Volume 15 Number 9
                       Produced: Mon Aug 29  0:26:53 1994

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

After-Life and Statistics (2)
         [Jonathan Katz, Jonathan Katz]
         [Warren Burstein]
Microwave ovens on airliners
         [Kalmon Laudon]
Microwaves and Airlines
         [Lon A Smolensky]
Midnight Selichos
         [David Steinberg]
One more try on microwave cooking
         [Jules Reichel]


From: Jonathan Katz <frisch1@...>
Date: Wed, 24 Aug 1994 23:50:54 EDT
Subject: After-Life and Statistics

A short response to the comments of Turkel Eli regarding near-death 
experiences and the like.
(everything in quotes is his)

"the outcome of a spiritual event in affected by the observer"
Yes, but this can be taken two ways! A "non-believer" might see a miracle
and call it science. On the other hand, a person who disregards logic
altogether might see a "common" occurence as proof of a miracle.
My basic point is that nothing is valid unless it can be tested scientifically.
I will elaborate further on.

"A famous case is with Rav Aharon Kutler..."
You bring this case somehow as "proof" that miracled happen. Let's examine the
case in more detail, though:
1) Who is to say that if Rav Kutler had gone to Israel instead, he wouldn't 
have founded a yeshiva there also, thus "proving" that a miracle happenned?
2) Who is to say that he tried the same method ten other times and got either
results which were meaningless or results which resulted in his making a *bad*
These are the points raised by Sam Juni regarding the need for scientific 

"[I do not doubt that statistics would prove this wrong, etc.] However, we
believe that for special people and special circumstances it does work"
Here is perhaps the crux of the problem. What *is* a special circumstance,
and who *is* a special person. The fact is, I *don't* believe that the case
you mentioned was a "true" miracle. Many readers probably agree with me. I 
don't feel that it was a particularly special case. You do. So, we are stuck:
is it a miracle or not? The fact is, there *is* no answer if you refuse to
look at the question objectively and continue to say "it's all in the eye
of the beholder".

"The fact that many patients tell nonsense stories just means that they did
not reach the appropriate stage of 'death'"
The problems mentioned above arise here again! The fact is, you are just
giving a COMPLETELY ad-hoc rationalization for why such-and-such did NOT
have a NDE (near death experience). What you CANNOT do, however, and what
would convince me and many others, is to predict beforehand (at any time
before the person "wakes up") whether such-and-such will have a NDE.

"The fact that most of these match up with Kabalah"
I don't mean to start an entirely new thread here, because I'll admit that I
don't understand the Kabalah, but I think that for any of us: we could find
proof for anything we wanted in the Kabalah if we try hard enough. I'm
sure there *are* storied in the kabalah which match up with NDE's. On the
other hand, I'm sure there are other stories in the kabalah which *don't*
match up with NDE's, or, alternatively, there are NDE's which don't match
up with anything in the Kabalah.

"[I don't have ESP]. All this proves is that I am not on the level of ESP"
See my comments in the paragraph before last.

"The fact that science can not verify angels doesn't mean they don't exist"
This has a deep philosophical implications. For instance, I can turn it
right back at you and say: "the fact that science can not verify that angels
DON'T exist doesn't mean they do." My point is, we will never get anywhere
with this line of reasoning.
If science cannot prove that something exists, then it does not mean that
it doesn't exist - what it means, though, is that it's IRRELEVANT whether
or not they do, and that we are free to believe whichever side is more
convincing to us.

I truly believe that there is no point to saying "angels exist, who needs 
science". The fact is, if science ever DOES prove that angels exist, you
would be one of the first to cite that as valid "proof". 

Jonathan Katz
410 Memorial Drive
Room 251B
Cambridge, MA 02139

From: Jonathan Katz <frisch1@...>
Date: Wed, 24 Aug 1994 23:54:36 EDT
Subject: After-Life and Statistics

I'm sorry for sending two posts on the same topic, but I feel that this post
is entirely different from my previous one.

My question to all those who believe in near death experiences (NDE's) is this:
How do you understand the many non-Jews who claim to have seen Jesus, etc.
as part of their NDE's? If you put so much faith in NDE's, doesn't this sort
of imply that Jesus has some sort of important, is God, etc.?

For me, it's easy to explain: to me NDE's are nothing but what people *want*
to see as they are dying - they have no significance beyond this. Thus, it
"proves" nothing that a devout Christian sees Jesus the same way it proves
nothing when a Jew sees Moshe.

But how do the NDE supporters cope with this?
Jonathan Katz
410 Memorial Drive
Room 251B
Cambridge, MA 02139


From: <warren@...> (Warren Burstein)
Date: Thu, 25 Aug 1994 06:50:59 GMT
Subject: Re: Glatt

Danny Skaist writes:

>Until the Ramah permitted removing the lesion, the animal was considered

The above seems to say that the Ramah was the first authority to permit
removing lesions, is this the case?

 |warren@         an Anglo-Saxon." -- Stuart Schoffman
/ nysernet.org


From: <klaudon@...> (Kalmon Laudon)
Date: Fri, 26 Aug 94 15:50:12 EDT
Subject: Microwave ovens on airliners

Meals served aboard aircraft are most definitely NOT heated by 
microwave ovens.  The reason for this is quite simple, and profound.

