Volume 12 Number 53
                       Produced: Tue Apr 12 23:02:04 1994

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

conversion in Iran
         [Rabin Nouranifar]
Ethics of friendship and family
         [Tom Divine]
Halacha and Drugs (3)
         [Yaakov Kayman, David Charlap, Daniel Kelber]
Kosher for Pesach Kitniyos
         [Nimrod Dayan]
Kosher for Pesach kitniyot
         [Alan Mizrahi]
Sefardi minhagim
         [Elisheva Schwartz]


From: <NOURANIFAR@...> (Rabin Nouranifar)
Date: Sun, 10 Apr 1994 01:33:23 -0500 (EST)
Subject: conversion in Iran

	A couple of weeks ago, I read that someone, whose name I have
forgotten, posted that "not accepting converts is unheard of." Well, in
Iran, similar to Syria, it is pretty "heard of!". I do not know the
exact halachic basis for this, but the following explanations might help
you to find a basis.

	"The History of Jahud" (a Jewish history book per excellence on
Persian Jews) writes that starting approximately 250 years ago,
conversion of Persian Moslems caused huge pogroms and with each
conversion many Jews paid with their lives. Additionally, infidel Moslem
converts who reconverted to Islam disclosed to Islamic authorities what
Jews think of Mohammed's prophecy. These incidents, gradually made the
Beth-din exceedingly adamant against accepting converts.

	I am sure you can think of a few rationales why in those
situations the beth-din decided shev ve al taase Adif, but the story
does not end here. Due to the lack of any conversions for many years,
many unlearned people even come to think that the Jewish religion does
not accept any converts. This idealogy spread quickly especially since
the Talmidei Chachamim, for some reason I do not know, stopped
correcting this misconception when it would come up in any type of
gathering. When I asked my Rabbi about this conversion concept, he said
that since most of the conversions are insincere, we do not accept them,
but if they truly want to be Jewish like Ruth, of course we would accept

	It appears that when the Beth-Din decided to conduct itself in
this manner, the proceeding Chachamim also followed, though to the best
of my knowledge never prohibited by a Takanah or a Gezerah. During this
time, assimilation stayed quite low, although this might be a
correlation due to other socio-political influences and not a
cause-and-effect relationships.

	A famous case which my own relatives witnessed happened about 10
years ago, is that one shabbat a young Moslem whom had recently shown
some interest in Judaism, got up before the Shabbos Drasha of the Chief
Rabbi of Iran, in front of all the congregation, and announced that he
has studied Judaism and wants to convert and asked the Rabbi to convert
him. The Rabbi persuasively answered that all righteous people, just as
all righteous jews, have a protion in Olam Haba and thus there is no
need for him to convert provided he is a good person. The Rabbi also
added that a Jew must be born from a Jewish mother!  Later there was a
rumor that the entire case was a setup by the governemt to lead a pogrom
and (chas ve shalom) kill a few hundred Jews. I left the country shortly
thereafter and never found out if it indeed was true or not. But had it
been true, the Chief Rabbi literally save the life of many Jews.

	As a final note, I would like to reinstate that although the
Halachic reasons here may not be obvious, the socio-political reasons
are. And what I am trying to say is that such halachic decisions do
exist elsewhere from Syria.  Also, even though in America where
conversion to Judaism is freely allowed and in correlation with that
(hashem Yerachem Aleinu) the assimilation and intermarriage among the
young Persian Jews is rising, it is probably due to the generally high
degree of freedom and tolerance in America and not a direct cause and
effect. A similar scenario might be true for the Syrian Community.


From: <tmdivine@...> (Tom Divine)
Date: Sun, 10 Apr 94 11:29:22 EDT
Subject: Ethics of friendship and family

For a course on Jewish ethics, I am interested in locating original
sources bearing on the following two issues:

(1) We are taught in general terms to "k'nei lecha haver" (acquire a
friend) and to avoid negative associations.  Is there, however, a
developed halacha of friendship?  That is, are there any duties which
one has to a friend which are distinct from one's duties to the world at
large and which derive from the relationship of friendship?  Conversely,
does a friend acquire any rights by reason of the friendship?  (e.g.: If
I learn that a friend's child is involved with drugs, do I have a duty
to advise the friend by reason of the relationship.  (I am trying to
find an example in which it is clear that I do not have such a duty with
respect to the world at large.  Perhaps this is not a good example.))

