Volume 13 Number 36
                       Produced: Tue May 31 22:13:58 1994

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Glatt and non-glatt butchers
         [Mike Gerver]
Maggots in Hallacha, etc.
         [Sam Juni]
         [Ezra Rosenfeld]
         [Joey Mosseri]
Torah Codes and Predictions
         [Rabbi Freundel]


From: <GERVER@...> (Mike Gerver)
Date: Fri, 27 May 1994 4:44:25 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Glatt and non-glatt butchers

In the discussion on "Chumros" and glatt meat, a number of people (e.g.
Dov Krulwich in v12n78) have said that while in principle they might eat
non-glatt meat, in practice they only eat glatt because of problems with
the reliability of non-glatt butchers, and questions as to whether their
meat is kosher at all.

It may be true that a greater percentage of non-glatt butchers than glatt
butchers have questionable reliability, but the criterion should be
reliability, not glatt, and reliability should be determined not by
innuendo, but by a local orthodox rabbi whose standards and competence
you trust. This will not necessarily result in only buying glatt meat.
And trying to play it safe by believing all the rumors you hear will not
necessarily keep you away from eating (or doing) something you shouldn't.
I'll illustrate these points with a few true stories.

In a certain city I have lived in, there were at one time several non-
glatt butchers located in town, one glatt butcher in town, and a non-glatt 
butcher out in the suburbs, who made deliveries in town. There was an
orthodox rabbi whose opinions were respected by just about everyone, even
those people who did not follow him. He told people that they should not
buy meat at the non-glatt butchers in town, but that it was fine to use
either the glatt butcher in town, or the non-glatt butcher in the suburbs.
Many people preferred the latter; among other reasons, the glatt butcher
was once closed down by the board of health, and he was also more
expensive, and (being a monopoly in the glatt-only market) difficult to
deal with.

The non-glatt butchers in town were under the hasgacha (supervision) of a 
different orthodox rabbi, and curiously enough even he advised people not 
to buy meat there, if they asked him. When asked why he gave them hasgacha,
I am told he said something like this: Orthodox people know not to buy
meat there, so there is no danger of misleading them. Most of their
customers were Jews who were only marginally observant, and if they could
only buy kosher meat from out of town, or from a very expensive glatt
butcher (who was in any case in a different neighborhood), they might
very well buy trafe meat instead. The butchers were old men who had
been there for decades, if he didn't give them hashgacha they would lose
their parnassa (livelihood). As it turned out, all but one of them has
since retired, and meanwhile a couple of other glatt butchers have
moved into town, making them all more affordable.

No one has ever explained to me exactly what the non-glatt in-town
butchers were suspected of doing (no one said their meat was trafe),
but they may be typical of the non-glatt butchers that Dov Krulwich and
others think are not reliable. But no one questioned the reliability of
the non-glatt butcher in the suburbs. I repeat, the criterion should be
whether your LOR says they are reliable. If you follow that criterion, 
and you LOR has good standards and is competent, then you can't go wrong.

If you follow any other criterion, e.g. playing it safe by believing
every rumor you hear, then you can go wrong. In another city I lived in,
call it city X, there were a couple of non-glatt butchers whom a lot of
people didn't trust. Most right-thinking people had meat shipped in
from a glatt butcher in City Y. But for some people, that wasn't good
enough. Just to be sure, they, and some people from city Y, had their
meat shipped in from a certain butcher in city Z, which I had never
been in. Some years later, when I first had occasion to visit city Z,
I mentioned this to my host, and he burst out laughing. He told me
that this butcher was not considered particularly reliable by most 
people there. People who really wanted to be careful had all of their
meat shipped in from-- you guessed it-- city X!

Finally, you can go very wrong if your LOR does not have good standards, 
and it is not only kashrut standards that matter. Having standards that
are too strict can cause someone to violate an issur de'oraita (Torah
prohibition) just as surely as having standards that are not strict 
enough. For a story illustrating this point, see my posting (I think
under the subject heading "People Don't Hold by that Hechsher" in volume
9, submitted September 28, 1993) about the grocery store in the

Mike Gerver, <gerver@...>


From: Sam Juni <JUNI@...>
Date: Fri, 27 May 1994 14:07:52 -0400
Subject: Maggots in Hallacha, etc.

