Volume 28 Number 14
                      Produced: Fri Nov  6  6:44:16 1998

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Avraham the warrior
         [Saul Mashbaum]
Chalav Yisrael
         [Eli Clark]
Cholov Yisroel and the OU
         [David Shamah]
Hebrew as the American Language
         [Janice Gelb]
Hebrew on College Seals (2)
         [Joshua D. Goldberg, Daniel Stuhlman]
Lost Script, Jewish Americana
         [Leah S. Gordon]
On the Akedah II
         [Moshe & Davida Nugiel]
Opinions re: Chalav Yisrael
         [Steve White]
The amazing "613 mitzvah" Talmudic Statement
         [Russell Hendel]
Voting in a church
         [Louise Miller]
Voting in a Church
         [Steve White]


From: Saul Mashbaum <mshalom@...>
Date: Wed, 4 Nov 1998 16:38:59 -1300
Subject: Avraham the warrior

The midrash deals with the subject of the moral justfication for
Avraham's involvement with war and bloodshed. According to the midrash,
Avraham himself was sensitive to this subject.

After the battle against the kings, Hashem tells Avraham not to fear. It
is not clear from the text what Avraham had to be afraid of. According
to one opinion in the midrash (Bereshit Rabba 44:5), Avraham had doubts
as to whether his actions in the battle against the 4 kings were totally
justified; he wondered if he killed someone who should not have been
killed. Hashem assured him that he has no reason to fear, and that his
actions were fully proper.

Obviously, this rabbinic opinion explicitly rejects the premise that the
Akedah is a 'tikkun' for Avraham the warrior.

Saul Mashbaum


From: Eli Clark <clarke@...>
Date: Wed, 4 Nov 1998 15:01:00 -0500
Subject: RE: Chalav Yisrael

Frank Silbermann <fs@...> writes:

>In contrast, the local Chabad rabbi insists that avoidance of O-U dairy
>products is normative Halacha, and that the Orthodox Union is misusing a
>Rv. Moshe Feinstein heter that _merely_ permits a mother to feed her
>baby tref milk if kosher milk is unavailable -- and that even when the
>heter is _properly_ relied upon, ordinary USDA-inspected milk still
>trefs one's dishes.

I once heard that Chabad rabbi in New Orleans believes what Frank
writes.  The issue should be eaily resolved by looking at the text of R.
Moshe Feinstein's teshuvot (responsa) on the subject.  In his Iggerot
Moshe, Yoreh De'ah I: 47-49, three teshuvot appear, all written in 1954.
 I summarize them here, but urge everyone who is able to examine them

[As a prefatory note, the rule of halav Yisrael is a rabbinic enactment
requiring that Jews drink milk that was supervised by a Jew out of
concern that a non-Jew might otherwise substitute milk from a non-kosher

In the first (no. 47), R. Moshe explains that milk companies are afraid
of the government regulators, who have the authority to shut down their
business for violating government regulations.  Consequently, milk
companies which add milk from non-kosher animals would risk the
shut-down of their business by the government.  He then sets out to
prove that this knowledge is equivalent to actually watching the milk
(to ensure that non-kosher milk is not added).  He cites examples from
many different areas of Halakhah in which we assume that an event
occurred without requiring anyone to actually see it.  R. Moshe
concludes that this heter (permissive ruling) may be relied on "le-kulei
alma" (by everyone), and is in fact relied upon by many shomrei Torah
and rabbis.  However, he himself chooses not to rely on it and believes
that one who makes such a choice is not guilty of yohara (arrogance).

In the second (no. 48), he addresses the concern that milk companies
could bribe the government inspectors in order to add non-kosher milk
with impunity.  R. Moshe rejects this argument, noting that a milk
company wishing to do this on a large scale would have to bribe all of
its employees as well, which would eliminate the financial advantage of
using non-kosher milk.  And, he writes, to add non-kosher milk on a
small scale would not provoide any financial benefit.  Therefore, he
reiterates his permissive ruling, as well as the advice that pious
individuals refrain from drinking unsupervised milk.

In the third (no. 49), he addresses the concern that some milk companies
buy milk from farmers who are not subject to government regulation.  R.
Moshe proves, based on an extended discussion regarding cheese, that the
gezerah (decree) regarding unsupervised milk did not extend to
milk-based products.  Therefore, he dismisses the argument that one
cannot drink milf from a company that purchases its supply from a

Conspicuously absent from these teshuvot is any reference to mothers or
the feeding of unsupervised milk to children.  He explicitly writes that
his heter applies to all and defends his ruling from repeated attack.
He makes no mention of the effect of such milk on one's dishes.