(2) The same question with respect to siblings.  Does halacha provide
any special rights/duties with respect to one's siblings (other than
mourning practices)?

(3) In both cases, if there is no such developed halacha, what accounts
for the omission?  Thanks.

      Tom Divine (<TMDivine@...>)


From: Yaakov Kayman <YZKCU@...>
Date: Fri, 8 Apr 1994 11:00:41 -0400
Subject: Re: Halacha and Drugs

On Mon, 4 Apr 1994 21:55:58 EDT Rabbi Freundel said:

>Rgarding the issue of drugs see Igros Moshe Yoreh Deah sect. 4 #35. As
>expected the response is prohibitive. The reasons
>1. harmful to bodily well-being
>2. it harms the intellect
>3. this will impair Torah learning, prayer and other mitzvot
>4. it is addictive and therefor takes on aspects of the rebellious son
>5. It leads to criminality
>6. it generally causes pain to one's parents
>7. it violates thou' shall be holy"
>8. many other prohibitions
>I guess there is Assur and there is really really ASSUR.
>My own veiw is that beyond the drugs is the problem of the drug culture and
>the sense that it claims that the human being is not good enough without
>outside chemical additives. I find this to be a negation of God's marvelous
>acts of creation and an inappropriate attitude for any spiritual person much
>less a true Ben Torah

I can see that in this case the same ought to hold true for many people
regarding alcohol, even wine. (semi-rhetorically) Is it?

A more general halakhic question might be is there such a thing as
assur (prohibited) for one group but not another, when it is something
other than minhagim (customs or traditions) that differentiates the one
from the other.

Yaakov Kayman

From: <david@...> (David Charlap)
Date: Fri, 8 Apr 94 11:12:27 -0400
Subject: Re: Halacha and Drugs

<dialectic@...> (Rabbi Freundel) writes:
[see above, Mod.]

Absolutely correct.  When I stated that there were some opinions who
didn't completely ban drugs, I was referring to less dangerous
substances, such as tobacco.

From: <XW0SDAK@...> (Daniel Kelber)
Date: Fri, 8 Apr 1994 12:18:47 -0400
Subject: Re: Halacha and Drugs

    Rabbi Fruendel talks of why drugs are Assur according to Halacha,
reasons number one and four being that they couse bodily harm and are
addictive. I was wondering if anyone can tell me why so my frum smoke so
much when it causes these exact things. I heard once that there was a
Rabbi that decided it was time to put an end to smoking in his
community, and the result was that most of his followers left him. This
brings up another question as to the permissibility of leaving your
rabbi when you do not like what he says.



From: <Nimrod@...> (Nimrod Dayan)
Date: Fri, 8 Apr 1994 16:36:48 -0400
Subject: Re: Kosher for Pesach Kitniyos

>From: Marc Meisler <mmeisler@...>
>This came up at our yontiff table and even though we are Ashkenazim and
>Pesach is over, I am still curious about what the answer is. Since the
>vast majority of Jews in America are Ashkenazim, the vast majority of
>products sold in stores as kosher for Pesach do not contain kitniyos.  My
>question is do Sephardim who do eat kitniyos have to find products which
>say "kosher for Pesach, contain kitniyos" and if so, are any sold in this
>country?  I know that they are sold in Israel, but I have never seen them
>here.  The question specifically would involve products such as plain rice
>since many other products could conceivably contain chometz.  My
>feeling is that rice would need to say kosher for pesach since it could be
>processed in the same plant as something like rice pilaf.  During the year
>this could be kosher and thus contain a proper hechsher, but on Pesach
>this would be chometz.  Any thoughts?