Mitch Berger quotes an Hallachic opinion which states that anything
which is not visible to the naked eye has no hallachic status.  I have
some reactions to this point which I have not organized systematically.
Here they come.

My personal reaction to the neat solution (that the Hallacha does not
expect us to concern ourselves with the unseen, is that it sounds sour
grapes to me. More conceptually, such a formulation sounds like a
post-hoc formula which arose from an attempt to reconcile traditional
Hallacha with scientific truths which have been discovered after these
Hallachos were codified.

Let me state the obvious. When the Talmud and its commentators
adjudicate issues of Kashrus, they obviously do so within their
contemporary base of knowledge of science.  Spontaneous generation was
the accepted view and there was no accomodation made to possibilities of
a scientific system in the realm of microscopic possibilities.

Conceptually, what is happening in this Hallachic reasoning, is a clash
of two premises: 1) Torah laws are eternal; 2) New knowledge forces new
application of Torah Law.  One solution is a practical one, which intro-
duces a logical loop: Torah is devised with the contemporary view which
existed during Matan Torah. Thus, for example, one need not worry about
microscopic objects, since these were unknown at that time. Or, to put
it in a more socially acceptable phrasing, "Lo Nitna Torah L'Malachei
Hashoreis" (Torah was not intended for angels), meaning that we are
expected to use only commonplace tools to fulfil commandments.

Admitedly, there is a linguistic beauty in the verbal style of the
Talmudic system of Brisk and R. Shimon Shkop. Thus, Mitch's quote that
"maggots do not exist hallachically" sounds nice.  However, from an
operational sense, it is merely a play on words, whose intrigue is
restricted to the double entendre which intimates that Hallacha has its
own reality.

I am reminded of a story told.  The time of the month for Kiddush Levena
(new moon blessing) once featured day after day of cloudiness. This did
not allow New Yorkers to fulfil the mitzvah, which requires actual
sighting of the new moon.  The Lubavitcher Rebbe had rented a
helicopter to rise above the clouds, in order to be able to do the
Mitzvah. He then invited the Satmarer Rebbe to join him. The latter
reportedly responded: "Ich Flee Nisht in Himmel" (I do not soar into the
skies), an allusion to not being able to transcend natural law.

It is no insult to say that Talmudic scholars of any generation are in
line with their contemporary scientists in terms of scientific
knowledge.  To say otherwise would be absurd. I am certain that the view
of the "flat world" was common knowledge amongst all scholars before it
was rejected by the scientific community. To go out on a limb ( I like
it out there), one can hypothesize that even Neviim (prophets) worked
within the knowledge base of their contemporaries.  Do you think that
Ezra or even Moshe Rabbeinu knew of microorganisms or that the earth was

     Dr. Sam Juni                  Fax (718) 338-6774
     New York University           Tel (212) 998-5548
     400 East
     New York, N.Y.  10003


From: Ezra Rosenfeld <zomet@...>
Date: Fri, 27 May 1994 08:35:37 +0300 (IDT)
Subject: Microphones

Yosef Bechhofer writes:

> In MJ 13:25 Ezra Rosenfeld cited three Rabbis who allowed the use of
> condensor mikes based on Zomet standards, and the amazing news that some
> "Orthodox" shuls here will imminently install them.
> This is indeed disturbing. With the Gedolei Hora'ah clearly opposed to
> the use of "Shabbos Microphones", including the great Posek Reb Shlomo
> Zalman Auerbach - who understands electricity pretty well - and with the
> unique and sorry history of "Microphonization" in the USA, I cannot
> understand the willingness of ANYONE to install such microphones.

1. Many shuls in North America attract hundreds of mitpallelim on Shabbat
and more than a thousand on the Yamim Noraim.In many of them, the main
shul is so large that many of the people sitting in the back (and many
elderly people) cannot hear the Rav or the Shaliach Tzibbur. This often
leads to frustration and private conversations. 

