.comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}


Ore and let davven.™

Mail: lippomano@gmail.com

New feature: Hover your mouse pointer over green words, and you'll see an explanation!

Wednesday, July 26, 2006


(Mar Gavriel was attacked by some blogtrolls for proposing to copy a scholarly book that is expensive. Here is a half- and fast-baked overview of some aspects of the question.)

There are several issues here:

US law. I'm not an expert in this, but as far as know, it allows to make partial copies under these circumstances. I'm not sure about complete copies - there was a de-facto guideline for courts once that held it was legal to make copies for non-commercial purposes and not exceeding a certain number - often 7 is stated.

Newer legislation might have changed, though, among other reasons because with newer media like CDs (music) and CD-ROMs (software) the loss of quality is less. Also lobbies have been more pronounced.

Dine demalchuse. Much disputed, as you might know. Some say it only refers to laws that have to do with the king's treasury, read taxes, customs, official fees. Others say it refers to simply everything including laws that the majority of the people don't care about, like jaywalking which actually only plays a rôle in determining the guilty part in case of an accident. Frankly, those that hold the minimum are more convincing, and those that have a broader definition often argue with secondary (but maybe important) things like preventing anti-Semitism.

Din. Wow, you really want to know, huh? For this is a very difficult field. In short, you'll have difficulties to find many poskem who'd simply state yô, no problem, go ahead, copy and sell it. But there is no concept of intellectual property in Haloche. This is what haskomes in sforem were originally for: They weren't imprimatur stamps, blurbs or sale-increasing forewords by celebrity rabbis, but their main purpose was to say something like "The honourable rabbi Plôni has put a lot of work and time into his project, which came out nicely, and so I declare that anyone who'll reprint it during the next 20 years without his approval shall be under cherem." This alone shows that without such a device, copying wasn't considered forbidden.

Another possibility for a halachically valid copyright is a partial sale. The seller states at the time of sale what exactly is excluded from the sale, for example the right to reproduce it. (An interesting turn is that you could get the opposite problem of dine demalchuse: If you forbid to copy any part, this would violate rights you have according to US law.) Anyway, even for those who hold partial sales are possible for non-material issues, still the conditions of the seller stating at the time of the sale aren't usually fulfilled. It certainly isn't enough to have a sticker on the software CD saying if you break the seal you accept the conditions, because it's yours already. (Back to dine demalchuse - there are more and more court decisions saying these seals or the end-user licences you have to click OK when you install a programme aren't good, because it's known that nobody reads them anyway.) Maybe though, it might be considered self-understood that the seller makes this kind of partial sale - I'm not sure if this is halachically enough.

Next thing is the question if you have to pay the publisher something. If you wouldn't have bought it, you'll hardly find a dayyen who says you still have to pay - it's a case of "this one gains, and that one doesn't lose anything." If you would have bought it, rather than use the library copy, and disregarding all the points above, you'd still not have to pay the full price, because a photocopy (or a copied CD) doesn't have the same value as an original.

If it comes to the crunch, the publisher would have other disadvantages in addition. He is the one who wants money from you (hammôtze meichaveire olev horaye), and you have the right to invoke halachic opinions in your favour, even if the dayyen holds differently (kim li).

Morals. Fuzzy thing that. I could claim "we call that mitzves and haloche", but there is an element of codified morals. (By the way, personally I feel bootlegs are not fair towards the author, and to a lesser degree, the publisher.) Still, I wonder why in pre-modern times, neither Jews nor goyyim cared much about copyright, and if such an obviously time-bound feeling is relevant or not. Pressure from lobby groups is not a legitimate part of morals, unless it fits the moral anyway, in which case it doesn't add anything.

Lastly, publishing houses are producing books for money, as a rule. But authors might be happy if they get publicised, and authors of scholarly works typically even more so.

I hope it's clear that I don't simply give a hetter here. Go and see YLOR for more and a psak. When I'm grown up and open a publishing house, I'll see to it that I include a cherem haskome.

Update: more in the comments section.


Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Eli Tziyôn

Here (click) is the Eli Tziyôn tune, as in the Yekke tradition. It has a very fitting and moving middle part - I'm not sure if this was traditional in earlier times, too. It might astonish those who know me, but even if Abraham Baer composed it from scratch about 150 years ago, I wouldn't mind.

As usual, I apologise for my long untrained voice.

...במהירה בימינו



The news this morning reported seven civilian neighbours were injured when the Israeli military destroyed the house of an alleged extremist in Gaza, where a weapons cache was supposedly located.

Summary: The IDF managed to blow up the bloody arsenal without killing a single person!

(Further details: A quick internet research turns out it was four persons, not seven - I gather the newspeople relied on local "eyewitnesses" and hospital receptionists. I have no information about the alleged supposed civilians' reported claimed civilian status. Concerning the avoidance of the word terrorist see here - scroll down to the Slip-Of-The-Tongue Award.)

Bottom line for the innocent viewer: The military Israelis nearly killed a family, destroyed a house - the old oppression routine of those vindictive Old Testament people - and now they produce this paltry excuse. Anyway the freedom fighters are right.