Separate from the halakhic issue of halav Yisrael is the accusation that
the Orthodox Union is deliberately distorting Halakha.  This is a very
serious charge and one that would, in theory, call into question the
kashrut of all OU-supervised products.  To make such a charge without
foundation would be an egregious error.  Fortunately, the OU Kashrut
division is directed by a well-respected halakhic authority, who does
not require me to defend OU policy.  Individuals with questions
regarding OU kashrut standards can and should direct their inquiries to
the OU.  Their telephone number is 212-563-4000.

Kol tuv,


From: David Shamah <shamah@...>
Subject: Cholov Yisroel and the OU

Without getting into the halachic aspects of the issue, which are
complicated, let me mention this, since you mention R. Moshe's heter: I
worked for NYC region NCSY (part of the OU) from the mid 80's until I
made aliyah in 1993. Throughout that entire time, R. Dovid Feinstein was
more or less the posek for the region, and Cholov Yisroel milk was not
required at any event, even though it was readily available in New York



From: Janice Gelb <janice.gelb@...>
Date: Thu, 05 Nov 1998 12:40:13 -0800
Subject: Re: Hebrew as the American Language

The introduction to the book _Jewish Contributions to the American Way
of Life _ (http://www.dorledor.org/bookintro.html) says that
"pre-Revolution leaders debated whether Hebrew might replace English" as
the official language of the land and that Benjamin Franklin, Thoms
Jefferson, and John Adams urged that the image of the children of Israel
escaping Egypt should symbolically appear on the official seal of the
United States.

It also mentions Hebrew on the university emblems of Yale, Columbia, and

Janice Gelb                  | The only connection Sun has with this      
<janiceg@...>   | message is the return address. 


From: <jgoldberg@...> (Joshua D. Goldberg)
Date: Thu, 5 Nov 1998 8:56:32 -0500
Subject: RE: Hebrew on College Seals

As I glance at the diplomas on the wall behind me, I see that Columbia
University has God's name at the top of its seal (Yud Hey Vav Hey) and
Yeshiva University has a bunch of hebrew on its seal.

Joshua D. Goldberg
Keating, Muething & Klekamp, P.L.L.
Tel: 513-579-6400 - Fax: 513-579-6457
Internet Address: <jgoldberg@...>

From: Daniel Stuhlman <ssmlhtc@...>
Subject: Hebrew on College Seals

Columbia University in the City of New York has the tetragrammaton YHVH on
its seal.
Look at this URL:

Daniel Stuhlman
Hebrew Theological College - Saul Silber Memorial Library
7135 N Carpenter Road - Skokie, IL  60077
847-982-2500 - <Mailto:<ssmlhtc@...>


From: Leah S. Gordon <lsgordon@...>
Date: Fri, 30 Oct 1998 07:41:17 -0800
Subject: Lost Script, Jewish Americana

(First, welcome back Avi!)

I would think that the script money should be returned to the school.
This way, the school could make some kind of announcement and maybe the
owner would come forward.  Sort of like turning in found traveller's
checks to the embassy.

The worst that could happen in this case is that the school could
re-sell the script (if not claimed) and make more money while not
stealing from the script donor store--a good result.

Regarding the alleged Jewish origins of revered universities, I don't
know about Harvard or Yale.  But wasn't it Hillel who said, "...Im lo
achshav, M.I.T."?  ;)

--Leah S. Gordon


From: Moshe & Davida Nugiel <friars@...>
Date: Wed, 4 Nov 1998 10:07:22 +0200
Subject: On the Akedah II

Apparently I didn't make one of my points clearly enough, so permit me
to clarify it now.
	In following Hashem's order to wage war on the four kings,
Avraham had what to gain.  Although initially reluctant, in carrying out
the order to banish Yishmael, Avraham was protecting Yitzchak's future,
and promoting shalom bayit (peace at home.)  So in these two cases, it
is not clear whether Avraham's involvement in bloodshed was totally
le'shame Shemayim (for Hashem's sake), or whether Avraham was also
acting for his own benefit.
	The test of the Akidah had no side of benefit for Avraham other
than service to Hashem.  That Avraham unwaveringly carries out this
command removes any doubt that his previous acts were done for personal
gain.  At the same time, the experience of being brought to the brink of
killing Yitzchak teaches Avraham the severe gravity involved in the
taking of human life, and "cures" any bloodlust that may have been
engendered by previous killings.