2. I do not question Rav Shelomo Zalman Auerbach's preeminence as a Posek.
We at Zomet often solicit his opinion. Similarly, I do not question the 
autonomy of Rabbanim to pasken questions for their kehilla nor their right 
to consult with those whom they consider as leading authorities in 
Halacha (And with all due respect, neither Rav Shaul Yisraeli nor the 
other's who have okayed this specific microphone system are minor 

3. A statement like "With the Gedolai Horaah clearly opposed" is a bit of a 
misrepresentation. Most of the Gedolai Horaah have not been asked about 
installing a condensor microphone with Zomet's specifications in the 

4. I don't think that we should be giving Poskim grades on how well they 
understand this idea or that concept. I assume that most Gedolei Hora'ah 
who deal with electricity today have a fairly good idea of what is going 
on. And just for the record, Rav Shelomo Zalman's analysis of exactly which 
melacha is involved when opening or shutting a circuit is not the issue 
at this point. His Halachic conclusion is not based primarily on his 
understanding of electricity but rather on other halachic factors.

5. "The history of microphonization in the USA" is just that, history. 
Times change amd so do realities. What has kept Halacha (and Am Yisrael)
alive throughout Jewish history is the fact that leading Halacha
authorities have always reexamined and reformulated applied Halacha as
social conditions changed and technologies improved. 

6. There is also an "ageing" process in Halacha. Sometimes a new product
comes out on the market and is (correctly) Halachically treated with a
certain degree of caution. And lo and behold, a few decades later, we
treat it differently! (In order to keep this short, I will refrain from
examples but will gladly send them to individuals who request them). 

7. And just for the record, the recent history of Halachic responsa is
replete with examples of "Reconsideration" in which the psak changed as
the technologies and procedures improved. 

8. I will be glad to provide the relevant teshuvot, by snail mail, to those 
who are interested.



From: <JMOSSERI@...> (Joey Mosseri)
Date: Wed, 25 May 1994 22:31:02 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Spices

In response to Joshua Sharfs posting on MJ v13n18 on spices what I quote may
clarify the issue or just mix you up some more.

The following is from The Bantam Library of Culinary Arts
Ferula asafoetida and Ferula narthex are fennels native to Iran and
Afghanistan. The milky gum from the taproot of these plants dries to a
pearly resin which darkens with age. 

 From HERBS AND SPICES by Waverley Root
A hardy perennial growing up to 10ft tall and up to 4000ft above sea level,
with large cabbage-like heads which are edible. From the woody roots of the
plants when 3-4 year old, a milky resinous juice is obtained which
coagylates upon exposure to air. Soil is pulled away to expose the roots and
a deep incision is made in them. After 4-5 weeks, the hardened juice, now
reddish-brown after exposure to air, is collected by scraping it from the
roots. The soil is the replaced. The gum resin acts as a stimulant and with
its garlic-like flavor has culinary uses.

So, is it a gum or a resin?? Does it need Hashgaha??

Joey Mosseri


From: <Dialectic@...> (Rabbi Freundel)
Date: Tue, 31 May 1994 17:13:24 -0400
Subject: Re: Torah Codes and Predictions

in response to Mike Gerver:
Debating an MIT person on statistics sounds suicidal but here goes
Why are people twice as likely to die on some dates rather than others? I
know that there is increased likelyhood near birthdays and rites of passage
(e.g. birthdays) and at change of seasons because of increased stress on the
body but twice as much??? I used to run a chevra kaddisha that serviced a
community of nearly 200,000 jews and we kept track of some of these things
and it was never that great.
2. you misunderstand the model I suggest. I understand that the names chosen
in the original correlation were all those appearing in a particular
encyclopedia of jewish biography that had 3 or more pages devoted to their
lives. Why not choose ten people alive today who we can assume will acheive
such status. This DOES NOT determine their death date. On whatever day they
die let us then find the nearest appearence of that date to their name in
Torah as a sequence of letters. As I understand it it is the proximity of
yahrzeit dates and peoples names by sequence of letters that is the basis of
the proof. Determining the persons name does not determine the death date
unless one runs every possible date through the computer and then tells the
subject which ones work and which ones dont.
Even if earlier yahrzeit dates were inaccurate these would not be. A
successful correlation in even six out of ten would seem to be significant. I
say that in light of statistical tests used at NIH in research protocols
where at least preliminary conclusions are drawn on the basis of  as little
as 5 subjects. However if you want to use 25 names that's fine. This should
provide more than enough to tell if there is statistical significance to the
correlations thus proving through prediction (a usual condition of
mathematical formulations) whether the codes are mathematically significant
or not.


End of Volume 13 Issue 36