Regarding this matter, I would like to say first of all that I am Sephardic-
actually half Syrian, half Yemenite so kitniyot consumption in my house
over Pesach is quite common. As far as I know there are almost no products
available (with the exception of a couple of items) that say on them
"Kosher for Pesach, contains kitniyos" here in the United States. This
however is not the case in Israel, where most of the products do say this,
in which case Ashkenazim must be more scrupulous when shopping for Pesach
in Israel. This situation exists, IMHO because the majority of Jews here in
the States are Ashkenazim and whatever products that are KP for Ashkenazim
are KP for Sephardim too- (a fortiori argumentation.) This is not the case
in Israel where the majority of Jewry there are of Middle Eastern descent
and so most products are geared towards kitnityot consumption. Thus,
Ashkenazic Jews have to be more cautious while shopping since they cannot
eat whatever says KP on it.
        The question that remains then is what do Sephardic Jews do for
Pesach to purchase kitniyot-containing items without these items
specifically stating such on the package. I can only relate what i know
exists in practice now. I am from the Syrian Community in Brooklyn and
there is a system in place there as follows: A group of rabbis from various
shuls and yeshivot work in conjunction with the OU (Union of Orthodox
Rabbis- one of the largest Hashgachot in the U.S.) to ascertain what
products (that the OU gives Hashgacha during the year but not on Pesach)
contain kitniyot and are totally chametz free. I stress that this is not to
say that the OU is making some products "KP, contains kitnityot" but rather
they answer whatever questions these Sephardic rabbis have and the
Sephardic rabbis are the ones who make the KP kashrut designation.These
shuls and yeshivot then publish the list to their shuls and the congregants
work from there- if it's on the list, it's KP for Sephardim. And just as you
would ask your Rav a question, you follow his list too. In other words,
lists vary from shul to shul sometimes because one shul did not have the
means to cover all the products that another list has and sometimes because
the rabbis of that shul had their own reasons to allow or disallow certain
products. Follow your shul and rabbi.
        Regarding rice, though, sometimes tradition and minhag take
precedence in some households. Some homes, instead of just buying the rice
on a particular list, follow tradition from the Old World. In other words,
some families will buy rice that is usually kosher during the year, spread
it over a clean new tablecloth and check through this rice anywhere form
three to seven times, grain by grain to check for any stray grains of
barley or wheat. It is a long process and so some people have just opted to
buy the rice on the list. This tradition, though, still exists.
        I hope I have answered any questions you might have had.

| | \|IMROD |--|  |                        |  Nimrod Dayan  |
/-------------------\                      |<ned1@...>|


From: Alan Mizrahi <amizrahi@...>
Date: Fri, 08 Apr 94 16:38:21 EDT
Subject: Kosher for Pesach kitniyot

Marc Meisler (in v.12 #44) asks about Pesach hechshers on products
containing kitniyot.  I have never seen in the United States any "kasher
laPesach l'ochlei kitniyot" labels.  Various Rabbis investigate products
that do not contain chometz and compile a list every year of what
Sephardim can eat without a hechsher.  One of this year's new additions
was M&M's!

I don't know if there is a problem with rice, as Marc suggested.  All
natural grain rice was listed as kosher.

If people find this topic fascinating, we should all push to have the
meaning of "Kasher laPesach" changed to mean "with kitniyot."

-Alan Mizrahi


From: Elisheva Schwartz <es63@...>
Date: Thu, 7 Apr 1994 16:29:42 -0400
Subject: Sefardi minhagim

There has been a discussion on "another list"  (mi she-yavin yavin)
about Sefardi vs. Ashkenazi minhagim.  A couple of statements caught my
eye, and I'd like to know what Mail-Jewish readers know about these
1. It was maintained by one person that, according to Sefardi minhag,
one can eat parve cooked food with either basar or halav, _regardless_
of what pot it was cooked in.  (?)
2. It was also put forth that the idea of hair covering for women is
an Ashkenazi humra being increasingly taken on by Sefardim (this
really made me stop, because my impression was that Sefardi practice
was stricter than Ashkenazi in this regard.  Didn't Harav Ovadia Yosef
say that wigs were assur for Sefardi women?  Leaving only scarves and
3. And, that the issur of bishul akum (according to the Rama) is stamm
a humra.
4. That "glatt" was a strictly Ashkenazi idea, and that Sefardi
standards are less strict (again the reverse of what I thought.  Don't
a lot of Sefardim eat only Beit Yosef?)
Looking forward to your comments


End of Volume 12 Issue 53