"18. For a comprehensive survey of the bases and ramifications of those opinions see R. Jacob Gershon Weiss, Midot u-Mishkalot shel Torah (Jerusalem, 5745), pp. 198-264.
19. R. Abraham Chaim Noe, Shi’urei Torah (Jerusalem, 5707), p. 249, calculates the amah, or cubit, as 48 centimeters (18.897 inches). The identical calculation was earlier advanced by R. Shalom Mordecai Schwadron, Da’at Torah 35:116, and Darkei Teshuvah 19:27. Accordingly,
the mil, which equals 2,000 cubits, is equal to a distance of 960 meters (3,149.60 feet). Rabbi Noe gives alternative calculations of the amah as equal to 47 centimeters (18.5 inches) or 49 centimeters (19.29 inches). The mil would then be the equivalent of 940 (3,083.98 feet) or 980 meters (3,215.22 feet).
20. Hazon Ish, Kuntres ha-Shi’urin, Orah Hayyim: Mo’ed 39:5-6, and 39:9, c
alculates the amah as 58 centimeters (22.83 inches) and, accordingly, a mil would equal 1,160 meters (3,805.77 feet). Hazon Ish also cites a report to the effect that
R. Shmu’el Salant accepted calculations that would render the amah 60 centimeters or 23.62 inches and the mil 1200 meters or 3937.01 feet. Nevertheless, for purposes of stringency, R. Shmu’el Salant is reported to have accepted calculation that would yield 48 centimeters or 18.90 inches for the amah and 960 meters or 3149.61 feet for the mil.
Cf., R. Ya’akov Kanievsky, Shi’urin shel Torah (Bnei Brak, 5729), who, in a note on p. 63, calculates the amah as 57 2/3 centimeters (22.70 inches) and possibly,
according to Rashba, as 59.66 centimeters (23.49 inches). The mil would then be the equivalent of either a bit more than 1,153.2 meters (3,783.46 feet) or a bit more than 1,193.2 meters (3,914.6 feet). Actually, according to Rabbi Kanievsky’s own premises, the calculation of the amah as 57 2/3 centimeters is somewhat imprecise. Rabbi Kanievsky reports that “according to that which has been received by us from gedolei hora’ah, that the amah equals 13 vershak . . .” The vershak is a Russian measuring length equal to 1.75 inches or 4.445 centimeters. If so an amah is the equivalent of 57.78 centimeters (22.73 inches) and thus a mil is equal to 1,155.7 meters (3,791.66 feet). See Encylopedia Britannica, 15th ed. (Chicago, 1995), XIX, 735 (where the term is transliterated as verchok).
A table compiled by Moshe, Rosa and Shimon Bodenheimmer, Shi’urin u-Middot Hazal (Jerusalem, 5725), gives the measurement of the amah as 57.6 centimeters (22.67 inches). Cf., the table published by Y. Avi-Zevi, Shanah be-Shanah, 5730, p. 125, that gives the measurement of the amah as 56 centimeters and that of the mil as 1120.37 meters. Those measurements presumably reflect the view of R. Chaim Jacob Sheftel, Erekh Milin (Berditchev, 5667), erekh ezba, according to whom the amah measures approximately 56 centimeters. See Encyclopedia Talmudit, II (Jerusalem, 5760), 29, note 56.
Other less frequently cited opinions with regard to the length of an amah include those of Meshiv Davar, I, no. 24; Arukh ha-Shulhan, Yoreh De’ah 201:3; Teshuvot Hatam Sofer, Orah Hayyim, no. 181; and the earlier noted view of Erekh Milin, erekh ezba.
Meshiv Davar rejects what he terms “the customarily accepted calculations” according to which the length of the amah would equal 60 centimeters and advances considerations that would yield the measurement of an amah as 48 centimeters. Nevertheless, in his concluding remarks he retracts that view and advances a calculation that would result in an amah measured “in excess of” 48 centimeters and endorses the practice of Frankfurt am Main according to which the length of the amah is calculated as 57 centimeters or 22.44 inches.
Arukh ha-Shulhan states that the length of an amah is 12 “veierskes,” which is apparently the Yiddish term for the Russian vershak. Thus, according to Arukh ha-Shulhan, the length of an amah equals 53.34 centimeters or 21.0 inches. Cf., Encylopedia Talmudit, II, 29, where the length of an amah is given as 54 centimeters according to Arukh ha-Shulhan.
Teshuvot Hatam Sofer states that the length of a fingerwidth is a “zoll.” Since a biblical amah is equal to 24 fingerwidths, the length of an amah according to Hatam Sofer equals 24 zoll. Da’at Torah, Yoreh De’ah, Kuntres Aharon 35:116 states that the zoll is equal to 2.6 centimeters. That calculation is apparently also assumed by Darkei Teshuvah and Encyclopedia Talmudit. [Cf., however, Encyclopedia Britannica, loc. cit., which describes the zoll as a Swiss unit of measure equal to 3 centimeters.]
Encyclopedia Talmudit, ad locum, indicates that, according to Hatam Sofer, the length of an amah is 62.4 centimeters or 24.567 inches. Thus a mil, according to Hatam Sofer, would equal 1248.0 meters or 4094.49 feet. Darkei Teshuvah 19:27 notes that the amah was marginally enlarged by rabbinic decree and, accordingly, should be calculated as 241/2 zoll.
Darkei Teshuvah endorses the position of Hatam Sofer and states that the length of an amah according to Hatam Sofer is 63.8 centimeters. Thus, according to Darkei Teshuvah, an amah equals 25.12 inches and, accordingly, a mil equals 1276 meters or 4186.35 feet. Hatam Sofer’s calculations are thus significantly greater than those of the earlier-cited authorities.Darkei Teshuvot also cites a certain “Rabbi of Yasi” who calculated the amah as “no more than” 52 or 53 centimeters and an anonymous scholar who differed and calculated the amah as approximately 581/2 centimeters. Darkei Teshuvah also quotes She’erit Yisra’el, Parashat Mezora, who calculates the amah as 211/6 zoll or 56 centimeters and further opines that one who calculates the amah as 221/8 zoll or 57 centimeters is to be commended. Darkei Teshuvah cites an additional source for the latter calculation as well.
Da’at Torah, Yoreh De’ah, Kuntres Aharon 35:116, cites authorities who variously posit the length of an amah as 47 centimeters, 55.25 centimeters, a bit more than 57 centimeters and 58.5 centimeters, as well as one authority who asserts that according to Rashi the amah equals 43.8 centimeters, according to Shakh 45.02 centimeters, according to Taz 47.34 centimeters and according to Rambam 50 centimeters. See also the measurements ascribed to earlier authorities by Rabbi Weiss, Midot u- Mishkalot shel Torah, pp. 198-264 as well as the table presented ibid., introduction, p. 8. See also R. Moshe Shimshon Bacharach, Hut ha- Shani, no. 97.
For a table correlating many of these measurements of the amah with the volume of the liquid revi’it see Midot u-Mishkalot shel Torah, introd., p. 8. Rabbi Kanievsky, Shi’urin shel Torah, p. 51, cites a discussion in the Palestinian Talmud, Terumot 10:7, that is understood by some authorities, including Riva, Commentary on the Pentateuch, Parashat Mishpatim; Ma’adanei Yom Tov, Berakhot 3:30; and Tosafot Yom Tov, Pe’ah 6:6, as indicating that a revi’it equals 240 grams. If so, an amah would appear to equal 73.368 centimeters or 28.885 inches. Rabbi Kanievsky categorizes that calculation of the revi’it as “extremely large” and as “not imagined by earlyday authorities.”
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