Operation of a microwave oven, or any other high power source of
non-essential radio frequency energy, could cause catastrophic 
interference with the aircraft's avionics systems.  This includes
voice and data communications, navigation, and even the aircraft's
control systems.  All systems for aircraft application are designed
with this primary requirement in mind, right from scratch.

Most of the pilot's instrumentation, including gauges and artificial
horizon, are implemented by on-board computers.  Any errors introduced
into these systems could be disastrous.

This is why the FAA is extremely restrictive of the kind of personal
electrical and electronic devices which may be carried on board and
operated by passengers.  Most all airlines go even further and ban
nearly all such devices, with a few exceptions such as laptop computers
and walkman-style cassette/CD players.  Radios (even just receivers),
cellphones, and any 2-way devices are prohibited.  What is more, many
of these devices have much less potential for interference due to their
frequencies of operation, and miniscule power levels compared to a
microwave oven, which is essentially a 1500 watt (approx.) radio 
transmitter.  The airphones, by the way, are specifically designed and
installed in such a way as not to cause interference (or so one would hope!).

So unless something has drastically changed recently, rest assured that
there is no microwave cooking on board commercial aircraft.  This
should be good news for those who believe that microwaves are detrimental
to food, from a health standpoint.  The ovens employed are high-power
convection ovens, probably electrically heated.  If you are a REAL
makpid (strict) health food consumer, you are out of luck here, too,
due to the magnetic field caused by the heater.  But then, you shouldn't
be flying at all, due to the LARGE increase in ionizing radiation you
will receive due to cosmic rays.  Stay at home, better.

However, I have experienced a problem with these double-wrapped, oven
heated meals.  On more than one occasion, upon carefully removing the 
outer foil-backed paper wrapper (another proof that the ovens are not
microwave), I discovered the inner foil covering of the hot entree to
be partially damaged.  In other words, the foil was crinkled up a little,
exposing a small area of food underneath, and so the dish was NOT
fully double-wrapped during heating.  I did not eat the dish.

I have noticed that the foil wrapping of the inner dish is not secured
well at all, and is subject to damage.  Therefore, I always open the 
outer bag very carefully, so as to determine if any damage to the inner
wrapper occurred before my opening it.  I would assume that this would
render the meal questionable.  Any comments?

A kasiva ve'chasima tova to all!

Kalman Laudon


From: <lons@...> (Lon A Smolensky)
Date: Fri, 26 Aug 1994 12:47:40 -0500
Subject: Microwaves and Airlines

     According to Northwest Airlines, "convection ovens" are used to heat the
in-flight meals.
      I hope this solves the mystery.



From: David Steinberg <dave@...>
Date: Sat, 27 Aug 1994 20:44:25 +0100
Subject: Midnight Selichos

I am on my way to selichos in a few minutes and was thinking about the
question as to saying selichos at night vs early in the morning.  I also
confirmed with my father that that was he did growing up.

One explanation for their not saying selichos after midnight is that
there was a certain amount of danger inherent in going out at night.  We
know for example that Chazal added to maariv so that stragglers could
leave at the same time as everyone else.

Just a thought - haven't seen it anywhere.
Ksiva V'Chasima Tova
Dave Steinberg


From: <JPREICHEL@...> (Jules Reichel)
Date: Fri, 26 Aug 1994 09:55:41 -0400
Subject: One more try on microwave cooking

Binyomin Segal offered some practical rules which may be quite adequate
for some, but they don't meet my reasonableness test. Covering *all*
food which is being microwaved is the right thing to do:1.If not, you
dirty the oven, and 2.You don't get full benefit from the steam since
it's vented out. That's not a kashrut issue. Wrapping things tightly in,
I assume, plastic wrap is a really dangerous practice. The steam gets
really hot. The wrap also sticks together at these high temperatures and
it's hard to get off. If you want to do it anyway, that's up to you. I
would urge you to wear eye protection, and strongly discourage
children. Finally, there's the kasrut risk in a fairly clean oven.  Does
it exist? A microwave oven is a highly vented device. It's not like a
regular oven in that regard. In a conventional oven the hot coils
primarily heat the air in the oven cavity, which in turn cooks the
food. There are also direct infrared radiation effects. That's why we
usually cook with the door closed. We don't want to lose the hot
air. The microwave oven directly heats the water in the food. In
principle, the door could be open, but it's not since we would also get
ourselves cooked. To me, worrying about a few molecules which surely
will migrate between one thing and another is like worrying about
microbes in our food. All of the air in all of our world has a few
molecules of all different kinds in it. There are always a few fleishig
molecules wandering around our homes. I thought that most agree that
this is not an issue. *Please* don't change your practice based on my
explanations.  I am not competent to be a guide. But IMHO we're watching
techno-fear and not halacha in action.  My *unreliable* guess is that if
we use reasonable covers on everything and wipe the cavity after each
use, the microwave oven is remarkably kashrut-friendly.  Jules


End of Volume 15 Issue 9