I have this horrible feeling of powerlessness you had as a child.
And I'm a non-Zionist leftist.


Friday, July 21, 2006


The other day, I saw a not particularly interesting poll in a forum, where the question was roughly if the forum readers believe today's world came into existence through evolution or creation. One of the posters remarked the following:

"The bottom line is this...evolution explains how I got here, the Bible explains why I am here. I believe in one God and I accept that evolution is a part of His creative handiwork."

Never mind that the writer is a Christian, and means something different by Bible. (Or by 'one', for that matter.) Don't even focus about the part-of-handiwork part.

Pretty much the traditional balebattishe stance since the late 56th century:

Evolution explains how I got here, the Tôre explains why I'm here and how I'm to behave here.



A short vort:

In general society, arrogance is all in all something people don't like. Nevertheless, it has a strong side of positive associations - purveying a kind of superiority or aplomb. Even if seen as unwanted, it is regarded to be something sophisticated and refined - it often goes together with wittiness, even though there's no original connexion.

Not so with us Jews. The modern Ivrit word is שחצנות, which goes back to Mishnaic Hebrew, but actually means (or meant) rather pride, like gaave.

The traditional expression however (see ShO ChM 10:1 for a good example) is גסות רוח, literally 'grossness of mind', the exact opposite of refinement!



We received an invitation to a chasne from a friend, the bride's father. The families are associated with rather the chareidi community. As far as I know, of the grandparents six are or were Yekkish, one a (kosher) convert, and one nebbich e Polak. Or maybe more, what do I know?

In the names alone, there's so much to see, but see for yourself.

I. The bridal couple
I. 1. text
I. 1. a) Hebrew letters: אברהם - שמחה פרידה
I. 1. b) Latin letters: Simchah - Avi
I. 2 commentary
I. 2. a) order

The bride is on the left in both cases - coincidence? Or among Jews, the man is first, while in "general" culture's conventions, it's a matter of politeness to mention the woman first? If this is so, both would be sexist, or at least pronouncedly non-egalitarian.

I. 2. b) whatever (I'll stop that classification stuff, alright?)

- name of the guy: obviously he's normally called Avi, which is Israeli secular and increasingly "religious" (they're not Israelis). I'm not sure if he's called [a:vi] or [avi] though, the former would keep a diaspora touch, the latter would clearly be Israeli. (Note: there's no difference in vowel length in Ivrit, but here, the vowel would be perceived as short.) I guess in shul, he'd be called up as [avro:hom] or less formally [avro:m].

- name of the girl: called ['simxa], that is, with a clear [a] sound at the end, as opposed to Simcheh or Simchoh.

- The name in Hebrew is written strictly biblically, without the letter י. Oh, this is the time to point out it's not a gay marriage - though traditionally exclusively a name for Ashkenazi boys, Simchah is mmeile a girl!

- The second part is a kinnuy: Freide, Fraade or Fraide (from older German and Yiddish vreude or vröude, meaning delight, pleasure; not at all a rare name in Ashkenez), maybe hypercorrectly Fraida (I've seen hybrid Yiddish-Israeli forms like that). I'll ask some time and update the post. Could be the German name of Fri(e)da as well, some great-grandmother's name maybe.

- Written with a פ: the פֿ is seen less and less, and unless the name is in fact Frida, the diphthong is written with only one י, as if biblical. Same is true for the ending ה instead of א.

Kalle's parents: Zwi and Mirjam צבי אליקים ומרים:

- He officially goes by the name of Harry, too, after a relative, but didn't like it many years ago, and is actually called (Reb) Tzvi by people (or an endearing secondary form of this), Tzvi Elyokim in shul. Names starting with an H are still coupled with the names of Tzvi and Naftoli, because formerly, bearers of those were very often called Hersh and Hertz, resp., in everyday life. That's where most of the Jewish Heinrichs, in Northern Germany and after immigration Henrys and Harrys come from.

- She's normally called Miryam or Miri (they're not Israelis either).

Chosen's parents: Josef and Rosie יוסף ישי ורייזל.

Of the grandparents, only three are alive, and so, mentioned (Latin letters only): the kalle's maternal grandparents Mr and Mrs Alexander __, and the chosen's paternal grandmother Alice.

That makes for the oldest generation: German names widespread among Jews (Alexander might have the Hebrew name of Aleksander as well). For the middle generation: two Biblical names in neutral/Christian writing and pronunciation (Mirjam, Josef), one Hebrew name (Zwi) that was consciously detached from its kinnuy, and one neutral, often Jewish name (Rosie) that corresponds to an older Yiddish form (Raizl) which is retained in the Hebrew version. For the youngest generation: Israeli names, with strong allusions to (family?) tradition.

Let me add that the family names are in one case written ivritishly, but if there's a tradition, this writing might be old as well, in the other case germanised, that is with a German mute letter imitated in Hebrew.

How much you can learn from a couple of names on an invitation.