Moshe Nugiel


From: <StevenJ81@...> (Steve White)
Date: Wed, 4 Nov 1998 11:02:24 EST
Subject: Re: Opinions re: Chalav Yisrael

I hope someone will weigh in with specific citations.  But here's my
understanding of an outline, which basically develops a position that is
somewhere in the middle between these two extremes.

1. "Chalav Yisrael" *is* a normative halachic requirement, not a humra.
The requirement, however, is specifically one of hashgacha, or kashrut
supervision -- we wish to ensure that dairy products are derived from
kosher animals, not treif ones.  That is the only purpose for this
requirement with respect to plain milk.  (Cheese has some different
issues involved which I will not start into here.)

2. The "heter" (permission), or perhaps better "kula" (leniency) of Reb
Moshe and others applies more widely than to babies.  At the time of the
writing of the teshuva (responsum), and outside of a few major areas
even today, *true* chalav yisrael milk is hard-to-impossible to find,
and can also be much more expensive than "stam" milk.

3. The halachic basis of the kula is that the USDA ensures that
commercial milk comes only from cows, that USDA has enforcement teeth to
back up its supervision, and that commercial milk producers have strong
reason not to want to defy the USDA by cheating.  Thus, the USDA
provides effective hashgacha with respect to the halachic requirements
of "chalav yisrael."

4. There are two reasons that this is really a kula at all, rather than
spot- on normative halacha.  First, it is always preferable to have an
observant Jew as mashgiach (supervisor) rather than to rely on others.
Second, it reminds one to be sure that reliable government regulation is
really in place.  This kula is widely accepted to apply in the US,
Canada, UK, Australia (and I think New Zealand), but there are other
countries where one cannot necessarily rely on "stam" milk.

5. In no case should someone relying on such a kula (or any other
halachically acceptable practice) be accused of having treif dishes.  In
fact, my understanding is that someone who requires glatt meat may use
the meat dishes of someone who does not require glatt meat.

Steven White


From: Russell Hendel <rhendel@...>
Subject: The amazing "613 mitzvah" Talmudic Statement

STAN asked about the source for the concept of 613 mitzvoth. I heard
this from the Rav, Rav Soloveitchick:

>>Just as people have mazal (luck) so do Talmudic sayings. Some Talmudic
>>sayings are repeated often and never get studied while some sayings
>>are hardly ever mentioned and do get studied. There is only ONE SOURCE
>>for the concept of 613 mitzvoth. Yet this one statement seems to have
>>mazal and we have an entire literature on where the 613 are?

Russell Jay Hendel;Phd ASA RHendel @ mcs drexel edu


From: <daniel@...> (Louise Miller)
Date: Thu, 5 Nov 1998 09:30:46 -0800
Subject: Voting in a church

First of all, regards to my friend David Cohen, and to my friends at my
old shul where David davened/voted.

I vote at a church, in the social hall.  I asked my LOR and he said no
problem, since we're not in a chapel, and the room has a private

I suppose I could get an absentee ballot every time, (and with the
length of the average California ballot it would probably save time,)
but I see no reason to.

Louise Miller
La Jolla, CA

From: <StevenJ81@...> (Steve White)
Date: Thu, 5 Nov 1998 16:30:01 EST
Subject: Re: Voting in a Church

In #13, David Cohen writes:
> Today, being Election Day in the US, I had the unique experience of
>  davening Shacharit in shul, and then walking upstairs to the social hall
>  and voting, as the government uses that space as a polling place.  A few
>  streets away, in an adjacent district, the polling place is located in a
>  local church. What are the halachic implications of voting in a polling
>  place that is located in a church building?  

I'd love to see if someone actually has a teshuva on this.  But the
normal reason one may not enter a church [not the time for a full
discourse on whether this normally applies at all times, etc.] is mar'it
'ayin (loosely, so the public won't get the wrong impression).  Since
the location of all polling places is well publicized and well-known,
the public would presume that on that day one would be likely entering
the church for election purposes, not for religious purposes, and
therefore it would be permissible.  Of course, one can always vote
absentee, too ... (;-)

Steven White


End of Volume 28 Issue 14