forums, workshops and presentations in which questions students have are addressed, and these are good things. Relevance is considered all-important as in “What does this passuk/Yom Tov, pirush mean to me?” And yes, Hashem, through the Torah, speaks to each of us in every generation, and we need to know how what we are learning relates to us and our lives.

At the same time, this point — that serving Hashem need not require answers to all questions — is important to convey. A teacher does not have to justify every passuk he or she teaches. There can be the overarching value of: This is Torah, Hashem’s communication to us, and we learn it, regardless of whether it contains a personal message for the student.

There needs to be a balance between encouraging and praising a gutte kasha and inculcating the yesod that kabbolas ol comes before everything — a pertinent message in these days preceding the Naaseh v’Nishma of Shavuos and our acceptance of the Torah.

Yehudis Homnick

My compliments to everyone on a fantastic Pesach edition this year, featuring the number four. This was, FOUR sure, one of the best. It happened (there are no coincidences) that on the first night I quoted from Rav Schwab’s Haggadah about the many appearances of four in the Haggadah. During the day I saw Rabbi Marks’ feature and quoted that on the second night. His other article on trop was equally amazing.

I noticed that you even had four magazines. I had to send this out right after Yom Tov, beFOUR I FOURgot. I hope that people heed the warnings about smartphones in your FOURward.

Marvin Oppenheim

I thoroughly enjoyed Rabbi Yehudah Marks’ column “Tunes of the Trop”; I’ve been leining for almost 40 years, but there’s always something new to learn, and this article did not disappoint. But I do have one he’arah on his well-researched words.

Rabbi Marks posits that the short vertical line known as a siluk is “better known as a sof passuk, the taam that ends a passuk. Many mistakenly think that the sign for a sof passuk is the two dots symbol at the end of a passuk, but this was introduced by printers relatively recently.”

I beg to differ. I would bring as an irrefutable proof the Ran in Nedarim 37b d”h v’Shum seichel eilu hapesukim, “[This refers to] the dots that separate between pesukim.” This is also brought in the Shita Mekubetzes there. Apparently, these two dots were separating pesukim a thousand years ago, and according to the Ran’s explanation of the Gemara, they were given at Har Sinai!

I would also point to the virtually universal practice of Chumashim and Tikkun Kor’im including the two dots symbol immediately following the words “Sof Passuk” in the paragraph listing the taamim (Mahpach Pashta…).

Another lesser proof is from siddurim — most prominently the ArtScroll Siddur — that separate pesukim of Pesukei d’Zimrah and elsewhere in davening with a single dot, with the exception of those places where they include trop (e.g. Krias Shema), where they write two dots. Apparently, the ArtScroll team — which I know to be meticulous in how different parts of davening are typeset — clearly understand that the trop of sof passuk is two dots.

Yasher Koach again for an excellent article,

Asher Dicker, Lakewood, NJ

Rabbi Marks responds:

Thank you for your letter!

Since this article was a short summary, we weren’t able to delve into the many topics discussed, which are elaborated on in many sefarim.

We based the sof passuk sign on the words of Harav Wolf Hidenheim in his Mishpetei Hataamim 6a, who writes that the two dots are a later addition and not part of the taamim, unlike the explanation of the Shita Mekubetzes (there seem to be some words missing in the Ran, as noted in the tziyunim vehe’aros, and we don’t know what words are missing).

The fact that some manuscripts don’t use the two dots for a sof passuk, and some use different signs, seems to show that the two dots weren’t an accepted taam. Also, if the two dots are used, why is there also a siluk? Why do we need two symbols for one taam?